Thursday, March 28, 2013

Flannel Friday-Color Zoo

I have always loved Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert, but it is a hard one to share in a group environment like story time.  I thought that it would be a good selection for our Play to Learn early literacy program, though, because it promotes a one-on-one environment.  With this program I like to put out flannelboards for the kids to play with so flannelizing Color Zoo required some thinking.  

I started off by making another pizza box flannelboard (if you missed the previous saga, I now have about 42 empty pizza boxes sitting my desk awaiting inspiration).  After playing with the flannel set one time through, I think that I am going to divide the book into three separate flannelboard sets or pizza boxes.  There are just too many pieces in one set unless I want the kids to play with it all day long.  

For the flannel pieces, my inspiration was a combo of Mr. Potato Head and tangrams.  If you look through Color Zoo, you will see that it is a combination of shapes and colors (which make great flannelboard patterns).  You can also make a pattern for some of the shapes by tracing through the die cut.  Instead of gluing the animals together, I cut out their individual shapes.  This way the kids can make the animals with a pattern or use their imagination and make their own creations.

This is what the final stack of pieces looks like.  You can see why 
I would like three separate boxes for them.

Are you ready for some fun?  We are going to play guess the animals!  Answers will follow.

#1

#2

 #3

 #4

#5
 
 #6
 
 #7
 
#8
 
 #9

Answers:  1. tiger  2. mouse  3. fox  4. ox  5. monkey  6. deer  7. lion  8. goat  9. snake

This week's Flannel Friday round-up is hosted by Mollie at What Happens in Storytime...  If you are celebrating this weekend, Happy Easter.  If you are like Michigan where all of the kiddos are on Spring Break, may the force be with you!

 

Bunny Hop, Round 2

Last year we ran a very successful Bunny Hop program right before Easter.  Since it worked last year, we pulled it out again this year with a few tweaks.

We registered 30 3-6 year olds, as that is what our room can realistically hold.  Registration for this program filled up very quickly (maybe 3 hours).  If we had more staff and a larger room, we could have easily done this program all day long.

As the kids enter the room, they picked up their bunny ears.  The bunny ears had the kids' names on them, which was fun for them, but an attendance tool for us.


Yep, I even rocked the bunny ears!

The kids sat on our story time carpet and listened to two stories.  We tried to pick ones about bunnies that don't talk about Easter, because not everyone celebrates the holiday.  We read Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes, followed by Ten Hungry Rabbits by Anita Lobel.  I had plans to flannelize Ten Hungry Rabbits before the program, but ran out of time (goal for next year).  Last year's group couldn't quite handle the Bunny Pokey (we got a lot of blank stares) so this year we replaced a lot of the dancing with some rhymes.

 This little bunny has two pink eyes.
This little bunny is very wise.
This little bunny is soft as silk.
This little bunny is white as milk.
This little bunny nibbles away
At cabbages and carrots the livelong day!

(Does anyone know where the pattern is from?  I would love to add a 
citation w/o looking through all of our pro ref books.)


Then we passed out laminated bunny die cuts and did the following rhyme:

There's a Little Bunny
(to the tune of Happy and You Know It)
There's a little bunny sitting on my toe,
There's a little bunny sitting on my toe,
He is sitting on my toe, then off away he goes,
There is no little bunny on my toe.
There's a little bunny sitting on my knee,
There's a little bunny sitting on my knee,
He is sitting on my knee, just watch and he will flee,
There is no little bunny on my knee.
There's a little bunny sitting on my head,
There's a little bunny sitting on my head,
He is sitting on my head, then away he goes to bed,
There is no little bunny on my head.
We followed the story portion with craft time.  Since we had three crafts this year, we put all of the supplies at one space so the kids didn't have to travel to different stations.   All of these craft ideas were inspired by Pinterest.

Craft 1: Egg Bunnies
The original idea for this craft came from here.  We tweaked it a little to make it work for younger kids and created or found the following patterns-egg shape, egg pants, and egg parts.  We precut all of the pieces so all the kids had to do was glue them together and add the bunny's details with a crayon.      

Craft 2: Paper Bag Bunnies
You will need a white paper bag and blue, white, and pink construction paper.  I started with basic directions and came up with a pattern so our volunteer could cut out the pieces.  We put all of the pieces back in the white paper bag to make them easy to pass out to the kids. When you are done gluing your parts on the bag, add whiskers with a crayon. Note-if you are doing a craft that uses white paper bags, start early looking for them.  You will not find them in stores the month before Easter!
Craft 3: Bunny Faces 
This idea originally came from here.  I like it because it encourages play, which is an early literacy skill.  To make your own, you will need a craft stick, a pink pom pom, a glue dot, and three white pipe cleaners.  Note-our pipe cleaners started off too long so we chopped about 2 inches off of each one.  You can also trim your "whiskers at the end if you are just making one.  Put the glue dot at one end of the craft stick and place the pom pom on top.  Wrap the middle of the three pipe cleaners around the stick (at least 1 full time around).

How it went:
With two years down, this program is definitely a "keeper", as long as we can fit it in between our story time sessions.  The kids were happy, the adults were happy, and we were happy.  Plus, nothing is cuter than a bunch of preschoolers wearing bunny ears!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pete the Cat Play to Learn

I am amazed at how Pete the Cat has taken off.  I know why I think he's cool (he promotes colors, counting, & other early childhood concepts), but I never expected the circulation explosion that has happened.  That being said, this month's Play to Learn program is about Pete the Cat.  

If you haven't checked out one of my Play to Learn programs before, they are station-based activities that promote early literacy based on a children's book.  While I set them up, each activity is for the caregiver and the child to work on together.  What makes it different than a normal craft program is that each station promotes a specific skill.  We also add signage showing what to do and why we are doing it.  I started them in Fall 2011 and they have now expanded across our library system as one of our early literacy initiatives.  It's kind of cool.

Station 1: Nametags
I had precut shoe shapes in 5 different colors (red, blue, yellow, green, and white) with our AccuCut machine.   The kids could pick out their shapes, write their name on them, and attach them to their shirts with tape.  To assist the kids in writing their names, I typed out all of their first names on a piece of paper and ran a couple of copies to put at this station.  This way they could also recognize their name from the list and try to duplicate the letters if they aren't quite ready to spell their name on their own.

As librarians, we know that learning to read and learning to write go together.  At this station, the children are learning to recognize letters and how they are formed.  They are also strengthening their hand muscles as they write (kind of like exercise) so they can eventually write smaller letters and longer sentences.


Station 2: Pete the Cat's Colors
I took the basic idea of colored shoes from Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes to make this coloring book.  We had all of the pages printed and preassembled.  The kids just had to color and write their names.





We have two big skills we are working on at this station.  The first is comprehension.  As you can see on the page above, I wrote the word "strawberries" in red.  This is to give the child a clue that the shoe should be colored red.  With comprehension, we are teaching children that words and letters have meaning.  Colors are a great example to use with comprehension, because they can see the color and know what the word means.  The other skill is coloring (or the writing skill).  Coloring is exercise for little hands, which helps to make them strong enough to write their letters.

Station 3: Making Pete the Cat Out of Shapes
You have to love Pinterest when you can find all kinds of great ideas to fit with almost any theme!  This idea came from a picture that I saw on Pinterest.  I just had to create a pattern and tie it back to early literacy.  In addition to the gluing component, which strengthens hands just like crayons, we asked kids what color shoes Pete is wearing.  Each child had a sticker to add to their picture, then were encouraged to write the color name next to it.  As an added bonus, we worked on shape recognition (not an early literacy skill, but an important early childhood skill).



Station 4: Color Matching with Pete's Shoes
This idea came from a Flannel Friday post by LibrErin.  I really liked that you have the color shoe and have to match it to something that is that color.



I used Microsoft clip art to create all of the images except the shoes.  Those I had to draw because I couldn't find a good shoe picture.  Feel free to steal it.

This station also promotes the comprehension skill.

Station 5:  What Sounds Like Cat?
To create this station I drew a large blue cat, kind of like Pete.  Then I made cards using clip art.  Some were -at words and some were other words.  The goal is to add the cards that rhyme with cat to the giant blue cat.



As you can see, mat sounds like cat so it is added to the cat.  Chair does not so it is put off to the side.

This station works on the decoding skill.  This means that words are made up of sounds.  Here we are looking for words with the -at sound.

Station 6: Button Sorting Station
I had originally seen this post about button sorting based on Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any buttons that weren't an obvious choking hazard so I needed a plan B.  We purchased two activities from Lakeshore Learning which work well here.  The one that the kids liked the best was a button sorting station.  The set includes a large number of laminated mats and large buttons.  8 kids can easily work from this set at one time.  The second item we purchased was a shape sorting tray that also included buttons.  The shape sorting tray had a sensory aspect to it that in addition to large plastic buttons, there was bumpy foam shapes, and shiny metallic shapes.       

How does button sorting promote early literacy?  With our button sorting station, the mats each had a characteristic printed across the top, such as triangles or purple.  The goal of the station is to add buttons with that characteristic to the mat.  This reinforces the comprehension skill.  The child is seeing the word and learning that it has meaning.  Then they are using that meaning as they work at the station.  A secondary skill here is the sorting skill that promotes early childhood math.

Station 7: Reading the Books and Playing with the Flannelboard
We pulled out all of our copies of all of the Pete the Cat books and put them out on our story time carpet for parents and children to read together.  Then I pulled out a large Pete the Cat flannelboard and 2 pizza box flannelboards that I had made for kids to play with as they retell the story.


This station works on 2 skills-reading and talking.  Reading is important because it promotes a love of reading while teaching kids new vocabulary.  A love of reading is one of the most important factors in teaching children to read-if they want to do it, they will be excited to learn.  The flannelboards promote talking.  As children pull out the parts, they are telling the story (even if it isn't the same as in the book).  

As an added bonus, my new Pete the Cat puppet came last week.  He fit right into this station.  My favorite part about him is that the kids weren't using him as an actual puppet.  He tended to play a lot of Ring Around the Rosie today (who knew?).




How it went?
Honestly, this was my favorite Play to Learn program that I have put together (and not just because it was about Pete the Cat).  There was a great balance between crafts and activities and the room wasn't overcrowded.  I got a lot of complements from the parents about how much they love this type of program.  Complements like that are fun, because they make you excited to keep doing this.  The kids liked it too, although when I asked one boy what his favorite activity was, he told me "red".  Well, at least we were covering colors today too.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Craft

Last Wednesday we celebrated The Very Hungry Caterpillar's birthday with a special story and craft time.  We did two crafts after the kids listened to The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  There are a lot of great craft ideas out there, but we were looking for ones that could be made by 3-6 year olds in about 10 minutes.  First, we made caterpillar headbands.  Then we made caterpillars out of tissue paper.


How to make tissue paper caterpillars:
Supplies
-1 8 1/2x11 piece of white paper
-4 green tissue paper circles (I like to raid our dish cupboard to make circles-coffee mugs and bowls work great.)
-1 red tissue paper circle
-Crayons or markers
-Glue stick

1.  Glue your tissue paper circles onto the paper.  If you glue them in a straight line, you will have a short caterpillar of three or so circles.  If you give him an "s" shape, you will fit more circles on the paper and he will look more like a caterpillar.

2.  With crayons or markers, add a face and legs.  You can also add other details, such as a sun, grass, etc.

While it would have been easier using construction paper circles, I like the look of tissue paper when doing an Eric Carle craft.  It gives the finished product the look of Carle artwork, while still being accessible to a 3-6 year old.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Early Literacy in Action

Promoting early literacy is a huge part of a children's librarian's job, but it is one of those skills that is adaptable to your style.  What I mean by this is early literacy isn't one of those skills where you do a to get to b to get to c.  Everybody does it a little differently and as long as you are doing it, there is no wrong way.  For example, a lot of librarians will share these skills in story time.  While I will model 1 or 2 in my story times, I work best in small groups or a one-on-one environment.  Like all skills, the more you do it, the better and more comfortable you will be.

I am fortunate that I have a group of 8 guinea pigs (or nieces and nephews) that I see multiple times a week and are who I practice on.  Here is a recent conversation so you can see how it works:

Chloe: Auntie, can we watch Cinderella? 

Me: Sure, Chloe.  What letters are in Cinderella?

Chloe: C-i-n-d-e-r-e-l-l-a

Me:  Does Cinderella have any of the same letters as your name, Chloe?

Chloe: C and l. My name starts with the same letter as Cinderella!


As you can see, we aren't in the library.  This is everyday early literacy in action.  We are talking about the letter and Chloe is making connections.  Think of it as a giant spiderweb-the more connections that she makes, the better prepared she will be to read.

Now think of how you can take this and do something similar at work.  Do you wear a nametag with letters on it?  Do you have a sign above your reference desk, like "information"?  If kids come up to your desk, try talking to them.  We get to see a lot of their names, whether through program registrations, placing holds with library cards, or summer reading forms.  You also don't have to start asking every single kid.  Start small, like with 1 or 2 that you know.  The more you do this, the more comfortable you will get and it will become second nature to make literacy connections.

 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

School Visits Rock!

This past week a colleague and I had the opportunity to take part in a Literacy Night at one of our local elementary schools.  Whoever came up with the idea really did a good job and I would love it if other schools did something similar.  It was run similar to a school carnival night with stations that ran for 10 minutes.  Other stations included a couple of games, the school book fair, and the cafeteria with cotton candy and drinks.  The library had one station all to ourselves.  In addition, kids were given a passport that needed to be initialed at each station.  If they participated in at least three activities, they could enter their passport into a drawing for various gift baskets.

With 10 minutes of time, what can you do?  We did this as a team so one person wasn't running around like crazy.  One of us set up a table with library card applications, bookmarks, crayons, various handouts (databases, what the library offers, etc.)  The other one of us sat in a chair and read books.  Thanks to the awesome people at Flannel Friday, I had a really good collection of books to read aloud.






Awesome School Read-Aloud Booklist

  • Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard
  • The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett
  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  • Perfect Square by Michael Hall
  • The End by David LaRochelle
  • Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin (it's just not cool if you don't bring Pete the Cat)
  • Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds
  • Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner (only good if you add in a Mexican accent!)
  • Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka (read a chapter at a time)
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka
  • A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
  • Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
  • I'm A Shark by Bob Shea
  • Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox

The highlights of the night were definitely Bark, George and I'm a Shark.  As I finished up one book, I would let a kid pick the next book to read.


What I would change:
If we do this again, we need something cool to get people in the door.  Yes, they have stations to visit, but it seemed like people got "lost" in the halls or would stop in really quick.  While we know that the library is cool, not everybody does.  I am thinking that a costumed character or our summer reading prize wheel would have been good hooks to get people in the door. 

The other interesting thing is that we got great crowds when someone was reading.  Even the big kids would cluster in and sit in the back.  The problem is that when the announcement came to switch rooms, everyone left and we would have an empty room.  It is hard reading to an empty room, even if you know that is what will draw people in.  We almost needed to plant a kid in there to sit for the whole night while read.

How to Get Started on Blogger

I will start off by admitting that I am not an expert on Blogger.  I started this blog to participate in Flannel Friday and it has grown from there.  As I see new things on other people's blogs, I look at how to add it here.  Honestly, I still consider myself a newbie even though this has been going for 13 months.  Then again, because I am a newbie, below are some things that I have found helpful as I got started:

1.  Don't try to do it all at once.  Really, you don't need all of the bells and whistles and you will just make your head spin.  Start simple (the Blogger templates are there for a reason).  Nobody is out there ready to say, "Hey, why don't you have a perfect blog?"  Plus, it is the content that matters, not the extras.

2.  When in doubt, use Google to find some help (or ask the Flannel Friday Facebook Group).  Many people write posts on how to use Blogger and they can be extremely helpful.  I have tried searches such as "blogger how to make header pixlr" and refining the search to show the past year (Blogger upgrades all the time.  You are better sorting through the newer stuff first.)

3.  Thing about your tags.  In Blogger, they are called Labels and are along the right side of your page.  These are important and are like an index to your blog.  I like mine in a Cloud format, because I have quite a few and don't want to take up my whole side of the screen with labels.  To add labels, go to your layout and click on "add a gadget".  Scroll through the list and choose "Labels".  Give it a title (like Labels, choose how you want to sort them (alphabetically or frequency), and how you want them displayed (list or cloud).  Then click on "Save".

4.  Over the past year, I saw Pinterest buttons appearing on people's blogs.  Since I wanted one too, I found this article.  Once that was added, my Pinterest following has exploded. After all, as children's librarians, most of us are looking for similar stuff.

5. Once I got started on changing my blog, I wanted to add my blog address to the pictures that I post.  This is helpful because when people save my pictures in Pinterest or on their computers, they can find their way back to my blog.  Plus, it is free advertising.  Picassa and Blogger work well together since they are both Google products.  I load my pictures into Picassa and there is a text editor where I can add my web site right to the picture.  You are also able to add it to every picture, but I like moving the text around and changing the colors depending on the background.

6.  Okay, so you have your blog going.  Next, you will want people to follow it and remember it.  Yes, you can participate in the Flannel Friday Round-Up (which is always awesome), but what if you post something other than Flannel Friday?  What if you post something on Tuesday or Wednesday?  First, you can add a "Follow by Email" gadget from your layout.  If you do this, then anyone who adds their email address, will get an email of your post any time you post.  Second (and my favorite), is adding a Chicklet to your blog.  A Chicklet is that little orange button that will allow people to follow a RSS feed.  This makes it really easy for people to follow your blog in a feed reader such as Google Reader (sigh, it is going away) or to read it in an app such as Flipboard.

7.  Now that you have people following your blog, you want them to go back and find other posts.  One way to do that is by using LinkWithin.  This adds 3 pictures/links from your blog at the bottom of each post.  (Note-it does take a couple of hours to kick in so don't worry if it doesn't work right away.)

8.  Recently I hosted the Dig into Summer Reading Extravaganza and wanted some bling to go with it.  To do that, I created a blog button so that people could add that button to their own blogs.  This button, when clicked, leads back to my post.  These are great for blog hops too (Storytime ABCs is a great creator of them!).  I made my own button in Pixlr.  I had to do multiple searches for this-one to learn how to create the blog button and another to get it on my site.  What I learned from this experience is to never ever work on the code in Microsoft Word.  It adds extra code and messes it up.  Always use Notepad.

9.  My newest addition (last week) is a new blog header.  I got tired of looking at a solid orange block with my blog title in it and got creative in Pixlr again.  To make your own, follow the directions at Sweet Jelly Bean.  Mine took about 30 minutes.

That is all I have for now.  What's next that I want to add (and still need to learn)?
  • better photography (but that may be the shadows of the building I am in)
  • a Twitter button once I actually start posting more stuff on Twitter (I am a once a month person, although I have been better lately.)
  • an email button (I am sure it is easy, but I just haven't had time for it).
  • enhance the "about me" section or add a new page across the top (know how to do this, just haven't had time).
  • adding stuff that Anne at So Tomorrow has listed as the "next level" (scheduling posts definitely tops that)!



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Flannel Friday-Show and Tell

This has been one of those weeks where I haven't had time to sit down and come up with something original.  On the other hand, I have been doing a lot of flanneling, based on other people's past posts.  This week, I am going to do a show and tell.  Plus, I think that it highlights why Flannel Friday is awesome when planning programs.

I don't know how you do your planning, but our location runs 9 story times a week in 6-week sessions.  Out of those 9 story times, we need 4 different plans (school-age, music and movement, toddler/preschool, and baby).  My colleague and I decided at the beginning that we would like a break every so often so one of us plans an entire 6-week session, then the other of us plans the next.  It works well for us.  I am coming up on my turn for April and May.  We all know how much work goes into 1 story time-imagine coming up with 24 at once!

Planning
I don't know how many of you follow the ALSC blog, but if you missed Melissa's recent post on Evernote, you should check it out.  I started using it when planning this next session and am having great fun.  Plus, you can access it from anywhere-your desk at work, the reference desk, your ipad, etc. 

Garbage Story Time

Garbage Trucks from Read it Again!
(I added bags of garbage to the set)
 
Five Little Garbage Trucks from Read, Sarah, Read!

I still have plans to do the alphabet garbage from I Stink by Kate McMullan, but that hasn't happened yet.  I am envisioning the preschoolers putting the alphabet in order and having a garbage truck go down the line to collect it (also not original-got the idea from the MLA Conference).

Underwear Story Time

What Color is Bear's Underwear? from Read Rabbit Read
(I liked the look of the push pin that Sarah used.  To keep it similar, I used puffy paint to match the underwear for each day to give each day name the "pin look".)
 
Where, Oh Where, Has My Underwear Gone? from Read Rabbit Read
(I used every color in my flannel box so each child should end up with a
pair of underwear to put on the board.)
 
Ninja Story Time
I am still working on these, but the one that I got done is:
The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear from What Happens in Storytime
 
Pete the Cat Story Time
I have been waiting forever for this puppet to come out from MerryMakers.  My only complaint is that only one button pops off, but his jacket does unvelcro so you can see his belly button.  Pete is pretty cool.
 
 
Amanda at Trails and Tails is hosting this week's round-up.  Also, don't forget to raid the Flannel Friday Pinterest board when planning your next round of story times!
 

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