Sunday, November 7, 2021

Owls - Family Storytime


Owl storytime

During the summer one of our programs for elementary aged kids was a virtual visit with the director of the local raptor rescue and rehab center and their resident barn owl, with take-home owl pellet dissection kits, so I decided to make that week's storytime owl-themed as well.

As usual I started with a hello song, followed by that month's warm-up song (Wheels On The Bus). Then I introduced the topic with the following rhyme, pausing after each line to let them guess what it was about:
"The Owl"

There's something in the tree,
With big, wide eyes,
And a pointed nose,
Two pointed ears,
And claws for toes.

[pause and see if they have a guess yet]

When he sits up in the tree and looks at you,
He flaps his wings, and he says "Whooo? Whooo?" 

owl storytime
I followed with the non-fiction book Owls Josh Gregory to show some pictures of different types of owls and share some interesting facts.

Then I segued to our lead-in song and first book by saying, "Now that we've learned some information about owls, how about some stories about owls?"

owl storytime
Following the lead-in song (If You're Ready for a Story), I read Toni Yuly's Night Owl. This is a great book for younger audiences because it is relatively short with very little text on each page, and bold, simple illustrations.

In this story, a young owl is at the nest alone, waiting for his mother to return. He hears various noises made by other animals/things, and each time wonders if that is his mother, giving the audience the opportunity to predict whether it is his mother, and if not, what made the sound.

Then we got to move around a little and pretend to be owls with the following action song:

"Just Like An Owl"
(to the tune of "London Bridges")

Open your eyes up big and wide, big and wide, big and wide.
Open your eyes up big and wide, just like an owl.

Flap your wings and fly around, fly around, fly around.
Flap your wings and fly around, just like an owl.

Land on the ground and hop along, hop along, hop along.
Land on the ground and hop along, just like an owl.

Fly up in the tree and sit on a branch, sit on a branch, sit on a branch.
Fly up in the tree and sit on a branch, just like an owl.

Turn your head and say "Who, who", say "Who, who", say "who, who".
Turn your head and say "Who, who", just like an owl.

owl storytime
We then worked on color recognition with Tim Hopgood's Wow! Said the Owl. In this story we have a curious little owl who wonders what the world is like during the daytime when he is usually asleep. So he decides to stay awake to see, and finds a world bursting in all the colors of the rainbow. 

This is also fairly short and sweet, with bright illustrations, and provides not only the opportunity to identify colors, but also to discuss the word "nocturnal".

After that I passed out the take-home craft kits and we sang a good-bye song.

Take-Home Craft

owl storytime, owl craft

I'm typically not a big fan of storytime crafts, but I did think this one was really cute. I like the dimension that being multi-media and using the cupcake liners gives it, and personalizing it by tracing around the child's hand and forearm for the tree branch.

I gave them each one sheet of black paper, one sheet of brown, small scraps of yellow and orange, 4 large colored cupcake liners, 3 small white cupcake liners, and two large googly-eyes.

How It Went 

Kids seem to like owls and enjoy pretending to be them, as this theme has always gone over really well. I was very disappointed that this library system did not have a single copy of Waddell's Owl Babies! That is such a great, fun read aloud, and I had my heart set on using it, and couldn't believe we didn't have it. 

Apparently, several years ago there was a very misguided purge of all older books from the collection by someone who didn't understand the value and continued relevance of some of the classics and award-winners, and in particular had no knowledge or understanding of children's literature. I am certainly not one to hang onto books that don't circulate or aren't in good condition, but there are some classics that are timeless and I would expect most libraries to have. It's really unfortunate, because numerous books that were great for storytime were lost, as well as other classics and award-winners that are still relevant and will circulate.

It's become apparent to me over the years that many librarians, even MLIS-degreed librarians, do not have a good understanding of the principles and practices of collection maintenance and development, and either never get rid of anything, or purge based on a single criterion or report, without laying eyes on the book, considering all factors, and using some professional judgement. It amazes and frustrates me that there are many MLIS (or equivalent) programs that do not require collection development courses, and I'm very glad that I took one and had an excellent instructor. I will soon be putting that knowledge into practice in a new position where I will be responsible for not only the maintenance of the children's collection, but the selection of all youth materials (which is a little intimidating!).

Saturday, November 6, 2021

ABC's & 123's - Family Storytime


ABC's and 123's storytime, alphabet and counting storytime

I did this storytime back in August, but just now got around to writing it up. I haven't been writing up every storytime anymore because (1) I just don't have the time, and (2) at this point in my career I have done so many that it's becoming repetitive. So now I just write them up if it was a theme I haven't already covered multiple times, or I used new books I want to highlight. 

I started out with a brief "Hello" song, introductions and expectations, and then did our warm-up song, which for this month was "The Wheels On The Bus". Then I settled them down for the first book with my lead-in song, "If You're Ready for a Story".

alphabet storytime, ABC's and 123's storytime,
For the "ABC's" portion of our storytime I chose the classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr., John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert because it has great rhyme and rhythm for reading aloud, bright illustrations, and manages to cover all 26 letters while still being short and engaging enough to hold the kids' attention. I have found that traditional alphabet books just don't work well for storytime; no matter how cute or exciting the theme is, the kids get bored before you can get past the middle.

I normally like to use the coconut tree and letters props to have the kids help retell the story after reading it, but unfortunately this library didn't have one.

Next, we sang our ABC's, first to the traditional tune (which is the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"), but then I added the more challenging twist of singing it to different tunes in order to (1) emphasize different letters so that L-M-N-O-P don't always get squished together, and (2) to engage their brains differently so they are more mindful of what they are doing and saying, rather than relying on muscle memory. We tried the tunes of "Mary Had a Little Lamb", "This Old Man", and "London Bridges". I encouraged them to try this at home, and see if they can find other tunes that work, such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes".

ABC's and 123's storytime, counting book, dinosaur counting book
Then it was time to move on to our 1,2,3's with a cute new counting book, One-osaurus, Two-osaurus by Kim Norman and Pierre Collet-Derby. This is a great storytime time book! It has a great cadence for reading aloud, absolutely adorable illustrations, lots of counting practice, dinosaurs, and roaring. 

Ten little dinosaurs are playing hide-and-seek, with the text patterned after the classic "One potato, two potato..." chant. After all the dinosaurs are found, they go off to play another game, "Dinosaurus Says" (hmm, could there be a sequel?).

I followed that with a bubble counting song. I sang the first verse, modeling counting on my fingers, then as we did the rest of the song I would pause and blow bubbles for them to pop after each line. They were having so much fun, we went through the whole song twice. Popping bubbles is not only fun, but great for developing tracking, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, and crossing midline.

Ten Little Bubbles

One little, two little, three little bubbles;
Four little, five little, six little bubbles;
Seven little, eight little, nine little bubbles;
Ten little bubbles go POP!

Pop, pop, pop go all the bubbles;
Pop, pop, pop go all the bubbles;
Pop, pop, pop go all the bubbles;
All the little bubbles go POP!

Ten little, nine little, eight little bubbles;
Seven little, six little, five little bubbles;
Four little, three little, two little bubbles;
One little bubble goes POP!

After that I passed out the take-home activity (we are having storytime outside), and we sang a good-bye song.

Take-Home Activities  

alphabet craft, coconut tree craft, chicka chicka boom boom craft
The craft was making their own coconut tree. I gave them a sheet of blue construction paper and a tree trunk, several leaves, and three coconuts already cut out to glue on. 

Then I found a cute alphabet printable online, and encouraged them to use the letters however they wished, and gave two sets in case they wanted to do their name as I had and needed multiples of some letters. 

I also included some kind of dinosaur counting activity sheet, but at this point I've forgotten exactly what it was and where I found it.

I really don't like doing cookie-cutter paper crafts and activity sheets, I'd prefer more open-ended activities, but due to time-constraints and having to do take-home kits this is what works best for now and people do seem to like them.