Family Story Time – July 17, 2015

This is my first experience running a summer story time series, and so far it’s been very interesting. During the school year our story time audience is largely made up of toddlers, with the occasional preschool group. Because school is out and our family story times have no upper age limit, I’ve had a very mixed group, with everything from babies to older school age siblings. It definitely makes for an interesting dynamic, and it can be challenging to find material that appeals to everyone! Here’s what we did this week:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Book 1: I’m a Dirty Dinosaur / Janeen Brian

dirty

Songs:

  • I wake up my hands with a shake, shake, shake
  • Old Macdonald had a farm
  • Open/shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat – I love my white shoes / Eric Litwin

pete

Action songs:

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom, zoom, zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle
  • Here we go a marching
  • The elevator song

Soothing song:  Mm-ahh went the little green frog one day

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

I like getting the most out of my felts, so I’ve been doing a lot of animal songs. Old Macdonald likes to have a varied collection of animals, so this week we had a snake, a monkey, a lion and an elephant join the usual pig, horse and cow, which the kids found hilarious.

Baby Story Time – July 17, 2015

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Tickles/Songs:

  • Baby put your pants on
  • Two little eyes
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly/ Mo Willems

fly

Bounces:

  • A bouncing we will go
  • Giddyup horsey
  • You be the lemon
  • Trot trot to Boston

Book Two: If You See a Kitten/ John Butler

kitten

Movement Songs:

  • My bonny lies over the ocean
  • What shall we do with lazy Katie?
  • Zoom zoom
  • Elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • Mm-ahh went the little brown bear one day

Goodbye song: Goodbye friends!

I really like branching out and using picture books that aren’t necessarily targeted towards babies in my baby time. I think it’s helpful to model ways in which caregivers can adapt materials for their children when they’re at different ages. I know that several of the parents in my group have older children, so I like to showcase ways in which they can use the same books and songs with all of their children just by making a few adaptations. For example, the Cat the Cat books grow with children – they’re simple and repetitive enough for babies, with big bold text and colorful illustrations, and there are plenty of opportunities for fun animal noises, but they’re perfect for older children who are just learning to read.

Similarly, many of the songs we do in baby time are perfect for older children! While babies love being lifted in “zoom zoom” or “the elevator song”, older kids love jumping instead! Parents can continue using familiar material as their children grow, and can use the same material with several children, just by making a few simple changes. When you’re a busy caregiver, anything that can make life a little easier helps!

Baby Story Time – July 15, 2015

Baby time at a new-to-me branch this morning!

A bit of an interesting experience – story time took place in the children’s area, rather than in a meeting room, meaning that the entire branch was treated to my rousing rendition of The Wheels on the Bus….

The branch is also without air con at the moment, which made for a very glowing story time…I had meant to do more lifting/movement songs, but because of the intense heat I decided to keep things a bit more mellow.

I like to stick with the standards when doing a drop in program, simply because I can’t anticipate what material my audience will be familiar with.

Different branches of course have different demographics, and it’s fascinating to observe the families that attend programs in different neighborhoods. My local branch story times welcome a lot of newcomers and non-parental caregivers (typically grandparents, nannies and daycare workers). Today’s story time audience was almost entirely mothers, the majority of whom were native English speakers (we also had a lot of tattoos – this is a very cool neighborhood!)

Here’s what we did:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Tickles/Songs:

  • Two little eyes
  • The moon is round
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Animal Opposites / Petr Horacek

animal

Bounces:

  • A bouncing we will go
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • Bumping up and down on my little red wagon

Book Two: Giant Pop Out Pets

pets

Movement Songs:

  • Dancing with bears
  • London Bridge
  • Zoom zoom
  • Elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • The wheels on the bus
  • Orca whale
  • You are my sunshine

Goodbye song: Goodbye friends!

Rec N Reading Week One – “Into the Wild”

Many researchers and educators agree that reading is the single summer activity most strongly and consistently related to achievement gains. Children who begin to develop literacy skills in Grade 1 can regress over the summer months without consistent and continuous reading instruction.

Rec N’ Reading is an early intervention literacy program for children at-risk in their reading development that balances literacy instruction with recreational activities.  Students are referred to the program by their Grade 1 teachers after they were found to be reading below grade level in the Developmental Reading Assessment test (DRA). – Vancouver School Board

For three weeks, 24 children will be attending weekly events at the library as part of Rec and Reading, a summer enrichment program for at-risk youngsters going into grade 2. The program intends to support literacy development in a fun, positive environment.

Each week has a theme, which is reflected in the stories and activities we share at the library. This week’s theme was “Into the Wild”.

We started with a hello song (“hello, friends), then read a story – “What to Do if an Elephant Stands on Your Foot” by Michelle Robinson.

01childrens-img-articleLarge

This is a pretty hilarious story about what not to do in the jungle, and the kids really enjoyed its madcap sense of humour (“you ninny!”)

After the story it was time for a game! We did a brief tour of the library, followed by an animal-themed scavenger hunt. I taped different animal pictures around the library, and the children had to find them and record where they found them in the chart.

Library Scavenger Hunt-page-001

Following the scavenger hunt there was time for book exchange, and then it was time to go back to school.

What I learned: 24 seven-year-olds in a small children’s area = barely controlled chaos…. The kids had a blast, but there were more than a few disgruntled adult patrons who weren’t too thrilled with the exuberant scavengers scurrying around the library. I had been under the impression that there would be more supervisors coming with the group, but most of those supervisors turned out to be well-meaning but largely ineffective teenage volunteers, which meant I ended up doing most of the child wrangling myself.

Next week we’re going to spend most of the 1.5 hour program in the meeting room doing a craft activity, then venture into the library to do our book exchange. Since we have a large meeting room available, I’m going to try and take advantage of it to keep the kids somewhat contained!

Next week – “Outer Space”!

Baby Story Time – July 10, 2015

What we did:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Tickles/Songs:

  • Two little eyes
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly
  • Wake up feet

Book 1: I Went Walking / Sue Williams

walking

Bounces:

  • A bouncing we will go
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • Hostile baby rocking song
  • I wish I were a little bar of soap

Book Two: I Spy on the Farm / Edward Gibbs

i spy

Movement Songs:

  • Dancing with bears
  • London Bridge
  • Zoom zoom
  • Elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • I love you
  • Orca whale
  • Rain is falling down

Goodbye song: Goodbye friends!

Our baby time was crazier today than our family story time! We had a lot of babies who will soon be moving into family time, so they were very, very active, and loved our bounces and movement songs.

I also shortened both of the stories, because my wiggly audience just wasn’t having any of it, and it’s a great opportunity to talk to caregivers about adapting stories at home to suit how kids are feeling.

So great to be back into the swing of things!

Family Story Time – July 10, 2015

It’s so good to be back!! After a month+ long break, story times are back for a six-week summer session. It felt so good to be back in the programming room with all my little ones!

I’m trying to venture out of my comfort zone ever-so-slightly, so today I brought out some felts – something I never do! Here’s what we did and how it went:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Book 1: Bark, George! / Jules Feiffer

bark george

Songs:

  • I wake up my hands with a shake, shake, shake
  • When cows wake up in the morning
  • Open/shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat – The Wheels on the Bus / James Dean

wheels

Action songs:

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom, zoom, zoom / Far, far, far
  • Twinkle twinkle
  • If you’re happy and you know it
  • The elevator song

Soothing song:  Orca whale

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

What a fabulous story time! We had an excellent adult/child ratio (no preschools/day cares), and the adults were all really involved and active, which was great. There was a mix of regulars and new patrons, and a lot of families who had been counting down the days until story time started up again!

For my first foray into felts, I combined pieces from “Dear Zoo” and “I went walking” to make a custom “When cows wake up in the morning”. Combining the stories meant I got old standards like “cow” and “horse” as well as fun additions like “elephant”, “snake” and “monkey”! It was a lot of fun, and I cut it down a bit because of time, but I think I could’ve easily gone through all the animals in my bag. It would also be fun to use this customized kit for “Old MacDonald had a farm”, to make a very unique set of farm animals!

All in all a really great way to kick off summer story times!

My on-call story time kit

In addition to my regular weekly story times I pick up on-call story times around the system. While some of these shifts are booked in advance, I do get a few last-minute calls, as well as the odd “whoops we forgot to tell you that we booked you for a story time” shift.

I like to keep a story time bag packed and ready (I use this tote bag), so that I don’t have to worry about assembling my supplies at the last minute. Here are some of the essentials I like to keep handy:

My Story Time Kit

If I’m booked in advance for a story time I like to check out a few age-appropriate titles to have on hand, just in case the titles I want aren’t available at the branch I’m visiting. I’ve also invested in a couple of picture books, to ensure that I always have something I’m familiar with at the ready. I’ve also made a couple of felt stories for myself, so that I can switch them around for a bit of variety.

What do you think of my on-call story time kit? Is there anything you’d add?

Summer Reading Club Kindergarten Visit – June 11, 2015

We’re still in the thick of Summer Reading Club promotion, but instead of going out to visit a class, a kindergarten class came to me! A local kindergarten class of about 16 children came to spend an hour at the library and learn a bit about summer reading club.

I used my old favourite, “If you’re happy and you know it”, as my instructional song, providing a bit of structure and routine throughout the visit. We started with:

If you’re happy and you know it sit on your bums

If you’re happy and you know it sign hello (we practiced the ASL sign for hello)

If you’re happy and you know it say hello

If you’re happy and you know it hands in your laps

It was awesome! Who knew that an old standby could come in so useful?

Because the theme of this year’s SRC is “Build It”, I started off our visit with a robot story:

Boy + Bot / Ame Dyckman

boy

The kids got a kick out of my robot voice, and we had a nice little discussion about what we might do to help our robot friend. It’s not the most fun choice for story times, but it did tie in nicely, and the illustrations are pretty cute.

In keeping with the “Build it” theme we then sang a song about high rise buildings – the elevator song!

Finally it was time to talk about Summer Reading Club!

I love getting the kids to guess the correct answer when talking about SRC:

How much do you think it costs to join Summer Reading Club? 1 million jellybeans? Two thousand nickels?”

“What do you think you get at the end of Summer Reading Club, after you’ve read for 50 days? A goldfish? A sock?”

“How many minutes a day should you read during Summer Reading Club? At least a million? Zero?”

I opened the floodgates a little when I asked for some suggestions of good books to read during Summer Reading Club. It turns out everyone had multiple favourite books they were desperate to tell me about! But, that’s ok, if the conversation is going to get sidetracked, I’m happy if it’s because of an extended book discussion. 🙂

After a bit more information about SRC it was time to pick out some library books.I once again turned to that trusty tune.

If you’re ready for some books, stand up! / If you’re ready for some books, stand up! If you’re ready for some books, if you’re ready for some books, if you’re ready for some books, stand up!

If you’re ready for some books, line up! / If you’re ready for some books, line up! If you’re ready for some books, if you’re ready for some books, if you’re ready for some books, line up!

This was the most disciplined, orderly kindergarten class I had ever encountered – it was almost eery how quiet and well behaved the were! They descended upon the readers section like a very quiet horde and picked it clean.

I’m always interested in what the kids zero in on in the stacks, and today there seemed to be a run on Biscuit books.

biscuit

After a few minutes of book selecting and silent reading, it was time to line up and walk to the check out counter.

It was a great little visit, and hopefully the children will be back to sign up for SRC.

Family Child Care Story Time – June 10, 2015

Today I filled in for a Family Child Care Story Time at our central branch. This weekly story time is for home childcare providers with small groups of children. The children were mostly toddlers and preschoolers, not too dissimilar from my usual family story time crowd.

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Bark, George!

bark george

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Roly poly

Book 2: The Seals on the Bus

seals

Action Songs

  • Zoom zoom
  • London Bridge is Falling Down
  • Head and shoulders
  • If you’re happy and you know it

Book 3: Little Owl Lost

owl

Cool-down songs:

  • Grr-grr went the little brown bear one day (with puppet)

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

I love testing things out on new audiences. 😉 I don’t typically fit three picture books into my story times, but this crowd seemed primed to sit and listen, so I decided to give it a whirl. It worked surprisingly well – I chose very silly stories that I could play up with facial expressions and different voices, and as usual I stuck to my favourite standbys for this one-off story time.

I also used “If you’re happy and you know it” as my transition song, finishing the song with:

If you’re happy and you know it sit back down / If you’re happy and you know it sit back down / If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it / If you’re happy and you know it sit back down”

I wanted to finish with a puppet, but I didn’t really like any of the frog puppets I could find, so I decided to just sing “grr grr went the little black bear” with an adorable black bear puppet.One of the childcare minders had never heard that version before, and she liked it so much she came up to me afterwards for the words. I love being able to share new versions of old favourites with caregivers – like I always say, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – if you already know a few tunes, work with what you have!

Welcome to Kindergarten – May 5, 2015

Another day, another school visit! ‘Tis the season, after all.

2

It was a lovely day for a short walk down to a local school annex. Once again the faithful folding trolley was put to good use, filled with books and pamphlets (and a water bottle – always bring a full water bottle to school visits!!).

School annexes in my city serve grades K-3 (rather than K-7), and are lovely little neighborhood schools.

1

I was invited to share a mini story time with the incoming kindergarteners and their families, but only had about 15 minutes in which to do so. I was originally scheduled for 20 minutes, but as usual, preschoolers don’t quite grasp the importance of sticking to schedules! 🙂

3

Given this condensed time frame, it was time to bring out the heavy hitters!

The group had already sat through several speakers by the time I took to the stage, so the kids were getting pretty squirrely. I busted out one of my all-time, never-lets-me-down favourites, Bark, George.

bark george

As usual, it brought the house down. Love, love, love this book!!!! You just can’t go wrong with animal noises. Simple, simple text with a hilarious ending. Love.

I also used “The Elevator Song” and “Here we go a marching”, which is a nice way to introduce a basic ASL sign (for stop). The kids enjoyed the Elevator Song so much that the school’s kindergarten teacher emailed me afterwards to get the words – here are two of my colleagues singing it!

I’m finished with Welcome to Kindergarten visits for this season, so now it’s on to Summer Reading Club promotional visits and summer community events. I’ve been so busy I can hardly keep up with blogging all the events I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of – life is so good!