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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Down on the Farm

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Down by the Barn by Will Hillenbrand is so merry.  It piggybacks on the tune: "Down by the Station" and used baby farm animals.  The farmer and scarecrow go around pulling wagons rounding up the baby farm animals for a fun time with visiting children.  The story has a sneaky fox, a lively tune, and sensational mixed media art.  I simply adore Will's art, style, and endearing stories.  
I've been using Down by the Barn with my outreach this week.  I start with this title and intro it with telling the children that the farmer and scarecrow go around pulling wagons rounding up the baby farm animals.  Each time they add a new baby animal, we add a sound.  Watch out for the fox! We need to keep an eye on that wily guy.
And we begin.  I start singing the song, stop to point out where the fox is, using a descriptive word like behind the bush, between the grass, etc. I encourage the children to say the "puff, puff, click, clank, off we go," together. I also ask them what animal is coming next.  Depending on the age of children, how large the group, and how their attention is doing, I sometimes point out the name of each baby animal, where the fox is, what the animal sound is, and so on.  
Sometimes I ask where the fox is on one page, then on the next page, tell them the baby's name, like gosling is a baby goose.  If I have a group of 1 - 3's I just sing through the book and we do each sound, but don't point out too many other details.  If it's 2 - 4's add one more detail, if it's 3 - 4's or 4 - 5's add another detail and so on.  
I even used this with a Kindergarten class and I wouldn't let them say out loud where the fox was yet, they had to wait, using a quiet thumb's up, thinking the answer, but not saying it yet, and then when I was done singing that page, they had to raise their hands and describe with a word where the fox was, no pointing.  For example - is he behind the red wagon or in front of the blue tractor? If they need help focusing and putting the answer into words, then of course, I help them with that.
This book was amazing to use with kids.  How I use it with groups of 5 to 25 is getting the children to focus on the story, to become a teller of the story, so if there's a little chatter back and forth that's OK.  Sharing a great book together does not have to be always a total quiet affair.
I also used Find the Piglet by Phil Roxbee Cox, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright; Old MacDonald Had a Farm by David A. Carter; and Are You My Mommy? by Carla Dijs.


Dear Friends, if you read this blog, I've been slowing down to pay attention to some health issues.  I'll blog as I can.
Thank you,
Dianna Burt

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Favorites

Goatilocks and the Three Bears by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Arthur Howard is a terrific new Goldilocks and the Three Bears variant.  I simply love this version.  You know what goats do, right? Yes, they eat a lot of different stuff.  So this is no regular telling, Goatilocks eats her way through the story.  
The watercolor art is delightful, fresh and amusing. Howard is known for the art in the Cynthia Rylant Mr. Putter and Tabby series, and tons more books.  
This portrayal of the 3 Bears will lend itself very well to comparing and contrasting to the original and other versions.  
I'll recommend this to teachers, parents, and children.  And I'm going to feature it in my outreach next month.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

Sea by Laura Green, graphic design by Sophie Hinton is technically a board book, but it's just too fun to miss.  It's part of a new series called Peekaboo! It has a die cut hole on each page and you see that animal behind it is different than all the rest.  There are sound clues that the sea creature on the next page is not the same.  It's simple and streamlined, but still interesting enough for the youngest preschoolers.  I'll share this in Storytime and see how they like it.  I'll probably wish it was a bigger format.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday

Oliver and His Egg by Paul Schmid is sweet.  Oliver thinks he has an egg and it will hatch and he and his new friend will have all kinds of adventures.  But then one of his friends mentions that it is really a rock.  Instead of Oliver feeling deflated and disappointed, Oliver's imagination goes wilder.  I love the energy of this book and that Oliver makes lemonade from lemons.  That's a great spirit of adventure he has.  The art is created with pastel pencil and digitally colored.  I'll use this with children from preschool to third grade.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Terrific Tuesday

The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland was first published in Australia in 2008.  I'm glad it made it to the States because it is hilarious. Four animals wander into Bear's cave to play games during a rainstorm.  But they wake up that very cranky bear and it's no more games for them.  I love how zebra, lion, and moose think that making bear more like them is what will make him happy, but sheep listens and finds out what bear really wants.  Kids will love this and so will their parents. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Marvelous Monday

There Once Was A Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant by Helen Ketteman, illustrations by Will Terry is deliciously wild.  It's a new take on the "Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly."  I love the pairing of Ketteman and Terry.  I've shared their books in first and second grades and the kids respond so well to the stories and the art.  Probably our favorite was "The Three Little Gators" with the big bottom boar.  There is nothing so great as a wild animal that mashes other animals' houses with its butt.  This title has a distinctive southwest flavor with the roadrunner, boar, 'dillo, and lizard.  This year with my outreach I'm using variants of old tales.  There Once Was a Cowpoke... will hit if off well with the kids too.  I love Terry's use of perspective and I thought I knew where the story was going when I saw the outhouse, but I was tricked!