Friday, November 30, 2012

Flannel Friday: Countdown December!

You could call this a "Flannel Friday" because there IS some felt used on the calendar. And I am betting there is some incredibly crafty person out there who will see this and perhaps be inspired to make a masterwork of this for 2013.

But you don't have to be terribly crafty to make the countdown calendar we've been using at the library for years. In fact, between Google Images and the like, you could easily whip one of these up in short order.

This started about <gulp> fifteen years ago when I worked at another branch library where we had a large bulletin board. Our talented teenage page created a "countdown" calendar using his own artwork. Each picture was hidden beneath a sheet of construction paper with the number made with our Ellison stencil machine. It was simple and colorful and fun.

Here at my current library we have a huge display wall and I realized that though I can't draw, I could make great graphics with the old Print Shop program. It even has wonderful number graphics. For some years I laboriously attached pictures and date covers to the wall--and it was a pain because the wall has molding that leaves big open spaces--attractive but not helpful for bulletin board projects.
Since then my very talented husband built a HUGE bulletin board, complete with a hand stained molding frame for that wall. It's great.


So my assistant at that time and I got the idea to get a big sheet of fabric and make a basic calendar backing.
It's just muslin, but Sally added felt decorations along the edges and marked the weeks and days off with wired ribbon. At each top corner, she put a felt loop and made additional loops of the ribbon along the top edge.




She ended up not even sewing the loops, but simply pinning them, and I think they've lasted better that way!

Now all I do is take the pictures and put the number page on top of each picture, then simply pin them in the right spaces. The pins are the pearl headed sort, easy to see and handle. As I remove each date, I use the pin to resecure the picture. Easy-peasy.

I would like to send one of my notoriously good cheesecakes to whoever invented Contact adhesive hooks. These are the best thing on earth for holding hanging objects on walls. We have 6 of the biggest hooks on the wall above the board. All I have to do is slip a curtain rod through the loops at the top of the calendar sheet, hang it up and I'm done!


The finished board. And if you'd like to see some of the pictures, the slideshow follows. Happy Holidays!


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Monday, November 12, 2012

Novem-Bear Again


I love having themes because they help me pull things together quickly. It's become especially helpful in the past few years, since I've become a one woman children's department!

Novem-Bear has always been one of my favorite themes and I blogged about it last year. But just because it's the same theme doesn't mean it's the same materials.  I do have favorites, but I'd go out of my tree (well more so than usual)if I did the same things year after year. And there is so much bear stuff!

Goldilocks.  Teddy bear stories. "Jesse Bear" and "Jamberry" and more!
But this year, I pretty much stuck to "real" bear stories:

Books:



 In Denise Fleming's Time To Sleep all the animals are getting ready to hibernate. I knew that bears hibernate, but I didn't know that snails did! Or ladybugs. I really need to look it up--good thing I've got all those books in the non-fiction!





I love "Bear Snores On" best of the Karma Wilson series, but this one is great for the fall and Thanksgiving. Bear's friends all come to share foods with him and Bear gets sad because his cupboard is "bare". But his friends tell him that's okay, because he has something else to share: stories!
We talked briefly at the 2 & up programs about "bear" vs. "bare", but when I had preschool classes I emphasized it a bit more. I don't tend to do too much with the "literacy messages" because my goal is to get parents to read and share books with their kids, but once in a while when it's relevant, I like to comment without driving the message home with a sledgehammer!

Movement/Games and Songs


  I was doing the "Bear Hunt" game long before Michael Rosen's book, so I just suggest the book as a follow up to the game we play! I love adding bits to this game--this year after we swam a river we all made a "fire" (I lit the match, of course!) and toasted marshmallows. And when we went through a swamp and I complained about the mosquitoes, one of the kids immediately said "I have bug spray!"  That's why these games never get boring--they're never the same twice!



The Wiggles LOVE kids--3 of the 4 originals were all training to be preschool teachers and it showed in the way they performed. I went to see them live in concert with my girls when they were little and we all had a blast--you could tell how much the Wiggles loved what they do, just as I do. This clip of them singing "Rock A Bye Your Bear" will show you what I mean-- even the kids who don't know the Wiggles love this song.


 
 
  And last, but not least, I love "The Bear Went Over the Mountain". It's a great song to use as a
game with the little ones, marching your hand/bear up and down their arms, and bigger kids can just sing it:
Oh, the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain,
the bear went over the mountain, to see what he could see! 

And what do you think he saw? What do you think he saw?
The other side of the mountain, the other side of the mountain,  the other side of the mountain,
was all that he could see!

So the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain,
 the bear went over the mountain, so very happily!

But he's not happy, because now he's far away from home! 
So repeat both verses so he can see his home and get back to his house "so ve-ry hap-pi-ly!"

And now for a two week break to clean up my storeroom and office, celebrate Thanksgiving with my family
and get ready for December, which  brings "The Nutcracker!"

Friday, November 9, 2012

Turkey Hat--Thrice As Nice Or:Another Plea For Creativity

Yesterday I wrote a post about this week's Novem-Bear program, which has different, cool stuff that I didn't use at last year's Novem-bear program and in it I commented that no matter how often I play "Going On A Bear Hunt", or tell "Sody Salleratus", it is always different. Something new always comes out of it each time.

Storytelling, game playing are journeys of the imagination. There's always something fresh and new if you look for it.

I will post that story time later next week because it was a blast and because I'm going to be doing it yet again for the only programs I'm doing next week--two sessions for my favorite local preschool. But instead, today, I want to talk about the craft I did yesterday, because it's really related.

I have been even less organized than usual at work--between several days off for Hurricane Sandy and my angst about the election I really didn't plan well for my craft for my afternoon, age 3 and up program. And when I started to assemble what I needed for a "triangle turkey" I discovered I was missing the one and only pattern piece I needed, the turkey head. So I went on the web and decided I'd done something like this craft, which I found in Parents Magazine's website.

You can click on the photo and get full directions, but I just grabbed some paper plates and the magic markers. I usually would have made templates for circles so the kids could practice tracing with a marker and  cutting with a scissors--a skill they really need to learn at this age. But time was short so I traced 4 circles of the right size on  a sheet of paper, stuck some plain white construction paper in my copy machine, and cut them myself.

They got the paper plate halves, the circles for the turkey heads and some markers. I grabbed a couple of packages of colored feathers from my craft stuff and let them pick two each.

No pattern. No instructions. Just "make a turkey hat". And here is what 3 of my friends did:


No, you really are seeing triple here--these three young ladies are triplets and I've known them since they were toddlers. They are almost 5 now, but I still never remember who is who because they look so alike and often dress in the same outfits.

But they are 3 individuals. And it shows in their hats:

This is the most conventional.  Face in the middle, feathers left and right.

No face whatever--she just drew patterns.


And last but not least--she saw the turkey from a side view.Head on left at "front", feathers on right in "back". 


 Three sisters who look identical. But each THOUGHT about her craft in her own way and did her own thing.

The next time you're busy assembling perfect little patterns for perfect little crafts, please stop and think about what you want your kids to get out of these crafts. Is it to make a copy of what you do, or is it to learn new skills. Is it to THINK about what they're doing?

And then,please! Chuck away the patterns and the "models" and the rest and let them spend the time away from the goddamned IPads and computers having creative, thoughtful fun!

The results will amaze you.
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