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 soon!

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 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?
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?
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!


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!