Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I've Lost My Hippopotamus - A Poetry Break

You should never lose your imagination. Ever. I read this poem while looking through poet's Jack Prelutsky's new book I've Lost My Hippopotamus and loved this poem because of the imagination and how it can inspire the reader to use his or hers to find out where is that silly hippo! Share this poem with a visual aid - yep, a photo or two of a hippopotamus!

I've Lost My Hippopotamus
by Jack Prelutsky 
I've lost my hippopotamus,
The situation's weird.
One minute she was next to me,
Then poof! she disappeared.
It's hard to lose a hippo,
For a hippo's truly huge-
I'm sensing something fishy,
Some unsavory subterfuge.
I've searched and searched with no success,
I've yet to find a clue
To her status or location,
I'm unsure of what to do.
If you spot a hippopotamus
Where usually there's none,
Please let me know, the odds are good
You've found my missing one.


  • Ask the children where they think the hippopotamus could have disappeared to, and let them share their ideas.
  • Ask if anyone has ever had an imaginary animal, and let them share it.

Prelutsky, Jack. 2012. I've Lost My Hippopotamus. Illus. by Jackie Urbanovic. NY, NY: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollinsPublishers). ISBN: 9780062014573.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Benefits of Storytime

This time of the season can be slow "slow" time for many Children's Librarians. However, this is the calm before the storm that is called summer! It is also the time that we have to promote our storytimes and other programs to all the newcomers. I thought that I would share with you many points of importance of storytimes.

What is Storytime?
Storytime is a special literacy and educational based program for specific age groups!

  • Babies: Birth - 18 months
  • Toddlers: 18 months - 36 months (1.5-3 yrs old)
  • Preschool: 3 - 5 yr olds
  • Family: All ages

Storytime Activities
All storytimes can be different depending on what the library system and children's librarians like to do. Here are some activities that can be seen:

  • Songs
  • Rhymes
  • Movement Activities (egg shakers, scarves, parachute)
  • Flannel Boards
  • Stories (yes, we do read books at the storytime!)
  • Reading Together 
  • Crafts

Benefits of Storytime (for the Children)

  • Introduces Early Literacy Skills that will continue the children's learning development
  • Exercises listening skills
  • Connects images to reading and supports imaginations
  • Encourages socialization and respect among other children their own age (in the case of Family Storytime, for those who are younger)
  • Provides opportunity in learning how to take turns and follow instructions
  • Assists in developing fine and gross motor skills through program activities
  • Provides opportunities for independent activity

Benefits of Storytime (for the Grown-Ups)

  • Provides opportunity for quality time between caregiver and child(ren) to create a bond and trust
  • Provides an example of good oral reading kills to continue at home during family reading times
    • Children's librarians are generally dramatic readers and love use to use inflections while reading. We also ask the children questions about the story or illustrations. All good engaging elements to do while reading with a child!
  • Introduces new books, authors, songs and rhymes and other activities to do at home

One last benefit for everyone is... storytime creates and opportunity to visit your library!!!

Who would have thought that storytime was more than just listening to stories and singing some songs?!

Here ate WP-CC I do provide storytime outlines for everyone to have access to. There are many other children's librarians across the country that do the very same thing. Check the out sometime!

Check with your local library about their storytime programs and start having fun!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Nancy Clancy Super Sleuth

O'Connor, Jane. 2012. Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth. Illus. by Robin Preiss Glasser. NY, NY: Harper (HarperCollinsPublishers). ISBN: 9780062082930.

Our Fancy Nancy has grown up! In her first ever chapter book, Nancy and her best friend Bree, inspired by the famous literary detective herself - Nancy Drew, are now sleuths in need of a mystery to solve. Soon enough a mystery hits their classroom, and they dawn their totally professional trench coats and grab their magnifying glasses, which are quite fancy looking, and get to work uncovering the culprit. As with any great detective story, a top-secret code, complete with answer key, is a fun element for readers to discover and try out in their own mysteries. O'Connor's continues her excellent skill of weaving in new vocabulary words, as done in her previous Nancy books, which is parents will greatly appreciate. The black and white illustrations are just as fun as the previous books and make the book complete. As a whole, the book gives the readers the great element of still being fancy, but also being smart, polite, and adventurous, which is always refreshing. Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth is a surefire, that means fabulously perfect, read for young readers who have graduated from the Beginning Reader books but need a friendly character to welcome them to real chapter books and new adventures! Looking forward to more in the series!


  • Ask the children how they would have felt if their sibling was a suspect/culprit of a mystery.
  • Have the children create their own fancy detective outfits and have them solve a mystery! The mystery could be something as simple as a mystery memento project like the one in the story.
  • Introduce to the children another super sleuth, Nancy Drew. Read, together, one of her famous novels and do an activity based off of it!  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reading Comprehension for Homeschoolers

On the occasion I receive questions from new homeschooling parents about how to monitor the progression of their child(ren)'s reading. Many public school districts will use a system like AR and Lexile to measure the reading comprehension and advancement. Book levels are available online through their  respected websites. However, homeschoolers are generally not able to have access to the testing resources that come with these programs. How is a homeschooling parent to know how well their child is doing one may ask?

I am sure that many homeschooling families already know this, so this post is probably geared towards the new-to-homeschooling families. Either way, I want to point out that homescoolers have the wonderful freedom, in comparisons to many public schools, in what the children can read! Families, never take that for granted!

Here are a few of my recommended tips for the parents who want to see how their children are doing in reading and comprehension:

1. Let your child read whatever he or she wants. If child picks up a graphic novel, that is OK because GNs do require reading comprehension, but they will generally not appear on a AR and Lexile list. That is OK too! I generally tell parents that let them pick a graphic novel and then another "serious-yet-fun-and-interesting" chapter book of their choice (but, also, of your suggestion). This concept works for all levels with the exception of high school students. Compromise is a good term to use here. You do not know how many times I see disappointed looks on the faces of children who cannot read an awesome looking book only because it is not have the correct AR level and they "can't" read it. It actually hurts to see it. Trust me.
2. Be familiar with the books that your child is reading. Why? Because then you can ask them questions about it. What was it about? Who is the main character? What happened at the end? Did you like it? Why? Why not? Now, this is not the time to get every single detail and make you child feel like they must know everything. That's too much pressure. You just want to know how they are doing and if they're comprehending it.
3. If you want to test your child, check with your local public library to see what they have to offer. The State of Texas has the Texas STAAR for grade-level students and are for subjects like Reading, Mathematics, and Science. It just so happens that there are Texas STAAR coach books. The library system that I work for has these test guide books and the answer keys. I recommend these to a lot of students and parents because they can see and practice what the state requires students to know by a specified grade level. 
4. Look in to getting some SRA (Science Research Associates, Inc) Kits. As a former homeschool student (completed grades K-12), my siblings and I did SRAs. For those who are familiar with the older versions, we would pull out a card with a narrative on it, read it, and answered the questions then graded ourselves. We had two box kits: One that was really easy then another that was huge and color coded. The latter was especially meant for us when we were in middle school and high school. I may or may not have liked them back then, by I can definitely appreciate their value now. Publisher McGraw-Hill provides SRA Kits via their website. You can also check out your local homeschool curriculum sales to look into getting your hand on some of these! 

More Tips

If you would like some information on improving reading comprehension check out the WP-CC's page about R.A.D - Reading Aloud Daily. Reading Aloud has good benefits for comprehension!

Looking for example questions to ask about the book your reader just read? Look the post about Reading Comprehension - The Questions!

These are just a few tips that homeschoolers can take to mapping reading comprehension. Check with your local library to see what the children's librarian has up his or her sleeve to help you in your schooling.

Does anyone have other recommended tips for new-to-homeschooling families?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Will There Be Enough Room?!

I have been wanting to do a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom flannel board ever since I saw Miss Mollie over at What Happens in Storytime... shared hers. This month I finally got my chance when I had to do a presentation over Toddler Storytimes and this rhythm and rhyme storybook was one of only two flannel board options. If you must know, the other option was Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?. It is my goal to have a complete felt-only Brown Bear soon enough. That and a Where is the Green Sheep? one. Yes, you may get excited at that last one because I am!!!!

Anyway, back to the chicka chicka boom boom-ness. I traced the tree from the book with a sheet of tracing paper. I, then, traced it onto different color felts to create the varying colors of green. A hot glue proved to be rather handy in creating the tree canopy and adding the coconuts at the end because there were so many labels. The letters were created by using my library's die cuts. I can't wait until I let the children play with this one!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom flannel board,
created by Dorothy WP-CC, 2012