Flannel Friday: 5 (or 6) Little Bunnies

This is the easiest flannel board ever! I found these adorable little bunnies in the dollar section at Target ready and waiting for me.

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And they were pretty good… but we can do better.

I play Little Mouse almost every week in storytime. It’s great for interaction and conversation but it’s also excellent for color recognition. With these little bunnies, I thought we’d practice another skill: number recognition!

I cut some numbers out of flannel and now…

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They’re also excellent for vocabulary and learning order numbers: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth!

My bunnies are still perfectly for a Five Little Bunnies rhyme or Five Little Bunnies Jumping on the Bed… basically anything!

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Preschool Storytime: Storytime

Sometimes I don’t theme at all. In those cases, I like to say my storytimes are “storytime themed.” We do all the things you do in storytime!

We read…

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Cat Nap, Toni Yuly
Hug Machine, Scott Campbell
All Year Round, Susan B. Katz

Cat Nap and All Year Round are both new books and they’re both wonderful! Cat Nap provide lots of opportunities for interaction as readers try to find the cats on each page and All Year Round is about shapes and months, two great topics for preschoolers!

We sang…

Hello/Goodbye, Friends
Shake Your Sillies Out
We Shake Along Like This
To the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”
We shake along like this,
We shake along like this,
With our friends at storytime,
We shake along like this.
(we shake up high like this/down low/really fast/super slow)

We wiggled…

My Thumbs Are Starting to Wiggle
These Are My Glasses (spoken)

We made…

Paper bag puppets! They got a pile of foam stickers, marker, crayons, and a paper bag. We had an army man, a monster, and one hug machine!

And it went…

Things were a little chaotic today! We used our colorful maracas to sing our songs and had some frustration when the colors wanted were not the colors available. Cat Nap had a wonderful calming effect as we were able to redirect our attention to finding the cats and talking about the differences between the older cat and the kitten. We spent more time singing and getting the wiggles out than I had planned, but that was just what we needed to do and it definitely helped!

Preschool Storytime: New Books

I have a tendency to rely too heavily on books I know to be staples of storytime so occasionally I like to have a focus on the newer books on our shelves.

We read…

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The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
One Family by George Shannon
Rupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer

We sang…

Hello/Goodbye, Friends
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star*
There Are Ribbons Way Up High*

We wiggled…

My Thumbs Are Starting to Wiggle
These Are My Glasses (spoken)

We made…

Toilet paper heart stamps!
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And it went…

Rupert Can Dance was a HUGE hit! The parents loved One Family but it was a little slow for some of my kids. We enjoyed counting the different objects together and finding their families’ “number.” Many of my storytime kids come from BIG families and it was fantastic to be able to share a family book that acknowledges large families.

* We used my DIY ribbon sticks with two of our songs today, once of which is actually a great bubble song, but works really well for ribbons too!

Preschool Storytime: Award Winners

Typically my favorite themes are the ones that are only obvious to me. For this storytime, I picked award-winning books as well as songs and rhymes that have the Nikki Seal of Approval too.

We read…

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Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

We sang…

Hello, Friends (and Goodbye, Friends)
The Itsy Bitsy Spider
The Wheels on the Bus
Skinnamarink

We wiggled…

We Can Jump, Jump, Jump
These Are My Glasses (spoken version)

We made…

Something similar to this (I forgot to take a picture of ours!). We just used construction paper and string for our spiders. When I do crafts with pieces, I put what they need on the table and let them put it together however they want.

And it went…

Really well! If you haven’t used Last Stop on Market Street in storytime, DO IT! They were absolutely entranced by the language and loved pointing out things they saw in each page. And you can sing The Wheels on the Bus afterwards and who doesn’t love that?

Preschool Storytime, An Intro

At mylibrary, each children’s library takes a month long rotation doing one of our three weekly programs: toddler storytime, preschool storytime, and homeschool club.

For the month of February, I have pre-school storytime! Every month, my goal is to present a storytime that promotes the Every Child Ready to Read Guidelines, gets kids and caregivers involved and engaged, and leaves everyone feeling good. With those goals in mind, this is how I do it.

I start with Google Docs. Of all the methods I’ve tried, this is my favorite. I can access it literally from anywhere so it’s easy to plan, write notes, or whatever from work, home, or another branch. It’s also easily searchable. I’m always asking myself things like, “Did we do shaker eggs at outreach last week or was that storytime? When did I last read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom? Did I even have storytime last week?” On Docs I can run a keyword search and find everything I need really quickly.

Within Docs, my program plan is VERY simple. I adopted this idea from Jbrary’s excellent post, “How I Plan Toddler Storytime.” I use the same template for both toddlers and preschoolers and it looks like this:

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That’s it. It’s that simple!

What I’ve found in the last two years of preschool storytimes is that I like flexibility. Writing out an order with transitions wasn’t working for me and I frequently found that I was having to come up with things on the fly anyway when time got away from me or we moved through things too quickly.

Every storytime I keep roughly the same proportions:

3 books
1-2 felt boards
4 songs (not including hello/goodbye songs)
4 wiggles

And many of these are repeated from week to week. I let my group determine our order but I typically stick to at least two songs or wiggles between each book. Sometimes we need more than that, sometimes we play Little Mouse for so long it’s all we do before we go on to the next story. It’s all about the flexibility!

Here’s what my template looks like after it’s been filled out and used for storytime, with the things we did highlighted.

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Now it’s so easy for me to look back at previous weeks and months and see what I did at a glance with notes to how it went. I’m able to reflect immediately after storytime, which also helps when I write my monthly reports or yearly performance appraisal. When I have new kids in storytime, I try to add their names in there as well to help me remember them.

I’m sure I’ll continue to adapt this plan in the future but it’s currently working really well for me and my audience!

 

Book Review or, Why We Should Let Kids Read What They Want

One of my goals this year is to read outside my comfort zone. During any given year I read a lot of books and books of all kinds. Sort of. But there are some kid’s books that I just… can’t. I’m aware of them. I recommend them from time to time. But I have zero interest in actually reading them. This isn’t a great trend. It’s totally possible to do reader’s advisory without reading the books your patron has read or the ones you’re recommending, but it’s easier if you’re at least familiar with them.

So my first book for this challenge is Blossom the Flower Girl Fairy, by Daisy Meadows (kind of), part of the Rainbow Magic series taking up about four feet of shelf space in juvenile departments across the country.

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Blossom is part of a fairy world that regularly relies on two human friends, Rachel and Kirsty, to solve problems in the fairy world. In return, the fairies also visit and help out in the human world. Luckily, there is basically a fairy for everything you can think of, so if your wedding is about to be derailed by fighting flower girls, there’s a fairy for that. If your soccer team isn’t doing so hot, there’s a fairy for that too. And if it’s been a really long week at work and you just got home and changed into comfy pants before realizing you’re out of cinnamon bun Oreos, I can only assume there’s fairy for that also.

These books are pretty formulaic, which does make them good for beginning readers. They know what to expect, they’re familiar with the world and the characters, so there’s no need for much exposition. They follow a predictable format which is, again, really good for beginning readers. They’re short, making it easier for new readers to finish them, but they have chapters, so they’re an excellent step for kids ready to read “big kid” books.

They’re not perfect. In this volume, Rachel’s aunt’s business is referred to both as “Fairy Tale Weddings” and “Fairytale Weddings,” which is a pretty glaring error, and it’s not the only one. There is no character growth or development, no surprising twists, not really even any challenging vocabulary, but reading them isn’t going to make a child a worse reader and will probably make lots of young readers happy, so I say, let them read.

I’m not sure I want to come across as a reviewer whose standard is, “If someone reads it and is subsequently happy, that’s enough,” but I spent my formidable years devouring the dozens of ghost-written The Baby-sitter’s Club books and I turned out okay. Better than okay, I think. Are there better books than Rainbow Magic? Sure. Are there better books than the Baby-sitter’s Club No Absolutely! Some kids will want them. Some kids won’t. Some kids will want them eventually- but only after being allowed to spend lots of time reading Rainbow Magic and Puppy Place and The Baby-sitter’s Club.

There are a lot of books we pick up as adults and think, “Okay, so this is not good,” and a lot of time we’re right. They’re not good! But they’re not for us either. The first books that we choose are the stories that stick with us. Those are the books that turn a child into a reader. For me, that was Kristy’s Great Idea. For a little kid today, it might be Blossom the Bridesmaid Fairy. Neither of us will be wrong, neither of us will be less discerning readers, but both of us will get a joy from those books that will make us want more. In my book, that makes a story worthy of (at least some) praise.

This went in an unexpected direction, but to conclude with the review, Rainbow Magic is perfect for beginning readers who enjoy predictability and series fiction. It will appeal to kids interested in stories about magic/fairies, friendship, and mild drama. For more stories about friendship and pretty things, try Fancy Nancy. For more books about magic and friendship, try The Never Girls.