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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

UnCommon Core -- Youth Services Forum 2014 –Slides


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

Friday, September 12, 2014

School Age Storytime: School Daze–Fun Stories Celebrating a New School Year (K-3)

Book:  The Wrong Side of the Bed – Wallace E. Keller* (talked about what that expression means, delightful story in which a child literally gets up on the wrong side of the bed and goes through the day upside down!) also available as a Top 10 Storybook App (Kirkus Reviews):

Poem: "School Days Rap" from Lunch Money & Other Poems for School – Carol Diggory Shields
Book: Sarah's Story – Bill Harley (Sarah doesn’t think she knows any stories for school until she gets caught up in an adventure involving a Queen Ant in search of a honey sandwich!)

Book: Just Another Ordinary Day – Rod Clement (deadpan language about an ordinary day is very funny when paired with anything but ordinary illustrations)
Song: "By the Way" from Joe Scruggs album Deep in the Jungle lyrics below:
also available on Youtube; . Props: paper bag with “lemonade can”, “sardine can” (I used image from internet wrapped around a box), 6 cotton balls & 4 rubber bands.

Book: Minerva Louise at School – Janet Morgan Stoeke (younger) booktalked other Minerva Louise books; Toll Bridge Troll – Patricia Rae Wolff (older) --  text-to-text
connection to The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Interactive Book: One – Kathryn Otoshi  -- All the other colors are intimidated by “Red’” until the “One” arrives and shows how everyone can count. This is a deceptively simple concept book that is also a brilliantly empowering story on how students can help one another stand up to bullies.  

Songs: “Smelly Locker” and “Heavy Backpack” from the book Smelly Locker Silly Dilly School Songs by Alan Katz

Poem (if time): "Clock Watching"  from Lunch Money & Other Poems for School – Carol Diggory Shields
Lyrics to By the Way by Joe Scruggs

It’s Monday morning, I’m running late,
There’s not a minute to spare.
Mom calls out, “Come on, Let’s Go,”
As she finishes drying her hair.
Now I’m in my place,
With a smile on my face
Just thinking about my day.
Then I think of some things
I’m supposed to bring,
and that is when I say,
“Dear Mom,
oh, by the way (echo)
I need an orange juice can,
4 cotton balls, and 6 rubber bands
And by the way, (echo)
I’m an angel in the play.
I’m gonna sing & I need some wings” (echo)
Well I guess I’ve induced some stress.
Mom’s smile begins to fade.
As she runs to the kitchen
And digs through the trash
For the can from the lemonade.
Now I start to protest
But she’s doing her best
So then I try to make it right.
I say, “I need everything by eight-fifteen
But I don’t need the wings till tonight.
Oh, by the way (echo)
I need an orange juice can,
If its lemonade, will the teacher understand?
And by the way, (echo)
They’re having meatloaf today.
If you don’t mind a bunch (echo)
I’m going to need a lunch.” (echo)

Sometimes I just don’t believe
How resourceful moms can be.
She gets the cotton balls
And the rubber bands,
From her vanity.
I’ve got a lemonade can,
Not quite the right brand.
But mom says it will do!
Then we’re out of the door
At seven fifty-four,
I won’t be late for school.

Oh, by the way (echo)
Meatloaf is better than it seems.
For my lunch, (echo)
Mom packed a can of sardines.
And for the play, (echo)
It’s sister’s costume from ballet.
I’m gonna sing (echo)
In her butterfly wings (echo)

Other possible books:
New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story – April Halprin Wayland (a wonderful book describing the tradition of tashlich --making apologies and tossing away the things that you did wrong the previous year so as to start the new year with a clean heart -- not a bad idea for all of us, no matter what time of year it is!)
Mouse Views – Bruce McMillan (close up views of classroom objects – great guessing game interactive book)
The Little School Bus – Carol Roth (rhyming -phonemes, action)
Late for School
Bedm 9.14

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Celebrate Madeline's 75th Anniversary

Travel with us to that old house in Paris to celebrate the 75th anniversary of a young girl who never grows old!  Enjoy stories, crafts, a birthday cake, and even a parade in two straight lines. (Ages 4-10)
Madeline’s Birthday Party
Set-up: Room decorated for a birthday party with crepe paper streamers, banners & balloons. Miss Carol costumed as Miss Clavel (nun’s habit).  Two long tables draped in blue plastic tablecloths & laid out with crafts  – each place had a ceiling crack picture, toilet paper roll Madeline doll, Madeline hat & cape - kids do crafts, then eat cake here.   French accordion music CD (Café Paris, details below) playing as kids arrive.
As children entered, gave them a Madeline name tag and Madeline cloak (pre-made from blue plastic tablecloth & red curling ribbon).  Directed them to take a place at the tables to make a Madeline hat (Materials: yellow plastic bowl (or paper bowl & yellow marker), 8 holes pre-punched along the rim, red curling ribbon for kids to string through the holes then tie into a bow).  Note: a little rolled masking tape helped hats stay on heads. Other option: add ribbons to tie hats on heads.
After most children had their hats, invited all to come to story area.  Discussed that though the girl in the book is about their age (maybe 7?) the book was 75 years old.  Asked them about the sticker on the book: (Caldecott Silver)
Read: Madeline (original story)
Action: “Madeline, Madeline Turn Around” (based on “Teddy Bear Turn Around”)
Read: Madeline’s Rescue (Caldecott Gold)
Whole Group Games:
  • “Miss Clavel Says” (like “Simon Says”) – did this for several minutes -- no winners or losers, just laughs, then played…
  • Musical chairs (spots) to French music  -- we actually used some small round rubber mats (from a dinosaur game – but they looked like raindrops!) to put on the floor instead of the chairs but the idea was the same.  Alternate game possibility: “Hot Potato”  passing a Madeline hat or doll.  In either game, when music stops, the child eliminated was directed to “Pin the hat on Madeline” so there was no real sense of losers.  (Great CD: French Playground (Putumayo Kids) -- start on a different track after each stop.  
  • Pin the hat on the Madeline (after each child finishes, s/he was directed to the craft tables.) 
Craft tables:  (Had French music playing while the kids made crafts, used CD:  Café Paris. Enrique Ugarte, accordion, bass ; with Dylan Vaughn, guitar ; Ron Vorpahl, drums. England : ARC, [2007])
  • Make a Madeline toilet paper roll puppet (directions/templates:
  • Ceiling Crack pictures – inspired by the line in the original book: “a crack in the ceiling had the habit of sometimes looking like a rabbit” (Supplies: 11x17 papers with squiggle drawn on each that kids could expand into anything they imagined, markers – similar to a craft I have done with “Harold & the Purple Crayon.”)
Closing activity: parade in two straight lines around the library (make sure CD player has batteries and doesn’t skip when moving around – we learned this the hard way!)
Sing: “Happy Birthday”
Food: cake &  lemonade
  • Hats –bowls (either paper bowl that kids color with yellow markers or yellow plastic bowls), pre-punch holes around the edge so kids can string with red curling ribbon to make bow.
  • Capes - pre-cut from blue plastic tablecloths with red curling ribbon ties.
  • Madeline books & DVDs to display
  • French music CDs & CD-player
  • Poster, Tape, & Blindfold for Pin the Hat game
  • Puppet supplies: TP rolls, blue rectangles, half sheets with face/limbs, glue sticks, tape, scissors, markers.  Squiggle pictures: paper with squiggle, markers, pre-made sample puppet.
  • Party decorations (balloons, banners, streamers, props), tablecloths for tables, birthday cake, lemonade, plates, napkins, forks, cups, knife to cut cake, candles/matches
Thanks to Mary Marshall for some of these ideas.
Another idea(didn’t use because expected too many children): Madeline memory game.  Make cards of Eiffel tower, Madeline, Miss Clavel, etc.

The Bridgewater Library celebrated the 75 anniversary of the popular children's book "Madeline" on Saturday, Sept. 6.

(Photo: Jenna Intersimone)
  • The SCLS will be hosting another Madeline birthday event at the Peapack & Gladstone Library.
  • The ten branches of the SCLS hold over 170 "Madeline"-themed materials.
  • In the stories written entirely in rhyme, Madeline is the smallest of the girls, yet the bravest.
Madeline may have turned 75 this year, but she doesn't look a day over 7.
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication of "Madeline," the timeless red-headed character of Austrian author Ludwig Bemelmans and star of children's books featuring a Catholic boarding school in Paris, the Somerset County Library System held a birthday party at the Bridgewater Library on Saturday involving 16 children and their families.
The tiny attendees crafted blue capes and yellow hats using bowls, ribbons and tablecloths to wear for a Madeline parade, listened in for story time by Miss Clavel, otherwise known as librarian Carol Levine, created handmade Madeline dolls, played Madeline-themed games and shared a birthday cake.
The 10 branches of the library system hold over 170 Madeline-themed materials including books, DVDs and audiobooks.
In the stories written entirely in rhyme, Madeline is the smallest of the girls, yet the bravest and most outgoing of the group. She is the only redhead.
"Madeline' is a cultural touchstone," Library Director Brian Auger said. "I have such fond memories of reading the 'Madeline' books to my daughter. I would give anything to do that again. I read them so many times I can recite the opening lines."
The library system will be hosting other Madeline birthday events this year, the next one being at the Peapack & Gladstone Library on Oct. 14.
Newspaper article

9.2014 BWL

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...