Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A good yarn

The latest Baby Book Club session took place on a gloriously sunny and warm Friday, so of course we had to have it outdoors. Which was great because we were reading about Little Owl who lives with his mammy in a tree on the edge of the park and the babies immediately made the connection between the trees around us and the Owls' home: maybe (surely!) they lived just over there!
This time, they did most of the reading, using all their guessing and predicting skills to figure out what was going on in Tatyana Feeney's Little Owl's Orange Scarf and what might happen next. They all approved of Little Owl's choice of wool for his new scarf, although they all said it was 'blue' when all the grown-ups saw it green...
After a sneaky extra story under the sun (Feeney's Small Bunny's Blue Blanket), we all retreated inside for the day's craft. Using rectangles of leftover net curtain, some very hairy cotton yarn and A LOT of glue, the babies made their very own scarves!
As promised, some songs and videos about clothes and knitting!
Sandra Boynton’s One Shoe Blues
Bill Oddie, The Knitting Song
Sophie Madeleine – also The Knitting Song

Something to try with older kids: Finger knitted snakes by Red Ted

Monday, May 29, 2017

Words and pics

We had another brilliant session of Writing Club last week where we looked for inspiration in pictures taken from books and magazines. By asking questions of each image and making up the answers ourselves (and our answers were always right of course!), we managed to dig out the seeds of a story: adventures down holes that grew deeper and deeper; stories of gigantic fish terrorising whole cities; of killer flowers; family murders (murders feature a lot in our stories!); mad nurses; banshees; tornadoes; unnerving expeditions up Mount Everest and much more.

The writers indulged in their love of horror and managed to make the most innocent-looking illustration feel heavy with menace! blood! zombies! It's been brilliant seeing them tapping into their imagination (they all have heaps of it!) to completely transform the mood of a picture and make it 'reveal' a hidden story.
Well done, guys!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Of fairy tales, story plans and witch's knickers

Writing Club is back for a third and final sequence this year. 5th and 6th class are at the helm this time and they are full of stories to tell and write. They are also (many of them) full of a love for horror, crime and gore, which makes for some very interesting reads...
The first week we started with what we all knew quite well - fairy tales - and had a look at how we could use them to write our own stories.
First, we threw  a random word into the world of the fairy tale (say, an elephant in the story of Blue Beard or a pair of knickers in Hansel and Gretel), and reinvented the story with this new element. Each tale remained quite recognisable and yet very different.
The Forbidden room in Blue Beard's castle. Brrr...
We then went one step further. Looking at what other writers had done with Little Red Riding Hood, we realised that one change could be enough to transform the whole thing: change the place (set it in Inchicore!), the time (set it in the future!), the main character (make the hero bad and the villain good!) or the ending (they all lived unhappily ever after) and you will end up with a very different story. So we did just that, reinventing Cinderella in 1916 Dublin or Snow White as a murder mystery...

During Week 2, we had a look at structure: how stories work. And we noticed that stories often used the same elements (a hero, a villain, a helper, a revelation, a message, a battle, a victory, etc...) and yet they don't appear the same on the surface. Using 25 'action' cards ('Leaves', 'Decides', 'Test', 'Chase'...), each writer picked the events they wanted to feature in their story and went on to produce an original piece. Even though we used the same set of actions, all the stories were very different, involving horrible planets where you had to kill people by law, Justin Bieber, the Joker, an unlucky charm and much more.

Thanks to all who took part, it's been a hoot. See you next week!

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Babies have voted!

We had a brilliant session at Baby Book Club last week: it was all about the books! We read the lovely Snatchabook by Ellen and Thomas Docherty and that prompted us to have another look at all the books we have read together so far this year: The Tiny King, Dinosaur Roar, Goodnight Everyone, Every Bunny Dance, Penguin and A Bit Lost (click on the links to go to each session's dedicated blog post). Everyone seemed to have a favourite from the lot and it was great to see them rediscover stories and characters they had liked.

We then went on to make our very own books using scissors (we like to live dangerously at Baby Book Club), glue sticks and pictures from all our seven books. Each reader was encouraged to pick their favourite images or those from their favourite titles, and all went home with a bespoke best of good reads.
Incidentally, the babies were also doing something else: they were shadowing the Children's Books Ireland Book of the Year Award. Every year, children of all ages get to read and rate the titles on the award shortlist. They are signed up through their school, their reading group, their crèche and so on. When the shortlist came out in March and I saw that Chris Haughton's Goodnight Everyone was on it, I knew I had to sign up the guys and girls at Baby Book Club. We had enjoyed Chris's A Bit Lost hugely and I thought it would be interesting to see what the babies made of this new book about a little bear who is not at all tired at bed time.
Getting the littlies to choose their favourite images to create their own book was a sneaky way of finding out how highly they 'ranked' Goodnight Everyone compared to the rest of the books. The answer was: quite high. After some complex and entirely scientific calculation (honest!), a mark out of 100 was produced and duly communicated to Children's Books Ireland. The SMGS Baby Book Club has therefore officially taken part in a national award! Not bad for babies, right?
The winners will be announced on Tuesday 23 May. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile and as always, here are the links to songs and videos you might enjoy after reading The Snatchabook or other books about books!

The Library Song, a fun kids’ song from New Zealand

Lil B Dub / The Rapping Bookworm, a thing of silliness!

Martians Discover a Book, classic Sesame Street madness

Bruno Mars Uptown Funk Parody: Unread Book (you’ll never look at your librarian in the same way!)

The Mount Desert Island High School version of Meghan Trainor's "All About The Bass/Books":