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Houses and Homes Storytime

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

We read:

Too Tall Houses by Gianna Morino

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

Concepts: Size. Sharing.

A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman

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

Concepts: Rhyming. Pairing related objects. Vocabulary.

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

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

Concepts: Sequencing.

Homes Around the World series by Debbie Gallagher

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

Concepts: Just horizon broadening.

Action Rhyme:

In and Out the Doors

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

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

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

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


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


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


How It Went:

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

Next up: debuting the new Marsupial storytime kit!

Monsters Storytime 2013

I enjoyed putting last year’s Monsters storytime together so much that I decided to transition our Wild Things storytime kit to a more general Monsters theme. I think the original kit idea came from the ready availability of puppets and other fun stuff to go along with the classic Where the Wild Things Are. However, the other books in the kit are somewhat dated and a little scary. I wanted to make the kit friendlier. It also makes a great Halloween-time theme, because monsters can be a little spooky, but you don’t have to come right out and call it Halloween. I did do a Halloween theme last year, but then I felt terrible about it because some kids had to skip because of religious reasons. I wouldn’t say I’m overly concerned about political correctness, but when I discussed the issue with friends who mostly said, “Pff, that’s ridiculous. Let them skip if they’re going to be babies,” I thought, “Wait a minute!” I don’t do Christmas storytimes because Muslim, atheist, and other non-Christian families come to our programs. If I’m making programs neutral and inclusive for them, I should make programs inclusive for the Christian families, too. I’m sure some families are still strict enough that they’d object to monsters, but at that point, they’re probably going to object to the content of most picture books and I have to draw the line somewhere. Anyway!

We read:

Ten Birds Meet a Monster by Cybèle Young

Ten adorable blackbirds with big shiny eyes are just hanging around with some laundry, as birds do, when they see the shadow of a horrible monster! The first bird uses a shirt to make himself look like another monster, but that doesn’t work, so the other birds start to pitch in one by one. Finally, bird number 10, who has the attention span of a gerbil, wanders into the room with the monster and realizes it’s just the shadow of a glove, inspiring some flashlight/shadow monster play with the other birds. The illustrations are black and white and gorgeous all over.

Interactivity factor: Medium. Count the birds!

Big Scary Monster by Thomas Docherty

Big Scary Monster is king of the mountain. He scares all the little meadow creatures who live with him at the mountaintop by yelling “Boo!” But when they learn to hide, he decides to go scare the really small animals down in the valley. After a traumatic lesson on visual perspective involving a giant rabbit, he runs home and learns to be a friend to the little animals on top of the mountain.

Interactivity factor: Low, but cute and funny pictures. Plus, it’s a good way to introduce the concept  of “things look small from far away.”

If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca and Ed Emberly

Not only is this book cute and vibrant, it doubles as a wiggle song. Asking more of it would just be plain greedy.

Interactivity factor: High



The Monster’s Monster by Patrick McDonnell

Funny, sweet, and beautiful, this book tells the story of three grouchy, miserable little monsters who decide to build the baddest monster ever, only to have their creation teach them how much fun it is to be happy instead.

Interactivity factor: Low

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Leonardo is a terrible monster, or rather, he’s terrible at doing monster things. He’s not scary! When he tries to scare Sam, the most scaredy-cat kid in the world, he learns it’s more fun to be a good friend than a bad monster.

Interactivity factor: Low



I used last year’s flannel set, Five Little Monsters, which can be seen in last year’s post.


Monster masks! I had a volunteer cut mask shapes out of craft foam, then put the masks out with glue, pom poms, and wiggle eyes and let the kids go to town.

How It Went

For such scary critters, monsters sure do make hilarious picture book subjects. We all giggled our way through this one. Even a couple of 2-year-olds who don’t generally understand what’s going on seemed to mostly grasp these stories. It’s the perfect kit for the lazy librarian, too, or in my case, for one who’s got weird health stuff happening. I say that because if you use If You’re a Monster and You Know It, you don’t have to find/memorize a wiggle song for this one.

Next up, the Farm kit!

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.

El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros Storytime

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Hooray for Dia! Hooray for Diversity in Action! Hooray for multilingual storytime!

My library never celebrated El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) until this year. I can kind of understand why. Dia is supposed to be about all languages and cultures, but most of the emphasis is placed on services to Latino populations, and our area barely has a Latino population. However, ALL languages and cultures! We have people from all over the world in our community, not to mention different areas of the USA. You can celebrate Dia in any town. Heck, even if your town is homogenous, it’s still good to find ways to expose kids to the diverse world lurking outside so they’re not surprised if they go away to college.

Our Dia went like this:


I talked about Dia on the radio and sent a press release to the paper and put up flyers and all that usual stuff. I also made a Dia display of picture books featuring foreign languages, foreign countries, people of color in America, and, wherever I could find it, diversity. Books that star non-white characters do not check out well at my library, or at least not in the youth area. I’m always bummed when I see that, because there are some fabulous books with non-white leads. I don’t think it’s that our patrons are racist. I think it might be that they don’t know if they can relate to books about other cultures, or that they don’t know if their children will be able to assimilate learning about other cultures, or they may even fear that the books themselves could turn out to be racist (Little Black Sambo, anybody?) and not want to expose their child to that rhetoric. (Side note: We don’t have any racist picture books that I’ve found so far. Which is good.) So, in summary, I didn’t think the books I put on display would get checked out. I thought it would be a static display. Hoo boy, no! I could not keep that display full! Books that had not checked out in years were gone in 15 minutes. I did a happy dance!


Since it was our first Dia, I didn’t want to go all out and stress everyone, so I decided to do an extra storytime. We have several families at our programs who speak non-English languages at home, like Polish, French, Mandarin, and more. Originally, I thought I could probably hornswaggle some moms into helping out with a multilingual storytime, but none of them turned out to be available for the actual storytime. However, they did help me out in a big way by helping me find and learn rhymes in other languages myself. Here’s what we did:

I read….

Everybody Bonjours! by Leslie Kimmelman

This book stressed me out. Although cute and a surefire way to learn that bonjour means hello, you can’t rhyme bonjour with both stores and tours. I took French class and I still wound up thinking, “Wait, am I saying it right?! Are both ways right?! I DON’T KNOW!”

After we read this, we sang Freres Jacques. The kids didn’t know the words, but that was okay because every line repeats, so I would sing a line and have them sing it back. Then I told them that many cultures will use the same music to a song but change the words to fit their culture. At this point, I got out the flannel board and sang them a song in Mandarin that one of my storytime moms helped me find and learn, Two Tigers.


You can watch this video if you’re curious to hear it. Instead of expecting the kids to learn it (since I’m sure my pronunciation was tremendously awful anyway), I used the flannel board and some improv to act out the song and see if they could guess at the lyrics. They did a great job! They weren’t disturbed when ears and tails started to fly, either. They thought it was HI-larious.

Then we sang the Japanese telephone song, which goes to the tune of “London Bridge” as a lead-in to…

Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon

In this story, a little boy goes to baseball games in both America and Japan because he has a grandpa in each country, and kids get to learn a few Japanese words and see how Japanese baseball customs are the same yet different (example: Both countries practice the snack-during-game custom, but in the US, it’s peanuts and hotdogs, while in Japan, it’s soba noodles and edamame.) Cute story! However, all the kids in my audience hated baseball, which made me laugh because my boyfriend keeps complaining about how much people in Idaho love baseball. It’s on the radio ALL THE TIME.

After that story and all the foreign language singing, I felt like we needed a good wiggle break, so we played freeze-when-the-music-stops to the upbeat strains of Putamayo Kids African Playground. I love Putamayo. Then we read…

Handa’s Hen by Eileen Browne

This story is without foreign language words, but I thought a cheery counting book featuring two African girls looking for a chicken still was a good bet. We live in a fairly agrarian area, so I thought that the setting might seem familiar to the kids and help them see that however far apart we are globally, our cultures still have things in common. Also, I love this book. It’s so freaking happy.

Then we learned the Spanish rhyme Rima de Chocolate, which I actually learned from my mother.

Uno, dos, tres, cho
Uno, dos, tres, co
Uno, dos, tres, la
Uno, dos, tres, te
Bate, bate, chocolate!

Finally, we read…

Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Thong

Companion to the lovely Round is a Mooncake, this version is set in Mexico and includes many Spanish words with illustrations to help kids figure out the meaning. Plus, shape learning!

Due to a late snow, we had low attendance at the storytime, but the kids who came seemed to love it. I thought they would maybe get a little bored or antsy during the foreign language songs, but they actually stayed quite interested.

Come and Go Crafts

I went simple with the crafts as well. I set up two tables, one for littlies and one for early elementary. The littlies made Fon story pictures, which are made from felt in Africa but were made from construction paper and die-cut shapes in our library. Families were instructed to make up a story together before they started gluing down shapes, and I got to hear quite a few of the stories, which were all very simple but pretty cool. Go go early literacy! At the elementary table, I put out some origami paper and patterns. I had to lend a hand a couple of times, but it still was popular, and origami teaches spatial relations and geometry concepts, so I felt good about including it.


Even though it was a simple program, I felt good about our freebies. Between ALA and the Idaho Commission for Libraries, we had bookmarks, stickers, AND free bilingual picture books to give to participating families! The kids were all very happy with their loot.

All in all, our first Dia went swimmingly, and we even made the front page of the local paper. Maybe I’ll go bigger next year! Happy Dia, everybody.