Monday, November 24, 2014

Booktalks with 1st Graders: Book Suggestions, Tips and Tricks

Last  month I gave a series of booktalks to kindergarten classes in my local schools. This month it is the 1st graders' turn. My goal for these school visits is to promote the library and reading at all grade levels.

Here are the books I promoted at my school visits:

Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems: In the latest additon to Mo Willem's "Elephant and Piggie" series, Piggie has a surprise for Elephant. The catch is that Elephant must wait for it. I included this one for two reasons. 1. Mo Willems is awesome. 2. I wanted to use the opportunity to promote my newly rescheduled "Elephant and Piggie" party at the library.

Frog's Lucky Day by Eve Bunting: I love the "Frog and Friends" series by Eve Bunting and wanted to include a longer beginning reader in my visit with this age group. I would definitely say this book is on the upper spectrum of what first graders are usually reading. Frog and his friends must search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and also must prevent a fisherman from fishing at Frog's pond.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Turn the Page by Cynthia Rylant: Mr Putter and his cat Tabby visit storytime at the library. This is also a beginning reader with multiple short chapters. The library connection was a big plus for this one.

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox: I wanted to include a nonfiction title, and thought this one would interest the kids. It is a true story of a 1,500 pound elephant seal who liked to sunbath on the road in New Zealand. The kids seemed to love speculating what happened when Elizabeth was returned to the ocean.

The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham:
As a picture book suggestion I included this story of a girl who finds a door to the zoo in her bedroom.

Tap by Play by Salina Yoon: Readers must assist a creature named Blip in his quest to win the game before the time is up. A very interactive and entertaining picture book. It appeared to be the favorite of many of the kids.

Tips and Tricks:
  • 15 minutes definitely remains the magical time period. 5-6 seems to be the magical number of books that can easily fit into this time frame.
  • For series books, make sure to give a quick summary of what the series is about before introducing an individual titles. The kids in the classes I went to ranged widely in which beginning reader series they had read.
  • Fun and interactivity remains key with this age group. Very glad I included "Tap to Play" because it fits both these criteria extremely well.

Next month I will be booktalking to the second graders. Any great books you can recommend?

Friday, November 14, 2014

ATLAS: Brushbots

At this month's ATLAS (At The Library After School) we made Brushbots. In case you aren't familiar with them, Brushbots are robots made out of a toothbrush head. They are created by attaching a motor and battery to the toothbrush head and connecting the two to create a circuit. 

A Brushbot looks like this:

And moves kind of like this:

I got this idea from Anne Clark's blog Sotomorrow. Like Anne, I purchased a kit from The Party Pack came with all required materials to create 12 Brushbots. This worked perfectly with my typical registration of 12 3rd-6th graders for my ATLAS (At The Library After School) programs. I did factor the possibility of getting a few duds into my registration, but thankfully we didn't receive any.

We started out the program by putting together our Brushbots, all except for the final step of tying the wires. At this point I also passed out a handout I found on how a Brushbot works. This took about 10-15 minutes. After that I set out Legos for the kids to build individual Brushbot courses. I also set out toilet paper tubes and scissors in case tunnels or ramps were in order. 

Once the Lego building seemed to have progressed a bit I showed the kids how to wind the wires to start their Brushbot. This is where they needed the most help. The battery wires are relatively fragile, and some were too long. Because of this, even though I had prestripped all the battery wires I ended up cutting and restripping many wires during the program. Despite this, we did eventually get all the Brushbots to work!

To close out the hour long program I had the kids do one final race with all the Brushbots. We used rows of books as bumpers (working with what is readily available!). This seemed to be a highlight of the program.

Here are some tips and tricks:
  • With this size group, get a volunteer to help if possible. Although it didn't get too crazy, things would have gone a little more smoothly if I had remembered Anne's advice of trying for a 5 kids to 1 adult ratio!
  • Make sure you trim the battery wires short enough beforehand. I had left a little length because I wanted to leave room for wire breakage, but this meant the battery and motor wires didn't meet closely enough.
  • The "stickers" the kit includes to decorate the Brushbots apparently needed to be cut out. I didn't have the chance to do this during the program, so we skipped the decorating step. Definitely something to keep in mind if you purchase the same kit.

Overall I was glad with how this program turned out. If you have also done Brushbots at your library I would love to hear about your experience. I'm also always open to any other creative STEM program suggestions!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Flannel Friday: Five Little Turkeys

For this Thanksgiving themed Flannel Friday I am getting nostalgic, with the first set of "five little" anything I made to go with a storytime rhyme. These five little turkeys were drawn free hand, cut out of construction paper and laminated. I can't believe it has already been four years since I've made them!

Here is the rhyme I have that goes along with them. I don't remember the original source I got it from, but I did find it again on 

Five Little Turkeys
5 little turkeys standing by door,
One waddled off, and then there were 4.
4 little turkeys under a tree,
One waddled off , and then there were 3.
3 little turkeys with nothing to do,
One waddled off, and then there were 2.
2 little turkeys in the noonday sun,
One waddled off, and then there was 1.
One little turkey better run away,
For soon will come Thanksgiving Day.

Our Flannel Friday Thanksgiving Extravaganza is being hosted by Mollie from What Happens in Storytime. Head on over there to check out the roundup and 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.