Friday, May 27, 2011

Mouse Count!

Ok, let me start by saying that this is totally over the top.  BUT SO WORTH IT!

It started when I was at a bookstore and I found the fabulous over-sized board book version of Ellen Stoll Walsh's "Mouse Count."  I already loved "Mouse Paint" but "Mouse Count" immediately inspired me.  I wanted to create props that we could use to act out the story.

Mouse Count!

I made the snake using one of my father-in-law's old ties.  I used stuffing and a wire coat hanger to fill it out and make it 3D.  I stitched it closed, added a flannel tongue and glued on some eyes to create a great big snake that kids are just fascinated by.  I stuffed it pretty firm, so he extends out when I hold him--it definitely makes him more animated. 

The whole set
I made the rock 'mouse' using a chunk of homemade clay--flour, salt, oil and food coloring.  I made it vaguely mouse-shaped and let it dry solid. 

Making the pattern

For the little mousies, I made a paper pattern by folding a piece of cardstock and cutting out a cone shape.  Then I whipstitched the long edges to make a felt cone, and then stitched a circle on to close it--mostly remembering to add the tails and fill them with rice before totally closing the opening.

Mouse Booty

I added pinched circles for the ears, googly eyes, and little bells for noses.  I found a jar at Goodwill and that was all!

Sometimes I hand the mice out if I have a small enough crowd, otherwise I just hide the mice around the front of the room--including the rock 'mouse'--before we start storytime.  I show the book, but usually I just tell the story and move around with the snake and the jar collecting all the mice.

It's a labor-intensive one, for sure, but as I said in the beginning, it is completely worth it.  I'd really like to make another set that's sturdier and put it together as a kit for kids to check out.  It's amazing watching them act out the story on their own terms!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why didn't I think of this?!

So, for last year's CSLP theme, Make a Splash! I had my dad make me a simple wooden frame that would hold a sheet of plywood with a hole in the middle for kids to get their photo taken.  I figured I could re-paint the sheet for each year's theme.  Last year, I came up with this guy:

 He was pretty popular around my library!

I've been stuck on what to do for this year though--My drawing skills are fairly limited, and I've been searching for inspirations. 

Enter the party/design blog, "Oh Happy Day" and this GENIUS idea: Use a projector and an image from the 'net (or clipart)! Project the image, trace, and voila! My stand is nice, but cardboard would be great too since it's just for summer.

Who doesn't have a projector at their library?!  Easy peasy. 

Now I just have to find a little extra time to do it :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hello Robots!

Update: a full Robot Storytime outline can be found here

Thought I'd join the Flannal Friday fun and share one of my favorites.  I decided to do a robot storytime a while back, inspired by Bob Staake's "Hello Robots."  It has a great refrain that is perfect for storytime.  It went really well, but I am still on the lookout for more storytime robot books, so if you have any ideas please share. 

This was such and easy story to turn into a flannel.  I just used basic shapes inspired by the illustrations and free-handed it.  It was very simple and fun!

The robots each have a distinctive job that they love (cleaning, gardening, cooking, and working/building/fixing). 

But then they get caught in the rain and bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt! Their robot wires get crossed!  Suddenly they start doing crazy things like hammering the pie and raking the window.  So...they switch heads!

I love this flannel because it's so simple but works on so many levels.  We can talk about the robot shapes, colors, jobs, and tools.  I read the book, then we retold the story together with the flannel pieces.  I can't wait to do it again this week with my 4K field trip. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Getting there...

I've been a librarian for just over two years now.

All through school I heard how important it is to 'get yourself out there.'  Intern! Volunteer! Join ALA! Join a committee! Start a blog! Tweet!

"Ok, I thought, I hear you.  I can do this."

I heard it, but I was just so busy with work and school and just couldn't figure out what to volunteer for or what to tweet about.  I volunteered for the wrong things.  I started a twitter account that I never used.  I surfed other librarian's blogs and tried to figure out what the heck I had to say, but just ended up feeling overwhelmed. 

Then I got my library job.  And I got busier.  Every once in a while I'd come up for air and think about all those 'big picture' things outside of my job description that I wasn't doing.  And I'd panic. I was just barely treading water doing all the things that were my job, and had no idea how or what I could contribute to the larger world of librarianship.  I wanted to--very much wanted to, but just didn't know how.  I took every opportunity I encountered for workshops and conferences, but felt like I was faking it.

At conferences I started introducing myself and making connections.  It didn't feel like it made any difference, but taking a few minutes to talk to a speaker or introduce myself and thank a library director in person for a phone interview she gave me when I was hunting was a good step--even if I didn't have a lot to say yet.  I applied for the WLA Leadership program.  I was so in love with the idea of having a mentor. I wasn't chosen, but I tried.   

I'd start looking at library blogs and get frustrated at everything I was missing.  There seemed to be so much--I couldn't keep up.

I wondered what the point of another storytime blog was--there are already so many good ones, what do i have to add?

So, I set goals for myself.

I want to be a SLJ reviewer. I want to improve my Spanish and learn some simple songs to share in storytime.  I gave myself plenty of time to work towards them. Sometimes I had no idea when I'd work on them.  But I wrote them down--on paint chips, actually, so they'd be cheery to look at--and then I let them be. 

I set up a library-related RSS feed.  I saved the feed tab as one of my homepage tabs, and added all the library blogs that caught my interest.  I feel so much more connected, and it doesn't seem to take up any of my time--it's just part of my workday.

As librarians, we are curators of information.  Our duty isn't to create all the information, but to channel it and present it.  We are a collaborative profession, and blogs are perfect for that use.  So I started another storytime blog.

I said yes to opportunities.  I read.  I learned.  I worked on those goals.  I found my own mentor. 

Just last week I got my first books to review for SLJ.

I'm getting there.  I'm finding my voice.  I'm getting there.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Five in a Bed

Easiest flannel story ever?  Quite possibly.  I love using flannel props for songs, and this is one of my favorites.  We always talk about feelings with this one, and I ask how the little one feels, and how the other ones feel.  Sometimes I'll talk about colors too--what color is the little one, how many are blue etc. 

The best part is when they start falling off the bed!  Each piece is reversible, and flips over to reveal a very surprised 'one'!

I've actually heard a couple of different tunes for this song, so I just sing it my way and don't worry about it!

There were five in the bed (Hold up correct number of fingers).
 and the little one said, "Roll over, roll over." (We make grumpy faces like my little one and shake a finger)
So they all rolled over (rolling motions--we get quite energetic here!)
and one fell out (This is where I really ham it up--I flip over the felt piece to show the surprised face and I sit up straight and give a loud "OH!" looking very surprised myself)

And there were four in the bed and the little one said, "Roll over, roll over."

Repeat until you get to one in the bed, "There was one in the bed and the little one said (flip piece), 'Ahhhhhhh, I've got the WHOLE BED to myself!   Good night!'"  (And again, I ham it up here and really sell how happy and comfy that little one is).

The kids always think it's hilarious and then we wrap up by talking about how they all feel now.  And yes, we usually sing it again.
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