Monday, November 17, 2014

School Age Storytime: Giving Thanks: Celebrating Native Americans at Thanksgiving

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky
A storytime for K-4 students celebrating the first Americans – Helping students gain an understanding of the Native Americans’ reverence for the natural world through their words & pourquoi stories. 
Can be used with Core Standards relating to folk tales. (R.L. 2.3, 3.3.- details below).

Opened with track #1 (flute solo) from  (any Native American flute CD would do, however) -- asked kids to identify instrument, any sense of where it was from?   Talked about the First Americans – For many generations (hundreds  of years before before the Pilgrims), many different people had lived in what we now call America. Some of them (a people called the Wampanoag) helped the Pilgrims survive that first terrible winter.  Two weeks before Thanksgiving, we’ll share some of their old stories “folktales” (get kids to help define)
Before science came up with the idea of the Big Bang…Native American pourqoui tales of how the world came to be…

Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest – Gerald McDermott (398.208997 MCD)
A beautifully illustrated (Caldecott honor) retelling of the tale of how Raven stole the sun from the Sky God and gave it to the People.

Song: Mr. Sun (Raffi) (Kindergarten only) 

Fire Race: A Karuk Coyote Tale (California area) retold by Jonathon London  -- All the animals work together to steal fire from the Yellow Jacket sisters so that the People will be able to make fire for cooking and warmth.

Song: “This Little Light of Mine”  lyrics

The Great Ball Game: A Muskogee Story (Georgia) retold by Joseph Bruchac (398.208997 BRU) – To prevent a war, the Animals & the Birds decide to determine which is superior by way of a ball game. Animals have teeth, birds have wings but bat has both – which side will he play on?  Little creatures can make a big difference in this tale that tells why birds have to fly south every winter.

Frog Girl – Paul Owen Lewis (398.208997 BRU)  After all the frogs are carried away from a nearby lake, the Chief’s Daughter ventures under the lake to save her people’s village.
Puppets/Storytelling:  The Frog: A Rainstick Story (adapted from a Hopi Indian tale – source unknown.)  (pupppets: frog, owl, coyote/wolf, prop: rainstick)
Many years ago, there was a drought. No rain had fallen for many weeks. The rivers were dry. The animals had no water to drink. A little frog sitting on the bank of the dry river bed thought to himself.
“I wonder if the rain clouds have fallen asleep and forgotten to make it rain. Perhaps if I make a lot of noise I could wake him up.” He began to croak: “Ribbit. Ribbit. Ribbit.”
The other frogs heard him. “Why are making so much noise?” The little frog answered, “I think the rain clouds have fallen asleep and forgotten to make it rain. I’m making a lot of noise so that they will wake up.”
“We would like to help,” said the other frogs. And they began to croak. {Children in audience} “Ribbit. Ribbit. Ribbit.”
An owl flew over the dry river bed and heard the frogs croaking. “Why are you making so much noise?” the owl called to them. After the frogs explained the owl said, “I would like to help.” He began to hoot “Hoot. Hoot. Hoot.”
Other owls said they would help too. They all began to hoot. {Children in audience} “Hoot. Hoot. Hoot.”
A wolf in the desert heard the noise and called to the owls, “Why are you making so much noise?” The owls explained the situation.
The wolf said, “I would like to help.” He began to howl, “Ow-oo, Ow-oo, Ow-oo.” Other wolves said they would like to help. {children in audience} “Ow-oo, Ow-oo, Ow-oo.”
Soon it began to rain. {Use rain stick} It rained, and rained and rained.
One little frog can make a big difference. “Ribbit. Ribbit. Ribbit.”

optional craft:

Song: “We’ve got the Whole World in Our Hands” (traditional) lyrics  -- used “frogs in the lake” “birds in the air” “animals in the woods” “mountains and seas” “flowers and trees” “you and me” “whole world”
Discussed how Native Americans cared about the environment, didn’t think people could own the land, the trees, or the wild animals anymore than they owned the sky…

Read selected pages from Brother Eagle, Sister Sky: A Message from Chief Seattle, paintings by Susan Jeffers (811.3 SEA)
(Alternative: Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp (299 SWA) – also available as a Reading Rainbow episode)

Song: “Thanks a Lot” (Raffi) lyrics

Common Core Connections:
2.2 Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

Related titles:
Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving – Joseph Bruchac (398.208997 BRU)
Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters (974.4 WAT) a photo-essay exploring the life of a Wampanoag boy in the 1620s.
Giving Thanks: the 1621 Harvest Feast by Kate Waters (394.2649 WAT) a photo-essay reenactment as a 6 year old English boy and a 14 year old Wampanoag boy share their stories of what might have happened at that first feast.
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving – Catherine 0’Neill Grace & Margaret M. Bruchac – illustrated with photographs from the Plimoth Plantation.  Great background info but not a read-aloud.
Eagle Boy: A Pacific Northwest Native Tale retold by Richard Lee Vaughan (Picture Vaughan) – the story of how an abandoned orphan boy is saved by bald eagles and comes to save his people as well.
Maiden of the Mist: A Legend of Niagara Falls – Veronika Martenova Charles (398.208997 CHA)
Owl Eyes –Frieda Gates (398.208997 GAT)
Dancing With the Indians – Angela Shelf Medearis (Picture Medearis)
The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush – Tomie dePaola (398.208997 DEP)
& many of the Paul Goble titles ((398.208997 GOB)
Bedm 11.14

Reading Rainbow: Knots on a Counting Rope -- Native American boy overcomes blindness
Reading Rainbow: Legend of the Indian Paintbrush 

Fall Leaves Fall–Story/Craft Program

Join us as we celebrate the season.  We'll be reading the book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, then crafting some imaginative leaf creations of our own. 
If you have found some beautiful fall leaves, bring them along!

Displayed autumn books for kids to browse while waiting for others to arrive.

Entering music (also used while crafting):  John McCutcheon’s Four Seasons: AutumnSongs
Autumn Leaf -- Cut & Tell Story – story & directions here

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger.  (A lone yellow leaf clings to a giant oak tree  refusing to let go of his branch until the encouragement of a scarlet leaves helps him to overcome his fear of change.)

Action Song (Mulberry Bush variant): This is the way we rake the leaves… jump in the pile, throw leaves in the air…rake them up again…on an autumn day.

Mathematical Moment – Can you guess how many leaves might be in a big tree in your yard?  Solicit guesses….can you believe as many as a million?!?  Showed this Bedtime Math Problem: Raking It In and had kids help figure out the answers.  More Bedtime Math leaf mathematics here.

Book/Song: The Leaves in the Trees by Thom Wiley (mnemonics for leaf identification)

Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley (A tree finds some pretty wacky ways to change colors in this light-hearted book.)

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (Leaves form people, chickens, fish, cows and many other objects in this artistic and splendidly-creative book.)

Craft stations – play the music CD while children are at work:
  • “Leaf Creatures inspired by Leaf Man -- Materials: 12x18” construction paper, die-cut leaves (real leaves will dry up and fall off), glue sticks, googly eyes, markers/crayons, scrap construction paper.
  • Leaf rubbings – Materials: xerox paper, real leaves newly harvested so not too brittle, crayons with their paper wrappers removed.
11.14 BWL

Thursday, October 9, 2014

School Age Storytime: Apples & Pumpkins

A storytime for K-4th grade celebrating the season emphasizing empathy & compassion, with a great (un-common core) non-fiction component showing the many de-composers (animals, insects, molds and slimes) that make up the life cycle of a pumpkin.

Participatory Storytelling/Props:  The Little Red House with No Doors & No Windows, a Chimney On Top & a Star in the Middle (Tip: instantly turn flannel pieces into hanging signs for kids to wear using plastic paper protector sleeves with stiff paper inserts & yarn ribbon to hang around each child's neck, prop: real apple & knife to slice horizontally.)

Book: One Green Apple by Eve Bunting --This beautiful (and beautifully illustrated) story emphasizes understanding and compassion as Farah, a new student from an unnamed country, goes with her class on a field trip to an apple orchard and finds that though she is different and doesn’t know the language, she can be accepted and will find friends here.

Participatory Storytelling/Props: Big Pumpkin – from the book by Erica Silverman -- In this variant on the folktale, “The Great Big Enormous Turnip,” the witch, ghost, skeleton, and vampire are unable to pull up the pumpkin until a tiny bat ignores their derisive laughter and suggests they all work together.  I sing/chant this to a tune from an old Scholastic recording – feel free to contact me if you want to learn the tune.

Non-Fiction Book: Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices – 577.16 SCHWARTZ – “UnCommon Core” at its best!  -- Told in the first person by the pumpkin, mouse, squirrel, slug, fly, black rot, bread mold, sow bug, Penicillium, earthworm, yeast cell, slime mold, soil, and seed, this is science “on the hoof.”  Wonderful writing & delightfully yucky photographs complete this unforgettable tour through the life cycle of a pumpkin that kids will find completely enGROSSing!  (Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell and Pumpkin Circle 635.32 LEVENSON offer less-detailed versions for a younger crowd. Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller makes a great fictional companion story.)

Participatory Storytelling/Props: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything based on the story by Linda Williams

Book: Pumpkins: A Story for a Field by Mary Lyn Ray – A splendid modern environmental myth in which a man, saddened by the thought that the field across from his house is about to be sold, sells everything he has, buys seeds, grows pumpkins, and then sends them all around the world (by planes, trucks, ships, and even flying carpets) to get enough money to buy the field and save it.  (10.14 – omitted in kindergarten, did action song “Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate” instead.)

Other possibilities – no time in a 40 minute program:
  • Bear’s Bargain – Frank Asch (Bear figures out how he can help Bird feel big & Bird helps Bear figure out how to fly In this tale emphasizing creative problem solving)
  • Sophie’s Squash – Pat Zietlow Miller (girl adopts squash as her doll, then sees it start to change until it is reborn the following year – twin squash!)
  • The Perfect Pumpkin Pie – Denys Cazet (a not-too-scary ghost story with a great refrain – good to make the refrain into a poster and chant it together!)
  • Pumpkin Heads – Wendall Minor (quick book celebrating creative pumpkin carving – great lead-in to a craft)
See also the songs & stories in:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Jazzing Up the Traditional Book-Flannel-Song/Fingerplay Rhythm of Storytime -- Youth Services Forum 2014

Carol Simon Levin's notes for Storytime Shake-Up – NJ Youth Services Forum Oct. 1 2014

Here are some suggestions I shared, please click on each of the links for more information.

Using sign language songs ("dancing with our hands"), – great resource Pick Me Up - Fun Songs for Learning Signs has catchy tunes and drawings for each of the signs described. Any song with lots of repetition is also a good candidate, e.g. Tom Chapin's Walk the World Now Children (easy to find signs online, just Google what you are looking for e.g. "American sign language water")

Creating piggyback songs to reinforce activity sequencing, pre-reading skill, kinesthetic learning (e.g."This is the way" for the steps in baking after we read The Little Red Hen)

Participatory storytelling/theater (e.g. showing how we act out The Three Little Pigs in my Houses & Homes storytime, Green Eggs & Ham for Eggs or Dr. Seuss Day, The Frog Hopi Rainstick story for our Rain storytime)

Fall Favorites:
The Little Red House with No Doors & No Windows, a Chimney On Top & a Star in the Middle (tip: instantly turn flannel pieces into hanging signs for kids to wear using plastic paper protector sleeves with stiff paper inserts & yarn ribbon to hang around each child's neck)

It's Monster Day song with flannel pieces quickly cut using pinking sheers & google eyes.

Big Pumpkin, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, One Dark Night, Old McDonald Had a Haunted House and other Halloween-themed stories & Songs.

Turkey Towel-Folding Story and Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie Prop for Thanksgiving

Stone Soup  (using our Halloween plastic cauldron plus puppets, & 3D veggies (sewn from felt) and  Snowball fight made from plastic bags for winter storytimes

These and many more ideas are posted on my blog: Family storytelling and historical impersonations programs are at:

Carol Simon Levin, Youth Services Librarian, Somerset County Library Bridgewater, 908 526-4016 x126. Please feel free to contact me at

School Age Storytime: On this Spot: New York City & The Empire State Building–A Trip Through Time

On this Spot: NYC & The Empire State Building–
A Trip Through Time with a Dash of Math & Fantasy Too

These titles are perfect examples of the “Uncommon Core”
Complementary fiction & non-fiction titles which explore history, geography,
mathematics & science in an eye-opening, mind-expanding, and fun fashion!
Top Job – Elizabeth Cody Kimmel (After other students in the class brag about their parents’ professions, narrator explains about her father’s job – changing the lightbulb on the top of the Empire State Building! --  Lots of math problem possibilities – fun to work out how tall the building is.   Trivia: Please Touch Museum image of  Statue of Liberty Torch made from toys!)

Sky Boys – Deborah Hopkinson (Going back in time 80+ years to see the amazing story of how the “Sky Boys” built the Empire State Building – lots more math here (e.g. translating tons into pounds yields an enormous number!)  Can also talk about the Depression, mention bread line sculpture at Grounds for Sculpture & Roosevelt Memorial, Liberty Science Center “skyscrapers” exhibit and competition for highest building – the secret nighttime raising of the antenna)

Sector 7 – David Wiesner (author/illustrator local boy, grew up in Bridgewater NJ, Caldecott Medal winner, fun wordless fantasy of a boy who goes on an adventure with a cloud and makes quite a stir at the cloud factory.  Did you know there really is a cloud machine? Here’s a video.)

On this Spot: An Expedition Back Through Time J574.71 Goodman (Non-Fiction – uncommon core!) --  A brilliant tour-de-force tracing NYC from the present back in time 540 million years…lots of mathematical comparisons (e.g.if all the 8 million people in NYC today were laid end to end would reach to California and back, 350 years ago New Amsterdam had 1500 people = about the population of 3 schools today), fascinating historical trivia (e.g. pigs and chickens roamed NYC streets 175 years ago, the Lenape path to winter grounds is now today’s Broadway) and scientific information (the rise and fall of mammoths, ice age glaciers*, dinosaurs, lakes, mountains, and seas).   Text is long but can be paraphrased for younger classes.)  *mentioned our gorgeous local Buck Garden was carved by a mile high glacier.

Ding Dong Ding Dong – Margie Palatini (clever re-imagining of King Kong, who is just a simple Gorilla representative for Ape-On cosmetics trying to get ahead in the business world…full of puns and other wordplay! -- only had time to read in some classes but this one is great fun!)

Trying to infuse some more math into your daily routine? – check out which offers a new math challenge (with three or four levels of difficulty) every day – also available as an app.  Here’s a problem related to the Empire State Building:

Other NYC titles:
A Picnic in October – Eve Bunting
Old Penn Station – 974.71 LOW
Fireboat -- Kalman
Liberty’s Journey – Dipucchio
Under New York – Linda Oatman High
Building Manhattan – 074.71 Vila
Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of NYC – 598.944 SCHULMAN
The Tale of Pale Male: A True Story – Jeanette Winter
City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male – Meghan McCarthy
Twenty One Elephants & Still Standing – April Jones Prince
Twenty One Elephants – Phil Bildner
Bedm 5/08, 10/14

Reading Rainbow: Sea to Shining Sea -- shows restoration of Statue of Liberty

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

UnCommon Core -- Youth Services Forum 2014 –Slides


For a TERRIFIC post  about using picture book biographies as mentor texts at any grade level, check out:


Carol Simon Levin is a Youth Services Librarian at the Bridgewater Branch of the Somerset County Library.  She is a passionate fan of great non-fiction and biography, particularly those titles that spark the imagination of young readers.

Dr. Ellen Pozzi is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the School Library Media Program at William Paterson University. She has been on the Garden State Children Books Awards committee for over a decade, and is a past president of the Children’s Services Section. Ellen enjoys reading nonfiction books for readers of all ages.

A complete copy of this presentation, book & resource lists  can be found here:

Nonfiction Blogs – courtesy of Ellen Pozzi:
The Uncommon Core
Nonfiction Monday
The Nonfiction Detectives
Great Common Core Nonfiction for YAs
INK Nonfiction Minute
The Classroom Bookshelf
Common Core Exemplar Texts

AASL has two GREAT resources:
  1. Common Core State Standards Action Toolkit for Public Librarians (11 pg. doc)
  2. The Common Core and the Public Librarian: Reaching Patrons and Students (1 hr. Webinar)
Here's the link to the Prezi Ellen and Arlen Kimmelman did at NJLA 2014. It's  "public" and "reusable"

In the Prezi, slide  #23 lists what public librarians already do to support Common Core:
  • award winning titles
  • connections to non-fiction audiobooks
  • story times & book clubs
  • highlighting primary sources
  • navigating the shelves
  • topic displays
  • lists of matching fiction to nonfiction
That is also the type of information that is in the AASL Toolkit mentioned above.

Here is the link to our bibliography for the presentation:

--Mrs. Arlen Kimmelman, Librarian

National Board Certified Teacher

President-Elect, New Jersey Association of School Librarians
Clearview Regional High School, Mullica Hill, NJ 08062

"Saying you don't need a Librarian because you have the Internet is like saying you don't need a Math Teacher because you have a calculator."  ~Don Reynolds, TLA

Pre-School Storytime: Moon Struck!

Perfect for PJ Time (or Anytime), a storytime celebrating the moon, mistaken ideas & friendship along with some numeracy and science ideas (reflection/echo).

Entering Music: various tracks from This Pretty Planet by Tom Chapin

Book: Song Knick, Knack, Paddywhack – Marissa Moss (enumerating 1-10, numerals/fingers, guessing what the man might be making…”reveal” at countdown)

Action: Do You Want to Go With Me To the Moon? (Source Unknown)
Do You Want to Go With Me To the Moon?
Let’s get in our rocket ship & blast off soon.
Faster and faster we reach to the sky.
Isn’t it fun to be able to fly?
We’re on the moon, now all take a look
And gently sit down, and I’ll show you a book!

Book: Kitten’s First Full Moon – Kevin Henkes (Caldecott winner-explain) (act out kitten’s motions, chorus “Poor Kitten,” discuss science concept: reflection)

Speaking of food…
Song/Flannel: “Aikendrum” (quickly cut “cream cheese” circle, “brown bread,” “ice cream cones,” “carrots,” “cookies,” “swiss cheese,” “pizza,” “bananas” out of felt, used a bit of tan yarn for “spaghetti” hair – suggested to families that this song makes a good lunchtime inspiration or backseat while driving song…can make up own lyrics!)

Book: Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me – Eric Carle  (directional concept words, fun fold-out pages)

Action Song: Mr. Moon (my variation on Mr. Sun by Raffi)
O, Mr. Moon, Moon, Mr. Silver Moon
Won’t you please come play with me.
O, Mr. Moon, Moon, Mr. Silver Moon
Hiding behind that tree.
These little children are asking you
To please come out so they can play with you.
O, Mr. Moon, Moon, Mr. Silver Moon
Please come play with, please come play with,
Please come play with me!
Monkey wants to play with the moon…

Flannel: Moonkey (based on the book by Mike Thaler)  “Once upon a palm tree…”

Action Song: Sally Go Round the Sun (traditional)
Sally Go Round the Sun (Turn Right)
Sally Go Round the Moon (Turn Left)
Sally Go Round the Chimney Tops (Step Lively)
All on an Afternoon, BOOM! (Sit down!)

Video: Happy Birthday Moon -- Frank Asch (mention MoonBear series – displayed)

Action Song: Be My Echo from Sesame Street (reinforces science concept of echo from video)

Entering Music: various tracks from This Pretty Planet by Tom Chapin

Other possibilities:
Flannel/Rhyme: Hey Diddle Diddle
Moon Boy – Barbara Brenner
MoonGame – Frank Asch
Mrs. Mooley -- Jack Kent
What’s Next Baby Bear – Murphy (wkrm) or
Zoom Zoom Zoom! I’m off to the moon – Yacarino
I’ll Catch the Moon – Nina Crews

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