Friday, August 29, 2014

Storytime songs pt. 2

     So I got word yesterday that I will soon start doing story times at a pre school close to my library here in NE Denver.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve but you can never be too prepared especially when it comes to dealing with the little ones. The story time songs I posted last week are great for getting the little ones moving but I thought I would look for songs that would involve more arm movement and/or could be used with a flannel board or magnet. Here's what I found:

    "Slippery fish" is a cute little song with a variety of arm movements. In this video the presenter is also using some laminated sheets that provide a good visual to accompany the song and movements.  This song is a favorite at story times but I have found that I can only do it once as it is so long.

    The ladies at jbrary are an excellent resource and I like that they always seem to be having fun in their vids. I chose this song because it is not one that I had heard much of before. This song is called "Roly, poly" and uses lots of arm movements to teach direction (up, down, out, in, fast, slow) and of course the tune is familiar to little ones as it is done to the tune of "Frere Jacques".

     Fall is around the corner and soon the leaves will start changing colors. "Ten little leaves" done by littlestorybug is a cool flannel board song for little ones. I like how she goes slowly at first so that the little ones can follow along. This song could also be extended by asking kids what colors are the leaves or how many of a certain color leaf there are. Lots of possibilities from this flannel activity.

    This is another cool rhyme that I found on a site called It is called "Big, big, big" and it incorporates a lot of hand movement. I can't wait to try this one out with the little ones.
Oh, before I forget,  Storyblocks is a project of Colorado Libraries for Early Lieracy (of which I am a member) working in partnership with Rocky Mountain PBS. It is a collection of 30-60 second videos designed to teach songs, rhymes and fingerplays appropriate for early childhood. Each video clip includes helpful early literacy tips to increase caregivers' understanding of child development and pre-literacy needs.

    This is a song that I learned recently and it has become a staple of my story times en espaƱol. It is called  "Viajar en tren" and it is fantastic. I like the fact that it is open-ended so you can do different animals every week or you can even do professions if you so desire.  For some reason this video would not insert so I put the link below.

    Finally, "Baby fish" is a cool hand movement song that also teaches family members. I like this video because it features the kids doing the song and you can see how much fun they are having.  There is also another part of the song that I saw on another site where the performer added another part called grandma fish and put their knuckles together :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Storytime songs pt. 1

Many new librarians will soon have to face one of the most stressful things they will have to do- story time! A good song can get the parents or babies/toddlers moving but a great song will get them all moving. Over the last year I have had to do story times for both English and Spanish speakers.  Through trial and error I have come upon some guaranteed songs to get the crowd grooving.  This is not an exhaustive list, I will post new ones every few weeks or so.

Raffi has been around for ages and for good reason, his voice is so mellow and soothing and hissongs have just the right tempo. The song The More We Get Together is a must for both book babies and toddler story times as it helps set the routine and captures their attention.

In terms of getting the kids up and out of their seats Raffi's Shake Your Sillies Out is another proven winner. This song is good for the wiggly little ones who don't necessarily sit still for the duration of a storytime. In the video below, he does a good segue in that he asks the crowd to stand up and do some shaking. That is exactly the way in which I introduce the song during story time. Both these songs  are on the cd Singable songs for the very young.

Some of us like to use props such as bean bags in story time as it helps the little ones with developing hand eye coordination and balance. There are a fair few songs  out there but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that after I did Beanie Bag Dance a few weeks ago it was as if we had just partied, the energy was just so good. Greg and Steve have many good songs and they even have another beanie bag song but Beanie Bag Dance has the magic that you are looking for in a story time song. It is catchy, it incorporates directions that the kids have to pay attention to and it has a chant for the kids to get say out loud. This song is on the cd Kids in Action.

Finally I used to watch Laurie Berkner on Nick Jr (back when they were Noggin) when my kids were younger and I was always left in awe. Besides being very telegenic she is a fantastic songwriter, my kids are older now but if I put in a Laurie cd when we are in the car I know they will enjoy the songs. We Are The Dinosaurs is perfect for a themed storytime or for when you want the kids to get up and move around. Children love to pretend and dinosaurs are such fun to mimic because you get to stomp and march around. This song also has peaks and valleys which I like. Just a fun song all around.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crossing the wire by Will Hobbs

  Last week I reviewed Far from Gringo land by and I mentioned that as I checked the list of read-alikes  Crossing the wire by Will Hobbs was one that came up so I determined to rad it.  The immigration problem is one that perhaps will never fully be resolved due to various historical, political and economic factors that we won't discuss here. Crossing the wire is the story of a teen aged Mexican boy who learns his best friend Rico is going to make the trip to the USA to meet up with his brother in Tucson. Although Victor is sad to see his friend go the situation at his home keeps devolving and eventually he himself resolves to make the trip.

The story is not simply a recount of the trip across the border, in fact Victor makes it over is sent back to a border town and tries again before he is successful. I mentioned in my review of Far from Gringo Land that it showed the town and by extension the country mostly from the eyes of a middle class white kid. Hobb's novel on the other hand gives all the grimy details and shows just how terrifying the trip can be. Although immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua are usually the ones who travel by train through Mexico, Victor Flores ends up hopping on the train since he cannot produce documents when travelling by bus. He sees first hand just how dangerous this mode of travel can be.  Hobbs does a good job of including characters who serve as mentors to Victor as he is very naive. As the novel wears on however he becomes more jaded.

It is good to see the many different perspectives of the border situation. Often, US Border Patrol agents are demonized but we must bear in mind that they are doing their job. Often some of them are second and third generation Mexican Americans themselves. Victor understandably does not have much interaction with Americans although the few he does meet are highly sympathetic characters. Through anecdotes from other characters  we learn more about the good treatment meted out to Mexicans by citizens at the border.

This novel would be a good read for ages 13 and up. It is written in a fast paced, descriptive style that is sure to keep the interest of a reluctant reader or a picky reader. Victor tells his story and although at times a first person narrator lacks credibility, somehow I was inclined to believe his story. Hobbs mentions in the afterword that he drew heavily on anecdotes provided by his own niece after she stayed with a Mexican family.  This book is well worth the read, I enjoyed it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Vids that caught my eye this week

I have a very wide musical palate and today's music blog will talk about some of the videos that caught my eye this week. I wondered what had happened to Jazmine Sullivan after she sang "Bust your windows". That song has to be one of the catchiest songs that talk about destroying personal property. She is back with a softer song though, a warning to girls to be more careful with their feelings. (The song does contain some explicit language).

Irene Diaz herself says that she genre hops with abandon. In this mini concert we see exactly what she means. She has a voice that captures your attention and can be playful at times and mournful and melancholy at others. Something about her reminds me of the deceased Amy Winehouse, I am not sure why. I will definitely be looking out for more from her in the future.

I like cumbia and Afropop worldwide often features cumbia bands from South America.  This instrumental from Lucho Bermudez also features some dancers whirling around like nobody's business.

Finally, Bunji Garlin is a soca singer from the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Bunji has been a mainstay of Trinidad's music scene for years but his song "Differentology" has brought him global recognition. While "Differentology" is a tad more mellow,  "Truck on D Road" though is unmistakably a party cut a song which when played on the road on Carnival Monday or Tuesday will send the crowd into a frenzy. This video encompasses the pageantry, frenzy, and debauchery that is Trinidad Carnival.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Far from Gringo land by Edward Myers

   The title of this book captured my attention and from the description on the inside cover I thought that it would be worth a read.  Another facet of the book that caught my attention was the fact that the main character, Rick was from the state of Colorado where I also live. As I discovered though, the action is set mainly in Mexico so little mention is made of Colorado.

 The story starts when seventeen-year-old Rick Dresner journeys one summer to a small town in Mexico called Santo Domingo. This is not just for vacation purposes however as he is returning to stay with a family that he met on a previous trip in order to help the father and brother complete some construction work on the house. Suffice it to say that he has never done much manual labor,  far less of the type done in small town Mexico where much of it is done by hand. For this reason, a lot of the first half of the book consists of him talking about the hard work, how tired he is and how delicious are the meals cooked by the mom Emiliana. The quick short chapters allow us to ponder Rick's thoughts and reflect on them before he relates some new adventure.

Rick is not the only American in the town however and he does meet a pretty teen, Ellen whose father has secluded her and her younger siblings in a walled compound that although it is within walking distance of  Rick's hosts is a world away.  The character Ellen becomes the object of Rick's affection but during some of the awkward situations I found it hard to believe that a worldly person such as herself would be so easily riled. Also some of the ways she affected the story later on seemed a bit contrived.

This book is aimed at younger readers (probably grades 6-12) but the third person viewpoint of the book was a bit alienating, I felt a first person account might have given the story more heart or emotional resonance. Still, the book made me look for similar accounts of culture shock and collusion between Americans and Mexicans; I think there is definitely more room for dialogue about the lives of our southern neighbors. A quick search on Novelist for title read-alikes produced a book called  Crossing the wire by Will Hobbs, so I am going to read that one this week and blog about it next week. Stay tuned...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Volume Denver

 I am sure you have heard about downloads available to members of various libraries. Arapahoe Libraries here in Denver and Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina are two library systems that offer free downloads to members. Denver Public Library where I work has recently started a cool project whereby they feature the work of up and coming local artists.  As far as I know this is the only large library system that is undertaking a project of this magnitude.

 The project was started for several reasons. First and foremost, Denver Public Library is all about the community and this is a good way to give back to the community that supports it so much. Second, most if not all of this music is not featured in big box stores or other avenues and so this is a great way to connect the people of Denver to the vibrant music scene. The initial catalog will be continually updated with new fresh content. I have been listening to the artistes all week and there is a lot of talent in a variety of genres-American, Country, Folk and Hip-Hop among them.

 If you are not a library member you can still get a 30 second preview of each song. Library members can download entire songs. Check it out here!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fishy craft

This week's craft is one that I saw on an image search on Google. I decided to do these fishes because the theme I was going for this week in story time was summer so I thought summer -fishes, hey why not. Here is how I went about doing them:

1. I got a big handful of foam triangles in all colors and sizes and some blue construction paper
2. I placed them together first before gluing them together that way I can see if the triangles fit together in a fairly realistic way
3. I glue the triangles together and then add dots with a fine tip marker and use either really small triangles for the gills or cut and shape a triangle for this purpose

I was able to corral a wide age range of kids into the meeting room to work on these and one of them even reported that he had stopped playing a pc game for a while just to come and complete some fishes (wow!). The kids were entertained for at least 20-25 minutes and some looked at me like they wanted to make more (I would have let them but I had to finish up to do another library task).

Here is my version, the kids took theirs away before I could take pics of them :(