Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Science Storytime: Color Science

We are currently on a two week break from our regular morning storytimes, so I am taking the opportunity to throw in something a little different for this age group. My science storytimes were a big hit this summer, so I decided to bring this idea back as an evening program.

In case you aren't familiar with it, the basic idea of a science storytime is that the typical storytime elements are followed by science based centers for the preschoolers to explore. These centers are a hands on way for kids to explore the theme covered in storytime. They are both educational and a lot of fun.

This summer we covered movement, water, growth, construction, balloons and bubbles, so I figured a good topic for this evening storytime would be colors. I was definitely inspired by Amy Koester's post about her Color Science storytime on the ALSC blog and by Wonderworks Color Experiments post.

For the books, songs and activities done in the storytime portion of this program, head on over to Storytime with Ms. Kelly.

Here are the centers I used for this theme:

Color mixing: A simple process of mixing a two primary colors in a baggie.  I've done this before with my K-2nd grade group, and thought it would be a fun activity to include. It teaches about the process of combining colors and is a fun sensory experience.

Dinosaur color matching: I found some dinosaur color matching printables for the kids to practice matching. I figured kids love dinosaurs, and this would be a fun easy center to create. As the preschoolers match the dinosaurs, they learn the scientific skills of observation and sorting.

Pom Pom sorting: The object of this station was the sort the colored pom poms into the cups labeled with each color. It was a modified version of Abby the Librarian's Color Pom Pom Drop.

Color a Color Wheel: I made a color wheel template in Microsoft Word and had the kids use bingo daubers and crayons to color it. The idea behind this was to give them a little bit of an understanding about how the colors are related. Use of tools like bingo daubers is also a great for development of motor skills.

Watercolor painting: This added the "A for Art" to this STEAM program. It also helps kids understand the properties of water and color. Paintbrushes are also great for encouraging the development of writing skills, as this post by the wonderful Melissa Depper details.

Tips, Tricks and Reflection:

  • Doing this program in the evening did great things for our program attendance. The storytime room was packed! There were new kids able to come and regular attendees that came with parents I had never met. We do not typically do registration for preschool programs, but I definitely would consider changing this next time I offer a program like this. As much as I hate to set those kind of limits our storytime room is just not that large.
  • It seems to work well to keep the stations apart from the space where the storytime portion is presented. It prevents the kids from being distracted by all the fun stuff and allows them to pay attention to the book and songs.
  • Coffee filter art would be another great center to add. All you do is have the kids draw on coffee filters with markers and spray the filters with water to spread the color. The main reason I didn't do this is I had already included it in my water storytime over the summer.

We resume regular storytimes next week, and I am definitely glad I changed things up a bit during the break. As usual, I would love to hear any suggestions or ideas you may have!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Booktalks with Kindergartners: Book Suggestions, Tips and Tricks

Inspired by this post by Abby Johnson at Abby the Librarian I recently started a series of booktalks at local schools. My goal is to visit each of the two schools closest to my library once a month. Each month I will visit a different grade. The plan is to have each visit done in about an hour (15 minutes per class). I figured I'd start things off the kindergarten classes, because they are so cute.

It was pretty easy to prepare for these booktalks. I started by raiding our new picture book shelves and picking some of my favorite books. I did a different grouping of six books for each school, mainly because I wanted to allow the first class the chance to rush on over to the library after school and check them out. With older classes the prep of reading the books might become a bit too much to do this, but it worked well with picture books.

Here are the books I chose: 
  • Draw by Raul Colon: Mainly chosen because I wanted to show the kids an example of a wordless book.
  • My New Friend is So Fun! by Mo Willems: I have an Elephant and Piggie Party coming up, so I definitely wanted to bring along a book in the series as a tie in. Plus Mo Willems is one of my absolute favorites.
  • Dog Days of School by Kelly DiPucchio: I figured a school related theme would work well with kids in their first few months of elementary school.
  • My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown: Another book chosen because of the school tie in.
  • Creature Features by Robin Page: I wanted to make sure to include some nonfiction, and love the illustrations of this one.
  • Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton: It features a destructive dinosaur, so I knew it was going to be a kid pleaser.
  • Peanut Butter and Cupcake by Terry Border: Cute book about Peanut Butter searching for a best friend (SPOILER ALERT: It's Jelly!). The kids all thought his best friend would be cupcake, so the title turned out to be a little misleading.
  • Circle, Square, Moose by Kelly Bingham: I love metafiction, and this is a great example.
  • Froodle by Antoinette Portis: A celebration of a unique bird who doesn't go along with the flock. It deals with animal sounds, so there is also lots of room for kids' participation.
  • Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems: Another Elephant and Piggie Book included primarily for the purpose of plugging an upcoming program.
  • The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak: This is the ULTIMATE read aloud for this age group. The kids expected a boring book and got me saying words like "Boo Boo Butt!"  Read the beginning of this one at both schools and the kids thought it was hilarious!
Tips and Tricks:
  • This may seem obvious, but make sure to provide handouts listing the books you told the kids about! This is especially important with little ones who might not remember the titles to tell moms and dads.
  • Remind the kids that the books you are sharing are not ones they can take home from school that day. Definitely an area of possible confusion with this age group!
  • Keep it short and simple. Abby is absolutely right that "15 minutes" is a magic phrase.
  • Provide a brief review of library resources, because there will also be some kids who aren't familiar with all we lend. I was actually surprised how many kids at both schools seemed wowed at the mention that we lend movies, CDs, puppets, etc. 

I am so glad I started this series of book talks. I had a lot of fun with the kindergartners, and I think they did too. I've already gotten feedback from one parents that their daughter "dragged them to the library to checkout the whole list of books." I am counting that as a success!

First grade booktalks are coming up in a few weeks. Definitely open to any book suggestions or advice. As usual you can reach me here in the comments, by email at marrak at libcoop dot net, or on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets).

Monday, October 20, 2014

American Girl Club: Meet Caroline

This month our American Girl Club learned about Caroline, an American Girl from 1812. As usual we started out discussing Caroline and her stories. The big focus of Caroline's stories is, of course, the War of 1812. I had to do a lot of explaining about this for several reasons: 1) The group of 3rd-6th graders that attended skewed a little younger this time. 2) Caroline is still a relatively new American Girl character. She was introduced in 2012. 3) The War of 1812 doesn't appear to get a lot of attention in schools. The kids were familiar with the American Revolution so I tried to build on that.

Here is our table with Caroline books and handouts.

After our discussion we took a quiz to determine which character in Caroline's stories we are most like. I made this quiz two years ago when Caroline first came out, based on a quiz on the American Girl website. The overall consensus was that most of us were like Caroline, which of course made all the attendees happy!

Because Caroline loves to sail, next we played a nautical version of Simon Says called Ship's Captain. I found it among the playground games listed on Games Kids Play. I highlighted the commands I thought would be easiest for the kids to learn and had each "captain" take turns picking from them. The obvious favorite was "SHARK!".

Next we made ships based on a template found on the American Girl website. This template has unfortunately been removed from their website. After coloring the ships we raced them by blowing on them. This also turned into a teachable history moment: "You know back then ships didn't have engines and could only move by wind power."

As usual we ended the program with snacks. I chose gingerbread cookies and cider because Caroline eats both in the books. Baby carrots were also included as a healthy addition to snacktime, because Caroline and her uncle's family rely on the vegetables grown in their garden.

Here are some pictures of the kids' boats and dolls. The dolls are a totally optional thing, but the kids seem to love bringing them:

The next girl our American Girl Club is focusing on will by Julie, from 1974. Be prepared for some groovy fun!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Flannel Friday: Five Little Pumpkins

My contribution to this week's Flannel Friday is a five little pumpkin's flannelboard. It can be used with any of the many versions of "Five Little Pumpkins" that are out there. The version I use is one I found on one of my favorite sites, Step by Step Childcare.

Five Little Pumpkins
Five little pumpkins at my door,
A neighbor took one and then there were four.

Four little pumpkins under a tree,
Along came a farmer and then there were three.

Three little pumpkins that looked so new,
I gave one away and then there were two.

Two little pumpkins out in the sun,
Mom made a pie and then there was one.

Of all the pumpkins there was just one.
So I made a Jack-O-Lantern and that was fun!

To make my flannelboard I used a template to trace the pumpkin shapes out of felt. The stems are cut out of beige felt and glued on with Tacky Glue.

For the final pumpkin (which is made into a Jack-O-Lantern)  I made a Jack-O-Lantern face out of black felt. I drew it free hand.

The Flannel Friday Roundup this week is hosted by Lisa from Thrive After Three. Head on over there to see what great ideas have been shared this week! To participate in upcoming roundups, or get more great storytime ideas head over to the Flannel Friday Blog or Pinterest page. You can also follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter.

Friday, October 10, 2014

ATLAS: Halloween Minute to Win It Games

Minute to Win It is a big hit with the tweens at my library. It is also a fun and inexpensive program, which means it is a big hit with me as well. I've done it in a regular format, and in versions tweaked to suit a theme. For instance I've adapted it into Chocolate Olympics and Marshmallow Madness programs. This is the first time I've done a seasonal Minute to Win It. The total cost this time was under $10.

To plan this program, I found this link on Pinterest, and used it as a starting point. I also got some great ideas here. These two links gave me most of the games I needed to fill an hour long program with 10 kids.

I structured the program by setting up a station for each game. Two kids could play a game at one time. We went through the stations as a group, but they would also work as self directed centers.

Here are the six games we played: 

Silly Spider: 

Source: Adaptation of spider/straw game here. 

Description:  Kids had to pick up spiders rings by sucking through a straw.  

Supplies: A straw per child and about 50 spider rings. 

Cost: Free (The straws were leftover from a previous program and the rings were from our stash of Halloween decorations/giveaways.)

Seperation Anxiety:

Source: Direct from the same site.

Description: The object of the game was to separate a bowl of M&Ms by color.

Supplies: Two bags of M&Ms, only one was used to play the game. The second was for a treat at the end. I also used two sets of six cups and one bowl, both of which I already had.

Cost: $5.00 for the M&Ms.

Candy Catastrophe:

Source: I came up with this one myself.

Description: The kids had to use chopsticks to pick up the candy corn and put it in a bowl. I stressed that they could be "creative" about how they went about this.

Supplies: A pair of chopsticks per child, two bowls and one bag of candy corn.

Cost: $2.00 for the candy corn. I already had the chopsticks from a previous program.

Cup Tower of Terror:

Source: A combination idea inspired by the cups used here, and the tower building done here.

Description: The goal is to stack as many cups as tall as possible without them falling over.

Supplies: One pack of 50 plastic cups.

Cost: $2.99

Dice It Up:

Source: Buzzle

Description: You must balance a die on a Popsicle stick held in your mouth. Then you must proceed to stack as many die on top of that die as possible.

Supplies: One Popsicle stick per child, as many die as possible.

Cost: Free. I used popsicle sticks leftover from this summer's catapult program, and took the die from various board games the library owns.

Dizzy Mummy:

Source: Taken directly from here.

Description: The idea is to wrap your partner in as much toilet paper as possible. To extend the fun I gave them five minutes each for this one.

Supplies: About a roll of toilet paper per pair of kids.

Cost: Free. I took toilet paper from the library's supply closet.

The kids had a great time at this program. The hit of the day was obviously the mummy wrapping. Definitely planning on using this one again.

If you have any questions or program ideas to share I would love to hear them. You can comment hear, email me at marrak at libcoop dot net, or talk with me on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets). Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Favorite Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

At my library, we do crafts at toddler and preschool storytimes.

I know not every librarian does crafts at storytimes, but there are several reasons I choose to do so. First of all, coloring, gluing and other craft activities are a great way to develop a child's fine motor skills. Crafts also provide a great time for parent and child interaction. Tied in with the encouragement of interaction, creation of of a craft project also provides a tangible object to promote discussion of storytime at home.

Here are my favorite crafts to use with this age group. They are all relatively mess free, and simple to prepare. I hope you find them useful with any and all young children.

1. Collage: Collage can be done with toddlers and preschoolers in a variety of ways. It is a great form of open ended art that can be adapted for all ages. One of my favorite forms of collage to use in storytime is the magazine cut out collage. I cut out pictures related to that week's theme and let the kids create collages out of them. Stickers also make a great collage medium.

2. Torn Paper Art: All this requires is a stash of torn construction paper. Simple have the kids glue it to decorate whatever you wish. I do this a lot with animals.The only preparation is tearing the paper and printing out an outline of that week's animal.

3. Bingo Dauber Art: Bingo Daubers, or Do a Dot daubers are a great way to create a variety of open ended art projects. You can find some great printouts to use with these daubers as well.

4. Paper Plate Projects: Paper plates are one of my favorite craft supplies. They can been used in so many different ways. For instance, I've cut them in half and had the kids glue tissue paper on to make jellyfish. I've also had kids glue yarn hair and sticker eyes on paper plates to make people. This is one of my favorite crafts at an  "All About Me" storytime. Head here for more great paper plate craft ideas.

5. Yarn Art: Yarn works great to add an element of texture to any craft project. When I use it I typically cut little pieces for the kids to glue on. Depending on the project, it can be anything from "hair" to "grass".

These are just some of the common types of crafts I do with toddlers and preschoolers. I would love to learn your favorites as well!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Kidding Around: Pumpkin Painting!

It's October already, which in my library can only mean one thing: Pumpkin Painting!

We do pumpkin painting once a year as part of my monthly program for Grades K-2, Kidding Around. It is a fun program that takes relatively little preparation, so if you aren't already doing it at your library I highly recommend trying it.

Here are some tips and tricks:
1. Check out local vegetable stands to get deals on pumpkins. They are less expensive than stores and more likely to give you a discount for a good cause.
2. Give kids a pattern to plan out their pumpkin design before hand. Here is the one I used. It is a great way to encourage kids to think ahead.
3. Old adult sized t shirts make great paint smocks for kids. The donated stash we have at my library gets a great deal of use, and is definitely brought out at pumpkin painting time.
4. If possible, let kids keep their pumpkin at the library while it dries. I usually ask parents to come and pick up the next day. While pumpkins are waiting for pickup they make great decoration for the library.
5. I have kids draw a number to choose which order they pick their pumpkin. This seems to be a pretty fair way to determine who gets which one.
5. Sizewise, I usually limit this program to about 12 kids. This works for us, especially because I am the only librarian running the program. With more adult assistance you could definitely do it with a bigger group.

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few of the pictures I took at this program:

Our next Kidding Around will be an Elephant and Piggie Party! We will be celebrating the release of the latest book "Waiting Is Not Easy!" Any ideas you have for this or any other program are greatly appreciated.