Friday, February 19, 2016

STEM: Olivia the Orangutan Folder Story

This is a fun animal science folder story that I wrote myself. There are many facts incorporated into this story about rainforest animals and when I told the story, the preschoolers were totally mesmerized! I had them join in with me and say "oooo oooo oooo ooo oooo!" and twirl their finger as they were saying the main verse. I was very inspired by the Scat the Cat folder story which I blogged about a few months ago and so I wrote this, using the same theme of an animal changing colors! I also paired it with the story Orangutan Baby (I Love Reading) by Monica Hughes. It's short and perfect for preschoolers!

Instructions for making this:

I printed out a coloring sheet of an orangutan. I used this one.

Then I cut out the orangutan out and paperclipped it to a folder (one that was enclosed on 3 sides).

I then cut around the orangutan so that there was a cut out of the body. 

Then I placed the different colored sheets of paper inside the folder. 

I then drew the faces on each sheet of paper (making sure the different pieces of paper were lined up). 

Then when you tell the story you can pull the colored paper out to reveal the next color! :)

Olivia the Orange Orangutan
by Sarah Prokop

Once upon a time there was an ORANGE haired orangutan named Olivia. Olivia had a very special talent - she could change her color by twirling around and singing a little rhyme. All she had to sing was:

"I'm Olivia the Orangutan
Through the branches I swing
and I can change colors
if I twirl around and sing! (Oooo-oooo-ooooo-ooooo-oooooo!)"

One day, Olivia walking through the forest floor when she spotted a beautiful blue frog! She thought it might be fun to be a bright blue color like the frog so she said...

"I'm Olivia the Orangutan
Through the branches I swing
and I can change colors
if I twirl around and sing! (Oooo-oooo-ooooo-ooooo-oooooo!)"

Suddenly Olivia wasn't orange anymore. She was a beautiful shade of BLUE! However, the frog didn't like someone impersonating him so he made an "EEE EEE EEE" sound. (for added effect you could play a short video or sound clip of a blue poison dart frog here)

Olivia knew that sound... it was the sound of a blue poisonous dart frog!! Olivia got scared. She knew that she could easily get poisoned by that frog so she ran to a clearing in the rainforest where she saw a brown anteater!
"What a funny looking snout he has!" said Olivia. (The giant anteater uses his snout to consume more than 30,000 insects, mainly termites, every day!) Olivia decided it would be hilarious to impersonate such an odd looking creature so she twirled around and sang:

"I'm Olivia the Orangutan
Through the branches I swing
and I can change colors
if I twirl around and sing! (Oooo-oooo-ooooo-ooooo-oooooo!)

An in a snap, Olivia turned BROWN, like dirt, like chocolate, and what else? She rushed to the canopy of the rainforest to show her friends but they were not there. Instead, she found a gray sloth sleeping upside down from a tree branch!

She laughed and thought, "why would anyone sleep upside down?!" Then she thought how fun it would be to impersonate the gray sloth so she stood on the tree branch and said,

"I'm Olivia the Orangutan
Through the branches I swing
and I can change colors
if I twirl around and sing! (Oooo-oooo-ooooo-ooooo-oooooo!)"

Just like that, Olivia turned GRAY, just like the sleeping sloth. She was sure that the sloth would get a huge kick out of this but instead the sloth did not move. The sloth did not say a peep! Olivia, looking as gray as the sky, twirled around many times but nothing got the Sloth’s attention. The sloth just kept on sleeping… (and sloths can sometimes sleep up to 18 hours a day!)

Olivia was starting to feel lonely. No one seemed to be amused by her color changing ability which made her feel sad. She decided it was time to find someone who would care!

She swung through many trees until she finally came upon an Emereld Tree Boa snake that was lime green! Whoa, Olivia thought. What a beautiful shade of green!

(Baby Emereld Tree Boa snakes are usually red-brown, orange or yellow, but at about 6 months of age they become the beautiful emerald green adult color!)

Olivia wanted to be this beautiful color so she twirled around and sang:

"I'm Olivia the Orangutan
Through the branches I swing
and I can change colors
if I twirl around and sing!” (Oooo-oooo-ooooo-ooooo-oooooo!)"

Olivia suddenly turned bright GREEN, like a lime! Wow! They could surely see her now! Olivia was excited about her bright new color. She went to play with the other apes, but they all laughed at her. “Whoever heard of a lime green orangutan?!” No one played with her & she felt so sad.

“I don’t want to be lime green anymore. I don’t want to be gray like the sky, brown like the mud and I don’t want to be blue like the water. I want to be orange again, just like my brothers and sisters and friends. I’d like to have a lot of orangutans to play with so she said:

"I'm Olivia the Orangutan
Through the branches I swing
and I can change colors
if I twirl around and sing!” (Oooo-oooo-ooooo-ooooo-oooooo!)"

Olivia changed back to ORANGE and that night, her and her friends danced under the orange sunlight for the rest of the day. Ever since this day, she has been very happy just being herself. 

(Then I talk again about the message – We should just be happy being ourselves and not try to be someone we’re not. Olivia was happiest just being who he was: an orange haired orangutan.)

More Fun Facts:

Q) Why are orangutans orange?
A) Their coloring helps them blend in. The water in peat swamp forests, where orangutans live, tends to be a muddy orange. Sunlight reflected off this water can give the forest an orange cast, making orangutans hard to see in the light!
Many of their nests, up in the forest canopy, contain orangey-brown dead leaves, and some trees have reddish leaves when young.
Ground-based predators would only see orangutans in the canopy as a mere silhouette. (Mark Harrison, orang-utan Tropical Peatland Project. David Chivers, reader in Primate Biology, Cambridge University)

Q) Where do orangutans hang out in the rain forest?

A) Orangutans may be perfectly adapted for swinging through trees, but new observations suggest they also spend a surprising amount of time hanging out on the ground.

Please credit me and link back to my blog if you use this in a storytime!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Best Books of 2015 for Grades 4-8

Award Winners and Top Books from the Past Year
(book summaries pulled from

Juvenile Fiction 
The War That Saved My Life - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.

Stella by Starlight - Sharon M. Draper 
In 1932 North Carolina, Stella feels the effects of a Klan cross burning, segregation, voter registration, and a major house fire in a story of change in a close-knit community.

George - Alex Gino. Scholastic.
George identifies as a girl; if only the rest of the world would too. With the help of best friend Kelly, George takes the first steps to becoming Melissa, her true self.

Lost in the Sun - Lisa Graff
In his efforts to make a fresh start in middle school, Trent struggles to put a traumatic event behind him. Fallon, the class outcast, strives to help Trent let go of his guilt.

Blackbird Fly - Erin Entrada Kelly
Bullied at school, eighth-grader Apple, a Filipino American who loves the music of the Beatles, decides to change her life by learning how to play the guitar.

Full Cicada Moon - Marilyn Hilton
Set during the year of the first lunar landing, this free verse novel follows Mimi Oliver, a half Japanese, half African American girl who learns about fitting in and beIng strong.

Fish in a Tree - Lynda Mullaly Hunt
With the help of an insightful teacher and quirky friends, Ally discovers how smart she really is in spite of being identified as dyslexic.

The Nest - Kenneth Oppel
When wasps come to Steve in a dream offering to fix his sick baby brother, he thinks all he has to do is say yes. But yes may not mean what Steve thinks it means

Adventures with Waffles - Maria Parr
Whether sledding with chickens or boating with cows, there’s never a dull moment when Norwegian neighbors Lena and Trille are together.

Echo - Pam Muñoz Ryan 
This original fairytale intertwines with historical fiction to explore music and its power to save, heal, and set free.

The Blackthorn Key - Kevin Sands
In 1665 London, Christopher, an apothecary’s apprentice, and his best friend Tom attempt to uncover the truth behind a mysterious cult.

Fuzzy Mud - Louis Sachar
Taking a shortcut through the off-limits woods to avoid a bully, Tamaya and Marshall encounter fuzzy-looking mud that unleashes a medical and environmental disaster.

The Marvels - Brian Selznick
Two seemingly unrelated plots—Billy Marvel’s wordless, illustrated story set in 1776; and Joseph Jervis’s prose story set in 1990—come together in a tale of mystery, adventure, friendship, and family.

Hoodoo - Ronald L. Smith
In 1930s Alabama, twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher is the only member of his family who seems unable to practice folk magic, but when a mysterious man called the Stranger puts the entire town at risk from his black magic, Hoodoo must learn to conjure to defeat him.

Murder Is Bad Manners - Robin Stevens.
At an English boarding school in the 1930s, crime-solving friends Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells struggle to find an exciting mystery to investigate until Hazel discovers the dead body of Miss Bell, the science teacher.

Gone Crazy in Alabama - Rita Williams-Garcia
Sisters Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern travel to rural Alabama to visit Big Ma during the summer of 1969, where they find out about southern culture, animal rights, & family history.

Juvenile Nonfiction
Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings - Matthew Burgess  
From an early age, poet E. E. Cummings loved words. Burgess’s text, enhanced by Di Giacomo’s collage illustrations, explores Cummings’ life and career as a poet.

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower - Greg Pizzoli
At the turn of the twentieth century, Czechoslovakian Robert Miller became a con artist. Calling himself Vic, he started with small schemes, working his way toward selling the Eiffel Tower.

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France - Mara RockliffFollow along as Ben Franklin applies the scientific method to a new mysterious phenomenon Dr. Mesmer has been spreading across France. 

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America  - Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Known as a carrier of the deadly typhoid fever, Mary Mallon was also a victim of civil rights violations. Her biography reveals the complexity of her case.

Juvenile Graphic Novels
Roller Girl - Victoria JamiesonAstrid falls in love with roller derby and learns how to be tougher, stronger, and fearless in this dynamic graphic novel. 

Sunny Side Up - Jennifer Holm
Sunny Lewin is sent to live with her grandfather for the summer in Florida, where she befriends Buzz, a boy completely obsessed with comic books, and faces the secret behind why she is in Florida in the first place.

Lunch Witch - Deb Lucke 
When Grunhilda the witch is forced to find a new job, she finds a new job as a school lunch lady, where she enjoys scaring the children, until a little girl with thick glasses named Madison comes along and sees through her act.
Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure - Nadja Spiegelman
After getting separated from his teacher, his classmates, and his trip partner during an outing to the Empire State Building, Pablo, the new kid in school, learns to navigate the New York City subway system as well as his own feelings towards making new friends and living in a big city.

Phoebe and her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle -  Dana Simpson
One day a girl named Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this resulted in a lasting friendship between Phoebe and the unicorn, one Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. Come along for the unicorn ride with Phoebe, as she deals with the usual burdens of childhood .

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible - Ursula Vernon
In a spunky graphic novel retelling of Sleeping Beauty, Harriet, a hamster princess, embarks on many wild adventures until the curse on her backfires and she needs to save her parents.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Letter D Storytime

This is my storytime that I put together which introduces children to the letter D! 

1. Book:  Lazy Dave by Jarvis

This is SUCH a cute book that we recently got at work. A review on School Library Journal said that the phrasing is awkward but I completely disagree. The review also said that the the dog and human inhabitants of the story fall flat and inexpressive but I disagree with that also! I found this book to be a really great read aloud and the preschoolers absolutely loved it! The kids enjoyed the retro style illustrations and laughed at many of the pages (especially when Lazy Dave trips and stops the diamond thief!). They were entranced by it as I read it and I definitely don't understand how this could have received a poor review at all!

2. Fingerplay:

Dancing Fingers
We’re going to dance our fingers up
And dance our fingers down
We’ll dance them to the side
Let’s dance them all around
And we’ll dance them on our
And we’ll dance them on our head
Let’s dance them on our tummy
And we’ll put them all to bed!

I usually extend this and also dance fingers on our knees, ankles, etc. I also go quickly from knees to toes and back to knees because it makes it more fun for children. Preschoolers are easily amused by these simple action rhymes. 

3. Song: Ducks Like Rain by Raffi

Kids of all ages get a huge kick out of this song. There is also a Carol Peterson version which is great. For the action part, I have the kids use their hands to make a duck mouth sing as the song goes "Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack." I also have the kids stomp around as if they're a duck that is splishin' and splashin' in the rain. This song also greatly amuses any parents in the room!

4. Book: Dog Loves Drawing by Louise Yates

5. Flannel Board: Five Donuts

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were five yummy donuts with sprinkles on top
Along comes a dog with a dollar to pay
She buys a donut and takes it away

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were four yummy donuts with sprinkles on top
Along comes a dog with a dollar to pay
She buys a donut and takes it away

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were three yummy donuts with sprinkles on top
Along comes a dog with a dollar to pay
She buys a donut and takes it away

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were two yummy donut with sprinkles on top
Along comes a dog with a dollar to pay
She buys a donut and takes it away

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Was one yummy donut with sprinkles on top
Along comes a dog with a dollar to pay
She buys a donut and takes it away

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were zero yummy donuts with sprinkles on top
Along comes a dog with a dollar to pay
But she so stuffed that she passes out along the way!

Adapted words to fit the D concept from a flannel board story found on Storytime Katie. For a hilarious element, use a dog puppet to "eat" the donuts. I also had the dog let out a little burp after eating each  donut and the kids were dying of laughter. At the end, I show the dog slumped over the flannel board snoring! Kids commented that the dog must be "really fat" after eating all those donuts! 

6. Book: A Dog Wearing Shoes bu Sangmi Ko

This book is absolutely endearing as well! :) I love that it talks about a lost dog and what happens when you find a dog without an owner. It teaches a good moral to children and also discusses where a dog should be adopted (at a shelter rather than a pet store). One preschooler commented in a disappointing sounding voice that the "pictures were black and white."However, as soon as I started reading, he had no trouble paying attention! The kids also got a huge kick out of the fact that the dog wore shoes and that the dog that girl adopted at the end wore a yellow tutu, just like the little girl. This is the type of book that you will need to have the children look closely at the illustrations. Definitely a great read-a-loud and perfect for any dog storytime. 

7. Song: Dinosaur Dinosaur Move Your Body (from YouTube)

How could I have a Letter D storytime and not mention dinosaurs?!  Kids enjoyed acting out all the motions in this song! I also like that it's short enough to get some wiggles out but not too long where it takes away from the main purpose of storytime (reading great stories)!  

8. Book: Dog Loves Drawing

This is another spectacular dog book. I think this is my new favorite book in fact! The way the drawn animals move through the illustrations are very humorous. The kids laughed so hard. This book was also great for getting the children to make predictions about where the story was going to go. For example, on one page it says "Then the dog decided to draw a..." and then on the next page it shows what the duck drew (a monster).  I also love that it shows children that they too could create their own stories with a pencil and let their imaginations go wild through illustrations. 

9. Song: Jim Gill - Silly Dance Contest 

Kids are obsessed with this song and it is the perfect song to get shy preschoolers out of their comfort zone!