Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Toddler/Preschool Art Exploration

In my quest to provide more evening and weekend programming for my library's patrons I decided to get a little artistic with my toddlers and preschoolers this month. Art has many literacy benefits for kids in this age group. First of all, it is a great opportunity for sensory experience and motor skills development. Holding a paintbrush is perfect practice for holding a pencil! Art also provides a great opportunity to use some unusual vocabulary with your child and promotes creativity/imagination. Not to mention it is just plain fun!

For all these reasons I figured a program focusing on art would be a terrific program for a weekday evening. Alas my plans were foiled by the beautiful spring weather that did a number on my attendance.

I wanted to share my plans here in hopes that others might try these ideas when the weather is on their side. I arranged the room in 5 stations, each focused on a different art related concept or medium. The majority of the stations were found on Pinterest or are adaptations of art ideas I've used previously.

Station 1: Exploring texture with collage

This station (inspired by Keep Calm and Teach On) was about as simple as you can get. I put out some random materials (such as torn paper, yarn, tissue paper and cotton balls), and let the kids make collages. I have always liked collage because it is a very open ended medium that encourages creativity. The end product of a collage doesn't have to look any certain way. That's part of the beauty of art, and something I wanted to get across to the kids and their parents.

Station 2: Color mixing in shaving cream

Color is an important aspect of art, so to explore this concept I figured this idea I found at In Lieu of Preschool would work perfectly. All the kids had to do is put two different colors of paint in a pile of shaving cream and mix it together. This gives them the opportunity to see how the colors combine, and also provides for a unique sensory experience.

Station 3: Painting with sensory balls

Our Friends of the Library were nice enough to purchase some soft plastic sensory balls for baby storytime attendees to play with. I'm all for using what we already have for many different purposes, so I thought they'd make a fun tool to paint with. The toddlers and preschoolers put the sensory balls in plastic tubs, added paint, then rolled them around. Definitely a fun and easy way to make a masterpiece! 

Station 4: Learning about positive and negative space using tape

To learn about this art concept we put tape on a piece of paper and went over it with our bingo dauber paints. I liked the large motor skills involved in the dotting motion and the fine motor skills involved in peeling the tape off. Our bingo daubers don't often get brought out for storytime crafts (too many kids!), so any chance to use them is a plus.

Station 5: Coloring table

This is probably the simplest station of them all. I covered our table with butcher paper for the kids to color on. I've done this before with the older kids, and thought it would be a great thing for the little guys to try as well. Not the most popular station, but an easy one I'd definitely include next time I try this program.

Despite the weather getting in my way I was pretty happy with the way this program turned out. I think it could accommodate a big group of kids pretty well, and look forward to trying it again in the future. If you have any questions about this or any other programs feel free to let me know!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Kidding Around: Going Batty

In honor of Bat Appreciation Week (from April 3rd until April 9th this year), this month's meeting of Kidding Around celebrated the bat. The winged creature, not the piece of sports equipment.

This was originally an idea I used during the summer when the CSLP theme was "Dream Big, Read." My primary objective when I do celebration programs like this one is to get the kids into the library to have fun. The secondary goal for this program was to give them a little basic knowledge about bats.

We started out by reading a simple nonfiction book about bats. I chose "Bats" by J. Angelique Johnson, because the simple text and clear facts seemed perfect for this age group (Grades K-2).

After reading, we talked a little about the facts in the book. I made sure we discussed echolocation in particular, because it was the topic of the two games I had planned.

The first game involved using my rhythm sticks to practice locating via sound. I gave each kid two rhythm sticks and had them stand in a circle. One child stood in the middle and was our "bat". The bat closed their eyes while I chose a child to bang their rhythm sticks together. When the bat opened their eyes they needed to guess who had made the sound. After a few rounds I made it more difficult, by instructing all rest of the children to bang at a slow pace while the chosen child hit their sticks faster than the others. Adding this "background noise" was meant to make the kids see how difficult it can be to isolate a single sound.

Next, we moved on to our second game, a modified version of Marco Polo that I found here. One child is the bat, who closes their eyes and calls "Beep!". The rest of the kids are insects, who reply "Buzz, Buzz!". The bat's goal is to find the insects and tag them. This provided an additional lesson on how movement might play into echolocation. It also gave the kids an opportunity to burn off a little extra energy.

Our final activity was using a bat template to explore positive/negative space. I gave each child a bat template cut out of cardstock. They needed to place it on a white sheet of paper, and paint over or around it to create a bat out of white space.

One child diligently working on her bat :)

We ended the program with juice, fruit snacks (because bats eat fruit), and cupcakes topped with bat cutouts. Overall I'd say this program went pretty well. I think the kids enjoyed themselves and learned a little at the same time. Many of the bat books I put out were checked out after the program, which is always a good sign!

Next month's Kidding Around is a Star Wars Party. Any related tips and ideas are more than welcome. You can contact me here, on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets) or by email at marrak at libcoop dot net.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ATLAS: Tape Games

For my most recent ATLAS (At The Library After School) program, I was inspired by this post on the ALSC Blog. It was an easy, fun and inexpensive program and I wanted to make sure I shared my take on it. So grab a roll of tape and get ready to have a good time with your chosen group of tweens.

The basic format of the program was that we spent about a half hour doing stations related to tape, followed by a half hour doing assorted duct tape crafts. The crafts included making duct tape bows, bookmarks and anything else the kids could come up with.

The crafts were pretty self explanatory, so I thought I'd focus on the stations we did:
  • Skee-ball: This was an idea I took directly from the ALSC post. It was a little more difficult than the kids expected, but overall their favorite station.

  • Straw races: The goal of this station was to blow a puff ball from one end of the line to the other  using a straw. After everyone had tried that, we did the same thing with a marble. In comparing how easy it was to move these two objects with their breath the kids got to learn a little about the science of weight and friction.

  • Tic Tac Toe: This was a simple twist on the classic game that the kids definitely enjoyed. It would be a great addition to any program focusing on life sized games.

As always I'm happy to answer any questions about these games you may have. You can reach me here, on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets) or by email (marrak at libcoop dot net). Thanks for sticking around and reading (pun intended)!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Flannel Friday Roundup 4/1/16

I am the host of this week's Flannel Friday. In case you were wondering, that statement is not the beginning of an elaborate April Fools prank.

In case you aren't familiar with it, Flannel Friday is a weekly series where librarian bloggers share descriptions of flannel boards and other storytime props. It is a lot of fun, and we are always looking for new people to join in. We had some terrific ideas shared this week, and without further ado, here they are!

Wendy at Flannelboard Fun made some great pieces, including chicks, Herman the Worm, and frogs. All are definitely great choices for spring themed storytimes.

Over on Feltboard Magic Kate has created an adorable apple set to go along with Five Apples in a Basket. I love the idea of also using it to retell 10 Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss!

The Five Little Logs flannelboard that Mariah from Read Them Stories made definitely fills a need for more camping themed storytime activities.

Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime used pictures of real starfish for her Numbers in Nature activity.

You'll be all prepared to tell Dr. Seuss stories via Flannelboard thanks to Laura at Librarylaland. I've found that some of his books can be a little harder to read in a storytime setting, so this seems like a great way to do it.

At Piper Loves the Library Jane posted about her flannel ducks and other Make Way for Ducklings themed activities. Great homage for a classic book, and perfect for this time of year!

Speaking of book themed flannelboards, Lisa at Thrive After Three has made a beautiful one to go with Up, Down, Turn Around by Katherine Ayres.

Finally, my contribution was a Lost and Found flannelboard for my bookshelf flannelboard station.

For more information about Flannel Friday head over to the Flannel Friday Blog or Pinterest page. You can also follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter. Next week's Flannel Friday is hosted by Cate at Storytiming.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Flannel Friday: Lost and Found

My contribution to this week's Flannel Friday is a new addition to the feltboard I've mounted on one of our bookshelves. It was inspired by this simple idea found at the blog Story Tree.

I used Microsoft Word shapes as templates for my circle, triangle and square and cut out the dog freehand. The dog's collar and eyes were glued on with Tacky Glue.

This flannelboard could be used in a storytime setting while singing "Where, Oh where, has my little dog gone?" or as a basic "lost and found" activity. I like that it is a fun way to teach children shapes, which are the precursors to learning letters. As Brenda suggests at Story Tree, this flannelboard could also be adapted in a variety of ways by making additional animals and shapes.

The Flannel Friday Roundup this week is hosted by me! There is still time to add your ideas to my placeholder post. 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.