Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Special Christmas Edition!

Merry Christmas!  I absolutely love this holiday!  It is my favorite!  It is hard not to get excited when the kids come in all ready for Christmas!  I think that I work with the best age group in regards to Christmas!  Their ideas on Santa Claus, Rudolph, the elves and reindeer, as well as the North Pole never cease to amaze me!

This edition of the Explore to Learn: Early literacy blog is going to be a bit different.  Instead of giving you step-by-step of what we did, I am going to put it in pictures!  I will give you a few book, song, and craft suggestions!


This book is great for younger children.  I love counting
books and this book counts backwards.  There are also some
great sound effects in this one!

Who doesn't love Ollie books?  This book is also
great for a younger audience.  They will have
no problem sitting through this one!

Pop-up! Say no more!  I read this to a mixed ages
group with no problems at all!
Who doesn't love the "If You Give" mouse books?
I don't know a single good who doesn't giggle at
all the mischief this little mouth causes.

A holiday classic!  If you haven't read this yet... DO!  Although a
bit long, the pictures are beautiful and will keep your child's attention!

Everyone needs a good Christmas bedtime story, right? 
This one is more about winter than Christmas,
butit is still a great tale.
Perhaps my kids favorite that I read.  Anything by
Robert Sabuda is great!  He takes this classic
and makes it so much fun with the pop-ups!

Need a book that covers Christmas and New Year's?  This is it!
With great rhyming lines, you can't go wrong with this choice!


Found here.

Found here.

 Found here.

This is the version of the song that I use every year!

Jingle Bells... this isn't the version I use, but how
cute is this video?!

We Wish You a Merry Christmas video.. GREAT FOR KIDS!

     Well, that is it for 2011! Thanks for tuning in and we will see you in 20121  Have a safe and happy holidays from Miss Jaymi and the Mooresville Public Library!

L is for... Ladybugs and Llamas

     Welcome back!  It seems I have taken a mini-vacation, when in actuality; things have been so busy I haven’t had much time to blog!  A couple of weeks ago we covered the letter Ll.  This is a fairly easy letter in terms of finding books and crafts.  Just off the top of my head you could do leaves, lions, letters, lights and lawyers.  Ok, ok, that last one might be hard to create, but I promised a friend of mine from college who is almost finished with law school that he would make my blog during the letter L.  Happy Benny?  I, however, chose instead ladybugs and llamas

          The ladybug letter craft was interesting this week.  Although I had a couple of add-on parts, the bug and the antennae, I think what made this letter look the most like a ladybug was that I colored the letter L red and then put black dots all over. 

Materials:  Index card with capital L, red construction paper cut to look like a ladybug, pipe cleaner to look like antenna, and crayons

Front of card

Back of card

1)    Color the capital L to look like a ladybug.

2)    Trace the capital and lower case Ll on the back of the card.

3)    Glue the lady to the letter L.  Color black dots on the ladybug.  Glue the antenna to the ladybug.

With the older kids, I created a craft out of thin air.  I absolutely love the Llama,Llama books by Anna Dewdney, so I know we were going to create something with a llama.  After a little internet research on what llamas look like, I ended up with this.

I free-handed the llama shape.  I then gave each kid a bunch of cotton balls and had them glue them all over the llama to look like wool.  I also gave each child one googly eye to put on their llama once all of their cotton balls were firmly glue down.  Lastly, I put crayons out and if the kids wanted to, they could draw a scene behind their llama.  Although the whole craft was fun, I especially liked the last part because it made each kid’s llama craft different.
Books this week were an easy pick!  They were also really fun.  I just happened to come upon the most perfect ladybug I could think of.  Five Little Ladybugs by Karyn Henley was great because it was not only a story, but it is actually a finger play that I was able to teach to the parents.  Anything that allows your parents something to take home is always an added bonus in my book!  This book was also perfect because although it starts out spring-looking, it actually ends in SNOW!  Which living in Indiana in December means that we tend to get lots of snow, except this year!  I am not complaining, but my kids are!

As mentioned, the books I chose for the four to six year olds was from the Llama, Llama series by Anna Dewdney. I really wanted to read the Christmas book, however, I waited too long and it was checked out.  So I went with Llama Llama Mad at Mama.  This. Book. Is. Hilarious!  I have read a few others of Dewdney’s, however, I have somehow missed out on this one.  What a shame because I think every person, man, woman, and child, can relate to this book!  Can you tell that I loved it and would highly recommend it?

Music this week was the same as it’s been the past couple of weeks.  I did add a new song called, “Action Dance,” by Kate Kuper and Neal Robinson.  My 2-6 year olds loved this song so much they asked to do it again!  Don’t you love when that happens?  This song and many of her others can be purchased on iTunes.

That seems to be all for this installment!  Next time we will celebrate my absolute favorite holiday, CHRISTMAS!  Come back for some great Christmas ideas!


Monday, December 5, 2011

K is for... Kites and More Kites!

     Welcome back!  Sammy the Toucan finally gave me my camera back; however, I had to promise him that I would promote his Victorian Christmas PSA.  There Sammy, are you happy?
     I know that we have been on bit of a break, but now that we are back into the swing of things, let me introduce the letter of the week- Kk!  Kk is one of those letters that lends it to many proper names; at least it seems that was all my four to six year olds could think of. When I asked them words that start with Kk, I received, “Kate, Katie, Katherine, Kalyn, Kelsey, and Kennedy.”  Haha, I just love the way kids’ brains work.  I did, however, get kite and kids, also with a little prompting, koala. 
     My kids were at able to at least get this week’s theme: Kites!  Below is the alphabet card of the week.

Materials:  Index card with capital K, string, construction paper diamonds, crayons, and glue stick

Front of card

Back of card

1)    Color the capital K.

2)    Trace the capital and lower case Kk on the back of the card.

3)    Glue the string to the kites.

4)    Glue the kites to the card. Glue the knot of the string to the card!

5)    Add the letter K the other completed alphabet cards!

     As for the second craft for the four to six year olds, I continued with our kite theme.  Just like the kids when I asked them for “K” words, I had a hard time find other “K” crafts that I liked.  I thought about doing something with kittens, but everything I thought was cute and creative was either a bit too hard for the kids, or required too much time.  Thus, we ended up making kites out of cardstock, string, and crepe paper.  Although minimal in resources and prep time, the kids really seemed to enjoy being able to color and decorate their kite however they wanted. 
     As mentioned before, my four to six year olds are ALL ABOUT their independence!  I cannot tell you how many times a class I hear, “No Mom, I can do that by myself!”  I always encourage the kids to try the crafts on their own, but also remind them that it is okay to ask for help.  This kite craft was great because it required little assistance from the parents, which, in turn, really helped the kids’ self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.  Below is the finished craft that I created.  Needless to say, the kids' kites were MUCH more decorated than mine.

     I had a really good time picking out kite books this week.  I was a bit worried that finding a book solely about a kite would be hard, but I ended up finding a gem of a book called, Gilberto and the Wind by Marie Hall Ets.  First let me start by saying this book is OLD, which is why I love it!  Kids these days are inundated with so many colors, pictures, and words, I thought it might be nice to show books with simpler illustrations.  Although a big long, this book lends itself to skipping a page here or there without ever losing the plot of the story.

     As for the second book for the Story Time kids, I had ulterior motives in choosing this title.  This week, my library received THREE “Flat Stanleys” from a friend of mine who teaches school in Lithuania.  Cauli, our roving reporter, received a friend and blogged about their adventures here.  In order to introduce Geidre, my “Flat Stanley,” to the class, as well as continue with the letter K, I chose the book, Thank You, World by Alice B. McGinty.  You can use this book for many themes, however, I liked the fact that it not only had kites in it, but also allowed for me to discuss with the kids Flat Geidre and that she came overseas from another country. 

     Look for Flat Geidre in our video this week.  I also posted a few pictures below of some of the adventures Geidre went on.  This mostly included things we do during Story Time!

Geidre likes to listen to music on the library iPod.

Can you find Geidre in the toy box?

Geidre made the craft this week!  It was perfect size for her!

HO HO HO! Look who Geidre got to meet?

     Music this week was fun, fun, fun!  Because it’s December, I could care less if my music goes with the letter theme for the week, it is all CHRISTMAS music ALL THE TIME!  I am a stickler for the Polar Express Soundtrack, so my kids blow bubbles to it throughout all of December.  I also use a song from the Seasons and Celebrations CD by Kidzup Educational Music appropriately titled, “Winter.”  Both of these music videos below I found on YouTube.
     Lastly, I always try to introduce the kids to one new song a month that covers basic knowledge skills for preschoolers.  This may be a number, alphabet, color, or body awareness song.  However, this week, I found a fantastic shapes song by Parachute Express on the CD Sunny Side Up called, “The Shapes Game.”  I actually had a little bit of time, so I created the video below! I hope you enjoy it!

"When Christmas Comes to Town"
on the Polar Express Soundtrack.

"Winter" by Kidzup Educational Music.

"The Shapes Game" by Parachute Express.

     Well, that seems to be for this installment of Explore to Learn.  Next week will be our last letter update for the year.  After that, I will have my much anticipated Christmas Story Time followed by a few weeks of break, which really just means planning everything for January through May.  Stay tuned next week to see what happens!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Victorian Christmas Celebration!

Sammy the Toucan hijacked my camera(wo)man and made a video of his own this week!  We hope you enjoy it!

The Mooresville Public Library and Silly Safaris
proudly presents:


Bring your whole family out for this fun and educational event.  The Mooresville Public Library is just one of many stops during the Victorian Christmas Celebration! 
For a complete list of events, visit here.

Sammy and I hope you and your family have
a very merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thanksgiving!

     Well, Sammy the Toucan was feeling a little under the weather this week, so I gave him the week off.  I tried to get Cauli Le Chat, the MPL roving reporter to help out, however, I couldn’t find him anywhere!  He must have been out looking for the next big story!
     Although there will not be a video this week, Sammy was kind enough to send me this picture!  Just proves that you can take the bird out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the bird!

Sammy wants to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
He is really sorry he couldn't make the video this week. :(

P.S. Isn’t Sammy festive in his pilgrim hat?

     This week was an extra special week here at the Mooresville Public Library.  I always like to incorporate the holidays into my story times when possible, and Thanksgiving is no exception.  Although a big Halloween and Christmas fan, something about Thanksgiving always gets me excited.  I personally love Thanksgiving because it is all about spending time with family, and who doesn’t love that?
     For special holiday-themed story times, I like to forgo the alphabet letter-of-the-week and create a special craft.  Remember, though, I usually see between 60 to 75 kids a week so this can lead to lots of crafting.  The internet is FILLED with tons of great crafts for small kids but I always have to make sure that it isn’t too labor intensive since I have to be able to produce in mass quantity.  There were so many great Thanksgiving crafts online I had a hard time picking just one.  However, I decided to go with a fairly easy one, reminiscent of the pumpkin crafts we made for Halloween. 

I created a turkey out of colorful butcher paper. 

I then gave each kid a feather. On it was a line for the child’s name then the phrase “is thankful for…” 

     I asked each kid to write their name on the feather then have their adult write down what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving season.  Each kid then placed their feather on the turkey and I used them to decorate the library. 

Some of the kids’ answers were pretty priceless!  I had one little six year old girl who said, “Miss Jaymi, Miss Jaymi, Miss Jaymi!  I am thankful for clothes because without them…we would be NAKED!”  I can’t make this stuff up!
     As for my four to six year old class, I taught them a Thanksgiving classic… turkeys made from tracing your hand!  This was so much fun and so easy!  The kids loved that they were able to create a craft that required little, if any, help from the adult they came with!  I am all for independence and was glad I was able to encourage not only that, but also ensure that each kid was able to creatively make their turkey however they wanted to!  Below is the turkey I made this year!

     As for books, well, if you have ever tried to pick out a book for Thanksgiving you understand that this can be a daunting task.  For one, most books are too long for the attention span of a two to six year old.  For another, as a public institution, I have to make sure to stay away from anything faith-based.  Lastly, I would love to include some of the historical reasons as to why we celebrate Thanksgiving, but an exciting book on the history of Thanksgiving just doesn’t exist, at least that I can find.  However, I did find a few that I like.

My kids loved this book.  It is really great for being able
to help kids count backwards!

How many things can this old lady eat?
My kids loved the repetitive line, "perhaps she'll die!"

A little bit long for younger kids, but perfect for Kindergarten age!
My kids really enjoy this one so I read it year after year.

I tried something different this year and read this short
book to my Baby Time class.  It reminds us to be thankful
for everything we have.

Written just like the Christmas classic, this book, once again, may
be too long for some of your littler kids.

This book is great.  You just have to read it to understand
why the kids love it so much! Hint, hint.. there's a surprise ending!

     Music for Thanksgiving, however, is never difficult to find.  The only problem that I usually run into is making sure that the songs aren’t too slow.  My kids love upbeat music, especially when bouncing the parachute.  Below is a video that I didn't create, however, it is the song I always use!  Its catchy and quick and is sure to get stuck in your head!

     I just want to finish this post by listing a few things that I am thankful for.  Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for everything that we have.  I am thankful for my family, friends, and health.  I am also thankful that I work in such a great place that allows me such freedom in my programs, as well as the opportunity to share my ideas with the world.  Lastly, I want to thank everyone who reads this blog.  I hope that I am able to help you just a little bit.
     Ok, enough mushy stuff!  I hope you tune in next time as we will return to our regular programming!

J is for... Jewels, Jellyfish, and JAYMI!

     Well, this week we covered my absolute favorite letter, Jj!  Now you may ask why this is my favorite letter.  It’s my first initial, duh!  This week was all about jewels, jellyfish, and me, JAYMI!  Ok, not really on the last one, but we did do crafts and books on jewels and jellyfish.  The only one really interested in J is for Jaymi was Sammy the Toucan, who sported a few “I love Miss Jaymi” buttons all day.
     If I had it my way, the kids would have decorated the letter Jj flashcard with lots of pictures of… ME!  Or as Cauli, our MPL roving reporter would say, “MOI!”   However, I thought that may be a tad bit overboard, so I decided to go with Jj is for jewels.  My library has a lot of crafty materials lying around and I knew this would be quick, easy, and fun!

Materials:  Letter J flashcard, sequins or jewels, glue dots, crayons

Front of card

Back of card

1)    Color the letter J.

2)    Trace capital and lowercase J on the back of the card.  Cover your J in beautiful jewels and sequins!

     The other craft for this week was something I just made up on a whim.  Now I am sure that someone, somewhere, already put this online, but oh well.  I was pretty proud of this craft considering it used all materials we already had at the library.  Can you guess what Jj craft this might be?

Materials:   Plastic bag, cotton balls, rubber band, googly eyes, cut-out of a fish

1)    Cut plastic bag into square.  Make slits in the side to create “tentacles.”  Fluff up cotton balls.  Place in middle of plastic bag.

3)    Tie rubber band around jellyfish to create a head.

4)    Attach googly eyes to the head and the fish to the tentacles.

TA DA!  A cheap and easy jellyfish with materials you probably have lying around your house!

     For those of you who have been keeping up on my posts, you know that picking books for Story Time has been a struggle for me lately.  I always try to keep in mind what kinds of things my kids are interested in as well as what will help reiterate my theme, however, I just can’t seem to pick books that my kids like as much as I do.  I got luck this week.  I chose two GREAT books that my kids seemed to love.
     Jewel books are a bit hard to come by.  I really wanted to find a book about kings or queens that discussed jeweled tiaras or rings, however, that just wasn’t happening.  I ended up going with a book called Bat Jamboree by Kathi Appelt.  Although it had NOTHING to do with jewels, jamboree is a pretty great Jj word and my kids really enjoyed the book.  Who doesn’t love a book that ends with the pun, “The spotlight will shin on that six-story screen.  And the show won’t be over till the bat lady sings.”

     As for a jellyfish book, I went with a pretty well-known book.  I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry is one that I have read before.  The kids I read it to then seemed to enjoy it so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it again.  I am glad that I did.  There are all kinds of creatures that you can talk about and discuss with the kids, not just the jellyfish.  I was really impressed with all of the sea animals my kids knew about.  I would definitely recommend this book!

     This week, in Story Time, I moved on to the last installment of the alphabet song.  Below is the video for the “Q-Z Alphabet Song” by Kidzup Educational Music.  I have had quite a few parents tell me they really like having access to these songs because they are able to not only use the song, but also discuss the different sounds a letter can make.

"Q-Z Alphabet Song" by Kidzup Educational Music.
This song can be purchased from iTunes.
     That seems to be it for this week's installment.  I hope you were as excited about the letter Jj as I was.  Next week we will have another extra special installment in order to celebrate an upcoming holiday!  Hope to see you then!