Friday, October 28, 2011


     “This is Halloween! This is Halloween!”  Have I told you lately that I absolutely love Halloween!  Although Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is not one of my favorite movies, the music from this movie always seems to get stuck in my head right before Halloween!  Halloween music is one of my favorite things about Halloween, besides the candy and dressing up!  This year, I chose to use some classics including “Monster Mash,” “Witch Doctor,” and the “Munsters Theme Song."  I also had a request for the "A-H Alphabet Song" by Kidzup Educational Music, so I went ahead and made a video for it as

                                                  Munsters Theme Song
                                      This song can be purchased on iTunes.

                                    A-H Alphabet Song by Kidzup Educational Music
                                         This song can be purchased on iTunes.
     As mentioned last week, this week’s theme was letter-inspired, but HALLOWEEN-inspired!  I always like to do a little something special for the holidays, and Halloween is just so fun that it is hard to pass up having a big celebration.  One of my favorite things that we do for Halloween is to invite all of the kids to come in their costumes!  This year I had a wide-range of characters including a baby Frankenstein, all of the Disney princesses, Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, as well as a few Spidermans, a couple of Iron Mans, and one awesome Bat Man!  My favorite?  Well that probably belongs to a little boy whose mom made him dress up as a monkey.  If looks could kill, well, I think Q’s mom would be dead!
     On special Story Time days, I like to do things a bit different.  We don’t focus as much on “education” as much as we do on fun.  I will still do a couple of songs that may include body awareness or actions to get the wiggles out, but mostly I focus on how much of the holiday I can put into that day.
     This year, in lieu of a craft, I had my kids break up into teams of three and make a jack-o-lantern.  I created large pumpkins, and then cut out different facial pieces.  The kids then had to figure out what piece of the pumpkin they had, and then glue it to the pumpkin.  This was fun because not only did it incorporate recognizing facial features as well as the teamwork component, but really, the beauty of the pumpkins came from the fact that no pumpkin was the same.  Below are a few pictures of our “Picasso-like” pumpkins.  I love them and used them all to decorate the library.

     Although I decided to go with the group pumpkins this year, I did come across a few great crafts that I thought might be fun!  I hope you enjoy some of my favorites!
Pumpkin and Ghost string decorations found here.
Cheesestick fingers? It doesn't get much better than that.  Found here.
A health Halloween option!  Found here.

     Besides a craft, I also like to give out a little edible treat.  I have discovered that “baby” cupcakes, or mini-cupcakes, are the best treat for this age group.  They are able to eat them quickly without getting too full.  One thing to note… always be aware of food allergies.  I do have one little girl with an egg allergy.  Her mother offered to bring her own snack for that day and it was greatly appreciated!
     What’s Halloween without a couple of great Halloween books?  This year, I chose to read one of my favorites, 10 Trick or Treaters by Janet Schulman.  This book is one of my go-to books when it comes to Halloween.  I really like that you can make it as scary as you want while also giving the “education” component of counting numbers.  This book is also great because it isn’t your standard “count to ten” book, instead of going from one to ten; it starts at ten and counts backwards.

     Another great Halloween book is Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw.  My story time kids love all of the Sheep books by Nancy Shaw, so I knew this one would win them over as well.  I love the creativity of the sheep and even ask the kids what costumes they would create if they could.  My kids never cease to amaze me with their over-the-top answers!

     Halloween this year seemed to be really successful.  The kids especially liked the end surprise, a GOODY BAG for everyone!  With the 2-6 year olds, I usually give the typical Halloween fare: candy, bubbles, rings, stickers, etc.  But for some reason, I am always stumped on what to give babies. I thought I might put out a few suggestions for those of you who are just as clueless as I am .  This year, my babies got a wiffle ball, a sticker, a Dum-Dum sucker, a board book, and a sippy cup.  Now I know the Dum-Dum may not be appropriate for every child, but as long as you forewarn the parents of what is in the bag, then I feel it’s ok to throw it in.

     That seems to be all for this extra SPOOKTACULAR installment.  Although I love my special Story Time, getting back into the normal swing of things is nice too!  Please come back next week as we continue on our letter-a-week journey with the letter Ii. 



Thursday, October 20, 2011

H is for... HEARTS and HALLOWEEN!

     It’s a well-known fact that after Christmas, Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday.  I hate being spooked, but there’s just something about dressing up and getting candy that is just so much fun.  So, boy was I excited when I figured out that the letter Hh would be close to Halloween! How could I not cover Halloween with the letter Hh?  However, for my flashcard, I went a more generic route so that the kids and their parents could use them long into the future if they want to.
     When I start my flashcard craft for each week, I always like to do a quick little Google search for some inspiration.  This week, I saw the letter H turned into a house, a horse, a hippo, and hands used to form the H.  All of those are pretty great, however, I have a group of kids that LOVE stickers.  I am always grateful for my sticker-loving kids because when I am having a hard time thinking of a craft, all I have to do is find some great stickers, create a simple background scene, and my kids are perfect happy.  So what better way is there to incorporate stickers into a craft than to give each kid a sheet of heart stickers and let them stick until their heart’ content.  Thus, our craft this week looked a little something like this.

Materials: Capital letter H drawn on an index card, foam hearts on glue dots, and crayons

Back Side of Card

1)    Trace the capital and lower case Hh on the backside of the card.

2)    Color the letter H then STICK AWAY!  My kids got a little creative here.  Some used the hearts on the front, as intended, while others used the hearts to outline the letters on the back.  I love it when my kids think of something that I haven’t!

3)    Place letter Hh on the binder clip with the letters Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, Ff, and Gg.

     Normally, I do not have a hard time finding great read-aloud books that I know my kids will like.  Lately, I have been STRIKING OUT!  Last week’s giraffe book was a bit of a bust, and I had that same problem this week.  It was a little bit difficult finding a good book about hearts that wasn’t related to Valentine’s Day.  Thus, I went with the book, In My Heart by Molly Bang.  I thought this book was sweet, thought-provoking, and loving.  My kids thought it was a bit slow and lacked excitement.  My suggestion?  This book would be great for a mom/dad/grandma/grandpa/aunt/uncle to read in a one-on-one situation, however, as a group of about 20, the message doesn’t really come across clearly.

     Halloween books, on the other hand, there are so many great ones it’s hard to pick just one to read.  This week, I went with a fairly new book that I knew none of my kids had read.  The 13 Nights of Halloween by Guy Vasilovch is really funny, a bit creepy, and filled with lots of fantastic drawings.  This book is really fun because you can sing it to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  In fact, it’s kind of hard not to.  I gave my kids the line “5 Singing Skulls,” and boy did the love to shout it out!

     As for our Halloween craft, I strayed just a little bit and went a “Five Little Pumpkins” craft. Does it have to do with Halloween? Eh, pumpkins remind me of Halloween, so why not? Plus, our fun Halloween craft will be next week when my library has our annual Halloween Story Time! In order to get a complete list of instructions, go here. I didn’t follow the instructions exactly, however, below you can see a picture of what ours looked like. The biggest thing that I added was print-out of the poem on the back so that the kids and their parents could recite it at home whenever they want. Reading and a craft?! Woo Hoo!
Front side of the "Five Little Pumkins" Craft.
Back side of the craft and the poem the craft is based on.

     I like to finish these blog posts with the music that I have been using over the past couple of weeks.  I am a Windows Moviemaker novice, and while making these music videos can be fun, there is quite a bit of frustration at the same time.  I just hope they keep getting better the more I learn.  Below are a couple more songs that my kids absolutely love.  “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” is a classic, however, I like this version because it’s just a tad bit different.  Watch and listen to see if you can find the differences.
*** Due to some technical difficulties, this video has been removed.  Please visit the following link to see this video.

    The same can also be said for another favorite, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”  Just like “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” this one also has a bit of twist that my babies tend to go wild for.  Watch and listen and I’m sure you can figure out how this one became a quick favorite among my kids.

"The Itsy Bitsy Spider"
by Hap Palmer.
This song can be purchased on iTunes.

     Well, I think that is it for now.  Did I mention that next week is Halloween at our library?  Maybe once or twice?  I cannot wait!  The kids are always so cute in their costumes and it’s hard not to have fun when everyone is so excited.  I can’t wait to post pictures of my costume, but first I have to figure out what I am going to be!  Stay tuned for next week to see what I come up with!


Friday, October 14, 2011

G is for... GIRAFFES and GHOSTS!

     Things are starting to get a little spooky this week at the Mooresville Public Library. Our volunteers did a GREAT job getting all of our decorations up for Halloween, but that isn’t the only thing causing a scare.  This week, we covered ghosts….BOO!  The letter Gg fell at a great time considering it is almost Halloween and what better way to ring in the letter Gg than with a ghost craft and story!  It was GHOULISHLY GREAT and I am GEARED up to show you all about it, but let’s first begin with our flashcard of the week.
     I love giraffes!  There is something so magical about a creature with an extremely long neck.  However, did you know that a giraffe has the same number of cervical vertebrae (or neck bones) as humans?  We each have seven, though a giraffes are MUCH LARGER!  Just a little tidbit of information in case it ever comes up on Jeopardy!  I found an adorable letter G giraffe this week that I just had to use.  Although I do like trying to free-hand my letters, this week, in order to make sure it was dead on and looked like a giraffe, I traced it.  What do you think?  Cute, huh?

Materials:  Letter G card, crayons, washable paint, Q-Tip, googly eye

Back Side of Card

1)    Color the letter G to make it look like a giraffe.  Place the googly eye on the giraffe.

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

3)    With your Q-Tip, paint orange dots on the giraffe to create his spots.

4)    Let dry then place on your ring with letters, Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, and Ff.

     I had a bit of a hard time finding a good giraffe book this week.  Although my library had quite a few to pick from, they all seemed to be a bit long and not very entertaining as read-alouds go.  So I went with a personal favorite, Shel Silverstein’s A Giraffe and a Half.  Although a bit long, this book lends itself to being cut down just a bit.  It was quite easy to cut out a few pages but still keep the drift of the book.  I read this to my Tuesday 2s and 3s Class and to say it did not go well would be an understatement.  Although quite funny, I think the subtlety in the jokes were a little over the head of my poor 2 and 3 year olds. 

So I made a quick change before my Wednesday classes and I came up with Carlo Likes Colors by Jessica Spanyol.  This book, though not necessarily a great story, was fantastic for discussing colors and objects that fall into those color categories.  This book seemed to go over much better with the 2 and 3 year old crowd.  I think they especially liked it because they were able to yell out answers about the colors and let’s be honest, what kid doesn’t like to yell out answers?

     As previously mentioned, I went with a ghost theme for my four to six year old class.  I knew I wanted to do ghosts because it is so close to Halloween, however, I did not want to read a Halloween book just yet.  After a quick little search for “ghosts,” I found the perfect book for my needs.  Zee is Not Scared by Michael Gay is a terrific book to talk about ghosts, but not necessarily Halloween.  I don’t want to ruin it, but I might add that this book has the potential to give your kids a bad idea when it comes to scaring their parents! J  My kids loved this book.  It was suspenseful in just the right spots, funny in the right spot, and even has some feel-good parent love at the end.  I don’t think it can get much better than that!

     Going into a ghost craft I thought it couldn’t be that hard to find something that is easy, mass producible, and fun.  Boy was I wrong.  Everything that I wanted to make was too messy, too advanced, or not easily made for a class of twenty!  That was until I found the PERFECT craft for kids.  Wait for it… GLUE GHOSTS! That’s right… GLUE GHOSTS!  What kid do you know that doesn’t like to squeeze all of the glue out and make big puddles of it?  Well, that was EXACTLY the point of this craft. All you need is wax paper and glue.  If you want to get a little more festive, add googly eyes and some felt.  For complete step-by-step instructions, go here.  Also, take a look at my video too see the glue ghost I created.
     As I mentioned in last week’s post, my new goal for this blog is to post two new music videos a week.  This week I have chosen a couple of my classes absolute favorites, The Numbers Jump and Open, Shut Them.  I don’t know about you, but my kids go crazy when they hear these two songs.  I have played them both so much over the past two years that I have slowly been trying to weed them out, however, it’s impossible when the kids come in requesting these songs.  I hope you can get as much use from these songs as I have.

The Numbers Jump by Wonder Choir

Open, Shut Them by Hap Palmer
     Well, that's it for the letter Gg.  I hope I gave you some pretty great ideas that hopefully you can use with your own kids.  As usual, feel free to leave me a message if you have any questions, comments, or even ideas!  I am always looking for the next great craft!  Next week, we tackle Hh!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

F is for... FROGS and FIRE!!

     FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!  No, don’t worry; the Mooresville Public Library isn’t on fire.  Next week, October 9-15 is Fire Safety Week!  We take fire safety VERY SERIOUS here at MPL, however, it fit better with my letter-a-week theme to do fire safety this week, since fire begins with an Ff.

The sticker I gave each child. This was donated to MPL by the Mooresville Fire Department.

     I have done fire safety with my story time classes for two years.  Although it is never too early to talk to your child about fire safety, I decided to focus on fire safety just with my four to six year old class.  I was amazed how many children knew the emergency number 9-1-1.  I was proud that almost every child in the room knew what to do if their clothes caught fire; STOP, DROP, and ROLL!  Every child knew that fire can be very dangerous and that only adults should handle fire if it is necessary.
    Though I normally like to begin my posts with the craft I chose, I think in the case of fire safety, I might start with my book choice.  Fire safety books can be difficult read-alouds.  Most of the time, the information is fantastic, however, the story line, not-so-much.  This week, I read Dot the Fire Dog by Lisa Desimni. 

     This book was a great read-aloud because it was short and to the point.  It was more about a firehouse and what goes on there.  I enjoyed this book because we were able to discuss such things as why firemen wear protective gear and what the purpose of each piece is.  We talked about why a dog is useful to have in a firehouse.  And lastly, we discussed what qualities it takes to become a fireman.  So not only did we talk about fire safety, but the importance of having firemen in general.  I am also posting a couple other books that might be good read-alouds to help discuss fire safety.

     My craft for fire safety week was meant to allow the kids creative juices to flow.  The idea came from a craft project I saw here.  I cut out the pieces to create a fire truck out of construction paper.  With these pieces we were able to talk about colors and shapes.  Once they had the fire truck pieces glued down, then I had them draw whatever they wanted.  Some of my kids drew the fire truck going to a burning building, while others just drew a huge fire.  Some didn’t draw fire at all, but opted for rainbows, puppies, and kitties.  Like I said, I didn’t care what they kids drew, as long as they were being creative.  In my video with Sammy the Toucan, you can see the picture I drew.  Like the kids, I got a little carried away with my fire!

The picture I drew as an example.
     As for my two and three year olds, we continued with the alphabet flash cards.  This week, we turned the letter F into a frog.  Now I know what you are thinking, how do we do that?  Well, just like last week, it is not always necessary to have to turn the letter into the object.  This week, all we did was cut out two frog arms, two frog legs, and two black eyes.  The kids colored the letter F, traced the uppercase and lowercase letters on the back, then placed the arms, legs, and eyes on the F.  VOILA!  A jumping frog!  (For those of you who may be interested in how we get the pieces to stick, my library has a fantastic supply of glue dots!  You can get them at any craft supply store in the scrapbooking aisle.  They are great for small children because all they have to do is peel off the back and stick it on!)

Materials:  Letter F drawn on an index card, crayons, two green frog legs, two green frog arms, 2 black dots for the eyes

Back side of card

1) Color the letter F. Place eyes, arms, and legs as if to make it look like a leaping frog. 

2) Trace the capital and lowercase Ff on the back of the card. 

NOTE: Remember, if your child cannot do this, help them trace by guiding their hand. DO NOT do it for them.  Also, pay close attention to your child's grip on the crayon.  Encourage them to hold the crayon as if they were writing.

3) Add the letter F to the other letters.

     The book I read to the two and three year old this week was a FABULOUS pick.  I will definitely be reading this one again in the near future.  Jump! by Steve Lavis is what I refer to as an “action book.”  The book gives action directions to the kids that include, marching, dancing, clapping, and roaring!  Do you know how much fun it is to listen to fifteen, two and three year olds roar as loud as they can!  It is hilarious!  I would highly recommend this book especially if you have a class full of movers and shakers!

     After writing six blog posts, I have decided that I need to improve my music suggestions.  I think that my book and craft suggestions are fairly on point and creative, but my music is a bit lacking.  Music is an integral part of me story times, however, I think I need to make a bigger deal of how important it really is.  My last post mentioned my recent Every Child Ready to Read training and the importance of the new five practices: TALKING, SINGING, READING, talking, singing, reading, writing, playing.  How am I supposed to express how important these practices are if I am not discussing the importance of music and singing in my blog posts?  So, here’s a quick list of my favorite music.
     This week, since we focused on frogs, I used the classic “5 Green and Speckled Frogs.”  There are many different versions to this song, but I chose the one that was most upbeat and fun.  Once again, I used this song to play with the parachute and although I did not have a frog to bounce, we opted for another animal that begins with an Ff, Fish!  I do however, use other songs each week.  Songs I chose to use for the month of October include…

1)     I-P Alphabet Song by Kidzup Educational Music
2)     Jump Up, Turn Around by Jim Gill
3)     Spunky Spider by Jane Murphy
4)     I Love Bugs! by Jane Murphy
5)     Clap Your Hands Just Like Me by Tumble Tots
6)     Numbers Jump by Wonder Choir
7)     Itsy Bitsy Spider by Hap Palmer
8)     The Animal Alphabet by Twin Sisters Production

     My goal throughout the month of October is to post two song videos per each post, thus, by the end of Ocotber, you will have a video for each of the songs I list above.  Now, I am the one making these videos on Windows Movie Maker.  I am a movie maker novice, so bear with me.  Hopefully as the month progresses, my videos will get better and better.  Thus, let me present, my first two music videos EVER!

This is the I-P Alphabet Song by Kidzup Educational Music.
This song is available for purchase on iTunes.

This is the Animal Alphabet song, a Twin Sisters Production. 
This song is available for purchase on iTunes.
     Well, I think that is it for this week.  I hope you enjoyed this week’s post about the letter Ff.  Don’t forget that next week is FIRE SAFETY WEEK!  It really is important and everyone should take just a little bit of time to talk about it with their kids.  As usual, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave me a message!  I love getting comments almost as much as I love getting snail mail! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

E is for... EGG and ELEPHANT!

     It’s been another crazy week at Mooresville Public Library.  I love working in a
fast-paced environment because you never know what you are going to walk into on any given day.  This week alone I saw 65 Kindergarteners for a pre-field trip story time, 70 second graders for a library tour, and 80 children between the ages of newborn to six years old for regular weekly Story Time.  And if all that wasn’t enough, I also got to attend a seminar at my library about the new and improved Every Child Ready to Read 2.0!  I am exhausted just thinking about it.  Let’s get going on what we did this week at Story Time, however fair warning, I am also going to talk a bit about ECRR 2.0 at the end because it was so FANTASTIC! 

     As you may have already guessed, the letter this week is Ee.  I happen to really like the letter Ee.  It’s the first initial of my middle name AND my last name AND my sister’s name begins with an Ee.  Ee was a tricky one for me in terms of our flash card this week.  The obvious response would have been to make an elephant with our upper case E, but I wanted to be different.  I decided that Ee was going to be an egg.  Egg?  Now I know what you’re thinking.  How in the world are we going to turn an Ee into an egg?  Simple… you don’t!  Behold the power of a brass fastener.

Materials: Uppercase"E" drawn on an index card, crayons, an egg cut out of colorful printer paper cut in half to make it looked cracked, and a brass fastener.

Back side of card

1) Color the capital E adn decorate the egg.

2) Trace the Ee on the backside of the card.

3) Stick the brass fastener through one portion of the egg.  Now, barely overlapping, push the brass fastener through the second half of the egg.

4) Next push the brass fastener through the index card.  The E should look as if it is inside the egg.  Don't forget to pull apart the prongs on the fastener in order to make it nice and secure.

5) Lastly, add the E to the letters A, B, C, and D.
     As for the second craft for my four to six year olds, I went the safe route, elephants!  Admit it, elephants are funny.  They are HUGE, look funny, and every kid loves them.  I found a really awesome craft here.  Elephants AND a party horn?  Life doesn’t get much better!  Although this craft was a hit, I learned a few things. 

1)     ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have more than enough crafts prepared.  Although it sounds a bit wasteful, having too many ALWAYS beats the alternative.  I got lucky and 2 children had to leave early.  If they hadn’t, I would have been 2 short!  Worst nightmare!
2)     Kids DO NOT CARE if their mouth has been on something.  They will still want to switch you for a different color.

     Books this week were two I had never read before.  For my two and three year olds I chose the book Except If by Jim Averbeck.  This book was a great “thinking” book.  What starts out as a cracked egg quickly becomes a snake, then a lizard, then a dinosaur, and the list goes on.  I am not going to ruin it for you, but I will tell you it’s possible to keep your kids guessing for an extended period of time about what my come next.

     To go along with our elephant craft I chose a not-so-traditional pick, That’s Not Funny! by Adrian Johnson.  Thought not necessarily about an elephant, the elephant quickly becomes the star and main joke-getter in this book.  This book is SO MUCH MORE than a book about a boy and an elephant.  It’s a great book to discuss things such as being nice to everyone, helping someone instead of laughing at them, and could even be used with an older group when discussing bullying. 

     Song choices this week were minimal.  I like to try to combine my songs, books, and crafts into on cohesive theme, but sometimes, it just doesn’t work.  This was one of those times.  I couldn’t really find and egg song or elephant song that I really loved.  I did use a song called, “Dinosaur Egg” by Geof Johnson.  This was great for the parachute because it was fast and really got the kids hyped up (as if they needed it!).

     So that was this week’s story time in a nutshell.  As I previously mentioned, along with my typical programming this week, I also attended a workshop held at my library about Every Child Ready to Read.  This is the second edition of this program and I was really excited to see what new changes they were implementing.  The best part, for me personally, was the change from 6 skills to 5 practices.  What use to be a lot of library jargon, such as phonological awareness and narrative skills, became 5 easy practices that everyone can do- Reading, Writing, Singing, Playing and Talking! YAY!!!  Something we can all understand!
     One of the greatest things that came from this workshop, in my opinion, was the recognition that my library and the weekly programs I do are ahead of the game.  With the implementation of the alphabet flash cards, I have slowly been adding writing into my weekly plans which seemed to be the hardest one for people to wrap their heads around in terms of how we are going to use the 5 practices in Story Time.
     There are so many more things I could say about Every Child Ready to Read 2.0.  I think it is going to be great incorporating the practices into what I already do.  I don’t think it will be difficult, just different.  If you have any questions about my weekly story times or even what I learned during my ECRR 2.0 workshop, please leave a comment!  Next week we tackle the letter Ff.