Parachute ideas for all kinds of programs!

Stumped for ideas for using the parachute at storytime?

Think outside the picture books stacks!

Here are some great ideas for incorporating material from other areas of your collection.

Want to make your own clip art?

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started!

Some easy ways to spice up your site!

Be sure to suggest your favorites in the comments!

Ideas for incorporating factual materials into storytime

There is lots of great nonfiction for kids out there. If I missed your favorite, leave a comment!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

8 Tips for Surviving Outdoor Storytime

This summer I did my first ever outdoor storytime. Actually I did about 12 of them. And I learned A LOT! Some of these are things that are also applicable to indoor storytime, but they had a heightened drama being outside.

1) Be prepared. Bring Kleenex, even if your allergies are not as bad as mine. Seriously, this summer has just been terrible. Someone in your audience will have bad allergies. That someone will be grateful. That someone is me. A bottle of water is also a lifesaver.

2) Be prepared to improvise (even more than you might need to in the library where you would be able to grab any forgotten/spare supplies or materials). You will probably forget something. One time it was a poor little felt turtle that got left behind where I had been practicing my felt board story. Today I temporarily blew out the portable speaker attached to my iPod that I use for storytime (easier than lugging around and plugging in a CD player). So I sang acapella, with apologies to Jim Gill. This was actually a lot of fun. I pretended I couldn't remember the words and this kids reminded me which verse of "Jump Up, Turn Around" we were on. Next time it happens (oh, it will happen again some time) I will invent some verses too. Maybe hopping on one foot or something?

3)Kids love a stuffed dog. They were happier to see the stuffed dog than me. Oh well. I guess I can't compete.

4) Be flexible. You might need to move if your chosen spot winds up being too close to the road or if the lawn is being mowed. (We did write letters to the city and schools asking permission to use their grounds and asking the maintenance staff to plan lawn-mowing around our schedule, but you never know what is going to be happening on adjacent property owners' lawns!)

5) Have fun! It was great to be outside, reading by the river or on the grass by a playground. It really lent a looser atmosphere than being in the library. Kids could run around and they seemed to be in a better mood than in the winter (the beautiful weather helped mine too!)

6) Read blog posts by other children's librarians for ideas and other helpful tips. Adrienne is particularly great because she posts not only about what she did that week, but how well it went. Look for her Storytime in a Park posts. They are lifesavers.

7) See if you can bring another staff member with you. It is much easier for distractions to wander into view outside than it would be in the library. Even in my library, where there is not a dedicated program room. You will just have to roll with whatever happens to come by. Sometimes it is a dog being walked or a Mustang driving by. One time it was a local bus driver who stopped to use the park's portable errr... facilities. You will be able to keep everyone's attention better if there is another person to share reading duties. And then you can read Elephant and Piggie books! Awesome.

8) Graduation-style, always wear sunscreen! (And bug spray). Seriously, don't forget the bug spray.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to Make a Scroll Story

A SoTomorrow How-To

This post is semi-inspired by Abby the Librarian's excellent How to Make a Felt (Flannel Board) Story and Lisa Chellman's Magnetic Manipulatives for Storytime.

Scroll stories are a great, unusual method of storytelling. Even today's kids, accustomed to video games and TV, will sit mesmerized and listen to a scroll story. Bonus: scroll stories are also quite a lot of fun to make! You can write your own stories or use traditional stories.

Scroll stories are wonderful practice for beginning storytellers because you are able to have a copy of your script near (for those not yet confident in their memory) and because the eyes of those in the audience will be focused on the box (for those not yet comfortable performing).

I made my first scroll story earlier this summer, a version of It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw. I know lots of children's librarians use Shaw's story as a felt/flannel board. Other stories that you might have used as felt stories will probably work well as a scroll story too.

Here are some steps for creating a scroll story of your very own!

1. This is the hardest part: finding a story that works for this method of storytelling and that you like enough to learn to tell yourself.Here are some that a previous Children's Librarian at my library had made (many of these were made years and years ago, so if you don't recognize the titles, that's OK! I had to ILL quite a few books whose scripts had been lost to see if I wanted to use them.):

* The Witch's Christmas by Norman Bridwell
* Clickety Cricket By Garry and Vesta Smith
* Clifford, The Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
* Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
* I Had a Little by Norma Levarie
*Leo, The Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
* Whose Mouse Are you? by Robert Kraus
* Is Milton Missing? by Steven Kroll and Dick Gackenbach
* Tim Tadpole and the Great Bullfrog by Marjorie Flack
* Harold & The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.
* Willie Waddle by Katharine J. Carter

2. Write a script for the story, as you won't want to try and manipulate the dowels in the story box at the same time as you are reading the picture book.

Build the story box. You will need four dowels (2 skinny and 2 fatter ones), and some plywood to frame the box. I also recommend screwing a handle into the top to make carrying the box easier. You will need to drill 4 holes in the left and right sides for the dowels. The skinny ones will be closest to the screen and hold the story straight and the thicker ones in the back are the dowels the story is wound on.

Mine almost looks like it was fashioned out of a wood filing cabinet, if that gives you a good visual. I repainted the one I found in storage with some leftover paint, so that is why it is hardly a perfect paint job.

Jayne Payne has more specific instructions on using cardboard box stories in the classroom. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also has some instructions for using roller boxes to teach religious stories

4*. Using fadeless paper, prepare the paper for the story to be drawn. Buying a 50-foot long roll of paper gave me enough paper to create two stories. You will most likely need to trim some of the width off to fit your box.

5*. Mark out the dimensions for each picture (I think of them as "slides".) For example, the size of my screen is about 15" wide and 11.5" high. I also left a 2" gap in between frames or slides of my story so that both pictures would not be visible to the audience at the same time. This also heightens the dramatic effect.

6. Once areas are marked off, draw your story! Have fun!

*Make sure you have plenty of room to unroll the paper to measure, cut, and draw!

If anyone has suggestions for a scroll story that they'd like to see, let me know! I am itching to use my other thing of paper!

Art Storytime

My theme last week at storytime was art. (I always use loose themes, as you will see next week...Spoiler Alert!). I usually don't even make any mention of what the theme is, but it does help me organize my thoughts. It helps that I make mine pretty general as well, and I try to make them kid-friendly too.

First* we read I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont. I passed out paintbrushes so the kids could play along at painting their body parts as the kid in the book paints his (or hers?). Does anyone know if it is a boy or girl in this story?!? This is one of my favorite stories. I love singing picture books.

The biggest hit this week was a story roll version of It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw. I know many children's librarians do this as a felt board story, but after I found a story box in the storage room here, I had to try my hand at making my very first scroll story. It turned out fantastically and it was a huge success. One little boy exclaimed "It's a magic box!" I love how you can pause dramatically while reading the story and let the kids guess what the image is and there is natural suspense while waiting for the next picture to scroll up that you just don't get while reading the book version or putting the next felt piece up. Check out my post on how to make a scroll story for more details.

We also read My Crayons Talk by Patricia Hubbard. The kids laughed at the funny pictures. (Thank goodness!)

At some of the storytimes, I told the story "The Sculptor Who Couldn't Decide What to Make" from Movement Stories for Young Children Ages 3-6 by Helen Landalf and Pamela Gerke. (This book is amazing, by the way! Another good one is Dance, Turn, Hop, Learn!: Enriching Movement Activities for Preschoolers by Connie Bergstein Dow) The kids pretended to be balls of clay that I was molding into sculptures. We had a great time doing this one! I decided each day based on the kids in attendance whether it was an appropriately interactive mood for this story.

After our last story, I demonstrated how to make fireworks in a glass.

The kids made crayon paper bag puppets for their craft.

*Actually, I start each storytime with an introduction to myself and whoever is helping me that, if someone is. Then we sing/play "Jump Up, Turn Around" by Jim Gill. I love to watch the looks on the faces of kids who are joining us for the first time as each verse gets progressively harder, until they are holding their breath while trying to do the actions. So cute!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Music Storytime

Last week I performed a Music-themed storytime for our "Be Creative @ Your Library" summer reading program.

The first book we read was A Soup Opera by Jim Gill. Having seen Mr. Gill perform this book (I have an autographed copy!!) live, I am not content to merely read the book. That would be too easy. Instead, I have the tracks from the accompanying CD loaded into my iPod and I skip forward or backward as needed. I occasionally use stick puppets instead of holding the book up, as I have the whole thing memorized. (Doing the same storytime 5 days a week will do that to you.) Also, storytime attendees have to help me sing opera-style. This must include "opera arms." I have a little sign with "I Can't Eat the soup!" which I hold up when they are to sing... "I Can't Eat the Soup!" I try to remind people that "if you feel silly, you're doing great!"

Then we sang/read Jane Cabera's version of Old MacDonald Had a Farm and I passed out farm animal finger puppets to kid volunteers who were instructed to wave them crazily in the air when their animal was being discussed.

At my first storytime of the week, we did a version of I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Fellow by Barbara S. Garriel. (This was an idea from the summer reading program manual, where they had all the instruments and the shy fellow and I enlarged the pieces on the copy machine. Then I cut open a paper grocery bag to serve as Mr. Shy Fellow's tummy and the kids got to help him "swallow" the cello, cymbal, fiddle, etc.)

I feel OK about saying that a good time was had by all. I try to make my storytimes almost absurdly interactive, and I got lots of compliments from the parents and day care teachers in the audience. And an "I love you" from a boy I had never met before.