Saturday, July 30, 2016

DoodleBots - STEAM Program

This was an awesome school-aged program I had the opportunity to do last week. While I love working with preschoolers and doing storytime, it is nice to have a chance to do something else every once in a while, and especially when I get to put my science background to good use! This is an elegantly simple idea that is a lot of fun. 

For all the details, including step-by-step instructions with photos, see my original post on my other blog, Jen's Library Tales.

Friday, July 29, 2016

From A to Z

So this was the last storytime I would have with this group before they moved up to the next class (which I don't visit), so I wanted to be sure this was a particularly fun storytime. The only thing was, I had already done all my best ideas and sure hits with them! I could not decide what to do; I thought maybe a pop-up storytime with all pop-up books, zombies, old favorites, new favorites.... I just couldn't decide.

Then I found out I was going to be able to give them their summer reading prize books when I went for storytime (I had thought someone else would be), so that took the pressure off, since giving them books to keep would definitely make it a special storytime. I would also be giving the teacher a copy of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom *and* the activity tree to go with it. I started thinking maybe it would be a good idea to go ahead and read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and model how to use the tree with it, to make it more likely they would actually use it in the classroom. I had that and a handful of other books I liked and figured I'd just go with what felt right at the time.

In the morning, I had an epiphany. One of the books I had was a really cute zombie book I had in mind when considering a zombie theme that didn't quite pan out. "Zombie" starts with Z, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom covers the whole alphabet, so all I needed was an "A" book to start with, and I had an "A to Z" theme! Luckily, I had something handy at home that would work.

After we did our welcome song, a brief introduction, and our story song, we read our "A" book, Ten Apples Up On Top! by Dr. Seuss (as Theo LeSieg), which I luckily had in my personal collection at home. 

In addition to featuring apples, this book is fun, and let us work on our counting as well. Because at 60+ pages these early readers are a bit too long for the time frame I had and for the attention span of the typical 3-4 year old, I greatly shortened the ending, by skipping from page 38 to page 58 (and the kids were none the wiser). The kids were impressed with the characters' apple-balancing skills.

After singing the "Alphabet Song", I read Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault's classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, which as it turns out all the kids were familiar with and were excited about doing. This book is fun, with a nice rhythm, and is great for focusing on the lowercase letters. Then, I pulled out the activity tree (purchased from Lakeshore) and put the letters on in order, letting the kids name them when they could, and pointing out the letters starting their names.

from Lakeshore

That brought us to the last letter of the alphabet, and our Zombie story, Peanut Butter & Jelly Brains by Joe McGee and Charles Santoso. This is a cute, non-scary zombie story about Reginald, a zombie boy who is not like other zombies, because he craves PB&J instead of brains. 

Eventually, he gets one and shares with the other zombies, and they all find they like it better than brains, so now they can live in peace with the townspeople. 

How It Went
This was one of the most rewarding storytimes ever! 

Not only did it all come together so nicely without a lot of effort, I got to give them stuff! 

When I first came in, the kids noticed the tree sticking out of my bag, but couldn't tell what it was because it was still in the package and starting asking me about it right away. Then, when I later pulled it out, they recognized it as being the one in the book immediately, and were really impressed and thought it was so cool. As I was putting the letters on it, I noticed the teacher taking pictures because she thought it was so neat.

After I read the last story, I asked them all if they liked the coconut tree, and all the kids and teachers commented on it. Then I got to say, "Well, guess what! It's yours, for Miss Angie to keep in the classroom and use anytime she wants!" They were all excited about that, saying thank you, and talking about how they couldn't wait to play with it.

Then, I got to say "And that's not all...." (I felt like I was hosting "The Price Is Right"!) and told them in addition to that, they were each going to get a book of their very own to keep and take home! I spread all the books out I had brought and brought them up two at a time for me and the teacher to help them select one. I always get a kick out of seeing how some of them are so decisive and walk right up and know which one they want, while others take forever, and change their minds several times. The teacher chose some for the kids who weren't there, and I gave her a couple of others to keep for the classroom as well.

It was so rewarding to see the excitement and appreciation for books from both the kids and the teachers, and to see that the teachers would likely make use of the activity tree. I'm so glad I was able to give them to the class; I love playing Santa!  Or should I say Bob Barker?

It was a little bittersweet, as I won't get to see most of these kids again. It seems like by the time I finally learn all their names and they've developed good storytime habits, it's time for them to move up to the next class.

(I did have permission to take and post this
picture, but I blurred any visible children's faces,
just to be safe. They were beaming, though!)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Storytime Is A Zoo!

Last week I finished up our two weeks of zoo-themed storytimes on the Storytime Bus. Animals of any kind are always a hit with kids, especially if they get to imitate their movements and sounds! I ended up using a wider range of books than usual, as a couple of my favorites were a little long or sophisticated for most of my groups. Each storytime started with our opening story song and letter-of-the-day (Zz), then we read 2-3 books and sang 1 or 2 songs, depending on time and the mood of kids.

The Books
Wild About Books by Judy Sierra & Marc Brown was the perfect zoo story for the storytime bus! In this story the librarian accidentally drives the bookmobile to the zoo, and the animals soon find they love reading, then build their own branch "zoobrary"! Older kids and adults will appreciate the references to well known literature. It's a little too long for the younger kids.

In My School's A Zoo! by Stu Smith & David Catrow, a boy wakes up to find his family, bus driver, and whole school have turned into zoo animals! He is understandably shocked and upset, and tries to figure out what is going on, only to fall asleep on the bus home. The next thing he knows, his bus driver is waking him up and everything is back to normal.

Stop Snoring, Bernard! by Zachariah Ohora is a funny story about Bernard, an otter who loves everything about living at the zoo, especially naptime. Unfortunately, Bernard has a snoring problem which disturbs the other animals. Kids enjoy making the sound effects, and saying the repeated line, "Stop snoring, Bernard".

Zoo Ah-choooo by Peter Mandel & Elwood Smith is based on a cute story idea, but the writing definitely leaves room for improvement. But, the kids find it funny, and love saying all the "ah-choo"s. This is one book I break my rule about reading as written and do a little editing to make it flow more smoothly, and leaving out some of the confusing or oddly repetitive phrases.

ZooBorns! by Andrew Bleiman & Chris Eastman is a great "awww"-inducing book with photographs of baby zoo animals from all over the world. It's a little long, so I find I end up not reading all the text. There is a paragraph of information about each animal at the end, including where it's from and it's status on the endangered list.

Eric Carle's 1, 2, 3 To The Zoo is a simple counting story with his usual wonderful illustrations. The animals are riding a train to their new zoo, with each car carrying a different type and number of animal, so you can work on counting, number recognition, animal identification, and colors. See if the kids notice the little mouse on each page.

Z Is For Zoo by Roger Priddy is a large board book with lift-a-flaps and beautiful color photographs of zoo animals. The text is very short and simple; good for 2-3 year-old's.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip & Erin Stead is a modern classic about a loyal and kindly zookeeper who goes to work every day and takes excellent care of the animals. But, when one day Amos is sick and doesn't show up, the animals decide to take care of him.

That's Good! That's Bad! by Margery Cuyler & David Catrow is a fun story with lots of twists and turns as a young boy accidentally floats away from his parents with a balloon. He ends up having many animal adventures, and with each new development, the audience can decide whether they think it's good or bad. Adults will appreciate the tongue-in-cheek ending of the stork dropping him back in his parents' arms.

Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo by E. S. Redmond tells the unfortunate tale of how all the zoo animals got sick when a young girl with a cold wiped her snotty nose on her hands and then touched all the animals, spreading her germs everywhere, illustrated by green handprints. This would be a great book for a program about germs and good hygiene!

In Il Sung Na's latest book, The Opposite Zoo, a cheeky monkey slips out of his cage after closing time and explores the rest of the zoo. Several pairs of opposites are illustrated as he visits the other animals. The characteristic charming illustrations are vaguely impressionist, and the text is short and simple.

The Activities 

I ended up just doing songs this time, focusing mostly on imitating the animal sounds and/or movements. I definitely need to come up with a couple of additional activities using the flannel/magnetic board next time.

The Animals At The Zoo
(to the tune of "The Wheels On The Bus")

The lions at the zoo go Roar, roar, roar;
Roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar.
The lions at the zoo go Roar, roar, roar,
All day long.

[I let the kids suggest other animals and sounds/movements, 
prompting if needed. Some of the others we came up with are below.]

The tigers at the zoo growl, growl, growl....

The snakes at the zoo go hiss, hiss, hiss....

The kangaroos at the zoo go hop, hop, hop....

The penguins at the zoo go waddle, waddle, waddle....

The wolves at the zoo go howl, howl, howl....

The seals at the zoo go bark, bark, bark....


If You're An Elephant And You Know I[
(to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It")

If you're an elephant and you know it, raise your trunk.
If you're an elephant and you know it, raise your trunk.
If you're an elephant and you know it, 
Then your trunk will surely show it.
If you're an elephant and you know it, raise your trunk.

[Again, I tried to let the kids suggest the animals & actions, but prompted if needed]


Animal Fair

Oh, I went to the animal fair;
the birds and the beasts were there.
The old baboon, by the light of the moon,
Was combing his auburn hair.

The monkey climbed and jumped,
And sat on the elephant's trunk.
The elephant sneezed - ACHOO! - and fell to his knees,
And what became of the monk, the monk, the monk?

[I was surprised that none of the kids thought the monkey got squished,
as I had always thought when I heard this song as a child.]

How It Went 
Overall, it went well. Of course with it being summer the kids are a little more restless and a little harder to keep engaged since they are out of their normal school year routines at the daycares and have so many special activities going on, like going to the pool. Storytime is *almost* a lost cause if it's pool day! They are just soooo excited about going to the pool, they can't stand it!  So, with those groups I try to pull the shortest, yet most engaging and interactive books, do more songs, and do a slightly shorter storytime. I would rather shorten it, than try to force it and have everyone leaving frustrated!

The books all worked pretty well, though as much as I love Wild About Books, I only used it with a couple of groups that I knew had the attention span and the familiarity with some of the other books mentioned to be able to pay attention and really get it.  But those that did really liked it, and thought we should take the Storytime Bus to the zoo some time and have storytime for the animals. I was also pleasantly surprised the group I read My School's A Zoo! to did figure out it was all a dream; I was afraid that would go right over their heads.

And since kids always like imitating animals, most of them loved participating in the songs, except the ones that were tired, hot, and cranky from playing outside. Sometimes it was a challenge to come up with a suitable sound or movement for the animals they suggested, but we always managed to come up with something!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Flannel Friday Round-Up, July 22

Here is the Flannel Friday Round-Up for July 22!

We've got several great ideas this week; thanks to everyone who contributed!

First up is Kathryn of Fun with Friends at Storytime with her "Colorful Puppies Are Ready To Nosh!" By using the same bodies and just slightly varying the faces and ears, she managed to create seven colorful puppies, each with it's own distinct personality, along with a rhyme to use them with.

Next is Keith of Felt-tastic Flannelboard Funtime with with "Five Little Hot Dogs," done in Japanese Kawaii style. They are so cute and precise, at first I thought they were clip-art rather than felt! This would go well with a picnic or food theme, or even with The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog.

Kate of Felt Board Magic has cuddly, fluffy sheep made from real fleece (polar fleece, that is) with a colorful twist to the traditional "Mary Had a Little Lamb" rhyme, "Mary Had A Coloured Lamb."  This would be good for a colors or farm animals sheep, and would be great paired with any of Nancy Shaw's Sheep books, or Mem Fox's Where Is Green Sheep?

Wendy of Flannel Board Fun has another "Mary" nursery rhyme for us, "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary".  And though Wendy says she's not happy with her cockle shells, I think they look great, and I'm sure you will, too. This would work with a folk tale-nursery rhyme theme, gardening, or flowers.

Emily of Literary Hoots has the perfect set for back-to-school with "Ten Little Crayons," which are very versatile. Emily has a counting song, as well as several other suggested activities to work on other math skills, such as grouping, patterns, and greater than-less than, in addition to colors. These would be great to pair with either of Drew Daywalt's books, Michael Hall's Red: A Crayon's Story, or Crockett Johnson's classic, Harold and the Purple Crayon.

And last, but certainly not least, everyone welcome Becca to her first Flannel Friday Round-Up appearance!  Today Becca takes us on a trip to the zoo with her "We Went To The Zoo One Day" animals and song. Kids love animals, and making animal sounds!

Visit the Flannel Friday Pinterest Board for past Round-Up's and tons of inspiration. For more information about Flannel Friday and how to participate, visit the Flannel Friday site.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Robots, Androids, and Cyborgs, Oh My!

I'm doing a simple robotics program for school-aged children next week, and while looking for a suitable book to read to them, I came across several cute, but too-young-for-them, robot stories and decided to use them for my regular storytime today.

We started with our welcome song, then I explained we were going to do something a little different today. Today, we were going to be robots. And instead of passing out stickers at the end, I was giving them round stickers at the beginning that were going to be their power buttons (I wish I could say I came up with this idea, but I got it from Anne at Anne's Library Life, along with the songs and rhyme I used). I told them to push their buttons and to set them to storytime mode, then we sang our story song with a few robot verses added: "If you're a robot and you know it clank your coils, clunk your gears, and say 'beep-beep.'"

For our first story I read Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino. This is a sweet story about a friendship that develops between a boy and a robot who meet by chance. When the robot accidentally gets turned off, the boy worries that he is sick. When the robot is turned back on and finds the boy sleeping, he is afraid the boy has a serious malfunction and tries to repair him.

The illustrations are colorful and nostalgic, with a 50's sci-fi feel, and while the story isn't interactive, it is still very engaging and charming.

After that we did a "Five Noisy Robots" rhyme, with a magnetic board and robots cut from craft foam using an Ellison die cutter:

Five Noisy Robots

Five noisy robots in the toy shop,
Shiny and tall with antennae on top.
Along came a girl (boy) with a dollar one day,
And bought a noisy robot and took it away.

Four noisy robots in the toy shop...
[continue down to 0]

I introduced the second book, Beep! Beep! Go To Sleep! by Todd Tarpley and John Rocco, by asking them if they ever had a hard time settling down for bed and made lots of excuses, like "I'm thirsty" or "My tummy hurts", and most admitted they did.

In this story, three little robots have trouble settling down, with excuses like "I want more oil" and "My bolt's too tight". Every time you think they are finally asleep, "Beep! Beep!" and more excuses!  Cute illustrations, and kids (and parents!) will find this story very relateable.

Then we sang "I'm A Little Robot":

I'm a little robot, short and strong.
Here are my buttons, just turn me on.
When I get all warmed up, watch me go.
Sometimes fast, and sometimes slow.

Our last story was Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino, about a little robot whose parents want him to be the smartest little robot around, so everyday they have him plug in to download facts and information. One day he is intrigued by a pigeon on the windowsill, and discovers it coos, something he hadn't learned from his downloads. He decides to unplug and go out in the city to see what else he can learn by exploring.

Again, nostalgic illustrations in a mid-century modern sci-fi style, plus a good lesson about getting outside and learning by doing and exploring, rather than being "plugged-in" to electronics all the time.

We then ended with our closing song.

How It Went 
The kids were excited about pretending to be robots, and the teacher said if the "buttons" really worked I could make a fortune! They really liked the first two stories, and though they like Doug Unplugged as well, the lesson of the story went right over their heads. They thought it was a power cord, versus a USB for downloading. But I think it's a good thing that they haven't yet been so immersed in technology that they knew the difference. [I personally think technology is way overused with children, and have personally seen the deterioration of the quality of our educational system with my own children because of the overuse and and abuse of technology. Technology is a great tool sometimes, but is no substitute for teaching, or experiencing.]

Even though we do quite a few "Five Little..." and "Ten Little...." something rhymes, they really liked this one and asked to do it again (which we did) and again (I said we really needed to move on to our next story). They also asked to do the "I'm A Little Robot" song over and over. I usually do things twice anyway, but they don't always ask me to. We did do that one three times since it is so short.

They all did a pretty good job listening today. Of course it's almost the beginning of the next school year, so now that I've got them into good storytime habits, they'll be moving up and I'll have to start all over with a new crop of young 3 year-olds!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Making A Natural pH Indicator - STEAM Program

Here's a quick and easy STEAM program that falls under the "Kitchen Chemistry" heading. This experiment uses mostly things that people might have in their kitchen already, or could be easily obtained the next time you're grocery shopping.

In this experiment we will make a natural pH indicator from purple cabbage. The pigments that give purple cabbage its color are in the anthocyanin family, a group of color-changing, water-soluble cyclic compounds. They may appear red, purple, or green depending upon the pH. pH-sensitive anthocyanins are also found in other brightly colored fruits, vegetable, and flowers, but purple cabbage has pigments that cover the broadest range of pH and produces the most color changes.

[For a quick chemistry refresher, pH is a numeric scale that rates the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, based on the concentration of protons. Neutral solutions have a pH of 7.0, acidic solutions have a pH below 7.0, and alkaline solutions have a pH greater than 7.0. Acids like to donate protons (in the form of hydrogen ions) and bases like to accept protons.]

To Make Indicator Solution: 

  1. Chop 1/4 of a head of purple cabbage (about 2 cups).
  2. Place in blender with enough boiling water to cover.
  3. Carefully pulse blender to very finely chop cabbage (cover lid with towel and hold).
  4. Let steep for about 10 minutes.
  5. Strain solution through wire mesh strainer to remove large particles.
  6. Strain through coffee filter placed in wire mesh strainer to remove very fine particulates.
  7. Pour in storage container and allow to settle and cool.
  8. Solution may be stored in refrigerator up to one week.
The resulting solution will be about the color of diluted grape juice, the intensity and exact shade will vary depending on the amount, exact pH, and temperature of the water used. If the solution is very dark, so that you can't see through it at all, dilute with more water. This is about what it should look like, but a little lighter is okay, too:

Now, we are ready to experiment! 

Pour some of your indicator liquid into each of several small clear cups, glasses, or test tubes. Try to keep the amounts consistent.

Gather various household solutions for testing. The solutions should be clear and almost colorless for best results, and safe for kids to handle in small amounts. Suggestions for acidic solutions: distilled vinegar, lemon juice, clear carbonated beverage, apple juice, white grape juice, cream of tartar dissolved in water. Suggested alkaline solutions: baking soda, antacid tablets (Tums), washing soda, ammonia (demo only). As you can see, kid-friendly acidic solutions are much more readily available than basic ones. Ammonia must be handled carefully, and only by an adult (or mature teens with gloves and safety glasses in a well-ventilated area).

Test the solutions by pouring some of the desired test solution into one of the indicator solutions and observe the color change. Pinkish-purple is slightly acidic, pink is moderately acidic, and red is very acidic. Blue is slightly alkaline, green is moderately alkaline, and yellow is very alkaline. Yellow cannot be achieved with kid-friendly solutions, but an adult can do a demonstration using ammonia. It will appear light green at first, but over several minutes will become almost yellow. Be sure to keep one container with just the cabbage juice extract as your neutral control. Arrange your test containers in order of most acidic to most alkaline.

*Click on picture to see full-size version*
Left to right: distilled vinegar, apple juice, lemon juice, cream of tartar, Sprite,
neutral control, baking soda, Chlorox Clean-Up, washing soda, ammonia.

In the picture below you can see how the alkaline solutions continued to change color over time, with the washing powder and ammonia solutions become more yellow:

*Click on picture for full-size version*

For a library program, I would make up a large batch of the cabbage extract ahead of time, and just make one small batch as a demonstration. For the solutions to be tested, I would have the powders already dissolved in water (about 1 teaspoon/1 Cup), and have numbered cups (be sure you have a key) with them already set out at each place, but be sure to instruct them not to touch until told. Then distribute the cabbage juice.

Don't let them know what is magical about the cabbage juice ahead of time, just tell them to add the first solution (preferably once of the stronger acids or bases to get a dramatic change) and watch their reactions. Then explain how it works before testing the rest of the solutions, one at a time. Be sure to tell them NOT to mix solutions!

To dispose of your experiment, pour out the ammonia first, diluting with plenty of running water. Then dispose of all the others, pouring one at a time down the sink with the water running. For convenience, you may pool the smaller quantities of like solutions in one container to transfer to the sink.

You can also try making your own "litmus" paper by saturating filter paper or a coffee filter with the cabbage extract, allowing to dry, and cutting into strips. This works better with a more concentrated extract, so use less water in your preparation. Then either dip into test solution, or drip drops of test solution onto the strips. Try extracting anthocyanins from other colored fruits, vegetable, and/or flowers, and see what color changes they produce.

This could be a shorter program by itself, or combined with other "Kitchen Chemistry" experiments in a longer program and/or for older or more advanced groups. Display fiction books featuring mad-scientists, magic vegetables, or cabbage; as well as non-fiction books with simple at-home experiments and biographies of chemists for check-out.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Who Lives In The Ocean?

I planned this theme for the Storytime-To-Go program to coincide with "Shark Week" and the release of Finding Dory; after all, could there be any better time to talk about ocean creatures that that??

Each storytime in the Storytime-To-Go program lasts about 20-25 minutes (depending on whether the group is on time!), starting with a brief introduction, letter-of-the-day ("Oo"), then our "story song" which helps us settle down and be ready to listen to our first story. For each theme I have a "kit": a small bin with a variety of books on the theme ranging in length and sophistication and various songs, rhymes, flannel stories and other props or activities. We typically read 2-3 books, depending on time and length, and did 1-3 songs/activities with each group.

The Books
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna is a modern classic that has become a favorite of librarians, teachers, and children, with its endearing pouty fish and repeating lines that invite audience participation. It is interesting to see whether you get awww's or ewww's at the end with all the kissing. Pair it with the stuffed animal Pout-Pout fish to kiss all the children at the end.

If you've read some of my other posts, you know I love The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark by Ken Geist and Julia Gorton. This fun retelling of The Three Little Pigs is perfect for storytime with all of it's repeating lines that kids love to say, and the gentle drama.

Hide And Seek In The Ocean by Kate Burns and Dawn Apperley and What's In The Deep Blue Sea? by Peter Seymour and David Carter are both fun little books with pull-tabs and lift-a-flaps, which invite the audience to guess what is behind them. These are perfect for the younger kids, but I was surprised to discover the older kids really enjoy them as well. Unfortunately they are both out of print, but are worth the risk buying a used copy.

I like dark humor, so Jon Klassen's books are right up my alley. In This Is Not My Hat a little fish swims by, bragging that he has just stolen the hat he is wearing, but is confident he will never get caught. But the pictures soon reveal that the large fish he stole it from is on to him. In the end, we see the big fish swimming back out of the kelp forest, wearing the hat. I like that the story does not spell out what happened and leaves it open to interpretation. 

Somewhere In The Ocean by Jennifer Ward, T. J. Marsh, and Kenneth J. Spengler is a counting book in the style of "Over In The Meadow" and can either be read or sung. I really like that the illustrations are more realistic and it shows animals that are not found in many of the other books, such as manatees and sea urchins, and it has a page of facts about all the animals portrayed at the end.

The World Around Me-Oceans by Julie Aigner-Clark and Nadeem Zaidi is a very versatile book that I highly recommend. It's a large board book that shows many different creatures in the ocean. Then when you reach the end, the entire book unfolds into one long mural that can surround a very small group. On the reverse side are photographs of all the animals with some interesting facts.

Lucy Cousin's Hooray For Fish has bright, bold illustrations that are very engaging for younger kids. This book illustrates contrasting/descriptive terms and has a couple of pages that are good for practicing counting. This one is great for the 2-3 year olds.

I Spy Under The Sea by Edward Gibbs has a die-cut hole on each page to give a small glimpse of each animal, along with a clue. Turn the page and the sea creature is revealed in all it's glory. The illustrations are very pretty, but this is definitely a book for the younger kids, 2- and younger 3- year olds, as the older kids found it way too easy and guessed each one immediately.

Beach Bugs by David Carter was the only book I used that was about the beach rather than creatures that live in the ocean. It was nice to use occasionally for a change-of-pace, with younger kids, or when we just had a few minutes left. These little pop-up books are cute and silly, and the kids always like them.

I also tried Bob Shea's I'm A Shark a couple of times, but even though it's short, I found the humor is a little too sophisticated for this age and the preschoolers just don't quite get the whole running gag about the shark clearly being afraid of spiders, or the squid inking himself.

The Activities 
I ended up not visiting as many groups during this rotation, due to the holiday and cancellations for various other reasons, so I did not use as many different activities as usual because I didn't have a chance to get bored with them, and the kids really seemed to like the two I started with:

"The Creatures In The Sea"
(to the tune of "Wheels On The Bus")

The sharks in the sea go chomp, chomp, chomp;
Chomp, chomp, chomp; chomp, chomp, chomp.
The sharks in the sea go chomp, chomp, chomp; 
All day long.

[For the subsequent verses I let the kids suggest sea creatures and 
the sounds/actions to do with them, giving a little help or prompting 
if needed. Below are some of the ones we came up with.]

The fish in sea go swim, swim, swim....

The crabs in the sea go pinch, pinch, pinch....

The sea turtles in the sea go swim, swim, swim....

The dolphins in the sea go squeak, squeak, squeak....

The clams in the sea go open and shut....

The whales in the sea go splash, splash, splash....

The seahorses in the sea go up and down....

The lobsters in the sea go pinch, pinch, pinch....

The jellyfish in the sea go sting, sting, sting....

The octopus in the sea goes wiggle, wiggle, wiggle....


"Slippery Fish"

Slippery fish, slippery fish; swimming in the water.
Slippery fish, slippery fish; gulp, Gulp, GULP!
"Oh, no! He's been eaten by an octopus!"

Octopus, octopus; swimming in the water.
Octopus, octopus; gulp, Gulp, GULP!
"Oh, no! He's been eaten by a tuna fish!"

Tuna fish, tuna fish; swimming in the water.
Tuna fish, tuna fish; gulp, Gulp, GULP!
"Oh, no! He's been eaten by a great white shark!"

Great white shark, great white shark, swimming in the water.
Great white shark, great white shark; gulp, Gulp, GULP!
"Oh, no! He's been eaten by an orca whale!"

Orca whale, orca whale, swimming in the water.
Orca whale, orca whale; gulp, Gulp, GULP!
"BUURRP! Whoops, excuse me!"


I also tried the "Baby Shark" song that was such a big hit in my Shark Week 
storytime last year, but for whatever reason it just fell flat with these kids, 
so I dropped it after a couple of tries. I still think it's fun, though!

How It Went
It was a bit of an odd rotation this time, with lots of cancellations. Our Storytime Bus was in the shop the whole two weeks, so the only other option was go to the classrooms. I don't mind doing that, but there are a couple of facilities that really can't provide a suitable environment so I had to cancel with them, then there were two larger facilities that for whatever reason opted not to have me come without the bus. So that, on top of the holiday, really cut down the number of storytimes I did. But on the bright side, I had more time in the office to work on planning and check out some of the other programs going on in the library.

But all the storytimes I did went pretty well, other than a couple of groups being extra wiggly and talkative because they were SOOO excited about going to the pool later in the day they couldn't stand it! But that's just to be expected during the summer. Of course all the clown fish in the books had to be Nemo and any blue fish was Dory. All the books worked well, and I don't think there was really a stand-out favorite.

It was interesting to see how different kids interpreted the ending of This Is Not My Hat. They were all universally appalled by the fish stealing the hat, but surprisingly, several decided it wasn't so bad after they saw it fit him, but was way too small for its owner. The adults all thought the big fish ate the little thief, most of the kids just thought he took his hat back, and one sweet little optimistic girl said he probably asked nicely for his hat, and the other fish gave it back.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Shark Attack! Preschool Storytime

I did a more general "Ocean" theme with my Storytime-To-Go program last week, but focused on "Sharks" for my regular storytime. I'm not particularly obsessed with sharks, but I do have a lot of fun with the Shark Week theme each year! There are several fun stories, and this year I found a great pop-up book and some awesome props to borrow from colleagues, so I was really excited to do this storytime.

We started with our welcome song, and the kids guessed right away what the theme was because they saw the tail of the shark puppet sticking out of my bag. I let them all pretend to be scared of the puppet for a minute, then showed them some really cool fossilized sharks' teeth that a co-worker and her family had found on the beach while on vacation last summer. 

I used a non-fiction Scholastic book, Sharks Face to Face, to show them a few different kinds of sharks (great white, tiger, leopard, hammerhead, goblin, sawnose, and whale sharks) and a picture of someone holding a Great White Shark tooth to give them a sense of how big they are.

Then we sang our story song and read our first book, The Three Little Fish and the Big, Bad Shark by Ken Geist and Julia Gorton. 

This fun story is a re-telling of The Three Little Pigs, and I like this version even better! Not only is it a fun story to read, but it's great for storytime because it is so repetitive, so the kids can join in and say the "Little fish, little fish, let me come in!" and "the "Not by the skin of my finny, fin, fin" and the "Then I'll crunch and I'll munch and I'll smash your house in!"

Next we sang a song featuring the food chain, where each creature gets eaten by a bigger sea creature, "Slippery Fish", which I used in last year's "Shark!!" storytime as well, and with this year's ocean theme.

The kids all seem to catch on to this one quickly and seem to really enjoy singing along.

I chose something on the shorter side for our second book, but very interactive, Shark In The Dark by Nick Sharratt. In this sequel to Shark In The Park, Timothy Pope is once again looking around with his telescope, but this time it is bedtime and he is looking out his window to the sea (how lucky is he to live that close to the ocean!). 

As in the previous book, he keeps seeing what he thinks is a shark's dorsal fin, but turns out to be something else, like a sail, tip of a bird's wing, or the top of a giant plastic ice cream cone. The kids will have fun predicting whether it really is a shark each time, and if not, what it could be.

Then we sang "The Creatures In The Sea" to the tune of "The Wheels On The Bus", starting with sharks.
The sharks in the sea go Chomp, chomp, chomp;
Chomp, chomp, chomp; Chomp, chomp, chomp.
The sharks in the sea go Chomp, chomp, chomp;
All day long.

I try to get the kids to suggest creatures and the sounds/motions to go with them for the remaining verses, though they sometimes need a little help. Some of the others we came up with today were:
The fish in the sea go swim, swim, swim....

The dolphins in the sea go jump and splash....

The starfish in the sea go creep, creep, creep....

The crabs in the sea go pinch, pinch, pinch....

The clams in the sea go open and shut....

The children at the sea play in the sand....

I saved the best for last with my new favorite shark book (but The Three Little Fish is a very close second), The Little Fish Who Cried Shark by Trish Phillips. Not only is it a really cute story and another shark-y re-telling of a folk tale, it is a pop-up book! Unfortunately it is out of print, but I took a chance and ordered a used copy on Amazon, and was very pleasantly surprised. There is a bit of wear on the pop-ups, but they are in surprisingly good shape and all work.

Little Sprat loves scaring all the other sea creatures by yelling "Shark!", so when he hears the warning he ignores it, thinking someone is just getting him back. But then, a large dorsal fin appears from behind the coral, and a giant shark pops out!

Then we sang our closing song, passed out shark stickers, and let everyone have a turn with the shark puppet.

How It Went 
We all had so much fun today! To start with, I was greeted with lots of cries of "Miss Jennifer!!" and lots of very enthusiastic hugs, like they hadn't seen me in forever! I was a couple of minutes late, so maybe that was an eternity to them and built up their anticipation or made them worry I wasn't coming.  Whatever the reason, I certainly didn't mind being treated like a rock star ;)  That's the best part of the job!

The kids loved this theme and had a lot of fun pretending to be scared of all the sharks. They were fascinated with the sharks' teeth, and loved being bitten by the shark puppet. At the end, they all wanted a turn with the puppet, biting me or their friends, with lots of squealing and cries of "Bite me, bite me!" Unfortunately there were a few tears when one child got a little too carried away and made the shark bite another's face. While the teeth aren't hard, they are stiff and slightly scratchy on tender 4 year-old skin. But once he got his turn with the puppet, the tears were gone.

They really enjoyed all three books and both songs; for once it's really impossible to say which one they liked best. The Three Little Fish had a great story with lots of drama and repetition so they could say it along with me, Shark In The Dark was a fun guessing game, and The Little Fish Who Cried Wolf was a good story, but most of all, had great pop-up illustrations. They all did a pretty good job of listening and were pretty much engaged the whole time.

**For more shark books, check out "10 Picture Books About Sharks" and "10 More Picture Books About Sharks".