Preschool Story Time: Play/Sports/Pretend

Story Time Archives

Date presented:  July 11, 2016

This story time was based on a theme that generally fit well with summer and outdoor activities, rather than focusing on a specific summer reading theme.  This story time was done with my second library system, and includes more structure than some of my original story times.  Each week, we included the same opening song, a host puppet greeting, and a movement song in the middle of story time.  Our branch utilizes co-presenting, in which two story time staff alternate presenting content during the session.

Introduction

For each story time, we walked the children’s area approximately five minutes before the session to welcome families and direct them to our story time room.  Once the first group of families was seated in the room, story time started promptly; additional families were welcome to join late.  We started each story time with an introduction to the presenters, as well as a reminder the basic rules of story time.  It might have sounded something like this:

“Welcome of our preschool story time!  My name is Miss Jaime, and we also have our friend Miss Meredith here for story time today.  Today’s story time is intended for children between the ages of 3 and six, but if you’re here with older or younger siblings, that’s okay, too.  If at any time during today’s story time you need to take a break, please feel free to step out of the room and come back in again when you’re ready.  If you need them during your visit today, we have family restrooms available in the children’s area and full-service restrooms in the lobby.”

Welcome Song and Announcements

Way Up in the Sky

Way up in the sky, the little birds fly.

Way down in their nest, the little birds rest.

With a wing on the left, and a wing on the right,

The little birds sleep all through the night.

Shhh….they’re sleeping!

Then UP COMES THE SUN.

The DEW FALLS AWAY.

“Good morning, good morning!” the little birds say.

Credit:  Adapted by Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen

After our welcome song, we shared announcements for families, generally information about upcoming programs that might be happening and of interest to the audience, or holiday closures at the library.

Host Puppet Greeting

Each week, the lead presenter of our story time brings his or her host puppet to greet the children.  Each host puppet has its own personality, based on the presenter.  After the welcome song, the host puppet comes out to share his or her bit, which might be a song, telling jokes, or really anything that the presenter might want to do.  On my weeks as lead presenter, my host puppet is a black kitten named Shadow who shares a song with the audience.  After the host puppet visits, he or she takes a nap until the end of story time, when the children have a chance to interact with the puppet.

1st Book

Image result for we're going on a bear hunt michael rosenWe’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen – I picked this book because I hoped that there would be good participation in the repeated actions and refrain, but with this group, there was not as much participation as I would have liked.  As a result, the story fell a little flat, which wasn’t the best start to the session.

Song/Rhyme/Activity

In between stories, we included a rhyme, fingerplay, or flannel that related to the theme.  With this library, we present flannels, but the audience is not involved in handling the pieces or putting things on the board.  We tried to create some kind of interactive element for families to participate in during the presentation.  For this week, I chose a flannel owned by the library system.  Called “Guess the Sport,” it was a guessing game that gave clues to identifying different sport balls.  This worked really well with the group because it was simple enough for the children to guess the correct answer, and they enjoyed playing.

Guess the Sport

I am a ball.

I can bounce.

If I swish through the hoop,

It’s two points that count.

What am I?

[Basketball]

 

I am a ball.

My color is brown.

If I make it to the end zone,

It’s a touchdown!

What am I?

[Football]

 

I am a ball

With two colors, not one.

If I’m kicked in the goal,

You may have won.

What am I?

[Soccer ball]

 

I am a small ball,

Not soft but hard.

Hit me with a bat –

I’ll fly out of the yard!

What am I?

[Baseball]

 

I am not a ball.

My name is puck.

If I fly off the ice,

You better duck!

What am I?

[Hockey puck]

Credit:  Ramarie Beaver with the Plano Public Library System

2nd Book

What Shall We Do When We All Go Out? by Shari Halpern – I chose this book hoping that the parents would participate in singing the verses as we progressed.  It turned out to be a really cute story, and the parents quickly joined in with singing along.  It’s always more fun when the parents are participating than when you are singing by yourself, and I love that it easily transitions to its own literacy tip if you want to include it.

Movement Song

In the middle of our story time, we pause for a dance break with the preschoolers.  We switch the song out with the different sessions (spring, summer, and fall) to help keep things interesting.  The dance break gives the wiggly kids a chance to work out some of their wiggles before we continue, and it also helps to break up the books and other elements.  For summer, we shared “Bluegrass Jamboree” by Hap Palmer, from the album So Big:  Activity Songs for Little Ones.

3rd Book

Image result for let's play in the forest while the wolf is not around claudia ruedaLet’s Play in the Forest While the Wolf Is Not Around by Claudia Rueda – I love everything about this book.  It’s an absurdly catchy tune to sing, you can exaggerate the wolf when you read, and it’s easy for even the youngest listeners to catch on to what is happening and sing along.  I usually try and have the parents and kids help with each “Wolf, are you there?”  Unfortunately, this group just wasn’t as excited about reading this book as I was.

Song/Rhyme/Activity

Just like the first half of story time, the second half also includes a rhyme, fingerplay, or flannel related to the theme that breaks up the books.  We used the rhyme “Football, Football,” with the children guessing which helmet the football might be hiding behind.  Just like any other variation of the Little Mouse game that I’ve ever presented in story time, this one was a huge hit with the audience.

In between stories, we included a rhyme, fingerplay, or flannel that related to the theme.  With this library, we present flannels, but the audience is not involved in handling the pieces or putting things on the board.  We tried to create some kind of interactive element for families to participate in during the presentation.  For this week, I chose a flannel owned by the library system.  Called “Guess the Sport,” it was a guessing game that gave clues to identifying different sport balls.  This worked really well with the group because it was simple enough for the children to guess the correct answer, and they enjoyed playing.

Football, Football

Football, football,

Where do you hide?

Are you in the [color] helmet?

Let’s peek inside.

 

 

Credit:  Adapted from Literary Hoots

4th Book

Image result for playground day jennifer merzPlayground Day by Jennifer Merz – I picked this story because it shows all kinds of fun and imaginative play at the playground.  Unfortunately, at this point in the story time our attention was waning, but it has great opportunities for guessing and my co-presenter did a great job of engaging the audience.

Literacy Tip

One of our story time expectations is to include a literacy tip for parents each week.  Personally, I like to work mine in either directly relating to something in a book, or at the end of story time as a way to wrap up everything that we’ve shared.  This week’s was adapted from the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy, and went something like this:

Parents, going to the park or anywhere outside is a great chance for your child to explore their limits, learn about the outside world, and try new things.  It’s learning, but it’s fun, too!  For now, though, it’s time for us to wave goodbye to our friends until next week.

Goodbye Song

Instead of a goodbye song, we share a bunch of silly goodbye waves, adapted from Rob Reid.  We have everyone get up on their feet before we run through the whole list.

Goodbye Waves

Wave high.

Wave low.

I think it’s time –

We’ve gotta go.

 

Wave your elbows.

Wave your toes.

Wave your tongue.

Wave your nose.

 

Wave your knees.

Wave your lips.

Blow a movie star kiss

With your fingertips!

 

Wave your ears.

Wave your hair.

Wave your belly

And your derriere (a French word for your bottom)!

 

Wave your chin.

Wave your eyes.

Wave your hands

And say goodbye.

Credit:  Adapted from Rob Reid

How It Went

Overall, this session was a success.  I think part of what made it successful was combining play, sports, and pretend together, because the theme could be sufficiently broad to bring in a variety of items to engage the audience.  I also liked that it worked well with the summer time feelings, and I would likely try it again in the future.

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Thanks to the Leaders

Library Musings

Recently my supervisor passed along a great article by Steve McKee, entitled “Leaders don’t cry, and other lies.”  After reading it, I couldn’t help but start thinking about all the other things that leaders do, besides show emotions.  There are all kinds of articles out there about what great leaders do, or what makes a leader instead of just a manager.  But the real question is, do we ever thank them for it?

Being a leader is hard work, and the amount of work that’s put in is often overlooked.  It’s easy to take for granted all the great things that a leader does every day – after all, that’s what makes them a leader.  But if we don’t take the time to thank those leaders for what they’re doing, and give them the same encouragement that they give us, I think we’re doing them a disservice.  Why should the leaders be overlooked just because they are already great at what they do?

Maybe it’s a little cliche, but I think everyone wants to feel appreciated and recognized for what they do.  And words are powerful, more so than we give them credit for.  Something as simple as saying thank you can change someone’s day.  Several years ago, I wrote an email along a similar line thanking someone for being a leader in our organization, and for me, at a time when we needed it most.  Today, I think it’s time to thank all the leaders who have helped us become the great people and organizations that we are now.

So here it is, an open letter to all the leaders who have shaped me, and continue to shape me.

To all the leaders who helped shape me,

I know that I personally don’t thank you often enough for what you do, both for me and for our organization.  It’s easy to point out all the things that are done wrong, and all the missteps taken, but it seems like we very rarely take the time to tell others how much they are doing right.  There is so much that you are doing right, and because you show up and try to be better every day, you are making a difference.  I want to take a minute to really thank you for all that you’ve done and continue to do.

You have taken disjointed teams, and taught us from each mistake that we made.  Instead of seeing all the places that we fell short, you found opportunities for us to learn and improve.  You didn’t shy away from the hard conversations, or the frustration, or the tears.  Instead, you got right into the thick of it with us, and helped us to the other side.

You encourage me to grow and be more, instead of being satisfied with the status quo.  You see the talents and the skills, even the ones that are rough or buried, and you push to develop them, even when it’s hard work.  Every day, you put people like me into positions and opportunities where we can have the greatest impact.  You have given many of us the chance to shine by seeing more than a title or a job description, and instead really taking the time to know us and our goals, our dreams, our motivations, and our aspirations.  You take ownership when no one else will, and the ways that you touch our organizations are amazing.

You have challenged me to make my own decisions, to change my assumptions, to communicate better, and to become both a greater professional and a greater person.  You believe in me and encourage me, even when I hesitate to believe in myself.  No matter how many difficult conversations it takes, your door is always open.  You believe in us, and encourage us, even when we hesitate to believe in ourselves.  As many times as we need to hear it, you have never hesitated to say it.

Thank you for letting me ramble sometimes, so that I can work through to the answer.  Thank you for letting me vent.  Thank you for being amazingly patient.  Thank you for all the conversations that brought me to where I am today.  You have been a friend, a mentor, a leader, a teacher, and a manager all at once.  The best parts of myself as a leader are the ones that I learned first from your example.

You are never too busy to give your time to others, even though I know you have a million other things that need doing.  You consistently put the needs of your employees ahead of your own.  You fight for us, and with us, even when things don’t go smoothly.  You teach us to be gracious, and tenacious, and to believe in the larger dream we can accomplish together.  You see the people behind the decisions, not just the numbers.  You want the best for us, even when it doesn’t always mean the best for you.

Thank you for fielding all the requests and problems that come through your office, yet always being the positive force that we need.  There are so many things that you are doing right, even though no one tells you that.  You take on so much, just so that we don’t have to.  You lead us so that we will be ready to lead others one day.

Thank you for letting me take ownership and make my own decisions, but always being willing to help when I need it.  Thank you for guiding me away from some really bad ideas, and encouraging me toward great ones.  Thank you for always giving the credit to those around you, when it would be easier to claim it for yourself.

Thank you for all the phone calls, all the emails, all the messages and meetings that I don’t see.  Thank you for providing the strength and guidance that keep us going.  There are so many things you do that go unrecognized, but they matter.  Please know that what you are doing is changing lives.  Please know that you are seen, you are recognized, and you are appreciated.  I have been, and I continue to be, so fortunate to have your guidance and your example to learn from.

I don’t think it is said often enough, but you are doing great.

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Preschool Story Time: Dragons (Heroes in Storybooks)

Story Time Archives

Date presented:  July 30, 2015

This story time was based on the theme suggestions from the 2015 CSLP Summer Reading Manual.  My goal was to have eight weeks of programming based on the theme:  “Every Hero Has a Story.”  To be honest, not all of those themes turned out to be great ideas.  Combined with the fact that these were some of the first story times I did, and we didn’t have much in the way of structure, well…let’s just say that you may have to be forgiving of some of the elements.  But, one of my goals for blogging about my story times is to include the good and bad, so that hopefully others will learn, too.

Introduction

When I presented this story time, I didn’t have much of an introduction set up.  Since the parents tended to be running late, I would spend the first five minutes or so talking to the kids and parents as they came in, and sometimes teasing what we were doing in story time that week.  These story times were held in an open part of our children’s section, so they were visible throughout parts of the library and to anyone who was in the children’s department.

 

 

Welcome Song

We used the same welcome song in preschool story time each week.  It was taught to me by my boss when I took over story time as the welcome song that families were used to, and I kept it as part of my story times.

Welcome, Everyone (Tune:  Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)

Welcome, welcome, everyone.

Now you’re here – let’s have some fun.

First we’ll clap our hands just so.

Then we’ll reach and touch our toes.

Welcome, welcome, everyone.

Now you’re here – let’s have some fun.

Credit:  Adapted from Public Library Program Ideas

Letter of the Day

Each week, we had a Letter of the Day for story time.  For preschool groups, I gave an introduction to the topic that we were going to do, and a hint about the important word or words before asking them to guess the letter.  Some weeks the kids could guess the letter on the first try, and some weeks we spent a little more time trying to figure out what the letter might be.  We showed two cards:  one that showed the letter of the week, and one that showed how to make the letter in sign language.  This week was D for Dragon.

iPad Technology

During this summer, we had hoped to incorporate technology into story time with our iPads.  When I was planning, I picked a Storybots ABC video for each week that corresponded with the letter of the week.  This plan should have included the video “Dee Doodley Doo,” but after trying this in one or two story times, I determined that our setup didn’t really allow it to work.  The screen on the iPad was too small for most of the audience to see (we didn’t have a way to project it), and honestly, the parents and kids alike were confused by why we were doing it.  So, this technology ended up dropped out of the outlines.

Story Box

This summer I introduced something a little different for my preschool story times.  Instead of having the books and activities in a particular order, which is how I normally do story time, I wanted to make it more interactive.  So, I created Ms. Jaime’s Story Box, a wooden box that contained everything I needed for story time.  I would include the books that I planned to read, as well as any flannel stories I wanted to share, and wooden music notes to represent songs.  The goal was for children to pick something out of the box to start the story time, and then pick another element once we’ve finished the first.  I don’t remember now the order that we shared things in (the hazards of not blogging about story time when it happens), but overall, it got to be part of story time that the kids were really excited about.  It was sometimes crazy, and our story time was sometimes disjointed, but it was a lot of fun.  For the purposes of blogging, though, I’ll just list the books and elements in the order that I planned them.

1st Book

Image result for dragons love tacosDragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin – I picked this book because really, who can resist a book that has both dragons and tacos.  I love everything about this book.  It’s catchy, it’s funny, and it’s just the best to read aloud.  Of all the books that I shared for this theme, and all the dragon story times that I’ve done since then, this is by far my favorite title.

Song/Rhyme/Activity

Our “Clap Your Hands” song was a staple for story time each week, and usually happened sometime after our first book as a transition to our next element.  Since the kids were usually excited about pulling out a book or a flannel story, the music notes didn’t really get selected as often.  As the weeks went on, I prompted them for when we would share a song, which let us work music in a little more regularly.  This is another song that I inherited from the previous children’s librarian, but it was such a hit with our groups that it was impossible not to include it each week.

Clap Your Hands

Clap, clap, clap your hands,

Clap your hands together.

Clap, clap, clap your hands,

Clap your hands together.

Clap a little faster now,

Clap along with me.

Clap a little slower now,

Clap along with me.

Continue with:  nod your head, shake your heads, stomp your feet, and (sometimes) shake your hands.

Credit:  Adapted from KIDiddles

2nd Book

Image result for me and my dragonMe and My Dragon by David Biedrzycki – At first, I picked this book because we didn’t have a ton of books about dragons available, but when I started looking at it, it’s really a cute story.  I think my favorite part is the beautiful illustrations that are included.  I also love that this book includes real life moments and concerns that kids can easily recognize.

Flannel Story

For this week, I used a flannel called Ten Dizzy Dragons.  I haven’t blogged about it yet for a Flannel Friday post, but I will.  As far as flannel stories to use with a group, this one worked pretty well, because I could hand out different dragons and have the children take turns bringing up a dragon to add to the story.  I had a set of magnetic numbers that I used to help the children know when it was their turn to bring up a dragon to add to the board.  Since the board had a magnetic backing as well as the flannel overlay, we could put up both pieces.

Ten Dizzy Dragons

Ten dizzy dragons lived long, long ago

In a land filled with magic where few people can go.

The first dragon wore a garland of flowers.

The second dragon had strong magic powers.

The third dragon flew wildly through the air.

The fourth dragon lived in a jewel-filled lair.

The fifth dragon liked to blow pretty bubbles.

The sixth dragon rescued people in trouble.

The seventh dragon wore a crown made of gold.

The eighth dragon had a heart brave and bold.

The ninth dragon was very sad – he was a bit of crier.

The tenth dragon breathed smoky red fire.

Ten dizzy dragons lived long, long ago

In a land filled with magic where in your dreams you can go.

Credit:  Sunflower Storytime

Song/Rhyme/Activity

I always included a second song or rhyme in my outlines for this group, although I very rarely included them in the story time session.  For this theme, I chose the action rhyme “Dragon, Dragon, Turn Around” to practice following directions and also work some of the wiggles out.

Dragon, Dragon, Turn Around

Dragon, dragon, turn around.

Dragon, dragon, touch the ground.

Dragon, dragon, fly up high.

Dragon, dragon, touch the sky.

Dragon, dragon, swing your tail.

Dragon, dragon, shake your scales.

Dragon, dragon, give a ROAR.

Dragon, dragon, sit on the floor.

Credit:  Sunflower Storytime

3rd Book

Image result for the trouble with dragonsThe Trouble with Dragons by Deb Gliori – This book was the one book in this story time that just didn’t work.  This book really has a great message, but it was completely lost on the audience.  They just weren’t engaged in the story, and consequently, they weren’t very attentive.  I might try this book again in the future, but if I did, I would probably give it a better introduction and put it somewhere in the middle, between engaging elements.

Goodbye Song

We ended story time with our goodbye song, which is always the same each week.  We always sang “The More We Get Together” from the Baby Love Song Time CD.  The response varied from week to week.

Craft

This week’s craft was a simple paper plate dragon.  This picture shows what the finished product looked like, roughly.  The craft was pretty easy for the kids to put together, but it involved a lot of prep on my end.  I used this template for a dragon from Bug, Boo, and Bean to create the dragon pieces.  I cut them out of construction paper, and put all the needed pieces, plus the eye and brads, into individual bags before story time to make it easy to hand out the pieces when we were ready to start the craft time.

 

How It Went

Unfortunately, I did this outline before I started keeping really detailed story time notes, so I don’t have any details about specific reactions or attendance for the week.  Dragons is a really fun theme, but in the time that I’ve done it since, I’ve looked for (and found) some better books that seem to resonate more with the audience.  The key to success for dragons, for me at least, is to find books that are fun and a little magical, to give the whole story time a really magical vibe.

 

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Preschool Story Time: Alphabet (Sidekicks)

Story Time Archives

Date presented:  July 23, 2015

This story time was based on the theme suggestions from the 2015 CSLP Summer Reading Manual.  My goal was to have eight weeks of programming based on the theme:  “Every Hero Has a Story.”  To be honest, not all of those themes turned out to be great ideas.  Combined with the fact that these were some of the first story times I did, and we didn’t have much in the way of structure, well…let’s just say that you may have to be forgiving of some of the elements.  But, one of my goals for blogging about my story times is to include the good and the bad, so that hopefully others will learn, too.

Introduction

When I presented this story time, I didn’t have much of an introduction set up.  Since the parents tended to be running late, I would spend the first five minutes or so talking to the kids and parents as they came in, and sometimes teasing what we were doing in story time that week.  These story times were held in an open part of our children’s section, so they were visible throughout parts of the library and to anyone who was in the children’s department.

Welcome Song

We used the same welcome song in preschool story time each week.  It was taught to me by my boss when I took over story time as the welcome song that families were used to, and I kept it as part of my story times.

Welcome, Everyone (Tune:  Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)

Welcome, welcome, everyone.

Now you’re here – let’s have some fun.

First we’ll clap our hands just so.

Then we’ll reach and touch our toes.

Welcome, welcome, everyone.

Now you’re here – let’s have some fun.

Credit:  Adapted from Public Library Program Ideas

Letter of the Day

Each week, we had a Letter of the Day for story time.  For preschool groups, I gave an introduction to the topic that we were going to do, and a hint about the important word or words before asking them to guess the letter.  Some weeks the kids could guess the letter on the first try, and some weeks we spent a little more time trying to figure out what the letter might be.  We showed two cards:  one that showed the letter of the week, and one that showed how to make the letter in sign language.  This week was L for Letter.

iPad Technology

During this summer, we had hoped to incorporate technology into story time with our iPads.  When I was planning, I picked a Storybots ABC video for each week that corresponded with the letter of the week.  This plan should have included the video “The Lovely Letter L,” but after trying this in one or two story times, I determined that our setup didn’t really allow it to work.  The screen on the iPad was too small for most of the audience to see (we didn’t have a way to project it), and honestly, the parents and kids alike were confused by why we were doing it.  So, this technology ended up dropped out of the outlines.

Story Box

This summer I introduced something a little different for my preschool story times.  Instead of having the books and activities in a particular order, which is how I normally do story time, I wanted to make it more interactive.  So, I created Ms. Jaime’s Story Box, a wooden box that contained everything I needed for story time.  I would include the books that I planned to read, as well as any flannel stories I wanted to share, and wooden music notes to represent songs.  The goal was for children to pick something out of the box to start the story time, and then pick another element once we’ve finished the first.  I don’t remember now the order that we shared things in (the hazards of not blogging about story time when it happens), but overall, it got to be part of story time that the kids were really excited about.  It was sometimes crazy, and our story time was sometimes disjointed, but it was a lot of fun.  For the purposes of blogging, though, I’ll just list the books and elements in the order that I planned them.

1st Book

Image result for alphabet rescue

Alphabet Rescue by Audrey Wood – I picked this book specifically because it featured both capital and lowercase letters, which was central to the concept of letters as “sidekicks” as outlined in the manual.  I also thought the idea of fire trucks would go over well, especially with the boys.  However, this book was a pretty awkward read and just fell flat with the audience.

Song/Rhyme/Activity

Our “Clap Your Hands” song was a staple for story time each week, and usually happened sometime after our first book as a transition to our next element.  Since the kids were usually excited about pulling out a book or a flannel story, the music notes didn’t really get selected as often.  As the weeks went on, I prompted them for when we would share a song, which let us work music in a little more regularly.  This is another song that I inherited from the previous children’s librarian, but it was such a hit with our groups that it was impossible not to include it each week.

Clap Your Hands

Clap, clap, clap your hands,

Clap your hands together.

Clap, clap, clap your hands,

Clap your hands together.

Clap a little faster now,

Clap along with me.

Clap a little slower now,

Clap along with me.

Continue with:  nod your head, shake your heads, stomp your feet, and (sometimes) shake your hands.

Credit:  Adapted from KIDiddles

2nd Book

Image result for take away the a

Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier – I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking when I picked this book.  On the one hand, this book is adorable and hilarious, and the illustrations are great.  On the other head, it’s definitely not a good choice for a preschool audience that has no concept of wordplay or how letters make up words.  They enjoyed some of the pictures and the overall changes, but it had nothing to do with actually understanding the humor of the book.  If I were to use this one again, it would definitely be in one of my school age story times instead.

Flannel Story

For this week, I had a flannel version of the classic Bill Martin, Jr. picture book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  In theory, I planned to use this by saying the rhyme while the kids brought up the different letters to put onto our tree.  In practice, though, this was pretty much a real-life interpretation of a tree full of letters crashing down.  While some flannel stories work well for group participation, this one really doesn’t since it relies on the specific order of the letters and taking turns.

 

Song/Rhyme/Activity

I always included a second song or rhyme in my outlines for this group, although I very rarely included them in the story time session.  For this theme, I chose the action rhyme “Act Out the Alphabet” to practice different letter sounds partnered with movement.

Act Out the Alphabet

Move your body like a monster, chomp your arms like a shark

Pump it up like a body builder, take a bow like you’re a star

Here’s your chance to be an actor – do your best

Act out the alphabet!

A says a a alligator, alligator.  B says b b bounce, bounce.

C says c c cold, cold.  D says d d dive, dive.

E says e e exercise, exercise.  F says f f fishing, fishing.

G says g g gooey, gooey.  H says h h hula, hula.

I says i i insect, insect.  J says j j jiggle, jiggle.

K says k k karate, karate.  L says l l laugh, laugh.

M says m m march, march.  N says n n nod, nod.

O says o o opera, opera.  P says p p pull, pull.

Q says q q quiet, quiet.  R says r r run, run.

S says s s surf, surf.  T says t t tickle, tickle.

U says u u under, under.  V says v v vibrate, vibrate.

W says w w wag, wag.  X says x x like in box, like in box.

Y says y y yawn, yawn.  Z says z z zig-zag, zig-zag.

 

Credit:  Adapted from Jack Hartmann

3rd Book

Image result for lmno peas

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker – I love Keith Baker’s books, especially any featuring the peas!  This was probably the most popular book of the entire story time.  The illustrations are cute and engaging, the rhyming text is just fun to read, and the vocabulary introduced is interesting without being too complicated for a preschool audience.  There’s nothing I don’t love about this book, and I would definitely use it again.

Goodbye Song

We ended story time with our goodbye song, which is always the same each week.  We always sang “The More We Get Together” from the Baby Love Song Time CD.  The response varied from week to week.

Craft

This week’s craft was as simple gluing craft, matching up letters on a printable tree template from First Grade a la Carte.  Not only was this craft an absolute nightmare to prepare (I cut out all of the letter bubbles in advance), the kids just weren’t into it because they didn’t really understand the point.  They enjoyed coloring, but other than that, there was nothing great about this one.

How It Went

Unfortunately, I did this outline before I started keeping really detailed story time notes, so I don’t have any details about specific reactions or attendance for the week.  While I like the idea of having a letters/alphabet theme is fun, it’s actually pretty challenging to plan, and I don’t know that I would use it again.  In the context of the summer reading theme, I didn’t like it at all.  While there are a couple of good elements from this story time, it’s definitely in the category of learning experience rather than stellar example.

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How We View Leadership

Library Musings

I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership lately.  I’m very fortunate to work in a library system that not only demands excellence of its employees, but also gives us the tools we need to succeed.  Over the past several weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about our role as leaders, how we can inspire and motivate others, and what it means to take ownership.  It’s challenging.  It’s powerful.  And it demands that we ask tough questions about ourselves to figure out the path to the next level.

If you try to define leadership, you’ll likely come up with at least 100 different answers, depending on how many people you ask.  There are thousands of great quotes to describe what leadership is, and articles and websites dedicated to defining the difference between a boss and a leader.  But if I’ve learned one thing about exploring leadership on this journey, it’s that it has to start at a much more personal level.  It has to start with you.

To be honest, leadership isn’t always the easiest thing in the world for me.  A wonderful colleague recently provided me with a variety of resources to explore leadership more personally, to start asking questions and delving deeper into what leadership really is, and what leadership means to me.  And it all started with this question:

How do you view yourself as a leader?

At first, answering that question seemed like it would be easy.  You could easily define what leadership is to you and move on, but if you stop there, are you really answering the question?  So instead of taking the first answer, the easy way out, as it were, I started really thinking about what this question is asking.

Problem #1:  I’ve never really viewed myself as a leader.  Leadership has always been a role for people who are in positions of power – the bosses, supervisors, managers, and higher-ups who have the control and the power.  Leadership has always been an idea that flows from the top, down.

Putting that on paper, I realized that maybe it’s time we challenged our assumptions about leadership.  What happens when you take an idea and flip it completely on its head, and force yourself to look at it from another perspective?

Challenge #1:  Anyone can be a leader, regardless of their role in an organization.  You can lead from any level.  If we assume that this is true, then everyone has the inherent ability to lead and inspire, provided you know how to harness that power.  With that in mind, change can be enacted from any level of an organization.  You can start to change the world simply by changing yourself, one piece at a time.

That’s a simultaneously terrifying and empowering thought.  The idea of self-reflection, of figuring out what you need to improve about yourself to be a better employee, a better person, a better leader, is scary.  You have to be willing to admit that parts that aren’t so great, that need more work.  But at the same time, if you embrace the idea that you can learn and grow and get even better, then you start to realize that what you’re doing really does make a difference.  The little changes that you’re making to be better at what you do and the type of colleague you are can really make the big differences that change an organization.

Problem #2:  I’ve never thought that other people view me as a leader.  It’s easy to say that you want to be a powerful agent of change in your organization, and that you want to lead from wherever you are.  But it can be a daunting prospect if you think that other people don’t take you seriously, or don’t see the value in what you’re doing.  How other people view us, or at least how we perceive other people view us, can have a big impact on the way we view ourselves.

Challenge #2:  Do others not see you as a leader because you don’t see yourself that way first?  Or do they see you as a leader, but you’re so caught up in self-doubt that you don’t realize it?  If we assume the first is true, then you can’t be a leader without first believing in yourself.  As hard as it may be to do, we have to start accepting the things that we are good at and the impact we are making, even if it doesn’t seem that important.  After all, from the first challenge we’re working from the idea that the little changes can really have the big impacts.

If we assume the second is true, then you must start to see the good in yourself that others are already seeing in you.  There is no space for negative self-talk or blame.  Start accepting the good things that others are seeing in you, and work with those talents.  Build up your strengths while you keep looking for other ways to improve.  What a difference it would make if you start believing that you really are the best person, the right person, to be doing exactly the job that you’re doing right now.

In either case, whichever assumption you go with, you still must answer the question:  How do you view yourself as a leader?

Challenge #3:  Assume there is no right or wrong answer, just different interpretations.  The only truth that you have is the truth you offer, so lay it out on the table, for better or worse, and let it speak for itself.  Make a start.  One of the many things my colleagues have challenged me on is the idea of “right” and “wrong,” or that there’s only one answer or way of doing things.  The more you start to think about it, though, the more you realize that’s really not the case.  We are each beautifully and wonderfully unique, with our own talents and skills and ideas, because that’s exactly what the world needs.  So take your interpretation, and the interpretations of those around you, and start to build a new understanding, one that continues to grow and evolve as you do.

Repeat after me:  I AM A LEADER.  Now believe it, and show it, whatever your interpretation of leadership is.  Do it every day, again and again.  Then listen to those around you, and grow, and change, and do it better.  Do it so often that it becomes second nature, a very part of your being.  But never stop trying, never stop improving.  Keep moving forward.

Now answer the question:  How do you view yourself as a leader?

It’s only fair that I offer an interpretation of my own:

I want to to be a leader by example.  I try to show others the characteristics that make great leaders:  honesty, integrity, dedication, commitment, hard work, sincerity, determination.  I want other people to see in me the type of person they want to be.  I want to be a reflection of all the good that others have invested in me, all the lessons that I’ve learned and that I’m still learning.  I want to be a leader by giving the time, care, and concern that others gave to me to those who, like me, need it the most.  I want to be a leader by admitting when I am wrong, and asking for help when I need it, and being gracious enough to accept that help when I do.  I want to be a leader who can put the needs of others before my own. I want to be a person who inspires others to find their own greatness.

I am a work in progress, and sometimes I can admit that’s okay.  I may not yet be a leader in all the ways that I want to be, but I am a leader because I continue to show up every day, to put the work in, and to try.

I am a leader because of those who believe in me.  I am a leader because I am working on it, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

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Preschool Story Time: Cowboys (Heroes throughout History)

Story Time Archives

Date presented:  July 16, 2015

This story time was based on the theme suggestions from the 2015 CSLP Summer Reading Manual.  My goal was to have eight weeks of programming based on the theme:  “Every Hero Has a Story.”  To be honest, not all of those themes turned out to be great ideas.  Combined with the fact that these were some of the first story times I did, and we didn’t have much in the way of structure, well…let’s just say that you may have to be forgiving of some of the elements.  But, one of my goals for blogging about my story times is to include the good and the bad, so that hopefully others will learn, too.

Introduction

When I presented this story time, I didn’t have much of an introduction set up.  Since the parents tended to be running late, I would spend the first five minutes or so talking to the kids and parents as they came in, and sometimes teasing what we were doing in story time that week.  These story times were held in an open part of our children’s section, so they were visible throughout parts of the library and to anyone who was in the children’s department.

Welcome Song

We used the same welcome song in preschool story time each week.  It was taught to me by my boss when I took over story time as the welcome song that families were used to, and I kept it as part of my story times.

Welcome, Everyone (Tune:  Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)

Welcome, welcome, everyone.

Now you’re here – let’s have some fun.

First we’ll clap our hands just so.

Then we’ll reach and touch our toes.

Welcome, welcome, everyone.

Now you’re here – let’s have some fun.

Credit:  Adapted from Public Library Program Ideas

Letter of the Day

Each week, we had a Letter of the Day for story time.  For preschool groups, I gave an introduction to the topic that we were going to do, and a hint about the important word or words before asking them to guess the letter.  Some weeks the kids could guess the letter on the first try, and some weeks we spent a little more time trying to figure out what the letter might be.  We showed two cards:  one that showed the letter of the week, and one that showed how to make the letter in sign language.  This week was C for Cowboy.

iPad Technology

During this summer, we had hoped to incorporate technology into story time with our iPads.  When I was planning, I picked a Storybots ABC video for each week that corresponded with the letter of the week.  This plan should have included the video “Crazy for C,” but after trying this in one or two story times, I determined that our setup didn’t really allow it to work.  The screen on the iPad was too small for most of the audience to see (we didn’t have a way to project it), and honestly, the parents and kids alike were confused by why we were doing it.  So, this technology ended up dropped out of the outlines.

Story Box

This summer I introduced something a little different for my preschool story times.  Instead of having the books and activities in a particular order, which is how I normally do story time, I wanted to make it more interactive.  So, I created Ms. Jaime’s Story Box, a wooden box that contained everything I needed for story time.  I would include the books that I planned to read, as well as any flannel stories I wanted to share, and wooden music notes to represent songs.  The goal was for children to pick something out of the box to start the story time, and then pick another element once we’ve finished the first.  I don’t remember now the order that we shared things in (the hazards of not blogging about story time when it happens), but overall, it got to be part of story time that the kids were really excited about.  It was sometimes crazy, and our story time was sometimes disjointed, but it was a lot of fun.  For the purposes of blogging, though, I’ll just list the books and elements in the order that I planned them.

1st Book

Image result for there once was a cowpoke who swallowed an antThere Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant by Helen Ketteman – I picked this book because it’s adorable.  I’ve used it in a few preschool story time since, and it really depends on the audience whether or not it works well.  It really needs an attentive audience who enjoy the cumulative effect of the story.  When I read it, I try at add some ridiculous drawling for the cowpoke just to keep things interesting.

Song/Rhyme/Activity

Our “Clap Your Hands” song was a staple for story time each week, and usually happened sometime after our first book as a transition to our next element.  Since the kids were usually excited about pulling out a book or a flannel story, the music notes didn’t really get selected as often.  As the weeks went on, I prompted them for when we would share a song, which let us work music in a little more regularly.  This is another song that I inherited from the previous children’s librarian, but it was such a hit with our groups that it was impossible not to include it each week.

Clap Your Hands

Clap, clap, clap your hands,

Clap your hands together.

Clap, clap, clap your hands,

Clap your hands together.

Clap a little faster now,

Clap along with me.

Clap a little slower now,

Clap along with me.

Continue with:  nod your head, shake your heads, stomp your feet, and (sometimes) shake your hands.

Credit:  Adapted from KIDiddles

2nd Book

Image result for let's sing a lullaby with the brave cowboyLet’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas – This is seriously one of my favorite books of all time to read in story time.  I mean, who doesn’t love Jan Thomas?  This book is short enough to work with just about any audience, and I have so much fun reading it because of course the cowboy sings in a warbling, exaggerated drawl.  I always have the cowboy act super surprised at the answers that the kids give, like I have no idea that a flower wasn’t really a huge, hairy spider.  This one is almost always good for laughs, and I definitely recommend using it.

Flannel Story

IMG_0172For this week, I used a flannel that I previously created for Texas history story time, called “Dress the Cowboy.”  Since I wanted to include both cowgirls and cowboys in my story time, I made a second set to “Dress the Cowgirl,” which I’ll post about at some point in the future.  This one was a little chaotic because some of the pieces are a little small, but it’s a lot of fun to do.  I said the rhyme with the different things that our cowboy needs to get dressed, and the kids brought them up to put in the right spot on the cowboy until he was dressed.  Trying to do both a cowboy and a cowgirl was a little much for the group, though, so in the future I think I’d stick with one or the other.

Song/Rhyme/Activity

I always included a second song or rhyme in my outlines for this group, although I very rarely included them in the story time session.  For this theme, I chose the song “Western Animals” so that we had an excuse to make different animal noises.

Western Animals Song (Tune:  The Wheels on the Bus)

The coyotes on the prairie go howl, howl, howl

Howl, howl, howl, howl, howl, howl

The coyotes on the prairie go howl , howl, howl

All day long

Repeat with:

The rattlesnakes…rattle, rattle, rattle

The horses…neigh, neigh, neigh

The cows…moo, moo, moo

The jackrabbits…jump, jump, jump

Credit:  North Mankato Taylor Library

3rd Book

Image result for buckamoo girlsBuckamoo Girls by Ellen A. Kelley – This book was probably the least well received of the entire story time.  It was a little long, and honestly, the kids were a little confused about the idea of having cowgirls instead of cowboys.  I originally included it because I wanted to show both cowboys and cowgirls.  Also, since the Buckamoo Girls are literally cows, I think it was a little more abstract than what my audience is typically used to.

Goodbye Song

We ended story time with our goodbye song, which is always the same each week.  We always sang “The More We Get Together” from the Baby Love Song Time CD.  The response varied from week to week.

Craft

For this week, I went with a very simple cowboy boot craft.  I printed this cute boot template on cardstock and cut it out, and let the kids decorate with crayons, markers, and stickers however they wanted.  It was simple enough to not require a ton of prep and worked for both the intended audience and the younger siblings who joined.  The cardstock was good because it held up better than just paper for our more enthusiastic artists.

How It Went

Unfortunately, I did this outline before I started keeping really detailed story time notes, so I don’t have any details about specific reactions or attendance for the week.  Overall, this theme wasn’t a complete failure, but I would definitely make modifications before using this outline again.  It’s hard to find cute cowboy stories that are short enough for the preschool audience, but there are some good titles out there.  I’ve reused parts of this element in future cowboys story times with pretty good success.

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Flannel Friday Round Up for October 20

flannel friday

Hey, y’all!  Welcome to the October 20 Flannel Friday Round Up.  Have a great flannel to share?  Drop your link in the comments and I’ll add it!

Wendy at Flannel Board Fun shares a great “Wheels on the Bus” flannel.  I can’t get over how adorable this bus is!  This flannel has everything for your favorite traditional verses, including a super-cute horn, wipers, and crying baby.

Amy at One Little Librarian shares her “Five Little Monsters Came to School” flannel.  This adorable set features some of your favorite Sesame Street monsters (which I know would definitely be a hit at my library) and simple counting.

I didn’t have time to write up a new Flannel Friday post this week, but you can check out some of my past entries in the archives here.  Thanks to everyone for sharing this week!

New or looking to learn more about Flannel Friday?  Check out the blog or join the Facebook group.  For more inspiration, check out the Flannel Friday Pinterest boards, or look for conversations and links on Twitter using the hashtag #flannelstorytime.

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