Jan 12, 2019

Storytime Hack: Small books, big screen

 Today, I wanted to use one of my favorite board books in my Donuts with Dad storytime. This group is usually pretty large (today we ended up with 83), so I knew that I couldn't just hold that tiny book in my hand and expect everyone to see it, so I rigged up a solution that ended up working so well, I thought I'd share it with you. 

I've tried ELMO cameras and overhead projectors, but the lighting is never quite right, but this?  This was simple and worked surprisingly well.

What you need:
--an iPad, iPod or iPhone and just the standard "Camera" app
--an AppleTV (for wireless connection, or cords will work if that's what you usually use to make your iDevice talk to your projector)
--a projector and screen
--some way to prop up your book and iDevice (I used the magnetic bar on the back of my flannel board for the book and a desk organizer I grabbed from my office, but use whatever you have on hand).

Here's a photo of the back side of my set-up:
(The camera is peeking above the top of the desk organizer, aimed at the book)
 And here is what it looks like to my group:
 I just sat beside my flannel board and tucked my hand behind it in order to turn pages as I read.  Everyone was captivated (and everyone could SEE)! 

My only frustration was that with this particular set-up, I spent more time looking back than making eye contact with the group, but maybe that will come with practice?  Has anyone else ever done anything like this?  What other solutions have you come up with?

Jan 11, 2019

My favorite new kids music of 2018

 Here are a few new "kindie" albums that came out in 2018 that I'm pretty excited about.  Maybe you'll like them too?

Got a tween fan of folksy pop music, but maybe you’re not quite yet ready for them to dive into some of the mature themes of many of the songs on the radio today?  Check out Every Voice by Kira Willey.  Full of catchy music and empowering lyrics, this album settles comfortably in that sweet spot between Laurie Berkner (who makes a cameo on this album, actually) and Taylor Swift, with a hint of mindfulness for balance. 

Night Train 57 by Dan Zanes and Friends (subtitle: "a sensory friendly comic folk opera")
Classic Dan Zanes folksy sounds!

Tu eres mi flor by Elizabeth Mitchell and Suni Paz
I love Elizabeth Mitchell so much and this Spanish language album doesn't disappoint.  Folksy, some songs that are translated from her "You are my Flower" album, others are new (maybe traditional Spanish language songs?), all are like honey for your ears (but in the sweet way, not a sticky gross way).

All the Sounds by Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats
A gentle, jazzy mix of Spanish and English.  I love her voice!

Winterland by the Okee Dokee Brothers
If you live in an area that gets snowed in for winter (or maybe if you don't and you wish you did), this album will resonate with you. My favorite on this album is "SlumberJack" (I seriously have to listen to it at least twice in a row and sing along each time), my daughter's favorite is "Howl" because she like to howl along. Love that there's a whole song lamenting how we box snowmen (and snowwomen) into specific genders by the clothes we put on them.

A few albums that I haven't listened to all the way from start to finish yet, but I"m pretty excited about:

Jan 9, 2019

Win a Pillow Play Set from Sago Mini!

Hey everybody!  Have you ever used Madison Public Library's App Recommendation Page?  Or gotten other app advice from me in other ways (App Fairy Podcast, The Supper Club App Storytime, etc.)?  I'm looking to streamline and improve the library's app recommendation services and would love your feedback. 

Please take a moment to complete this survey before January 31, 2019 and you could be entered to win one of these fabulous Sago Mini Pillow Playsets (or other app-related goodies)!

Thanks a bunch!

Nov 14, 2018

Anji Play: Recording the entire arc of play


Frequently, over the past three years, I've taken videos of play and then when I share them with the Anji Play professionals they tell me the video stopped too soon or doesn't show the whole arc of play.  While capturing the beginning of a particular arc can be hard to predict, sticking with it until the end is a skill that can be honed. What does that look like? The 20+ minute video above shows a whole arc -- from the first frustrated attempt (a lucky catch on my part) until at the end of the video, he's going back for more and saying, "This is fun!"  Yes, that took 20 minutes.  And yes, there were a few distractions for me during that time, but I am so glad that I stuck with it and got this one long video so that you can see how the play evolved.

Many times, parents, caregivers, staff and volunteers have agreed to get some video of kids playing, but everyone starts to feel nervous when the play that is being recorded begins to stretch longer than a minute, then longer than 3 minutes, then longer than 5 minutes.... are you going to run out of space on your mobile device? (maybe...) Are you going to be able to share this video with anyone or will it be stuck on your phone forever? (I recommend uploading it to Google Photos and then deleting it from your device, then you can share it with anyone.) Do you really have the patience to stick with this one instance of play when there's so many other interesting things going on?  What if you miss something else amazing?  After three years, I've learned that you just have to rely on other people to catch the other amazing things.  Sticking with one group of kids playing until they are "done" with that particular play allows you to observe more closely, notice nuance, find patterns when you watch the video and have a better sense of the abilities, interests and personalities of each of the children involved in this play. My final tip is that even if you THINK the play arc is complete, continue to record for a little bit longer.  I can't tell you how many times I've stopped recording RIGHT before the kid said or did something really meaningful or interesting.  I'm slowly learning to just keep it rolling a bit longer.

What do you notice in the video above?  How does watching it make you feel? What are the children actually doing? What are they saying? What has changed from the beginning of the video to the end and how did they get there?  Watch this with open ears, open eyes and an open heart.  If you find yourself wanting to step in and tell them how to solve this or to shout "good job!" realize that that is perhaps a natural urge, but also totally unnecessary for these kids.  What's the longest video you've ever captured?
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