Saturday, January 31, 2015

Let's go on a StoryWalk®

About a year ago or more I saw some chatter about StoryWalks on Facebook.  I thought - "How cool is THAT?" but could not figure out how to get one at my current location.  Since then, I became a Head Librarian of a different location, one directly on the bike trail, and knew it was time to give it a try.

StoryWalk® is a trademarked program, and belongs to the folks at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Vermont.  This idea is *NOT* Library Village's idea nor do we take any credit or money for our Story Walks.  If you would like to learn about this amazing program's roots, Click HERE.  If you want to see some FAQ's on the program which will help you make your own, Click HERE.  Essentially, if you credit the creator properly, you are free to use the idea in a not-for-profit setting like a library.

Here's what the credit would look like:

The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

OK, essentially a StoryWalk® is a way for families to read together outside, promoting literacy and fitness.  The pages of a book are laminated and mounted on stakes and presented one at a time down a trail or throughout a park. They can be spaced as close or as far apart as needed.  Families can stroll from one page to the next, or you can encourage movement from one to the next like hopping or skipping.

For our first StoryWalk®, I laminated the pages of Duck on a Bike by David Shannon, mounted them on foam core with velcro, and then mounted those on wooden stakes.  We did not make the sets as sturdy as the ones listed on the Kellogg-Hubbard library but this is because our StoryWalk® is designed for use near the library and for only hours, so weather is not a factor.  With a little help from our Friends group, we have now done 3 StoryWalk®s and can easily make more.  I try to use books that are about the same size each time - and reuse the rest of the materials.

The approximate cost breaks down like this for us:
Two books from the used book store - $6
Velcro - $10
Wooden Stakes - 8 foot long cut in two - $15
Foam Core cut in half - $15

The response has been wonderful!  Families have said they love the books we choose, and love the idea.  We keep the library copies of the books on display and families like to take them home.  Our library has been asked to continue the program at all events, and other branches have asked to borrow our  StoryWalk®s for their events as well.

We have done three StoryWalk®s in 2014 in three different ways.  Duck on a Bike was at our Summer Reading Kickoff party with the story pages about 15-20 feet apart down our bike trail.  Next, at the end of the summer, we used The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear at a festival in town.  We placed the pages around the perimeter of the festival.  Finally we did an indoor StoryWalk® at Christmas Time!  We used T'was the Night Before Christmas at an in-house and after hours event. No stakes or boards were necessary for this event.  Besides, our Duck on a Bike set was on loan to another library event at the time.  Once you have the first kit, adding books to your collection is a breeze.

Things we learned from our StoryWalk® program were: know your soil - the soil nearby struggled to hold the stakes, so we modified this by using buckets with the stakes secured inside.  Also, our lamination is standard for indoor use so rain will ruin the pages.  You can see below how one of our arrows had gotten wet over the summer. I'll be making more arrows soon.  Finally, Velcro is great for making the StoryWalk® reusable, but not great on a windy day.  Keep your weather and the direction of your stakes in mind.

For more information on StoryWalk®  please visit the Kellogg-Hubbard Library Page.  I'd be happy to answer any questions as well.  They are only limited by your imagination.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Preschool Story Time - Alligators and Crocodiles!

Yet another theme with a heaping helping of books and materials to choose from, Alligators and Crocodiles as a story time theme is just as much fun as a land alternative to the Shark story time.  There's a whole-lotta chomping going on!

My story times are divided in two Wednesday story times were heavily laden with very busy boys, and my Thursdays were chock full of delightfully attentive girls.  That happened naturally over the course of time but always left me wondering how my story times would go over on the different days.  This one seemed to please both camps!

Here was the plan:

The Fantastic Mr Wani - by Kanako Usui
What a sweet book!  Mr Wani is late for a party.  He runs as fast as he can, but needs a little help from his friends to make it.  Just a fun and silly book that the kids enjoyed.

Song/ Felt - Lady With the Alligator Purse 
I am a contributor to the Flannel Friday blog but never blogged this one.  Quite frankly, it isn't my idea so I didn't feel like I should make a blog post.  I found these images on a site selling felts and thought that I could make a set just like that for myself.  In the interest of crediting the seller, you can find that link HERE. The site hasn't been updated since 2006 so I am not sure they are still selling it.  I just did a search for felt sets and spotted this one and thought it to be the cutest of the bunch!  My set is made with black puffy paint on white felt and shaded with marker.

This was surprising to me that not many of the moms knew it.  I have seen this concern addressed on Facebook - what to do when you start a song or finger play that no one has heard before?  Well, I always supply the words to any song/fingerplay to each of my parents via my newsletter.  I also preface these by asking the parents for help with the song if they know it.  Finally, I just go and have fun - these songs and fingerplays have repetitive tunes and lines which most people can catch onto.  Who knows, you might even get a parent asking where they can find the song on tape to take home! (** Hint: Have copies of The Lady With the Alligator Purse on display and see if you can also find it on CD for the display area as well!)

Alternate Felt - Big Wide Mouth Frog
This is one of my most favorite felt sets and stories out there.  I blogged about it in our early days of our blog (as you can tell by the not-so-great photo). Click HERE to read more about the Big Wide Mouth Frog felt set.  This one was a big hit with the kids.

Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley
This was a book that left the kids full of anticipation.  Whatever will happen next?  The kids couldn't take their eyes off this one.

Finger Play - 5 Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree 
This is a classic which everyone knows.  The best part is, most of the children will play right along with you!

5 little monkeys sitting in a tree - teasing Mr. Crocodile "Can't catch me!"
Along comes Mr. Crocodile - SNAP!!  Oh NO Where is he??
4 little monkeys.....
(and so on)

For the movements, I use my fingers as tails which hang from my opposite arm (as tree branch).  When I make the crocodile, I use my hand to make a puppet-like mouth...moving through the grass until SNAP!

Alternate activity/story - AlphaGator!
This is another one of my early story time ideas, although I just blogged about him recently.  Click HERE to learn more about AlphaGator.

Snip, Snap - What was THAT? By Mara Bergman 
Oh boy - the suspense was killing us all!  What WAS that??  I had to tone down how I read this one to my shier group because I could see them becoming nervous.  Overall, a good pick for the story time, however!

Craft - A is for Alligator
I used this one in my Letter A story time, but that is OK.  It was new to all of the kids in my story time that day so no harm, no foul.  It is simply three strips of green paper, and some teeth and an eye.

And there you have it!  So many options!  Alligators are fascinating creatures so you can even throw some fun facts or a good non-fiction book into your story times.  Like the shark story times, you might want to be careful about how you use your actions and voices because some little ones may be frightened, but overall I suspect your story timers will simply love an alligator story time at your library or school.

Thanks for stopping by!


Flannel Friday - AlphaGator

I have seen this done many different ways.  I forgot I even had it, actually! This little story is called AlphaGator and I am not sure of where the original comes from.

There once was an Alpha-Gator, who absolutely adored the alphabet.  He ate the alphabet and had sweet alphabet dreams all night long.
On Monday, he ate the letters A,B,C,D,E, and F.  Then he closed his eyes to get some sleep, but the pointy part of A kept poking him in the tummy and he couldn't sleep a wink all night long!
On Tuesday, he ate the letters G,H,I,J, and K.  Then he closed his eyes to get some sleep but the letters H and I made a word and it kept saying "HI-HI-HI-HI" and he couldn't sleep a wink all night long!
On Wednesday, he ate the letters L,M,N,O, and P.  Then he closed his eyes to get some sleep but the O kept rolling around and around in his tummy and he couldn't sleep a wink all night long!
On Thursday, he ate the letters Q,R,S,T,U, and V.  Then he closed his eyes to get some sleep but the S kept saying SSSSSSSSS and playing 'snake' in his tummy and he couldn't sleep a wink all night long!
On Friday, he ate the letters W,X,Y, and Z. Then he closed his eyes to get some sleep.  He dreamed of sweet ZZZZZZZZZZZs all night long!
See ya later, Alpha-Gator!

My gator gives off a glare because of the quality of the paper I used.  He is created from 12x12 scrapbook card stock - with an extension to his tail.  His belly, however is actually made of felt!  This is so the letters can be placed in his belly while you are reading the rhyme.
The letters shown here are foam letters, but I think next time I use this rhyme, it might be worth my time to trace these and cut them out in felt because the sticker backing to these letters made re-use difficult...that is why only some of the letters are shown here.

Now where did I use this?  I had it as part of several story times.  My Letter of the Month story time for A used this, as well as my Alligator story time and my Back to School story time.  I am sure I can find more uses for him too.  You don't always need to stay perfectly on theme.  If you have a hole in your story time, don't try to force something in there for the sake of the theme.  Pull out some favorites.  The kids will appreciate the familiarity and love it when they can anticipate what is coming.

Thanks for stopping by!  See ya later!