Monday, November 23, 2015

Musical Kids (for ages 17-35 months) 11/20/15

Anyone who's even glanced at my blog probably knows that I love Musical Kids. This is a reoccurring program done in three 30-minute sessions per week: 6-16 months at 10:00, 17-35 months at 10:45, and 3-5 years at 11:30, for either 3 or 4 weeks in a row. All of the sessions are very well-attended, with a core group of wonderful regulars who I've been getting to watch grow up. I feel SO lucky to get to hang out with these sweet and goofy kids weekly.

Today, I'm in the mood to blog about my middle crew, the kids who are 17-35 months-old. I've written about them before, but they're so adorable that I wanted to discuss them again. And since every week is different from the last, why not, really? Give me one good reason.

Here's Friday's playlist (red = ipod, blue = sing):

1. A New Way to Say Hello by Big Jeff
2. Milkshake Song by Ann-Marie Akin (shakers)
3. I Like it Like That by Chris Kenner (shakers)
4. Grey Squirrel by Mary Lee (puppets)
5. B-I-N-G-O by Lynn Kleiner (circle dance)
6. Rocketship Run by Laurie Berkner (rockets)
7. Zoom Zoom Zoom (rockets)
8. Drummers Drumming by Dr. Seuss (drums)
9. The Sticks on the Drums (drums)
10. These are the Colors Over You (parachute)
11. Slow and Fast by Hap Palmer (parachute)
12. Alphabet Song by Josh Levine (parachute + letters)
13. Merry Go Round x2 by Wee Sing (parachute)
14. Blow a Kiss by Laurie Berkner

I've been on a parachute kick lately so I wanted to write about this part of my program in a little more detail. My parachute time in Musical Kids keeps getting longer and longer; I can't get enough and it seems like the kids can't either! Friday's class was especially parachute-intensive because we got a new parachute! We started with These are the Colors Over You, thanks (as usual) to Jbrary. It's a nice, calm, good first song with the parachute. You can watch it below:

I had the group just wave the parachute together for this song and when I finished singing it, I heard a lot of parents say things like "That was a nice song." Then I let the kids go under the parachute for Hap Palmer's Slow and Fast, which they are always absolutely crazy for. So many giggles! So much staticky hair!

Next, I had the kids come out from under the 'chute and we all bounced foam letters (these from Oriental Trading) on the parachute for the Alphabet Song by Josh Levine. This was the best version of the ABC's I could find--rhythmic enough for bouncing, not too slow, not too fast, just exactly perfect for what I wanted it for. The foam letters, however, kind of sat in a clump. A few straggly letters did bounce and the clumpiness didn't really detract from the flow of the program, but it would have been cooler if they'd popped up and down as well as balloons or mini beach balls do. Regardless, it was nice to try something new.

Last, I had the kids get in the middle of the parachute, as closely to the middle as possible for Merry Go Round from the Wee Sing and Play CD. There are usually 1 or 2 kids who are either afraid of it or who would just prefer to stand outside the parachute with the grown ups, but the majority of the group like this part the best of all! When the kids are all in all seated in the middle, the grown ups walk in a circle so the kids get a ride. During this time, one mom said "the picture of them right here should be the library's Christmas card!" So I took the picture. I didn't exactly ask them to pose, but it is a cute shot anyway. Here's that picture, as well as a picture of the letters bouncing around in a clump.

What a good bunch. Everyone really enjoyed the extensive parachute time and were excited about the new parachute (although obviously not as excited as me).

What worked least: The floppy letters were a bit of a let-down but it was still fun to try something new. But I think that thicker, almost floor-mat-type letters (like these) would have would be perfect.

What worked best: I hate to totally cop out here, especially because the parachute was so much fun, but last time I wrote about the 17-35 months group of Musical Kids, I said that Rocketship Run was worked best and that is definitely still the case. In fact I can't not do Rocketship Run. It's a requirement. These kids are obsessed with it.

A year or so ago I made rockets-on-sticks to give out to the kids for this song, 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, and yet every week it happens. They totally invented it and it's continued on from week-to-week. It's just so cute and funny that they do this. 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! If you don't already do Rocketship Run in your storytimes, give it a try!

All in all, I had a great 10:15 group last Friday. I love Musical Kids!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Baby Time 11/16/15

Yesterday morning I had my first session of Baby Time, a new program for ages 3-12 months. I was really looking forward to it because I've been especially enjoying my youngest Musical Kids group lately and this program would be giving me the opportunity to do more with even younger babies. Since Musical Kids gets a large turn out week after week, I'd imagined Baby Time would do the same, but as it goes in the public library, you really never know what kind of turn out you'll get until the day of the program. I wound up with only three moms and three babies, plus one older sibling. However, for a small group, it went really well!

I started with a new-to-me hello song, Hello Everybody. This was a little scary since I'm used to hearing my usual A New Way to Say Hello by Big Jeff at the start of a program. Starting with the same hello song mentally prepares me--helps my brain get into storytime mode and takes away any kind of awkwardness I might feel (especially with a new group and especially with a brand new program). So starting not only with a new-to-me hello song but one that immediately required singing, was a little nerve-wracking! But hopefully as the weeks go on and the parents also get comfortable with the song, it'll get easier for me too. I think it's really just a matter of retraining my brain a little. Anyway, here a is really great version of Hello Everybody:

Then I moved on to the meat of the program. First, I read the group Jump! by Scott Fischer, which everyone really liked. I made the book interactive by having the parents pick their babies up to have them "jump" whenever the characters in the booked jumped. This worked particularly well because I had an older sibling who enjoyed frantically jumping along too.

Then we did some lap songs: In and Out the Window and She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain. I gave out handouts for these. The PDF of this handout can be downloaded hereShe'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain is a lap bounce that includes things like lifting baby (for "yee-ha!"), tilting baby (for "woah there"), and rubbing baby's tummy (for "yum yum"). And In and Out the Window is a great one for getting in some good baby facial recognition time. I think I've linked to this before, but here's a video to illustrate how In and Out the Window goes:

I could tell the parents' arms were getting tired after Jump!, In and Out the Window, and She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain, so I decided to give them a rest and read a book. I read The Babies On the Bus by Karen Katz and we all sang along. This is an easy book that's basically just a modified version of Wheels on the Bus. Also, because the babies were starting to get antsy at this point, singing a song together as a group really worked to bring back a little order and control in the room.

Before our 15 minutes of open play, I wanted to do one last activity: Lynn Kleiner's B-I-N-G-O, because I've been using it with all of the age groups of Musical Kids lately and it's been successful every single time. This song is AMAZING. It's seriously good for every age of kids. I first saw it on Lynn Kleiner's DVD that came with this instrument kit but there's no video for it online! So I'm going to do my best to describe it here:

This is a version of Bingo that has a verse and a chorus. You can hear it here! For the verse part, the parents march around in a circle, carrying or dancing their babies in their arms. (With older groups, I just have the kids march themselves in a circle.) At the chorus, everyone stops marching and faces inward. For the letters B, I, N, and G we all take a step in, one letter at a time, so by the time we're at G, we're all really close together. Then, for O, everyone runs back and the circle gets big again. Like with In and Out the Window, this is a great chance for the babies to do some facial recognition (or, in the case of an older group, a chance for the kids to giggle at how silly we all are). If you can visualize how this works, I totally recommend it with all ages! The kids and babies all love it!

Then it was time for open play. I think open play is awesome, especially with the youngest age group because you get a mix of first-time-moms and not-first-time-moms and everyone can sit and talk and relax, without any pressure. Even though I have struggled with how I appear during open play for a long time (I discuss that here), I know that it's great for both the babies and the parents. I feel satisfied when I see the parents relaxing, laughing, and discussing their kids. Yesterday I even learned a baby fact: Babies parallel play until they are about 8-months-old, when they then begin to play together. See? Thanks, open play!

Last, I wrapped up with Old MacDonald using our puppets, a tried and true repeat crowd pleaser for all. As the group sings Old MacDoland together, I come around and give each baby (and older sibling) a kiss from each animal puppet (except the cat, who nuzzles, as cats do). This always gets big gummy, baby smiles and works as an easy goodbye song.

Overall, this program went well... really well considering the small group size. And I was impressed with myself for cramming so many activities into a half-hour. I've got two more sessions to go and have already chosen my books for next week: Wiggle by Doreen Cronin (where you can have the parents wiggle their babies whenever the book says "wiggle") and Baby Parade by Rebecca O'Connell (where parents and babies can wave to the cute [and multicultural] babies in the pictures). Maybe I'll even get a bigger crew next week. Stranger things have happened!

What worked least: I probably could have stood to not change the hello song. I usually think of the hello song as as time for me to mentally compose myself for the rest of the storytime. So instead of getting myself into gear with my usual A New Way to Say Hello by Big Jeff, I had to sing a new song right off the bat. And with a brand new group that I didn't know! I'm not sure what I was thinking.

What worked best: Jump! by Scott Fischer worked really well because it was interactive for the babies and also for the older sibling. Everyone gets to jump! I'd definitely recommend this one for holding teeny attention spans in baby storytimes.