Tuesday, November 26, 2013

School Age Storytime: Something Special For the Holidays


Storytimes emphasizing the commonalities of the winter holidays -- lights in the darkest part of the year and how the actions of some people can bring light to others

12.16 (after an electrical blackout this week in Bedminster
& an upsurge in religious intolerance following the election.)
Holiday Lights
 

Opened by asking about who experienced the electrical blackout this week. How they felt, how candles and flashlights provided welcome light. This time of year, lots of darkness – many holidays push back the darkness with lights – Diwali, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa)
Book: Lights for Gita – Rachna Gilmore

Song: This Little Light of Mine (traditional) …Heart…Won’t let anyone blow it out…I’m going to let it shine!
 
Poems: “Star Catcher” and “Holiday Magic” from Winter Lights: A Season in Poems & Quilts – Ann Grossnickle Hines 811.54 HIN 
Book: All the Lights in the Night by Arthur A. Levine (two young boys travel by themselves to Palestine to escape Russian anti-semitism – mentioned my own mother and her eight year old (older) brother escaped Germany by train without their parents along)
 
Glove/Song: One Little, Two Little, Three Little Candles
 
Poems: “One Little Candle” & “Small Miracles” from Winter Lights
 
The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate – Janice Cohn (Describes how the people in America --Billings Montana-- joined together to fight a series of hate crimes against a Jewish family. This is a long story.  My abridgment is below.)  
Book: Dusk by Uri Shulevitz
Poem: “Lights Out” from Winter Lights
(Mentioned when I was their age I would go into my closet after “lights out” and read!)
 
Looking for other special books for the holidays? Check out the great lists here:

12.15:

Holiday Lights

Poem: “Solstice” and/or   “A Sight to See” from Winter Lights: A Season in Poems & Quilts – Ann Grossnickle Hines 811.54 HIN 

Book: Lights for Gita – Rachna Gilmore (When an ice storm threatens her Divali celebrations, a girl discovers that the love of family and friends is what is really important) or Welcome Back Sun -- Michael Emberly (people in a Norwegian town cut off from the sun from November to March eagerly await its return -- nice tie in to solstice.)  Another possibility: Holiday Lights -- Jeron Ashford (a small lumpy candle gets passed from neighbor to neighbor as each needs it to light up their celebration).
 
Poems: “Star Catcher” & “Holiday Magic” from Winter Lights
Song: This Little Light of Mine (traditional)

Book: The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes – Linda Glasser (Girl figures out a way to include her lonely but stubborn neighbor in their Chanukah Celebration wonderful figurative language like: "
Mrs. Greenberg's house was always clean and tidy, like its face was just scrubbed and its blouse was tucked in, while Rachel's house always looked like it was still in its pajamas and needed to brush its hair yet.")  or  Hanukkah at Valley Forge --Stephen Krensky (based on a true story -- George Washington came upon a soldier celebrating Chanukah and makes the comparison between the Maccabees and colonists own struggle.) or The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate – Janice Cohn (Describes how the people in Billings Montana joined together to fight a series of hate crimes against a Jewish family. This is a long story.  My abridgment is below.)  
 
Song/Flannel: “I Had a Little Dreidel” with many funny verses (see below)
Poems: “One Little Candle” & “Small Miracles” from Winter Lights

Book:
 Olive the Other Reindeer-- J. Otto Seibold or Too Many Tamales – Gary Soto or Welcome Comfort -- Patrica Polacco or Elijah's Angel -- Michael Rosen
 
Poems: “Christmas Path” & “Morning Light” & “Kwanzaa” from Winter Lights 

Song: We wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Merry Kwanzaa

Poem: “Lights Out” from Winter Lights

Looking for additional special holiday titles?  Check out this bibliography: http://www.somerset.lib.nj.us/kids/PDFs/holidays2011.pdf

Holiday Lights: Divali & Chanukah Stories
A program celebrating the “early” winter holidays this year – Divali & Chanukah
(Christmas/Kwanzaa another week) 

(developing empathy -- including coat/food/toy drives, working together to make a difference, anti-bullying)
 
 
Open by asking if anyone has noticed what has been happening to daylight – shorter time after school before darkness falls – why? (daylight savings ended, earth tilt)…many religions have festivals celebrating light at this time of year: Divali, Chanukah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, New Year’s…
 
Book: Lights for Gita – Rachna Gilmore (Gita’s family has recently emigrated from India and she is eagerly anticipating celebrating Divali with her new friends, but when an ice storm threatens her Divali celebrations, Gita discovers that the love of family and friends is what is really important)
 
Stand up & sing with hand motions: This Little Light of Mine(traditional)  (heart/dream/won’t let anyone blow it out)
 
Discussion How do we make light in our communities?– helping needy with food/coat/toy drives…outgrown coats, what it would feel like if they had no presents this holiday?
 
Hanukkah Bear -- Eric A. Kimmel (nearly blind "Bubba" mistakes a bear for the rabbi) (K-1 only)
 
“In India fireworks on Divali like 4th of July --- Now travel back 200 & 2000 years in this book based on a true story – ask -- anyone ever heard of “Valley Forge”?”
Book: Hanukkah at Valley Forge – Stephen Krensky (based on true story in which George Washington witnessed a Jewish soldier’s chanukah candle lighting)
--author’s note fascinating.  Discussion of local National Park Jockey Hollow, where troops spent a subsequent winter.
 
Song/glove puppets (or fingers): One Little Two Little Three Little Candles.
 
This is another book based on a true story that happened around 20 years ago:
 
Book: The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate by Janice Cohen –305.8934 COH  -- showed pictures but used my own abridgement below.  (1st-3rd grade)
 
Discussion: Have kids remember what happened (rock, policeman, mom-reporter, town meeting…led to community action.  Relate to their own lives…”whether someone not allowed to practice their religion, teased about where they come from, what they look like (tall, short, fat, thin, glasses, crutches, blue eyes, green nose!)…what should they do…one person helped if many people stand up!) true for communities as well – e.g.pollution

Book: The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes – Linda Glasser (Girl figures out a way to include her lonely but stubborn neighbor in their Chanukah Celebration) Kindergarten
Song/Flannel:  "Chanukah, Oh Chanukah, Come Light the Menorah"
image
 
Song/Flannel:  I Had a Little Dreidel (with myriad variations --source unknown -- students encouraged to make up new verses!)  
New verse today:
”I had a little dreidel, I made it out of cheese, but when I went to spin it, I had a great big sneeze!!”
 
image
More song lyrics:
carolsimonlevin.blogspot.com/2013/12/singalong-keep-spiritwinter-holiday.html


12.12 Bedm:
 




Holiday Lights: Divali & Chanukah Stories
A program celebrating the “early” winter holidays this year –
Divali & Chanukah

Book: Lights for Gita - Rachna Gilmore (When an ice storm threatens the Divali holiday plans of a new immigrant girl, she learns that the lights inside her are more important than fireworks and festivities.)

Song: This Little Light of Mine (traditional)

Book: The Magic Dreidels -- Eric A. Kimmel (Chanukah retelling of folktale "The tablecloth, the donkey and the stick" in which a tricky "fruma" tries to steal the magical dreidels given to a young boy by a goblin in a well.)

Song/Flannel:  I Had a Little Dreidel (with myriad variations --source unknown -- students encouraged to make up new verses!)   Lyric for this and other songs can be found here:  http://carolsimonlevin.blogspot.com/2013/11/turkey-latkes-thanksgiving-chanukah.html


Book: The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes --Linda Glaser (When unexpected guests are due, a girl borrows more potatoes and eggs from Mrs. Greenberg, the lonely but stubborn older woman next door, and finally figures out a way to convince her to join in the celebration.  This book has delicious examples of figurative language, e.g. "Mrs. Greenberg's house was always clean and tidy, like its face was just scrubbed and its blouse was tucked in, while Rachel's house always looked like it was still in its pajamas and needed to brush its hair yet."

Song/Flannel:  "Chanukah, Oh Chanukah, Come Light the Menorah"

Book
(where time): The Ugly Menorah -- Marissa Moss (On the first Chanukah after her grandfather's death, his granddaughter learns to appreciate the handmade menorah he made from scraps during the Depression.)
Song/glove puppets (or fingers): One Little Two Little Three Little Candles.

Consider: Oscar and the Eight Blessings by Tanya Simon and Richard Simon, illustrated by Mark Siegel. In 1938 Jewish refugee makes his way up Manhattan on Christmas Eve.

12.13 Bedm



      Something Special for the Holidays (gifts of kindness, light, anti-bullying)

Hanukkah Bear -- Eric A. Kimmel (nearly blind "Bubba" mistakes a bear for the rabbi) (K-1)
Hanukkah at Valley Forge – Stephen Krensky (based on true story in which George Washington witnessed a Jewish soldier’s chanukah candle lighting) (2nd)

Flannel/Song: "Hanukkah, O Hanukkah, Come Light the Menorah"

Welcome Comfort -- Patricia Polacco (mention Patricia didn't learn to read until 5th grade when a special teacher helped her (her book Thank You Mr. Falker tells this story) (overweight foster child teased by other children finds a friend in the school custodian, and discovers the custodian has a second job every Christmas).  Booktalked her other miraculous holiday tales: The Christmas Tapestry and The Trees of The Dancing Goats.

Flannel/Song:  "He’ll be Flying on the Northwind"

Winter Candle -- Jeron Ashford (a lumpy candle provides essential light at five different holiday celebrations) (K-1), Welcome Back, Sun --Michael Emberley (After a long winter, Anna and her Norwegian family climb up the mountain in their eagerness to finally see the sun again.) (2nd grade)

Song/Book: This Little Light of Mine -- E.B.Lewis

Some groups (when time): Song:  I have a little dreidel (with additional verses - encourage kids to make up new ones)

12.14 Bedm


Other possibilities/booktalked in some groups: Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat -- Naomi Howland (magic frying pan makes latkes -- good comparison story to Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola), , One Candle -- Eve Bunting (older classes only -- grandmother recalls how she and her sister commemorated Chanukah in a concentration camp with a stolen potato and a scrap of margarine), Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins -- Eric Kimmel (ingenious trickster outwits the goblins who have been terrorizing a village.) 



Something Special for the Holidays
 
 
Book: Lights for Gita (Divali) – Rachma Gilmore
  Song/Action:  This Little Light of Mine (heart, dream)
Book:  The Magic Dreidels – Kimmel
  Song:  I have a little dreidel (sand, ice addl. Verses)
Book:  Silver Packages – Cynthia Rylant or  December – Eve Bunting
  Song:  Jingle Bells
Book:  Olive the Other Reindeer – J. Otto Seibold
  Song:  He’ll be Flying on the Northwind


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"Expect the Unexpected"

Book: The Chanukkah Guest -- Eric Kimmel
Book: The Magic Dreidels -- Eric Kimmel
Song: "I Have a Little Dreidel"
Book: The Trouble with Trolls --Jan Brett (mentioned that students should check
out Brett's books to look at the details in the edge illustrations)

Book: Sofie's Role -- Amy Heath (discussed homophones & figurative language)
Book: December -- Eve Bunting (a beautiful story about a homeless mother and child and a holiday miracle?)
(great tie-in to food & coat drives)

If anyone wants to make those cinnamon stars or gingerbread sleigh's in Sofie's Role, here are some good recipes:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Gingerbread-Cookies-I/Detail.aspx
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cinnamon-Stars/Detail.aspx
12.07
 
 
The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate 
Adaption/abridgement by Carol Simon Levin from the book by Janice Cohn.
I show the pictures from the book while telling the story something like this:
 
Not too many years ago, a boy named Isaac Schnitzer lived with his mother and father in the town of Billings Montana (might show location on a map so kids understand this is in the USA).
 
On the third night of Chanukah -- just as they did every night of Chanukah --Isaac's family lit their menorahs and placed them in the windows of their house.    A little while later, Isaac heard a crash.  Heading upstairs toward the sound, he discovered that the window to his bedroom was shattered and a rock lay on the floor.
 
His parents came upstairs then called the police.
 
When Chief Inman arrived, he suggested that it might be safer if they took down their menorahs.
 
But his mom replied, “We’re not taking down the Chanukah decorations.  Being Jewish is who we are—we are not going to hide it.”
 
“You shouldn’t have to,” responded the chief, “but there is a small group of people in Billings who have been causing a lot of trouble.   They’ve  sent out leaflets saying hateful things about Jews.  They’ve spray-painted threats and insults on a Native American home and tried to frighten African-Americans in their church.  Just last week they damaged a synagogue – now they are throwing rocks at menorahs.”
 
“Let’s put our menorahs away,” said Isaac.  “Then maybe they won’t bother us again.”
 
His dad put his arm around him. “I know how you feel.  It’s frightening.  But celebrating Chanukah is part of being Jewish.  It is what we believe in.  We’re not about to let some bullies keep us from celebrating our holiday.”
 
“But what can we do?” asked Isaac.
 
“Isaac,” said his mom, “A lot of people in this town—all kinds of people—are really angry at what these haters have been doing.  I’m going to be interviewed on TV and tell  everyone in Billings what happened to us and ask people to help.”
 
“Yes,” agreed the Chief, “If the whole town takes a stand, we can stand up to these bullies.”
 
Many people in Billings saw Mrs. Schnitzer on TV.  Afterwards, a special meeting was called by Chief Inman and a friend of their family named Ms. McDonald.
 
“The police are doing everything they can to catch these people,” Chief Inman told the crowd.  “But it’s important to show that an act of hate against even one person in Billings is an act against all of us.”
 
“I have an idea,” said Ms. McDonald.  “I remember a story my parents told me. When the Nazis invaded Denmark during World War 2, they ordered all Jews to wear a yellow star on their clothes so that they could be easily identified.  The courageous King of Denmark believed that the lives of all the Danish people were precious.  According to legend, King Christian said that if the Jews had to wear stars, then he would too. The next morning, riding his horse out of the palace, he did.   Soon many other Danes also wore stars -- even though the enemy threatened to punish them.  Because of their courage, the lives of many Jews were saved.”
 
“The Schnitzers have been told it would be safer for them to take down their menorahs,” she continued, “but that is not the answer.  What if the rest of us were told to take down our Christmas trees and lights because people might throw rocks at us for being Christians?  I say, let’s take a stand like the Danish people – let’s all put up menorahs!”
 
And that is just what happened.   Some citizens in Billings cut menorahs out of construction paper and taped them to their windows.   Then the newspaper published a picture of a menorah and even more people taped them to their windows.  Soon menorahs appeared in houses on almost every street in the town.
 
Isaac’s friend Teresa Hanley had never seen a menorah -- so Isaac explained about the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil.  His teacher pointed out that Chanukah celebrates the fight for religious freedom.
 
A few days later, Isaac was driving in the car with  his mom.  “Mom, remember last year when I told you I wanted to bring some of my Chanukah presents to school to show the other guys?”
 
“Uh-huh,” his mom answered.
 
“Well…now don’t be mad…but I didn’t tell them they were Chanukah presents.  I felt funny.  Nobody else gets Chanukah presents.  And I didn’t want to be different.  I just wanted to be like the rest of the class so I told them they were Christmas presents.  But this year I’m going to say I got them for Chanukah.”
 
“I’m glad, Isaac,” his mom answered.
 
“Mom, stop!”
 
“What is it?”
 
“Look!”
 
Ahead was a house with a big picture window. Taped to the window was a large picture of a beautiful menorah drawn with many brightly colored crayons.  Over the menorah was the message.  “For our friend Isaac – with love from Teresa and the rest of the Hanley family.”  Underneath was a picture of a Jewish star and a Christian cross.
 
“She never told me she was doing this…” Isaac said.
 
“You know, honey,” his mom replied.  “Hate can make a lot of noise.  Love and courage are usually quieter.  But in the end, they’re the strongest.”
 
As Chanukah passed and Christmas grew nearer, more and more menorahs could be seen throughout Billings.  The town continued to fight against the acts of hatred, and slowly but surely those acts began to stop.  The townspeople told each other this was a gift they had given to themselves.  And that it was their best holiday gift, ever.
 
 
 
 

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