Flannel Friday: 5 Aliens and/or Monsters

I am continuing my Outer Space theme with this alien set!

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My green alien came from Library Quine’s 5 Little Men in a Flying Saucer, unfortunately she says her pattern source is no longer available. I was able to recreate the shape from her pictures though!

My inspiration for the other aliens came from Miss Mary Liberry’s easy-peasy monster tutorial. Each of my aliens, like her monsters, have a different body shape, different appendages and antennae, and googly eyes. Except I didn’t have the right size googly eyes at home so I spent some quality time cutting very tiny circles out of white felt and dotting on Sharpie pupils. And then lay down for awhile with a cool cloth on my forehead because seriously.

I wanted each monster to have its own color, shape, and number of eyes, so we would have plenty to talk about! In fact I am daydreaming about making a large set of these creatures, where the triangle-shaped one would come in all the other colors, not just red, and the square one would come in all the other colors besides yellow, and so forth. Then I could hand them out and put a spaceship or planet shape on the board, and have all the red aliens come home, or all the rectangle aliens, or all the ones with 4 eyes.

What I *did* do with these five is sing “One Alien Went Out to Play,” which is an adaptation of “One Elephant Went Out to Play,” which I sing to “Five Little Ducks Went Out to Play.”

One alien went out to play
In the Milky Way one day
She had such enormous fun
That she called for another alien to come.

Oh, AAAAAAALLLLIEENNNNN!

Two aliens went out to play…

There’s another version at Jen in the Library’s Outer Space Storytime post, and a few more 5 Aliens rhymes at the Sturgis Kids wiki, plus a different one from Vivian at As I See It.

There’s also fun stuff at the Flannel Friday Pinterest Outer Space board and some monsters-who-could-double-as-aliens on the Halloween board.

Kathryn has the round up at Fun with Friends at Storytime today! Check it out for more great ideas for storytime. Investigate the Flannel Friday Pinterest for hundreds of flannelboards, songs, games, and rhymes arranged by theme. Ask questions and brainstorm ideas in our Facebook group. Learn more about Flannel Friday and upcoming hosts at our website.

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Storytime Kit: Outer Space

This is the companion post to One Theme, Three Storytimes: Outer Space in which I list three (OK five) related plans using various books and activities for different ages and sizes of storytimes. In this post I’m sharing the words and descriptions for the songs & activities.

First, for my Baby Storytime, I do these four elements every week, and the words and citations are at this page.

Open Shut Them
A-Hunting We Will Go
This is Big Big Big
The Sneeze Game

Next, my current Good Morning song is adapted from the Greg and Steve “Good Morning” song, on We All Live Together vol 2. I learned this when my kids were in preschool from their classroom teachers and it still makes me smile. My adaptation:

Good morning, good morning, good morning to you
Good morning, good morning, good morning to you
It’s time for our stories, there’s so much to do
Good morning, good morning, good morning to you

Now the booklist:

Higher, Higher, by Leslie Patricelli
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (my own big book)
Astronaut Piggy-Wiggy, by Diane Fox & Christyan Fox
Light Up the Night, by Jean Reidy
Moon Rope, by Lois Ehlert
Mooncake, by Frank Asch
How to Catch a Star, by Oliver Jeffers

What did we do? Lots of things!

One Little Rocket Went Out to Play
One Alien Went Out to Play
Sing to: Five Little Ducks Went Out to Play

One little rocket (or alien) went out to play
In the Milky Way one day
She had such enormous fun
That she called for another little rocket (alien) to come!

Two little rockets…

I did rockets for the younger kids and aliens for the older kids. When I introduced the song, I would ask, “What noise does a rocket make?” or “What does an alien say?” And then I would work the answers into the song. When you get to the last line, “…called for another little rocket to come,” then cup your hands around your mouth and say, “Meep meep!” or “Bababababa” or “Vroooom!” or whatever you’ve decided is the correct noise, to “call” for the others to come play. Alternately, you can just call out in a very sing song voice, “Oh, AAAAAALIENNNN!” before you start the next verse. This is a song I adapt a lot (see my recent Shark Flannel Friday!) so it may be that someone else has also adapted it this way, but I don’t think I came across it while I was surfing and planning.

My rocket set is clipart edited to be 5 different colors, and my alien set I just made:

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I’ll take a better pic when I write a Flannel Friday post for these guys. In the meantime, my inspiration came from Library Quine’s Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer post, and Miss Mary Liberry’s easy-peasy monster tutorial.

If You’re Going to the Moon
Sing to: If You’re Happy and You Know It

If you’re going to the moon, wear your boots (stomp stomp)
If you’re going to the moon, wear your boots
If you’re going to the moon, this is what you have to do
If you’re going to the moon, wear your boots

…wear your suit (ziiiip!)
…wear your gloves (clap clap)
…wear your helmet (pat your head)

This I adapted a long time ago for my Moon and Rockets Baby Storytime, but I’ve seen that others have independently adapted it too. I borrowed the suit verse and zip action from SLC Book Boy’s Outer Space Storytime. For the babies I do three verses, boots, gloves, helmet; for the older kids I add the suit.

Johnny Looked at the Moon

Johnny looked at the moon
Johnny looked at the stars
Johnny jumped in a rocket ship
And blasted off to Mars!

I learned this from the old paper files at my library, but I’ve seen it out on the web too. I don’t know the original source for it. I just do it as a bounce with the babies, chanting and bouncing for the first three lines, then lifting the babies into the air for blast off.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Zoom zoom zoom, we’re going to the moon
Zoom zoom zoom, we’re going to the moon
If you’d like to take a trip, climb aboard my rocket ship
Zoom zoom zoom, we’re going to the moon

5…4…3…2…1…BLAST OFF!

I learned this from Jbrary! They learned it from Kathy Reid-Naiman’s music CD Zoom Zoom Cuddle and Croon. This was a big hit with all ages, all sizes of storytimes. It worked really well paired after If You’re Going to the Moon. “Now that we’re all suited up, let’s take a trip!”

I’m a Little Rocket
Sing to: I’m a Little Teapot

I’m a little rocket, tall and thin
Here is my nose cone
Here are my fins
When I get all fired up, launch begins
Watch me rise and see me spin

This I borrowed from Kelly’s Five Little Rockets Flannel Friday post–she learned it from NASA! Normally I don’t sing piggyback songs to I’m a Little Teapot because the tune gives me fits and I can’t sing it well, but I made an exception because I loved the “nose cone” and “fins” vocabulary…in fact I made it the basis for several of my literacy messages, about songs helping kids build vocabulary by using words in context.

Build a Sky

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For this I used my new flannelboard Outer Space Set. I handed out one of the white and yellow stars, the moons, and the planets to each of the toddlers, and asked them to come up one by one and put them anywhere they wanted. I had them come up piece by piece, first the yellow stars, then the white stars, etc. It wasn’t perfect but most of the grownups were able to help their children wait for the appropriate time. Waiting is good executive skills practice! When all the pieces were on the board we admired our handiwork, then sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star together. From Jbrary’s Guest Poster Julie I took the idea to make my moons be in different phases.

I’m Going Out in Space
Sing to: Farmer in the Dell

I’m going out in space
I’m going out in space
I think I’ll see a planet there
I’m going out in space

When my groups were too big to hand out pieces, I chose a few pieces from the outer space set and sang this song. I do this a lot with my babies with different themes: going to the beach, the park, or “It’s wintertime you know,” all sorts of ways. After each verse, we’d look at what I put on the board and talk about it a little bit. “What color is this star?” “I see blue stripes on this planet.”

What’s Missing?

I mentioned this game in my Outer Space Set post and Miss Mary Liberry plays it too. Put up a mix of shapes on the board, then either turn the board towards you while you take one piece away, or hold up a piece of cardboard or a plastic bin lid to hide your actions from your group. See if the kids can guess which is missing! Once they got the hang of it, I would take away 2 or 3 pieces at a time.

Galaxy Stretch and Catch a Star!

Bend and stretch, reach for the stars
There goes Jupiter, here comes Mars
Bend and stretch, reach for the sky
Stand on tippytoe, oh so high!

I learned this from Annie, who shared it in the comments of my Moon and Rockets post. I’ve since seen it lots of places but haven’t been able to track down the original citation–does anyone know? From Tara’s blog I borrowed the idea to pair a “star-catching” activity with Oliver Jeffers’ book How to Catch a Star. I read it to a smaller Family storytime group, and we did the Galaxy Stretch, and while they were all still on tiptoe I walked around as Miss Tara did and gave every child one of the flannel star pieces from the Outer Space Set. They really had to stretch to grab them, it was very fun! When everyone had their star, I invited them to come up to the flannelboard and make a constellation, then we sang Twinkle Twinkle.

Last but not least, the closing song I used sometimes is the Milkshake Song, which is on Songs For Wiggleworms. It is a big, big hit with lots of our kids so when I sub I have to close with it or there is trouble in River City! <3

OK, *whew* that’s the end!

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One Theme, Three Storytimes: Outer Space

Now that I am supervising a team of storytime providers, I have the super fun opportunity to sub a lot more storytimes as I fill in for sick days, vacations, and other times the schedule needs a little help. This is awesome because 1) [spoiler] I love storytime, and 2) for the last 6 years or so, I only presented baby storytimes. I have had to exercise my wiggly-toddler and big-kid storytime muscles again and it’s been very rewarding!

Sometimes I know in advance I will be subbing, but sometimes I fill in at the last minute for sick days. I’ve started to put together a storytime kit every month that has everything I need for any age storytime, so I’m ready to go no matter what.

Here’s my “kit” for this month! In order to not make a mile-long scrolly post, I’m going to split it up into two. This post will be the three (okay I have alternates so it’s more than three) plans, just listing the titles of books and songs and naming any activities. The second post will have the words & longer descriptions of the activities. Both posts will link out to other blogs and sites that I gathered ideas from.

My three age groups are: Baby (0-24mo), Toddler (2-3yr), and Family (all ages, but usually planned for 3-5yr). You’ll see some overlap among all three plans!

BABY

Opening Song: Good Morning
Opening Fingerplay: Open Shut Them
Book: Higher, Higher, by Leslie Patricelli
Flannel Song: One Little Rocket Went Out to Play
Action Song: If You’re Going to the Moon (3 verses: boots, gloves, helmet)
Flannel Song: A-Hunting We Will Go
Book: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Fingerplay: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Bounce: Johnny Looked at the Moon
Action Rhyme: This is Big Big Big
Action Song: The Sneeze Game

TODDLER (version 1, smaller group)

Opening Song: Good Morning
Book: Astronaut Piggy-Wiggy, by Diane Fox & Christyan Fox
Action Song: If You’re Going to the Moon (4 verses: boots, suit, gloves, helmet)
Action Song: Zoom Zoom Zoom
Book: Higher, Higher, by Leslie Patricelli
Flannel Song: One Little Rocket Went Out to Play
Action Song: I’m a Little Rocket
Flannel Activity: Build a Sky
Fingerplay: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Closing Song: The Milkshake Song

TODDLER (version 2, larger group)

Opening Song: Good Morning
Book: Astronaut Piggy-Wiggy, by Diane Fox & Christyan Fox
Action Song: If You’re Going to the Moon (4 verses: boots, suit, gloves, helmet)
Action Song: Zoom Zoom Zoom
Book: Higher, Higher, by Leslie Patricelli
Action Song: I’m a Little Rocket
Flannel Song: I’m Going Out in Space
Flannel Song: One Alien Went Out to Play
Fingerplay: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Closing Song: The Milkshake Song

FAMILY (version 1, larger group)

Opening Song: Good Morning
Book: Light Up the Night, by Jean Reidy
Flannel Game: What’s Missing?
Action Song: I’m a Little Rocket
Book: Moon Rope, by Lois Ehlert OR Mooncake, by Frank Asch
Action Song: If You’re Going to the Moon (4 verses: boots, suit, gloves, helmet)
Action Song: Zoom Zoom Zoom
Book: Astronaut Piggy-Wiggy, by Diane Fox & Christyan Fox OR Higher, Higher, by Leslie Patricelli
Flannel Song: One Alien Went Out to Play
Closing Song: The Milkshake Song

FAMILY (version 2, smaller group)

Opening Song: Good Morning
Book: How to Catch a Star, by Oliver Jeffers
Action Song: Galaxy Stretch
Activity: Catch a Star!
Fingerplay: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Book: Astronaut Piggy-Wiggy, by Diane Fox & Christyan Fox
Action Song: If You’re Going to the Moon (4 verses: boots, suit, gloves, helmet)
Action Song: Zoom Zoom Zoom
Book: Higher, Higher, by Leslie Patricelli
Flannel Song: One Alien Went Out to Play

Resources:

Welcome to Storytime: Flannel Friday, Five Little Rockets

Storytime Katie: Space
Surlalune Storytime: Space
Miss Meg’s Storytime: Space
Library Village: Blast Off!
Loons & Quines @ Librarytime: Flannel Friday: Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer
Storytime with Miss Tara and Friends: Pre-K Outer Space
SLC Book Boy: Outer Space Storytime
Jbrary: Flannel Friday Guest Post Palooza STEAMy Flannel in Outer Space
Jbrary: Zoom Zoom Zoom
Miss Mary Liberry: Flannel Friday Monsters the Easy-Peasy Mac-n-Cheesy Way

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Flannel Friday: Outer Space Set

This week is the 46th anniversary of the first Moon Landing! I didn’t know that when I planned my Moons and Rockets storytimes for this week, but it was happy coincidence when I found out.

I was subbing for Toddler and Family storytimes in addition to my usual babies, and I wanted to make a new flannel set that I could use in different ways all week. Our storytimes are limited to around 25 kids, so whenever I can, I like to make enough pieces for everyone to hold one just in case that type of activity works out.

Some of the books I knew I would be using were:

higherAstronautPiggyWiggyLightupTheNight

Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli
Astronaut Piggy Wiggy by Christyan & Diana Fox
Light Up the Night by Jean Reidy (local author!)

The set I made had pieces that linked to these books in different ways:

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The set includes: five yellow stars, five white stars, three moons in different phases, one sun, two rockets, ten planets in different colors, one constellation, one alien face, and one glittery galaxy. So, there’s at least one alien in all three books, and a rocket in all three, and Light Up the Night has planets and constellations, you can see the Earth in Higher! Higher!, and so forth.

I used these pieces in a few different ways, depending on whether I was working with toddlers, or older kids, or had small groups or large groups.

Once I handed everyone in a 10-15 child toddler group a star, planet, or moon, and first asked the kids with yellow stars to come up and put them on the board, then the white stars, then moons, then planets. Yes, it got a little mixed up as kids became excited. No, we did not put everything up in perfect order. But it was manageable and at the end we looked at our outer space scene and oohed and aahed. Then we sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star together!

Once I only had two 3 & 4 year old kids! So I gave them each a stack of pieces and they took turns putting them on the board wherever they wanted. I kept up a running commentary, saying things like, “Oh, you put that white star near the other white stars! Nice sorting.” and “That planet is purple with pink stripes…I notice that’s kind of like your t-shirt today.” Again, when we were all done, we sang Twinkle Twinkle together. After storytime, since there were so few of them, I gave them the pieces again to play with during our play time. When they were all on the board this time, I started playing “I Spy:” “I spy a red planet near a yellow star.” “I spy a rocket that is blue and yellow.”

For the big kids in a large group, instead of giving them each a piece, I chose 10 pieces and put them on the board. If we had just read Light Up the Night, I asked them to remember some of the things we saw on the outer space pages. As they remembered things like planets, rockets, stars, I put them on the board from my pile. When we had all 10 pieces up, I told them we were going to play a game, and I was going to take one piece away and see if they could figure out which one it was. I held up a the lid to a large plastic bin so they couldn’t see what I picked.

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That’s right, the Earth is missing! Good noticing!

Something ELSE you can do with these pieces, with a smaller group and older kids, is to hand out some of the pieces and then invite the kids to help you make a chart to see how many of each type there are. Here I used cotton string stuck to my very old fuzzy flannelboard to make a grid, then filled it in with the shapes. (You could also use cheap hairy acrylic yarn on a less fuzzy flannelboard, or masking tape, to do the same thing.)

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You can see I chose pieces for the chart that I had at least 2 shapes for: so one of the shapes could go on the top row as the “header.” Ta-dah! STEM! Math! Counting Sorting! Matching!

If you have too many kids to hand out, or kids who are too squirrely, to have them come to the board, you can sing a simple song as you put the pieces on the board. I often sing “I’m Going to the _______” to the tune of Farmer in the Dell, as I pull out props or show photos or put flannel pieces on the board. In this case, for one group, I sang,

I’m going out in space,
I’m going out in space,
I think I’ll see a planet there,
I’m going out in space.

I always stop in between each verse and talk about what we just put on the board: “This planet is blue and green. Does it look like a planet you know? Yes, the Earth! Our Earth has blue oceans and green continents.” etc.

I love making big sets like this because there’s so much to do with them! What would you do with these pieces?

Today’s Flannel Friday Round Up is hosted by Lisa at Libraryland. Check her blog tonight or tomorrow for everyone’s links!

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Calling All Early Literacy Librarians!

It is such an exciting trajectory to look back to when I was in library school (in the olden days) where we talked about storytime without talking much about learning to read–to the early 2000s when we started to learn about early literacy concepts via Every Child Ready to Read–to to the late 2000s, when state libraries and other organizations started to partner together to launch statewide early literacy initiatives–to the last few years, when more and more libraries are adding dedicated Early Literacy Librarians to their youth services departments. How cool is that? How much fun to be a part of such an amazing groundswell of learning and sharing and supporting families!

I’m really curious how the jobs held by those Early Literacy Librarians are shaping up and if you are one of them, either by title or by fact, I would love to hear from you! What are your days like? What goals and objectives are you charged with meeting in your community? What is in your official job description, and what do you actually do? Do you mostly work with collections, or programs, or training, or outreach? Or something else?

I realize that this should properly be a survey, and that I’m asking a lot! But if you are an Early Literacy Librarian, would you please share a few sentences about your job in the comments? I’m particularly interested where your tasks diverge from a more traditional children’s librarian’s tasks. Do you have any advice for libraries considering adding an Early Literacy staff member?

Thanks in advance!

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Flannel Friday: Berries

I am challenging myself to post a Flannel Friday for every week that I serve as Flannel Friday Fairy Godmother this summer! Today I tweaked a flannelboard I made/adapted for my singing storytime on Monday.

Berries Felt Set

I made the gooseberry and cherries a little larger, and added a cranberry. The total set clockwise from the top left is: Strawberry, blackberry, cranberry, cherries, raspberry, gooseberry, and blueberry.

On Monday I sang “Down Around the Corner.” (AGAIN. I *love* this song. And now all my grown-ups know it too and jump right in, no matter if we’re singing about berries or cookies or cowboy hats.)

Choose 5 of the berries and sing to “Five Little Ducks Went Out to Play.”

Down around the corner at the grocery store
Were five little berries and not one more
Along came someone with a nickel to pay
And they bought the blueberry and they took it away.

With babies, you can just choose the berries and sing straight through; with older children you can pause and ask, “What berry should we buy next?” or “Let’s choose a berry that is green. Which one is that?”

Another way to use these berries is to riff off of Jamberry. I saw one of my staff do this recently and it was a great chant for her baby storytime. She had five pictures of berries, and then without worrying about rhyming, just chanted,

One berry two berry
Pick me a … blueberry!

Three berry four berry
Pick me a…blackberry!

Five berry six berry
Pick me a…strawberry!

Seven berry eight berry
Pick me a…red cherry!

Nine berry ten berry
Pick me a…raspberry!

Or you could end with: “Nine berry, ten berry, let’s count again berry.” And then do the chant again!

What would you do with all these berries?

I’m hosting the round up today right here at Mel’s Desk! Check it out for more great ideas for storytime. Investigate the Flannel Friday Pinterest for hundreds of flannelboards, songs, games, and rhymes arranged by theme. Ask questions and brainstorm ideas in our Facebook group. Learn more about Flannel Friday and upcoming hosts at our website.

Have a great weekend!

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Flannel Friday Round Up for 7/17

Here’s this week’s Flannel Friday Round Up! I’m so happy to be hosting again.

FlannelFriday(Web)

Kathryn has two firefighters and a fire engine at Fun with Friends at Storytime. I love the details on the truck: hose, ladder, axes…LOTS to talk about. Kathryn has a printout of The Wheels on the Firetruck to go along with!

Danielle at Stories with Library Danielle was inspired by Sunflower Storytime to make her own balloons for Toddler Storytime! There’s a counting rhyme plus a book idea, activity idea, AND literacy tips to go along with.

Nikki has a (Not So) Flannel Friday idea over at Hey There Library …super easy super quick ribbon sticks! Leftover craft materials become a special music and movement prop in 20 minutes flat. Excellent!

Jane has a lovely idea: flannelboard sets to support a mindful, yoga storytime at Piper Loves the Library. She uses the flannelboard sets to help her group bridge from a familiar “regular” storytime to something a little different but wonderful.

And I squeaked in my own post tonight while I was building the round up: 7 Berries with a couple different rhyme ideas.

Thank you to our Friday crew this week! You rock!

Thanks everyone!

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Baby Storytime: More Songs!

It’s been a long time since I had time to plan out a baby storytime from the ground up. I always like to do an all-singing storytime during our “Sing” month, but it’s been 6 years since I put together my last Songs storytime! It was fun to freshen it up. I asked on Twitter for favorite books to sing, and Missi (@miswatts) mentioned Jamberry…so that’s what I built the storytime around. Thanks, Missi!

OPENING SONG: Hello Song*

OPENING FINGERPLAY: Open Them Shut Them*

BOOK: Jamberry by DEGEN
I tested a couple different tunes with the text and liked “Hush Little Baby,” which did fit the meter, but my husband (who after 20 years of listening to me talk about storytime not surprisingly now has storytime opinions of his own) thought that a lullaby was a little quiet for a book with so much boisterous action. So I tried “London Bridge” instead, which also fits, and is a little perkier.

Jamberry

FLANNEL SONG: Down Around the Corner
I made a flannelboard with a raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, and gooseberry. The strawberry and cherries are borrowed from other sets. I wasn’t very careful about relative sizing! I chose five of the six for this song.
Berries

Down around the corner at the grocery store
Were five little berries and not one more
Along came someone with a nickel to pay
And they bought a little berry and they took it away.

ACTION SONG: The Green Grass Grew All Around
I changed this traditional song a bit to be about an apple tree, and led into it by talking about how lots of berries grown on bushes but some fruit we eat grows on trees. You can sing this song as a call-and-response, with the group repeating each line after the leader sings it, and without any prompting from me, that’s what my group did today! It was SUPER FUN. I felt like I was at Girl Scout camp again.

I did use arm motions for this, less because I think my babies are going to be able to follow along, and more to give them something to look at while I sing, and to show the grownups that it’s easy to add simple motions to the songs they sing. My motions were: tree = arms in circle over head; hole = arms in circle in front of torso (like ballet position 1); branch = one arm out to side with fingers spread; apple = one arm out to side with fingers rounded into a circle; ground = both arms stretched out to the side; green grass = wiggly fingers all around!

The green grass grew all around all around
And the green grass grew all around.

There was a tree
An apple tree
The prettiest tree
That you ever did see

And the tree in a hole and the hole in the ground
And the green grass grew all around all around
And the green grass grew all around.

And on that tree
There was a branch
The prettiest branch
That you ever did see

And the branch on the tree and the tree in a hole and the hole in the ground
And the green grass grew all around all around
And the green grass grew all around.

And on that branch
There was an apple…

FLANNEL CHANT: Green Apple Green Apple What Do You See?
Sorry I didn’t take a picture of this! After we sang Green Grass, I put up the green apple from my Very Hungry Caterpillar set and we did a “Brown Bear” chant with the apple, pear, plum, strawberry from the VHC set and the blackberry, blueberry, and raspberry from my new Berry set.

Green apple, green apple, what do you see?
I see a yellow pear looking at me!
Etc.

FLANNEL SONG: A Hunting We Will Go*
Today since we were talking about colorful berries and fruits I chose colorful animals: brown bear, green frog, blue whale, red fox.

BOOK: Row Row Row Your Boat by CABRERA
This book starts with the traditional verse, then on other pages Jane Cabrera wrote additional original verses. What worked nicely was for me to turn the page, prompt the kids to look for the animal on each page, then read out the new lyrics, then we all sang it together.

Row Row Row Your Boat

FLANNEL SONG: In a Lily Pond I Lay
I learned this lovely song from an Elizabeth Mitchell CD. The clouds reverse to the stars, and the sun reverses to the moon. It’s the same tune as Twinkle Twinkle, so we sang that next.
Lily Pad DayLily Pad Night

In a lily pond I lay
All upon a summer’s day
And I chased a dragonfly
All across an ancient sky.

Falling with a thousand stars
Down the Milky Way to Mars
Back again in time for day
in a lily pond I lay.

FINGERPLAY: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

LITERACY TIP: Singing
Parents, we sing so much in storytime because singing is awesome for our babies’ brains. Songs give children practice listening and trying out basic sentence patterns, expose them to great vocabulary in context, and help children learn to hear that words can be broken up into syllables, and then separate sounds, which is a skill they will need when they are sounding out words when they read. Singing is a powerful way to help your baby get ready to read.

ACTION RHYME: This is Big Big Big*

CLOSING SONG: Sneeze Game*

*Check out the My Baby Storytime page for the words and/or citations for these weekly activities!

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(Not a) Flannel Friday: Shark Week 2015

Hey all, here is a last-minute entry for the Flannel Friday Shark Week Round Up! Thanks to my teens who helped me develop this idea while we were driving around yesterday.

14yo: I think it’s funny that you’re still using us for storytime ideas.
Me: Of course I am, what would I do without you?
17yo: …have really lackluster storytimes???
Me: *thinks fondly of the pre-snark parenting years*

ANYWAY.

This is a simple re-write of “One Elephant Went Out to Play” (or “One Dinosaur Went Out to Play“) with two different types of simple props for the kids. Sing it to “Five Little Ducks Went Out One Day.”

One Little Shark

[sing] One little shark went out to play
On a tidal wave one day
She had such tremendous fun
That she called for another little shark to come:

[yell] Oooooh, SHHHHHAAAAAAARRRRK!

[sing] Two little sharks…

You can have the kids stand up and act this out without props.

First line: Hold up finger/s for the number of sharks, then put palms together over your head to make a fin.

Second line: With fin in place, bob knees so you are riding up and down on the wave.

Third/fourth line: Motion with hand like you’re waving someone to come over

Yelling line: Hold hands to mouth, call out, “Oh, Shark!” Then snap palms together like shark teeth! Or, wiggle like you’re swimming!

You can also make some simple props for the kids to use. You can make a shark fin on a pop stick:

Shark Fin Pop Stick

These are cut from 6×6 squares of construction paper and glued together on either side of a large pop stick. You could make one for each child and hand them out. The kids can hold up the shark fin over their heads. Then it’s a little trickier for them to do the motions, but you can always be the one doing the motions while they sing, bounce, and yell.

OR, you could try making shark fin hats. I did NOT test this out on a small-size child, but I did try to fit one on my teens and it ALMOST fits so maybe it would work for smaller heads.

These hats are cut from two 9×12 pieces of construction paper, and just stapled around the convex curve with ONE staple at the top of the concave curve. (The photo below shows 2 staples but I took one out afterwards.) The open space in the back of the fin is what I *hope* would allow different-sized child-size heads to keep this on.

Construction paper shark fin hat

Construction paper shark fin hat

Here is Thomas the dog modeling the hat! *IF* the hats fit AND stay on, then the child could have hands free to do the motions of the song. Plus I think a room full of waist-high shark fins would look pretty funny. I will take the hat to Monday’s storytime and test it on a toddler!

In the meantime, check out all the other Shark Week posts at Kelly’s blog Ms Kelly at the Library. All things Flannel Friday can be found at our webpage.

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Early Literacy Messages in Action: My Favorite Part

Early Literacy Messaging Graphic

If you were on Twitter last night you might have seen me having a minor case of nerves about this post! I very happily agreed to be part of @Jbrary’s Early Literacy Messages in Action blog tour, then promptly went on vacation. By the time I got back, so many fabulous librarians had already posted their amazing thoughts that I seriously was stuck for a bit wondering what else to add to the conversation. So thanks to Angie, Jbrary, Katie, Mary, and Anna for their ideas & encouragement!

First, go read everyone else on the blog tour. The round up post is at Jbrary and is going live today, and I enjoyed & learned from every single entry. There’s so much I agree with: connecting messages with activities in storytime, sharing your own enthusiasm, practicing your delivery, encouraging parents & caregivers, being flexible & responsive to the group that day. Lots of great tips!

I’m not going to reiterate those things right now, though I may be tempted to come back to them in future posts! Today, I’d like to share about my favorite part of my literacy message and why I think it is so important.

My messages are based on a message template that I created several years ago for storytime staff to use at my library. I presented a poster session at the 2013 ALA Annual on our template, and you can read a little more about it and download a handout with the template and examples at the conference site. I had a chance to expand on the poster session in an article in Children & Libraries (The article uses the same examples as the handout, but tells a little more about how & why I put the template together as I did.)

tl;dr…Here’s the template:

Parents, when you do this activity,
your children learn this early literacy skill.
This helps them become a good reader because what we know from research.
Doing this early literacy practice with your children will help them get ready to read!

With the italics filled in, it sounds like this:

Parents, when you sing lots of songs with your children,
they learn some words that we don’t use in regular conversations.
This will help them become a good reader because kids with big vocabularies have an easier time understanding what they read.
Singing with your child will help them get ready to read!

Now that you’ve read the other blog posts, you’ll recognize that many other storytime providers have also hit on the “when you do this/your children learn that” construction, which is awesome. The part I like best in our template though is the next phrase: “This will help them become a good reader because…”

Why do I like this so much? I like it because it reaches back and allows me to connect with the content, if not the vocabulary, of the research behind the ECRR1 six skills. I like it because I know a lot of parents and caregivers are genuinely curious about their children’s cognitive development and how the heck anyone ever manages to learn to read, let alone LITTLE KIDS. And I like it because I think specificity is intriguing and personal and motivating.

For instance, if you told me, “Mel, exercising 20 minutes a day is good for you!” I would believe you, but come on, I’m also supposed to floss and eat 38 servings of veggies and meditate and drink plenty of fluids and yeah sometimes exercising just doesn’t happen. Now what if you told my storytime moms that exercising would help them hold their babies longer without discomfort and told my two teens that exercising would increase their cardio for marching band camp and told me that exercising would help me sleep better at night? Now you’ve given us information that is intriguing because it connects with us as individuals and motivating because it is personal.

Everyone is different and comes to their time caring for kids with different backgrounds and motivations and information. If my messages start to sound the same, if they start to sound pretty much all like, “Read to your kids because it’s so good for them!” or “Singing helps your kids get ready to read!” then as true as those messages are, I believe I will wind up missing opportunities to connect with as many different parents and caregivers as I can and hook as many as possible with a rationale that means something to THEM and will help keep them motivated for doing all these cool early literacy activities.

I want the mom with ADD to perk up when I talk about kids learning through movement AND WHY. I want the dad who doesn’t read English very well to hear that his sharing wordless books will still help his daughter AND WHY. I want the grandma who watches all 4 of her grandkids to feel good about singing to them when she can’t sit and read with them all AND WHY. The more specific messages I share, the more I increase my chances of dropping just the right message in just the right ear at just the right time.

A lot of my parents have been with me for months (if not years, as they bring 2nd and 3rd children to baby storytime). They’ve heard a lot of my messages already. But those storytime pros will still make a point to talk with me after storytime about a particular message that has resonated with them that day. I have had new parents say out loud, involuntarily, “Really?” or “Wow!” after a message. I have had parents just jump right in and ask a question about something I’ve said, right in the middle of baby storytime. These comments make my day and they are why I keep that “because” phrase in as many of my messages as I can.

So, to wrap up, here’s a real, live message from storytime last month. This is in a baby storytime, which for us is 0-24 months. In this storytime, my literacy message was given after my first book. When I introduced the book I said, “This book is a book that my mom read to me when *I* was a little girl.” (It really is the actual book I had as a kid–sometimes I show them where my mom wrote my name on the front inside cover.) My message after the book loops back to that idea, of sharing personal favorites with your kids. It was written to connect both with the “Reading” practice and the “Print Motivation” skill.

MZD Literacy Tip from MelissaZD on Vimeo.

Almost every one of my Baby Storytime plan posts here on Mel’s Desk has a literacy message included, for more real life examples–no other videos though!

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