Learn from Home with the Explorers Series!

If you’re looking for structured extension activities to do with your children while you are all home together, Christine Kirker’s Explorer series will provide you with some fresh ideas!

25 Projects for Art Explorers 

Designed for kids aged 5 – 10 with projects that can be adapted to the age of the child.  The projects:

-introduce children to a variety of art techniques, from gouache and watercolor to collage and papermaking, using a curated selection of quality picture books;

-provide detailed directions for guiding children to experiment with these techniques to create their own projects; and

-include materials lists adaptable for any budget, capsule biographies of the picture books’ illustrators, programming tips, and links to additional resources.


25 Projects for Global Explorers

Designed for kids aged 5-10, and flexible enough to use in either storytimes or classroom settings, the projects here:

-use representative picture books as tools for learning about different places and people;

-take kids’ imaginations on journeys to a variety of U.S. landmarks, such as Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and Lei Day Festival in Hawaii;

-introduce more than a dozen fascinating places, traditions, and cultures from across the world, including the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, the Day of the Dead in Mexico, the Ziggurat of Ancient Mesopotamia in Iraq, and the San People, formerly known as the Bushmen of South Africa; and

-include hands-on activities for teaching children what makes each topic special, materials lists, programming tips, and additional resources.

Purchase now.


Coming May 2020: 25 Projects for Eco Explorers 

Though the daily news is filled with reports of climate change, severe weather, environmental distress, and endangered species, children’s librarians and educators might be uncertain how to incorporate these topics into their current curriculum. This handy resource offers an ideal solution, presenting more than two dozen ready-to-use projects on environmental topics that can be integrated into K-5 educational lesson plans and library programming for children aged 4-10. Starting with a representative picture book as a foundation, children are guided through each topic using a hands-on project that reinforces learning. Whether they’re in the classroom or library, kids will feel excited and engaged as they explore such topics as

-honeybees, loggerhead turtles, mountain gorillas, polar bears, and other animals;

-environments like coral reefs, estuaries, and the Galápagos Islands;

-wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes;

-composting, gardens, seeds, and the farm to table movement; and

-garbage, recycling, renewable energy, water conservation, and Earth Day.

Preorder now.


About the Author

Christine Kirker is a Library Associate with the Carroll County Public Library (MD). She is the author of 25 Projects for Art Explorers and 25 Projects for Global Explorers and the coauthor (with Kathy MacMillan) of five books in the Storytime Magic storytime resource series, all from ALA Editions.  Since joining the library staff in 2005, Christine has developed and presented many programs for children of all ages. In addition, she has applied for and received many grants benefitting the library including a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, wherein Christine worked with the community to create a native garden at the library and offered many educational outreach programs. Previously, Christine spent ten years employed at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) as a Research Analyst for the Office of Institutional Research.

Keeping Online Storytimes Engaging

With so many libraries closed to the public, it seems like everyone is offering online storytimes!  I was asked to share my tips for keeping online storytimes interactive, so here you go!
When presenting virtually where you can’t see your audience, it’s really hard to adjust your approach and pace when you are not getting any response, so it’s really important to remember the following. (And pro tip: sticky notes on the side of your monitor with reminders work really well!)
  1. Slow down. Even if it feels like you are already speaking slowly, slow it down. Most kids can’t listen as fast as we grownups like to talk.
  2. Make eye contact with the camera. Yes, this feels weird. It might help to put a stuffed animal or a picture of a favorite kiddo right above or next to the camera, so you can make eye contact with that.
  3. Allow time for responses. No, more time than that. More. In person, adults generally only give kids one second of silence before they fill it in for them. When you don’t have the kid in front of you, it’s tempting to just plow ahead. But seriously, give the kids time to answer, participate, copy the movement, whatever. Yes, you will feel like Dora the Explorer blinking at the camera in silence. That’s okay!  There’s a reason that developmentally appropriate kids’ shows use this tactic. It encourages a response and it allows kids of all different learning styles to take the information in.
  4. Use repetition to create more space for understanding. While repetition on its own is useful, because it reinforces information, it’s also useful because it allows kids (and parents) more time with the material. For example, when introducing an ASL sign, I always break it down and explain what I am doing as I show it multiple times. Kids may or may not be actually listening to what I am saying in that explanation, based on their learning style, but the time it takes to explain it keeps visual and auditory focus on the sign and allows everyone the time to learn it.
  5. Be explicit about how you want children (and grownups) to participate. Some kids will already be clapping their hands or hooting like owls or whatever, but some will need the storyteller to say it explicitly in the absence of the peer modeling of seeing others do it. And many grownups will need the extra push even more!
  6. Give grownups clear suggestions for how to tie storytime activities to everyday life with their children. This is something we do anyway, but now that many parents are their children’s exclusive language and literacy models, and many of them are overwhelmed, it’s important that we give them solid suggestions that show how easy it is to incorporate literacy into their daily routines.
  7. Learn from the pros!  Children’s TV shows have been incorporating these strategies for a long time. Mr. Rogers is of course the gold standard, but a modern one that I love is the Baltimore-based Danny Joe’s Treehouse, which incorporates a deep knowledge of child development with online engagement techniques.
  8. American Sign Language lends itself well to online storytimes, because it lends a visual and kinetic aspect to storytimes that can still be contained within the camera frame. For lots of resources on incorporating ASL into your storytimes, see my resource page for signing in storytime or the classroom.

(This post has been cross-posted to StoriesByHand.com)

Register now for Sign Language for Children in Storytime or the Classroom eCourse

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, March 2, 2020 and continuing for 6 weeks (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials.)

$250.00 (discounts available for ALA members and bulk registrations)

Click here to register.

Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)

American Sign Language is most commonly used in storytimes for babies, but the applications can go much further. In this new 6-week eCourse, Sign Language expert Kathy MacMillan explores the benefits of signing with all children. In addition to learning basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary appropriate for use with children in library and classroom settings, you will also learn to teach stories, songs, and other activities that incorporate ASL. MacMillan provides you with a linguistic and cultural context to help make your programming more accessible.

After participating in this eCourse, you will:

  • Have a working knowledge of approximately 180 signs (introduced through video)
  • Create two storytime/classroom activities using the featured vocabulary that you can implement in your storytimes
  • Understand relevant aspects of child development and early literacy
  • Understand signing in a linguistic and cultural context

Feedback from past participants:

“One of the most well-organized and rewarding professional development courses I’ve taken.”

“Kathy is an amazing instructor. She made learning online very easy and comfortable. She replied quickly when students had questions and she responded with feedback with videos to help sign better.”

“I am amazed. It couldn’t have gone better. I came away learning many signs I can use and gained some helpful information for my storytimes.”

“The instructor was phenomenal, and I am already incorporating course work into everyday interactions in the library. Everything in the course is relevant and beneficial.”

Register now for Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Register now for Basic ASL for Library Staff and Signing in Storytime or the Classroom eCourses!

Registration is now open for upcoming sessions of these popular eCourses through the American Library Association!

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff eCourse begins January 13, 2020.

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse begins March 2, 2020.

Purchase both courses as a bundle and save! See below for more information about each course.

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, May 20, 2019 (6 weeks of lessons; Participants will have a total of 12 weeks to complete course materials)
Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.
Cost: $250.00 (discounts available for American Library Association members and bulk registrations)

 

Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)
Click here to register.

American Sign Language (ASL) is an invaluable skill for library professionals. A basic grasp of ASL enhances your ability to serve deaf library users and opens up a new world of possibilities for storytime programs. It’s also a marketable professional skill that can translate to public service jobs beyond the library world. Ideal for those without previous experience, this eCourse taught by librarian and ASL interpreter Kathy MacMillan will use readings, multimedia resources, and online discussion boards to introduce basic ASL vocabulary and grammar appropriate for use in a library setting. MacMillan will place ASL within a linguistic and cultural context, aiding participants in improving library services.

Past attendees say:

“This course has been invaluable to me. I have spent countless hours reviewing all of the video, re-reading the lessons, and just generally trying to absorb as much knowledge as I could. The instructor was a gem in the way that she provided comprehensive answers to questions, feedback, tips and resources.”

“While I had taken ASL many years ago, this class has expanded my vocabulary and boosted my confidence in my abilities. I think it helped that this class specifically addressed situations I might encounter here at work.”

“This has been a great introduction to both the language and the culture!”

“This class was interesting, informative, and entertaining. It opened my eyes to a variety of ideas and concepts that can only make me a better librarian as well as a better person. I thought things were well organized and presented in an ordered and logical fashion, each lesson building on the one before.”

“Ms. MacMillan provided timely feedback to all responses, questions, and comments during the entire course. Her answers show the mastery of content knowledge and her response time shows how much she cares about her students and the topic she is teaching. This was one of the best online courses I have taken, and I will highly recommend this course to others.”

Register now for Basic ASL for Library Staff

Register now for American Sign Language for Librarians eCourse bundle


 

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, March 2, 2020 and continuing for 6 weeks (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials.)

$250.00 (discounts available for ALA members and bulk registrations)

Click here to register.

Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)

American Sign Language is most commonly used in storytimes for babies, but the applications can go much further. In this new 6-week eCourse, Sign Language expert Kathy MacMillan explores the benefits of signing with all children. In addition to learning basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary appropriate for use with children in library and classroom settings, you will also learn to teach stories, songs, and other activities that incorporate ASL. MacMillan provides you with a linguistic and cultural context to help make your programming more accessible.

After participating in this eCourse, you will:

  • Have a working knowledge of approximately 180 signs (introduced through video)
  • Create two storytime/classroom activities using the featured vocabulary that you can implement in your storytimes
  • Understand relevant aspects of child development and early literacy
  • Understand signing in a linguistic and cultural context

Feedback from past participants:

“One of the most well-organized and rewarding professional development courses I’ve taken.”

“Kathy is an amazing instructor. She made learning online very easy and comfortable. She replied quickly when students had questions and she responded with feedback with videos to help sign better.”

“I am amazed. It couldn’t have gone better. I came away learning many signs I can use and gained some helpful information for my storytimes.”

“The instructor was phenomenal, and I am already incorporating course work into everyday interactions in the library. Everything in the course is relevant and beneficial.”

Register now for Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Register now for American Sign Language for Librarians eCourse bundle

Registration now open for popular eCourses with Kathy MacMillan!

Registration is now open for upcoming sessions of these popular eCourses through the American Library Association!

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff eCourse begins January 13, 2020.

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse begins March 2, 2020.

Purchase both courses as a bundle and save! See below for more information about each course.

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, May 20, 2019 (6 weeks of lessons; Participants will have a total of 12 weeks to complete course materials)
Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.
Cost: $250.00 (discounts available for American Library Association members and bulk registrations)

 

Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)
Click here to register.

American Sign Language (ASL) is an invaluable skill for library professionals. A basic grasp of ASL enhances your ability to serve deaf library users and opens up a new world of possibilities for storytime programs. It’s also a marketable professional skill that can translate to public service jobs beyond the library world. Ideal for those without previous experience, this eCourse taught by librarian and ASL interpreter Kathy MacMillan will use readings, multimedia resources, and online discussion boards to introduce basic ASL vocabulary and grammar appropriate for use in a library setting. MacMillan will place ASL within a linguistic and cultural context, aiding participants in improving library services.

Past attendees say:

“This course has been invaluable to me. I have spent countless hours reviewing all of the video, re-reading the lessons, and just generally trying to absorb as much knowledge as I could. The instructor was a gem in the way that she provided comprehensive answers to questions, feedback, tips and resources.”

“While I had taken ASL many years ago, this class has expanded my vocabulary and boosted my confidence in my abilities. I think it helped that this class specifically addressed situations I might encounter here at work.”

“This has been a great introduction to both the language and the culture!”

“This class was interesting, informative, and entertaining. It opened my eyes to a variety of ideas and concepts that can only make me a better librarian as well as a better person. I thought things were well organized and presented in an ordered and logical fashion, each lesson building on the one before.”

“Ms. MacMillan provided timely feedback to all responses, questions, and comments during the entire course. Her answers show the mastery of content knowledge and her response time shows how much she cares about her students and the topic she is teaching. This was one of the best online courses I have taken, and I will highly recommend this course to others.”

Register now for Basic ASL for Library Staff

Register now for American Sign Language for Librarians eCourse bundle


 

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, March 2, 2020 and continuing for 6 weeks (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials.)

$250.00 (discounts available for ALA members and bulk registrations)

Click here to register.

Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)

American Sign Language is most commonly used in storytimes for babies, but the applications can go much further. In this new 6-week eCourse, Sign Language expert Kathy MacMillan explores the benefits of signing with all children. In addition to learning basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary appropriate for use with children in library and classroom settings, you will also learn to teach stories, songs, and other activities that incorporate ASL. MacMillan provides you with a linguistic and cultural context to help make your programming more accessible.

After participating in this eCourse, you will:

  • Have a working knowledge of approximately 180 signs (introduced through video)
  • Create two storytime/classroom activities using the featured vocabulary that you can implement in your storytimes
  • Understand relevant aspects of child development and early literacy
  • Understand signing in a linguistic and cultural context

Feedback from past participants:

“One of the most well-organized and rewarding professional development courses I’ve taken.”

“Kathy is an amazing instructor. She made learning online very easy and comfortable. She replied quickly when students had questions and she responded with feedback with videos to help sign better.”

“I am amazed. It couldn’t have gone better. I came away learning many signs I can use and gained some helpful information for my storytimes.”

“The instructor was phenomenal, and I am already incorporating course work into everyday interactions in the library. Everything in the course is relevant and beneficial.”

Register now for Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Register now for American Sign Language for Librarians eCourse bundle

Take the Read Local Challenge!

Check out the 2019/2020 Read Local Challenge, sponsored by the MD/DE/WV Region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators!

Discover books by people who live in your own state – maybe even your own neighborhood! The Read Local Challenge features traditionally-published authors and illustrators from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.

How to Join the Read Local Challenge:

Choose a challenge level, and start reading!

Read one book or two … or five … or every book in your selected challenge level (picture book, middle grade, or young adult). You can even take the ultimate challenge and read all 38 books!

Join in the state-by-state Reading Race!

Tell us which books you have read, individually or with a team. Our interactive map will update within 5-10 minutes to tell us which state has the most frequent readers. (If your whole team / family / class reads a book together, you get to count it once for each member of your team!) Then nominate a school or library near you to win a selection of signed books from us. One school / library in the winning state will win the grand prize!

Fill your Read Local Challenge Passport and redeem it for an amazing reward!

Pick up a Read Local Challenge Passport bookmark from your participating school, library, or bookstore. Fill the required number of passport spaces by reading books from our Read Local Challenge list, attending events to meet local authors and illustrators, visiting your library, and more.

Meet a local author or illustrator at one of our events!

Check out the Read Local Challenge events calendar to find us at our already-scheduled events. Or host one of our Read Local Parties and invite one of our authors or illustrators for a FREE, informal Q&A event either in-person or via Skype call.

Make it a competition!

Gather a group of friends together, or challenge your class (or even your whole school)! Teachers, Librarians, & Group Leaders: Request your FREE Read Local Challenge Starter Kit. You will receive Read Local Challenge posters, passport bookmarks, stickers, and small prizes such as postcards, buttons, etc. While supplies last, you will receive a FREE signed copy of a Read Local Challenge book. Who will win the grand prize in your challenge? It’s your challenge! You get to decide the rules!

 

 

 

 

 

Save the dates! New sessions of popular eCourses coming in 2020!

Be on the lookout for these popular eCourses from ALA Editions, taught by Kathy MacMillan! For more details about eCourse content, click here.

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff

Asynchronous eCourse featuring 6 weeks of lessons (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials)

Winter 2020 Session Begins January 13, 2020 – registration coming soon

American Sign Language is most commonly used in storytimes for babies, but the applications can go much further. In this 6-week eCourse, expert Kathy MacMillan explores the benefits of signing with all children. In addition to learning basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary appropriate for use with children in library and classroom settings, you will also learn to teach stories, songs, and other activities that incorporate ASL. MacMillan provides you with a linguistic and cultural context to help make your programming more accessible.

After participating in this eCourse, you will:

  • Have a working knowledge of approximately 180 signs (introduced through video)
  • Create two storytime/classroom activities using the featured vocabulary that you can implement in your storytimes
  • Understand relevant aspects of child development and early literacy
  • Understand signing in a linguistic and cultural context

 

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Asynchronous eCourse featuring 6 weeks of lessons (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials)

Spring 2020 Session Begins March 2, 2020 – registration coming soon

American Sign Language (ASL) is an invaluable skill for library professionals. A basic grasp of ASL enhances your ability to serve deaf library users and opens up a new world of possibilities for storytime programs. It’s also a marketable professional skill that can translate to public service jobs beyond the library world.

Ideal for those without previous experience, this eCourse taught by librarian and ASL interpreter Kathy MacMillan will use readings, multimedia resources, and online discussion boards to introduce basic ASL vocabulary and grammar appropriate for use in a library setting. MacMillan will place ASL within a linguistic and cultural context, aiding participants in improving library services.

 

25 Projects for Global Explorers

Now available from ALA Editions:

25 Projects for Global Explorers

by Christine M. Kirker  ~  $24.99  ~  Order now!

With the increased emphasis on incorporating STEM activities in children’s curriculum at ever earlier ages, often neglected are opportunities to explore subjects outside the sciences, or simply to give children the time and space to use their imagination. 25 Projects for Global Explorers will spark their interest in history, geography, events, and landmarks around the world, and nourish their creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. Designed for kids aged 5-10, and flexible enough to use in either storytimes or classroom settings, the projects here

  • use representative picture books as tools for learning about different places and people;
  • take kids’ imaginations on journeys to a variety of U.S. landmarks, such as Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and Lei Day Festival in Hawaii;
  • introduce more than a dozen fascinating places, traditions, and cultures from across the world, including the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, the Day of the Dead in Mexico, the Ziggurat of Ancient Mesopotamia in Iraq, and the San People, formerly known as the Bushmen of South Africa; and
  • include hands-on activities for teaching children what makes each topic special, materials lists, programming tips, and additional resources.

The projects inside this book will reinforce learning, encourage experimentation, and bolster children’s appreciation for the world.

Christine Kirker

Christine M. Kirker is a library associate with the Carroll County (Maryland) Public Library. Since joining the library staff in 2005, Christine has developed and presented many programs for children of all ages, including monthly preschool science programs. She is the author of 25 Projects for Art Explorers and the coauthor of the Storytime Magic series from ALA Editions. Previously, Christine spent ten years at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) as a research analyst for the Office of Institutional Research. She graduated from UMBC in 1992. Christine presents trainings and programs introducing ways to enhance storytimes through Storytime Stuff.

Meet the Authors This Sunday at the ALA Annual Conference!

Sunday, June 23 at 11:30 AM: Signing at the American Library Association Annual Conference (Washington, D.C.)

Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker will be appearing at the ALA Bookstore, signing More Storytime Magic. Christine will also be signing her newest solo ALA Editions title, 25 Projects for Global Explorers. Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

Starting soon: Basic ASL for Library Staff eCourse

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, May 20, 2019 (6 weeks of lessons; Participants will have a total of 12 weeks to complete course materials)
Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.
Cost: $195.00 (discounts available for American Library Association members and bulk registrations)
Register here.

Estimated Hours of Learning: 30 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)

American Sign Language (ASL) is an invaluable skill for library professionals. A basic grasp of ASL enhances your ability to serve deaf library users and opens up a new world of possibilities for storytime programs. It’s also a marketable professional skill that can translate to public service jobs beyond the library world. Ideal for those without previous experience, this eCourse taught by librarian and ASL interpreter Kathy MacMillan will use readings, multimedia resources, and online discussion boards to introduce basic ASL vocabulary and grammar appropriate for use in a library setting. MacMillan will place ASL within a linguistic and cultural context, aiding participants in improving library services.

Past attendees say:

“This course has been invaluable to me. I have spent countless hours reviewing all of the video, re-reading the lessons, and just generally trying to absorb as much knowledge as I could. The instructor was a gem in the way that she provided comprehensive answers to questions, feedback, tips and resources.”

“While I had taken ASL many years ago, this class has expanded my vocabulary and boosted my confidence in my abilities. I think it helped that this class specifically addressed situations I might encounter here at work.”

“This has been a great introduction to both the language and the culture!”

“This class was interesting, informative, and entertaining. It opened my eyes to a variety of ideas and concepts that can only make me a better librarian as well as a better person. I thought things were well organized and presented in an ordered and logical fashion, each lesson building on the one before.”

“Ms. MacMillan provided timely feedback to all responses, questions, and comments during the entire course.  Her answers show the mastery of content knowledge and her response time shows how much she cares about her students and the topic she is teaching. This was one of the best online courses I have taken, and I will highly recommend this course to others.”

Register now!