Sunday, January 13, 2019

Snowmen - Family Storytime

I chose this theme to have something seasonal, and because I have a really fun snowman activity I love to do. Though I had planned it 2-3 weeks ago, it turned out to be the day we had our first significant (though barely) snowfall!

As always, I started with our welcome song and introductions, then of course we had to talk about the weather and things we like to do in the snow, ending with talking about building snowmen, and pretending to build a snowman along with the following rhyme I first saw at Storytime Katie:
I Built A Little Snowman

I built a little snowman; he had a carrot nose.
(pretend to build snowman & place carrot)

Along came a bunny, and what do you suppose??
(hold up 2 fingers & "hop", shrug)

That hungry little bunny, looking for his lunch,
(rub tummy, hop bunny around)

ATE the snowman's nose! Nibble! Nibble! Crunch!
(pretend bunny is eating nose/carrot)

Then I led into our first book, a pop-up version of Snowmen At Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner, with our story song. I like the pop-up version for younger or less-attentive kids because it is a little shorter than the original story, and pop-ups are always a big hit and more engaging. 

This story is very cute and has a nice rhythm when read aloud, and has nice illustrations, but the young kids usually need a little help realizing the real reason the snowman looks different is because he has melted. This led in nicely to the next activity.

After that is was time for one of my favorite activities, based on the fingerplay, "Five Little Snowmen", for which I made these props using the "Shapes" tools in Word (you can find downloadable files and more pictures in my original "Flannel Friday" post):

Five little snowmen, standing in a row.
Each with a hat and a carrot nose.
Out came the sun and shined on all day.
And one little snowman melted away.

[Continue down to the last snowman]

The first time I did this, I had a sudden moment of inspiration and turned it into a game after we did it the traditional way first. I had the kids all stand in a circle and be the snowmen. I was the sun, and walked around behind them as we said the rhyme, and if I tapped them on the shoulder, that meant it was their time to melt. It was so much fun, I've done it that way whenever space allowed every since.

After all of our little snowmen had finished melting and turned back into children, we moved on to a story about a very different kind of snowman, the "Abominable Snowman", a Western misnomer of the Yeti of Nepali legends. I gave an introduction and explanation of the Yeti before we read our second book, No Yeti Yet, by Mary Ann Fraser.

In this book, two kids go out looking for a Yeti, with the older one hoping to get a picture. As they walk through the woods, the Yeti is close by, but they never spot him, and all the while the younger child keeps questioning the older one about the Yeti. Finally, they reach the Yeti's cave and run into him, then run away in fright. Kids will love trying to spot the Yeti on each page, and laugh at the kids being afraid when the Yeti chases after them when they realize he is just trying to return their camera.

After that we of course had to go on our own Yeti hunt! First in the form of a call-and-response chant modeled after the classic "Going On A Bear Hunt". First start a clapping rhythm, then the leader says a line, and the audience repeats.

Going On A Yeti Hunt

We're going on a Yeti hunt.
Gonna find a big one. 
With great big feet,
And long white fur.

Look, it's a great, big snowfield!
Can't go around it,
Can't go under it,
Have to ski across it!
(pretend to ski)
Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh!

[Repeat beginning verse]

Look, it's a wide, frozen river!
Can't swim across it,
Can't go around it,
Have to skate across it!
(pretend to skate)
Glide, glide, glide!

[Repeat beginning verse]

Look, it's a great big mountain!
Can't go around it,
Can't go through it,
Have to climb up it!
(pretend to climb)
Climb, climb, climb!

[Repeat beginning verse]

Look, it's a deep, dark cave!
Just like where the Yeti lives.
Let's go in it!
(pretend to walk carefully)
Step, step, step.

Whoops, what is that?
I feel two great big feet!
And long, shaggy, fur!

[Say the rest quickly, without pausing for response while acting out the motions]

It's the Yeti! Run!  Run, run, run
Climb down the mountain!   Climb, climb, climb
Skate back across the river!  Glide, glide, glide
Ski across the snowfield!  Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh
Go back in the house, and shut the door!  Slam, lock
Ah, safe at last!

Yeti Hunt, snowman storytimeAfter that, we went on actual Yeti hunt, looking for a small, stuffed Yeti I had hidden in the picture book section next to the storytime area. Since we were running a tad over our time after that, I skipped the closing song and went straight to the craft.

Today's craft was very open-ended. I started with the idea of making snowmen by gluing cotton balls on a piece of construction paper. I provided blue paper, cotton balls, both liquid glue and glue sticks, pieces of scrap paper of several colors for added details, scissors, and crayons. At the last minute, I decided not to provide an example to discourage parents from thinking it had to be made the "right" way.

I just put out the materials, and told them to use the cotton balls however they wanted to create their own snowy scene. I suggested they could use them to make snowmen, Yeti, snow forts, snowballs in a snowball fight, snow falling down, or whatever they wanted.

I was pleased to see that the parents did just let the kids do whatever they wanted, and not worry about how they turned out. 

This one little boy [pictured with permission] was so cute! We have the glue sticks that are purple when "wet" and dry clear, and evidently he had only seen regular white ones because he kept opening one after the other, exclaiming "Look, purple!" each time. He had the sweetest little smile, too.

How It Went 
I was a little concerned about whether I would have anyone show up for storytime, because, ironically, we were forecast to have snow, possibly heavy and possibly mixed with freezing rain, overnight and in the morning. Luckily, we only got about a couple of inches of snow, no ice, and it was over before morning. I still had a smaller crowd than normal, but still a decent number with about 8 kids and 7 adults, and one family had actually already been out in the snow that morning and built a little snowman, so in a way it was good timing for the theme.

The kids were all on the younger side, and a couple had a little trouble listening to the stories or participating in some activities, but overall they did great. They didn't get into acting out the "Five Little Snowmen" like slightly older kids do, but some did (I'll have to remember to save the "game" version for older kids). One little girl was too shy, so her dad held her and melted to the floor holding her! I was pretty impressed with that. I was really glad to see several dads in the audience, and see them participating. 

They all like spotting the Yeti in No Yeti Yet and liked the twist of the Yeti chasing after the children not to get them, but rather to return their camera, and everyone enjoyed the Yeti hunt. All in all, I was very pleased with how it all turned out, and we all had a lot of fun with it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Reflecting On The Past Year & Setting Goals for 2019

This year seems to have been a whirlwind, with so much going on and making a big change job-wise. After working in early literacy outreach for three years, I was ready for a change. Don't get me wrong, I love doing outreach storytimes and I think it is very important and continue to be an advocate for outreach, but I found that doing ONLY that day after day just became too repetitive and isolating. I really missed working in the library and interacting with more people of all ages, and doing other things besides storytime.

So in July I transferred to the Children's Department of our busiest suburban branch, and I love it! Though I may not be the bubbly, perky, cheerleader type, I actually do enjoy customer service and am pretty good at it, so I've been so glad to be back in a more traditional role in the building with more variety and people.

Now I get to work on reader's advisory and do things I couldn't do working in outreach, like my month-long Dinovember campaign, working on bulletin boards like the one below, which was the first I had ever made a significant contribution to design or execution (it was a very collaborative effort with several people involved in the design & construction, but the trees are all me), doing monthly STEAM programs, and the potential for other programming. The downside is I don't get to do as much storytime as I'd like, only one family storytime a month, but I'm hoping that will change in the future.

The new job has been a big adjustment in some ways. Doing a family storytime in the library is very different from a preschool outreach storytime in the classroom, and presents it's own unique set of challenges, so in a sense I'm having to figure things out all over again. Also, it is very busy, insanely busy during the summer, so it can be difficult getting everything done that needs getting done, and since I get no off-desk time, program planning is very challenging. It's a very different environment than my previous two positions, and is great experience to prepare me for to be a full-fledged children's librarian once I complete my degree.

Another new development I almost forgot is that I was appointed to the Board of Trustees of my small local public library, which has been kind of a surreal experience. It has been interesting to see things from the administrative side of things, and nice to be more involved in supporting my own community. I may even get the opportunity to be involved in a library expansion, which is an exciting prospect; we are just in the beginning stages to determine if it's feasible at this time.

I've met most of my goals for the year. I completed four more classes towards my MLIS (only five to go!!), attended a local conference and did a few webinars. Unfortunately there just weren't any opportunities to present at a library conference this year, as the one I'd planned on was not held, but I did do a presentation for after-school program workers on encouraging literacy and life-long reading. I was very sad to miss the ALSC conference, but with the new job it just wasn't possible to take off. I continue to read as much as I can, and have made more effort to look at reviews and lists and I think my RA is improving, and I am getting experience in different types of programming for varied ages.

My goals for next year are pretty simple and straightforward this time:
  • Complete 4 more courses towards my MLIS, putting me on track for finally graduating in May of 2020! 🎓
  • Continue to gain experience in different types of programming and in marketing our programs and collection (bulletin boards, fliers, displays, passive programming, etc.)
  • Get more efficient and decisive in program planning.
  • Hopefully add some outreach storytimes as I do miss doing them.
  • Continue to work on RA.
  • Take a little more time in reviewing the new picture books that come in, and keep a running list of ones that I like. I find since I'm not able to use them right away now, I tend to forget them.
  • Attend the state public libraries conference, as it will be here, so much easier to attend at least some sessions around my work schedule.
So this year is mostly about survival and getting through school and settling into my new job even more, and trying to generally improve a little in everything overall. But, next year I will complete my MLIS, so that will be the time for some more lofty goals! 

How about you? Please share on of your goals for 2019 in the comments!