Friday, December 25, 2009

Better Late Than Never

I suppose I should have posted this yesterday or the day before, but I just plain didn't have time. I read holiday stories for Preschool Storytime last week, and if you particularly liked a couple, but couldn't remember the titles, here they are:

My First Kwanzaa, by Karen Katz. This tells about Kwanzaa in very simple terms.

The Hanukkah Mice, by Steven Kroll. A girls gets a dollhouse and its contents on the eight days of Hannukah, and a family of mice get to enjoy it.

Wake Up Santa Claus, by Marcus Pfister. Santa has a bad dream that everything goes wrong on Christmas Eve and he can't deliver presents.

Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear, by Don and Audrey Wood. The little mouse first wants to protect his presents from the Big Hungry Bear, but then decides to share Christmas with him.

Who Is Coming To Our House, by Joseph Slate. The animals prepare the stable for the visit from Mary and Joseph. (I read this only on Wednesday.)

The Story of Christmas, by Vivian French. This is a retelling of the birth of Jesus. I'm afraid it had the kids rugrolling. It might be more successful one-on-one at home with your child. I've had a hard time finding an interesting age appropriate retelling of the first Christmas. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments.

I should have thought of posting this earlier, but if you're at a bookstore and they're having a good clearance on Christmas books, here are some of my favorites (besides the ones above). Most of them are for older children, but yours will be ready for them before you know it.

A Small Miracle, by Peter Collington. This is a wordless book about a poor old woman and the Nativity set people who come to life to help her. It's much cooler than it sounds.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss. A classic everyone needs to have.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski. A woodcarver makes a Nativity Set for a boy and his mother and learns to find joy in the holiday again.

The Christmas Bear, by Henrietta Stickland. A young bear accidentally falls into Santa's workshop and gets a tour. Absolutely gorgeous illustrations.

Carl's Christmas, by Alexandra Day. One of the wordless Carl series, it has fabulous illustrations, as usual, and a subtle message of helping one another.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. This is a chapter book that I read every year to my girls. Yes, even this year. It's one of our holiday traditions that we love. I have the first paragraph memorized, "The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls)...." It has seven chapters, and each can easily be read in one sitting. It's such a funny, yet touching story about some troubled kids having Christmas "come over them all at once." Maybe you've watched the movie or seen the play, but nothing takes the place of the book.

I hope your Christmas Day was wonderful. Mine was. See you next week.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Have a blessed holiday. Hug your kids, hug your spouse, take a deep breath and enjoy the good parts. Ignore any not-so-good parts for now. There's time to deal with that later. Pour yourself another cup of something yummy.

Thank you all for making my job so much fun. I may lead the storytimes, but you make it work by bringing the little ones, encouraging them, applauding them and loving them.

I invite you to the Christmas Eve services at my church, Countryside Church, where my whole family is involved this year. I'm directing the drama, my girls are singing and acting, and my husband leads the band. You can look up service times here if you'd like to come.

Now I must do some wrapping so I don't have to stay up late on Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Regular Storytimes Over the Holidays

Just a reminder that Preschool Storytime, Toddler Time and Baby Time will go on as scheduled over the two week holiday. See you there!

The Newest Thing

Lately I've been hearing about the new trend in child-raising. It's called "Slow Parenting" or "Simple Parenting". It's a backlash against the high-stress, overly scheduled lifestyle we sometimes impose on our children by insisting they be involved in every activity that could possibly benefit their brains, bodies or social skills. "Let's see, little Johnny needs music lessons for his artistic side, soccer for his athletic side, scouts to learn social skills and service to others, spanish, Lego Robotics, plus twice a week in childcare at the YMCA while I work out, add in the membership to OMSI and the Zoo that we have to make use of and, what's that? How old is Little Johnny? First grade."

All those activities are wonderful in and of themselves, but when does Little Johnny get to play? Free play is essential for growing a creative, problem solving mind. Boredom is not something to be avoided at all costs. Boredom is what teaches our children to amuse themselves, to try something new, to pull out those toys and actually (gasp!) use them in a way they were not intended to be used. And that's a GOOD thing!

I guess I'm old enough to say that back in my day, things were different. I belonged to Camp Fire Girls for three or four years, and it was just okay. I took piano lessons from third grade until I graduated from high school. I had a horse (which was a family pet, nothing fancy) and a swimming pool, so that was great exercise, but of course it wasn't scheduled activity. That was about all. I remember being on a summer softball team in middle school once and I hated it. I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. I built my own skateboard and hung on to my horse's tail while she pulled me around. I rode her to the library and Seven-Eleven. I entered neighborhood just-for-fun horse shows. I read books. My friend and I put on our own dog show. I explored the hills endlessly by myself. It was fantastic, and I still graduated from high school and college even without having my life directed for me by my parents.

There are some great articles out lately about this movement to slow down and simplify. You can read an interview with the author of the book Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From the Culture of Hyper-Parenting here. Nancy Gibbs' article in Time magazine about "helicopter parents" created some buzz. You can read that one here. Definitely some food for thought.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Week at the Library

Baby Time

Our little babies are growing so fast! We get to watch each other's little ones finally sit up, start tracking the bubbles floating past, crawl, stand, until finally they graduate to Toddler Time. Moms share tips and trials along the way, even discover they're relatives! (Yes, that happened.) I see so many pregnant moms at Toddler Time, I hope you'll give Baby Time a try!

Toddler Time

We learned a couple of new rhymes today. (Actually, I just brought them back after a hiatus.)


Now I'll be a lamppost, standing straight and tall.
Now I'll be a jellyfish. I can't stand up at all.
Now I'll be a kangaroo, hopping on the ground.
Now I'll be a spinning top, spinning round and round.
Now I'll be a monkey, climbing up a string.
Now I'll be just me. I can be anything!

I'm a Little Snowman
(Sung to "I'm a Little Teapot")

I'm a little snowman, short and fat.
Here is my broomstick.
Here is my hat.
When the sun comes out I melt away.
Down, down, down, down.
Whoops! I'm a puddle.

We read Machines at Work, by Byron Barton, and Cat's Colors, by Jane Cabrera.

Preschool Storytime

We got to learn the difference between a crocodile and an alligator this week. The simplest difference is in their teeth. An alligator has all of his lower teeth on the inside, while a crocodile has his lower teeth showing on the outside of his jaw, especially two big teeth like lower fangs.

We read:

Clarabella's Teeth, by An Vrombaut. Poor Clarabella takes ALL DAY to brush all those teeth and misses out on all the fun. Then her friends surprise her with a huge toothbrush.

There's an Alligator Under My Bed, by Mercer Mayer. This is like a sequel to There's a Nightmare in My Closet. The little boy decides to take care of that alligator once and for all.

Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile, by Won-Ldy Paye (no that's not a typo). So funny when Mrs. Chicken proves to the crocodile that she's her sister!

The flannelboard story was "The Monkey and the Crocodile" where the monkey is the smart one, and the crocodile is foolish. Then we sang "Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree" and the monkeys are the foolish ones. (Of course I can't use the "s" know - stupid)

The song goes like this:

Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree

Five little monkeys swinging in a tree
Teasing Mr. Crocodile
"You can't catch me. No you can't catch me."
Along comes Mr. Crocodile as quiet as can be
And SNAPS that monkey right out of that tree.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Storytime During the Holidays

Just want you all to know that all Storytimes will go on as scheduled next week and the week after. I'll be doing holiday stories at Preschool Storytime next week. I finally found a cute Hanukkah book, and am working on a good Kwanzaa one. The market could really use some fun read alouds on those subjects. Most of them seem so boring or didactic. If you know of good Hanukkah/Kwanzaa preschool books, please let me know!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wild and Crazy

Whew! I'm back from an INSANE day shopping - both for Christmas and for groceries. I think the whole world was out trying to beat the coming precipitation. So it was wild and crazy on the roads and in the stores.

It was also wild and crazy at Storytime this week, and I loved it! Instead of having a theme at preschool time, I just chose books I love and that I knew the kids would love. Here they are:

Preschool Storytime

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas. Such a fun twist on the Three Little Pigs!
How Many Bugs in a Box? by David Carter. The long-necked bugs in the thin box gets them every time. Wish you could have seen their faces when I slammed the book on the saw bugs!
Opposites by Robert Crowther. This is a fantastic pop-up book. But the happy/sad turning face seems a little creepy sometimes.
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. See my last post about this book.

We also played Greg & Steve's Freeze Game with the batons. Not a single one destroyed!!

Toddler Time

We read Cookie's Week by Cindy Ward (Cookie fell in the toilet! Oh no!!), and My Car by Byron Barton.

Baby Time

It's so nice to have the relaxing time to chat after we do our rhymes and songs and bubbles and books. The group is still pretty small, so tell your friends and neighbors to come join us!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Wonderful Trio

I'm all excited about an amazing trio of adorable picture books. They would make an awesome Christmas gift to those who like to give books to little ones. In fact, Amazon has the three in a boxed set. But of course, we'd rather support our local business and buy them at MudPuddles!

Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Little Oink by Amy Krouse Rosenthal are about as perfectly written as a picture book can be, and the illustrations by Jen Corace are delightful as much for adults as for children.

Little Pea is about a little, yes, pea, who hates to eat candy, but must eat five pieces in order to have his favorite dessert: spinach! Little Hoot hates to stay up late, but must play for one more hour before he is allowed to go to bed. Little Oink hates to be messy, but must make his room a proper pigsty before he can play his favorite game - house - where he can clean and scrub to his heart's content.

The beauty of these stories, from my point of view as a story reader/teller and aspiring author, is not just the humor and twist on age old parent/child conflicts, but the structure and pattern each story follows. In each book, the child says "When I grow up, I'll let my child (fill in the blank) whenever he wants!" He does what the parent asks, but when he says "Now can I (fill in the blank)," they answer with "Ten more minutes..." or "Five more pieces..." and the child counts "One, two, three..." Finally the child is released to do what he wants, which is the opposite of what any normal, redblooded American child would choose.

These books are entirely satisfying and comprehensible to the age group they're aimed at. I love the colorful illustrations that have little hidden surprises. It's one of those times when after you've read lots of picture books you think, yeah, that's okay, but something doesn't sit quite right. Then you read something like these little books and you think "That's it!! A perfectly written story!!" (And the little voice in me says "Why can't I do that?!")

Okay, I'll tuck my envy away now. Sigh... Maybe someday....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This Week at the Library

Preschool Storytime

"Bedtime" is one of my favorite themes. There are so many fun stories about bedtime, naptime, and all variations of wanting/not wanting to go to sleep. I could easily do an hour-and-a-half storytime with all the books I like, but I don't think the little ones would care for it. I did manage to get through six stories and two songs thought, so that was great.

Just Go To Bed, by Mercer Mayer - All the ways a child can avoid the inevitable.
Little Hoot, by Rosenthal - "Mom, can I PLEASE go to bed?" "No, not until you play for another hour." Hilarious.
Bye, Bye, Crib, by McGhee - The little guy thinks sleeping in a big bed is scary until his blankie and pillow lead the way.
Mortimer, by Munsch - Mortime drives everyone crazy with his bedtime singing.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Yolen - The illustrations are definitely what make this book so appealing.

My flannelboard story was The Napping House, by Audrey Wood. The book is just as good. She's a master illustrator.

We sang 10 In a Bed and Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear from the "Wee Sing" CD.

If I'd had more time I would have read Good Night Moon (of course), Bedtime by Blos, Are You Ready For Bed by Saltzberg, The Bunnies are Not In Their Beds, by Russo (though I just read that for "Rabbits" week), No Nap, by Bunting. So many good books, so little time!

Toddler Time

I'm really looking forward to adding the new time in January. This week our Tuesday group was only about 18 kids and it was such a good sized group. I'm hoping they'll all be about that size.

One rhyme to add to the list is

There is Thunder (to the tune of Frere Jacques)

There is thunder
There is thunder
Here it roar
Here it roar
Pitter patter raindrops
Pitter patter raindrops
I'm all wet
I'm all wet

We read How Do I Put it On?, by Watanabe. They really got into the humor of seeing shoes on ears and hats on feet. And we read The Chick and the Duckling, by Ginsburg. I liked it today when the chick had sunk in the water, and the duckling pulled him out and said "I'm going for another swim." I asked the kids, "What will the chick say this time?" One girl said, "Cocka-doodle-doo." Makes sense, I guess!

Baby Time

I love baby laughter! Whether it's squeals, belly laughs or big grunts, it's so infectious.

We had some good talks on sibling rivalry today and shared a few good ideas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Great News!

I've gotten approval to start another Toddler Time! We've gotten so crowded that it's become difficult to do some of the fun things I like to do with toddlers - like blowing bubbles and Ring Around the Rosie - so I asked to start another time slot and the wonderful Friends of the Library are supporting it. Our new time will be Tuesdays at 9:30am starting in January. The library will not be open at that time, so coming in on the parking lot side of the building will be best.

I'm excited to be able to make our times a little more personable and less intimidating for parents and kids both!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Storytelling 101

I got so many good ideas from that Early Literacy conference. Here's another one.

You know when you've been out (like to the library) and you're headed home just about at naptime. You're thinking to yourself No! Don't fall asleep in the car! You'll never take a decent nap when we get home! Here's a wonderful way to keep your little one awake and build verbal and narrative skills along the way. But don't think of it in those edu-speak terms. Just think of it as fun!

Use this format to start a story:

Once upon a time there was a ________________. (Your child fills in the blank.)
And one day he was ______________________.
He was wearing a _____________________.
He (or probably "they" by now) went to _____________________.
He/they found a ________________________.
This happened (you make up the event), so they decided to________________.
Finally ________________________________.
The End

I asked my 13-year-old to pretend she's three, and this is what she said.

Once upon a time there was a fairy. And one day she was flying. She was wearing a flower petal dress. She went to Peter Pan's house. They found a pony. They pony was lost and afraid so they decided to help it find its master. Finally, they found its master who was an indian. The End

Funny thing is, that's exactly what she would have said at three. She lived and breathed Peter Pan at the time.

Grab your kid and try this story framework. Write his/her story in the comments and lets share it with each other!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Scary Week at the Library

No, not really. We just read stories about being scared.

Preschool Storytime

Our stories were about scary things - the dark, being worried, being separated from Mom, that sort of thing. We read:

Come Along, Daisy - by Simmons. Such a great book for impressing on them how important it is to stay close.
Wemberly Worried - by Henkes. I think we can learn something from this book too!
Zee is Not Scared - by Gay. I got a lot of giggles with this one.
Can't You Sleep Little Bear? - by Waddell. A few kids told me this was their favorite. It's so much fun to read aloud!

I told Go Away Big Green Monster with a velcro puppet. The kids are very good at yelling "Go away!!!"

We also went on a Lion Hunt (like a bear hunt: "We're going on a bear hunt. I'm not afraid!")

Toddler Time

This week we got to do Looby Loo because we didn't have such a huge crowd. Although I think the people that got scared away from Thursday last week came on Wednesday instead. That group was bigger than normal, and we only had about 20 kids on Thursday.

We read a couple of favorites - Dinosaur Roar and Clip, Clop. I love it when some kids come running in and one of the most important things for them to see is which books I'm going to read. Do you realize how valuable that is for them to get all excited about reading when they're two?

Baby Time

Today we were commenting to each other how fun it is that the three six/seven month olds are all sitting up and looking so grown up. They've lost their infant look and are taking on little girl and little boy features. So sweet!

Next week we'll have Storytimes as usual on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, have a wonderful Thanksgiving, hug your family and thank God for such a blessing!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Great Idea!

At the Early Literacy workshop I mentioned that I attended, I heard about a great idea for helping little ones learn to recognize words. Find a small photo album, the type with sleeves to slip pictures into. Take pictures of family members and close friends and slip the photo into one side of the page, and slip a paper with the person's name into the sleeve across from the picture. The child can look through the album and learn to recognize the names of people special to him/her. Why didn't I think of that?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

We Set a New Record!

Wow! On Thursday we had 54 kids and 35 adults for Toddler Time! Please know that was not the norm (obviously, since it was a record), and it was most likely due to the library being closed the day before. If you or your child was rather blown away by the crowd, try again next week and I'm sure it will be much less intimidating. Then again, maybe your child thought it was awesome to be part of such a high energy group! Every child is different, and figuring that out is part of the fun.

Toddler Time

No new rhymes, though I was a little embarrassed when I intended to do a new fall-themed rhyme and I couldn't remember how it started.

Thanks to the mom who jumped up to help pass out the maracas! That saved a few minutes with that many kids. And I'm sorry that we couldn't do Ring Around the Rosie like I meant to. It just wouldn't have worked with 90 people trying to walk in a circle.

Preschool Storytime

It's too bad we didn't have Preschool Storytime on Wednesday. I introduced a new theme of "Staying Healthy." When I scheduled it, I didn't realize the Library would be closed that Wednesday. I found some fun new books on the subject of germs and catching colds.

Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo by Redmond. This was particularly fun because Felicity Floo, after wiping her nose with her hand, leaves nasty, shiny green handprints all over the animals at the zoo and makes them come down with such BIG colds that they name it the "Floo".

Germs Are Not For Sharing by Verdick. This talks about using a tissue, washing your hands to the ABC song, and refraining from kisses when you have a cold.

Farm Flu by Bateman. A cute story about a child trying to take care of all the sick animals on the farm until he notices how much they're enjoying being catered to. When he tells them "No more TV, popcorn and games," they miraculously are cured!

Harold's Runaway Nose by Sonnenschein. Poor Harold freaks out when his mom give him medicine to "get rid of his red stuffy nose" and then tells him it's running. He takes off to find his missing nose.

I passed out a tissue to each child and we did the "Touch Your Nose" rhyme and sneezed into it. We also did Greg & Steve's "Freeze Game."

Baby Time

Did you know that babies can learn music as early as in the womb? I read a story about a man who was the son of a professional cellist. He heard a piece of classical music for the first time, but couldn't figure out why it was so familiar to him. Turns out his mother had rehearsed it while pregnant with him.

I point this out to say that it's never too early to bring your baby to Baby Time. Even if they can't quite hold their heads up, they're hearing and learning the music, rhythms and language. It all counts!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Library Closed Wednesday

Just a reminder that the library is closed for Veteran's Day on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Great Website

I attended an Early Literacy workshop a couple of weeks ago and found about this great website. Tell Me a Story is through the King County Library system. This site has a bazillion rhymes and fingerplays, and the best part is that many of them have video so you can see and hear how to do them. You know how you see a fingerplay and can't quite remember the melody or every motion that goes along with it? Well, somehow they got their Storyladies to stand in front of a wall in a conference room and do their stuff while the video camera rolled. It's almost kind of funny, but SO helpful!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Got Hugs!

Yes, a little boy gave me several today, and they were SO sweet! And another little boy who has been very quiet up til now is very proud of himself that he can come up and say "Hi, Mith Tewetha!

Preschool Storytime

Our stories this week were about the weather, and rain in particular. We started with a favorite author, Robert Munsch.

Mud Puddle, by Munsch - Always silly. He's a master at making repetitive lines funny.
In the Middle of the Puddle, by Thaler - Did you know he lives in Portland? I saw him at MudPuddles once. He's most famous for his Black Lagoon series.
A Rainbow Of My Own, by Freeman - I love the idea of a pet rainbow!
Rain Talk, by Serfozo - Can you say bupbupbupbupbup really fast?

I told the Aesop's Fable of the North Wind and the Sun with stick puppets, and did It Looked Like Spilt Milk (by Shaw) on the flannel board.

We did the finger play "Rain for the Garden" and jumped in the puddle, and also the song "There is Thunder."

Toddler Time

I read the stories Come Along Daisy, by Simmons, and The Three Little Kittens, by Siomades.

I also introduced a lap bouncing song. Last week I did it with the babies and called it "I Had a Little Mousie," but I'm going to change it to "Bounce Upon My Knees" because I think I'm going to be making up LOTS of verses for it.

Let's see...

I had a little mousie who never would eat his cheese...
I had a little doggie who never would scratch his fleas...
I had a little elephant who never wanted to sneeze...
I had a little ice cube who never wanted to freeze...
I had a little rabbit who never would eat his peas...

Got any more ideas?

Baby Time

It's so much fun seeing these little guys sit up for the first time, or really get excited about a song. Every week they grow and change show off some new skill.

Please don't be afraid to bring along an older sibling with your baby. Hearing the rhymes and songs is great for toddlers and preschoolers. They can either play with balls and blocks that I have for them in the back of the room, or do what Mommy does with a doll or stuffed animal.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Week

I just had such a fun evening watching the neighborhood go by and handing out candy to scads of kids. This is the first year I haven't had a child go trick-or-treating, but we enjoyed handing out the goodies together. I wore the cow costume and moo-ed at the little ones who either laughed or stared at my udder. Only one child was brave enough to squeeze a teat.

With holiday season upon us - Halloween to Easter, nothing but candy! - you may wonder why I don't do holiday stories at the library, but I was asked long ago not to. They don't want to have to worry about offending the non-celebrators or making sure EVERY holiday gets equal time, so we just don't do holiday stories. I usually do "Monsters" or "Scary Things" right around Halloween, mostly to help the kids learn to deal with the scary thoughts, but they aren't actually Halloween stories. So speaking of monsters, here are the books we did last week:

Preschool Storytime

Go Away Big Green Monster, by Emberly. No one cried this year! Sometimes we get so loud at shouting "Go away!" that someone cries.
Little Monsters, by Pienkowski. This is the pop-up book. Cute!
There's a Nightmare in My Closet, by Mayer. A good one for those afraid of the dark.
No Such Thing, by Koller. One of my all time favorites! Kids identify with the children whose parents don't believe them. And I love how the monster and boy become friends, then play a trick on their mothers.

We acted out "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" and the performers did an outstanding job of trip-trapping over the bridge.

Toddler Time

I didn't introduce any new rhymes this week.

Baby Time

We sang a new song this week:

I Had a Little Mousie

I had a little mousie
Who wouldn't eat his cheese.
All he ever wanted to do
Was bounce upon my knees.

Bounce upon my knees,
Bounce upon my knees,
All he ever wanted to do
Was bounce upon my knees.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

They're Listening

You know how your kids sometimes repeat things you really wish they wouldn't? I had a perfect example of that recently. I was just introducing a new fingerplay to the toddlers and I told them all to put their hands on their heads, or reach their arms up, and one little cutie obeyed, but then gave a quizzical look and said, "What the hell?" Luckily I don't think anyone else caught it, or Mom probably would have been embarrassed.

Yes folks, we are role models in everything we do, say, and think. They watch every move, and imitate, listen to every word, and imitate, observe every attitude, and imitate. The darn little critters are so smart! I still see it in my teenagers, and I can even pinpoint which behavior or attitude came from me, and which from my husband. I'll see my daughter do or say something (good or bad) and think "I didn't teach you that. Oh yeah, your dad did."

This is why I love it when I see parents at Storytime fully participating with their kids. Their children are learning so much from seeing you sing the songs, do the motions to the fingerplays, and praising and encouraging their efforts. Even at Preschool Storytime, when you listen to the stories so you can talk about them afterward, they get a definite message - actually several messages: storytime is important, listening is important, books are fun, stories are interesting, we can share this together.

There's so much to Storytime than just something for your child to do. That's one reason I love my job so much. And I love your kids, too!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Week at the Library

Baby Time

Boy, those babies do a mean Hokey Pokey! You moms can't always see your baby's face while you're dancing around, but they're adorable! Some are smiling and laughing (or squealing) and some just look amazed by the commotion.

We also did:

Bounce You Here

I bounce you here
I bounce you there
I bounce you, bounce you everywhere!

I tickle you here...
I hug you here...

Icky Bicky Soda Cracker

Icky bicky soda cracker
Icky bicky boo.
Icky bicky soda cracker
Up goes you!

Just Like Me

(To the tune of "London Bridge")
Make your hands go clap, clap, clap,
Clap, clap, clap. Clap, clap, clap.
Make your hands go clap, clap, clap.
Just like me.

Make your arms go up and down...
Make your feet go tap, tap, tap...

Toddler Time

I introduced a fall rhyme today that they seemed to like.

Little Leaves

Little leaves fall gently down,
Red and yellow, orange and brown,
Swirling, swirling round and round,
Quietly, without a sound.

Preschool Storytime

This week our theme was "Clothing." We had fun looking at the colors on our clothing and singing the "Color Song" from Wee Sing Games. Our books were:

Whose Shoe, by Miller
Thomas' Snowsuit, by Munsch
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, by Barrett

The flannelboard story was Bit by Bit, by Sanfield, available at the library as a picture book.

I also used book props to tell the story The Mitten, which is an old Ukrainian folktale told many different ways and in many different picture book formats. One of my favorites is by Jan Brett, also available at the library - even at our branch!

Monday, October 19, 2009

If Anyone's Interested...

I've updated my profile. It was kind of boring, so I put some more stuff in there. One of these days I'll put a picture in there too. If I can figure out how....

Friday, October 16, 2009

Oh, Those Naughty Kids!

Preschool Storytime was about "Naughtiness" this week, and I wish you could have seen the kids' faces from my perspective. While I read stories about the awful things the main character did, some kids had big grins on their faces and laughed occasionally, while others listened quite seriously, looking very thoughtful. (How I wish I could have read their minds!) Here are the books I read:

Dinofours: It's Time-Out Time, by Steve Metzger - I got this book from a Scholastic book order over ten years ago. The library doesn't have it, and I was surprised that Amazon has only one new copy (for $90.55!) but many used copies starting at $.01. Every time I read this book at Storytime the kids get absolutely silent and motionless. I think they really identify with the character, the setting, and the situation. It's a very realistic book to them. Brendan gets in trouble the way they do, has feelings like they do, gets spoken to the way they do, and struggles with self-control just like them. It has a satisfying ending too.

The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds, by Marisabina Russo - This got a vote for favorite book on Wednesday.

The Day Jake Vacuumed, by Simon James - This was the first time I've read this. It was recommended by a friend who said it was her son's all-time favorite picture book. I was a little concerned that someone would be frightened that the vacuum sucked everyone up, but that didn't appear to happen.

David Gets in Trouble, by David Shannon - Yes, David is at it again.

My flannel board story was The Cake That Mack Ate, by Rose Robart - It's available as a picture book at the library.

Then we had fun with the naughty Little Bunny Foo Foo and the naughty Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.

Toddler Time

The only toddler rhyme not listed in the labels is:

I'm Stretching Very Tall

I'm stretching very tall
And now I'm very small
Now tall, now small
Now I'm a tiny ball.

Baby Time

We don't do as many different rhymes at Baby Time as at Toddler Time, but that's on purpose. Studies show that babies are drawn to rhythm, rhyme and repetition, so having a more limited number of rhymes that the babies hear over and over is more beneficial to them than if they heard something different every time they came. Those little brains are soaking it all up incredibly fast, and they get more pleasure from hearing familiar tunes and rhymes than from new ones. So know that even if you're bored with the same old stuff, your baby isn't!

Parents of toddlers or preschoolers and babies - don't be afraid to try Baby Time with your older one. We have toys set aside for them so they can be occupied while you bounce the baby on your lap.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Boys and Girls Really Are Different

Although my disclaimer is that I have two daughters, no sons. But still, I see such contrasts between boys and girls so often, both at the library and in my years as a schoolteacher. I once had a class of second graders with fourteen girls and six or seven boys. It was an absolute dream. Quiet, peaceful, obedient. Another year I had the opposite - twice as many boys as girls. I found another job that June. Truthfully, I had been toying with idea of trying a different career for a while, but that year probably pushed me over the edge. I went back to teaching a couple of years later, and obviously I still love kids of both genders.

When my oldest daughter was a toddler in a high chair I gave her a banana to eat. She pulled off the peel, laid the banana down on the high chair tray and covered it gently with the peel, saying "Night, night." Can any of you moms of sons imagine your boy doing that? Most likely you would have been shot at by the banana-gun. Pow! Pow!

Such stereotyping! you say. Stereotypes become stereotypes for a reason. Of course there are exceptions, but testosterone really does make a difference. Studies have shown that when boys and girls play, they vocalize at the same rate, but girls are using words and boys are making sound effects. I noticed too, when I was teaching school, that every spring while the boys were out kicking the ball around, the girls started bickering and picking on each other. After recess a girl would be crying or complaining about hurt feelings and needing help solving relationship problems. I called it our version of spring fever.

So while we don't need to feed stereotypes, I think it's great that we aren't "monosexed," to coin a term. I think we're better parents if we recognize the real differences and help teach our kids how to deal with the opposite sex in the real world. If your daughter is a total tomboy, or your son loves his doll, no problem. But I've also found value in telling my teenage daughters not to expect boys to sit and talk endlessly about their feelings. "Boys will be boys." (And cliches become cliches for a reason!)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This Week at Storytime

Preschool Storytime

We had so much fun with our "Pigs" theme. What awesome actors in our "The Three Little Pigs" drama! What a scary Big Bad Wolf! Houses fell down, pigs ran, and the wolf met his demise. Everyone played his/her part to the hilt and the audience loved it!

The stories we read were:

Crispin, the Pig Who Had It All, by Dewan
Piggies, by Wood
If You Give a Pig a Pancake, by Numeroff

We listened to a tape recording of If You Give a Pig a Pancake read by David Hyde Pierce along with a delightful song "Flippin' the Flapjacks". The tape also has a dance called "The Piggy Polka" to learn, which we didn't get to. I looked on Amazon and the book and CD apparently were on the market, but it's no longer available. I got mine through those wonderful Scholastic book order clubs about ten years ago.

Toddler Time

This week we did:

Fingers Wiggle

Fingers wiggle, fingers stop
Fingers wiggle, fingers stop
Now my hands are quiet
See them flop, flop, flop.

Whoops Johnny

Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny
Whoops, Johnny!
Whoops, Johnny!
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny

Hold your child in your lap and have him stretch his fingers out in front. Starting on the pinky, touch each finger as you say "Johnny". The "whoops" part is when you slide you finger down the curve between the pointer and thumb. Believe it or not, you can find lots of demonstrations on youtube: Seems silly, but when your child can do it on your fingers, it's a great tool for eye/hand coordination.

We read:

Rosie's Walk, by Hutchins
Two Bear Cubs, by Jonas

Baby Time

Cheek Chin

Cheek, chin, cheek, chin, cheek, chin nose.
Cheek, chin, cheek, chin, cheek, chin toes.
Cheek, chin, cheek, chin, cheek, chin up baby goes!

Criss Cross Applesauce

Criss cross applesauce,
Spider climbing up my spine.
Tight squeeze, cool breeze,
Makes me get the giggles!

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Pigs" This Week

Our Preschool Storytime theme this week is "Pigs." Come and watch us dramatize "The Three Little Pigs" complete with the wolf huffing and puffing and the straw and stick houses falling to pieces. It's a blast!

Friday, October 2, 2009

This Week at the Library

Preschool Storytime

Our theme this week was "The Farm". We read:

Book! Book! Book! - by Bruss (Love that chicken!)
Who Took the Farmer's Hat? - by Nodset
Spot Goes to the Farm - by Hill

The flannel board story was Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens (a Caldecott Honor book).

The fingerplay we did was "Way Up High", which you can find in the labels at the right. We did "Animal Action" from the Greg and Steve: Kids in Motion CD.

Toddler Time

I brought back a song we hadn't done for quite a while - "Brush Your Teeth" by Raffi, on his Singable Songs set.

Baby Time

It looks like "Heave Ho" is the only one I don't have in the labels on the right.

Heave Ho

Heave ho, heave ho,
Hold me tight, don't let me go
One two, one two,
You love me and I love you!

Monday, September 28, 2009

School Visits

Last spring I took my And Then... manuscript to several third to fifth grade classrooms in the Sherwood schools, plus a Newberg elementary school. We had tons of fun creating stories together. A few teachers gave me copies of the stories the kids wrote, and without fail, the imagination they demonstrated amazed me.

The book I'm submitting to publishers is to be used as a teacher's resource book. It is a collection of short "cliffhanger" stories that build to a climax and are left unfinished so the children (and adults if they want) can complete them and make them turn out however they want. In the classroom, I read a story and a few kids come to the front and take turns adding on to it while the rest of the class watches. Then I read a story and small groups of children take turns adding on one sentence at a time. Finally, I read a story and they write the ending or draw a picture. They share them with each other, and we all share a laugh. It's so much fun!

I'm scheduling classroom visits for the fall now. If you would like to have me out to your child's school or to a homeschool group, email me to set something up. My email address (also in my profile) is I hope to hear from you!

Update: My book, now titled "Cliffhanger Writing Prompts" will be published July of 2011. I'd love to visit your child's school with the book during the 2011-12 school year!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Bored Book

Last week I went to hear David Michael Slater, the Portland children's author, at our library. Actually, he has now come out with an adult novel, so I guess he isn't just a children's author anymore. He gave a very enjoyable presentation. I was perusing his display of books and found one that really captured my imagination - you know, What a cool idea! Why didn't I think of that! It's a wordless book called The Bored Book, and it's about two bored children visiting at the grandparents' house. Grandpa shows them a secret passage to the attic where they open a special book that takes them to strange and magical places. The illustrations are captivating, the type that keep you staring at the pages. Unfortunately, the book is so new that our library doesn't have it yet. It's now available at Amazon, maybe at MudPuddles, or you can keep pestering at the front desk til it comes in. Just don't tell them I told you to!

Last Week's Storytimes

Preschool Storytime

This last week our theme was "Eric Carle". Of course, many of the children knew The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but some of the other fun books were new to them. We read:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - "But he was STILL hungry!"
The Very Busy Spider - with a spider web you can feel
Dream Snow - with the overlay pages to cover the animals, and a musical button to push
Head to Toe - where we got to do all the movements
The Mixed-Up Chameleon - where the chameleon wished to be like the other animals

Toddler Time

A couple of new songs and rhymes this week:

My Hands Upon My Head

My hands upon my head I place,
On my shoulders, on my face,
On my hips and at my sides,
Then behind me they will hide.
Now I clap them, one, two, three!
Then I fold them quietly.

Hands Up High

Hands up high, hands down low,
Hide those hands.
Where did they go?
Here is one, here is two.
Clap them, fold them.
Now we're through.

See How I'm Jumping

See how I'm jumping, jumping, jumping.
See how I'm jumping like a ball.
See how I'm drooping, drooping, drooping.
See how I'm drooping, down I fall!

Baby Time

Tick Tock

Tick, tock, tick, tock
I'm a little cuckoo clock.
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
Now the time is one o'clock.

Sittin' In a High Chair

Sittin' in a high chair, big chair, my chair,
Sittin' in a high chair, bangin' my spoon.
Sittin' in a high chair, big chair, my chair,
Sittin' in a high chair, feed me soon.

Bring on the plate, bring on the cup,
Somebody fill this baby up!
Bring on bananas, bring on the bread.
Somebody get this baby fed!

Bring on the carrots, bring on the peas.
Somebody feed this baby, please.
Bring on the pancakes, stacked in a pile.
Somebody make this baby smile.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Grocery Shopping Buddies

When my girls each went off to kindergarten (by the way, they're six years apart), I felt like I had lost my shopping buddy. I always enjoyed going grocery shopping with my little girl. I still remember the first time I put my six-month-old into the front seat part of the cart. She gripped the handle, looked suprised, and then grinned the biggest toothless grin you ever saw. Over the next few years we enjoyed so many fun times at the store. We'd sing songs, I'd imitate Calvin from "Calvin and Hobbes" - "OK Mom, run really fast and let go!" We'd hunt for green things or yellow things. She'd hold the bag while I put apples in, or vice versa. I'd give her a macaroni box to shake like a rattle, then I'd give her a different box to see how the sound was different. We'd discuss the merits of Rugrats macaroni and cheese versus the regular kind. Maybe I'd give her a box of cereal and ask her to find the letter H. One hard and fast rule though, we never bought stuff from the checkout stand. If I was going to buy her a treat, I told her before we entered the store, and if she ever whined for something, I told her "Now I absolutely can't buy it for you because I'd be rewarding your whining." She got that lesson pretty quick.

I'm sure you moms of little ones hear all the time that you should enjoy your kids now because they'll be gone so soon. IT'S TRUE!! I watch a two or three year old go by in a grocery cart and I WISH I had one to push around too (in a good way, of course!). Problem is, I had my kids late, so now I'm super ready to be a grandma, but my kids are too young. Patience is a virtue, patience is a virtue, patience is....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Last Week at the Library

Here are a couple of Baby Time rhymes from last week:

Bounce You Here

I bounce you here
I bounce you there
I bounce you, bounce you everywhere.

I tickle you here
I tickle you there
I tickle you, tickle you everywhere.

I hug you here
I hug you there
I hug you, hug you everywhere.

Icky Bicky Soday Cracker

Icky bicky soda cracker,
Icky bicky boo.
Icky bicky soda cracker
Up goes you!

Say Say Oh Baby

Say say oh Baby,
Come here and clap with me
And bring your happy smile
Bounce on my lap a while
Shake shake you hands now
Shake shake your bottom too
And shake your tootsies ten
Lets do it again!

Toddler Time

All the rhymes we did at Toddler Time are in the labels to the right.

Some have asked me where the music I use comes from. I use six discs and program in the sequence for each Toddler Time. The discs are:

Wee Sing 25th Anniversary Edition - This CD has a lot of the songs we sing, including Skidamarink, The Ants Go Marching, Ring Around the Rosie, Hokey Pokey, Looby Loo, Teddy Bear Teddy Bear, and others.

Wee Sing Games - This has one of the Freeze Games we do and the Color Song which we do sometimes with the Preschoolers.

Greg and Steve Kids in Motion - This has the other Freeze Game,Body Rock and two Animal Action songs.

Raffi - Singable Songs for the Very Young, 3 disc set. It includes Singable Songs, More Singable Songs, and Corner Grocery Store. I use Shake My Sillies, Brush Your Teeth, The More We Get Together, and a couple we do at Preschool Storytime.

It's not a huge variety, but that's actually good for these little ones. Hearing the same songs over and over means they can learn them, and that mastery is very important and confidence building for toddlers.

Preschool Storytime

Our theme this week was "Silly People." I read:

Crazy Hair Day - by Saltzberg
Pete's a Pizza - by Steig
Silly Sally - by Wood
I Love You, Stinky Face - by McCourt (This was the flannel board story.)
Parts - by Arnold (This was the story with the big puppet.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This Week at the Library

Here are some of the books, rhymes and songs we did this week at the various Storytimes:

Baby Time

Mother and Father and Uncle John

Mother and Father and Uncle John
Went to town one by one.
Mother fell off. (Wooo)
Father fell off. (Wooo)
But Uncle John went on and on,
And on and on and on.

Jeremiah Blow the Fire

Jeremiah blow the fire
Puff, puff, puff
First you blow it gently,
Then you blow it rough.

Toddler Time

Today our stories were
Eyes, Nose, Fingers, Toes, by Judy Hindley
Spot Goes to School, by Eric Hill

I believe all the rhymes we did are in the labels to the right, but you're always welcome to use the comment section to ask me to post a rhyme or song.

Preschool Storytime

Our theme this week was "Birthdays".

No Roses for Harry, by Zion
When I Was Five, by Howard
Happy Birthday, Mouse!, by Fowler
Benny Bakes a Cake, by Rice
The Secret Birthday Message, by Carle

The magnetic board story was Ask Mr. Bear, by Flack

Music and Memorizing

What would you think if asked you to memorize a four or five stanza poem? (Who do I think I am, right?) Let's make it two or three of those poems and you have only a few weeks to do it. Are you panicked? Do you think I'm out of my mind? Do you think there's no way you could do it? Translate that to learning the words to your latest favorite song. Quick, what's the name of it? You probably hear it on the radio all the time. Can you sing along? Do you sing it to yourself now and then? If you read the lyrics (which are a poem) you'd most likely be surprised at how long it is, yet you memorized it pretty easily. I just did a quick check on the lyrics to "Hey There Delilah", a popular lyrics-driven song, and it's six stanzas long, not including the refrain.

My point in all of this is to emphasize how important music is to language development. Language gets poured into our children's heads through music, and tons of words and concepts get memorized through melodies. How do we teach our little ones the alphabet? Through a song.

My daughters go (or did go) to a classical school. One of the common tools they use to teach the kids facts, dates and other things that need to be memorized is music. They use a melody to memorize. And believe me, the melodies aren't classical. They learn the Preamble to the Constitution to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", The Declaration of Independence to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", the bones of the body to the theme song for the Flintstones, and the parts of the digestive system to the Gilligan's Island theme song. Kind of silly, but it works.

Another great tool is to make the memorizing physical. We put motions to our songs and rhymes at Toddler Time and with the babies, and they learn them so easily. Connecting the language to physical movement helps cement it in the brain. My daughter learned the history of the Bible - from creation, through Abraham, David, the prophets, Jesus' life, the apostle Paul's missionary journeys and ending with Revelation - in a seven to eight minute presentation. It never ceased to impress me that those kids could memorize this huge list of facts in order. And the reason they could do it is that every fact had a hand motion or body movement associated with it.

It really works. Take a look at the labels on the right side of this page. How many of those rhymes do you know? How many does your child know? Isn't that incredible? Don't forget this technique for learning when your child goes to school. It will help immensely when it comes time to study for a test. Hmmm, the Lewis and Clark expedition...maybe Gilligan's Island again? You know, the three hour tour.

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Song and Dance" and New Schedules

Last week Preschool Storytime was about singing and dancing. We did the Hokey Pokey and used the rhythm instruments to get crazy to the William Tell Overture. We also sang and learned the motions to "This Old Man" while learning what rhymes with "one" (drum - well, sort of rhymes), "two" (shoe), "three" (knee) etc. The books we read were:

Mortimer, by Robert Munsch (Sorry for giving your kids bedtime ideas.)
Dance Away, by Shannon (Left two, three, kick!)
Giraffes Can't Dance, by Andreae

That was a really fun storytime to end the summer with. I was sorry to say goodbye to my old friends who came for the summer but are going back to elementary school. It makes me feel so good that they want to come to Storytime even when they're in first or second grade. Yeah, maybe Mom makes them come to accompany the four-year-old sibling, but still, they sit on the rug and participate. I hope I get to see them at Christmas.

And then many three year olds are off to preschool now and won't be able to attend Toddler Time. Maybe I'll get to see some of them Wednesday at 11:30 or 1:00 if it fits the schedule.

I'm hoping too that some of you can bring your babies to Baby Time now that the older siblings are off at preschool. Thursdays at 11:00 we sing some songs, learn some bouncy rhymes and have a good time visiting. I know at 11:00 some of the preschools are over, but it's the best I can do. Maybe your preschooler could go home with a friend while you go to Baby Time! I wish I could start some programs at 9:30, but the library isn't open yet.

See you all next week!

New Vocabulary

I can't stop thinking about a comment I heard from a mom. She and her daughter came to Toddler Time and her little girl was adorned in sparkles and jewels and other fancy stuff. I commented on how she looked and her mom said she loves to dress herself up. She calls it "getting all purpled up". I just love that! Now every time I see a little girl in her princess dress or jeweled shoes, even an adult in something sparkly, I think to myself "Well, she's all purpled up!" I think it's a permanent part of my vocabulary now. Thanks, Janelle!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Preschool Storytime - "Bears"

Sometimes you have wanted to know the title and author of some of the books I read so you can check them out yourselves. Here are the books I read for the "Bears" theme last week:

Big Black Bear, by Yee
Where's My Teddy?, by Alborough
Goldilocks and the Three Bears, by Marshall
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Martin
Kiss Good Night, by Hess (Flannelboard story)

The Bear Hunt song/chant we did can be found in book form too. One version is We're Going On a Bear Hunt, by Rosen.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Last Week at Baby Time

We had so much fun at Baby Time last week. Three sets of twins! Well, okay, one set was five-year-old siblings, but still it's so fun to see lots of twins. At one time I had 10 pairs coming to one of my Storytimes on a regular basis.

Here are some of the songs and rhymes we did last week at Baby Time:

Squelch, Squelch

Squelch, squelch in the mud. (Lay baby on back, hold feet and press them up and down)
Splash, splash in the tub. (Hold hands and "splash" them back and forth)
Gently, gently, brush your hair. (Stroke baby's head)
Tickle, tickle, under there. (Tickle baby's neck or under arms)

Rickety Rickety Rocking Horse

(Bounce baby on your knees)
Rickety, rickety rocking horse
Over the hills we go.
Rickety, rickety rocking horse
Giddy up, giddy up WHOA! (Lift baby up and lean backwards)

Pizza Pickle Pumpernickel

Pizza pickle pumpernickel
My little boy/girl deserves a tickle.
One for his/her toes
And one for his/her nose
And one for his/her tummy where the cracker goes!
(Bounce baby and tickle each part you name.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back to Normal

We're back on a normal schedule this week at the library. I had a fantastic vacation at Eagle Crest in Redmond. My family took our boat and stayed in a nice condo. We took the first day to relax at the pool, then cruised and played at Prineville and Billychinook Reservoirs on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday we took a day trip to Crater Lake. In over thirty years of living in Oregon, my husband and I have only tried once before to visit there, and it was closed due to snow - in August! This time it was a gorgeous 80 degree day and the four of us thoroughly enjoyed it. We did the Rim Drive and saw so many amazing volcanic features. And my loved ones even let me stop to read the historical markers, but only because I was willing to endure the eye-rolling and teasing. Hey - I'm informed and they're ignorant, so there! On Friday we took another day to relax, play the 18 hole putting course (I won!) and eat out in Bend. My big girl's boyfriend got to come over from Sisters to join us, so that was nice. Saturday was another fun day on the water at Billychinook followed by a crazy game of "Monkey in the Middle" in the pool after dinner, we three girls against my husband and the boyfriend. The girls claimed victory, but I'm afraid we lied. Today I realized you could have sore laughing muscles.

Now it's home for laundry and grocery shopping, but I'm looking forward to seeing the little ones on Tuesday!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On Vacation

I'm on vacation August 16-23, so there will be no Storytimes at the library and I won't be posting til I'm back. I'll miss my little friends! See you next week!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Toddler Rules

I first saw this many years ago, and I still think it's hysterically true. It's been circulated for so long that I have no idea how to find the true author, but I wanted to share it with you.

1- If I want it, it's mine
2- If it's in my hand, it's mine
3- If I can take it away from
you, it's mine
4- If I had it a little while ago, it's mine
5- If it's mine, it must never appear
to be yours in any way
6- If we are building something together,
all the pieces are mine
7- If it just looks like mine, it's mine
8- If I think it's mine, it's mine
9- If I give it to you and change
my mind later, it's mine
10- Once it's mine it will never belong
to anyone else, no matter what

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Talking To Little Ones

Yesterday I was talking to a little boy who mispronounced a word. It was a very common speech difficulty for a boy his age. I think he used a "k" sound instead of "tr" in a word. (Maybe it was "truck".) I repeated the word back to him in a sentence and pronounced the word very clearly for him. He watched my mouth when I said it and then said, "Yeah, truck," and said the word much better that time.

I find that works very well with kids learning to pronounce words they have difficulty with. Whether it's a regular lisp, or a fancy word, if I repeat the word slowly and carefully, even sometimes saying "Watch my mouth," they often correct the word pretty easily. Since they can't read, they're trying to mimic words they hear that go past quickly, and sometimes the best they can do is an approximation. If we slow down for them and let them see our mouths, they see how the lips and tongue are forming the word and saying it correctly is much easier. Adults figure it out by looking at the spelling, but that doesn't work for a two year old.

That's also why I'm a firm believer in talking to our kids in a grown-up voice, using complete sentences and modeling language the way we want them to learn it. Baby talk is for puppies and kittens. I don't think we want Emily at age five to go up to the kindergarten teacher and say "Widdle Emiwy needs to go potty."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Best Things in Life

I have a puppy (well he's a year old now) whose favorite toys are milk jugs and soda bottles. He chases them around the house, crackles them in his jaws, and bangs me on the legs with them. Of course, the best part is that they're completely free and I don't care if he destroys them because there's always another one coming. Crispin the Pig also discovers that the best toys aren't fancy ones from the store, but can be something as simple as a cardboard box. Crispin, the Pig Who Had It All, by Ted Dewan, tells the story of a spoiled pig who discovers his imagination, the one thing he doesn't have, through a cardboard box that Santa leaves for him on Christmas. Along the way, he also discovers friendship, and that good old cliche - the best things in life are free.

In Crispin and the Three Little Piglets, Crispin's parents bring home the new sibling(s). Triplets! While the story includes the usual new sibling issues of feeling neglected and put out, the story takes a few fun turns and twists, and even manages to bring those cardboard boxes back into the story.

The best children's books teach without preaching, and Ted Dewan does a wonderful job of that with these two stories. Check them out at the library, or get them for keeps at MudPuddles.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And Then...

Below is one of my "And Then" stories. Read it to your child, and when you come to the end where it says "And then...", ask Jacob/Emily what happens next. Copy what they say in a comment, and we'll have fun reading what each other's kids have to say. (This will probably work best with the older kids, especially grade schoolers.)

Maddie dumped her school bag by the front door and headed for the kitchen. She smelled brownies. “Mom, you’re the greatest!” she said as her mom pulled the pan from the oven.

“I know,” her mom replied. “And that’s not the only great thing I did for you today. I picked up some shoes at a garage sale since you wrecked your old ones in that mud puddle incident last week.”

“A garage sale?”

“Yes, that will have to do until we have time to go shopping. Am I still the greatest?” Mom asked.

“I guess so,” said Maddie, taking a big bite of warm brownie.

As soon as she finished, she went to her room and spotted the shoes lying next to her bed. They were odd looking things, made of little squares of different colored leather sewn together with black thread. But they were soft and light weight, so she stuck her feet in them. They fit perfectly.

“I’m going to Nicole’s house,” she called to her mom as she slammed the front door. But when she turned right at the sidewalk, she found she couldn’t move. Her feet felt frozen to the cement. She strained to lift her legs, first one, then the other, but it was useless. She couldn’t move forward. She stared at her feet. Those shoes. Those shoes are doing this! Her next impulse was to get home, and she was relieved to be able to turn herself around. She took a step, then another. That’s better, she thought. But when she tried to turn towards her front door, her feet, or those shoes, kept going straight. “Stop!” she yelled, but the shoes kept walking.

And then…

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fingerplays for July 21-23

Magic Finger

Magic finger in the air.
Magic finger in my hair.
Magic finger on my hips.
Magic finger on my lips.

Ten Little Fingers

Ten little fingers and they all belong to me.
I can make them do things.
Would you like to see?
I can shut them up tight, or open them wide.
I can put them all together, or make them all hide.
I can make them go high.
I can make them go low.
I can fold them all together and sit just so.

Round and Round the Garden

Round and round the garden,
Goes the little mouse.
Up, up, up he creeps,
Up into his house.

If you're looking for "My Kitty" and "Three Little Kittens", check the "Labels" column to the right and click on those titles.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Great Book for Preschool - Grade 2

Every once in a while I run across a new (or new to me) book that really hits the spot. The latest one is Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This book is for those who want to get across to our children concepts such as cooperation, respect, or fairness, but find it hard to put them in terms our little ones can understand. Using the idea of making, eating and sharing cookies, the author does a masterful job of using one sentence and one illustration to make these words perfectly clear. On the first page, a child stirs cookie dough with her animal friends. The text reads "Cooperate means, how about you add the chips while I stir." Any child gets that! Or "Fair means, you get a bite, I get a bite..."

I read this book and thought "Duh! Of course this is the perfect way to make a child understand!" I plan to work this book into one of my preschool storytime themes, maybe "Food." I recommend this book for everyone. You can buy it at MudPuddles Toy store, or of course, check it out from our library, but then you'd have to return it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Which Storytime Should You Come To?

The Sherwood Library, bless them, supports six children's programs each week (not counting the summer reading program). We now have one Baby Time, three Toddler Times, and two Preschool Storytimes. Parents often wonder which one their child should attend, which are the most crowded, and whether there are differences among them. Here is my answer.

Baby Time is for babies as young as you want to bring them, up to the time they are more interested in exploring than sitting in your lap. Of course, that will be different for each child, but this is what I've learned are the patterns.

Because very young babies don't have good muscle control in their necks, the bouncing movements that go along with our rhymes and songs won't be appropriate for them. Once they have good control, they're ready to enjoy the program. We do bouncy songs and rhymes, play with manipulatives, do Ring Around the Rosie (in the parent's arms) and blow bubbles, among other things. Babies love it, usually until they are walking (or really fast crawlers). Then they realize they don't have to sit in one spot, and the other babies and the chairs and toys are much more interesting than a lap. That seems to be around 12 months.

Toddler Time is "marketed" for ages 18 months to 3 years, but many toddlers come earlier than 18 months, and that's fine with me. If they enjoy watching the children, absorbing the songs and rhymes, and interacting with the adult who brings them, then they're learning and getting a lot out of it. They'll be up an participating in no time. We do movement based songs, fingerplays, two stories, one lap activity, and a song with a manipulative such as pompoms or maracas. It's very high energy.

After they turn three, they can start transitioning to Preschool Storytime. Some children are ready for a more literature based program when they turn three, but others aren't ready to sit still for as long as I ask. However, during that transition time it's fine to bring Jacob or Emily to Preschool Storytime for as long as they are willing, whether it's ten minutes or twenty. It doesn't have to be an "all or nothing" change, so it's okay to leave before the program is done. Once they turn four, Preschool Storytime is the right place for them.

At Preschool Storytime (sometimes called "Big Kid Storytime") I usually have four or five books, one of which is a flannelboard or puppet story, or movement based. I always have a wiggle-buster or two thrown in so the kids don't have to sit still the whole time. They never have to sit for more than two books in a row. Each week I have a theme, like Ocean (this week) or Bears, or Naughtiness. I don't do crafts - sorry. There are just too many good books out there to take the time. Besides the fact that I'm just not very good in that department.

FYI, the Tuesday Toddler Time and Preschool Storytime are definitely the most crowded. Wednesday, they're both smaller, and the Thursday Toddler Time is the smallest. You can look at the library website for days and times or pick up a calendar at the front desk, which also lists the themes for each week.

Fingerplays From July 14-16

Two Little Hands

Two little hands go clap, clap, clap.
Two little feet go tap, tap, tap.
Two little hands go thump, thump, thump.
Two litle feet go jump, jump, jump.
One little body slowly turning round.
One little child sits quiety down.

My Kitty

My kitty's tail swishes to and fro.
My kitty sits by a sunny window.
My kitty likes to climb a tree.
My kitty's whiskers tickle me.

Pitter Patter

Pitter patter, pitter patter,
Oh so many hours.
Though rain may keep me in the house,
It's very good for flowers!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Baby Time Rhymes

Here are some rhymes we use with the littlest ones at Baby Time:

Diddle Diddle Dumpling

Diddle diddle dumpling my son John,
Went to bed with his trousers on.
One shoe off, and
One shoe on.
Diddle diddle dumpling my son John.

Gregory Griggs

Gregory Griggs, Gregory Griggs,
Had twenty seven different wigs.
He wore them UP,
He wore them DOWN,
To please the people of the town.
He wore them EAST,
He wore them WEST,
But he never did know which he liked the best.

Say Say Oh Baby

Say say oh baby,
Come here and clap with me,
And bring your happy smile,
Bounce on my lap a while
Shake shake your hands now,
Shake shake your bottom, too
And shake your tootsies ten,
Let's do it again!

These Are Baby's Fingers

These are Baby's fingers,
These are Baby's toes,
This is Baby's belly button
Round and round it goes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This Week's Laugh

This week's theme for preschool storytime was "Babies." I read Daisy is a Mommy and came to the page where Mommy gives Baby a bath, and Daisy (the dog) gives her babies (puppies) a bath.

"How does Daisy give her babies a bath?" I asked the children.

"She licks them!" they answered.

"Aren't you glad your mommy doesn't give you a bath that way?" I asked.

"My mommy does!" one little girl answered. Too funny!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More Fingerplays and Songs

This week's fingerplays:

Five Little Babies

One little baby rocking in a tree.
Two little babies splashing in the sea.
Three little babies crawling on the floor.
Four little babies banging on the door.
Five little babies playing hide and seek.
Keep your eyes closed tight now, until I say peek!

Way Up High in the Apple Tree

Way up high in the apple tree,
Two little apples smiled down at me.
I shook that tree just as hard as I could.
Down came the apples,
Mmmm, they were good.

And a song:

Clap Your Hands

Clap your hands,
Touch your toes,
Turn around and put your finger on your nose.
Flap your arms,
Jump up high,
Wiggle your fingers and reach for the sky.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

More on Expectations

As a rule, children will live up to your expectations. The real question, then, is "What are my expectations?" I've learned quite a bit about expectations in twelve years as the Storylady. When people ask me how I manage to hold thirty toddlers or fifty preschoolers in the palm of my hand for half an hour, I have to say that expectations are the key.

First of all, I try not to expect more out of kids than they are capable of delivering. I don't expect a two year old to sit still and be quiet for more than three or four minutes. I don't expect five year olds to sit still for four books in a row. When we expect more than a child is capable of, we're setting us both up for failure and confrontation. On the other hand, I have high expectations when I know I'm asking for something they are capable of. Two year olds can learn to sit on their bottoms for a short, interactive book. Five year olds can listen quietly to two books in a row. I think they recognize that when I ask them to do something, I believe they can do it, and I expect them to do it, but my attitude is a positive "OK, let's do this now," and not "Here's what I want you to do and you'd better do it, even though I know some of you won't."

I've also learned not to expect to hold a toddler's attention if I break their concentration for more than about thirty seconds. Those songs, rhymes, fingerplays, and stories have to keep coming one right after the other. If I stop for an announcement, it better be between fifteen and thirty seconds tops, or those little munchkins are gone. And it would be completely unreasonable of me to be irritated with them for wandering off. That's where toddlers are at developmentally, and it's MY problem if I take too long between activities, or spend too much time talking to the adults.

The same is true for the preschoolers. If I read three books in a row that don't have anything interactive (like saying repetitive lines together or movement incorporated into the story) then it's my fault if Jacob and Emily are rolling around the carpet or striking up a conversation in the middle of my book. Those expectations are unreasonable for their age. On the other hand, if Jacob and Emily are having trouble settling down to listen to the first book, I make it clear that "Now it's time to sit in one spot and listen quietly," which is reasonable and understandable for a four-year-old.

As always, praise for doing the right thing goes a long way towards getting the children to repeat the good behavior.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

4th of July Parade

I want to invite you to the Woodhaven 4th of July Parade. This is such a fun parade, much more participant than spectator oriented. Kids of all sizes put on their patriotic colors and decorate whatever transportation they have available to walk the parade. There are bikes, trikes, scooters, wagons and strollers. Even family pets get dolled up and join the fun! Lately the parade has grown to the point that a fire truck leads the way and a police officer follows up. If I remember right, the mayor even rode last year. Wow! We've really arrived in the big time! If you want to be in it, meet at McConnell Court at 9:30am. If you want to watch, find a spot anywhere on Fitch, Pinehurst or Woodhaven Drive. I'll be looking for my little friends!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This Week's Fingerplays

Do these with your child this week. They'll love it! Let me know through the comments if there's one I missed.

Touch Your Nose

Touch your nose.
Touch your chin.
That's the way this game begins.
Touch your thighs.
Touch your knees.
Now pretend you're going to sneeze. (Achoo!)
Touch your hair.
Touch your ears.
Touch your two lips right here.
Touch your elbows where they bend.
That's the way this touch game ends.

Wiggly Worm

Wiggly is a little worm who wiggles everywhere.
Can you keep your eyes on him as he wiggles here and there?
Wiggly starts down at my toes
And wiggles right up to my nose.
He wiggles back down without a peep,
Creeps into my pocket and goes to sleep.

Stretch Up to the Ceiling

We stretch up to the ceiling,
And reach out for the walls.
We bend to touch our knees and toes,
Then stand up straight and tall.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gee, thanks!

During Toddler Time one day, we had just finished a fingerplay when it was time to hold hands in a circle. A little girl came up to me with her hand held out like she was giving something to me. "Here," she said. Since I couldn't see anything in her hand, I thought she was either pretending, or there was something very small in it. I bent over to look and still didn't see anything. "What is it?" I asked. "A booger," she answered. And then I saw it, nice and plump, on the end of her finger. "Why don't you go give it to your mother," I suggested. She was happy to oblige, thankfully. Whew!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This Week's Fingerplays

Here are a couple of the rhymes we did this week:

Here Is the Beehive

Here is the beehive.
Where are the bees?
Hidden away where nobody sees.
Watch and you'll see them come out of the hive.
One, two, three, four, five.

Tom Thumb Up

Tom Thumb up and Tom Thumb down.
Tom Thumb dancing all around the town.
Dancing on my shoulders.
Dancing on my head.
Dancing on my knees.
Now tuck them into bed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Great Titles From Tricycle Press

In researching publishers that I might want to submit to, I've fallen in love with Tricycle Press. As you know from my post about Robert Munsch, I love books that are fun and imaginative, those that go in unexpected directions or really understand the mind of a child and what works for them.

Several new books from 2008 especially caught my attention:

The Day We Danced in Underpants, by Sarah Wilson and Catherine Stock

This puts us in the time of Louis XIV. Guests at a formal ball in the summertime get hotter and hotter and sweatier and sweatier until finally they all, including the king, strip to their underwear and have a real "ball". What kid doesn't laugh at underpants?

What Does Mrs. Claus Do?, by Kate Wharton and Christian Slade

Has your child ever asked what Mrs. Claus does while she's waiting for her husband to make his rounds? She's running board meetings, performing safety inspections, developing new toys with the engineer elfs and working as a polar geographer and heli-ski operator. Whew! She's busy!

Twelve Terrible Things, by Marty Kelley

Marty Kelley certainly knows what would ruin a child's day. There's the cheek-pinching granny, the cafeteria lady who thinks EVERYBODY loves gravy, and the brother who makes you smell his feet. I might add this to my "Rotten Days" theme.

Most likely these won't be on the shelf in Sherwood, but you can request them and wait for a pleasant surprise.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Be Good!

"Be good", is what we often tell our children (and maybe other people's children too). And I'm sure whatever child we just said that to certainly means to be good. We know exactly what "be good" means. We have the perfect picture in our heads. But does the child know what "be good" means?

To the child, it probably means "don't do anything that makes Mommy (or Daddy, Grandma, Teacher, etc.) mad." The problem is, poor little Jacob/Emily has no idea what that might be. "Hmmm," thinks Jacob/Emily, "I know hitting people gets me in trouble, so as long as I don't hit anyone, I'm being good. Oops! I just got in trouble for throwing something. Okay, no hitting, no throwing. Uh oh! I just got in trouble for running. So no hitting, no throwing, no running. What? Now I'm in trouble for yelling. Maybe I just better sit here by Mommy and not move. That's the only way I won't get in trouble." Poor kid. Now he/she's afraid to try anything. How did this happen?

Children are very literal and concrete. They can't picture what "Be good" looks like in their heads. Let's take going to Storytime as an example. Mom walks in the door, Jacob heads for the blue rug, and Mom says "Be good." Jacob just turned three a couple of months ago and hasn't had much experience with group activities. He really has no idea what's expected of him. Better if, at home or in the car on the way, Mom says, "Jacob, when Storytime starts, I want you to pick a spot on the floor to sit. And while Miss Teresa reads the stories, stay in that spot and listen quietly. You can talk and play with your friends before and after Storytime, but not during." Now Jacob knows exactly what's expected of him. That's so much better than waiting for him to do something wrong and then correcting him.

It's always better to be telling your children what they are supposed to do, than what they aren't. When we get to say "yes" to our kids, and praise their good behavior (because they knew what was expected of them) we end up with happy, positive, confident children.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Favorite Rhymes and Fingerplays

Parents have asked me a few times where I find my fingerplays and rhymes, or where they can get them so they can have them to refer to at home. This blog seems like a perfect place to make them available. Here are some that we did today and last week. If there are other specific rhymes you'd like me to post, ask for it in a comment, and I'll put it up.

Three Little Kittens
Three little kittens were sleeping in the sun.
Three little puppies said "Lets have some fun!"
Up to the kittens the puppies went creeping
As quiet as can be.
One little, two little, three little kittens
Went scampering up a tree!

A Little Seed I Plant in the Ground
A little seed I plant in the ground.
A little rain comes tumbling down.
A little sun comes shining through.
I pick a flower, just for you!

Rain For the Garden
Rain for the garden,
Rain for the trees.
Rain made the puddle
That I didn't see!
Woops! Splash!

Hands Up High
Hands up high.
Hands down low.
Hide those hands.
Where did they go?
Here is one.
Here is two.
Clap them, fold them.
Now we're through.

My Hands Upon my Head I Place
My hands upon my head I place,
On my shoulders, on my face,
On my hips and at my sides,
Then behind me they will hide.
Now I clap them, one, two, three.
Then I fold them quietly.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What Should Mom Be Doing?

Sometimes parents look very unsure of themselves when they first come to Toddler Time or Storytime. They're not sure where they should sit, if they should make their child sit down and be quiet, and they especially don't know what to do with themselves once the program starts. Do they have to stand up and sit down for the songs? Do they have to do all the fingerplays? Can they visit with the person next to them? Can they go sit in the chairs and drink their coffee?

I'll tell you what I like to see at Toddler Time.

I like it when Mom comes in and sits in the circle with the other parents. I'll use "Mom", though I love seeing dads and grandparents. And it's great when the nanny gets to bring little Jacob or Emily (favorite names of 2008).
She lets her child greet the other kids and maybe start a spontaneous silly game, though she doesn't let it get out of hand with running and chasing. If her child wants to just watch from her lap, that's fine too. She says hi to the other parents, but when the music starts, she focuses on her child and the activity going on. She smiles encouragement to Emily and does the motions along with me, singing the song or saying the rhyme with me, though she doesn't have to stand up and sit down for every activity. Maybe Emily joins in too, maybe not, but she sees that Mom is engaged and participating, so she knows this is important to Mom, and that Mom is having fun, so she can too. Mom intervenes quickly if Emily gets a little too rambunctious with the other kids. When it's time for a story to be read, Mom makes sure Emily sits on her bottom in front of me, but if Emily would rather sit in Mom's lap, that's not a problem. Mom listens quietly to the story and doesn't use it as visiting time, since she wants to be a good role model to Emily. After all, Emily learns how to behave in groups and how much importance to place on paying attention to the teacher by watching Mom. Whenever Emily makes an attempt to sing, do motions, or participate, Mom is her best cheerleader, with smiles and clapping when it's over.

That's a great mom!

Here's what I like to see at Preschool Storytime.

Mom brings Jacob in, and he greets the other kids. She doesn't expect him to sit down and be silent for the six or seven minutes before the program begins. She lets him make friends or play a little game that doesn't involve chasing or turning cartwheels. Mom sits in the chairs or on the edge of the circle and says hi to other parents. When I start the program, she quiets down and sets a good example of listening when the teacher reads. A quiet comment here or there is okay, but if lots of parents visit during a story, it gets very distracting. Mom keeps an eye on Jacob since she knows he just recently graduated from Toddler Time and sometimes he gets antsy and starts to visit with other kids in the middle of the story. If I can't get his attention back, mom intervenes with a whisper in the ear, or by moving him to the back of the group where he can sit in her lap and keep listening. It's hard for me to read a story well if I have to interrupt it several times to try to quiet a child. If Jacob's done with Storytime, even though I'm not, that's okay and they can leave. Some younger ones just aren't ready for a thirty minute program. They'll grow into it. When Storytime is over, she praises Jacob for being such a good listener, and asks him about his favorite story.

What a great mom! See you next week.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Robert Munsch - A Favorite Read Aloud

If I'm going to read to kids, I would always rather read something funny than something beautiful. You know what I mean by beautiful - those artsy, poetic, quiet books that parents prefer at bedtime (because they put you to sleep). There's certainly a place in children's literature for them, but funny is always more fun. That's why "fun" is the root word of "funny". Isn't it?

Robert Munsch is a genius at read aloud books, probably because he is a storyteller at heart. While not every single one of his books hit the spot for me, the ones that do are absolutely the most fun for me to read aloud. I'm sure you've heard of a few of them: Love You Forever, Thomas' Snowsuit, Alligator Baby, Stephanie's Ponytail, Mortimer, The Paper Bag Princess, Mud Puddle.

His books always feature some kind of repetitive language, and sometimes a silly song. In Love You Forever, we see the mother crawling across the floor, picking up her baby, and singing her "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always" song. In Stephanie's Ponytail, it's the kids yelling at Stephanie "Ugly, ugly, very ugly!" To which Stephanie replies, "It's MY ponytail, and I LIKE it!" Frequently there's a huge fight (very silly of course) between the grownups, or the child saves the day or outwits something scary, all of which is satisfying to a child on a deeper level.

BUT, all the cute dialog and repetitive language in the world won't make a book fun unless it's read aloud with energy and variety (see "Your Voice is a Symphony" below). Besides, the fun works both ways. Channeling a little Robin Williams or Eddie Murphy is fun for you too!

Monday, June 8, 2009

My Child Won't Participate!

Sometimes parents seem disappointed or confused when their child won't participate at Toddler Time. Their child might be excited to go, but once there, he or she just wants to sit on mom's lap and watch. Mom (or dad) says, "Why should I bring him when he doesn't want to do anything? Isn't it a waste of time?" To which I say a resounding "No!"

There can be a number of reasons why little Johnny or Susie (or is it Jacob and Emily?) just want to watch. Some kids just aren't into crowds. Lots of adults are that way - small groups of people, great. Big groups, let's go home! So when you show up and 30 other toddlers join you, it might be just plain intimidating. Can you come at a time when the crowd isn't so big?

Maybe you're new to Toddler Time. In that case, your child may want to take some time to figure it all out. I've known little ones who need six or eight weeks to finally feel like they understand what's going on and feel ready to participate. Be patient.

The funny thing is, some kids do feel like they're participating when they stand in the middle of the floor and stare. One adorable little boy happily trots into the room, runs right up to me and stares into my face. I say hi, he says hi. He might even try to tell me something, but I haven't quite mastered his language, though I know it's english. The program starts and there he stays, planted in one spot, watching me intently for the next half hour. He never sings the songs, does the motions, or shakes the maraca in his hand. Yet if you could ask him, I'm sure he'd say he was participating.

But here's the important thing: all these kids are getting valuable input. The language, the rhyme, the patterns, the music, it's all registering in their brains and making connections. One mom told me that her child never seems to want to take part, but the minute she gets home little Maddie starts singing the songs and talking all about everything that happened at Toddler Time.

It's making a difference. It's just not measured by how perfectly Jacob does The Eentsy Weentsy Spider.

Friday, June 5, 2009

And Then...

Madison grabbed her crayons and sprawled on the floor of her bedroom with her new coloring book. This one was going to be good. It showed scenes from her absolute all-time favorite movie, the one she had talked her parents into letting her see three times.

She opened the book to the first picture. It was perfect. There were her favorite character and the nasty villain. Madison set to work with the utmost care, glad to have a box of 96 crayons to choose from. Just as she put the finishing touches on the last bit of background, the picture seemed to go a bit blurry. It was swimming in her vision. She rubbed her eyes and looked again. The two characters looked right back at her. They blinked.

And then...

Write your own ending! Grab your kids and ask them how they'd end the story. Keep asking "And then what happened? And then what happened?"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How To Keep 25 Toddlers Motionless and Silent

I'm only exaggerating a little.

I have a shelf of Toddler Time books that I pull from every week. 2 books for a 30 minute program is about all the little ones have the attention for in a group setting, but I have found which books keep them glued in place and which have them wandering the room. Here's my list of favorite Toddler Time books (in their opinion):

Dear Zoo - by Rod Campbell (Great repetitive language, funny ideas, and flaps!)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle (Kids get to say "But he was still hungry!" Chomp, Chomp)

The Very Busy Spider - Eric Carle (Fun animal voices, plus kids get to say the repeating line and feel the pages.)

From Head to Toe - Eric Carle (We get to stand up and do everything the book says.)

How Many Bugs in a Box? - David Carter (Who can resist the praying mantises? And those scary saw-bugs! Quick! Slam the book shut!)

Opposites - Robert Crowther (The moving parts hold their attention for an amazingly long time.)

Freight Train - Donald Crews (Beautiful and simple. Don't know why, but you could hear a pin drop when I read it.)

Go Away Big Green Monster - Ed Emberley (Yelling is so much fun. But I have had a couple of kids cry.)

A Turtle in the Toilet - Jonathan Emmett (Pop ups are irresistible. And who doesn't laugh at a turtle in the toilet or a skunk under the bed?)

Spot Goes to the Park - Eric Hill (ANY of the lift-the-flap Spot books.)

Rosie's Walk - Pat Hutchins (Did Rosie see the fox? "NO!")

No David - David Shannon (Kids are amazed at the naughty things David does. And seeing him run down the street naked is hysterical.)

Come Along, Daisy - Jane Simmons (The suspense is killing them.)

Clip, Clop - Nicola Smee (Good repetitive phrases and a funny ending.)

Pete's a Pizza - William Steig (Seeing a boy made into a pretend pizza is a real brain twister.)

Dinosaur Roar - Paul Stickland (Dinosaurs and opposites, plus funny voices, and it's a winner.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Alien Ants?

This spring I began taking my manuscript for "And Then..." into third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms for some storytelling and creative writing activities. It was such a blast! I visited Middleton, Hopkins, Archer Glen and Mabel Rush Elementary Schools. During my visits I told a few of my stories, (they're 200-400 word cliffhangers) and asked the kids to come up with their own endings, both verbally in front of the group and in small groups, and then individually in writing. Listening to their incredibly imaginative stories was the most fun I've had in a long time.

After one of my stories (about a falling star landing in your back yard), I passed by one group of kids and saw a boy doing the John Travolta disco dance. When I asked them what was happening, they said there were disco dancing alien ants in the back yard. I love the mental image that conjures up.

I'll be scheduling more author visits this fall. Let me know if you'd like me to visit your school!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spiderman Underpants?

I teach a Toddler Time class (several actually). These little munchkins are 18 months to about 3 years old - the potty training phase. Lots of kids come faithfully every week and we get to know each other. My little friends look forward to seeing me, and I adore seeing their faces bouncing through the door (and they literally bounce).

A while ago I was right in the middle of a Toddler Time, doing some fingerplay, when one of my buddies came careening into the circle absolutely exploding with the news he had to share with me. "I'M WEARING SPIDERMAN UNDERPANTS!!" Of course, I knew instantly that he must have finally successfully completed potty training, so I beamed at him and said, "Really!? That's awesome!" Moments like those stick in my head and always bring a smile.

Monday, June 1, 2009

And then...

Peter nearly twisted his ankle in the hole before he noticed it. His friends were already out of sight on the wooded trail, but Peter let them run off. This was worth investigating. It was about the size of a gopher hole, maybe a little bigger, but the edges were smooth and tidy, like someone, or something, had put some effort into getting it just right. Peter bent to get a closer look. He could hear a rustling sound coming from inside, much more noise than a little mouse or gopher could make by itself. As Peter tried to get a look inside, he got the surprise of his life when a light beamed out of the hole.

And then...

(Now it's your turn. What happened next? Write how you think the story turns out as a comment to this post. And to get the imagination juices flowing, keep asking yourself "And then what happened?" Try not to look at anyone else's comments so your story ending stays original. Get your kids and ask them what happens and write their endings too.)

Your Voice is a Symphony

We probably all remember the adults who read us stories when we were young and managed to turn the most exciting books into absolute yawners. Why was that? What did they do that made our favorite books so dull? How can I keep from putting my young listeners to sleep, or worse yet, turn my attentive group into unmanageable rug-rollers?

Think of it this way. Can you imagine a symphony concert where all the instruments played at the same volume and the same tempo throughout the piece of music? Where there was no distinction between the horns and the strings and the percussion? Your voice, when you read aloud to children, is a symphony. The different characters in the book are the different instruments. Papa Bear sounds different from Mama Bear and Baby Bear. The rising action of the plot brings a different tempo, faster at the climax, slower as things calm down. The varying emotions of the story bring out the dynamics. Goldilocks is quiet as she lifts the latch and tiptoes into the house. Papa Bear is LOUD when he demands to know who's been sitting in his chair.

Conduct your voice as an instrument. Bring out all the nuances of characters, tempo and dynamics, and your young listeners, whether it's your own child at bedtime, or a group of six-year-olds will beg you to read it AGAIN!


Welcome to the Storylady blog. Here you'll find items about reading to children, suggestions for great read aloud books, and tips on helping your children get the most out of storytime visits at libraries and bookstores. I'll share the humorous side of being a Storylady and make suggestions for other Storyladies (Are there any Storygents?).

Along the way I'll also post some short "storystarters," little stories that have no endings. I want you to finish these stories in your comments. Put your imagination to work! Get your kids in on it! I've had some great times with elementary school classes inventing endings to my stories, and I can't wait to see what kids and their parents come up with.