Monday, July 21, 2014

Reading Wildly: Reader's Choice

For our July meeting of Reading Wildly, we did Reader's Choice again. Summer is such a crazy time for us and my staff and I go home exhausted almost every day, so I want to make reading as fun and easy as possible... by giving my staff a choice! I did not assign an article for this month, but we'll get back into that in August. We were lucky to find a quiet afternoon that we could carve out an hour to talk about books. We're gearing up to reach out to our schools and hopefully set up some additional booktalking opportunities, so every Reading Wildly meeting is giving my staff another chance to practice their booktalks!

Here's what my staff and I read this month:

(Please note, many of these books are not pictured above because it is SUMMER and SO MUCH IS CHECKED OUT!)

Next month, we're talking about graphic novels (i.e. comics). This was a "genre" that was requested by my staff as we were planning for the Reading Wildly year. Even though graphic novels are always an option each month if they fit our genre, my staff does not tend to gravitate towards them. Designating a month to discussing graphic novels means they will have to try at least one, and they might find some they love! Plus, lots of our kids LOVE them, so it's definitely good for us to be familiar with popular and excellent comics. Since graphic novels are a little quicker to read than prose novels, I slotted this topic in for August while we're still recovering from Summer Reading. 

I assigned the article Using Graphic Novels with Childrens and Teens: A Guide for Teachers and Librarians from Scholastic's website. The article not only justifies using graphic novels with young people, but it suggests some titles, which I thought might help my staff get started. 

Whew! We're almost done with the summer rush - and into the fall rush! ;) 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Preschool Lab: Birds

This is the Preschool Lab I've been waiting all summer to do! I knew I wanted to do a bird program when I found the ukulele chords for Kookaburra, a song my mom used to sing to me all the time when I was a little girl. AND THEN I found out what Kookaburras actually sound like and I KNEW I had to share that with my kiddos. Here's what we did for this Preschool Lab:


Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray. This book includes lots of fun bird sounds and led really nicely into the kookaburra sounds I wanted to share with them.

Song: Kookaburra, sung with ukulele. I introduced the uke first since we have not yet used it a TON in storytime. I shouldn't be so shy to use it - it holds their attention SO WELL.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh, kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra
Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Eating all the gum drops he can see
Stop, kookaburra! Stop, kookaburra,
Save some gum for me!

Media: After I sang the song, I brought out my laptop and showed the kids this short video so they can hear what a kookaburra actually sounds like!

Before I started the clip, I let everyone know that I hoped they could see but if not, it was okay. I really wanted them to LISTEN to what the kookaburra sounds like.

Felt Story: The Most Wonderful Egg in the World by Helme Heine. Oh, they laughed and laughed at this funny story about hens trying to lay the most wonderful eggs!

Song: I Know a Chicken by Laurie Berkner with shaky eggs. Of course, a story about eggs lent itself beautifully to breaking out our shaky eggs and shaking them to this song. I played the song on CD and helped lead the kids in shaking their eggs like the song instructs.

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?

(As you can see, I only read one book, though I had two more pulled. There are so many great bird books! Check out Storytime Katie's bird storytimes (Birds 1 and Birds 2) for more ideas!)


Cheerio Bird Feeders. I found this idea on Here Comes the Sun via Pinterest and I love it because it is simple and cheap! I cut long pipe cleaners in half and got them started by curling one end around a Cheerio. I put out plain Cheerios and let the kids go to town. This is a great fine motor activity and hopefully it will encourage some bird-watching when families return home. (Also, it's not messy... no peanut butter, no honey. We did have some crushed Cheerios on the floor, but that was no big deal to sweep up.)

Feed the Baby Birds. This activity comes from Powerful Mothering and it's another simple activity great for developing fine motor skills and reinforcing science concepts. I made "baby birds" out of large pom poms (hot-glued on wiggle eyes and yellow felt beaks), "worms" out of white pipe cleaners (curl them around your finger), and "mommy birds" out of clothespins. Kids could use the clothespins to feed worms to the baby birds and move them around the "nest". I had a few friends who camped out at this station and didn't want to leave it behind! 

Bird Beaks. This one is from To the Moon and Back, adapted with what I had on hand. Each tool (slotted spoon, tweezers, clothespin) represents a different kind of beak you might find in the bird world. Which type of beak works best for each food? The foods I used were small pom poms (replacing the mini marshmallows that Dusty used because I was afraid those would get eaten), dry black beans (leftover from last week's sound program), and more of our pipe cleaner "worms". I tried to talk to kids as much as I could at this station because while they loved dumping everything in the water and stirring, it's not a very self-explanatory station. This might be a better station with a smaller group or one-on-one. 

We had our biggest crowd yet for this Preschool Lab (I counted 30 kids in the room) and I'm so happy to share a program I felt great about with such a great crowd! We only have one more week of summer Preschool Lab, and I'm definitely going to write up how the program went overall once we're done. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Preschool Lab: Sound

Last week at Preschool Lab, we explored the science of sound and we had lots of noisy fun. I purposefully skipped sound activities when we did the five senses since I knew that this one would be coming up. Here's what we did:


Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure by Wynton Marsalis, illustrated by Paul Rogers. This book is filled to the brim with fun sounds. I found the kids repeating them or saying them along with me. It's a great introduction to many of the sounds kids hear every day as well as some of the sounds you can hear in music, particularly jazz music. This is a fun one to read aloud, but make sure you practice first; some of the sound combinations can be a little tricky to sight-read.

There are tons of books that feature different kinds of sounds. I chose this one because I like the breadth of different sounds it includes.

Rhyme: Two Little Blackbirds

(Get out your pointer fingers - they'll be our blackbirds today!)
Two little blackbirds, sitting on a hill.
One named Jack and one named Jill.
Fly away Jack, fly away Jill. (put fingers behind your back, one at a time)
Come back Jack, come back Jill. (bring your fingers back to front, one at a time)

Then we repeated the rhyme, using Quiet and Loud to reinforce one of our sound concepts.

Two little blackbirds, sitting on a cloud.
[whisper] One named Quiet, [loudly] and one named Loud!
[whisper] Fly away, Quiet.
[loudly] Fly away, Loud!
[whisper] Come back, Quiet.
[loudly] Come back, Loud!

Book: Sounds All Around by Wendy Pfeffer, illustrated by Holly Keller. I did NOT read this entire book! I shared two spreads that talk about how sounds are made from vibrations and the sound waves travel through the air and vibrate the small bones in our ears. I asked the kids to put their fingers on their throats and hum to feel the vibrations. Then they put their fingers on their throats while they stayed quiet and then I asked them to hum again so they could feel the difference.

I also demonstrated the vibrations with a drum. I put some dry beans on one of our tambourines and hit it with a drum stick. The kids could hear the sound, but they could also see the beans jumping all over the place due to the vibrations!

Song with bells: I passed out the bells and we rang them high, low, in the middle. I asked them to ring them FAST and commented on how loud a sound we made. Then I asked them to ring them slow and commented on how that sound was much quieter. We repeated this and then I put on some music and asked the kids to ring their bells to the beat.

Instruments: Once I collected the bells, I demonstrated some of the other instruments I had collected. We had a triangle, sandpaper blocks, a tone block, and a rain stick. Each object made different sounds and I demonstrated some of the sounds they could make.

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?


Before we had free time to explore stations, I briefly explained the activities at each of them and I let parents know that since we were exploring sound it might get loud in the room. I know some kids are sensitive to noise and I understood if kids needed to take a break from our noisy room.

Instruments: I put out the instruments that I had demonstrated (along with tambourine) and allowed the kids to try them out. The triangle was particularly interesting because the kids could feel the vibrations through the string when they hit the instrument.

Sound Hangers: You can see one of our sound hangers in the photo with the instruments. I found this activity at Buggy and Buddy via Pinterest. I demonstrated how to hold the strings and cup your hands over your ears and let the hanger bang gently against the table. The sound travels up through the string and is amplified by your cupped hands. Since I knew it would probably get pretty loud in the room, I encouraged folks to take it just outside our room if it was too loud to hear.

Can Do! Science Kit. We purchased several of these science kits from Lakeshore Learning and this one has lots of fun activities for exploring sound. The small cardboard disks show different activities for the kids to do. 

Container Sounds. This was by far our most popular activity and (bonus!) it was the cheapest and the easiest to put together. I found the idea on The Pleasantest Thing via Pinterest. I purchased a bag of dry black beans and put out all kinds of different containers for kids to pour them into. What different sounds do the beans make as you pour them into different containers? I tried to find containers made from different materials - plastic cups, an aluminum bowl, a styrofoam egg carton, a ceramic mug - and different shapes - a plastic champagne flute, a plastic bowl, a plastic bag, etc. 

The kids had a blast pouring beans all over the place. I let parents know when I explained the stations that we'd have beans everywhere and it would be a big mess, but not to worry, I would clean it up after. Some kids spent 20 minutes at this table, no joke. I had parents telling me they were going to buy some beans on the way home. ;) (And it wasn't really to hard to clean up the beans afterwards!)

As usual, I let families explore the stations at their own pace while I circled and engaged kids in conversations about the activities they were doing. I had a book display and take-home papers with book lists and additional activities to do at home. 

It WAS very noisy, but it was also a lot of fun and learning. I had a bunch of older siblings at this session and they were engaged with the activities, too. Exploring sounds is lots of fun! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Preschool Lab: Colors

I wasn't here for last week's Preschool Lab, but luckily I have the awesome Miss TS who subbed for me and it looks like they had a great time! I had planned everything and had it all ready to go. The kids explored colors last week! Here's what they did:


Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont

Prop: Mixing Colors - I am sorry I don't have a source for this! If it's yours, let me know and I will credit you!

Book: Duckie's Rainbow by Frances Barry. I love to use our color scarves with this one and have kids wave their scarf when we get to their color. At the end, we all wave together and create a rainbow!

(There are millions of books about colors! Pick your favorites!)


I got tons of great ideas from Library Makers' Color Wonderworks program! Do click through and check out their post!

Scarves and Color Paddles. We put out color scarves and color paddles for experiments in color mixing and seeing the world in a different light.

Color Sorting Toys. This set was purchased through Lakeshore Learning for our Toddler Time program and it fit perfectly with this week's theme! Even if you don't purchase a kit, you could easily collect objects of different colors and create your own color sorting boxes.

Play Dough Mixing. We had lots of play dough left over from the play dough program we did earlier in the summer, so this was one of our stations. Kids could experiment with mixing different colors of play dough to see what colors they could make. Bonus: squeezing and kneading play dough together helps strengthen little hands, which contributes to fine motor control.

Color Pom Pom Drop. I got this idea from Princesses, Pies, & Preschool Pizzazz via Pinterest. I covered paper towel tubes in colored construction paper. Instead of affixing the tubes to poster board, I put a little velcro on the backs and stuck them to our felt board. It was super easy makes for easier storage. We put out colored pom poms and plastic tongs for kids to sort and put their pom poms through the appropriate tubes. Using the tongs helps strengthen hands and develop fine motor control. And everyone loves pom poms! I should have made labels with the color names, but I will definitely do that before we use them again.

Since we had so many stations and since I was pawning this program off on one of my unsuspecting librarians, we did not attempt the colored water station that Library Makers did. I think it would have been super popular! I'm sure we'll do colors again in the future and I'll be brave enough to try it.

Lots of colorful fun (and learning)!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Science Explorer Table at the ALSC Blog

Friends, I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about our Science Explorer Table that we've had out this summer. Click on through and give me some self-directed science activity ideas so we can keep this good thing going!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Reading Club Check-In #2

Yes, I'm back from ALA and back in the swing of things. The nice (and bad?) thing about ALA Annual being in the middle of the summer is that I miss a week of the Summer Reading Club. Luckily, I have a super staff to hold down the fort.

We have three weeks to go for our Summer Reading Club and I'm starting to wonder if it's too early to put up a back-to-school display. (It is too early. Our kids go back July 31. But next week I will put it up!) July is always slower for us than June. Many of our families take vacations in July and program attendance dwindles. We start winding down our programming and gearing up for outreach to the schools.

Here's what our staff reading "log" looks like at this point in the summer:

I'm going to need to move this one and start another one, I think!

To be honest, I have not had any patrons asking about books from our log this summer, so I'm not sure how well it worked as a reader's advisory tool. BUT it was definitely a fun way to keep up my staff's motivation to read and to share with each other what we are reading. We'll definitely be doing this or something similar again next summer.

Again, we've had no qualms about the changes to our prizes this summer. We have had some patrons asking about the grand prize raffles they've gotten used to seeing, but no one has expressed any disappointment that we don't have them this year.

Our butterflies have grown up and we released them at a small program mid-June. We took some pictures of their release and have those at our desk for anyone who asks. And our Science Explorers Table continues to be popular. Right now we have a dinosaur activity going on:

I am seriously considering doing away with our relatively staff-intensive make-and-take craft table and having weekly science questions or monthly science activities out instead. It's something to ponder. I need to figure out how we would keep statistics on it. 

All in all, it's been a fabulous summer so far, but I'm looking forward to wrapping up these last couple of weeks and digging into school outreach. I am hopeful that this will be our most successful school year yet in terms of getting into classrooms and connecting with teachers and students.

How's your summer going?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Vegas, Baby! (For a Professional Librarian Conference!)

Yes, I'm headed to Las Vegas for the next several days, attending the American Library Association's Annual Conference! To be completely honest with you, my brain is fried between READING and summer and SUMMER READING. I feel like I need an aide to take my hand and lead me to all the fun and educational things. But I am hoping to tweet, so follow @abbylibrarian for conference goings-on. 

Luckily, the lovely folks at the ALSC Blog will be live blogging, so if you're playing along at home, don't forget to check them out! 

And I'll be back to blogging sometime after the conference.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Preschool Lab: Five Senses

This week in Preschool Lab, we talked about the five senses. This was a really simple and fun science storytime and the kids were amazing this week. (I really needed a simple program this week!)

Here's what we did:


Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello - our standard opener that signals to all that it's time to start listening. Bonus points for this week since we used several sensing parts in our song (nose, tongue, hands...)

Book: Cold, Crunchy, Colorful: Using Our Senses by Jane Brocket. Large, colorful pictures and a simple text makes this book a great one for sharing with a group. It talks about the five senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing) and things we can experience with our five senses. This is a great book for introducing some new vocabulary!

Felt: The four tastes! I am a lucky girl that Miss T did the five senses for her Toddler Times last week, so she had already made all my props. For this felt, I put up each tasting word (sour, sweet, bitter, and salty) with one picture to remind us which one it is (salt shaker, bitter & sour faces, and sugar). Then I held up the rest of the pictures one at a time and asked kids where I should put them. Bitter was hard (probably these kids have not tasted much bitter stuff!), but they got all the rest with flying colors!

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. I did this one as a quick stretcher and mentioned that we'd use some of our sensing parts. Really, I just wanted the kids to get some wiggles out. ;) 

Book: Shark in the Park by Nick Sharrat. This is a fun story for talking about sight. Timothy Pope keeps thinking he sees a shark in the park through his telescope, but it keeps turning out to be something different. I made this participatory by asking the kids to use their hands to make their own telescope and we all looked up at the sky, down at the ground, left, right, and alllll around! This is a short, funny story and a crowd-pleaser. 

Book: Rain by Marya Stojic. This is another book that uses all five senses as different African animals wait for rain to come. 

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is? Before we go into the closing song, I explain the stations briefly and encourage grownups to accompany their children and talk with them, using lots of different words to describe what they're sensing. 


Short and sweet this week = just what I needed!

Touch. Miss T made these touch boards to use with her toddlers. She cut out small pieces of cardboard and glued different textures to one side and a list of words on the other side. The touching side has aluminum foil (smooth), a feather (tickly), a sponge (spongy), lace (bumpy), felt (soft), and sandpaper (scratchy). 

Mystery Boxes. Miss T also turned empty tissue boxes into mystery boxes. The idea is that kids will stick their hands in and try to tell by touching what's inside. If kids pull it out to look at it, that's okay, too. They're using their senses of touch and sight together to figure out what's inside. 

Smelling Bottles. Miss T used little spray bottles and put a cotton ball soaked in extract in each one. She used orange, vanilla, strawberry, banana, grape, and lemon extracts. Since she was using them with the younger kids, she kept it to nice smells. Other ideas: coffee, spices, dirt/mud, etc. 

And that was it for this week! We had a big crowd - 28 kids with siblings counted - but the stations were simple and pretty quick and that made things go really smoothly. Of course I had a book display and their take-home packets. We're halfway through our summer Preschool Labs! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reading Wildly: Reader's Choice

What is Reading Wildly like in the summertime? Well, we're lucky if we can carve out half an hour when it's quiet enough in the Children's Room and we're all here. Usually, we go around the circle and each person is welcome to talk about as many books as they would like to share. In June, I asked everyone to keep it to one title until everyone had shared and we could go back around if we had time. We didn't have time. It picked up again in the department and I sent everyone back to work.

I didn't get it together this month to hand out an article, which is probably just as well since we wouldn't have had time to discuss it. I did, however, read and think about Amy Koester's great post at The Show-Me Librarian, Thoughts on Reader's Advisory. Before we shared, I introduced the concept that even though we are all preparing ourselves as generalists, it's great that we have team members who gravitate towards certain genres and reading levels. I asked everyone to think about what kind of reader they are and to share that with us if they felt like they knew. If they felt like they weren't sure yet, I asked them to be thinking about it and we'll talk about it again next month.

A is one of our team members who gravitates towards scary books and books about the supernatural. If I have a kid who's read every scary book I can think of, I'll tag A in and I know she'll have some suggestions. Myself, I have developed a great love for nonfiction and I tend towards tween-level books. I encouraged everyone to let me know if they ever need help coming up with nonfiction suggestions. We'll all be thinking about which genres or formats we each feel like we are experts in and I think that'll help us provide great reader's advisory as a team.

Everyone shared at least one book with the group this time around, but we ran out of time to discuss (and photograph) all of our books. Since we didn't get to hear about everyone's books, I'll compile the book review sheets everyone submitted and share them with staff so they can learn about some great books. I'll also add each of the books to our Reading Wildly book lists that we keep in our catalog. Here's the list of what we read this month:

Next month (July) will be Reader's Choice again. Again, I don't have an article and I'm not sure how much time we'll have to meet. That's how things go in the summer! Our staff Summer Reading "log" has been working great to show everyone how much we're reading. The meetings are nice to touch base with each other, but we all know we're all reading anyway!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Preschool Lab: Dinosaurs

Last week in Preschool Lab, we had big fun talking about dinosaurs.

Here's what we did:


Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones by Byron Barton. We talked about scientists who search for dinosaur bones, the tools they use, and where the bones go.

Book: Inside-Outside Dinosaurs by Roxie Monroe. This is a simple book that shows the inside (skeleton) of a dinosaur species and then a picture of the dinosaur as the whole animal might have looked, existing in the wild. Simply went through and read the names of the dinosaurs and we talked about some of their features (triceratops has three horns, brachiosaurus has a long neck and a long tail, etc.). This was a great lead-in to our next activity...

Felt Activity: Dinosaurs. We had a set of felt dinosaurs from a previous program and I handed them out to the kids. When I called the dinosaur they had, they brought it up to the felt board and put it up. After we were done, the kids helped me count while I took the dinosaurs off. (This is a sneaky way to get a head count!)

Book: Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton. I maybe didn't need this book, but it was a nice, simple one to talk about the dinosaurs we had already learned. It also shows that dinosaurs hatch from eggs.

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is? Before the closing song, I let them know that I am all out of stories and I explain the stations so parents (if they are listening) will have some ideas about what to do. I encourage them to check out some books and take a packet home. Then we sing our closing song and go to stations.


Mud Dough. Miss A had this leftover from the previous week's play dough program. I put out this brown play dough with pasta and shells. They could use the pasta to make a dinosaur skeleton, experiment with making prints, or use the play dough to form a dinosaur. They had lots of fun with this station and it's a great sensory experience, even if their creations didn't have anything to do with dinosaurs (most of them didn't). 

Dino Footprint. We got this activity from the American Museum of Natural History: How Big Were the Dinosaurs? One of my librarians used it for a dinosaur program last summer and I recreated it. I asked Miss T to cut out a dinosaur footprint from our bulletin board paper. The shape is approximate and it measures 4 feet long by 2 feet wide. I taped it to the floor with tons of packing tape and then posted a sign inviting kids to walk across and count how many of their steps would fit inside this dinosaur footprint. 

Stegosaurus Spike Game. I found this activity on the blog Sorting Sprinkles, via Pinterest. Kids roll a die and put that many spikes on their stegosaurus. This is a good activity for practicing counting, and pinching the clothespins is a great activity to build fine muscle control. 

Toys & Felt Board. We have some dinosaur toys with the toys we use for Toddler Time and I put out our dinosaur set on the felt board for kids to explore. 

And, of course, I put out a book display and take-home packets! I may rethink the take-home packets after this summer because it seems like only half of them are getting taken each week. We'll soon be planning our fall storytime sessions and that may be something we eliminate. While it's great to give them something to take home, it's fairly staff-intensive to put them together. Maybe we can do without!