Thursday, January 30, 2014

Books, Books and More Books

Whoa! Look at all the new books in the Behar Library!
What to check out individual titles? Check out our LibraryThing account or stop by the library today!
New Books, check out more at lessordinarylibrarian.blogspot.comNew Books, check out more at lessordinarylibrarian.blogspot.comNew Books, check out more at
Mrs Todd at


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Preschool Storytime: We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Things are getting a little wild! Last week I turned our library into a giant interactive bear hunt (with lots of help from the hubby). 
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
There are so many amazing ideas to bring this story to life that I could have an entire (overflowing) Pinterest board dedicated to just this one book. Now, don't get me wrong, this is a girl that lives and breathes Pinterest and I am incredibly thankful to all those amazing and talented people out there who are sharing their ideas, but when there are so many awesome ideas, sometimes my brain gets a little ahead of itself. I could do this storytime week after week and still not have completed all the cool ideas I've discovered. With that being said, this feels like just the tip of the potential bear hunting iceberg... One post that really resonated with me was Daniele's from Domestic Serenity; she inspired my most hands-on storytime yet.

Our art teacher and assistant librarian made these amazing bear tracks using a piece of foam and print-making supplies, aren't they fantastic? And to think, I was just going to find some clipart prints and make copies on brown paper. Sigh. I'm so incredibly lucky to work with such amazing people. Double sigh.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at

We laminated the tracks and taped them down using 3" book tape, they held up throughout the week and we'll be able to use them again in the future.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section one: swishy-swashy grass
This one was very simple, just butcher paper, construction paper, tempera paint and packing tape. By taping the grass on both sides, it withstood many (many) little feet swishing through it.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section two: splishy-splashy river
I used more butcher paper, rocks from a hike near the Puget Sound, and blue gel (don't ask, it's some fancy plastic filmmakers use to color lights... I will tell you, that while he gave it to me willingly, my husband shuttered when I cut it into strips. Apparently it's not cheap. I'm sure there are other colorful alternatives). 
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section three: ooey-gooey mud
This was my favorite and my least favorite. I used Anna's recipe for chocolate play dough from the Imagination Tree, it turned out great! The only change I made was to add a scoop of garden dirt to make it look a little more rustic. Now, I initially intended to have the kids go through this course barefoot in order to make it a very sensory experience but that quickly changed (some things you just look back at and have to laugh at yourself). When I realized they would be going through with shoes, I covered the "mud" in clear plastic wrap and it worked great. They could still feel the ooey-gooey texture, but it kept the dough from sticking to their shoes. Keep in mind, it did squish out a little and did leave marks on the carpet. It was easily cleaned up using dish soap and a scrub brush (wait until it dries before you try cleaning). Also, the dough will dry out relatively quickly, so keep it well covered.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section four: stumble-trippy forest
This was compliments of my creative hubby, he collected branches on our hike, tied them together and strung them over the table. He topped it off with evergreen branches and Viola! I wanted to be sure the forest wasn't too dark and scary and this plan worked, the kids loved crawling through it!
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section five: whirly-swirly snowstorm
Okay, so it's a little lackluster, but it was actually quite popular. The younger kids especially loved stomping around in the cotton ball snow.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section six: tippy-toey bear cave
Take a table, add some thick black plastic, toss in some black paper boulders, throw in a willing and creative husband and you have a ready-made bear cave. My hubby laughed when it was done and said, "It looks like a drive-thru car wash!" I couldn't help but agree. And the kids couldn't help but love it!
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Our Head of School ended up bringing tours and visitors through to check out the course, so I'd say it was an all-around success! Ahh, the life of a librarian!
Mrs. Todd at


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Teacher, Now Student

I think it's a great practice for teachers to experience how it feels not to know how to do something. To remember how it feels to be unsure and vulnerable. For me, it helps to remind me what my students are feeling and experiencing on a daily basis. Today, I stepped into the role of student... And it was wonderful. It was, as I expected, difficult and frustrating, but the pride that came with the challenge was worth the work. I (drumroll, please...) wrote in Hebrew for the very first time!

I am astonished by my students, they're so good at it and I'm so... well, not. My first graders are practicing Hebrew names for clothing and I wanted to provide them reinforcement during library centers (yes, I finally started doing centers. I love them! But, more on that in a later post). I created some felt "paper" dolls (again, check back for another post on my felt fashion creations), and the Hebrew clothing labels, the center gives them time to match the two together. Instead of asking a Hebrew teacher to create the labels for me, I did it myself! One of the Hebrew teachers quickly jotted the correct letters down on a scrap of paper and then I did the rest. Check it out, I'm pretty proud of myself!

Mrs. Todd at

Mrs. Todd at


Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Librarian Heart is Singing

I recently accompanied my eighth grade seminar students and their (amazingly brilliant) language arts teacher, Ms. E, to our (gigantic, beautiful, breathtaking) downtown library. It was such a rich experience, for both the adults and the students. I truly believe it should be a once a week occurance. Okay, yeah right, but a librarian can dream! At the beginning of the year, each student chose a topic and has been formulating questions and developing outlines based on that topic. Ms. E and I team-taught a quick demonstration on how to search for books in the downtown library and students then conducted their searches and made lists of books they would like to look for the following day.
After boarding the city bus (even this part was a great experience, the kids were awesome and the bus driver was friendly), we took a quick ride downtown and arrived at the library. Ms. E separated the kids into small groups based on like-call numbers. Once inside, groups helped one another locate their books. Seeing as how the non-fiction section is two (huge) floors, I was super impressed how the students managed their time, helped one another and came back to a central location when they'd found what they needed. I was also giddy to see the kids asking the public librarians questions and thanking them for their help (yippie!!!).
It gets even better... All of the kids found books for their topic, two students signed up for library cards (every student has an active library card with the city or county library, but some of them have gotten to the age where they can get a card independent from their parents and they were excited to take advantage of that privilege), they were desperate to go to the Young Adult section and check out the fiction books, and they continued to ask to check out additional books they discovered (not for their projects, just because they wanted them!). Big, big sigh. This was such an amazing experience. They learned so much and had fun doing it. It makes my heart sing. And THAT is why I think it should be a once a week outing. I'm just saying...


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Preschool Storytime: Bugs!

If I'm ever lost for things to talk to my preschoolers about, I just think of things dirty or creepy and crawly. They love it! I've been (miraculously) planning my storytimes pretty far in advance and I was excited to gauge the response of this week's Bug! theme. Their joy did not disappoint!

I changed two things up this week and I was so pleased with the response, I think I'll keep both of them as part of my regular routine. First, I set up an array of bug-themed books around the reading room. I know this is standard practice in public library storytimes, but it was a first for me. Not only did I love the look and how it tied the entire room together, but it really helped to increase circulation for books related to the topic. Yippee!

In addition, I have also decided to mindfully start incorporating Hebrew words into our storytime. To be honest, being a Hebrew-immersion school, I am quite surprised I hadn't started doing this earlier... But, being new to the language, the school and the culture, I'm giving myself a (little) patience. With the support of my amazing Hebrew-speaking library assistant and the classroom teachers, I'm looking forward to finding Hebrew words that fit with my weekly theme.

Book: The Grouchy Ladybug
by Eric Carle
This classic is always a hit! Even the kids that have heard it before were listening in awe as the animals grew bigger and bigger. All of my classes got a kick out of helping me with the repetition, it was a great (and loud) introduction to some fun activities.
Activity: Bug in a Rug
Credit for this wild hit goes to Mel's Desk and Falling Flannelboards. Ladies, you are both brilliant, this was one of the most popular things I've ever done! They would have played all morning if I would have let them. And they asked to continue playing after we'd finished. I purchased an a-dor-a-ble insect clipart set from Devon over at Pink Pueblo on etsy, printed them, laminated them and added some Velcro. It was almost too easy for how successful it was (and will continue to be). We talked about each insect on the board and then, while they closed their eyes, I hid one insect behind the rug. They were so excited to figure out who was missing and thrilled to be able to come check to see if their guess was correct.
I had hoped to read Jan Thomas' Can You Make a Scary Face? but we ran out of time. Bummer. It's adorable and so interactive.
Activity: Shoo-Fly Puppets
I was, once again, inspired by both Mel's Desk and Falling Flannel for this fun song that quickly gets rid of any wiggle-worming. We had an in-service on Monday, so throughout the day I assembled flies. I got several admirers stopping by my table and checking out these little cuties, every teacher walked away chuckling. Each of my kiddos picked out a shoo fly (after we talked about treating them very gently) and they helped me sing the following song:
Shoo-fly, don't bother me
Shoo-fly, don't bother me
Shoo-fly don't bother me
I belong to somebody
Oh, no! Shoo-fly landed on my _____________
(Chin, shin, elbow, ear, nose, neck, ect)
(Don't you just love the mug and my shoo-fly bouquet? I got the mug from Jessie over at CakeSpy).

Already looking forward to my Cake-themed storytime next week... I'm getting hungry already!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Just a Little More Tu B'Shevat

Okay, I promise this is the last Tu B'Shevat-insipred post, but I just couldn't resist sharing the piece de resistance! And I won't say much, because I think it speaks for itself...
The tree is made of recycled brown paper bags, the leaves are pages from an old book (cut into heart shapes and painted with green tempera paint), the wording is made from twigs picked up off of the school playground, and the moss is from Hobby Lobby (it would have taken waaaaay too long to dry moss from outside--this is Seattle, after all).

 Also, I had to share the transformation the library took on Tu B'Shevat when we welcomed other Jewish day schools from around the city. Our head of school created this beautiful (and lovely smelling) space...


More Tu B'Shevat Decor

It's interesting that a month ago I had never heard of Tu B'Shevat and now, it is quickly becoming one of my favorite Jewish holidays. It certainly provides ample opportunities to decorate the library. And I will take any excuse I can get in order to decorate. Needless to say, when I saw Dena's beautiful line-drawn trees over at Chai & Home, I knew I had to try to create some garland of my own.

First and foremost, I will never claim to be an artist. I can trace like a madman, but anything beyond that usually turns out to be a disappointment. So, when Dena said that the trees were "dead easy to draw even if you never, ever, ever draw," I thought I was good to go. Well, you be the judge. I think some are adorable and others are, well... a little lopsided-rainbow-ish looking.
Regardless, once they were hung in the library (from a distance) they added a nice, rustic touch and I loved the look of the recycled brown paper bag and cotton string. I just adore the little clothespins (granted, I have to adore them, I think I drove 30+ miles to get them). And the best part, because the school is settled in a beautiful forest-y area, I think the garland might stay up in the window for the foreseeable future.

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