Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reading Rock Stars

One of the new additions to our storytime lineup this fall is a beginning readers' storytime called Reading Rock Stars. We're offering Reading Rock Stars weekly (drop-in) for ages 4-6. It was inspired by the awesome work of Miss Julie and Storytime Katie. I'm turning this program over to our new library assistant, Miss A, who joined us last spring after 10 years of teaching kindergarten, so I won't be posting about this program regularly, but I wanted to share an outline of what our program looks like.

For now, our storytimes have both a letter of the day and a theme. I wanted to use a theme to help us incorporate science and social studies texts into our program. At our local public schools, they concentrate on literacy and math at the K-1st grade levels, encouraging parents to talk and read about science and social studies concepts at home. Using these books in our program is a great way to model nonfiction exploration for parents and let them know about some great books!

Nametags: We start with nametags and we use the laminated ones that Miss T made for Toddler Time. We provide crayons for children (or parents if children are still learning) to write their names. It is much more important to us that children get to practice writing than that the nametags be legible.

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello. This is typically our opening song, but since we're offering this program on an afternoon after some kids have been in preschool or kindergarten all day long, we may need to switch it up to a song with more full body movement (or some jumping, at least).

Letter Song: Each week, we'll choose a letter of the day. Miss A taught us this great song to the tune of "Do You Know the Muffin Man?"

Do you know the letter F? The letter F? The letter F?
Do you know the letter F? It makes the sound: ff, ff, ff!

Yes, I know the letter F, the letter F, the letter F!
Yes, I know the letter F! It makes the sound: ff, ff, ff!

Message of the Day: Miss A writes the message of the day on chart paper which is taped to our felt board. It contains the date, a blank for the weather (she has a volunteer draw in the day's weather), and a blank for today's letter (she has a volunteer write the letter of the day).

Action Song: The first week, we did the song "The Shape Shake" by CJ. This "following directions" song asks children to make different shapes in the air with their fingers. Drawing/making shapes is a great first step towards being about to see that letters look different and to begin to write letters.

Book: Ten Little Fish by Audrey & Don Wood. Kids are always drawn to the computer-drawn images in this colorful book. The rhyming text makes it a great choice for an early literacy storytime (hearing rhyming words helps children learn that words are made up of smaller sounds). And counting down from ten helps reinforce math concepts.

Participation Activity: Mail Carrier Bag Game. For this game, Miss A had prepped envelopes with two small cards inside. One card had a capital F and one card had a lowercase f. She passed them out and had all the children open them at the same time. She asked them to raise the capital F, then the lowercase f. Then she played a game where she said different words and asked them to hold up their cards if the word she said started with "F". After she went through half a dozen words, she asked the children to put their cards back in their envelopes and "mail" the letters by putting them back in her bag.

This was a fun game that was easy to do with a group of children and very low cost!

Nonfiction Book: Clown Fish by Carol Lindeen. I love the Pebble Plus series for simple texts and large color photographs. They are great for sharing with groups of young children.

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?

Play Time/Take-Home Packet: Each week, we'll close with a little play time and bring out some of the toys from our collection. I am hoping to build our collection of literacy toys and games for use in this program. For right now, the play time is more of a free-for-all, but we may move towards more concentrated stations at some point.

And each week, Miss A has put together a take-home packet with a coloring sheet featuring the letter of the day and some printables with lines for writing and practicing making the letter of the day. She includes one sheet for tracing/writing the letter and another sheet that's blank on the top with blank lines below for children to draw and write their own story or recreate their favorite moment from storytime. Eventually we'll send a letter craft home with them, but our budget was frozen this fall, so we're on a shoestring. Miss A also includes a half-sheet with some tips for parents of children who are learning to read. Reading Rockets and Productive Parenting are great sources for tips and activities!

We had 15 kiddos for both the first and second weeks of the program, which is a nice number for us. I'm especially pleased to see such good attendance for a program that is 1) new and 2) aimed at a slightly higher age group. 

Do you do a storytime for beginning readers at your library? What has worked for you?