Friday, January 29, 2010

Teddy Bears

Bears are always a fun topic. I chose it for this week because of A.A. Milne's birthday on Jan. 18th. He was the creator of Winnie the Pooh.  I would have like to read some Pooh stories, but they don't really fit into the time and energy level of the kids I usually get.  So I brought my husband's old teddy bear from home (his was bigger and more cuddly than mine) and the kids were thrilled.  They all got to have a turn hugging the bear.  We talked about different kinds of bears, what bears ate, and if they were scary or not.  Consensus: real bears = scary, teddy bears = not.

Book 1: We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
This is a fun, interactive book to start with. I have the kids make noises and actions for different parts of the book - rub hands together for the long wavy grass, swim with their arms to cross the river, splurch through the mud, make wind noises for the snowstorm, etc. The most fun, of course, is doing all of the noises really fast when we're running away from the bear.

Book 2: Where's My Teddy by Jez Alborough
Next we did a book with both a real bear and a teddy bear. This is one of those books that I have nearly memorized. I first heard of it when my nephew Grant was 1 and always saying "it's dark and horrible in there". But Eddie, the little boy in the story, bravely goes to find his teddy anyway, and encounters a giant bear also looking for his (giant) teddy. They both are scared of each other and go running back home with their own teddy bears - something which the kids here always think is funny.

Book 3: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
This is one of my favorite books to read for storytime, or out loud to any kids. A quarter to half of them usually have heard it before, and the rest pick up the pattern easily. No matter the group, we always end up chanting it together, with me turning the page just before they need to figure out what animal is looking at the first: "Red bird, red bird, what do you see?  I see a yellow duck looking at me."  Kids always seem so proud to have "read" a book with me.

I printed out this bear from DLTK's website and had the kids color their bears. Some chose to make rainbow bears, but we did go through a lot of brown markers too. Then we glued cotton balls on their tummies to make them fuzzy. Some made their bears have fuzzy ears, feet, hands, or even eyes too. With the older kids, I had them practice writing their own name, then coming up with a name for the bear and writing that on there too.
One of the moms on Tuesday also showed us the webcam on of a bear in her den with cubs!
This theme was used the week of January 25, 2010.

Friday, January 22, 2010


For Martin Luther King Jr's birthday this week, I talked a little about diversity. This is a little difficult to do when most of the kids I read to come from the same ethnic background, but it's good to talk about anyway.  I'd like to think that racism is completely foreign to these kids, so I talk about it on a very basic level: a long time ago, people thought that people that were different should go to different schools, eat at different restaurants, etc. But with the help of MLK and others, we have learned that we can all be friends. I tell them it would be boring and no fun if everyone was exactly the same.

Book 1: Global Babies
 A nice, short board book with few words, showing babies from various cultures.  I read the book, then talk about how babies are cute and are loved no matter who they are and where they live. And we always decide that all of these babies could be friends.

Book 2: Whoever You Are by Mem Fox

This book by Mem Fox illustrates the differences and similarities of children "all over the world".  Her writing style really lends itself to being read out loud, and the illustrations are eye-catching.  I saw that few of my kids latched on to the phrase "blood is the same" with a picture of a boy with a skinned knee, but I just kept reading and tried to emphasize the "all over the world" repetition instead.

Book 3: Colorful World by CeCe Winans
I read this book to the first couple storytime groups, but not the last few.  I really like the illustrations, but the words don't "flow" right for me.  I do realize it's a song, and maybe if I listened to it it would read easier, but as a book by itself, I'm not too excited about it.

It's difficult to find a quick, easy craft related to diversity for preschoolers.  So I just did a maze, with a boy at one end and a group of other children (all obviously different cultures) at the other end.  The kids did the maze, then colored the children and drew what they were all going to play with together.  
This theme was used the week of January 18, 2010.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Avast ye scurvy dogs!

Pirates is a pretty easy theme.  Lots of cute books about pirates, though some of them I've found to be too long for my kids.  I did mean to wear an eyepatch and a pirate hat, swiped from my son's dress-up bin, but... I forgot.  Oh well.

When I took out the books, I looked at them, put them back, and told the kids that they were just too scary.  Naturally they assured me they liked scary books, even scary pirate books, so we began...

Book 1:  That's Not My Pirate by Fiona Watt

I love this series of touch and feel books.  And so does every single kid I've met.  I read each page, then let all the kids come up and feel the texture on each page.  If it's taking a while for me to let each child touch the page, then I talk about other words that could describe that texture: smooth, shiny, slippery, not bumpy, etc.

Book 2: A is for Arr! by Laura Purdie Salas
Many ABC books seem to have too much text with each letter to use for storytime.  This one was a little shorter than most, so I did read it for a couple of my older groups, but just did the letter and associated word for my younger kids.  I tried to use Arr as many times as possible during this book. :)

Book 3: Night Pirates by Peter Harris
For a couple of my groups, I read this book, and for others, I read Book 4 instead.  I liked this book because it had girl pirates (rough, tough, little girl pirates), but most of the kids I read this to didn't "get" that the pirates were stealing the front of Tom's house and then returned it upside down.  The illustrations really could have been done better in order to convey this.
Book 4: I Love My Pirate Papa by Laura Leuck
Good, sweet story about a boy going through his day with his pirate dad, and how his dad helps him "buckle on his gear" and reads to him about Captain Hook before he's tucked in.  Here again, there were a few things that went over the kids' heads with some unfamiliar vocabulary, but the message of love did come through.

After the books, we colored a pirate coloring page from Family Fun.  I'm thinking of doing a treasure-hunt next time, with a map of the library.  Maybe hide "gold" coins that they can trade in for treats. 

Did this theme the week of January 11, 2010.