Storytiming

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Flannel Friday: Early Bird Prop Story

TODDLER STORYTIME IS BACK IN SESSION!!!!

A Flannel Friday dropout NO MORE!! I haven’t had a #FF to post in a zillion years! I can’t promise to post #FFs as regularly as I have in the past, but I have one this week. Anyway, here’s a prop story for a brilliant little picture book: Early Bird, by Toni Yuly.

Early Bird by Toni Yuly

Early Bird by Toni Yuly

This is a perfect book for baby and toddler storytime. The illustrations are bold. The language is simple. The concepts are concrete. And yet, in spite of all this simplicity–or perhaps because of all this simplicity–the story delivers a boat-load of drama and character development. This makes it an ideal choice for a prop story.

If you haven’t read this picture book yet, YOU MUST!! Here’s a summary…SPOILER ALERT: Early Bird features a surprise ending, so if you want to experience this twist in real time, read this post after you read the book. However, the story is told in less than 100 words. If you’re reading this, you are a grownup, so I’m guessing you don’t mind the spoilers. But I digress… I am paraphrasing. Early bird wakes up. She stands up as tall as she can. Then she gets going. As she walks, she passes grass, flowers, a spider web, rounds a corner, enters the garden. In the garden she meets a worm. She picks up the worm, lays it on a big juicy strawberry, and then… She and the worm share the strawberry for breakfast. The last page shows early bird and worm singing a morning song.

We are very fortunate at my library to have a jam packed storage room. Well, sometimes we’re fortunate to have such a great storage room, and other times it turns into an unholy mess. Anyway, this is not one of those artsy fartsy #FF. This was quick and dirty, and ready to go in under 10 minutes. Here’s the whole spread:

here's the whole kit & kaboodle.

here’s the whole kit & kaboodle.

Early bird……….finger puppet

grass…………….green felt

spider web……..white die cut spider web (laminate)

flower bed………leis

worm…………….rubber band, cut so that it’s all squiggly & wormish

strawberry………strawberry plushy

corner……………milk crate

path……………..brown felt

garden…………..sheet from Ikea leftover from SRC13

Here’s a close up of the finger puppet, worm, and strawberry. They are a little hard to make out in the 1st photo.

 

First we read the book aloud. Then we did a few different activities. Then I pulled all this junk out, and we retold the story using the props. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Ms Kelly at the Library is hosting the #FFRU! Thanks Kelly!  Don’t forget to check out the pinterest for lots of flannely goodness.

 


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Discover What’s Under the Cover: A New-Book Storytime Experiment

Last night, I had an idea for a spontaneous storytime experiment.  Recently, we had a flood of new materials coming into the department, and the new materials shelves are overflowing. The pages get frustrated when they run out of room. I decided to brainstorm on this question: “how can we push new materials out the door?” It occurred to me that I could combine this problem with another question I often ask myself: How can I capitalize on busy times when no events or storytimes are scheduled. We have always been a busy play space for young children, and this has increased since the library underwent a major renovation. I decided to riff on the brilliant Rebecca Zarazan Dunn’s spontaneous storytime experiment at Chattanooga Public Library.

RZD

RZD is adorable & magical…like a unicorn, only better.

In Rebecca’s case, she implemented “spontaneous storytime” as a way to introduce herself–the newest librarian on the 2nd Floor–to the community of patrons who frequent the library. I’ve been working at NPLD for five years, so the kids know me well. I wanted to see if Spontaneous Storytime would work the same magic on “new books”, as it did on “new people”. Here’s what happened…

New-Book Spontaneous Storytime

Method 1: Groups, big and small

Step 1: Go to the new books shelf.

Step 2: Grab a bunch of new picture books or interesting-looking Juvenile nonfiction & put them on a cart.

Step 3: Take them to the play pen.

Step 4: Set out the books on a table or on top of the picture book shelving.

Step 5: Ask each participant to pick 1 book they want to hear. (I’d like to find a good way for the kids to pitch a book that isn’t working for them without hurting the feelings of the child who chose it. This is a delicate situation. I don’t want anyone to have their feelings hurt)

Step 6: Sing a introductory song. I made up a version of If You’re Happy and You Know It. It went like this:

If you want to read a new book clap your hands
If you want to read a new book clap your hands
If you want to read a new book all you’ve got to do is choose one
If you want to read a new book clap your hands

Step 7:  Read the books selected by kids.

Step 8: If the book is a big hit, give the selector the 1st chance to check out the books. If he/she doesn’t want it, put it up for grabs. If several kids want to check it out offer to put it on holds.

Step 9: Closing song. I sang The More We Get Together.

As I was getting ready to put the books away, I thought of an alternative method to try using 1-on-1 read-alouds.

Method 2:

Step 1-3: Same as Method 1

Step 4: Find a single kid, & offered to read 1 book of his or her choice 1-on-1. Since it was just us, we stretched out with the book on the floor. There is no step 5-8 because the kids natural curiosity and enthusiasm led the way to a whole set of interesting results.

Results:

Method 1: This worked really well with a group. I had tons of participation from kids and their parents. The experience was full of happy accidents. For instance, I sang the song on the fly, and the lyrics weren’t perfect. But my dorky blunder got a laugh from the parents. As a librarian, I try to see these moments as my best moments. I enjoy the process most when I embrace mistakes, and laugh my way through them. It rarely fails to put a group at ease. I think in some area of my brain, I’m taking a loosely interpreted cue from the great Studs Terkel. In with Harry Kreisler’s 2003 Conversations with History interview at UC Berkley, Studs said something that has always stuck with me:

I’m very inept mechanically. I’m not a Luddite, but I’m just learning to use the typewriter. I really am. It’s an electric typewriter. It’s very exciting, you know. I hunt and peck. But the fact is, I use a tape recorder, and sometimes I press the wrong button. I can’t drive a car. I fall off bicycles. And so I press the wrong button sometimes, and the person is seeing and says, “Look, he is not somebody from Mount Olympus, and he’s not from 60 Minutes, and he’s not Baba Wawa. No. He’s just a guy.” And the person says, “It’s not moving,” when I had reel-to-reel. “Well,” I said, “Well, I forgot about it.” So I’ve lost Martha Graham. I’ve lost Michael Redgrave. I almost lost Bertrand Russell. This was in North Wales, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. If I did, I’d have put my head in the oven, you know. But I finally caught it. So that defect that I have — like my not hearing and getting the truth — so my ineptitude sometimes works in my favor because that person feels I need him.

I think the same thing goes for library patrons. Working with patrons is all about  connection, not perfection. All the preparation in the world can’t prepare you for what a preschooler or toddler will say. I live for these moments. I learn the most about what it means to be a librarian when I expect the unexpected.

All too often, patrons walk on egg shells around librarians. This is a very new experience for me. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to the reputation for organization and restraint I suddenly acquired when I got my MLIS. As a kid, my own mother referred to me her “little Tasmanian devil.” I’m a world-class mistake-maker.  So, whenever I meet a new patron, I do whatever I can to encourage them to see the library as a place that welcomes and–as Mr. Rogers said– “likes them just the way they are.”

Anyway, I know that’s a lot to pack into what was essentially a weird little song. But my aim is to put patrons off the notion that I am operating under a set of undisclosed rules that they, or their kids, are expected to follow.  It’s all about creating joyful, playful literary experiences in a stress-free setting.

Method 2: We got about 2 pages into the book before a whole new group of new kids plopped down around us to listen. Then a few more kids picked non-new books for me to read. A toddler brought me the Farmer in the Dell from the nursery rhyme section & the whole room sang along as I read.

Next, an 8 year-old girl brought over a chapter book she had in her “maybe pile”. Her mom started to break in to discourage her, saying, “Don’t be silly, she can’t read the whole book. Anyway, this is just for little kids, you can read that yourself.”

I knew she was just trying to “follow the rules”. She thought her daughter was out-of-bounds. But I saw the cover, and it’s one of my all-time favorites. I couldn’t resist giving it a whirl. (Psst! Guess the book! Hint: the best Newbery winner ever! See the answer written in this hideous pinky-purple at the bottom of the post.) YAY IMPROV LIBRARIANS WIN!!! I think that will be my new favorite hashtag… #improvlibrarianswin

I said, “Well, how about I read just the first page aloud? Reading the first page is a good book-choosing strategy. Plus, it will give the younger kids a chance to see the kinds of books older kids read. Those are, after all, the books they will be reading in the future.”

I read the 1st page aloud to the whole group. All of the kids were on the edges of their seats. They would have sat listening to more, but I like to leave them wanting more. So that I stopped after one page. I also told them we have a bunch of copies on the shelf, and an audiobooks on CD and Playaway if they would rather listen to an expert reader. Perhaps it will encourage a few more parents to look beyond the picture books for good read-alouds.

Finally, a little girl asked the $20,000,000 question: “Ms Cate, when are you going to choose a book?” I lunged at one of my new favorite nonfiction books:

feathers

I introduced this brilliant nonfiction book as one that may look as “it’s not for little kids”. But I encouraged parents to see beyond the text when it comes to choosing books for their kids. The art in this book offers meaningful insights into beauty & science of bird biology on its own. The text is brilliant; but studying the images carefully is every bit as educational as reading the text. And that lead me to offer up an anecdote from my early experience as a reader and lifelong book lover. Learning to read was a major struggle for me. In fact, I learned late in life (around 28) that I’m dyslexic. I remember thinking my classmates had an easier time learning to read that I did. But I also remember being deeply determined to master this skill.  I have wonderful memories of perusing books long before I could read them on my own, and this built in me a desire to become a reader. I don’t know that I would have had the drive to overcome the headaches, embarrassment, & misery learning to read caused. Those early no-pressure prereading experiences motivated me to persist through the hard times. I think this may be another digression… So I will stop there.

A few more thoughts:

This was a fun experiment, and I want to try it a zillion more times. I am thinking the kids’ responses lend itself to an unconventional rating system for the blog. Well, it isn’t a scale as much as a it a description of the response I had from a single reading:

Takers: Book checked out as a result of New-Book Storytime.

Put-On-Holders: The book was checked out immediately, and there were several kids clamoring to check it out. They had to settle for putting it on hold.

FRANCO: Fun Read Aloud Not Checked Out. This rating is reserved for times that the book was a big hit in storytime–but for whatever reason–no one checked it out.

Meh: kids were bored, and we either stopped half way.

Obviously, the rating system is a work in progress. If you have an better idea, I’m all ears. Here’s a question I haven’t been able to answer yet, how should I record the stats for this?

Misc

So, did you guess the book? The answer is The One and Only Ivan OF COURSE!!! No me-balls for this brilliant book!

 

 


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Flannel Friday Follow-Up: Hi, Pizza Man Infographic

UPDATE!!!

Here is the PDF of the Hi, Pizza Man infographic: Hi Pizza Man

Last week I tried an experiment with my toddler time group, and wrote this post: Infographic Story Stretchers.

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to follow up on last weeks experiment. Guess what? It was a big success!!

1) My toddler time parents gave me wonderful feedback, and were eager to collect this week’s infographic (Hi, Pizza Man by Virginia Walter).

I was thrilled to hear that everyone said they used them to retell the stories together later that day. And many even said used them several times throughout the week. Two parents said they used the infographics talk about their day with daddies during dinner. Three said they used it to retell the Little Miss Muffet at bedtime. One parent said her daughter has been reenacting the Little Miss Muffet story all week. She laughed and said, “Poor Little Miss Muffet can’t get home because she keeps running into hippos, elephants, dinosaurs, mummies,” and my favorite, “draculas.”

In last week’s post, I forgot to mention that I gave each parent a folder to keep their infographic, as well as a copy of the library newsletter and some flyers for upcoming events. Well, this week two parents actually remembered to bring the folders  this week so they would have a safe way to collect a new infographic. And the rest of the parents said they know exactly where their folders are because they’ve been using it all week. (YAY!)

All in all, I would say that the experiment was a success! Not only will I continue to make infographics for my storytimers this session, but I also hammered out the format to make this a clear-cut task.

Each storytimer received a folder to take home, two infographics (so far), and an envelope for wrangling the small pieces:

Each storytimer received a folder to take home, two infographics (so far), and an envelope for wrangling the small pieces.

An Infographic Story Stretcher kit

And finally, this week’s infographic is based on my all-time favorite storytime book: Hi, Pizza Man. 

photo (1)

The first page is as you see if above, and the second is a bunch of little doors. I printed the first page 20 times, and the second page once. Then I cut up all the little doors.  Each storytimer gets one infographic and one door. At the end of storytime I passed them out, and demonstrated how to use it later to retell the story later.

I just realized I forgot to send myself the PDF, so I will post it tomorrow.

The magnificent Mel Depper is hosting this week’s special Valentine’s Day Flannel Friday. And it just so happens that we are coming upon the third anniversary of this wonderful tradition. So big XOXOXO’s for Mel. Thanks for hosting!


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Flannel Friday: Infographic Story Stretchers

This morning I woke up with a weird idea: replace traditional handouts with a picture book infographic.

So a little background…When I was a new librarian, I was a storytime handout maniac. I made tons of carefully researched handouts with rhymes, booklists, fingerplays, etc. I even put a coloring page on the b-side in the hopes they would end up on a few fridges. But at the end of the day, the handouts would end up scattered all over children’s department and parking lot. Eventually, I stopped making them. I dip into my files sometimes; but to tell you the truth, I’ve never had a single parent ask about them when they weren’t offered.

So what’s a picture book infographic?

Well, since this is my first attempt at such a thing, I don’t want to define it too strictly. Let’s just say, it’s a graphic representation of a picture book or story. The trick is fitting the entire story into a single image. Unlike with a flannel board, where you have several pieces that you use to build the story on a canvas, an infographic uses a single visual representation that kids (and parents) can use to recall and retell the story in their own words.

I think it’s important to note that this is not intended to replace reading the story in any way, shape, or form. I don’t think a story stretcher infographic works on it’s own. It is intended to support the development of narrative skills and memory. It is meant to build on the shared stories and experiences. So read the book. Purchase multiple copies! And build some serious love for your favorite picture books using infographics!

Infographic Show & Tell

I chose a story I knew would fit this format:

little miss

Trapani has written a bunch of books that riff on classic nursery rhymes. I love them. It’s a brilliant idea: take story so familiar that it practically loses all meaning, and ask “then what happened?” For example

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey
Along came a spider
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

In Trapani’s version, Miss Muffet tries to hide from the spider, only to run into a mouse. She flees the mouse, and runs into a frog, a crow a fish, and finally… A MOOSE! Yes, a goddamn moose. How brilliant is that? Very brilliant.

Follow Little Miss Muffet through her ordeal.

Follow Little Miss Muffet through her ordeal.

I had a very little time to slap this experiment together. I did a google image search for game board template and found something awesome: Snappy the Snapping Syllable Turtle. This game is adorable as is, makes a great activity for a passive program. It was also the perfect image for an infographic of LMM. It even had the tree and the pond in the right places; so I hacked it.

Next, I scattered clipart “scary critters” in the order they appeared in the story. Then I found an image of Little Miss Muffet, and made a little game piece out of her.

At the end of storytime I passed them out, and demonstrated how to use it later to retell the story later today or this week. Since this was an experiment, I also asked them to report: “Did you use it? And if so,  was it worthwhile? Was it fun?”

Please feel free to download this Little Miss Muffet handout Little Miss Muffet Infographic. It’s a two-page pdf. Page one is the infographic, and page two is page of 20 Little Misses. Print page one 20x, but page two only once. I printed page one on cardstock, so it would hold up the moving around a bit, but crappy paper would be fine.  I am going to try to come up with more infogenic (did I just invent a word?)

Some that come to mind:

  • Hi, Pizza Man!
  • Pete’s a Pizza
  • Fall is not Easy
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
  • Katie Loves The Kittens
  • Tip Tip Dig Dig
  • Joseph had a Little Overcoat
  • I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More
  • Bark, George
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar

OMG! Like every good storytime book ever. I am going to start on next week’s infographic right away!

Kathryn is hosting the #FFRU at Fun with Friends at Storytime Thanks Kathryn!

 


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Pharrell’s “Happy” is the Best Storytime Song Ever!

I woke up feeling wild and crazy this morning. I woke up excited to try something new in storytime. My husband and I have been listening to this song and awful lot:

We haven’t made through all 24 hours of the epic 24-Hours of Happy. But we’ve been chopping away bit by bit, and the shine hasn’t worn of so far.  The song irresistible.  And I’ve always said I could watch people doing silly dances all day long, but I never thought someone would take this statement so literally. So, I am going out on a limb to say: thanks Pharrell! You are sublime. You are quite possibly the greatest living artist of our time.

Anyway, I was driving into work this morning. I was excited about storytime, and decided to play this song, to prep my brain. Suddenly, I had a crazy idea:

Then I decided to test out a new thing in storytime: take a dance break, and rock out in the middle of storytime. I played Happy. We all danced, and got silly.

I think I will try it again next week. In fact, to give the dance break a little more structure, I will bring rhythm sticks. I admit, some of the caregivers in my storytime prefer “conventional” activities. They may have looked a little ill at ease during this activity, but it only lasted a couple of minutes. Then it was on to the normal stuff.Then during playtime the room was filled with toddlers say “happy”…”happy”… “happy”, all over the place.

Anyway, I highly recommend doing the same. It is awesome!


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Early Literacy is APPening @ Calgary Public Library

Now if this doesn’t inspire you to start working your way through the courses available on codeacademy, I don’t know what will:

In early February Calgary Public Library released Grow A Reader, a free mobile app that offers parents and caregivers practical early learning tips and activities on-the-go. Grow A Reader is an informational app based on the Every Child Ready to Read 2. It presents the 5 practices—Talking, Singing, Playing, Reading, and Writing—in simple, concise terms followed by clear instructions for putting them to use. Users can toggle between booklists, videos and “tips” that put the 5 practices to use.

Calgary PL clearly put a lot of love  (and money) into developing this product. The proof is in the pudding. Grow A Reader is a beautiful, engaging app that delivers vital information in an elegant form.   The app functions smoothly even under my tap-crazed fingers.   The videos are polished and professional. Many of them feature multiple camera angles!  The librarians are poised and professional in each video.  The had time to get comfortable in front of the camera.

Here are some screenshots:

Looking Good, Librarians!

Looking Good, Librarians!

Booklists

Booklists

The 5 practices in everyday life

The 5 practices in everyday life

Quick tips

Quick tips

Most importantly, they’ve packed a ton of knowledge into this app.  The app includes booklists, quick tips, and dozens of video clips of librarians performing interactive rhymes, lullabies, bounces, tickles, etc. In addition, short documentary-style videos demonstrate the 5 practices in action and explain why they are an essential part of early childhood education. In fact, I would go as far to say this app demonstrates all the best librarianship has to offer.

I can’t wait to show this to every parent I meet.


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Flannel Friday: Song For You Signing Song

Signing songs are one of my favorite storytime activities.

I am very lucky to work alongside a very special librarian named Clara Scheffer. One of her many amazing skills is that she is conversant (if not fluent?) in ASL. Last summer, I was planning my campfire sing-alongs, and went to her for help putting sign language to songs.

I had scoured our collection looking for songs. Since I only know a tiny bit of ASL, I didn’t really know what to look for. I paid attention to pace, looked for repetition don’t know all that much sign language I wasn’t  and came across 6 I thought might work for signing. I made her a mix, and sent her on her way. The next day she came back with 5 of the 6 ready to go.

They are all excellent, but my favorite one is “Song For You” by Jennifer Gasoi. It’s the last track on her album Songs for You. 

An amazing album start to finish!

An amazing album start to finish!

According to Ms Clara, the most important thing to know about putting sign to song is not signing every single word. Sign the words that get the basic meaning across, and/or the signs that are the most fun to sign. In the case of “Song for You” I only use 7 signs: song, for, you, dad, mom, teddy bears, and sparkles.

I use this one to close my Toddler Times on Wed and Thurs. It works for just about any age because it’s repetitive and simple. Plus the pace is perfect: calm and slow. The kids love it, the parents love it, and it’s a great way to wind down even the wiggliest group. Here is a video I made for my toddler timers so they can practice at home.

FF Founder, Mel is hosting this special 2nd Anniversary Flannel Friday! Thanks Mel!

BTW the lovely Jennifer Gasoi ok’d my posting this video.  She’s awesome, and she has a new album coming out very soon. Check out her website!