Friday, March 30, 2012

Flannel Friday--Well, "Foam Friday" Really--"Eggcellent"

My daughter needed an emergency visit to the orthodontist the same day I had 2 preschool classes visiting back to back in the AM. I needed to leave early, so I called the director of preschool #2 and asked if the class could come earlier in combination with the class from preschool #1. Being a long time patron herself and generally nice person, she was fine with it.

I then had one hour to readjust the planned program. The books I had, with the theme of eggs weren't going to work--too small for a large group. So I moved over to a "spring things/eggs" sort of them, trotting out my brand new "big book" edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar,  and pulling out the puppets for "Who's In Rabbit's House?", which is also caterpillar related. And since caterpillars come from eggs, I could still use my egg shakers and do Laurie Berkner's fabulous, bluesy "I Know A Chicken".

I'd also made a flannel board, inspired by Miss Mary Liberry's "Baby Duck" flannel board. The two and up crowds had loved it, but it was too small for this big group.

So I hunted through my craft files, found a large cardboard egg outline, grabbed some sheets of fun foam and made larger eggs. Fun foam is one of my favorite craft materials to work with--it's soft and pliable, but had more substance than felt. Easy for me to cut, even with my awful left-handed cutting!

I had made the original animals from clip art found in various places--can't remember the source, and then I'd pasted all four onto one page on Print Shop. All I had to do was enlarge them.
 Some of you <sigh> may be too young to know this program, but I have a 10 year old version that works beautifully and I use a lot for graphics.

Magnets on the back of the foam pieces. Contact paper over the paper animals and magnets on their backs too and I was set.

And a good thing too. Because not only did my 2 classes show up, a third class from another school walked in!

The first 2 schools serve the well to do and I have regular contact with them. The third school serves mostly underprivileged kids and I have had very sporadic communication with them. It's the sort of place where the teachers change frequently.

But the current teachers have been calling me regularly for books. They didn't know I do preschools separately from the public programs due to space problems. They had just walked in and how could I have turned them away?

I didn't. So I had about 50 kids for one very, very, cool program.

They LOVED the egg game. I didn't say a rhyme, I just said something to the tune of "Can you help me find the baby duckling?"   With so many kids, I just closed my eyes, wiggled my hand a lot and then pointed at someone to take a turn. Somehow <grin> I managed to get someone from a different class each time.

We played it several times. I'd let them keep the egg shakers next to them, and as I reset the board,

I asked them to count backwards together from 10 to 0 as they shook the eggs. Occupied their hands and gave me a chance to get things done.

It was an (sorry) EGGCELLENT event!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bad Craft #2 :Easter Tree of Artistic Boredom

Another craft dredged from the files of former, well meaning staff members.
The tree outline is fine--I've used stuff like that myself.
The horror here is the coloring book eggs.
 They are pre-printed with patterns,nd were clearly pre-cut by my Type A former assistant.

This is a coloring sheet that offers no practice at cutting, no real chance for self-expression
 and is completewith a "model" here to show the kids how to place the eggs.

What a waste of staff time and what a lost opportunity to teach kids skills and let them have some FUN!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Flannel Friday:Take You Riding In My Car

 I am attending the PLA conference in Philadelphia, PA and writing this from my hotel room, which is not IN Philadelphia,but in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country in Lancaster County! A little nutty of me, but it's much less expensive than the city and it's a hotel my family loves, so I decided to give myself a bit of a treat. It does mean I'm spending extra time in my car driving back and forth, but most of the trip is lovely--it was delightful driving through the rolling hills dotted with farms as the sun rose this morning.

So cars were on my mind this week, and before leaving for this trip I did a car program for my Tuesday and Wednesday morning groups. I'll give more details about the program,but I did want to get this flannel board song/game up in time for Flannel Friday!

It's from the ever wonderful Nancy Stewart and you can find this on her website--the pattern and the song, which is called "Lots of Cars".

I made the cars from felt, with with black pen windows that I drew freehand. The wheels are glued on foam circles. I made the whole thing in a bit of a hurry--you could easily fancy this up a lot.

The basic song is:
There are lots of cars driving on our street.
Tell me what color car do you see?

The kids name the color and then you sing (with gestures I don't think I need to give you)
Big cars
Little cars
Beep, beep, beep!

Once the cars are all on the board you sing the first line and the second becomes:
Tell me which color car is the smallest?

And the largest. And you could probably do other things as well.

I turned it into a guessing game as well, akin to the owl "Whoo's Missing"game.
Remove a car and sing:
There are lots of cars driving on our street.
Tell me what color car is missing?

We did this with take away one car, then take away two cars. With older kids I might use more cars and remove more!

Happy Driving!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mother Goose Monday: Off To the Moon!

 This song has been a terrific hit with both the babies and the toddlers. I am not sure of the true origin of this, but I got my version from a Kathy Reid-Naiman album. You can hear the tune here on her "Zoom,Zoom,Cuddle and Croon" album
You can walk around and around with your child, or with a group in a circle. With older children, they can crouch down and "blast off" on their own.And I'm going to use this with a parachute this summer!

Zoom, zoom, zoom, I'm going to the moon!
Zoom, zoom, zoom, I'm going to the moon.
If you want to take a trip, just climb aboard my rocket ship.
Zoom, zoom, zoom, I'm going to the moon.
Crouch down now(Spoken) 5,4,3,2,1
Lift child high into the air and:BLASTOFF!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bad Story Time Crafts #1

I have ranted several times here about librarians who cut out endless pieces and make crafts that are basically coloring sheets with a little pasting. Waste of their time and of the kids. I used to work with several perfectly nice ladies who did these sort of things, despite my attempts (!) to get them to do things that were a little less anal-retentive. And while going through my files today if found this little gem:

This was the "model" done by the librarian, but there was little need for it, except to tell the kids where the pictures SHOULD be pasted. The drive, the animals and the kids are all cut-outs that were pre-cut by my assistant. All the kids did was color them and slap on the pictures in the "RIGHT" places.
(Please note that even the animals are arranged in a sequence from largest to smallest. Sigh.....)

The school bus w/o the logo would have been fine--and add your own people/animals. That at least would've allowed for some creativity on the part of the kids.

But this one?


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Early Literacy Course Rant

Now running HERE on The Library Lady Rants. Going to PLA and listening to this woman speak (she's one of the main speakers at several early childhood events) is going to be interesting....

Monday, March 5, 2012

Read,Sing & PLAY, Baby!

This is the logo I'm using for
"Read,Sing &Play,Baby!"
Okay, so why didn't anyone tell me that after umpety-ump years of doing toddler programs and dealing with my own girls, doing baby programs would be so easy and SO MUCH FUN?

This fall I noticed a grandma bringing in her adorable granddaughter in frequently around 4 in the afternoon. Then I noticed other moms/nannies around that time of the day, sometimes in pairs, more often on their own.

In this neighborhood school age kids are few and far between and those that we do have are generally elsewhere in the afternoons. <SIGH>  We're just not very busy in the afternoons, whereas in the mornings I am swamped with toddlers and preschoolers at programs.

So I took the plunge into baby programs. Put out the word that I might be doing a 4PM on Monday program--were people interested?

I asked our admin if Santa Claus could be kind and find me some toy/book money. He came through with enough to buy a large cache of toys and lots of board books--especially the sort I don't generally circulate, the touchy/feely kind.

I did an on-line course from the University of North Texas on baby programs and watched a batch on line. I was particularly impressed by Babygarten who are kind enough to offer a full program demo video. I watched what they do, loved it and knew I could do it.

I named the program "Read, Sing And Play, Baby" because I wanted the music and literacy components to be clear.And "Read" comes first!

I started in January and was terrified. But by the time I was done with the first one, I knew this would work, and now it's one of the highlights of my week.

I do about a 20-30 minute program of songs and games. Last week I tried using a "focus book" where we all read "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" together. Gathering sufficient copies is the main problem, because from the start my room has been full--20 families on average!

When the program is over I bring out my red truck loaded with toys and books, scatter them on the floor and let them hang out and play for as long as they like. It's a 4PM program, so people seldom stay past 5.

As usual, I am being frustrated by parents who are using me as another free program, not getting that we are a LIBRARY!  But I've also had parents get cards, ask for book advice, etc. Today I showed a mom our great (pats self on back) kids music section.

And no matter what else goes on, the babies are cute, cute, cute!
It's a great way to start my week's programming.............

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dr Seuss On the Loose

I will save a rant on the way Dr Seuss's legacy has been sold out by his widow, and how no librarian with any sense of Seuss should be promoting the crappy new movie of "The Lorax" for my Library Lady Rants blog. Here I will just talk about this week's Seuss related programs.

I try to discourage parents from reading beginning reader books to their toddlers and preschoolers. Lots of them are fun--and the texts are brief, which may make them easier for short attention spans, but they lack the full language pre-readers need so much. They need books with full language, lots of new vocabulary, and if they do have brief texts, they ought to have lots to talk about in the pictures.

On the other hand, if you want to do Seuss at story hours, you've got a problem because his other, non-beginning reader books tend to have long,long texts with tons of tongue tangling made-up words. This is a big part of Seuss's charm for children, but it does make things hard on the grownups. And when you are a librarian doing story hours for a group, multiply that by 100 at least!

But certain Seuss and Seussian beginning readers DO lend themselves to lots of interaction between adults and children.And it's those that I gravitate to when it's time to do a Seuss program:

Some years back I went to a Wolf Trap workshop on using music and books together. Most of it was either nonsense or stuff I'd done for years, but as usual, these workshops always give me something new to do, and at this one the instructor used "Hand, Hand, Fingers,Thumb"
I did this book with my 3-5 year old set, and brought in a drum. I let them try using "one thumb", then"one hand" and then "two hands". Each child got a turn. Some did patterns--real music, some just banged away, but all had fun. If you have enough drums or such to give everyone their own, you could try that, but I like doing it this way--more controlled and less cacophony!
We also beat out some of the rhythms just with our hands, and mimed some of the other actions.All of it was fun.
BTW, this is by Al Perkins, NOT Doctor Seuss. But try finding info about Al Perkins--it's just not there. Perhaps it was another of Seuss's pseudonyms.......

Speaking of cacophony, "Mr Brown Can Moo!" truly is, as it is subtitled:
"A Book Of Wonderful Noises"  This is a bit hard on the throat, but the enthusiasm with which even the 2 year olds respond to this book is truly impressive. And I am SURE that a "hippopotamus chewing gum" would really sound like "Grum, Grum"

I was reading this and was reminded of the wonderful sequence in "The Phantom Tollbooth" where Milo meets the Soundkeeper, and the sound of "an octopus opening a cellophane covered bathtub". Wonder if Seuss ever read that--bet he would have been a fan!

 I grew up in the late 1960s/early 1970s and one of the reasons I hate the Seuss crap now being produced so intensely is that back then CBS used to have fabulous kids programming almost every Friday night. And one of its staples were cartoons produced by Chuck Jones--the Chuck Jones of Bugs Bunny fame. He and Seuss had been colleagues since the Second World War, when they produced outstanding wartime cartoons for the US Army--look up "Private Snafu" on YouTube to see their work.

"Green Eggs and Ham", voiced by Paul Winchell (also the voice of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh) was one of those cartoons and one of my favorites. So I was inspired to find a way to do it for the kids. And my method is props:

1)Sam I Am doll/toy
2)Mouse puppet
3)House prop (puppet show scenery)
4)Box (yellow box on floor)
5)Fox (toy)
6)Tree (display prop)
7)Car (toy car)
8)Mini-umbrella (for Rain)
9)Thomas the Tank Engine Whistle (train)
10)Goat (big stick puppet)
11)Boat (wind sock toy)
12)Cat in the Hat Hat for me to wear
 (not shown)

I couldn't figure out a way to do "dark"--hard to turn off the lights and too awkward to duck under a blanket, so I just omitted it. And next time I am going to make signs saying "here" and "there".
The "green eggs and ham" are barely visible under the umbrella--I blew up a cardboard cut out, backed it with stiff felt and used it that way. Next year I intend to make a green felt ham (you can buy them via Etsy, BTW) and use 2 green plastic eggs!

For use it again I will. The kids loved this and joined in repeating all the items each time, which is good literacy practice.

But above all this was FUN, in the best Seussian fashion.

I looked at crafts, decided that they were all too fussy, too patterned and totally contrary to Seuss's
way of thinking:
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
...You are the guy (or gal) who'll decide where to go.

So we watched the original, real "Green Eggs and Ham" and  they each got a lovely fox stamp, since for some ridiculous reason there are no Seuss stamps at all. Of all the things NOT to sell..
And I hope none of them go to see that stupid "Lorax" travesty this weekend!
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