Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Early Literacy at Home

I am fortunate that I get to see 5 of my nieces and nephews often and end up watching them at least 1 time a week.  Their ages span from 2 to 9, so we are at various points on the literacy spectrum.  One of the things that we did this summer is to create our Summer List of various activities that we want to do.

What I like about this is that it addresses different levels of literacy.  With the 2 year olds, I am showing that words have meaning.  We are working on letter knowledge and we read the list as we decide what activity to do next.  The 5 and 6 year olds add their own activities to the list.  They may not always be spelled right, but they are sounding out their words as they write them.  Plus, they are reading items already on the list and adding their names to what they want to do.  The 9 year old is more like an adult.  She can read and write already so she is a good example for showing the younger kids what to do.

We make one of these lists every summer and hang it right on our refrigerator.  It is a lot of fun for all of us!  Plus, as the adult, it helps me to make plans.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Early Literacy Messages in Action

Let me start off by saying that I am not a parent.  I am an early childhood expert who is also a children's librarian.  Whenever I do story time presentations around the state, one of the biggest questions that I get is how to incorporate early literacy messages into programs.  We know that we SHOULD be doing it, but finding the HOW is more difficult.

First, as a manager, I view early messages as vital to story time.  While story times are edutainment, they serve a purpose in young children's literacy development.  Also, as we plan our departmental goals, early literacy factors big into the discussion as we talk about 0-5 year olds.  When I meet with the library's management team, I push our early literacy initiatives.

As for the how, I started off in a low-key way by dropping into our baby play times.  This gave me a chance to meet the kiddos and talk to the parents. I was able to quiz them as to what they liked about our services and promote new ideas.  Think of it like a focus group!  In this setting I was able to grow my confidence in my messages and get immediate verbal and visual feedback from parents, rather than the wall of faces that you see at story time. Here are some sample messages and when I used the:
  • Have you seen this new toy?  This is why we chose it.  I really like how it does ______.
  • Let's try building a wall while playing with blocks. Then we'll play we'll play the Three Little Pigs.  Who wants to be the Big, Bad Wolf and say "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your wall down?"  Then we'll knock down the wall.  I love to play this game over and over as we are retelling the story while playing.  You can see here all of the fun words we are using, such as huff and puff, as we play.  This all builds language development.
  • While playing with letter magnets, look for the letters in your child's name.  This helps them to learn that letters have meaning.  Another fun thing to try is to identify names of people you know that start with different letters.  For example, if you found a "G", you could talk about Grandpa.
Once I got comfortable promoting early literacy, I started adding my messages to my story times.  I am not someone who needs to put the message in the same place every week, similar to an opening or closing song.  I fit them in wherever it feels natural.  Here are some examples:
  • As we sing our bubble song today, let's listen for all of the "b" sounds in the song. When we sing songs, it slows down the words so we can hear individual sounds.
  • With our scarves today, let's wave them in the shape of an "A".  What letter does your name start with?  Can you make that shape?  By writing our letters in the air with scarves, we are learning our letter shapes.  This will help us get ready to write.
  • Today we're going to read the book Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann.  You'll notice as we read the book that there are no words written on the page.  We are going to tell the story using only the pictures!  The next time you sit down to read a favorite picture book, try having your child "read" the pictures to tell you the story.
  • It's time for our next rhyme and we are going to use our fingers to show the actions.  Activities like this that use our fingers are like exercise, which helps to strengthen our fingers to get ready to write.
For more great early literacy messages, check out the round-up that will be appearing on Jbrary at the end of the week!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Parachute Games, 2015 Edition

I love summer reading time because I get to pull out my favorite programs!  One such program is Parachute Games.  Once you have a parachute and access to music, it is a free program that you can run year after year.

Set Up & Registration
Parachute Games is one of those programs where it is handy to have registration.  You only have so many handles on the parachute.  While you can fudge the numbers a little, you don't want 60 kids showing up to play with a 20 handle parachute.  You also don't want only 1 child showing up.  We sign up 20 kids for our program (as we have a 20 handle parachute).  Normally a day or two ahead of time I will bump in an extra 2-4 kids as you will have kids who don't show up.  To make this decision, I look at how many siblings could possibly be available to pick up some slack in case a chunk of kids don't show up. 

Our Playlist
1.  Round the Village by Wee Sing on Wee Sing and Play-This is a good slow song to get going.  You get to go around the circle, go in and out, and turn the circle again.

2.  Moving in a Circle by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael on Rockin' Red-This is a circle spinning song again.  It tends to slow the kids down as they get super excited about bouncing things.  You will get to walk, jump, and take baby steps with the parachute.

3.  Five Little Monkeys on the cd Five Little Monkeys-Since monkeys like to bounce, we pop some monkey finger puppets we have onto the parachute for the kids to bounce.  Like the monkeys in the rhyme, they tend to fall off and we have to toss them back on again.

4.  Spin Around by The Fresh Beat Band on The Fresh Beat Band Vol. 2.0-This is one of those songs that will stick in your head all day long.  It is a fun and peppy spinning song.

5.  The Popcorn Pop by Rosenshontz on Tot Rock-Now it is time for some bouncing.  I have a lot of mini beach balls from Oriental Trading that I use as "popcorn".  The hard part is getting beach balls off of the parachute when the song is done.  Today we just left them all on and it still worked great.

6.  Ring Around the Rosie by Caspar Babypants on Sing Along!-I am loving Caspar Babypants right now, but am having a hard time getting it to catch on.  This is a circle song again, but you get to fall down.  The 2-4 year olds love to fall down and think it is the silliest thing ever.

7.  Spin Again by Jim Gill on Jim Gill Sings Do Re Mi on His Toe Leg Knee-We have Jim Gill coming to perform on Saturday so I am popping his songs in everywhere I can.

8. Juggling, Juggling, Juggling Balls by The Wiggles on Hot Poppin' Popcorn-I have a bunch of mini beach balls that I got as part of a parachute set from Oriental Trading.  Beach balls are great for the parachute because they "pop", but you can also deflate them to maximize your storage space.

9.  Popcorn by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights on I'm a Rock Star-We got to pop all of our beach balls again!

10.  Popcorn by the Barenaked Ladies on Snacktime!-Nothing beats Popcorn as a finale song as it is super fast and you get to bounce everything.  If you have any balls or props left, throw them on the parachute to bounce.

After the program was over, I let the kids play with the beach balls as I wasn't in a hurry to clean up.  It was great fun!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Toddler Art, 2015 Edition

This is one of my favorite toddler programs and it is always on my schedule every summer at the beginning of summer reading.   You can check out past programs here, here, or here.  I love it because each creation turns out different.  Plus, most of my parents end up going shopping right after the program for their own art supplies to make cool creations at home.  After all, every house needs a bottle of glitter glue!

Our shape this year is a fancy star shape to fit our Every Hero Has a Story summer reading program theme.  To make the shape, I printed the star shape using Microsoft Publisher on white cardstock.  As kids came into the room, I handed them two star shapes and explained that one would go home with them and one would stay with me.  Each of our stations had a different art supply.

This year's stations include: 
As kids finished their projects, I passed out paper plates so they could get their creations home.  As my stars dried, I added them to our bulletin board in our activity room.

Early Literacy Signage

A bunch of us in the blogosphere will be sharing our early literacy messages over the next couple of weeks.  I thought it would be helpful to start off by sharing some of the things that we do around the department at my library.

First, early literacy is our biggest initiative for our under 5 group.  It drives our goals, our programming, and our purchasing.  We have a great staff that I work with, but I tend to hear a lot of "but I know that already".  If the information stays in our heads, then our public doesn't know and we aren't staying relevant.  Here's the deal-our public doesn't know this stuff.  Many of our customers are first-time parents without an early childhood background.  They like the "why" of our messages, but what they are really looking for is the "how".  Signage is a pretty easy way to convey these messages.

Let's start with an easy one.  Does your library use ECRR2?  How do you convey that to your customers?  ECRR2 makes it really easy to share the five practices that lead to reading.  We have a poster in both our story time room and our activity room.

We have a giant magnetboard in our activity room with this sign posted next to it.  What I like about it is that it tells 1)why we use magnets, 2)ideas of how to play with magnets, and 3) the skills we are working on.  Every so often I change out the activity ideas, but the message and skills remain the same.

Our activity room also houses a flannelboard with a rotating sign.  We currently have a bunch of pairs of felt flowers.  While this sign doesn't highlight the "why", you will still see the "how" and the skills practiced. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Library Spaces-2015 Edition

I have been doing a lot of traveling again this past spring and have taken pictures of some of my favorite library spaces and features.  Some of these features would be easy to adapt in any library.

Kalamazoo Public Library-Main Branch
This year's MiKidLib was held at the Kalamazoo Public Library.  They had recently done some renovations and we have already borrowed some of their ideas.

I LOVE their reference desk signage.  The simple "ask here" tells kids and parents where to go for help.  It is in big letters and is easy to read.

They have also added nursery rhymes above the changing tables in the kids restrooms.  The cost to do this is one laminated piece of paper!  On our first day back at work after the unconference, we duplicated this great idea.

Kalamazoo is currently working on sorting their picture book collection by neighborhoods.  The bins were its predecessor to show that this type of thing would be popular.  While we aren't ready for a neighborhood reorganization as we are in the middle of converting our nonfiction to BISAC categories, we did put out two bins on bottom shelves for "princesses" and "trains".  These have been extremely popular!  As of this moment, every single train picture book is checked out and we have renamed the bin "things that go".  We also have bought a third bin for "dinosaurs".

MacDonald Public Library
This library is close to my home and is the workplace of Kelly at Ms. Kelly at the Library

I love her number circles that she added going down the ramp into the kids' room.  It's a great early literacy center that anyone can add with paper and book tape.  Kelly blogs about it here

I also was excited to check out her iPad setup as we are putting some into a new building.  Kelly talks about her process here.  I really like that the apps are organized by ECRR2 categories!

Bloomfield Township Public Library
I attend our Special Needs Roundtable at BTPL and love to check out what they are doing while I am there.

Here you can see their nonfiction organized with faceouts on all of the top shelves.  I really like this as it helps with the browsing users.  Plus, it looks awesome!  We are in the middle of a nonfiction redo (BISAC) and as we sort our categories at the end of summer, we will be organizing our section in a similar fashion.

Mission Viejo Public Library
MVPL is in California and I had originally stopped by to check out their Family Place offerings as we are just starting the process.  Below are some neat things that I saw.

As you enter the library, there is a window in the lobby.  At the top of the window is the mission statement.  How many libraries show off their mission statements in a really obvious place like this?  I love it!  Other text on the window are book-related quotes.

The adult reference desk has "ask here" above the desk.  Once again, I love how easy it is to locate help.  The simple "ask here" makes the desk staff seem more approachable.

As you enter a section of the children's area, these fossils are on the wall.  I really like the sensory aspect of it as some are raised and some are embedded.  Trust me, just like a kid, I was touching everything.

San Diego Public Library-Main Branch
If you are ever in Southern California, it is definitely worth a trip to visit the San Diego Public Library.  It is right downtown, within walking distance of Petco Park (I am a baseball fan!).

As you walk along the sidewalk, various Dr. Seuss silhouettes are in the windows of the children's room.  Since Dr. Seuss lived just north of San Diego in La Jolla, this makes sense.

Following the Dr. Seuss theme, there are Seuss murals covering almost all of the walls in the children's room.  It is so much fun to see what is there!

The display case on one of the endcaps highlights local authors.  It almost looks like a program in conjunction with the schools.  I know that our local schools run a yearly writing program called Young Authors.  How cool would it be if they could display their books in the local library???

Also from a school perspective, there is a high school run from two floors of the library building!  That would make it really easy to get the librarians involved in database training and teaching teens how to use the library.

That's all for now.  I will highlight more travels as I take more pictures.  If you like this kind of thing, you may also want to check out my 2014 edition.
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