Saturday, March 6, 2021

Early Literacy To Go - March


Early literacy take-home kit for March

This month I looked over a few lists of various holidays and observances in March for a little inspiration in planning my storytimes for this month. Although these kits are designed to stand alone, I also design them to complement my virtual storytimes, so that's where my planning process starts: first I plan my storytime themes, then I decide what crafts/activities I want to provide so I can order materials if needed, then I come up with all the other suggestions, songs/fingerplays, and tips. The themes I decided to use are: World Wildlife Day, International Day of Awesomeness (awesome new books), St. Patrick's Day, Folktales and Fables Week, and National Crayon Day. 

Each kit contained the following:

  • Sheet with all the suggested activities on the front; 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 the ECRR2 five practices
    • Talk - play "Would You Rather" and pick different animals you would like to be and why, discuss what you would do if you found a pot of gold.
    • Play - act our your favorite folk/fairy tales, and give them a new twist
    • Write - scribbling, coloring, and drawing; make a squishy bag
    • Sing - songs based on traditional nursery rhymes and folk tales, songs and fingerplays on back
    • Read - together and independently
  • Book Suggestions:
    • Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle
    • Wild About Us by Karen Beaumont
    • Over and Under the Rainforest by Kate Messner (print & digital)
    • Pete the Cat: The Great Leprechaun Chase by James Dean (print & digital)
    • Mary Englebreit's Nursery and Fairy Tales Collection (print & digital)
    • Folk and Fairy Tale Easy Readers- 15 Stories by Scholastic
    • Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall (print, Vox, & digital)
    • The Day the Crayon's Quit and The Day the Crayon's Came Back by Drew Daywalt
    • Baby Bear Counts One by Ashley Wolff
    • Animal ABC by Marcus Pfister
  • Songs/Rhymes/Fingerplays (linked to previous posts with full lyrics):
    • "March Comes In Like a Lion"
    • "The Animals In The Jungle"
    • "Five Little Shamrocks"
    • "Five Little Crayons"
  • Included Craft - Rainbow & Pot of Gold (pincer grasp, color identification, counting)
    • paper with leprechaun and pot
    • round stickers in gold, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & violet

  • Included STEAM Activity - Jack and the Beanstalk 
    • Jack and the Beanstalk story booklet to color & read (from
    • lima bean seeds
    • paper towels
    • clear plastic cup

  • Additional Craft - Crayon Shaving Suncatcher
    • crayons
    • waxed paper squares

  • Coloring sheets
    • African wildlife
    • Wildlife native to our state
    • St. Patrick's Day
  • Counting Activity
    • leprechaun pot cards numbered 0 to 10
    • 1/2" round gold stickers

  • Die cut letter "A" (for "animal")
  • Die cut 4-leaf clover
So as it turned out I really struggled with these this month, both in planning and preparing. First, as I am often guilty of doing, I way over-planned and just tried to include way too much and some things took much longer to prep than I realized. Second, I am starting to run out of ideas; I really wish I had someone else to work on these with, or at least bounce ideas off of, but we are a small library with a very small staff and I am the only one with early literacy experience and expertise. Third, it is sometimes difficult to come up with the book suggestions because our system frequently only has one copy of a given title and I'd rather pick something readily available, and there is an over-reliance on digital formats, even though children and youth do not use them. Ideally, I try to choose titles that are available in both print and digital, but that is getting harder to find. Then finally, I lost a lot of work time to snow delays and closures for plumbing problems and staff day.

I also realized I have gradually skewed a little bit to activities that are more appropriate for kids at the older end of age range, and not enough for the lower end. So I am going to have to scale back and simplify, and re-focus on activities more appropriate for the 2-3 year olds. The kits have proven to be very popular, and after 5 months people are aware of them and are now requesting them by name. Initially, 35 kits would last almost until the end of the month, but last month they were all gone by the middle. I made 40 for this month, and if I can rein it in and keep them a little more simple I can probably do more. But hopefully by fall we will be back to in-person storytimes.

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