Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Homeschool Afternoon: Space Exploration

Homeschool Afternoon is a new assignment for me this semester, so for the first one, I knew that I wanted to do something that I really, really love.  My dad teaches industrial arts and space technology, so I have grown up hearing about the space shuttle and table saws.  Since it wasn't very feasible to have K-6 students build a wood project, I decided to go with space exploration  :)   In my initial research for the program, I was overwhelmed with all the directions we could go.  In the end, I decided to focus specifically on Apollo 11 and the Saturn V rocket.

We started off by reading from a few picture books about the astronauts involved in the Apollo 11 mission.  "One Giant Leap" was where we got the majority of our information.

After reading, I had a "2 Truths and a Lie" game prepared for them.  All the information in the game could be remembered from the picture book material that we read together.

Originally, I had a Saturn V launch video embedded in my Powerpoint, but the video wasn't working, so I didn't get to show that.

The following infographic was the inspiration for a human Saturn V demonstration:

The rocket that launched men to the moon was first tested in 1967.

I assigned 20 people to different parts of the rocket, as follows:
5 F-1 rocket engines
Stage 1
5 J-2 rocket engines
Stage 2
1 J-2 rocket engine
Stage 4
Lunar Module
Escape rocket
Lunar module
3 astronauts
(If your attendance is lower, you can use less people for the rocket engines and the astronauts can also be the lunar module)

Using the steps from the infographic, I instructed the students to fire up and fall into the Atlantic Ocean (a large trap) at the appropriate time.  The rocket engines got to eat fruit snacks for fuel before they launched their stage.  I wish I would have snapped some pictures of this, but I was too busy trying to get everyone organized and doing their part.

As referenced here, we try and do a collaborative project for each Homeschool Afternoon, so we ended up with an "orbiting challenge." I divided the students into 2 groups, making sure to have littles in each group and the oldest kids in each group.  Each group had a bucket, a rolling stool, and 5 wadded-up paper balls. They started by putting the youngest kid on the team on the stool, trying to make as many of the 5 balls into the bucket as they could.  Then we spun them on the stool in a circular "orbit," again challenging them to make the balls in the bucket.  There are many variations of this activity that you could do, challenging the older kids to try more difficult orbits or faster orbits, etc.

How did it go?
I believe we had 35-40 students in attendance, which was unexpected, but worked out really well.  I wish I would have scanned the books into the Powerpoint, because they had trouble seeing the illustrations.  The Saturn V rocket demonstration was difficult to navigate, but really paid off.  They loooooved the orbiting challenge.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Homeschool Afternoon

I am of the opinion that libraries should do their best to connect with families in their community practicing home education.  There are so many resources available to them that we can provide, whether it be through brochures, parent courses or student programming.  I also agree with Abby the Librarian that homeschool programs constantly need to be reevaluated and revamped.

Right now, at my library, we do a monthly program called Homeschool Afternoon.  We offer this program to grades K-6 and it takes place on the second Thursday of the month from 2-3pm.  Each month, we choose a topic to discuss such as the Titanic, Apollo 11 or rain forests.  The methods to distribute the information about the topic vary each month, but we always include a collaborative activity.

The attendance at this program has varied quite a bit in the past.  We figured out that the day of the week was just not working well with a lot of our larger families, so this fall we switched days, and the attendance has been up significantly.  I will be posting our monthly plans here on the blog, as well as how the plans went.

Top 10 (Actually 5) Characters I'd Love to Dress Up As For Halloween

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a weekly meme featuring a top 10 list of their choosing.  This week's list topic is "Top 10 Characters I'd Love to Dress Up as for Halloween."  I came up with 5.  Lame, I know.
Here goes:

Hermione Granger: I'd like to think that because I would dress up like her, I would also have all of her wit and amazingness.  I mean, seriously, does it get much better than this intelligent, risk-taking, emotional witch?

Gerald the Elephant:  Gerald is the carbon copy of myself.  Always worried and freaking out about something, I would feel right at home as Gerald.

Ladybug Girl:  Because I love ladybugs.  Who doesn't?

Alana from Saga:  Alana is the tainted version of Hermione.  She is seriously attractive, not ashamed to be deeply in love, a warrior, and has wings.  

Fancy Nancy:  I'm not a very fancy person by nature.  I don't like to wear jewelry or makeup very often, if at all.  The idea of being fancy for one day out of the year is super appealing to me.  Also, everyone could use a boost in vocabulary, even just for one day.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If You Like Mercy Watson

Mercy Watson Princess in Disguise
Mercy Watson is hilarious, there is no doubt about that.  A silly pig that always seems to be getting in trouble, she is unpredictable and lovable.  Here are a few series and titles to try out if you have already worked your way through the Mercy Watson series:

Penned by the same author as Mercy Watson, these stories about friends Bink and Gollie are full of silly stories and the challenges of friendship and overcoming obstacles.

          Cocoa is Cowgirl Kate's horse and he is a rascal.  She loves him so much and is willing to do anything for him, all while keeping him in line.

           The classic silly character, Amelia Bedelia is full of laughs and misunderstandings.  The people in her life are patient with her, just like Mr. and Mrs. Watson are with Mercy.

          Judy Moody is back, only her friends are being brought to the forefront of these stories.  As is true when Judy is around, crazy things seem to happen, but the community around her sticks close to each other.

          Henry doesn't go anywhere without his dog, Mudge, and they enjoy adventure after adventure, even when it seems like life has gotten a bit boring.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dirty/Yucky Storytime - Baby Rhyme Time

Opening song: Hi Ho the Dairy-O

When the children arrive, we write down their name and after everyone has arrived, we sing the names into the song, like this

Emily is here and Amy is here, hi ho the dairy-o and Avery is here. 

We continue singing the song until everyone has been greeted.  We ask the parents to lift their child up or have them wave as we sing their name, to familiarize ourselves with the child and to help them understand that their name is important.

Bobo's Backpack song

We have a cute monkey puppet who wears a small backpack.  He always has something hiding in his backpack, which introduces the theme of the storytime.  His song goes like this:

There is something in my backpack
Something hiding in my backpack
What's that something in my backpack?
Open your eyes for a big surprise

Book: Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd

This story is a bit long for babies, but we used it as a choral reader.  Each child and parent get a copy of the book to read aloud together during storytime. 

Song: Mudcakes

(to the tune of Frere Jacques)
       Make a mud cake, make a mud cake
       In the mud, in the mud
       Digging, scooping, patting, digging, scooping, patting
       Just feels fun, just feel fun
Parents can demonstrate making mudcakes with their own hands or manipulate their babies hands to make mudcakes.  I made the mistake of starting this off too fast, so when we got to the "digging, scooping, patting" part, it was hard to keep with the rhythm.

Flannelboard: Five Garbage Trucks

Book: I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont

Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont

This is a fun one because it has a lot of colors and talks about painting different body parts!

Recorded Music: I Love Trash from Songs From the Street (Sesame Street)

Each child got a maraca to shake while we sang and danced to this song. 

Song: Grand Old Duke of York

The grand old duke of York
He had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again
And when they were up they were up
And when they were down they were down
And when they were only halfway up
They were neither up nor down
He marched them to the left
He marched them to the right
He even marched them upside down
Now wasn't that a sight?

The parents hold the kids during this song and swing them up and down and left and right, according to the song's lyrics.  The kids just go crazy with them; they love it so much.

Goodbye Song: Clap Your Hands

Clap, clap, clap your hands
Clap your hands together
Clap, clap, clap your hands
Clap your hands together

Give, give, give a hug
Give a hug to baby
Give, give, give a hug
Give a hug to mommy or daddy

Wave, wave, wave goodbye
Wave goodbye to me
Wave, wave, wave goodbye
Wave goodbye to me

6 x 6 Early Literacy Skills

At my library, as a guide, we use the 6 by 6 Early Literacy Program, adapted by the State Library of Kansas.  The program is based off of the national Every Child Ready to Read program.  The 6x6 idea comes from six major skills that a preschooler should have in order to be reading independently by six years old.  The six skills are as follows:

  • Have fun with books
  • Notice print all around you
  • Talk, talk, talk
  • Look for letters everywhere
  • Tell stories about everything
  • Take time to rhyme
We often highlight these skills in storytimes as well as in passive programming activities throughout the children's library.  When the opportunity arises, we will offer a quick tip in storytime to get parents thinking about early literacy skills for their child.  Here on this blog, I will be highlighting ideas that you can use in your library or at home with your children in order to move them on their way to independent reading.

Review: Always by Emma Dodd

Always by Emma Dodd
From the author of wonderful books such as Dog's Colorful Day and I Am Small, Always by Emma Dodd shares the story of a baby elephant and his mother's unconditional love for him.  No matter if he is muddy or clean, kind or mean, his mama loves him so much.

Hardback, paperback or borrow from the library: Hardback.  A sweet story to be cherished and held dear for a long time.

Snuggle, move and groove, or read on your own: Snuggle.  Any story of unconditional love should be read within the arms of a child's caregiver, giving deeper meaning to the words of the story.  This short story also offers simple text that a preschooler could likely read to their mom, dad, or other loved one.

Highlights: Calm color scheme in the illustrations, complemented by hints of glossy silver throughout the pages.  On the page that illustrates the rain making the baby elephant sad, the streaks of rain are silver and bring life to the pages.
Unconditional love.  And baby elephants.  So adorable.