Monday, April 29, 2013

Most popular toy in the library

This is BY FAR the most popular toy I have purchased for the children's area in my library:

Alphabet Machine

I remember standing in Lakeshore Learning debating whether or not to buy this--it seemed kind of pointless? But, wow, am I glad it was on sale, which is what tipped the balance for me to try it out. It is, by far, the most popular toy in the library.

Basically there are 81 buttons that pop up and down with a click. On top, there is a picture that corresponds with a letter sound, and the letter is printed on the sides of the buttons. I've seen kids and parents create all sorts of games--parents asking kids to find, "The picture that starts with B" or "Find the apple." Kids are perfectly delighted to exercise their fine motor skills by popping all the buttons up, popping all the buttons down, making patterns, taking turns, racing--and on and on and on. It turns out that this is the perfect balance of open-ended and directed play.

It makes approximately the same amount of sound as a pen clicking, but not as annoying--I think because it isn't as fast and manic as someone repeatedly clicking a pen. Our reference desk is a ways away from the toy area, and it was months before my boss asked what made the clicking noise (despite the toy being in CONSTANT USE), so I take that as a good sign.

*this is not a sponsored post

Friday, April 26, 2013

Flannel Friday--Alligator Pie

 The very first storytime I ever did was Alligator themed. Why alligators? No idea. Unfortunately, I don't remember where I found the rhyme Alligator Pie, but it was part of that very first storytime outline.

When I did it in storytime way back when, it went ok, but it felt kind of awkward and didn't really go over well.

Now that I've been doing this for a few years, I've been revisiting some of those old outlines and decided to give Alligator Pie another chance. Because of all I've learned with Flannel Friday, I thought that some visual cues for my audience might make a big difference.

I used clip art and made these--the main rhyme is the size of four 8.5x11 sheets, and each verse is on legal sized paper. I leave the main rhyme up, and switch out the other pages for each verse (I laminated these and use them on the magnetic whiteboard side of my easel).

It was a great success! I do a clap rhythm (hand clap knee slap) while we recite it, and with the visual cues everyone participated with me--Hurrah! I will be adding Alligator Pie into my regular rotation.

 Email me if you'd like to share--they are Microsoft Publisher files.

Learn more about Flannel Friday here, and see the rest of this week's round up on Andrea's blog, Roving Fiddlehead Kidlit

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

You Are My Baby: Farm by Lorena Siminovich

Have you seen this book?

You Are My Baby: Farm by Lorena Siminovich

When I ordered this book I failed to notice this amazingly ADORABLE design feature:

It's a tiny book! Within the book! You can mix and match the animals and their babies! I need a lot of exclamation points to express my excitement! I was completely squee over this when it came in at the library.

This is great conceptual design (whether it is sturdy design is another question, but it seems like it will hold up as well as a touch-and-feel book/better than a lift-the-flap or popup). The format of the book reinforces the concept of the book, and both work together in perfect harmony. This is what good design is all about, people.

I reviewed Siminovich's picture book, "Monkey See Look at Me" last year, and while I ultimately recommended it, I was not blown away by the text/plot of the book despite my love for the illustrations.  Her art is really fantastic; full of soft lines, bright harmonious colors, and rich with patterns without becoming busy or visually assaulting. That was a hard book for me to review, so it's wonderful to see something so knock-it-out-of-the-park successful from this talented artist.

This book is making me EVEN SADDER that I don't have a baby storytime, and that's very sad.

There's also a Safari version:

You are My Baby: Safari by Lorena Siminovich

Monday, April 22, 2013

Read This Book

Hey, early literacy librarians, read this book:

Mind in the Making

I admit that it took me a long time to get through this book, but that's because there's so much great information--I really enjoyed it and it never felt like a chore. It's geared towards parents, but ultimately falls more on the academic side of things; I can't imagine handing it to the average patron looking for parenting books. However, the book really supports what we do as children's librarians, and anyone who is interested in the science of brain development will appreciate the view of nurture via nature that the book presents.  The text is firmly rooted in research, and reading about all the different studies was fascinating and very enlightening. I felt like I really learned and absorbed a lot of the research since it was written in a way that was very accessible, so I came away with ideas about how to inform my work so that it falls more in line with the research.

I got it from the library, but actually just purchased it for my personal collection because I want to go back to it (I buy 1-3 books a year, tops, so this is a significant endorsement from me). 

I really really highly recommend this book!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Michigan Library Association's Spring Institute

Sara, Anne, and I had a fabulous time presenting at Spring Institute over in Michigan last week. I love the idea of a state library association sponsoring a whole conference just for youth services (I noticed when I arrived that it was the most fashionable conference I'd ever attended. At first I wondered if Michigan was an underrated fashion mecca, but ultimately I decided that we YS folks are just a particularly fashionable branch of librarianship).

If you're interested in seeing the slides from our presentation they are available here. Most of our jokes only work in person though. Sorry!

Anne has a collection of the ideas gathered during the interactive portion of our talk over at So Tomorrow. 


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Storytime Scarf Love

I love using scarves in storytime; they are definitely in my top three favorite ST props. I would say I probably incorporate them into storytime once or twice a month on average.

Photo Credit: FaP ;-) via Compfight cc
I'm sure to bring them out for any dancing or music themed storytime, but what I really love about them is their capacity for imaginative movement and play. I'm not too fussy about tying them to a theme (no surprise there). I've used them for:

--Butterfly theme (Flying! Changing them from 'long' skinny caterpillars into hidden fist-cocoons and transforming them to flowing butterflies).
--'Get Well storytime' and 'bathtime' theme where we pretend to wash and talk about body parts.
--I LOVE using them for a work-machine themed storytime. We read "I am a Backhoe" by Hines and "Tip Tip Dig Dig" by Garcia. Then we used the scarves to act out the motions of the different vehicles. My favorite is the dump truck, where we hold the scarf behind our heads while bending at the waist then stand up and, "Tip, tip--Let it go!" and drop the scarf down our backs behind us.

I'm usually working with a group of 50 people, so one thing I try to make sure of is that if I take all the time to pass out the scarves, that we play with them long enough to make it worthwhile! 

This is my standard "playlist" for using the scarves:
--We Sail song (listen here). The MacPhail Center for Music is local, so I love using their music for ST
--Two Little Black Birds action activity (below)
--Popcorn song (below)
--any thematic tie-in that I want to make, or just directed actions, eg: "Throw your scarves up in the air and let them fall to the ground--there they go! Can you try and catch it? Ok, make your scarf disappear into your hands. Now let's throw them one, two, THREE!"

Using scarves in storytime is pretty much limited only by your imagination!

Have you written about using scarves in storytime? Leave me a comment and I'll link to your post!

Two Little Blackbirds sitting on a hill. (Wave scarves)
One named Jack, and one named Jill
Fly away Jack (hide one behind back)
Fly away Jill (hide both)
Come back Jack, Come back Jill

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud
One was quiet, and the other was loud
fly away quiet, fly away loud
come back quiet, come back loud

...sitting on my hat
one was round (wave scarf in circle)
the other was flat (pull scarf taut)

...sitting on my toe
high, low (wave high, wave low)

...sitting on a stick
slow, quick (you get the idea)

Popcorn Song (tune of Frere Jacques, so sing each line twice)

Popcorn Kernels (wave scarves overhead)
In the pot (I pause and tell the kids to make their scarves 'disappear' by bunching them up in their fists)
Shake them shake them shake them (shake)
'til they POP (Toss scarves up into the air)
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