Saturday, January 30, 2010

This Week at the Library

Preschool Storytime

We had stories about growing up and getting bigger this week. We even got to have baby show-and-tell! Thanks to you moms who shared your babies and toddlers. The kids really enjoyed that. Our stories were:

Oh My Baby Bear, by Audrey Wood. Baby Bear becomes Little Bear when he learns to dress himself, feed himself, bathe himself, and put himself to bed. But he's NOT too old for a bedtime story. Yay!
Parts, by Tedd Arnold. I love this book! I also get to tell it with a giant boy storyprop, but the pictures in the book are awfully fun. There's a sequel More Parts too.
Pig Pig Grows Up, by David McPhail. Pig Pig insists he's still a baby until he saves the day and everyone tells him what a big, brave pig he is.
Tell Me What It's Like to be Big, by Joyce Dunbar. It sounds a little scary to be big and have to do all those big things, but cuddling with Mommy takes the scary away.
You'll Soon Grow Into Them, Titch, by Pat Hutchins. I read this story only on Tuesday - ran out of time on Wednesday. Titch gets hand-me-downs that are way too big so Dad takes him shopping for new clothes to wear when Mom brings home the new baby. Titch decides to hand his clothes down to the baby.

Toddler Time

I'm still plugging the Tuesday at 9:30 Toddler Time! Lots of room! We can do things like blow bubbles and have TWO maracas or pompoms!

We read:

Slop Goes the Soup!, by Pamela Duncan Edwards. Can you say onomatopoeia? Can you spell it? (I had to look it up.) Ah-Choo! Slop. Slither. Crash. Whoosh. Giggle. Rattle. Splash. All good sound words.
Go Away Big Green Monster, by Ed Emberly. Lots of loud "Go aways!" But no one cried this time! I did see one child put his fingers in his ears. Wait! Now I remember we made a baby cry. So sorry....

Baby Time

We had to make our circle bigger to fit everyone in this week! I'm so happy to see the new moms. We talked about how singing a counting song doesn't mean we expect our babies to learn to count. This is where hearing those words starts, and with many repetitions our babies will start to recognize the words until he/she can learn to say them too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wordless Books

Do you pick up a wordless book and wonder how in the world you're supposed to "read" it to your child? The answer is "Any way you want to!" And the most fun part is that it can be different every time. Wordless books also build all kinds of literacy and language skills in ways conventional books cannot.

One of my first and favorite wordless books is The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. The story is so clearly told in the illustrations that you can almost feel the words. Then when my oldest was small we discovered Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day and were delighted when each new Carl book was released. Lately I found Flotsam by David Wiesner (a Caldecott book) down at MudPuddles toy store. The imagination in that book absolutely amazes me. Two children find a camera washed up on the seashore, and when the pictures are developed they see an underwater fantasy world. I could look at it for hours. I went to the author visit by Portland's own David Michael Slater last fall and enjoyed his new release The Bored Book about a couple of children whose grandfather introduces them to books that open and unfold into worlds they can experience. These are just a few, and they appeal to a wide range of ages - Carl books for the youngest and The Bored Book for the older kids.

When you "read" a wordless book to a pre-reader, you're teaching all kinds of skills. First, that a book is read from left to right and the pictures tell the story that way too. The child is learning to find meaning in the pictures and to take time to explore everything a picture has to say, which is an important skill as they learn to read and need context clues to help decipher new words.

As you point to the parts of the pictures and talk about what is happening, have fun with it. Use different voices as you would with printed dialog. Use sound effects. Make up conversations between the characters and be silly with it. Have the characters talk to your child. Ask questions such as "What do you think that turtle is going to do?" (Flotsam) "Why is Carl looking at the clock?" (Good Dog, Carl) "Which book would you pick off the shelf next?" (The Bored Book)

After you've read the book several times with your child, ask him to read it to you. Praise his efforts and encourage him to take the story in a different direction than you have in the past. I love the imagination and creativity that can come with wordless books. After all, there are no words to tell you how the story has to go. Make it up yourself!

Friday, January 22, 2010

This Week at the Library

Baby Time

It's great to see newcomers at Baby Time! Moms are making friends and sharing stories and ideas, and babies are squealing to see so many new faces just their size.

This week we got to bring out the hand puppets and the new books from the county library outreach. Our first set of books was Eric Carle's 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo. We talked about the concept of "one to one correspondence" which is the stage where children relate counting numbers to counting actual objects. We can help teach that by touching their fingers to the objects we're counting while we say the numbers.

Toddler Time

This week I read Opposites by Robert Crowther, and it's amazing how it can hold their attention for so long. The book is a work of genius at illustrating the concept of opposites with moving parts. A word of warning though - if you buy a copy for yourself, you need to keep it on a high shelf so your child always looks at it with you or it will be destroyed in about two sittings.

Our other book was the Caldecott Honor book Freight Train by Donald Crews. Some children's book authors are so amazing! This book has 54 words and manages to teach colors, the names of different freight cars and introduce words like "trestle" all while delighting the reader with incredible artwork.

Preschool Storytime

Do you know the difference between monkeys and apes? Monkeys have tails, apes don't. I learned that when I spent a few years as a zooguide at the Metro Zoo (Washington Park Zoo at the time). So technically, Curious George is an ape, not a monkey like the book says. But we love him anyway.

Our books this week were:

Maggie's Monkeys, by Linda Sanders-Wells. This book is definitely worth checking out or buying so you can read it several times with your child. It has a beautiful but subtle lesson about family loyalty and being a good big brother (or sister). I didn't have this book on Tuesday, so if you came that day, please get ahold of this book! It's wonderful.

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Try saying that name five times fast! This book from 1940 stands the test of time.

The Escape of Marvin the Ape, by Caralyn Buehner. I can't believe that I discovered for the first time this week that the police officers are on every page!

We did the fingerplays "Five Little Monkeys Swinging From a Tree" and "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." I also told the story Monkey Face by Frank Asch and illustrated it as we went along.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Since I started this blog last June, I've posted what I've called "Opinionated Postings" on subjects near and dear to my heart. I called them "opinionated" because they were just that - my thoughts on a particular subject, to be taken with a grain of salt. I thought it might be a good time (more than six months later) to put them back out at the forefront for those who may be new to the blog. Also because my "labels" section to the right has gotten so long that newcomers may not want to scan the entire list to find postings on particular subjects.

On reading aloud to your children I wrote about using your voice to create interest in Your Voice is a Symphony. For parents new to Storytime who are looking around trying to figure out if they should stand or sit, sing or not, or visit with the friend beside them, I wrote What Should Mom Be Doing? Then after those parents figure out what to do with themselves, they get discouraged because their child just sits and watches and doesn't seem interested in doing the songs or sitting up front for the stories. So I wrote My Child Won't Participate! That got me to thinking about expectations - mostly expecting too much from such very young children - but also about what's reasonable for toddlers and preschoolers. More on Expectations is what came of that.

Often a child wants to tell me something, and I feel bad when I have to ask him to repeat it three times and I still can't understand him. That got me thinking about how we model language for them, and I posted Talking to Little Ones. While I was writing these postings I was getting impressed with the labels and how many rhymes and songs there are. Yet these kids, especially the three year olds, probably know almost all of them. I contemplated the power putting words to music and wrote Music and Memorizing. A trip to the grocery store got me thinking about shopping when my daughters rode in the cart, and all the learning that can take place at the store. My Grocery Shopping Buddies came from that daydreaming. Watching boys and girls at the library, and remembering my girls brought Boys and Girls Really Are Different. Watching the kids watching the parents led to They're Listening.

So those postings are a trip through my brain - scary thought! I hope you find something of value there (in the postings, not my brain).

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Week at the Library

First off, I want to remember the people of Haiti. While we enjoyed a wonderful time with our children at the library, many Haitian parents were mourning their children, or children were trying to understand that their parents were gone. I encourage you to contribute to a relief organization. I recommend Medical Teams International, based in Tigard, and you can make a contribution here.

Preschool Storytime

This week our stories were about "Rocks." That subject brought some looks of "okaaaay" from the kids, but actually there are some really fun stories out there. I started off with the Aesop's fable "The Crow and the Jug" in which a thirsty crow figures out he can reach the water in a jug by dropping stones into it to raise the water level. The moral of the story, is "Where there's a will, there's a way." You've probably heard that before, but now you know where it came from!

The only book I read was Lizard's Home, by George Shannon. Lizard figures out how to trick the nasty snake into giving up his favorite rock.

We also looked at some pretty rocks and especially enjoyed the state rock of Oregon - the geode, also known by it's much more fun name "Thunder Egg."

I told two stories on the flannelboard. The Stone in the Road is an old fable about a king with lazy, selfish subjects. Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock is an African folk tale. I love telling this story! The kids always laugh and try to remember the "magic words" so they can go KPOM! There are many Anansi trickster stories, but this particular retelling and the storyprops come from Eric Kimmel's book.

Toddler Time

Our new 9:30 Tuesday time was a little bigger this week. There's lots of room there for those of you feeling squeezed at the other times!

I read From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle. We love getting up and moving while we read this book. Also How Many Bugs in a Box by David A. Carter. That one is a huge hit!

Baby Time

Lots of babies this week! I'm excited about a new support service being offered by the Washington County library system. They will be sending sets of Baby Board Books at my request so we can discover more great books for our littlest ones. When I set up the Baby Time program, the budget was pretty slim, so we have only a few titles for me to use. Now there are dozens for us to explore!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Last Week at the Library

Sorry I'm late posting about last week's titles and activities!

Preschool Storytime

I got to read some of my favorite books for "Silly Animals."

Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke. There are several "Minerva Louise" stories. This is the first, where she tries to figure out the house with the red curtains.

Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester. There are now seven books about Tacky, the odd bird who is nice to have around. This is the first.

A Porcupine Named Fluffy, by Helen Lester. This is another book by the amazing Helen Lester/Lynn Munsinger team. Fluffy the porcupine meets Hippo the rhinocerous and become fast friends.

The Seals on the Bus, by Lenny Hort. You have to sing this book!

Toddler Time

We started the first 9:30 Tuesday Toddler Time and had a nice group of seven children. I hope more of you 10:15 attenders can come earlier.

Baby Time

Bubble blowing is such a hit with the babies! Each week we see them focus more and more on watching the bubbles float. We're even starting to hear squeals of excitement when they see them get started.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm So Blessed

As many people do in January, I've been loooking back over my life in 2009. How blessed I am! First of all, my family is happy, healthy and productive. My husband still has a job, and a secure one. My daughters are doing very well in school, actually love their schools, and have great friends. They are happy in their extracurricular activities and have chosen ones that contribute to society.

And I have the best job in the world! How many "Storylady" jobs are there in the world? Not very many! And I have one in a great town with tons of kids who have parents who value enriching their kids' lives with activities that can make a difference for years to come. I get to come to the library to be greeted with huge smiles, hugs and whoops of joy. I get to see kids who start off as shy, don't-budge-from-the-lap introverts turn into "GUESS WHAT! I'M WEARING SPIDERMAN UNDERPANTS!!" types.

And the benefits of my job don't stop at the library. At Target, the grocery store, or out for a walk with my dog, I see my little friends and get a moment of cheer. Even when they hide their faces in shock at seeing me away from the library, it's fun to get to say hi.

My job has grown from one preschool storytime a week thirteen years ago to two preschool storytimes, four Toddler Times and one Baby Time, with lots of help from the Friends of the Library along the way. A big Thank You to them! Thirteen years ago when I heard the library was looking for a storylady, I thought "Hey, I'll volunteer! What a blast!" Turns out it's a paid position. Even better! Now it's my little career (considering how few hours per week it actually takes) and I'm the luckiest lady in town. Thank you all, and thank you God!

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's All Over

Time to take a break from de-decorating the house and return to the doldrums of winter - although I saw a teeny ray of hope in my one-inch daffodils. That always cheers me up!

It was fun to see so many dads at the various storytimes last week. I guess they had time off and got to come with the kids to see what it's all about.

I think I got prophetic at Preschool Storytime. On Tuesday I arrived at the library to find a different batch of stories than I was expecting, so I had to come up with a quick Plan B for a theme. I decided on "Snow" since there were a few of the books in my box and the shelves had a few others that I wanted. I even commented to the kids that it was supposed to rain that afternoon, but it sure was cold and it sure seemed like it would snow instead! Of course on Wednesday we got to talk about the snowmen we made and the snowball fights we had. So much fun! The books I read on Tuesday and Wednesday had a couple of variations since after I got home I pulled some favorites out of my collection.

Snowballs, by Lois Ehlert
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
Geraldine's Big Snow, by Keller
The Biggest, Best Snowman, by Margery Cuyler
Under My Hood I Have a Hat, by Kuskin

We sang "I'm a Little Snowman" and on Wednesday we built a felt snowman on the flannelboard. That activity is always a huge hit with the kids. I ask them to tell me how to make the snowman and deliberately misunderstand them. This way they have to think hard to choose exactly the right words to make me understand what they mean. It's fun to watch their faces as they try and try to tell me how to stack the big, medium and small snowballs, or exactly where to put the carrot nose.

I told the traditional story of "The Mitten" with storyprops.

Toddler Time

Don't forget we start a new Toddler Time at 9:30 on Tuesdays this week.

Our stories this week were:

Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise
Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell. This book is a good example of how repetitive lines draw a toddler in. They get such satisfaction in saying "I sent him back!" on each page. Big grins every time.

We also did:

Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands

Clap, clap, clap your hands as slowly as you can.
Clap, clap, clap your hands as quickly as you can.

Shake, shake, shake your hands...
Roll, roll, roll your hands...
Pound, pound, pound your fists...
Rub, rub, rub your hands...
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle your fingers...

This rhyme teaches so much in a little fingerplay. First is the concept of "slowly" and "quickly." Whenever you can tie vocabulary to a physical motion, it cements the learning so much faster. Then there's shake, roll, pound, rub, wiggle - words we also tie to hand motions.

Baby Time

Well, we tried to stay warm in there with a couple of space heaters. The whole building had been without heat for two days and it was cold in there. We kept our coats on and had a good time anyway.