Saturday, December 15, 2012

Storytime - Winter

The first week in December, I facilitated a winter themed story time. We read some fun books, talked about hibernation, had a "snowball" fight and made marshmallow snowmen.  We had a ball!

The first book we read was Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buchner. This is a popular book - several of the kids were familiar with it. Its a fun story about all the wacky adventures snowmen have while we are asleep, explaining why they sometimes look different than how we left them the night before. This is a fun book for all ages.

The next book I read was Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner. I LOVE this book! The story is about a boy and his dad cross country skiing, and the animals they pass over who are hidden and hibernating in the snow.  Its beautifully illustrated and the kids had lots of fun finding the animals in the snow.
The hardest part about story time is getting the kids to sit still for several stories.  I tried something new this week - an indoor snowball fight! The kids LOVED this!! We had a parents vs. kids snowball fight and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely! It was fun, got everyone moving, and was a needed break for the kids in between stories. Honestly, if you are looking for something fun and safe for the kids on long winter days, I can't think of a better way to spend $15. The snowballs are made of a super soft - injury proof!

For a craft, we made very simple marshmallow snowmen. This ended up being easier and less messy than I was expecting and, of course, the kids loved making them and eating them!
When our snowmen were complete and ready to eat, we all sat back down for another story,  Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows.  This is a cute story about a train full of animals getting ready to hibernate.

Everyone had a great time with this theme!  I'll leave you with some advice from the bookstore:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storytime - Halloween

Last Saturday was the last market of the season for Fenton Street Market (aside from the special holiday markets). We wanted it to be extra special, so Megan and I brainstormed and came up with the idea to have trick or treating at the market along with a Halloween story time. We had a beautiful day that was, quite literally, the calm before the storm (the storm being Hurricane Sandy). With this Halloween being up in the air, quite a few kids took advantage of the 75+ vendors at the market with treats. It seemed like most of the vendors got a kick out of it.

I really love Halloween and monsters, so this story time was a fun one for me. My son loves all the books I read and we've been reading them at bedtime in preparation for Halloween. The other kids got a kick out of the gross, spooky and silly books, too.  

The first book I read was Halloween Night by Marjorie Dennis Murray.  This one is about a house full of monsters preparing for a Halloween party, but the "guests" of the party are too terrified to stay. Lots of gross and creepy things in here, with beautiful illustrations. The kids thought this book was very funny.  
Next up was In the Haunted House by Eve Bunting. This one is about a girl and her dad who visit a haunted house...but only one of them enjoys being scared. This is a quick read, with lots of spooky illustrations.  
Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler and S.D. Schindle was the next book I read. This one is my favorite of the group - the illustrations are hysterical! The book is about a skeleton who tries conventional means to get rid of his hiccups (drinking upside down, eating a spoonful of sugar), none of which are successful because, well, he's a skeleton after all. The kids loved this.
The last book I read was Scary, Scary Halloween by Eve Bunting. This one is a little stranger than the others (although all the "monsters" prove to be kids in costume at the end). One of the costumes is a devil, which all the kids asked about and I had no interest in attempting to explain (I just said a devil is a monster).
My friend Kim took a bunch of pictures during the story time, which was great! 
Here's my boy getting ready to hear the stories...

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For a craft, we made reflective Halloween necklaces. These were a bit more complex than I expected, since they require a great deal of gluing rather small pieces. All the kids made them, some with more success than others.
After story time, we went trick or treating and came home with tons of yummy treats! Fingers crossed the Hurricane Sandy doesn't cancel Halloween for us this year!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Storytime - Owls

The theme of storytime this week at Novel Places Bookstore was owls. There are TONS of kid's books about owls, so it was easy to find some fun ones to read at storytime. My 4 year old informed me a week or so ago that owls are "creepy because they're always going off with witches" so I made sure to read books about non-creepy owls. 

I started off by asking the kids what they could tell me about owls. They said "they live in trees", "they say whooooo", "they sleep in the daytime" and "they eat snakes." Nothing about witches, thankfully!
The first book I read was Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan. The illustrations in this book are ridiculously cute! The book is about the various things a young owl sees on his nighttime adventures - lots of other cute animals are featured in the book. The kids really liked this one, and pointing out things in the illustrations (like a bear sleeping with a fish in his paw). 
The next book I read is a favorite in our house, Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood.  This book is about a little owl who stays awake during the daytime one day and sees lots of beautiful new colors that he normally misses at night. Great for teaching colors and just in general, its a good book about seeing the beauty in things we take for granted.
Next up was Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. All the kids already knew this one - its pretty popular. The book is about baby owls who wake to find their mother "missing" but soon find she just went to get them some yummy snacks.  I think this one is especially popular with working moms, since it reinforces the idea that mom always comes back. The illustrations are adorable.
At this point, we took a break and made our craft, owl masks from Oriental Trading Company. This was a good craft - it was easy enough that all the kids could do it themselves and the masks were fun to wear.
The last book I read was Owls by Gail Gibbon. This book has tons of factual information about owls, but, having read it to my son several times before, I knew I would need to skip some sections and paraphrase others. By far, the favorite parts of the book were those detailing owls eating habits (slurping up a snake) and digestive abilities. This storytime was all boys and they love to hear the gory details. 

Saturday here in Maryland was very cold, but we were all cozy at the bookstore learning about owls!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Current Favorite Story - Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show

I always like to pass on when I find a gem of a children's book, and this one is our new favorite! Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley is about the brave Kel Gilligan and the amazing stunts he performs without fear...stunts like using the potty and getting dressed on his own (and my personal favorite, letting his mother finish a phone call uninterrupted). The book is very funny (and full of events my 4 year old can relate to) and a lot of fun to read aloud. We're really enjoying reading it at bedtime in our house!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Storytime - Empathy

Last month I decided to do a storytime with a theme that is very important to me - empathy. As a parent, I feel there is no better lesson I can teach my child than to treat others with caring and kindness. However, if any of you have parented a four year old boy before, you know this is easier said than done. I used these books to teach the lesson as best I could.

The first book I read was Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman. I really love this book. It's a sweet story but funny, too and perfect for little boys. The story is about a boy who finds a robot in the woods but believes the robot and is sick and attempts to nurse him back to health. The robot later tries to do the same for the boy. Very cute story about caring for others, friendship and reciprocity.
Next I read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. In retrospect, this story is probably a bit grim for younger kids, although none of them seemed bothered by it. This is the story of the Three Little Pigs, as told by the misunderstood "Big Bad" Wolf, who is a victim of sensationalism by the media. This is actually more graphic than the original story, but it offers an interesting perspective for kids - there are 2 sides to every story.

The next book I read was One by Kathryn Otoshi. This book is about how to stop bullying and the importance of standing up for ourselves and our friends. With the added benefit of teaching colors and numbers, the book focuses on the power of ONE - what one person can do to help another. Great book, great lesson. One of the kindergartners at storytime told me they read it in his class at school.
The last book I read (after craft time) was Hurty Feelings by Helen Lester. This is a book about a hippo who may be considered a bit of a cry baby. The book is humorous, with a focus on understanding the hippo's feelings. The kids enjoyed it (especially the dramatic crying bits).

There were lots of ideas I kicked around for craft time, but I think one of the most important ways to create empathy is to listen and get to know other people. So I asked the kids to pair up with someone they didn't know well and "interview" the person. This required some help from parents for the younger kids, but the kids asked each other what colors the other liked, what their favorite things are, etc. The kids each then created a craft for each other based on that discussion. Ideally, this would work better with older kids, but its never too early to teach kids to listen and how to get to know each other better. Here's a couple pictures from craft time.

I'm hoping to explore this theme with another storytime in the near future.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Storytime - Sea Creatures

A couple weeks ago, I had my second storytime at Fenton Street Market. We changed locations and utilized a tent to try and minimize the heat and sun. At one point or another, we had about a dozen kids there, which was a good turnout. This storytime had a theme about some of my favorite things - sea creatures!

The first book I "read" was Flotsam by David Wiesner. I know, I know, I read this one all the time, but I LOVE IT! It's a great story, the pictures are gorgeous and fun, and it gets the kids engaged in the story and using their imaginations. It really is my favorite children's book.

The second book I read was I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. What a fun book! This one is about a giant squid who compares himself to various sea creatures, until he encounters one that is bigger than he is. Even the parents were laughing at this book, which is always a good sign. We all really enjoyed this one.

Before our last book, I had a fun activity for the kids. I had a small bucket filled with a layer of sand and a layer of blue plastic pony beads (to give the impression of water). In between the layers, I had hidden various (plastic) sea creatures. I had the kids close their eyes and reach in the bucket to find a sea creature (which they got to keep). They all enjoyed this (even the bigger kids).

The last book I read was Commotion in the Ocean by Giles Andreae. I hate to be negative on this blog...the purpose is certainly not to put down any authors or books. However, this is one of the few books I've read that I didn't like (certainly not for reading aloud). I got this book for storytime after reading positive things about it but it didn't work for me at all. The first issue was that it has a strange cadence to it...I could not pick up the appropriate cadence to get the book to rhyme. The other issue was that is used the word "dumb." I always change words like "stupid", "dumb" or "fat" when reading aloud, but its hard for me to understand why an author would include negative words in a children's book to begin with. This book does have cute pictures and the kids loved shouting out the names of the sea creatures on each page.

For arts and crafts time, I got a few different books of Dover stencils ,some blue construction paper, some paint and foam brushes and let the kids make their own underwater pictures. This was fairly messy, but we were using washable paint and I put newspaper down to minimize the mess. I love to see how creative some of the kids are...

Like this picture on the left, where the little girl added bubbles into her picture of seahorses. Love it!
And here's a shot of my boy shopping at the market. He got this foam sword - he LOVES it!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Storytime - Father's Day

I wanted to do a special storytime for Father's Day and I decided to do it on Father's Day so moms could get the kids out of the house and entertained while dad relaxed. I had a smaller turnout than I expected (Sundays can be tricky) but we still had a good time.

The first book I read was The Daddy Book by Todd Parr. I've mentioned before that I love Todd Parr books...they are all about celebrating diversity and acceptance, with silly pictures added. My son loves them, too.

The next book I read was Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer. This is one of the "Little Critter" books, which my husband and I both remember from when we were children. The language is very simple, but my son loves all of these books and this one was about special dad/son time, so its a cute story.
The next book I read was I Love My Daddy by Sebastian Braun. Again, this was a very simple book, but the illustrations were gorgeous - dreamy, ethereal pictures of an adorable bear and his Daddy. The kids enjoyed the pictures in this one a lot.
For crafts, I had the kids decorate picture frames for their dads. I had paint and some "dad" stickers - sports stickers, monster trucks, etc. They came out cute.

This is my son's minimalist frame for his Daddy.

The kids asked me to read another story after their crafts, and I can't refuse requests to read! I read When Dads Don't Grow Up by Marjorie Blain Parker. This is a very cute book - all about the ways in which dads are fun and relate to kids. The kids could relate to some of the dad-behavior in the book, so they enjoyed it.

I'm sure all the dads enjoyed their Father's Day gifts!

Monday, June 11, 2012

One of Our Favorites...

As you can imagine, my son has accumulated a decent size library of books. Every night, I let him choose what he wants me to read at bedtime. He generally picks a different book (or two...or three...or four) every night. Tonight, his pick was The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman. This is one of my very favorite books. The author also wrote On the Night You Were Born and both books have a beautiful theme - celebrating each child as a unique gift. The Crown on Your Head also recognizes the special qualities that every child has (all have their own "crowns"). The illustrations are amazingly beautiful - ethereal pictures of children living in a fantasy world with exotic animals as playmates. I just love it! For Christmas last year, I gave some of my son's special friends a copy of the book along with a crown of their own. I loved giving gifts that said "you are special and you are loved".

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Storytime - Eric Carle Stories

This week was my first storytime in Novel Places new location (upstairs from where it was previously). It was great - there's a dedicated room for the kids books and a table already set up for crafts. Plus, the kids loved looking out the windows from the second floor!

The first book I read was a new one that Marino and I found at Fenton Street Market called Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth. I hadn't heard of it before but we both love it. The story is about an adorable sloth and his slow ways. The sloth gets some insults from other jungle creatures but he explains that he is just being himself. Its a quick read and a cute story.

Next, I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We had recently read this one (during our "Bugs" storytime), but its a classic! The kids actually read it to me this time, which was very cute. I love to see children excited about reading!

I gave the kids some choices of what to read next and they wanted to hear Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?. All the "What Do You See" books are so fun - the kids love seeing the animals and guessing what's next (and remembering the names at the end of the book).
I let the kids pick the next book and the wanted to hear The Grouchy Ladybug. This is another one we read during our "bugs" storytime, but the kids LOVE this one and are always very animated about the more threatening animals. Plus, I love how the ladybug is knocked into shape at the end (literally and figuratively).

For craft time, I let the kids pick out a picture from The World of Eric Carle Coloring Book to decorate. The book has great pictures from various Eric Carle books and gorgeous stickers, too. I had lots of crayons, colored pencils, pom poms and feathers to let the kids be creative in decorating their animals and bugs. It's always fun to see them express themselves in a creative way - everyone's pictures turn out so different.