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PROUD.

24 Aug

I wanted to give a shoutout to a couple of amazing organizations/groups I have the good fortune to be involved with. They are both, in different ways, working to help grow children into successful, literate adults.

eie

Earlier is Easier is a Denver collaborative working to build awareness around the importance of the first 3 years of a child’s life. Right now our advocacy consists of informative websites in English and in Spanish, as well as parent tip cards that we distribute through our partner agencies. We’re diligently working on other ways to get our message out, including a possible media campaign and partnerships with faith-based and other community groups. It all depends on funding, of course. But we’re making it happen! Check out the websites, and please share! They have great, easy activities for parents to do with their young children, divided by age groups.

su

Storytime Underground! I’m super-duper excited to have been recently chosen to be a joint-chief of this amazing group. SU is dedicated to  supporting, training, and advocating for youth services librarians throughout the country (nay – the world!). We believe that “literacy is not a luxury” and the work that we do in libraries around early literacy is important and necessary. I will blogging especially about advocacy – helping us understand the “why” behind what we do do in storytime and in youth services and how we can best advocate for our work in our libraries and in our communities.

I am happy and grateful to be able to work with both of these groups. Together, we ARE changing the world.

Ukulele in Storytime: 5 Green and Speckled Frogs

9 Aug

Like most people, I think I sound weird when listening to or watching myself. But maybe it won’t sound weird to you. The latest, seriously overdue, edition of ukulele in storytime features “5 Green and Speckled Frogs” which is, in my world, a storytime staple. So get out your ukes, friends, and learn the D chord with me if you don’t already know it!

Early Literacy Messages in Action

16 Jun

Fellow Early Literacy Evangelists (may I call you evangelists?),

Yesterday I did my first baby storytime in… well, years, and I had the opportunity to slip in a few early literacy messages that Early Literacy Messaging Graphicreally resonate with me. And I was super excited to do so. But I know that’s not always the case.

I am a 44-year-old childless librarian who ostensibly tells parents how to raise their kids without having any experience of my own. I know, awkward, right? I suppose it could be. I could be saying to myself: “Self, who are you to tell these parents that they should talk to their kids all the time to give the kids a big vocabulary? How do you know they aren’t already doing that and you’re just going to make them defensive? Aren’t they going to look at you and think ‘Don’t you tell me what to do!’

But I don’t, and here’s why: I, myself, am AMAZED by what I’ve learned about early literacy and brain development. I find it incredible that by simply talking and singing with babies, we can set them on a path for learning that will last their whole lives. I’m fascinated by the brain science – it takes a toddler 5 to 7 seconds to respond to a question because there are 4 different parts of the brain involved in hearing, processing, and speaking? Wow! Babies brains grow from 25% developed to 75% developed in the first year of life? Holy cow!

This is powerful, life-alerting (literally) stuff, and I just want everyone to know how easy it is to give young children the best future possible.

I work with parents who are both affluent and highly educated and those who are less so. Personally, I think everyone can learn something new about their child. I haven’t yet heard of a child born into this world with an owner’s manual, so I think lots of parents are just figuring things out. But the universal thread is that they ALL love their children and want the best for them, and simply by bringing them to the library for storytime, or to an outreach event for a parent presentation or play and learn group, they’re demonstrating that.

But I get that it’s challenging to feel like the “expert” in many situations where you DON’T know what parents already know. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I think tailoring your message to your audience helps a lot. If you’ve got parents whom you suspect already know about phonological awareness and rhyming games, maybe focus a little more on the brain science – they’re less likely to know all of that (heck, I have a master’s degree – and I didn’t know ANY of that until I started working as a librarian!). If you think your audience is parents who are simply struggling to get through the day, maybe offer a little praise for the good things they are doing (like bringing their kids to storytime) and encourage the simple activities, like singing in the car or talking while making dinner.

Here’s how I might (and do) share early literacy messages with parents who may or may not already know what I’m telling them:

  • I like to call the little one-or-two-sentence bits of information “early literacy reminders” instead of tips. That assumes that the parent already knows what you’re telling them – but don’t we all need to be reminded of things every now and then?
  • I try to present my “reminders” in such a way that demonstrates my genuine fascination with the information.
  • I’m always positive and never accusing or “YOU MUST DO THIS” in tone. I prefer to focus on what they already are doing and recognize it. Doesn’t everyone need a little praise, even for the little things?
  • I often tie my “reminder” into something I’m doing – a song, fingerplay, book, etc. For me, it helps me remember what I want to say AND makes it more specific.
  • I try and use humor if possible. I play on what I didn’t know before. If I didn’t know it, I’m pretty sure some of the parents don’t know and can’t we all discover together?
  • I rarely use more than one or two sentences. And never more than 2 “reminders” per storytime.
  • Avoid using the phrases “you should” or “you need to.” I know hearing those things really make me defensive, so why would I say them to other adults?
  • Transitions are a great time to slip in a “reminder.” We’re standing up; we’re passing out scarves; let’s talk about why movement is fun and important!
    • “Grown ups: fingerplays help little guys strengthen their fingers so that later they can hold a pencil and write. Isn’t that cool?
    • “Thank you for bringing your little ones to storytime today! We’re growing brains and when you share books at home you’re doing that too!”
    • “I love seeing how happy the babies are sharing songs with their grownups. Isn’t it neat that happy babies are better learners? You’re helping your baby learn right now!
    • (Before starting a new book): “This is one of my all-time favorite books. I bet your kids have their favorites too and want to hear them all the time! I know it’s not so much fun for grownups to repeat the same book, but it’s great for building literacy skills!
    • “I love to sing and it was so exciting for me to learn that singing helps with learning to read! Singing slows down words so that we can hear all the little sounds. That’s pretty neat!”
    • “Grownups: did you hear the word “insufferable” in that book? We’re growing our kids’ vocabularies when we share books!”

I know that adding early literacy reminders to storytime is a challenging task and can feel unnatural at first. But with practice, it WILL become easier. Trust me. REALLY. I swear. And it’s perfectly okay to plan your reminders in advance and write them on a sticky note or piece of paper. Practice with a colleague if you want some feedback on how something sounds.

In the long run, you’re doing SO MUCH GOOD by sharing this information with families. Even if one parent is bothered that you’ve stopped reading a book for 30 seconds to offer two sentences of brain development goodness, the majority, whether they already know what you’re saying or not, appreciate it.

This is a topic that resonates with a lot of us, so visit the Jbrary blog on Friday, June 19 for a roundup of ALL the “Early Literacy Messages in Action” posts that are happening this week! On twitter you can catch all the posts by following #EarlyLitInAction. You’ll find lots of great suggestions and “reminders” that you can use right away! And please – share your own “best practices” in the comments. I’m sure you’ve got ’em!

Now, GO FORTH AND BE AWESOME, you world-changers, you!

¡El Pollo!; aka, the most fun movement activity en español EVER.

10 Sep

Some of the best storytime activities are the simplest. This is one of them. It basically names the parts of the chicken, rhythmically. I tried it out with my new class of Spanish-only kiddos and they LOVED it. LOVED.

I learned it from my colleague Alberto, and here’s a video of him performing it:

This is the text:

El pollo! (clap hands together)

El pollo con una pata (step one foot forward)

El pollo con la otra pata (step other foot forward)

El pollo con su piquito (hand in front of mouth like beak)

El pollo con sus alitas (move arms like wings)

El pollo con su colita (turn around and shake tail)

The rhyme doesn’t work as well in English, but it can be done. Here’s Alberto again:

And the words:

The chicken! (clap hands together)

The chicken with one leg (step one foot forward)

The chicken with the other leg (step other foot forward)

The chicken with his beak (hand in front of mouth like beak)

The chicken with his wings (move arms like wings)

The chicken shakes his tail (turn around and shake tail)

You can do it again faster, slower, and without words. It’s a good time! ¡Que disfruten!

Apologies and Changes

5 Jul

Hello, friends. I’ve been AWOL from this blog for FAR too long, and for that, I apologize.

In March I started a new job as an Early Literacy Senior Specialist in a new library system. I wasn’t looking to leave my old job or library, but this position was too great an opportunity to pass up. Early literacy, especially parent education, is my PASSION, and this position offers the opportunity to have some significant influence in that area. So I left my old job, and almost 14 years at my old library, behind for this new challenge. And it has been challenging, but in a good way.

hoorayWhat this new opportunity means, though, is FAR fewer storytimes. In fact, right now, I’m doing ZERO. I went from performing close to 80 storytimes per month to NONE. Weird, yes, but honestly, I was a bit burned out. I still love children’s picture books, and sharing them with young children, and all the learning that goes along with that, but I needed a break.

So, the bad news is – I have very little new to share, storytime-wise. The GOOD news is – I will be doing storytimes weekly for one preschool classroom starting in the fall as a part of my library’s outreach program, which my department runs. So I will be getting back on the storytime saddle.

The other good news, I hope, is that I am going to give up my other blog, Read Aloud Revolution, which I have also been neglecting, and fold its content into this blog. So Miss Mary Liberry will become not only a storytime blog but also an early literacy blog. I will share ideas that parents can use to get their children engaged in books and reading, as well as general musings on early literacy, brain development, and parent engagement. I hope this continues to be useful to you.

 

I have to share one thing I’m VERY proud of that’s already come out of my new job. My library is a partner in an early literacy advocacy collaborative, and I’m doing a lot of work on the project. In June we finally went live with our website: Earlier is Easier. It contains simple activities for parents to do with their young children organized within the practices READ, TALK, SING, WRITE, PLAY, and LAUGH. Soon we hope to have the funding to market the site and its information to parents via bus ads, billboards, PSAs, etc. – we want to get the message out to all parents of children birth through 3 in the city of Denver! We will also have a social media presence, and…who knows what else. Please feel free to share the website with anyone you think might be interested!

So, changes. And apologies for my absence. Hope you’re still reading!

-Miss Mary

PS:  That book up there? Hooray for Hat? It’s awesome. You should get it.

Flannel Friday: B-U-N-N-Y

7 Feb

Like most of the country, it’s been really freakin’ cold here in Colorado this week. What that means for me, the preschool outreach librarian, is that the kids I see in storytime have not been able to play outside. THIS IS A BAD THING. Kids need recess. They need to run around. Young children, especially, get super squirrelly when they have to be inside too long.

So, when I was planning my rabbit-themed storytime (centered primarily around Bob Shea’s Don’t Play With Your Food, because he sent me a copy!), I knew I had to include some movement. Now, I know, I’m a big fan of the Sleeping Bunnies song that involves some wild and crazy hopping. But we did that last month. So.

This is a very long way of saying I stole Mollie Kay’s B-U-N-N-Y song and added hopping.

bunny

We talk about each letter and its sound, and then we sound out the word. BUNNY!

(Sung to the tune of B-I-N-G-O)

There was a rabbit I once knew

And Bunny was his name-o

B-U-N-N-Y

B-U-N-N-Y

B-U-N-N-Y

And bunny was his name-o

Next, we turn over the first letter. What’s on the back? A bunny! And the word HOP.

bunny4

So, we sing again, this time substituting a hop for the letter B.

Continue turning each letter and singing, until you’re left with nothing but hops. HOP! HOP! HOPHOPHOP!

bunny3This was a great movement activity that incorporated letter knowledge, letter sounds, phonological awareness, and just plain FUN.  It’s also very similar to the version of B-I-N-G-O that I use!

Thanks, Mollie, for the idea!

The Roundup today will be hosted by Christine. Go check out all the awesomeness later! To see all past flannels, click the “flannel friday” icon to the right.

Happy flanneling!

Flannel Friday: Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You In The Blue Hat?

17 Jan

One of my most popular flannels has been Baby Duck, Baby Duck. I’ve also used the traditional Little Mouse version (that actually RHYMES)  to great success. So, here’s another. Because, WHY NOT?

The game goes like this: I put the hats up on the board, and we talk about their colors. We might even talk about who uses some of the hats (cowboy, builder, baseball player, etc). Then the kids close their eyes while I hide a kitty cat behind one of the hats (if he hasn’t already been hidden). We take turns choosing colors and then saying:

“Kitty cat, kitty cat, are you in the [color] hat?”

Holy over-exposure, batman! Oh well. You get the idea.

Holy over-exposure, batman! Oh well. You get the idea.

I whip the hat off the board and…*gasp!*…he’s there! Or he isn’t. 

Hi, little kitty!

Hi, little kitty!

The kids LOVE this game. They feel great when they find him but don’t suffer any great hard feelings when they don’t. Make sure you either have enough pieces for everyone to have a turn, or are willing to re-hide the cat if he’s found so that everyone has a turn. And EXPLAIN that you’re going to do this at the beginning. EVERYONE must get a turn or there will be ugly crying. And who wants that?

I’m not the best artist, but if you want to use my hats, here’s a photocopy of them: KittyCatHat

Today’s flannel roundup (floundup?) will be hosted by Kathryn. For all past flannels, click the pinterest link to the right.

Happy flanneling!

Flannel Friday: Going on a Picnic

22 Nov

I have to credit Melissa for this one as she was super generous in sharing her library system’s storytime training plans with me when my library was revising ours recently. This flannel is a part of that plan. So I’ve only used it as a training tool, but can certainly work in storytime! You’d probably need a few more pieces of food, though…

This is intended to be used with Raffi’s song “Going on a Picnic”, although he mentions different food. But it’s a great call-and-response song that can be easily learned by the whole group.

Put the picnic basket up on the board. Hand out flannel food pieces to the audience (only do this if you have enough for EVERY CHILD). Tell the group, we’re going on a picnic so we need to fill our picnic basket with yummy food!

Going on a picnic, leaving right away.

If it doesn’t rain we’ll stay all day.

Call: Did you bring the …. [strawberries]

Response: Yes, I brought the … [strawberries] (child brings strawberry up and puts it on the picnic basket)

etc….

picnic2

Continue until all the felt foods are in the picnic basket.  Next is your opportunity to really grow those early literacy skills. Talk about how two of the foods have words on them – Juice and Jam – and run your finger under the words. Notice how “juice” and “jam” both start with the letter J, that makes a “juh” sound. Ask the kids what color the strawberry is.  What else on the board is red? What color is the cheese? Why does the cheese have holes? It’s SWISS cheese. Ask the kids about their favorite picnic foods.

picnic

We used this in our storytime training to demonstrate how we extend early literacy skills learning – talking about letter knowledge, background knowledge (colors, cheese words, picnic words), etc. I’m hoping to find the time to make more foods and really use this in my food storytime! What fun! I love picnics!

The roundup today will be hosted by Bridget. To see all past flannels organized for your easy access on pinterest, click the icon on the right side of the screen.

Happy Flanneling!

Go! Bananas! Go! Go! Bananas!

7 Nov

On Monday I read Miss Amy’s wonderful post about rhymes to use when your storytime group gets the wiggles. I especially liked how she divided them by wiggle-level – low, medium, and high – and the great rhymes she shared. It was especially timely as that afternoon I was co-teaching a
Bananastorytime training, and part of our curriculum was on dealing with disruptions – like the wiggles. I printed copies of the post and shared them with all attendees. Thanks, Amy!

One of the songs she mentions is the one that begins “form a banana…” and it reminded me of one I heard from a friend at Denver Public Library. I went looking online for that one, and instead found this gem. I’ve since used it with several classes and it’s been a hit with both kids and teachers. Love that it includes the word “shuck” – yay for new vocabulary! Plus, it’s just darn fun (and this woman gets an A+ for enthusiasm!) – the mashed potato part is my fave!:

Flannel Friday: Monsters the Easy-Peasy Mac-N-Cheesy Way

11 Oct

Several years (years? YEARS.) ago I posted about a 10 little monsters game we do in storytime. Each monster is a different color and after we’ve counted them and identified their colors, I turn the flannelboard around and take a monster away. The kids get to guess which color is missing. It’s fun! The monsters I was using, however, were looking pretty shabby. Plus, a few of them mysteriously disappeared. So, it was time for replacements.

In a fit of laziness, I decided to freehand my own monsters rather than cutting patterns out of paper and then using them to make the felt ones. After a couple of false starts, I came across the magic formula for creating an easy monster:

SHAPE + APPENDAGES + GOOGLY EYES + PAINT = MONSTER

IMG_5597

Seriously. Cut out a shape – circle, square, cloud, blobule, etc. Add some legs, arms, horns, antennae. Glue on some eyes. Paint on a mouth and maybe some eyebrows. Instant monster – no pattern needed!

Shh....don't tell the others, but these three are my favorites.

Shh….don’t tell the others, but these three are my favorites.

 RAAAARRRRRRRR!

This week’s roundup will be hosted by Lisa. To see all the previous posts, visit our Pinterest page via the icon to the right.

Happy flanneling!

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