Friday, May 26, 2017

Going To The Library

I had originally planned this storytime for National Library Week, but the daycare was closed for Good Friday, so I saved it to kick off Summer Reading and promote going to the library.

We started with our welcome song, then talked a little about libraries before singing our story song. I decided to start off with Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw as a more realistic introduction to going to the library. (Lola Loves Stories is also good for promoting reading.)

The story is simple and straightforward, and talks about returning books, checking out more books, storytime, and how children don't get "shushed" in the children's department. (I changed some of the words slightly to fit the way my library does things.) When it mentions Lola singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" we paused to sing it as well. The illustrations are sweet and colorful.

We followed that with a short little rhyme about "Five Little Books" being checked out of the library from What Happens In Storytime, but I made my felt books a little differently. First we counted the books, then identified the colors, then did the rhyme. Instead of specific names, I inserted things like "a little girl", "a little boy", "Mommy", "Daddy", and "a teacher", because I didn't want anyone left out, but I didn't really feel like repeating it 3 or 4 times to use all their names, either.

Five Little Books

Five little books at the library,
Five little books as great as can be.
Along came _______ with their library card,
and checked one out to read.

Four little books at the library.....[repeat until you get to zero]

Our second book stars one of my favorite characters, Froggy Goes to the Library by Jonathan London and Frank Remkiewicz. Froggy enjoys going to the library as well, but in his excitment he almost forgets to get dressed and eat breakfast. Then, once they are at the library, Froggy lets his imagination get the best of him! But then he settles down for storytime, and gets everyone, including the librarian, to join him in a silly song and dance.

The kids seemed to like Froggy's silly song, so I asked them if they wanted to stand up and do it themselves, and they did. So, we all stood up and sang and danced:

Wiggle, wiggle; Waggle waggle
Giggle, giggle; Gaggle gaggle

I was thinking I'd probably just read two books today because they've been more restless lately and Froggy was a little longer. But, it was a smaller group than usual and they were doing really well and really wanted another story, so I went ahead and read The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariaa OHora. 

In this story, Oskar and Theodore go to the library with their dad, after stopping by the dougnut shop for breakfast. They are reading quiety, when a many-headed monster suddenly appears, with a taste for books. Can Oskar and Theodore convince the monster that books are not for eating? And neither are Oskar and Theodore!

After that, I talked more about the summer reading program, showing them the classrom log and explaining that all they have to do is check the boxes every time they read 20 minutes or visit the library, then at the end of the summer when they've checked 30 boxes I will bring each of them a book to keep, plus extra books for the classroom. Then I showed them the calendars I brought for each one of them to take home that describes all the cool events going on all summer.

Then, we sang our closing song and passed out stickers.

How It Went
It was nice having a slightly smaller group; they always do a better job listening when there aren't quite so many of them. They seemed to enjoy all the stories, particularly The Not So Quiet Library. I'm always happy to see how horrified they are when characters mistreat books in our stories. They had to sing Twinkle, Twinkle as soon as it was mentioned in the Lola book, and loved doing Froggy's song and dance. As soon as I held up the Lola book, two little girls said, "She looks like me!" Even though the "Five Little Books" rhyme was so simple, they really liked it and wanted to do it again. They were particularly eager for more stories today.

They were very excited when I told them they would each get a book to keep at the end of the summer reading program; I saw many little faces light up and mouth's in the shape of an "O", and one boy said he wanted one about dinosaurs. I told him I couldn't promise that, but we would see.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Summer Reading

So I'm guessing many of you are either (1) in full-blown panic mode trying to get everything ready for summer reading, (2) trying to squeeze in some time off to recharge before summer reading, (3) or simply enjoying the last week or two of calm before the storm. Today is the last day of school for our public schools, so it will start getting busier here next week, then hit full force in June!

Back in my days as a page in the children's department, summer reading meant a HUGE increase in my workload, and was exhausting, and often frustrating, with all the summer camp groups that would come in and destroy the department while their counselors sat in a corner chatting amongst themselves and playing on their phones. In my current position as a paraprofessional in the Outreach department, summer reading doesn't affect me as much as others. At my level I'm not involved in any of the decision-making or major responsibilities of getting everything planned and ready, and since I'm only in the library at a service desk one afternoon a week, I don't have to deal with the increased chaos every day. I generally just keep doing the same thing, going out to daycares and doing storytime.

I do see some changes, though. At some of the daycares, enrollment goes up during the summer; at others it goes down. At ALL of the daycares the kids are much harder to engage and keep focused, much more chatty and wiggly, in the summer! I will drop off summer reading materials, and help deliver their prize books at the end. The one big change for me this summer is that I will also be doing several school-aged STEAM programs. Last year I did one; this year I think we have 7 scheduled so far! It will be hectic, but I love having a chance to do something different! I am able to repeat programs since they are all different groups, but I do need to come up with two new program ideas for one place.

I do sympathize will my peers for whom summer is much more chaotic, demanding, and stressfull. Some libraries make summer reading such a circus, with major events almost everyday, I don't see how anyone does it. Sometimes I wonder if that's all really necessary, and does it really accomplish anything other than increasing our numbers? I can't help but question sometimes if the original intent of summer reading has been lost. 

Summer reading was originally supposed to address the "summer slide", but now it seems like it's more of a numbers game, increasing circ stats and program attendance, rather than increasing literacy. Some studies have suggested that incentivized reading at best does not really translate to increased reading later on, and at worst may actually discourage voluntary reading. My library offerred some really cool prizes last year, and "participation" definitely increased, if you define participation as turning in a reading log. But was there really any more reading going on? I don't really think so, just more cheating.

What's the right answer? I don't really know. When libraries are fighting for funding and proving they are still relevant, statistics are the only hard evidence we have, so it's not practical to say they don't matter, but I would like to see some of the obsession and pressure to increase stats, and be "bigger and better" each year relaxed and the focus put back on learning and literacy. In particular, I would love to see more research about incentivized reading and the effectiveness of different summer reading programs, and more research-based summer reading program design.

But, it is what it is for now, and I do enjoy seeing more people at the library, in particular the now school-aged kids who used to come to storytime, and I love the chance to do some other types of programming! It will be busy, but a good busy! Happy Summer, everyone!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Frogs, Toads, Aliens, and Dinosaurs!

I usually try to pick a different theme for my "regular" storytime on Friday, so I can expand my repertoire and experiment, but this week I was just too distracted to think of anything, so I stuck with the same "Frog" theme I have been doing on the Storytime Bus, though I did pick new books and spent a little more time on non-fiction.

As usual, we started with our welcome song, but then I did a longer introduction than usual, expanding it into a bit of a lesson about frogs using the wonderful non-fiction book All About Frogs by Jim Arnosky. I really like this book a lot, as it covers many things about frogs, including how they differ from toads, pictures of many different North American frogs, including tree frogs, showing how they vary in size, coloring, and markings. 

It also shows a few of the brightly colored poison dart frogs, which I supplemented with a number of photograghs of poison dart frogs I had copied and printed onto a single piece of paper as I find them truly amazing (there are also a couple of books just on poison dart frogs, one by Julie Murray, and another by Carmen Bredeson). This book also shows some of the things that frogs eat, as well as what eats them! Though I generally prefer photographs for non-fiction, the illustrations in this book are very realistic. I didn't read the text to them, but showed some of the pictures and talked about them. 

Since the last thing we talked about was what eats frogs, which included an alligator, we then did this really fun rhyme I learned from one of our volunteers that the kids seem to like a lot:

There Once Was An Alligator

There once was an alligator, sitting on a log.
(one hand & arm is the gator, on top of the other arm for the log)

Down in the water, he saw a little frog.
(look down)

DOWN dove the alligator!
(say this suddenly & loudly, while quickly "diving" down; 
it startles the kids, and they love it!)

Around spun the log!
(roll arms like log spinning)

SPLASH went the water!
(throw arms out)

And away swam the frog!
(make breaststroke motion with arms)

The kids are always startled when I suddenly cry "DOWN!" and dive down, then they giggle and really get into it. They like doing the motions, and I urge them to swim quickly to get away from the alligator, and often repeat 2-3 times as we keep running into more alligators. Depending on what book this follows, I may substitute "crocodile" for "alligator" and/or say "wide-mouthed frog" or "yummy frog" instead of "little frog".

Then we sang several verses of our story song to get settled for our stories, including stomp feet, clap hands, be seated, nod head, and say "shh". Our first story was Green Wilma: Frog In Space by Tedd Arnold. In this funny story Wilma is chasing a fly and is mistaken by aliens for their child who was playing in the pond. 

The aliens take Wilma into their ship and fly away. At first they think the earth's pond water had turned their dear Blooger green, but then they determine she is in fact not their son but an alien. They quickly return to earth to correct their mistake, much to Blooger's relief.

We followed this by singing everyone's favorite, "Five Green & Speckled Frogs", using my homeade finger-puppet glove, while they used their hands and fingers (for other ways to do this song, see "Five Green & Speckled Frogs, Five Ways"). 

Five Green & Speckled Frogs

Five green and speckled frogs, sat on a speckled log.

Eating some most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!

One jumped into the pool, where it was nice and cool.

Now there are four green speckled frogs. Glub, Glub.

[Continue counting down to none.]

I preceded our last story, Tadpole Rex by Kurt Cyrus, with a quick lesson on the life cycle of a frog so they would understand what a tadpole was, using the same non-fiction book by Arnosky above. The title and cover of Tadpole Rex confused them, and some kept trying to correct me and tell me it was Tyranosaurus rex, so I made sure to pause an explain what was going on with the Tyranosaurus making the puddle, but the story was about the teeny little tadpole in the puddle, who was also named Rex. 

The story shows Rex develop from a tadpole into a frog, and his interactions with a few dinosaurs before deciding to stay safely hidden in his puddle, with just his eyes showing. A couple remained a little confused about the mixing of frogs and dinosaurs, so I think I will either save this book for slightly older kids and give it a bit more of a lead-in with a discussion about how there were frogs living at the time of dinosaurs in the future.

After that, we had a quick "pop quiz" about frogs to summarize what we learned, and then did our closing song and passed out stickers.

How It Went
This class has been a bit unusual compared to the previous two years. In the past, the kids were more talkative, restless, and inattentive at the beginning of the year, but have matured into good listeners by the end of the year. This class started out as exceptionally good listeners in the beginning, but now are getting more talkative and harder to control at the end of the year! But they are always so glad to see me, and almost knocked me over with a mob hug when I first walked in.

They did seem to enjoy the subject and the stories, but I don't think many fully appreciated either story since they weren't listening as well as usual. The loved doing the action rhyme with the alligator, though, and most liked doing the "Five Green & Speckled Frogs" song. When we talked about what frogs eat, they always say "Ewww" at the thought of eating bugs, and I tease them, saying that's what they were having for lunch or snack. And what do you know, after I finished, the teacher pulled out some celery, pimento cheese, and raisins for them to make "Ants On Log" for snack, so they did eat "bugs" after all!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Garden Storytime

I just finished my 2-week rotation on the Storytime Bus with a "Garden" theme. We talked about both flower gardens and vegetable gardens, and what we would like to plant if we had a garden. We also talked about how seeds need soil, water, and sunlight to grow, the main parts of the plant and what they do (roots, stem, leaves, flower), and what types of bugs and animals might be helpful or harmful to the garden. I particularly emphasized how important bees are for pollination, and that without pollination we would get no vegetables to eat, or seeds to plant more flowers.

I used mostly the same books and the same songs and rhymes as I did last time, so I'll just link to my previous "Garden" post and highlight the three new books I used this time here.

Maisy Grows a Garden is not actually a "new" book, but we did not have it in our collection previously, so it is new for me. I love these Maisy pull-tab books! They are short and simple enough for the younger kids, but all the pull-tabs and pop-ups keep the older ones engaged, too.

This books shows all the steps of gardening: digging the ground, planting the seed, watering, sunlight, sprouting, weeding, growing, and maturing. I like that it shows both vegetables (carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and green beans), and flowers.

My Sunflower by Mar Ferrero and Martin Taylor is a new pop-up book that is also great for the younger ones because it is short and simple, but the older ones like the pop-ups, too. The first page amazes them because when the book is closed, you see a sunflower seedling in the die-cut circle, with the seed still visible and roots and shoot just started to develop. 

But then when you open the cover, it "magically" changes to a sunflower blossom in full bloom! We see the seed in the ground, then after it gets water and sunshine, the seed cracks open and the roots and shoot start to grow. The seedling grows taller and taller, then a bud appears, and finally blooms into a huge pop-up flower.

I love Christie Matheson's Tap the Magic Tree, so I was excited when her new book, Plant the Tiny Seed, came in a couple of months ago. In this book, we follow the growth cycle of zinnia flowers, from seed to sprout to blossom and back to seed again.

Just like her other books, the reader/audience is prompted to do various motions, such as making it rain, clapping to bring the sun, and pretending to snip the spent flower so more buds will bloom. I will say this book doesn't quite have the same magic as her first, but it's still nice to use.

The kids all enjoyed this theme and talking about their gardens at home, or what they would want to grow in their gardens. One thing I noticed that was very consistent across all groups is that they were *really* distracted by any bugs or worms shown in the illustrations! I made a point to explain how some were good, such as how earthworms keep the soil loose, allow water and air to reach the roots, and fertilize the soil; how ladybugs eat the aphids, and how important bees are for fertilization. Of course we also read my two favorite garden-related books, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! and Carrot Soup, along with several others.

For more books and songs & rhymes, see my previous "Garden" post and my previous "Five Little Flowers" Flannel Friday post!