Thursday, February 25, 2010

This Week at the Library

Preschool Storytime

I get such a kick out of those hats! The kids' faces are so fun as they watch me take off those hats one by one. And of course, the "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" hat is hysterical. I still need to see that movie!

The stories we read this week were:

Go Ask Giorgio, by Patricia Wittman. Poor Giorgio gets worked nearly to death. Then he gets a fourth job - sleeping!
A Hat For Minerva Louise, by Janet Stoeke. Our favorite dumb chicken. (Can I say that?)
Whose Hat?, by Margaret Miller. A fun guessing book - but no one ever guesses what the nurse's hat is.
Old Hat, New Hat by Jan and Stan Berenstain. Very silly hats. (I remember long ago once asking a librarian who wrote the Berenstain Bears books. She looked at me like I was Minerva Louise.)

You may wonder why I didn't read Caps for Sale or The Cat in the Hat. I read Caps for Sale just a few weeks ago when the theme was "Monkeys". The Cat in the Hat is actually a very long book and wouldn't leave much room for other stories. It's 72 pages, where standard children's books are 32 pages.

Toddler Time

Hey all you Tuesday 10:15 attenders! We got to play with bubbles at 9:30! We got to do Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands on Thursday! Everyone got scarves at the other sessions! Hint, hint!

Our stories were:

Spot Goes to the Park, by Eric Hill. The last of our Spot series. These books always hold the kids' attention amazingly well.

Pots and Pans, by Patricia Hubbell. As I told the parents, I think this book gives you a great rainy day activity idea. Pull out some pots, pans, lids and spoons - metal, plastic, wood - and set up a drum set for your child. It's actually a fantastic learning experience for them to discover that the sound you make when you drum on a pot changes with its size, and a metal spoon banged on a lid sounds different than a wooden spoon. Don't be afraid of the noise or mess! You can determine how many things are pulled out and how long the noise lasts. In fact, why don't you sit on the floor and do it too!

Baby Time

Today we welcomed back some faces that had been missing for a while, and welcomed some new faces too!

We also talked about how it's okay to chew on books. Really! Your baby is exploring books in one of his/her favorite ways - with his mouth. If we snatch the book away and say "Don't do that!" he's learning that books are off limits. Just make sure it's a board book and not a rare copy of Shakespeare, and let him chew for a while. If it starts to get soggy, turn the book to a different corner. They even make waterproof copies of some baby books. Go to our favorite store, MudPuddles, and ask.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Enjoying Books Together

Recently at my daughter's school, we had the annual Speech Meet, where each child in grades 3-8 memorize a selection and recite it for evaluation by three judges. (Believe it or not, most of the kids look forward to this!) One selection I heard a couple of times was "The Reading Mother" by Strickland Gillilan. Read it and you'll know why someone like me gets all excited about it.

"The Reading Mother"

I had a Mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.

-Strickland Gillilan

Reading to your child, and making a habit of it, benefits your child on so many levels I can hardly begin to name them all. Starting with a board book and your baby in your lap, your child learns to associate warm and close feelings with book time. He learns that books have interesting things in them and that when you turn the pages, new pictures appear. He learns that different stories are in different books, and develops a favorite that he wants to hear again and again.

Learning to read doesn't begin in Kindergarten. It begins in your lap. Books have words, printed words have meaning, books are read from left to right, words say the same thing every time. This is learning to read just as much as learning the sounds of the alphabet.

When you read to your child regularly and it is a pleasureable experience, your child learns the literature of the world, gains inspiration and lessons from the stories, discovers new concepts and facts and becomes a lifelong learner.

Let your child observe you enjoying a book or article - whatever you read - and share that enjoyment with him/her. Talk about what you learned or how it made you feel and why you liked it. When I read My Sister's Keeper, my girls were busy in school and didn't have time to read it themselves, so every day when they came home I would tell them what had happened in my book. Of course, the story is so compelling they couldn't wait to hear what was happening to those two sisters. It was practically the first thing I heard when they came in the door. "What happened in your book?!" It's a great way to share a love of reading.

While your kids are still very young, it's important that reading time doesn't become a power struggle. It's book time, so sit still and listen and enjoy it NOW! won't convey the happy and warm feelings you hope for. (I know you'd never do that.) If your child isn't in the mood, just set the book aside for when he/she is ready to cuddle up.

And don't forget to bring them to Storytime so I can read to them too!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

This Week at the Library

Baby Time

This week we got to discuss the joys of trying to get your baby to sleep through the night, what it's like to listen to your baby cry it out, and the irony of your baby keeping you up most of the night, then going to sleep in the morning when you have to get up.

Toddler Time

This week we did a new fingerplay (though we use our bodies, not just our fingers).

Everybody Do This
(Think of a movement to do with your body while you say this.)

Everybody do this, do this, do this.
Everybody do this, just like me.

Very simple, but fun when you have your child make up the movements for you!

The books we read were:

Spot Bakes a Cake, by Eric Hill. We talked about how asking questions while you read a book out loud helps a child with early literacy skills like getting information from the illustrations. In this book I asked "What's the funny looking stuff on the birthday cake?" (bones) "Why are there bones on the cake?" (because they're dogs)

Good Morning, Sam, by Marie-Louise Gay. There is a lot of the story in the illustrations in this book, like when Stella looks in the closet and asks "Are you in there?" and Sam says no, but you can see his feet in there.

Preschool Storytime

Our theme this week was "Colors." We had some really fun books and even did a science experiment! I took three bottles filled with water colored the primary colors and mixed them into a fourth bottle to show how mixing colors produces new colors. You can try it in the bathtub next time your little one takes a bath. Ordinary food coloring works fine - and it doesn't stain the skin.

We read:

The Blue Balloon, by Mick Inkpen. The fold-out pages make it so much fun.
Mouse Paint, by Ellen Stollen Walsh. This is what led into the color mixing experiment.
Winnie the Witch, by Korky Paul (great name!). Winnie keeps tripping over the black cat in her black house until she gets a bright idea.
Color, by Ruth Heller. This is the one with the transparent pages that show you how the colors overlay to make all the colors in the rainbow. Very impressive to kids!

I told the story Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni on the felt board.

On Tuesday I also read Lemons Are Not Red, by Laura Seeger, but I didn't have time for it on Wednesday.

One book I wanted to read but didn't get to either day was The Chalkbox Story by Don Freeman. It's a wonderfully imaginative story of a box of chalks that create a picture that comes to life and gets a little too dramatic for them.

We did the Color song on the CD Wee Sing Games. They're finally getting the hang of it!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ladybug Girl

I just discovered there are other Ladybug Girl books! The first book is Ladybug Girl. Lulu feels bad when her brother says she's too little to play baseball with him and his friends, so she becomes Ladybug Girl, and she is NOT TOO LITTLE! I love it. Then there is Ladybug Girl at the Beach where she overcomes her fear of the water, and a board book called Ladybug Girl Dresses Up.

I'm going to be in deep trouble when I have grandchildren. Hope they have LOTS of bookshelves.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

This Week at the Library

I had a question about the music I use at Toddler Time. If you'd like the names and titles of the CD's, go to the label on the right side of the page and look for "CD's I Use." I know the list is getting really long, but if you hunt around, you'll find the song, rhyme or book you're looking for. If not, leave a comment and I'll post the info.

Preschool Storytime

Our theme this week was "Friendship" in honor of Valentine's Day. We love our friends, right? And there's lots to learn about finding friends and getting along with each other. I got to read two new-to-me books that I absolutely love.

A Visitor for Bear, by Bonny Becker. This book is SO funny and sweet. Bear does not want visitors, but a persistent little mouse wears him down until he discovers a friend is a good thing. (I just found out there's a second book about this bear and mouse, A Birthday for Bear. I'm requesting it immediately!)

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, by David Soman. This book hits right at the heart of dramatic play (a teacherish word) and what makes it SO FUN! My favorite scene is when Ladybug Girl jumps on the mean robot's head and Bumblebee Boy stings it with his stinger. TAKE THAT!!

A Friend for Minerva Louise, by Janet Morgan Stoeke. I just love Minerva Louise, and the kids think she's so funny. There are eight books about her.

One book I really wanted to read but didn't have time for is What Are Friends For, by Sally Grindley & Penny Dann. This is a sweet and real book about two friends getting mad at each other and saying the dreaded "You're not my friend any more!" They regret it and make up, but it's told in language children can definitely relate to. Pffft! to School Library Journal who thought it was predictable and not very compelling. Three-year-olds need predictable!

Toddler Time

Kudos to the Thursday morning Toddler Time parents! After I talked for a moment about how parents model how to act in a class setting, they clapped and sang like they were in a choir competition! I loved it! The kids had huge smiles on their faces too.

I brought back an old rhyme:

Bubbly Bubbles

Bubbly, bubbly, bubbly bubbles.
Filled to the top.
Listen to the bubbly bubbles,
Pop! Pop! Pop!

I cringed when we did This Little Piggy and one child volunteered that her favorite food is ham. "This little piggy had ham. This little piggy had none." Hmmm, cannibal piggies.

Baby Time

One benefit to doing bouncy lap rhymes is that when you bounce your baby on each syllable of the rhyme, you're helping your child learn to hear the parts of words. This is a skill that's needed in learning to read. A child needs to be able to hear d-o-g to be able to sound-blend the letters together when he learns to read it. Same with being able to write the word. He has to hear each sound to match it to the correct letter, to then write the correct letter. Yes, this skill can start at 4 months old!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I Feel Awful

I can't stand it when I make kids cry.

Every week at Toddler Time I come to the point in the program where I have kids sit on their parent's/caregiver's lap. Some kids know this is coming, and anticipate it. They know some child is going to get to sit on my lap and the moment they hear me say "Go sit on someone's lap," they make a beeline for me. So at times it turns out that the same couple of children get to sit on my lap week after week. I try to deal with this by nabbing a child close to me and asking if they'd like to sit on my lap. Last Thursday a boy was nearby and when I asked him, he seemed agreeable. I sat him down in front of me for "Criss Cross Applesauce." He was a little squirmy, but cooperated when I straightened him out. When I came to the end of the second round I leaned over to look at him and say "Yay!" and I saw his face melting into tears! Apparently the squirminess was him wanting to go back to Mom, but he was such a good boy he did what I asked, and I couldn't see his face to know what was going on. By the time it was over he'd had more than he could stand. I felt awful!

Then I came to book time. There's one little girl who always hurries up to me so she can sit in the front row and show me how good she is about keeping her feet in front of her. She's the type that loves the one-on-one connection and chats me up whenever she has the chance. This time something delayed her when I pulled out the book, and the front row was full when she got there. There just wasn't room for her, so she had to sit in the back. She went to her mom and cried the saddest tears you've ever seen. I felt awful!

Another hard time is when I stamp the kids' hands and bellies. I have to have a rule that I only give each child two stamps. With thirty or thirty-five children, I just have to limit it or we'd be there all day. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I started giving the option of stamping two hands or one hand and one belly stamp. The problem comes when kids put both hands on their heads, which I stamp, and then lift up their shirts for a belly stamp. They mean for me to only stamp one hand, but when I'm zipping along I don't get the message. So then what do I do? If I go ahead and stamp the belly, the message the other kids get is "Some kids get three stamps, but not me." If I say no to stamping the belly, sometimes the child cries and, yes, I feel awful.

But then last week I got two hugs and a kiss, so I feel better.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

This Week at the Library

Yay! I'm a little more on time this week.

Preschool Storytime

Our theme this week was "Dogs" and I could have read so many stories. I chose a few of my favorites, and they were:

Just Dog, by Hiawyn Oram. We laughed about the names "Pudding Face" and "Sugarpops" for a dog.
Can I Be Good?, by Livingston Taylor. I told the kids that I say to my dog, Harley, that he's so good - MOST of the time.
The Stray Dog, by Marc Simont. We learned what "stray" meant and what a dog catcher is.
Dog Blue, by Polly Dunbar. The boy who loves blue and loves dogs decides the beautiful black and white dog will just have to be named "Blue".

I told the story Bark, George, by Jules Feiffer, with a stuffed dog and some beanies. It's funny how some stories make kids absolutely laugh hysterically, while a child sitting next to them barely cracks a smile. Humor is subjective.

On Wednesday we also did the fingerplay "Three Little Kittens" about the kittens and puppies. You can find it in the labels on the right.

Toddler Time

I'm glad to see the 9:30 Tuesday class growing. The classes have seemed a little less crowded on the other days. We did a rhyme we haven't done in quite a while:

Walking, Walking
(to the tune of "Frere Jacques")

Walking, walking
Hop, hop, hop
Hop, hop, hop
Running, running, running
Running, running, running
Now let's stop.
Now let's stop.

We read Here Come Poppy and Max, by Lindsey Gardiner. That's a fun book because we get to get up and move while we read it. We also read Where's Spot? by Eric Hill. You can always tell who has the book at home because when I ask "Will we find Spot on the next page?" someone says "No, it's a monkey," which kind of blows the suspense. ;-)

Baby Time

Today our board book was Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr. This is a great example of a book to grow with. It has large, bright, simple pictures for small babies. It teaches colors and animal names for the older ones. And the repetition is easy to learn for preschoolers so you can "share" reading it. The child says "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?" And you can answer "I see a red bird looking at me." Then the child asks again "Red bird, red bird, what do you see?" And so on. Then around kindergarten age, the simple repeating and predictable text becomes something your child can actually learn to read on his own. A wonderful book!