Science and Stories: Fingerprints

By Awnali Mills

This week was another Science & Stories adventure!  Our theme was Hide and Seek to go with our science stations on fingerprints.  The books I chose were Daisy Plays Hide-and-Seek by Ellie Sandall and Hide & Seek by Il Sung Na.

I started off with my hedgehog stuffed animal who curls into a little ball and looks just like a big puffball until you uncurl him, and talked about how some animals like to hide.  Then, he brought us the letter H.  We talked about the sound it makes and words that start with H.  Then I did the fingerplay Open Shut Them.

I read Daisy Plays Hide-and-Seek, and some of the kids assured me that they saw Daisy every time.  That’s pretty good.  She can be hard to see, but I pointed her out several times during the book.

Then we did Where is Thumbkin a few times (he was good at hiding behind our backs), and rolled my song cube to sing Hickory Dickory Dock and This Is the Way We Take a Bath.  Then, I flipped my flannel board around to display my already prepped flannel Little Mouse, Little Mouse.  That little dickens was hiding in a red house, but it took the kids a while to find him.

I read Hide & Seek next, and at the end, pointed out that the chameleon was hiding on almost every page (although we didn’t go back and look for him, because that’s hard with a big group, and I had a BIG group.)

Finally, we did Here Is the Beehive, and after the bees flew all around, I asked the kids to look closely at their fingers and see if they could find their fingerprints.  We talked about how fingerprints are unique to each person and how scientists use fingerprints to figure out where people have been, and identify who was there.  I explained the stations and set families free to explore.

Station 1: Matching Fingerprints

I had taken a chart of 7 basic fingerprint types and made 10 copies of it.  I cut each fingerprint square and mounted it on a square of black construction paper.  Then I put two copies of each fingerprint into a set for a total of 5 sets.  The station was about examining the fingerprints and finding the pairs.  I provided magnifying glasses (although they weren’t really needed), and for extra credit, the whole chart with the names of the fingerprint types that children could compare their matching pairs to.

Station 2: Dusting for Fingerprints

I set out trays that each had a square of aluminum foil, a small container of cornstarch, a square of black construction paper, a soft small paintbrush, and Scotch tape.  I provided a bottle of lotion for the whole station, and instructions that I simplified from here.

Station 3: Fingerprint Animals

For a little fun, I copied and posted some instructional pages from Ed Emberley’s fingerprint drawing books (because I didn’t want kids handling them with inky fingers, and I wanted everyone to be able to see at the same time) and put the books on display on the table.  I set out trays, scrap paper, washable ink pads in assorted colors, colored pencils, and baby wipes.

Station 4: Fingerprint File

Because authorities recommend that parents keep their child’s fingerprints on file, I downloaded and printed the fingerprint file in both English and Spanish from the child safety kits from the Polly Klaas Foundation.  This one was for parents to keep on file.  I also printed one from Buggy and Buddy for children to keep for themselves.  I set out washable black ink pads, pencils, and baby wipes.

Both kids and parents were very engaged with this program.  It didn’t lead to a whole lot of play, but kids seemed fascinated by what they were doing.  One mom came up afterwards and told me that the whole program was right up her alley because she had a degree in forensic science.  She was delighted, and the kids were all excited to show me what they had done.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Book Review: Apartment 1986 by Lisa Papademetriou

Apartment 1986By Awnali Mills

Callie is leading a double life.  At her Manhattan private school, people think she knows Beyonce and swaps recipes with Taylor Swift.  At home, her father has lost his job, her mother is losing her mind over her soap business, and her brother is being bullied.  And why does her grandmother seem so enamored of the year 1986?  And why does no one talk about her Uncle Larry?  And why are her parents whispering about a lawsuit? Callie is keeping so many secrets that she can’t always keep them straight.  Sometimes, a girl just needs to stand on a roof and breathe.  Unfortunately, she can’t hear the bell from the school roof, which makes her late.  Any more tardies, and they’re going to call her parents.  So when Callie accidentally falls asleep waiting for her grandmother one morning, she decides that she’ll just skip school.

Then Callie meets Cassius, a prickly unschooled kid, at the Metropolitan Museum.  And Callie decides that, like Cassius, she’ll just get her education from museums—at least for now.  But can she keep lying to the school, her parents, her friends, and her grandmother? Or will everything fall apart?

I enjoyed this book.  Callie is a typical sixth grade girl who just wants to blend in and be happy.  She’s in a difficult situation, and instead of coming clean, she just…leaves.  Unfortunately, she can’t seem to get back on track, and escaping is just easier than dealing with her problems.  I know that a lot of kids will sympathize with Callie’s desire to make things easier for herself, and will enjoy her quirky, funny narration.  Be sure not to skip the chapter titles—I particularly enjoyed them.  Recommended for grades 4-5.



Posted in Book Review, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Revenge of the Happy Campers by Jennifer Ziegler

Revenge of the Happy CampersBy Awnali Mills

Triplets Dawn, Darby and Delaney are on spring break, and Aunt Jane has taken them camping.  They’ve never been camping before, and they have definite mixed feelings about the experience.  They want to be happy for Aunt Jane’s sake, but stuff keeps happening that’s not, well, happy.  Then, they meet the three boys at the next campsite and suddenly find themselves in a competition to prove which set of siblings are the better campers.  Will the siblings pull together to win, or will everything fall apart?

I thought this book looked funny, and it does have some funny parts, but it’s mainly about taking care of each other, and compromise.  It also has some important things to say about leadership, and how leading isn’t about power so much as compromise and doing what’s best for the group.  This is the third book in the Brewster Triplets series.  I haven’t read the other two, but would be happy to recommend the series to children who like stories about families and sisters.  For grades 3-5.

Posted in Book Review, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Bug Storytime 5-10-17

By Awnali Mills

Today was all about the bugs for storytime.  The books I chose were Bug Bear by Patricia Hegarty, and Bring Me a Rock! By Daniel Miyares

I started off with my bumblebee puppet, and introduced the letter B.  Then I taught the kids the baby bumblebee song.

Bzzzzz (act like there’s a bee buzzing around and then trap it in hands)
I’m bringing home a baby bumble bee (cup hands together as if holding bug)
Won’t my mommy be so proud of me?
I’m bringing home a baby bumble bee
Ouch!  He stung me!

I’m squishing up a baby bumble bee (squish hands together)
Won’t my mommy be so proud of me?
I’m squishing up a baby bumble bee
Yeck! (show dirty hands)

I’m cleaning up a baby bumble bee (wipe hands on clothes)
Won’t my mommy be so proud of me?
I’m cleaning up a baby bumble bee
See?  All clean! (show hands)

Then I read the book Bug Bear.  This is a delightful book about a bug who will not leave a bear alone until owl solves the problem.  I made a finger puppet to wear while telling the story.  Which is absolutely adorable, if I do say so myself.

Bug fingerpuppet

Next we did the flannel story Bug Hunt, which is a take on We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

Then I used a ladybug finger puppet and taught the kids There’s a Ladybug.

(tune: Oh, My Darling)
There’s a ladybug, there’s a ladybug, there’s a ladybug on me.
On my finger, on my shoulder, now she’s crawling on my knee.

She is tickling, she is tickling.  She is tickling me.
On my finger, on my shoulder, but especially my knee!
by Heather Tekavec

Then I did another flannel, Little Ladybug where we give a ladybug her spots.  Our last book was Bring Me a Rock!  A (locust? Grasshopper?) king demands that his subjects bring him rocks to build him a huge throne.  But when the throne starts to totter, the little bug that brought a rejected pebble saves the day and makes everyone equal again.  I love the art in this book, and the story is very simply told, which makes it great for my group.

Finally, I handed out some bumblebee finger puppets that I made by gluing bee clipart to paper rings.  I wore the big bee again, and we danced to Laurie Berkner’s Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz).

Bee Puppets

Posted in Story Time, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Book Review – Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Army BratsBy Awnali Mills

It’s difficult moving from place to place because your mom’s in the military, but it’s easier when you have your siblings beside you.  The Bailey kids are excited about their mom’s new posting because they get to live on the military base for the first time, and their parents say that they’ll get more freedom because it’s safer.

But it’s never easy to fit into a new school, and Tom quickly runs afoul of the school bully, Charlotte accidentally falls in with the mean girls, and little sister Rosie discovers that dogs have gone missing, making her worried for their family dog.  Will they figure things out together, or will the new school pull them apart?

I grew up next to a huge Marine base, and have lived on an Army base, so I enjoyed this story of Army brats starting over (a term some of my friends despised while others embraced it).  Not everyone has to move to a new place, but there are all kinds of starting over—transitioning between schools, beginning new things, joining new groups, etc.  Starting over is always difficult for kids, but this book might make things easier for them. One of my adult friends was an Army brat, and she told me once that coping skills made all the difference.  Each time they moved, she embraced the opportunity to make new friends while her sister refused.  In the story, each of the Bailey kids uses different coping mechanisms to try and fit in, but it isn’t until they pull together that things begin working out.

Army Brats has a lot of good family interactions and some important lessons on being true to yourself and respecting other people’s feelings and on making friends.  Recommended for grades 3-5.

Posted in Book Review, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review – Brotherhood by A. B. Westrick

BrotherhoodBy Awnali Mills

Do you ever follow a rabbit trail that leads you to unexpected places?  I was researching an author and saw an interview she had with another author, who happens to be local.  I wondered what the second author had written and if we had any in the library.  Further research revealed a book that looked pretty interesting to me, so I checked it out.  It was Brotherhood by A. B. Westrick.

In Reconstruction Richmond, fourteen year old Shad follows his brother Jeremiah out of the window one night, right into a Ku Klux Klan meeting.  When pressed, Shad agrees to join, and finds that he quite likes it.  There’s a lot of brotherhood, singing songs, laughing and joking.  However, there are not-so-nice bits, like terrorizing black citizens.  Shad could do without that.  But once you’re in the Klan, you’re in.  Period.

By accident, Shad meets Rachel, a young, educated black girl who is running a school.  Shad is desperate for schooling.  He longs to be able to read like his father did, and like his brother can, but the letters all flip around on him.  Rachel and her teacher are able to help him make sense of the letters, but Shad is dealing with escalating conflicts in his life.  He loves being at the school, but he cannot betray the Klan.  When the two forces collide, Shad is caught in the middle.  Will he betray the Klan and his brother, or let Rachel and the school children die?

Because I live in Richmond, I really enjoyed all the place names, and being able to visualize what was going on.  Shad is believably conflicted, and an accurate representation of what it was like to be a young man during Reconstruction.  Westrick deals unflinchingly with the racism and hatred that were festering in the South, something that might upset some readers.  Shad knows that “coloreds” are ignorant and worthless—and he knows that they’re educated and kind.  He struggles, bouncing between the two worlds of belief in ways that many teens will sympathize with.  The book was definitely thought provoking, and would be great for classroom discussions—assuming that the thought police would allow it.  Recommended for teens.

Posted in Book Review, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review – Matylda, Bright & Tender by Holly McGhee

Matylda Bright and TenderBy Awnali Mills

Sussy and Guy are, in the immortal words of Forrest Gump, just like peas and carrots. They’ve been best friends forever.  Guy’s mother won’t allow him to have pets, but they’re able to talk Sussy’s father into getting them a leopard gecko—Guy’s favorite animal.  Guy knows all about geckos and takes the lead in the care of their new pet, Matylda, even though she lives with Sussy.

Then, on their way to the pet store to get more supplies for Matylda, there’s a terrible accident.  Sussy has to learn how to love and care for Matylda, and she hopes that she can keep Guy alive if she loves Matylda just right.

Kids love sad stories, and kids who enjoyed Bridge to Terabithia will also enjoy Matylda, Bright & Tender.  I think this would be a fantastic book for kids’ book discussion groups, since there are topics of stealing, pet ownership, friendship, grief and more in the book.  I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it for grades 3-5.

Posted in Book Review, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment