Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme Time

I thought I'd share some pics from this morning's Mother Goose storytime. This is our storytime for babies and toddlers. We also have some older siblings who enjoy this program. Today Karla was reading  Silly Stories. 

Of course I should have used our new digital camera, I could even have taken some video. But this was total impulse so I pulled out my cell phone and snapped - unfortunately there is a tiny delay and toddlers don't sit still, so the shots are blurry. Also the wonderful windows in our story room that let in tons of wonderful sunlight, make for a less than ideal photo studio - people come out looking like silhouettes.

We sit in a big circle on colored foamie squares. The kids love choosing which color to sit on. Kids are allowed to move around at will, crawl, toddle, and play. Our 2 rules are no playing on the steps during the storytime, and if a child is crying or extremely unhappy, 
that the adult take the child out of the room until he or she is calm.
Here you see several kids have moved up closer to see the pictures in the book Karla is reading.

Here Regan is showing Karla her new earrings while Vicki and Kendra look on. All of the girls were dressed like Fancy Nancy today - lots of sparkles and ruffles!

Take a picture of me!

Katelyn can smile too!

Another blurry photo! Snack time following the stories and songs.

Books Karla read today:  Shake My Sillies Out /  Raffi
                                            Pretend You're a Cat / Jean Marzollo
                                            The Baby Goes Beep / Rebecca O'Connell

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Creature Comforts: animals at home

These are three books I happen to like very much. There are many others that would fit within this theme. As I gather titles I'll add them to the bottom of this post. One I should mention right away that I read to kids often is Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell. It's one of my favorite picture books and would also have been a perfect fit for this storytime. I think it must have been unavailable when I threw this program together, which I did very quickly. So, not my best program, maybe, but it worked out just fine.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, is an interesting choice because it is the story of a baby bat growing up in a bird's nest. Stellaluna has to adapt to living like a bird, and then relearn how to live like a fruit bat. Even very little kids sit still for this story, which has pretty lengthy narration in the beginning. The illustrations are gorgeous and Stellaluna's expressions are priceless. The book ends with some factual information about bats.  Featured early literacy skill: narrative skills. There is one page in which Stellaluna falls and the words swirl down like the little bat falling, that text can be pointed out to the kids, exercising print awareness.

Action Song: Bats Are Sleeping
(tune: Frere Jacques)
action instructions follow the lyrics

Bats are sleeping, Bats are sleeping
upside down, upside down
Sleeping in the morning sun,
waiting for the night to come,
when they fly around,
when they fly around. 

Here is the American Sign Language sign for bat:

 I start out with everybody standing up. 
Bats are sleeping:  use the ASL sign, then tuck your hands under your cheek for "sleeping"
Upside down:  bend forward at the waist and hang upside down - this is also a yoga pose
morning sun:  stand up straight and make a big sun with your arms
night:  ASL for night - see picture above, move your hand over the other hand 2 or 3 times

Fingerplay: Two Little Bats
I am always surprised by how much kids enjoy the simple little fingerplay about two little dickie birds, or two little blackbirds. This is an easy one to adapt to a variety of themes. I found this one online: 
Two little bats (hold up 2 fingers or thumbs)
hanging in a cave (point fingers upside down)
one named Dan (hold up 1 finger)
and one named Dave (hold up other finger)
Fly away Dan! (1st finger makes flying motions to behind your back)
Fly away Dave! (2nd finger flies behind back)
Come back Dan, (1st finger returns)
Come back Dave. (2nd finger returns)

Try doing this 2 or 3 times at least so the kids learn it, 
then to have more fun, speed it way up, or slow it way down.

Book: Secret Place by Eve Bunting. This is not a kid favorite unfortunately. I think the text is maybe a little boring for very young children. But it makes an important point about the wildlife living all around us, even in big cities and how we need to protect the animals and their habitats. The kids do like the pictures of the animals, and during the storytime, they moved closer to the book to ask questions about some of the animals. School age kids might like this book better than preschoolers. This would be a good book for an Earth Day storytime.

Action Rhyme: The Egg

Snuggled down inside an egg that was white (crouch on floor with head down)
was a tiny little duck all curled up tight.
Then he lifted his head , tapped the egg with his beak (lift head, with finger "tap" egg)  
Then out he popped with a peep, peep, peep! (jump straight up and PEEP!)

Felt Board Song:  Irene, Good Night (new lyrics by Raffi) 
I love Raffi, and I use this song all the time in programs. I made felt board figures for it out of construction paper, laminated them and put felt on the back. Today I would use velcro. This is one of the first felt board sets I made, and every time I look at these little critters, I smile. I think they're pretty cute. Before singing the song I hand the critters out to the kids and tell them when they hear their animal in the song to come up and put their piece on the board. For some of them it's pretty hard to wait!  Early literacy skills: all music, songs, and rhymes exercise phonological awareness. Action rhymes and finger plays add motion to the rhymes which aids memorization. Songs and rhymes are fun and they are great exercise for our brains too!

Chorus: Irene, good night
Irene, good night
Good night, Irene
Good night, Irene
I'll see you in my dreams.

Foxes sleep in the forest,
A lion sleeps in a den,
Goats sleep on the mountainside,
and a piggy sleeps in a pen.

Whales sleep in the ocean,
A zebra sleeps on the land,
Hippos sleep by the riverside,
and camels sleep on the sand.

Coyote sleeps in the canyon,
A birdie sleeps in a tree,
and when it's time for me to rest,
My bed's the place for me. 

Above: the menagerie (cell phone pic, not very clear), and close up of my hippo sleeping by the river.

Book: One Wolf Howls by Scotti Cohn There are lots of cool ways to include this book in storytime programs. It's a counting book. It is a seasons book. It is a months of the calendar book. It's a book about wild wolves and how they live, sleep, hunt, raise families. The illustrations are realistic and calendar-worthy. There are several pages of facts and activities related to wolves. The kids enjoyed finding and counting the wolves on each page and  at the end we all howled like wolves. School age children will enjoy the learning games that follow the story.
After the storytime we completed a little craft, Stellaluna finger puppets. I found a bat pattern online, which I could not locate again, so here's another one:
I copied multiples of the pattern on construction paper - I used brown, like Stellaluna, but generally I use lots of colors, because it's art, and bats don't have to be black or brown in art. I cut the bats out, because it was tricky cutting for 3 year olds. Older kids could cut them out themselves - scissors require skill and patience, so this is a real learning experience for kids who can text a bazillion words a minute but can't write legibly or cut a straight line! So good practice, if you can teach them to slow down. I cut 2 small horizontal snips across the bat tummy so kids could slip a finger through.Then I let the kids color the bats and stick wiggle eyes on them. They loved them!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tree Stories

 Trees are so vital to a healthy planet and healthy lives for all of us, humans and critters alike, that this is a great story time for every season, and on special days like Arbor Day or Earth Day.  This storytime received an enthusiastic response from kids and preschool teachers. 

Book: A Friend for All Seasons / Julia Hubery I had some reservations about this book because it shows raccoons hibernating for the winter, and raccoons don't hibernate, at least not in the places I've lived. Also, a hedgehog makes an appearance and raccoons and hedgehogs don't live in the same world region. These kinds of little details are important to me - oh, I know, animals don't talk like humans either, so maybe I should just chill. The kids liked the story well enough and the illustrations are cute. 

Yoga Tree Pose
This is fun to try - kids really enjoy the challenge,
and it's great for all of us to practice our balance.

Tree Action Song
(tune: Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes)
 This one is mine.
I love making up new rhymes to familiar tunes & rhythms.
Talk through it with the kids first, then sing it 3 times,
first time slow, then faster, then really, really fast! That last time should be a blur, you're singing so fast and moving so fast you're not really making sense.
They love it and will start laughing like crazy.

Leaves (hold hands up and shake them like leaves)
Branches (stretch arms out)
Trunk (stand straight with arms straight down at sides)
Roots (touch toes)
Birds (make beak with thumb & forefinger
Nests (cup hands)
Seeds (crouch down in a ball, with arms wrapped around legs, head down)
Shoots (stand up and reach high like you're growing)

Leaves, branches, trunk & roots, trunk & roots,
Leaves branches, trunk & roots, trunk & roots.
Birds and nests and seeds becoming shoots,
Leaves, branches, trunk & roots, trunk & roots!

The Tree in the Wood / Traditional, adapted by Christopher Manson
Based on the old folk song, The Green Grass Grows All Around, this is a beautifully illustrated book that adds a little twist at the end. Instead of a bird, a feather,  a bug, as Pete Seeger sings it, this version ends with a mother, a baby, and a boy who plants an acorn, which grows into a tree. It's a little tedious to read, but the kids seemed transfixed, and I have to remember how much I liked repetitive stories, songs and jokes when I was little, I'm sure that it tickles our young brains somehow and neurons start connecting and firing. We all started to sing the last line (the green grass grows all around) which was more fun than me laboriously reading the cumulative text.

Singalong: The Green Grass Grew All Around
You can find versions of this song and its hand motions on the web.It is known variously as The Green Grass grew all around, or grows all around, or The Tree in the Wood.
If you're a confident singer you can lead the singing yourself.
I chose to singalong with the CD Greg & Steve: Rockin' Down the Road.
I like their shorter version of the song, and I like the echo track. 
If you haven't used Greg & Steve CDs in your storytimes, I highly 
recommend them, they are tons of fun.

American Sign Language for "Tree"

Big Bear Hug / Nicholas Oldland A very funny, charming book with a serious message, this is one my current favorite picture books. The illustrations are simple and effective - kids and adults laugh out loud on almost every page. The bug-eyed animals getting a big hug from the lovable bear, the shocking climax, and gentle thought-provoking ending make for a very satisfying story.

Bear Stretch
Another rhyme I wrote, and have adapted to several  themes. 

Reach up as high as a big bear's eye.
Reach down as low as a big bear's toe.
Climb up a tree, how far can you see?
Don't make a sound, now climb down to the ground,
Curl up snug on the rug, and give yourself a great big
bear hug!

We'll end on a quiet note with this book: Trees: a poem / Harry Behn.
This is almost too slow for little kids in a group.But it's a lovely poem, with beautiful pictures and it's just one line per page. The adults in our groups seemed to appreciate this quiet end to storytime.