Thursday, January 31, 2013

Theme Thursday: Winter Wonderland

Last Thursday was the first time in my entire story time career that there was snow on the ground. Not a lot, but about half an inch. So of course I busted out all my winter favorites. The weather was a mixed bag though since we had one of our smallest story time crowds ever.

Song: Good Morning Dear Earth

Flannel: Little Mouse

Finger Play: I Had a Little Turtle

Finger Play: 10 Little Fingers

Book: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

Flannel: 5 Little Snowmen

Song: Open, Shut Them

Finger Play: 2 Little Blackbirds

Book: Red Sled by Patricia Thomas

Song: Turn Around from Getting to know Myself

Make and Take Craft: Winter Wonderlands
-construction paper
-white paint
-glitter glue

Process: We used white sponge paint on colored pieces of paper to create different winter scenes. The glitter glue added color and sparkle.

Time: Prep took 2 minutes, the craft took 15. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Make Your Own: Valentine Silhouettes

I learned my lesson from my Thanksgiving craft post, and I'm writing about our Valentine's Day plans extra early this year so y'all can craft along.

This year, we're upcycling old books to make beautiful Valentine silhouettes.

Let's start with the nitty gritty.

Decide on Your Stencil:

Since we're making valentines, I knew I wanted to use hearts and cupids and flowers and other cheesey lovey stuff. I did a quick Google search and found lots of silhouettes for all of these and I got the idea for even more. Like the love birds. I really love those love birds. I knew I'd be able to draw some of them free hand but for the ones that were more complicated (specifically the rose and the cupid) I blew up the image to the size I wanted and printed them off. The more simple the shape, the better. This is not a time to try loopy crazy designs with zigs and zags all over the place. 

Draw Your Stencil:

Once you know what you want draw what you can on index cards or quartered computer paper. For the more tricky ones, place your card or paper over the print out and put it against a window. The light coming in will make it easy to trace the image. Color everything in black (or whatever color your marker is). All white spaces should be connected. In a better world the love birds would have 2 legs and cupid would have differentiated arms but both of these had white spaces that were surrounded by black on all sides, so I had to simplify. And then there are some, like the heart with wings and the lips, that just didn't work at all. Oh well.

Reenforce Your Stencil:

If you're just doing this at home with one child, or only want to do one or two you can skip this step. However if these stencils are going to be used over and over again it's best to take a few seconds to reenforce them. I don't have a laminator so I simply covered both sides of the paper in clear packing tape and trimmed it down to size.

Cut Out Your Stencil:

Using an exacto knife or sharp scissors, carefully cut out everything that's black (this is another good reason for coloring in your stencil. It can get confusing when you don't know which side of the line to cut out). I did these with sharp craft scissors because I was impatient and wanted to get them done and I think they turned out just fine.

Decide What Book You Want to Destroy!:
Our friends group has a biannual book sale for which they receive book donations all year long. The books are kept in our programming room and while lots of them are great books that some lucky person will walk away with during the sale, a lot of them are junk. I'm talking trade paperbacks that are falling apart at the seams. I asked the friends to donate 1 or 2 books for this project and with their blessing searched through stacks upon stacks of books. I tried to find books without any quivering or thrusting (most of the junk books are bodice ripping romances) and ended up appropriating an old copy of Red Badge of Courage. 

There's something thrilling and dangerous about ripping up a book even when it's seen better days and you're planning on making it into something even better. So I did all the ripping beforehand; no sense in tempting anyone who might not be able to control their impulses later.

Make Your Valentines:

Place a stencil over a book page and color it in. You can do solid colors or mix it up. Just make sure you hold the stencil in the same spot the entire time you're coloring. Or get an adult to help hold it down. Adults are great at holding things.

After the stenciling is done, you can glue the book page to construction paper backing or a nice paper doily and continue to customize. Go crazy. Be creative. Have fun. And Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Flannel Friday: Valentine Tree Craft

The Valentine Tree was one of the very first "Inspired by Flannel Friday" flannels I ever made. Busy Crafting Mommy did such a great job with hers (seriously go check it out now) that I immediately went and made one for myself and it was a huge hit. 

There's not much point in running you through my version when her's is so good, but I wanted to share a craft that I used in tandem with the flannel that was also a hit.

Here's a picture of my completed flannel. I don't know if you can tell but the tree trunk is a crumpled up paper bag glued onto actual felt. 

I did that for a two reasons: I thought it would be a cool texture and (mainly) I'd run out of brown felt. But using the paper bag gave me an idea. We have tons of bags in our craft closet and there're only so many times in a month that you can make paper bag puppets.

So I took a bunch of bags and drew quick tree trunks on them. You could probably also find a coloring sheet template and set your print to print on bags if you had a large group or don't like drawing.

 Then I cut out a bunch of hearts.

After story time we used glue sticks to glue the hearts to the tree trunk bags and then crayons to decorate the back. When they were done each kid had a container that they could keep all their valentines in! 

Flannel Friday's Valentine Extravaganza is being hosted today by Sarah at Read It Again! Further information on Flannel Friday can be found at the official website.

Happy Valentine's Day planning y'all!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Theme Thursday: The Home is Where the Heart Is

Song: Good Morning Dear Earth

Finger Play: I Had a Little Turtle

Book: The Napping House by Don and Audrey Wood

Flannel: A King Lives in a Castle

Baby Bounce: Criss Cross, Line, Line

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Book: WHOSE HOME IS THIS? by Julie Murphy

Flannel: 5 Little Ducks

Finger Play: 2 Little Blackbirds

Song: Turn Around from Getting to know Myself

Make and Take Craft: House Painting

-construction paper

Process: Before story time I folded the construction paper in half and then cut house shapes, leaving the fold intact. This allowed for the house to be opened and closed like a book or pamphlet. It gave us an inside and an outside! The kids used sponge paints and crayons to decorate the both the interior and the exterior of their houses.

Time: Prep took 10 minutes, craft took 20.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 Reading Challenge

It started when the girl who has read Tuck Everlasting six times said "I'm going to read 50 books in 2013." "Okay" I said, "I'll read 50 books too. We'll have to figure out a way to keep track though."

After some debate we came up with the rules- I'd read 100 books, she'd read 50 and rereading favorite books didn't count, they had to be 50 (or 100) unique books finished during the 2013 calendar year. And I would figure out a way to keep track. A very visual way of holding ourselves accountable

First, let me say that I think setting arbitrary number of books reading goals is silly. I could read 100 picture books or 100 Baby Mouse books in about a week. When people do things like this, I immediately wonder how much enjoyment and enrichment they're sacrificing for pure quantity and bragging rights. I also know that I read very, very quickly and so reading 100 books isn't the same kind of big deal to me as reading 50 books is to a girl who loves to read but goes slowly.

Second, I don't care about number 1. I still like this idea. It's important to me for the kids to see adults actively reading and it's important for the kids who do read to have a place where they can be publicly recognized for their accomplishments. 

Third, inspired by this post on pinterest, this is our 2013 Reading Challenge wall.

The text reads:
"Every time Miss Lucy and Ms. E finish a book in 2013 they will put a colorful dot on the wall. Watch our progress as the year continues and the wall fills up!

Want to join us? Pick a color and start reading! Dots can be added to the wall for every finished book OR every 20 minutes spent reading!"

Right now each kid who participates picks their own color so they can see exactly how much they've read. We'll soon run out of unique colors so we're also asking them to put (or have an adult put) the name of the book they're working on and their name. And to recognize the kids who do read, but read a little slower, we're also putting dots on the wall for every 20 minutes spent reading.

We put up the wall on January 2nd with three dots- two from the girl who read Tuck Everlasting so many times and one for an Elvis and Olive book. It's only been 3 weeks and look how far we've come! I can't wait to see what the rest of 2013 has in store for us!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Flannel Friday: Sights to See in Washington D.C.

A few weeks ago I mentioned to a story time mom that I was working on a special story time for the inauguration but it was hard to find good books (I cheated and went with books about Bo the dog instead), songs to sing and flannels to make. She immediately said "Why don't you do one on things you see in DC. You could make the Washington monument out of felt! And the Lincoln... maybe not the Lincoln memorial." Lincoln out of felt? Challenge accepted.

Ms. E, my coworker in the children's room, and I collaborated on a song and rhyming couplets and 5 sights of DC later we had a brand new flannel.

I introduced it by talking a little bit about the inaugural parade and asked the kids what were some things the president might see on his walk from the capitol building to the white house. And then we did this flannel in the basic order that they would come in.

Let's take a walk around the city
We'll look high and we'll look low
Tell me, how many places do you know?

The senate and congress met here ever day;
They work hard to make laws and give the people a say.

It's the Capitol Building!

In 1912 they planted these trees;
The blossoms are pretty but they make Miss Lucy sneeze. ACHOO!

They're the Cherry Blossoms

The steps to the memorial are tall, wide and grand;
They lead to the statue of a really great man.

It's the Lincoln Memorial

This monument reaches way up to the sky;
It honors our first president, a pretty swell guy

It's the Washington Monument

  The President lives here, his family does too;
It's painted all white, no red, orange or blue

It's the White House!

I realize that this is a super place specific set. We're lucky to live near enough to DC that almost all of my story time kids have seen these monuments at least once, and that made it easier to do. The song is easily adaptable to any kind of touring story time though. You could use places that are well known in your own town and I'll probably make a similar set for Sochi, Russia during the winter olympics and Brazil during the World Cup next year.

Flannel Friday is hosted this week by Katie at Storytime Secrets. For more information on Flannel Friday, including how to get involved and to see past round-ups, visit the official website.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Theme Thursday: Inauguration

We celebrated the inauguration today with stories and songs and our own mini parade with our craft!

Song: Good Morning Dear Earth

Flannel: Little Mouse

Fingerplay: I Had a Little Turtle

Book: Excerpts from Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama

Flannel: Colors of the Flag

Song: Jumping and Counting from Jim Gill's Irrational Anthem and More Salutes to Nonsense

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Flannel: Sights to See in Washington DC

Song: Open, Shut Them

Book: Excerpts from The First Pup: The Real Story of How Bo Got to the White House by Bob Stakke

Song: Turn Around from Hap Palmer's Getting to know Myself

Make and Take Craft: Parade Spirit Sticks

-red, white and blue tissue paper but into thin strips
-masking tape
-Popsicle sticks

Process: Decorate the sticks with the markers and get an adult to help you tape the streamer-like strips of tissue paper to the top of the stick. Wave around and march in sync with your friends.

Time: Prep took 3 minutes, craft took 15 with an extra 20 or so of fun play.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

And now that I'm done looking back on 2012, I can look forward to 2013. I made a lot of resolutions last year and while I did a good job on some of them (yay for programming and themed story times!) I did not do as well as hoped on others and I still haven't figured out my dental insurance. That'll go to my number one priority in my personal life but I have a few more for my library life.

1) Read more elementary and middle grade fiction. 
Yup, again with this one. I did slightly better last year than in years past, but I'm nowhere near where I want to be. I want to go back and pick up some classics I missed when I was a child (True Confession: I've never read A Wrinkle in Time) and do a better job of staying on top of the new books coming through my library on a pretty regular basis.

2) Keep track of the books that I do read.
I need to start keeping a list. Or something. Just a place where I can keep track of what I've read and if I'm feeling super fancy what I thought
 of it. GoodReads has proven too much for me in the past, but maybe this is the year I'll finally lick it.

3) Rejoin ALA.
I know, I'm literally the worst librarian ever. I had a student membership while I was in school, but when it expired I just let it go and never bothered to rejoin as an actual, factual librarian. But I will this year.

4) Use the internet more.
That sounds silly given how much time I spend scouring Pinterest for craft and program ideas, reading other library blogs and writing my own. BUT. I am truly awful at using my library system's blog. I forget to put programs into our calendar and don't do nearly enough programs recaps or book reviews. In fact, as of this post, the last entry on our branches homepage was from September 25 (everyone on staff is supposed to update so it's not like I'm the only one at work who is bad at this) and my last entry is from September 10. I'm going to try and post SOMETHING (book review, program recap, story time songs/finger plays) at least twice a month in 2013.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Flannel Friday: Michael Finnegan

This flannel set comes from way back in November when my library system was still celebrating the countries of the European Union. One of our story time moms is from Ireland, and with her help I was able to plan a pretty successful program using traditional legends and songs (you should have seen my paper bag puppet version of The Giant's Causeway). But she didn't help me pick this song. This is just a song I used to drive my parents crazy with when I was little. It's a nonsense tongue twister with no end about a guy named Michael Finnegan.

There was a man named Michael Finnegan. 

He grew whiskers on his chin-again. Wind came along and blew them in-again. 

Poor old Michael Finnegan. Begin again.

There was a man named Michael Finnegan. He went fishing with a pin-again. Caught a fish but it got off again.

Poor old Michael Finnegan. Begin again.

There was a man named Michael Finnegan. He got fat and then got thin again. Then he died and had to begin again.

Poor old Michael Finnegan. Begin again.

There was a man named Michael Finnegan. He grew whiskers on his chin again. The wind came along and blew them off again.

Poor old Michael Finnegan. Begin again.

And you get the idea.

Flannel Friday is hosted today by K Leigh at Storytime ABCs. As always you can find out more about Flannel Friday, and browse past round-ups by visiting the official website.