Friday, February 24, 2012

Keepin' It Real with the Kiddos

I had another Teddy Bear Sleepover this past week, and did a "Cat Mouse Dog" theme. We read Kitten's First Full Moon by Henkes, Bark, George by Pfeffer, and Mouse Count by Walsh. We acted out Mouse Count with the props I made previously, and it was great. I always read the first part of the book, then switch over to the props when it's time for the snake to enter and find the jar.

When I held up the book I said, "This book is called Mouse Count. What do you think it will be about?"

"Mouse!" No, Mice!"

"Yes," I replied and pointed to the cover, "Here are some mice. Who else do you think will be in the story?"


Kids are so amazing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Shorts

My favorite new program this year is Book Shorts. It's a short-story bookclub aimed at upper-elementary-school aged kids.

One of the teachers who I have worked with quite a bit became principal of a local K-8 school this year. He approached me early in the year about helping him select books for a middle-school bookclub he was starting. I immediately jumped on the opportunity, and offered to do another bookclub with the younger kids. I had wanted to try a short story or 'homework free' type bookclub for some time, and this seemed like the perfect chance.

We had a short, twenty minute assembly for grades 3-5 to introduce the concept, which I decided to call "Book Shorts." I used clip art to make a picture of a book wearing shorts, and made flyers, posters, and a sign-up sheet (I should make the kids bookmarks...). At the assembly, I read book riddles from "Spot the Plot" by J. Patrick Lewis and displayed the 'correct answer' books. Then I pitched the bookclub, which was originally planned to coincide with lunch.

I started by reading selections from various middle-grade novels. "Reid's Read-Alouds" by Rob Reid was a great resource for coming up with selections. I read parts of "No Talking" by Andrew Clements, "Alvin Ho" by Lenore Look, and "Ivy and Bean" by Annie Barrows. Before long, I realized that I was spending a lot of time agonizing over the selections and whether or not I would fill the whole time/run out of time/end at a good enticing point in the story.

(Side note: This concept was so inspired by the PBS programs I used to watch as a kid where the guy would draw scenes from the story while someone read a chapter or two. I still remember some of the books that I then went out and found at the library because of those shows. Anyone else remember?)

Anyway, like I said, I was agonizing. So I switched to reading longer/more mature picture books and we haven't looked back. We've read, "I'm a Shark" by Bob Shea, "I Want My Hat Back" by Jon Klassen, "Lighthouse Christmas" by Toni Buzzeo, and lots more. Today we read the second half of "The Minpins" by Roald Dahl, which we had started last week (They were enthralled, and scolded me if I forgot to show them the pictures). I love being able to share books that don't work for storytime, and I love sharing picture books with kids who might otherwise think they were too old for them.

A few fifth graders came initially, but they quickly bowed to social pressure and stopped coming. We added some second graders and one first grader who the principal deemed mature enough. Then it became apparent that the kids weren't quite mature enough to eat anywhere but the cafeteria without leaving a big mess, so we shifted to one of the recess periods. Every week that I'm there the boys agonize over choosing recess (one of three) or Book Shorts, but often pick Book Shorts. I give the kids a piece of hard candy or sucker as they come in, and then I just read. We rarely have time to discuss beyond, "Did you like it?" but I'm ok with that. I think it's nice for them to do something during the school day that is just for pure enjoyment.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Twitter for Newbies

Only having been on Twitter since this past summer, you could say I've taken to it like a duck to water. Here are five and a half tips to help you find Twitter success:

1.  Understand how Twitter works. I recommend you read these instructions by the amazing designer/Internet addict, Jessica Hische, Mom This is How Twitter Works. Basically you build a group of people who you want to read--those are the people you follow.  There's definitely a bit of a learning curve for "reading" Twitter. It can be confusing to look at someone's Twitter stream and see a bunch of fragments of conversations all starting with @. But it just takes practice, so don't give up.

2. Know your goal. Why are you on Twitter? Professional development? Friends? Personal branding? Spend some time thinking about how you want to use Twitter. If you're pondering the "why" of using Twitter, especially as a professional tool, here's a blog post by Scott McLeod that I LOVE, If You Were on Twitter Yesterday. Here are some other questions to consider:
  • What do you want to get out of it?
  • How do you want to present yourself? Private? Representing your job? Personal?
  • Are you using your real name or a pseudonym?
  • What are potential consequences of your Twitter profile? If your boss finds you? Your friends?
3. Start following people! At the beginning, Twitter's suggestions won't be very useful for who to follow, since it doesn't know about your interests. There will be a lot of trial and error. Don't worry about unfollowing people. When you find someone you like, look at who they follow and add those people. The more people you follow, the more who will follow you back, though this may be a slow process.

When I started, I followed everyone involved with Flannel Friday, and then started exploring their Follow lists. I also looked for authors I liked and bloggers I read. Celebrities are another source. Sometimes they weren't a good fit, and I ended up unfollowing. That's ok, and really shouldn't be a big deal.

4. Jump in. for a while you may be Tweeting into a void, but keep at it. You won't get a lot of followers until you've shown that you have something to say. The best way to build followers, friendships, and increase your Tweet count is to just jump in! Remember that Twitter is public and you can jump into any conversation-that's how it works.

4.5 Or not! Lurking is ok if you just want to use Twitter to stay current. In this case seek out Tweeps who use Twitter mostly for professional purposes--linking to articles and relevant info. Or just keep up with discussions using #hashtags and the search bar. If this is you, you probably won't follow people like me who tend to blather on. That's fine too.

5. Be patient and don't take things personally. Twitter is public, and there are a LOT of people talking. Some of the people you follow will have hundreds or even thousands of followers. If you mention them in a Tweet they may not even see it, or get so many responses that they don't/can't respond to everyone. Twitter is very 'of the moment.' Go ahead and jump in on any conversation you want to, but know that if the last response was a half hour ago you might be too late. You may have to respond to someone several times before they start noticing you and responding. Just be patient, and don't take it personally.

Twitter is fun. I'm so thankful for all the amazing librarians all around the world whom I now consider my friends.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Flannel Friday-Cupcake: a Journey to Special by Charise Harper

This book is so funny to me. I love Harper's wonky drawings and bright colors. I always love the sense of humor she uses in her books, but sometimes they are best for one-on-one reading rather than storytime. I mean, we've all been there, reading the book with the punchline ending and getting a reaction of deafening silence as you chuckle awkwardly and try to transition onwards while the kids look at you like this 0_o


Love this book.

The first half reads quite well, with a pretty linear text about a plain vanilla cupcake who wants to be special like his (his!) family. He meets a candle who relates to his feelings, and decides to help. At this point the book kind of loses its large-group oomph. It becomes very dialogue heavy with lots of little asides and small pictures. I knew that reading it to the group would make it lose the impact of the humor. So I turned to flannel as a way to expand the story. Basically the candle suggests a whole bunch of gross/inappropriate toppings for the cupcake, which are summarily rejected.
How 'bout pickes? Or spaghetti?

Pancakes, egg, peas (which the kids think are sprinkles at first), and STINKY CHEESE

Yes, that's a squirrel

Funniest option, per the 50 or so kids who've seen it

Finally, the squirrel is rejected as too furry, and both candle and cupcake are discouraged. Then the candle sees a nut left behind on the cupcake's head, and climbs up to remove it. Obviously everyone is predicting the candle/cupcake partnership ending at this point. And sure enough, ssuddenly candle has an AMAZING idea!... turn the page... "Tomorrow, let's try a potato." The End. 

The flannel pieces helped kids engage with the humor of the story and added anticipation which made them pay attention more. They loved it!

I read the first half of the story from the book, and told the second half using flannel. I think it worked really well, and turned a book that would have been a storytime flop (for me) into a hilarious success.

This week's Flannel Friday round up is hosted by Libray Quine!
posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Milk Carton Igloo!

So cute I have to share!

The 4K class that I visit twice per month made this amazing igloo in their classroom out of milk jugs! Today I had storytime there and I stopped by their room afterwards to see the igloo. Being a lover of tiny hidden places I, of course, crawled inside--much to the starstruck delight of the three littles already in there. The girl said to one of the boys, "The library is in here!" and then they all giggled. When I asked them a question, they all giggled like they were talking to a celebrity and were too shy to answer. Way to make a fairly cranky day more delightful, kids.

What a cool project (no pun intended)--and they incorporated the project into math, science, and social studies as well. Bravo to those teachers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Putting Out Fires

Hi! Remember me?

I've been practicing "Fire Librarianship." As in, if it's not on fire/due right NOW/happening today I don't have time for it.

The amount of half-finished posts in my queue is rather amazing. I have so much I'd like to share with you.  Unfortunately I've been working 9-12 hour days and I commute two hours a day. Yeah, that math is gross. Things are looking up though, and soon I won't be SO theory. In fact, I'll have a brand new Flannel Friday contribution this week. See you soon!
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