Monday, April 28, 2014

Guerrilla Storytime at Northern Waters Library System

This past week the fabulous Marge Loch-Wouters and I visited Asheland, WI. I had a lovely time seeing Lake Superior for the first time, and coming to the realization that Wisconsin is always cold. Even at the end of April.

People are still ice fishing up here!
We had a great time presenting information about our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, Baby Book Bees, and our Early Literacy Center. Then we wrapped up the day by talking about storytime and having our very own Guerrilla Storytime!

It was a long workshop day and sleeting outside, and we made the decision to keep it short so people could get home a little early. The participants were fabulous and had amazing things to share!

Challenge Question: Sing your opening song
  • (To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
    Hands go up, and hands go down
    I can turn myself around
    I can stand up on one shoe
    I can listen and so can you
    I can sit, I'll show you how.
    Storytime is starting now.
Challenge Question: How do you add vocabulary in your storytime?
  • When you run across a difficult word, ask kids if they know what it means. If they don't, then explain the word and reread the sentence.
  • Make sure you are able to explain the difficult word clearly to kids before storytime. For example, it's really hard to explain 'opposites' without using the word in the definition.
Challenge Question: What is your favorite way to add play in storytime?
  • Using puppets. You can have ones that talk, or ones that whisper in your ear. 
  • Using fingerplays. It's a great way to break up book sharing and grab the kid's attention.
  • Bean bag song from Greg & Steve
  • Using fairy tales to role play. First read the story and then go back through and act them out as a group.
Challenge Question: What props do you use in storytime?
  • A giraffe puppet with older kids. Giraffes have no voices and make no sound, so when you need kids to quiet down you rub your throat. (putting on your giraffe throat)
  • Tell a tale like three little bears and have finger puppets. Let the kids retell it by passing the puppets around. 
  • Shakey eggs. If you can't afford to buy them, then just make them! Simply add rice to Easter eggs and hot glue them shut. Wrap duct tape around them for extra strength. 
  • Scarves. Great to use when telling a book and having the kids act out the actions. A good way to calm the kids down when singing a song. Also, fun to use with a parachute. 
Challenge Question: Favorite five little... rhyme
  • 5 Littel Jack O' Lanterns- Great with finger puppets, flannel pieces, or simply using your hands!
    5 Little jack o' lanterns sitting on a gate
    The first one said, "Oh my it's getting late."
    The second one said, "There are witches in the air."
    The third one said, "But we don't care!"
    The fourth one said, "Let's run and run and run!"
    The fifth one said, "I'm ready for some fun."
    Ooooooo went the wind, and out went the light.
    And the five little jack o' lanterns rolled out of site. 
  • 5 Little Monkey- Kids love when the alligator chomps the monkeys. If it bothers your audience you can always have the alligator spit the monkeys out at the end. 
I think the next time I do a Guerrilla Storytime with an entire system, I will give them a little warning before. Over lunch I'll ask them to be brainstorming some questions they have about their storytime and to think of their favorite song/rhyme/book. I think this will help everyone feel more comfortable sharing. 

Even though this was our drive home, it was an amazing day in Ashland! I can't wait to come back and visit when everything isn't so white, icy, and cold. Maybe late August?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

On the Road with Preschool Mojo - Part 1

I'm presenting at the Northern Waters Library System in Ashland, Wisconsin today. Welcome new friends! If you're an old friend, then I'm glad you decided to come back. Marge is over here talking about our morning presentation.

Some quick links of things I talked about today...

Finally, here are some websites to visit when you get tired of looking at mine!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Evolving an Early Literacy Area - Part 2

To read the first part of this post, jump over to Tiny Tips for Library Fun! Marge covers how our Early Literacy Area has changed in the past 3 years, and some challenges that have presented themselves. Now, I'll be talking about the work we have done to the area since I came to La Crosse.

When I came into my position a year ago, there was an established Early Literacy Area. It was called the "Play Learn Read" area. However, it was also called the "Tot Spot" and there was signage with these names used interchangeably.

The space was set up well, but everything looked a little beat up. There were laminated shoes on the ground that were peeling and cracked, a puppet theater who had seen better days, and a magnet story with about 40 pieces (The Very Hungry Caterpillar).

I took a few months to get acquainted to both the space and the population who used it before I started making changes. The Youth Services team also discussed what could be changed or improved in the area during this time. We realized that it was primarily the same families coming into the library each week/month and using the area. While the kids enjoyed the space, parents were very bored of doing the same activity each visit.

With all of the above in mind, we decided to make some CHANGES! There were high quality items in the area, but they needed to be changed at a higher frequency and some more thought needed to be put into the activities that were being displayed. I explained my reasons for updating the area to our team and made sure I addressed the issues other staff members had mentioned to me. The staff was ready for a change and were very supportive during our transition period!

My first change was making the magnet board into a flannel board. I simply took a piece of flannel and covered it using Velcro. It didn't look the greatest, but it got the job done. Eventually, my boss took pity on me and bought an actual flannel board to attach to the wall once she saw how successful it was.

Next, we decided to make sure there was a parent messages included with every activity. I put them next to the flannel board, as well as other activities throughout the room. By including the early literacy tips, parents can immediately understand the affect playing can have on their child.

We decided to put a fun game on one of the pillar. I wanted this to be a bright item that captured their attention before they would leave the space.

We also took out the sad puppet theater patrons had been playing with for 6+ months and introduced a new activity. 

We are still working on a name for our area. Our original "Play Learn Read" is a bit of a mouthful and didn't catch on with the public or staff. The second try of "Tot Spot" was confusing to all, since our local grocery store provides a child watch service called this. Currently we're trying "Play & Learn" and we'll see if we still like it in a few months.

The most important decision we made was to keep the space updated and fresh. The flannel story and wall game get changed out monthly. The table activity usually stays out for 2-3 months. This has made the area appealing to both children and their parents. Best of all, everything is cheap! I've made every activity for the center, and usually with supplies I find lying around the library.

Starting a venture like an Early Literacy Center can be so rewarding! However, you have to think about sustainability when the decisions are being made. Will you reasonably be able to keep the space is good condition? Do you plan on updating it weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Set deadlines for yourself on how long you want activities to be out and keep them. You will be setting yourself up for success!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Come Be My Friend!!!

I have a job opening for you. Come and work at the La Crosse Public Library!

A pretty accurate depiction of
Brooke & Sara in the office every day.

Do you love youth services? 

Seriously, look at the cuteness.

Do you love working with the public?

Love programming for all ages?

Rocky works well with everyone.
You'll have an opportunity to work with fabulous staff members, 

live in a beautiful city,

Found on google images, but legitimately La Crosse, WI.

and do amazing things! In the 14 months I've been here, I've had numerous opportunities to try new things. The staff is willing to try just about anything once, and everyone pitches in to figure out what went wrong when programs don't work. The staff is one of the biggest perks of this job.

You'll have some amazing support behind you both professionally as well as in the community. Our department is always busy and each day brings new challenges and victories.

Also, you get to work with Marge Loch-Wouters! This woman is amazing. Her mentoring has been invaluable this past year and I've grown so much professionally because of it. This is the chance of a lifetime. 
So what are you waiting for? APPLY! If you have doubts then email me. As Sara Bryce will tell you, what's the worst thing that could happen? You don't get the position? Guess what, you'll never get a job if you don't apply for it. The position closes on May 2nd, so hurry up!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Early Literacy Center- Alphabet!

So this technically isn't located in our 'Play and Learn' area. In case you don't know, we have a huge boat in our children's room. It's awful. Kids love to run and jump on it all the time, but especially while parents are asking questions or checking out their books.

Earlier this month I decided to try and distract them by adding a fun new addition to the boat. We used our Cricut machine for the letters and found images online. When we were ready for them to be displayed, we just used contact paper to apply them on the surface of the boat. They've lasted for 3 weeks and haven't been peeled off yet!

They are at a perfect height for our favorite patrons, and they are spaced out over the entire boat. This gives kids an opportunity to still be moving, while keeping their attention focused on a specific task. This is great for early literacy game for a number of reasons. They're being exposed to letters and have an opportunity to trace them with their fingers, and they're working on their vocabulary with words like narwhal and yak!

Now instead of running, kids love to sing the alphabet to us, tell us about all the animals, or tell us other animals that begin with the letter they've discovered. My personal favorite is when a child goes to the letter their name starts with and says, "Look mom! They have my letter here!"

Our lovely college aide whipped these letters up in an afternoon and had them up by the next day. It's a huge hit and it was cheap and easy!


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