Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day–Math Play!

Leap Day! Math Play! (Ages 4-12)

Join us as we celebrate this once-every-four-year occasion with some truly wild and wacky mathematics!  We’ll have challenging problems, math riddles, special puzzles, and more for pre-schoolers and pre-teens – and everyone in between! (Caregivers can get into the action too.)  

While kids were arriving let them browse and share math books I’d displayed – lots of recreational math books from the 510s and puzzle books from the 793.73s, plus math picture books like Math Curse by Jon Sciezka,  The Grapes of Math series by Greg Tang, Mathstart series Stuart Murphy and the fun fiction title The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.  More ideas :

Opened by asking what was special about this day?  When will we have it again?  How old/what grade are they in now? Next leap year? – mind-boggling (kindergartners would be in 4th grade, 4th graders finishing middle school,and my 7th & 8th grade teen volunteers realized they would be in 11th and 12th – preparing for college by then!)

Read: What in the World is a Leap Year? by Desiree Busserie – read interactively so kids could answer questions as we went along.

Briefly discussed more aspects of Leap Days via Bedtime Math – problem of the day:  (no time for:  More fascinating background/trivia for Leap Year here – though I didn’t have time to use much:,

Did a prime number activity with the February calendar drawn on a white board – had volunteers come and cross off “counting by twos” then “threes” then “fours” – they noticed all had already been crossed out and figured out that that was because we’d done it with the “twos”,  then continued with “fives” “sixes” – all done already, “sevens” (mentioned prime)…and so on.  An introduction to prime numbers – not to the point of teaching them the details but just giving them a taste. This was a wide-aged group so some had heard about prime numbers before, for others it was the first introduction…

Quickly read: If You Jumped Like a Frog? by David M. Schwartz – again didn’t take the time to discuss in detail but just gave them a taste of proportion and some amazing ideas to think about.

Reinforced our number activities and gave everyone a chance to burn off steam after a long school day by having all the kids leap around the room like frogs while playng a number game inspired by:   Had made a circle around the room of 20 numbered “lily pads” (actually used the Dino Stomp Number Activity circles from Discount School Supply labeled with the numerals)  & sang “This is the way we leap around, leap around, leap around. This is the way we leap around – all on an afternoon!”  Then gave a number command “Stand next to an even number” then sang & leaped and then another number command  “Find a number less than 11” etc.  This was a BIG hit and I reprised it after the activity tables, this time having the kids make up the number command – and they came up with great ideas e.g. we could make chains for addition – “link two numbers that add up to 10.”

After they sat back down, I introduced our math-magical activities – mentioned math is more than arithmetic – shape shifting/puzzles:

  • Mobius strip magic:,
    • Showed a strip of paper – how many sides? (2)
    • Made an ordinary loop (taping together the ends), asked a to come volunteer come up and color it without lifting the marker from the paper – one side colored, other not. 
    • Cut it – showed now had 2 loops
    • Then took a second strip of paper, made one twist and taped it.
    • Had a volunteer color it without lifting the marker from the page. 
    • How many sides? (1!)
    • Cut it – now had one larger loop!
    • Suggested they try it when they went to the tables…and then try cutting it again!
  • Similar paper magic – do you think we can walk through a piece of paper?
  • Tangram puzzles – lots available here:
  • The game of SET  -- this was a big hit – my teen volunteers took turns teaching and playing with 3-5 kids at a time You can also print out puzzles from here:  Note: this is a great thing for kids/parents to try because it helps them understand people’s brains are wired differently. Often a child who is struggling with word decoding just “gets” SET! – they “see” the combinations others have to analyze to find.
  • Math puzzles from: Shape Shuffle – World Book (793.73 WOR) (photocopied pages w/ answers on the back so they could check themselves -- toothpicks or QTips & coins) – set up a table with 8-10 of these and they moved from puzzle to puzzle.





Monday, February 29, 2016  4:30 PM - 5:30 PM

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pre-School Storytime: Tap Those Shoes!

A fun and interactive storytime that includes the days of the week, letter awareness, colors, numbers, singing, pretend play, and a touch of empathy.
Includes the five EECR2 practices of:

Music as people arrive: “Blue Suede Shoes” #7 on album “Blue Suede Sneakers: Elvis Song for Kids” (on lots of other albums as well.)  “The Other Shoe” #11 on Joe Scrugg’s Album “Late Last Night”

Have kids write (or help write) their names on the whiteboard as they arrive.  Sing “Hello to …so glad to see you.”

Look around at shoes/boots in the room, talk about who has what, similarities, types -- optional …chart numbers

Book: My Best Shoes – Marilee Robin Burton, paintings by James E. Ransome.(days of the week, ends with favorite footwear “feet”)

Write the letters B O O T S  on the white board – what does it spell? (writing, letter awareness)

Action Song: “Boots” by Laurie Berkner on her album Victor Vito (also on other albums), clap out/point out the letters and act out the actions: stomping black boots, brown boots, frog boots, daning boots, rain boots. 
(If not available, sing “Skip, Skip, skip in your shoes….skip in your shoes my darling
2. tie your shoes, I will too…3. buckle…4. tap… 5. slip on… 6. Skip… “

Book: New Old Shoes – Charlotte Blessing – a pair of sneakers tells how they go from a young boy in America to kids in Africa (mention “Shoes for Shoes” – Mane Stream collecting )  (This is a little long for the younger set, skip if much of the audience is less than 4-5 years old – similar message is in DVD below.)

Flannel/Song: There’s a Hole in the Bottom of my Shoe (cumulative song/memory awareness)

Song/Flannel: “Hole-y Shoes”   (variation on “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea”)
Lyrics: There’s a hole in the bottom of my shoe (2x)
There’s a hole (2x) There’s a hole in the bottom of my shoe.
2. There’s a rock in the hole in the bottom of my shoe…
3. There’s a mouse on the rock in the hole in the bottom of my shoe…
4. There’s a gnat on the mouse on the rock in the hole in the bottom of my shoe…
5. There’s a spot on the gnat on the mouse on the rock in the hole in the bottom of my shoe…
6. There’s a speck on the spot on the gnat on the mouse on the rock in the hole in the bottom of my shoe…
7. Get them out of the bottom of my shoe…

Talk -- Guessing Game/Interactive Book: Whose Shoe? – Margaret Miller (wkrm) or could use Whose Shoes? – Stephen R. Swinburne or Shoes, Shoes, Shoes – Ann Morris

Singable Book: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes – Eric Litwin (colors, taking upsets in stride, sight words…kids can “read” along)

Action: Hokey Pokey   -- You put your left shoe in (left/right awareness, body parts)

Book: Shoes – Elizabeth Winthorp (wkrm) or Whose Shoes? – Anna Grossnickle Hines

DVD: Those Shoes – Maribeth Boelts (Nutmeg Media) – a boy longs for a pair of the “in” sneakers but his family can’t afford them. 


Action Song: pretend play “Late Last Night” #1 on album with that title by Joe Scruggs, optional “Wiggle in My Toe” #2  (optional shakey eggs)
Hand Stamping: Blue Suede Shoes” #7 on album “Blue Suede Sneakers: Elvis Song for Kids”

Other possibilities:
Who’s Been Walking on My Floor – Symes – wkrm – save for farm
Belinda the Ballerina – Amy Young
Whose Shoe? – Eve Bunting – cute but a little long
Armadillo Rodeo – Eve Bunting – better for Kdg+
1, 2, Buckle My Shoe – Anna Grossnickle Hines – beautiful/young
Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Williams – Kdg+

Optional Activity for 5+ – shoelace tying – the DVD Rock N Learn Getting Ready for Kindergarten has a section on this skill.
Didn’t use:
Flannel: Centipede Buys Sneakers (photocopied, source unknown)
Pete the Cat on Youtube:

BWL 2.16

Keep an eye out for new book: There Was a Old Woman – Jane Cabrera

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pre-School Storytime: Monkey Business


Since 2016 is the Year of the Monkey in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, we’re sharing some fun stories starring these playful primates – with a nod to numeracy, phonemic awareness, visual storytelling, and a classic children’s story. (Ages 2-5)

Music playing as kids arrive: “Hot Potato” from The Wiggles – Sing-Along, Crunchy, Munchy Music.  More monkey songs on The Wiggles Go Bananas.

Opened with a nod to the holiday – This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong

Glove puppets/Numeral Cards: “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”  (booktalked variation Ten Naughtly Little Monkeys by Suzanne Williams.

Now that they have practice counting, we’re going to…

Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett (kids loved this interactive book where we counted everything but monkeys – until the endpapers!)

Song/Puppets (kid volunteers): “Deep in the Jungle” by Joe Scruggs (on his album by the same name). Lyrics here:

Here’s a monkey who has some toothy friends…

Flannel “Monkey Face” based on the book by Frank Asch – script here:

Song: “Monkey Likes to Eat, Eat, Eat Apples & Bananas”  variation of Raffi song “I like to Eat Apples & Bananas” (phonemic awareness) 

The Monkey Goes Bananas by C.P. Bloom and/or Banana! by Ed Vere (both stories of a monkey eager for a banana meal -- told in few words but very expressive pictures!)

Action Song: “Bananas Unite” – track 6 on Liz Buchanan’s album Once Upon a Time.
It’s time to peel banana, peel, peel bananas. Continues with…
Bounce…Stomp….Twist….Eat….Shhhh….. Go Go Bananas!

DVD: Caps for Sale (Weston Woods)


Other possibilities:
What Time is It, Mr. Crocodile? – Judy Sierra
Monkey & Me – Emily Gravett

Monday, February 8, 2016

Story/Craft: Sister Anne’s Hands

StoryPlay: Black History Month/Valentine’s Day (Ages 4+)

We’ll hear the story “Sister Anne’s Hands” about a teacher and a girl who integrate a school – then learn a fun way to make Valentines with your own hand prints.  

Music playing while kids were entering and later for craft: The Beatles “Love” Album. (Motown would have also been nice but all checked out.)

As kids were arriving, opened with Lois Ehlert’s book Hands:


Then said that I was taking them back in time to about 50 years ago (when I was about the age of the girl in this next book).  In those days people were judged by the color of their skin and, in some places, people didn’t want black and white kids to go to the same schools, play in the same playgrounds, drink from the same water fountains…

Read Sister Anne’s Hands by Mary Beth Lorbiecki which ends with two hands forming a heart.

Said we will be making our own handprint Valentines, but first want to show them one more book – Beautiful Hands by Kathryn Otoshi

Craft --  handprint valentines – materials: markers, colored pencils, colored paper, cardboard, cut out hand prints (and the cut outs leftover from same), cut out hearts, glue, sequins, squeeze paint bottles.  (Didn’t do finger paints because too messy for our space.)




Books that teach kindness


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