Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Toddler Story Time Theme Of the Week:Colors

Today's program sucked pond water.
Not because of the material, but because of the group!

Look,when you sign up 19 kids for a program and only 7 of them show up on a given week you are going to have trouble. And when they are toddlers,it gets even worse.

Most of today's group spent their time either wandering around the room or flopping in their parent's laps or rolling on the floor. This would have been fine at "Mother Goose Time", but these kids are supposed to be almost 2 year olds, learning to interact at a story hour.

I have one little girl who participates well and a little boy whom I adore--he was the only one with a nanny today and she was the only one really interacting with him at all points.

And the thing is, this is NOT a bad program. I know because I've done it in past years with other groups of toddlers and it's been a big hit!

So here's my colors program and here's hoping that the next time I do this it's with a larger, far more responsive bunch of kids:


If you've looked at my sidebar you'll have see that I made a batch of art foam puppets to tell this story and that is the way I do it for the older kids. But with these little ones, I used the "Big Book" version of the story.
This is available now as an oversized board book, perfect for toddler to share with their parents.

I have never, ever been in a preschool, daycare center or kindergarten that did not own a copy of this book. When my daughter SC was in kindergarten her teacher used this book for the first month of school to practice everything from animals to colors.
This is a perfect book for kids to use when learning to read, because it has a predictable pattern and clues in the text.  Combine that with a lovely rhythmic text and artwork by Eric "Never Won A Caldecott" Carle, and you know why this book has been around so long.

Long ago, one of our talented staff made us big cutouts of these characters. He did them freehand, talented guy that he is, but you could easily do the same with a color copier, and then laminate them or cover them with Contact paper. You could magnet tape the back, but I just like to hold them up one at a time.

Shameful confession:I always had to grab the book to put these in order since we didn't number them. Wasn't until today that I realized that they are basically in color spectrum order, aside from the bear and the goldfish!

Songs and Activities
This was the day to break out the egg shakers and the scarves and it would have been lots of fun if the parents had participated more. I thought these folks go to Music Together and the like--wonder how they behave there?

Anyway, we did the "Egg Shaking Song" and "Dancing Colors", both from Nancy Stewart's wonderful website  And then, just for the heck of it we did "Scarves On Your Laps" from Johnette Downing's "The Second Line", a great source for lots of scarf activities.

"Mary Wore Her Red Dress" is a book adapted from a popular children's song, and you can hear lots of versions of it on clips from Amazon. 
We didn't do the book, just the song version, using each child's name and clothing for the verses, as in "Benjamin wore his red shirt....Olivia wore her purple dress.." and so on and so forth.

One more program this month:"Things That Go". But that's not till next week. And then no more toddler programs till "Mother Goose" resumes in the fall............

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Theme of the Week: Fathers and Grandfathers

Fathers get gypped in the celebration department since by the time Father's Day comes schools are mostly out and we are into summer. But we celebrated fathers today at the library.


I grew up listening to Pete Seeger and this "Storysong" is one of the first stories I ever told as a librarian. It's still a favorite of mine to tell and one of these days I intend to get a ukelele and learn to strum a few chords. It's a very physical story--by the end of it I am almost as tired as Abiyoyo was right before he fell down on the ground!

You can find this on several of Pete's albums. Better still, you can see him telling it on this YouTube clip. My version is but a pale imitation of the real thing....

The story of the coat that becomes a jacket that becomes a vest, etc, etc, until there is nothing left but a story is a classic Jewish folk tale. There are several other versions besides Simms Taback's Joseph Had A Little Overcoat, but his is likely to be found in most libraries because of that gold medal on the cover. And for once, the Caldecott Medal went to a  deserving book--Taback is a truly creative artist.

I turned this into a "Grandpa" story, making the protagonist my own Grandpa Aaron (who really worked in the "gammint" trade) with my uncles and my father as the recipients of the repurposed coat, and ending with the story which my father gave to me.  And I did it as a cut and tell story. It's pretty easy to fold a sheet of paper and make a basic coat, then cut it down into the other shapes, though next time I do it I may have my husband draw pencil lines to guide me--I am NOT a skilled cutter!
I went on YouTube to see if I could find the song that goes with this and found aWeston Woods video with the first part of the song. So here it is.

Sadly Frank Asch's lovely book Sand Cake is out of print, but happily if you go to his web site you can see it as an animated book, narrated by Asch himself.
It's a wonderful funny story in which Little Bear promises to eat a cake Papa Bear makes at the beach, and then has to figure out how to eat a "cake" made of sand eggs, milk and wheat!

To tell it I found some black and white outline drawings of a cow, chicken, oven and bear. I taped the pages, black line side down onto some big easel paper. And then I used a black marker to redraw the lines as I told the story. If you're more talented, you could free hand draw this, but again, I can't draw, so I did this for everything but the wheat--just some long lines with "v"s across the tops!

I used another Pete Seeger song "All Around the Kitchen", just because it went with "Abiyoyo" and it's loads of fun for the kids to dance to.Click here for a sound clip.

"Down on Grandpa's Farm" is a standard song at Mother Goose Time, so lots of the bigger kids knew it. At Mother Goose Time, I only do a few verses, but for this program I pulled out my whole basket of farm animal puppets and we did just about all of them.

If you don't know this song, there is a great clip on Amazon.com of Raffi singing this song --it's from his album "One Light, One Sun".

Important Note:This song does not come from the show featuring the Purple Dinosaur Who Must Not Be Named. (Nothing original EVER came from that show, they took everything from elsewhere) It is a traditional children's song!

That's all for this week. Next week, it's going to be all about bugs--especially caterpillars, some of whom should be coming to visit the library!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Toddler Theme of the Week: All About Me

Most of the year, I do "Mother Goose Time" which is more of a circle time than a story time. I don't really do "themes" for it, but I do change some of the rhymes and songs seasonally.

Lots of the things I do in Mother Goose focus on body awareness--as in "Where's your nose? Show me your nose, Isabella! Show me your fingers, Jacob!" Mother Goose rhymes and songs are loaded with opportunities for this sort of thing, from "This Little Piggie" to "Where Is Thumbkin?"

So in my June transitional program, a "here are my hands" sort of program is a natural choice.

I have this Bill Martin Jr book as a "big book" and the parents and children enjoy pointing to the different parts mentioned. We talk about all the things you do with your hands, your ears, etcetera. As you can see from the cover this is nicely multicultural and shows both boys and girls.

I have a cherished memory of seeing Eric Carle visting "Mr Roger's Neighborhood" and watching Carle and Fred Rogers performing this book together--I grew up with Mr Rogers and regret that my own girls didn't get much of a chance to spend time in his "neighborhood".

Anyway, this is the perfect book to do with toddlers because toddlers and almost twos aren't good at sitting still. With this book, as they turn their heads with the penguin, stretch with the cat, bend their knees with the camel and more, they don't HAVE to!

 "Finger in the Air"  is originally by Woody Guthrie, but my version comes mainly from children's fingerplay/game song star Tom Glazer. You can hear a sample here.

"Here We Go Looby Loo:" I have found a lot of tracks for this, but in listening, I've found that MY way of doing the song is really combining the actual song with the song that I think stemmed from this: "The Hokey Pokey".
Anyway, if you look on Amazon.com you'll find lots of tracks w/the right tune--I'm partial to the one by Bob McGrath of Sesame Street myself.

BTW,"Looby Loo" must have originated with the days of yore (see Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Farmer Boy" for an account of this)when the whole family took their weekly baths in the kitchen Saturday

night. Hence the "put your hand in, and shake it all about"--you are shaking the water off your hand!

Next week's theme?  "Things That Go"!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Theme of the Week :Down On the Farm

This month I am doing 2 story programs each week. The first is a sort of introduction to story time for some of the one year olds that have come to my "Mother Goose" and will be coming to the 2 year old's program in the fall.

It's an easy program in some ways because since I am guaranteed a new batch of kids each year. So I have 4 planned programs I can just pull out week to week. And because it's just those 4 programs, it doesn't get boring to have to do the same stuff each year. Besides, when you're working with kids still in diapers, it never gets boring anyway--never know what they will do.

My Mother Goose Time is a circle time without books. In this program I add books to the Mother Goose games, but I make sure that I pick books that have either action or lots of space for audience participation.

 I am lucky to have a giant paperback of this book because I can prop it up on my easel and let the kids all ooh and ah over the bold pictures of some of their favorite animals. The text simply talks about how the little girl loves each of the animals ending with "I love all the animals and I hope they love me". We have fun pointing to small details and making the animal noises. The opening and closing spreads show the entire, very British farm and all the animals, plus a tractor for my machine loving boys.

When this is over, it's the perfect time to pull out my basket of animal puppets. The kids are used to these from Mother Goose Time, where each week mid-way through the program I bring out some of the puppets and we sing "Down On Grandpa's Farm". But instead of singing that, this time I sang a Pete Seeger favorite, "I Had A Rooster", You can find the Folkways recording of Pete singing it here. And though I sang a different song, I still brought each puppet around the circle so that the kids could interact with them--some like to hug or kiss the puppets, others simply stare at them and a few almost hide!

I fell in love with this book the first time I ever read it and I knew it was the perfect book to go with the "riding" games I play with the Mother Goose set. When I read it to the group, I suggest that the parents get the kids on their laps--if the kids are willing, that is--and play along.

Horse takes first Cat, then Dog, then Pig and finally Duck on his back and gallops along "Clip-clop, Clippety-clop", going faster and faster until he suddenly stops and they all fly off into a haystack. "Oh, dear!" says Horse, but like toddlers reading this book, all the animals just shout gleefully "Again!"

After this we play riding games: "Father,Mother and Uncle John", "This Is The Way The Farmer Rides" and my girls' favorite "Trot,Trot To Boston".
  If anyone wants/needs info on these, I'd be happy to send it or post it....

The older kids (2 and up!) program is being done in the main part of my children's room, instead of in the story room. With the furniture cleared, it's a big open space where I use the occasional "big book", but mostly tell stories, with lots of props and some audience participation.

Audience participation is tricky. Right now I have several barely 2s who toddle up to me, uncontrolled by their nannies and can't really do what we're doing. Then there are kids who take a prop and turn shy. One young lady did that yesterday and put her prop down, so I gave it to a more willing child. Then girl #1 of course burst out crying. Sigh....

I have had an oversized magnet board of this story for years, but it wasn't big enough to use with a large group. So I grabbed 2 straw hats, an egg shaker and various puppets and retold the story of the farmer who loses his hat, of the animals who see it as other things (a flowerpot, a boat, a flapping bird) and of the bird who thinks it's a nest. And of course the farmer can't tell Bird otherwise, so he gets a new hat instead!

Since I had the egg shaker out, I brought out the whole basket and we did Nancy Stewart's Egg Shaking Song. The only problem with doing this is that I have no helper, and when you have 40 something kids, it takes a while to hand out all those eggs. I am looking forward to having my daughters help this summer!

I thought my version of "The Turnip" had come from Heather Forrest's, but I just listened to hers and realized I must have gotten the chant from a colleague and then done the rest myself. If you'd like to hear my version, which is perfect for hats and audience participation, the podcast is below:

I like to hold the hands of the kid pretending to be the farmer while I'm the turnip. Think I need to make or find a turnip hat :D

Another Pete Seeger song I love to do is "Jim Along Josie" because it has lots of action and movement for my over active toddlers and preschoolers. It's from "American Folk Songs and Games For Children" and you can hear it here.

Finally, we did "The Farmer in the Dell". There are lots of book versions, but it's loads of fun to act out, again with hats. If you have a "cheesehead" hat you are in luck for the ending. I have a prop cheese made of styrofoam painted yellow and with holes cut with an Xacto knife someone made for a display, or a simple cardboard version would be easy to create.

That's about all for the farm. Next week, I'm doing "Fathers" for the older kids and probably "All About Me" for the little ones............
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