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Category Archives: Storytime

County Fair Storytime 2014

Loud amplifiers blare until 10 pm, dust clouds blow down the street, and I can’t park in front of my own house. Yes, it’s county fair time once again! After three fairground-adjacent years in our house, I must say my honeymoon with the fair is over, but that certainly doesn’t mean I can’t take advantage of the opportunity to use it as a storytime theme. Why, it’s almost like doing a holiday theme, and I don’t have to worry about excluding anyone on basis of religion!

We read:

Night at the Fair by Donald Crews

Basically just a bunch of cool pictures of the fair at night, this book is a nice intro to all things fair and a good way to start conversations and get excited.

Concepts: Background knowledge for little ones who don’t remember last year’s fair, basically.

Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania! by Cynthia Lord

Hot Rod Hamster and his friend Large White Dog Whose Name I Don’t Know go to the fair to see a monster truck show. While they’re killing time, they go on a few rides, and the book asks you to choose your favorite kind of boat, bumper car, and tea cup on each ride. Most of us wanted to ride in the sailboat or submarine and wanted to drive the race car or the rocket ship bumper car. Finally, they go to the monster truck show, and since the driver has broken his glasses and there’s no one to drive, Hot Rod Hamster steps in, saves the show, and lives his dream. Admit it, we’ve all had some variation of that fantasy! As thanks, he gets enough fair tickets to buy everyone treats, and you get to pick out your favorite sweet. Our fair has zero monster trucks, but the boys in the audience did not give a crud about accuracy. I showed them pictures of monster trucks!

Concept: Vocabulary! We talked about which ride car was what and then they had to tell me which one was best.

Cows to the Rescue by Jon Himmelman

This entire series is hilarious, although the recent Duck installment went pretty hard for poor Duck, who, let’s face it, just doesn’t have the same life skills as the rest of the animals on this farm. Anyway, the cows masterfully solve everyone’s problems with many cries of “Cows to the rescue!”

Concept: More background knowledge. Can you believe none of my storytimers knew what a three-legged race was?

I Know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman

Same structure as I Know an Old Lady Who… but with a pig who won’t stop wallowing in different colored messes and rampaging through the county fair. You can sing it! One of our branch managers pointed this one out to me.

Concept: Colors. Narrative sequence. Singing.


Science Demo:

Instead of a flannel board, we re-did last year‘s Cotton Candy soda experiment. This year I used water instead of soda, and it worked great. We still didn’t taste it. So much sugar!

Action Rhymes:

First, we played the Roller Coaster Game… Those dots were me looking quickly for a Youtube video of someone doing the game and not finding one. Okay, it’s like this: You all pretend you’re sitting in roller coaster cars. One person is the leader and faces the rest of the group. Then you all make like you’re holding your safety bars and say, “Click, click, click, click,” and so on like you’re going up the track. Then, when you get to the imaginary top, the leader throws up his or her hands and screams, then lashes side to side, still screaming, just like you would do on a real roller coaster. The people facing the leader have to follow their actions. You’ve probably seen it in a football stadium at some point. It looks much cooler from far away, but it’s fun and easy for preschoolers. All they have to do is copy a goofy adult while yelling. Perfect.

Credit: High school marching band.


Take a ride on the merry-go-round,
Around and around, around and around.
The horses go up!
The horses go down!
And around and around and around and around!

We all walked in a circle, bobbing up and down like carousel horses, while saying this rhyme. We jumped high on “up!” and threw ourselves to the ground on “down.”

Credit: Traditional

Craft: Carousel Horses

carousel craft

Originally, we were going to do a cotton candy craft, destined to be lame. You can do a cool cotton candy craft with shaving foam and paint, but I needed something that wouldn’t take hours to dry, so I was trying to figure out how to make white stuffing out to be acceptable as cotton candy. Our outreach coordinator mentioned that I could do a carousel horse craft instead with a straw. I don’t remember our fair having a carousel, but she and a couple of other coworkers assured me we do. Oh! Okay! Much better! We don’t have a horse die, but we have a unicorn die, and of course unicorns are so much better than real horses. To do this craft, I ran 40 unicorns on the die cut machine and made two slits in all their throats with a boxcutter. (My big joke: I’m a Death Eater now!) Then came the gluing of the sparkles, and then I ran a straw through the slits. I did it this way instead of using tape because the unicorn can slide up and down the straw. Easy, fun!

How It Went:

You guys, this plan went GREAT. I had very low Wednesday attendance again, but a couple of mom/daughter pairs who were new to storytime happened to wander in by accident, and they just raved about how good I am, which we all know means the books and activities I provided were good. Today I had 17 kids for the second session, and they loved everything! After we’d done three books and all the activities, I took a vote on whether to read one more story or go straight to craft time, as we had been at it a while. I explained what we were voting on and said, “Okay, first, raise your hand if you would rather hear another story before we do our craft,” and every hand went up. They loved this topic. They also loved their carousel puppets. One little boy showed me that he’d glued many sequins on the front of his, and one tiny silver sequin on the back. I said, “Wow, you have a secret sparkle on the back!” and he went around telling everyone about his “secret sparkle” over and over for the duration of craft time.

Next week: Bugs, the storytime kit that time forgot.


Library Storytime

For the first week of fall storytime, I decided to go with L is for Library. Why? Not to promote libraries or talk about book care, although we did talk about some of that, too, but primarily to get out the message of how to behave in the library. I’ve seen way too many examples of poor library behavior: whispering, tiptoeing, squelching down the raw excitement of seeing all those books. It was time to gently broadcast to parents that it is indeed 100% okay for kids to act normal in the library. I completely understand where the parents are coming from, because they’re usually the same age I am. Libraries were not as friendly when we were growing up, and if we librarians don’t tell people the rules have relaxed, we cannot expect them to realize it!

We read:

Read It, Don’t Eat It by Ian Schoenherr

Cute animals humorously demonstrate the many, many things we should not do with our books, such as eating them, leaving them out in the weather, and keeping them past their due dates.

Concept: Book care. Rhyme.

Dinosaur Vs the Library by Bob Shea

Dinosaur roars his way to the library for storytime, encountering animal friends along the way who are ripe for conversion to the roaring way of life. Not my favorite in the series, since most of the book actually happens on the way to the library and not at the library, but anything with animals sounds always works.

Concept: Animal sounds.

Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the farm animals are bored now that the kids are back in school, so they go to the public library to find something to do. One by one, they each ask the librarian for something to do, but all she hears are barnyard sounds until the hen tries. What does the hen say? “Book! Book! Book!” Happily, this library is pro-barnyard-lending, and the animals take some books home, where everyone is happy. Except the frog. He already “read it, read it, read it.”

Concept: Animal sounds. Reading for pleasure.

The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara

Ever hear of a library that’s open all night (and isn’t on a major college campus)? Well, somewhere, one little librarian and three assistant owls run a nighttime library for all the animals! They solve problems like getting squirrel rock bands an activity room for their music/noise, helping weeping wolves get past the sad part of their books, and giving turtles library cards so they can take books home. Turns out turtles read just as slowly as they move. I predict classic status for this beautiful, sweet trip to imagination island.

Concept: Librarians help us!


Five Little Books

5 Little Books
Five little books at the library
Five little books as great as can be
Along comes (name) with their library card
To take one home and read
Credit: What Happens In Storytime

Action Rhymes

Library Manners

When I’m in the library, I always walk like this.
I never run like this! I don’t tiptoe like this.
When I’m in the library, I always walk like this.
When I’m in the library, I always talk like this.
I never yell like this! I don’t whisper like this.
When I’m in the library, I hold the books like this.
I don’t throw them like this! I don’t stomp them like this.
When I’m in the library, I hold the books like this.
But when I go to storytime….
Sometimes I yell like this!
Sometimes I run like this!
But I don’t throw books like this.
And when I go to storytime,
Sometimes I sit, like this.

Credit: Me! Yay! I had a little tune that I just made up, too. We did all the motions and, at a couple of points, talked about why we do or don’t do a thing. Like, we don’t yell because other people are here and we could scare or annoy them, but we don’t have to whisper, and the librarians can’t hear what you’re telling them if you do! We also had a talk first about the Number One Library Rule, which is: Listen to your grownups.

Going on a Book Hunt

We’re going on a book hunt
We’re gonna find a big one!
Where can we go?
The library.

Oh look!
A car!
A zoomy, vroomy car!
We can’t go over it,
We can’t go under it,
We can drive it!
Zoom, Vroom, Zoom, Vroom!

Oh look!
The library steps!
We can’t go over them,
We can’t go under them,
We have to go up them!
Pitter patter pitter patter.

Oh look!
A door!
A heavy, closed door!
We can’t go over it,
We can’t go under it,
We’ve gotta go through it!
Push, shove, push, shove.

Oh look!
The checkout desk!
We can’t go over it,
We can’t go under it,
We have to go past it.
Beep beep beep beep.

Oh look!
The library!
We can’t go over it,
We can’t go under it,
We’ve gotta go through it!
Walk walk walk walk.

Oh look!
The books!
We can’t go over them,
We can’t go under them,
We’ve gotta go through them.
Pick, flip, pick, flip.


Now, quick!
Past the checkout desk, beep beep beep,
Through the library, walk walk walk,
Down the steps, patter patter patter,
Into the car, zoom zoom zoom,
Run to the house, run up the stairs,
Oh oh forgot to shut the door!
Run back downstairs, shut the door,
Run back up, to the bedroom,
Jump into bed, pull up the covers,


Credit: Adapted from Goin’ on a Bear Hunt


Since storytime science experiments went so well over the summer, I decided we can sometimes do an activity instead of a craft. Instead of making bookmarks or minibooks, I decided we would take a library tour! We toured the youth area and went downstairs to the staff-only tech services area, where we met the nice people who catalog the books and do ILLs. A lot of people (adults included) don’t even realize we have a lower level, let alone get to see it, so it was a fun treat.

How It Went: The first session, I only had one family with two kids show up. I only did half the storytime with them, because their little one (2 yrs) got bored and their preschooler (3-4ish) decided storytime was scary and velcroed her little self to her mom’s leg the entire time. They liked their tour, though. The second session had a regular sized crowd, and they liked everything. I asked them for feedback about Book Hunt, which I thought was a little lame, and they all said it was really fun! One little boy said, “I looooved it.” But he worships me because I know the names of all the Avengers and all the X-Men, and I like Star Wars, so I can do no wrong in his eyes.

Highlights included The Midnight Library, which enchanted the storytimers. Although it does not include the use of technology, it does promote the thought of having spaces for different uses in the same building: The library is for everyone!


Dragons Storytime

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The final week of our Summer Reading event series, I led Dragon storytime! Rawr! *breathes fire* *sets self on fire* *panics* The topic was so popular, I’m going to say it: dragons are the new dinosaurs. Except for the historical accuracy, of course.

We read:

Oh So Brave Dragon by David Kirk

A baby dragon roars for the first time, but when he hears it, he scares himself into thinking there’s a scary monster in the forest. After all, his roar couldn’t be that scary, could it? He keeps roaring to scare away the monster, but of course the “monster” keeps roaring, too! Finally, he and all his woodland friends roar to scare the monster together. When it comes to big-eyed, twee characters, Kirk is a master, so this book is a nice mix of cutesy and fearsome. We had a nice discussion about what bravery is, too; the dragon was scared, but he also wanted to protect all his little bunny and bird friends from the monster. To be brave, you have to be scared in the first place!

Concept: Emotions.

The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino

This little croc doesn’t like the water. In fact, he can’t swim at all, and he sinks instead of floating. He tries a floaty because he really wants to fit in with his siblings, but he can’t splash and swim the way they do with an inflatable ring around his waist. The whole situation is pretty sad…until he sneezes fire and the pictures finally show that he has itty baby wings! He’s not a crocodile at all, he’s a dragon, and he is meant to fly. The last spread is of the dragon fully grown and in flight…with all of his crocodile brothers and sisters taking a ride! A funny spin on the ugly duckling. I asked the storytimers how he wound up with a family of crocs to begin with, and they all decided that the best explanation is that his egg somehow rolled down a hill into the mother croc’s nest.

Concept: Honestly, I just did this one for the humor value.

What Goes Up by Paula Bowles

A sweet dragon wants to fly, but his wings are too tiny. He tries covering himself in feathers like a bird and sitting in a tree like a falling leaf, but nothing works. A group of children offer to help him learn through hard work, and they practice and practice until the dragon’s wings grow big and strong, and finally what goes up does NOT come down.

Concepts: Friendship. Exercise. Patience. Gravity!



My felt set for this one is just five die-cut dragons. Our die is in the Asian dragon style, which actually gave us a nice chance to talk about different representations of the dragon. I didn’t even have to explain that Asian dragons can fly without wings because the little boy who knows so much about snails, fish, aardvarks, elephants, and all manner of real animals piped up and announced to everyone that Asian dragons fly with magic so they don’t need wings. I feel like I should ask his teachers if he can get out of Wednesday and Thursday morning classes during the school year so he can keep being my unknowing assistant.

(Photo to come)

Five Little Dragons

Five little dragons with great big scales,
One lost his balance and bumped his tail.
He cried “Ouch!” and breathed some fire,
And then he flew away, higher and higher.

Four little dragons…

Source: Falling Flannelboards

Action Rhymes

Swing Your Dragon Tail

Turn around once and swing your dragon tail.
Turn around twice and flap your wings like sails.
Turn around three times, stomp your feet and roar.
Jump up high and then sit down on the floor.
Dragon Pokey
You put your left wing in,
You put your left wing out,
You put your left wing in and you flap it all about!
You do the dragon pokey and you stomp yourself around,
And that’s what it’s all about.
Right wing – flap…Left and right talons (legs) – scratch…Dragon tail – swing…Fire breath (head) – roar/pretend to breathe fire…Dragon self – jump in and out
Dragon, Dragon
Dragon, dragon, fly around,
Dragon, dragon, stomp the ground.
Dragon, dragon, stretch up high,
Dragon, dragon, roar to the sky.
Dragon, dragon, roar to your knees.
Dragon, dragon, sit down, please.
Science Experiment: Magic Fire
The last and most dangerous of the science demos also turned out to be something of a dud. Although we tested the procedure and got a bright green flame, I had trouble getting colors on the big day. We saw a few flashes of green but definitely did not have solid green fire, so it wasn’t as impressive as hoped.
Warning: Not only is this demo potentially dangerous (fire!), you should check your building’s fire codes before you attempt it. Take all the safety precautions in the world, and be sure you are outside with a hose close at hand. Also, it’s very hit and miss. You can find instructions in several places. I originally saw this video on We used rubbing alcohol for our fuel and found that turning the pine cone sideways worked best.
How It Went: When they found out D stood for Dragons this week, I had to take a few seconds to get the group settled back down! Storytime and our Harry Potter party were on the same day,  so I chose dragons because I have had these titles up my sleeve for a few weeks and because it was an easy way to promote the party. The storytimers loved this session, especially all the roaring and flying.
And that’s all, folks! Summer storytimes are officially over, and I am back in planning mode for the coming semester. I have three weeks to choose 15 themes and plan accordingly, and then it’s back to business as usual on September 1!

Elephants Storytime

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Aw, poor little blog. Between the end of summer reading events (giant Harry Potter party) and finally taking a short vacation, it’s neglected.

For our next to last storytime of the summer, I decided to do E is for Elephants. I love elephants! They’re beautiful, majestic, intelligent creatures with a complex society, and I like to share my appreciation of them.

We read:

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

Elephant receives a box of hats that cheer him up on a grumpy day, so he distributes them throughout the jungle to all of his grumpy friends. You get to yell “Hooray for Hat!” on nearly every page. This book would work best in a hat storytime, but I loved it the moment I saw it and wanted to use it ASAP.

Concept: Emotions. Friendship.


Elephant’s Story by Tracy Campbell Pearson

Elephant finds a book and accidentally hoovers its words into his trunk and sneezes them out! He tries to get his animal friends to help him put the words back in order, but they just want to play, making related words out of the loose letters on accident. Finally he finds the book’s owner, a little girl who shows him how to turn letters into real words.

Concept: Print awareness. Friendship.

Tweak Tweak by Eve Bunting

Little Elephant tweaks her mama’s tail to ask questions about the animals they see on their walk and whether she can do what they do. She imagines flying, climbing, and swimming deep underwater! Even the boys “aww”-ed at the baby elephant. A great one for putting motion into a story.

Concept: Action words.




Elephants in the Bathtub

One elephant in the bathtub
Going for a swim.
Knock, Knock, (Clap twice with “Knock, Knock.”)
Splash, Splash, (Slap knees twice with “Splash, Splash.”)
Come on in! (Motion with both hands to come in.)
Two elephants elephants in the bathtub… etc.
Five elephants elephants in the bathtub
Going for a swim.
Knock, Knock,
Splash, Splash,
They all fell in!

Source: Storytime Katie

Action Songs:

I Like Elephants by Eric Herman

This song is a little slow, but the kids really loved yelling, “No, that’s wrong! That’s frogs!” at me.

We also did Dr. Jean’s version of The Banana Dance, which I have mentioned two or three or fifty times in the past. Elephants like bananas, right? Actually, from what I have read about zoos training their elephants, apples are the preferred treat, but they definitely eat bananas, too.

Science Experiment: Elephant’s Toothpaste

So! The entire reason for a summer elephant storytime? Elephant’s toothpaste! This famous science demo is always impressive, even if you are doing the at-home version which uses yeast as a catalyst (directions from Science Bob here). However, it looks so similar to the volcano experiment that I wanted to do the lab version with the scary chemicals (Instructable here). It gave me a good way to talk about safety first, since it definitely requires goggles.

Because of the iodine, if you attempt this experiment, wear old clothes and find a non-staining surface (I used mud and grass so I could just hose everything away). You should NOT do this experiment indoors. Make sure your audience stands back! The foam created is very hot, it shoots out very quickly, and again, the iodine can stain. Also, you don’t want your guests getting into contact with the chemicals if you are doing the lab version, because 35% hydrogen peroxide is not meant to come in contact with skin.

Here’s me performing the demo (if you know what’s going to happen and aren’t testing a hypothesis, it isn’t really an experiment.) Since I asked the person operating the camera to remain at a safe distance, you can hear the storytimers talking in the foreground. My favorite part: “You’re squashing me!”

How It Went:

Because of the demo, I put more prep time into this storytime than any of the others this summer. The actual storytime components were easy to put together otherwise. Everyone loved this session. The only rough patch came when one kid said something about elephants laying eggs, and the boy who knows so much about animals got upset and yelled, “They don’t lay eggs! It’s called having live young! It’s called giving live birth!” At which point I simply said, “You are correct. Elephants definitely don’t come from eggs! What kinds of animals come from eggs?” thereby a) saving myself from a discussion about live birth which not every parent wants their child having at this age and b) giving the little naturalist the chance to list some facts, which comforted him. Other than that, all was smooth sailing. Well, except for that giant stain on the break room wall, but that’s a story for another time.


Rockets and Space Storytime

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Today’s letter: R is for Rockets! We had a general space theme involving rockets, aliens, the moon, and more! The “more” being hedgehogs!

We read:

Hedgie Blasts Off! by Jan Brett

My, Hedgie has certainly come a long way from getting a sock stuck on his head. Now he’s a custodian/emergency astronaut! This book has its detractors (check Goodreads if you want to see what I mean), but I think the space spreads are gorgeous. The exposition, however, does require extra explanation from the adult reader. I paraphrased here, added a countdown there, and it went perfectly. Hedgie wants to be an astronaut more than anything, and in any given group of children, you’ll likely have several who understand the feeling.

Concept: Building pressure to cause a stronger explosion. Really, that’s how I used it.

Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I’m Off to the Moon! by Dan Yaccarino

A simple, brightly-colored rhyme about going to the moon and back. The little boy wears a full-sized spacesuit that makes him as big as an adult, and we see the basics of a moon landing: wearing space gear, dropping the booster rockets, riding in a lunar rover.

Concept: Rhyme. Space exploration.
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle

Monica asks her father for the moon. Spoiled much? The moon is too big for her father at first, but it shrinks until he can take it down and bring it home. As Monica plays with it, it continues to shrink and disappear, until one night it’s gone. However, it reappears as a growing sliver in the sky the next night. With foldout “very long ladder” pages and a popout moon, this baby’s a stunner.

Concept: Phases of the moon.

Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer

Five little men in a flying saucer
Flew down to look at the Earth one day.
They looked to the left of us, they looked to the right of us,
They looked and they looked but they didn’t like the sight of us,
So one man flew away.

We are your potential overlords. Take us to your reader.

We are your potential overlords. Take us to your reader.

As each man flew away, I moved him to an outer corner of the flannelboard. Finally, I had the last man fly out in the ship and pick up the other so they could all go home together. “Hey guys, need a ride?”

Flannel source: Loons and Quines

Lyric source: Adapted from various

Action Rhymes:

If You’re Going to the Moon

If you’re going to the moon, wear your boots
If you’re going to the moon, wear your boots
If you’re going to the moon, this is what you have to do
If you’re going to the moon, wear your boots
(gloves, helmet, suit, etc.)

Source: Storytime Katie

After we sang this, we pretended to blast off, then practiced our moon bouncing!

Spaceman, Spaceman

Spaceman, spaceman, turn around.
Spaceman, spaceman, touch the ground.
Spaceman, spaceman, reach up high,
Spaceman, spaceman, touch the sky.
Spaceman, spaceman, bend your knees,
Spaceman, spaceman, touch down, please.

We also sang Baby Shark again this week.

Experiment: Mentos Geyser

For everything you need to know about this experiment, check out Steve Spangler’s guide. I did purchase the Geyser Tube for a smoother experience, and it worked well.

How It Went:

I scrapped a few ideas and books from my original plan because we have had a day care class in attendance the last few weeks, and they’ve brought K and 1st graders. I added Hedgie Blasts Off and planned on Max and the Tag-Along Moon rather than Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I’m Off to the Moon! I pulled a rhyme that seemed too little-kiddish and replaced it with Baby Shark because they loved it so, so much. Well, guess what? I bet you guessed! They did not show up this week. Instead, I had about 13 toddlers, two preschoolers, and a school ager. Ummmmm…hi, guys! All of the rhymes still worked very well, though, and I just added a ton of counting down and cheering Hedgie on to keep their interest in that slightly longer story, and I dropped Max for Zoom. I know many librarians just bring an assortment of books for different ages and pick based on what ages of child show up, but in my library, we do not have a large collection of storytime materials for staff use only. We do not have the space, unfortunately. Instead, I have to check out picture books from our shelves or from other libraries in our consortium, so I try to only take 3 or 4 so that I’m removing as few from patron reach as possible. I am very glad I kept Zoom, though! In the end, it went very well and the Mentos geyser impressed everyone.

Next week: E is for Elephants!

Slime or Goo Storytime

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This storytime was a mess, mostly in the literal sense, but also a little messy figuratively speaking. Ever have a storytime where things just spontaneously do not go to plan? This was mine.

Our letter was G for Goo! So many things start with S that I did not want to use it.

We read:

Snippet the Early Riser by Bethanie Deeny Murguia

Snippet is a cute little patchwork snail whose Circadian rhythms are way off from those of his family. With a little creative thinking, though, maybe he can get them up early to play!

Concepts: Creative thinking. We also talked about why some animals make slime.


Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss

Yes, I did use this obscenely long book in storytime! As you probably know, it tells the story of a king who messes with the natural order out of his own selfishness and puts his entire kingdom in danger.

Concepts: Contentment in life. The power of “I’m sorry.” Liquids that act solid!


Flannel Board:

Five Snails

Once upon a time there were five little snails
Gliding along on their slimy trails.
One snail got sleepy and he said, “Oh welllllll…. (yawn it)
I guess I’ll pop back in my shell!”

And so on until no little snails remain, and then:

Once upon a time there were no little snails
Gliding along on their slimy trails.
They’re all sleep so, oh well,
It must be time for us to (do a song and dance/read a book/whatever is next.)


The heads and tails aren’t attached to the shells. They do fit all the way under the shells (like the blue snail) but I left bits peeking out for this photo.


Full snails.

Action Songs:

 (because glue is slimy, and we used it to make slime)

(because sharks are fish, and fish make a slime coating!)


Slime and Non-Newtonian Fluid (Oobleck)

I used Steve Spangler’s slime recipe.

I already knew how to make the oobleck, and I have known for so long that I’m not sure where I learned. You can find out how to make it from this Instructable.

How It Went:

Oh my gravy. Just slap me if I ever start talking about making slime again.

Okay, so here’s what happened.

I tested the slime a few days before storytime in a small batch. The recipe worked well. However, when I tried to make a bigger batch the morning of storytime, the slime didn’t come together. Instead, stiff clumps formed in the container. I pulled them out, rinsed them, and set them aside in case two clumps of rubbery stuff were all I wound up with. Then I tried a third time, and the mixture turned into slime. Yay! Then I opened the container at the end of storytime, and it was all flubber. I’m still not completely sure what happened. I think part of the problem was the cheap, watery glue I used for the larger batch, and maybe another part of the problem was the difference in humidity and temperature between test day and storytime day. Luckily, it went back to being a little slimier once we took it outside in the heat.

I also had trouble with the oobleck–too wet! However, if you have this problem, do not panic. Just let the oobleck sit for a little while. The cornstarch will sink, and then you can pour the excess water off the top. After I did so, the oobleck was textbook-perfect: dry to the touch, liquid if allowed to relax.

Although the slime made a pain of itself in the making process, it performed beautifully for the kids. I also made 9 oz cup size batches of both our “slimes” so the storytimers could see how it is made. We talked about polymers and how liquids usually work, then we experimented with our slime. Too, too fun! The “flubber” even bounces! In the photos, the white streak in the slime blob is the small batch I made in front of the storytimers. I didn’t add food coloring.

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We had wet wipes for everyone, but hands still wound up very sticky. No worries! All of it comes off with a good soap and water scrub.

Even after abridging Dr. Seuss, I still only got two stories into this session. However, since I have all those 5 and 6 year olds, the longer story went over really well. Everyone agreed that Baby Shark is the most fun song we’ve ever done (in the last four weeks)!

Verdict: A giant pain in the you-know, but totally worth it after seeing the kids have so much fun testing out the slime.

This week, we will talk about Rockets and Space!

Colors Storytime Summer 2014

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How soon is too soon to reuse a theme? Some people would say that using a single story repeatedly works wonderfully. Others might say that returning to a pre-used theme too soon is monotonous. I fall somewhere in the middle. Babies and toddlers at my programs do seem to relish repetition, but if I repeat something too quickly (story, song, etc) with the preschool crowd, they get all suspicious on me, even if it’s something they loved the first time. On the other hand, storytime is about constant repetition: counting objects in illustrations, talking about colors, or discussing the morals of stories, which are often variations on the themes of friendship, sharing, family, and so on. All this nattering is by way of confessing that I used a theme today that I just used a few months ago in my spring series, and I’m not sorry.

Today’s letter was C for Colors!

We read:

It’s an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall

I love Michael Hall’s shape books, but this color-themed story really stole my heart. A handful of carpenter ants (they wear hard hats!) live in a tree stump. When one of them drills a peephole that lets in a glimpse of the color orange, a naysayer claims it’s an orange aardvark coming to eat them! Determined to prove him wrong, the driller adds more holes, letting in every color of the rainbow. The naysayer has a horrifying additional explanation for each color (the red is ketchup), but finally the rest of the group realizes they’re seeing a rainbow. Unfortunately, after they fly away to explore, the orange aardvark does show up! Or maybe he’s just still a figment of the last ant’s imagination…or he’s real and the others didn’t fly away, they got eaten…or…

Concept: Colors

Caterina and the Lemonade Stand by Erin Eitter Kono

Caterina the creative little brown bird is back, and this time she’s opening a summer lemonade stand to earn enough money for a new red scooter to, we assume, replace her old blue one. However, when all her friends open lemonade stands, her business plan looks shaky, until little brother Leo comes up with the idea for rainbow lemonade. They freeze fruit in every color of the rainbow to make rainbow ice cubes that also flavor the lemonade, and Caterina’s Color Your Own Lemonade stand is a hit. She makes enough money to buy that new red scooter…for Leo, so they can go riding together.

Concept: Creativity. Generosity.

Magic Colors by PatrickGeorge

If you haven’t gotten your hands on one of the Magic series books yet, I recommend them. Each book has a transparent overlay that changes the picture on the next page. I don’t think I can adequately explain, but if you check out PatrickGeorge’s website, you can see the magic happen!

Concept: Colors.


Flannelboard: White Rabbit’s Color Book

I found the plans for this flannel, based on White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker, at Sunflower Storytime. I have wanted to make a video of it for some time so that any of our branch people who check out the kit can see the order instead of having to read the instructions. Enjoy my messy office, weird lighting, and rainy day hair.

Action Songs:

If You’re Wearing Any Red

If you are wearing red, shake your head
If you are wearing red, shake your head
If you are wearing red
Then please shake your head
If you are wearing red, shake your head

If you are wearing blue, touch your shoe
If you are wearing blue, touch your shoe
If you are wearing blue,
Then please touch your shoe
If you are wearing blue, touch your shoe

If you are wearing green, bow to the queen
If you are wearing green, bow to the queen
If you are wearing green,
Then please bow to the queen
If you are wearing green, bow to the queen

If you are wearing yellow, shake like Jell-O
If you are wearing yellow, shake like Jell-O
If you are wearing yellow,
Then please shake like Jell-O
If you are wearing yellow, shake like Jell-O

If you are wearing black, pat your back
If you are wearing black, pat your back
If you are wearing black,
Then please pat your back
If you are wearing black, pat your back

If you are wearing brown, turn around
If you are wearing brown, turn around
If you are wearing brown,
Then please turn around
If you are wearing brown, turn around

Source: NIH

When the song was over, I added this verse to transition us to the next story:

If you’re wearing any brown, please sit down.
If you’re NOT wearing brown, please sit down!
If you’re wearing any brown, or if you’re NOT wearing brown,
Everybody in the room, please sit down.

A Tooty Ta Ta

I’m going to let this video by Dr. Jean explain this one for me.

Experiment: Color Mixing Lemonade

I used this theme for two reasons. First, I was dying to use Magic Colors and It’s an Orange Aardvark. DYING TO. Also, I fell in love with the idea of rainbow lemonade in Caterina and the Lemonade Stand. Since frozen fruit wouldn’t have shown the kids much about the properties of color, though, I set up a food coloring experiment.

To replicate it, you’ll need:

  • Cups
  • Lemonade
  • Food coloring (the standard blue/red/yellow/green pack)
  • Napkins
  • Stirrer sticks or spoons
  • A spill-proof area

A volunteer set up the cups and filled them about halfway with lemonade while I was leading storytime. After we read our last story, we had the kids line up at the table and choose which colors to put in their lemonade. The volunteer and I added the food coloring. I would have preferred to let the kids do it, but then I thought that we would have hand sanitation issues, plus the bottles are tiny and one enthusiastic squirt would have wiped out an entire color, plus the potential for clothing/carpet/younger sibling damage. The kids were allowed to choose one color or choose multiple colors to see what new color they could create. Then, we drank lemonade!

How It Went: Awesome! Even though we just did this theme not long ago, the books, songs, and experiment were new. Some of the storytimers had seen the flannel before, but they love it, so they were happy to see it again. Some surprises: When I asked if aardvarks are really orange, one boy said, “Can I tell you something about aardvarks?” I said yes, and he told us that they are known as earth pigs, are grey/brownish, live in the African savannah, and eat ants or termites, usually termites because termite mounds are prolific in the area. Naturally, we were all impressed that he knew so much about aardvarks! About half the audience knew A Tooty Ta Ta already, and they all got so into the song that I didn’t have to use my sit down transition rhyme afterwards. They just collapsed! The older boys loved the aardvark book because they thought the aardvark had probably eaten the flying ants, and everyone wanted me to turn the Magic Colors pages over and over and over and over and over and… If I hadn’t mentioned lemonade, I would still be turning those pages. I worried that Caterina would be too quiet for them, but the girls all liked the craftiness of the story, and the boys liked that Caterina was so good to her little brother.

The lemonade experiment went over really well, because even though we had talked about color combinations during storytime, seeing color mixing is the best way to get the concept across. Most of the kids wanted purple lemonade and couldn’t remember which colors would make purple, so I would help them reason it out by choosing which colors looked most like purple. Yellow and green don’t look like purple, and blue does, so by process of elimination, they’d know red had to be the color to mix with blue. Some boys wanted green and blue together, which makes forest green. I called it Swamp Juice, which they loved. And one 3/4-ish year old wanted brown to match his shirt! Later I asked if it tasted different from regular lemonade, and he insisted it really did. I asked him, “Did it taste browner?” and he said, “YES!” Despite being indoors due to rain, we did not ruin the carpet with our colorful sippers. Also, our teen volunteer and I learned that if you lightly put the coloring in and give the cup a little shake, it looks like one of those color-layered cocktails you see all over Pinterest. Hooray for mocktails at the library? Oh, summer reading.

Next week: Dead time! We take the week of the 4th off from programming because most of the town goes on vacation. I’ll be back in two weeks to talk about slime, oobleck, and such.