Friday, June 24, 2011

Five Little Monkeys Swingin' in the Tree

One of my most used flannels this week, a super simple set for "5 Little Monkeys Swinging in the Tree."


Cheeky Monkeys!

"Five little monkeys swinging' in the tree" (hold up five fingers, swing hand)
"Teasin' Mr. Alligator, 'Can't catch me.'" (taunting/finger pointing) (some people repeat 'Can't catch me 2x)
"When along comes Mr. Alligator, quiet as can be..." (hushed, palms together 'swimming' back and forth like a 'gator').
"And he SNAPPED that monkey right OUT of the tree!" (clap)
Then I pull one monkey off and make a spitting out noise, "Blech! that monkey tastes like________"

Repeat until monkeys are gone.

"No little monkeys swinging in the tree, old Mr. Alligator is hungry as can be!"

I totally love Mr. Alligator!

So these are very simple basic cutouts, but what makes them lively is the 3D eyes.  The eyes are pom-poms, and the mouths and pupils are drawn on with sharpies. The monkeys snouts are a little larger than a nickel, if you're curious about scale.

Pretty easy, and it makes the song a little more appealing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Add me to the chorus!

I'm also singing the praises of Lego Club at the library!

We've never done a lego club here before, but I know the local Boys and Girls club had/has one. Still, I thought it was worth a try at the library. One of the things that made want to try it is the audience it attracts--elementary school boys and their dads are a hard group to reach! My hope was that it would be successful during summer, and I could continue to offer it through the school year--maybe once a month on Saturdays.

Since I really didn't know how this would go in my community (and since Legos are expensive) I invited kids to bring a gallon bag of Legos from home to complete the secret challenge. I invited kids grade 3+ alone, and younger with an adult.

I was feeling kind of anxious this morning, like I should be doing more work for this program! But aside from advertising there just wasn't much for me to do--refreshing. I made some signs to reveal the secret building challenge and printed some photos to inspire the kids and "set the mood." And that was it!

I had a dozen kids happily building and chatting away for nearly an hour and a half! I made sure to photograph their creations, and handed out Jolly Ranchers as a little treat at the end.

Now that I think this could really take off, I'll put out flyers and a notice on our website asking for Lego donations so we can build (no pun intended!) our own collection for kids who may not have their own.

I'm so thankful it is so easy for librarians to share great programs like this!

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Overheard in Storytime

Man, just when I think storytime kids can't get cuter I find out from two unrelated adults that the kids they bring to storytime love to play storytime at home and take turns being Miss Anna (and yes, one of them is a boy).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Story Time Magic!

Hello duckies, I'm busy and frazzled but I'm posting nonetheless!

Anybody else have this puppet?  I inherited it when I started here. I use it to make story time magic!

Folkmanis Puppet $12
 I thought it was kind of a lame puppet for a long time, since you just sort of attach it to your hand:

Puppet Fail

 Then one day, getting ready for a caterpillar/inchworm storytime, I realized that I'm dumb:

Oh, there's an opening here

But that's not really part of the story, just funny. So I was getting ready for storytime, and somewhere in the depths of Google I found a suggestion to use a brown paper bag for a cocoon. Sadly, I have lost the source, but it was a classroom teacher forum and I'm sorry! And I thought, "Hmm, I have that puppet with the 'secret' opening...story time magic!"

You can make magic with these common library items!

 So I made a caterpillar out of a large craft stick, pom poms, pipe cleaner and googly eyes.

Yeah, he lost an eye
He fit perfectly into the puppet opening!

Bag with butterfly hidden inside, caterpillar added.
So, we read Eric Carle's "Very Hungry Caterpillar." Then I brought out the caterpillar and we went over the plot elements of VHC from memory, which helps kids understand narratives/build vocab. When we got to the part where he builds a cocoon, I pulled out the paper bag (I already had the puppet hidden inside) and asked if we could pretend the bag was the cocoon.  Then I stuff the caterpillar inside the puppet and twist the 'cocoon' closed.  Then I taped it up in a 'safe' place, and we tested if it was safe from the wind by blowing on it.  With some groups I talked about camouflage too. 

I talked about how long caterpillars stay in cocoons and left the bag up there while we read another book (older groups) and/or sang a song like, "There's a Little Caterpillar on a Leaf--Munch munch" (Happy and You Know it).  They really anticipated opening the cocoon and made sure I didn't forget about it.

When I tore open the bag and pulled out the butterfly (holding it at the opening) it completely blew their little minds, and they pronounced me magical. I highly recommend story time magic.

The End

p.s. The picture of the cocoon is in my office, and I'm just leaving it there. Story time magic becomes office magic.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Secret Weapon Song

I have a secret weapon.  It works.  I use it at Head Start, I use it with 2nd Grade, I use it with assemblies of 150 k-5th grade students.  It never fails. 

It's called the Watermelon Song. I learned it at camp, from someone who traveled to the Philippines.  It's to the tune of "Frere Jacques" (what would we do without that song?). The actions are critical to success of the song. I always introduce it as seeming very easy, but pay attention--it gets harder. We start out slowly and progress to C-R-A-Z-Y and always end with a room full of happy laughter. I'm famous for it in these parts.

Watermelon watermelon (trace big watermelon shape with both arms)
Papaya papaya (trace a kind of snowman pattern)
Ba-na-na-na-nana (Make a baby rocking motion with arms and bend knees with each syllable)
Fruit Salad! Fruit Salad! (Hands on hips, 'pop' hips to one side--I also say "frUIT" with a silly squeaky emphasis)

This last line is the killer, especially for older kids who can't decide if they're embarrassed or having a blast--the first round.  By the third round they are ALL IN.

When I have older kids, I always get a helper or two up front with me.  The ones who volunteer are eager to participate, and that sets the tone for the whole rest of the group--those 5th graders are doing it, it must be cool.

Here's a bunch of adorable kids singing it

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Confessions of a School Visitor pt. 2

Phew, I better get this posted before it becomes completely irrelevant!

As I mentioned in my earlier post on school visits, I either spend 5 minutes per classroom, or do an assembly for k-5. I prefer doing the assemblies because I get to have more fun with the kids, but am happy to have the chance to visit either way.

Last year I flailed around for an embarrassingly long time trying to figure out how to address 100+ kids. Then I found my brain and remembered that I *LOVE* traditional storytelling. So I did a Gecko story and it was grand.  I also made a half-hearted attempt to dress up in a 'beach' costume because I thought that's what I had to do.

This year I knew I would tell a story, but COULD NOT decide on one that made me happy and nearly gave myself a stress aneurysm trying to figure out what to do. I wanted to share some string stories, and that came together great--I talked about different kinds of storytelling and wowed the kids with the showy, "Mosquito" and "Yam Thief" figures.  But those were only a few minutes, and I still needed a longer story to tell.  Finally, I settled on one I already knew from the book, "Head, Body, Legs: A Story from Liberia." by Won-Ldy Paye.  This story is great and funny, but I just wasn't excited about it for school visits.  The best thing about  the string stories was that I could share those in the class-to-class visits as well as the assemblies.

During assemblies, I ask for a couple of volunteers from 5th grade and have them 'assist' with the silly song I do for the group warm up.  Having the oldest kids there participate and have fun helps get everybody on board.  It works great!

Things that have made school visits easier this year:
  • I marked each school on a county/city map and included the school's address.  That way I can use GPS if available, but I have a backup if I lose connection.  I keep this map in my car during school visit time, and then file it away for next year's visits.
  • Skipped the costume pretense and made my own SLP tshirt.  I still bought one, but it was HUGE and I couldn't make myself wear it (I think I have some issues, lol) so I got creative and came up with a shirt that fit.
  • I did the printing ahead of time.  All the handouts were printed in batches according to number I needed per school, and then I had my student workers sort and paperclip them into piles.  If it was an assembly, they sorted into piles of 15.  If it was a class-to-class visit, I had them in batches of 20.  Then I could quickly distribute.
  • I let myself off the hook. I didn't do each visit the same--and I let the group response guide me.  Bored 5th graders? Short and sweet.  Assembly where the teachers are clearly enjoying it too?  Pull out all the stops.  And everything in between. Letting myself chill out was very helpful.
Plans for next year:
  • Learn Belly-Button Monster for group-telling (I've known I would tell this one for the night-themed CSLP for nearly two years now).
  • Dress however I want--Kids respond better when I'm dressed in my own style anyway (had a middle schooler come stand awkwardly close and introduce HERSELF the day I was wearing my neon pink tights).  I think they can smell authenticity.
  • Plan some lightning book talks--2-3 per class visit.  Total of 6-9 books (k/1, 2/3, 4/5 interest).
  • Not go insanely crazy with stress/dreading of the school visits.
Got any other ideas?  What works for you?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Five Elephants in the Bathtub

Sharing this one today, since it's so simple and I'm in a rush.  Found the little ditty at SurLaLune and whipped up some clipart to go with it.  Sorry for the picture quality--I'm a bit rushed today.  Here's the clipart for the bathtub and elephants.  (I love how popular that bathtub is with children's librarians--I see it everywhere). I just used Word to recolor the elephants.  Laminate and velcro dot and you're good to go.  

Getting crowded in there!

They all fell in!
I made two copies, and attach the second set to the back of the flannel board before storytime.  Then when  'Crash! They all fell in!' I can just flip the board really quickly for a bit of a twist/surprise for the kids.   

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Confessions of a School Visitor pt. 1


Last school visit!  Confession?  I dread school visits and drive myself crazy worrying about them.  Why do I do this?  I don't know--they are wonderful every time. 

School Visits Part 1: Setting the Scene
The first year I was here I started in March, so I didn't do school visits that year (at that point I didn't even know how many schools there were).  Even though I skipped the visits, the SLP reading club sign-up increased that year by nearly 30 kids.  Last summer was my first experience doing the SLP promotional school visit, and it went well, but reading club sign-up only increased by seven.  So I'm wondering how effective those school visits actually are.  Let me clarify--they are definitely effective at building goodwill and community. The kids love it when I visit and I get great feedback from teachers, not to mention the great statistics to include in the annual report.  But how much does it impact the Summer Reading Program?

I have 14 schools in my district, plus a slew of individual 4K sites.  I offer schools the choice of getting k-5th grade together for an assembly of about 20-25 minutes, or visiting each class for about five minutes.  This year, several schools were just too busy to have me come.  I dropped off my schedule/letter to parents at all the schools, and did an equal number of assemblies/class-to-class visits.

This year, when kids sign-up for the SLP, I will be collecting data on which school they attend so I look at participation on a school by school basis--and hopefully see if there's any correlation between schools I did/didn't visit.

Part 2
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