Monday, April 5, 2021

Early Literacy To Go - April


This month I again looked to lists of holidays and observances to inspire storytime themes, settling on Be Kind to Spiders Week, Spring, Velociraptor Appreciation Day, Superhero Day, and Poetry Month (incorporating poetry throughout the month rather than a specific poetry-themed storytime). Though these kits are designed to stand alone and provide early literacy support to those who cannot access virtual programming or have kids who just can't engage with that format, they also complement the virtual storytimes.

My planning process is to first choose my storytime themes for the month, then plan the included crafts/activities and order supplies, then write the newsletter. For book suggestions I try to select books that we have multiple copies of in the system, and several that we have both in print and digital; I also include a counting book and an alphabet book each month. 

Assembling everything is a rather time-consuming process that I try to pair with watching webinars and virtual conferences to make best use of my time, and having something to do with my hands seems to help me pay attention better as well!

This month's kit contained the following:

  • Newsletter 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 - about the changes you observe with the arrival of Spring, favorite dinosaurs, favorite superheroes. Make up a story about them..
    • Play - encourage dramatic play, pretend to be a superhero, what would your powers be; play hide-and-seek outdoors, poetry activity
    • Write - scribbling, coloring, and drawing; picking up small objects, scissor skills, threading beads and lacing all work fine motor skills.
    • Sing - different types of songs, from traditional children's songs to contemporary; songs and fingerplays on back
    • Read - together and independently
  • Book Suggestions:
    • Animals, Animals by Eric Carle
    • I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton
    • Itsy Bitsy Spider by Joe Rhatigan
    • A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (print & digital)
    • Velociraptor: A Speedy Tale by Fran Bromage (print & digital)
    • Dinosaurs! by Jill McDonald (boardbook)
    • Abracadabra, It's Spring by Ashley Sibley O'Brien
    • Shake a Leg, Egg by Kurt Cyrus
    • Sweet Dreams, Supergirl by Michael Dahl (print & digital)
    • 1 Big Salad: A Delicious Counting Book by Juana Medina (print & digital)
    • Superhero ABC by Bob McLeod
  • Songs/Rhymes/Fingerplays:
    • "Five Little Bugs" (counting fingerplay)
    • "The Dinosaurs Go..." (song with large body movement and/or animal sounds)
    • "Shake Your Eggs" (egg shaker song)
    • "I Know a Chicken" by Laurie Berkner (best egg shaker song ever!)
  • Included Craft - Spider (pincer grasp, color identification, counting), pictured below
    • 1 large and 1 small pom-pom
    • googly eyes
    • 2 pipe cleaners
    • beads
    • glue
    • cotton swabs (for applying glue)
  • Included Craft - Alphabet Spider Web (fine motor skills, letter recognition), pictured below
    • paper plate with center cut out & 26 holes punched around perimeter labeled with randomized alphabet
    • 13 feet of yarn, tape wrapped around one end
  • Included Activity - DIY Shaker Eggs
    • plastic Easter egg
    • assorted beads
    • 8" piece of narrow duct tape (wound around segment of plastic straw)
  • Activity sheets
    • Spring coloring page
    • Spider maze
    • Velociraptor coloring & word tracing sheet
    • Superhero coloring page
    • Create a Superhero activity sheet
  • Die cut letter "V" (for "velociraptor")
  • Die cut dinosaur
The crafts turned out super cute, and incorporated several different skills. My prototype spider is absolutely adorable, if I do say so myself. I labeled the holes with the letters of the alphabet in somewhat randomized order with the idea that you would string the yarn in alphabetical order, kind of like the old dot-to-dot pictures, which works on letter recognition and order, and assures they get a nice result for their web. 

Although I'm proud of these kits and making the effort to come up with something accessible that supports early literacy development, being very intentional in designing them and the crafts I choose, I will be glad when they are no longer necessary! For one, I really miss in-person programming, but also because they are incredibly time-consuming to plan and put together. I'm hoping for in-person programs starting in the fall, but we shall see....

While these kits have proven to be popular and several patrons have expressed appreciation, I still suspect many people are not really using them as I'd hope, and for the most part are just handing the coloring/activity sheets and crafts to the kids to do, and not really embracing the intended caregiver/child interactions and early literacy component as I don't really see the suggested books being checked out, but hopefully they are getting something out of it even if they aren't getting the maximum benefit.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing so many details about your storytime kits! I understand the worry that parents/caregivers aren't checking out books or interacting with kids in the ways we know help children learn and grow. I appreciate you sharing the real struggles of time management and wondering if its worth it and how long we'll have to replace the in-person programs we know are helpful (and have fun doing!) with take-home or virtual programs we're less sure of. Steady on. Enjoy the little things (like that cute spider!). - a note of encouragement from a fellow youth services librarian in Ohio