Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Review: Thank You, God, For Mommy by Amy Parker

Panda mama and baby are potrayed throughout this board book as a loving family. They have adventures, swing, clean up messes, share a meal with their family and snuggle together to sleep. These are all things mothers do everyday with their little ones. The message throughout is thanking mothers for being mothers.

I wasn't going to post a review for this book, because I didn't care for it. I liked Thank You, God, for Daddy so much better. The rhyme in the verses of the Mommy book were strained. One of the illustrations didn't make sense with the story and seemed out of place. The library only purchased this book, though, so I gave it another look.

The baby in the book is probably one year old. He is walking, but still needs a lot of help from mama. He needs help falling asleep, which leads to my favorite verse in the book:

Thank You, God, for Mommy
And lullabies so sweet-
The rhythm of her beating heart
Can sing me right to sleep.

I probably would have loved this book a year ago, because I would have instantly related to the mama panda. I would have still been rocking my little one to sleep while singing to him. What a difference a year makes?

The main characters of Amy Parker's second board book are lions. The lion cub is a little older than the baby panda. He is a toddler, around 2 years, and he wants to be just like daddy. Bobo and Daddy could be the characters in this book.

I wish I could add the artwork from the first spread. It shows the father and son with capes made from blankets. The next page shows the father measuring the son's height. These are actions that I see happening right now in my son's life. I believe that is the main reason I prefer the Daddy book. However, the verse flows more smoothly than the Mommy book. The rhymes seem more natural. Plus, I find the lions more flattering than the fluffy pandas.

Endings: Farewell, Au Revoir, Adios

Goodbyes are one of the hardest parts of being a child. If you are having a good time, you don't want it to end. After all, it may never happen again. If you have no real sense of time, a week might as well be forever. Ending the storytime on a happy note is just as important as the beginning. As storytime teacher, it is my responsibility to curb meltdowns whenever possible. I do this by having a 5 minute wind-down routine and ending with a craft. I really think the craft is the best way to transition the children out the door.

During the regular season, I pass out name tags outside the storytime room before we all come in together. My closing routine begins with collecting the nametags and trading them for the handout of the week. I've tried lots of different formats and information on the handouts. I've settled on listing the songs we've sung and where you can get the words and music, writing out 1 or 2 fingerplays, listing the books we shared and sharing one early education tip. I leave lots of white space and use one illustration.

Then we share one last song or rhyme before craft time. For the babies and toddlers I sing "Can You Kick with Two Feet" from Mother Goose on the Loose by Betsy Diamant-Cohen.

Can you kick with two feet? Two feet? Two feet?
Can you kick with two feet? Kick, kick, kick, kick, kick.

Can you clap with two hands? Two hands? Two hands?
Can you clap with two hands? Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

Can you kiss with two lips? Two lips? Two lips?
Can you kiss with two lips? Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss.

Can you wave bye-bye? Bye-bye? Bye-bye?
Can you wave bye-bye? BYE-BYE!

The parents usually help with the actions for the smaller ones. If the craft I have planned for the older children is too messy, difficult or toxic, I put out toys and let the parents and children play. Sometimes, we make keepsakes especially around holidays.

For the toddler class, ages 2 and 3, I use an adaptation of a favorite "If You're Happy and You Know It." This class is usually up and moving for most of the time.

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands to really show it!
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands

If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet
If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet
If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet to really show it!
If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet

If you're happy and you know it, wave bye-bye
If you're happy and you know it, wave bye-bye
If you're happy and you know it, wave bye-bye to really show it!
If you're happy and you know it, wave bye-bye

Then, it is time for crafts. We make something related to the theme of the week. I also try to incorporate different skills and art forms. One week, we may cut and glue. The next week, we may glue and color. The next, we may paint with sponges or fingers. The last week, we may use watercolors and stickers. The process is much more important than the end result. Once the child has finished, they are usually ready to leave. The toddler group will take about 5 minutes to complete a craft. Then, they are ready to play in our wonderful children's area.

The preschoolers are a different story. After we finish our "Touch Rhyme" and move onto the craft, we have pandemonium. Well, I may be exagerrating, but just a little. The preschoolers, ages 3 to 5, are artistic tornadoes. They usually take at least 15 minutes to complete the craft. Sometimes, they make plans to continue the art project at home. The result is usually more of a focus on the end product than the process for this age. They want something to take home to display with pride.

Touch your nose, touch your chin
That's the way the game begins
Point to your eyes, point to your knees,
Now pretend like you're gonna sneeze
Touch your ears, touch your hair,
Touch your lips, just right there
Touch your elbow, where it bends,
Jump right up and say, "The End!"

I've searched for the origin of this rhyme, but found it cited on several kindergarten and preschool sites. It may be a traditional? I changed some of the words and added my own silly motions. The end!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A very merry UN-birthday to you!

Each year we hold a Spring Fling, which is basically a big literacy-based party. This year, I suggested we have an Un-Birthday party based on Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I had lots of ideas and I didn't get to use them all, but everyone had a blast. I dressed up like the Mad Hatter for the occassion. Pictured Below: Miss Courtney and Bobo, age 2

Down the Rabbit Hole
I started off the event by decorating the treehouse across from the program room. I hung signs saying This Way, That Way, White Rabbit Went That Way, Wrong Way all around and from the ceiling. I hid a Cheshire Cat in the tree for the children to find while they were waiting. I used our die-cut machine to make White Rabbit paw prints out of white cardstock. I taped those to the floor to lead the children to the "rabbit hole," which was just a large box covered in green paper with a tunnel cut out. They had to crawl through the rabbit hole to get to Wonderland where the stories and Mad Hatter Tea Party would be held.

A Very Merry Un-Birthday to you, to you!
I started off by singing "The Un-Birthday Song" by Robert Sherman. You can find a copy on the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack. I sang it through a couple of times until the children could join. Then, I read Alice in Wonderland adapted by Deborah Hautzig. It is an Easy Reader 3rd level, so I read the first 10 or so pages. I wanted to be sure everyone knew where the activities and songs were coming from in case they hadn't heard the story or watched the movie.

Hokey Pokey
I also added some traditional birthday party activities to the mix during our story time. We all got in a great big circle around the mats and sang the Hokey Pokey. Then, Linda and I acted out A Birthday for Cow by Jan Thomas. Linda held the book while using a mouse finger puppet for the actions. I played the parts of the Pig and the Duck. I used a felt turnip and other props from the book. You can really ham this up by being super silly.

Ten Little Candles
Next, we acted out my favorite birthday fingerplay, which as far as I can find is a traditional one without a source to quote:

Ten little candles on a birthday cake. (hold up ten fingers)
Wh! Wh! Now there are eight. (blow each thumb in turn and fold down)
Eight little candles in candle sticks. (hold up eight fingers)
Wh! Wh! Now there are six. (blow each pinky and fold down)
Six little candles, not one more. (hold up six fingers)
Wh! Wh! Now there are four. (blow each ring finger and fold down)
Four little candles, red and blue. (hold up four fingers)
Wh! Wh! Now there are two. (blow each middle finger and fold down)
Two little candles, one by one. (hold up two fingers)
Wh! Wh! Now there are none. (blow each forefinger and fold down)

Happy Un-Birthday, Itsy Bitsy Spider!
Of course, the itsy bitsy spider had to make an appearance. I think this is every child's favorite song. Jo Kay found a great version of the original to sing and make into a prop story. She had already made a large cake out of styrofoam rings. My favorite part about the song is the traditional one is worked in at the end, so the children can start singing with you.

The itsy bitsy spider crawled up the UN-birthday cake,
he ate up all the frosting,
and got a tummy ache,
and when they brought the ice cream,
he ate even more,
and the itsy bitsy spider fell sick upon the floor.
They took him to the doctor because he felt so bad,
it was the worst tummy ache that he ever had,
and when they brought the medicine it was WAY TOO SWEET,
just a drink of water would be a great big treat,
so the itsy bitsy spider crawled up the water spout,
down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Sing Merry Un-Birthday
This song is an adaptation of an adaptation. I believe I got the original adaptation from Rob Reid's Family Storytime. It is sung to the tune of "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain."

Sing merry un-birthday, shout hooray! (hooray)
Sing merry un-birthday, shout hooray! (hooray)
Sing merry un-birthday, sing merry un-birthday, merry un-birthday, shout hooray!

Light all the candles and then blow (whew, whew)
Light all the candles and then blow (whew, whew)
Light all the candles, light all the candles, oh light all the candles and then blow.

Eat cake and ice cream till we’re full (yum, yum)
Eat cake and ice cream till we’re full (yum,yum)
Eat cake and ice cream, eat cake and ice cream, eat cake and ice cream till we’re full.

Shake Your Shakers
I passed out all the musical instruments and let the children play them to the Un-Birthday Song. They love playing rhythm sticks, bells, rattles, shakers and anything I've made to make noise. I try to do something with instruments every program as it is a great crowd pleaser.

If You're a Mad Hatter Say
What birthday party is complete without singing "If You're Happy and You Know It"? Or what program for that matter? I added a verse to this traditional favorite "If you're a mad hatter, say A Very Merry Un-birthday to you." Then, I ended the story session with a reprise of the "Un-Birthday Song."

Mad Hatter Tea Party

I originally planned to have one really long table like the Mad Hatter. We had so many guests, I had to split them in two. So, we had two really long tables set up for 40 children. I used a lime green table cloth with two teapots with balloons tied to them for the center pieces of one table and dyed coffee filter flowers in Queen of Hearts baskets for the other table.

The tables were set with aqua and purple plates (in different sizes), yellow cups, and pink napkins. On top of that were either orange or pink treat bags. The treat bags had a scented bookmark with a cupcake on it and said, "Celebrate with Books!" a Skittls pack with a white rabbit on it, mini bubbles, pencil with balloons on it and Wiki Stix. All the crazy colors set the stage.

You May Now Eat Your Craft

I thought it would be fun, and let's face it--MESSY, to let the children decorate their own cupcake. I got chocolate and vanilla cupcakes from Kroger un-iced. I got regular vanilla icing from the store and used food coloring to match the colors of the party. I also had 6 bottles of different sprinkles to put on top. It was so fun to see all the different versions of cupcakes. Some of the little ones ate their cupcake as soon as they got their hot little hands on them. I also served popcorn and pink lemonade. Pictured above: Ethan, age 5 Pictured below: Best Dressed Winners

Jolly Caucus Race

After the snack and craft, it was time for the games to begin. We played Pin the Caterpillar on the Mushroom. Linda made the mushroom out of pink and white polka dot felt I found at Hobby Lobby. I used the die-cut machine to cut different colors of caterpillars. We used a colored scarf for a blind fold, so the children could decide how much they wanted to see. The little ones had fun just sticking the caterpillars on the board.

One Lump or Two Toss was a huge hit. I found large stryofoam cubes at Hobby Lobby and made a large tea cup out of poster board to tape on a box. The children had to toss the "sugar cubes" into the tea cup. All ages liked this one.

Instead of having traditional musical chairs, I used our floor mats for a safer option. After each round, I took out a section of the floor mats to make the area smaller and smaller. I think we ended up fitting 15 children on 3 mats. Don't ask me how. Then, they all got a treat for being winners. It was so funny to see them all piled up.

Paint the Roses Red. I didn't want to use paint for this game because I wanted to be able to use it over and over. Children love to play the same games repetitively. I used the die-cut machine to punch out 20 white hearts and laminated them. Then, I hung up a green poster board with a brown trunk and tacked the hearts on there. I set out red washable markers for a relay race. Each person from the team had to completely color in a heart. After the race was over, we could spray the hearts and wipe them off for the next teams.

As you can see, we had a wonderful program. The only thing I would change would have been to have a longer party. We didn't have time for two crafts and the children would have played the games for much longer. I'll keep that in mind for next year! Pictured below: Isaiah, age 3. Special thanks to Linda Palmer, South Branch and Jo Kay Biesecker, Main Library for helping make this Spring Fling so special.