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Love Storytime

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L is for Love!

We read:

I Love My Mommy Because… by Laurel Porter-Gaylord

Baby animals list reasons they love their mommies. We tried to name all the animals.

Concept: Vocabulary.
I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy

The barnyard is excited about the arrival of a baby duck and gossip about feeding it, tickling it, and kissing it. I dressed up the monkey doll I use for lapsit as a bird, and we used her as a stand-in for the baby.

Concept: Print = action.

Hugless Douglas by David Melling

Douglas the bear wakes up from hibernation and needs a hug, so he starts on a boulder and a tree and eventually moves on to harassing the other forest animals until a helpful rabbit redirects him to another bear–his mommy.

Concept: Sizes. Vocabulary.

Action Rhymes:

I Can Hug
I can hug, hug, hug
I can hop, hop, hop
I can kiss, kiss, kiss
I can stop, stop, stop
I can nod my head for yes,
And I can shake my head no,
And I can sit down very slow.

Source: Storytime Katie

Give Mom a Hug
Roar like a lion, growl like a bear
Give Mom a hug, show her you care
Hop like a bunny, flap like a bird
Quiet as a mouse now, don’t say a word.

Source: Storytime Katie


Five Little Hearts

Five little hearts at the corner store,
Five little hearts and not one more.
Along came (name) with a coin to pay,
(S)he grabbed the (color) heart and took it away!


Love Bugs

We made Love Bugs based on the one I saw on Sunflower Storytime.

How It Went

This storytime had a bumpy start, because when I announced the theme as Love, two small boys had emotional meltdowns. I am talking wailing, big fat tears running down the face and mingling with snot, lashing out at Mom kind of meltdowns that went on halfway through I Love My Mommy Because… They would not look at me, and when their mom tried to turn them to face me, they would have none of that nonsense, Mom. Finally they stopped crying and started looking at the book. Then I told them the black heart on my flannelboard belonged to Batman, and everything was better, and they had the most fun of anyone in the room. Of course.

Princess Storytime

I knew when I asked the storytimers for theme suggestions at the end of winter session that I might get some suggestions I couldn’t accommodate, but also that I might get some I did not want to accommodate. Princesses combined a bit of both. First, finding princess books that are both preschool appropriate and equally interesting to the “pink and frills are for losers” set can be a challenge. Second, I don’t identify with the princess camp. Too often, it celebrates things that keep women down, and I’m not even talking about waiting around for Prince Charming to save you. Before you even get to the relationship distortion aspect, you’ve got the impractical clothing and appearance obsession aspects. Still, I took it as a challenge: Design a princess storytime that all of the storytimers would find palatable and that would not make me feel like I was pushing an anti-feminist agenda to 3-year-olds.

We read:

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen

Emphasizes the wide variety of activities princesses (read: girls) can do, including sports, gardening, and more, all while wearing a sparkly crown.

Concept: Rhyme.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

A dragon burns up everything a princess owns and kidnaps the prince she’s supposed to marry, so she puts on a paper bag (all she can find) and goes to rescue him, which she does by using her wits. The prince then tells her to get lost and come back when she’s properly attired, and she tells him off. The end.

Concept: Knowledge and wisdom is the true power! Also, don’t waste time with people who only care about your looks, an important message for both genders.

Lovabye Dragon by Barbara Joose

A little princess wants a dragon for a friend, and vice versa, and finally they meet. Super sweet, and the inclusion of the dragon made it more palatable for those who aren’t nuts about princesses.

Concept: Rhyme.

Action Rhymes:

There Was a Princess Long Ago

I got the idea for this one from Storytime Katie, but you should check out this video clip from Fun Song Factory if you’d like to learn the tune.

Curtsy Like a Princess (Tune: Skip to My Lou)
Curtsy like a princess just like so

Curtsy like a princess just like so
Curtsy like a princess just like so
Curtsy like a princess!
Bow like a prince just like so…
Juggle like a jester just like so…
Fly like a fairy just like so…
Roar like a dragon, just like so…
Source: Story Time Secrets

Flannel Board:

The Princess Wore Her Red Crown

Sing it to the tune of Mary Wore Her Red Dress. To make the set, I used our crown die and ran five different colors of felt crowns.

Source: Story Time Secrets


Princess Castles

We made toilet paper castles similar to these from Crafty Morning. Over the holidays, we had a teen volunteer looking for projects, so I had her cut the battlement notches from a ton of cardboard tubes, then the storytimes and grownups taped the tubes together and decorated them with crayons and sparkly stickers.

How It Went:

I felt a little tense going into this one because of the book Paper Bag Princess, in which the princess calls the prince a bum. I wasn’t sure how the grownups would react. We all know Munsch is controversial in general. However, my audience tends to run to the more liberal end of the parenting spectrum, so I took the leap. Most of the grownups clapped at the ending! Overall, I think I pulled this off. We did have one boy come in midway through and start furtively whispering to his mother when he realized we were talking about princesses, but when no one attempted to force a tutu on him, he settled down. I am in no great rush to take on this theme again, but I’m glad I rose to the challenge.

Boxes Storytime

I had a nice time at YALSA Symposium but was glad to be back for storytime. This week, B was for Boxes! Is anything more fun for open-ended play than a box?

We read:

Happy Little Yellow Box by David A. Carter

This pop-up opposite book made us all giggle.

Concept: Opposites.


Thank You, Bear by Greg E. Foley

Bear finds the “greatest thing ever,” a tiny box that he wants to give to his friend Mouse. However, none of their other friends think it’s great at all. Bear gets discouraged, but Mouse turns out to think that the box–just the right size for nesting–is the greatest thing ever, indeed.

Concept: Size. Perception.

The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli

A diapered toddler gets a birthday present, and when he unwraps it, he decides the box and not the stuffed dog inside is his gift. Similar to Not a Box by Portis.

Concept: Imagination. Play.


Sitting in My Box by Dee Lillegard

Similar to The Mitten, this story shows a little boy getting shoved farther and farther over in his cardboard box as wild animals show up and crowd in with him. Finally a flea hops in and bites every animal, and he gets his box all to himself again. However, he was reading about wild animals the entire time. Were the animals real or imaginary? Who knows?

Concept: Imagination.


Action Rhymes:

I Like to Be a Jumping Jack

I like to be a jumping jack
And jump out from a box
I like to be a rocking horse
And rock and rock and rock.
I like to be a spinning top
And spring around and round
I like to be a rubber ball
And bounce right to the ground.
Credit: Perry Public Library

I Had a Little Turtle

I had a little turtle (hands on top of each other, move thumbs)
Who lived in a box (make box)
He swam in the puddles and climbed on the rocks (with hands swim, climb)
He snapped at a mosquito (clap), he snapped at a flea (clap)
He snapped at a minnow (clap), and he snapped at me (clap)
He caught the mosquito (cup hands), he caught the flea (cup hands),
He caught the minnow (cup hands), but he didn’t catch me! (wag finger)
Credit: Storytime Katie/past knowledge


We didn’t do an actual flannelboard this week. Instead I filled a cardboard box with puppets and plushies and gave the kids hints to see if they could guess the animal or object before I pulled it out. After storytime, we all played with the puppets.


We have a die that cuts out little gift boxes you fold up and glue together. The kids decorated their boxes (one of them made her a ship!) and folded/glued them with a little adult help in some cases.

How It Went:

I had a very small, mostly very young crowd, so the guessing game was a little hard for them. They liked the rhymes but mainly wanted to jump up and down a lot in the first one and clap a lot in the second one. All the books went well, but I wound up having Sitting in My Box and Thank You Bear back-to-back, so we did animal noises two books in a row. We have read so many books involving animal noises this season, I think we’re all getting worn out on the mooing and the roaring.

Next week is my zero-program Thanksgiving week, but the week after that I’ll be back with Before and After!

Favorite Songs Storytime

F is for Favorite! If singing is one of the crucial five early literacy practices, then how better to implement it than with a sing-along storytime? For this plan, I chose picture books based on songs that the storytimers would find familiar. I did not intentionally set out to choose only the works of Jane Cabrera, but despite pulling in many materials to evaluate, hers stood out above the others time and again because of the quality of the illustrations and because her versions of the song lyrics encourage movement.

We read (sang!):

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Anthropomorphized puppies go through their day from getting ready to going to school to coming home and playing before bed.

Concepts: Singing. Sequence.



Row, Row, Row, Your Boat

A puppy and a kitten row through a rainforest, with noises and actions fitted to the many animals they encounter on their journey.

Concept: Singing. Animal sounds.



Over in the Meadow

In this traditional counting song, meadow dwelling species teach their babies species-appropriate behavior.

Concept: Singing. Animal sounds. Counting.

We sang (book free):

If You’re Happy and You Know It

We sang the traditional “clap your hands, stomp your feet, shout Hooray!”, and then I asked the storytimers what else we could do to show we are happy and added three of their suggestions into the song: jump up and down, shake your head, and hop like a frog.

Finger Puppets: Little Bunny Foo Foo

I will not reproduce the words as surely we all know some version of them, whether you sing “Rabbit” or “Bunny”, or “bashing” or “bopping.” However, here’s my first shot at making my own finger puppets. The bunny and goon are two sides of the same puppet, so when the Good Fairy does her magic, you can just rotate the puppet and POOF! insta-goon.

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Craft: Good Fairy Wands

These were just paper stars taped to straws and decorated with sequins. I told the kids that with their own magic wands, they could turn any bad bunnies they saw into goons!

How It Went

We enjoyed this plan because of all the movement. The kids giggled through the whole program. My voice started to go on the third book, though. Singing for an entire storytime may sound like a great idea, but be sure to take into account whether you physically can sing that long without getting scratchy.

My favorite part of this plan was getting to introduce Little Bunny Foo Foo to a new audience, since only two of the storytimers already knew it. They seemed to enjoy it; they all talked about turning mean bunnies into goons with their wands all through craft time. I helped one little girl put an extra star on her wand, and she told her mom, “I have a double one! I gonna find TWO bad bunnies an’ turn ’em into goons!”

This week: N is for Not Doing Storytime. I’ll be in Austin attending YALSA conference, and our storytimers will get the special treat of a storytime from our outreach coordinator. I’ll be back the following week.

Fall Storytime 2014

It’s fall, that’s all, y’all. This week, A stood for Autumn. Our weather stayed warm late this year, but we’re finally seeing an abundance of fall colors–time to break out the Fall Storytime Kit.

We read:

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber

I do not love the text of this book, but I love the idea of pointing out the different shapes and colors of leaves on different species of tree. It’s like My First Field Guide. The illustrations are beautiful, so usually we talk about those and I don’t read most of the text. The kids love to point out what the Australian Shepherd in the book is doing.

Concepts: Colors. Leaf shapes.

Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley

The best and funniest fall read-aloud! If you don’t have it, get it immediately.

Concepts: Patterns/colors. Humor. Imagination.

Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington

So-cute apple farmer Annie picks her harvest, makes apple products, packs up her truck, and sets up at the farmer’s market in the city. A simplified look at how food shows up in stores and markets.

Concepts: Where food comes from.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

A leaf man’s got to go where the wind blows in this simple tale of fall migration, illustrated with collaged leaves.

Concept: Art.



We used our fall tree for two flannel activities. First we started with 5 leaves…

Five Leaves

1 leaf, 2 leaves, 3 leaves today.
4 leaves, 5 leaves…
WHOOSH! Blow them away! (Everyone blows and the leader plucks the leaves from the tree.)

Then I said, “Oops, now our tree is bare, like a winter tree. We need a fall tree!” and handed out a few felt leaves to each child. In groups of 2-3, I called them up to dress our beautiful tree!


This tree was cut freehand. The leaves were made on our Accucut machine.

Action Rhymes:

The Leaves on the Tree (Tune: Wheels on the Bus)

The leaves on the trees turn orange and red,
Orange and red, orange and red.
The leaves on the trees turn orange and red,
All around the town.

The leaves of the trees come tumbling down,
Tumbling down, tumbling down.
The leaves of the trees come tumbling down,
All around the town.

The leaves of the trees go swish, swish, swish,
Swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish.
The leaves of the trees go swish, swish, swish,
All around the town.

We’ll rake them in a pile and jump right in,
Jump right in, jump right in.
We’ll rake them in a pile and jump right in,
All around the town.

Source: Charles County Public Library

Way Up High

Way up high in the apple tree (stretch arms up high)
Two red apples smiled at me (hold up two fingers)
I shook that tree as hard as I could (make a shaking motion)
Down came the apples… (make a downward motion)
And mmm, they were good! (smile and rub stomach)

Source: Storytime Katie

Craft: Leaf Men/Chickens/Dogs/Etc.

We used paper leaves (cleaner/sturdier than the real thing) to make collage creatures like Ehlert’s. Mine is a man and a chicken, or, as the kids informed me, a man and a dog. I did my best, guys!


How It Went: I always enjoy this kit as the books are a nice mixture of fact and fantasy, the flannel set is interactive, and it’s always well-received. This year was no exception!

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed I skipped a week. Last week O stood for Owl, and I re-used a previous Owl Storytime. Next week, N is for Noise with an animal sounds theme. We’re coming for you, phonemic awareness.

Jobs Storytime

J is for Jobs!

We read:

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

These peas do it all, from acrobatics to volunteering, and they do it alphabetically in rhyme. Peas are talented, even if they taste disgusting.

Concepts: Rhyme. Alphabet. Vocabulary.


Shhhhh! Everybody’s Sleeping by Julie Markes

Despite the nondescript and somewhat creepy–check out that bunny!–cover art, this bedtime story actually focuses on occupations, showing different professionals all over town bedding down for the night in themed bedrooms. For example, the grocer sleeps in his produce department with a giant cabbage as his headboard, and the doctor snoozes in a hospital bed.

Concepts: Rhyme.

I Can Be Anything by Jerry Spinelli

There are occupations, and there are occupations. The hero of this story imagines everything he could be, from dandelion-blower to puppy snuggler, and decides on all of them. I liked including this reminder that growing up isn’t all about finding a job some day. It’s also about discovering everything you love! We had fun acting out all the suggested “jobs.”

Concepts: Rhyme. Imagination.

My Bus by Byron Barton

This little bus driver goes all over town to pick up dogs and cats and take them to the next leg of their commute home, be it boat, train, or plane, and then drives home with the final dog…his own!

Concepts: Counting. Addition and subtraction.



Guess the Job


I traced a foam gingerbread man from our holiday decorations and then made him/her little outfits. As I changed the outfits, I gave the storytimers clues on what job the gingerbread person would do in the outfit and let them guess. The white coat doubles as chef and doctor, and the blue doubles as police officer and postal carrier. All outfits were cut freehand.

Action Songs

Some people work as firefighters or librarians or teachers. Some people have less easily defined jobs. Then there’s Joe, who works in the button factory! We did Button Factory from last year’s Buttons Storytime.

Job Song (Tune: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush):
This is the way the bus driver drives
The bus driver drives
The bus driver drives
This is the way the bus driver drives
When she does her work.
(Continue with other jobs… This is the way the chef cooks, teacher reads, barber cuts, musician plays, etc.)

Source: I Like Big Books


When I Grow Up

We borrowed the craft idea from Storytime Katie’s Jobs Storytime.

How It Went: Well, that depends on who you ask! My organization was in the midst of hiring a new director the week of this storytime, so our outreach coordinator very nicely offered to take my first session so I could talk to the third candidate. She had a very young group and felt the topic went over their heads. I took the second session and also had a very young group, but they seemed to understand. Her group had trouble with the flannel set, and mine only had trouble getting “chef” or “cook.” Best moment: I asked if anyone could explain the word “job,” and the only 5-year-old said, “It’s where you have to do something that you don’t like doing.” Ha ha! Oh, honey, I have certainly had those jobs. My group seemed to have fun, though, and one of them learned the word “chef” and decided it’s what he wants to be when he grows up. Pretty cool.

This week, O was for Owls, and I will try to get that post up before the coming week, in which A will be for Autumn.


Bugs Storytime 2014

Initially, I wanted to use a Bugs theme for a storytime during summer reading, but I had trouble coming up with a science experiment or demo that was simple, bug-intensive, and easy for a large group to see. I had some thoughts about exoskeleton demos, but all of them seemed a little violent for storytime. In the end, I put the theme off until fall, but I wanted to do it early while temperatures were warm enough for bugs. This week turned out to be a good choice; we’re having a resurgence of summer heat and the creepy-crawlies are everywhere.

For this storytime, I used our Bugs Kit, the only non-holiday kit I had not finished revamping. I used one book (Some Bugs) that did not come from the kit.

This kit has so many puppets that I was able to have a whole host of them ready to introduce each story!

We read:

Some Bugs by Angela Diterlizzi

Rhyming text tells you what some bugs do: sting, stink, bite, fight, hide… One great spread shows several hiding or camouflaged bugs you can find. Big, attractive illustrations.

Concepts: Rhyme, background knowledge



The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

A grouchy ladybug picks a fight with another ladybug, but when the other ladybug scares it, it claims it needs a bigger opponent as an escape strategy. It picks progressively bigger fights, weaseling out of all of them, until it meets a whale and gets slapped by its tail so hard that it’s knocked all the way back where it started and into a much more humble mood.

Concepts: Size. Time (not something I emphasized with this age group). Manners.


Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond

One by one, a bug meets several new friends including a pig and a crocodile, and together they all sneak into a house, steal food, look for bears, and take over a kid’s bed. He’s inexplicably happy to see them when he gets home, and they all make friends. This would be a great lead-in to Ten in the Bed.

Concepts: Counting. Sequence. Breaking and entering (just kidding).


Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas

A loud mouthed bug leads readers in a rousing session of make believe, but when he imagines a big green frog, he finds out reality and fantasy sometimes intersect.

Concept: Matching text with movement.



Flannelboard: Five Hungry Ants


Five hungry ants, marching in a line,
Came upon a picnic where they could dine.
They marched into the salad, they marched into the cake,
They marched into the pepper….uh oh, that was a mistake!
(count down)

Source: Miss Mary Liberry

Action Rhymes:

The Bugs in the Garden (Tune: The Wheels on the Bus)

The Bees in the garden go buzz, buzz, buzz…

Source: Our storytime kit

I also had Itsy Bitsy Spider ready to go, but between the welcome song, the sneezing for the flannelboard, and Can You Make a Scary Face?, we had plenty of wiggle time.

Craft: Fingerprint Ladybugs


Our ladybug die has holes pre-punched, but that didn’t give anyone pause as we pressed our fingers onto stamp pads and then used our prints to make ladybug spots! This one is mine. The kids had much more creative color schemes for their bugs.

How It Went:

I had to skip several pages in Grouchy Ladybug because it’s intended for an older audience, but that seemed enough of a change to make it suit this age group. Tumble Bumble usually gets a laugh, but I think these two groups were weirded out by the thought of coming home to a bed full of strange, toothy animals. The other two titles were well-received, and everyone loved sneezing with the flannel board. The craft was a great hit because we all love getting ink all over our hands and making fingerprints! I had plenty of wet wipes on hand to clean little hands afterward. A nice plan overall, and I’m happy to finally have a better flannelboard set in our Bugs Kit!