Saturday, December 21, 2013

Theme of the Week: Ukulele Christmas

 Sorry, I know that Christmas programs are over and done, but I wanted this up for my own records and perhaps to give others inspiration for next year!

I missed a lot of programs in November/December because my mom is seriously ill and I've been shuttling back and forth between home and my other home in NYC. It left me no time to plan any sort of toddler version of the "Nutcracker" program I do for the two and up crowd.

But I had all these great new toddler safe rhythm instruments:

 I had two great books--one being a perfect toddler holiday book, the other not aimed at toddlers, but a song that my own daughter used to love me to sing to her when she was a toddler. (Alas, she is now almost 19!).

AND I had my ukulele, which I've just been starting to play in programs.

With these, plus some help from the Internet for song chords, I was set:

. When SC was almost 2, she insisted that I sing this song at bedtime. Every night. For about 5 months AFTER Christmas. True story.
She also liked "Chanukkah, O,Chanukkah", which I sang in both English and Yiddish!

So I know that this song is toddler friendly. And the big colorful illustrations here, complete with a fabulous fold out of Santa's sleigh and reindeer, are excellent for using with a group. The grownups actually sing along for this one!
(There is an opening stanza that you can just recite and the same goes for the middle section with the fold out. I like to sing the end lines of each of those parts. Try it in advance and see what works for you!)

Then it was time to get out the animal bells, and dance to "Jingle Bell Rock".  I have a friend who HATES this song, but it's a great dance tune. I downloaded a version by kids musician Joe Scruggs, which has a nice big band feel to it, which made it great for dancing a small child around the room. Lots of other versions to choose though--pick a favorite.

Time to take a break and sit down and read this book. Smee's "Clip Clop" is a favorite to use at toddler programs because its action invites the parents to join in, bouncing their kids. This does the same thing, only with sledding and shaking the bells.

We weren't done with the bells yet, because now the ukulele came out, and everyone sang along to "Jingle Bells". The chords for this are very basic and simple--if you are learning ukulele, the basic chords for most children's songs are C,F and G/G7.  The only additional chords here are D7 and C7, which are easy to learn.

We ended with another uke song, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas".  This has a few more chords, but I kind of like doing that E7, it makes me feel skilled!
BTW, unless you've got a skilled musician in the crowd, no one will notice if you botch chords. And I had the additional luck to have one of my littles putting his fingers on the uke just as I DID hit a wrong chord. Because of him, no one noticed....

I have always sung this at the Christmas program and added verses like "We'll all do a little clapping"
and "We'll all do a little hugging," but the uke inspired me, and we added a verse where we rang the bells and another where we shook the shakers. I considered adding waving scarves too, but decided what we were doing was enough. But I may try that next year.

All in all, it was a nice little program and there will be more uke in my future programs!

Friday, November 15, 2013

They Don't NEED A Class On "Play in the Library"

I am snorting this AM because Betsy "Mother Goose On the Loose" Diamont-Cohen is going to get paid to teach librarians a course on encouraging "Play at the Library".
Then again, I snort because I've been doing "Mother Goose On the Loose" type programs for as long as Betsy has, and I'd bet there are plenty of other librarians who could say the same. We just didn't get smart enough to market it....

Listen, folks, what we need at MY library is a course on "Reading To Your Child At the Library" and another on "Actually Taking Books Home FROM The Library".  

They've got the PLAY thing down just fine. Just fine indeed.

Cleaning up afterwards is another matter though. How about a class on THAT, Ms Betsy?

THAT would be useful.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Flannel Friday: Turkey Flannel Board AND Turkey Windsocks

The windsocks came first, about a decade ago when I found a teacher's website where she had patterns for the windsocks she made with her students every month. While I wouldn't have used them as a craft, the patterns were perfect for making seasonal windsocks to hang at the entrance to the children's room:

The body was made with a basic pattern which I will show you below this. The "feathers" were made by tracing my hands repeatedly. Body and feathers were both cut from stiffened felt.
I don't have the original foot pattern or the wattle, but they're pretty basic and the beak is just a diamond folded down.

The whole thing is hot glued to another piece of stiffened felt, this one shaped into a tube. The streamers are wired ribbon, which keeps their shape, though we've used plain ribbons as well.

To hang it, 4 holes are punched near the top and fishing line is threaded through each. They are tied together at the top and attached to a fishing swivel. Fishing line and swivels are really inexpensive and great for projects like this --easy to find in the sporting goods section of Walmart or some such.

Unfortunately I didn't make paper copies of these patterns and the website has disappeared. I was able to find the files once, a few years ago, but I think they went off to NeverNeverLand when my work computer croaked.

So when I decided to make a turkey flannel board for the kids to play with in the children's room this month, and decided I wanted to use this shape as the body pattern, I had to carefully pull off the body from one of the windsocks and trace around it.  Here's the basic shape. Please know that I am left handed and ten thumbed, and as a result I don't draw well or cut neatly. But this will give you the idea.

If you want to do a separate head, neck and body, I found a mom with a downloadable pattern for a turkey flannel board HERE. And while I didn't use the body, the feather patterns were helpful.

I made the body and glued on eyes and features, then cut out a batch of large and small feathers. Again, I used stiffened felt. I also cut out a batch of shapes, mostly triangles and rectangles, from leftover felt.


The turkey has been out on the table all week and it's fun to see what the kids are doing with the shapes:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Flannel Friday: Halloween Toys For The Children's Room

One of the first things I made as a plaything for the children's room was a basic flannel board. Just a picture frame covered in gray felt, glued on the underside and with a bunch of shapes cut from felt and stiffened felt.

Last year I was entranced by a haunted house play mat that was a Flannel Friday offering. I also loved a set of "peek a boo" boards that Lakeshore Learning makes, but that I just don't have the funding for right now. Craft challenged as I am, I wondered if I could make the boards myself, and perhaps even one for Halloween.

Target did not have the little finger puppets used by the clever crafter who made the haunted house, but between them and Michaels I was able to find a lot of felt and foam Halloween stickers, plus some stiff felt pumpkins in various sizes.
By the way, Halloween stuff goes out earlier and earlier. I was out looking for this stuff on Columbus Day weekend, and the selection was sparse. The one good thing is that most of what I bought was on sale!

First, I took the felt pumpkins and used them as templates to cut more pumpkins, again out of stiffened felt. I cut various small shapes from some stiffened black felt scraps and voila! A pumpkin felt board was created.

If you are even mildly crafty, you can make one of these in minutes. I love coming in and seeing what new faces the kids have made!

The haunted house was a lot harder, because, as I said, I am craft challenged. I don't cut well and I can't draw. But I trolled the Internet and found a fabulous haunted house template as a craft. You can find the whole thing HERE. I wouldn't do this as a kid craft--you'd have to cut out a pattern per kid, it's too complicated for preschoolers to do it themselves. But as a pattern--lovely! I printed it out and then enlarged it onto 11X 17 paper on our copier.

I cut out the pattern, traced it onto a piece of foamcore board, and then cut and glued white felt onto the board. It was not picture perfect accurate, but if I'd gotten my husband to do this project, it wouldn't have been ready till NEXT Halloween, and I was planning a second layer of felt anyway.

I placed various stickers on the board to get an idea of where I wanted to put windows and the door.  And then I cut black felt to cover this. I ended up doing the black in several pieces, which enabled me to shape things better. An X-acto knife was used to cut the door and window openings, and then I cut felt shapes for doors and windows pretty much by eye, except for the round window, which I made by tracing a circle that was the right size. I folded the edges of the doors down a little bit like flaps so that they would be easier to open and close.


Doors closed!                                                                                     Some doors opened!

After I was finished I had the idea to put numbers on each door, so I hunted through my foam stickers and found numbers to attach to each door:

I bound the cut edges of this with duct tape and put it out for the kids to play with it to see what happened.

And promptly found that several of the stickers and most of the numbers had been pulled off!
The sticker glue wasn't strong enough to thwart little fingers!  So I glue gunned everything back down. We will see what happens next, but this was fun to make and I am definitely going to be making more of these.  Next up--a Thanksgiving turkey flannel set, and perhaps a Christmas house--or even one for my "Nutcracker" program! 

One per month. The possibilities are endless--as long as the supplies at the craft stores are there. I've already gotten some Thanksgiving stuff and I'd better buy my Christmas things now too.......

Friday, October 4, 2013

Get Ready For Halloween: The Ghost's Dinner

 Full Disclosure: I originally published this entry in 2011, but was just starting to be aware of Flannel Friday back then. And I checked and this story isn't on the Flannel Friday Pinterest board.

So for those reasons, I am offering it this week. Enjoy!

Sometimes size really DOES matter. At least in picture books!

Take the book "The Ghost's Dinner".It's a charming little story about a ghost who invites his friends to dinner, and as they eat different foods they turn different colors. Sweet and funny. It would be perfect for story hours, if it wasn't for the fact that it's a tiny book--too small for the whole group to see!
You could do this as a magnet story. But you'd have to make multiple sets of ghosts and keep moving them on and off the board. Awkward and not practical, especially with squirming small children.

I've used"Scat the Cat", that I'd used for years. I'm not sure where I'd gotten it originally (pre-Internet!) but a few years ago when I still had an assistant, we found it on a website with a clever gimmick. You cut the cat shape out of a file folder, slid different colors of paper into the file, then pulled them out to change the cat's color.

Hmm. If I could do "Scat" that way, could I do "The Ghost's Dinner" similarly?

Though I no longer have an assistant at work I still have The Man of the House (it's a Laura Ingalls Wilderism), my spouse of many years, veteran of many a weird library project. I showed him the book, showed him "Scat" and set him to work.

"Make it BIG,"I said. "It will be easier to handle and everyone will be able to see it in a group"

He took 2 large pieces of poster board. On one he drew the scene with the ghosts at the table and cut it out with an Xacto knife. He put a large piece of clear material (file cover, I think) on the underside of the cut outs. And then he glued it to the second piece of poster board like a pocket--leaving the right hand side open.

I taped large construction paper sheets together to slide into it. Thin colored poster board would work too since it comes in a variety of colors.

And as I tell the story, I slide each sheet out and the ghosts change color.Like this:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Not Flannel Friday At All, But A Cool Song

I haven't done anything with flannel in months, but I discovered this song last week, and shared it with the crew on the Flannel Friday Facebook page. No one seems to know this song, but I decided it would be great for playing on the ukulele.

 Anyway, it's called "Everybody Knows That I Love My Toes". For the babies and toddlers, it's a touch game. For the 2 and up set, it's a "point to your body parts" game. Either way, it's a lot of fun.
And you can make up endless verses--though I always end each one with "nose" to rhyme with "toes.

I did it with 3 simple chords--C, G and G7. Not only are they simple, but they fit my voice. I know a lot of "experts" say you should sing high so the kids won't strain, but their voices are just developping and they sing any way they want to. However, I DO try to sing on key and don't want to strain my voice. Hence, I use the right key for me.

You can find the original words and an MP3 sample of this HERE on Peter and Ellen Alleyn's site--it's her song. And there's a set of chords  HERE on Nancy Cassidy's site. I can play it her way, but it's too high for me, and I have to substitute a C chord for the difficult Bb chord.

There are also two videos of this on YouTube. One is someone showing you how to jazz it up with the blues guitar, the other is two nice young ladies singing it a capella. That's what really got me going with this song!

And now there is a third video, of a pitiful beginning ukulele player, as you will see below.

Who is "Katie B", by the way?  Well, to make a long story short (as my mom says and never does), she's the big panda who lives in my library along with her son "Baby B". I am not allowed to blog officially for the library <sigh>, so Katie does it for me.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Flannel Friday: Labors Of Love

 Sorry for the late, late, post, but when I asked for this date I didn't assume I'd be in the middle of a bathroom renovation at my house, or that I would have to fulfill a promise to my 14 year old by taking her on a long day trip the LAST Friday before school starts again!  
NOOO, I thought I'd have lots of free, idle time to do justice to all the wonderful librarians submitting posts on Flannel Friday.
Wrong again!

Never mind all that. I am amazed and delighted to have 10 lovely offerings this week. Clearly this may be a holiday weekend, but all of you have been hard at work:

I think of "Aiken Drum" as a food song, and it's one dear to my heart, especially since I was brave enough to try playing it on my ukulele at a program this summer. It was the very first time I'd used it at a program(My friend was playing guitar, so I figured she'd drown out my mistakes.)

Well, both Kathryn at "Fun With Friends At Storytime"  and Ms Jenna of "Stories With Ms. Jenna" each have a way of using "Aiken Drum" as a song for "names" themed programs.

Kathryn's is called "Flip Flap Jack" and includes a link to an accompanying song AND a name theme song by one of my recent favorite children's musicians, Ralph Covert! You can find it here.

Ms. Jenna's yummy version includes the lyrics to a version of "Aiken Drum" on the album "Wiggleworms Love You", and if you don't have that album at your library, you should!
Go here to see Ms Jenna's version.

Fall brings monsters and dinosaurs!  The monsters are at "Thrive After Five", and they're a recreation of the Emberly book "There Was An Old Monster." Find them here.  While Scott at "SLC Book Boy" has flannelized Karen Beaumont's "Dini Dinosaur", and found a simple way to go from dirty Dini to clean Dini! Want to know how? Look here.

Pat Hutchin's "The Doorbell Rang" was one of my daughter's favorite books in kindergarten. I love the idea of doing this with a set of bells to ring for the doorbell, and using it as a hands-on flannel for math.
Shawn's got it for you here at "Read, Rhyme and Sing".

"Miss Mary Liberry" has an "Alpha-Gator" for you. I sympathize with her 3-D issue, I had the same while trying to spice up "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" this summer. You can find it all here, and don't worry, Miss Mary, those Lakeshore Learning magnets are very good--that's what we have at our library!

"What is Bridget Reading?"  I would guess something with pigs in it. Make sure when you go here that you enlarge the picture of her "Five Little Pigs" so that you can admire the details.

Miss Kristen, one of the librarians at "Let the Wild Rumpus Start"  (love that), has made a lovely detailed set of animals from Jane Cabrera's "Mommy, Carry Me!". See her work here, and perhaps you have some suggestions for additional ways she can use this set.

Over at "Roving Fiddlehead", there are a lovely set of characters for "The Enormous Carrot". They're made from wallpaper scraps, which I think is really clever. Admire them here.

I'm glad I'm running late, because it enabled me to see Jane's cute adaptation of "Oh, Dear!"  Come to think of it, I need to try this story myself, perhaps with puppets. Get inspired to create your own version here at "Piper Loves the Library"

What a week!  Katie of "Sharing Soda" will be your lovely hostess next week. My apologies for the delay on getting this out, and hope you will all have a restful weekend before the madness that is fall in children's rooms begins this week!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Flannel Friday Placeholder

I have been so busy this summer, I haven't put up any posts here, let alone done Flannel Friday.
But  I am the Flannel Friday elf this week (or perhaps w/my chocolate obsession, I should use the term "brownie"), and will happily take your submissions here.

 The round-up will not go up until Saturday afternoon at the earliest. The linky thing didn't work last time, so please just enter your info in the comments. And enjoy your holiday weekend!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Flannel Friday: Saturday Bonus: "Five Little Ducks"

I'm often late to the party myself, so I am happily offering you yet another Flannel Friday treasure, some gorgeous ducks  to use with "5 Little Ducks".
And it just happens to be a favorite song of mine, with happy memories of watching "The Wiggles" sing it live in concert.

So here's a link to where you'll find those ducks:

And here's Murray (my daughter's favorite Wiggle in fact, when she was 4--she's 14 now) and Captain Feathersword doing "Five Little Ducks", complete with the Captain having crying fits before the song's happy ending. Enjoy!

Flannel Friday Round Up For June 7: Nine Plus One Make TEN!

We've got a lovely assortment of 9 different creations for your viewing enjoyment this week. Which will inspire you to new artistic heights?

1) I can tell you how popular Mo Willems "Elephant and Piggie" books are by telling you that when I shifted my beginning reader books today, not a single one was on the shelf.
I need extra copies! I need MONEY for extra copies!
So I know that the "Piggie" and "Elephant" paper bag puppets Miss Angie has for us this week would be a popular (and easy) craft at any library.

2)I can commiserate with Jane of "Piper Loves the Library" in her not liking ants, because the ants truly HAVE been marching in my office recently, and all those nannies feeding toddlers Cheerios out in the children's room hasn't helped matters!  But I have always loved singing that song with the kids and I think her ants are just adorable.

3)I have no staff and I have limited art skill. But Amber's instructions to her volunteer on how to make 10 turtles looks like something I could do. When you look at the instructions, make sure you also look at her Turtle storytime. I am going to have to check out more of her stuff because I LOVE her comment about the art project:">Not all of them got it, but then I didn’t expect them to. Their art was still beautiful."
Love it, Amber. Just how I feel about kids art!

4)Are you planning a 4th of July story time? If you are, have no fear, because Sandy has some great "Storytime Sparks" to inspire you. The flag raising rhyme has a lot of possibilities, as an activity or as a flannel board.
5) I am hoping to work on some sensory books for my baby/toddler programs and Miss Meg presents a lovely, simple activity. She's given us the clip art on Google Drive and I tested it, so don't worry, Meg, it works!

 6)Sorry, but I have to say it. The flannel board at "Libraryland" is a cute as a bug today!
A little red bug, that is, complete with a spot counting rhyme. I am now hearing the "Ladybug Picnic" song in my head, Lisa and it's all your fault!

7)Erin is another person who is being kind to those of us who are artistically impaired this week. She isn't just showing us the most adorable "Five Little Monsters" you've ever seen on "Falling Flannelboards", she's included the templates! I need to make those for fall and do a monster program.

8)Kathryn at "Fun With Friends At Storytime" has made 5 strawberries so beautiful I wanted to pull them off the screen and eat them, and she's got a counting rhyme to go with them. I'm planning a "Bears and Berries" program featuring works by Bruce Degen and Robert McCloskey, so these berries are now on my to-do list for June.

9) I am blown away with the work Ms Shaia is doing at "Thrive After Three". She offers a whole series of demo videos on how to use puppets with songs. Take a look at some of her other entries--there's lots here I intend to steal borrow. 

10) I know I said I had nine entries. But since librarians like to count all the way to 10 (I had a little girl at a story hour on Thursday who has just learned how to do so in Spanish and insisted on doing it LOUDLY, throughout a reading of "Fish Eyes), here's a special treat for number 10.
Melissa Weidman is a member of the Flannel Friday Facebook group, but doesn't have a blog. But I hope she thinks about creating one, because she has posted lovely photos of her "Bear Snores On" and  "Dragon Story" flannels, so I asked if I could display them here. Beautiful work, Melissa!

Have questions about Flannel Friday? It's all on the official blog. You can also find everything Flannel Friday on the Pinterest boards and we hope you will join us on the Flannel Friday Facebook page.

Kathryn of "Fun With Friends At Storytime" will be your hostess next week. Have fun till then, and thanks for visiting me here!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Flannel Friday:Post Here

"Simply Linked" has decided it doesn't want to work, so please leave your Flannel Friday information in the comments. I will try to get things up by late Saturday morning, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with this week!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

On Storytelling-- Part I:My Story

Long, long ago, I was a brand new children's librarian, working in the New York Public Library. 

I don't know how it is in the Betsy Bird era <snort>, but back in the 80s when I worked there NYPL did very fine in-service training. It didn't matter that I hadn't planned on being a children's librarian and taken the appropriate classes in graduate school. The library had classes and workshops on a regular basis.
Of course, truthfully, I got far more training in library work from the job I did as a bank teller during graduate school and from day to day work on the floor than I ever would have from those graduate school classes. I spent the first month working with another librarian at another branch who HAD taken those classes, gave me Zena Sutherland's textbook to read and told me I'd get plenty from that. Between that, watching her, and by reading widely in the collections of the branches in our region, I got some great training.......

The downside of NYPL in the 80s is that it was very hidebound to tradition.
Though I am not sure that letting hipsters like the aforementioned "Fuse #8" run the joint is an improvement on that(!)
 And nowhere was it more hidebound, than when it came to storytelling.

The storytelling "season" started at Halloween and ended in early May, when all the children's librarians took the ferry out to a branch on Staten Island and we had a storytelling showcase.
I think it was because of the birthday of Marie Shedlock. She was one of the founders of storytelling at NYPL, back in the days when grimy little urchins out of a Horatio Alger novel swarmed into the library to hear the librarians recount tales of King Arthur and the like. Some of the librarians there when I came in circa 1984 seemed to think that they were STILL dealing with the same audience....

The storytelling showcase was for librarians who had just been "trained" that year in storytelling:

We were trained to stand still and not use our hands.
We were trained to tell the story word for word "Just as Mr Dickens wrote it," so to speak.
Did you know Dickens retold his stories in performances and DIDN'T do them word for word ?There was more of the same, but it was  a stiff, formal style and when I tried to do it that way, I was an utter, utter, failure. Needless to say, the borough children's coordinator did NOT pick me for the showcase.

But back at my branch something occurred to me:

I tried telling a story I loved my way. With gestures. With movement. With music.
One of the first stories I did this way was "Abiyoyo". I loved Pete Seeger and knew the story well. I'm not sure the book was even out yet. But I did it. And I discovered something.

I loved storytelling. I was good at storytelling. I had found my voice!

A year or two later  storyteller Carol Birch  came to one of our in-service sessions and flabbergasted most of the librarians present by what she said. Because essentially, she validated everything I'd learned on my own--that the NYPL "training" was everything storytelling SHOULDN'T be.

From a recent article by Birch:
Recitation and reading are not story-telling. Storytelling is a performance medium and a departure from the grammar of print. Live storytelling is primarily an aural event with physical components that serves a story most effectively by using all the verbal and nonverbal cues available to performers.

When I moved to the DC area I was lucky enough to work with the Guitar Lady. She was a pain in the butt to have in the office--she drove the staff nuts--but she is a gifted storyteller who introduced me to stories I still tell today, to new ways of telling a story and to working with a partner. She went freelance long ago, but most summers I hire her to come and help me with a program or two for the sheer fun of doing so.

Now, 25 years and counting after I worked in NYPL, I am a storyteller. A joyful storyteller.

Sometimes I use flannel boards. Sometimes I use props. Sometimes I get members of the audience up and participating, or have the whole group join in on a song.

Sometimes I simply stand up and tell a story.
As I have just done here for you.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sort Of Flannel Friday: Baby Shark!

This song has become a huge hit at my baby and toddler programs. I have had reports from parents and nannies of how they are singing this at home.

A week or two ago, a nanny showed up with her charge at my baby program along with Grandma and Grandpa. So that day we added "Grandma" and "Grandpa" as extra big arm gesture sharks.

And several weeks ago my 13 year old daughter JR crooked her finger at me for some reason, and I sang this song at her. "I remember that!" she exclaimed, but she'd forgotten the "Gotcha!" at the end.

I got this song via Babygarden's demonstration video.  I couldn't put up a clip from that on my blog for the parents, so I made this short film instead. JR wasn't impressed by it, but I think it's kind of fun.

You could make flannels of the characters and sing this, but I really like showing parents that all you need at home with your kids are your hands and your voice. And they all love this song!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Flannel Friday: Birds in the Tree

As I have mentioned recently on the Flannel Friday Facebook page, I have done 2 weeks of bird/worm programs and I WILL write in detail about them later on. But yesterday, at my last story time of the week, I had a brainstorm, so I wanted to write about this part of it now.

I had made felt birds based on the great Melissa Depper's patterns, and while I am nowhere near the artist she is (I'm not an artist at all, it's my husband and daughters who have the gift), the kids liked them and were able to recognize them as what they were :D  

I used them to sing "Little Bird, Little Bird", and while I am delighted Elizabeth Mitchell has repopularized some of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger's work, it is Pete whom I revere, and whom I credit for my version.I had forgotten to bring in my felt board easel, so I just held the birds up and sang the song most of the week.

But I have the Story Tree in my tiny story room. When I moved into this library years ago, there was a big framed space on the wall that was perfect for putting up one of the "tree" kits you can buy at the teacher's store. Over the years, the tree has evolved. It gets Halloween and Christmas lights, I have artificial leaves for fall and summer, pompom "apples" for the fall, and pretty pink blossoms to hang on it in spring.

So when I was about to sing the song yesterday afternoon, with my 3 and up crowd, I realized I could just pin the birds one by one into the tree as I sang the song. The kids loved it and helped me decide where to put each bird.

So they are all up there now, among the cherry blossoms. And I think they will stay for the summer. I may even make a few more!

Next time: worms, birds, shakers and more--I promise!

Friday, April 5, 2013

NOT A Flannel Friday, But Parachutes, Scarves & A Kite Craft

This week's theme was both "Kites" and "Wind", and it was a good chance to pull out my box of scarves and to try out the parachute with the 2 and up crowd. The problems I had were mostly parent/nanny driven, as in not helping their kids unless I prompted them, and as a result the parachute wasn't working as well as it could have.

Never mind. They had fun. I had fun!

 I like showing parents/nannies that there are great books for preschoolers in the non-fiction collection, and this is a prime example. Truthfully, it could as easily gone into the picture book section as it's just a simple story of a Chinese American family making and flying a dragon kite. The kids liked guessing what kind of kite it was when Mei Mei cut whiskers, and they especially enjoyed the back end pages of the book, which show a whole assortment of colorful Chinese style animal kites.

You can't fly a kite inside our library (or most), but you can wave a scarf and pretend it's a kite, and the light juggling scarves we use are just perfect for this.

We danced to the song "Let's Go Fly A Kite" from "Mary Poppins". I am not the biggest Disney fan, and as much as I love Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews, I far prefer the book. But I'll take a well crafted song by a real songwriter over a lame piggyback song any day of the week, and this is a terrific song.The kids danced enthusiastically, with or without their grownups!

 I wanted to use a wind book, and I love Phyllis Root, but except with my oldest preschoolers, "One Windy Wednesday" didn't go over very well, animal sounds or not. This is a book I think I will either flannelize or tell with puppets if I use it in another program. It should have worked beautifully. Instead it flopped badly.

And then it was time for the parachute!

I have a small room, so I have a small, inexpensive parachute via Oriental Trading. I think I need a larger, stronger one, especially if we are going to use it outside in summer. But it worked well enough for "Shaky, Shaky" ) by the Wiggles, "If You're Happy and You Know It" (just sung acapella), "Pop Goes the Weasel!"
(with a toy panda instead of a weasel) and "Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, I'm Going to the Moon" (the Kathy Naiman version, which I use a lot with the babies and toddlers). It was fun and I'm going to work on the parachute thing.

We ended with this book, which I adore because it has rhymes that really work, a perfect rhythm, funny pictures and a chorus that has the kids chiming right in!  Sam's dad won't let him fly the kite, because it needs "someone bigger". But it pulls Dad into the air, followed by all kinds of people and eventually several zoo animals until, of course, Sam grabs the kite and reels them all back to earth. I know this one was a hit because a mom immediately asked for a copy right after the program.

 I did virtually the same program for my 3 and up group on Thursday afternoon. I don't have the adults in there though, so I did things I can't do when the grownups and the toddler siblings are about.

When we did the scarves, I also added Johnette Downing's "Scarves On Your Laps". I didn't bother to use her recording, I just sang it. It ends with "Scarves on the ground", so it's a good one to end a scarf time.

Afterwards, I had the kids scrunch their scarves as small as they could and hide them in their hands. Last time I did this, I tried to guess what color scarf they had (sometimes I can see them), this time it was "guess which hand it's in"? They really like that, especially when they fool me. We have that sort of relationship :D

Click on the photo to get the directions!
I wanted more than just a "paste shapes on a kite shape" or a windsock craft, and was thrilled to find a simple kite that really flies. You don't need much for it--I did spend money on some surveying tape, but it's inexpensive and I'll find other uses for it,and you could probably use ribbons instead.

I let the kids draw on their paper first, then folded it and created the kites. Speaking of folding this, the picture directions on the site for the fold made things confusing. You really need to fold the paper more than they suggest so that you get the diamond shape on top seen here, and at first I couldn't get it to work. But it does work and kites WILL fly! And instead of cardboard winders, I salvaged some wooden spool things from my craft box and tied the strings to those.

That's all for this week. Hope there's something here you'll enjoy with the kids you love.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Another REAL "Flannel Friday": Three Little Fishies

A couple of weeks ago I was doing a Dr Seuss program and needed something extra to add to it. I was thinking about One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, but knew I didn't want to use it. But it made me think of another old novelty song I love--a song I'm sure Ted Geisel knew well: "Three Little Fishies".
(It was a novelty hit for bandleader Kay Kyser in 1939)

  I've done the song at programs before, usually with 3 kids wearing foam fish hats, plus another wearing this shark visor I made. But that's usually during summer programs when I have lots of 3 and 4 year olds who can stand in front of a large group. The rest of the year, I'm in a small room with more 2 year olds than 3 or 4 year olds!

So I found a quick pattern on a website for a fish and made 3 little fish-red, blue and yellow. Then I enlarged the pattern to make the purple Mama Fish:

They have wiggle eyes,and I just drew on their smiling mouths with a Sharpie. The whole thing took minutes.

The shark was another matter. After struggling over several that just didn't look scary enough, I ended up just cutting out a paper shark I printed from a pattern and glued a strip of felt to his back so that he'd stick to the board!  He's not very durable but he worked fine and the kids squealed in delight when they saw him:

Since the 3 little fishies have to swim back to their mama, they are two sided. This is why I used felt. I really like making these boards with foam, but foam requires magnets to stick to my board, and they would have showed on the reverse side:

If you don't know the song, here it is, courtesy of that treasure trove of these old novelty songs perfect for programs: The Muppet Show!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Easter Eggs: Or Once Again, Simple Crafts Are Best

I found a marvelous textured egg craft on a web site. Three cut out eggs on a page. One was covered in multicolored cotton balls, one in buttons and a third in looped chenille stems/pipe cleaners. Nice, but too structured in my opinion for my afternoon group, where I have kids as young as 3 and old as 6.

I also saw a number of "stained glass" eggs, where you use my old favorite clear Contact paper, have the kids put tissue paper or such on a shape, and then cover with a second cut out shape.  Cute, but again, more rigid than this anarchist children's librarian wanted.

So instead, I cut out egg shapes with Contact paper,laid them sticky side up on the tables, and set out buttons, some shredded gift basket paper, strips of tissue paper in various colors and lots of foam shape bits. I provided scissors if the kids wanted to cut the paper. And that was it.

The lovely thing with the Contact paper, of course, was no glue was needed. They simply placed their bits and pieces on the egg and they stuck. And when they were done, I cut out a second egg shape and sandwiched their art work between the layers.

The result was everything from one young lady's carefully laying strips of tissue paper in a pattern, then  cutting off the excess, to one of my youngest 3's beautiful button design, to some wonderful collages.
Each was unique, each was creative and each was beautiful

And all I had to do in advance was gather the materials and pre-cut the eggs, each one taking just seconds to do.

This is how crafting should be, and too often isn't. The kids had a great time, I only had minimal work to do, and the results?

Well, take a look at these photos and judge for yourself!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

NOT A Flannel Friday: "The Snake That Sneezed"

  Way back in the late 80s, long before the Internet, one of my great early sources for program ideas was a little magazine called "Kidstuff". It came to our library and each issue had a theme for programs, complete with book suggestions, songs, magnetboard/flannel stories, etc.

"Kidstuff" is long gone, but I am still using some of the things I found in it long ago and I still have most of the issues. So when Libray Quine asked for snake stories on the Flannel Friday Facebook page today, I dug out that issue and my props.

In this story Harold the snake sets off to find his fortune. Along the way he meets various animals whom, being a snake, he swallows. At the end, a bug lands on his tongue and he SNEEZES! But luckily he's at a circus, the circus owner is delighted and Harold makes his fortune, though of course, he resolves to never again bite off more than he can chew!

To make this story, you take a long strip of poster board, and draw your snake on it. You need to make it very long in order to have space for all the animals Harold will swallow. The cardboard is about 12 inches high, because each of the animals is on a piece of 8 1/2 X 11 inch poster board.

Next, you need to make each of the animal outlines. The great thing about this story is that you just have to make the outlines and color them the same color as Harold!  You can draw them directly or just cut them out from the patterns and glue them on individual pieces of posterboard.
You then need to hinge the animals so that you can flip them forward. Book tape, the librarian's secret weapon, works perfectly for this.

Back view. Note the pink paper "cheat sheets", another advantage of this story.

You will probably need to set the story across two chairs, or have helpers hold it for you.
Then you simply tell the story and one by one, flip over the animals.

I have never used a bug with this, but a little bug puppet might be cute. And when Harold sneezes at the end, you flip them all back--the kids love that part!

I have adapted the original story slightly--you can find my version HERE.
And I scanned the original art--you can find those pictures HERE.

Have fun with this!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Learning Through Play

If there is one thing that really, really irks me about "Every Child Ready To Read" (and there's a lot to choose from) , it is this insistence on making sure that every single thing you do is packed with "tips for parents" to the point of analyzing finger plays for "this one teaches using all 5 fingers" and the like.

Last month the kids were doing one of my anarchistic crafts--stringing pony beads on pipe cleaners and twisting them as they wanted into "holiday decorations" and one of the moms commented, "And they're practicing fine motor skills!"

Yup. I didn't need to tell the moms that. They saw it.
More importantly, the kids had no idea that they were learning something.
They were just having fun.

Just saying...............

Friday, January 18, 2013

NOT A Flannel Friday: The Polar Bear Hunt

One of my favorite polar bear books!
NOT a script for this game.....

I could SWEAR that I'd blogged this, but it may have been long ago on the original "Library Lady Rants" blog, and it's one of my favorite games!

Most people know and do a version of "I'm Going On A Bear Hunt" and this winter variation is just as much fun, maybe even more so. I'm going to give you a general outline of how to play this game, but my advice is let the children lead the way. Don't stick to a script! Their suggestions make this game even better and really draws them in.And it's building thinking and language skills while having fun.

My favorite recollection of the Polar Bear Hunt is playing it with the pre-K class from my favorite local preschool and having their teacher report later that the kids went back to school STILL pretending to be cold from being out in the snow. Now that's the magic of story time!

The Polar Bear Hunt
  • I tell the kids:"We're going to go on a hike in the Arctic and see if we can see some polar bears"
  • What clothes do you need to wear? One thing we've added is dark glasses because it's so bright in the snow!
  • Everyone dressed? Open the door and step out into the snow. Then you can do some of these things:

  • Walk on the snow. Take big steps. Fall down if it's slippery! 
  • Have a snowball fight!
  • Make a snowman 
  • Climb up a hill of snow and look for polar bears. But you won't see one--it'll be something else!
  • Slide down, or ride on a sled. Sometimes we fall off our sleds. One time one of the kids said her sled was broken and another kid "repaired" it with his "tool kit"!
  • Ice skate--because you were smart enough to carry skates with you!
  • Climb up an icy cliff. Good thing you had that rope and those special climbing shoes with you!
We usually climb up the cliff and find there's a polar bear cave inside! You could also have it just as a hole in a hill or something. Either way, it's time to crawl into the polar bear cave:
Again, this is an idea outline, NOT a script! Please improvise and let the kids help you!

SHHH! Be very quiet.
It's warm in the cave and dark.Do you hear snoring?
Reach out. Do you feel something furry?
It's a polar bear!
Pet it very gently. We don't want to wake the bear--it might get mad!

Crawl quietly out of the cave and reverse some of your actions to go home.
Before you go back through the door, stop. Do you see something out on the ice?
It's a polar bear! It's a mom polar bear and a baby. Wave to them!

  • Before you go inside, don't forget to wipe your feet!
  • Open the door, and go inside.
  • Take off all those wet clothes
  • Make some hot chocolate. Do you like marshmallows in your cup?

What a great polar bear hunt!

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    Des Colores: Scarf Fun With the Toddlers

    Thank you to members of the Flannel Friday Facebook page for helping me get my act together with this program and for giving me some more scarf ideas that I am going to be trying out on my 2 and up groups soon. It's always great to add something new to your programs, and I think this is going to become a regular periodic feature of my toddler programs!

    It's dark and gray and awful out there and I wanted to do something different and BRIGHT with my "Mother Goose" groups. So I pulled out the juggling scarves I use with the 2 and up set for "Nutcracker" and for other fun programs and decided to try them out.

    In addition to the fact that the one year old set are just developing body control, they are not ready to follow directions in a group. For that you need cooperative parents and caregivers to guide them. And while some of my families/nannies are great, but others just sit there and watch their kids run amuck and don't even TRY to take part. Sigh..

    There's  great scarf music for the 2 and up groups--just Johnette Downing's "Second Line" album would have had enough stuff for those programs, but what to do with the 1 year olds? Oh, to have had Kindermusik or Music Together training....

    But I hunted through my music, trolled the Internet, begged help from fellow travelers and came up with this:

     Des Colores For Toddlers
    1)Opening:I started with letting everyone pick a scarf--or two, since we had plenty. And as they did, I commented on the colors--"Oh,look, Sienna is taking a yellow scarf and you have yellow stripes on your shirt!"   Then I put the rest of the scarves in a pile on the floor and let the kids grab as they liked. We only interfered if they tried to take scarves from each other.

    2)"If You're Happy and You Know It" I don't think of this as a piggyback song, it's just doing different actions with a prop. And it works perfectly with scarves. We did "shake your scarf" and "wave your scarf", "throw your scarf" (juggling scarves float beautifully) and "play peek-a-boo!" You can also play "Hide your scarf" and scrunch your scarf in your hands or hide it behind your back.

    3)"I Can Sing A Rainbow"   If you are shy about singing, you can find great versions of this song. Two of my favorites are Fred Penner and "Wiggleworms"--you can hear a clip of their version HERE.  I pretty much just sang this song while I tossed different color scarves in the air and those who felt like rocking with their kids did so. I thought of a flannel board for this, but the colors are not really the rainbow colors (pink instead of brown) and they're not in sequence, and they liked it just as it was. I need to find the guitar chords and try this on my ukelele!

    4)"All My Colors"  Ralph Covert, I really want to give you a haircut because I think you look like John Cleese of Monty Python as "Anne Elk--Miss!", but I am in love with your music. This is irresistable to run around to, dancing and waving scarves and a lot of my close to 2 toddlers really grooved out to this. I kept throwing scarves in the air in various spots when I wasn't dancing.

    This is an acoustic performance--not as much fun without the kid chorus on the "Ralph's World" CD, but it will give you a good sense of this song. Go about 2 minutes in to get to the music:

    5)Des Colores  There are lots of versions of this, but I used the Raffi one and all my Spanish speaking nannies not only knew the words, they sang along and danced their kids. There will be more Spanish songs at programs and I think I have to get on doing some bi-lingual stuff. They'll be able to laugh at my Spanish!

    6)Closing--Sort Of  After we did Des Colores, I just had them hold onto the scarves or drop them as they liked while we played "Ring Around the Rosie". During "Wheels On the Bus" we added "The kids on the bus wave Hi! Hi! Hi!" and waved the scarves.  We did the closing bounces and I told the parents/nannies I wanted to see if we could get all the scarves back in the box, but if not, try to just leave them in the room. To my delight, no one fussed and the kids had fun putting the scarves away!

    This was all so much fun that I added it to my 2 and up program. It was a North Pole/South Pole theme, but in the middle, we did the recorded music and then I told the kids we'd danced all the way from the South Pole to the North!
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...