Thursday, May 19, 2011

Theme Of the Week: In My Garden

I have trays of flower transplants sitting in the flowerbeds outside the Children's Room right now, waiting for the rainy weather to clear so that I can plant them. They're "my" flowerbeds and I care for them year round.

Every year the children who come to my programs plants sunflowers for my garden--they plant the seeds in small peat pots at the library. Then I take them home and put them on a seed warming pad under a plant light on my kitchen windowsill. Later this summer there will be sunflowers blooming outside the children's room, bearing tags with the kids names.

So this week's theme was gardens--in particular, flower gardens because I am going to do a vegetable themed program in June.

 I adore Loise Ehlert and I am very glad to have this book as a "Big Book". The bold art and bright colors have tons of appeal and you have first the details of how the plants grow and then the fun of admiring the flowers by each color of the rainbow.

I grew up on Pete Seeger and other folk singers, and I'm a gardener. So "Inch By Inch" is one of my favorite songs and I love to sing it at programs while showing the children this book. If I was doing a vegetable program this week, the huge radish/beet the little farmer produces would be a perfect lead in to the "Great Big Turnip" story, but as I said, I am saving that for June!

If you don't know this song, you can find it on recordings by Peter,Paul & Mary,
John Denver, Maria Muldaur and Raffi.  But Pete's version is my favorite, of course, especially since I can recall being in audiences like this one,singing it with him:

I had hoped to use this lovely book as part of the program. Miela Ford is the daughter of the late great Tana Hoban, queen of the photograph picture book, and Sally Noll's bold illustrations are just perfect for describing the sunflower life cycle to preschoolers. But alas, some patron with good taste had it out--the nerve of them :D   It's out of print so I just found a used copy to buy on Ebay and will keep it with my other "reading room" books.

Songs and Games

The wonderful thing about doing library programs like this for years is that no matter how long you do them, if you can always find something new in what you do. Several years ago, I found a game called "There's Something In My Garden" on the wonderful website Sur La Lune. You can find the original version here on the website's Story Time section.

The storyteller used a set of finger puppets to do this story. But I prefer larger puppets-especially since I often have large groups--and they have more kid appeal.
And using them with this game, I found that each puppet wanted to DO something. Things like my rabbit going from child to child, eating pretend carrots that they offered.

For my bumblebee puppet, it was the "Baby Bumblebee Song"
Do you know it? The tune is "Turkey In the Straw"
I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee, 

won't my mommy be so proud of me?
I'm carrying it very carefully.....OW!!!  It stung me!

 For my turtle puppet it was the Vachel Lindsay poem:
There was a little turtle.
He lived in a box.
He swam in a puddle.
He climbed on the rocks.

He snapped at a mosquito.
He snapped at a flea.
He snapped at a minnow.
And he snapped at me.

He caught the mosquito.
He caught the flea.
He caught the minnow.
But he didn't catch me.

On Wednesday the program was so crowded I couldn't do it in my story room! We moved all the furniture in the main part of the Children's Room and I did what I do best--I adapted.

I brought out the scarves and we danced to "Rainbow Colors" by Nancy Stewart, because it went well after "Planting A Rainbow".  And to "Rhythm of the Scarves" by Johnette Downing because it's so high energy and with this crowd I needed it.

And after I brought out my singing robin as the last animal in the "Something in My Garden Game", we danced to "The Red,Red Robin".
I long to choreograph a dance for ballet class to the Fred Penner version because I can feel the steps in the music every time I use it!
You can listen to that version HERE--it's from his "Happy Feet" album.

And then the sunflower seeds. Thank heavens several moms helped me to organize the crowd on Wednesday. It's easy for kids to drop the seeds into small paper cups or peat pots filled with seed starting mix--and the mix is so dry their hands don't even get dirty!

That's it for my programs this week. And now to get all those sunflower seeds started!

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