Tuesday, December 19, 2006

When political correctness meets a child

In my library we (by which I mean I) do a book club for lower elementary school students. The kids are ages 5-8 and we read a simple chapter book. The youngest ones, well I suspect their parents read it to them, but that is just fabulous. We meet twice a month. There is some book discussion, a game, an activity or craft, snack, etc. It's a ton of fun and I love it. For the last discussion we were talking about holiday traditions, and I was being my typical librarian politically correct self and saying "Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa". One little girl (interuptted) asked, "What is Kwanzaa?" I was focused on the child whose turn it was and so didn't answer in time. Another child answered explaining Kwanzaa thusly, "I think it is something vegetarians don't do." I was laughing too hard at first to correct her. One of the kids present does celebrate Kwanzaa so I asked him to explain it. His explanation: "we go to this place and they talk for a long time and then they light a candle; I don't like it, it's boring." I added some explanation about the candles and the symbolism of African-American heritage and then wisely steered the conversation away. Fortunately my Jewish attendee had more fond memories of Hanukkah to share, and my Muslim boy talked cheerfully about Ramadan (yes it is not in December this year, but equal time), and then we had some happy Christmas stories. It's a great group, fairly diverse, and fun. And now you know that Kwanzaa is for vegetarians, carnivores, and omnivores alike!

Cross posted various places in other blogs.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Animal Movement Storytime

I really do intend to do update this more than once a month, at least eventually. Today's storytime was a great deal of fun. I did this storytime with my Tiny Tykes/Toddlers which in my library we define as 18-36 months though we allow a lot of leeway. I had some older kids (3 year-olds) and some younger ones (15 months) and they all seemed to enjoy it. I'm not sure how it would work with five year-olds, but it was a big hit with my crowd. Part of why it works is how interactive it is. This storytime, these books, these songs flow well and beg for children to interact with them. Here's a storytime plan:

Theme: Move Like the Animals

Opening: Open like you normally do. You hopefully have a routine established with a song, a rhyme etc. In my library we sing two songs and I introduce myself (not a week goes by without new people) and the theme of the storytime. We usually also do a sign that goes with the theme. This week I used the sign for animals.

First Book: From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
This is a classic book and perfect in this setting. The words are repetitive and invite the children to try out the motions which get progressively more elaborate. MOst of the children stayed sitting during this, though there were some who stood for more expansive movement.

Song: Hokey Pokey!
Okay, I admit, there is no animal movement in this song. But it is fun. It is a whole lot of fun. I used a version from a collection of 100 Favorite Kids Songs. Use whichever version you can. Do listen to it first to make sure you have an idea of what order the parts come in. I recommend you stay away from Little Richard's version. It's a bit too crazy, too much his style, and too fast. It is actually kind of scary. Now the kids (and parents probably) are up and moving. Tell them to stay standing for the next book.

Book: Animal Fun by Zita Newcome (from the Toddlerobics series)
This book follows a toddler aerobics class as they do various movements. It directs your toddlers to do the movements too. I did them (for the most part) with the book balanced in one hand. At the end of the book, the kids are directed to lie down on the ground, wiggle like a worm, and take deep breaths. It is a great way to ground them for the next activity.

Song: Old MacDonald
I sang this to go with the animal theme. There are a lot of great animal action fingerplays and motion rhymes or other songs. But a few verses of Old MacDonald never went wrong.

Book: We've All Got Bellybuttons!
We love this book at my library! Big colorful pictures, and great inclusionary dialogue. And of course at the end, the parents tickle the children and all is well.

Song: Shake Your Sillies Out by Raffi
Okay, once again, not to do with animals. But it is fun and kids can dance and move. You can skip this song and go straight to your closing routine if you wish or substitute for another motion rhyme.

Closing: Close as you normally would. We use If you're happy and you know it.

We had so much fun with this with the dancing and moving and jumping. I was winded by the end and the kids were beaming. Even the littlest guy was bopping along.

Other books:
I found these titles better as display. I try to leave some books out on the same theme to encourage parents to go home with a book. And of course I try to have extra copies of the storytime titles so we can take those home too.
Monkey See, Monkey Do: An Animal Exercise Book for You! by Anita Holsonback and Deb Adamson
Babar's Yoga for Elephants by Laurent De Brunhoff
Wiggle Waggle by Jonathan London - this is a good one to substitute in storytime too

Craft: Not everyone does a craft, but we do. We made a simple elephant but his legs attached by brads (all cutting and brad attaching was done in advance by volunteers) so the elephant could "dance". The kids colored him and glued his head to his body. Perfect.