Monday, July 10, 2017

Split-Panel Books: Writing Parties for Primary Grade Kids

At tomorrow's Writing Party for Primary Grade Kids (previously named "Creative Writing for Beginning Readers"), we are going to make split-panel books that let you turn half of the page to create a funny new person or animal. Our inspiration for this workshop will be the book A Cheese and Tomato Spider by Nick Sharratt.

There are supposedly over a hundred different sentences you can make by turning the different panels--I haven't tried myself, but I believe them! And the book is great for a storytime or a large group, because the pictures are so big and bold.

Personally, I have a certain order I like to read the book in. I like to make silly things happen to the grandma. She goes from being a "strawberry flavored granny" to an "exploding granny" while the pictures show her head changing in shape from ice cream scoops to a volcano.

This book can teach kids many different English language concepts, from sentence structure to parts of speech. You can start by identifying the pattern in the book (Interjection, Article, Adjective, Noun) and asking the kids to create a few sentences as a group that would fit into Sharratt's pattern.

When making split panel books with children at the library, I have black-and-white pictures of people and animals that I've downloaded from the Internet and cropped to be just the right size to fill the right half of one letter-sized paper in landscape orientation. I try to make sure the body parts line up at least somewhat, with the feet, head and stomach more or less interchangeable. It's never as perfect as Sharratt's flawless illustrations, but it works! You could have students draw their own illustrations, but I find this method saves time for learning the writing concept.

I make copies of the pictures and cut them out, and scatter them all over the table along with scissors and glue sticks. I let kids glue the pictures into blank books I've created simply by folding several plain letter sheets and stapling them very close to the fold.

After the pictures are glued, you take a pair of scissors and cut the pages down the middle--but tell the kids to be careful not to cut clear across the fold of the book! Then I like to draw silly additions to the pictures, but that's optional. I encourage the kids to write something on the opposite side of each picture. There are different sentence formulas you could use. You could use Sharratt's Interjection-Article-Adjective-Noun formula, or you could create a different one. My preferred sentence formula for this activity is Subject-Predicate. The top half describes the animal or person and the bottom describes something the animal or person is doing.

I always make a sample book so that the kids see that indeed you CAN turn those blank pages into something funny!

If you liked this workshop idea, stay tuned for information about my book, 36 Workshops to Get Kids Writing: From Aliens to Zebras, which will be published by ALA Editions this November!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Bears Storytime

I recently saw a live bear in the wild, while on a hike up at Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was scary! You may not know this, but bears can run as fast as a horse can, at short distances. You have to be very careful and keep a very large distance from bears in the wild. So for today's Preschool Storytime, I was in the mood for some books about bears. I got some great ideas from the book Transforming Preschool Storytime by Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Melanie A. Hetrick.
(Speaking of Diamant-Cohen, I was very fortunate to be able to meet her a few weeks ago at ALA!)
Transforming Preschool Storytime gives librarians ways to sustain early literacy learning over several weeks by continuing a storytime theme and exploring that theme through all different kinds of books, songs, and rhymes. Kids not only hear the stories but act them out and retell them, which are very important literacy skills. Although I cannot commit to doing an extended series of storytimes all around a theme (at our library we rotate who does storytime every week), I did find a lot of great ideas in the book that I incorporated in today's storytime.

Books I Shared


Our first story, Bear's Big Breakfast by Lynn Rowe Reed and illustrated by Brett Helquist, is a fun, alliterative romp through the forest where Bear is hungry for something beginning with "B." The bunny, bat, bee, bluebird and boa constrictor are all eager to help him find a better meal than them!


Our second book, Bear Cubs by Anne Wendorff, was the perfect nonfiction introduction to how a bear spends its first several weeks as a blind cub before it grows into the fearsome creature we know and love! Just enough text to make this book good for sharing with preschoolers.


Our third book, That's (Not) Mine by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant, was about two bears who are having trouble sharing a chair. The law that "I'm sitting in it, so it's mine," isn't working out so well for them, and they just keep arguing. (Sound like any of your kids?)

Flannel Board Story

Goldilocks and the Three Bears


I told this folktale with flannel pieces and I asked the kids to hold up a hand whenever I said an opposite. This was an idea I read about in Transforming Preschool Storytime. So when we said, "The porridge in the big bowl was too hot," we held up one hand. When we said "The porridge in the medium-sized bowl was too cold," we held up our other hand. And when we said, "The porridge in the smallest bowl was just right," we clapped our hands together!

You can read a retelling of this story at http://www.hellokids.com/c_27878/reading-learning/stories-for-children/classic-stories-for-children/goldilocks-and-the-three-bears. There are a lot of great book versions of this fable, interpreted by different authors and illustrators. You can view them here in our online catalog.

Video We Shared



Our film story, based on the book Happy Birthday Moon by Frank Asch, is a sweet story about a little bear who thinks he is talking with the moon when he hears his voice echoed to him. His simple but generous heart motivates him to seek out a hat for the moon's birthday, and also to apologize to the moon for losing the hat it gave him for his birthday.

Songs and Rhymes We Shared Without Music

The following two songs we sang with jingle bells, shaker eggs, drums and other percussion instruments! Pease Porridge Hot Pease porridge hot
Pease porridge cold
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old

Some like it hot
Some like it cold
Some like it in the pot
Nine days old

This Little Bear (I adapted the song "This Old Man" to include bears and the musical instruments I have)

This little bear, she played one
She played knick knack on her drum
With a knick knack paddy whack
Give a dog a bone
This little bear came rolling home

This little bear, he played two
He played jingle bells on my shoe
With a jingle jangle
Give a dog a bone
This little bear came rolling home

This little bear, she played three
She played shaker eggs on my knee
With a shake shake, shakey shake
Give a dog a bone
This little bear came rolling home

This little bear, he played four
He played tap tap on the floor
With a tap tap tappy tap
Give a dog a bone
This little bear came rolling home

We're Going on a Bear Hunt (much abbreviated from the book by Michael Rosen)

(pat knees to the beat)
We're going on a bear hunt
We're going to catch a big one
I'm not scared!
What's up ahead?
...Grass.
Long, wavy grass.
We can't go over it
We can't go under it
Oh, no.
We have to go THROUGH it.
swishy, swashy... (rub hands together)


We're going on a bear hunt
We're going to catch a big one
I'm not scared!
What's up ahead?
...Mud.
Thick, oozy mud.
We can't go over it
We can't go under it
Oh, no.
We have to go THROUGH it.
squelch, squerch... (stomp feet)


We're going on a bear hunt
We're going to catch a big one
I'm not scared!
What's up ahead?
...A cave.
A dark, scary cave.
We can't go over it
We can't go under it
Oh, no.
We have to go THROUGH it.
tiptoe, tiptoe...


What's that?
Two bright eyes,
Two furry ears,
One big nose...
It's a BEAR!


Quick, out of the cave! Tiptoe, tiptoe...
Back through the mud! Squelch, squerch...
Back through the grass! Swishy, swashy...


Back to our house. Open the door,
Run up the stairs--
Oh, no! We forgot to shut the door!
Run back down the stairs...
Shut the door (creeeaak)
Back upstairs!
Into the bedroom!
Under the covers!


WE'RE NEVER GOING ON A BEAR HUNT AGAIN.

The Other Day I Saw a Bear
We also sang this call-and-response song. The verses are call-and-response style at first, then they go into unison. I first learned this song when I was a young Girl Scout. I used to avoid doing longer songs like this at storytime, but recently I've branched out into more call-and-response songs and I think they're an important way to build early literacy and really cement the lyrics in the child's memory!

The other day (The other day)
I saw a bear (I saw a bear)
A great big bear (A great big bear)
Away up there (Away up there)

The other day I saw a bear
A great big bear away up there

He looked at me (He looked at me)
I looked at him (I looked at him)
He sized up me (He sized up me)
I sized up him (I sized up him)

He looked at me, I looked at him
He sized up me, I sized up him

He said to me (He said to me)
"Why don't you run? ("Why don't you run?)
I see you ain't (I see you ain't)
got any gun." (got any gun.")

He said to me "Why don't you run?
I see you ain't got any gun."

And so I ran (And so I ran)
away from there (away from there)
but right behind (but right behind)
me was that bear! (me was that bear!)

And so I ran away from there
but right behind me was that bear!

Ahead of me (Ahead of me)
I saw a tree (I saw a tree)
A great big tree (A great big tree)
Oh lucky me! (Oh lucky me!)

Ahead of me I saw a tree
A great big tree Oh lucky me!

The lowest branch (The lowest branch)
was ten feet up. (was ten feet up.)
I had to jump (I had to jump)
and trust my luck! (and trust my luck!)

The lowest branch was ten feet up.
I had to jump and trust my luck!

And so I jumped (And so I jumped)
into the air (into the air)
But I missed that branch (But I missed that branch)
away up there. (away up there.)

And so I jumped into the air
But I missed that branch away up there.

Now don't you fret (Now don't you fret)
and don't you frown (and don't you frown)
cuz I caught that branch (cuz I caught that branch)
on my way down! (on my way down!)

Now don't you fret and don't you frown
cuz I caught that branch on my way down!

That's all there is. (That's all there is.)
There is no more (There is no more)
until I meet (until I meet)
that bear once more. (that bear once more.)

That's all there is. There is no more
until I meet that bear once more.


Music from CDs We Shared

I love to sing and dance to music. Here's the song and CD recording that we sang as our opening song for today's storytime.



“Clap Everybody and Say Hello” from Sally Go Round the Sun by Kathy Reid-Naiman



Clap everybody and say hello, (clap hands)
Clap everybody and say hello,
Clap everybody and say hello,
No matter what the weather.

Stamp everybody and say hello, (stomp feet)
Stamp everybody and say hello,
Stamp everybody and say hello,
No matter what the weather.

Wiggle everybody and say hello, (wiggle)
Wiggle everybody and say hello,
Wiggle everybody and say hello,
No matter what the weather.

Jump everybody and say hello, (jump)
Jump everybody and say hello,
Jump everybody and say hello,
No matter what the weather.

Sing everybody and say hello, (wave hi)
Sing everybody and say hello,
Sing everybody and say hello,
No matter what the weather.


Continue the Fun

If you want more stories about bears, try these!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Using Great Books to Teach Writing Great Hooks



At my Kids' Writing Workshop yesterday, I updated a lesson I created a few years ago about writing engaging beginnings. I combed through the upper middle grade books at our library and looked through all of my favorites, seeing if the first line was something I would hold up as an example of a great "hook."


 You'll notice the selection of books is very eclectic. It's something I try to keep in mind when planning workshops for kids who have all different reading interests.

Not all good books have a gripping first line, but of the ones that do, I found a lot of patterns. I grouped these into five categories:

1. Give the Reader a Sense of Urgency and Danger (Adventure, Thriller)

The house is falling in. 
The house is falling in and Danny is falling, knees and elbows crumpling onto the floor, and an earsplitting crash is tearing through the air—that’s surely the roof, breaking in two, about to come pelting down on top of him.

--The Bookof Storms by Ruth Hatfield


2. Tug on the Reader’s Heart Strings (Sympathy, often for poverty or loss, often sad)

            It was fun at first, playing house.
            I made all my own meals.  Crackers and cheese, three times a day.
                        --Love,Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

            Wilhelmina knew that there were some houses that had glass in every window and locks on the doors. 
            The farmhouse in which she lived was not one of them.

                        --Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell

3. Make the Reader Scratch His Head (Humor, Strangeness, Mystery)

            On the morning I was scheduled to die, a large barefoot man with a bushy red beard waddled past my house.  The thirty-degree temperature didn’t seem to bother him, but he must have had a lousy breakfast, because he let out a burp as loud as a tuba. 
            Belching barefoot giants who look like Vikings are not normal in Belleville, Indiana.  But I didn’t really get a chance to see the guy closely.
            At that moment, I, Jack McKinley, was under attack in my own bedroom.  By a flying reptile.
--The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

How five crows managed to lift a twenty-pound baby boy into the air was beyond Prue, but that was certainly the least of her worries.  In fact, if she were to list her worries right then and there as she sat spellbound on the park bench and watched her little brother, Mac, carried aloft in the talons of these five black crows, puzzling out just how this feat was being done would likely come in dead last.  First on the list: Her baby brother, her responsibility, was being abducted by birds.  A close second: What did they plan on doing with him?
--Wildwood by Colin Meloy

4. Speak to the Reader Like a Trusted Friend (Narrative voice, Show the reader who you are)

            We only have a few hours, so listen carefully.
            If you’re hearing this story, you’re already in danger.  Sadie and I might be your only chance.
                        --TheRed Pyramid by Rick Riordan

            My name is Charlie Joe Jackson, and I hate reading.  And if you’re reading this book, you hate reading, too. 
            In fact, you do whatever you can to avoid reading, and the fact that you’re holding a book in your hand right now is kind of shocking.
            I know exactly how you feel; I’m one of you.
            Just remember: you are not alone.  We’ll get through this together.
--Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald       

            All I’ve ever wanted is for Juli Baker to leave me alone.  For her to back off—you know, just give me some space.
                        --Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen


5. Set the Scene (Not Just The Setting! Tie it to plot, themes, meaning of book)

            There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.  There once was a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas.  That was over a hundred years ago.  Now it is just a dry, flat wasteland.
--Holes by Louis Sachar

            The fjord is freezing over. I watch it from the edge of the cliff near our hall, and each day the ice claims more of the narrow winding of ocean. It squeezes out the waves and the blue-black water, while it squeezes us in. Just as Father intended it to. Winter is here to wall us up, to bury us in snow and keep us safe.
                        --Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby





After we read these excerpts and talked about each writing style, I read selections from five other middle grade books and asked the kids which category each one would fall under:
The kids really got into analyzing these opening lines for what kind of opening they represented. I love it when I see kids realize there are principles and theories that they can apply to their own writing.

Then we did an activity: the kids had to write two different openings to a story, and their peers voted on which one they liked better by holding up "A" or "B." I find that the method of having everyone vote on their favorite version is a kind and encouraging way of giving kids feedback on which piece was the most effective. The kids read their pieces aloud. We all guessed what kind of opening they wrote (1, 2, 3, 4 or 5) and then we voted which ones we liked best.

Here's a photo from when I did this a few years ago:


The other thing I like about this is that they can see that different people respond to different things. It's all very subjective, and that's how writing is.

I encouraged everyone to read The Tiara on the Terrace or The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher, because she's going to be our guest instructor for our next workshop! I told the kids that I would have a prize for whoever asked Kristen the best question, and then they rushed to grab the library copies of her books.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Music Literacy in the Library

A while back, parents in my local school district were surveyed about what needs there are for kids in the community. Many parents expressed a need for more music. That got me thinking, as a children's librarian, about how I could bring more music programs to kids at the library, and how I could connect that to literacy.

Then I discovered a great partnership in the person of this music educator I know who had come to one of our Educator Nights at the library: Dayita Datta. She came to me and pitched an idea for a music program for kids to introduce them to all kinds of concepts about music, while keeping the focus on singing, dancing and having fun. 

Yesterday we got to try out that program here, just as a one-time thing because of budget limitations. It was awesome. She had the kids dancing, singing, clapping rhythms, playing the metallophone. But literacy was deeply involved in the program all the way through: in the books she presented, in the ways she "sang" the books, and in the ways the kids anticipated outcomes and participated in repetition and rhymes. 

Here are a few of the books Dayita shared:

Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree



First this book starts out illustrating an English song, then it changes to a "music map" with chestnuts rising and falling to indicate the rise and fall of the melody, and growing bigger or smaller to indicate how long to hold each note.


I loved the music literacy applications of that! Eventually, what the kids see is the official sheet music of what they just sang.

Fortunately



Dayita didn't just read this book--she sang it on chant pitches, and encouraged the kids to come in on chanted "Oh yes!" and "Oh no!"




Freight Train



Playing a train whistle, Dayita taught the kids about the difference between rhythm and tempo. She kept the same rhythm but changed the tempo, or speed. Then she read the book, playing the whistle and inviting kids to clap along.






I hope I can have Dayita back at my library because there are a lot of possibilities I think she could explore with the kids if we were able to hire her for a longer series!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

My Takeaways from Library 2.017

In a few months I am going to assist my colleagues in teaching an Internet Safety and Digital Literacy program for kids, so it was perfect timing to attend today's Library 2.017: Digital Literacy and Fake News worldwide conference! Here are the top 3 concepts I took away from it:

Show Kids What a Web Page Looks Like From the Inside
When teaching kids about digital literacy and using the Internet for research, it's important that they have some concept of web coding, so that they know how easy it is to put a website together. This was mentioned in the presentation by Sarah FitzHenry and Kim Wilkens, and it resonated strongly with me because when I took my first HTML web design class in library school, it opened my eyes to how websites work, and how easy it is for any crook with an Internet connection and a laptop to create a webpage that looks exactly like a legitimate official site. For this reason, I definitely see myself using the X-Ray Goggles and the 45-min lesson that Kim created to teach web literacy.

Also, I just love their interactive, fun approach to teaching kids how to dissect fake news on the web. You can read more about that in this School Library Journal article.

(I would love to teach a full web design class for kids one of these days. And if I do, I think I'll be using the resources Mozilla created here!)

Don't Anchor -- Dig Deeper
I learned this one from Mark E. Moran. A lot of kids stop at the first Google result that looks like it has the information they are looking for. They often never get to the best stuff, which may be hidden as deep as 53 results in. Good researchers have to be persistent; you always have to be willing to go a little further than the first results page.

And probably my favorite concept for kids, also from Mark E. Moran:

Batman's Tool Belt
Batman wouldn't use just one research tool. He likes having a full toolkit with all kinds of gadgets. Kids need to learn to use more than just Google--use their school library, their public library, online databases, and search engines like the one Mark created for students: http://www.sweetsearch.com/




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hello world!

My name is AnnMarie Hurtado, and I'm a children's librarian and I'm always looking for great ideas to inspire and motivate kids to read and writer. I'm starting this blog to collect and share my own ideas, the books I recommend for kids, the ideas I find on the Internet.

I work at a public library serving children of all ages, but for the last few years I've worked hard to increase our services to the kids in kindergarten-3rd grade. I do a bilingual reading program called Lucha Libros, various science programs which I write about on my blog at Science in the Library, creative writing for kids 5-8 years old, creative writing for tweens 9-12 years old, and TONS of storytimes. Realizing that what I do is primarily focused on making young readers and young writers feel excited about coming to the library and reading books, I've set up this blog to share the ways I try to do that.

I hope this blog can be a resource for you teachers, librarians, parents and caregivers out there hungry for new books and ideas to take children's early literacy or emerging literacy to new levels of fun!