Saturday, April 19, 2014

Butterflies in the Garden

The Garden Variety Librarian has retired! Having left my library job, I won't be posting about storytime and crafts and children's programs anymore. (Not that I was much lately anyway.) I might still post about the occasional book. We'll see. (As I used to always say to my own kids when I wasn't quite ready to say "no.")

Less library time means more garden time for lucky me. Here are a couple of  pictures I took today of butterflies in the garden.

 This is a pipevine swallowtail butterfly.  Both these butterflies find red valerian (centranthus rubra) very enticing.
And this is a western tiger swallowtail butterfly.  This one has been hanging around the valerian all day, coming and going. I can tell that it is the same butterfly I saw this morning because it is missing one of its swallowtails.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


We've been doing squirrels and apples and nuts and leaves and all kinds of fall things for storytime in the last couple of weeks. But my number #1 hit has been the Popcorn Song.

I got this idea from Mel's Desk, a wonderful source of flannelboard ideas and all kinds of good stuff for storytime. You can see her version of the Popcorn Song and flannelboard pieces here. She even has a template for the felt popcorn. Mine look a little different from hers, since I layered another white piece on top of the base white piece.

Mel's rhyme goes like this:

Five little kernels sizzling in the pot
All of a sudden, one went POP!

I added a little bit:

Five little kernels sizzling in the pot.
Shake 'em, shake 'em, shake 'em,
Shake 'em till they're hot---
 All of a sudden, one kernel went POP!

Four little kernels, etc.

When we sing "shake 'em" we shake our arms back and forth like we are shaking a pan on the stove.

Like Mel says, the impact of this activity comes from the fun of popping the popcorn on top of a kernel with each POP!  The kids clap and I slap a popcorn on top of a kernel. Then we do it again until all five kernels are popped. Wow, they liked that one! And so easy.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sock Hop!

I always like doing themes that are part of kids' everyday world, and what is more basic than shoes and socks? In fact, one of my little "time-wasters" at the beginning of storytime is to talk about what kind of shoes kids are wearing. (A "time-waster" is something to fill up a bit of time while we wait for more kids to arrive.)

Now I have a new way to look at shoes. Today we sang about pink shoes, flip-flops, and light-up shoes:

Old shoes, new shoes,  ______ is wearing _______ shoes,
One, two, three, four -- now I stomp them on the floor.

Lots of stomping with that one. All the rest of storytime was all about socks. We read:

  Have You Seen My New Blue Socks, by Eve Bunting, with illustrations by Sergio Ruzzier.  This is a new 2013 book, with a rhyming text reminiscent of Fox in Socks. Duck can't find his new blue socks. Who can help him? Fox, Ox, or the Peacocks?

Socks Heaven, by Pauline Young, illustrated by Benny Lau.  This book is from 2003 and probably not easy to find. I got my copy at a Reading the World conference in San Francisco several years ago.

Sam has a super selection of socks, but two of them are missing. In his dreams he travels to Socks Heaven, where everything---the trees, the birds, the swimming pool---are in the shape of socks. It's a colorful story that any child (or mom) can relate to.

We sang:

Hickory dickory dock
Let's put on our socks
We'll walk around without a sound
When we put on our socks.

Some of the kids had socks on, and some didn't, but we took off our shoes, pretended to put on socks, and walked around without a sound. We also tried "hop around," "slide around," and "dance around."

I am trying to build a library of flannelboard stories that includes more interactive sets. A sock theme is ideal for a matching game. I made a dozen pairs of felt socks in a variety of colors and patterns. I handed out one sock of pair to each child. (Luckily I didn't have more than a dozen children.)

We sang:

Oh where, oh where did my yellow sock go?
Oh where, oh where can it be?
It has green triangles all over it,
Oh where, oh where can it be?

Each time I put up a sock, and sang about it, and then the child with the matching sock brought it up and put it on the board.

This was a lot of fun, and it not only teaches colors and shapes, but good vocabulary words like stripes, zig-zags, dots, and squiggles. My socks are about 5 inches high heel to top. If you cut them a little smaller, you could fit them more easily on the board. On the other hand, if the socks are smaller, the decorations will have to be smaller too, and that might mean some very fiddly cutting.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pigeon Party Fun

Our final activity for the Summer Library Program 2013 was a Pigeon Party yesterday. The Pigeon loves to party! and everyone had a great time

First, the Pigeon welcomed everyone to the party. I made the Pigeon from blue poster board. One sheet was enough---the head was cut separately in the space next to his neck. If you need a little help, Mo Willems has some instruction on how to draw the Pigeon. I just did it by copying the picture on Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, with some measuring of proportions, like how long his neck is compared to his body.

His legs are made out of pipe cleaners. Two black pipe cleaners were enough to make his two legs. Then I tacked him to an easel with fun tack, and the Pigeon was ready to party!

The first thing the kids did was make pigeon headbands. That gave late arrivals time to come in. Then when all the headbands were on, we did the Pigeon Dance. This is the same thing as the Chicken Dance. The kids have lots of fun dancing the Pigeon---the only problem is that you end up with the tune in your head forever.

After dancing, we watched two Weston Woods animations of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog. I got the DVDs from Amazon for what I think is a good price.

I had two more activities for the kids. With the help of my teen volunteers, they made pigeon cookies. Here's what you need to make a pigeon cookie:

1 sugar cookie
1 vanilla wafer
1 Hershey's kiss
2 butterscotch chips
Vanilla frosting colored blue

Spread blue frosting on the sugar cookie. Place a vanilla wafer on top (the pigeon's eyeball.) Unwrap the kiss and put a dab of frosting on the bottom. Place it on the vanilla wafer. Place the two butterscotch chips in the frosting on one side of the cookie to make the beak.

When I made this sample cookie today for the picture, I didn't have the butterscotch chips on hand, so as you see, I substituted a couple triangles of yellow paper, just so you can see what it is supposed to look like.

Can you see the Pigeon?

I found this idea somewhere on the Web, but I don't know where. Thanks to whoever came up with the idea!  The kids loved it.

While half the kids were making their pigeon cookies, the other half were drawing picture. I had coloring sheets that I put together with a picture of the Pigeon and the headline Don’t Let the Pigeon . . . .  and The Pigeon Wants . . .  They came up with The Pigeon Wants A Bicycle!  The Pigeon Wants to Fly a Jet! But . . . Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Limo, and Don’t Let the Pigeon Go Hunting!  

Monday, June 17, 2013

2nd Annual Stuffed Animal Sleepover Party

For the second year, Orland kids and their bedtime pals had a fun time at the Stuffed Animal Sleepover Party on June 14th. We had so much fun last year that we decided to do it again. This activity is the kick-off event for the Summer Library Program.

We welcomed the animals to the party by making tags for them that said:  "Hi! My name is _____ and I belong to ______." Each critter got a tag so we would know which one belonged to whom for the overnight stay.
The kids sat on a couple big picnic quilts for the puppet show. We did two short puppet plays, one based on I Will Surprise My Friend, by Mo Willems, and the other based on Sitting Down to Eat, a song by Bill Harley.

Our craft activity was making jointed teddy bears or bunnies. These were cut out of cardstock with an Accucut die, and put together with brads. Embellishments as desired.

The teddy bears were trickier to put together than I realized, and some of the younger children needed quite a bit of help. I had plenty of kits and plenty of brads. I did have a shortage of hole punches. They had to make a small hole for the very small brads that we were using, so that meant that half my hole punches didn't qualify. One hole punch per table wasn't enough.
After the craft we laid out the quilts and the kids tucked their animals in and said goodnight to their little buddies.  Goodnight, critters!
The critters had a great time overnight in the library, as you can see. They read books, did puzzles, got on computers, played in the antique card catalog, and hung out with their friends.

In the morning, the bedtime buddies all sat patiently on the couch until picked up by their friends. Every child got a photo of what his buddy was doing in the library at night.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Down on the Farm

Fun on the farm today! The wonderful women from the Glenn County Farm Bureau--Lisa, Betsy, Sarah, and Dairy Princess Stacey joined us for storytime and the kids loved it. Who doesn't love seeing a princess with a tiara, a sash, and cowboy boots?

We read The Milk Makers, by Gail Gibbons and How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? by Chris Butterworth. Both books were donated to the library by the Farm Bureau. They were both a little long for my storytime crowd, but it wasn't difficult to adapt them. The lunchbox book shows where bread, cheese, tomatoes, carrots, apple juice, and chocolate chips come from. Guess what? They don't all come out of the refrigerator!

Here we are doing a fingerplay:

Here is a bunny with ears so funny,
And here is his hole in the ground.
When a noise he hears,
He pricks up his ears,
And hops in his hole in the ground.

That's Buffy the magic hen next to my arm. When I squeezed her she laid a plastic egg into Princess Stacey's hand, and then Stacey opened the egg to find the colored chick and the name of the next story inside.

Next we sang:

There was a farmer had a cow
And Daisy was her name, O!
D-A-I-S-Y! D-A-I-S-Y!  D-A-I-S-Y!
And Daisy was her name, O!

(To the tune of BINGO, of course.)

It's a little tricky singing DAISY when you are used to singing BINGO, so that was good practice for the kids. They got it very quickly.

The Farm Bureau folks supplied cups, potting soil, and seeds for our craft. I added colored craft sticks and bug foam shapes so that they could add a label to their bean-in-a-cup. They decorated the sticks with their names and whatever else they liked, plus a bee, a butterfly, or a dragonfly on top. Doesn't get any easier than that!

We are going to be on the news too!  A reporter and cameraman from Channel 12 came and took pictures of storytime, and interviewed Princess Stacey. What an exciting day, thanks to the Farm Bureau!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Groundhog Day

Did you ever wonder what the heck is Groundhog Day? Have you ever tried to explain it to a 3-year-old?  Good luck!

I might not bother with Groundhog Day for pre-school storytime, except that I have such a good craft to go with it. But it is easier to explain shadows than it is groundhogs (who don't even live in our part of the country), so the emphasis today was on shadows.

We read Gregory's Shadow, by Don Freeman, the story of a groundhog who gets separated from his shadow. After some mild adventures they find each other just in time for Groundhog Day.

We also read My Shadow, a poem by Robert Lewis Stevenson, with illustrations by Ted Rand. The illustrations are big and clear, and show a variety of children from all around the world.

We also talked quite a bit about shadows.

I found a great little groundhog story at the Read It Again! blog. It's a very simple story, just right for the little guys, about a young groundhog who keeps popping up to see his shadow. Each time he comes up he sees the shadow (a black silhouette) of some other animal. I had a horse, a squirrel, a duck, a frog, and a butterfly. Although I made the groundhog and his shadow myself, I used the die cutter at the Glenn County Office of Education to cut the other animal shapes out of felt. That's the easy way to do it. The kids really enjoyed telling me what the shapes were and anticipating the next one.

Here is our easy-peasy craft:

Pop-Up Groundhog

Card stock groundhog cut-out
Sticker eyes
Craft stick
Paper cup

Pop-ups are always fun, and a big hit with the kids.