Monday, April 30, 2018

Yoga Play - Jungle

For the month of February, co-worker and I lead a weekly yoga program for preschoolers. I've done yoga storytimes before for both babies and preschool, but working together with someone else brought to light a whole new way to run the program. Here's how we did it:

Welcome/Introduction: We introduced ourselves and briefly talked about the benefits of doing yoga with kids (breathing helps kids think better, yoga poses help build strength and flexibility, etc.).

Opening Song: I made up a song to the tune of "Goodnight, Ladies". We clap along and sing to each person in the room.

Namaste (insert child's name)
Namaste (insert child's name)
Namaste (insert child's name)
It's time to do yoga!

Then we pass out electric tea lights and place a plate in the middle of the circle. We talk about our inner light and what that means. Then everyone places their tea light on the plate and we tell them how our inner light shines brighter together.

Breathing: We show kids how to breathe correctly in yoga using a Hoberman sphere as an illustration. We first ask them to hold their breath and tell us how that feels. Then we have them take short, shallow breaths and ask how that feels. Finally, we practice breathing correctly.

Then I teach them a new, different kind of breath. This week's was Lion Breath. First we sit on our heels nice and tall like lions. Then we take a big breath in through our nose, then breath out through our mouths and roar! We can even stick out our tongues on the exhale like lions do.

Warm-Up: Next, we do a warm-up to get our bodies ready to move. We use the "Wake Up" routine from the DVD Once Upon a Mat.

Then we do a Sun Salutation sequence. We begin in Mountain Pose, then raise our arms (inhale), forward fold (exhale), half-way lift up (inhale), forward fold (exhale), roll up to standing with shoulders raised (inhale), and lower shoulders back to Mountain Pose (exhale). We repeat 2-3 times.

Introduce Theme: Now we introduce our theme for the week! For this jungle theme, we went on a safari. We used the poses from the Pink Oatmeal website. We began in jeep pose. Then we drove along until we spotted different animals, then posed like them. We found a lion, giraffe, snake, gorilla, and elephant.

Book: Today we read From Head to Toe by Bill Martin Jr. and did the actions.

Activity: We always do some sort of group game before we wind down for the today. First we sang "No More Monkeys" from the CD Animal Playground by Putumayo. We had a bunch of monkey puppets so each child got to dance with one.

Then we practiced tree pose and made a forest all together.

Relaxation: Then we tell the kids that at the end of each yoga practice, we relax and breath. We have the kids lay down on their mats and give them "breathing buddies" (a.k.a. Beanie Babies or other small stuffed animal. You could also use bean bags.) We ask the kids to close their eyes and give their breathing buddies a good ride. Then we put on some soft music, such as the Acoustic Yoga CD by Putumayo. After a couple of minutes (or less depending on the mood of the group), we ring a chime and invite the kids to wiggle their fingers, toes, stretch and sit up.

Closing Affirmation: We close our practice by saying -

I am smart (put hands at forehead)
I am loved (hands at heart center)
I am wonderful! (spread arms out at sides)

Each child gets a small bottle of water to drink while we talk about the play activities for the day.

Play: This week we had 3 stations - jungle dramatic play, follow the animal tracks, and an elephant noisemaker craft.

Jungle Dramatic Play

We had this random cardboard structure, so my co-worker and I made vines and leaves out of packing paper and construction paper. Then we put down fake grass and set out various jungle animal puppets for free play.

Follow the Animal Tracks

We printed out 3 different animal tracks on long paper. Then we taped them to the floor and placed stuffed animals for each track in a basket.

Elephant Noisemaker 

I did this craft for my Jungle Storytime a few years ago and I still had leftovers pieces. Kids just color the elephant and put the party blower through the nose. Then they can pretend to be an elephant!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Toddler Art Explorers - Bubble Wrap Painting

At my current library, we host several programs for babies, preschoolers, and school-aged, but admittedly there has been a lack of options for the toddler crowd. So I decided to try a program I've done at my previous job: Toddler Art Explorers.

The idea came about when I started getting really tired of doing crafts (or product-based art) in my programs. While I know they aren't all bad all the time, I found that I was doing a ton of prep work to have the kids make something that they'd probably throw away when they got home. Then I started reading about process art, which seemed more up my alley.

With process art, there are no instructions and no right or wrong way to do it. It's about kids experiencing the material any way they want to. It helps children develop fine motor skills, vocabulary, and social/emotional skills through self-expression, among others. You can find some information about the research and reasoning behind doing process art with kids here, here, and here.

Geared toward children ages 12 months to 3 years-old, the basic idea of the program is to set out different art materials, give families the basic premise of the art project, and then let the kids explore. I can't take credit for coming up with the original idea for this program. I took lots of inspiration from the Library Makers blog.

For this session, the focus was on bubble wrap painting. I always start with a hello song and a story related to the art project:

Hello Song: "We Clap and Sing Hello" (Tune: Farmer in the Dell)

We clap and sing hello (clap hands)
We clap and sing hello
With our friends at storytime
We clap and sing hello!

Continue with:

...We wave and sing hello
...We tap and sing hello
...We quietly sing hello

Book: Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier

Art Project: Bubble Wrap Painting

I set out pieces of bubble wrap, white card stock, washable paint, and paintbrushes. The basic premise of the activity was to have the parents tape the bubble wrap to the table so it wouldn't move around. Then the kids could paint the bubble wrap as much or as little as they wanted. When they were done, they could press a piece of card stock to the bubble wrap to make a print!


There's no right or wrong way to do the project. If the child just wants to play with the bubble wrap or paint straight on the paper, that's fine! It's all about exploring the materials any way they want to. **

** The interesting thing for me that I've noticed every time I've run this program is how difficult it is for the parents to just "let go" and allow their child to lead the project. As much as I hammer it into them, they still want to take over and direct. It's an ongoing battle.

From  because I forgot to take photos 
for this portion of the program! But here's the general idea.

Group Project:

I also like to incorporate a big group project. For this session, I laid down a giant tarp with big white paper on top. I had the parents make bubble wrap boots for their child's feet. Then they could either paint their bubble wrapped feet together or step in the paint on a paper plate. Then the kids could dance/move around on the paper. I put on some dance tunes and they were off!

How It Went:

I thought the bubble wrap boots would either be a huge hit or a huge disaster. Luckily, it was the former. They also liked making the individual prints and one child decided to just paint directly on the paper. Parents commented on what a neat idea it was that they hadn't thought of before. So overall, a win-win!