Bookgarteners: Lois Ehlert

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

Lois Ehlert is one of my favorite author/illustrators of all time. Her book Color Zoo is the first book I remember my school librarian reading to my kindergarten class.

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 — Color Zoo and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Then, we looked at her biography title The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life to learn how she makes her pictures. We didn’t read the whole title, but I shared some parts with the group.

Afterwards, it was time to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom together.

Retelling Tree for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
2.B.ECb: With teacher assistance, retell familiar stories with three or more key events

I bought the Chicka Chicka Activity Tree from Lakeshore Learning. (I had this at my previous library and really missed having one.) This was perfect for this retelling activity. I gave each kid a letter and they waited for their turn to come up and put their letter on the tree, just like in the story.


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.

Sensory Bin with Growing Vegetable Soup
19.A.ECa: Engage in active play using gross-motor and fine-motor skills.

This sensory bin was inspired by Mom Envy, via Pinterest. This activity was very easy for me to put together. I already had purchased the vegetables & garden supplies back when I did the Garden Shop play center. I did buy the colored rice instead of making it, but I have already used the rice a couple of times since…so an excellent purchase. My rice did accidentally transfer dye to hands though, so be aware. (It wiped clean with a sani-hands wipe.)


Pattern Matching with A Pair of Socks
8.A.ECa: Sort, order, compare, and describe objects according to characteristics or attributes.

This pattern matching activity came from Laugh, Paint, Create!, via Pinterest. The kids matched up the socks that I cut out of cardstock. This was a quick station, but they really enjoyed it.


Shape Art with Color Zoo & Color Farm
9.A.ECa: Recognize and name common two- and three- dimensional shapes and describe some of their attributes.
25.A.ECd: Visual Arts. Investigate and participate in activities using visual arts materials.

This art project came from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas, via Pinterest. This station took them a really long time to complete since I did not precut anything, but their creations were AMAZING. I did have to spend some time with one particular kiddo who had a hard time with their shapes not being perfect. It was a chance to talk about how even my shapes aren’t perfect and that’s okay.


Tangram Flowers for Planting a Rainbow
9.A.ECd: Combine two-dimensional shapes to create new shapes.
9.A.Ede: Think about/imagine how altering the spatial orientation of a shape will change how it looks.

This math activity came from Waddlee-ah-chaa, via Pinterest. This took a fair bit of time to set up. I had to purchase a tangram set and then build my flowers from there. I created the tangrams in Publisher, and they don’t 100% line-up with the pieces, but it was close enough for the kids to use the sheets as a guide to build and that was the whole goal to begin with.


Wrap-Up

I think the only adjustment I would have made with this program was to make the socks matching more difficult by making more socks. They zipped through the activity quickly…but that was because my hand got tired of cutting out socks during program prep, haha. Another successful edition of Bookgarteners.

Book Bundles: Music

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

  • I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison ($16.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Music Class Today! by David Weinstone ($17.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Zin, Zin, Zin, a Violin! by Lloyd Moss ($7.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Lakeshore True Tone Xylophone ($21.99) — Lakeshore Learning
  • Melissa and Doug Band-in-a-Box ($21.99) — Amazon
  • Mesh Bag ($3.99) — The Container Store
  • Activity Sheets ($2.55) — created in-house

Total: $100.88

I wanted to show three different kinds of ways to experience music and I have to say, I think I nailed it. Everyday life = I Got the Rhythm; kids can make music and find rhythm anywhere! At the library = Music Class Today!; kids can make music and dance at the library. Classical = Zin, Zin, Zin, a Violin!; kids can listen to music performed by others.

And of course, I wanted to allow the kids the chance to create their own music and that’s really all this kit needed. I choose both the Lakeshore Learning xylophone and the Melissa and Doug band-in-a-box. These provide lots of opportunities to play music and caregivers can return it to the library once their ears need a break!


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

Shake, Shimmy, & Dance: 7/25

shakeshimmyanddance

The Plan


Book
Row, Row, Row Your Boat by Jane Cabrera
I love a song that grown-ups can join me during, which is the beginning of this book for sure. But I *also* love a song book that takes an original tune further by adding more verses and activities to engage the kids. And that is the magic of Jane Cabrera. I love this about so many of her books!

Props
Parachute!

The Playlist

Hello & How Are You? — Old Town School of Folk Music
Movin’ Groovin’ — Mr. Jon & Friends
Spin Around — The Fresh Beat Band
Bouncing, Hopping, & Jumping — Jim Gill
Rainy Day Dance Party — Milkshake
Popcorn Calling Me — Laurie Berkner
Great Big Sun — Justin Roberts
Shake Hands With Friends — Ella Jenkins

How It Went

This week’s Shake, Shimmy, & Dance started with Movin’ Groovin’ by Mr. Jon & Friends. Mr. Jon is one of my favorite musicians for Shake, Shimmy, & Dance and I hope that there are more albums to come soon! This one reinforces a lot of what we do in our opening song (clap, stomp) and we all know that kids learn best through repetition.

A song that’s sure to make you dizzy is Spin Around. Before starting this song, I like to let everyone that we can spin with our hands (rolling our arms) or that it’s okay to take a break from the music. Next, it was time to practice some large movement with Bouncing, Hopping, & Jumping. Then, our last song for the day before props was a free dance with Rainy Day Dance Party.

Our big parachute today became a popcorn popper with Popcorn Calling Me and some crumbled up recycled paper as our popcorn pieces on top. Some kids LOVE to run underneath the parachute and “pop” the popcorn, while others are content to shake the parachute as our popcorn poppers. I try to encourage both ways, as they’re great ways to play along.

Great Big Sun lets our parachute turn into a giant sun that rises up and down while kiddos get to run underneath. It’s a really joyous time for everyone involved.

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

Book Bundles: Houses & Homes

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

  • My House by Byron Barton ($7.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Noisy Night by Mac Barnett ($16.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • This is Our House by Hyewon Yum ($16.99) — Baker & Taylor
  • Lakeshore Learning Home Sweet Home ($29.99) — Lakeshore Learning
  • Lakeshore Learning House Building Engineering Center ($49.99) — Lakeshore Learning
  • Three Little Pigs Puppets ($9.99) — Amazon
  • Mesh Bag & Vinyl Bag ($6.98) — The Container Store
  • Activity Sheets ($2.55) — created in-house

Total: $148.86

First and foremost, I wanted to make sure that this Bundle represented both houses & apartments. But there is a sore lack of books about apartments, and an even worse lack of toys. World, get on this!

I chose a very simple book about houses, My House that would be sure to reach the toddlers checking this book out and then I chose a most sophisticated book about houses, This is Our House. In particular, I thought that This is Our House provided a great representation of a familial home, that I know many patrons in our community are living in.

The Lakeshore Learning Home Sweet Home soft book focuses on animal homes and is machine washable — a huge plus when you’re talking about cleaning these kits in-between uses.

I fell in love with the Lakeshore Learning House Building Engineering Center. Rest assured, it includes more kinds of homes, rather than just houses. I also held back some of the pieces to use as replacement pieces for the future. (Which is excellent librarian planning, if I say so myself!)

Finally, what Bundle about houses & homes would be complete without Three Little Pig puppets? (I will admit that these are not the ones I originally planned on buying — I had originally planned on the Manhattan Toy ones, but I’ve been happy with these.)


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

Shake, Shimmy, & Dance: 7/18

shakeshimmyanddance

The Plan


Book
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont
This is will forever be one of my favorite books for Shake, Shimmy, & Dance. I love modeling that this book can be sung to, that this book has a strong rhyme prediction sequence for kiddos, and that we’re practicing body identification while reading it together. It’s also one that works well in our large-group setting!

Props
Shaker Eggs!

The Playlist

Hello & How Are You? — Old Town School of Folk Music
Take the Sun — Caspar Babypants
Jump, Jump — Joanie Leeds
Silly Dance Contest — Jim Gill
If You’re Happy and You Know It — The Learning Groove
Super Shaker Song — Culture Queen
Fruit Salad Salsa — Laurie Berkner
Shake Hands With Friends — Ella Jenkins

How It Went

A quartet of some of my favorite songs kicked off the start of this edition of Shake, Shimmy, & Dance. I used Take the Sun as a stretching song (though I’ve also used it as a parachute song as well). It worked well to get everyone ready to make large group movements. I also provided a modification for grown-ups to use their babies as the “sun” and lift them up and down.

Jump, Jump got us up and moving, practicing our gross motor skills with large movements like spin and shake. That brought us to Silly Dance Contest. This song lets us practice our patient waiting skills as we freeze when the lyrics tell us to. It also some really fun opportunities for me to freeze in a very silly position as I know when the freezes are coming.

And finally, a rock/funk version of If You’re Happy and You Know It to round out the non-prop portion of the program. Then, it was time to break out the shaker eggs!

Two songs today: Super Shaker Song which has some great instructions built into the music. I will say that this song was a bit long for the end of the program. (I tend to aim for 2 or 2.5 minute songs once the props come out.) Fruit Salad Salsa is a favorite of the group and we practice shaking fast and slow depending on how the music sounds.

All in all, another fantastic high-energy program!

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

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.