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!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I is for... Iguanas and Igloos! BRRRRR!

     Who knew the letter Ii could be so difficult?  Of course, when most of us think about the letter Ii, we immediately think of ice, ice cream, ice trucks… you get the picture.  Another word that may come to mind is iguana, but can you think of anything after that?  Of course there is always interesting, interrogate, and other words that start with Ii but have little or no meaning to a four year old!  I was highly IMPRESSED with a 3 year old who exclaimed IGUANADON, in which I had to then ask him, “That’s a dinosaur, right?”  Nothing like being outsmarted by one of the kids! J
     My safest bet this week was to go with iguana.  I figured that most of my kids would know what an iguana was and I even had a really good book to go with it.  Ever heard of a gem of a book called I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff?  Normally, I would NEVER promote a book that uses improper grammar, however, this one was just too cute that I couldn’t resist.  At least I thought it was cute.  To continue on with my streak of pulling subpar books, my kids just didn’t seem to think this one was as funny as I did.  The material may have been a little too long for my younger kids and some of the joke may have been too subtle, but I just couldn’t pass it up.  This book had me in side-splitting laughter, my kids, however, thought it was a big YAWN!  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

     My other book choice this week, for the four to six year old, was all about igloos.  There is just something so mysterious about igloos that even if you are reading a non-fiction book, the kids just love it.  I like to try to add in a little non-fiction every now and then.  It is great to mix things up, but also because it exposes children to literature outside of the everyday picture book.  My kids at the library love non-fiction, as long as it is minimal and about a topic they are interested in, so I knew igloos would be great.  The book The Inside Story: Igloo by Dana Meachen Rau is a great book filled not only with a lot of age-appropriate information, but some pretty awesome photos too.  I didn’t even need to read the words for my kids to be enthralled.  We flipped through the pictures and the kids asked questions based on what they saw.  Sometimes it’s fun to stray from the norm.

     My letter flash card this week was a cute one.  Although not necessarily a well-known critter, when I explained to the kids that an iguana is kind of like a lizard, they were all onboard to create the creature.  What is it with creepy-crawly ways, what kid wouldn’t love an iguana?  Below is what our little Ii iguana looked like.  Although it required quite a bit of cutting and glue dots in preparation, the kids loved it.

Materials:  Letter I flash card, 2 goggle eyes, green cardstock, red cardstock, and crayons

 Front of Card

Back of Card

1)    Cut the green card stock to create a semi-circle, three triangles, and a tail.  Apply to glue dots.

2)    Cut the red card stock to create the tongue.   Apply to glue dots.

3)    Color the letter Ii to resemble an iguana.

4)    Trace the capital and lowercase Ii on the back.

5)    Attach the green and red cardstock pieces.  The semi-circle is the head.  The three triangles form the spikes on the back.  Place the googly eyes on the head.  Stick on the tongue and the tail.

     As for my igloo craft, well, I took things back a bit.  I don’t know what it is about stickers, but my kids love them.  Maybe it is the sense of independence they like, considering they need little to no help in using stickers.  So this week, I cut out an igloo shape from construction paper.  Then, being that I work in a library, I used spine labels cut in half to create the ice blocks of the igloo.  I gave each kid a couple of rows of “blocks,” and had them stick away!  They loved it because it was easy and they had no instructions to follow, and I liked it because the preparation work was simple!  Nothing like a win-win situation!

Materials: Black construction paper cut out of an igloo and white labels

1) Attach labels to igloo!  Remind kids not to cover the "entrance."

2) If you want to get extra crafty, create  a snow scene and glue the igloo to it.

     This week’s music included one of my favorite songs.  I like to rotate music as much as I can; however, “Knees Up Mother Brown” on the CD 30 Playtime Songs always seems to make it back into the rotation.  I also downloaded an iguana song this week from iTunes.  “The Green Iguana Bellyflop” by Brent Holmes has a great Caribbean feel to it which is especially nice considering the weather here in Indiana is starting to cool down.  Anything to make it feel a bit “warmer” is fine by me.

  "Knees Up Mother Brown" performed by Raffi!

"The Green Iguana Bellyflop" performed by Brent Holmes.

     Well, I think that is it for this week.  Stay tuned next week for the letter Jj.  This is an extra special letter for me and Sammy may just be sporting an extra special accessory!