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Houses and Homes Storytime

I found a set of laminated cardboard alphabet letters in my desk, so we are now doing a Letter of the Week opening activity. I show the kids the letter and ask what it is and what sound it makes, and then after we name some words that start with the letter, I introduce the day’s theme. This week’s letter was H for Houses and Homes.

We read:

Too Tall Houses by Gianna Morino

Owl and Rabbit are great friends and neighbors until Rabbit’s garden blocks Owl’s view of the forest. Owl builds his house higher, but then Rabbit’s vegetables can’t get sunlight, so Rabbit builds his house higher, and so on and so on in this tall tale of one-up-manship. In the end, both houses come crashing out of the stratosphere and the two friends wind up reconciling and pooling their resources to build a house together.

Concepts: Size. Sharing.

A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman

This storytime classic has sweet pastel illustrations and a perky rhyme scheme. However, it’s also eternal! I timed myself reading it in my office and it took me almost four minutes. Oy! But since it has no plot, I just got out the paperclips and abridged the crud out of it. I let the kids fill in the last word of each line, and they got a kick out of yelling out rhyming words.

Concepts: Rhyming. Pairing related objects. Vocabulary.

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

Gorgeous black and white illustrations with subtle pops of cheery yellow illustrate a bedtime ritual that stretches to the moon and back in a sort of “Green Grass Grew All Around” structure. All the moms wanted to take this Caldecott winner home, and I hope it becomes a bedtime favorite in many households.

Concepts: Sequencing.

Homes Around the World series by Debbie Gallagher

This series of six volumes explores different human habitats. I brought all six books, but of course we didn’t actually read them. I had paper clipped a couple of pictures in each one to show the kids, so we looked at igloos, grass huts, boats, stilt houses, cave homes, castles, RVs, tents, and so on.

Concepts: Just horizon broadening.

Action Rhyme:

In and Out the Doors

Step in and out the front door.
        (take a step forward, then back)
    Step in and out the front door.
    Step in and out the front door.
    Then make a doorbell sound.
        (say “ding dong”)

    Jump in and out the back door.
        (jump forward, then back)
    Jump in and out the back door.
    Jump in and out the back door.
    Bend down and touch the ground.
        (touch ground with hand)

    Slide in and out the side door.
        (slide to one side, then other)
    Slide in and out the side door.
    Slide in and out the side door.
    And then turn all around.
        (turn around)

    Step in and out the front door.
    Jump in and out the back door.
    Slide in and out the side door.
    Then sit yourself right down.
        (sit down)   
Source: Susan M. Dailey


I used the shape house flannel set from my Shape storytime last year. It’s similar in look to the one on Library on Wheels. When I used it last year, I also used the rhyme, but this time I just told the kids we were making a house, had them name the shapes, and let them decide what should go where. I put the pieces painted side down at first so the doorknob and window panes wouldn’t bias the kids. If they wanted to use the door as a roof, I didn’t want to stand in their way. They had me put everything in the expected location, though, so I turned the windows over but asked, “What shape are we missing? We can’t get into the house!” instead of just turning the door over. They all shouted, “Circle!” and I asked, “Why do we need the circle? What would we call the circle that lets us in?” They all kept saying “circle” instead of doorknob but made knob-turning motions with their hands.


We have a gingerbread house die and a gingerbread man die for the Accucut, so the kids glued those to construction paper and then used white yarn and sequins to decorate their houses.


How It Went:

I’m trying to focus more heavily on school readiness and what concepts I’m imparting to the kids, even though it is cutting down on the action rhymes somewhat. I wish I’d used a second rhyme as some of the younger kids in my first session got a little restless when we were looking at the nonfiction books. Overall, though, the kids stayed very engaged with this storytime. The nonfiction books were a big hit at the second session and were well received by the older storytimers at the first session. The pictures of the igloos, cave dwellings, and Asian house boats made the biggest splash. I think the books in general for this session were all excellent choices. Neither A House is a House for Me nor The House in the Night are actually in this kit, but I’ve ordered copies to add.

Next up: debuting the new Marsupial storytime kit!


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