Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Giant Dance Scrunchie

Once upon a time, I attended a Jim Gill early childhood workshop and he brought out a giant dance scrunchie.  He showed off how he used his scrunchie and it was a lot of fun!  Fast forward about 10 years to when I had extra money in my programming budget and my library got our own giant scrunchie.

I will admit that giant scrunchies are not necessary to putting on a quality story time.  There are many supplies that I would get first (such as books, shakers, and scarves), which is why it took 10 years for me to get one.  There is a lot of good that you can do with them, though, in a group environment.

The scrunchie that I bought is from Bear Paw Creek.  There are various sizes that you can purchase, depending on your needs.  I use the XL stretchy band that they say works with 11-14 people, but I can easily fit 25 2-year-olds around it.  While it would be possible to make your own, this one is brightly colored and durable.

My ideal group to use this with is with kids ages 2-5.  I have tried it with the babies (under 24 months) and they like to squish it.  They just aren't ready for the movement that this entails.  With my 2-year-olds, we used to do Ring Around the Rosie and hold hands in a circle.  My kids here don't like to touch so we would end up with a snaky shape, rather than a circle.  They will hold the stretchy band though.

When looking for songs, I look for ones that use a circle, similar to what I would do when planning parachute activities.  Up and down, fast and slow, and colors all work well too.  Here are some of my favorites:

Ring around the rosie,
A pocketful of posies,
Ashes, ashes,
We all fall down!

While the kids work together on their circle, promoting cooperation and following directions, we all know that falling is the best part of this song.

London bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
London bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

Take the keys and lock her (them) up,
Lock her up, lock her up.
Take the keys and lock her up,
My fair lady.

This one works best for me if the parents hold the ring up tall while the kids walk around the room.  When you get to the second verse, have the parents bring the ring down to trap the kids.  You will get a lot of giggles as everybody wants to be trapped.  Since the ring is stretchy and there is some give in it, it isn't scary like being trapped.

The wheels on the bus go round and round,
Round and round, round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
All through the town.

The people on the bus go up and down,
Up and down, up and down.
The people on the bus go up and down,
All through the town.

For the first verse, we spin the circle as we walk with the scrunchie.  For the second verse, we bring the scrunchie up and down.  While there are more verses to the song, my 2-year-olds can't handle more and continue to pay attention.

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush,
So early in the morning.

This one is just a spinning circle song with the scrunchie.

Row, row, row your boat, 
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Row, row, row your boat, 
Gently down the stream.
If you see an alligator,
Don't forget to scream.

For this one, we sit on the floor in a circle and row the giant scrunchie.  Since there is some tension in it, we are working the kids' arm and hand muscles.  At the end of the second verse, we all do our fake scream.

These are some songs to get you started.  Which ones work best for you?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Flannel Friday-Shark Week!

This week's special Shark Week post comes to you from Toddler Storytimes II by Diane Briggs.  The rhyme and the pattern are both included in her book.  The rhyme is based on Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Red Fish, Red Fish, what do you see?
We also have a yellow starfish, a pink seahorse, a green turtle, a purple octopus, and a SHARK!  I colored the pieces, laminated them, and added velcro to the back.  It helps if you have a blue flannelboard (rather than green) when you tell the story as it looks like the animals are swimming in water.
This week's Flannel Friday round-up is hosted by Sharon at Rain Makes Applesauce.

If you want to know more about Flannel Friday:
  • Check out the official Flannel Friday blog that includes schedules and other important information.
  • Search for images and links on our Pinterest page.
  • Discuss story time stuff (and other ys stuff) on the Flannel Friday Facebook page.
  • Follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer Reading and School Participation

This was a very wonky year for our summer reading program.  It was my first year coordinating the program across all three of our locations.  Also, we had a big millage vote (which passed!) and we had to back up our program 2 weeks to coincide with the vote.  This was not the year to make any major changes to the program.  Since I was coming at the program fresh, I did have some ideas that I wanted to try so I conducted a bunch of experiments.  One of my experiments had some awesome results!

On our third week of summer reading, I ran our participation stats by school.  We have 45 schools in our service area and 197 different schools who had students participate.  Since I am a stat nerd, I also made a table of the top ten schools in Excel and posted it on our Tumblr page.  Our community relations person saw it and posted the same chart on our Facebook page.  At this point, this little chart became a BIG DEAL.  We had parents asking why their schools were not on the chart.  All of a sudden, we had a competition!  Participation numbers were going way up.  Schools in our service area who had low participation, now had high numbers.  People asked in the library how their school was doing, which meant that we now had to run the results weekly and post them.  This all happened because of social media and the spirit of competition.

So how much did our participation rate go up?  Many of our schools increased their participation between 40 and 60%.  This cost me no money to do this year and took less than one hour of my time to run the report and post the numbers online.

Now that we know that this works, we are actually going to advertise a contest between our schools next summer with a prize.  I also want to come up with a better display to promote the school competition in our buildings where I can visually represent the numbers better than my Excel spreadsheet.

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