storytimes, Africa, Scotland and Beowulf--just a typical week

Haven't written about life in Library La La Land in a bit.
Things have been busy.

We began our Fall programs last week and work has been crazy. We are still getting settled into our new office space, unpacking and repositioning things to make it cozy, since our space is a little smaller. My storytimes are going great. I am again doing the baby group (newborns-14mos olds) and again doing the younger toddlers (15mos-23mos). My babies group is ok; the Moms are all a little quiet, but my toddler group is fantastic! I have very participation-based parents/grandparents coming, and the group has been huge for the past 2 weeks.

The baby group is working with the themes: colors, shapes and numbers, so I have incorporated a couple of my favorites (some Eric Carle books) : Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Polar bear, polar bear and My very first book of numbers. The toddler group is working with the themes: Fairy tales & Nursery rhymes, so we have been using some classic stories: The Gingerbread Man (P. Galdone), All around the mulberry bush, This old man, among others.

At Library Y, where I sub, they put caps on how many people they will let come to the groups. I don't like that idea because as much as libraries work at getting patrons in, that seems like it would discourage people. At Library X we do have people sign up, but never turn people away and also are cool with drop-ins. My boss is also flexible with the idea of adding on another storytime if the one toddler group gets too big, but I love the big group I have, it makes the storytime work better, I think. I had 47 (toddlers/parents) come the first week, and 42 (toddlers/parents) come the second week. So, I have my hands full!

Last week also brought my first two after school, elementary aged-programs (which occur every other week usually). The one group focuses on cooking and folklore, while the other group focuses on ancient civilizations.

In Wednesday's Ancient Civ. group (which is 1st-5th graders) we talked about Ancient Africa: some of the things that ancient Africans contributed to the world and then went on to talk about anything that we can associate with Africa. We discussed the significance of African masks; how they were used to to communicate with spirits. Then the kids each decorated their own African Masks (which I had purchased from Oriental Trading Company), using markers (to represent the clay, herbs and berries that were ground into powders and used as paints--which we had talked about), sequins and feathers.

The Cooking and Folklore class (which is 2nd-5th graders) on Friday tackled Scotland in the first of five sessions. We started first by talking a little bit about Scotland. The kids brought up kilts, so we talked about some of the historical sig. of those and then also talked about how Scotland is part of the U.K. and Europe. I was amazed by how much the kids knew about Europe!

What I finally decided would give the most hands-on cooking experience and keep the kids from getting bored is having them do their own measuring of ingredients. We talked a little bit about the measuring cups/spoons sizes and then each kid got their own set (or had to share w/ a partner--these sets of measuring cups/spoons I bought at the $1 store). Since there is not enough time for the kids to make the entire dessert and cook it too, I am having the kids mix their own dry goods (sugars, flours, baking powders, etc.) then bag it and take it home to add the rest of the ingredients and cook with their parents. (This forces parents to be involved--YEAH!) I explain to the kids what the last steps entail and give them a copy of the recipe, with where we left off marked on it!

I had made a batch of our Scottish shortbread earlier before the kids got there. This was passed out by one of the boys and then as the kids were enjoying their shortbread I began explaining why folklore is important and we talked about a couple examples of it (i.e. Cinderella, etc.) I even talked about how Disney has helped keep some of the old folktales going. For the last few mins of class I began reading a child's version of the Anglo Saxon story Beowulf, giving the kids a little teaser of the story. It of the girls checked the book out at the end of our session!

My favorite moment of that crazy week was when one of the boys in the cooking class--upon biting into my Scottish shortbread--looked at me (and in all seriousness) said, "Ms. Monster, my Mom is gonna want this recipe."

I will post the super simple Scottish shortbread (HOLY CATS! alliteration!) recipe soon.


Lizzy said…
I look forward to the shortbread recipe, ML.

My daughter loves Eric Carle. Brown Bear, Brown Bear is a favorite and we like Little Cloud too. She is four years old, and I have just started reading Charlotte's Web to her a few days ago. She is enjoying the more complex language and the fact that it has a plot.
Anonymous said…
You should check out Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks and DiscoveryBoxBooks. There's lots going on too:
This Month Storybox has guest illustrator Helen Oxenbury fetured.
There's a Readathon happening in UK and Ireland -
There's a Ghost Drawing competition in AdventureBoxBooks assiciated with the Polka Theatre (
TSOldtimer said…
Wow, that DOES sound crazy busy! And the shortbread sounds like fun! I'll have to give it a whirl.

Meanwhile, in my world, I spent 11 hours yesterday in a cramped bakery (think RSS behind the counters with no backroom) with six or more other people cranking out TONS of baked goods for the Juggle Fest that's at my house this weekend! Oh, but that took me back...

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