Grinding and gameification

Cover Image via Massively on Joystiq

I’ve been thinking about grinding lately. Grinding in video games, per Wikipedia, “is a term used in video gaming to describe the process of engaging in repetitive tasks during video games.” It’s an issue in gaming, of course, and there are numerous posts about that already. (I fall in the middle on that – some grinding is necessary and even enjoyable, but find a way to make it integrated into the plot. I don’t wanna always be killing 10 more rats.)

But today we had our first meeting for the Teen Summer Reading planning committee, and we had a discussion about gamification. It was a brief discussion centering around our use of bingo boards last year. The bingo boards were not very popular, and we were trying to figure out where to go from there. How did we make it “fun” without the grind?

Now, my two cents on the matter is that while the world is full of fun things, and even fun ways to learn things, the truth of the matter is that eventually you have to grind at least a little. You have to go into a place you might not want to go and do something that feels repetitive to get the experience you need to move on. Once you’re proficient, you can hop into bigger adventures, bigger challenges. Heck, you can even show other people the best way to get around that particular dungeon. But they’ll come to their own grind eventually.

When I started baking, it was boxed brownies. All the time. No variation from the instructions. Dozens of boxes of brownies over the first couple months that I was learning to bake. It wasn’t always fun, but it was nice to see people enjoying the product of my labor. Occasionally I regretted offering to make brownies for an event, but eventually it became no big deal. I could make a decent batch of boxed brownies in my 30 minute lunch from work (true story).

From what I learned making endless brownies, I figured out how my oven worked differently from the test ovens in the recipes, or how to modify it to make it fluffier or denser, how to tell by smell when sugar smells done but not burnt. I could use those skills on cookies, then cakes, then pastries. The skills built on one another, but it started with just a little bit of grinding.

We ask students to study and do homework to gain proficiency. It’s not because we think that homework is so gosh darned fun. It’s because that repetition with tiny variations help them learn. We ask for a certain number of practice hours with a supervising driving before getting a driver’s license.

Sometimes we mix the idea of “paying our dues” in with grinding, and I want to be careful here. Paying dues indicates that you have to start at the bottom for a certain period of time, which is not something I’m necessarily in agreement with. I will, however, agree that that sometimes starting a new skill isn’t always fun – it can have its fair dose of grinding. The important thing is to make the grinding seem relevant. If we want teens (or kids or adults) to learn new skills using the library as a resource, we need to make sure that the boring parts are made incredibly relevant. Just like the level ups you get from killing rats and looting chests let you beat the next boss, skill introductions need to have a visible and important benefit.

They’re going to have to grind. Video game designers need to make it relevant to their game. It’s our jobs as educators to make it relative to the goals of a learner.

Audiobook Review: Museum of Thieves

I can’t be alone in searching IMDB to find out who starred in my favorite things. I recently did this for Dragon Age. One of the voice actor’s in that series – Claudia Black, who voices Morrigan – branched into recording children’s audiobooks. Her first voiced series is The Keepers by Lian Tanner. Conveniently, my library owned the first book, The Museum of Thieves, and I have a long enough commute to crank through it. I’m guilty of sitting in my car longer than necessary, just to squeeze in a few more minutes.

Museum of Thieves is a great middle grade pick in the line of The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman or The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone – magic and mystery abound at quite a fast pace. The cast of characters is vast but memorable, and made more memorable by the distinctive voices used by Claudia Black. We are introduced to the city of Jewel, and to Goldie, a 12-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to finally be Separated. Children in Jewel are vastly overprotected, literally always attached to an adult or their bed via a chain tied to their wrists.

Jewel is a city that has resolutely pushed every dangerous thing away. Dogs might bite. Standing water might carry the plague. Children alone might get carried off by pirates. Little by little, Jewel has conquered their little corner of the world. But wildness will not be tossed aside so easily. In the tiny Museum of Dunt live all the wild forces that Jewel refuses to believe still exist. Most of all, inside the Museum is magic.

As Goldie learns about the Museum and the uses of wildness, she also learns of a truly terrible plan to destroy Jewel. Only the Keepers of the Museum can save the city – but only if the terrified citizens of Jewel will let them.

A very compelling book to listen to, with characters that leap out of the speakers. Black draws out characters both lovable and despicable – keep an ear out for Guardian Hope and Sinew, whose tones are unmistakable.

If my library didn’t already own this, we would soon.

UPDATE: Random House has a site for The Keepers Trilogy with games, character bios, and even lessons from the Keepers! Well worth a look at this companion site.

Book Review: The Red Pencil

I had a resolution to read more diversely this year, and I’m really pleased I started out with The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney. It surprised me on a number of levels, but really hit home.

The book is told in poems, written in the voice of Amira, a 12-year-old girl who lives in Darfur with her parents. She explores growing up in a conservative village, the confusion of understanding war as a child, and the harsh realities of the genocide in Darfur. Together, these themes could make the book too heavy for its intended audience of children, but the first-person perspective of a child, along with the poetic form, help to distance the trauma just enough that I don’t feel uncomfortable recommending this to the right middle grader.

I’ll admit that I cried several times throughout the book. There is real trauma in Amira’s life – trauma that is both inflicted and dealt with in the plot of this short book. Characters are fleshed out in small aside poems, along with Amira’s own thoughts on the people in her life.

What I liked most about this book was that it didn’t expect readers to understand the situation before beginning – a short glossary of terms in the back includes some of the cultural terms Amira uses, but also words like “Janjaweed,” a concept that any adult might have trouble explaining. Readers walk with Amira through her dawning understanding of the change in her world, and so we are allowed to join her at the end of the book, as she takes the first steps toward something new.

The author, Andrewa Davis Pinkney, will be visiting Pittsburgh next month as part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Kids Series. Follow the link for more information.

Catching Up on Last Year

From last year’s New Year’s blog:

I have smaller, simpler goals too: I want to start cooking dinner again, get back into baking, remember how to crochet and cross stitch. I want to write stories like I haven’t since I finished undergrad, and maintain the great friendships I’ve made with a little more gusto. I want to read whole books again, rather than just skimming them for papers. I want to beat DragonAge on something other than easy level.

I have been slacking on these goals. Granted, these were the small ones on the list. I did manage to graduate and get a job, so I don’t feel too bad about these. But that means it’s time for a revisit.

I still would like to cook more of my own meals. This means I’ll have to relearn how to cook since I do it so rarely.

I’ve been reading books (check out my first New Year’s Resolution about reading more diverse books). Audiobooks totally count as far as I’m concerned.

As for Dragon Age: Origins, I re-downloaded it to my new computer, and it’s next up on my to-play list as soon as I finish this second playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition. There may be a pattern here.

As for crochet and cross-stitch, I’ve more officially given up on these. They’re awesome hobbies, and I may come back to them, but for now I just don’t have the kind of interest it takes to keep up with them.

Trying to think of things that I missed. Any resolutions you’d like to share?

Getting Some Jbrary Love

In web life, there’s those moments where you’re like – I’ve made it! When a former Twitter account crossed 1000 followers (now defunct), I squeed. When @neilhimself tweeted back at me, I jumped up and down. And now Jbrary has linked to me. The happiness spike is quite high, to say the least.

One of the things I love about the library world is how open we are about sharing resources and information. Jbrary has been an amazing help to me as I get set up as a youth services librarian. They took me from terrified before my first solo storytime, to slightly less terrified (a major accomplishment). If you’ve never checked them out before, try it now. It’s well worth looking through if you work with young kids as a teacher, librarian, or caregiver.

I’ll keep posting – I’ve got a lot to live up to now!

Ocarinas, Light Sabers, and Learning Gateways

Cover image via Kotaku. Original owner’s site seems disabled, but if you know it, pass it on so I can credit.

About 2 years ago, a good friend of mine tried to get me into gaming. I was not enthused about the idea. I mean, I barely played Angry Birds. He sat me down in front of his console, put in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and sat down eagerly to watch me play. I was instantly… disenchanted.

Don’t get me wrong. Ocarina of Time is a great game – it’s still my friend’s favorite to this day – but it wasn’t for me. After that defeat, he practically gave up on me, convinced that if Link and Zelda couldn’t make me a gamer, then I was a lost cause.

A few weeks later, he mentioned that he was playing an MMO that I had heard of – Star Wars: The Old Republic – with his friends. Since I still wanted to get on board with some of his interests, and I already loved Star Wars, I figured why not? I created an account. I played a few quests. And then I went and bought KOTOR. Beat that. Twice. Countless hours (and dollars) later, I would say I’ve been turned on to video games.

My friend and I both laugh at the fact that he thought I could never start playing games. The real problem was that I didn’t want to play the same games he did. I still am not likely to ever sit down and play Ocarina of Time, but I do invest a lot of hours into Bethesda and BioWare games, and am branching out into some pretty sweet Indie territory (Gorogoa needs to come out yesterday).

Our problem wasn’t that I couldn’t be interested – it was that we were trying the wrong gateway. He was trying to usher me into games the same way he had been ushered in. While logical and well-intentioned, it just burned me out and made me frustrated.

Instead, I had an eye on the enjoyment other people seemed to experience, and poked around until I found my own way in. Gamers love to find workarounds, hacks, and glitches to get them where they’re going in ways that no one else has ever gone. Maybe I already had that motivation to go my own way (though that doesn’t explain my love of led-by-the-hand BioWare titles).

I know I’ve been guilty of the same well-intentioned error when teaching people new skills an interests. I know how I got interested in making/gaming/baking/books, and I want to show people in the same way. Sometimes this works. Other times though, my enthusiasm for the One True Way of getting involved in something can turn people off, leaving them feeling excluded and frustrated.

I can take a page out of my own book when I’m teaching. If the point of entry I’m most enthusiastic about isn’t working out, let them see the end goal – having fun learning something. Then share a WHOLE BUNCH of ways to get involved, even if they seem like the more boring, more intense, more complicated way. Each person will respond to different gateways. I certainly shouldn’t hold them back from trying each and every door.

Winter Reading has Begun

Cover image Wie leest wie voor? by JoséDay on Flickr.

Last summer, I sort of found myself in charge of a Summer Reading Program at the last minute. It didn’t go so well, as you might imagine. We had great summer learning events, but not a lot of participation in traditional, tracked summer reading.

Since then, I’ve started a new job at a new library, and we’re running a short, low-key winter reading program during the month of January. Originally, it was just a youth services thing, but the adult services department has gotten on board too, making for a great full-library event.

For youth services, we’ve divided up participation into a few categories: Pre-K, K-5, Middle Grade (vaguely grades 5-7), and Teen (vaguely grades 6-12). Obviously, there’s overlap because of the creation of the Middle Grade category. We’ve had success with the creation of a Middle Grade collection and program set, so why not extend it to the reading club? Kids in this age group can choose whether to participate in Kids or Middle Grade (for the 5th and 6th graders) and Teen or Middle Grade (for the 6th & 7th graders). It’s not really about forcing certain categories – it’s more about encouraging kids to read at the age group they enjoy.

Each child/teen gets a welcome bag at registration with a pencil and such – teens have different bags than the kids. Then they take a bingo sheet to fill out. Each space is a type of book to read, and they try to create a bingo of any kind on the card. When they bring it back, they get a ticket for a raffle at the end of the month. There are 4 baskets, each with a target age, although participants can choose any raffle to enter.

Example of a Kids Bingo Sheet:

Kids Week 1 Bingo Sheet: Row 1 Newberry book, New book, Reader's Choice, book in a series, paperback. Row 2: Author whose last name starts with M, Book on CD, Free space, Book published in 2014, Non-fiction book. Row 3 Book with a blue cover, graphic novel, book with more than 100 pages, book of poetry, reader's choice. Row 4, a book that became a movie, book based on a true story, cookbook, mystery book, Caldecott book.
Our week 1 K-5 Winter Reading Club Bingo Sheet.

It’s low key enough to work during a really busy programming season, and it also has pretty low barriers to participation.

This program is exciting to me for a variety of reasons. The biggest one is the tension between traditional summer reading proponents and advocates of other ways of directing and tracking summer learning. This kind of program – super easy to run and participate in – allows people for whom reading clubs are important parts of the library world to get that fix. And it also frees up staff time to develop other facets of summer learning at the library.

Remind me that I talked about all the “free time” this program leaves me toward the end of this month.

New Look, New Stuff

Cover Image:

Happy New Year Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  anyjazz65 

If you read this on my site, you may have noticed that it looks a lot different. I’ve opted to go with the new Twenty Fifteen theme from WordPress, because I really like how clean it feels. I tucked a lot of my old blog posts away in the archive, too, to give the site a fresh start.

I’ve started – and promptly forgotten about – dozens of blogs, tumblrs, LiveJournals, MySpaces, Twitters, and more – each while I tried to figure out just what I wanted to say. Theme blogs didn’t work well for me – my interests vary and change too quickly. I tried personal blogs, but they felt uncomfortably confessional, and I’m no Sylvia Plath. Academic, fandom, library…they’ve come and mostly gone.

This is the first year I’m ostensibly settled. I graduated for what might be the last time, got another new living situation, got a first “real” librarian job, and dug in a little bit to the place I live now. I’ve gained a lot of friends, a few new hobbies, and adjusted my perspectives on a lot of things.

I’ve weirdly become known in my friend group as the library/craft alcohol/fanfic/video game girl. It’s a pretty fair assessment of my time spent, and it didn’t seem reflected in my online persona. There was a time where I wanted to make sure that my “IRL” self wasn’t the same as my online self – after all, it was the Wild West days of the World Wide Web – but I’ve kind of settled into the fact that my identity is what it is. There will probably be more farm ale posts; or a few about my thoughts on fan fiction’s role in developing story telling in young adults; my opinions on the launch hiccups in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and my experiments in making a gosh darn good Last Call. There will be library stuff, book stuff, learning stuff – after all, I haven’t stopped being interested in that either.

Learning, Teaching, and Teen Mentors

Now that we’re actually in range of decent New Year’s resolution-making, I’ve been thinking. I actually started my first set of resolutions (reading more diverse books) last night – but more on that later. I also was thinking about what I want to learn this year, and what I want to share with others.

I asked that question of my Teen Advisory Board at the meeting just before Christmas. We were sitting there, decorating cookies (well, some were just unabashedly shoveling sprinkles into their mouths), and I asked what they were good at that they could share with others. It took some prompting – most of my teens didn’t seem to think that their skills were anything to call home about. But one of them managed to come up with accounting – accounting! – and figured she might be able to help middle school kids with math, or high schoolers with creating a balanced budget. It was a great start, and pretty soon the rest of the group had their own skills to bring up – baking, video games,  painting… the list went on.

Then I asked another question – What do you want to learn that you’re not sure how to start? This was a hard one for them too. We talked through this one based on the other question. Some of the teens really wanted to learn to bake, or how to design video games. A few even acknowledged that it would be a good idea to learn how to budget, since they’re old enough to get their first jobs.

Once the ball was rolling, we started to hear some more – robots! applying for college! dancing! It turned into a great discussion about how we could shape our programming going forward by allowing the older teens to mentor and teach the middle graders.

We can’t start that til this summer, at least not officially, since the Winter/Spring schedule is already released. But it’s a good path to be on.

Reading Resolutions

So I’m a little early on this post, but there’s Christmas music blaring over the intercom and it puts me in the year-end mindset. There’s been a lot happening in the world, and in my life, this year. I’ve made some big changes (graduating, moving, starting a new job), but I’m trying to think about the ways I can make next year even bigger, even better.

So, I’ll be blunt: I’m going to shamelessly steal from all of you. Library folk internet-wide have been posting AMAZING programming ideas, library philosophy, and book suggestions. And I feel like a David that’s forgotten his slingshot in a matchup with Goliath. WHERE DO YOU ALL GET THESE AMAZING IDEAS?

For instance, I read about a really amazing Etsy workshop for teens today. That’s baller. Or how about this crazy cool library blog that should make all public library blogs jealous from my home state? Or the people who accomplished reading lists that make me think.

50 books by POC. 50 books about LGBTQ characters. 50 books in translation. Books with non-Western style illustrations. Books with narrators with less privilege than me. With different viewpoints than me. With different ideas than I could ever think of. That’s what you’re all reading, and it blows my mind.

I read an old Slate article (which is the owner of the beautiful header image) about reading a book a day all year. I’ve decided to layout some more modest goals for myself, since I know I have trouble getting outside of my reading bubble, which is a problem. So let’s mix it up. In 2015 I will:

– Read 25 teen/middle grade books by POC.

– Read 50 picture books written/illustrated by POC

– Read 25 books with LGBTQ protagonists

– Read 25 books in translation.

In complete honesty, this is more than I’ve read for pleasure since before I started grad school (gasp!). But I’m not stopping there.

– Listen to 25 books on CD (any length)

– Design an app (which means learning how to build an app)

– Update my blog more often (this probably means I’ll be linking it up to tumblr, because I love some tumblr and I’ve gotten away from it)

What do you think? Worthy aspirations? Suggestions or tweaks? What are your reading resolutions, if you’ve gotten that far?

 

Mud Painting, or How do I use this chocolate pudding before it goes bad?

I do biweekly visits to a local after school program that has about 12 kids, grades K-6. While there, I read a couple stories and do an activity. In the past, we’ve done things like build rockets out of pipe insulator and duct tape and a rocket launcher out of PVC pipe as well as a version of the marshmallow challenge (complete with faux-earthquake). I try to stick to solid all-ages activities, while still teaching them some STEM concepts.

Today was a bit more arts and crafts, although I think the kids loved it. We had been cleaning out the kids supplies, and discovered some pudding cups that had a month left on them. A coworker mentioned mud painting, and the idea was born.

I read The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems. The kids had almost all heard of Mo Willems and his pigeon, so there was an understanding of how the book worked. It’s just interactive enough to get them to really settle into the story, and isn’t so simple that the older kids zone out.

I did a quick follow up with Harry the Dirty Dog, which the older kids politely sat through while the younger kids really got into it. They were really upset when Harry’s family didn’t recognize him. Overall, a decent storytime for a large age range.

But then I revealed the activity. So much happiness.

I laid out a big tablecloth on the floor for the kids and handed out sheets of white construction paper. Then each kid got a chocolate pudding cup.

I told them it was finger painting, and that they weren’t allowed to touch their clothes or each other, or in fact anything other than their paper. Surprisingly, they listened, and we only had one dollop on the carpet (it was a really old carpet, so I was told it was fine).

There was a thin line between using the pudding to paint and using it to eat. In the end, we handed out LOTS of paper towels and spoons so they could finish up.

I’ll be in for a special Halloween program there next week for Halloween, which will be pretty science-y, so it was a nice change up to do some art with them.

The picture isn’t mine (I never remember to take pictures), and was done with paintbrushes and actual mud by the wonderful ladies over at Sunflower Storytime.

Mud Painting
Mud Painting

Music and Movement – Revamped

I’ve gotten a crash course this week in running children’s programming, and so far it seems to be going ok. I’ve gotta hand it to all the children’s librarians I’ve worked with in the past though – this stuff can be exhausting! I just finished up a Music and Movement storytime, and while I didn’t run out of breath, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t close.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about why we do storytimes lately, and what we should expect from the littlest patrons. That background was something I missed in library school, since I didn’t focus on children and youth. It’s been helpful as I plan more programs though. Today’s Music and Movement was a lot more structured than the one I ran two weeks ago, and I’ve found a few rhymes that will help the kids stick with me as we learn about rhythm and movement. The previous librarian focused a lot on music appreciation. I may tie into that at some point, but while the kids and I are just getting settled in, we’re focusing on dance and how to coordinate their bodies. Things like the chicken dance are silly but fun, while doing the Bees Knees dance (where you put your hands on your knees, then cross them as your bring your knees together, uncrossing them as you bring your knees straight again) was beyond my group. Hey – it’s a really coordination heavy move, and they were confused even by what I was demonstrating to them.

I also gave the parents a handout with the rhymes on them, along with little bits of information about what we were doing. It let them sing along when their kids couldn’t, and also gave them a heads up about why rhythm is important, even to literacy. Using rhythm sticks to tap along to rhymes as well as songs allows kids to hear the rhythm of speech, breaking words into syllables and sentences into pieces. This is helpful when they learn to read, because it allows them to tackle one part of the sentence at a time.

No one registered for the program today, but I had 3 drop ins, which was just about the right amount for testing things out. I borrowed heavily from the internet. Thanks, children’s librarians of the web! Especially Jbrary. I’ve tried to cite sources when I pulled them directly from the web. Lots of things are just received knowledge, though, so if you see I missed someone, let me know!

Music and Movement 9/18/2014 – Intro to Rhythm Sticks

Entry Music: From Classical Clubhouse Dance AlongLes Patineurs by Waldteufel (7:48)

This song title translates to “The Skaters,” and you can imagine figure skaters sailing along or doing great leaps into the air depending on the movement in the song. While the kids won’t know this the first week, it can be a great way to get them thinking about how music can tell a story without words. Today the song started a little late, since I didn’t think anyone was coming, but the kids liked pretending they were ice skating for the first minute or two of the song.

Explain as parents and children come in that the music will go through a lot of changes. See if the children can move the way the music does (soft and slow, big and dramatic, etc.) If this doesn’t happen right away, that’s fine. The kids will hear this piece a lot over the next few weeks. After the waltz, there’s a big dramatic finish with violins and cellos. 

Welcome song: This is the Way We Wave Hello

Once we got everyone settled down from their ice skating adventure, I introduced myself. One of the children had seen me before, but the others were new, and only remembered the librarian who ran the program before me. They were a weensy bit skeptical of me at first, but it seemed to go away as the program went on.

Tune: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

This is the way we wave hello, wave hello, wave hello
This is the way we wave hello – hello, hello, hello!

This is the way we clap hello…
This is the way we whisper hello…
This is the way we tap hello…

Via Story Time Secrets.

Rhythm Sticks

Since this is our first time with rhythm sticks, I’ll pull 2 out to show everyone how to use them. I’ve avoided a lot of things that encourage partner play today, because our attendance is usually young toddler. Parents are encouraged to help young children tap, but not to take over. Children will naturally tap the sticks together – and then tap them on everything else. Watch them carefully, and if the sticks become too much, cut short this section.

Once the sticks are passed out, give everyone a moment to get used to them. For some kids, they’ll be unwieldy, so it may take a long minute to adjust. Once we’re all settled in. Try to get them to tap slowly together, then up high, down low, quickly…

The first song is set to the same tune as the hello song. Since this is all new to the kids, this will help them learn it the first few weeks.

This is the Way We Tap Our Sticks

To the tune of Mulberry Bush:

This is the way we tap our sticks, tap our sticks, tap our sticks
This is the way we tap our sticks so early in the morning!
This is the way we rub our sticks, rub our sticks, rub our sticks
This is the way we rub our sticks so early in the morning!
This is the way we tap our knees, tap our knees, tap our knees
This is the way we tap our knees so early in the morning!

Via Read Sing Play.

I lost my place in this song at one point, but the kids didn’t miss a beat. Thank goodness for familiar melodies!

Tap Your Sticks

Tap your sticks in the air with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks on the floor with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks in the air with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks on the floor with a 1-2-3

Tap your sticks to the left with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks to the right with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks to the left with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks to the right with a 1-2-3

(I got this rhyme from Hap Palmer’s Rhythms on Parade CD.  Check out this YouTube clip)

Via Anne’s Library Life.

I did this one as a chant, because the music wasn’t familiar with everyone and I didn’t have the CD. I may get it though, because the music video in the link provided by Anne makes me think it will be a worthy addition.

Rhythm Stick Bingo

There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name-o!
B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O
and Bingo was his name-o!

(we tapped our sticks for the B-I-N-G-O part)

Via Anne’s Library Life.

They loved this one! Everyone knew the Bingo song, and tapping slow during the sentence and quicker while we spelled Bingo seemed to be  favorite. We did this one twice.

 

Scarves

Ok, I’ll admit, Jbrary saved my life here. They have a great page of scarf songs that I borrowed heavily from. And they come with videos!

We Wave Our Scarves Together

To the tune of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”

We wave our scarves together, we wave our scarves together
We wave our scarves together, because it’s fun to do.
Spoken: We wave them up high (in a high voice)
We wave them down low (in a low voice)
We wave them in the middle (in a normal voice)
Sing: Because it’s fun to do.

We throw our scarves together…

Another song we did twice because the kids were loving it. The voice modulation when we did things high and when we did things low was fun for everyone.

One Bright Scarf: To the tune of “Bouncing up and down” or “Michael Finnegan”

One bright scarf waiting for the wind to blow (bounce the scarf in front of you)
Wiggle it high and wiggle it low (wiggle it above your head, then near the floor)
Shake it fast and shake it slow (fast then slow)
(Hide the scarf behind your back, under your knee, etc.)
Where did it go?

So… I couldn’t get my head around this melody, so we did this as a rhyme again. The kids didn’t care, and the parents probably just think I’m tone deaf. I’m not, but something’s gotta give, apparently. We turned this into a hiding game, where the kids would hide their scarves, then immediately come to look for mine. I tucked it into my pocket once, and they pulled it out when they found it, to the delight of everyone.

Dancing with Scarves

Each child got a second scarf here, and we danced to Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” for a few minutes. We played with different ways to move so the scarf would float or fly or look like wings. The girls loved this. The boy, again, not so much. We may try something with the toddler trucks for him in a couple weeks to see if it encourages him to move.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Zoom Zoom Zoom, we’re going to the moon
Zoom Zoom Zoom, we’re going very soon
If you want to take a trip
Hop on board my rocket ship
Zoom Zoom Zoom, we’re going to the moon
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Blastoff!

We do this song in Baby and Toddler Storytimes, too, so this was a nice carryover. Jbrary has this song, but we always do it with scarves, letting our scarves be rockets for us, flying them across the sky and blasting them off after the countdown. With an older group that’s payting attention, we do a second blastoff with a 10 second countdown.

Coordination and Dancing

This was a free form bit. I put on a Kidz Bop CD at the recommendation of a previous librarian, but my kids weren’t really into free movement, so I made up some coordination challenges for them. We danced like chickens and shook our hands left and right and tapped our toes. They followed along wonderfully, but the song wasn’t anything they cared about. I might use something else next time.

Goodbye Song: If you’re happy and you know it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

If you’re happy and you know it, wave goodbye
If you’re happy and you know it, wave goodbye
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, wave goodbye!

 

I was pretty nervous after this, but the parents were very supportive. One of them, the one who had come during the previous librarian’s time here, had driven a fair distance to get here, but said it was completely worth it and she would come again next time. That made me feel so much better about it. We’ll work with rhythm sticks again next time, so the kids get a chance to get used to them. Overall, a good time was had by all.