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!