Friday, October 31, 2014

Flannel Friday: Two-sided Pumpkins

I do the rhyme "Five Little Pumpkins" every year around Halloween and then don't touch it again till the next year. Last year I made five pumpkins out of orange paper, colored and laminated them, and put some velcro on the back.

They were functional, but I felt they were a little lackluster.

This year, I decided to make something more fun so I made five two-sided flannel pumpkins.

At the beginning of the rhyme, I put up the five pumpkins on the felt board as pumpkins:

Then as each one speaks in the rhyme, I turn them over to reveal their jack-o-lantern side:

The story-time crowd went "oooooh" when I flipped the first one and the kids enjoyed it so much that we did the rhyme twice.

Here's the version of the rhyme that I use:

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate
The first one said "My, it's getting late"
The second one said "There is magic in the air"
The third one said "But we don't care!"
The fourth one said "Isn't Halloween fun?"
The fifth one said "Let's run, let's run!"
OOOOOOOOO went the wind
and OUT went the light
And the five little pumpkins rolled fast out of sight.

Thanks to the Silly Librarian for the inspiration!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hands-on Science: Spaghetti and Marshmallow towers

I'm trying a new program this fall: Hands-on Science for the after-school crowd. Our first session was about building and engineering. 

The kids tend to float in during the hour of the program, so I don't do anything super-organized at the beginning of the program. Instead, I make sure the supplies are ready on the tables and I give the kids an idea of what the goal is. This little speech is easy to repeat as more kids come in. 

In this case, I had mini marshmallows and three kinds of pasta available on the tables and I encouraged the kids to build: 
  • something very tall OR
  • something very big OR
  • something that could hold our little Angry Birds pig (they loved that he sat on the structures like he does in the game). 
I put out three different types of pasta to add to our experimenting skills: which one would be the strongest? I admit I had a bit of a ringer because I chose spaghetti, whole wheat spaghetti, and linguine (the ringer; it's much thicker and sturdier than spaghetti). I was curious about how the whole wheat pasta would work (would whole wheat make it stronger?), but it was "brutally brittle" according to one of the moms helping her five year old son. 

Some kids just built awesome things (the first two options) but some were really interested in getting that pig to stay on their tower. I circled the room, asking questions (what could you do to make it stronger?), exclaiming over clever designs, and offering assistance as needed (some kids had parents with them, some were solo). 

By the end of the program, three kids had made things that managed to hold our little pig. They were very proud of themselves. 

I liked the self-guided exploratory nature of the program, which works well for my crowd of kids who come with parents, kids who come on their own, kids who need to leave early, and kids who may arrive late. 

Honestly, the hardest part was convincing the kids that they shouldn't eat the marshmallows. (I gave out handfuls as the kids left - the ones on the tables were no longer edible by the end!)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Story Time Staples: Opening and Closing Songs

Kids like routine (although if that is the case, then why does my newborn son keep trying to change things up??) so I use the same opening and closing songs every week for my story times. I have a weekly Baby Time, a Toddler Time, and a Preschool Story Time and I use different songs for each age group.

Baby Time (6 weeks to 18 months)

Opening Song: "Good Day, Everybody!" (I learned this one from my first boss years ago and have no idea where it comes from! Anybody know?)

Good day, everybody! Good day, everybody! 
Good day, good day, good day!
Let's smile, everybody! Let's smile, everybody!
And chase those blues away. 

Repeat with clap, stomp, bounce, and hug. 

I like this one because we start off waving (something many babies can do with caregiver help) and then tickle tummies on "chase those blues away." It makes the babies giggle and we start the session on a happy note. 

Closing Song: "Pat a cake"

Pat a cake, pat a cake, baker's man 
Bake me a cake as fast as you can. 
Pat it and roll it and mark it with a B. 
And put it in the oven for baby and me!

Most parents know this one and are happy to chant along with me. Every time I get new kids in baby time, I encounter different opinions on what you do first (pat it or roll it), but we stick to the pat then roll so after a few weeks we are all chanting together. 

Toddler Time (18 months to 3 years)

Opening Songs: I use three songs to get the toddlers settled and ready to read. They are, in order, "Oh Hey, oh Hi, Hello", "Hello children" and "Shake My Sillies." 

"Oh Hey, oh Hi, Hello" is from Jim Gill's album Jim Gill makes IT Noisy in Boise, Idaho. You can hear the song here, though I only sing through the original version twice rather than all the fun variations that Jim does. (Pause for a moment to celebrate the genius that is Jim Gill. Not a week goes by that I don't use a song of his. Brilliant brilliant man.)

"Hello Hideo" is a song I learned from my first boss, again. You beat a rhythm on your thighs and chant: 

Hello, children, hideo, hideo hideo
Hello, children, hideo
Hideo de ay, HEY!

And on the "HEY!" you raise your arms high over your head. We then say hello to the boys, the girls, and the grownups. This one is fun because everyone is tapping out the beat together and the children love the "HEY!" part. It's one of the first things I see them learning and repeating each week. 

"Shake My Sillies" is a classic song. There's the Raffi version, of course, which is timeless. We shake our sillies, clap our crazies, yawn our sleepies, and then shake our sillies one more time. 

I find by the end of this three song routine, everyone is with me, quiet, and ready to listen. 

Closing songs: "If You're Happy and you Know It" and "Hands say Thank you."

We sing "If you're happy and you know it" right after the flannelboard story (the last thing I do each story time) and we clap, stomp, and wave goodbye. Everyone knows this one enough to sing along and I transition from the waving right in to: 

My hands say thank you with a clap clap clap
My feet say thank you with a tap tap tap
Hands clap clap
Feet tap tap
Rooooollllll your arms and wave goodbye!

(I get lots of drama going on the roooollll part). 

Preschool Story Time (ages 3 to 5)

Opening song: I start with the "Oh Hey, Oh Hi, Hello!" song. With my kids, just twice through this song is enough to settle them down enough to read the first book. The few times I have tried to add another song here, I get the feeling the kids are eager for the song to be over so they can hear the story!

Closing song (to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell"):

We wave goodbye like this! We wave goodbye like this! 
We clap our hands for all our friends, 
We wave goodbye like this!

Do you have a favorite song to open or close story time? 

Toddler Story Time 10/23/14

Opening Songs

Book: My Bear Griz by Suzanne McGinness

This book fell a little flat. They really liked the parts with the big bear (especially the page where the bear is laughing), but the stuffed animal ending went right over the kids' heads and the adults didn't react at all. 

Flannel Fingerplay: Five Green and Speckled Frogs

I made this flannel over the weekend and it was a big hit. I added a "Splash!" motion and sound when the frogs jumped in the pool which the kids loved. 

Fingerplay: Put your fingers in the air

Book: Old McDonald by Jessica Souhami

Another book with a surprise ending.... sort of. I don't think anyone is expecting the page where Old MacDonald has an alien. But this one went over much better than the bear book. Everyone was happy to "beep beep" along with the alien. 

Song: My Little Red Wagon

Song: Zoom Zoom Zoom

Song: Jump Up, Turn Around

Modified from a Jim Gill song, I simply sing "Jump up, turn around, clap your hands, stamp the ground" twice through and on the third time instead of stamping the ground we end with "sit back down." 

Story: Dear Zoo with stuffed animals

I collected stuffed animals as a child and they are coming in handy now! I have a bright green laundry bag that I fill with the animals I need to tell the story and I pull them out one at a time as I need them. This morning I couldn't quite remember the exact animals he gets from the zoo, so I just picked my own based on what I had and made up reasons for rejecting them as pets. The turtle was too slow, the alligator was too scary, the bunny was too fast, etc. The kids love it when the stuffed animals appear and I usually let them all pet each one before we send them back to the zoo. 

Book: If You're Happy and You Know it: Jungle Edition by James Warhola

This is one of my favorite story time books. I usually use it at the end of story time (since our goodbye song is "If You're Happy and You Know it") and then wave goodbye on the "time to go kids page" before transitioning directly into our last rhyme. 

Closing Song

Monday, October 20, 2014

Preschool Science: The Five Senses

I was on maternity leave all summer, so I missed our lovely science themed summer reading program. I was feeling a bit bummed about that, but why be bummed when you can be awesome? (thanks to Barney Stinson for the paraphrase). I decided to make STEAM programs part of the fall roster. Inspired by all the STEAM programming I see online and the ideas in the summer reading manual, I've decided to do a weekly preschool science program.

This week: The Five Senses.

We started off talking about the five senses and which body parts we use for each.

Then I read Rain by Manya Stojic, where different animals use their senses to foretell the coming rain.

I have a felt board set that I made for "Seven Blind Mice and the Elephant" so I retold that story, emphasizing the mice using their senses to guess what the elephant was. The kids were really into the story and were super excited to see the elephant appear.

After that, I gave a brief introduction to the stations and set the kids and their parents loose to explore.

The stations:

Smell: A coworker donated some empty gelato containers and I put three cotton balls in each and doused them in extracts from the grocery store. I found: raspberry, banana, coffee, orange, peppermint, vanilla, and coconut. The goal: identify the smells by opening the containers and giving them a whiff.

I made the set the day before and this morning the smells were strong and identifiable. Fair warning, though, the banana one was horrible. If you knew it was banana, you could maybe figure it out, but it smelled like synthetic banana and made everyone wrinkle their nose.

Touch: I put a variety of objects (a stuffed animal, a rubber duck, some seashells, etc.) in wipes containers and challenged the children to identify each object by feel alone. The wipes boxes were great for this because they have a small rubber section that the kids can stick their hands through without having to open the box.

Touch: Crayon rubbings. I used leaves, of course, and also cut out a set of alphabet letters which showed up really well. I encouraged the kids to cut out their rubbings, glue them to index cards and make "books" using shower rings. The hope is to continue to have a this station (with a different theme, of course) each week so the kids can add new and different pages to their books.

Taste: I found three bottles of juice that were shaped exactly alike and *bonus!* three juices that looked pretty much the same. I put the flavors on the instruction sign and the challenge was to figure out which juice was which by taste alone. This was a favorite station; one of the boys said "Can we have juice next week?" I have leftovers, so maybe...

Sound: Each of these cans had a partner: two of them had popsicle sticks, two had buttons, two had sand, two hand pom poms, etc. The challenge was to find the pairs by the sound alone. I also threw in a wild card: a jar without a partner. This jar had stickers in it, and once you found it you could take a sticker. 

This was my personal favorite station, but it turned out to be a bit too hard for my preschoolers. They were good sports, but it was definitely very difficult (there was a lot of flipping the cans over to read what was in each one). 

Sight: I put several objects in empty bottles and filled the extra space with rice. The challenge was to find specific objects in the rice. This one was ok - one of the boys loved the noise that the bottles made when he shook them so he spent most of his time doing that.

Thanks to Abby the Librarian and Story Time Katie for the great ideas!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Toddler Story Time (10/14/14)

The library was closed yesterday, so it was arrive and read for me today! 

Opening Songs

Book: Hello, Baby! by Mem Fox and Steve Jenkins

Fingerplay: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Flannelboard: Socks in a Washing Machine (thanks to Katie at Story Time Secrets and Miss Mary Liberry for the idea! I think I may have had even more fun making this than we did playing with it in Story Time...)

Book: If You See a Kitten by John Butler

Circle Song: My Little Red Wagon

Circle Song: The Elevator Song

Transition: I Clap My Hands

Flannelboard Story: Pete the Cat: I love my White Shoes

Closing Songs

Thoughts: The socks in the washing machine was new and different and the kids were more attentive than I thought they would be (as a precaution, I only used a few pairs of socks instead of dumping in all 12 pairs). I don't think I could have gotten away with more pairs, though, as by the end they were ready to move on. I want to try this again with the kids pulling out the socks. I did it myself this time to test it all out. 

The kids really liked the second book and made all the appropriate sounds (they thought it was funny to say "Peeee-ew!" and "Yikes!"). Pete the Cat is always fun, but by then the kids were distracted and a little too bouncy to sit quietly for it. 

I use the same Hello and Goodbye songs at every Toddler Time. 
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