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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall Into Autumn - Outreach Storytime

This week on the Storytime Bus we talked about Fall.  Last week was the first official day of autumn and the leaves have just started changing and there is a slight chill in the air.  We talked about all the changes we observe in fall, how the animals are preparing for winter, and fall activities.  As always, we had number of books to choose from, and read 2-3 to each group, along with 1-2 songs/activities:

Fall Is Not Easy by Marty Kelley is classic and tells the story of a tree's struggle to get it's fall colors right.  The text is very straight and simple, but the illustrations are hilarious and unexpected as the tree tries to change colors, but ends up with crazy patterns and designs.

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri shows a little squirrel busily scurrying around gathering food to store for winter and has a repeating line the kids will enjoy saying.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein tells of a little bear cub experiencing his first fall and his confusion and concern about the falling leaves, which he tries to put back on the trees. 

When The Leaf Blew In by Steve Metzger is a funny little cause-and-effect story that starts with a simple leaf blown into the barn by the wind.  The kids can name the animals and the actions, add animal sounds if you like.

Mouse's First Fall by Lauren Thompson shows Mouse and Minka observing and playing in the autumn leaves.  Children can try to find Minka, hiding in the leaf pile.

Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall is a nice, basic book about fall leaves and shows the different colors and shapes and names of various leaves.

Oliver Finds His Way by Phyllis Root is not so much about fall as set during fall, as little Oliver begins chasing a windblown leaf and gets lost.  But eventually his parents hear his "Roar!" and find him.  Kids will enjoy roaring with Oliver, and the story offers a lesson in not wandering off, but also the best thing to do if you do find yourself lost.

Penguin and Pumpkin by Salina Yoon has Penguin and friends returning to a warmer clime in order to experience fall, but Penguin's little brother Pumpkin is too young to go.  How can Penguin help Pumpkin to know what fall is really like?

It's Pumpkin Time! by Zoe Hall shows the life cycle of a pumpkin, from planting the seed to carving the jack-o'lantern with charming illustrations.

We had various fall leaves, as well as the leaves and acorns from two different oak trees that differed greatly in size, to show the kids, and an adorable squirrel hand-puppet to great them with, which they all loved.  We had a few different activities we used with various groups, including the following action rhyme:

                                                        Five Little Acorns

          Five little acorns laying on the ground          (hold up 5 fingers, gesture to ground)
          The 1st one said "My, I'm getting round!"     (hold up 1 finger, hold arms out in circle)
          The 2nd one said "I think I'm fat."                 (hold up 2 fingers, hold arms out to side)
          The 3rd one said "I have a nice hat."           (hold up 3 fingers, pretend to pull down hat)
          The 4th one said "There's a squirrel up there!"   (hold up 4 fingers, point up)
          The 5th one said "I don't care!"                    (hold up 5 fingers, shake head)
          Down came the squirrel,                              (pretend to climb down tree)
          And took them all away.                              (pretend to grab acorns)
          Up to his nest, for a cold winter's day.         (pretend to climb back up)

We also had a leaf-sorting activity, which is a great pre-math skill.  We had a bunch of foam leaves with magnets on the back, of varying shape, color, thickness, some sparkly, some not, so there were several different characteristics to sort by, and the difficulty and complexity could be adjust for each group.  Each child was given two leaves to place on the board in the appropriate group, and older children were asked to explain their choices.  At the end we would count and discuss which categories had the most, and more than, less than.

And the final activity was to act out a pretend trip to the farm where we picked apples and pumpkins, helped rake leaves, and sample apple pie.  I like this activity because you don't have to have an exact script and can just make it up as you go along.  This is a good one to do if you have a wiggly group that needs to work off some energy.

How It Went
My personal favorite of the books we used was Fall Is Not Easy, and the kids all liked it as well.  The Busy Little Squirrel is very short and simple, but the kids really seemed to enjoy saying "he was too busy" each time.  Oliver Finds His Way was also a favorite; hello, it has roaring, after all.  I like the opportunity it presented to discuss the importance of not wandering off in the first place, but also what to do if you do get lost (stay put & yell!).  Penguin and Pumpkin was the perfect book for the daycare we visited today as they are having people from the aquarium come to talk to them about penguins tomorrow.  The other books were all fairly well-received, too, but not many really stood out this time.

Today we had several groups that were really squirrely and having trouble settling down, so we ended up spending more time re-directing and re-focusing and didn't get to read as many stories.  I think the change in the weather and the recent blood moon had something to do with it.

The kids liked the leaf-sorting activity more than I expected, and I really like how it encompassed several different math skills, including sorting by recognizing similarities and differences in shape, deductive reasoning, counting, and the concepts of more than and
less than.

In case you're wondering why there weren't any books on apples, we did a whole theme just on apples the week prior.

I'm really looking forward to the next theme, "Monsters".  We have some great books for that and it should be a lot of fun!

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