Offline Professional Development: Planning a Flow Storytime

More offline professional development if you are working from home or sharing devices!

Get started here!

Now that you have a vetted best of the best storytime activity list, let’s do some storytime planning with it.

You may already be a proponent of no-theme storytimes or flow storytimes, but if not, today’s exercise is to give this strategy a try.

Why?

Because it’s a way of prioritizing our best content, the activities and components that are most strongly aligned with our goals, over the books and activities that we reach for because they match our theme. I’m personally agnostic on theme or non-themed storytimes, but it should be clear by now I am 100% a proponent of choosing materials for the right reasons. Testing out a non-themed or flow storytime is one way we can work on putting our priorities into practice.

First, read this post from the amazing Jbrary: Storytime Themes vs. Storytime Flow to give yourself an idea of what a storytime might look like when it’s not centered around a theme.

Then, pick a place to start–it could be one of your activities from your Top 40 List, or it could be a favorite book. (I’ve found that flow storytimes are a great way to make sure I have an inclusive book in my storytimes: instead of starting with a theme and looking for an inclusive title that “fits,” I start with an amazing book and go from there.)

Work forwards and backwards linking activities and books to your storytime flow until you have a plan. Refer to your Top 40 List often! Some connections will leap out at you, but don’t stop there. What are ways you can adapt items from your list to fit your flow? (As I mentioned last time, I really like to use Green Grass Grew All Around–and I’ll just change up what’s in the tree depending on the connection I’m trying to make. Maybe there will be an apple on the branch, or maybe an owl, or a swing.)

Don’t forget to think about your transition statements and interstitial messaging!

That’s it, that’s the exercise! How does it feel to let go of that theme as an organizing principle? I love knowing that I’m choosing activities and books that really speak to my storytime goals. I still routinely use themes as a filter, but I feel like I’m sharing a lot less “filler” material when I think about flow and start with my Top 40 list instead of a google search for theme related ideas.

Bonus: Share your plan with someone!

Keep going: Do another storytime flow plan! Try a partial flow, or plan a themed storytime but expand your keywords as you choose materials (eg, not just bears, but–honey, berries, hibernating, porridge, trees, fish…)

Apply your learning: write out your plan and add a phrase or a sentence reminding yourself how each storytime element or component or activity helps you meet your storytime goals. Which goals are the easiest to support? Which are harder? What can you change to more fully support all of your goals?

Shout out: To Jbrary for the link! <3 Who else has a storytime flow blog post to tell us about?

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Offline Professional Development: Top 40 List Evaluation

Thanks for waiting for me to get back to these posts! (Imagine, things being unpredictable right now, smh)

By now you’ve put together a Top 40 List and looked closely at what was on it and now I’m going to give you a task that will take awhile, if you let it, because now it’s time to look at everything on your list one by one, and think about each thing in terms of your overall goals for storytime.

My own hope is that as we look at our storytime practice carefully & thoughtfully, that we slowly add to our repertoire more and more of those activities that fit both categories: things we LOVE to do, and things that really deeply help us meet as many of our storytime goals as possible.

Why?

    Doing things we love to do helps us lead storytimes that feel warm and genuine and enjoyable. (I don’t know most of the musical guests on the Tonight Show, but I can’t help but smile at Jimmy Fallon’s utter glee when he does those clips where he gets to play kids’ instruments alongside them.)

    Sharing mostly those activities that closely align with our goals allows us to make the most of the limited minutes of storytime we have each week with our families.

    And having a long list of quality, sure-fire activity choices helps us to be as efficient as possible with our planning. I love browsing storytime plans, cute song ideas, and flannelboards online, but it’s SO EASY to go down the rabbit hole and let time get away from me!

What do you do from here?

Take one thing on your list, and think about your storytime mission statement. Jot down a little list of how that activity helps you meet some or all of those goals. Are there ways you can tweak that activity to better align with your goals?

That’s it! Do that for all 40 things on your list.

This isn’t a fancy exercise, but it’s good practice in looking closely at individual parts of your storytime to see how they contribute to your goals overall. (Just like we did with looking closely at your messaging during storytime.)

You may find that some of the activities on your list are even more powerful than you thought! The very first thing I put on my own Top 40 List is “When They Woke Up” or “Sleeping Sleeping.” Kids LOVE to play pretend so this is always a big hit. But when I thought about in terms of our goals (welcoming, engaging, literacy-based) I realized how much it fits all of them. It can be adjusted for all ages and different abilities. It fosters participation from the big kids and the babies love to watch everyone “sleep” and “wake up.” It supports vocabulary, dialog, phonological awareness. It builds executive function skills.

Now that I’ve realized how well it fits for our storytimes, I repeat it more regularly. I also look for ways I can incorporate some of its features (asking questions, imaginative play, practicing waiting, chanting) into other activities.

Or you may find that some of the activities you most love maybe aren’t as aligned with your goals as you thought. This doesn’t mean that you never get to do them anymore! But it does give you a chance to think about what DOES align with your goals.

For instance, the folk song Rattlin’ Bog is on my Top 40 list. I *love* this song. I love the tune, I love putting up piece after piece on the flannelboard as I sing, it makes me super happy. BUT “engagement” is one of our goals for storytime, and this…doesn’t score as high on that factor as it could. Kids sit and listen and watch me do the flannel pieces, but the way I typically shared this didn’t leave extra room for more participation than that.

So I still do it every once in awhile, but more often now I’ve shifted to doing Green Grass Grew All Around. It’s a similar cumulative song, and the “green grass grew all around” phrase is extremely fun for me to sing up and down the scale, but instead of a flannelboard, I’ve worked out full body motions (that even cross the midline!). Now kids who don’t want to or can’t sing along with me can be following along with their bodies instead of just sitting and watching.

Work through your list and think about each of your activities and build a power list of the best of the best. Again, not so you stop doing the other things, but so you have a mental template of what your top storytime material looks like. You’ll feel more confident in repeating these activities more often, and when you DO go down that storytime planning rabbit hole, you’ll have a clear idea of the types of material that will work best for YOUR storytimes.

Bonus: as always, I’d love to hear what you discover through this exercise! Any surprises?

Keep Going: Choose an activity that did NOT make it on to your Top 40 List and see if it meets your goals. Is there a similar activity that you like better that you can add to your repertoire?

Apply your learning: Make a storytime plan using only items from your Top 40 List that also closely align with your storytime goals. How many different storytimes plans can you make using this top tier list of material?

Shout out: to everyone who has read through all of these posts and is still coming back to see what I have to say <3 Thanks for taking storytime so seriously and being willing to explore what you do and why you do it so your families can benefit even more from your expertise and compassion.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Offline Professional Development: Top 40 List Assessment

Another exercise for those who need some offline work. Check in here to get started, and don’t forget to take your own time with these projects.

This exercise starts with the Top 40 List, so if you haven’t made yours yet, do that first.

Now that you have your list, spend as much time as you need really looking at it and assessing what’s there. Seriously, this could take awhile!

Why? Because the more we know about our own storytime practice and habits, the easier it will be to see where we want to grow, and what are some really solid starting points. I talk just a little bit about getting beyond “I like this” to “Why I like this” in this post.

What to do: Sort your Top 40 list in different ways, for sure by type of activity (songs, fingerplays, action rhymes, flannelboards, prop activities, etc) and by age group (babies, toddlers, prek, school age). What other ways can you sort everything? By theme? By literacy skill? By literacy practice? By what you have memorized and what you need notes for?

Next: ask yourself questions about all these categories. This is going to be a little less directed/specific than some of the other exercises, because it’s so individual. Your questions/discoveries are going to depend both what’s on your own list, and also on your storytime goals. I’ll give you some examples of me thinking about my list, but my questions here are not meant to be exhaustive.

A. Noticing What’s On the List

What type of activity do you have the most of for each of these categories (type, age, literacy support, etc.)? Why do you think things sort out this way for you?

I have a LOT of songs on my list. Why? Is it because after having my dad sing to me as a kid, and being in Girl Scouts and church groups and raising 2 kids and being a children’s librarian, that I just know a million songs? Is it because I memorize and remember lyrics fairly easily? Because I’m pretty confident singing a capella? Because it’s rewarding to me when my families sing along? Because knowing so many songs makes easy to make content connections with other storytime components? These are some of the questions that occur to me as I’m writing this up right now! You’ll have different questions & different answers.

It looks like I a lot of support for phonological awareness, background knowledge, talking, and singing on my list. (I’ve had my list for over a year and this is the first time I looked at it in terms of literacy support!)

B. Noticing What’s Not On the List

Where are your gaps?

I do NOT have a lot of prop activities (shaker egg, scarves) on my own list, for example. Why not? Is it because for the last few years I’ve been mostly subbing, and it’s easier to do these types of activities when you know your kids well and how they respond to having things to pass out/hold/manipulate? Is it because I just don’t want the fuss of making sure I know where those props are at each branch? Is it because I’d rather not deal with handing things out and that’s a barrier for me? Again, I’m just modeling some questions off the top of my head. Your questions will vary.

Hmmm, I don’t yet have a lot of favorite activities for writing support, though this is something we’re working on getting better at. See Jessica’s blog for her WRITE posts to see the type of things I mean!

C. Comparing What’s On the List

What do you the things on your list have in common? Another very open-ended question. I’m really not trying to lead you anywhere in particular with this, at least not yet–pretty much anything you notice can be of interest!

I noticed that I have both Row Row Row Your Boat and Itsy Bitsy Spider on my list, specifically the “do it lots of ways” versions (fast and slow for Row Row, humongous and extremely tiny for Spider). I have a couple of cumulative songs on my list. The flannelboards on my list tend to be conversational rather than scripted to a song or a rhyme.

That’s it for now!

I’ll do one more Top 40 List exercise to prompt what to do with all this noticing and how to use your goals to engage with both what things are on your list and what things aren’t 🙂

Bonus: Any surprises? Tell us!

Keep Going: You could do a Top 40 (or 10 or 20) List & Assessment for your favorite program/craft activities. (I used to love to make cardboard stencils and do crayon rubbings for just about every program I was in charge of.)

Apply your learning: This will be tomorrow’s post!

Shout Out: To everyone who taught me an activity that wound up on my own Top 40 List <3

Share
Posted in Training and Mentoring | Leave a comment

Offline Professional Development: Top 40 List

Hi team! I added a note to the intro post giving you permission to take your time with these exercises. Don’t feel like you need to keep up with these daily posts! Dig in & go slow.

Today’s exercise: Top 40 List

Why? This is another project to help us to step out of the constant scramble of building daily/weekly/monthly storytime plans and give us a little perspective on our process and our practice, and make space for intentional change.

The Top 40 List is an optional task I gave myself and my team a couple of years ago. My instructions:

Think of your FAVORITE storytime songs, rhymes, fingerplays, action rhymes, flannelboards. Any activity that is NOT a book can go on this list.

By “favorite” I do not necessarily mean the things you do most often. (I sang a welcome song every Monday morning for 10 YEARS STRAIGHT and while I appreciated the continuity and my babies loved it, it did *not* make my own Top 40 list, ha. But I did include a flannelboard I only do once or twice a year!)

What activities do you simply love to do as a storytime leader? What things make you go, “Oooh, yay!” when you realize you can fit them in to a plan? There are lots of reasons why certain storytime content might rise to the top of your list. Maybe because they always seem to prompt participation? Or because everyone knows them and they focus your group dynamics and attention? Or because it makes you feel good to sing the tune or do the movements? Or because the grownups report that their kids love it and they do it at home?

Why 40? Because I am child of the 70s and Top 40 radio used to be a thing, my dears. Also because 40 is a lot! I wanted us to get past the our “greatest hits” and dig a little deeper into our B sides. On the flip side (OK no more antique music metaphors), I encourage you to see what happens if you ONLY list 40! Some of my team really couldn’t do this without splitting their list into babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. While that’s an interesting exercise too, I’m curious about what makes the cut when we force ourselves to an arbitrary limit.

That’s kind of it for right now. I’m going to invite you to refer to this list during future exercises, but if you’re like me, it will take a while to compile.

Bonus: Tell me if any of your regular weekly songs don’t make your list either!

Keep Going: After you make an overall Top 40, yes, you can go back and do separate lists for different storytime populations. 🙂 Or compare your list to your colleagues’ lists, either at your library or on Twitter or social media. What do you have in common? What’s different?

Apply your learning: I have suggestions for how to think about this list on the way. For now, if you want to do more, make notes on your list as to what categories the items fall into: age groups, motor activities, flannelboards, songs, things you need props with, theme connections and so forth.

Shout out: to Amy who did this for herself for babies/toddlers and preschoolers after I tweeted about it!

Share
Posted in Training and Mentoring | Leave a comment

Offline Professional Development: Messaging Microscope

Here’s your next installment of some offline self directed exercises if you need some things to work on during your library closure. See the intro post here!

Today your assignment is going to be to take a look at your storytime messaging. On my team, messaging is what we call everything you say in storytime that’s NOT “content” (eg, reading a book, singing a song, doing a fingerplay, etc).

Why? Because we spend most of our time thinking about our content selection and delivery, which is great! But there’s a lot of in-between stuff we say, and it can have an impact on how our storytimes meet our goals or our mission, just like our content & materials do.

Start by choosing an existing storytime plan. If you don’t have your files with you, you can create a plan for this exercise. Then, pretend you are actually delivering that storytime, and write down every single thing you would typically say in real life as you are presenting. Here’s an example I wrote up a million years ago to give you an idea.

Be honest! No one has to see this but you!

Next:

Once you have this written up, get out your storytime mission statement. What are the big things you want storytime to do or be? For us, we want our storytimes to be welcoming, engaging, and literacy-based. So if I were doing this exercise again, some focused questions I could ask myself might be:

How am I welcoming families? What am I saying as we get started? Am I assuming they all know who I am? Am I assuming they all know how to behave at storytime? What can I say to make everyone feel more comfortable at storytime? Am I helping them learn about other library services or programs that might help them feel connected with this community? Am I using jargon or colloquialisms that are tricky to understand for families families who speak English as a second or third language?

How am I giving my families support and helping them engage with storytime? Am I giving instructions for how to do fingerplays? Am I being super clear that there’s more than one way to do this activity, so kids of all abilities feel included? Am I asking grownups to put down their phones so they can help their child be successful? What can I say to make sure they know what are good ways to participate and when to do that?

How am I making it clear to our grownups that I’m making intentional choices for our storytime materials that will support their child’s learning? Am I encouraging them for participating in our activities and learning how they can do these things outside of storytime? Is my literacy message clear and brief and accurate or am I rambling a bit?

If you’ve been doing storytimes for any length of time at all, I bet you have a little script that you say pretty automatically as you navigate through your storytime presentation. This isn’t bad! Having phrases and scripts locked and loaded frees up your attention for other things, like reading the room and managing your flannelboard pieces. But it’s worth it once in a while to check in with those scripts, and see where you can tweak your messages to be even more intentional about walking your talk and meeting your goals. And if you’re new to storytimes, awesome! Now’s your chance to be thoughtful as you launch your practice.

Bonus: Tell us anything that surprised you when you saw your messaging written down!

Keep Going: Be brave and swap notes with a coworker and ask for their feedback and ideas. Or think beyond storytime: What are your scripts when answering homework questions? Helping kids find books in the picture book area? Talking with a teacher?

Apply your learning: Thinking about your goals for storytime, write out ONE thing you would like to say differently in ONE part of your storytime and why you’re making the change.

Shout out: to my storytime team, who deal with me setting specific expectations around multiple types of messaging and do such an awesome job communicating with our families.

Share
Posted in Training and Mentoring, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Offline Professional Development: Storytime Mission Statement

First exercise! (See this post for more info)

Write a mission statement for storytimes at your library.

Why?

Because we can’t make effective changes to improve our programs and services unless we know where we’re trying to go and what we want to achieve. Also because wow I bet in the coming year we are all going to have to make even more difficult choices than we’re used to about resources, time, and staff, and we’ll be better prepared to make better decisions with a clear road map.

I know you may not be the supervisor, director, or decision-maker about storytimes at your library. You may not be in a place to write a mission statement “for real.” That’s OK. If your bosses are supportive, share your work with them. If they are not, you can still use this exercise to clarify your thinking and to focus your own storytime planning and delivery efforts.

I’ll share some questions and ideas to get you started, then at the end I’ll share the goals statement that we developed at my library.

Choose one or more of the following prompts and just write things down, don’t overthink this part or try to craft your language yet:

A. What is the mission statement for your library as a whole? Find it and write it down.

(If your library doesn’t have a formal mission statement, what can you infer about your director’s values and priorities from your existing programs, collections, services, and facilities? Or look up some other library’s mission statements. What words and concepts do you feel match your library’s approach?)

What do the phrases and ideas in this mission statement (or values/concepts) look like in storytime? eg: lifelong learning is a common phrase in library mission statements. What does learning look like in storytime, or what would you WANT it to look like? Does it have to do with building a knowledge of excellent children’s books and stories? Does it have to do with early literacy concepts and skills?

Another way to think about this is: How does storytime help move the needle on those big ideas in the overall mission statement for my community? eg: if we really mean lifelong, we don’t just mean adult education after school & college, we mean from the very beginning of life, by offering babies a warm supportive environment and lots of oral language exposure.

B. Think about your community:

What are some pressing needs for local families? How do these needs intersect with the role of the library?
What are other community organizations offering to young families? What is the library duplicating or not duplicating?
What questions do I get asked over and over by parents and by educators? How can storytime help them answer these questions?

C. Ask yourself some questions:

What do I wish parents and caregivers knew about storytime?
If kids could graduate from my storytimes with 3 skills/accomplishments/experiences/memories what would they be?
What is it about storytime that gives me energy to squeeze it in to all the other things I have to do?
What else do I wish I could do with my storytime program and why?
What can libraries do with storytimes that other agencies/organizations/businesses can’t do with theirs?
If I never could do storytime again, what would I miss the most?
If I never could do storytime again, what would our families miss the most?

Next:

Once you do some noodling around, look at what you’ve written. What themes and ideas rise to the top? These are the components that you can play with in crafting a mission statement for your storytimes. We all want storytime to do and be everything for everybody, but we have to prioritize and focus our efforts. A mission statement can help you articulate what needs are most important to you and your community, and then give you something to refer to in the future that will help you decide if you’re meeting those needs, or if there are ways you can tweak what you’re doing to be more effective.

Remember, just like there’s a thousand library mission statements, there is no single “right” mission statement for all storytimes. Your mission statement should serve your library.

Now that you’ve done some thinking and writing, here’s our storytime goals statement.

“In order to help families build early literacy skills, storytimes provide a welcoming, engaging and age-appropriate learning experience that encourages positive interactions between children and caregivers.”

Bonus: Did you get one drafted? Share it with us!

Keep going: Write a mission or goals statement for your other programs for other age groups. Write an overall mission or goals statement for your department.

Apply your learning: Keep your mission statement in front of you the next time you plan a storytime. How is each part of your storytime helping you with these goals? What are you doing in your storytime practice that you can let go of? What could you add to better address your mission?

Shout out: To my boss Lori Romero and my colleague Jessica Fredrickson, whose expertise and wisdom are very much a part of my thinking on the importance of storytime mission statements! We took part of this work to Power Up last year!

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mel’s Offline Non-Webinar Professional Storytime Development

(bc wtf 2020?)

Hey team, I know we are all are struggling with the basics right now, but I hope this finds you safe and healthy.

Many of us are dealing with brand new work from home situations or are working in facilities closed to the public, but with continued expectations from our bosses to keep up with professional development. This can be tricky if there’s more of us using the computers with fewer offline tasks (like storytimes and shelving and patron support) to occupy our time, or if we’re home sharing equipment/wifi with others who need them too.

I’m going to offer a few ideas for totally offline work that might help you fill this gap. These are 100% real exercises and not busy work! Some of them I’ve recommended in webinars/presis, some of them I’ve done with my team, all of them I think will help you think about and deepen your storytime practice.

I’ll try to write up one idea a day and link them below. I have a few thoughts to get started. If you have questions about storytime, ask me in the comments and I’ll add it to my list of ideas!

Update 3/21: If you’re starting these exercises by yourself or with your staff, a note on time: Just because I’m trying to post something every day for awhile does NOT mean that these are 1-day (or 1-hour or 1-shift) exercises! These are designed to prompt & reward deep, sustained thinking and there’s no clock ticking. In fact, with closed libraries and suspended programs and services, now is a great moment to let yourself NOT rush through a checklist. We spent months working on our storytime mission statement. I’ve been thinking about my Top 40 list on and off for a year.

Storytime Mission Statement
Messaging Microscope
Top 40 List
Top 40 List: Assessment
Top 40 List Evaluation
Planning a Flow Storytime

Caveat:

I am writing these off the top of my head! I’m not going to be as thorough as I could be with more time to plan. Roll with it, but if there’s an especially unhelpful missing piece, let me know.

Official-ese:

If your boss/HR needs official looking language to have this count, maybe this will help, I used as much jargon as I could, lol:

Storytime Development Workshop

A self-paced series of exercises designed to guide self-reflection on strategies to define storytime goals and consider best practices in literacy-based storytime delivery and content selection.

Melissa Depper is Storytime Supervisor for Arapahoe Libraries, where she works primarily with early childhood programs and services, and where she has led storytime training and mentoring for over 10 years. Melissa is a founding member of Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy, served on the ALSC/PLA Every Child Ready to Read Oversight Committee, and presents nationally on storytime issues and competencies.

Share
Posted in Training and Mentoring | Leave a comment

Baby Storytime: Sleepy Sleepy

Earlier this week I tweeted about using the This is Big Big Big rhyme for the baby storytime I was subbing for, which prompted this discovery:

10 years! OK, even if 5 of those years have been rather dusty that’s still a pretty cool anniversary.

I would love to start posting regularly again, but can’t yet make any commitments to a schedule. However in honor of my milestone, I thought I would post the plan for the storytime I did this week!

OPENING SONG: Good Morning*

OPENING FINGERPLAY: Open Them Shut Them*

BOOK: Tuck Me In by Dean Hacohen and Sherry Scharschmidt
Lift the flaps are always great for baby storytime. I also appreciate the less-usual animals like peacock, hedgehog, and moose (excellent for Colorado babies!)
Tuck Me In by Hacohen and Scharschmidt

LITERACY TIP: Print Motivation
Learning to read is hard work! When we read books with lift the flap or touch and feel pages with our babies, we help pique their interest in and enjoyment of books. This enjoyment is important because the more they love reading, the easier it will be to stay motivated while learning to read.

SONG: When Pigs Get Up in the Morning
Fitting that I’ve been singing this song for 10 years too. It’s from Seattle children’s musician Nancy Stewart and you can listen to it on her site. I started with pigs because there was a baby pig in our book, then we did other familiar animals like ducks, dogs, and cats.

ACTION SONG: Roll Over!
Now that we’re all awake let’s roll out of bed!

There were three in the bed and the little one said,
“Roll over! Roll over!”
So they all rolled over and one fell out!

There were two in the bed…”

FLANNEL SONG: A Hunting We Will Go*
I desperately need to print and laminate a new set of my animal pairs. Usually I try to match the animals with our theme somehow, but today we used a really random selection that I have in my storytime bag…bear/chair, hen/pen, crow/snow, and duck/truck.

BOOK: Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
One of those precious non-board book picture books that work perfectly for baby storytime. With the babies and the toddlers, I like to help hint at what animal we’re going to see next, and point to the clues in the illustrations. “We’re going to see an animal that stands on two feet and waddles.” Since this is a sleepy storytime, on the last page I asked, “How do we know she’s asleep? Right, her eyes are closed and she’s not moving around like an animal!”
Monkey and Me by Gravett

ACTION SONG: If You’re Sleepy and You Know It
Sing to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” I have become more and more fond of using simple piggyback songs that are easy for grownups to jump right in and sing with me without a lot of set up or explanation. I had us pause after singing each line to give the babies plenty of time to watch us yawn, stretch, and close our eyes, and time to organize their bodies to do the actions with us if they could.

If you’re sleepy and you know it, give a yawn
If you’re sleepy and you know it, give a yawn
If you’re sleepy and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re sleepy and you know it, give a yawn.

If you’re sleepy and you know it, stretch your arms…

If you’re sleepy and you know it, close your eyes…

ACTION SONG: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Now that we’re all quiet let’s sing a quiet song.

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!

Share
Posted in My Baby Storytime | Leave a comment

Flannel Friday: Big Ol Tree

Recently the amazing Amy at Catch the Possibilities posted a pic of her Valentine Tree (you can see versions on the Flannel Friday Pinterest here and here) and I just fell in love with the shape of her tree and branches, and immediately started thinking (during a two-hour meeting, natch) of different versions that would be fun to make.

Tree Ideas

Amy kindly sent a photo of her tree and I made a pattern copying hers as closely as possible. I had found packages of 1-yard lengths of felt at Michael’s and bought them for another project, but I cut off an 18″ x 18″ section of the brown felt and made my tree from that.

BigOlTreewPattern

Then for my first round I just made simple leaf shapes in the different colors of green I had on hand. Our largest storytime is capped at 25 kids, and sometimes big siblings are along for the ride, so I made 8 of each color (except that second-lightest green, I only had one scrap of that! I’ll go buy another sheet and add more) so I would have 32 leaves in all, plenty for everyone to have one plus a few special guests to have one, too.

IMG_3778

I won’t necessarily use this with a rhyme, but will probably put up the tree shape, talk about some vocabulary (trunk, branch, limb, twig, roots), and hand out a leaf to each child. Sometimes when I do things like this I call the kids to the board in groups (all the red pieces, or all the stars) but I think for a lot of kids it would be tricky to ask them to distinguish between these shades of green in the same shape, so instead I will probably just have them bring them to the board as I hand them out. (“Here’s your leaf, go put it on the tree!”)

IMG_3777

BUT this is just a starter pack! Obviously I need to do hearts for a Valentine Tree, and Amy suggested a Jellybean Tree would be a fabulous way to use up our felt scrap piles! I also want to make a set of leaves for fall: more yellows, some tans, browns, and reds. We’ll see what else I decide to add!

Here’s a sneak peak for springtime:

IMG_3779

Don’t forget you can add your Flannel Friday post to the new Tumblr submissions page, and you can see all the most current posts on the This Week in Flannel Friday Pinterest board

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Flannel Friday News!

Hi all!

Here is a super long repost of the announcement I placed on Facebook at the beginning of the month!

tl;dr: Flannel Friday is transitioning to a new method for collecting and sharing ideas!

Believe it or not, Flannel Friday is turning seven years old this year! That’s about five more years of storytime ideas than I ever expected us to gather and I’m incredibly grateful to each and every member of this community who has helped keep us together for so long.

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted a Round Up schedule for January or February. That’s been deliberate on my part while I have been consulting with our Flannel Friday Fairy Godmothers–our moderators, schedulers, and question-answerers. Our anniversary seemed like a good time to take a look at where we are and to think about what’s next.

Don’t worry, Flannel Friday isn’t going anywhere! But changing patterns of engagement both within FF and in the larger social media world have meant that it is a good time to adapt our process a bit. We still have a group of regular volunteers to host Round Ups, but fewer folks are able to serve as Fairy Godmother. We still have entries (almost) every week for the Round Ups, but smaller Round Ups every week than in the past. In the big picture, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook remain very active platforms, while blogs in general have become a little less central to the social media universe.

We very much want to keep this amazing community going! We want to keep supporting our Flannel Friday bloggers, and we want to make it easier for those of you who don’t have blogs to share your ideas, and also make it a little easier on our Fairy Godmothers to stay on top of things week to week.

So I’ve decided to run with an idea of Anne’s, and replace the weekly blog-based Round Ups with a rolling submissions form on Tumblr. You don’t have to have a Tumblr to participate! You don’t even have to have a blog to participate!

Instead, we will pin a link to a Tumblr submissions form to our Facebook page and the Flannel Friday website. When you have an idea to share with Flannel Friday–at any time, not just on Friday–all you have to do is click on the link and fill out the form. You’ll be able to choose to share a link to a Flannel Friday post on your blog, as we do now, OR you’ll be able to choose to just upload a photo of your flannelboard, and add a caption with any info you’d like to share.

The Fairy Godmothers will take turns keeping an eye on the Flannel Friday Tumblr, approving the posts, and sending them to Pinterest (which just takes a couple clicks right from Tumblr). You’ll be able to scroll through the Tumblr to look at ideas, or browse Pinterest as usual. Instead of a “This Week” board, we’ll have a “This Month” board, so you can check all the newest pins as they come in. And of course, we’ll pin to the theme boards as well.

Again, you won’t need a blog OR a Tumblr account to do this. You won’t need to wait for the Placeholder post to go live, and the Fairy Godmothers won’t have to organize hosts and pinners. My plan is to continue the Round Ups as usual for another month or so, to give everyone a chance to find this message and get ready for the transition. We’ll have plenty of time to try the new form and ask questions before we bring an end to the weekly Round Ups.

I think this will be a great way to include even more Flannel Friday-ers, while still supporting our regular bloggers.

Let me know what your thoughts and questions are! Just comment or ask questions here on this post, or on this announcement on our Facebook page, or send a message to flannelboardfriday @ gmail.com. If you want to jump right in and test out the new system, here’s the link to our Tumblr and here’s the link to our new submissions form.

I’m posting a Round Up Placeholder for this week here.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment