Wednesday, January 25, 2017


More people celebrate Lunar New Year than almost any holiday in the world: and most Americans don't know very much about it.  Here's a visually exciting introduction to this amazing celebration.


Mystery Bag: Holds a stuffed dragon puppet

Word of the Week: 
      English: HELLO
     Chinese: NI HAO (Knee How?- rising inflection at end.  Listen on Google Translate so you get the tone right: Chinese is very dependent upon the tone of each syllable.)
     Practice (To the tune of "Farmer in the Dell")
     Let's wave and say NI HAO,
     Let's wave and say NI HAO.
     Let's say HELLO to all our friends,
     Let's wave and say NI HAO.

INTRODUCTORY Video:  CeeBeebies: (BBC Children's  This videos shows a child's perspective of Chinse New Year: have kids watch for :
     1.  what color are the kids wearing (red)
     2.  Lion Dancers
     3.  Things they're familiar with (festivals, dance recitals, giving gifts to parents)

BOOK:  Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan's Chinese New Year (Scholastic, 1990.)
     This is a great book to take your time over: nonfiction & the pictures are wonderful.  Find similarities between Chinese and American culture (for example, the "altar" in the Chinese-American home is like the pictures traditional Americans may have of family members who have died: many Hispanic-Americans will light candles or incense by these pictures, too.)  The meal reminds many young children of Thanksgiving.

MOVEMENT: Dragon Dance (To the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
  Dragon, Dragon turn around.  Dragon, Dragon touch the ground.  Dragon Dragon shake your head.  Dragon Dragon, tongue so red.  Dragon Dragon, stamp your feet, Dragon, Dragon coming down the street.)

ELECTRONIC RESOURCE:    Chinese culture in a nutshell:  Panda Express made a very nice video that explains the origin of Chinese New Year, the Chinese Zodiac and how to celebrate Chinese New Year... all in 5 minutes. (Google This: Panda Express Fortune Tales)

ELECTRONIC RESOURCE (ALTERNATE):  PebbleGo Social Studies Chinese New Year.  Accessed 24 January 2017.)  This goes really well with the preceeding videos, as many of the same concepts are reinforced.  We used the "Share What You Know" activity page with the 2nd grade to practice note-taking and active listening.

TUMBLEBOOKS: Round is a Mooncake or Red is a Dragon.

VIDEO to share CULTURES:  The LED Dragon Dance videos are so exotic and fun to watch!
MY favorite:
LEGO Lion Dance:

COLORING: 2nd grade enjoyed coloring "Chinese Symbols" with markers. 2nd grade also got red bookmarks with their Chinese Zodiac animal on it.  The K kids made paper-plate roosters or colored red-rooster 2017 for their families.

CHINA 2017

In preparation for Chinese New Year, we're doing something NEW to story time: focusing on the culture and facts about one country (CHINA!)

Those of you who know me of old may remember my favorite class I ever taught was a 6th grade social studies course -- a survey of world history and culture.  With all of history and all of Earth's people (and their habits) as your course work, how could you NOT have an amazing journey?


WORD of the WEEK: 
     English:  CHINA
     Chinese  中国 (use Google translate -- it sounds like CHUNG-kuwa)
     Spanish: CHINA (Pronounced CHEE-nah)

     Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong (Albert Whitman, 1993)  Retelling of a folk tale where a magic pot multiplies everything-- even the people in the story.
     Anything by Jon Muth would be a good choice-- Chinese and Japanese culture share some important elements and Muth's stories don't specify a country....

Electronic Resources:
* TIME for KIDS magazine online has a whole sub-site on China.  Small kids will especially relate to the "Day in the Life" and "Native Lingo", which pronounces some key Chinese words.

PebbleGo has a wonderful visual introduction to this country: (subscription required)

Count to 10 with a video: this one is short, shows great graphics, and the teacher is clear and friendly:

Craft: we made Chinese FLAGS with red construction paper and pre-cut stars: this took some doing, a coloring page may work, if you don't have time to cut out 500 stars (100 kindergarten students * 5 days of lessons = tired hands!)  Show students a model of the flag and have them replicate it as closely as they can.

We also made chinese BINGO, using words from the PebbleGo article and the animals of the Chinese zodiac.  Winner got a Bookmark!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

GERMS 2017

Cold season's upon us.  Stop the spread of germs by teaching health etiquette.  It can be fun, seriously!  

Here's this week's lesson, tailor-made to keep teachers and students healthy until the weather warms up and we can all get outside. The highlight of the lesson were the hands-on activities.

We paired a nonfiction book or online resource with our stories so kids could see the science behind how germs spread, too.  



  • Henry and Mudge and the Cold Shivers by Cynthia Rylant
  • Ba-Choo! by Sarah Weeks (participatory, an annual favorite!)
  • Mercer Mayer's Ah-Choo is a good one for small groups.  It's a tiny book!



some links below are broken, try this

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Stars 2017

This week storytime was surprisingly captivating!  Turns out, kids love thinking both scientifically & imaginatively about the night sky.

Welcome Song & Library Rules

Mystery Bag: A stuffed (plush) star

Word of the Day:  STARS
ASL sign for stars: : Estrella (Es TRAY YAH)

   *Waiting Is Not Easy by Mo Willems (emergent readers help you find sight words)       Draw Me A Star by Eric Carle (notice how the artist ages through the book: one
                   child commented this book  was "sad but good")
        Stars by Mary Lyn Ray (illus. Marla Frazee)
     * There are hundreds of great nonfiction books for beginning readers: we didn't have time to read a print book but Thomas Adamson's Stars: Las Estrellas (2008, Pebble Plus) is a really easy, quality, beginning book.

Electronic Resources:
    *PebbleGo's "STARS" article (Science> Earth & Space Science > Stars)
    (This is a great opportunity to show kids how to access PebbleGo so they can explore independently the topics that interest them.) 
 Ready Jet Go Star Mindy's Constellation Exploration 


*  A trip to NASA online should receive top billing. (
*  Little minds also LOVED this memory game
  There are many starry crafts online, too, including constellation creation.

For Even More Fun:

I passed out some flyers to the university planetarium, to try to encourage home connections to our story topics.  There are lots of handouts about constellations for kids, and the NASA website & app are both of the highest quality.  Any of these activities make a great addition to the experience.