Guest Post: Art Making for Earliest Learners

I am super excited to share this guest post all about art for babies and toddlers. Offering a diverse array of programs for our under 5 crowd is something I’d like to work towards at my own library and this post gave me so many ideas. Thank you to Katherine Hickey and Heather White for sharing your brilliance! Katherine Hickey is a Children’s Librarian with the Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma City. Heather White is an art educator in Oklahoma City. She leads workshops for the Metropolitan Library System and works as a museum educator at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

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Art-making and art instruction are staples of library programming. Most libraries offer some kind of art program on a regular basis targeted towards adults or children. At the Belle Isle Library (Metropolitan Library System) in Oklahoma City, staff had offered a “Waffles and Watercolor” class, as well as “Make and Take” craft programs for kids, and regular art activities integrated into existing Teen programs. The success of these programs reflects a high interest in art from our community. In fact, the art sections of our collections are some of the highest circulating! However, there were no art classes for those that make up a majority of the attendance at our children’s programs: babies and toddlers. In response to this need, we – Katherine, Children’s Librarian and Heather, a local art and museum educator – created a monthly art program specifically for children 18 months to 4 years old called “Little Hands Art Camp” (LHAC).

Little Hands Art Camp

LHAC occurs every Thursday at 10 AM and lasts 45 minutes. Heather selects the art project, and two age-appropriate books related to the theme for the day. Heather starts off by reading a picture book to the group, then introduces the project and materials for the morning and does a short demonstration. She then asks adult caregivers to find a spot at the table and lead their child in art making, one-on-one. Families work for 20-25 minutes, after they are finished, they are invited back to the storytime mat for a final book reading while their projects dry. The program ends with a final song (“I Had a Little Turtle”), bubbles, and handing out “I Visited the Library” stickers. The format of LHAC has undergone several iterations. We settled on its current format, with two books, a song, and bubbles, in addition to the actual art-making to elongate the program to 45 minutes.

Outcomes

The program gained a surprising momentum, at one point reaching 70 (including parents) in attendance. As a result, the program was changed to registration only. LHAC now averages 40 to 50. There are several factors attributed to the program’s success:

Positive Perception of the Library:

We found that parents at our libraries did not intuitively assume library programs could be offered for very young children. Even upon learning of our baby storytime, they often say “I didn’t know you could do storytime for babies!” This program has helped parents view the library as a place that welcomes babies and supports their growth. After the program, parents will often move to the children’s area to play with the available toys and look at books.

Developmental Growth

Art programs strengthen fine and gross motor skills, eye tracking, color awareness, vocabulary, and sensory processing. These are all skills that support early literacy. This is particularly important as researchers have noted that more children are lacking the necessary fine motor skills to succeed in school.

Materials Exploration

LHAC gives participants, both children and adults, the opportunity to explore many types of art making materials. Children have the opportunity to play with materials in a variety of textures, shapes, and sizes, and adults learn about unfamiliar age appropriate art making materials they can use at home, such as liquid watercolors, paint sticks, glitter glue, etc..

Creativity

Heather designs open-ended art making projects to encourage personal expression and freedom. These open-ended projects set LHAC apart in that participants are not tracing their hand or all making the same “snowman” or “rainbow.” Rather, children create expressive, abstract works of art that are often beautiful and surprising. Caregivers have often commented that they find the open-ended format refreshing.

Strengthened Caregiver-Child Bond

Caregivers lead their child in the activity, not the instructor. Not only does this encourage direct engagement between caregiver and child, it also provides hands-on training for parents on how to repeat the project of the day, or use the materials of the day, at home on their own.

Additionally, the name of the program has lent itself well to branding and various extension programs. The library system’s marketing department designed a button logo for the program, and each participant receives a button for attending. During the summer of 2017, we hosted a “Little Hands Art Camp: Summer Edition” which led to a collaborative mural project around the art of Eric Carle, and we have brainstormed for a program called “Tiny Hands Art Camp” for a 3 month to 18 month-old program.

Projects

Descriptions and materials for past projects can be found on Heather’s blog, Play Free and Create.

Conclusion

Art for babies and toddlers might seem particularly messy, or difficult to implement, but it is not any more work or planning than what you probably already do for a baby storytime or lapsit. With a good format and unique art projects, you have everything necessary to start a successful early childhood art program at your library!

How to Talk to Babies

One of the things we say again and again in storytime is: Talk to your baby! But knowing what to say to a baby, especially when they are newborns, can be daunting and even perplexing to caregivers. While I don’t think there is one “right” way to talk to babies, there is research-based methods that have proven effective in building the neural connections in a baby’s brain that leads to language development. And you know I’m all about the science!

Last November Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, came to Vancouver to give a talk on her book and executive function (remember our previous discussion about EF?).  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend but my friends who did attend came back with some great information I’d like to share here. Galinsky has been involved in the development of an app that delivers science-based early literacy tips to parents, educators, and caregivers. It’s called Vroom.  Anyone struggle to come up with practical early literacy tips to say in storytime? What a great resource! Their website has this great 5-step guide on how to grow a child’s brain power.

My co-worker Kate Lowe saw this guide and turned it into an acronym that she now uses in babytime and in her outreach visits to teach caregivers how to talk to babies and toddlers. Her acronyms is L.A.T.S. and here’s a way to present it to caregivers:

Look

  • See what catches your baby’s eye.  Name it and talk about it.

Adult Follows

  • Let your child lead.  Respond to their sounds, actions, and expressions. Copy them or describe what they are doing.

Take Turns

  • Have back and forth conversation.  Pause after you speak.  Guess what your baby would say back to you if they had the words.

Stretch

  • Stretch the moment. Build on the conversation. Ask open ended questions like “How does that feel in your hand?” or “What do you think about that?”  Feel free to answer for your baby.

Kate also provided this example of what it might look like with a child.

Look

  • You see the ball!

Adult Follows

  • Are you reaching for it? Like this?

Take Turns

  • *Pause* You are? Wow, looks like you almost have it.

Stretch

  • Is it rough?  Does it feel bumpy?

I think the LATS model would be super easy to demonstrate during storytime, especially if you have playtime afterwards. A special thank you to my friend and colleague Kate Lowe for continuing to share her ideas here on Jbrary!

 

 

Guest Post: Talking to Kids About Race in Storytime and the Let’s Talk About Race Tooklkit

Today’s guest post continues a conversation about talking to kids about race in storytime that I began to ponder last year. My initial post, Talking to Kids About Race, was followed by a guest post sharing racially diverse storytime booklists.  This guest post by Jessica Bratt delves deeper into the topic of talking to kids about race in a storytime setting. Jessica shares her personal journey relating to this topic and shares a toolkit she created for library staff who do storytime. Take it away, Jessica!

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I attended the 2018 Partners for a Racism-Free Community forum entitled, Standing at the Intersections. This forum talked about racial equity and inclusion that intersects with a person’s identity. Charlene Carruthers, their keynote speaker, talked about the work she has done with BYP100, her upcoming book, and how we could take part in seeing the world as it should be. Her Q&A session resonated with me because her responses were absolutely poignant in understanding the work early literacy/youth services librarians have towards inclusion in storytimes.

The first question a person asked was how does one go about doing self-work and why do they need to do self-work. Carruthers talked about how self-work is harder, yet should be higher than self-care (Agnes Wainman explained self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”) because we are learning what we need to do to heal our traumas (big or small) to be a better person. It is learning about ourselves and how we can impact the world. Where does one begin to do the formidable process of self work? By using these questions as guidance:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What are my self interests?
  3. Who are my people?
  4. Who am I accountable to?
  5. What am I best positioned to do?

Another attendee followed up with a question of how do you get kids to intersect with others from all walks of life to have conversations about social justice terms: power, privilege, access, oppression, etc? Her response was that you create child-friendly components of whatever work you are doing and make a space to invite both groups into the room.

That self-work was how the Let’s Talk About Race series developed. It provides a child-friendly space to address inclusion and diversity to make space for everyone in the room. I saw talking about race as part of the self work that I needed to do (that we all should be doing). In part because who I am is integral to my profession. As an African-American librarian, I am a descendant of slaves and can trace back my history to 1796 when my great-great-great grandmother was born a slave in South Carolina, her father was sold when she was a baby and then she was sold to the Liddell plantation.

As a professional librarian, I am also a Youth Services Manager and it is my responsibility to help prepare children with the tools they need to be successful. That is how I settled on creating the Let’s Talk About Race toolkit.  I wholeheartedly believe that the celebration of diversity and inclusion starts at birth. I am accountable to my community, to the future generations if I do try to do my best in providing tools to disrupt biases creating a world where kids can recognize, accept, and celebrate differences. One of my favorite books is Old Turtle and the Broken Truth by Douglas Wood because ‘you are loved and so are they’ is a world truth that has been fractured, distorted, rebranded and coded into divisive messages that one group is always better than others.

A co-worker, Jeanne Clemo, an amazing early literacy instructor, brought into one of our library’s early literacy committee meetings the Jbrary post on talking about race. She talked about how the post made her think about what we could be doing more  in our storytimes for inclusion and diversity. We had conversations about what that could look like which enabled me to sit down and create a toolkit. I realized that through our conversations talking about race, which seemed natural to me in my storytime programming others had a hard time opening up to the possibilities partially because there were no guides or blueprints developed.

In a profession that is 88% white how could I create tools necessary to make something that is natural for me empowering for others? How do I teach others to talk about race especially if it was something that they never had to do before?

I did a webinar in January for Washington State Library about the toolkit I developed in providing caretakers with simple tools to start dealing with biases that develop at an early age. We as librarians have immense power in the way we prepare kids not only for early literacy, which translates to kindergarten readiness, but we also have power in how their social interactions with “others.” The library is free and open to the community which means we have the perfect opportunity to create inclusive environments where we are fostering appropriately aged dialogue about our humanity and legit science. Skin pigment is not a magical thing that just happens.

I will give a few highlights from the webinar that I hope will challenge you to create a balance of not only whatever fun storytimes you want to do, but remembering that you have a chance to model inclusion and celebrate diversity in the books that you choose and the parent tips that you speak.

Challenge Stereotypes

The New York Times summed it up best when they wrote a recent article, “Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time.” Just like you would challenge gender roles, a book of all male inventors might make you uncomfortable. Women were inventors too! Well, race should be the same way. African-Americans are more than just entertainers, musicians, and civil rights activist. Are you portraying stories to your patrons of just regular black kids like Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall or Max and the Tag Along Moon by Flyod Cooper or I Got the Rhythm by  Connie Schofield-Morrison? Native Americans are still around today! Are you only reading books in your storytime that portray them in a certain historic era?

Change Your Thinking: Not a Checklist

The biggest issue is in how you model. We talk about storytime transitions. In those storytime transitions, early literacy educators have developed practical tips for caretakers to take from our storytimes to help encourage modeling at home.  Raising socially conscious kids or just good citizens or empathetic people is the same way. You can bring up these points naturally—in a non preachy, non checklist way—or in an I’ve done my good storytime universe deed of the day. This also should not feel like OMG–ANOTHER THING TO REMEMBER. If it is detracting from your storytime rhythm you are not doing it right. I’m a black librarian and haven’t missed a beat when pointing out features to kids and I have observed my storytime instructors doing it as well.

Resources to Help on Your Journey

A simple easy way to introduce talking about race (I would say babystep #1) is introducing your read aloud by simply saying, “The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, an award-winning African-American illustrator.” This highlights the author’s race and let’s caretakers know that the picture book section is not just filled with all white authors/illustrators. Caretakers may have no idea that the picture book section is not just filled with white authors/illustrators.  Here are other books that work great for this purpose:

These two charts can be used to help staff start to think about how they can approach race in storytime.

Here are some more resources:

I hope that you can take this as a call to action in challenging yourself to add some solidarity work to your storytimes. I hope that we can be a better society. Fred Hampton said, “we can fight racism not with racism, but with solidarity.” Alex Haley said that “racism is taught and not an automatic behavior it is a learned behavior towards persons with dissimilar characteristics.” You do not have to embrace fear. Help empower families and children that they do not have to automatically learn to embrace ignorance and fear.

Let’s Talk About Race Educator’s Guide

Strengthen your knowledge on race and its negative impacts by getting a birds eye view on different past and present racial happenings.  

Books

Other great starts are the books Tai-Nehisi Coates writes and this amazing article/thinkpiece on race from national book award winner Ibram Kendi. For intersectional feminism 101: Melissa Harris-Perry’s Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America or Tamara Winfrey Harris’ The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women are great places to start.

Videos:

Blogs/Websites

LSC Journal Club: April 2018 Recap: Play and the Learning Environment

We had our third Library Services for Children Journal meeting this past Sunday.  We read two articles that explored play and the learning environment.  Here’s a quick recap of the articles and discussion points.  This post, except for the final thoughts at the end, was written by our group leader Jennifer Streckmann. Want to get involved with the LSC Journal Club? See if you have a local group or start one of your own!

Article #1: Play and the Learning Environment

  • This was an in-depth look at child play psychology as related to the physical space of the classroom, which can be extrapolated out to the library setting.
  • Includes good materials/equipment suggestions
  • Benefits of play include: development of motor skills, vocabulary growth, sharpening of the senses, increased concentration, expression of emotions—empathy, flexibility, sharing, turn taking—harmony, role taking, ordering, sequencing, expansion of imagination and creativity, and delay of gratification

Commonly recognized types of play:

  1. Functional play or exploratory play. This type of play is a sensorimotor approach in which
    a child learns the nature of his or her surroundings. Such examples include dumping, filling,
    stacking, water play, and outdoor play.
  2. Constructive play describes children combining pieces or entities, such as with blocks.
    The purpose of this type of play is to make something and/or work out a problem.
  3. Dramatic play entails pretending. The child pretends to be someone else, for example the
    teacher or a fireman. This type of play does not require any social interaction with other
    children. See the example provided below.
  4. Sociodramatic play is a form of dramatic play with more than one player socially interacting around a theme and a time trajectory over which the play continues and evolves. Children
    enact real-life types of play activities.
  5. Games with rules encompass cooperative play, often with winners and losers. These games
    are distinguished by child-controlled rules and thus are different from the competitive games
    usually called “sports.” Children begin the games with rules stage at about age 6.

Article #2: Influence of Number of Toys on Toddler Play

  • Interesting study that involved looking at the number of toys available, and how that affects how children interact with the toys.
    The first dependent variable was the number of incidences of toy play. Toy play incidents were operationalized to include observable engagement such as physical contact/manipulation of a toy and focused attention to play. (Greater in the 16-toy variable)
  • The second dependent variable was the duration of each toy play incident. The beginning of an incident occurred when a toddler purposely touched a toy. For an incident to end, a toddler’s attention must be distracted away from the toy and refocused to another element in the room. (Greater in the 4-toy variable)
  • The third dependent variable was the number of manners of play with each toy. Unique verbs were used to describe the manners of play (Bjorklund & Bjorklund, 1979). A manner of play was anything the child did to engage in play with the toy, for example actions such as drumming, dumping, exploring, pretending, matching, gathering, or inserting.(Greater in the 4-toy variable)
  • An abundance of toys present reduced quality of toddlers’ play.
  • Fewer toys at once may help toddlers to focus better and play more creatively.
  • This can done in many settings to support development and promote healthy play.
  • This study was quite limited in its scope as the sample size was small and it captured a picture of mostly middle class white female toddlers.

Group Activity: Planning a Library Space

The group participated in a ‘blue-sky’ activity where we paired off and re-designed a library space. Each pair was given a copy of the image below that depicted a children’s department. Then they were given a blank layout to design the space from scratch. After working in pairs we all shared our designs.

Discussion points included:

  • The importance of natural light in programming spaces
  • Including interesting conversation starters that invite patrons to speak with a staff member. This could be anything from a terrarium with butterflies to an engaging display which encourages the children to ask staff a question.
  • We often want to separate different age groups from each other, however a good point was brought up that this sometimes makes it much harder for caregivers to keep track of their whole family. Thus sightlines are very important.
  • Weeding was done by all groups, in an interest of using space for programming.

Final Thoughts

One of the reasons I love the LSC Journal Club meetings is that I start to think about things in a new way. After listening to many of the challenges libraries face (budget, staff, space) on their quest to design a play-friendly space, I had an “aha!” moment where I narrowed down three important factors to consider with regards to design in general. They are:

  • Focus on the Collection: Are displays placed where community members will see them? Is the collection well maintained and weeded regularly? Is the collection organized in a way that makes sense to kids and families? Is signage clear and attractive (not too much, not too little)?
  • Focus on Play: Are there opportunities for play in the library? Are there play opportunities for little kids and bigger kids? Do families feel comfortable playing in our spaces?
  • Focus on Relationship Building: Are there elements in the space that encourage kids and families to talk to staff? Are there opportunities for kids and families to contribute their ideas or thoughts to the space? Are staff regularly in the space to interact with the community?

We also talked about how important it is to observe your space. Some of the organizations in Vancouver like Science World do a great job of testing out their spaces and regularly observing them before making tweaks and changes. This of course requires time and energy but the resulting changes can be powerful.

That’s a wrap, folks!  Did you read the articles this month? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

 

2018 Picture Books: Cover Appeal

Last year I wrote a few posts featuring 2017 picture books I was excited to see based solely on their covers. I had a request to do a 2018 version so here it goes!  I know little or nothing about these books unless I’m familiar with the author or illustrator.  This is based purely on cover love.

There is 99.9% chance that I will love any book illustrated by Julie Morstad. Just a fact.

We have been blessed twice this year. Hallelujah.

I’m sorry but those miniature ponies are so freaking cute. Especially the one in the glasses!

Madeline 2.0?

Do you see how her hair looks like the crows?! Canadian author and illustrator bonus points.

A book about synesthesia? Right on.

When you have a 6-year-old who loves all things spooky, books like this suddenly become much sought after.

My library just updated our preschool STEM booklists so I’m bookmarking this one for next year.

And this one too. Girls in STEM are finally getting their space in picture books.

I’m drawn to the alternating colours in the title text.

Love the rhyming name and hoping for some bilingual action in this one. Also, those hoop earrings gurl.

Smash those gender stereotypes, Teddy!

Is it just me or are there relatively few picture books starring octopuses?  I love any book that promotes writing. Could be a CLEL Bell Award nominee!

I’ve seen tons of good buzz about this one. Had me at mermaid.

I’m drawn to the subltleness of the art work here. And the title is a great oxymoron.

Noted for a child wearing a head scarf on the cover. Could be a good one to recommend to parents looking to talk to kids about race.

I hope this book is about the power of imagination. One of my favourite covers this year.

I loved Little Red and read it to every single class I visited to promote the Summer Reading Club last year. Can’t wait for more feminist fairy tales.

I’ve been loving the recent picture books about grandparents and grandchildren.

I’m adding this one slightly begrudgingly because I have had it UP TO HERE with the rain in Vancouver this winter, but I love the cloud image and think many interesting conversations with kids could be started from that alone.

Just wow. Yes to dark skinned girls on book covers. Yes to hair love.

Stack the Cats was one of my 2017 Favourite Storytime Picture Books so you bet I’m looking forward to this next one!

I love her powerful stance and the power in the title. Always looking for books that encourage kids to speak up for themselves.

All-star duo, ’nuff said.

I’m getting distinct Maybe Something Beautiful vibes which was one of my 2016 Favourite Storytime Picture Books and I ain’t mad about it.

This one reminds me of my niece Sophie to the highest degree. She is a little creator and I love seeing girls featured as makers.

Oooh, I wonder if this one takes place out on in the bayou. I love Preston-Gannon’s illustrations

This book speaks to the part of me that has watched every single nature documentary on Netflix.

Whoa. Sometimes you see a cover that pretty much blows your mind. Ain’t seen nothing like this before.

If you follow me on Twitter you know about my obsession with love poetry so I am here for this.

I actually feel like I’m in space when I look at this cover. Stunning.

If you follow me on Twitter you may also know about my mermaid obsession so I am doubly here for this.

New Patricelli, yay! She’s one of my toddler storytime authors to know.

Oh god. Is it a children’s librarian best friend or worst nightmare?

I can’t help but see Hagrid in this cover. Three cheers for diversity in body representation!

A superhero kid librarian?  TAKE MY MONEY.

We have a huge Indian community here in Vancouver and I am always looking for books with more Indian representation.

I recently wondered about the amount of car-centric picture books I read in storytime and am happy to see more eco-friendly options be published.

Where will Becker take us this time? I love how the stone is glowing.

Okay, how many times did you have to look at this cover before you spotted the horse? Because mine was at least 10 times.

What 2018 picture books are you excited about? Let me know in the comments!

 

Guest Post: Storytime Out Loud: A Storytime Podcast

Are you ready to have your storytime life changed? Because I am about to introduce you to two ladies who have started the first ever (at least, the only one I know about) podcast all about library storytime! It’s called Storytime Out Loud and there are three episodes out already.  You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook. I asked Christy and Lauren to write a guest post about who they are and why they started Storytime Out Loud. Read on to learn about this amazing new professional development resource!
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Hi, we’re Christy and Lauren! We are youth services librarians at a large regional public library in Raleigh, NC where we plan and present baby, toddler, preschool and family storytimes. We just started recording a brand-new podcast called Storytime Out Loud, where we’re having a blast talking storytime ideas, new books, and much more. Other topics include anything in the “culinary-retro-film-Gilmore Girls-Broadway” world. Is that a thing? It is now.

Our podcast is for anyone doing storytime. Especially those who enjoy modern ideas, are looking to adapt tried-and-true resources in different ways, are interested in learning about new picture books, work in libraries, preschools and daycares, and like to have fun! To be honest, it’s for anyone who will listen, but this was our purpose in creating it. It took us forever to make the leap using every excuse we could think of… kids, time, our pie-baking regimen. I mean, let’s be real, we know nothing about podcasting. But we finally took the plunge, and our hope is that we can provide fresh and modern storytime ideas, as well as connect with others who are working with young children.

Over the years we have gained a robust knowledge of storytime and surrounding topics, from songs and rhymes to books and storytelling. Our backgrounds play a big role in our book selection and storytime choices. Before working in public libraries, Lauren was a school librarian, while Christy worked with children in the performing arts, yet somehow, we ended up with similar storytime styles. We enjoy collaborating and bouncing ideas off each other. We’re like peanut butter and jelly. Mario and Luiji. Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins. You get the picture.

Our podcast topics range from what’s happening in the world around us to random things we like talking about. We can be totally crazy, but we have a lot of fun. Christy may or may not belt out the Pippi Longstocking theme song from 1988 every now and then. Ultimately, we want you to feel like you are right there at the table with us. After our chat, we present the themed content in Storytime Selections. This includes rhymes, songs, games and flannels. The ideas are explained and demonstrated. Sometimes you just have to break into song. You just do. Christy knocks it out of the park with her vocal skills, and Lauren tries her best.

Our Book Buzz segment features new and forthcoming books that we are excited about. Get ready for a lot of great new books, Lauren just can’t seem to rein it in and always leaves listeners with something to look forward to. The words/lyrics, as well as any visuals are posted afterwards on our social media accounts, so you have everything you need to weave these ideas into your own programs.

One of the books featured in Book Buzz!

Recording the podcast has been so much fun that we’ve decided to go from a monthly program to bi-weekly. Connecting with our community and listeners is huge for us, and we are really hoping that this will continue to evolve as we go. In the future, we hope we will be able to feature YOU and YOUR wonderful ideas. We would love to interview librarians and other professionals who present storytime. There are so many in this field who inspire us (Jbrary, we’re looking at you!), and we love learning from our community of fellow youth services pros. In the next few months you can expect more of our favorite storytime theme ideas, a firsthand look at School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog, information from our big in-library event called the Storybook Ball, a visit to a conjuring arts library in NYC, special guests, and our favorite recorded music. Then: some original songs? Yeah, maybe. All we have to do is learn to play the guitar, drums, and keyboard, and find someone who will produce…for free. We’ll work on it.

 You can find us on Twitter @StoryOutLoud and Instagram @StorytimeOutLoud. Our website isn’t complete yet, but you can find us there very soon at StorytimeOutLoud.com. Let us know what you’d like to hear discussed in future episodes! Anything goes!

We’ll Link to That: Spring 2018

Spring is here! Or around the corner if you’re like us and live somewhere where the skies are still filled with rain clouds. But sunny weather is ahead and with it brings our Spring 2018 YAACING column. This quarter we wrote about picture books that work great as felt stories.  Don’t forget to check out the complete issue of  YAACING, our provincial youth services newsletter filled with ideas for children and teen library staff.  Want to catch up our column? Browse through the We’ll Link to That category on our Professional Development page.  Now on to the post!

Are you getting tired of your tried and true felt story collection? Nothing rejuvenates a storytime quite like a freshly cut flannel! We’ve collected some new, or new-to-us stories which positively lend themselves to the felt board, now it’s up to you to bring them to life!

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani
Trying to add more STEM elements to storytime? This cat themed counting book is perfect! The Lego Librarian has a version that looks identical to the book and includes a step-by-step guide to turning books into felts. Addition never looked so good.

Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau
French author Manceau is a genius when it comes to shapes. Transform a monster into a friendly neighbourhood scene in this interactive felt story. We shared this one on Flannel Friday and the early literacy messages that go along with it are not to be missed.

Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera
This book is a surefire hit with the preschool crowd and the felt version would work just as well. Check our the different versions librarians have created so far on
Storytime Station, The Buckeye Librarian, and Literary Hoots

A Good Day for Hat by T. Nat Fuller, illustrated by Rob Hodgson:
So we really like this book, could you tell?! But as Anna at Future Librarian Superhero notes it’s a perfect one to extend with flannel. She has created a simple bear for Mr. Brown and then captured the whimsy of his eclectic hat collection. Scale it up with accessories and other characters or just keep it simple with his hats- your choice!

Could You Lift Up Your Bottom? written by Hee-jung Chang, illustrated by Sung-hwa Chung
We had never heard of this book before but we saw it featured in Jen in the Library’s toddler shape storytime and then again on Storytime in the Stacks so we knew it must be good. It’s another story that includes hats and shapes and a bit of trickery.  You could reuse a lot of pieces for other felt stories which is an added bonus.

 

Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
This book (and its subsequent siblings) is highly participatory and a delight to read and tell with felt. There are a few different versions and we love both: Miss Mary uses bright animals with neutral faces and some sneaky velcro while Laura at Library Lalaland gave each animal a grumpy face on one side and a cheered-up face on the other, so all you have to do is flip. Pure genius!

 

Night Animals by Gianna Marino:
This is a perfect storytime book, especially as summer approaches and families will be heading outdoors to hike or camp. Wendy at Flannel Board Fun has done an incredible job at adapting not just the animals but some of the effects which really sell this story.

Have you fallen in love with a new felt story? Send us an email at jbrary@gmail.com to tell us all about it!N

Book Character Silhouette Scavenger Hunt

Spring break is right around the corner in these here parts.  I think the kids have seen my Spring Bunny Scavenger Hunt for the past two years so this year I wanted something new.  Then I saw this tweet from elementary school librarian Carter Higgins and I was set.

It reminded me of the Guess Who Book Character display I did last fall. When I emailed Carter she generously shared her files with me and allowed me to revise them for my library.  She has also given me permission to share original files here!  So you get two versions for the price of one, haha! Choose which one works best for you!

This is Carter’s version. You have to add a letter to each character when your print them out. Then hide them around and have the kids unscramble the letters to form the secret phrase “Reading Rocks.” Unfortunately I don’t have access to an editable version of this one. But here are the files for the document and all the images:

This is my version. I put the characters in order as I think the unscrambling part will be too tricky for some of my younger patrons.  My Word document or PDF document both have the scavenger hunt sheet as well as all the characters with their corresponding letters.  Print, hide, and let the kids hunt!

Do you have any spring break activities your community loves? Let me know in the comments!