Busy busy busy

This was an unusually busy week – four storytimes, two book groups, Game Hour, and a special Halloween program with Greg McAdams.  Which is really only two more programs than a usual week, but it felt like a lot more than that!

Jennifer is on vacation this week (I hope you’re having a great few days off, Jennifer!), so we decided that I would meet with her 4th grade book group so that they could have a meeting in October.  They are a terrific bunch of kids, and we had a very productive discussion about Patrick Carman’s The Dark Hills Divide.  The kids and I agreed that the first half of the book is a bit slow, a bit tedious, and a bit boring, but the second half of the book gets creative, fast-paced, and interesting.  Personally, I felt like the book was an awfully tough slog, but the kids seemed to mostly like it.

That was Monday’s book group – Tuesday’s book group was the 5th graders, and we discussed E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It.  I’ve used Five Children and It for book group discussions before, partly because I enjoy introducing kids to an author they most likely won’t discover on their own, and partly because the book generates great discussion.  For this meeting, I also played a portion of the movie of Five Children and It (starring Kenneth Branagh and Freddy Highmore), and we spent a fair amount of time talking about why the movie people changed the plot and setting of the story so much from the original.  This 5th grade group is another terrific bunch of kids, and I really enjoyed hearing their thoughts on this book and literature in general.

Then there were the storytimes…  I’ve been mixing in new Toddler Storytimes here and there with the ones I’ve already created (usually four weeks of established lesson plans, then one week of a new plan, then back to old plans), and somehow I managed to schedule a new Toddler Storytime for this week, when I already had two book groups to prepare for and only Sunday off.  Bad planning, which resulted in me working all day Sunday and then skipping my drawing class on Monday night.  But in the end, this Circus storytime worked out quite well, though there was an added element that day: an early intervention teacher came to storytime to observe one of her students.  I wasn’t bothered by her presence, but I found myself observing this teacher while she observed her student, which distracted me a wee bit. 

Tuesday’s Infant Storytime was full to bursting, and it was one of those storytimes where I finished really feeling like I was on my game, that I had turned out a pretty successful program.  There was a lot of positive energy in the room that day, and most of the kids were about the same age, which always makes the program run more smoothly.  Not to mention that there was a great bunch of grownups in the room who stayed on top of monitoring their small charges.  I really appreciate it when the other adults in the room keep the kids from crossing my “invisible line” that runs just in front of my feet, because it is SO hard to stay focused on my presentation when there is an adorable little person trying to dig one of my stuffed animals or musical instruments out of the bags by my chair.  Thank you, everyone!

Wednesday’s infant storytime wasn’t such a success, though.  I don’t know what it was, maybe it was leftover migraine ditziness from the afternoon before, but I was just not as good as I’d like.  Same exact lesson plan as Tuesday, but I didn’t do as well with the material as I did on Tuesday.  Go figure.

And then there was the Preschool Storytime on Thursday.  Usually I have a good sized crowd for this storytime, and since it was week three of my rotation – the most popular week, art week – I thought I’d have a full house.  But the weather was unseasonably lovely, and I think everyone decided to go to the playground.  In the end, only one family attended: two siblings of the right age for the storytime, a much younger sibling, and their nanny.  The nanny, who I’ve gotten to know in the past few weeks (she’s new to the family, but clearly not new to being a nanny), did a great job of sitting with the youngest sibling through the stories, then subtly removing him and herself from the room once it was time for art.  And the other two siblings and I had such a giggly good time creating “Pumpkin Mystery Faces” from MaryAnn Kohl’s book.  First I showed them how we could play around with the pumpkin’s features by using my felt board (I had figured this would be the best way to introduce the art project to the group without prejudicing their art, since felt is definitely different from paper), then we moved over to the tables and cut out black construction paper eyes, noses, and other shapes.  I had already primed our bucket full of paper shapes, so once the kids were ready to move on to the actual project, it was easy enough for them to root around in the bucket (no peeking!) and pull out shapes to plop down on their orange paper circles.  We laughed and laughed at the funny faces we made, and then eventually I brought out the glue so that each child could take a pumpkin face home.  The sister, who is five, made a very recognizable jack o’ lantern, but the boy, who is just four, had a massively good time layering on as much glue and black paper as he could, until the orange circle was heavy with both.

Game Hour was run by four fabulous teen volunteers, so that I only had to keep an ear and eye out for the group to make sure that everything was going well in there.  We’re getting quite a group of Game Hour regulars, and boy do they have a great time playing games together.

And last, but certainly not least, Greg McAdams came on Wednesday to present his Halloween Magic Safety Show.  Greg has come to the library two other times in my tenure, and each time I’ve been very impressed by his ability to establish good behavior ground rules in a way that is firm yet funny.  And I love that Greg mixes in a healthy dose of humor and talk about books and libraries with his magic.  I had wondered how Greg would mix Halloween safety messages into his show – would it be too didactic? – but his talk about safety was very subtle and spot-on.  I saw a lot of parents nodding happily when he talked about staying with your group when you’re trick-or-treating, letting your parents check your candy before you eat any of it, using a flashlight, and not talking to strangers.  Thanks Greg – you did an awesome job!

Of course there was a lot more to my week than these eight programs, but it’s almost eight and I haven’t had dinner, so you’ll just have to wait for the funny and cute stories from the rest of my week.