Saturday, February 6, 2021

Early Literacy To Go - February


February early literacy to go kit

I had somewhat of a difficult time putting this month's kit together. Part of it was just a lack of uninterrupted time to concentrate on planning, but the ideas just weren't flowing, either. I also had to do a little back-tracking because I had initially planned out my storytimes for the month mainly featuring new picture books rather than themes because we've gotten so many great ones in lately, but then realized I had not done anything in any way for Black History Month, so I had to re-think everything. And since I like to make the early literacy to go kits complement the virtual storytimes, I had to get the storytimes planned before I could plan the kit.

As I looked through many picture books about various aspects of Black history, significant achievements by African-Americans, and Black joy, I came to the conclusion that it really wasn't possible to put together an age/developmentally-appropriate storytime that was really about Black history, as it was just such a big topic to tackle in just a few minutes, and all the picture books I looked at were just too long, and too text heavy. There were some really great storytime books featuring Black children, but were written by white authors, which I don't think is necessarily bad in general, but for Black History Month I definitely wanted own voices. 

In the end I decided to make it more "inspired by" or an "homage to" than "about", by making a point to include books on the suggested list with Black authors and/or illustrators (but even then, it was difficult to find any in our collection that were appropriate for a toddler/preschool storytime, most were more for older kids) and some of the activities in the kit featuring or inspired by the achievements of Black men and women, which is also how I will structure one of this month's virtual storytimes. The other theme I focused on for the month was love/Valentine's Day. This month's kit included:

  • Sheet with all the suggested activities on the front (click on the image to see larger); songs/fingerplays/action rhymes and instructions for included craft/activities on the back, along with a reminder about the weekly virtual storytime on the branch Facebook page and YouTube channel.
  • Activities - easy, everyday activities categorized by ECRR2 five practices
    • Talk - storytelling, tell one thing you love about each other & yourselves, repeat babbling back to infants
    • Play - "Red Light-Green Light", not a box
    • Write - tracing in salt tray, popping bubble wrap, write or draw what you love about the library
    • Sing - check out children's music CD's from library, play improvised instruments, songs and fingerplays on back
    • Read - together and independently
  • Book Suggestions:
    • My Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
    • The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
    • While We Can’t Hug by Eoin McLaughlin & Polly Dunbar
    • Princess Hair by Sharee Miller
    • The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer & Ekua Holmes (print & digital)
    • One Love by Bob & Cedella Marley (print & digital)
    • Love/Amor by Julie Murray, (digital in English or Spanish)
    • Eek! A Noisy Journey from A to Z by Julie Larios & Julie Paschkis
    • Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood (print & digital)
  • Songs/Rhymes/Fingerplays (linked to previous posts with full lyrics):
    • "H-E-A-R-T" 
    • "I Have a Little Heart"
    • "Zoom, Zoom, Zoom"
  • Included STEM Craft - Heart Collage Animals (geometry, spatial relationships)
    • assorted size & color heart-shaped foam stickers
    • larger die-cut heart
    • assorted googly-eyes
    • sheet of cardstock (could make as a picture, or fold into a card)
  • Included Scissor-Skills Craft - Valentine Pal
    • red construction paper with large heart printed on it to cut out
    • white paper to cut into strips & accordion fold
    • 1/2 sheet with assorted small hearts to cut out
    • googly eyes
    • glue stick
  • Included Black History/STEM Activity - Traffic Light
    • information about African American inventor Garrett Morgan and his 3-position traffic signal
    • printed traffic light
    • red, yellow, and green paper for tearing
    • glue stick
  • Coloring sheets
    • bear w/heart-shaped balloons
    • vase of roses
    • George Washington Carver
    • Katherine Johnson
  • Die cut letters "H-E-A-R-T" to go with rhyme above

February crafts for preschoolers

I'm not quite as happy with this kit as the previous ones; it feels a bit forced or something. Or maybe it's just almost there, but not quite. Or maybe it's just been a difficult, frustrating, stressful month and nothing feels quite right? 

But, I am happy to see that now that I've been doing these for four months, awareness and interest does seem to be growing, with more and more patrons specifically asking for them. I think the little "unboxing" promotional videos I've been doing have helped, as I get more views on them than for my virtual storytimes, and even got a comment from someone who was NOT a staff member this month (!), saying their child really liked all the activities I have been putting together for them. I'm still not sure if caregivers are actually doing the activities with the children, and I'm not see many of the suggested books being checked out, but baby steps. At least the resources are there for them.

I am the only one in our district doing anything like this that I know of, so it may take a while to catch on and for caregivers to realize it's different from the simple craft kits they are used to getting (and are still available, because they have their place, too!). The digital divide is great in our area, so I am a bit surprised there hasn't been more of an emphasis on early literacy support (and other alternative programming in general) for those without access to the internet and computers, but the apparent disconnect there is a topic for another post...

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