It takes a Neighborhood to Nourish a Children’s Librarian
Allie and I have been getting lots of e-mails from you; we are so glad the content is resonating with you and that you are taking the time to grace our inboxes with your presence! I’m so excited for you to read about Allie’s flu program below. How do you go about promoting health and wellness in programs? Do you have any tips or tricks you’ve taught kids in programs, like how to properly wash hands or brush teeth? Feel free to drop us a message with your ideas and we will be sure to share them! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy our February newsletter and be sure to stay in touch through our Instagram (@thecardigannewsletter)
Deepen your knowledge on a topic related to Children’s Services.
Being able to tap along to a steady beat is an important early childhood milestone that is often found in states’ preschool music standards. Studies have shown that being able to keep a steady beat supports physical and language development, and also helps build early math skills. Whereas rhythm changes throughout a song, steady beat stays the same. Think of all of the movements we may perform throughout a day that use a beat: using scissors, dribbling a ball, walking, skipping. Researcher Phyllis Weikert found that ages 0-7 were optimal for learning to keep a steady beat with hands and feet, which makes it an important developmental practice to integrate into programs (source.)
Here are a few activities to help develop steady beat:
- Have children recite a poem or rhyme while tapping in rhythm on their bodies. Parents can also tap the beat on their children’s bodies.
- Shake props along with the steady beat while singing a song (scarves, bells, rhythm sticks, and shakers all work great!). I love this activity singing out the steady beat with Boomwhakers (you could also use rhythm sticks!) and this video using lightsabers to keep steady beat.
- Play a clapping game: clap out a beat and have the kids clap it back to you.
- March around the room to a steady beat as a group. Check out Dr. Betsy Diamant Cohen’s “marching to the drum” activity here (p.10)
- Read a book with a strong rhythmic component and tap along to the steady beat with your foot.
And here are some quick developmental tips that can be paired with the activities:
- “Learning to manipulate sounds in music prepares your child to learn how to manipulate sounds in words.”
- “The steady beat in music mimics the pace of reading.”
- “Being able to keep a steady beat is essential to everyday activities, and researchers have identified a connection between steady beat and physical coordination.”
- “Knowing how to keep a steady beat is essential to learning how to play an instrument. By focusing on the steady beat with your child now, you are equipping them with a skill to be a good musician down the road.”
- Benefits of Beats for Babies and Beyond
- Wiggins, Donna. “Pre-K Music and the Emergent Reader: Promoting Literacy in a Music-Enhanced Environment.” Early Childhood Education Journal 35, no. 1 (August 2007): 55.
- Timing in Child Development
- Duration = Beat vs. Rhythm – a great youtube video illustrating the difference between beat and rhythm
- The Ultimate Guide to Teaching Steady Beat
Jumbo Eye Droppers
Play is a right! Learn quick tips to optimize play experiences in libraries.
These jumbo eye droppers are so fun and versatile! Not only do they use fine motor skills, they can be adapted for many age groups. Here are some of my favorite eyedropper activities to use in early childhood play programs.
- Watercolor. Mix some liquid watercolor into a cup of water. Have the kids using the jumbo eye droppers to “paint” a paper towel or cotton round.
- Baking soda and vinegar. Fill container lids with baking soda and a few drops of liquid water color. Have kids fill their droppers with vinegar, and squirt it on the lid and watch the colors burst!
- Ice cube tray. Have kids fill each ice cube hole with water. You can use colored water or juice to make it more visually stimulating.
- Melting. Freeze pom poms or any toy into a bowl. Have kids fill their eye dropper with hot water to melt the ice and free the toy.
Learn about an interesting program you can easily replicate at your library
I think every children’s librarian identifies a little with Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series. We want kids to experience education, not just regurgitate information. Through our latest program for K-3rd graders called “Flu Fighters,” I was able to draw inspiration from Ms. Frizzle to create a space for kids to experience what happens in your body when the flu virus invades it.
We set up a room where kids were able pretend like they were entering the human body. We turned off the lights and had red LED lights to make it feel as if we really were inside the body. We used play tunnels as the “blood stream” and play tents for learning activities. At each “tent” we did an activity where we learned about how the flu virus replicates inside our body and how our white blood cells try to fight it. Not all children were able to participate in these activities at the same time, so we had a separate room with activities the children could do while they waited. We had stations in the waiting room that ranged from a red and white blood cell sensory bin to writing get well cards to drawing how they feel when they are sick. These stations were designed to help children use their literacy and socio-emotional skills, while the “inside the human body” room was designed to help them see the science behind the flu.
The best part of this program was watching the kids play like they were inside the human body. Kids are already so imaginative that when we give them a space to be imaginative related to real-world projects, they excel beyond measure. Health and wellness programs are also an important component that we don’t always explore with our elementary kids. This flu program gave us the opportunity to not only discuss the science of the flu, but also proper hand-washing techniques to prevent us from getting sick. Check out the full instructions and supply list here.
Libraries are for everyone!
The ALSC competencies cites that children’s librarians should be able to “acknowledge the importance of physical space to engage and foster learning, and establish appropriate environments for programs that respond to developmental needs and abilities.” It is not only the physical space that we must think of, but we should also consider our content, even at the most basic level of fingerplays in storytime.
When doing fingerplays, counting games with fingers, or talking about body parts in storytime, I always like to scan the room to see if everyone has ten fingers. This can seem like a small matter, but some children do not have access to all their fingers. In order to make sure everyone feels included, try the suggestions below:
- Instruct the kids to use their parents’ fingers for the counting and fingerplay.
- Suggest to parents and kids that they can use toes for counting too!
- If your storytime crowd is a little older (pre-school age), ask them to pair up and help each other do the fingerplay/counting activity.
Discover new people to follow online
I find myself turning more and more to Occupational Therapists’ blogs and Facebook pages to find activities for children. Not only do they have great ideas, they do an incredible job identifying the underlying developmental benefit of each one. Here are some of my favorite OTs on the Internet:
The Inspired Treehouse The Inspired Treehouse is a site maintained by an OT and PT. Their Facebook page is fun to peruse, and the list of 400 activities on their website something else. You’ll never run out of ideas! I’m also super excited about their new book Playful Learning Lab for Kids: Whole-Body Sensory Adventures to Enhance Focus, Engagement, and Curiosity.
The OT Toolbox This site is incredibly organized. The menu at the top allows you to filter for different skills and developmental outcomes. The blog entries range from very simple activities to more complex tasks.
OT Mom. A collection of short and illustrated activities broken down by developmental area. I love this one because it is geared towards a non-OT audience so the language is clear and simple.
Some of my favorite posts:
- Development-Boosting Toys for Babies
- Make Your Own Worms
- Using carrot peels for sensory play
- Train Themed Sensory Ideas
Elementary Historical Fiction
Some of our favorite books.
Inevitably I’ll have either a homeschool family or a public school elementary student approach me about finding a historical fiction book for an assignment. Below are some of my favorites!
Precision of Language
Where we reflect on the deeper questions.
OT Mom has written a great blog post highlighting different kinds of fine motor activities. She argues that an activity that uses fine motor skills is different from one that actually develops fine motor skills. Coloring uses (or requires) fine motor skills but it’s not going to actually increase a child’s fine motor development if they are behind in this area. Therefore, claiming that coloring develops fine motor skills is inaccurate. She includes a great list of activities that are oriented towards development, many of which can be used in library programs.
This post was convicting for me, as I’m often quick to justify an activity by claiming that it develops such and such skill. Moving forward, I want to reflect on what skill an activity is targeting and use the proper verb. You can also read OT Mom’s post differentiating between Occupational Therapy and Occupational Therapy activities replicated by a caregiver.
Bonus: E-mail us the title of the book this meme is inspired by and we will mail one lucky winner a copy of Kate DiCamillo’s newest book, Louisiana’s Way Home.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ask” in the subject line with any library-related question. We will do our best to answer, but if we can’t, we will bring in an expert.
The other day in a program with a community partner, an early childhood educator did a rendition of Robert Munsch’s ‘Mortimer’ without a book. I wondered if you have some other recommendations of books and stories that can be performed without books or props for a large audience of pre-schoolers?
—Fiona from Cumberland Public Libraries
What a great question! I have done Stone Soup and Bark, George before without the book, but I included props. For Stone Soup, I printed out pictures of different vegetables and each child was able to participate in the story by bringing a vegetable to the pot when their vegetable was called. You can watch the [embarrassing] video of the storytime as I had to upload it for one of my classes in 2016.
For Bark, George I used some puppets to illustrate all the animals that were inside George.
A co-worker of mine also used Froggy Gets Dressed as a felt story, but I can see it easily being a story to tell without the felt. The story is about Froggy wanting to play in the snow, but he keeps forgetting different items of clothing. It would be a great story to talk about different items of clothing and dressing for different seasons!
We crowd-sourced our wonderful Instagram followers and below are some of their suggestions!
- @kelambreon: Maybe Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Ten Little Monkeys or one of Denise Fleming’s books.
- @nicoleannepurvis: One Was Johnny by Maurice Sendak
- @lisabintrim: Goodnight Yoga by Mariam Gates
- @andizor: Sausages by Jessica Souhami
- @amybrown42: Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle
- @jazzleberg: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell and Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
- @teacher2library: Klippity Klop by Ed Emberly
- @fortbethany: Bark, George
- @sewbookish: Fat Cat by Margaret Read MacDonald
- @hamsterlybeach: Mortimer by Robert Munsch
Back in February of 2018, I was hired to be the Children’s Librarian for the Sherman Public Library in Sherman, Texas. In April of the same year, I went to my first Texas Library Association conference (TLA) and I went to a table where we found a vendor promoting STEM with a 3-D Pen making a spider. My boss bought one pen so that we could play with it with the prospects of maybe doing an adult program later on. A few months pass and a local school reached out to me because they were having their first annual STEM night and wanted the library to participate. I said yes we would love to, but I had no idea what we would do. I went to my boss and she gave me the idea of doing something with the 3-D pen as it is STEM related. Before anything, I needed to play with the 3-D pen and figure out what to kids were going to do with it. I googled stencils that would be easy for the kids to follow (and myself 😉 ) and I found a stencils that had different levels of difficulty.
- Glasses (Easy)
- Unicorn (Medium)
- Bike (Hard)
We only had one pen, so my boss went to amazon, (a librarian’s best friend when you need something fast) and we ordered 8 3-D Pens and two boxes of filament with assorted colors (same filament you would use for a 3-D printer). On the night of the STEM night, I arrived an hour and a half early to set up as I needed electricity and I set up the pens with copies of the 3 different stencils. It only took me 30 min to get it up and running (the STEM night officially started at 7:00) it was 6 o’clock and I had one child pass by our table and ask, “Can I try it”, and I said, “sure”. Next thing I knew, the library’s table was full children, mostly making glasses, for the next 3 hours. It was a HUGE hit, because the kids could proudly wear their sunglasses after they completed them. After the STEM event, I had my my teens make 3-D Christmas ornaments to hang on our library Christmas tree, which was also a hit. Instead of drawing on the paper stencil and then peeling your creation off, I had a few left of picture frames from another project and decided to put the stencil in the picture frame and had the kids draw on top of the glass. The end result is a much smoother finish and saving a lot of paper. Below are pictures of our creations. Enjoy!
Katherine co-led a webinar on February 14th for ALA, and we want to share the content with you! You can access all of the slides here. Feel free to e-mail Katherine with any questions or follow-up.
You can access a PDF of this newsletter in our Google Drive. This is where we will be storing all future newsletters.
Logo by Thomas Freeman