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Alphabet Collages May 27, 2008

Posted by swegene1 in Alphabet, books, Library, Ready to Read.
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This week is my last week at my old job, but hopefully it wont be the last week of Ready to Read activities at the center. I have been working hard to get instructions and supplies together so that these activities can be pulled out and used after I am gone to work at my new job. The plan is to provide enough supplies so that each activity can be used at least once without any further preparation then looking at the instruction sheet and grabbing the box of glue sticks and the box of crayons along with the prepared supplies.

For some reason, I’d forgotten that it would be a shorter work week because of the holiday, but I’m still sure that I can pull it all together. Well at least I hope so! This week’s activity is pretty simple. We will be making collages on large letters. I have boxes with a huge assortment of different scraps of different types and colors of paper. That and glue sticks and scissors is all we need for a lot of fun! We made samples on Thursday and stuck them on the Fridge door in the break room–they looked nice and were fun to put together. Plus kids love to work on cutting paper and gluing, skills they get lots of practice in this activity, along with practicing some letters.

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Brainstormin’ May 15, 2008

Posted by swegene1 in Alphabet, books, Library, Ready to Read.
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So for the rest of this week, and all of next week, I will have a practicum student to supervise and assist. While she is under the direct supervision of our teen librarian, she is all mine for these two weeks to learn about the ready-to-read after-storytime program. In addition, she will be observing storytimes. This week she is shadowing me and assisting with the activity, and is developing an activity for next week.

Lots of the time on Tuesday was spent explaining the program, its purposes, and where things were. Armed with a stack of books, she has been brainstorming ideas to do after storytime. It is a fascinating experience to work with someone else on a project that is so near and dear to me. She has a lot of great ideas, and it isn’t my position to shoot down any ideas, rather to help her see how they will fit into the program. Since I developed it, and have a sort of rudimentary set of guidelines on what doesn’t work, I some times have to say “That is a great idea–how will we encourage children to complete the whole project in the time frame?” or “Will we have time to get that all ready for next week?” Perhaps I should just let her learn this on her own, but that seems kind of mean to allow her to embark on a project that will suck every waking moment of her time and still not complete it.

Anyway, she brainstormed a lot of good ideas–and the one she settled on will be a great deal of fun. It marks an enthusiasm for the program as well as an understanding of the ways that parents use the resource. In watching parents make sets of alphabet cards to take home, she thought it would be great to provide something else they could make that they could work with. Building off of an old childhood favorite Memory, she will cut out shapes and cards and allow children to make cards with one on each to play a matching game with another card.

Tomorrow, she will work on preparing materials and pulling together books for the display–and I may have to leave her in charge for the set up of the program.

Alphabet Rubbings! May 13, 2008

Posted by swegene1 in Alphabet, books, Ready to Read.
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This is a variation on an activity we did a month or so ago–that time it was using numbers, while this involves letters. Fortunately, I learned a lot while doing the previous activity, and have the forms mounted on foam already. I also have a lot of paper cut up for the activity.

Each square features the capital and lowercase letter and two items that begin with that letter. This provides vocabulary and letter awareness practice, as well as further developing motor skills. I hope since we have children returning to the center to participating in the activities they will learn how to do this activity and develop the motor skills required.

There are lots of great alphabet books to go with this activity, and it is such a simple take down and set up. Though I plan on covering the table to prevent children from scribbling everywhere.

This week I will have a practicum student observing the activities and planning her own, so I wanted something simple that she could help with. Not that she couldn’t figure out something complicated, but so she has time to work on her program for next week and figure out where everything is and how everything works. It is so hard to go into a new system and figure out where things are and how they do things there.

Always Learning! May 2, 2008

Posted by swegene1 in Alphabet, General, Ready to Read.
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One of the things that I love the most about working in a library is that I am constantly learning–every single day I discover something new about how to do my job, about children and how to help them, and about the world around me and my place in it. Some weeks I feel this learning experience more then others, and some days I have to chalk up as learning experiences.

Sometimes learning is fun and surprising, sometimes it is awkward and embarrassing, and other times it takes you to new places within yourself and the world. This week I’ve had the chance to experience all three types of education.

Fun came this week as we put on an early literacy activity involving letters and lacing after storytime. Parents and caregivers who were sure that the activity would be too difficult were astounded to discover that their children were able and excited about working the string through the holes. Even the very young children had fun pulling string through holes once it was fed through a bit, and they particularly enjoyed playing with the letters on a string. My volunteen assistant surprised me by helping some of the children make the letters into necklaces! No wrong ways to do the craft, just fun, and surprising discoveries.

While I enjoy learning, there are some experiences that I appreciate more in retrospect. This second is one of those. Last Saturday morning was quiet, and a very sweet older lady came into the library with her daughter and granddaughter. She was effusive in her praise of the staff and the library, and claimed to be a long time regular, who my coworker said brought in delicious brownies. She asked some intrusive questions, which I felt pressured into answering, though I knew I didn’t need to. I helped her find a Magic Treehouse book for her granddaughter, and discussed children’s literature connected with her stated interest in Early American History. She expressed a huge interest, and wanted to know if I could get a few titles for her to show the ladies in her multiple historical societies. I enjoy making bibliographies, and so I said I was happy, and she left me with her address and phone information.

It didn’t take long for me to finish, a couple of hours spent on it while on the desk answering other questions, and coming in and out. But I didn’t have time to call her until the next week when I came back to work. When I did, she wanted me to spell my name and my boss’ names so she could write a note. My co-worker was sure I was going to be written up, and I was fairly uncomfortable. It only got worse when she came in to pick up the bibliography. She had written a poem for me, and wanted to read it to me, along with showing me pictures of the group she would be using the bibliography for. She read it to me–the whole event took less then 10min, but it was potentially the most awkward experience of my library career.

For all of this, it has been a learning experience, and shortly after she had left I was able to put the lesson to use when she called to continue to praise the bibliography and I had to politely excuse myself from the conversation so I could resume my duties. I look forward to putting this skill at breaking away from even nice, well-meaning, ladies to good use in the future.

The final learning experience I’ve had this week has been one of discovery about the world around me. I have long had an interest in working with at-risk children in areas of economic challenge–and this week I began to study this area in greater depth. I’m certainly going to be posting more about this, as I’m reading many fascinating articles and books on the subject. Visiting one of the branches in the area in a challenged area has provided me front line experience, and an amazingly informative tour of the services and issues confronted by the branch and particularly the youth of this area.

Alphabet Die-Cut Books April 30, 2008

Posted by swegene1 in Alphabet, books, Ready to Read.
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The printing department was going to throw out cases and cases of very nice paper that just happened to be an inch too short and had jammed up all the copiers they’d tried to use it in. It was rescued by another library employee, and we were allowed to take it and use it for whatever. I took several boxes and have just begun to think of fun things to do with it.

For my first project I stapled together six sheets of paper, at the ends, just like a book. Then I used die cuts and colored printer paper to punch out the letters A-D and two items that corresponded to those letters. C for Cat and Carrot, A for Apple and Airplane, B for Butterfly and Bear, and D for Duck and Dinosaur. It was something of a trick to guess how many to cut out and to separate them into groups and then distribute them for use.

Children filled in their name on special title pages that they could paste on, then put the letters together on the pages however they wanted. There was even a spare page for them to practice their other letters, or decorate however they wanted.

Many parents wanted their children to participate, but the children didn’t all have attention spans to sit for that long, or they needed to leave, so a number of parents took books and letters home with them. In addition to creating their own books, children were able to see how other author’s created alphabet books.

Not only was this activity fun, but it taught important skills about how books work, loving books, letter recognition, and many other pre-literacy skills. I’ll definitely be repeating this activity–though the next time I plan on using stamps and ink pads to save on prep time and to make it easier to manage the group.

Letter Lacing! April 28, 2008

Posted by swegene1 in Alphabet, Ready to Read.
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This week’s activity following storytime is Lacing! When I was a child I used to have some cardboard shapes that we laced, and I remember enjoying them. So I modified the activity to tie it into our literacy theme. So we are lacing letters–continuing the alphabet from our alphabet books, with E,F,G,H and I. The letters are made with foam, cut on the ellison die, with holes made with a hole punch. Yarn is cut to a length suitable for each of the letters.

Hopefully, this activity will encourage children to practice their letters, work on motor skills, and have a good time learning. Parents can also use the library’s dies to make a complete set of letters to practice with at home. The foam is sturdy enough that children can practice lacing more then once and in different patterns.

In addition, this is an activity that caregivers can take with them to work on at home. Take-home activities are VERY popular, as many children are overstimulated at the library, want lunch, a nap, and quiet before they can work on a literacy activity. Many parents work these activities into their regular at-home education practices, and we include books with other suggestions.