Friday, October 24, 2014

Perfection: Not an Option

image from

I am inspired to write today because of Brytani's amazing post about being flexible in storytime. If you haven't read it yet, hop on over and do so. I'll wait.

When I started storytime in 2012, I was using my predecessor's outline for my programs. While a good fit for her, not so much a good fit for me. I was frustrated and concerned by why these 45 minutes were so hellish for all of us. Aha! Due to the formula of the program, I was in the spotlight for the majority of our time together. What extrovert came up with that nonsense? As a super-introverty person, I'm pretty much spent after a couple of read alouds. So what's a lady to do?

I changed the program last spring. GASP! To hell with singing 15 songs and doing 5 books or whatever. I pared things down a bit and added hands-on, kid-driven, activity stations for half of my program. HALF of the PROGRAM. I love it. The kids love it. The caregivers get ideas for stuff to do at home. I offer a week with a storytime activity backpack if the caregivers want to take the same sort of activities home.

Here's how my outline looked after I added/subtracted/shifted:

Motion Song (getting wiggles out)
Book 1
Short Seated Group Activity/Flannelboard/Fingerplay
Book 2
Activity Stations (one craft, 3 other activities)
Goodbye friends!

This fall, I noticed that with the outline I was executing, the kids were too wiggly after the initial "get the wiggles out" song. Alright then...let's tweak! Here's what I'm doing as of three weeks ago:

Book 1 (longest)
Short Seated Group Activity
Book 2 (short, fun)
Activity Stations
Dancing with Shakers, Scarves, etc.
Goodbye friends!

On top of being introverted, I'm a recovering perfectionist as well. Nowadays, instead of aching about if the craft is thematically appropriate for the book, I'm more concerned with if I'm having fun and if my patrons are having fun. I'm focused on conveying that the library is totally amazeballs via the product of storytime. Caregivers tell me stories of how their kiddos talk about the library all the time, and I feel like I have achieved all of the things!

In short, perfection is overrated. Don't be afraid to change something that doesn't work for you. Your program can be whatever you want it to be! Have fun and be flexible with the controlled chaos that is storytime, and your little friends will too.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pre-K Picassos: Pablo Picasso

I'm a bit obsessed with Pablo Picasso. I think it's because he produced so much art with such a wide range of materials that one cannot place this guy in a box...hence the "Father of Modern Art" moniker. With my PKP class this week, I wanted to convey that this guy is important to the art world because of his willingness to do his thing regardless of what the critics thought, and that one's art doesn't have to look like anyone else's to be awesome.

I paraphrased Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter for our read-aloud. This story highlights the way Picasso changed his art styles faster than the Kardashians change husbands. It's fascinating how different the art from one person can be.

We did two projects this week. The first one was a follow-the-leader drawing. I used Draw with Pablo Picasso by Ana Salvador as a guide. I drew each step on a dry erase easel in front of the group, and they drew line by line. The project was simple and fun; one could do it with a huge group of any age as long as everyone could see the main drawing. Here's what my friends came up with:

Looks like the cover of the book, yeah?

Our second project was based on Picasso's cubism and African mask influenced pieces. I took the lead on this one as well, and asked the kids to cut ONE eye from a magazine. Next, another eye from another picture. Then, nose, mouth, body, etc. We then glued everything together. Here's some of their super sweet collages:

Class was a bit different this week than the weeks prior. I told the caregivers who brought siblings outside of the 4-6 age group that they could take the younger kids out to the play area while I held class. I never offer a class without caregivers involved, but the dynamic with kids who want to learn vs. siblings screaming their heads off wasn't working for anyone. I was nervous because I feel I have no classroom management skills. (Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop only a chubby, 31 year old woman from the suburbs.) The turnout was okay, but many kids were disinterested and left to find their caregivers. The kids that are genuinely interested have been quite amazing, and I'm really happy that I can give them the opportunity to learn. I'm thinking I may change the age group in the spring to be inclusive to homeschooled kindergarteners and first graders.

Got a Picasso project? I want to hear about it!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pre-K Picassos: Georgia O'Keeffe and Edward Hicks

My friends LOVE this preschool art class. They're really digging the artists and the process. Success!

Last week, we discussed Georgia O'Keeffe. Evidently Ms. O'Keeffe painted what she wanted to paint, as discussed in Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O'Keeffe Painted What She Pleased by Amy Novesky. We skimmed the book, focusing on the pictures. I showed the kids some of her work while discussing scale, as O'Keeffe's famous flower paintings leave little white space on the canvas. I sent the kids and caregivers outside to find something interesting to paint; they came back and got to work!

I got in on the action as well.
My friends did an amazing job. A few days later, a mother relayed to me that her son, who had been in the program with his grandmother, was talking about how O'Keeffe "painted what she liked." He had painted a lovely purple flower in the program as well, so evidently he got a lot out of it!

Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks via Britannica Image Library

This week, we focused on Edward Hicks, an American Quaker pastor remembered for his primitive paintings. We discussed his most famous work, "The Peaceable Kingdom," after we talked about animals who really don't like each other. Of course we had to read Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall! Our project was to make a "Peaceable" collage from discarded Nat Geo magazines. Here are some results:

Next week, we're going to rock some Picasso!