Thursday, December 24, 2015

A-maze-ing winter crafts

     First, before I say anything else I must give props to my colleagues in the Children's department of the Denver Public Library and in particular Amy Forrester. She was the mastermind behind a huge family friendly Harry Potter-themed maze made of cardboard. After the event she generously allowed staff at other branches to recycle the maze however they wanted.

     My colleagues and I jumped at the chance and we decided to make the maze winter-themed. The timing was right since area schools are on winter break until the first week of January and we are also on a story time break. Whenever we are on a story time break we usually try to have other events for families to do when they come to the branch.  This maze could never have come together without the help of a small army of coworkers, volunteers and helpers. Thank you!!

Here are some of the crafts that my colleagues Melody and April came up with.

This bird feeder uses chenille sticks and cheerios. Kids can twist the sticks into whatever shape they want. We saw some wacky shapes!


 Kids will use a penguin template, cotton balls, googly eyes and other little pieces to make their own creation.

This activity was actually on the back of the maze itself. For some reason it reminds me of the old Price is Right game Plinko. I know my own sons enjoyed it very, very much.

 These last few crafts were some simple things that I may use this year after we take the maze down or use next holiday season. I am blessed to have a very artsy teen volunteer, the reindeer came out looking even better than the picture online!   (She also drew the Yeti in the maze)

Last week I had my volunteer make some example tree ornaments for me to use with our weekly craft hour.

Finally here is a short vid that I put together of the maze itself. Enjoy!  Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

shadowshaper_cover.jpg (604×873)

I have a passing knowledge of spiritual lore and can usually tell a jumbie from a douen and a la diablesse from a soucouyant. With that said it is always good to see new twists on old themes and yfic novels featuring minority characters. The cover image on the book features a proud Latina and that will definitely attract some readers (and  perhaps turn off others).

Sierra is a homegirl from around the way in Brooklyn who loves to draw and do murals. Her family is cool although her aunt's casual racism gets on her nerves. Her abuelo is a kindly old man who is not in the best of health but then one day he begins telling Sierra a bunch of stuff about the past and about powers that she can barely believe exist much less use.

As if things on the home front weren't complicated enough, Robbie is a Haitian American kid who comes into Sierra's life. He introduces her to new spots in the city where the patrons sweat to the rhythms of Caribbean music. The problem is that when the weird stuff starts happening he always disappears. Sierra is caught between catching feelings fro him and wondering if he is not good for her.

Like many other novels aimed at teens the story is as much about adolescence and making your own decisions as it is about dealing with magic powers. The book is also a commentary on something that I have heard before from talking to academics- cultural appropriation for personal gain. The novel's antagonist tries to use powers that he barely understands in order to gain even more power.

Here's why I think you should read this book:
-Sierra is as good a protagonist as any that I have seen in the dozens of novels I've read this year.
-Magic and mystical powers are not confined solely to European or European-American characters, the Caribbean has its fair share of those as well.
-Murals that actually change appearance!

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Canciones para storytime

 At my library we have to do read alouds and since I speak Spanish I am responsible for a class of Spanish-speaking students. Prior to doing this I did a Spanish (not bilingual) storytime and over time I developed a repertoire of engaging songs, rhymes and finger plays to use. I will share some of them in this blog.

A classic in many languages is the Itsy Bitsy spider. This is a cute version and I like how the singer is very engaging as she sings the song, with silly sounds and hand movements galore.  For a bit of a twist on the song I could see one using a spider puppet or prop to really provide a good visual.

Jose Luis Orozco has cd after cd replete with songs for every occasion. Los elefantes is one of my favorite rhymes for children and I like it because you can use it as an action song to get kids up and moving around. Feel free to use some of these elephant prop masks or make some yourself with paper plates for example.

Another action rhyme that never fails me is El chocolate. Use the cd version or sing it yourself. I like to do exaggerated movements for the songs as the kids really get into it. The version I linked to is just one version and I know that Mr. Orozco has several. It is good to be able to switch things up as necessary so try to learn as many versions as possible.

 Back in my teaching days one of my colleagues swore that her older students would ask her to do this song that they learned back in kinder and 1st grade, such was their affection for the song.  Juguemos en el bosque is a good song in that it builds suspense, can be used to teach various vocabulary words (clothes, body parts etc.) and is just plain fun. The version here is a bit slower paced but as usual feel free to modify and adjust.

This next song is called El loro Tico Tango and to me it is more appropriate for preschool aged kids especially if you are going to use it as a flannel board as I have done. The actual cd (which comes as part of a book) has the song. The song may be a bit long so feel free to modify, skip parts etc. I found an excerpt here.  I like how the overall message of the song is sharing and caring for ones friends.

I will finish this blog with my personal favorite, Mi cuerpo as done by my namesake Josh Levine. It is a simple song to get kids up and shaking their hips and is a good break especially if you are in a storytime an the kids have been sitting for a while. Here is another bilingual version of the song. I find however that the English part lacks a little bit of the catchiness but it is still good nonetheless.

Hasta luego!!