Thursday, April 29, 2010

This Week at the Library

I have to admit that Tuesday I was a little off my game - too sleep-deprived and muddle-headed. But still, it was wonderful to see my little friends after two weeks.

Preschool Storytime

Our theme was "Food" this week. And here's another admission: Like I said, I was muddle-headed on Tuesday. A couple of the books I read I had taken from the library shelves instead of a storykit, so after Storytime I checked them out and took them to my car. Instead of leaving them in my car, I took them into my house. Can you see this coming a mile away? On Wednesday, I left for the library, looked in my closet for my books, and lo and behold, I was missing two! Where could they possibly be?! Oh yeah, at home. Quick! Plan B.

So if you see books on this list that you didn't hear, that's why.

Eat Up Gemma, by Sarah Hayes. Little Gemma won't eat until her brother finds the solution.
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, by Don Wood. This is a huge favorite. The illustrations always make the kids giggle.
Duck Soup, by Jackie Urbanovic. Duck's friends think he fell in the soup pot!
Little Pea, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Oh no! Little Pea won't eat his candy. No spinach for him!
Yummers!, by James Marshall. Emily pig has a tummy ache. Must be all that exercise, not the massive quantities of food she ate.
Bunny Cakes, by Rosemary Wells. How does Max write "Red Hot Marshmallow Squirters"? And will Grandma eat the earthworm birthday cake with caterpillar icing?
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff. Just a simple cookie, that's all.

The flannelboard story was our old favorite The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. The kids were so expressive when they said "But he was still hungry!"

We sang the story "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly". In case you can't remember, the order of the animals is: fly, spider (that wiggles and jiggled and tickled inside her), bird, cat, dog, goat, cow, horse.

We also did the fingerplay "Way Up High" that you can find in the labels to the right.

Toddler Time

I'm seeing lots of new faces lately! Welcome to you all!

Our books this week were:

Pete's a Pizza, by William Steig. Sometimes the kids laugh, other times they are deadly serious. I think they're trying to figure out if Pete really is a pizza.
Dinosaur Roar, by Paul Stickland. Always a hit. There's just something about dinosaurs that grabs them every time.

Baby Time

Lots of big brothers and sisters today, which is fine. We give them toys on the other side of the room, or stuffed animals to use as their own "babies".

If you hear of a rhyme or song you'd like us to do at Baby Time, please suggest it to me. I'd love to include it!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Glad To Be Back

It's been a long time since my last post. Sorry about that! I got back very late Monday night - Lauren and I almost had to spend the night in the Las Vegas airport - and I've been playing catch-up ever since.

The Veritas 8th graders were wonderful, the weather was nice (except for Wednesday) and the sights in D.C. and surrounding areas were fantastic. I got to see my brother's home in New Jersey for the first time and catch up with my grown niece and nephew. I learned a lot of history, saw some great stuff and missed my husband.

I'm glad to be home! Smiling faces on the kids yesterday and today. I even got a sweet note with a hug and kiss!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Best Toys

To me, the best toys are the ones that fire the imagination. I always steered my kids away from the toys that only did one thing. "You'll be tired of that in an hour," I'd tell them. One of my all-time favorites is Playmobil, the figures in the blue and white boxes that create worlds for acting out all kinds of stories. Sara, my now 20-year-old started collecting Playmobil figures when she was a toddler. She got the Indian set with the teepee and the campfire, the operating room with the ambulance, the playground with really cool swings and a merry-go-round, and lots of horses, including a gorgeous carriage and a farm wagon. Of course, many people came with all these sets and she would spend hours acting out the stories of these characters' lives. Every gift-giving occasion brought more characters (animal or human) or equipment.

My daughters are six years apart, so by the time my now 14-year-old was old enough for the toys, Sara was ready to pass them on to her sister. Lauren got the whole collection as a Christmas or birthday present one year. More gift-giving occasions came along, more allowance money was spent, and the collection grew. She and her friends had the playroom floor covered with ongoing worlds for days at a time, maybe weeks at a time. Hair was switched from head to head, accessories passed from figure to figure. Lauren could rummage through a huge bin of Playmobil for exactly the right miniscule piece she was looking for. We had to get sets of drawers so we could organize it into a people drawer, an animal drawer, an accessories drawer, a big stuff drawer. We got the school bus, the modern house, the stable. Oh happy day that we got the Peter Pan set! She lived and breathed Peter Pan for several years as a preschooler, and one day we spotted a Playmobil set with a figure in green, a pirate, a sidekick with a red and white striped shirt, even a treasure chest and a tiny parrot. Perfect! Along the way we added lots of magical figures - a dragon or two, fairies with magic wands, a wizard.

One thing I so appreciate about Playmobil is that they never use licensed characters. Can you imagine a Spongebob line or Barney figure? 99% of the children's imagination would be squelched if the characters were recognizable as movie or TV or even book personalities. With Lauren, the Peter Pan set was something she still had to use her imagination to identify, and I'm so glad they weren't exactly like the Disney characters.

The day came when Lauren sat down with her figures and said, "Mom, I've done every story there is to do, and I can't think of any more." It was time to put it all away. Sad day for me, but I knew it was coming soon. We sorted it all, boxed it up and put it in the attic where it awaits the next generation. Can't wait to see the two girls duke it out someday. "I get the red dragon, you get the green one." "You get the carriage, I get the teepee!" "You get the ambulance, I get the school bus!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

This Week at the Library

Preschool Storytime

I made a boo-boo this week. I was supposed to do an "Eggs" theme, since most of the kids probably did an Easter egg hunt last week, but I failed to request the books in time. So "Eggs" will be next week instead.

I decided to do a storytime on "Threes" this week to take its place. I've had this in mind for a while. Have you ever noticed how many old fables or fairy tales have threes in them? Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Three Little Kittens, even The Three Musketeers. Then there are the wonderful variations of these famous stories. I picked a few of my favorites (let me know if you have a different favorite) and shared them with the kids.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, by James Marshall. It's the traditional story, but told with his trademark wit.
Somebody and the Three Blairs, by Marilyn Tolhurst. I have a tape of this one, told well and with fun sound effects.
The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, by Eugene Trivizas. I think this book is hysterical. Maybe more than the kids do, but they were pretty entertained by it too.
The Three Little Kittens, by Lorianne Siomades. A slightly simplified version, but with cute illustrations.

I wanted to do the Three Billy Goats Gruff, but the other stories are long and I ran out of time.

Part of the goal of the theme was to stretch the kids critical thinking by having them think about the original story (I quickly told the traditional story of the Three Little Pigs before I read The Three Little Wolves), and then compare it to a variation. I must say they sat very attentively through these long books. Usually there's some rug-rolling going on when one story goes particularly long, but they were fascinated.

One writing technique that also holds the kids' interest in these stories is the repetitive language. "Too hot...too cold...just right." "Somebody went into the house...Somebody looked for something to eat." "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down!" "Not for all the tea leaves in my china teapot!"

We also did the "Three Little Kittens" fingerplay with the puppies creeping up to the kittens. You can find the words to it in the labels to the right.

Toddler Time

I just love seeng the children grow and develop from the littlest, rather overwhelmed, still unsteady on the feet toddlers, to almost-four year olds who know all the songs and fingerplays and race into the room to show me their new shoes and can tell me what comes next in "If You're Happy and You Know It".

Our stories this week were:

The Three Little Kittens, by Lorianne Siomades. Bright simple pictures are very attractive to toddlers.
Daisy's Hide and Seek, by Jane Simmons. The suspense just kills them!

Baby Time

We have a contingent that's been coming for several months and the little infants are looking more and more like little boys and girls now! Please spread the word among your friends that this is a great place to make friends, teach your babies and get great tips. Older siblings are welcome too!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

This Week at the Library

Ha! I managed to be on time this week!

Preschool Storytime

However, I could say that our theme at Preschool Storytime was a couple of weeks late. It was "Green Things." Of course, I would have liked to have done this closer to St. Patrick's Day, but I guess I didn't request the storykit early enough and someone else had dibs on it. The stories are still a lot of fun and worth it even if the holiday is long past.

The Aminal, by Lorna Balian. This is the literary version of the telephone game.

Scarlette Beane, by Karen Wallace. Now that's what I call a green thumb! Love the vegetable castle!

Anna and the Little Green Dragon, by Klaus Baumgart. I didn't get to this one on Wednesday. Check it out if you came that day. He's a very naughty dragon and you don't find out he's just a baby til the very end.

I did Picky Mrs. Pickle, by Christine Schneider on the flannel board. I always debate whether to do the flannel version or the book. The book has such great illustrations with so much detail that adds to the story, but of course the multi-media technique is always a welcome variation. Please check this one out of the library so you can enjoy the pictures - like Mrs. Pickle vacuuming the lawn.

We also learned to tell the story of the Wide-Mouthed Frog. This is a fantastic educational activity! Your child must sequence the story, memorize parts and use characterization in his/her voice. These are wonderful public speaking skills, and it's never to early to start working on it! I'll put a quick version down here for you so you can help your child practice.

The Wide-Mouthed Frog

"I'm a wide-mouthed frog, and I eat flies," said the wide-mouthed frog. He hopped along until he met a blue-feathered bird. "I'm a wide-mouthed frog, and I eat flies. What do you eat, bird?"

"I eat juicy slugs and snails," said the blue-feathered bird.

He hopped along until he met a furry brown mouse. "I'm a wide-mouthed frog, and I eat flies. What do you eat, mouse?"

"I eat crunchy seeds and juicy berries," said the mouse.

He hopped along until he met an alligator. "I'm a wide-mouthed frog, and I eat flies. What do you eat, alligator?"

"I eat delicious wide-mouthed frogs," said the alligator.

The frog scrunched his mouth up as small as could be and said, "Oh, is that so?" And he hopped into the water with a splash!

Toddler Time

I absolutely loved it when the Wednesday kids lay down on the floor at the end of "Five Little Monkeys" and pretended to be the monkeys who fell off the bed! So cute!

We read:

Come Along, Daisy!, by Jane Simmons. This is a great book for you parents who have kids who don't "stay close."

Sometimes It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles Shaw. They like guessing the pictures, and the challenge to say "But it wasn't a rabbit/squirrel/birthday cake, etc. is good language practice for the littlest ones.

Baby Time

One thing I love about Baby Time is the chance for new moms to connect with each other, and to welcome new residents to Sherwood. That was our privilege this week when we got to extol the virtues of Snyder Park, the Robin Hood Festival and MudPuddles Toy store.