Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Books n Play for Pre-K 5/27/15

Hi! I wasn't going to write about Books n Play for Pre-K again for a while but since every session is so different, I felt inspired today. Last week my theme was dinosaurs and it included digging for "fossils" in a sandbox, which was really fun! This afternoon the theme was food, which is a theme I've done before but haven't done often or in a long time.

First, I read Hi, Pizza Man! by Virginia Walters. An oldie but a goodie... a greatie even. I've found this book to be successful every time I have ever used it in storytime. Parents like it too and most of them haven't ever heard it before. Then I followed it with the classic Pete the Cat, I Love my White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean, which I guess isn't really that food-ish of a book, but kids aren't too critical about stuff like that... especially when it comes to Pete the Cat.

Next we sang "Picked a Strawberry" which tied in nicely with Pete the Cat, as seen on Jbrary below:

I started this song off by asking the kids what the first two things Pete stepped in were and I was happy that they remembered both strawberries and blueberries! Once we sang about picking those fruits, I asked what other berries we could pick and was met with raspberries, watermelon (we picked these from the ground), bananas, grapes, and apples. Berries shmerries, right? (Shout out to the awesome moms who jumped in and reminded me that bananas grow on trees. Shoulda brushed up on my fruit knowledge ahead of time! Also, shout out to the awesome kids who made sure to point out that we do not wash bananas.)

After the two books and the song, I had the kids break off to play at the craft table and the toy table.

Here's what was at the craft table:
1. Paper pizza collages. (See below)
2. Fruit and vegetable stamping. (See below)
3. This vegetable coloring sheet and crayons.

Here are the pizza collages:

And here is the fruit and vegetable stamping:

This is what was at the toy table:
1. Plastic fruit that velcros apart and together similar to this in a plastic "shopping basket."
2. A plastic scale that we had floating around and an assortment of foods from home for comparing weights. (See below)
3. This matching game I printed out from Life After C's "Free Food Pre-K Pack."

This is the scale and my array of food for weight comparison:

(Special thanks to my husband who didn't look at me too weirdly when I asked if I could borrow his grapefruit for work this morning.) And here are some of the kids learning that the can of corn always weighs the most:

I timed everything out really well today. I was able to cram so much in after toy/craft time. First I played the song Today is Monday by Greg & Steve as I showed them the the book Today Is Monday, by Eric Carle. I was afraid they'd get distracted for this but it was just the opposite. I can't believe how incredibly captivated they were as we looked through this book and listened to the song. They were like perfect, model three-to-five-year-olds. Maybe it was the book+song combo; I'm not really sure. But whatever it was, it worked great!

After this we did the Milkshake Song by Anne-Marie Akin (from the Wiggleworms CD), which was fun except that I'm pretty sure none of the kids were actually familiar with the concept of a milkshake.

Usually I like to end the class with both The Hokey Pokey and then my usual Goodbye Song (Laurie Berkner's Blow A Kiss) but this week I had a little extra time so I threw Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes in there also. By request, we did it again faster and then once more faster still. They're a funny age.

What worked best: The book Hi, Pizza Man! This book is great because it's funny, clever, and interactive. It gets kids to first greet the pizza man (Hi, pizza man!), then the pizza woman (Hi, pizza woman!), and then an assortment of animals who all deliver pizza while also looking super-posh (Meow meow, pizza kitty!, Mooooo, pizza cow!, Ssssss, pizza snake!, etc.) Overall this is a really great storytime book. Here's the pizza kitty:

What worked least: Probably the Milkshake Song, although I wouldn't call it a total bomb or even write it off as something I'm going to stop doing. It fits into the food theme and provides some variety, but it isn't a song that really gets the kids excited like Rocketship Run (Laurie Berkner) does or even the way Picked A Strawberry did this afternoon.

That's it for today! But on a finding-the-silver-lining note: The regular moms have continued (still!) to tell me that I was missed during my time out on disability. I think the whole incident has not only made them super-appreciative of what I do, but it's made me super-appreciative of how supportive and kind they are. I'm a lucky librarian! Until next time!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Books n Play for Pre-K 5/13/15

A few days ago I had my first week in a new session of one of my favorite weekly programs: Books n Play for Pre-K! I do this program about every other month in three or four weekly sessions, each 45-minutes long. The kids are ages 3-5 and I do a different theme with them each week. Generally, the time is broken down like this:

~15-20 minutes: Hello song, two books/three books, two/three songs
~15-20 minutes: Open play with toy table + craft/coloring table (with music)
~5-10 minutes: One more book or song, Goodbye song

This week, I decided to make bugs the theme even though I'm not exactly a fan of bugs. However there are just so many great bug books that it would be a shame to pass them over! Plus we happen to have a small supply of awesome buggy-type toys floating around the library, allowing bugs to be a really good and fleshed-out storytime theme.

My books were:
1. The Very HungryCaterpillar by Eric Carle (with this activity kit)
2. Yoo-Hoo, Ladybug! by Mem Fox
3. Big Bug, Little Bug by Paul Stickland

If you've never read Yoo-Hoo, Ladybug!, it's a super-fun book for kids of this age. Here's a page from it.  It's like Where's Waldo for storytime! Can you find the ladybug?

It's a challenge even for adults! (Hint: She's in a yellow car.)
This book mesmerizes the kids as they stare at the spreads, searching for that tiny, red ladybug. It's so cool and kind of under-appreciated in the library-world (but may not work with a group of more than ten kids).

We also played shakers to Laurie Berkner's "Bumblebee" and then the kids broke off to play at the toy table at the craft table. Here's what was there:

Craft table:
1. Pre-cut butterflies folded in half with the bottom glued to yellow paper. This allowed the kids to finger paint one side and then fold in half to create symmetry (See below).
2. These cute ladybug counting and number writing practice sheets from Child Care Lounge.
3. These Very Hungry Caterpillar coloring sheets from

This is the pre-cut butterfly for finger paint symmetry:

And for the toy table (such good stuff this week!):
1. Kiddie microscopes with bug viewing-blocks (See below).
2.  This Bee Hive sorting game, which is good for sorting and fine motor skills and fun to boot!
4. Bugs-eye-view kaleidoscopes (See below). 

As I'd predicted, the kids really liked the microscopes:

And here's a symmetry butterfly and a ladybug counting worksheet:

What worked best: The Very Hungry Caterpillar activity kit. I gave the giant drawings of fruit out to the kids and I kept the caterpillar puppet for myself. When I got to the part about the caterpillar eating through each piece of fruit in the story, I took the puppet and "chomped" through the holes as the kids held them out, half scaring/half tickling each kid. They all loved this! They all shrieked with glee! Then I collected the fruit pictures back as I went along. I will totally be doing The Very Hungry Caterpillar with this kit again.

What worked least: Me trying to explain the concept of opposites (for Big Bug, Little Bug) without planning out what I'd say ahead of time. It's not that easy! I hate awkwardly stumbling!

Like I said in an older post about Books n Play For Pre-K, this is the kind of program that almost 100% depends on the kids who sign up. The group is usually on the smaller side (5-10 kids) so each child really helps create the mood and vibe of the room. It's always a good time though! What are your favorite buggy books for pre-k?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Musical Kids (for ages 17-35 months) + Back to work Update

Hooray! I am finally blogging about my Musical Kids middle age-group! And not only that, I am doing it from work!

It feels great to be back. It's been two weeks now and I am pretty much completely adjusted. My first day back was awesome! The first thing I saw when I came in was a huge, colorful sign that said "Welcome back, Laura! We missed you!" taped to my desk. Then there were hugs galore, both from staff members and wonderful patrons. People from all around the library stopped by my desk to greet me. And I even got some little presents! Then my favorite 3-year-old came in and, when she saw me, we locked eyes, paused, and then she ran to me and hugged me like we were in a movie. I couldn't have imagined a more perfect first day!

The days since have been great too. Reuniting with my regular storytime moms was both exiting and humbling. Seriously, the fact that these moms care even at all about their kid's librarian's car accident is amazing! They're all so sweet and appropriately sympathetic. This is why I missed work so much while I was out!

Anyway, this morning I had week 2 of my current session of Musical Kids, and as I promised back in early February, I am now going to discuss it on my blog!

The middle age group are 17-35-months-old. This is always my most well-attended of the three classes. Today I had 26 people, which is actually less than my usual crew (but also it's absolutely incredible outside so it's to be expected). These were a lucky 26 though because I'd consider this to be one of my best Musical Kids classes ever! It just worked.

Here's my playlist:
(red = ipodblue = sing)

1. A New Way to Say Hello by Big Jeff
2. Tapping On My Sticks by Kathy Reid-Naiman (sticks)
3. The Tempo Marches On by Jim Gill (sticks)
4. Ain’t Got No Home by "Frogman" Clarence Henry (drums)
5. The Fly is on my Foot * See below
6. Rocketship Run by Laurie Berkner (rockets)
7. 5 Green and Speckled Frogs (monkey mitt)
8. We’re Going To Kentucky by Bob McGrath (shakers)
9. No More Monkeys by Asheba (shakers)
10. The Goldfish by Laurie Berkner
11. Blow a Kiss by Laurie Berkner

* The fly is on my foot was a total score that I found on Jbrary. It worked really well. We had the fly land on our feet, knees, stomachs, elbows, and noses. Here's the video for how it's done:

What worked best: Always Rocketship Run! In fact I almost can't not do Rocketship Run. These kids are obsessed with it. A while back I made rockets-on-sticks to give out to the kids, as well as signs that I hold up. Here's a picture of them:

The kids are so funny when we do this song. When I hold up a given sign, they all run up and touch their rocket to the sign, like they're really going to the sun/moon/etc. I've never told them to do this yet every week it happens. They totally invented it and it's continued on from week-to-week. IT IS ADORABLE. Additionally, this song always gets the loudest end-of-song cheer from both the children and the adults. So basically, it's always a hit.

What worked least: It's minimal but sometimes the giving out and returning of instruments can be chaotic. This group is large and they sometimes get eager and crazy. However, it always works out. The kids really like to run up and choose their instrument from the bin, so there can be a lot going on at once. But after about two-minutes of what seems like chaos, it's done and everyone has an instrument.

It's so great to be back! And even greater to know (really know) that I was missed. I'll post again soon!