Monday, January 2, 2012

School and Library Author Visits


When planning a library or school author visit it is essential to have activities that are fun, memorable and involve child participation. I like to include a movement activity and a craft project they can take with them.
Here’s one version of a one hour visit I use.

1.      Simplified prediction activity to introduce Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep by looking at the cover to predict the story
2.      Read Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep

3.      Consonant Blend Jumping (see below)
4.      Shelby Puppet introduces Trouble on Earth Day by bringing out fascinating facts about squirrels (ex: they can jump 12 feet) and predicting the story by looking at the cover and other objects I made from the story (see below) TIP: Puppets are expensive. You can transform a thrift store stuffed animal into a puppet by opening the bottom, removing some stuffing and sewing a sock inside.

5.      Read Trouble on Earth Day
6.      They color a picture of a bird on a nest and glue sticks and pink yarn to the picture.
Consonant Blend Jumping

In my book, Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby sleep I feature the consonant blends sh, ch, br, th, and br. I laminated four of each of these blends and taped them to the floor in a line. At the end of each line I placed a basket with a word that uses the blend attached to the front. The children jump on each blend and shout out its sound and throw a beanbag into the basket as they read the word. I change the movement for different age groups. (jump backwards, hop)

Prediction Fun

By adding just a few simple questions and activities to your story time, you can help children begin to learn about important reading skills.  Here’s how to introduce  Fur and Feathers by Janet Halfman.
  • Put a heart in a paper bag for each student and tape it closed.
  • In a teacher’s bag put a piece of fur, a feather, a pin cushion, a jar of slime, sequins, pinecone scales, plastic wing with black dots.
Tell the children they are going to be detectives and solve a mystery.  They have to look for clues and guess what’s in their bag.  On the chalkboard write the word "prediction." Pointing to the teacher bag say, "First, let’s guess what’s in my bag." Guide students as they make a prediction about what might be in the paper bag. Ask what clues they are using to make their prediction. For instance, suggest that size, lack of movement, smell, or weight might limit their guess.  Once you have gathered student responses, write them on the board.  Open the bag, and take out the fur. Let them revise their predictions as needed, emphasizing that you have more information to use now. Ask how fur is used, and do they have any fur at home?  Take each item out of the bag and ask what it might represent.  State that this process is the same when you read a book. Your predictions change based on the information you gather as you read.  Show the cover, title, and some illustrations of Janet Halfman’s picture book.  Ask students what the items might have to do with the story you are going to read.  Make final revisions to the predictions emphasizing that the prediction changed based on the information you gathered. 

Read, Fur and Feathers.  Watch their eyes light up as they discover each item is used in the book to cover the animals that lost their coats in a windstorm.  When you finish the book, ask the children to guess what’s in their own bag.  Let them open the bag to find the candy heart, which coincides with the surprise ending of the story. 

Some Other Activities for Library and School Author Visits:

Recycle cardboard and gift wrap to make a bookmark


1.      Cut a cardboard rectangle 2 ½” by 7”.
2.      Wrap it up like a gift.
3.      Cut a 1” by 4” piece of construction paper.
4.      Put each child’s name on the paper.
5.      Glue it to the center of the bookmark.


Sight Word Tree

1.      Draw a large tree on a poster board.
2.      Make several nests large enough to write on.
3.      Write a sight word on the back of each nest and hang them on the tree.
4.      Children take turns picking a nest off the tree and read the sight word.

Sound Effects

Assign each child a sound effect during a reading. (wind, rain, bells, barking, crashing noises, crying, doors closing, etc) Have a practice session by pointing to each child to say their sound. Just mix it up and have fun. The children love this game. When reading your picture book, point to the appropriate child to sync sound effects to the story.

Sight Word Musical Chairs

Arrange chairs in a circle facing out. Put a dolch sight word on each chair. Children walk around the chairs until the music stops. They pick up the sight word and sit. The take turns reading their sight word around the circle.

Stay tuned for my ebook on this subject which will be overflowing with creative ideas for author visits. It will also include advertising techniques such as a poster to place in the school and sending out press releases to local newspapers prior to the visit. I learned the hard way thinking the library staff would advertise the event properly. Don’t forget photo release forms which allow you to use photos of the children in future advertising projects.

Author Bio: Kathy Stemke

Award winning author, Kathy Stemke, has a passion for writing, the arts and all things creative. She has Bachelor degrees from Southern Connecticut State University and Covenant Life Seminary, as well as graduate coursework from New York Institute of Technology and Columbia University. Hanging her hat in the North Georgia Mountains, she has been a teacher, tutor, and writer for many years. 
As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, Kathy has published hundreds of articles in directories, websites and magazines. She is a reviewer for Sylvan Dell Publishing and a former editor for The National Writing for Children Center. As a retired teacher, Kathy has several activities published with Gryphon House Publishing. Kathy is also part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U, a writing services company that includes ghostwriting, copywriting, editing, proofreading, critiquing, and resumes.  http://www.dkvwriting4u.com
Kathy’s first children’s picture book, Moving Through All Seven Days, was published on Lulu. Her next two picture books, Sh, Sh, Sh Let the Baby Sleep, and Trouble on Earth Day were released in 2011. Both of these books have been awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.  Visit her book blog at http://shshshletthebabysleep.blogspot.com
Mrs.Stemke offers great teaching tips and children’s book reviews as well as a monthly newsletter titled, MOVEMENT AND RHYTHM, on her blog. http://educationtipster.blogspot.com

12 comments:

  1. Hi, Kathy. Thanks for sharing these ideas. I can see now that I don't have nearly enough activity in my story reading times---and an hour has seemed like a long time to cover. But your suggestions have got me thinking how I could pick the story apart and identify activities that will link to the action words in the story. Probably some activities will work better with a small group and others better for larger groups.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What great ideas, Kathy! Way to go!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Bill and Nancy. An hour flys by for me. Can't wait to hear about your ideas, Bill.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kathy, what great school and author library visit tips. I'll be using them after the winter for my school visits.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

    ReplyDelete
  5. What fantastic ideas. Makes me want to write a children's book. Adult readings can be a little staid. I'm always on the lookout for ways to ramp them up and your post has inspired me to think 'activities'.

    ReplyDelete
  6. glad you liked the post Karen and Magdelena. I'll be writing an ebook with ideas for Young adults as well. Watch for it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for sharing these great ideas, Kathy. Your book sounds like it will be helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Kathy you are always so generous about sharing your stimulating ideas. I shall be looking out for the Young Adult e-book. I crave activity ideas for that group.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My sweetheart has such creative ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks Anne and Janet. I'm working on the activities ebook for library visits.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Fantastic ideas! I agree with Bill that an hour doesn't seem like a lot of time, but if you don't have an activity to keep their attention an hour can feel like an eternity!

    Best wishes,
    Donna

    ReplyDelete

We would love to know your thoughts on this post!