Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy

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April Display: Poet-tree!


For National Poetry Month I put up this interactive display using brown packaging from shipments to the library and green paper leaves. I posted a few “how to” information sheets for haiku, acrostic, and rhyme. Patrons were invited to write a poem on a green leaf OR write the name of their favorite poet or poem on a leaf and give the leaf to a staff person to hang up. The tree was fairly bare most of April, but once we got a few up there, more and more have been trickling in. Poetry books are displayed below the tree.

How did you celebrate April?

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Self Care Sundays: Outside Adventures

I’m so behind on my posts for this topic so this is from a few weeks ago. We took advantage of a rare sunny day in April and took a lovely walk at the Tacoma Nature Center. We got some decent pictures (and went home and immediately purchased a real camera) and treated ourselves to hot dogs after. It was a great dose of forest and sunshine!


Lots of flowers!

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You can’t really see, but a mama duck and her babies! Plus, turtles sunning!

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The Big Kahuna from The Red Hot. Oh YUM!

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Play, Baby, Play! No Paper? No Problem! Bodies as Canvas

Play Baby

Brooke and I have both written about this activity before, but I just can’t get enough! This time, we did this activity in all storytimes: Preschool, Baby, Preschool again, and Family. Surprisingly to me at the time (though on reflection I guess not) the squirmiest, seemingly uninterested in any books or songs, group was the one that really got into this activity the most. Wonder if you can guess which one that was? :)

For the older kids this is great writing practice and for the younger wonderful modeling. Plus, vocabulary and community building!

Supplies: In the past I have used Crayola washable markers this time when I tested them they did not wash off well AT ALL. So I ended up using Rose Art and Mr. Doodle markers. They both washed off super well. Face paint crayons and oil pastel crayons work REALLY well. I haven’t tried it but another librarian suggested tub crayons. It is SUCH a blast!

Preschool and BabyStorytimes

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Preschool Storytime #2

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This is my arm. Apparently, just drawing on mom and herself was not enough for one participant.

Family Storytime


This guy had several faces throughout the morning, this was the only one I could catch.

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This mom was drawn on by more than the toddler in her lap. Such a good sport!

My favorite part was how many people talked about wanting to do this at home or for a birthday party. It’s a cheap, easy activity with a huge reward!

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Play, Baby, Play! Boxes

Last year during ALA Annual 2014, Brooke (from Reading with Red) and I presented an Ignite session all about playing with babies at the library. It is one of our favorite presentations (together or separate), to this day. After talking about it for months, we decided to start blogging about all of our crazy ideas for babies! We can’t really figure out how we weren’t doing this all along. We’re calling this new series, “Play, Baby, Play!”

Play Baby

This week I’m writing about using boxes for a post storytime free play and art activity. Box play encourages imaginative play, narrative skills, and vocabulary building. When children have an opportunity to pretend using ordinary objects like boxes they use symbolism, which is an important pre-literacy skill, showing how one thing can stand for another. They make up stories about the box, possibly engaging in dialogue, and explore words to describe their play to participating adults.  Even babies and toddlers who are not yet talking are hearing so many new words and developing engineering skills, fine motor skills, social-emotional skills, and more! All these literacy skills from just a few boxes! Plus! Re-using! Recycling!

For another idea for using boxes check out this post from Annie about a Toddler Drive-In.

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All you need is a big pile of boxes and some markers (for decorating boxes if they so desire).


And they will take care of the rest!  You will notice some kids decided to get in the box and decorate while others opted for outside of the box play. Everyone was moving around so much it was difficult to grab a good picture, but take my word that there was lots of cooperative play and stacking throughout the 20 minutes or so they played.

Even though I’m not normally into themes, some of my favorite books are box themed. For this storytime we read Not a Box by Antoinette Portis and Meeow and the Big Box by Sebastien Braun.  I also love The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli but I skipped it this go around.

Happy playing!!


Self Care Sundays: Friends Are Soul Food

Last weekend my good friend had a birthday. To celebrate another good friend and I decided to visit her and spend Sunday being tourists in Seattle, where the birthday girl lives. As a surprise, another friend showed up for the day, as well. We were missing two of our core group of “girls” from high school, who have remained close friends over the past 13 years (!), but they were there in spirit and I’m sure we’ll all be together soon.

In any case, there’s really nothing like being with people who know you so well you can, literally, do anything and they are not surprised or weirded out. These are the kinds of friends who are family. I love them unconditionally and I’m pretty sure they feel the same way. Here’s a photo tour of our day (renamed to “Selfie Sunday). Hope you had an awesome birthday, Rosarita! I know I enjoyed it.


The first selfie of the day. She looks terrified, but she was really excited. I’m almost 100% sure.


After about 50 selfies I asked them how much they love selfies.


Get that baby to the bathroom!! But don’t hold it to close!


What? You don’t take selfies of your friends in bathroom stalls? I thought everyone did that.


Waiting for E to get picked up. It was like a paparazzi moment or something. It was so crazy and phones were ringing and cars were flashing by and OMG!!!


What do pirates say?


Ferris wheel fun!!! Not scary at all!!


Only we know what we were saying. Good times. Big pigs.


Play, Baby, Play! Parachute with Shredded Paper

Play Baby

In my last library we did this activity after reading an article about the Brooklyn Library inviting kids to play in shredded newspaper. Since my coworker had just shredded a ton of paper for a treasure hunting activity we decided to reuse it for an after storytime activity. I chose to use the parachute during storytime, ending with the chute on the ground, so I could throw the paper on top of the chute in hopes of maximum fun and a easier clean up. Well, one of those things definitely happened. ;)


This is not an activity for a day when you are super short on clean up time. No way around it- you will spend time cleaning up the paper. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

For the photos in this post I used shredded hold slips and other paper our library shreds for privacy purposes. It was actually better than the newspaper-it left a lot less residue. Newspaper leaves a lot of dust which was not only harder to clean up but made me sneeze.

Why do this? Because play is a natural way to learn about the world. Through play kids will experience new words, new emotions, learn how to function in a group environment, use their imaginations, and their fine and gross motor skills. I heard “It’s snowing!” and “It’s like a bath!” (both symbolism) and caregivers using words like throw, toss, grab, pinch, gather, stuff, plop, and sprinkle. Kids were instructed by their caregivers to be careful, pay attention to where they were throwing paper, and to be gentle and generally aware of their surroundings. These kids practiced self regulation, as well as developing their vocabulary and motor skills. Plus, they think the library is pretty much the best place in the world. And that’s good enough for me.


As you can see, this was a huge hit. Everyone had a great time and took away something from the experience. Literally. There was a paper trail down the hall and out the door.

The magical breadcrumbs leading to storytime. If you try this let me know how it goes! I’d love to see more joyful kids!

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Self Care Sundays: Planning Epic Adventures

The past several years we have been so broke the only times we took trips was with our parents (on their dime–we LOVE our generous parents!) or by charging things (never ever again! debt free, ftw!). Now, we are financially stable, I think for the first time in our lives, and we aren’t going to sit around missing out on all the great places we want to visit.

We have declared this summer “The Summer of Adventures.” Today we planned just one, of hopefully many, such adventures, using our McMenamin’s passport to help guide us. That, and the fact that we are ashamed to say we have never been to Crater Lake. And I won’t even have to use vacation time! Woot!


The first stop will be the Hotel Oregon in McMinville for lunch and passport stamps. Then we’ll head to Lincoln City for a beach walk and more McMenamins before traveling to Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park to camp for the night. Site is already reserved! The next morning we’ll eat and break camp and head right to Crater Lake National Park for a day of hiking and exploring. We’ll then head back to Roseburg to stay the night and have more McMenamins. The next day, Monday, we’ll jet up I-5, hitting every McMenamins on the way to get our passport book filled up. We’ll arrive home late that night exhausted and, no doubt, full (and hopefully with a growler of Ruby).

I’m SO excited to have something like this to look forward to! It’s my carrot for finishing the race (which in this case might be SRP, which will be about 50% over by then!).

What is your carrot?