Friday, January 27, 2012

O is for... Owls and Octopuses!

     First, let me start by saying yes, the plural form of octopus is octopuses according to the dictionary.  I thought it seemed a bit funny, so I looked it up, just to make sure!  Just for your personal information, the second plural form listed is octopi, which I like much better!  OH well!
     As you can see this week was all about the letter Oo, OKAY?  OBVIOUSLY, we focused OUR attentions ON OWLS and OCTOPUSES!  Look at all those Oo words!  OUR letter craft for this week looked like this.

Materials:  Index card with capital O, googly eyes, orange foam beak, and crayons

Front of card

Back of card

1)    Color the capital O.

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

3)    Peel and stick the googly eyes and orange beak on the owl.

     The second craft this week for my older kids was a lot of fun!  With my older kids, I like to try to add something new and different.  This week, our challenge was scissors.  That’s right, I let 4-6 year olds use scissors.  I have a bit of a luxury in my classes because their parents remain in the room with them.  Thus if something like scissors becomes too difficult for the child, their parent is always there to help out if need be.  I must say, however, that only one or two of my kids needed help.  As mentioned previously, my kids are all about their independence!  You can find out octopus craft here.  As you can see from the picture below, we changed ours up just a bit.  Instead of paint, we used markers.  However, I think they still turned out pretty cute!

This isn't the one we made.  Mine has gone missing!
But ours did come out looking like this!
     So, what fun books did we read this week?  The first book I picked was Frank Asch’s Bread and Honey.  When I first picked this book, I wasn’t quite sure how my kids would like it.  However, the premise of the book is quite funny and my kids laughed the whole way through it.  There is also a great underlying moral to the story!  I love when that happens.

     For the octopus book, we read My Very Own Octopus by Bernard Most.  Have you ever wanted and octopus for a pet?  In this funny book by Most, he goes through the best parts of having an octopus.  Can you imagine having a pet that can brush your hair, brush your teeth, and help you get dressed all at the same time?  I think I would like a pet like that!

    The last thing I always try to do is introduce “new” music to my kids.  The week, I took the plunge and introduced a new alphabet letter strip song.  For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, in my classes we do an activity called the letter strip.  This is just a long strip of paper, laminated, with clip art pictures of the letter and then a picture.  My kids LOVE IT!  When I don’t do it, they whine and groan and moan, so I have to!  I have been using the same song for a little over a year, but I felt it was time to move on.  You can see the old song at my YouTube channel here.  The new song is the Richard Scarry Alphabet Song.  It is a little bit different than my previous alphabet song, but after a couple of weeks, I think my kids and their parents will begin to love it as well.

     As for other music, I also like to introduce my kids to kid-appropriate popular music.  I am a HUGE fan of the oldies.  I think playing the oldies is great because it gets both kid and parents engaged.  This week’s blast from the past came in the form of “I’m Walking on Sunshine,” by Katrina and the Waves.

     That seems to be all for this week.  Next week we tackle the letter P.  However, its Q that I am really worried about!  EEK!  Stay tuned in to see what we do!

Friday, January 20, 2012

N is for... Numbers and Noodles!

     Another week, another letter!  This week’s letter was multi-faceted.  As you can see from the video with Sammy the Toucan, as well as the blog title, this week wasn’t just about letters, but NUMBERS too!  The mix of alphanumeric is always fun because kids often see these at different entities.  Most of my kids who come to the library know their alphabet and their numbers.  However, when I explained to them that when spelled out, numbers actually have letters in them, it blew their minds!  Perhaps a little too in depth for 2-6 year olds!
     This week’s craft looked a little something like this.  Side note:  not all of the letter N’s looked the same.  I ran out of number stickers and had to improvise with glitter numbers!

Materials:  Index card with capital N, number stickers, crayons

Front of card

Back of card

1)    Color the capital N.

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

3)    Peel and stick those number stickers anywhere!

     The second craft this week for my older kids was really fun!  I always like to challenge this age group as much as possible.  This week’s craft, noodle necklaces, really challenged my kids on their manual dexterity skills!  It’s amazing how much hand-eye coordination is involved in string pasta on yarn.  The other amazing thing to watch is how much age matters in some of these believed to be simple tasks.  While my four year olds had a couple of problems, the five year olds were a little bit better, and most of the six year old needed little if any help.

Materials used.

The first few "beads" put on.

The finished product.  I like patterns!

Styling up our penguin with a Noodle Necklace!

     Noodle necklaces were fun because the kids were able to be creative.  I gave each kid 12 pieces of pasta.  Some shapes were dyed red, blue, green, purple, and orange.  Although I did not personally do the dying (I used materials my library already had) there are a lot of great websites out there for how to dye the shapes.  Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to dye pasta.  My necklace turned out so great, that not one person commented or asked me why I was wearing a noodle necklace for two straight days! HA!  One woman did tell me that she thought it looked like wooden beads so that might explain why!
     In sticking with my New Year’s resolution, the books I chose for this week were very fun.  For the numbers portion, I chose Bill Martin, Jr.’s Chicka Chicka 1,2,3.  Its funny how many people know of the alphabet version of this book, but have never read this numbers version.  One of the many reasons I chose this book is that it goes past 1-10 and on until 100.  Although it doesn’t cover every number from 1-100 in the text, the last page does have all the numbers if you are looking for a great visual representation.

     As for a pasta book, well, is there anything better than On Top of Spaghetti?  Now I know that this book doesn’t expressly say “noodle,” however, spaghetti are noodles and this book allowed me to sing and read, which I love to do.  There are many different version of this song out there in book form, but the one my library owns is the version written and illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson.  Like I said, I love books that incorporate a song within the story.  Not only did I get to sing and read, but there were lots of fun fake-sneezes going on as well!

     I had a really great time this week finding a new numbers song as well as noodle song!  When finding music, I always go through the list of CDs that my library offers first!  Why buy music on iTunes when I can download from a CD my library already owns?  I have been able to find a lot of great things that way, however, sometimes, I just have to bite the bullet and pay the $1.06 for a song I know my kids will love!  That what I had to do for the “Numbers Rhumba” by the Wiggles!  The song is very upbeat, educational, and great for teaching about not only numbers, but cultural music, too!

     The other great song I found in my library is called the “Noodle Dance,” by Playhouse Disney!  Now I admit that the noodle in this song is actually referring to your brain, but that works great too!  I love explaining to kids how the same word can be used to mean different things.  It’s almost like a light bulb moment when they understand!  It’s great!

The "Noodle Dance" song starts at 2:08.

     That seems to be it for this week!  Next week we tackle the letter Pp.  I can’t wait to hear what P-words my kids come up with!  Hope to see you then!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

M is for.. Mice and Mustaches!

     Welcome back!  I hope the new year finds everyone healthy, wealthy, and above all, HAPPY!  I always love that start of a new year.  First of all, I always feel rejuvenated.  There is something about taking a couple of weeks off between programs that really makes me appreciate what a great job I have.  Second, the new year always bring new kids to my story time classes!  Although I love my regulars who have attended my classes from the beginning, meeting new kids and their parents are always fun, too!
     I don’t know about you, but the first week back to story time after a long break is always interesting.  This year, it seemed as if 2012 brought my brand new kids!  My shy kids were suddenly outgoing, my outgoing kids were suddenly shy.  The kids who have been coming forever seemed to forget who I was!  Once we got back into the normal routine, they all seemed to liven back up!
     Just because it’s a new year does not mean I am changing gears in terms of our alphabet mission!  I will continue with the letter-a-week theme until we get through the entire alphabet!  This means that this week we conquered the letter Mm!  There are lots of M-words, but I chose a simple one, mouse! EEEEKK! There are tons of great mice books in our library and I think the card looks so cute!

Materials:  Index card with capital M, 2 googly eyes, pink pom-pom, pipe cleaner tail, and crayons

Front of card

Back of card

1)    Color the capital L to look like a mouse

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

3)    Glue the eyes to the M. Glue the pop-pop on as the nose. Glue the tail on the bottom. Add whiskers and ears to complete your mouse!

     As usual, I continued with a second craft for my 4-6 year olds.  When I first started doing multiple craft with this age group, I thought it might be a bit too much.  My main thought for doing a second craft was that it would really reinforce the alphabet letter of the week.  Well, after one semester, I can honestly say I am glad that I did it.  My kids love crafts.  It is great to do the alphabet letter first and then the “fun, creative” craft second.  Thus without further ado, the second letter Mm craft!

     That’s right… MUSTACHES!  How fun is that?  All I did for this one was print mustaches on cardstock and cut them out.  The kids then colored them however they wanted and finished by adding a craft stick!  VOILA!  A mustache!
     My New Year’s resolution for story times was to start picking better books.  I know that the books I pull every week are age appropriate and fun, however, my kids just aren’t responding to them the way I would like.  Thus, for the next year, I am going to place a greater focus on picking books that I know they will love.  I want to have a year full of book-laughter!  Thus, this week I went with the following, Shout! Shout It Out! by Denise Fleming and Mustache! By Mac Bennett! 

     Fleming’s book is great for the 2-5 year old crowds because it involves a bit of call-and-response.  I don’t know about your kids, however, the kids that come to my classes always have a case of the wiggles!  This just gives them a good excuse to shout out the answers as I point to them.  As for Barnett’s book, well, who doesn’t love a good book about mustaches?  Especially when the whole plot revolves around drawing mustaches on pictures of the king?

     Another thing I have decided to try to do this year is add a little more kid-friendly contemporary music!  Songs for kids are great, but there are a lot of popular songs out there that can work well with my themes, too.  Brian Setzer’s song, “Rockin’ at the House of Mouse,” fit the agenda easily!  Was this a song written expressly for children?  No!  But does it work! FOR SURE!  I was really excited to add this element and I hope I am able to continue to find great songs!
    Sidenote: I had NO IDEA that this was the theme song for a Mickey Mouse show until I did this YouTube search!

     Well, that seems to be it for this week's installment!  If you haven't all ready, take a look at this week's video!  Sammy and I had a lot of fun with out mustaches!  Hope to see you next week when we cover the letter N!  Any guess as to what it may be?