Author Archives: avrlstory

First Storytime with Apps at the Annapolis Valley Regional Library

iPads blurred

I’ve done it! I’ve finally used an app at storytime – and it went really well! First off, I have to thank fellow intrepid storytimers, because I used their suggestions and formats. That’s what sharing is all about, isn’t it? I used the Animal Sounds app as suggested by Anne Hicks. I used it as a game after we read Simms Taback’s Farm Animals, which is a fun “guessing the animals” book. The app flowed naturally after this book, as it was a guess-the- animal game, too.

I did not need to use a projector for this, I just played the animal sound, then turned the iPad around to show them the animal after they guessed it. I gave them a few easy ones, then we tried some harder ones. Lots of discussion about animals followed this activity! That’s the only app I used- I shared books, a felt board story, a puppet story, and several fingerplays. Then, we had some play time and a snack. I loved the format and name Milk & Cookies Story Hour, from Amy at Show Me Librarian, , so I asked her if she minded if I used the name and format. Because librarians are awesome, of course she said yes.

I had 21 people (kids and adults together) attend—I grant this a success. Storytime was for ages 3-6, and I had at least that range attending, plus a 7-year old who confessed afterwards that she was too old but wanted to come anyway.

Here’s what I did:
Book: Simms Taback’s Farm Animals
App: Animal Sounds
Fingerplay: 5 Little Monkeys
Books: Duck on a Bike by David Shannon, Baby BeeBee Bird by Diane Redfield Massie
Felt Story: Brown Bear, Brown Bear
Fingerplay: Here is the Beehive
Book: Let’s Count Goats by Mem Fox
Fingerplay: Two Little Blackbirds (We did this one 3 times, at increasingly fast speeds. This made it fun for the older kids, too)
Puppet story: The Wide Mouthed Frog (I had a few volunteers help me with the story)

Playtime & snack: I put out a plate of cookies, and poured some Dixie Cups of milk, and sat my bag of puppets in the floor as well as got out some Active Play toys – this week, I had Monster Feet and Stompers. I also got out the six iPad minis that I have pre-loaded with Apps. My rule was that parents and kids had to use them together – I told the parents there were two reasons for this—1) I didn’t want the iPads to get broken, and 2) the best way for children to learn with technology is to share with parents. I cautioned them about using the iPad as a babysitter, but rather to limit time spent with it, and to make it quality time. Lots of parents had questions about the apps and the iPads, the kids just dug right in and explored with no hesitation.

Insights: Adding technology in tiny increments is pretty darn easy! The kids loved having the hands-on iPads, and the parents had time to chat with me about their concerns and questions. I like the format of having that extra time to play and have a snack—it gives the storytime a party-like feeling and adds both the TALK and PLAY aspects from ECRR2. Puppets are a big hit, and will always include them. Lots of comments from parents about the variety of activities, and also the Saturday time was appreciated.


Apps for (your) Kids – informational session

apps for kidsI’ve created an informational session for parents at the Annapolis Valley Regional Library called Apps for (your) Kids. My first presentation of it was actually a good lesson for me, even though I only had one person show up. I co-presented with Geoff, who volunteers a few times a month at one of our libraries giving advice on all things Apple. Since he usually gets paid quite well to do this, we are lucky to have him on board as a volunteer! It was great to have him there in case of technical difficulties and also to answer questions not related to the apps I was there to demonstrate.  So, the basic outline of my session is this: I divided the apps I would share into eight areas: Books, Drawing & Writing, ABC  & 123, Storytelling, Vocabulary & Grammar, Sounds, Games- young, Games- older.  I’ve put the powerpoint I made for it here on SlideShare.  For each app I share, I include price, platform, educational use, recommended age, and “Why I like this one”.

My plan was to see who showed up, and then tailor the session to them – we only allowed up to 10 sign up so I knew it would be a small group. (1 is a very small group indeed).  So I planned to ask how old their kids were and what sorts of things they were interested in, and then demo the related apps. I had the iPad mirrored via an adapter, HDMI cable, and projector. The hardest bit was figuring out how to control the volume on the projector! Plus I had one app that would not show up and made everything else black out (and I forgot to make a note of which one that was).  I also had an extra iPad mini on hand loaded with the more pricey apps in case someone wanted to test-drive an app before purchase.  This session was good practise for me, and it showed me that librarians DO have a better grip on this whole app thing than a lot of parents do.  They NEED us, folks!

So, even though there was only one mom there, I was able to turn her on to a couple of apps and give her a bit of advice. I also emailed her my complete APPS FOR KIDS list as a PDF.  I was able to explain to her about in-app purchases and show her some free apps and some apps that while not free, are low-cost and aren’t trying to sell gold coins to her children. I’ve got it scheduled at a few more branches in April, so I can keep spreading the word.

Lessons learned: be flexible, be prepared for anything, be ok with saying “I can’t really help you with that, but I can show you this”, take notes for yourself, bask in your area of expertise, and be confident!

Angela Reynolds
Youth Services Manager
Annapolis Valley Regional Library

Pinning apps

I wanted an easy way to start sharing my favorite apps with parents. Pinterest to the rescue once again! I already share good book on Pinterest, and collect my storytime and program ideas there, so why not put apps there too? So, I just created a board, and there I can post apps that I personally have used and a tiny little review, plus the price of the app. Nifto-presto, it is done! Here the link to my board. Is anyone else pinning apps? I’d love to follow and see what you recommend!

Angela Reynolds
Youth Services Manager
Annapolis Valley Regional Library

Sharing my iPad

reflectionFinally, I have figured out how to project my iPad at the Annapolis Valley Regional Library! It really was very easy. All I had to do was hook up my iPad 2 with an adapter and an HDMI cable to mirror my iPad through the projector (or an HDMI enabled TV) to share apps, books etc with an audience. If you don’t want to pay the $45 or so for the adaptor, (plus a few bucks for an HDMI cable if you don’t already have one) and you already have a laptop and projector, you can pay $14.99 for this cool app: Reflection. Then you’ll be hooking your projector up to the laptop. I decided to go the adapter and cable route so I don’t have to carry around the laptop as well as the iPad and projector. The beauty of the Reflection app is that you can move around the room with your iPad, since it is using WiFi to connect to the laptop. I am tethered with the cable, but my cable is 10 feet long, so I am going this way for now!

My first plan is to offer an App Class for parents to show them some of the cool apps I’ve gotten for free and for very cheap, so that they can get good stuff for their kids. With the iPad Mini available this holiday season, I hope to share some quality stuff with parents so that their kids can have good eBook and app experiences, and I can share some tips and suggested uses at the same time!

Angela Reynolds
Youth Services Manager
Annapolis Valley Regional Library

Creating a Slideshare Felt Board story

If you have a really large group at storytime, you might consider using
Slideshare  for your felt board stories. You can project them from your laptop, and everyone can see! You could do the same in Powerpoint; I’m using Slideshare here so that I can, well, share it with others – you don’t even need an account to see the presentations, only to create. I did find a Slideshare app for iPad that is free, but I find it a bit slow – but if you want to try it, it is called Slide by Slide and hooks up with SlideShare.

This one is The Three Billy Goats Gruff. I made this one with a whole lot of help from Judy Sierra’s fabulous book, The flannel board storytelling book. Sierra introduces the amazingly easy technique of using interfacing for the figures– you make a photocopy of the pieces, pop a piece of medium-weight interfacing over top of that, trace it with a sharpie pen, color in with pencils or markers, cut out, and there you have it. I highly recommend this book for Felt Board storytellers! Once I have my story created, I just prop
up my board and take a photograph of each “scene.” This one has a lot of movement of pieces, so it has more shots than some might. Then, put your photos in order into SlideShare, and Bob’s your uncle. Please feel free to use The 3 Billy Goats Gruff in your next storytime. Another use for this could be to share the links to your felt board with parents– they could go home and tell the stories with their kids!

Angela Reynolds
Youth Services Manager
Annapolis Valley Regional Library

iPad before bed?

That blue light coming from your iPad might be keeping you awake.  Just before bedtime, the light emitted from iPads and other screens can keep you  — and your kids awake. This article from The Telegraph explains the reasons why. So while we love the iPad for educational fun and stories, bedtime isn’t the right time. The article hints that at least 2 hours before bed, all screen use should stop. What does that mean? It means you can sing together, play some quiet games, and read books. Books printed on paper.  You know, the old-fashioned kind that emit no light other than what your imagination shines onto them. So grab a stack of your favourites, or get yourself to the library and check out a big pile of books to share at bedtime. To help you choose some good books, I’ve created a list of fun bedtime stories (though I think just about any book can serve for bedtime).  Don’t forget about those chapter books, too, for your listeners who are ready for a longer read-aloud experience. The whole family can get in on those chapter-book read alouds. Here’s my list – enjoy!

Angela Reynolds
Youth Services Manager
Annapolis Valley Regional Library