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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Storytime Spotlight (1)

Okay, so Picture This didn't go over so well and I haven't done it again, but I'd like to thank Shesten of I Heart Monster for inspiring this new feature which will hopefully go a bit better.

Most of you probably know that I work at my library holding a weekly Storytime every Thursday, for around three year old kids to around five year old kids, with some closer to twos and some over fives. Shesten suggested that I share my lesson plans for the week. I rarely actually have a lesson plan, since most of my Storytimes follow pretty much the same general structure, but I figured I'd share with you guys what I'm reading and such each week. So... let's see how that goes!

This is a Storytime that we did on May 6th. It was garden themed.

Books we read:

Martha in the Middle by Jan Fearnley

Being in the middle is no fun for Martha. She gets squashed between her siblings when they argue. She never gets called "big and sensible" or "cutesy-wootsy." Sometimes she even feels invisible. One day she gets so fed up, she decides to run away. Luckily, Martha meets a wise frog who points out that the middle is the best bit — the tasty seeds in the sunflower, the sweet peas in the pod, the juiciest part of a watermelon. With beguiling warmth and humor, Jan Fearnley reassures children that being in the middle of things is a choice spot after all.

What Does Bunny See? by Linda Sue Park

A rabbit explores a garden, finding flowers of every color, before hopping home for a nap and dreams of rainbows. Rhyming clues invite the reader to answer the question: What does bunny see? Linda Sue Park's sprightly verses and Maggie Smith's cheerful illustrations will delight young children, as each turn of the page yields a colorful surprise.

Up, Down, And Around by Katherine Ayres

This garden is on the move! A good-time, rollicking celebration of things that grow.

Peppers grow up.
Potatoes grow down.
Pumpkins vine around and around.
From seeds dropping into soil to corn bursting from its stalks, from children chasing butterflies to ants burrowing underground, everything in this vibrant picture book pulses with life — in all directions! Sprightly illustrations set the mood for a rhythmic text that follows nature’s course to a final feast of backyard bounty.

(All summaries from goodreads, click on the titles for more information and the cover pictures to make them bigger.)

When I got to the library, I had to move our tables back into place because people keep moving them which drives me nuts but that's a story for another day. Anyways, I'd brought plastic cups filled with seeding mix to the library (in a cardboard box, if you're wondering) and taped them to little plastic plates with masking tape at the library.

Once that was done, most of the kids had already arrived, and I told them I had a surprise for them, went into the store room of the library, and brought out the giant sun I'd made a few days before, out of bristol board mostly. They got SO excited about it, probably because it was just so big, as tall as a couple of them. :P

We couldn't find an sticky tack and you're not allowed to use tape on the library walls, so we couldn't hang it up, but we have this easel with a dry erase board and a felt board, so I just wheeled that over behind me and put it up there and they were happy with that.

Then we sat down and read, Martha In The Middle first because it was the longest, then What Does Bunny See? and then Up, Down, And Around. Martha was pretty well received, and with it being the first, they had a good amount of patience for the length. They absolutely loved Bunny because they got to guess what colour would be featured on the next page. The only thing was, I read it so that it was a question to get their attention more, which I recommend. Up, Down, and Around wasn't as well loved, but with most third books I read, they were starting to get antsy and were ready to be done.

On to the craft.

My prep work a few days before work:

I started with rectangular black plastic containers, about 4 inches by 6 inches or so, that my aunt gave me from these things. I filled them with chunks of Styrofoam that I cut to fit. Tip: When cutting Styrofoam, use a sharp knife and do it outside or in a basement. Not in your house because it makes SUCH a mess and takes forever to clean up.

I painted the Styrofoam green and then started making sunflowers. I cut out about... 300 petals (seriously) from yellow construction paper. They're just a pretty small tear shape, but long, and if you fold the paper right, you can cut out 30 or so at a time. The thing that takes the longest is tracing the petal. Then I cut out circles from brown construction paper, glued to petals to that, and glued it to a popsicle stick.

Tip: If you're like me and run out of pre-painted green popsicles sticks and don't have time to paint your own, you can colour popsicle sticks with washable marker. Your hands get a big green, but if you let them dry on a piece of paper, you're golden.

Last, I used pom-poms to make caterpillers. After lining them up to get the idea of how long it would be, I took light yellow bristol board (doesn't matter the colour, though, if you do this. These were pieces I found in the library storeroom), put a bunch of glue in a line down the bristol board as long as I wanted the caterpiller to be, and glued one large orange pom-pom down. Then, I put glue on a smaller dark red pom-pom, pressed the glue side against the orange one, and pressed it down on the glue on the card. Followed that with a yellow pom-pom, a lighter red one, and another yellow one.

I let the glue dry for a couple minutes so it didn't fall off or anything, and then cut around the caterpiller's body and let it dry. Oh, and I glued on little black pom-poms for eyes.

Tip: Don't do any of this the night before. Because you won't sleep. It takes a while. And besides, the glue should dry for a day or so, especially with the flowers (which mine didn't, because I was stupid and did it the night before).

All in all, what I brought to the library looked like this:

(Ignore the date stamp, it's very very wrong. I really have to take that off.)

Most of the kids that come to my Storytimes don't know how to use scissors or glue yet, so with a craft like this, I do have to do a lot of prep work, but they really enjoyed this one.

What I did:

After the books, I handed out the containers and they brought them back to the tables. Then, I handed out the sunflowers, passing them around the table one at a time so that they didn't have to wait long. (They're not very patient sometimes :P) I made 30 in all, and since 6 kids showed up, they ended up with 5 each. I should have made more, actually, so it was lucky there were only 6 kids that day.

They understand without me even telling them to stick the popsicle stick flowers in the styrofoam, which is great. Then, I gave them stickers and these cool foam stickers we have that you just peel off the backing which were great.

While they were decorating their gardens, I took about two of them at a time off the the side and gave them each a cup of seeding mix. They got to pour in the water to moisten the dirt and mix it up with a pencil (it was the closest thing I grabbed and worked well). I held the dirt cup for them and they got to pour, which was neat. Then I had them make a hole in the dirt and they got to put a seed in it.

By the time that was done, the kids were about done their gardens so we did a couple of colouring sheets. I only brought one, thinking the gardens would take longer, but I had a spare duck colouring sheet in my folder, so we did that, too. We probably could have used another one yet, but two was pretty good.

And that's my Storytime!


Before I start reading, once everyone has sat down and settled, I ask them if they remember the Storytime rules and then have them say with me "Turn your listening ears up. Sit in your chair. Look with your eyes, not with your hands." For listening ears, I pretend to "turn up" my ears, for sitting, I tap my hands on the legs of the chair, and for the last rule, I point at my eyes and then at them.

If they start talking too much and not paying attention, I say to them "Do you guys know that the book won't open if you don't listen?" and pretend that it's slammed shut and won't open again.

If you wanted to, you could put down a plastic tablecloth or something on the floor if you were worried about spillage, but I just told them to be really careful and didn't fill the cups up to the top. Plus the plates taped to them helped.

Other garden themed books I found:

Harriet and the Garden by Nancy Carlson
A Garden of Opposites by Nancy Davis
Zinnia's Flower Garden by Monica Wellington (This is the one that actually inspired the whole thing, along with the containers from my aunt)
The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

And that's it!! Normally, I don't do a craft like this, so this one was a lot longer (to type, the Storytime took the normal hour), but this is about what I do every week.

What do you guys think? Interesting? Want more of these? Comment and tell me what you think!

Peace and cookies,

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