Friday, April 9, 2010

STOP Game for Kids

Here’s a great game to play with a 2nd to 5th grade school age group. It’s a good activity to do towards the end of your program - or just last, since it gets pretty crazy sometimes.

Print out two full page letters for S, T, O and P. They should be big so the audience can read them. Having one set of different colored paper helps to distinguish teams. You can laminate these if you plan on doing this game often.

Starting this game by saying “Lets, see who is smarter, boys or girls…” always gets them talking and excited.

Ask for volunteers, 4 boys and 4 girls. You can say you need four of the smartest boys / girls. You’ll have them line up front next to their teamates – ie. four girls then four boys. Pass out the letter cards, one to each person on each team. Have them hold the cards facing out. Make sure you have the teams and audience quiet as you explain the rules. You’ll be paying the most attention to the teams, so mention to the audience that they need to listen too so they understand the game.

As you call out various words, each team will move it’s members around (holding the letters) to spell the word. They need to spell it from left to right so the audience can read it. To explain this humorously, you can read whatever the team has already spelled out – pronoucing whatever funny nonsensical word being created. “For example, right now the boys are spelling tsop.”

Ask for a volunteer to keep score as well – “Who here can count to a million?” or “Who has more than ten fingers?” etc

Go through each of the words, having the team spell the words you call out. The words are SPOT, TOPS, STOP, POTS, and OPTS. Tell them you’ll only say each word once. You can build up alot of suspense right before you say the word – such as. “The next word is…….” You can also ask them to spell eskimo or cabbage, and see them First team to spell each word gets a point. Have the scorekeeper reiterate the score after each word each time. You may have to quiet everyone down each time by yelling in sportcaster voice “scccoooorreeeeekeeeeeeeeeper – whats the score!?”. Refer to the teacher for tiebreakers on “who spelled it first?” situations.

After going through those words, announce the bonus word round. Make up a silly large number of how many points this will be. Then have them spell “DOTS.” The person on each team holding the “P” will eventually figure out they need to turn their letter upside down, either on their own, or because every kid in the room will be yelling “turn the P upside down!”

Have the scorekeeper announce the new crazy score.

Now we all know who is smarter!

Hi - My Name is Joe

This activity is sure to get any group from 1st to 5th grade moving and having fun.

Tell the kids to do as you do. They’ll pick up on the words quickly.

“Hi. My name is Joe.
I have a wife and three kids and I work at the button factory.
One day,
my boss came to me and said,
“Joe, are you busy?”
I said “No”
He said,
“Push the button with your right hand.”"
(make the motion with your right hand)

You repeat this with…
…Push the button with your left hand.
…Push the button with your right foot.
…Push the button with your left foot.
…Push the button with your forehead.
…Push the button with your hips.
…Push the button with your bottom.

And then the next time he says…
”Joe, are you busy?”
You shout – “YES!”

Pizza Taste Off Program

Every Saturday afternoon our branch has a “Saturday Surprise” program. The responsibility for the idea and execution rotates between all the children’s staff. A few Saturday’s back I had one called a “Pizza Taste Off!” The program idea is very simple, and how the program goes depends on your resources, time and how you advertise it. Basically you have kids each a bunch of pizza and vote on which one is best. It is a blind taste test. The kids voted on categories such as Most Cheesiest (ha! right?), Best Sauce, Best Crust, and Best Overall Slice. You can tie this into themes such as recipes, food, Italy, voting, or in this case – descriptive writing.

First, I booked our multipurpose room. Then, I called every pizza place within a ten minutes driving distance of my branch. I explained the program and asked them for a donation of two large cheese pizzas each for the day of the program. I got in touch with local grocery stores and got about 150 cans of soda donated, as well as 40 Capri Sun drinks. Then I made flyers with all the pertinent information – time, place, etc. Somewhere on there was also “EAT FREE PIZZA – donated by over 5 local pizzerias” and “wash it all down with FREE SODA.” I’d like to think that had something to do with attendance.
Rather serendipitously, the teen department had on ongoing pop art program and they let me borrow this giant slice for the day.

The room was set up with tables and chairs, and on each table was a plate for every child and 6 other plates in the middle. These plates were numbered 1-6 and would have on them the corresponding pizza type. Each place setting had plenty of napkins, a golf pencil, and a form with blanks to fill in on pieces 1-6.

That day I drove to 6 pizzerias, filling my car with 12 large pizzas and leaving my “Ah – I wish I ate my breakfast” stomach in severe pain as I drove all over downtown smelling only pizzas. I got back to the branch to see a HUGE LINE of parents and hungry kids. Luckily, everything was ready except that these pizzas had to cut into much smaller pieces. Even with my coworkers helping me, that took a while. As did pouring the drinks – we used cups with ice, as handing out full cans of soda could be a waste and anger some parents.

After all 120 people got a drink and sat down, we talked about descriptive words for pizza.

Then I had them all try a piece off the pizza number 1 plate. Afterwords, we all wrote down a description for it. This continued until all the pizzas plates were empty. I handed out the voting form. We went over our notes and voted on which was the best in each category. I took as show of hands for each category and number of pizza. We announced winners and everyone had a great time. I had certifcates made for the winning pizzerias, and mounted themm on posterboards. As the kids left they signed and wrote on the boards. The next day I gave the awards to the winning pizzerias.

Monster Storytime

I love this time of year. Storytimes about monsters rule, hands down. We can do things about fall and the weather all season long – but don’t waste those last two weeks of October on that! Kids love monsters. I’ll have some more monster programming things up soon. But for now, here are some goulish fingerplays and songs for your younger franken-kids.

Ten Little Monsters
One little, two little, three little, Monsters
Four little, five little, six little, Monsters
Seven little, eight little, nine little, Monsters
Ten Monsters can’t scare me.

Ten little, nine little, eight little, Monsters
Seven little, six little, five little, Monsters
Four little, three little, two little, Monsters
One Monster can’t scare me.

Monster, Monster
Monster, Monster, turn around
Monster, Monster, touch the ground
Monster, Monster, show your shoe
Monster, Monster, How old are you?
Monster, Monster, reach up high
Monster, Monster, blinks you eyes
Monster, Monster, slap your knees
Monster, Monster, sit down please.

If you ever see a Monster

(it’s easy, you just make faces with the kids)
If you ever see a Monster
A big ugly monster
If you ever see a Monster
Here’s what you do!
Make this face…
And this face…
And this face…
And this face…
If you ever see a monster
Make sure you shout BOO!!!

What Do Monsters Do?
What do monsters do?
They stretch and touch their toes.
What do monsters do?
They comb their purple hair.
What do monsters do?
They stick out their green tongues.
What do monsters do?
They brush their teeth with a broom.
What do monsters do?
They rub their yellow eyes.
What do monsters do?
They wiggle their orange ears.
Boy, am I glad that I’m not a monster!

Turkey Display

We have these sets of giant wooden cubes in our department. Every month or so they need to be reinvented into a display with some relation to a program coming up, or in this case, a holiday. My co-worker Stephanie Miller did this turkey display, and before it was even done I was asking her if I can get photos of it for my blog.

This is definitely one of the better displays that has come from these cubes. It’s creative and obvious what it is, but also simple and allows for plenty of room for the books to be displayed. Incorporating bookends into the displays helps to ensure it is always well stocked with Thanksgiving favorites.

Storytime about Food

Food. Everyone loves it!

…Or used to love it at one point. Often, as we’re growing up, we’re told a lot about ‘what to eat’ – followed rather quickly by, ‘what not to eat.’ These two lists grow more complex and lengthy with every passing year.

Fortunately the innocence of children perseveres in this world of diet fads and scientists quietly retreating from the lipid hypothesis**. And teaching them a few simple rules about food will surely do more good than harm. Last Thursday led me to do just that.

Here are some quick and easy activities I use for this theme.

After I introduce a new vegetable to the pot we sing this song. We talk about vegetable names, colors and I tell them my favorites (typically tubers). This song is sung over and over until the soup is done. Have the children make a stirring motion. If you have a favorite puppet you use, have them try the finished product.

The Soup Is Boiling Up
The soup is boiling up,
The soup is boiling up,
Stir slow around we go,
The soup is boiling up.

This apple tree song is pretty basic. A flannel board of a tree and five apples is a good visual, but you don’t have to have it. I put visual instructions after each phrase in parenthesis.

Way Up High In the Apple Tree.
Way up high in the apple tree, (point up high)
Five little apples smiled at me, (show five fingers and smile)
So I shook that tree as hard as I could, (act like you are shaking a tree)
Down came an apple…Mmm, it was good! (motion an apple falling to the ground, and rub you tummy)

**A small footnote book recommendation for a small book with small ideas but big execution - ”In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. If you eat food, I can’t recommend this book enough. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Clear, fresh and compelling writing, with a flair for balancing witticism and eye-opening facts. Other books I love by him (yes, I’ve read them all) are “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “The Botany of Desire.” Let us to begin to have our storytimes reflect not just fun and education, but also ourselves.

Using Props in Storytime

Bringing in props is a great way to spice up your storytime. After a while the most enthusiastic blend of puppets, songs, and new fingerplays may seem stale – either to you as the presenter, or the caregiver’s parents. Simple things you take for granted in your household fascinate children (and sometimes parents). Start bringing these into the storytime arena.

Here are some examples of some simple props and what to do with them.

Apples – You can do a storytime about apples, or if you need a broader topic fruit or food. Bring in a variety of colors. You can play games sequencing the apples; placing them in a row thusly – red, red green, red, red, green, red, red… and asking which one comes next. Use other sequences too! Big to small. You can also talk about how some apples are the same and some are diffeent. You can slice them in half and talk about the seeds, and how they make a tree. At the end of storytime, every child can take home one apple. Remember to remind them to wash it before eating!

Records / Record Player – I have a big record collection, and in my kitchen at home I have an old record player. I listen to music when I’m cooking and eating breakfast in the morning. Well the morning before my “Shapes” storytime was happening I was eating breakfast and DUH - “records are circles!” And perfect for musical storytimes. I brought in the record player and a kids record I had. We did the “Hokey Pokey” from it, and talked about how records and CDs are different and the same.

Musical Instruments – I play a few different instruments- and they always make good props (even if you can’t play them well). Whatever you play well can be used with songs you sing. Anything else can be used for comparing and contrasting. Remember to talk about the different sounds! I’ve brought in acoustic guitars, electric guitars and a banjo. Next week I’m bringing in my drum set for my advanced guitar class. I’ll keep them at the library an extra day and then use them for my Toddler Power Hour. We’ll be talking comparing them, talking about the sounds of big drums and small drums (and cymbals!) and every child will get to play them.

Songs About Ducks

I had a Little Ducky
I had a little ducky,
He lived in a box.
He swam in a puddle,
He climbed on the rocks.
He snapped at a mosquito,
He snapped at a flea,
He snapped at a minnow,
And he snapped at me!
He caught the mosquito,
He caught the flea,
He caught the minnow,
But he couldn’t catch me!

Five Little Ducks Went Out to Play
Five little ducks went out to play
Over the hills and far away.
Mama duck said,
“Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
And only four little ducks came back.

The Ducks on the Bus
The ducks on the bus went quack quack quack.
Quack quack quack, quack quack quack.
The ducks n the bus went quack quack quack.
All through the town.

The ducks on the bus went flap flap flap….
The ducks on the bus went waddle waddle waddle.