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Pizza Storytime

I decided to allow the Pizza and Pasta storytime kit to live. I’m not over the moon about the pizza books for preschoolers, but the kit does contain some good elementary age read-alouds, so it may come in handy during some SRP storytime when a bunch of grade schoolers show up because Mom needed somewhere to take them now that school is out.

We read:

Pizza at Sally’s by Monica Wellington

Sally runs a pizzeria, and the story follows her as she collects her ingredients and goes about her day. She grows her tomatoes in the community garden and makes her sauce from scratch, so she seems to be pretty organic, which I like. On the other hand, her cat helps her make pizza, and I think the health department might get mad if they found out. The art is cute. It’s a great book, it’s just…well…it feels like all the younger pizza books are about making pizza.

Interactivity factor: Low

Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig

Remember how I said it’s hard to find butterfly books that are NOT about the life cycle of a butterfly? Well, for preschoolers, it’s hard to find books about pizza that are NOT about how to make pizza. This sweet and quirky story describes a game a father plays with Pete, his son, when Pete is in a bad mood. He pretends Pete is pizza dough and goes through the motions of making him into a pizza, including putting “tomato” checkers and “flour” talcum powder on him. It’s a sweet, funny change of pace and the kids liked that the parents in the story acted so silly.

Interactivity factor: Low

The Pizza That We Made by Jean Holub

As you can see, this one is actually a beginner reader, not a straight-up picture book. The story, told in rhyme, follows three kids as they make pizza, clean up, and eat the pizza. It’s not earth-shattering, but the illustrations are appealing to kids and it’s a great starting point for talking about how pizza is made.

Interactivity factor: Low




Action Song

If You Want A Slice of Pizza (Tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It)

If you want a slice of pizza, clap your hands!
If you want a slice of pizza, clap your hands!
If you like extra cheese, just say, “Pizza please!”
If you want a slice of pizza, clap your hands!

Ask kids what they like on their pizza: mushrooms? pepperoni? pineapple? etc. Then rephrase with a different action, like, “If you want mushroom pizza, stomp your feet.”

Adapted from: Awesome Storytime


The Pizza That Sally Made

This flannel story uses the traditional “House that Jack Built” format. I love it because if you share out the toppings, there are enough pieces that everyone can participate. You can have four or five people hold some of the cheese and so forth, and then they come up when you call their ingredient in the story.



This is the crust that Sally made.
This is the sauce, so red and so sweet,
These are the olives, so black and salty,
These are the peppers, so green and crunchy,
This is the pineapple, fresh from Hawaii,
This is the salami, that makes it Italian,
This is the cheese, so gooey and chewy,

This is the tummy, so hungry and lively,
That devoured the pizza made with the cheese, so gooey and chewy,
That went on top of the salami, that makes it Italian,
That went with the pineapple, fresh from Hawaii,
That went with the peppers, so green and crunchy,
That went with the olives, so black and salty,
That went on the sauce, so spicy and sweet,
That went on the crust that Sally made.
And that was the pizza that Sally made!
Source: Sur la Lune via Storytime Katie


Parachute Pizza

I’ve been having some stomach trouble and didn’t get the flannelboard made in time for the first session, so I substituted with Parachute Pizza. We have a play parachute like those favored in gym classes the country over, and since it’s made of colored triangles, I decided it would make a great pizza! Here’s the how to:

Start with the kids in a circle. Bunch the parachute in the middle.

Have everybody knead the “dough ball,” the compacted chute.

Slowly spread back and open the chute.

Tell them the dough needs to rise. Have everyone hang on and raise their arms on the count of 3 so the parachute makes a big dome.

Spread the dough: Spread it out flat on the ground.

Toss the dough: Spin the parachute. You can do this by having everyone walk in a circle while holding it, or by having them pass it hand over hand to make it spin.

Add the “toppings”: I used shredded tissue for cheese and soft balls from lapsit for meatballs.

Distribute toppings: The fun part! Everyone hold on and gently shake the parachute.

All done: Lay the chute and toppings on the floor, and you have your pizza.


Die cut pizza slices and toppings plus glue. It wasn’t anything huge, but they needed something calming after the parachute!

How It Went

Everyone seemed to like the books, and we all certainly enjoyed talking about pizza: who likes pepperoni, who had pizza for dinner two days ago, whose daddy has to have a special crust because he’s gluten-intolerant, etc. Of course the parachute was the far-and-away success both sessions. I’m not sure they actually remembered anything but the parachute later. My storytimers are all little bitty, so they haven’t gotten to go to school and play with a parachute yet! When I asked who’d played with one, none of them raised their hands. It’s awesome to introduce kids to such a fun activity. Also, I was worried about making them crave unhealthy foods because we talked about pizza so much, but it seemed like the moms and dads were the ones saying, “I want pizza SO BADLY now!” Good times.

Next up: Monsters! The 2013 edition!

Hats Storytime

I only wear hats if it’s cold out or if I’m in costume, and since it’s getting to be the season for both of those things, breaking out the hat storytime kit seemed appropriate.

We read:

The Hat by Jan Brett

A hedgehog gets a sock stuck on his head with hilarious consequences as shown in Brett’s typically wonderful illustrations.

Interactivity factor: Who cares? Everyone loves The Hat.



Jennie’s Hat by Ezra Jack Keats

Jennie wants a beautiful, flowery, fancy hat, but her aunt sends her a very plain hat for her birthday. However, her wish comes true when the birds she feeds in the park every Saturday thank her by decorating her hat.

Interactivity factor: Low. Also, it’s a little long for preschoolers, but I just cut a few sentences, and they loved the pictures.


A Hat for Minerva Louise

Yes, I Minerva Louise-d twice in two weeks. And I’m not sorry.





This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

A little fish steals a big fish’s hat, but he’ll probably get away with it…probably. Or he’ll be eaten alive.

Interactivity factor: Low



Action Rhyme

Silly Hat Dance

On my head, I have a hat. It is such a silly hat
That my head will wobble to and fro.
Where else can my silly hat go?

(Elbow, knee, hands, feet, etc)

Source: Sur la Lune


Little Cat

Little cat, little cat,
Are you behind the (color name) hat?

little cat


Die cut hats (like in the flannel set but paper). Sequins. Feathers. Glue. Yes, I’m on a lazy craft streak. I realize this.

How It Went

Fun times! The books made everyone laugh, grownups included. I was a little nervous about doing This is Not My Hat, but the moms liked it and the kids seemed to accept my “crime doesn’t pay” explanation for the hero of the story getting eaten. Of course the kids LOVED the flannelboard since it was a guessing game. The Silly Hat song was about half meh, half “no more books play game forever” for my Wednesday session, and was a solid hit for the Thursday session. I’d already asked myself, “If some kid suggests butt as a hat location, should I do it?” and decided, “What the heck, sure.” And so, when an eager little guy yelled “Bottom!” when I asked where the hat could go, I put a hat on my butt and we all shook our booties.

Next week, Pizza! Maybe! Depending! Because I really hate the Pizza kit and am thinking about just giving it the shoe which is shaped like Italy!

Chickens Storytime

Chickens don’t hold the same mystique as owls, at least not in my opinion. They’re also not plastered all over this season’s fashions. However, they do make great subjects for picture books, and we do have a chicken kit, so Chickens got to star in last week’s storytime.

We read:

Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke

I abjectly adore Minerva Louise. She’s happy, doofy, and hilarious. In her original outing, she makes herself at home in the farmhouse, where she mistakes the cat for a cow and a pie for a warm nest.

Interactivity factor: High. Everytime Minerva Louise makes a mistake, ask the kids what she’s really seeing or interacting with, then all say together, “Silly chicken!”



Across the Stream by Mirra Ginsburg

In this short rhyming story, a hen and her three chicks escape from a fox by riding a duck and her three ducklings across a stream too deep and wide for the fox to ford. The fox is described as a “bad dream,” so it’s sort of unclear whether the entire story is the chickens’ dream or is really happening but is framed as a bad dream to make the story gentler. Either way, it’s a cute book.

Interactivity factor: Low, but it’s a short book with catchy rhyming text and funny pictures of chickens riding ducks.



Cock-a-Doodle-Moo by Bernard Most

When the rooster loses his voice, a friendly cow tries to learn to crow so she can wake the farmer and the other animals. The best she manages is Cock-a-doodle-moo, but it turns out to be a hit with the humor-loving farm.

Interactivity factor: High if you get the kids to make the animal noises with you, low if you do your own sound effects, but hilarious either way.


Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker

A big fat hen and her adorable chicks act out the classic “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” rhyme.

Interactivity factor: Medium. Ask the kids to fill in the next part of the rhyme and to help with counting.




Action Rhyme:

You can find quite a few fingerplays involving chickens, but my group is a little young for complicated fingerplays, so I try to stick with action rhymes. With chickens, you don’t get as many of those, so the two we wound up doing were very similar.

The Chickens in the Coop (“Wheels on the Bus”)

The chickens in the coop go bock bock bock,
Bock bock bock, bock bock bock
The chickens in the coop go bock bock bock,
All day long.

The roosters in the coop go Cock-a-doodle-doo….The chicks in the coop go peep peep peep…

The other one wasn’t really a rhyme. We just practiced being chickens, roosters, chicks, and finally eggs. I thought about teaching everyone the Chicken Dance, but I was afraid the moms would have me drawn and quartered for getting the song stuck in their heads.

Flannel Board

Five Eggs 1 FiveEggs2

Five Eggs

Five eggs and five eggs, that makes ten.Sitting on top is the mother hen.
Cackle, cackle, cackle, what do we see?
Ten fluffy chicks, yellow as can be!

The nest is from an Accucut die, but I free-handed the chicken, eggs, and chicks.

Craft: Simple Shape Chicks

Yellow construction paper oval. Wiggle eyes. Orange paper beaks. Feathers. Glue. BAM, instant chick.

How It Went:

They may not have the enigmatic grace or the whirly-around head of the owl, and they may not get the excited initial response of themes like dinosaurs or trucks, but chickens are stars in the book arena. Everyone loved the books for this storytime and laughed at all of them, especially Cock-a-Doodle-Moo. I did have some confusion from the littlest ones at the end of Other Side of the Stream, though, because they didn’t quite grasp that the chickens were trying to escape the fox. On the last page, which shows the fox looking wistfully after the chickens, they wanted to know how the “doggie” was going to get across now that the ducks were gone. Oh, and I had one little girl who seemed to be stuck in the past, specifically last week’s Owl theme, because she kept insisting on hooting instead of making chicken sounds and calling all of the chickens owls. Hey, kid, I prefer the owls, too, but we have to learn to let go.

Next up: Hats, including more Minerva Louise!


Owls Storytime

I love owls! They only come out at night, they can turn their heads way around, they make cool noises, they have enormous eyes, and they’re quite fashionable at the mo. Not only did I have owl shirts to wear for this storytime, two storytimers showed up wearing owls and THEY DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT WAS THE THEME. We’re so hip!

We read:

Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood

Owl is curious and takes a nap in order to wake up in time to watch the day. Every time Owl sees a new, beautiful daytime color, she says, “Wow!” This is a great book to use for a color storytime, as well.

Interactivity factor: High. Hello, color recognition! Plus the kids will probably start saying “Wow!” when it’s time even without encouragement to do so.

Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Little Hoot is a very happy young owl on the whole, but he sure doesn’t like staying up late. He wants to go to bed early like everyone else, but his mom keeps insisting he stay up and play like a good owl! This story works best with older preschoolers and early elementary, although parents are likely to giggle at the role reversal of the little one begging to go to sleep and the parents saying, “Go play!”

Interactivity factor: Low. If your group skews to the younger end of the scale, they will not get the joke and will get bored.


Good-night, Owl! by Pat Hutchins

Oh, Pat Hutchins, you so retro! Okay, not really. The book came out in 1972, so the illustrations were very now at the time. Now, though, they look delightfully retro. In this classic, owl is trying to sleep but all of the other birds and critters are making too much noise. Finally night comes and everyone goes to sleep…except Owl, who takes revenge by shrieking and waking them all up. Ha!

Interactivity factor: High. Ask the kids to help make the animal sounds.




Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan

Um, how cute is this little owl? SUPER cute. I had first grade boys in my second session go, “Awww!” when I pulled this one out. Little Owl does what many owls in picture books do, which is fly around at night and see the sights. In this case, the sights are primarily other nocturnal animals plus one sleepy bear. While the story’s not exactly stunningly original, no other owl does it quite so squee-inducingly.

Interactivity factor: High if you ask the kids to name the animals Little Owl encounters.




I’m lazy. I didn’t take a picture of this one. It’s just five die cut owls with mondo-sized wiggle eyes glued on.

Five Little Hoot Owls

Five little hoot owls sitting in a tree.
One flew away. How many do you see?

And etc.

Source: Storytime Katie

Action Rhymes

We only did one action rhyme this week due to a little bit of weirdness with the age groups. We did the Owl Hokey Pokey! It’s the regular one but with wings for arms, talons for feet, and owl self for whole self.


Cardboard tube owls! Take a cardboard tube and squish one end down at opposite points using both thumbs to make your owl’s “ears.” Add wiggle eyes, a paper beak, and feathers or pre-cut wings, breast, and tail, and presto! Super cute owl. You can find a lot of ideas for these on the Internet, too, like doing them in pretty colors. We used plain, natural brown.

How It Went:

Hoo, boy. Well, at my first session, I walked in and seriously thought I had gotten my days confused and was supposed to be doing lapsit. I had about 10 storytimers and only two of them were above the age of 2. Nobody understood Little Hoot, nobody was really able to focus because they weren’t ready for preschool storytime yet, and everybody wanted to wander around. I wound up cutting most of the program and saying, “Okay, it’s craft time! Let’s go play with glue!” The next day, I got everything ready for my usual small crowd, since my numbers have been down this year. Unbeknownst to me, school was out that day! I only had the next day marked on my calendar. Suddenly I had a room full of kindergarteners and first graders. Oy. I had cut Little Hoot and not added a different book because it took so long to talk about the other books with the little ones. Well, since these kids were older and knew all their colors and animals, we breezed through pretty quickly. However, it went much better than the previous day. I’m always nervous when a bunch of elementary schoolers show up to preschool storytime because I’m afraid they will be bored. These kids all stayed invested in it and even thanked me afterward with no parental prompting. Phew!

Next up: Chicken Storytime!

Fall Storytime

This week, I gave our revamped Fall storytime kit a whirl.

We read:

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Another great Lois Ehlert book that every child should own, this little beauty features illustrations made entirely of fall leaves and fun-to-turn pages with die-cut edges. It’s honestly better for sharing one-on-one than for storytime, but the page with the leaf cows always gets giggles.

Interactivity level: Low


Fall Is Not Easy by Marty Kelley

This silly little story is popular with the flannel board makers in library land, and I may just follow suit some day. For now, I just shared the book. The tree in the story has an easy time with three of the four seasons, but it has problems with fall because it can’t get its leaves to turn the right colors. It winds up with all sorts of crazy alternatives like a rainbow, polka dots, a hamburger, a soccer ball, and even an Eat at Joe’s sign in its leaves.

Interactivity factor: Low, but the illustrations are giggle-getters and will keep kids’ attention.


How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? by Wendell Minor

This new pumpkin pondering from the author of Pumpkin Heads isn’t actually in the storytime kit, but I thought I would do better to test it than tried-and-true offerings like Leaf Jumpers or Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf. The verdict? Everyone loved the sillier illustrations, like the pumpkin on the freeway blocking traffic or the pumpkin on Mount Rushmore, but I’d advise skipping some pages as it really does go on a bit too long.

Interactivity factor: Low

Barn Dance! by Bill Martin, Jr.

This rhyming, countrified story about the farm animals and scarecrow having a midnight barn dance requires a little practice before reading in front of an audience.

Interactivity factor: Low


Action Rhymes

The Leaves on the Trees (tune: Leaves on the Bus)

The leaves on the trees turn yellow and brown,
Yellow and brown, yellow and brown,
The leaves on the trees turn yellow and brown,
All through the town.

The leaves on the trees come tumbling down,
Tumbling down, tumbling down,
The leaves on the trees come tumbling down,
All through the town.

The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish,
swish, swish, swish,
The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish,
All through 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 through the town.

Source: There are many near versions of this on the Internet, but I cannot find the source for this exact version. If you know where I got it, please tell me in the comments.

Scarecrow, Scarecrow

Scarecrow, Scarecrow
Turn around.
Scarecrow, Scarecrow
Touch the ground.
Scarecrow, Scarecrow
Reach up high.
Scarecrow, Scarecrow
Touch the sky.
Scarecrow, Scarecrow
Bend your knees.
Scarecrow, Scarecrow
Sit down, please.


Five Little Leaves

Five little leaves on the tree next door
One fell off and then there were four
Four little leaves all over the tree
One fell off and then there were three
Three little leaves where the wind blew
One fell off and then there were two
Two little leaves sitting in the sun
One fell off and then there was one
One little leaf in the tree all alone
The wind blew and blew now there are none!

Source: Storytime Katie


I printed out coloring sheets of bare trees and let the kids glue shredded tissue paper in fall leaf colors to their trees and color the background.

How It Went

Although the books in this kit are not the most interactive, both sessions went well. Fall is a fun, classic theme and I’m sure this kit will get plenty of use.

Butterfly Storytime

Well, it’s back to testing our updated storytime kits! This week I used Butterflies. You’d think there would be a plethora of wonderful picture books about beautiful butterflies. You’d be totally wrong. Most butterfly books aren’t great for storytime, either because they’re too long or they’re just boring, and almost every single one focuses on the butterfly life cycle. Okay, we get it: egg, caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly. It’s awesome! However, explaining it six times to a group of fidgety preschoolers is less awesome. I worked hard to get some variety into this storytime and I’m not completely sure I succeeded.

We read:

Butterfly, Butterfly by Petr Horacek

We storytime presenter folks can’t get enough of this book. You can use it with a Colors theme (although some of the colors are in shades or combos that may confuse your kids), a Garden theme, or a Butterfly theme. Dye-cut holes give hints about the colors you’ll see on the next page, and there’s a gorgeous pop-up butterfly at the end that looks just like the one on the cover.

Interactivity factor: Medium


Don’t Worry, Bear by Greg E. Foley

Bear’s worried about his friend Caterpillar, whose cocoon is out in the wind and weather. Eventually Caterpillar becomes Silk Moth.

Interactivity factor: Low



Where’s My Mom? by Julia Donaldson

Butterfly tries to help Little Monkey find his mom, but takes him to an elephant, a snake, and many other animals instead. Finally it comes out that Butterfly’s babies don’t look like Butterfly, so Butterfly just didn’t realize Monkey’s mom would look like Monkey.

Interactivity factor: Medium. You can ask the children, “Is that Monkey’s mom? No? What is that?” for each animal.



Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert

A beautifully illustrated discussion of the butterfly life cycle. Every child should have this book. However, it’s pretty lengthy and the kids were not into it at all because it isn’t naturally interactive and we’d discussed the life cycle so much already. For my second session, I skipped this and used…




The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain

This book also depicts the butterfly life cycle, but while Ehlert’s book (which, once again, every child should have) takes a fairly strict nonfiction approach, this book has a cute main character who dreams of flying and funny illustrations. It’s not necessarily more interactive, but the kids were more interested. Honestly, I think I would skip a picture book and use a nonfiction book with photos if I did this storytime again.


Action Songs

There’s a Tiny Caterpillar on a Leaf (tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It)

There’s a tiny caterpillar on a leaf, wiggle, wiggle,
There’s a tiny caterpillar on a leaf, wiggle, wiggle,
There’s a tiny caterpillar, a tiny caterpillar, a tiny caterpillar on a leaf, wiggle, wiggle. (children do wiggling action for this verse)

There’s a big fat caterpillar on a leaf, munch, munch, etc (munching action)
There’s a pretty butterfly on a leaf, flutter, flutter, etc (fluttering action)

Source: Perpetual Preschool

Flutter, Flutter Butterfly (tune: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)

Flutter flutter butterfly
Floating in the springtime sky
Floating by for all to see
Floating by so merrily
Flutter flutter butterfly
Floating in the springtime sky

Source: Spring Mixer Family Storytime


The Butterfly Song (to the tune of “Up on the Housetop”)

First comes a butterfly and lays an egg,
Out comes a caterpillar with many legs,
Oh see the caterpillar spin and spin,
A little chrysalis to sleep in.

Oh, oh, oh, wait and see
Oh, oh, oh, wait and see
Out of the chrysalis, my oh my
out comes a pretty butterfly.

Source: CanTeach

Butterfly1 Butterfly2

As you can see, the chrysalis has a pocket. The butterfly folds up and fits inside, and with the correct choreography, you can make this flannelboard seem like a magic trick.

Craft: Cardboard Tube Butterflies

You need a coffee filter, a t.p. tube, glue, crayons, and a piece of pipe cleaner about an inch or two long. Oh, and probably Scotch tape. Fold the coffee filter in half and cut into butterfly wing shape. The kids color the wings, then glue the coffee filter (sorry, wings) to the cardboard tube. Then bend the pipe cleaner bit into a V-shape and glue or tape it to the inside of the head end so that the ends of it stick out like antennae. The kids had a GREAT time designing their own butterflies.

How It Went:

I think this kit is MUCH stronger than it was, but I might want to find a nonfiction paperback with some pretty butterfly photos to add in as well. The kit also includes The Very Hungry Caterpillar in board book format, and we also have it in big book format now, but it’s so time-honored that I didn’t feel like it really needed testing. Anyway, the kids really seemed to like the book with the monkey and anything that involved fluttering, and they worked happily on their butterfly crafts at great length because they wanted to get them just right. I’d call the week a success if not the high point of all storytimes ever. Next week, Fall!

County Fair Storytime

Another year, another storytime series, another chance to try to keep up with my storytime blog. We’ll see how it goes!

This year, the opening week of storytime happened to coincide with our local county fair, so I took a one-week break from testing storytime kits (only 11 to go, y’all!) and put together a fair-themed storytime.

We read:

Night at the Fair by Donald Crews

A basic intro to all things fair, minus the stock buildings. Beautiful illustrations of lighted rides! I felt a little bad because the fair in the book is on a much larger scale than ours, but I don’t think the kids will realize that.

Interactivity factor: low



Night Sky Wheel Ride by Sheree Fitch

Brother and sister ride a Ferris Wheel for the first time. The text is verse. Not straight-up preschool-style rhyme, mind you, but verse. I skipped over a couple of parts in my second session, which was up against short attention spans. The illustrations are gorgeous but extremely trippy. The wheel is a wheel…then it’s a washing machine…an apple tree…a bunch of bathtub cars with mermaids in them… You don’t have much interactive potential from the text, but you can talk with the kids about the illustrations FOREVER. Also, you get to tell everyone what “phosphorescent” means!

Interactivity factor: Low



Cows to the Rescue by John Himmelman

This farm family has all kinds of fair-related troubles: broken down truck, muddy duck, pigs who didn’t study, kids who need encouragement to enjoy the fair… Who can help them? Why, the farm cows, of course! They save the day over and over to the refrain of “Cows to the rescue!” Short, cute, funny.

Interactivity factor: Medium



Let’s Count Goats! by Mem Fox

I adore Mem Fox, and this one is also illustrated by the fabulous Jan Thomas! So, this book has nothing to do with fairs whatsoever, but our fair has goats, so I decided to make it work. First, I said to the kids, “Does anyone know why it’s called a COUNTY fair?” I briefly explained what a county is (a group of towns who share things like fairs) and then said, “But I like to think it’s also called a county fair because it’s fun to COUNT things at the fair! Let’s practice counting something you’ll see at our fair: goats!” My storytimers LOVE to count, so this was a hit.

Interactivity factor: High

Action Song:

We did Jim Gill’s List of Dances with this one. Since it was long, I put it between the two most interactive books and didn’t do any other wiggle breaks. It worked great!

Science Experiment: Cotton Candy Soda, based on Cotton Candy Fizz recipe at eASYbAKED

For this you need a clear cup/glass, clear soda, cotton candy, and a straw for stirring.

I poured the soda and showed the kids the cotton candy. I asked questions like, “What is cotton candy made of? What do you think will happen when we put it in the soda? Will it sink? Will it float?” (One answer I got: “I think it will make a more delicious soda!”) Then I dropped a hunk of blue cotton candy in with the soda. If you’ve never done this before, what happens is that the cotton candy fizzes away almost instantly. The soda changes colors. The kids yell, “MAGIC!” We talked about how cotton candy is made of sugar and what happens to sugar in liquids. After that, I also added pink cotton candy and we talked about why the soda then changed to purple. Minds were blown.

Craft: Ferris Wheels

Poke a hole in the center of a paper plate. Poke a hole in a toilet paper tube near the top. Connect the plate and tube with a brad through the two holes, point ends inside the tube. You should be able to hold the tube in one hand and spin the plate with the other. Now, glue on strips of colored paper from the center of the plate going outward, like a starburst. Those are the spokes of the wheel. Then, draw people or animals on squares of colored paper and glue them to the outer ends of the spokes. Those are the Ferris wheel cars. And spin! It would be easier to decorate the plate prior to assembly, but my storytimers are too small to manipulate brads on their own.

How it Went:

Just great! I had small groups for some reason. Maybe everyone forgot storytime was finally starting. Next year, I might try to start the week before the fair, since I think we might have had lower attendance on Thursday because of it.

Zoo Storytime

Posted on

WOW, am I ever behind on posting. Well, things happen. Anyway.

This week’s storytime was all about zoos! I love the zoo. I love the zoo more than anywhere else ever. Sometimes I’m not sure why I decided to move somewhere so far from all the zoos in the world, but here I am. A lot of the kids here have not been to a zoo; when I asked who had seen a zoo and who had not, it was split about 50/50.

We read:

Roar and More by Karla Kuskin

Making animal noises for the win!

My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall

Adorable rhyming text with illustrations made almost entirely of heart shapes for the win!

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

Mimicking animal movements for the win! (And I made sure to tell the children that if they do go to a zoo and see a gorilla, they should NOT thump their chests at him. Gorillas do NOT appreciate it.)

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Writing to the zoo for a pet and getting totally unsuitable animals for the win! Plus, lift the flap!

The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle

Hilarious mixture of animal parts for the win! (I did not read this one in conjunction with Monkey Face. Too similar.)

Extension Activities

“You Can Hear” (Tune: She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain)
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo, ROAR ROAR!
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo, ROAR ROAR!
You can hear the lions roaring, you can hear the lions roaring,
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo, ROAR ROAR!
(Snakes hissing, bears growling, wolves howling, frogs croaking, zebras braying)

Source: Storytime Katie

“Zoo” (Tune: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush)

Here we go to the zoo in the park, the zoo in the park, the zoo in the park;

Here we go to the zoo in the park so early in the morning.

This is the way the elephant walks, the elephant walks, the elephant walks;

This is the way the elephant walks so early in the morning.

This is the way the big bear walks, the big bear walks, the big bear walks;

This is the way the big bear walks so early in the morning.

This is the way the kangaroo hops, the kangaroo hops, the kangaroo hops;

This is the way the kangaroo hops so early in the morning.

This is the way the penguin walks, the penguin walks, the penguin walks;

This is the way the penguin walks so early in the morning.

Source: Reading is Fundamental


For my first session, I used a flannel set we already had that basically involves naming an animal’s color and making its sound. However, I already had an animal sound book AND song, and it felt too repetitive, so I went trolling for an alternative and came across an awesome pattern based on the book Monkey Face by Frank Asch at Rachel Moani.

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I don’t know who had more fun with this story: me, the children, or the parents. Probably me. Anyway, we all laughed pretty hard.


We made incredibly cute lions out of cupcake liners like these at Creating Really Awesome Free Things.

How It Went:

Maybe these kids haven’t been to the zoo, but by golly, they have awesome lion roars. Everything went over very well, especially the flannel board, and there were more terrific books in this kit that I didn’t even use. I can’t wait to come back for seconds, mostly because I really, really like talking about elephants. The big zoo animal favorite among the storytimers was the giraffe, which I can see. When I was a kid, I really wanted to have a pet giraffe, and to name him Jeffrey. As an adult, I sometimes struggle to keep up with my dogs, so I’m glad that whole giraffe thing never worked out for me. I’m sure their rabies vaccinations are quite expensive, and they do slobber heavily.

The end!

Elephants Storytime

This week we talked about my very favorite wild animal, the elephant!

We read:

Elmer by David McKee

Elmer is a patchwork elephant in the midst of a herd of grey elephants. While he’s the most popular elephant in the herd because of his sense of humor, Elmer thinks the other elephants laugh at him because of his color. When he paints himself gray, events conspire to show him that the other elephants appreciate him for the joy he brings them, not as the butt of a joke.

Interactivity factor: Medium. It’s a good one for color recognition.

What to Do if an Elephant Stands on your Foot by Michele Robinson

If an elephant stands on your foot, don’t panic, because you’ll attract a tiger, but if you do attract a tiger, be quiet, or you’ll anger the rhinoceros… I love this hilarious book of misfortune in the jungle.

Interactivity factor: High if you read it the way I do! Tell the kids you’re going to give the little boy in the story advice, and every time you tell the boy what to do, ask the kids if they think he’ll listen. By the end of the book, they’re in a frenzy of “He’s not going to listen! He’s going to do such-and-such! Oh no!”

Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems

Gerald and Piggie want to play outside, but it’s pouring rain! Piggie does not like rain. Can Gerald convince Piggie that rain is fun? If he does, what happens when the rain stops?

Interactivity factor: Medium. There’s some running, jumping, and skipping involved.

17 Kings and 42 Elephants by Margaret Mahy

Oh, 17 Kings and 42 Elephants, how do I love thee? Let me count the 59 ways. In this bouncy poem, kings and elephants bop through the jungle, spotting a host of batiked wildlife along the way. Playful nonsense words like “umbrellaphants” liven up the diction.

Interactivity factor: High. I asked the kids to listen for words that were not real, and when they caught one, we talked about what word it sounded like and how even though it was made up, it described something perfectly. I also sang this one, to the tune of “Bumping Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon,” but you could read it straight just as effectively.

Action Songs:

Did You Ever See an Elephant?
Tune: Did You Ever See a Lassie?
Did you ever see an elephant
An elephant, an elephant,
Did you ever see an elephant
Spray water with her trunk?
Spray water all over,
Spray water all over,
Did you ever see an elephant
Spray water with her trunk?

Did you ever see an elephant
An elephant, an elephant,
Did you ever see an elephant
Eat peanuts with her trunk?
Throw peanuts in her mouth,
Throw peanuts in her mouth,
Did you ever see an elephant
Eat peanuts with her trunk?

Did you ever see an elephant
An elephant, an elephant,
Did you ever see an elephant
Hug her baby with her trunk?
Wrap it this way and that way,
And this way and that way,
Did you ever see an elephant
Hug her baby with her trunk?

Source: Childfun
The Great Big Elephant
Tune: Itsy Bitsy Spider
The great big elephant
Went out one day to play.
Down came the rain
And washed his fun away.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the great big elephant went out to play again!
Source: Patti Teel’s The Floppy Sleep Game Book
Flannelboard: 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: RovingFiddlehead Kidlit


I printed out line drawings of Elmer and we glued squares of tissue paper to them to make patchworks. I also handed out crayons, so the kids used paper for some squares and crayons for others. We had some crazy elephants.

How It Went:

I love elephants, I love reading about elephants, and I love talking about elephants. I had a great time! The kids seemed to have a great time, too, though. Some of them have seen elephants at the zoo on vacation, but about half of them either have never seen one in person or were babies the last time their family made it to the zoo, so they forgot about seeing one. We all pretended to be elephants during the songs, and of course that’s always fun. I’m really good at being an elephant, so the kids all got to learn from my masterful performance. They loved all of the books. The first three all tickled our funnybones, and everyone really focused in on the last book. Of the four, I added three to the kit, and I’m very glad I chose them. I’ll definitely use this kit again, and I’ve also added the adorable Tweak! Tweak! by Eve Bunting for next time.

Snow Storytime

This week I gave our revamped Snow storytime kit a whirl. I planned to do a snow theme back in December, but we get so much snow that I just couldn’t bear to talk about it. I felt like everyone might be tired of it. This week, we had some 40-degree temperatures and clear, dry ground, so I felt a little better about talking white stuff. Of course, the snow started falling again mere hours after the final storytime session, but seeing grass was a nice break. On to the rundown.

We read:

Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer

I bet you thought winter was cold! You were so wrong. Winter is the season of hot chocolate, extra blankets, radiators, and footy jammies. This book is a fun way to get kids thinking about a constant in a new way, and it’s vindication for those of us who despise having central heat breathing on us for several months. I know what you’re thinking, and if I lived alone, I would turn it down to 60, but I don’t, so I can’t.

Interactivity factor: Low.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Peter plays in the snow and discovers that snowballs do not last in one’s coat pockets overnight. I’m not in love with this book, but it is a classic. Also, since we handed out copies during Family Reading Week, several of the kids excitedly recognized it from their homes.

Interactivity: Low to medium, depending on how much you talk with the kids about the pictures.

Snowballs by Lois Erdrich

The speaker in this book has saved “good stuff” all year for the perfect snowperson-building day, and now that it’s here, it’s time to build an entire snow family and a couple of snow pets, too! As with many of Ehlert’s books, the writing leaves something to be desired, but the pictures offer a rich experience.

Interactivity factor: High. Ask the kids what the people in the book used to decorate each snow person, and before you know it, they’ll be pointing and shouting answers with no prompting.

Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett

Annie’s cat Taffy starts acting strange and then disappears altogether. Desperate for a new pet, Annie starts leaving food at the edge of the forest in hopes of luring in some tiny, fuzzy fluffkin she can tame. Unfortunately, she gets a moose, a bear, a wildcat, and other large dangerous creatures, but no adorable bunnies or squirrels come to play. Finally spring comes, bringing other food sources for the animals and the return of Taffy with three kittens in tow.

Interactivity factor: High. Say, “What animal is that?” when a wild animal shows up, then ask, “Would a (whatever it is) make a good house pet? Why not?”

Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett

Treva runs into trouble when she and her dog Tuffi try to cross Mount Baldy and are harassed by not one, not two, but FIVE dog-nabbing trolls! Quick and tricky thinking saves Treva and Tuffi from their pointy-headed machinations.

Interactivity factor: Low, but the story’s so fantastic. Little ones’ minds may wander, but the 3 and 4 year olds stay pretty focused on this one.


Five Little Penguins

Yay, a flannelboard I didn’t have to make! We already had some nice felt penguins in the set, so I used this rhyme:

Five little penguins slipping on the ice,

One fell down and that didn’t feel nice!

Mama called the doctor and the doctor’s advice

Was “No more penguins slipping on the ice!”

And so forth.

Extension Activity:

The Penguin Dance Chant

Source: Jack Hartmann

Science Experiment:

Yes, I said science experiment. I read some statistics on Idaho students’ performance in science and kind of freaked out. The situation isn’t pretty. I think a STEM focus in my storytimes is probably a good idea.

Melting Point of Ice

I got a plate, two ice cubes, and some table salt. I drenched one cube in the salt, left the other alone, and explained that we were trying to see which would melt first. We left the plate alone and checked it at the end of storytime. Of course the salted cube melted faster, because the salt lowers the freezing point of the water. I explained that to the kids as, “Water has to get really cold to turn into ice and stay ice. When you put salt on ice, it needs to stay even colder to keep from melting.” I have no idea if that made sense to them. Some of them are quite tiny.

Craft: Paper Mugs

I cut out a bunch of mug shapes from construction paper and gave the kids crayons, glue, shiny stickers, and rhinestones.

How It Went:

Response to Winter is the Warmest Season was tepid. The other books went down like hotcakes, though. Everyone had a laugh when I asked, “So where did Taffy go?” at the end of Annie and the Wild Animals and one little boy answered, “To find more cats in the forest!” because he didn’t realize Taffy was the kittens’ mommy. Well, I assume she is. Actually, it’s only implied, so maybe she did find cats in the forest and bring them home. What do I know?

The flannelboard made the kids giggle because it’s so much like Five Little Monkeys, and it was easy for them to follow along with it since they all know Five Little Monkeys.

If you’ve never done the Penguin Dance Chant, you HAVE to try it. It’s hilarious great fun. One of my coworkers found it, and I’m extremely thankful that she shared it with me. The kids loved it. Even the ones who don’t like to do the crazy songs and dances with us were laughing their butts off watching.

They liked the science experiment! I guess children really are natural scientists. They really weren’t sure which ice cube would melt faster, though. I thought that being from a cold place, they’d know about salt and ice, but now that I think about it, they don’t salt roads here. Some businesses salt their sidewalks, but it’s pretty much plow and go. Because it’s totally fun to have the roads freeze solid at 8 pm every night! Yeah! Anyway, they were all interested in the results. In the third group, they all ran up and stuck their fingers in the wet salt, then picked up the ice cubes and examined them.

Wait ’til they see next week’s experiment…from a safe distance…