Autumn Leaves: Kindergarten Story Time

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 I love autumn, and I enjoy sharing all the elements of the season with my students. In this lesson I shared the fabulous book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, which never gets old for me even though I’ve been reading it aloud for ten years! We followed the book with a discussion of all the items she was able to make with leaves, and then we brainstormed ideas of other pictures that could be created.

I then gave each student a sheet of plain construction paper, and an assortment of real leaves and acorns from my yard. Ordinarily I would take the students on a nature walk around the school grounds to collect materials for this project, but Hurricane Michael closed our school and then left a wet mess behind. As we talked about what body parts people and animals have, the students experimented with different sizes and shapes of leaves to design their own leaf pictures. And while they were making art, I was taking photos!

We ended our time together by returning to the rug and singing Autumn Leaves are Falling Down by The Kiboomers on YouTube. I chose this song because it mentions the colors of the leaves that fall from the trees, which is one of the facts I wanted the students to know.

I reinforced that concept with our line up activity: When I called a child’s name, s/he had to name a real leaf color (green, yellow, orange, brown) before lining up.

Do you share the beauty of autumn leaves with your students? Please leave a comment and share your ideas!

 

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Scarecrow Fun and Friendship: Kindergarten Story Time

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 It’s always helpful to repeat books, songs, and rhymes, with students — especially younger learners. It makes concepts more “sticky,” and the kids enjoy participating in activities that they’re comfortable with. So in this session we revisited the topic of scarecrows, mixing some old resources with some new ones.

 The students briefly saw a scarecrow at the end of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves, so for this lesson I wanted to choose a book in which a scarecrow had a more prominent role. I decided on Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long so that we could “plant the seed” of becoming a more compassionate friend as well. When the farmer places a scarecrow in the field, the other residents of the farm are put off by his scowl and decide to leave him alone. Only Otis looks past the surface, and his response is a gentle lesson in empathy.

After sitting still for a story and a discussion, it’s time to get up and move. I wrote a simple poem made up of rhyming couplets which included the body parts of a scarecrow and taught it to the students along with some simple motions. We stood up and repeated it a couple of times until everyone was reasonably good at performing it.

The scarecrow pieces on the chart match the scarecrow pieces the students were given. Click to enlarge.

Then I gave each student a sheet of blank construction paper and a set of colored cut-outs of each of the scarecrow parts from Free Kids Crafts. (There’s also a black-and-white version available that kids can color themselves.) The children used the pieces to put together a picture of a scarecrow as we repeated the poem.

We ended with a repeat of the Scarecrow Song by the Learning Station on YouTube. The students always enjoy an opportunity to get up and dance!

Our lining up activity was to have each child name and point to a body part that a scarecrow has. Some of the things I do may sound very easy, but the majority of kids at my school are at-risk students so I usually start simple and then build up to more complex concepts. I’ve found it’s a good way to allow all of the students to experience some success. I also try to include lots of hands-on manipulatives and I bring in real items for them to handle, like the scarecrows you see at the top of this post which came from my local craft store.

I’d love to hear what scarecrow activities you use with your students. Please leave a comment and share!

 

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Orchards and Trees: Kindergarten Story Time

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I’m “branching out” from apple trees in this week’s kindergarten story time to fruit trees in general. (See what I did there?)

As a callback to our last story time we began our session with the song Way Up High in an Apple Tree by The Learning Station.

 Then I shared the nonfiction book At the Orchard by Bruce Esseltine which depicts a variety of fruit trees and provides a nice opportunity for students to identify different types of fruit.

 That led us into the rhyme A Tree Starts to Grow which I got from Miss Nina’s Weekly Video Show on YouTube. I did not use her video with the students; instead I made a chart of the words and taught it to the children myself. (Click the image to enlarge it.) I always try to alternate sitting still for a story with some singing and moving so the kids don’t get too restless.

 Then I used the Epic! ebook website to share A Tree Grows Up by Marfe Delano, which is a colorful look at the life cycle of a tree. I love the close-up of acorns on the title page, and the fact that the book mentions that acorns are food for different animals as well as seeds for trees.

 I brought in a couple dozen brown and green acorns from my yard, and the last few minutes of our time were spent examining the acorns and describing how they feel. Our “lining up activity” was for each student to place his/her acorn in the correct cup (brown acorns in the brown cup, green acorns in the green cup) on their way to the door. I sent the acorns back to the classroom to be used in the math center for counting and sorting.

Do you have some additional resources to recommend? Please leave a comment!

 

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Apples: Kindergarten Story Time

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This week my story time focus shifted from animal farms to fruit tree farms. My theme was apples, and it was a multi-sensory experience for the children.

 I started by reading aloud At the Apple Farm by Rachel Albanese, which is a nonfiction account of a mother and daughter visiting an orchard to pick baskets of apples. I had a real basket with a couple of apples in it for the students to pass around while we reviewed what we just learned about apple farms.

 Then it was time to get up and dance to the song I Like to Eat Apples and Bananas. I used a music video from the Tumblebooks website, but there are also a few versions of the song on YouTube, including the one by The Learning Station.

 Once again I used the Epic! ebook website to share I Eat Apples in Fall by Mary Lindeen. This book shows children of different ethnicities picking and enjoying apples, and it also highlights the different colors of apples, which led into our apple tasting.

 I brought in bags of red (Red Delicious) and green (Granny Smith) apple wedges and gave the students one of each to touch, smell, and taste. We then used paper apples to chart each child’s preference to determine which flavor was the most popular.

The students ended our time by “picking” a paper apple off of a paper tree and placing it in the appropriate basket (red apples in the red basket, green apples in the green basket, yellow apples in the yellow basket) on their way to line up at the door.

Do you use apple books and activities in your story time? Please leave a comment and share!

 

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Three Billy Goats Gruff: Kindergarten Story Time

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This week during story time I transitioned from farm animals to folk tales by sharing a folk tale about a farm animal. Most young children just can’t resist the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, and the group at my school was no exception.

Why is this story so popular?  Maybe it’s because the younger, smaller goats must rely on a bigger and older protector (much as young, small children must do); or because the bullying troll is punished at the end of the story, which doesn’t always happen in real life but is so appreciated when it does; or because the repetitive rhythm of the “trip-trap trip-trap” and the delicious sense of fear when the troll threatens to gobble the goats up is impossible to resist.  Whatever the reason, my audience was literally ROFL when the flannel billy goat butted the flannel troll off the flannel bridge and then stomped on him at the end of the story.

  Yes, this tale has a rather violent ending but I’ve never yet shared it with a group who was upset or frightened by the ultimate demise of the troll.  I like using the text of the OLD version (original copyright date 1957) of The Three Billy Goats Gruff written by P.C. Asbjornsen and illustrated by Marcia Brown.  The language really flows well as a read aloud, and the Big Billy Goat Gruff is a worthy hero and defender.

  I also used the audio version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff from the EPIC! website. (If you haven’t signed up for a free educators account yet, you should do so immediately.) Playing the audio version while using the flannel board set allows me to focus on what I’m doing or what the students are doing with the figures as we act out the story.

  And I actually began the lesson with a nonfiction book about goats from the EPIC! site so that we could review what we remembered about farm animals and then transition into the fictional story. The book I used was titled Goats and is part of the Blast Off Readers series. I like it because it touches on the facts about goats (young goats are called kids, male goats are called billy goats, goats eat grass, etc) that are relevant to the folktale.

I ended the session by having the students line up on one side of our story carpet so they could trip trap across the “bridge” to the library door. The students practiced the littlest goat’s response to the troll’s announcement that he was going to gobble him up: DON’T EAT ME! I’M TOO LITTLE!  Then the troll (aka me) knelt down midway across the carpet and waited for each kid to walk by. (See what I did there?) Some of the students were a little shy about replying to my threat, but most of them loudly told me off before scampering off to “eat their grass.”

Do you have a favorite Billy Goats Gruff story, and/or a creative way to use it during story time?  Please leave a comment or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune and share!

 

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Old MacDonald and His Animals on the Farm: Kindergarten Story Time

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After spending two years at a school that housed 4th and 5th grade only, I’m thoroughly enjoying leading story time for younger students again!

  For the last couple of library visits I’ve been focusing on farm animals.  The first time I used several nonfiction books, along with a spirited rendition of the song Old MacDonald Had a Farm complete with flannel board pieces.

For the second visit I shared three fiction stories:

  Click Clack Moo Cows That Type (by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin) This classic book is a crowd-pleaser for children and adults alike which shows how the farm animals work together to negotiate with the farmer for what they want. I’ll probably use some of the sequels during future visits.

  Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry) A rhyming delight AND an opportunity for students to chime in with both animal and vehicle noises AND a sweet message of friendship, all in one book. (There are more books about the Little Blue Truck too.) And it segues perfectly to the next book….

  Old MacDonald Had a Truck (by Steven Goetz, illustrated by Eda Kaban) Instead of focusing on the animals on the farm, this book celebrates the heavy machinery (dump truck, bulldozer, etc) being used for an unusual project on the farm. Most boys will be delighted by the sights and sounds on each page, and girls will probably be pleased to see Mrs. MacDonald partnering with her husband in their exciting endeavor. (It turns out that Old MacDonald also has a boat, if you’re interested in the sequel to this story.)

Do you have a favorite Old MacDonald story time resource?  Please share it in the comments or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

 

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