Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Buzz, buzz, buzz, a bee story time

Bee & Bird by Craig Frazier is the wordless story of a little bee and his much bigger companion, a red bird.  They travel from one object to the next, with each spread inviting the viewer to guess what they on/in/under/etc.  There are some excellent concepts here for very young children--big/little, directional words, colors, or shapes--and it is big and bright enough for a toddler story time.  Ask older babies and toddlers to point to the bird and then to the bee on each spread.  Ask the children questions about the scenes and build a little anticipation.  Add a few classic rhymes and a song and you have a really fun, super easy story time that you might want to file away as "I'm-Totally-Freaking-Out-I-Can't-Believe-I-Scheduled-This-Daycare-For-Today!!!!"


Fingerplay: Two Little Bluebirds

Bee & Bird by Craig Frazier

Fingerplay: Beehive
Here is the beehive.  Where are the bees? 
(hold up fist)
Hidden away where nobody sees. (move other hand around fist)
Watch and you'll see them come out of the hive(bend head close to fist)
One, two, three, four, five. (hold fingers up one at a time)
Bzzzzzzzz… all fly away!(wave fingers)

Song: I Caught Myself a Baby Bumblebee

Activity:  Play Rimsky-Korsokav's "Flight of the Bumblebee."  Children can waddle, dance, and buzz to the music.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Nighttime, Anytime...A Camping Program

I am always thinking about my book, When You Are Camping,  and different programming that I can bring to schools and library groups featuring this story.  I am not sure why it took me so long to find Divya Srinivasan's Little Owl's Night, but I am certainly glad that I did!  I have seen Little Owl's Night on amazon and other book sites a lot.  Little Owl's big, big eyes on the cover are pretty compelling, but I often suspect a sharp, stylized cover of disguising a book that is all graphics, and little substance.  Happily, Little Owl is attractive, lovable, and teachable from beginning to end.  A perfect pair for When You Are Camping, and the inspiration for a great daytime/nighttime themed program for 4-8 year olds.

When You Are Camping by Anne Lee

Discussion Questions
What animals or insects did Tilly and Hazel see in the story?
Think about a time that you were camping or outside.  Did you see any animals or insects that weren't in the story?
Hazel and Tilly go to bed in their tent at the end of the day.  What animals might they hear out in the woods?

Little Owl's Big Night by Divya Srinivasan

Here are some activities that will build vocabulary, math, and science skills

Create cut outs or models of different animals.  Ask children whether they would see each animal active at night or during the day?  On a board create two sides, one for diurnal animals and one for nocturnal animals.  Children can take turns putting each animal on the board under the appropriate classification.

In what other ways could we group these animals?  What characteristics to some animals have in common, e.g. Creatures that fly, animals that live in trees vs underground, herbivores vs omnivores vs carnivores.  

Play the sounds of different animals/insects at night--crickets, cicadas, owls, a loon, a raccoon.  Turn off the lights for some ambience, and ask children to identify each sound.

Craft a paper campfire, and gather your audience around for a snack and a ghost story...or sing a campfire song.


Three little nests all in a row
Make a bed for Little Owl.  Here is a whimsical craft for young children.

My daughter's nest comes with eggs and a mommy eagle
Brown paper lunch bags will make a nice base for a nest.  Roll them over or cut them and fringe them.  Give children shreds of yarn, rafia, straw, shredded paper, etc to glue inside and out to create a "nest."  Have a supply of fabric and felt scraps for children to make into baby owl-sixed beds.  Depending on everyone's patience-level pillows can be made with cotton balls in felt scraps and a staple or hot glue.  Fabric can be decorated with designs to make a quilt.  Draw Little Owl, outline him in black, and make copies on card stock.  Each child can get a Little Owl to cut out and put to bed.
Blog, Sunflower Storytime, has an adorable rhyme and flannel board about owls and some additional book suggestions if you want to run with the owl thing.

                                                          HoOOOOot, HoOOOOot!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kites and Fathers

My husband loves flying a kite.  We don't do it often, but we have a few of them in the garage ready for the perfect windy day, and I usually find one tucked away in the roof box when we're on vacation.  He has a surprising patience for the strings and knots and strategy of getting a kite to lift off the ground. He's even able and willing to do this with young children.  Personally, I find teaching my preschooler to tie her shoelaces to be a true test of patience and will, let alone kite-flying.  I guess that's what makes Dads special.  They have the patience and love to do impractical things (like kite-flying, pillow fights, and making pancakes) that mothers do not.  So this program is for my husband and all of the great Dads out there.  Happy Father's Day!

Let's Go Fly a Kite! Program

Tune:  "Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
Wind, wind, blow the clouds
Fast across the sky.
Blow the branches back and forth
In the trees so high.
Elizabeth Scofield

Kite Flying by Grace Lin  There are some visually stunning and very moving stories about kites, but for a family program I like to keep it short and sweet for the youngest kids. Besides, you're going to need to save plenty of time for kite-making!  Lin's book is bright and beautiful and straight to the point: wind, sun, kites, beautiful!

Kite Day by Will Hillenbrand is published by Holiday House and was released only a few months ago.   This short story for 3-5 year olds falls a little flat to me, despite the drama of a thunderstorm and lost kite.  I do love that Bear can smell a kite day, though, and children will love discovering that a kite has many good uses.  I like that part, too, and I will use this book because it opens such great discussion questions:  What else could you use a kite for?  What is repurposing?  Can you think of ways that we could repurpose some other objects?  Invite children to be as practical or as whimsical as their brains will allow, and to rediscover ordinary objects all around them.  This will be a great book for an eco-themed storytime later.

Here's a closing song to get the kids up and moving, from with many thanks.

Tune: "Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush"

Oh, the wind is blowing - all over town,
All over town, all over town.
Oh, the wind is blowing all over town, 
Just like so. (Child blows)

Oh, the trees are bending - way down low,
Way down low, way down low.
Oh, the trees are bending - way down low,
Just like so. (Child bends low)

Oh, the kites are flying - watch them go,
Watch them go, high then low.
Oh, the kites are flying - watch them go
Just like so. (Child pretends to fly kite)

Continue with
"Oh, the clothes on the line - flop to and fro" 
"Oh, the flag on the pole - waves fast and slow"

Jean Warren

If you have an audience of school-age children I highly recommend Demi's Kites.  It's a beautiful story of magical kites and wishes sent up to the sky... It's the kind of story that always stays with you and we librarians love to share those with our audiences.  Older children will be able to write down, and appreciate a magical new way to send their wishes out into the ether.

Crafting kites is a sticky business I think, but I am a mother.  My husband would have no trouble sitting through a number of kite-making videos, juggling popsicle sticks, straws, tissue paper, glue, and yards of string.  I myself like the idea of making a Japanese fish kite, which is technically a windsock and therefore guaranteed to work a little bit with a minimal amount of engineering.  Below are links to a few kite projects that you and your families may enjoy making with simple materials from around the house or library.

Japanese Koi Fish Kites from the Smithsonian Institute

20-Minute Kite from Family Fun

Plastic Bag Kite from National Geographic Kids

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Small Kindnesses

Last month I was in Colorado visiting schools and promoting When You Are Camping.  I was really thrilled to be a guest reader at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver while I was in town.  I love that bookstore.  It's no longer in the red brick, three-story, Cherry Creek building that I grew up visiting, but the dark wood bookshelves, green carpet, and plethora of titles new and old took me right back in time.  Ahhhh (happy sigh).  While I was there, the children's staff had selected a half-dozen titles to read to the children in addition to Camping
One of them was a wonderful story about an old sailor on a boat who, night after night, finds himself taking in stray cats on the dock.  I fell head over heels for Barbara Jusse's title, Old Robert and the Sea Silly Cats, illustrated by Jan Jutte.  The prose is melodious and beautiful, Old Robert is a truly loveable character, and the little twist at the end just leaves you feeling warm and happy.  I found a nice synopsis at Shelf-Employed: A Picture Book Round-Up.

Old Robert's generosity and unconditional kindness to the sea silly cats, one and all, compels me to share this story with my daughters as well as my young library patrons...and with you! 

I am not sure how many books you can read to a group of children about kindness before they begin to suspect you of brainwashing, but I have compiled a short list here of some adorable new titles that showcase some very kind characters.  For maximum effect, and fun, I would probably pair one of these with a very, very bad, bad guy book or some other silliness like Alborough's big bear.  Of which, there are a few listed below, too. 

Old Robert and the Sea Silly Cats by Barbara Jusse and Jan Jutte

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead

Little Bird by Germano Zullo

A Splendid Friend Indeed by Suzanne Bloom

I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track by Joshua Prince and Macky Pamintuan 

And now some villians--
some more villainous than others:

It's the Bear by Jez Alborough

I Want My Hat by Jon Klassen

Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau and Scott Magoon

My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs....

My daughter received a gardening/bug collection kit for her 5th birthday.  It was probably the best present she received.  Within hours it was used to harvest worms for a fishing trip, had housed dozens of roly-polies, spritzed everybody and everything in the house, and caught a couple of fireflies.  At a certain age, all boys and girls love bugs...cute bugs, ugly bugs, fuzzy bugs, fat bugs it does not matter.  Children find them fascinating and wonderful.  I vaguely recall a time in my own childhood when I didn't mind bugs, caterpillars, or worms.  My brother and I spent hours one summer studying rainbow-striped tomato caterpillars, tiny green inch worms, and ant hills.  With summer in full bloom and bug populations exploding (for better or worse) now is a perfect time for bug, bug, bug storytimes and programs!

There is a seemingly endless supply of bug books in fiction and non-fiction and for every age.  Below are a four titles that I love, and that I love using with an audience anywhere between kindergarten to 5th grade.  Two are picture books and the other two are non-fiction that you will be able to tailor to your time constraints.

Bugs Galore by Peter Stein and Bob Staake  The bright, beautiful artwork and jaunty prose will get everyone in the mood for some bug fun.

What in the Wild by David Schwartz, Yael Schy, and Dwight Kuhn The poems and photos in this book are guaranteed to get your audience completing involved and revved up.  Kids of all ages love to try and guess "what in the wild!"  There is lots of ewwww factor, and kids and parents alike will be fascinated by these common things that they have probably walked over or past a million times.
Bug Shots: The Good, the Bad, and the Bugly by Alexander Siy and Dennis Kunkel

Pest Fest by Julia Durango and Kurt Cyrus  Who is the best pest of them all?  It's the Pest Fest and every bug is proud of their unique talents and characteristics. 

Stage your own Pest Fest!  Compile the craziest collage materials you can find...cardboard tubes, clean plastic bottles, six-pack holders, bottle caps, cling wrap in different colors and tin foil, etc etc etc.  Invite children to create a bug.  Maybe it's a real bug, maybe it's a new species that only exists in the imagination.  Ask children why their bug would win the Pest Fest contest (boy, all of this rhyming is really fun). 

For an answer to every question that kids might send your way about bugs, take them to the Smithsonian Institute's entymology department's website for kids:  BugInfo