Finally! Warmer weather. Some of my favorite picture books are about gardening and we’ll soon be free of the last frost date. The Old Farmer’s Almanac estimated Lawrence, Kansas be 50% frost free by April 7, but mother nature had another plan. It’s going to be a late start for planting this season, but we plan to plant a few vegetables and flowers in the next couple weeks. Anywho, back to storytime… For storytime we read a few stories about gardening, did a flannel board, and did a little gardening of our own and made terrariums.
Garden Storytime Line-Up:
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
This book was a great introductory book as just a few weeks ago it truly was brown all around and after rain and a whole lot of wishing, it’s finally springtime. Erin Stead’s illustrations are fantastic (as always!).
Zinnia’s Flower Garden by Monica Wellington
My daughter requested this one be read for storytime. We can’t get enough of Monica Wellington.
Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
A short sing-song picture book about vegetables that grow above the ground, below the ground and all around.
Tops & Bottoms adapted and illustrated by Janet Stevens
A folk tale about a lazy bear and a trickster rabbit that cons the bear into growing a garden on his property and taking the best parts of the plants – their vegetables. Our library has an old flannel board I used to tell this story to the kids.
I read parts of the book and the rest I paraphrased with the flannel board. This was the favorite story of the lot.
My Garden by Kevin Henkes
I bought this book for my daughter before she was born. It’s a cherished book in our house and the storytime kids found themselves quite entertained with it as well. I love the part where the Morning Glories stay open all night and strawberries glow like lanterns. Kevin Henkes, you’re a children’s book wizard.
For the post-storytime project, we made miniature terrariums! Terrariums are the perfect arrangement for individuals that would like a house plant, but don’t quite have a green thumb. Their care is extremely minimal. All you have to do is take the lid off the plant every once in awhile and that’s it. No watering! That is unless it’s looking a tad dry in the wintertime. They’re also very simple to assemble. Here’s how we made ours.
I’ve talked about building a terrarium before here on SFCT, but I’ve never attempted to make them with the library kids. At my local nursery, I purchased small rocks, charcoal (not found in most gardening centers), potting soil, and small tropical plants. Since we were using small jars, I purchased a plant that doesn’t have a lot of height. (The one pictured above is baby tears.) I’m always saving glass jars for storytime crafts and also have some leftover from a Magic Tree House Adventures program, which was just enough for this particular storytime crowd.
Here is how I set it up for storytime…. Kind of like an ice cream sundae buffet table with spoons to add each terrarium layer.
Take your clean jar and add a layer of rocks to the bottom.
Next add a layer of charcoal.
And then a layer of potting soil. Since the jar is small, we only added a little as there needs to be enough room for the plant.
Next, take your small plant out of the container. I removed the excess soil from the bottom because my jar was small.
Gently press plant into the jar.
The terrarium is almost done. Now, all you have to do is water it with only a few tablespoons of water depending on the size of the jar. You want to water it so that the soil is moist, not soaking with water standing on the bottom of the jar.
Seal the lid to the jar and there you have it… a terrarium!
How to care for a terrarium:
Take the lid off once a week for about 20-30 minutes to let it breathe. Then just reseal.
Prune as needed, and sparingly sprinkle with water if looking dry (which might happen during the winter months).
by Blue Balliett
Published: Scholastic Press (March 1, 2013)
Recommended reading age: 8 & up
In a nutshell: The Pearl family may not have much, but they have their books, their stories, and they have each other. Dashel, Summer, Early, and Jubie (Jubellie) Pearl are so close knit they came up with a nickname Dashsumearlyjubie. Father Dashel, also called Dash, is a library page at the Chicago Public Library, Summer takes care of the children and the family’s tiny one room apartment in Chicago’s south side. Older sister Early is just like her father, a lover of words. And little brother Jubie is loud and full of energy like most little brothers. Dashsumearlyjubie have big dreams for the future until the unimaginable happens.
Dash disappears on one cold winter day leaving the family frantic. Their funds are drained from their bank account, and without an income, no extended family to go to, and a startling break-in while the family is home leaves the family no choice but to check into a shelter. Throughout all this commotion, still no sign of Dash. Early suspects there is something more to the project Dash was working on which involved collecting and documenting rare books for the library, so she decides to investigate. After a series of coincidences and with the help of an old friend, slowly the mystery starts to piece itself together.
When I started reading this book, I was really into it. The wordplay, the Langston Hughs references, the mysterious disappearance of Early’s father that was somehow linked to the largest diamond heist known in history – I tore through the pages. But half-way through, I slowly started to lose interest. For me, the plot moved like molasses in the later half until the last 10 pages of the book, and was then wrapped up in a clean package with a bow on it and then it was over. It left me a bit unsatisfied. I did like that the majority of the book took place at a shelter. The life of the homeless is unfathomable, and I think it is important for kids and adults alike to be reminded of those hardships. The format of the book was unique and fun to read. I also enjoyed Early’s character. The hope and strength she possesses despite their situation, especially when her mother starts to give up on Dash or finding a job, and slips into depression. Her character is strong and her voice crystal clear.
Don’t take my word for it: “Another fine offering from Balliett, get this one into the hands of her fans. It will also be great choice for reading aloud in classrooms with its wordplay and strong African-American characters and family.” – review from Waking Brain Cells
Extras: Learn more about author Blue Balliett on her website.
Source of book reviewed: Review copy provided by Scholastic Press.
The votes are in. We have a winner.
After receiving hundreds of votes throughout the March Madness season, the kids of Lawrence have spoken and a winner for the 2013 Tournament of Kids’ Books was declared! Out of 16 books, the championship battle was between the popular Dairy of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney vs. last year’s Read Across Lawrence for Kids book, The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski.
And the winner won by 1 vote.
Last Sunday the winner was announced at the Tournament of Kids’ Books Winner Ceremony where two KU Men’s Basketball Players, Naadir Tharpe and Christain Garrett, revealed the winning title with our library director, Brad Allen. They also raffled off prizes to the audience including a signed basketball by the 2012-2013 KU basketball team, new books by the featured authors in the Tournament, and each player read a favorite book from their childhood to the audience.
Bet you’re wondering who won, right?
Naadir Tharpe did the honors…
And the winner is… THE CABINET OF WONDERS!
After the winner was announced one boy said, “It’s as loud as Allen Fieldhouse in here!” (For those of you who are not familiar with KU basketball, Allen Fieldhouse is the University of Kansas’ legendary auditorium where the home basketball games take place. It is widely known as the loudest college basketball venue in the country.) After all the cheers settled down, the players raffled away the prizes to the audiences.
There where a lot of high hopes placed on receiving the books, but especially the signed basketball.
This storytime regular was fortune enough to be this year’s lucky winner of the grand prize.
The real treat was when the players sat down and each read a book to the crowd.
Naadir Tharpe read Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.
Christain Garret read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Both players did a superb job reading aloud. They were cracking jokes and even asking for audience participation. Just as things were wrapping up, one boy started singing the “Rockchalk chant”, an old tradition that is done at the end of a winning basketball game. He started singing it himself as loud as he could, followed by Naadir, and followed by the entire room. It was the perfect end to a perfect day for everyone at the Lawrence Public Library.
Afterwards, Naadir and Christian let patrons take pictures with them and freely gave out high-fives. The kids were wide-eyed and their grins were big. Lawrence lives and breathes KU basketball. For those patrons to see representatives, or perhaps a better word is idols, of something that means so much to our community in the library promoting reading leaves a lasting impression. KU Athletics wrote a nice article about the event here along with a few words from the players. In that article, Naadir Tharpe talks about how he always had people read in front of him as a child and that this was an opportunity for him to give back, and that if you want to play ball, it starts in the classroom. I think a lot of people seem to forget that these players got to where they are because of their skills in the game, but they also have to work hard off of the court in order to be successful. Tournament of Kids’ Books is about the love of books paired with a town’s love of basketball, and over the past couple years it has served as an excellent way to get kids excited about reading, but also as a way for them to identify with positive role models.
A huge thanks to the KU Athletics Department for making this happen again this year, and to players for taking the time to come to the library and being all around awesome with the kids.
Till next year, keep reading kids and Rockchalk!
I know it’s been very quiet over here at Sturdy for Common Things lately, but I’m dusting off the week’s worth of cobwebs. I can’t remember the last time I went a whole week between posting blog posts… Sheesh! Those of you that blog out there, do you feel an extreme sense of guilt when your blogging falls to the wayside? I do, that’s for sure. I feel guilty and a bit sad. It’s such an important part of my life. You all are such an important part of my life. So, I’m getting back into the swing of things as my family has had lots of new news circulating lately, all of which will be revealed soon. For now a major chunk of that news is that…. I’m going to library school!
That’s right. I’m off to grad school to work towards a Graduate Degree in Library and Information Science. I’m in the process of deciding a program, which depends on when I would start my first semester, but I’ll hopefully have a decision made by the end of this week. The decision lies between the iSchool at University of Washington and the GSLIS program at the University of Illinois. Don’t worry, we aren’t leaving Lawrence. I plan to work on my degree remotely. For you librarian-types out there, if you have any advice or experience with either program, I would greatly appreciate any council you’re willing to offer.
I have more exciting news to share here, but not quite yet. So much change and it’s happening fast. Hope everyone has a great weekend. Stay tuned!
image source: card catalog
Finally! Warmer weather. The trees are starting to bloom white and pink flowers, and the birds are back twittering away early each morning. This week’s storytime theme was all about the spring season and the birds. Originally, I wanted to make bird feeders after storytime, but a majority of simple bird feeder crafts require peanut butter and I don’t like to risk bringing in peanut butter due to food allergies. I also don’t have 40 milk cartons lying around, so that idea was nixed. Instead, I printed out instructions for how to make birdhouses and bird feeders for attendees to take with them after storytime, and the alternate craft turned out nicely if I do say so myself.
But I’m getting ahead of myself… Here’s what we read, discussed, and sang at “Spring Birds Storytime”.
Spring Birds Storytime Line-up:
When Blue Met Egg by Lindsay Ward
I love this book. I read it last year for storytime and it was so well received that I decided to read it again. Blue the bird was awakened by a mysterious egg (a snowball!) landing in her nest. She decides to look for the egg’s mother throughout New York City, and when she can’t find a mother (because it’s a snowball), she keeps egg and they become fast friends. A fun story with the sweetest springtime ending. Additionally, you can download a free paper doll template of Blue and worksheets from the author’s website here.
Cold Little Duck, Duck, Duck by Lisa Westberg Peters, illustrated by Sam Williams
This is a wonderful book for preschool age children. It has wonderful rhythm and great pictures to boot. Duck flew back a little too early to find her world was still winter. She dreams of spring to help stave off the cold.
Riki’s Birdhouse by Monica Wellington
I think there are only a couple of Monica Wellington’s book that I haven’t read for storytime yet. She does a great job taking a picture book and turning it into a teachable moment. Riki is fond the the birds in his yard, especially two new bluebirds. Riki builds the bluebirds a birdhouse, and so we follow Riki throughout the year and the ever changing seasons and life for the two bluebirds.
There is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems
Always the crowd pleaser, Elephant and Piggie never fail to make kids laugh. In this Sibert Award Winner, Gerald finds himself in an undesirable situation where two birds start making a nest on his head.
Bird Songs by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
This turned out to be a fantastic read aloud. Bird Songs highlights a variety of different birds and their calls throughout one day. Each time a bird sang it’s call, I had the audience repeat the call back to me.
“Green Grass Grows All Around” Song and Flannel Board
I ended storytime with one of my favorite childhood songs, which was adapted by my co-worker into a springtime song and flannel board.
Green Grass Grows All Around
Traditional Song, Adapted by Jane Willis Johnston
There was a hole in the middle of the ground
The prettiest hole that you ever did see.
Well, the hole in the ground
And the green grass grew all around and around
And the green grass grew all around.
And in this hole there was a root
And on this root there was tree
And on this tree there was a branch
And on this branch there was twig
And on this twig there was a nest
And in this nest there was an egg
And on this egg there was a bird.
And from that bird there came a song.
Then all the world was filled with spring.
Then all the world was filled with spring,
The prettiest spring you ever did see.
Well, the world full of spring,
And the song from the bird,
And the bird on the egg,
And the egg in the nest
And the nest on the branch,
And the branch on the tree,
And the tree on the roots,
And the roots in the hole
And the hole in the ground,
And the green grass grew all around, all around
And the green grass grew all around.
Spring Birds Craft:
For the post-storytime craft, we made these little Spring Birds (which I adapted from this craft featured on CAKIES). The prep was minimal and the kids had a fun time putting them together. It was challenging for the very little ones (3 & under), but the grownups were more than happy to assist.
Here’s how we made them:
Materials: twigs or sticks found outside and cut into 3-4 inch long peices, pipe cleaners, decorative birds found in the floral department of most craft stores, glitter, school glue, paint brush, and scissors.
First, take a few pipe cleaners and braid them.
Twist them together. The older children braided and the younger children twisted.
Once the pipe cleaners are twisted, shape into a arch.
And wrap the ends around each end of the stick once.
The decorative birds I purchased, like most decorative birds used in floral arrangements, have long wires attached.
Before storytime, I snipped the wire so that it wasn’t so long, and therefore easier for the kids to wrap around the stick. It’s not a necessary step for the success of the craft, so feel free to skip if you’d like.
With your selected bird, wrap the wire around the branch as many times as it will go around. This will secure the bird to the branch.
For some added flare, we glitter-ified our birds. Using school glue and a paint brush, paint the desired areas you’d like to add some sparkle.
Sprinkle glitter over glue and let dry. Shake of remaining glitter.
And that’s it! The glitter is a nice touch. Kinda like morning dew or just after an April shower, right?
For the full effect, I hung my Spring Bird examples in the vines of my house plant named Camilla.