Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Tip Tuesday: Book Hospital

When the adults around them value books, so do children. Here are some ways to help children learn to take care of the books in your classroom or home library:
  • In the beginning of the school year (or when new children enroll in your program), openly discuss ways we take care of our books: Turning pages gently, putting them back on the shelf, etc.
  • Create a "Book Hugger" bulletin board and when children display behavior that shows that they are taking care of books, write down what they've done and put it on the bulletin board.
  • When books get damaged, have children place them in the "Book Hospital" for repairs. Teachers should keep the following items handy for book repairs: packing tape, book repair tape, glue, clear contact paper, a book stapler (one that allows you to staple books at the spine). 
airlifts,ambulances,cartoons,doctors,emergencies,hospitals,illnesses,iStockphoto,landings,medicines,recoveries,safetiesTo make your book hospital:
  1. Collect a small or medium sturdy box.
  2. Paint it white OR cover it with white butcher paper. Draw or paint a hospital on the outside of the box.
  3. Write "Book Hospital" one side of the box.
  4. Add a blanket and small pillow, just for fun.
When children find a damaged book in the classroom, or if they accidentally damage it themselves, they can place the book in the "hospital" and the teacher (perhaps with help from a child) can help repair the book. Visit this Squidoo link for book repair tips.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Multiculturalism: A Right, a Responsibility, or a Requirement?

Photo by Tina Phillips
The last time I derailed from my usual topic of early literacy, was when I ranted about crib bumpers. Every now and then, something gets me hot under the collar, and this is another one of those times.

The state of Colorado recently proposed a list of requirements for child care centers such as prohibiting whole milk, regulating how much juice children are offered, mandating how often snacks are provided, and one that even requires child care providers to wear clothing that covers their laps and shoulders. One of the most controversial (judging by the online responses) proposals would require child care programs to provide dolls of at least three different races. It seems that some child care providers in Colorado are not pleased with the new mandates.

One center owner said, "I think we're going a little to [sic] far. We're not giving parents a choice.We're not giving children a choice. We're not giving caregivers a choice." [In fairness, the news story doesn't make it clear if she is referring specifically to the doll requirement or all of the proposed requirements.] Another said, "requiring dolls of at least three different races seems a bit silly (why not transgender or handicapped dolls too, while they're at it)?" On the contrary, I think having dolls of different races, IS giving children a choice. And most high-quality and/or NAEYC accredited programs actually do have dolls and puppets that are handicapped. Transgender dolls (if they even exist) are, in my opinion, not relevant to this topic (apples and oranges) and may be an issue for another blog post on another day.

Many of the comments on the various websites are surprising, and quite sad to me. I'm not going to get into the politics of whether or not the government is infringing on rights. This is not the time or blog space for political arguments. I will say this: I find it sad that people would fight against something that most educators know has significant social-emotional value for children. Personally, I might be more upset about not being able to wear a sleeveless shirt than I would be about providing children with dolls, but, hey, that's just me!

I also hope that the state of Colorado isn't so narrow-minded as to believe that simply requiring dolls of different races means that a child care program is "culturally sensitive." While I strongly believe that children should have dolls that reflects society, merely putting dolls in the classroom is not sufficient. Are educators choosing dolls that have the same features but are just different skin colors? Are all of the dolls selected racially sensitive or stereotypical? Do teachers have an understanding of how to implement ethnic sensitivity in their day to day classroom practices? Do teachers provide books, posters, and other equipment (not just dolls) that reflect our society?

To me, the issue is bigger than just having three ethnically different dolls. Most responsible educators would have multiracial dolls in their classroom, regardless of the state's requirement. This blog post could go on for another five paragraphs but instead, I'll turn it over to you guys to share your thoughts on the issue. What do you think about Colorado's proposal to require dolls of at least three different races?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm Singing Baby Beluga While Talking on My Bananaphone...

A 140 character tweet was not enough to express my excitement about finding Raffi on Twitter (@Raffi_RC)! When I taught kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, Raffi, Ella Jenkins, and Hap Palmer were my lifesavers!! It seemed that not a day went by without one of these musical geniuses playing in my classroom. As an adult, I didn't even know what a beluga whale was before Raffi told me. My kindergarten class wanted to know more about belugas, so we did an entire unit on the "little white whale on the go" just because of Raffi. We learned vowels by eating Apples and Bananas. When the kids got antsy, we would  "shake our sillies out". Raffi was the second teacher in my classroom, and he didn't even know it!

What warms my heart even more, is finding out that Raffi is more than a educator and musician. He's an advocate for children, an advocate for childhood, and an advocate for humanity. As a teacher, I appreciated Raffi for what he was able to teach me and my students. Now, as a manager of an early childhood program, I am able to connect with Raffi on another level. I am tearing up as I'm writing this...I'm happy to know that the children of the world have advocates like Raffi.

Dear Raffi,
Thank you.
One light, one sun...

Raffi Facts from Raffi News:
  • "Because of his belief that children should not be exposed to too much television viewing and that they should not be directly marketed to, during his thirty-year career as a superstar of kid’s music Raffi refused all offers for commercial television shows and commercial endorsements."
  • "After years of networking and reflecting on what it might take to create a world fit for children, in 2010, Raffi founded the Centre for Child Honouring on Salt Spring Island."
  • "An estimated 10 million kids who grew up with Baby Beluga now sing it to their own kids."  

Some of my favorite Raffi albums:
All I Really NeedSingable Songs CollectionEvergreen Everblue

 One Light One SunBananaphoneRise and Shine

Reading Raffi:

Baby Beluga (Raffi Songs to Read)Wheels on the Bus (Raffi Songs to Read)Down by the Bay (Raffi Songs to Read)
Spider on the Floor (Raffi Songs to Read)Five Little Ducks (Raffi Songs to Read)Shake My Sillies Out (Raffi Songs to Read)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Got Your Party Hat? It's a Picture Book Party!

One of my absolute favorite things about teaching pre-kindergarten and kindergarten was story time. I was always excited to read a good book to a group of eager little listeners. I miss teaching, but I have never lost my love for children's literature. That is, in part, how this blog was born. Not only do I love a good book, but I truly believe in the power of early literacy. I still remember some of the books that I read as a young girl so I'm honored to think that maybe, one of the books I read to a child will still be remembered 20, 30, or even 40 years later!

Last year, I participated in an awesome picture book party hosted by Cathy and Mandy. On August 10, bloggers listed 10 books that we couldn't live without. I had a hard time, narrowing down my Desert Island Book Collection, but I managed (just barely). This year, I thought it would be easier... you know... I've done this before so I have it under control, right? Well, not exactly. My list kept growing and growing... but after a week and a half of internal debate, I've narrowed down 10 books I'd recommend to my Blog and Twitter Family. I can't wait to read what books other folks suggest. I'm sure my pockets will be a little lighter as I find new goodies for my library collection.

What books would you add? Comment on the blog for a chance to win a children's picture book. One random winner will be selected. Deadline: August 23, 2011.

Here are ten books (out of hundreds!) that I enjoy reading:

Please, Baby, Please 
Please, Baby, Please by Tonya Lewis Lee: Anyone who has had the grueling task pleasure of putting a toddler to bed will enjoy this little story. Preschoolers will like the humor and predictable text; it's the kid of book they will learn to "read" by looking at the amusing pictures and remembering the predictable, rhythmic text.

Dancing in the Wings
Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen: It's not always easy for ethnic girls to see themselves depicted as ballerinas, so I enjoy this story and the beautiful illustrations. (Also check out Whoopi Goldberg's Sugar Plum Ballerinas.)

The Jolly Postman
The Jolly Postman and Other People's Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg: I loved this book almost as much as my kindergarten students. It's the kind of book that you will want to read in small groups since the book is so interactive. The children get to pull out letters and postcards (and even a birthday party invitation) to and from popular fairy tale characters.

A Giraffe and a Half
A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein: I'm a Shel Silverstein fan and this one is a particular favorite. "If you had a giraffe and he stretched another half …you would have a giraffe and a half." The tale goes on, and as you can imagine, the illustrations (classic Sliverstein line drawings) are hilarious. Take lots of pauses while you are reading...you will need time for giggles!

The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza)
The Little Red Hen Maks a Pizza by Philemon Sturges: If you like The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, you will enjoy this story as well. It's a fun twist on an old favorite. Who doesn't like a hen who makes bread pizza?

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear (Child's Play Library)
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood and Don Wood: So if you were a little mouse, and a big hungry bear wanted your strawberry, what would you do? I love reading this story - especially to a group of little ones who have never heard the story before. They are always anxious to see how it turns out! Check out the story on You Tube.

Hey, Little Ant
Hey, Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose: Young children are just learning to empathize with others and for this reason, I like books that encourage children to think from someone else's point of view... event if that other point of view is a little, tiny ant that was about to be squashed!

The Paper Bag Princess (Classic Munsch)
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch: Robert Munsch was a popular author in my classroom (for me, it all started with Purple, Green and Yellow). This story tells the tale of a princess.. but not the pink dress wearing, tiara-donning, pixie-dust carrying, wand-wielding princess.This princess by no means needs to be rescued by her prince. When the dragon burns her clothes and steals her prince, she slaps on a paper bag and well... the rest is, as they say, hysterical! Girl Power!

I'm as Quick as a Cricket
I'm Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood: I'd read almost anything by Audrey Wood just because of the illustrations! They tell a story all on their own. This book has a wonderfully rhythmic text that boasts the message, "just be yourself." That's a lesson we all need every now and then.


Waiting for Wings
Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert: I have a special and personal love of butterflies, so I'm drawn to books about them. This one has classic Ehlert collage-style illustrations and catchy text. The book also has a great deal of information about various kinds of butterflies. If you want to plant a butterfly garden, this book also tells you the name of several butterfly-attracting flowers!

Now I must go... Picture Book Party 2012 is just around the corner and I've got to get ready!

See Also: 10 Books I Love to Read Aloud

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