Bookgarteners: Eric Carle

For an overview of the Bookgarteners program, please visit this post.

I started with Eric Carle because it was an easy marketing approach to get families interested in attending the program. Carle is recognizable and universally adored.

Group Program

To begin our program, I explained what an author was and what an illustrator was. I talked about how each book has one of each. Sometimes they are the same person and sometimes they are not. I had both options to show the kids — The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Then, we watched this YouTube video featuring an interview with Eric Carle. It was important to me that the kids “see” the author/illustrator we were talking about.

Then, we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar together. And that led us into our retelling activity afterwards:


Sequencing with The Very Hungry Caterpillar
2.B.ECb: With teacher assistance, retell familiar stories with three or more key events.

This retelling activity came from School Time Snippets, via Pinterest. The templates and instructions are available at the original blog post. I prepped each of these paint sticks and attached all of the paper cut outs to clothespins using hot glue. This was an UNDERTAKING. But it was a big payoff. Patrons walked around the library showing other patrons and signups definitely increased. On the other hand, I have not done such a project since.


Activity Stations

Four activity stations were spread out around the room. I had one teen volunteer in the room with me to help control the flow of kiddos.


Pompom Matching with Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
12.C.ECa: Identify, describe, and compare the physical properties of objects.

This color matching activity came from No Time for Flash Cards, via Pinterest. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money buying several sets of magnets, so I reversed it. I made little discs of each character to insert into a muffin tin and instead provided pompoms and tweezers to match the pompoms to the character. This was probably their favorite station at this event.



Rubber Duck Counting with Ten Little Rubber Ducks
6.A.ECe: Differentiate numerals from letters and recognize some single-digit written numerals.

This activity was inspired by Pre-K Pages, via Pinterest. Instead of rolling a dice, I wrote the numerals for each number (1-5), as well as words (one-five) on the bottom of the ducks and set up a duck pond in the corner using our sand/water table and a water-absorbing activity mat. Kids could pull out a duck and match it to their sheet (shown in the picture; the other side has the words written out). Once they found all ten ducks, they “finished” the station though many of them kept pulling out ducks.



Tissue Paper Stars with Draw Me a Star
25.A.ECd: Visual Arts. Investigate and participate in activities using visual arts materials.

This activity was inspired by Karen & Kim 2 Soul Sisters, via Pinterest. I printed a star out on white cardstock and let the kids glue tissue paper squares down onto the star before cutting it out. I was tickled pink when one of the kiddos made the connection that Eric Carle used tissue paper in the video we watched! I was so hoping they would make that connection and was prepared to point it out to them if I had to.



Paper Plate Lacing with The Very Busy Spider
19.A.ECd: Use eye-hand coordination to perform tasks.

This lacing activity came from Kidz Activities, via Pinterest. I just cut slits into the paper plates since I had both preschoolers and kindergarteners. It worked a lot better for us. This was the station that my volunteer wound up manning for the entire program.


Wrap-Up

I would 100% do this entire program all over again. The few adjustments I would make: find a way to get the water warmer — it was so cold after sitting out for a while, start prepping the caterpillar retelling sticks earlier in the week. Overall, I was really happy with the program and so were patrons.

Book Bundles: Five Senses

bookbundlesparentingpacks

For an overview of the Book Bundles and Parenting Packs early literacy kits, please visit the original post. The cost listed is the list price of each item, regardless of whether or not we got it on sale/discount. The activity sheets amount was calculated by cost of binder clip + lamination sheets.

Itemized List

  • Five for a Little One by Chris Raschka ($17.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Hooray for Hoppy! by Tim Hopgood ($16.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • I Hear a Pickle by Rachel Isadora ($16.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Constructive Playthings Teachable Touchable Texture Squares ($29.99) — Constructive Playthings
  • Lakeshore Learning Play & Learn Sensory Tubes ($29.99) — Lakeshore Learning
  • Activity Sheets — ($2.55) created in-house

Total: $121.89

Picking books for this theme was really fun! I immediately knew that I wanted to include I Hear a Pickle since I had used it in a storytime to great success. I love the different ways that each page represents different senses. Such a great way to start discussions with kids.

Hooray for Hoppy! has a rabbit that uses all of its senses to come to one conclusion and I chose this book to illustrate how our senses work together. Five for a Little One does a great job of introducing the senses and then reinforcing them with bunny’s parents. (I didn’t realize until this moment that these are both bunny/rabbit books…)

Constructive Playthings Teachable Touchable Texture Squares have been rebranded on their website since I bought them (they’re now called Bag of Fabric Feelies) and I think they are a fabulous addition to using touch with this Bundle. Kids and caregivers can describe them, match them, and more.

The Lakeshore Learning Play & Learn Sensory Tubes are a fun exploration of sight and sound, perfect for this Bundle!


This Bundle has gone out four times in the two months since its release.

Shake, Shimmy, & Dance: 7/11

shakeshimmyanddance

The Plan

Book
I used a book published in 2017 that I’m not 100% sure about Caldecott eligibility on so I’m going to refrain from posting about it just in case.

Props
Parachute!

The Playlist

Hello & How Are You? — Old Town School of Folk Music
Jump Up (It’s a Good Day) — Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could
Freeze Dance — The Fresh Beat Band
Dance With Me — The Not-Its
Moving in a Circle — The Learning Groove
In and Out (Take a Trip) — Laurie Berkner
Shake Hands With Friends — Ella Jenkins

How It Went

Today was my birthday, so I picked a lot of songs that I knew would make me happy to be doing that morning when I planned back in May. For Jump Up (It’s a Good Day), we did a lot of jumping. Freeze Dance is self-explanatory, and Dance With Me is a song that I love to use to get caregivers engaged in the program. Each kiddo was instructed to find a grown-up that they wanted to dance with. Most of them chose the grown-up that brought them, but I did have a little group dance with me. 😀

I tried to use Moving in a Circle as we walked around the room holding the parachute. This would have varying degrees of success depending on the age of the kids, but my group did very well with it. I think with more practice, we might be able to stop, turn, and change directions someday.

In and Out (Take a Trip) was intended to have kids walk towards the center of the parachute and then go back out. The parachute would have been flexible enough to follow them and I had hoped it would create a cool billowing effect. The kids, however, had other plans and went under the parachute and some went back out (but that was only a few). I would definitely try to explain this differently if I decide to use it again.

(For an example of the Powerpoint and handouts that I made for each Shake, Shimmy please visit the original post.)

Bookgarteners: Overview

An illustrated classroom with two adults (one female, one male) reading to children.

The creation of Bookgarteners came from a lot of different factors:

  • Most of the schools are now doing full-day kindergarten. Only one district does half-day. Which means that my preschool storytime is not supporting those K learners.
  • Many of the caregivers had begun requesting preschool/kindergarten programming in the afternoons.
  • I wanted to plan preschool/kindergarten programming to support state early learning standards. Illinois’s early learning standards are available online.
  • I really wanted to make caregivers aware of their ability to support the state early learning standards.
  • And I, personally, needed to do something new and exciting…other than a storytime.

(I think it’s really okay to say that you need to do something other than a storytime. Storytime is GREAT, of course, but early literacy is more than storytime. We are more than storytime.)

So, what IS Bookgarteners?

It’s a forty-five minute author/illustrator study program for ages 3-6. I choose a different author each class and plan different activities around their books. The first fifteen minutes are devoted to learning about the author, reading one of the author’s books, and then re-telling that story as a class. The second fifteen minutes, the kids are invited to go through activity stations on their own direction. The last fifteen minutes, caregivers are invited to join their kids for more activity station time.

Afterwards, everyone gets a take-home brochure and activity packet. The activity packet includes stuff like scissor practice paper, matching games, draw your owns, and more — much of this is taken from pages offered on the author’s website!

Two pieces of paper, one being a take-home packet and the other being a folded brochure.

The aforementioned Take-Home activities and Brochure.

At the end of the brochure, I have this summary available for caregivers:

Bookgarteners was developed to help preschool children and kindergarteners practice the early learning standards for the state of Illinois. This will help prepare preschool children for school and will re-enforce the skills for kindergarteners.

Each activity chosen supports one of the state’s learning standards, but each activity is also designed to be fun and engaging for the children. Their learning really presents best as play at this age.

In addition, in Bookgarteners we are working on other learning standards like interacting with peers, following directions, participating in group activities, and more.

Together, we are growing their minds!

I’ve done six Bookgarteners programs since this spring. I have three more planned for this Winter. The authors I’ve done thus far are: Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, Donald Crews, Karen Beaumont, Mem Fox, and Mo Willems. Up for this winter are Jan Brett, Ezra Jack Keats, and Herve Tullet. (Currently in the planning stages for spring with Kevin Henkes, Christian Robinson, Jan Thomas on the list!)

The program has been very successful for all of the targets I’ve set for myself. Attendance was slow to start, but has picked up and the fall classes’ registrations were all full. I hope it continues for the winter session!

Book Bundles: Dinosaurs

bookbundlesparentingpacks

For an overview of the Book Bundles and Parenting Packs early literacy kits, please visit the original post. The cost listed is the list price of each item, regardless of whether or not we got it on sale/discount. The activity sheets amount was calculated by cost of binder clip + lamination sheets.

Itemized List

  • Inside-Outside Dinosaurs by Roxie Munro ($17.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Touch and Feel Dinos by Scholastic ($6.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • We are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner ($17.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Discovery Kids Rumble With the Dinosaurs ($12.99) — Amazon
  • Melissa and Doug Dinosaur Dawn Puzzle ($10.99) — Amazon
  • Pretex Dinosaur Figures ($29.99) — Amazon
  • Mesh Bags (2) ($7.98) — The Container Store
  • Activity Sheets ($2.55) — created in-house

Total: $114.86

It occurred to me shortly after launching the Animals Book Bundle that I had only included still-living animals. I had missed dinosaurs! Lucky for me, there’s more than enough material to create an entire dinosaur themed Bundle.

I wanted to have a non-fiction book, a picture book, and a board book in this Bundle and made my decision easily once I went to the shelf to see which books were in the worst condition and needed replacements. (That means they’re the most loved!)

When it came time to decide what toys, I knew that I wanted to include a noisy, frustrating toy that caregivers might only want to have in their homes for a short while. And that was the Discovery Kids Rumble With the Dinosaurs. I can just imagine kids pressing all the buttons simultaneously to hear ALL the dinosaur sounds at once.

Patrons often request more circulating puzzles and I was happy to include the Melissa and Doug puzzle in this Bundle. It’s larger than any of the puzzles that we have here in the library and definitely more challenging for older preschool kids/early school-age kids.

I also wanted to encourage imaginative play and I thought that the dinosaur figures from Pretex were perfect. I hope that they are being constantly used at home, with lots and lots of roaring along.


This Bundle has gone out five times in the two months since it was released.

Shake, Shimmy, & Dance GOES POP! — 7/26

shakeshimmyanddance

GOES POP!
…what does that mean?

This was a special evening edition of Shake, Shimmy that I did twice during the summer. I used popular, mainstream music instead of children’s music in the hopes of reaching adults and families in a different way.

The Plan


Book
Every Little Thing by Bob Marley, illustrated by Cedella Marley
This book is another that has personal meaning to me — “Three Little Birds” the song is what I sing to myself when I’m having trouble or worries. It’s something that started shortly after I discovered the Elizabeth Mitchell version of the song. It really resonated with me and I have it saved on my work computer for this express purpose. I really wanted to show families the power of song using this exact one. Songs can improve our mood and help us through harder times.

Props
Scarves!

The Playlist

Hello & How Are You? — Old Town School of Folk Music
Can’t Stop This Feeling — Justin Timberlake
Shout Part 1 — The Isley Brothers
Shut Up & Dance — Walk The Moon
Sweet Caroline — Neil Diamond
Let It Go — Idina Menzel
Firework — Katy Perry
Shake Hands With Friends — Ella Jenkins

How It Went

Since this was a VERY different kind of Shake, Shimmy program, I started with some announcements. I explained that children’s music songs are typically a lot shorter than regular contemporary songs, so if our group started to lose energy I planned to do a slow fade-out.

Our first song, Can’t Stop This Feeling was another familiar song for the majority of attendees and worked in the same way as Happy did in the 6/30 program to get immediate staff buy-in. And for this library, Trolls is a huge draw. This song was a free dance.

Next, we danced to Shout Part 1 and did the typical motions that you might see on a dance floor at a special occasion. Since we used these familiar motions, caregivers were all in for this one and I probably could have played Part 2 as well!

Shut Up & Dance was the one song that I waffled about for a while. Was “shut up” an appropriate phrase for kiddos to hear? Ultimately, since the playlists were available at the Kids & Teens desk prior to the event, I decided that caregivers could make that decision for themselves. I also advanced the slide before announced the title of the song, letting them decide if a bathroom break was in order. (No one left.) It was another free dance, this time with a grown-up that you care very much about!

And our last non-prop song was Sweet Caroline. I’ll be honest, four mainstream songs that range in three to four minutes of length prior to props is too much and I would change that in the future. I felt poor Sweet Caroline got cheated and I wound up doing a slow fade on it to move on to prop songs.

Scarves were used in both Let It Go and Firework. To differentiate the movements between songs, I had the kids pretend their scarves were Elsa’s sleeves. It worked!

I’m not sure when GOES POP! will be back on our schedule, but I still think it was a very valuable experience!

(For an example of the Powerpoint and handouts that I made for each Shake, Shimmy please visit the original post.)

Baby Bundles: Zoo

For an overview of the Baby Bundles early literacy kits, please visit the original post. The cost listed is the list price of each item, regardless of whether or not we got it on sale/discount. The activity sheets amount was calculated by cost of binder clip + lamination sheets.

Itemized List

  • Tote Bag ($6.89) — 4Imprint
  • My Heart Is Like a Zoo ($7.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Peek-a-Boo Zoo by Joyce Wan ($6.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Melissa and Doug Jungle Friends Jumbo Knob Puzzle ($9.99) — Amazon
  • Activity Sheets ($2.55) — created in-house

Total Cost: $34.41

Confession time: I actually started with toys while I was creating Baby Bundles. Since baby/toddler toys are a relatively small market compared with children’s toys, it seemed like I should get a list of toys that were appropriate for circulation before I picked out themes. Luckily, the toys lent themselves to natural themes and I still have a list of toys that I may use for future kits!

One of the biggest requests from patrons is if we circulate puzzles. (We don’t on their own.) So naturally, I wanted to have a puzzle toy available in the Baby Bundles, like I do in Book Bundles and Parenting Packs. The large knobs from the Melissa and Doug My First series were perfect for this kit.

Two great zoo books in both My Heart Is Like a Zoo and Peek-a-Boo Zoo. My Heart Is Like a Zoo has such a great rhyming scheme and it works very well for both babies and toddlers. And Peek-a-Boo Zoo is part of a great series.


It’s been ten months since the Baby Bundles debuted and this Bundle has circulated seventeen times.

Shake, Shimmy, & Dance: GOES POP! — 6/30

shakeshimmyanddance

GOES POP!
…what does that mean?

This was a special evening edition of Shake, Shimmy that I did twice during the summer. I used popular, mainstream music instead of children’s music in the hopes of reaching adults and families in a different way.

The Plan


Book
What a Wonderful World illustrated by Tim Hopgood
This book holds a special place in my heart. It was a baby shower gift for my sorority sister a few years back. I just adore Hopgood’s bright illustrations to accompany this beautiful song. Now, this was a departure from the kind of books that I normally promote at the front of this program. I generally try to pick books that warm up the crowd, but this time I wanted to highlight our Picture/Play/Songs area of the collection and to show caregivers that we have a wide variety of titles there, including popular music.

Props
Parachute!
(Please note, this is our smaller 12′ parachute. I did not have a crowd big enough for the 24′ parachute.)

The Playlist

Hello & How Are You? — Old Town School of Folk Music
Happy — Pharrell Williams
Dance, Dance, Dance — The Beach Boys
Riptide — Vance Joy
I Wanna Dance With Somebody — Whitney Houston
I Will Wait — Mumford & Sons
Here Comes the Sun — The Beatles
Shake Hands With Friends — Ella Jenkins

How It Went

Since this was a VERY different kind of Shake, Shimmy program, I started with some announcements. I explained that children’s music songs are typically a lot shorter than regular contemporary songs, so if our group started to lose energy I planned to do a slow fade-out.

Our first song, Happy, was one that most of the participants (kids included) were familiar with. In fact, I planned it that way! I wanted a bridge for both age groups to get on board with the program. We danced our best “happy” dances during this song and it should be no surprise that a lot of clapping took place. Another free dance song was Dance, Dance, Dance immediately after. I purposely followed a newer song with a classic song.

Next up, we “swam” around to Riptide. This song was a surprise hit with caregivers my age (33), but I could tell that I lost some of the older caregivers who might not recognize this more contemporary artist. But they still knew how to swim around! I Wanna Dance With Somebody encouraged caregivers to dance with their kids. I saw some great partner dancing with kiddos spinning in their grown-up’s arms, holding hands, and really having a lovely bonding experience.

Finally, it was time to break out our parachute. I used the smaller version since our crowd was lighter than usual. We practiced moving the parachute slowly during I Will Wait until the chorus kicked in; we had done enough waiting and it was time to shake it as fast as we could. And Here Comes the Sun allowed the parachute to rise and fall like the sun. I also had a great opportunity to go along with the kids’ suggested play when one of them said the sun was hot and playfully yelled “OUCH!” A small chorus of ouches followed.

So…was the different version of this program worth it? I think that it really was. Caregiver engagement was up, and while I had some morning families at the nighttime version, every single one of them brought a family member that I had not met before.

(For an example of the Powerpoint and handouts that I made for each Shake, Shimmy please visit the original post.)

Baby Bundles: Things That Go

For an overview of the Baby Bundles early literacy kits, please visit the original post. The cost listed is the list price of each item, regardless of whether or not we got it on sale/discount. The activity sheets amount was calculated by cost of binder clip + lamination sheets.

Itemized List

  • Tote Bag ($6.89) — 4Imprint
  • Cars Go by Steve Light ($9.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Zoom, Zoom, Baby! by Karen Katz ($6.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Melissa and Doug Pull-Back Vehicles ($24.99) — Amazon
  • Activity Sheets ($2.55) — created in-house

Total Cost: $51.41

Confession time: I actually started with toys while I was creating Baby Bundles. Since baby/toddler toys are a relatively small market compared with children’s toys, it seemed like I should get a list of toys that were appropriate for circulation before I picked out themes. Luckily, the toys lent themselves to natural themes and I still have a list of toys that I may use for future kits!

Ahhhhh, I love these pull-back vehicles. They are machine-washable (!!) and kids just absolutely adore them. I just found out that Melissa and Doug also have these in construction vehicles and you can bet that those were added to my list of new toys for new Baby Bundles.

Cars Go and all of the Steve Light transportation books are fantastic board books. But their irregular shape doesn’t always work for board book collections. It was a perfect fit to include in our Baby Bundle though and it will be read more often than the ones we have on oversized display. And you cannot go wrong with Karen Katz, so Zoom, Baby, Zoom was perfect.


It’s been ten months since the Baby Bundles debuted and this Bundle has circulated seventeen times.

Baby Bundles: Sounds

For an overview of the Baby Bundles early literacy kits, please visit the original post. The cost listed is the list price of each item, regardless of whether or not we got it on sale/discount. The activity sheets amount was calculated by cost of binder clip + lamination sheets.

Itemized List

  • Tote Bag ($6.89) — 4Imprint
  • Baby Sounds by Joy Allen ($6.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Hi! by Ethan Long ($7.95) — Baker & Taylor
  • Fisher Price Easy Stack ‘n Sounds Blocks ($8.00) — Amazon
  • Activity Sheets ($2.55) — created in-house

Total Cost: $32.38

Confession time: I actually started with toys while I was creating Baby Bundles. Since baby/toddler toys are a relatively small market compared with children’s toys, it seemed like I should get a list of toys that were appropriate for circulation before I picked out themes. Luckily, the toys lent themselves to natural themes and I still have a list of toys that I may use for future kits!

I love these Stack ‘n Sounds Blocks. These were another purchase based on a niece/nephew of mine adoring this set. I think that in addition to making a sound and being fun that way, these are also a great grasping toy for younger kids who are just starting to play. That being said, the sounds are not 100% unique — two of the blocks sound very similar to each other. I don’t think kids care at all, but I wanted readers to be aware of that!

Baby Sounds is a wonderful board book that talks about the sounds that babies may hear throughout the day. I chose it for the fact that it talked about sounds that a majority of babies would be very familiar with. I chose Hi! by Ethan Long because I wanted to include an animal sounds book as well.


It’s been ten months since the Baby Bundles debuted and this Bundle has circulated seventeen times.