Friday, December 13, 2013

The Napping House - Memory Activity

The Napping House by Audrey Wood is fun to read aloud. It is a cumulative story that will work well for a memory activity I would like to try with my family storytime group. I have played a version of "Memory" with second graders to promote summer reading but I have not done it in a storytime. There aren't too many characters to remember so playing the game should not be too difficult for the younger ones.

After reading the book, I will put it down out of sight and put the napping house on the board. Then I will ask the children who was napping in the napping house. As the characters are named I will put the figures randomly on the board. Next I will put the bed on the board and pile on the sleepers in the wrong order. Since children love it when a grown-up gets it wrong, I expect to be corrected immediately. I will probably get it wrong a couple of times before the figures are in the correct order.

This was an easy activity to prepare. The figures can be found at Make Learning Fun. They can be printed in black and white or in color here. Other activities that go along with the book can be found here. All I had to do was make a napping house.

I am looking forward to doing this activity with my family storytime group. Now I just have to plan the rest of the program.

This week's Flannel Friday is hosted by Kristen, Kristie and Sue of the blog, Let the Wild Rumpus Start. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On Professional Development

Professional development is essential to becoming proficient in one's profession. This is particularly true for youth services librarians because we are impacted by popular culture, changes in technology and by research in education. That's a lot to keep up with and it can be overwhelming.

Libraries were very different when I started as a trainee in 1971 and although it was 1990 when I started as a children's librarian, there have been major changes since then as well. Librarians who are not willing to explore new ideas will lose touch with their patrons' needs which are also constantly changing. You don't have to embrace every new idea but you should be willing to try new things or adapt them to suit your situation.

Many people will say that they can't get out of the building or they can't afford to attend conferences since they aren't reimbursed. That was more of a problem when I was starting out as a children's librarian because there were no webinars or online resources because there was no web (although they were working on it). Also, I was the only youth services person so indeed it was difficult to leave the building. Because my previous experience was limited, I made an effort to attend as many workshops and meetings as possible. Although I believe that one learns the most on the job, meeting with and learning from other children's librarians is also important.

Today there are many more options available for professional development:
1. Online training - some courses or webinars are free or reasonably priced. Look for offerings from state libraries, regional consortiums and cooperatives. State and national associations also offer online training.
2. Newsletters - Get information sent to your inbox. School Library Journal often lists free webinars in its newsletter, "Extra Helping." Keep up with the latest in the library world by subscribing to the weekly newsletter, "AL Direct," if you are a member of ALA. (Previous newsletters are available on the website for those who are not members.) Keep up with the latest news in children's books by subscribing to PW's "Children's Bookshelf" (subscribe here).
3. Even if you are not a member, the ALA website provides numerous resources. For example, ALSC just released a list of recommended titles for tweens that is available for download.  State and regional organizations will have information available to non-members as well. CLEL - Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy is an outstanding example.
4. Seek out websites of non-library organizations that provide information about subjects that interest you. Not only will they list resources but often have newsletters and blogs you can subscribe to. One example is the blog from the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media.
5. Blogs - Learn from your colleagues. Explore some blogs by youth services librarians and subscribe to those that interest you.
6. Social Media - Youth services librarians are on Twitter and Pinterest and Facebook. So are various library organizations. Build a network of people who are passionate about what they do. Join Facebook groups such as Flannel Friday and Storytime Underground. Become part of an online community not just for informed discussion but also for the support offered by these virtual colleagues.
7. Do try to get out of the building and meet with other youth services librarians. Although I have never attended an ALA conference (unless attending PLA once counts), I did treat myself to the ALSC Institute last year. I figured that a program just for youth services librarians was worth my money. I also make an effort to attend New Jersey's annual Youth Services Forum which is well worth my time and money.
8.Teach yourself. Pursue what interests you. When I started out as a children's librarian, I was on the constant lookout for books with draw and tell stories, paper cutting stories and flannel board stories. I built up a nice storytelling resource library over the years. It was almost as tough leaving that collection as it was leaving my storytime families when I left that position. (I have bought some storytelling books for my personal collection and fortunately my current library has a good collection.) Be selective in your professional reading. I tend to focus on material that will be useful to me. I also enjoy reading about trends in the profession.

What's the point of all of this? I don't want youth services librarians to be discouraged about professional development opportunities. There are ways to learn and be supported without going to meetings and conferences. Try to do that if you can but also build a network of librarians and resources to keep yourself informed. We are a friendly bunch and are always willing to help a colleague whether in person or virtually.

Gingerbread Man

For this year's Flannel Friday Holiday Round-Up I have a cut and tell guessing activity. The resulting gingerbread man can either be "decorated" or kept plain. It can be a stand alone activity or be used before telling the folktale. The clues are general so that it is not limited to holiday time.

Gingerbread Man Cut and Tell Clues
Linda Meuse
Notes from the Story Room
I am sweet and spicy at the same time. (Cut from 1 to 2)
I can be fancy or plain. (Cut from 2 to 3)
I smell so good when I'm fresh from the oven. (Cut from 3 to 4)
There's a famous story all about me. (Cut from 4 to 5)
In the story I run very fast, calling, "Catch me if you can!" (Cut from 5 to 6)
For I am: THE GINGERBREAD MAN! (Open folded paper)
Preparation: After looking at various gingerbread man images, I drew my template in a shape that I liked. I made one on plain paper for reference and cut out another to use to trace onto the paper. I then traced the outline of the figure onto folded brown paper with the numbers next to it. You will be holding the blank side toward the audience. The paper I used is cheap construction paper. Because it is cheap, it is thin. I used crayons to "decorate" the figure on the inside because crayons won't show through. If you decide to decorate the figure before cutting it out, pay attention to how the figure is positioned. It has to be the same both inside and out. Decorating can also be done after the figure is cut out with the children making suggestions. I would just add eyes and a mouth if I were using it as an introduction to telling the folktale.



Inside view of "decorations" before cutting
Ready to cut

This week's Flannel Friday Holiday Round-Up is hosted by Mollie of What Happens in Storytime.