Friday, April 27, 2012

Flannel Friday: They Can't All Be Winners

Y'all, sometimes in life you try things and they just don't work. You've tried something new, put a lot of work into it and it just flops. Whawp. And when that happens you focus on the positive, figure out what you can learn from the experience and move on.

In this Flannel Friday Flop, I learned pieces can be too detailed, good visuals won't make up for a crummy or half thought out poem, and that Ed Emberley is a genius.

Let's talk about Ed Emberley for a minute. That's really who I really want to highlight with this post. I got his book, Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals, from my (beautiful, wonderful, and thoughtful) mother for Christmas last year and to say that it has changed how I draw and think about shapes would be a gross understatement. And with a little bit of tweaking, they make great flannel pieces.

And now that I've built it up so much, let's take a look at the flop. It actually wasn't all that bad; I just can't imagine ever using it again. Which is a shame because the pieces are so intricate and were lots of fun to make. There were ooohhs and ahhhhs from the adults in the audience and the kids certainly liked playing with them after story time was over, but I think on the whole they were just too much to take in and the rhyme I came up with didn't do them any justice.

It is about dragons though, and dragons are never not cool.

The Cleverly Titled Dragon Poem

Who thinks dragons are scary?
Oh no, not at all!
Let's take a look at some,
up here on this wall.
And if you look closely,
I think you'll agree, 
that dragons a lot
like you and me.


There are dragons that are tall

And dragons that are small.

Dragons who ROAR,

 And dragons who snore.

 This dragon laughs,

And that dragon cries,

But it's time to go
So here's a dragon to say "bye-bye!"

The pieces are pretty big, and I backed them in black (which is the color of my big board that I use in story time) so that the skinny necks and tails wouldn't flop around. Maybe I'll keep them out for kids to play with outside of story time; I'm certainly not worried about them breaking or getting lost.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Theme Thursday: Earth Day

I'd feel like a bad environmental sciences major if we didn't do something to celebrate Earth Day. The majority of our story time appropriate books on Earth Day were already checked out, and I worked mainly from home on Wednesday, so this turned into one of those theme days that has very little to do with the actual theme. Or maybe, everything we did was Earth Day related since everything was about something on our big, beautiful world.

I was in such dire straights looking for Earth Day books, that I considered using Ashley Bryan's absolutely gorgeous All Things Bright and Beautiful, and changing "the Lord God made them all" to "Mother Earth made/has them all." But I figured that might be a touch too close to plagiarism and kept scrounging around until I found the books we ended up using.

Song: Good Morning Dear Earth

Flannel: Little Mouse

Poem: I Had a Little Turtle

Flannel: Alphabet Soup- EARTH

Book: The Whole Green World by Tony Johnston

Flannel: Blue is the Lake

Song: Shake Your Sillies

Song: Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes

Rhyme: Big, Big, Big

Song: Open, Shut Them

Book:  Green By Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Flannel: Chomp Like a Shark

Song: Turn Around from Getting to know Myself

Make and Take Craft: E is for Earth Collages

-E is for Earth templates (prepared beforehand)
-land shapes (prepared beforehand)
-glue sticks

Process: After introducing the craft before the Turn Around song, I laid out crayons, land shapes and glue sticks out on the table and gave each child a E is for Earth pre-prepared paper. Caregivers helped the kids glue green land shapes to the blue circle for the world and use crayons around the rest of the page. A lot took the opportunity to spell E-A-R-T-H with crayons or the child's name, asking what each letter was after it had been printed.

Time: Prep took a very fevered 25 minutes in the morning before story time and the craft took about 20. We're also lucky enough to have a Die Cut machine that really helped save time on making all the construction paper "E"s

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Make Your Own: Pop-Up Cards

Pop-up cards are one of my favorite easy crafts to do with kids. They require a little bit of prep, but they're oh-so easy to make and the possibilities are really endless. Here's my quick, easy and foolproof way to make a lot of card bases, really quickly.

1) Start with a stack of colorful construction paper. Cut it in half, hamburger style (that's horizontally, vertically is called hot dog style). And crease each smaller stack down the middle, also hamburger style.

2. Cut a separate stack of paper into quarters and crease each of those new stacks in half, hamburger style. While the stack is folded, use sharp scissors (the sharper the scissors, the bigger your stack can be) to cut two lines into the fold, about half of the way through the paper. Larger cuts mean more height and dimension for the eventual pop-out item, smaller cuts mean less. At the end of step two you should be able to unfold the paper and have it look like this:

3. Literally the only tricky part. Fold your stack back in half along the original crease, but reverse the crease between the two cuts. This is easy enough to do, but may take some practice to get right. Press down hard, emphasizing both the original crease and the new one formed from the paper between the cuts.

4. When you open the fold it should look like this.
5. Carefully pull the first sheet off the stack and using the out of focus glue stick that you can see in the above picture, cover the back. DO NOT put glue on the piece that sticks out.

6. Lining up the folds of your colorful half sheet of construction paper and your quarter page with the pop out, glue the two together. And you have the base of a card!

7. You can make just about any shape to be decorated and glued to the piece that sticks out. Make sure that the piece isn't taller than the card when glued on, or it will stick out of the top when the card is closed. 

Once you get comfortable with the basic pop-up base you can experiment with the form. Make multiple pop-out stands, use the same color paper for both the pop-out and the background piece for a more uniform appearance, really, the sky is the limit!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Not Quite Flannel Friday: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat/Something for Nothing

Ever since I saw this on pinterest I've been looking for a good story to adapt to the nesting doll approach. I settled on Something for Nothing or Joseph Had a Little Overcoat- an old Yiddish folksong about a man who's favorite piece of clothing keeps getting re purposed into something smaller and smaller. I based my drawings on Simms Tabek's Caldecott winning version, but I changed the number of garments to a more manageable number and I use a version of the story that I learned in a storytelling workshop.

Joseph had a jacket and he LOVED this jacket. Wore it EVERYWHERE. Now his wife Sara HATED that jacket, she was always after him to get rid of it.

One day, Joseph was reaching way up high on the top shelf when RIIIIIIIIP his jacket ripped.

Sara was so excited, he'd finally have to get rid of it. But then she saw how much Joseph loved his jacket. So she got out her scissors and went snip, snip, snip. Then she got her needle and thread and went sew, sew, sew and she turned his jacket into...


Joseph had a vest and he LOVED this vest. Wore it EVERYWHERE. Now his wife Sara HATED that vest, she was always after him to get rid of it.

One day, Joseph was eating soup, slurp, slur, slurp when suddenly he spilled all over his vest. Totally ruined.

Sara was so excited, he'd finally have to get rid of it. But then she saw how much Joseph loved his vest. So she got out her scissors and went snip, snip, snip. Then she got her needle and thread and went sew, sew, sew and she turned his vest into...


Joseph had a scarf and he LOVED this scarf. Wore it EVERYWHERE. Now his wife Sara HATED that scarf, she was always after him to get rid of it.

One day, Joseph was taking a walk by the pond when a goose jumped up and bit a hole right in the middle of the scarf.

Sara was so excited, he'd finally have to get rid of it. But then she saw how much Joseph loved his scarf. So she got out her scissors and went snip, snip, snip. Then she got her needle and thread and went sew, sew, sew and she turned his scarf into...


Joseph had a handkerchief and he LOVED this handkerchief. Blew his nose in it ALL THE TIME. Now his wife Sara HATED that handkerchief, she was always after him to get rid of it.

One day, when Joseph got home he realized that he didn't have his handkerchief anymore; it had fallen out of his pocket.

He went to Sara and said "Well, I've really done it this time. Not even you can make something out of nothing." "I don't know," said Sara "I think we've got a pretty good story to tell!"


I workshoped this prop on some first graders that I was doing an outreach story time for. Reactions ranged from "You made magic!" to "He should have a dog" and "You shouldn't repeat yourself so much." I didn't tell them that the point of repetition was so they could be a part of the story too, but most of the kids were snip, snip, snip and sew, sew, sewing along with Sara by the end of the second "chorus." I think it'll work better with the slightly older crowd and plan to make it a regular part of my outreach kit.

A few notes of the actual process: The tutorial provided at the link is great, really all you need to make them successfully. I would err on the side of making the pieces bigger rather than smaller. My smallest one is the same size as the tutorial's smallest one and it's too small for me to fit my entire hand into. I also drew on the figures before   I sewed the back piece on and completely forgot about things like seam allowances. That's why Joseph doesn't have any hands on the first few dolls. The last thing I did, that you can't really see in the pictures, was to run a single zig-zag stitch across the bottom of each white front piece to prevent extra fraying. A quick turned up and pressed hem would work as well but I like the kind of rustic look, especially for this story.

I absolutely love this prop and if anyone knows of any other "big things getting smaller" stories, I'd love to do a few more.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Theme Thursday: Butterfles in the Sky

With spring quickly turning into summer, this seemed like one of the last opportunities to do a proper butterfly story time. While I didn't have any cocooning caterpillars to show off, there are a bevy of great books and activities for the butterfly enthusiast in all of us.

Song: Good Morning Dear Earth

Song: Clap and Say Hello

Finger Play: 10 Little Fingers

Apparently Amazon doesn't have an entry for a plain old classic English language version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so you get a link to the pop-up version!

Song: There's a Small Caterpillar on a Leaf

There's a small caterpillar on a leaf, wiggle wiggle
There's a small caterpillar on a leaf, wiggle wiggle
There's a small caterpillar, there's a small caterpillar, there's a small caterpillar on a leaf, wiggle wiggle

There's a big caterpillar on a leaf, munch munch
There's a sleeping cocoon on a leaf, shh shh
There's a beautiful butterfly on a leaf, flutter flutter

Flannel: 5 Little Ducks

Song: Shake Your Sillies Out

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Flannel: Go Away, Big Green Monster

Song: Turn Around from Getting to know Myself

Make and Take Craft: Butterfly Pop-Up Cards

-Pop-up cards (prepared beforehand)
-Butterfly shapes (prepared beforehand)
-Glue sticks

Process: I introduced the craft before the Turn Around song and then distributed cards (I let the kids pick which color they wanted) and butterflies to individuals. Since this wasn't a glue heavy craft and since our glue sticks are running out very quickly, I placed 4 glue sticks on the table with the crayons for everyone to share. I made the rounds helping people figure out the correct way to glue the butterfly onto the pop-up piece of the card and then flapped the card at each kid a few times so it looked like their butterfly was flying.

This was one of our biggest groups for story time in a long time and for the first time ever, we used every single piece that I had prepared beforehand.

Time: Pop-up cards are one of my favorite programs to do with elementary students and I've gotten super good at preparing the actual card, so it probably took me less time than it would take someone just starting out. Prep took me about 40 minutes, including cutting out the individual butterfly shapes and the craft took about 25 minutes.

Check back next Tuesday for a tutorial on my down and dirty ways of prepping pop-up cards.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April Displays

Spring is here, and with it comes a whole host of fun holidays to promote and new displays to create. We don't have a lot of display space in the wide open expanse of the children's room; we're limited to the tops of bookcases and the occasional small table that we reserve from use for our purposes. I'm not a huge fan of either, the table is so low the story time kids wreck havoc on it weekly and the bookcases are too high for anyone other than parents to see whats going on. But you make do with what you have and here are a few examples of things you might see if happen upon our children's room in April.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month! Let's celebrate with Miss Lucy's ever-present tissue paper designs and all the books and CDs we can find on the subject.
Almost all the CDs went out on the first day. Our lone holdout is a late addition, a great Ella Fitzgerald for kids CD that I used as intro music in my Jazz program.
Oh hey Jazz Baby, good to see you again.

There are a lot of truly beautiful and recently remodeled library branches in our system. This particular branch is not one of them. We're on a list, somewhere, to be remodeled once more money comes in, but until then we still get to tape things to our walls- a luxury the newer branches are strictly forbidden from doing.

In this case (a longer bookcase and more books on the topic) I have a stash of extra Earth Day books hidden behind my desk. I've been replenishing the display as needed.

 And last, but certainly not least, a permanent display! Starting this month the wall space above the New Books! display is going to be dedicated to the beautiful make and take crafts from Theme Thursday Story Time that get left at the library. The artwork is beautiful and deserves a home somewhere, even if it isn't with the people who made it.