Sunday, May 12, 2013

Program: All By Myself

As I may have mentioned a time or two previously, my primary position currently is Empress of All Things Tween. However, we've had quite a tumultuous few months here at the workplace - the staff in our department is almost completely different than it was just a few months ago. What this means, of course, is that many of us have had to adjust responsibilities and fill in to continue to make our department run smoothly. This also means taking on programs outside our normal realm to accommodate everyone's schedules and time commitments. The long story short: for the month of April, I found myself with a storytime.

This is, of course, not a problem, as I love doing storytimes and sincerely miss having them on a regular basis. In fact, I was thrilled to cover the last few sessions of this storytime. What storytime, you ask? It's called All By Myself, and it's our weekly storytime for four and five year olds to attend. WITHOUT their parents.

Have you ever done a preschool storytime where the parents wait outside and it's just you and a room full of kids? Let me tell you - this is the BEST storytime I have ever done. I absolutely loved this! I averaged 15-20 kids in the three weeks I covered this storytime and it was GLORIOUS. Preschoolers are probably my favorite storytime crowd because they will tell you ANYTHING - from the mouths of babes and all that loveliness. But having them without their parents? Even more wonderful. They are less shy, more willing to participate and talk to you, and did I mention so darn cute?

In addition to being the most fun, this was also probably the easiest storytime I've ever done. It's a half-hour long and, because they are preschoolers and interacting more, you can't really cram as much stuff into that half hour as you can with babies and toddlers. So, I'm going to tell you about all three of the storytimes I did in April.

Week 1: Theme - art
Art is one of my favorite storytime themes and I chose it this time around because I wanted to resurrect a favorite activity of mine. The kids came in and sat down and we opened with Jim Gill's "Your Face Will Surely Show It." This became my opening for the storytime, as I found the kids really liked making faces (I mean, DUH!). Then, we read I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont. Love this book! It's funny and it rhymes - what more could you ask for? I'll admit, the kids were not very good about predicting which body part came next, but they still thought this book was hilarious. To get our wiggles out, we did "Jump Up, Turn Around" by Jim Gill. Unfortunately, the CD skipped in our player, which was very distracting for the kids. We soldiered through and finished the song, but I never used it again. Our second book was the non-fiction Art Is by Bob Raczka (whose name I surely butchered when I announced it). They had a harder time with this one, which I expected, but they loved the page that features a painting of the numbers 0-9 layered on top of each other. After our second book, it was time to make art! I provided crayons and blank sheets of paper and they were free to color and draw anything they wanted, but I suggested they try shoe sole rubbings! They loved this! Most shoes have designs on the soles, so simply rubbing the crayon over the sole provides you with instant art. Many kids wanted to use my shoes (I had a flower on the bottom) and a number of them gifted me with their creations at the end of storytime.

Week 2: Theme - cats
So, I had just gotten a brand new kitten (who is a NIGHTMARE) the weekend before storytime and therefore decided to tell the kids. They love hearing little bits about your life and finding what you may have in common. When they walked in, I had a cat puppet that they could all pet and say hello to before storytime. We practiced making our faces show our emotions again with Jim Gill and then our first book was Mr. Pusskins by Sam Lloyd. Many of them commented that Mr. Pusskins had a grumpy face, an extension of our opening song. Since our movement song from the first week was a bust, I went with another Jim Gill classic, "The Tempo Marches On." Once we had marched as fast as we could, we did a simple flannel game. It's a short poem talking about looking for a lion at the zoo and, as you read each line, you add more flannel pieces to the board until you've made a lion face! I changed it a little by having the kids guess what animal I was making - they got it pretty quickly, but they really liked this. After, we read our second story, Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj. Do you know this book? This book is magic! It's a highly interactive book, as three cats are about to read the cat secrets out loud. But first, they have to make sure that there are only cats in the room. So readers must meow, purr (not so good at that), and stretch like kittens. Then - and here comes the magic! - they have to really prove their catness by taking a cat nap! MAGIC, I TELL YOU! Every single kid in my storytime laid themselves down, closed their eyes, pretended to sleep, and STAYED THAT WAY. I actually had to wake the kids up so they could see the last page of the book (a mouse sneaks in to read the secrets while the cats are napping)! They loved this one and it was a perfect closer to our storytime. This week, we did coloring sheets for a craft - just a picture of a kitten and crayons. I will say that many kids colored their kittens orange (my new kitten is orange) and they came up with some excellent names.

Week 3: Theme - nature
Sadly, this was my last week of covering this storytime - storytime responsibilities are changing for the summer session and, with so much other programming I'm working on, I don't really have time for storytimes. I'm hoping to do some daycare storytimes in the fall, but we'll see how it goes. Anyway, since spring is upon us and it was almost Earth Day, I decided to do a nature theme. We started by practicing our faces again, then read A Leaf Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas. This is one of my favorite non-fiction books for kids. The illustrations are beautiful and there is a wealth of information on each page. Parts of this went over the kids' heads, but they liked talking about the different animals on each page. I also explained to them how wonderful trees are for us, taking the bad things out of the air and putting out oxygen for us to breathe. They were fascinated. We decided to march again this week, though this time we went in a circle around the room. We got a little out of control towards the end, almost running, so I had to encourage everyone to march in place for the last bit. Our second story this week was My Garden by Kevin Henkes. They were enamored by this one, telling me all about their own gardens and how wonderful it would be to grow umbrellas. Finally, it was time for our craft - bird feeders! This was more involved than I'd done before, but they loved it! I let parents and caretakers come in to help, and a coworker also stepped in to manage the masses. Each kid got an empty toilet paper tube and a Popsicle stick. They used the Popsicle stick to smear shortening over their tubes and then rolled them in a plate of birdseed. When they were finished, they brought them to me and I ran a piece of yarn through the tube and tied it. They were all terribly excited to take them home and feed the birds, and we made a giant mess. But it was fun!

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