Thursday, January 31, 2013

Storytime with The Princess and the Pea

Continuing with my fairy tale/folktale theme, we read The Princess and the Pea by Rachel Isadora this week in story time. I really enjoy this book, because the story is simple and the illustrations are beautiful. This version is different than most because the setting is Africa, instead of the usual medieval Europe. I think the little ones may have been thrown off by this, since the princess wasn't Disneyesque, but I think the interjection of some multicultural books is always a good thing!

See? Beautiful!

I found a cute craft for this story on Life in First Grade via Pinterest. Beth, my amazing volunteer, cut strips of paper to be the "mattresses" and the bed posts. I used a hole punch on green paper to make the peas, and used a clip art girl for the princess. Anything that the kids can use glue sticks for is a winner in their minds!


I would definitely do this program again. The book is interesting and the craft a keeper. Success!

Next post: Too much tooting with the letter T!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Creative Kids: Fun with Sculpture

Let's be honest: I love doing crafts. Next to reading, making stuff is my favorite hobby. Yesterday I hosted Creative Kids: Fun with Sculpture for the K6 kids. The elementary school kids that attend my craft programs are enthusiastic, yet afraid that they aren't going to do something right...which makes me want to pull my hair out. I mean, I read them Ish by Peter Reynolds for pete's would think that they would be unafraid to create something. However, I have recently revisited my creative side, after about 10 years of ignoring it, so I can't really be mad. But, I digress...YESTERDAY they let their imaginations run wild and put some thought (35 minutes worth! Wow!) into their creations!

Makes me want a sundae.

During the beginning of the program, I read the kiddos 3-D ABC by Bob Raczka. I would never use this book to explain the alphabet, but it does a fabulous job explaining sculpture, and gives different examples of 3-D art. After the read-aloud, I explained what kind of sculpture we were going to create. Most of the kids, and even the parents, thought I was going to be using clay. Well, sorry to disappoint, but I think using clay with kids is best left to someone who is not me, because I think it feels and smells funny, and I'm not into kids getting clay all over the library books. I saw this idea via Pinterest and thought it would be a fabulous craft to do. I purchased floral foam and dug out the gigantic box of pipe cleaners, feathers, faux flowers and leaves, and let the kids go at it.

Ready to rock!

Their mission: to use all the pipe cleaners!
Imagination at work.

In the zone!

We love abstract art!

It's a horse, of course!
We had a budding florist in the class.

Tall and terrific!
A bit buggy!

The end result? Bugs, abstractions, horses, rainbows, a Roman soldier (!), bouquets, and fireworks. I even did a bird to show them that they could create awesome stuff from odds and ends.

Bird of paradise?

I was so proud of them. They all did a wonderful job and put thought into their creations. I will definitely do this program in the future. Happy crafting, everyone!

Next post: Story Time with The Princess and the Pea

Friday, January 25, 2013

This Week in Story Time!

Story times this week went EXTREMELY well. I'm hoping that it wasn't a fluke! I had originally planned to do a Cinderella story, but didn't find a book that I was comfortable reading aloud to little kids with minimal attention spans. I already had crafts and a take-home memory game with a shoe theme, so I used my brainstorming skills and came up with Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin.


Children's librarians know that Pete is a super popular character, with a few spin-offs to his name, but I have found that parents in my library haven't been properly introduced to him. He's a very groovy, easy going sort of cat. Honestly, I feel like this makes him even more of a fictional character, because I'm not sure I know of any easy going cats. But, I digress. I read Pete the Cat Saves Christmas in December, but I don't think the PTC hysteria set in until this week when all our Pete books flew off the shelves. Anyway, we did a 'design your own shoe' craft in honor of Pete's ever-changing white shoes. I would definitely do the same book and program for early literacy groups, and even for K6 kids, because it's a great story, and I think they would put a lot of effort into their shoe designs.

Will someone make me a pair?

Pajama Time was last night, and we had a fabulous time! I had planned on reading The Three Little Pigs by Steven Kellogg, but the kids were a bit wound, so I told the story without a book but with the aid of my puppets. I had the kids make their puppets before we did the story, so they could follow along with me. Thank you parents who let your kids use the scissors...we're working on fine motor skills! The parents did such a great job helping me tell the story, complete with "Not on the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!" And the kiddos really enjoyed "playing" while I told the story.

Storytelling: No book required.

After I told the story, we did our songs, then made our own houses! I showed them mine, made out of 'stone,' and many of them drew bricks to keep the wolf out. 

Miss Michelle's Purple House

Next post: Creative Kids: Fun with Sculpture!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

K6 Roundup!

January has been a quiet month for my K6 programs. The kiddos were headed back to class after a long winter break, and I think it's just too cold out for many of them to head over to the library after school!

Earlier this month, I held a Game Time for the Homeschool kids. We had fun playing Twister, Jenga, Monster Bowling, and Pictureka. The hits of the hour, however, were the "Name Game" and "Hot Potato." I think we all know about Hot Potato, so I won't explain, but here's how you play the Name Game:

Sit in a circle so everyone can see everyone else. Pick a themed category, such as food or even adjectives. Whoever starts says his name and pairs it with a word that starts with the letter of his name and fits in the category. For instance, I picked food for our category, and my name was Miss Michelle Macaroni. The person next to me had to say my name, and then make one up for himself. As you go around the circle, it gets harder, simply because you're repeating several names. I like the game because it's fun, you learn people's names, and it makes you focus so you can remember everything.

The kids really enjoyed it. The next week when we had our Titanic program, they were calling each other by their food names! My favorite: Caylin Corndog. Nice, right?

As mentioned above, my next program was about the Titanic. Kids are fascinated by the story of the ill-fated ship, and that's why I picked the topic. What I didn't realize is that many of the kids in the program were kindergarteners or first graders, so the topic was new to them. This made me feel a bit uncomfortable, simply because I had to introduce something a bit the tragic sinking ship and deaths of over 1500 people. I gave them a mixed up timeline to cut and paste, as well as a coloring sheet. I tried to lighten the mood by reading Titanicat by Marty Crisp, a story about a cat who "saves" a cabin boy. The kids liked the story, and took some books home for further reading, but I don't think I would do the program again for the young age group I have, only for tweens and above.

My next K6 program is Creative Kids: All About Sculpture. I'll be sure to have my camera ready to capture some art!

Next post: Story Time with Pete the Cat!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ready, Set, Read!

Welcome to Ready, Set, Read!

I have to confess: I was SO EXCITED about this class that I was the most scatterbrained lady EVER during the program! Well, excited, then flustered. Next week, I'll hold it together, I promise.

Anyway, last fall I had been thinking about doing a program focusing on learning how to read. If you are part of Libraryland, you know that early literacy means 'Every Child Ready to Read' and building pre-reading skills. But how about the kids who are sounding out words and actually reading? Enter Ready, Set, Read!

I am an avid pinner on Pinterest, and found a link to Storytime Katie from a pin. I started following her blog...lo and behold she recently started a program called Growing Readers. I thought, "AWESOME! I can steal ideas from her." So Katie, if you read this, thank you for all the great're my heroine.

The first thing we did was talk about the letter of the day. I have a Kumon writing workbook, and the first letter is L, so that's what we started with. I had a basket filled with L items and asked the kids what they thought the letter was. We then wrote words on the white board that start with L.

My son helped me with the program (more on that later...) and he passed out Magnadoodle boards that we used to practice our Ls. I'm not sold on the use of these boards...unfortunately we had more doodles than letters. I suppose it's still fine motor skill related. C'est la vie.

We put the boards away, and I captivated the audience with Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney. One of the parents wasn't sold on the program, and yanked her kid out by the arm in the middle of the story. ("Are they actually going to READ in this program? She's reading whole books by herself for goodness sakes!) Visibly flustered, I carried on and only cried on the inside as Llama threw a tantrum in the middle of a big-box store.

After the dramatic story time, I sent the kids and caregivers to stations where they could play around with words, do a puzzle, write on fabulous alphabet cutouts from Lakeshore Learning, and other various activities. I didn't want this program to just be a story time. I want it to be an open-ended learning experience. There were books to read (and check out!), coloring pages, and all sorts of fun stuff. How could you not have fun?

Lakeshore Letters were very popular.

Enter my lovely 5 year old: Thing 1 did NOT want to play at any of the stations. Daddy already left, since I told him that Thing 2 (my youngest) would need to go to bed soon. So, I let Thing 1 play with the L items and hoped that he would generally be cool while Mommy worked. He was well-behaved, but it flustered me that he didn't want to do any of the stations. I think that if we were at a program together, it may have been different. At least he minded and behaved himself. Whew.

I asked a mom who is a regular at story times during the day what she thought of the program. She really liked it, and said that they would be coming back. This relieved me, as I had a sort of crazy experience that night. Since my son won't be there, and hopefully we won't have any unhappy campers, I think the next program will be top-notch.

The letter matching station. Thank you, Lakeshore.

Do you have any early reader programs? What works for you? If you're a parent of an early reader, the RSR program is on select Thursday nights at 6:30. Sign up and join the fun!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Little Red Hen Eats a Loaf of Bread...

...then takes a nap!

This week in story time, I subjected the kids to The Little Red Hen illustrated by J.P. Miller, aka The Little Red Hen Golden Book. I say "subjected" because I know that the more popular book with this story is The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges, however it is a bit wordy for the kids in my story time.

Anyway, I think most of us know the classic TLRH story: She finds a grain of wheat, asks for some help to cultivate it, gets no help, eats the bread made from said wheat herself, then promptly takes a nap. Because that's what you do when you eat an entire loaf of bread by yourself. (Yum.)

I think the message may have gone over the heads of some of my kiddos. However, not to brag, they enjoyed the story time simply because I do a really great chicken voice. I should just do stories with a chicken protagonist from now on. You can leave a comment with your favorite chicken story, if you please.

Yes, she did.

I gave the 2 year olds a coloring sheet. After the seriously in-depth Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly craft we did last week, I figured it was okay to slack on the craftivity this week. The older kids made a cute chicken craft that I found via Pinterest on a website that is in Russian. I found the 'print' button, so at least I could print it out. Once the chicken is colored, you cut it out, fold, and it will stand up. Most of the kids thought it was cute, others were indifferent. It has been the most repinned pin on my Pinterest page though, so I assume it's a keeper!


After our craft, we played the Farmer in the Dell game. Slowly but surely they're understanding the concept. I played the game with a kindergarten group today and they LOVED it. I knew it wasn't just me.

Next stop: K6 Roundup!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jack and the Beanstalk

One of my favorite read aloud selections is Jack and the Beanstalk by Steven Kellogg. I happened to pick it up for a bedtime story for my 5 year old son, and he adores it so much it is part of the regular rotation. I figured the kids in my library program would like it as well...and they did!

Run, Jack!

I chose 'Pajama Time' as the prime program to feature this book. Normally, I try to read 2 or 3 books in the program, but this is a longer story so it's the first and only book we read. I led a song and went right into reading...using foresight to understand that some of the 2 year olds wouldn't want to sit for a book this long in the middle of the program. I was usual. Insert smirk here.

The text is based on what is thought to be the 'original' story of JATB. Jack and his mother are poor and rely on the revenue from their cow's milk to get them through. Unfortunately the cow's milk supply dwindles and Jack's mother is forced to send Jack to the market with the non-functioning bovine. A funny little man stops Jack on the way to town and offers him magic beans for his cow. Jack, unconvinced but curious, makes the trade, because the man said he would give the cow back if the beans didn't work out.

This is what happens when Jack gets home.

So mom throws the beans out the window, and they sprout overnight into a gigantic beanstalk that reaches high into the clouds. We probably know all about what happens next...and if you don't, that just means you need to come in and check out this book!


I'll admit: I needed a craft to make use of the lentils my family won't eat. I found this craft on Surviving a Teacher's Salary via Pinterest. I used crepe paper for the stalk (because I have a big stash of crepe paper for some reason), lentils for the beans, cotton balls for the clouds, and colored pencils to draw the background on colored card stock. Easy enough for a 2 year old, fun enough for a 5 year old...which is what I need for a Pajama Time craft.

Coming up: K6 Roundup and Storytime with the Little Red Hen (Sans Pizza)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Storytime Vlog Excitement

In this vlog installment, Aggie and I talk about "The Farmer in the Dell" game, which I have wanted to play again ever since Mrs. Maloney's first grade class. I made signs to hang on the kids to signify what character they are. After we circle up, we sing and dance to the song. The character is called out in the song, and steps into the middle of the circle. Just remember: the cheese stands alone in the center at the end!

Pictures with labels help kids learn to read!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Back to Class with the Classics!

This week we welcomed the new semester of programs here at MPL! I decided to do some of my favorite stuff: fairy tales, folktales, and nursery rhymes. Yes!

Last semester, we had bubbles to blow while waiting on everyone to arrive to class. I personally got fed up with them because 99.9% of the time, the kids would shake them up, and then they wouldn't work. Boo. I ordered a bubble machine to nip the problem...and then had to return said machine because it was broken when it arrived. Boo again. It's just karma's way of telling me to give up the battle of the bubbles.

So, I filled a basket with board books for everyone to look through while waiting. I think it's an idea worth keeping...especially since...

...I found a cool nursery rhyme printable for our "share the book" part of story time. It's a cute binder-ring-bound set of cards with different nursery rhymes on it found here. My awesome volunteer put them together for us as shown on the source website. At first, it was a bit awkward to "share the cards" instead of having a book in hand, but I think we'll get used to it for a few weeks.

I mean, who swallows a fly?!
The book I chose for class is There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback. I think it is a fabulous classic book/song that every kid should know! However, I think some of my kids were mortified at the thought of swallowing entire animals...well...and then the old lady dying at the end. I had to reiterate that the story is just a story...and a silly one at that. I mean, c'mon, two year old...who swallows an entire horse?

Easier to Stomach
For our second story installment, I read There Was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea by Jennifer Ward. I think the children were more at ease with this pick, as the main character who is eating everything in sight is an animal. At the end, he eats the moon, burps, and asks for breakfast. No horse. No death. Just a really fat coyote.

For our craft, we made "Old Ladies" out of paper sacks, then cut out animals for her to "eat." I encouraged the caregivers to let the kiddos use the scissors, and most of them did. I think the adults were surprised at how well most of the kids did with the cutting.


One of the parents left a comment about this craft on our Facebook page:

"Knox loved the old lady who swallowed a fly craft he made in class this morning! We have been playing with it all day. Thanks for being awesome, Miss Michelle" 

Totally rad!

Watch out, Piggie! You may be next!

Did you know that there is more than one lyric to "Hickory Dickory Dock?" Me either. I can't remember where I found this idea, but I'll edit the post if I find the source: In the third stanza, a pig flies up in the air. I have two cute piggy stuffed animals, so I let the kids throw them. Most of the younger kids wanted to hug them...which is fine too! I had one little lady who wanted to wing it at her peer...not fine! Overall, the activity was fun and I'll keep it up for the month.

Teaser: I have waited over twenty years to do this activity again. Find out about it in my next post!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy 2013!

It's a new year and a new schedule here at MPL for Miss Michelle. Story times are resuming January 7th, and I am working hard to pull myself together after being off work so much the past two weeks!

Since I haven't been busy with programs, I have been planning planning planning programs and weeding weeding weeding the beginning reader section in the children's room. Oh, the glamorous life of a children's librarian!

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I suppose I should get back to what I was doing. =)