Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Week at the Library

Yet another booger story. While I read a book this week, another sweet young thing was mining for gold and found a choice nugget. I saw her staring at it on the tip of her finger and was wondering if she was going to offer it to me. She had just started reaching toward me when the little girl next to her saw it and asked, "Is that yours?" Had to laugh again. Reading time was over and we jumped up and moved on to other things. Never saw what happened to the little prize.

Baby Time

We had a nice big group today. Two sisters who are married to identical twins came today with their babies. Does that mean their babies are genetically half siblings? Hmmmm. Got me curious.

It was great fun to have my niece join us with her new baby. We also had a dad come with his daughter. We're definitely not a "Mom and Baby" time, so be sure other dads know they're welcome!

Toddler Time

I hope you sing our songs and say our rhymes at home with your child sometimes. When your child memorizes these little bits it definitely promotes their reading readiness and helps their language development.

Our books were:

Three Little Kittens, by Lorianne Siomades. I was able to introduce rhyming words by having them repeat "kittens, mittens" a few times.
Fire Truck, by Peter Sis. I hope this book doesn't creep anyone out when Matt's body becomes a distorted, lopsided shape. Reminds me of Dr. Who for some reason. But the children had fun with the idea of a fire truck eating pancakes.

Preschool Storytime

The Farm was our theme this week, so of course we used the letter "f" to say our opening rhyme. I realize I've never posted the words to it, so here it is:

I wiggle my fingers.
I wiggle my toes.
I wiggle my shoulders.
I wiggle my nose.
Now no more wiggles are left in me,
And I will sit still,
As still as can be.

Our books were:

Book! Book! Book!, by Deborah Bruss. Of course, I love this one! Especially because it has an illustration of the Story Lady at Storytime!
The Very Busy Spider, by Eric Carle. Mr. Genius teaches how a spider spins a web and entertains with all the animal sounds.
Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep, by Teri Sloat. Here we learn about how a sheep's wool gets turned into sweaters, along with giggling at the naked sheep's tushy.
The Cow That Went Oink, by Bernard Most. This is a very hard book to read aloud, but it sure had the kids laughing.

The flannelboard story was "Tops and Bottoms" by Janet Stevens. This is a Caldecott Honor book, so be sure to check out the book version and enjoy the illustrations.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Pet Peeve

I'm a huge fan of alphabet books. My daughter learned all her letters by 17 months due to an alphabet book that just "clicked" with her. However, my huge pet peeve is alphabet books designed to be pretty, and not with the child's actual learning in mind. I get it that some of these books have a different educational goal in mind, like the ABC's of endangered species, but some products seem to be genuinely trying to teach the letters, yet don't seem to have the foggiest notion of phonics.

Letters have sounds. A few letters make more than one sound, but one sound is the most common. When learning to read, we don't start with exceptions, we start with the fundamentals. So WHY do some alphabet books use "chair" for "c" or "owl" for "o"?

Children learning their letters are very young. They have very little life experience. So WHY show a picture of jacks for the letter "j"? Why show them an infant for "i" when any child will call it a baby?

Almost all the letters make their sound when you say their names. "G" and "C" don't, and using the soft sounds in an alphabet book can confuse them with "j" and "s," so I would use their hard sounds. They are most common. Vowels I can accept either way. They say their own names, but the first words kids learn to read will use their short sounds - dog, cat, bed, etc.

WHY doesn't anyone ask ME before writing these books? If they had, here are my choices for each letter:

A - apple
B - ball
C - cat
D - dog
E - elephant
F - frog
G - grapes
H - horse
I - igloo
J - jack-in-the-box
K - king
L - lion
M - monkey
N - nest
O - octopus
P - pig
Q - queen
R - ring
S - Santa Claus
T - turtle
U - umbrella
V - volcano
W - wagon
X - x-ray
Z - zebra

OK, now I feel better.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This Week at the Library

Baby Time

We had such a pleasant time this week. The two older siblings played quietly or used their stuffed animal friends as their babies and did the rhymes alongside Mom. The real babies smiled and enjoyed the songs, books and bubbles. Stay and Play time was great as we discussed developmental milestones and movies.

Please spread the word to your friends to come and enjoy Baby Time. The window of time for these babies to participate is short - only about 9 months.

Toddler Time

I got handed a booger again this week. A little one was mining for gold during our book time, and when we all got up, she held out her finger. She said, "I have a booger." I said, "Go give it to your mom." She turned and headed back to mom and mom's friend. They only heard me tell her, "Give it to your mom," so they were wondering what she had for them. When she held out her finger, the look of shock on their faces was priceless! I cracked up.

The books we read this week were:

Daisy's Hide and Seek, by Jane Simmons. Oh the suspense! (Except for the kids on Thursday who were also here on Tuesday.)
It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles Shaw. I got quite a few kids to say along with me, "But it WASN'T a mitten!"

Preschool Storytime

We had a good time reading about babies this week. Lots of humor and very giggly kids.

Baby Talk, by Fred Hiatt. This is the first time I've read this book at Storytime, and it was a huge hit! I've rarely had the kids laughing so hard I couldn't continue. They LOVED the ga ga goo goo stuff.
A Friend for Minerva Louise, by Janet Stoeke. Our favorite air head.
Pirate Don't Change Diapers, by Melinda Long. This was a first time for this book too. I read this only on Tuesday, and it seemed a little long and involved for their age. It would be great one-on-one at home.
Crispin and the 3 Little Piglets, by Ted Dewan. I love Crispin! This time, after he's surprised that his mom brings home all three of her babies, he learns to enjoy them after all.
Alligator Baby, by Robert Munsch. I love reading his books aloud. The silly characters and repeated lines make it so much fun. Grab a few of his books and go for it when you read to your kids at bedtime.

We did the fingerplay "5 Little Babies" which you can find in the labels on the right.

Monday, September 20, 2010

But WHY?

It's a cliche joke that our youngsters ask "Why? Why? Why?" until they drive us to distraction, but we also hear that it's important to answer kids' questions honestly. Then again, when they ask "Why is the sky blue?" is the correct answer an explanation about light refraction, or that God thinks it's a pretty color?

Actually, I want to talk about a different kind of "why?" My daughter asked me a little while ago what I think the most important parenting advice is. This wasn't a discussion about loving your kids, or supporting their dreams, it was more along the lines of day to day parenting. I told her I thought it was extremely important to help our children understand why they are told to behave in certain ways. I gave her the example of taking a young child out to a restaurant. We tell them to sit still, don't throw your food on the floor, be quiet. Those are all important things to teach them when eating in a restaurant. And, if we enforce it, they will learn to behave that way, probably because they know they'll get in trouble if they don't.

Yet, I think it's better to say, "You need to sit still because when you squirm around, it makes the people sitting with you uncomfortable, and we want them to enjoy eating with you." "Don't throw your food on the floor because then the poor restaurant workers have to clean up after you, and it isn't nice to make them have to do that." "Keep your voice quiet, because when you're loud, all the other people eating at this place are disturbed, and we want them to have a nice meal too." When that message is reinforced, your child will behave properly, not because he'll get in trouble if he doesn't, but because he's learned to be considerate of others.

Continue this into the teenage years, and instead of "Don't drink. Don't take drugs. Don't sleep around, or you'll get arrested or an STD or pregnant," you'll have a message of "What kind of person do you want to be? Look around you at the people who drink and take drugs. What does their future look like? What would it be like if you had a baby in high school or while you were preparing for your future at college?" Here's another powerful question - "Think about the kind of person you want to marry and be the father/mother of your children. Are you the kind of person he or she would pick?"

"Why?" can be a very powerful question.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This Week at the Library

We had a great week - lots of new kids, fun books and parents happy to participate. You're all fantastic Hokey-Pokiers. (Like that word!)

Preschool Storytime

The kids learned a new word this week (not Hokey-Pokier) - "Curiosity." I'm sure many of them had heard the word "curious," but no one volunteered a definition, so I told them it means that you really want to find something out, really want to know something. Each of the books I read either had them curious, or had our other idea of the week, a "surprise" in it.

Hi, Pizza Man!, by Virginia Walter. A child is waiting for a pizza delivery. What if it's not a pizza man? What if it's a pizza kitty? Or a pizza dinosaur?
How Many Bugs in a Box?, by David Carter. They weren't curious about how many bugs, just what kind of bugs. They especially love the very long necked bugs that fit in that thin, thin, box.
Special Delivery, by Brigitte Weninger. Oh, are they ever curious about what's in that box!
Is Your Mama a Llama?, by Deborah Guarino. They like figuring out the name of the animal by listening for the rhyme - feel/seal, that/cat.

I also used picture cards to tell the story "The Lion's Tail." Poor Lion can't find his tail. Where is it? He's sitting on it!

We used "peek-file" pictures. A tiny window is cut in a file folder with a picture behind it. The children have to guess what the animal is based on the little piece they see.

We sang "I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee" because the bee surprises us when it stings.

Finally, I had a box with an object in it. I rattled it, shook it, slid the object around inside and generally tormented the kids while they tried to guess what it was. It was the stamp for stamping their hands.

Toddler Time

Some of you may wonder why I go to the trouble of letting the children ask for specific colors of pompoms or scarves or maracas when we come to that point in the program. There are several reasons. First, naming the colors is a good language learning time for them. Also, making their way to the front and asking for a baton is a good way for them to learn to manage in a group setting. But most importantly, to me, is learning manners. The more outgoing children usually start by saying (or shouting) "I want green! I want green!" or "PINK! PINK! PINK!" This doesn't offend me because I know it's a pretty natural way for them to try to get what they want. I also don't allow them to grab. With the little ones, I tell them "Say 'Green please.'" When they come up to me one week and say "Green, please," I comment on their nice words and give them the color they want. With older children, especially the older siblings, I tell them to say, "May I have pink, please?" And I let them know I notice when they say it on their own. It's a simple thing, but what a difference it makes to hear polite requests out of small children's mouths. It will serve them well in the future.

Our books this week were:

Come Along, Daisy!, by Jane Simmons. This is a great book for teaching little ones not to run off.
Lemons Are Not Red, by Laura Seeger. As it teaches colors, this book also entertains by showing blue grass and purple carrots.

Baby Time

I've had parents asking about what the upper age limit is for Baby Time. There is no age limit, just a developmental one. When your baby is walking and no longer interested in staying in your lap for the bouncy rhymes and fingerplays, then try Toddler Time. There may be a gap of a couple of months when Toddler Time is a little too intimidating, or your child just wants to run laps around the dais, but if he's willing to sit and watch, give it a try. He's learning, even if he's not "participating." I know the website and published library materials say 18 months, but I'm fine with you bringing your child earlier than that.

Friday, September 10, 2010

This Week at the Library

It was great to see so many new faces this week! Many new moms, grandparents and kids trying out Storytime. If you're visiting this blog for the first time, and you're new to our programming, check out the postings under the labels "What Moms Do," "Participation," and the post "Which Storytime Should I Come To?" under the label "Preschool Storytime."

Toddler Time

I wondered how busy the different sessions would be this week with school starting. Thursday was huge! I guess because some regular Tuesday folks were busy getting kids out the door so they bumped it to Thursday, but then again, there were lots of new faces. Welcome!

Our books this week were:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, by Bill Martin, Jr. They were really good at saying the repetitive lines!
No, David!, by David Shannon. Did you know this book is autobiographical? The author has a little snippet at the very beginning about that. Funny!

Baby Time

I saw two little babies "discover" each other for the first time. One just stared, rather transfixed. The other got so excited she flapped her arms and kicked her legs and squealed. They were so cute!

Preschool Storytime

We were all about "Bears" this week. We went on a "Bear Hunt" and traipsed through grass, mud, a river, a forest and a cave before spotting a bear. But WE WEREN'T AFRAID!

Our books were:

Where's My Teddy?, by Jez Alborough. I love the perfect poetry in this book. It flows so naturally and is so easy to read aloud. I've always admired that in children's books, and I wish I could do it!
Panda and Polar Bear, by Matthew J. Baek. This story has a very subtle lesson about insecurity at meeting new friends. Will he like me? Even when he finds out X or Y or Z about me?
Bear's Picture, by Daniel Pinkwater. I love this book because I imagine how frustrated children must be when adults can't figure out what the child's picture is OBVIOUSLY about. I also love the surprise ending.
Big Black Bear, by Wong Herbert Yee. I like the surprise ending here too, that "Big" black bear is really just a child bear misbehaving.

I told the story on the flannelboard of Kiss Good Night, by Amy Hest. Another bit of a surprise ending where the children have to figure out what the little bear is waiting for at bed time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Back to School!

Just a quick note to say Happy Back to School! It's a big day for parents as well as kids, especially those parents who are sending their kids to Big School for the first time. I remember well the odd feeling of "Where's my daughter?! Oh yeah, at school." You wonder the whole time if your child is doing okay, having a good time, following the rules, making friends, etc., etc. How can they possibly exist without you there, watching and guiding? Take a deep breath, relax, let your child grow up. They can do it. Trust your good parenting, and greet them with a huge smile when they get home!

Friday, September 3, 2010

This Week at the Library

I realize I haven't been posting as much lately. My mind has been pretty occupied with getting my final manuscript to my editor. (It's so cool to be able to say that!) But it's almost finished, and the other weird feeling is knowing that for the first time in about three years, I won't be working on "And Then..." Well, actually I suppose in a few weeks time I'll get notes from the editor on all the changes I need to make, but that will be a whole new phase. I do have a couple of picture book ideas to work on, so on to the next big thing!

Baby Time

I tell the parents all the time that I'm really not just unimaginative when we do the same rhymes over and over. The repetition is for the sake of the babies. I'm already seeing recognition on the faces of those who have been coming regularly for several weeks. Big grins when we start a bouncy rhyme.

Toddler Time

Every once in a while the parents really get into singing along with songs like "Drive the Firetruck" or "Bounce Upon My Knees," and I just love it. It creates an amazing atmosphere of "Hey kids, we're all in this together with you!" And such good singers! It sounds like a choir!

Our books this week were:

No Biting, by Karen Katz. This author is a genius at baby books. This gets the non-violence message across in perfect toddler terms.

Eyes, Nose, Fingers and Toes, by Judy Hindley. The children were great at participating in this book. I always try to find a way to make books interactive with this age. It keeps them involved and interested.

Preschool Storytime

Our stories this week were about birthdays. I timed this theme so Storytime would land on my actual birthday this year. It was fun to tell the kids, "Guess what! Today is my real birthday!" Then a boy says, "How old are you?" When I told him I wasn't telling, another darling child said, "Sixty!" Sigh....

We got to read lots of short books:

When I Was Five, by Arthur Howard. A child's perspective on maturing.
Benny Bakes a Cake, by Eve Rice. I always feel so sorry for little Benny when his dog eats the birthday cake.
The Secret Birthday Message, by Eric Carle. What are those stories called? (Quick Google search.) A rebus! Yes, this story is told rebus-style, then uses shaped pages to unfold the mystery. Cool!
Happy Birthday, Mouse!, by Richard Fowler and David Wood. I think this counting story has a subtle message of being grateful for presents, even if you don't particular want or need them.
The Fairytale Cake, by Mark Sperring. This book manages to include a huge assortment of fairy tale, folk tale, and Mother Goose characters on the pages. More than I can identify!

I told the story of Little Gorilla, by Ruth Bornstein, on the flannelboard.