Thursday, May 27, 2010

This Week at the Liberry

Please forgive my slacker-ness. I just didn't get around to posting like I usually do. I need one of those round tuits.

Baby Time

The question came up today about when to "graduate" from Baby Time to Toddler Time. Once your "baby" is walking and not very interested in sitting in your lap any more, you can go ahead and take him/her to Toddler Time and see how it goes. Maybe your toddler will be a little overwhelmed at 12-13 months, or maybe he/she will absolutely love it. I'm sorry there's a little age gap between Baby Time and Toddler Time. Some children have gone easily from one to the other, but some need a couple more months to be ready for the activity level and crowd of Toddler Time. It's up to you - I'm fine with whatever works for you.

Toddler Time

I managed to use the bubble machine this week since the numbers have been down a little lately (except for Tuesday at 10:15 - that was crowded again). We managed to play with bubbles without any serious collisions, so I think a good time was had by all.

We read:
Duckie's Rainbow, by Frances Barry. The shapes and layered pages are entertaining. I just wish it had said "purple" instead of "indigo" and "violet".
Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown. Such a wonderful classic! I told the kids I hoped they wouldn't fall asleep while I read it to them. When I was done, I asked them if they had fallen asleep. Several said yes, and one girl said "And I was snoring!"

Preschool Storytime

Our theme was "Dinosaurs", and if there's any subject that gets the kids excited, it's dinosaurs! They just can't contain themselves and have to tell me their favorite dinosaurs and all the interesting facts they know about the T Rex or Triceratops. Our books were:

Whatever Happened to the Dinosaurs, by Bernard Most. They thought this was pretty funny - the dinosaurs on Mars or sneaking around while they're asleep.
Dinosaur Roar!, by Paul Stickland. A good book for introducing opposites.
Dinosaurs, A Scholastic First Discovery Book, by Gallimard Jeunesse. I paraphrased this book while we looked at the cool transparent layering pages.
Big Book of Dinosaurs, by Angela Wilkes. This is the Dorling Kindersley book. Nice and big with very cool pictures.
Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs, by Ian Whybrow. Harry loves his bucketful of dinosaur toys, especially because he knows all their names!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This Week at the Library

Froggy update: They've all hatched and I swear they double in size every day! I think there's about two dozen of them. I'm feeding them spinach so they'll grow up big and strong. They're swimming happily - at least I think I can see smiles on their faces...

Preschool Storytime

Our theme this week was "Blankets." Or as we all decided - "Blankies." I brought a bunch of blanket/blankies from home and we talked about knitted ones, quilts, and the One Special Blankie. My daughter Lauren still has her blankie; in fact, it still lives on her bed. We looked at her favorite corner, all worn through and holey (almost "holy" but not quite). And we talked about how a blanket becomes a blankie. So from then on I had to replace the words in the stories to make sure we distinguished between simple non-special blankets, and oh-so-very-special blankies.

Franklin's Blanket, by Paulette Bourgeois. Franklin absolutely can not sleep without his blankie so his friends offer alternatives and his Dad loans him his old blankie. I love that!
Cry Baby, by Ruth Brown. The Little Sister is a big cry baby, dragging her blankie along, until she discovers it has completely unravelled. She decides to solve her problem herself by following the string all the way back to its beginning.
Puppy Mudge Loves His Blanket, by Cynthia Rylant. Puppy Mudge is lucky because he can follow his nose to find his blankie.
Flora's Blanket, by Debi Gliori. Flora's not so lucky when she loses her blanket since she doesn't have a dog nose.
Owen, by Kevin Henke. Owen is starting school soon and his parents can't figure out how to break his blankie habit.

Toddler Time

Where was everyone this week? Very small groups compared to usual!

We did a new rhyme today.

This is the Way We Blow a Balloon
This is the way we blow a balloon
Blow, blow, blow
This is the way we pop a balloon
Oh, oh, no!

We read a giant version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle and practiced going "omglomnlflimglp" when the caterpillar ate the fruit. (How would you spell it?) And we practiced saying "But he was still hungry!" They were quite enthusiastic.

We also read My Car, by Byron Barton. At one point the book says "I stop for pedestrians." Of course they didn't know that word, so we talked about its meaning. I pointed out to the parents that we shouldn't avoid or simplify vocabulary like that. The little ones are capable of learning big words, even when they can't pronounce it themselves, and they're very proud of their big vocabulary when they do master it. Encourage them!

Baby Time

Hooray for bubbles, books, and the Hokey Pokey! We had a mom on maternity leave happen in to the library today with baby and her preschooler. She was disappointed she hadn't heard about our programs earlier since she only had two weeks of leave left. Please spread the word so more moms can enjoy it before they go back to work or their kids "age" out (usually about the time they learn to walk).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Froggy Update

The tadpoles started hatching on Friday. You won't believe how fast they're growing! Come see them this week. Does anyone besides me call them "pollywogs"?

Becoming a Storyteller

No, not me. Your child! Helping your child become a storyteller is a great way to help your child learn to read and write.

At Toddler Time last week we did "This Little Piggy" on the children's fingers. First we do it the classic way - the piggy goes to market, stays home, has roast beef, has none, goes wee wee all the way home. While learning this rhyme is good for learning sequencing, it really doesn't have a whole lot of meaning for the child. What's going to market? What's roast beef? But if you've been to Toddler Time and experienced what we do next with the rhyme, you've seen how it comes to life when we replace those phrases with familiar ones. This little piggy went to the zoo. (Yay!) This little piggy stayed home. (Oh, poor thing!) This little piggy had watermelon. (Yum!) This little piggy had none. (Why not?) Now the sequence means something to the child, and they can have fun replacing the phrases with favorite places and foods, and even silly ideas, like eating mud or going to the moon!

Another fun literacy idea for threes and up is to make flannelboard pieces of a folk or fairy tale for them to retell the story with. Cover a cheap bulletin board, or even some sturdy cardboard with a big piece of felt and buy some felt squares of different colors at Michael's or JoAnn's. Check out a copy of The Three Little Pigs, or Goldilocks or Little Red Riding Hood and look at the pictures for inspiration. Draw the figures on felt and cut them out. Maybe stick on some googly eyes. That's all it takes. Your child really does not care if it's a work of art. Now sit with your child and tell the story, moving the figures around the board. Be sure to use funny voices and dramatic sound effects! Then ask your child to tell the story. Encourage him or her in any effort, and don't worry if pieces of the story are left out. Believe me, this will quickly become a favorite activity!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I'm getting tired of "This Week at the Library."

Preschool Storytime

Yes, our theme this week was "Frogs." My daughter and I went down to a nearby pond to look for tadpoles to bring in for the kids. Either they're late, or I'm doing Frogs earlier than usual. There were no tadpoles, only eggs! So Lauren held on to one hand, I stuck my foot into the firmest mud I could find and I reached out to pluck a wad of eggs out of the muck. I actually didn't fall in! This was Monday afternoon. The eggs were just tiny round pinhead dots in a ball of clear jelly. Tuesday I showed them to the group. The eggs spent the night on the library office shelf, and when I came in Wednesday they had already grown into little black curls. Today (Thursday) I can even see heads and tails and they're starting to squirm. I'm amazed! I won't be surprised if they're hatched by tomorrow.

I'll bring them in each week until they develop into frogs so the kids can watch the process. I do this every year and it's very fun. This is the first year, though, that we've gotten to start with eggs.

Our books were:

From Tadpole to Frog, by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld. We just looked at the pictures in this book, which do a great job of illustrating tadpole development.
Jump, Frog, Jump, by Robert Kalan. It was fun shouting "Jump, frog, jump!" at the top of our lungs. Reading this cumulative story can be exhausting, however!
The Wide-Mouthed Frog, by Keith Faulkner. A fantastic pop-up book. I was pleased that many of the kids remembered learning this story a few weeks ago.
The Red-Eyed Tree Frog, by Joy Cowley. Wonderful photography - and suspense too!
Frog and Toad Together, by Arnold Lobel. I read "The Story" from this book. Got a lot of giggles when Toad poured water over his head and banged his head on the wall.

The flannelboard story was Froggy Gets Dressed, by Jonathan London. Anytime you can use the word "underwear" will be a hit with the kids.

Toddler Time

Where was everyone this week? Very small groups!

It's been fun lately to see some children who have been silent and shy in the past find their words and blossom! Downright chatty! I love it.

Our stories were:

The Chick and the Duckling, by Mirra Ginsburg. Every time I asked "What will the chick say?" one little boy said "Quack, quack!"
Cookie's Week, by Cindy Ward. One group said "Ewww" every time I turned the page, and another group said "Boooom!" on every page. Funny!

Baby Time

Today we all got to read Brown Bear, Brown Bear to the babies. I pointed out what a valuable book this is in so many ways, and how it grows with your child. First, it teaches colors and animal names. Then the repetitive and rhythmic text helps your child memorize the words and anticipate what is coming next, an important pre-reading skill. Finally, because there are so few different words in the book, it is easy for a beginning reader to master. Simple genius!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Funny Story

I don't usually tell personal stories unrelated to Storytime, but I couldn't pass this up. I was out of town all weekend and came home Monday afternoon. My poor husband was sick in bed - not getting up at all, not wanting to talk.

This morning I got up to get my daughter off to school. Hubby still not up. On the kitchen counter was a small brown paper bag. Inside I found a beautifully decorated cookie - icing, sprinkles, the works. I knew hubby had assisted at a women's brunch at church on Saturday, so I figured he brought this little gem home for me or my daughter. I decided to put it in my daughter's lunch for her dessert.

Between storytimes this morning I noticed a text from Dave. "Did you know the cookie in the paper bag on the counter was a dog cookie for Harley?" Uh-oh! Actually, I busted up laughing! I asked him if Lauren knew it was a dog cookie. No, he said, and I think you should call her. I considered that - hmmm, call her to warn her not to eat it, or let her find it, possibly take a bite, and have a great story to tell when she gets home? I was leaning toward the great story when Dave said he really thought I should call. So I called the school office and told it all to my friend the secretary. She laughed pretty hard too. She called the classroom and asked to talk to Lauren. Of course the class was extremely curious as they watched her face, and she got to tell a pretty good story after all. They laughed, and one boy asked if he could have the cookie. No, she said, the dog gets it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This Week at the Library

First of all, I have to tell you my incredibly exciting news! Scholastic Professional is going to publish my book! And Then...Cliffhanger Stories to Ignite the Imagination has been under development for about four or five years, percolating through my brain and going through several incarnations. I submitted it to Scholastic as a professional resource book in January and got a phone call yesterday that they were interested. I spoke to an editor this morning and it all looks good! No contract signed yet, but I'm very encouraged! Say a prayer for me!

Back to Library news:

Baby Time

What a nice big group we had today! Lots of regulars, a few newcomers, and adorable babies from seven weeks old to one year. The main topic of discussion today seemed to be sleep habits. I guess my main bit of advice is "This too shall pass." Whatever phase they're in right now, they won't be in a little while. I don't know of too many five-year-olds who still wake Mommy up every couple of hours.

Toddler Time

I'm beginning to see a pattern with the children who have graduated from Baby Time to Toddler Time. Most little ones who start coming when they're about 14 months old spend several weeks just watching and adjusting before they're ready to dive in and participate. The ones who started with Baby Time and then graduated to Toddler Time seem ready to get in there right away. They're doing the hand clapping and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes like old pros right off the bat. So cool!

Our stories this week were:

How Do I Put It On?, by Shigeo Watanabe. They loved the ridiculousness of the images of the bear putting his cap on his foot or his shoes on his ears.
Spots, Feathers and Curly Tails, by Nancy Tafuri. I wish you could have seen their proud faces when they guessed right which animal was in the picture.

Preschool Storytime

Our theme for the week was "Mothers" in honor of Mother's Day.

Just For You, by Mercer Mayer. Little Critter has such a hard time doing his mom a favor!
A Mother for Choco, by Keiko Kasza. Choco discovers a true mother is one who acts like one, not just one who looks like one.
Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. I read recently how some adults hate this story and think it's creepy. They obviously don't understand Robert Munsch's writing. It's meant to be silly, and I don't think the mom crawling across her grown son's bedroom floor and rocking him in the middle of the night is supposed to be taken seriously. I mean really! That needs to be separated from the touching "moral of the story," that a mom (or a dad) is a mom forever, and your child is your child forever, no matter how many years pass. And yes, one mom admitted that she wiped a tear away at the end of that book.
Only My Mom and Me, by Alissa Capucilli. The fold out pages really hold the kids' attention, as well as guessing which season comes next.
Is Your Mama a Llama?, by Deborah Guarino. We talked about rhyming words to help us guess the name of the animal with this Big Book.

We sang the Baby Bumblebee song:

I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee.
Won't my mommy be so proud of me.
I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee.
Ouch! He stung me!

I'm squishing up the baby bumblebee.
Won't my mommy be so proud of me.
I'm squishing up the baby bumblebee.
Ew! It's yucky!

I'm wiping off the baby bumblebee.
Won't my mommy be so proud of me.
I'm wiping off the baby bumblebee.
There! That's better!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Now You Too Can Use Big Words

How about "Phonological Awareness"? This is a wonderfully geeky way of saying your child can hear the different parts of a word - that "dog" sounds like "duh aw guh" Children usually start with hearing the beginning sounds of words most easily. That's why babies will babble "duh duh duh" for a dog - or a duck. They probably don't hear the difference between the "g" and the "k" at the end. That comes later.

Scientists (or "They") say that learning nursery rhymes as little tots helps with phonological awareness. All that Hickory, Dickory Dock and Eensy Weensy Spider really does make a difference! When those rhymes and songs with nonsense words and silly patterns are repeated over and over, the syllables and sounds imprint in their brains and help them hear the parts of words. This is an important pre-reading skill. Children need to be able to hear the three sounds of the word "dog" before they can know which letter goes with which sound.

So keep coming to Storytime! Bring your little ones as early as you can! Even if your child just sits on your lap and watches, it's all sinking in.

Now can you make your toddler say "Phonological Awareness"?