Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Storytime Anytime-Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

Am I the only person who sings this song whenever they are outside in the rain? Maybe that is just something weird that I do, but you can still enjoy this lovely video. The background dancers are spectacular!

As you have probably guessed this Storytime Anytime is all about rain! Personally, I love the rain and thunderstorms are even better.  When you are a kid, though, intense and deafening storms can be petrifying.  Reading together about thunderstorms can make them a lot less scary and a lot more fun, especially when the kids get to make all of the sound effects.

A few weeks ago we had a daycare come to the library for a story time and since we had been having frequent thunderstorms I decided to make that the theme. First I collected supplies: coffee cans, buckets, rhythm sticks, shaker eggs (eggs with rice inside), and even a few cookie sheets. Every child got something to make noise with, but were told that if they made any sound when they were not told to would lose their instrument. You can use pots, wooden spoons, cans with rice or dried pasta inside, and whatever else you can find to tap, pound, or shake.

I had several books that all featured storm-related onomatopoeia. I am so geeked that I have the chance to use that word which is so much fun to say. Onomatopoeia are words that denote sounds. For example: splat, oink, tweet, plop, kapow, etc.

Well, why just say drip drop, boom, crash, etc. when you can bang on a cookie sheet or jump up and down with shakers. Each book, like a real thunderstorm, begins with a light pitter pat, builds to a thundering crescendo, and then slowly wanes to nothing but a rainbow in the sky. The kids had to listen to the story to know when, and how fast and loud to make the rain.

Rain Song by Leslie Evans is a just a sweet little picture book about two girls playing outside on a summer day when thunder starts to rumble in the distance. Lightning's flashing trees are thrashing cymbals clashing big boom bashing!  When the story hit this point, I was a little worried that the director would come downstairs to see what the heck I was doing.

Tap Tap Boom Boom is a fairly  new picture book, but it has a fun rhyming text with lots of onomatopoeia (as if you couldn't tell from the title). This book also takes place in the city and the characters take refuge from the storm in the subway. Some of the boys in my group who were unfamiliar with big cities were fascinated by the idea of underground trains.

Here are a few other picture books featuring rain, thunderstorms, and onomatopoeia (yep I will never get tired of saying that).
Splish! Splash! A Book about Rain by Josepha Sherman
Rain! by Linda Ashman

Boom! by Mary Lyn Ray

I Love the Rain by Margaret Park Bridges

If you choose to do a craft there are a multitude of rain-themed projects to choose from.  With my daycare group we made rainbows that the kids could hang up. Depending on your child's skill with scissors you can let them cut or you can cut out for them 6 circles that descend in size. If you do not have colored paper use white and color them yourselves. Now you are going to start gluing the circles together. Glue the orange circle to the middle of the red circle, the yellow circle on the middle of the orange one and so on. Putting the circles in order by size is actually a great early math activity for toddlers and preschoolers. To make the rainbow you just fold the glued together circles like a taco. You can either staple it closed or glue it, but if you use glue do not be stingy. Tie a string to the top of the arc and your rainbow is ready to hang.

If you have some paper towel tubes and rice on hand you can make rain sticks. First prep the tube by rubber banding or taping saran wrap over over one end of the tube. Place a long, twisted piece of aluminum foil before pouring in rice, dried beans, or beads.  The aluminum foil is not required but it will give a better sound. Then seal the other side. Make sure you seal the ends tightly because you do not want dry rice spraying everywhere when kids start shaking the rain stick.  You can paint, glitterfy (New Word!), color, glue paper on, or decorate the rain stick any way you want.

On to songs! You can go with the classic It's Raining, It's Pouring, but my favorite rain song (beside the 70s classic shown above) is If All the Raindrops.  This song is from Barney (I'm sorry if you are a Barney hater). It is short, super easy, and watching the kids all stick their tongues out is funny.

The best activity for a rainy day is to go outside and walk in the mud. Yes it is dirty, but nothing beats the feeling of mud squelching between your toes and your kids will get a kick out of mom and dad getting messy with them. You can get really gross and look for worms after a rain storm too. My kids are pros at this and often compete to see who can collect the most.

Obviously, the kids in my family really, really love mud!

There it is, my thunderstorm storytime. Have fun on the next rainy day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Young Writers Club-Christmas in August

One of the biggest challenges that I face each year with the Young Writers Club is keeping it fresh, fun, and not too educational. These are kids that are taking time out of their summer vacation to come to the library and WRITE. If I want them to come back each week , it is essential that the kids laugh, goof around, and never feel like they are sitting in a classroom.  This summer I have an amazing group of kids in the Young Writers Club.  They are creative, humorous, cheerful,  and they always manage to surprise me.
Now, I am not above using bribery to get kids coming to writing club and sugar is always a great motivator. Today I made the kids cupcakes and I am sure that you are wondering why they are Christmas cupcakes.  I promise that I baked these fresh today, they were not fossilized left-overs from last December. Not only delicious (if I do say so myself) the cupcakes served as an inspiration for a group writing activity.

I asked the kids to imagine that Christmas takes place on August 25th rather than December 25th. How would homes be decorated, what traditions would there be, what would Santa ride in and what would pull it, what would Santa wear, who would be his helpers?

The kids worked in groups (because what fun would writing club be if they always worked by themselves) to brainstorm ideas and create a complete back story and setting for a summertime Christmas.

Judging by the absurd amount of giggling all of the kids seemed to really enjoy this exercise. After about a half an hour each group shared their vision of Christmas in August.

Now I was expecting to hear about decorating palm trees with sea shells, making Christmas sno-cones instead of cookies, and Santa riding a surf board pulled by dolphins. I did have two groups that at least had Santa wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but flowery shirts were about as happy as Christmas in August got. Forget peace on earth, goodwill toward men, or presents under the tree. These young wordsmiths went the grim and sometimes downright ghastly route.
My first group was Tyler, Gussie and Ruthie and they created what they called the Odd Christmas which is a futuristic dystopian spin on the holiday.
The year is 2099 and Santa Clause has legally changed his name to Mark James the Fifth. To keep from freezing to death, Christmas has been moved to August 25th. His new workshop is in the basement of Tom's Food Center where hypnotized, mind-controlled sales people are his elves. Mark James grew a mustache and dyed it green with purple polka dots. He wears a baseball cap, a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and sandals. He drives a motorcycle pulled by bunnies with a turtle in the lead. People decorate bushes and kids are enslaved by their parents till they are 50 year old so the kids do all of the decorating. Also Emerson is president (Not quite sure what that haves to do with Christmas, but hey this is their world).

Emerson, Kyle, Iggy, Evey, and Preston were my largest group and Emerson is president in their world too (surprise, surprise). This group definitely laughed the most; probably because they worked poop into their Christmas scenario.
It is the 24th century and Santa lives in Frankenmuth, MI which is no longer a happy place to visit. It is always gloomy and raining and there are deadly star bombs falling from the sky. Santa rides a motorcycle and rides around pranking people because he is jealous of everyone who is happy. Instead of presents he leaves flaming bags of poop on doorsteps. 

Instead of Santa Claus David and Zander have Banta Claws
Banta Claws pilots a ALO-G  Warthog which is a bomber plane with gatling gun in front. Banta Claws is a werewolf that wears a suit of ice that never melts. He likes to bomb people and eat them. His elves are zombies and he lives in an underground cave. Also Jack the Ripper comes back from the 1700s to help him. 

My final group surprised me the most since they were all girls and they had the most horrific Christmas in August back story. Sophie, Quincy, Ella, Natalie, and Kayla used creepy pasta for inspiration.
The color scheme for Christmas in August is purple/yellow/black. Santa Claus is actually Slenderman and he rides around on Smile Dog so children hide on Christmas eve. His elves are broken garden gnomes. 

So this was our fun and ultimately morbid group activity to warm up our imaginations.