Friday, April 11, 2014

Sally the Square

Try something outside of your comfort zone, think outside the box, etc. So say the pundits. Well, this year's CSLP summer reading theme is making me do just that. I have always loved the results of origami but have had difficulty understanding the directions provided to get those results. Now, thanks to YouTube and a presentation by storyteller Megan Hicks, I am going to combine origami with storytelling for my "Shapes" family storytime.

The origami: I did a little online research on origami shapes. I decided I would like to make a cube. I found that there are two ways to make a cube. One way is more complicated but it gave me an idea for a story that I will work on later. The other way is less complicated but the end result isn't as precise (at least for the beginner). It is called the "Water Bomb" and is a basic origami shape. The story of Sally goes with the folding of this shape.

Notes: You will need a flat surface. If you are standing, have a table next to you. If you are sitting, I have found that a large book in my laps works well as a surface for folding. Telling this story will take practice. Use scrap paper - I used outdated fliers. You can make your own origami paper.  I would suggest pre-folding the paper you are using so that it folds easily as you tell the story. Do not rely on the instructions within the story below. They are just there to tell you which action to do at that time. Find a video or online tutorial that makes sense to you and learn how to make the water bomb. Please note that for the folding to work with this story both sides have to be done at the same time. Some instructions have you completing one side before repeating the steps to do the other. Also, I plan to have an "emergency cube" hidden just in case I mess up the last part!

 Sally the Square
by Linda Meuse
Notes from the Story Room
April 11, 2014

Sally was a square that liked to change herself. Sometimes she would turn herself into a rectangle. (Fold in half then unfold.) Sometimes she liked to be a triangle, folding herself one way or the other way. (Fold corner to corner both ways then unfold.) The problem is that all these shapes are flat. Sally really wanted to be 3 dimensional so that she could stand up on her own. One day Sally decided to try to get herself to stand up on her own. She managed to fold herself into a smaller triangle. (Push the sides in to make the base.) She could stand up but the wind soon knocked her over. "I need to be stronger," thought Sally. "I will fold myself up some more." (Fold the corners up on both sides to make a square.) Sally was stronger but she still couldn't stand up so she folded herself up some more. (Turn the square to make a diamond and fold the corners to the center on both sides.) Sally had never folded herself up like this before. Now she was an interesting shape but still couldn't stand up. Sally decided to fold herself up some more. (Fold all of the flaps and tuck them in to the pocket - this will take some time so you may want to count each section as you fold it.) Sally then started to try to stand herself up. (Gently pull apart sides.) Suddenly a gust of wind came along and much to Sally's surprise she became bigger and was able to stand up! (Blow into hole at one end and inflate the cube.) Sally was very happy because now she was 3 dimensional. She was a cube. Optional: Draw a happy face on Sally with a black marker.

Origami paper from copy paper
First fold - rectangle
Second and third folds - triangles
(These folds are made on the opposite side of the first fold)
Open paper and push sides with crease in to make base.
Fold corners of triangle up on both sides to make a square.
Fold opposite corners in toward center.
Fold flaps on top and tuck into "pocket."
Left figure: The left flap is folded but not tucked in yet.
Right figure: Flaps are tucked in and it has been gently pulled apart.
Blow in the hole formed at the bottom point to inflate cube.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by Anna of Future Librarian Superhero.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Shape Matching

One of the challenges of presenting a family storytime is engaging multiple ages - not just children but parents and grandparents as well. To go along with the "Fizz, Boom, Read" summer reading theme, I am planning a "Shapes" program. I am planning activities that we can do using the magnet board. One will be a shape matching game. However, it will include increasing levels of difficulty.

We will start out with the basic shapes:

Then it will get a little bit more difficult:

Then it will get even more difficult:

We may even try some like these:

The photos above are just examples. There will be many more shapes in each group to choose from so it will not be as easy as it looks.

My groups have been very good at guessing and figuring things out. I'm looking forward to seeing how they do with the shape challenge. I will also reuse some of the shapes to play a "Which Shape is Missing?" game. To increase the level of difficulty, I will add more shapes after each correct guess. I also plan to make a "Shapes" memory game.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by Anne of Itsybitsymom. The Flannel Friday blog has everything you need to know about this great storytime resource.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Spine Poetry

Last year I came across a post about book spine poetry. It looked like fun. Ever since then I have wanted to give it a try. At 100 Scope Notes, readers are invited to submit book spine poetry to celebrate National Poetry Month. This year I decided to create a poem. I challenged myself to use titles from my personal collection which contains way too many books about knitting and a growing collection of humorous picture books. Coming up with something was not all that easy despite several interesting titles in my collection. However once I started I came up with most of my "poem" fairly quickly. I just needed one "line" to tie it together. Earlier in the week some books I had ordered arrived. One of the titles turned out to be just what I needed to complete the "poem" in a way that made sense (at least to me). The photo below shows my book spine poem.

This was fun to do. Give it a try. You will end up looking at book titles in a new way.

Raccoon and the Magic Fish

I wrote a version of this story for a "Night Animals" storytime in 2012. It is based on the popular folktale theme, be careful what you wish for. I never posted it because I did not use original art work but instead used a template from one of the crafts. Since I made an original raccoon for "Mole's New Hole" last summer, I decided to use it for this story. I did make some changes to make the raccoon look younger. Although I wrote this for the flannel or magnet board, it could also be a prop or folder story.

Raccoon and the Magic Fish 
by Linda Meuse
Notes from the Story Room
March 28, 2014

Ryan Raccoon was hungry one night. He came across a stream and decided to catch a tasty fish. He stuck his paw into the water and soon pulled out a fish. "Dinner!" said Ryan with a smile. "Oh, please don't eat me!" cried the fish. "My goodness, why not?" asked Ryan. The fish replied, "Because I am a very special fish. I can grant wishes. All you have to say is, 'Magic fish, magic fish, please grant me a wish,' and I will grant your wish." "I'll give it a try," said Ryan. "Magic fish, magic fish, grant me a wish." "I can't," said the fish. "You didn't say it right." What did Ryan forget? He forgot to say please. Ryan tried again and this time he remembered to say it correctly. "Magic fish, magic fish, please grant me a wish." "What would you like?" asked the fish. "I'm tired of being plain and boring." said Ryan. "I want to be interesting. I want to be green!" "Wish granted," said the fish as he jumped back into the stream. Moonlight was shining on the water. Ryan looked at his reflection. He was indeed green. Ryan ran to show his friends. They were quite surprised to see how he had changed. Possum said, "I'm not sure green is a good color for a night animal. Green is the color of grass in the daylight but it stands out in the moonlight. We don't want to stand out for we are creatures of the night. We think you should change your color if you want to play with us."  Ryan was disappointed that his friends did not like his new color. He went back to the stream and called, "Magic fish, magic fish, may I please change my wish?" The fish poked his head out of the water and asked, "What would you like?" "May I please be blue?" asked Ryan. "Wish granted," answered the fish. Ryan looked at his reflection and indeed he was blue. Blue blended well with the night shadows. Ryan heard a noise. It was his brother and sister foraging for nuts. "Hi," said Ryan. "Find anything good to eat?" His brother and sister stared at him and then ran away. "Oh no," said Ryan. "I think I scared them." I need a happier color." He returned to the stream and asked, "Magic fish, magic fish, may I please change my wish." "What would you like?," asked the fish. "May I please be orange?" asked Ryan. "Wish granted," answered the fish. Ryan looked at his reflection in the water and he was indeed orange. "It's a happy color," he thought, "and it shouldn't scare anyone even if it is very bright." Soon Ryan was very hungry and not very happy. He was so bright that when he tried to have a bug snack, the bugs saw him coming and were able to get away. Even the worms saw him soon enough to hide in the ground. Ryan decided that orange is not a good color for a raccoon and he returned to the stream. Ryan called, "Magic fish, magic fish, may I please change my wish." Again the fish asked, "What would you like?" "May I please be purple?" asked Ryan. "Wish granted!" said the fish. Ryan saw his reflection and indeed he was purple. Purple blended in well with the night. Ryan went to show his mom his new look but when he got home she didn't recognize him. "You are not my Ryan," she said. "My Ryan isn't purple." Ryan ran back to the stream and called again. "Magic fish, magic fish, please change my wish." "What would you like?" asked the fish. Ryan decided that being plain wasn't so bad after all so he asked, "May I please be my plain self again?" "Wish granted," said the fish. Ryan was back to his plain self which he decided was the perfect color for a raccoon to be.

Ryan and Magic Fish - Plain

Ryan and Magic Fish

Colorful Raccoons

Folder Version

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by Brooke of Reading with Red. The Flannel Friday blog has everything you need to know about Flannel Friday.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Who Is Watching?

"Who Is Watching?: A Cut-and-Tell Story"
Linda Meuse
March 21, 2014
Notes from the Story Room

Sam was in his backyard waiting for his friend Jerry to come over to play. He was swinging on his playset, going up and down. (Cut from 1 to 2). Suddenly he stopped and looked around. He was sure he was being watched but could not see anyone. He took one more swing up and down but stopped again. (Cut from 2 to 3.) He still felt like someone was watching him. Sam decided to climb his slide. (Cut from 3 to 4.) He quickly slid down and almost landed on Jerry who had just arrived! (Cut from 4 to 5.) "Am I glad you're here!" said Sam. "I feel like someone is watching but I've looked all around and no one is here." Jerry looked around and said, "Maybe they're hiding. Let's search the yard." Sam and Jerry looked under the bushes but no one was there. (Cut A.) They looked behind the maple tree but no one was there. (Cut B.) They even looked into the trash cans but no one was there. (Cut C.)
Then Jerry looked up into the maple tree. "I know who's watching you!" said Jerry. Do you?

Notes: After cutting out the owl, push out the beak (A). You can also add eyes and feathers if you wish. Us a hole punch to make eyes after you are finished cutting but before you unfold the owl. In addition you can make a "branch" for the owl to perch on. Just slide the owl on with its feet in front and tail in back (made from cuts C and D). See photo below.
I usually make a pattern to trace.  I cut construction paper to 8.5 inches by 11 inches.
Pattern ready to cut.
Hold the pattern sidewise while cutting.
Owl with optional "branch."
Owl on "branch."
*For now you can copy and paste the photo. I plan to add a scan of the template soon.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by Katie of Story Time Secrets. More information can be found on Flannel Friday's home page. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Three Years of Storytime Inspiration

Flannel Friday is celebrating its third anniversary. To celebrate, readers and participants have been asked to share favorite projects and posts that inspired them, stretched their artistic skills, or enhanced their professional development.

When I started thinking about how many times I was inspired by a post, I realized that I have used ideas from Flannel Friday more times than I could possibly list here. I always check Flannel Friday's Pinterest boards when planning a program. Sometimes I will use the an idea exactly as posted and sometimes I will change it to suit my program.

I've been inspired to make my own versions of various Flannel Friday ideas. One of my favorites is "Sam and the Acorn." I made it for a "Monster" family storytime but it was inspired by Sarah's "Silly Super Hero."  The parents laughed just as much as the children when I told this story.

I love using props when telling stories. Sharon's post about her "Magic Envelope" inspired me to make one of my own. As you can see I deliberately made it with a distracting pattern to help with the "magic." I used it for Halloween, making a Jack-O-Lantern. I plan to use it for a class visit this spring. I was thinking of either making a bicycle or using it to promote our summer programs.

In addition to finding ideas for storytime programs, I enjoy looking at the lovely felt pieces made by participants such as Bridget's "Chester" and Sue's "Grumpy Cat."

Flannel Friday has definitely caused me to stretch my artistic as well as my storytelling skills. I wrote a draw and tell story, "The Night Walk," for a family storytime program. After posting it for Flannel Friday, much to my surprise, this story became my most popular post ever. I was encouraged to write more such stories. The page listing the draw and tell stories has become the most popular section of this blog.

These are some Flannel Friday projects I want to make:
   "Magical Rainbow Stew"
   "Make-a-Pig Flannel"
   "5 Green and Speckled Frogs"

Participating in Flannel Friday has not only made me more creative but has vastly expanded my storytelling repertoire.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by Anne of So Tomorrow.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Felt Board Figures with Interfacing

There are some beautiful felt pieces being made by Flannel Friday participants. I particularly love the style of those made by Jane of Piper Loves the Library.  (I would like to make pieces like that some day.) It is definitely worth it to make some high quality felt sets. Figures in felt have depth and dimension. When this is not practical, there are other options.

Although I used a felt board for fifteen years, I must confess that I never made a figure out of felt. Instead, I made them out of heavyweight interfacing. (When I used a flannel board, I was a department of one and did not have the time or patience to make felt pieces. My current library uses a magnet board so pieces are colored with marker and laminated.) Another option is to use milk filters. I have never used them but you can find out more about them from Anne's post. Andrea shows some chickadees she made using milk filters on her blog.

The interfacing method has advantages and disadvantages. Interfacing is easy to cut and all you need is a set of markers to provide a variety of colors. However it is not as thick as felt so you need a backing if you want to hide something behind a figure. Without a backing the other piece will show through. The biggest disadvantage is that it does not stick to itself like felt so you cannot put pieces on top of each other. (I would use a glue stick to add a small amount of glue when I needed to make pieces stick to each other.) What I like best about using interfacing is that it is easy to make pieces with details. Patterns show through even the heavyweight interfacing. Once you get the hang of it, you can make pieces quickly so I recommend this method if you are pressed for time.


Choose the correct kind of interfacing. Use heavyweight non-fusible or sew-in interfacing if it is available. If not, medium weight will work. Do not get fusible interfacing. It has glue on the back so it will not stick. Should you end up with some, draw on the shiny (glue) side so the piece will stick to the felt board. Lightweight interfacing is flimsy and does not stick to the felt board well. One yard of interfacing will produce numerous felt board figures.

One yard of medium weight interfacing with a felt piece and bonus cat (Pete's sister Ducky)
Photocopy your pattern if possible. I usually make a working copy to protect my original.
Interfacing over pattern - ready to be traced
Place the pattern under the interfacing for tracing. I usually cut out a piece slightly larger than the pattern piece. It is easier to work with that small piece then a large piece of fabric. If you are doing a set of figures, you can also trace them all on a larger piece and then cut each one to outline and color. I would do this to fit the figures close to each other so I would not waste fabric.
Trace the pattern. I trace with a pencil first and then I go over the pencil lines with a black marker. You can trace using a marker but definitely use a copy of your pattern for marker can bleed through.
Pattern is traced

Color your piece. I find that markers work best. Color in small spaces with black marker. This makes the piece sturdier and easier to cut out.

Optional: Outline your piece with black marker. I like the look of outlined pieces.
Piece is colored and outlined
Fill in small spaces
Cut out your piece.

Piece is cut out
Ducky shows how the pieces for Mole's New Hole look on a felt board
Storage tips: Place plain paper between pieces to keep the colors from bleeding onto other pieces. To be honest I seldom did this and it only happened a couple of times. Freshly colored pieces will bleed so make sure the pieces are completely dry before putting pieces with each other. I stored the pieces for each set in a manila envelope along with a copy of the story. Note on the envelope the number of pieces. I also keep a record of when and where I used the story on the front of the envelope.

These pieces will last a long time. I still have the first set I made using my own drawings for The Princess and the Pea which I made close to 20 years ago.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by K Leigh of Storytime ABC'S.