Friday, February 28, 2014

Baby Storytime Structure and Planning

For this post, I thought I'd share a little bit about how I structure and plan my baby storytimes. I always find it interesting to hear about how other children's librarians do things, so I figured sharing this information might be helpful to others.

A little background information:
  • Baby Storytime is for babies under 2 years old, accompanied by their caregiver. 
  • I do not require registration (mainly because we are a small town and have a smaller service population to begin with) 
  • All storytimes are held in my storytime room.
Here are a few pictures of my storytime room:

A picture of our storytime tree, which was made by a local resident and transfered into this room during our recent renovations:

Here is my basic structure:

Baby Storytime always starts with our "Hello" song, which goes like this:

"(Baby's name) is here today, (Baby's name) is here today! Let's clap our hands and say "Hooray!" (Baby's name) is here today!"

Next we move on to our story. I don't have group sets of books, so I move around the room showing each individual baby the pictures.

After the story, I do a few bouncing songs. I always start with bounces because this is when the babies are most likely to be focused and still on the caregiver's lap. Towards the end some of the walkers tend to get antsy.

The rest of the stories consists of a variety of songs. I try to through in a few new songs each week, but many of the songs do repeat from week to week. Baby's thrive on repetition, so I feel it is important to their development to maintain this consistency.

I always end with the song "Bye Bye Baby" from the CD  Baby Face by Georgiana Stewart.

The final element is playtime. I put out a variety of toys and let the babies play. I think this aspect is important because it provides caregivers an opportunity to socialize. This makes it more fun for them, and more likely they'll bring the babies back to the library :)

As for planning, one of my favorite resources is Perry Public Library. They have a great pdf of songs and rhymes posted here. I also really like the ALSC website. They have helpful lists of rhymes and books. I've also gotten a lot of great ideas from other children's librarians, both in person and through listservs like PUBYAC.

Baby storytime is probably one of the most fun parts of my job. I love interacting with the babies and  caregivers and seeing how quickly they change and grow.

At the same time it is the hardest storytime to get attendance at. I have struggled to find the right time and day and recently moved it to Thursdays at 10:30 am. I'm hoping this will work better, but with babies you never know.

For more information on my storytime plans you can check out my storytime blog.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wonderful Books Wednesday: Tap the Magic Tree

I've decided that each Wednesday I will share a little about one of my favorite children's books. I will try to cover a range of age groups, and a variety of genres. I'm hoping this will be helpful to other librarians, parents, or anyone else interested in children's literature.

Today I will share one of my new favorites, Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson.

Tap the Magic Tree is the story of how the seasons change a tree throughout the year. What I love most about it is that it is full of interactive prompts. These prompts ask the children to do things like tap, pat, jiggle and brush the pages in order to create the seasonal changes. For instance, touching each bud on the tree causes them to open into flowers.

The illustrations in the book are simple, but very well done. They feature the tree at various points through the year. Color is added through the leaves, flowers, apples and a variety of text based pages with colored backgrounds.

I have used this book in my preschool storytime and it went over very well. The kids loved touching, tapping and shaking the book. It also has the benefit of being a very versatile storytime choice. It can be used for any seasonal theme. I also think it would work well for one on one reading.

As a circular story, it could also be could be compared and contrasted with other circular stories such as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, or any other seasonal story. This type of critical thinking helps build understanding of a text and of an author's craft. These are both important aspects of the new Common Core Standards.

If you have any questions about this book, feel free to let me know. I'd also love to hear about some any children's books you feel are wonderful.

Monday, February 24, 2014

American Girl Club: Meet Isabelle

For my first post on this new blog, I will share a little bit about our most popular school age kid's program: American Girl Club. The basic idea of the program is that we learn about a different American Girl each month during the school year. It is geared towards 3rd-6th graders. It is one of the few programs where I have to be pretty strict about the age limit, mainly because it fills up so fast.

The girls often bring their dolls, but it is definitely not required. The dolls usually end up sitting to the side and watching the rest of the festivities.

We start each meeting by talking about the girl's time period and books. I always ask who has read the books, and what they know about the time period. Reading the books is not a requirement by any means, but I usually have a least one girl who has.

At this month's we talked about the Girl of the Year, Isabelle, who is from 2014, so this part was a little shorter than usual. For the historical girls, I will usually fill in historical events and context. I try to keep it as fun as possible. For instance, I might throw out ideas of few objects or inventions and ask if they existed in that time period.

After that brief discussion, we move on to the fun and games. Isabelle is a dancer, so that meant I had the girls doing several dance themed games. I always try to include at least one active game in my school age programs, to get the kids up and moving, so this tie in worked well.

We played "Pass the Dance" first. In this game, one girl game up with a dance move, which the next girl had to remember. She would then add her own move. It continued in succession with each girl adding her own move while remembering the moves that came before.

Our second game was a simple freeze dance game. I chose two girls to be the "dancemasters", and they were in charge of stopping the music and catching the girls that didn't "freeze" fast enough. I think the girl's favorite part of this game was that I had them dancing to the "Hamster Dance" song.

The highlight of this program was creating our own fashion designs out of aluminum foil. In addition to being a dancer, Isabelle wants to be a fashion designer, so this tied in perfectly.

Here is one of my favorite designs the girls came up with:

As always, we ended with a craft and snack. With the historical girls, I try to come up with snacks from their time period, or food mentioned in their books, but this time I got off easy.We ate cookies, chips and pink lemonade. I figured a ballet dance themed program needed something pink :)

For our craft I printed out some blank tutu and dress patterns for them to color and design. As a take home I printed out some word searches and activities from the American Girl website. For many of the dolls this site has teaching guides, which have come in handy many times for this program.

When it comes to planning, I've also used the "American Girls Party Book" and the "American Girl Club Handbook". They have game ideas, recipes and a lot of other great information about several of the earliest American Girl characters. Both books are both older, but still seem to be available on Amazon.

Feel free to ask questions about this program, or borrow these ideas for your own use :)