Thursday Thoughts: Ode to My Stretchy Band

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Back when I used to lead a music and movement program at my old library, I looked and looked for something new to do besides the same old scarves and shakers.  I also wanted something I could use with huge storytime groups, so the typical parachute wasn’t going to work.

Bear Paw Creek’s Connect-a-Stretchy Band came to the rescue!  Each brightly colored band fits approximately 10 children and can easily be adapted for use in large or small groups.  Why do I love it so much?  It’s…

  • Quick and easy to connect.
  • Machine washable.
  • Durable.
  • Great for building gross motor, cooperation and active listening skills!
  • Excellent core muscle exercise- and as we all know, kids need a strong core to write!
  • Great for getting the grown-ups involved.
  • Super duper fun!

In no particular order, here’s a list of some of my favorite songs to use with the stretchy band!  I have to thank my wonderful former coworker Miss Janelle for helping me discover so many:

Around and Around and STOP by Miss Carole

Up and Down by Miss Carole

Green, Yellow, Red by Music with Mar

Ladies Ride by Old Town School of Folk Music

Running in a Circle by Willy Fisher

The Tempo Marches On by Jim Gill

I’ve found that most parachute songs can typically be adapted for use with the stretchy band.  And tons of traditional songs work well with the stretchy band, too, such as:

  • Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
  • Ring Around the Rosie
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Skip To My Lou
  • Little Red Wagon
  • The Wheels on the Bus

The lyrics to these traditional tunes can easily be changed to work with a variety of themes.  For example, we’ve used the stretchy band to sing…

  • Here We Go Round the Pumpkin Patch
  • Ring Around the Puddle
  • The Waves at the Beach

Here’s some lessons I’ve learned from using the stretchy band so far:

  • Sit down songs work best with toddlers, especially if they can sit in a grown-up’s lap.  Walking and holding onto the band is difficult for most toddlers, but the preschool crowd can manage pretty well.
  • Sit down songs are also best with mixed age groups with a wide range of motor abilities.
  • Grown-ups should stand behind or alongside their child to help guide movement.
  • Letting go of the stretchy band can be a challenge!  Sing a clapping song and ask a grown-up or staff member to help you collect it while the kids are clapping.  I just used “Hands are clapping, clap/clap/clap” today and it worked like a charm!

Looking for more fantastic ideas?  Check out these inspiring blog posts- you seriously have to see the nutcracker dance!

http://prekandksharing.blogspot.com/2013/03/stretchy-band-my-new-favorite.html

http://prekandksharing.blogspot.ca/2015/05/its-stretchy-band-jam.html

https://create.piktochart.com/output/1736510-group-movement-activities-with-b

http://lisaslibraryland.blogspot.ca/2014/08/the-giant-dance-scrunchie.html

https://theinspiredtreehouse.com/gross-motor-activities-stretchy-band-bear-paw-creek/

http://ofortunaorff.blogspot.com/2017/01/stretchy-band-activities.html

Do you have a stretchy band?  How do you like to use it?  Please share!

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LSC Journal Club Reflections: Literacy is Not a Luxury & Play is not a Privilege

I’m FINALLY getting around to sharing my thoughts from the Denver Metro area’s first Library Services for Children Journal Club (LSC).

play is not a privilege

What is LSC?  The Library Services for Children Journal Club is a free professional development group that was launched this year by Lindsey (of Jbrary fame) and her coworker, Christie, for children’s library staff to get together and discuss the latest and greatest research related to our work!  Every two months, Christie and Lindsey select articles for review.  Interested parties are encouraged to participate online or arrange in-person gatherings.  To learn more, please check out https://lscjournalclub.org/about/.

What a fun night!  Julie (from Tales for the Tiny) started us off with an icebreaker in which we discussed which executive function skills we felt we were most lacking ourselves.  Then we discussed our main takeaways from our readings on executive function (EF) and, my favorite part, what we in the library can do about it!

Here’s a link to the research we reviewed:

https://lscjournalclub.org/november-2017-executive-function/

Here’s a few of my main takeaways and thoughts:

  • Children aren’t born with EF skills.  They don’t develop naturally.  If we don’t help them build EF skills, it isn’t going to happen.
  • Play is the perfect time for children to develop and grow their executive function skills!  When children play, they create and follow rules.  They plan ahead, they problem-solve, they take turns, use their background knowledge to inform their game… play is absolutely essential to children’s development!
  • The impact of toxic stress on EF and early childhood development cannot be understated…
  • and neither can the influence of just one caring, supportive adult in a child’s life!
  • Stop and go games and songs are great for supporting the development of self-control!  Suggestions include:
  • Preview activities beforehand, don’t just jump right in.  Kids need to know what to expect!
  • Three year olds can handle about 2 directions at a time!
  • Help kids build working memory- ask them questions such as, can you remember who was on the cover?

Some further questions and things I’d like to explore more:

  • How do we reach parents and families on the “outside?” Especially as they are most likely to be experiencing toxic stress?  What organizations in our communities can we partner with to reach those families?
  • How can we support the development of hot AND cold EF skills?
  • How can we better support children’s play in storytimes and our library spaces?  What is good verbiage to use when talking to our families about the importance of play?  What is good verbiage to use when patrons complain about children playing in the library?
    • I should note that I am incredibly fortunate to work for a wonderful library district that supports and prioritizes the role of play in our children’s spaces and programming.  We set aside at least 15 minutes for play at the end of every storytime and several of our locations are Family Place Libraries, which I encourage everyone to check out!
    • This has not always been the case.  I have unfortunately worked for places, mostly schools, where administrators and coworkers were not on board with the power of play.  I even once had a principal try to make us take dramatic play out of our day!  😦
  • How can we advocate for play to stakeholders and policy makers? (not just in the library)
  • Are there any pieces from the preschool curriculum, Tools of the Mind, that we can adapt for use in early literacy programming at the library?
  • What does supporting the development of executive function skills look like during baby’s first year and prenatal time?

And here’s some additional resources about executive function:

CLEL 2017 Keynote Address: Dr. Sarah Enos Watamura, Associate Professor, Denver CO
& The Effects of Toxic Stress on Children (presentation)

Using Story-time to Grow Executive Function and Self-Regulation in ECE: Setting the Stage for Success, by Mary Kuehner and Laurie Anne Armstrong (archived webinar)

Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child

My favorite thought from the experience comes from my friend Emily, which we quickly added to the Storytime Underground motto:

Literacy is not a luxury…

and play is not a privilege!

Thank you to everyone for a wonderful, thought-provoking evening!

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Interested in joining us next time or finding a group nearby?  Click here.

See you soon in January!  Next time we’ll be talking all about evaluating educational apps.

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Storytime Spotlight: C is for Cake & Cookies (Family Time)

As mentioned in my earlier toddler post, I try to share an alphabet or color-themed storytime once a month because it’s such a great opportunity to ask open-ended questions.  I bring in a group of objects for the kids to talk about and compare how they are the same and different.  This month we did a storytime based on all the delicious different things that start with Letter C: cupcakes, cookies, carrots and cake!

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There were so many fun books to choose from, I couldn’t stick to just ONE family storytime plan… I had to make TWO!  They were both so much fun and I got to try lots of new things, so I’m glad I put in the extra work.


Letter C Family Time, Take One

 

*Sing: My Hands Say Hello

*Welcome & Set Expectations

Theme Introduction

When I reached into my book bag for our first book, what did I discover instead?  A big green hat!

…What?  It’s not a hat?  What is it?  A bowl?  Silly me!  🙂  I also pulled out some new shoes (oven mitts) and a mixing spoon.  The kiddos loved correcting my silliness and then we talked about what these objects could be used for.  How are they all the same?  They’re used for baking, of course!

Fingerplay: Baking Chant

First we add the milk and we pour it, we pour it.

Then we add the eggs and we crack them, we crack them.

Then we add the butter and we smash it, we smash it.

Then we add the flour and we shake it, we shake it.

Then we add the sugar and we pinch it, we pinch it.

Then we take a spoon and we mix it, we mix it.

Then we take out a pan and we pour it, we pour it.

Then we put it in the oven and we bake it, we bake it.

Then we add the frosting and we spread it, we spread it.

Then we cut a piece and we eat it, we eat!

_____

Credit: inspired by Dr. Jean’s Making Cookies Chant

Please note I’ve never actually baked a cake… some steps and ingredients may be missing or in the wrong order.  🙂

This was such a fun chant!  We stopped before the last two verses, set a timer, and and pulled out our first story to read while we waited for our cake to bake.

Read: The Red Hen by Rebecca and Ed Emberley

They LOVED the rhythm and repetition in this story!  This was my first time reading this book and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  Definitely our favorite read of the morning.

Sing: Can’t Wait to Celebrate by Jim Gill

We finished reading our story, but the timer was still going strong!  Sometimes it can be so hard to wait… good thing I know a song to help us pass the time!  I also shared with my grown-ups that I love stop and go songs because they help children build self-control.  Self-regulation is something this particular group of mine really struggles with, so I try to look for lots of ways to incorporate opportunities for practice in storytime.

Flannel: I’m a Little Birthday Cake

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to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”

I’m a little birthday cake, short and stout.

But I need some candles to blow out!

If you have a BLUE candle, please come up

And put your candles right on top!

(repeat with other colors)

____

Credit: original

At last, our cake was baked and ready to serve!  This was my first time using a flannel with pieces to bring up to the board with this particular group, and I’m pretty impressed by how well they did.  After we added all the candles, we counted them and blew them out.

*Sing: If You’re Ready for a Story

Early Literacy Tip: Print Motivation

Grown-ups, research shows that when children choose their own books, they’re more likely to enjoy them!  Liking books is important because learning to read is hard work and takes a lot of motivation.  When you let your child choose their own books and read favorite books over and over again, you’re giving them the positive experience with books that they need to learn how to read.

Read: The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson

I wish the crowd had picked our Jan Thomas book instead, but oh well.  This one went over fairly well, but it was a bit too long for my younger friends to follow.

Fingerplay: Cookie Chant

Cookie, cookie, in the pan.
Cookie, cookie, in my hand.
Cookie, cookie, hot to hold!
Cookie with a glass of milk cold.
Cookie, cookie, my tum.
Cookie, cookie, yum, yum, yum!

_____

Credit: original

 

My kiddos really enjoyed the pat-clap pumpkin chant from Jbrary a few months ago, so I’ve been coming up with additional themed versions.  They make for great transitions in between books.

Read: It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw

We are fortunate enough to own a big book copy of this title in my library.  It was the perfect finale for our baking celebration!

Sing: Milkshake by Old Town School of Folk Music (shakers)

*Learning Through Play


Letter C Family Time, Take Two

 

*Sing: My Hands Say Hello

*Welcome & Set Expectations

Theme Introduction

Do you smell something?  I think I smell something delicious… it’s coming from my storytime bag!  Let’s take a look!

Upon opening my bag, we found a cookie, a cupcake, a chocolate cake, and a carrot.  We discussed different ways to group them (by color, by things with frosting and without) and how they are the same and different (all edible).  The kiddos weren’t making the Letter C connection, so I suggested we say all the words out loud again and listen closely for the first sound, and then they got it!

Fingerplay: Open, Shut Them

Open, shut them, open, shut them,
Give a little clap, clap, clap.
Open, shut them, open, shut them,
Put them in your lap, lap, lap.

Creep them, crawl them,
Creep them, crawl them,
Right up to your chin, chin, chin.
Open up your little mouth,
But do not let them in!

____

Credit: traditional

Read: Keep Running, Gingerbread Man by Steve Smallman

Not my favorite version of this story, but the repetition goes over well and I do like that the gingerbead man gets away.

Sing: See the Little Cookies Baking

See the little cookies baking in the oven hot!

They’ll be ready in a moment when the timer stops.

I can’t wait

To celebrate.

Cookies bake…

BEEEEEEEP!

Run, little cookies, run, run, run, run!

Run, little cookies, run, run, run, run!

Run, little cookies, run, run, run, run!

Run so you don’t end up in a tum!

____

Credit: adapted from “Sleeping Bunnies” by Kathy Reid-Naiman

My kiddos LOVE the “See the Little Bunnies Sleeping…” song, so I come up with a lot of different fun variations for us.  This week we used our scarves as baking sheets to lay down on.  I forgot to bring my kitchen timer, so the grown-ups helped out by pretending to be the oven alarm.

Our first time through, I asked the kiddos if they wanted to get eaten after we popped out of the oven.  One very enthusiastic little girl shouted “YES!” but most of us agreed we didn’t want to be munched on.  🙂

Sing: The Chocolate Chip Twist by Music Monkey Jungle

This was such a fun song to do with scarves!  You can see Music Monkey Jungle on Youtube do the full song here:

Activity: Bring Your Cookies to the Jar

I passed out two cookies to everyone and encouraged caregivers to compare the cookies with their child before our next activity, giving them the opportunity to practice what I had modeled in the beginning.  How are the same?  How are they different?  Are they the same shape?  Do they have any similar ingredients?  Have you ever tasted this cookie before?  Next time I’m going to put these suggested questions on a poster so parents have some visual help!

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After allowing some time for discussion and checking in with various families around the room, we sang a simple song:

If you have a sugar cookie, sugar cookie, sugar cookie

If you have a sugar cookie, bring it to the jar!

(repeat with various cookies)

This is such a fun song and easy to adapt.  You could easily sing about physical characteristics or qualities instead (e.g. if you have a round cookie, if you have a frosted cookie).

Early Literacy Tip: Print Motivation

Grown-ups, research shows that when children choose their own books, they’re more likely to enjoy them!  Liking books is important because learning to read is hard work and takes a lot of motivation.  When you let your child choose their own books and read favorite books over and over again, you’re giving them the positive experience with books that they need to learn how to read.

Read: Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? by Karen Beaumont

Definitely our favorite book!  Before we read this story, I pulled out my kangaroo puppet friend with a joey in her pocket and activated some background knowledge.  This story makes an even more fun flannel set- check out the wonderful Miss Mary’s version here!

We were running short on time by this point, so we didn’t make it to our third book.

Sing: Milkshake by Old Town School of Folk Music (shakers)

*Learning Through Play


*To learn more about my regular storytime songs and routines, please visit here.

I’m pretty pleased with how both of these family times played out!  I can’t wait to do this fun theme again in the future.

Did I miss your favorite baking song or book?  How do you like to celebrate the sweet treats of the season?  Please leave a comment and let me know!  🙂

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Storytime Spotlight: C is for Cookies & Cake (Toddlers)

It’s been waaaaay too long since I shared some storytime reflections… Time flies when you’re having fun!

I try to share an alphabet or color-themed storytime once a month because it’s such a great opportunity to bring in different objects for the kids to compare and discuss how they are the same and different.  This month we did a storytime based on all the delicious different things that start with Letter C: cupcakes, cookies, carrots and cake!

*Sing: My Hands Say Hello

*Welcome & Set Expectations

Theme Introduction

Fingerplay: Open, Shut Them

Open, shut them, open, shut them,
Give a little clap, clap, clap.
Open, shut them, open, shut them,
Put them in your lap, lap, lap.

Creep them, creep them,
Creep them, creep them,
Right up to your chin, chin, chin.
Open up your little mouth,
But do not put them in!

Read: The Mixed Up Truck by Stephen Savage

I’ve been waiting for the perfect chance to read this fun silly story!  After reading this, I asked when do we eat cake?  Of course they answered birthdays!

Sing: Can’t Wait to Celebrate by Jim Jill

Before doing this song, we talked about how birthdays are a special kind of celebration, and sometimes it can be REALLY hard to wait to open presents or eat cake… let’s sing a song about it!  🙂  I also told my grown-ups that I love this stop and go song because it helps children build self-regulation skills.

Flannel: 5 Little Candles

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5 Little Candles

5 little candles on a cake glowing bright,

Let’s make a wish and blow them out of sight!

(repeat with 4, 3, 2, 1)

_____

Credit: original

*Sing: If You’re Ready for a Story

Early Literacy Tip: Print Motivation

Grown-ups, research shows that when children choose their own books, they’re more likely to enjoy them!  Liking books is important because learning to read is hard work and takes a lot of motivation.  When you let your child choose their own books and read favorite books over and over again, you’re giving them the positive experience with books that they need to learn how to read.

Read: I’m a Hungry Dinosaur by Janeen Brian

To model our early literacy tip in action, I let the toddlers help me pick between I’m A Hungry Dinosaur and Baking with Dad.  Not surprisingly, they wanted to read about dinosaurs.  🙂  This is such a fun book to sing and act along to!  It goes well with the “I’m a Little Teapot” tune.

Sing: Milkshake by Old Town School of Folk Music (shakers)

*Learning Through Play


*To learn more about my regular storytime songs and routines, please visit here.

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Favorite Storytime Songs & Rhymes

favs

Opening Songs

My Hands Say Hello

(to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)

My hands say hello,

My hands say hello.

Everytime I see my friends,

My hands say hello!

(repeat with other body parts)

Credit: I learned this song at a local guerrilla storytime.

 

Wake Up Toes

Wake up toes, wake up toes.

Wake up toes and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle!

Wake up toes, wake up toes,

Wake and wiggle in the morning!

(repeat with other body parts)

Optional last verse:

Have a seat, have a seat,

Have a seat and get ready for a story!

Eyes on me, eyes on me.

Are you ready for a story?

Credit: adapted from Joanie Bartels

 

Transitions

Dance Your Fingers Up

Dance your fingers up.

Dance your fingers down.

Dance your fingers to the side.

Dance them all around!

Dance them on your shoulders.

Dance them on your head.

Dance them on your knees.

Now put them into bed!

Credit: Does anyone know WHERE this fantastic rhyme originated from?

 

My Thumbs Are Starting to Wiggle

(to the tune of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”)

My thumbs are starting to wiggle,

My thumbs are starting to wiggle.

My thumbs are starting to wiggle,

And now so are my toes!

(repeat with other body parts)

Credit: Jbrary

 

Can You Jump, Jump, Jump?

Can you jump, jump, jump?

Can you hop, hop, hop?

Can you clap, clap, clap?

Can you stomp, stomp, stomp?

Can you nod your head yes?

Can you shake your head now?

And can you sit down very slow?

Credit: adapted from KCLS

 

If You’re Ready for a Story

(to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)

If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands.

If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands.

If you’re ready for a story, if you’re ready for a story,

If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands!

(repeat with other actions- stomp your feet/have a seat/look at me)

Credit: I picked this up when I was a classroom teacher.  Jbrary also has a nice video to watch and learn from.

 

Closing Songs

We Wave Goodbye Like This

(to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)

We wave goodbye like this,

We wave goodbye like this.

We clap our hands for all our friends!

We wave goodbye like this.

We wave goodbye really fast,

We wave goodbye really slow.

We turn around and take a bow,

And then it’s time to go!

Credit: adapted from Storytime Katie

 

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Flannel Friday: Cake Candles in a Couple Ways

Happy Winter Extravaganza everyone!  Although at a high of 58 today and with final projects right around the corner, I’m having a hard time getting in the holiday spirit… but on the bright side, I just realized this is my last Flannel Friday while in grad school!  Woohoo!

December for me means it’s time to talk about sweet treats.  Here’s a few fun cake flannels that go along well with a baking or birthday storytime theme.

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5 Little Candles

5 little candles on a cake glowing bright,

Let’s make a wish and blow them out of sight!

(repeat with 4, 3, 2, 1)

_____

Credit: original

My toddlers really enjoyed this one, but you could easily use 10 candles with preschoolers!  It was a great calming flannel after our action song.  We talked about the colors of the candles as I pulled them out, estimated how many candles we thought there were on the cake, and then counted to check.  That last darn candle sure was stubborn and required an extra large breath!  If using 10 candles, I would remove 2 or 3 with each blow.

See how I used this flannel in Letter C Toddler ST

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I’m a Little Birthday Cake

Tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”

I’m a little birthday cake, short and stout.

But I need some candles to blow out!

If you have a blue candle, please come up

And put your candles right on top!

(repeat with other colors)

____

Credit: original

I used this audience participation flannel with my family crowd and they loved it!  As always, when I passed out the candles, I encouraged the caregivers to talk with their child about the color and see if they could spot that color on their clothes or in the room.  I’m planning on making some longer candles next year so that I can give caregivers a candle as well and they can talk about whose candle is longer/shorter.  🙂

See how I used this flannel in Letter C Family ST

Many thanks to Amy for hosting this week at Catch the Possibilities!  I can’t wait to catch up with everyone’s fun flannel projects and get some wonderful winter inspiration.

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Flannel Friday: Tommy the Turkey

Happy Flannel Friday!  On a Saturday.  Because lately, that’s how I roll.  Get it?  Lately?  As in I’m late with this post?  Ha ha?  (Sorry, too many long nights doing homework!)

Although I don’t do holiday themes for storytimes, I do usually do a birds and or migration/hibernation themed storytime in November.  I just love busting out this fun audience participation flannel!

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There’s many different flannel versions of our fine feathered friend, but mine is called “Tommy the Turkey.”  It’s got a nice beat to pat or clap along to!  I also encourage the grown ups to talk about the color feather their child has as I’m passing them out.  What color is it?  Can they find that color on their clothes?  In the room?  It helps manage the controlled chaos that is passing out props during storytime!

Tommy the Turkey

to the tune of “Alice the Camel”

_____

Tommy the turkey has no feathers,

Tommy the turkey has no feathers,

Tommy the turkey has no feathers,

And poor Tommy’s cold!

(ask audience to bring up blue feathers)

 

Now Tommy the turkey has blue feathers,

Tommy the turkey has blue feathers,

Tommy the turkey has blue feathers,

But Tommy’s still cold!

(repeat with other colors, until…)

 

Tommy the turkey has lots of feathers,

Tommy the turkey has lots of feathers,

Tommy the turkey has lots of feathers,

Now go, Tommy, go!

______

Credit: Original

Pattern: click here

With toddlers I stick to colors, but with preschoolers I incorporate a little more early math skills.  After bringing up our first round of feathers, I ask the kiddos how many feathers they think Tommy has now.  After we estimate, we count and then sing “Tommy the Turkey has 5 feathers.”  I repeat this after each time we add feathers, so we also practice counting up from different numbers.  As in, “Tommy had 5 blue feathers, we added more yellow feathers, let’s count how many we have together now!”  So on and so forth.

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This is a more accurate representation of Tommy after toddlers have helpfully added his feathers.  🙂

Thanks to Shawn at Read, Rhyme and Sing for hosting this week!  To learn more about the fantastic and fun Flannel Friday initiative, I encourage you to check out the blog, Facebook group and Pinterest pages!

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