Thursday, March 29, 2012

V is for... Vases and VOLCANOES!

     Have you ever tried to do a science experiment with 13 kindergarteners?  I tried this very thing with my Kinder Corner class, and let me tell you something, I learned a couple of VALUBALE lessons!  The first, always have extra ingredients because after the first spill of vinegar, I ran out.  The second, no matter how reassuring you may be, if you tell a kid something is going to explode they will either love it or be scared out of their minds!  There really is no in-between. 
     So what does this have to do with the letter V and Story Time?  Well, as you may have read last week, we tackled volcanoes this week.  I will get back to that in a minute, first; let’s discuss the letter of the week card.  I found the most adorable letter V turned into a flower vase online and just knew I had to do it, especially since spring has sprung!

Materials:  Index card with capital V, 3 flower stickers, 3 green paper stems, crayons, and glue stick

Front of card

Back of card

1)    Color the capital V.

2)    Trace the upper and lower case Vv on the back of the card.

3)    Glue the green stems inside the V.  Stick the flowers on top of the stems.

     Ok, I said I would get back to my volcano, and now is the time.  If any one of you has ever been in a science fair, undoubtedly someone made a Papier-mâché volcano and erupted it.  Well, that is exactly what we did. Only I learned from my Kinder Corner Science experiment mistakes.  Instead of having every child in Story Time explode their volcano, each kid made one, and then I exploded mine.  After class, I gave each child the instructions as well as a list of ingredients so that they could explode their volcano at their home.  Good idea, huh?  In order to see the volcano in action, watch the video!  It really is fun and exciting.  As for how to make the actual volcano, click here.  It was the easiest volcano I could find!

     The route I went with my book choices this week was a little different than usual.  Instead of picking a book on vases, I picked a spring counting book called Flowers and Showers by RebeccaFjelland Davis.  This book was fun because not only were the kids able to do a little counting; the pictures were vibrant and very spring-y!
     When I did a search for picture books on volcanoes, not much came up that was short enough for my kids to sit through.  I ended up going with Volcanoes: Nature’s Incredible Fireworks.  This is a great book not only because it is non-fiction, but the pictures are amazing.  The boys in my class were really into this book.  The loved all of the action pictures of volcanoes exploding.

     I did have one really fun spring song that I used this week.  It is appropriately titled, “Spring,” by Kidzup Educational Music.  I like a lot of this company’s music and tend to use it a lot.

     That’s it for this week!  I hope you enjoyed the exploding volcano!  I know we had a lot of fun doing it!  Come back and see us next week when we cover the letter W!

U is for.. Umbrellas and Unicycles!

     The letter U is difficult.  Outside of the normal, umbrella, I was having a rough time coming up with something.  So I thought for a bit, and came up with unicycle.  Why not introduce the kids to something new and interesting?  I did, however, keep the umbrella for our letter card.

Materials:  Index card with capital U, umbrella cut from cardstock, raindrops cut from foam, crayons, and gluestick

Front of card

Back of card

1)    Color the capital U.

2)    Trace the upper and lower case Uu on the back of the card.

3)    Color the umbrella.

4)    Glue the umbrella to the U.

5)    Add the raindrops!

     The next craft is probably one of my favorites for the year.  As I mentioned, I decided to go with unicycle.  First let me state, I was very impressed that a number of my 4 to 6 year olds actually knew what this was.  I was also excited that I found a cute and somewhat simple unicycle craft online.  Find the craft with instructions and an instructional video here.

     I absolutely love the books I chose this week.  The first book, Ella, of Course! by Sarah Weeks,  is about a little girls who receives a beautiful umbrella for her birthday.  Ella, of course, loves her umbrella and wants to take it everywhere with her.  You can only begin to imagine the kinds of troubles created when Ella takes her umbrella to ballet class, her brother’s birthday party, and all sorts of other places.  You must, however, pick up the book yourself to see how Ella incorporates her umbrella into her dance recital.  I promise, it will not disappoint.

     My second book for the older kids was not about a unicycle.  I tried, I really did, however, there is only one book I could find with a unicycle in it and our copy was checked out.  So, I went a different route.  I chose My Sister’s Rusty Bike by Jim Aylesworth.   This book has a bicycle as the central focus, instead of a unicycle.  After reading it aloud, I then had the kids discuss what the differences between a bicycle and unicycle are.  It seemed to go over well. 

     I didn’t introduce any new music this week.  We are starting to wind down Story Time and before you know it, it’s going to be summer!  I can’t believe it.  Thus, I am waiting to introduce new songs until then.  Okay, truthfully, I am on kind of a strict budget, and although iTunes has cheap music, I didn’t find anything that I liked.  Oh well, maybe next week!
     Well, that’s a wrap for this week!  Come back next week for the letter V.  Trust me, you want to tune in!  There is going to be a VOLCANO!  See ya then!

Friday, March 23, 2012

St. Patrick's Day and Chicks Hatch!

     As many of you know, I was out of the state last week for the PLA conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I had a blast and learned a lot.  However, I do need to thank Miss Suzanne because without her, I wouldn’t have been able to go.  She did ALL of my nine programs last week, while also dealing with the hatch of our chicks.  She informed me that by the end of last week, she was exhausted and happy to have me back!  AWW!
      As the title to this post mentions, we celebrated to “holidays” this week and decided that it was just too much to also add in the Letter of the Week.  With our two and three year olds we did a St. Patrick’s Day craft and with our four to six year olds, we did a St. Patrick’s Day craft and a chick craft.
     For St. Patrick’s day, I cut our a large, black cauldron as well as “gold” coins.  I had the kids write on the coins what they would wish for if they “caught a leprechaun.”  Some of the answers were typical; pony, kite, Batman, and a new Spongebob Pillow.  My favorite, “Safe travels for Miss Jaymi.”  How cute is that?

     The second craft, as mentioned, was made by the four to six year old class.  With the chicks hatching and Easter on its way, I thought it might be fun to see if we could turn a plastic egg in to a chick.  I seem to have misplaced my chick, though you can find the instructions on how to make this chick and many other animals here.  What do you think?

     The books that Miss Suzanne chose to read this week were all chick/hatching based.  Now, why didn’t she add a St. Patrick’s Day book?  Well, if you have ever tried to find a good read-aloud St. Patrick’s Day book, you know that one doesn’t exist… yet!  Well, perhaps does one exist, I just haven’t found it.  Hint hint… authors and publishers.. get on this now for next year!  Here are the books Miss Suzanne read instead.

     Lastly, St. Patrick’s is a great day for music.  There are some really great Celtic songs out there.  Though I did have a hard time finding an upbeat song to use the parachute with, I ended up choosing the song below.  Don’t pay attention to the message of the song, my kids never do!  Just listen to the fantastic rhythm and beat!

     Well, that seems to be all for this week.  I hope you watched the video to see the adorable baby chicks we hatched this year.  I am really sad I missed it.  I hope you tune in next week to see the letter Uu!  Thanks!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 6...This is it..

     Well, after 6 days in Philadelphia, it's time to wrap it up.  I attended two very informative and interesting sessions today.  The first session was all about programming for parenting and pregnant teens.  From this session I got a lot of great ideas on songs and finger plays to implement into my own story times.  I am also very interested in starting a story time for this portion of our community.  An audience member did ask how one is supposed to program for this community while simultaneously reminding teens that we are not condoning the behavior.  I, personally, agreed with the facilitators when they stated that the teen is already a parent, we as librarians need to teach them the importance of early literacy while also showing proper ways to interact with their children.  This is definitely something I am interested in undertaking when I get back to MPL.

     My last session at PLA was probably one of the most important for MPL.  I attended a session called Teen Speak.  It was all about teenagers and how to deal with them while also trying to keep them as continual library patrons.  If you have ever been to the Mooresville Public Library after school, you would know that we are swamped with teenagers.  Now, not all of our teen patrons are troublemakers, however, it seems that whenever more than two get together, we have problems.  In this session, I learned great ways to speak to teenagers without making them feel less than human.  I realized that teenagers are at a weird place in their lives because some are treated as an adult at home, but when they enter the library, because we see them as students, they are treated as children.  As the facilitator mentioned, this back and forth is hard not only for the teen, but for those who are interacting with them as well.  I am excited to take this information back to MPL and discuss what we can do for our teens.

     The last thing on the agenda was to listen to the closing speaker Betty White.  Diane and I went to the ballroom to listen, however, we had to leave before she took the stage due to our flight schedule.  Ms. White was supposed to take the stage at 11:45am, however, when she still had not come on by 12:05 pm, Diane and I decided we need to get a cab to get to the airport.  I am really sad about missing the opportunity to hear Betty White speak, I am sure it was hilarious, however, Diane and I are both ready to get home.  She was excited to see her kids, and more importantly her grand babies, and I was excited to get home to my boyfriend and puppy!  But most importantly, I am ready to sleep in my own bed! Ok, ok, that's probably not what is most important, but it's definitely a perk.
     One reason I posted all about this trip is that I really wanted to remember what I learned through this trip.  But most importantly, I wanted to give my readers a chance to hear more about what other libraries are doing.  I think it is really important that we have a dialog with our patrons and I hope some of the ideas I mentioned here are of interest to our patrons.  If you know someone who would like for us to start a special needs story time or even a pregnant or parenting teen that is in need, please feel free to send them our way.  Thanks for stopping by over the past week to check up on Diane and I during our many adventures.  We learned a lot, had a great time, and are excited to return to share the many things we learned.

     Time to log off, the captain of our plane just made the announcement we as making our descent!  Almost home and just in time for St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 5... The end is near

 The longer I am in Philadelphia, the harder it is for me to get up in the morning.  Diane is getting up bright and early each morning while I am struggling to get up by 7:30 am.  With first sessions starting at 8:15 am, I am kind of cutting it close.  I can only imagine how the people who are coming from Seattle or even Alaska are handling the early morning sessions.  Indiana is in the same time zone as Philadelphia and I am struggling!
     Anyways, back to business.  The first session I went to today was all about the importance of the word.  The  information presented in this program was very poignant.  I think the one thing that really stuck out for me was the amount of television and imputed a child should have before they are two years old.  I am sure you will be just as surprised as I was to hear that the answer is NONE.  That's right, a child should not be allowed to sit in front of a television or computer screen before they are two years old because it suppresses their language development skills.

     The other interesting factoid I took from this session is how important "play talk" is.  For those of you who attend my story times, you know that at the end of each class, I pull out a large box of toys and let the kids play.  For a while, I have been wondering how much the kids are really getting out of this.  However, this session today reaffirmed the fact that it is an essential part of literacy because it no longer becomes organized teaching, it becomes daily learning and understanding.
     After a short break for breakfast, I attended a session about early literacy and school readiness.  My library just recently started looking at this in terms of what AREN'T we doing.  I have been doing story times for almost three years and yet it wasn't until last school year that I even read my  state's standards.  What?  How am I supposed to prepare these young minds for school if I don't even know even know what my district expects from them?  I did take away a few great ideas from this session and I hope to be able to enact a couple when I return.  I'm not going to tell you what they are though... It's a surprise. 

     Next session was probably one I was most excited for which would also make sense as to why I was so disappointed by how it turned out.  The session was all about programs that would pack the library.  Although the information provided by the four speakers was amazing, the types of ideas they presented were something our library could never do.  These libraries built extra buildings, they held six week long festivities, and even created mobile exhibits.  I thought I would be getting lots of ideas on how to bring people into the library, however, the presenters focused on one or two events they had in which a lot of people attended and they had lots of community help.  The only thing that we have at the moment that is similar would be the Summer Reading Kickoff Carnival.  Although disappointed, I still learned about some grant opportunities that our library will definitely be looking in to.

This poster is from our Summer Reading Carnival in 2011.

     To say that I am glad I got to my last session early is an understatement.  Boy was this session FULL.  I guess everyone wants to know how to introduce story times for children that are on the Autism Spectrum.  This is an area that I believe our library should begin to focus on.  The special needs community definitely needs to have a place in the library.  With that said, I am all for integrating special needs children into "regular" story time.  However from what I learned today, sometimes the parents don't want this.  I got a lot of great ideas from this session that I can incorporate into my weekly story times.  I am also toying with the idea of starting a once a month special needs story time in the fall.  Depending on the interest, it's possible this program could become      bi-weekly or even weekly.  However, I will never know if a program like this is needed unless I put it out there.  Stay tuned to see how I work this needed program into our already busy schedule.  If there's a will (which there is), there's a way.

     Well, that's it for for day 5.  Guess what?  Tomorrow is the last day of PLA.  I can't believe it's almost over.  I feel like this week has flown by.  Tomorrow I will be attending two sessions.  One is about how to program for pregnant and parenting teens while the second is a session called "Teen Speak.". Although I work with little children,  our library has a large teen population and if there is any way I can figure out how to effectively communicate with the teens without ostracizing them, I am going to take it.  And the best part of tomorrow...  Listening to BETTY WHITE.  That's right... I will be listening to the Golden Girl herself.  I have no idea what she is going to be talking about, but who cares!  It's bound to be hilarious!    Tune in tomorrow to see what I learn and what Betty White has to say!

* *  I should note that none of these pictures are mine.  They are images that I have taken from Google images.  :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 4... If you are reading this

Then you survived the Ides of March!!!

Now back to our post. :)

      Today started out as an early one again.  You know, I say that, but in actuality, I am getting more sleep here than I ever do at home.  The first session this morning was an 8:15 am Every Child Ready to Read workshop.

Now, I have attended a couple of these workshops and learned quite a bit, however this one had a special emphasis on the importance of creating a learning space for young children to not only enjoy, but to learn as well.  A lot of great ideas were discussed but the entire time I just kept thinking, my library already has that or my library is already doing that. 
     After sitting through that workshop, it made me appreciate the learning space my library has already created.  As many of you know, the Book Nook is a great place for your children to come and play.  It is not only a safe place, thanks largely in part to the large, cushioned books, but the puzzles and train table instill the importance of imagination , hand-eye coordination, basic early literacy skills, and cooperation.

  My next session for the day was all about introducing iPads into the library.  The main focus of the presentation was how staff can use the iPads to program, make presentations, and even provide reference in the stacks.  Some libraries have even gone as far as to create their own interface in order to allow check outs to be made from the iPad.  Amazing, right?  I was really interested in how people plan on using the iPad and I really look forward to figuring out how our library can use the iPad for future programming.

     After lunch with Diane, my next session was all about the library's need to collaborate with child care providers.  Now I must start by saying that I think my library is great with collaborating with day care providers when asked.  I, do, however think we need to be better about seeking out child care providers and delivering materials designed especially for them.  I really enjoyed hearing about book deposits, or bags that child care providers could check out which would contain books, music, finger plays, etc.  I think this is one of the simplest ideas we could enact at our library and I look forward to taking it home and seeing what everyone else this.

     The last session for the day was a round-table of librarians discussing story time ideas that are "outside of the box.". This was by far my favorite session of the day.  I loved listening to what other libraries are doing and trying to decide if anything they are doing is something our library would be interested in enacting.  I had two favorite  ideas from this session.  The first is to have an A to Z Story Time, or have story time at 26 different places with each week being a different letter of the alphabet.  So A might be at the airport while Z may be at the zoo.  LOVE this idea.

The second idea I think my kids would love would be more work for me, but oh well.  I think it would be really fun to start training my almost 2 year old dog to be a therapy dog.  Winnie, my pup, is a great little dog who loves people, especially children.  I think with a little, ok maybe a lot, of work, I might be able to bring Winnie to the library.   Sounds great in theory, but why not?

     Well, that seems to be it for today.  I did have a fabulous dinner at a small little Greek restaurant called Kanella.  Funny story, this restaurant was just being created when I lived in Philadelphia.  I met up with a couple of college friends  who moved to the city after graduation and we had a great time catching up and reminiscing about the good old days.

     I hope you had a great day as well.  Tune in tomorrow to get the dirt on early literacy and school readiness, programs that rock, and serving children that are on the Autism spectrum.  Thanks for checking in.

** I should note that none of these pictures are mine, except the one of my dog, Winnie.  They are images that I have taken from Google images.  :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 3: Philly Fun!

Day 3

     Rise and shine! Day 3 was an early one.  Although the keynote address from Robert F Kennedy, Jr. was not scheduled until 2:30 pm, Diane and I decided to attend preconferences.  Diane chose the grant writing session while I took it easy with Book Buzz Junior.  In this session, I listened to a panel discuss new and upcoming books.  So what did I notice?  Upcoming books from these publishers are definitely presenting multicultural and diversified characters.  I heard about Mexican-American, Chinese-American, and Indian-American characters.  I, for one, and am excited about this. 
     The next thing I believe my readers will be excited about is the upcoming prequel to the Boxcar Children.  You heard right!  We are finally going to find out how those 4 orphaned children ended up in the boxcar! Yay!

     The last trend I noticed, sci-fi and dystopian literature is going to be big.  Scratch that, dystopian literature is all ready huge!  If you haven't heard of the Hunger Games, then you must have been living under a rock.  There will be a couple of books published soon that are very much like the dystopic Hunger Games if it were to meet The Lord of the Flies.

     This informative session ended at 10:00 am and I had a bit of free time so I grabbed a quick lunch and visited my friends at The Philadelphia Center, the school I attended in the spring of 2008.   To say it was good to be back is an understatement.  I was so happy to see Ruth and Mark I actually cried.  I just couldn't help myself.  I sat for an hour talking with Mark about my love of the library and working with children and the inevitable.. What's next? Funny that 4 years ago I sat in the exact same seat talking to Mark about the exact same thing.  Though at that time, it was what to do after college.  Now it's what to do for the rest of my life!  With all that said,  that is one thing I am hoping to take away from PLA 2012.  I am hoping that being here aids me in figuring out my future.

     Last on the list of things to do was listen to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. give the keynote address.  To be honest, I was a little worried about this talk.  First, the poor guy was continually being called JFK as I walked with hundreds of other librarians to the terrace room.  Next, I had no idea what I was getting into.  Doing a little research aka reading the program, I found out I was going to be listening to RFK, Jr. discuss the importance of our environment and the steps our country must take in order to take better care of it.  Now, I'm the honest sort so I will tell you that it was a little boring.  He had some funny one-liners that got the audience laughing, but really I just kept thinking, what does this have to do with libraries?  And you know what, at the end, I figured it out. 

     He discussed the cost of information, and how it is almost free. As I sit here typing this on my iPad, I figured out how right he was.  Libraries today are facing a great change in technology with the invention of Nooks, Kindles, and iPads.  We are also facing a great change in how people receive their information, not only instantaneously but at any time of the day.  Lastly, with the coming of ebooks, a new conversation must be created in order to make sure libraries not only have a voice, but that we are each able to have complete and easy access to information.  So like I said, I figured it out.  We, as a country, not only need to take care of our environment, but our libraries as well because libraries will be on the forefront of dispersing information about the upcoming global need for environmental change.  Good, right?  Ok, that may not be the main connection, but I like it.
     The end of my day was spent perusing the vendors and seeing what is going to be new and exciting in the library world.  More on that tomorrow as I get through more vendors.

     Lastly, today is March 14 or 3.14.  My friend Carolyn always celebrates 3.14 day as Pi Day.  Get it?  So go forth, eat a piece of pie or a whole pie if you would like, and tune in tomorrow when I start my first day of programs.  Hopefully new and inspiring ideas will ensue.

Day 1 and 2 in Philadelphia... That's right... Philadelphia!

     Welcome everyone from the land of brotherly love and sisterly affection! That's right, for the next week I will be blogging from the beautiful city of Philadelphia.  Diane, the director of the library, and I are in Philadelphia for the PLA conference.  My goal is to blog every day so that you can keep with us as we "Explore to Learn" in this new and exciting city.
     In saying that, however, I have a couple of admissions to make.  The first being that Philadelphia is not a new city to me, though it still is very exciting.  You see, I lived in Philadelphia for a short time in college.  The other admission, get used to seeing lots of pictures because I plan on uploading a few.
     So what did we do on our first and second day in the city?  Since the actual conference doesn't start until tomorrow, Diane and I have done a TON sightseeing.


After quickly unpacking, Diane and I took the city by storm.  First on the list, was accidentally stumbling upon the LOVE statue designed by Robert Indiana, a Mooresville native.  It is this statue that helped give Philly its nickname.

Next came a quick stop at the Liberty Bell as we were on our way to the Visitor Center.

From here, I highly encouraged Diane to make a trip to the Shane Confectionary with me.  I remembered this very quaint and authentic candy shop from my previous stay in the city and thought she might enjoy it.

And last on the list was a nice stroll down Elfreth's Alley, which is the oldest continually inhabitated road in America.  To say that this road is beautiful sounds a bit funny, but it truly is.  I love this street so much that I have had my picture taken here twice.

In 2008.

In 2012.


We slept in a little bit on Tuesday.  After a long day of traveling and sightseeing, it was nice to get a bit of a rest.  Diane and I started our morning with a quick bite at the Reading Terminal Market.  This placed is filled to the brim with food vendors as well as other novelty shops.  It's a fun atmosphere to get a true sense of Philly while also having the added bonus of people watching.

After grabbing a quick bite, we headed off to get our tickets for Independence Hall, a Philadelphia must-see.  If you miss Independence Hall, then you miss Philadelphia.  This is the place where our country began.  The place where the likes of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams met with many other men to discuss the trials and tribulations of forming a country and lasting government.  Can you tell I love this place?

Last on list of places to see was Eastern State Penitentiary.  This was actually my third trip to this historical landmark, however it was just as amazing as the first two trips. ESP was the first penitentiary  created.  When it opened its doors,  it's main focus was on reformation of the inmate.  Through solitary confinement, an inmate was supposed to be able to learn a trade during their 2-6 years in prison, while repenting their misdeeds in hopes of becoming a contributing member of society once released.  There were obvious flaws in the system and in 1971, ESP was forced to close its prison doors.  You are now able to tour the stable ruin and experience what it might have been like to be in prison in the early 1800s.

After leaving ESP, we made a quick stop at the Free Public Library of Philadelphia.  We are librarians after all.  To be perfectly honest, the building is amazing, however there seems to be a large area of wasted space.  The children's department, while staffed with wonderful and helpful people, was in the basement.  It was a bit small as well.  However, with 54 branches, I guess a large space isn't needed. 

Diane and I decided to bus back after the library because we were EXHAUSTED.  We rested for a bit, ate dinner at an overly crowded Maggiano's, an Italian restaurant filled to the brim with visiting librarians.  On a full stomach, we hit the sheets to get prepared for the First Day of PLA.  Stay tuned for more of our adventures.