I can’t begin to count the number of time’s I hear the children ask some version of “What’s on your shirt”. No, they’re not wondering what someone (usually me) has spilled on their shirt. They want to see the picture, logo, or any words that are printed on the fabric. If there are words they need to know what they say. This whole conversation is repeated every time anyone comes in the room.
I decided to start documenting this activity by taking photos of all the children’s shirts, printing them and creating a book. So far we have forty four shirt photos like this;
The album full of shirt pictures has been extremely popular. There have been a few minor disputes over it because there is only ONE book but that may change soon because we’ve nearly run out of space so we’ll need a second album. 🙂
Even the youngest children can name the owner of each of the shirts in the album. There have been some really amazing conversations here as the children look through the book together. The conversations have continued at home too – I hear stories about struggles to get dressed in the morning because ‘I can’t wear that shirt, Cheryl already has a picture of it’. Some are even demanding shopping trips to get NEW shirts to add to the album.
It is important to keep families involved in our daily activities 😉
It was about 10 years ago when ‘The Llama Thing’ started. On my ‘old website’ I had written a bit about the children’s interest in llamas, this is an excerpt;
At one time the school age children I had in care became obsessed with llamas. Originally I think they just liked the way the word “llama” sounded and they liked to say it over and over. We started collecting pictures of llamas to display around the house. The children searched the internet and books for information on llamas – where they came from, what they eat, and how to care for them. They found sites where you could purchase llamas and decided they wanted a llama for a pet. When I pointed out that we couldn’t keep a llama in the city they wanted to know “why” and set out to find the answer.
They used their new found knowledge and imaginations to write stories about and build models of “Llamaland”. They played indoor & outdoor llama games like “Llamas From Space” and “Spy Llama”.
The preschool children never really caught on to the llama thing but because one of our llama poems included other animals too, the younger children developed an interest in rabbits. We read rabbit books and made rabbit crafts. I set out pop-up houses and tunnels and they spent hours every day hopping about building burrows and dens. They all became carrot lovers — kids may hate vegetables but rabbits love them!
The llama obsession lasted about two months – I call it an obsession because during that time my school-age children had ZERO other interests. Some of the parents lamented “When will this llama thing end?” Listening to the never-ending Llama Song may not or may not have helped depending on which side of the llama fence you were on.
The llama obsession did eventually end but this particular group of children (and I) continued to love llamas. Years later there was a brief llama resurgence when a new group of children discovered the llama books by Anna Dewdney. However, this group of children didn’t have much interest in llamas beyond the books. I still find llamas fascinating and continue to seek out llama stuff.
I was thrilled to discover that Folkmanis had alpaca puppets – they may consider them to be alpacas but for us they are llamas because alpaca is not nearly as fun to say. 🙂 I have bought both the stage puppet (this one does look more like an alpaca) and the hand puppet (definitely a llama).
The children have named the hand puppet ‘Mortimer’ but rarely use his name because ‘llama’ is so much more fun to say. The stage puppet is larger so therefore always just gets called ‘Mama llama’. Once, just once, I played the Llama Song video while the children were waiting for lunch to get dished up. Yes, I can see that becoming an addiction very quickly with this group too. I think we’ll stick to the puppets and books instead.
Given the influx of tech gadgets books remain an integral part of child development. When I first opened my child care home we had about 200 books. They were kept on shelves in the main play area where they were available for the children to read throughout the day.
Over the years our collection has grown and so has its need for space. Considering how limited our space is finding an adequate location for the books has been a challenge. Eventually I decided it was necessary to store the majority of the books and have just a small selection of books available at one time.
The predominant issue that this scenario posed was the time it took for me to choose which books to display. Sometimes I would pick out all the books with a common theme like ‘dinosaurs’. We had a lot of dinosaur books and if I had them out then there wasn’t room for any other books so if you didn’t like dinosaurs there were no books for you to read.
Selecting books based on a theme was also a problem for emergent curriculum program since I sorted through and chose the books when the children were not here. Then when they arrived I’d discover that they had a totally different ‘theme’ in mind.
So a couple years ago I spent a weekend sorting and organizing all the books into twelve groups – one for each month. Holiday and seasonal themed books were grouped in their appropriate month. The remaining books were distributed evenly among the months. Each month contains a variety of books – fiction and resource, toddler to school-age, small and large, paperback and hardcover – something for everyone.
When not in use they are stored like this;
Looking up the stairs to the library loft you see a few of the books available;
Up in the loft there is space to relax alone or share a story with a few friends;
There are books outside of the loft too because we know that books are used often during dramatic play and other activities too. There is always a lot of excitement when the new books come out. They bring back memories and ignite new interests.
It always makes me smile when the children hold their books like this;
Ensuring that everyone can see the pictures as you read the story to them and making story time a wonderful socially interactive experience.