Monday, October 26, 2015

Language Development

An internal blog post

Earlier this month I attended the Young Child Conference.  There was a lot of interesting and validating information regarding early childhood.  One idea that really stood for me was the importance of oral language development.  There is a direct correlation between language development and reading development.  Oral language is fundamental and foundational for future success in school and life. 

Oral language is both the ability to understand and process spoken words and the ability to speak so as to be understood by others.

The more words a child hears the faster they can make connections between words and meaning and the sooner they can effectively communicate with others.  This also enables them to learn to read because they already have a large vocabulary and understanding of language.

Research has found a 30 million word gap among 3 year olds which correlates to their socioeconomic background.  The poor (welfare) children hear an average of 167 words per hour; working-class 251 words per hour; professional 382 words per hour.  By the time the children are 3 years old there is a huge word gap between the children in poor and professional families--30 million words!
This has a huge impact on school success!

So what does this mean for us as storytime providers?  We only see the children once a week (at best).  The key is to teach parents and caregivers the importance of oral language and how they can help develop their child’s oral language skills on a daily basis. Throughout storytime we need to encourage parents and caregivers to read, sing, talk, play, and write with their children every day!  These five activities foster language skills, which are a foundation for future learning. 

So speak up and don't be shy!  

Sunday, October 18, 2015


It seems like forever since I was able to do a storytime at my branch!  So many trainings, etc.  I had a wonderful group.  It continues to skew young, so I have adapted to a more "toddler" storytime approach.  It worked well today!


Welcome Home, Bear: A book of animal habitats
by Il Sung Na

Do Lions Live on Lily Pads?
by Melanie Walsh

Songs/Rhymes/Flannel Board

ABC Welcome

Shape House Flannel
(I forgot to take a copy of the poem, but we talked about each shape as we built the house)
Some houses are wood,
And some are stone.
But let's build one
With shapes alone.
Start with a square
But we won't stop.
Add a triangle 
up on the top.
Then a rectangle
for the door.
Now square windows
1, 2, 3, 4!
A little circle
just for fun.
Now our shape house
Is all done!

If You're Happy and You Know It

Are You Sleeping?
Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?
Little frog, little frog
Wake up little frog
Wake up little frog
Hop, hop, hop!
Hop, hop, hop!

Other animals: 

Little Chick
[magnet board guessing game]

Little chick, little chick
Come out and play!
What color barn are you in today?

During Welcome Home, Bear I paused to ask children if the new home would be good for the bear, (why).
[bold=actual text from book]

Bear dug down to visit Mole
Will the bear like to live underground with the mole?  Why? 
[answers included: he's too big, bears don't live underground, he won't fit!]
But Bear didn't like it...
It was stuffy underground--and the dirt got in his nose.

Play and Learn

Shape House
Unit cubes
Little Chick

Outreach Storytime Flyer

In an attempt to connect better to the parents whose children are at childcare centers (thus not able to attend an 'in-house' storytime) the Develop Young Learners Team created a flyer to pass out at each of our outreach storytimes.  I had the privilege and responsibility to get the content ready for the flyer.  Our communications department put it all together into the flyer.

So we have heard very positive feedback from staff about the flyers and the teachers/providers are eager to pass them along to the parents.  Hopefully the parents will take a few minutes to look it over and maybe feel a nudge to read to their children a little bit more!

Here's the content of the flyer:

The library visited today!

Ask me!
Here are some suggested questions to ask you child about today's visit:

  • What songs did you sing?
  • What books did you read?
  • What new words did you learn?
  • What was your favorite part about today's visit?
Helpful tip:
Make reading aloud together a regular part of each day, such as every night at bedtime.  A loving bond is created when you hold your child and share the pleasure of a story without the distractions of TV, phones, or other devices.

Did you know
Research has shown that reading aloud to your child is the single most important way to help prepare them for school success.  Reading aloud builds vocabulary and knowledge while fostering a love of books and learning.

Supercharged Storytime Webinar

Several weeks ago I was asked to do a 10-minute presentation during the 2nd round of Supercharged Storytime Training through WebJunction.  My topic was "How do I incorporate alphabetic knowledge in storytime?"  I was so excited to participate in this live webinar with children's librarians from five different states!  Here is my presentation.

Earlier this year I was able to go through supercharged storytime training through a webinar and some in-house training with my Early Learning team.  It is wonderful to know that that storytimes the library provides do, in fact, have a positive impact on children and their learning.  That research validates my work and also energizes me to plan meaningful storytimes for our youngest library members. The main thing I have learned from Supercharged Storytime training I can sum up in one word—and that is intentionality!
For me supercharged means to be more intentional in planning storytimes.  It means to take a little time to identify the things I am already doing and extend or expand those things.  It also means to always be on the look out for ways to enhance storytime using supercharged principles.  Because I take a little time to identify early learning skills during my planning I feel prepared to share those things with parents and caregivers during storytimeIt really doesn’t take much time to supercharge your storytime, just a little thought and planning.  However, supercharged elements greatly enhances your storytime. 

Today I will share with you just a few ways I emphasize alphabetic knowledge in storytime.
The first, and most basic way I share alphabetic knowledge with my all ages storytime group is to sing the ABC Song every week as part of our welcome song.  I made up this little song about storytime before we sing before actually singing the ABCs; but that, of course, is optional.  I have a large ABC chart that I display and I use a pointer to point to each letter as we sing it.

 I make a concerted effort to really slow down during the L-M-N-O-P (the pointer helps) to help the children distinguish between the letters.

 With older children I have done the ABCs in a chant, which helps children pay attention to the letter names and to the printed letter.  Again I point to each letter as we say it.
ABC Chant
Now it's time to say goodbye

Mel’s desk has an idea page about other tunes you can sing the ABCs to for additional alphabet practice.

I love to use the Bingo song as a way to emphasize alphabetic knowledge.  I like to change it up for all kinds of themes—just about any 5 letter word will work.  Some I have done are…
Teddy, rainy, piggy, green, hippo

Children are drawn to the first letter of a word when they are learning about words in print.  One of the first letters they learn is the first letter of their own name.  That first letter in any word is so important. 

So I mix up Bingo by taking letters away from the end of the word, so that first letter is emphasized. Another advantage to this is you can read shorter words that made up the longer word—rain, pig, ted.  I’ve done this for several years and found it works wonderfully well.

Whether you do the traditional or revised BINGO song, be sure to have the letters displayed on a flannel or magnet board and pointing to each letter as you sing it.  This helps to reinforces alphabetic knowledge.

Anything I found to be helpful when emphasizing alphabet knowledge in storytime is to use books with alliterations in title.  This is a cue for me to point out the first letter in each word, make an observation that they are the same, ask the children if they know the name of the letter, name the letter, make the letter’s sound and emphasis that letter sound while reading the title again.

Today we are going to read a book called Silly Sally by Audrey Wood.  Hey, I just noticed that the words in the title, Silly Sally, both start with the same letter.  Who knows what letter this is?  The letter S.  It sounds like /s/.  /s/ Silly /s/ Sally.  Let’s find out what Sally does that is so silly!
The same thing could be done with The Very Lazy Ladybug and other books that have alliteration.

I also love to point out alliterations in the text.  This means you cannot read the book straight through; however, pausing to point out the alliteration in the text can help children pay attention to a repeating sound.

One example is Jane Yolen’s Off We Go!  Each animal has an alliteration about how it is getting to grandma’s house.  For example, the mole digs his way to grandma’s.  Mole really likes the letter d /d/.  He goes “dig deep, diggigty deep”.  I encourage the children to say it with me.

Of course, children learn best when they are playing—so, time permitting, allow children opportunities to play with letters!  Here are some of the alphabetic knowledge activities I do with children.

Playdough with letter cookie cutters
Magnet letters

These are very simple activities, but they give children hands-on experiences with letters.  You’ll notice that children gravitate to using letters to “write” their name.

Finally, I just want to share with you a few websites that I use as resources to find alphabetic knowledge ideas to use in storytime

I love to reference Preschool or homeschool blogs and websites.  Two I often visit are The Measured Mom and Playdough toPlato.  They have specific pages with ideas and links to fun ways to play with and learn the alphabet.

I avoid “write the letter worksheets”—instead I look for interactive, playful, and hands-on activities.
 I have also gathered a lot of ideas from Pinterest.  I’ve made an alphabet activity board so I can readily store and retrieve ideas.

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you a few ideas about implementing alphabetic knowledge into your own storytimes.  As you can see, it doesn’t take a lot of extra time, just some extra thought. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Baby Storytime Movement!

Two weeks at baby storytime in a row!  Seems like I am missing as many storytimes as I am doing because of classes, trainings, etc.  We had three new babies today!

Words can be found here.

Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands
Good Morning to You
Little Bear
When Cows Get Up in the Morning
(used puppets for kitten, duck, bee, and cow)
Baby Hokey Pokey
3 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Pease Porridge Hot
I'm a Little Bug
Tickle the Clouds

Read Aloud
Love You More Than Anything
by Anna Harber Freeman; illustrated by Jed Henry

Shared Reading
Variety of board books featuring movement including
Go Baby Go!
by Marilyn Janovitz
Image result for Go Baby Go! by Marilyn Janovitz

Hop a Little, Jump a Little!
by Annie Kubler

Before singing each verse of "When Cows Get Up in the Morning" I showed the children the animal puppet, asked what it was and what sound it made.  I encouraged the babies to make the sound of each animal.

Parent Tip
When doing a rhyme with your baby you can help them with the motions (clap their hands together) or you can do the motions (clap your own hands) and let your baby watch, depending on the mood of your baby.

Play and Learn

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Book Club!

A few fellow colleagues and I started a book club to help us keep up on all the new juvenile and teen books.  Since we are just getting started we are just book talking the current books we are reading.

Here's what we looked at today--at our first club meeting!

We All Looked Up
by Tommy Wallach

Roller Girl
by Victoria Jamieson

The Marvels
by Brian Selznick

Lockwood & Co. (series)
by Jonathan Stroud

I shared:

Firefly Hollow
by Alison McGhee; illustrated by Christopher Denise
A sweet story of discovering who you really are, what it means to have a friend and to be a friend, reaching for your dreams, and also letting go of your dreams.

Nooks & Crannies
by Jessica Lawson
Part Roald Dahl part Nancy Drew--this is an exciting mystery featuring six unlikely children, a detective mouse, a mad countess, and a fortune at stake!

In November and December we will also do a general "what new teen/juvenile have you read" and in January we will start assigning genres for each month.

Baby Storytime--Movement

After week off for a conference I am always excited to be with my baby group again!

Words can be found here.

Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands
Good Morning To You
Little Bear
Baby Hokey Pokey
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Wheels on the Bus (horn--beep nose; baby--bumpity bump)
Pease Porridge Hot
Tiny Little Babies
Acka Backa Soda Cracker
Parachute--If You're Happy and You Know It (slow, fast, high)

Read Aloud

Baby Party
Rebecca O'Connell; illustrated by Susie Poole
Image result for baby party rebecca o'connel

Shared Reading
Variety of board books featuring movement including

Llama Llama Hoppity-Hop
by Anna Dewdney

Shake It Up, Baby!
by Karen Katz
[Language Use]
Recite and sing familiar songs, rhymes and nursery rhymes and encourage parents to share their favorites with their child.

Parent Tip
At the Young Child Conference I attended last week I learned a little more about the word number gap and the strong correlation between language and learning to read.  Be sure to talk to your child often throughout the day.  Be a "newscaster" and describe things you are doing and what you see, hear, and so forth.

Play and Learn