Step Into Storytime, September 24

Today we had a big crowd at storytime! It was a gray fall day, so maybe the weather urged people inside, or perhaps they’re just getting back into the rhythm of the season (storytimes are a little more sporadic in the summer because of all the other programs we do). There were at least 15 kids in the 2-3 age range, plus assorted siblings and several late arrivals. In the beginning, we had more than ten but I did the name song anyway – it’s a great way to learn names and start building individual connections.

Books face out on storytime chair
Tyrannosaurus Wrecks!, Oh No George!, Please Mr. Panda, Count the Monkeys, Five Little Monkeys, Chu’s Day, Still Stuck
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL
  • Name song (“Hello ____, hello ___, hello ____, we’re glad you came today”)
  • Handed out shaker eggs for Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora
  • Kept the shaker eggs for Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton. Collected shaker eggs after.
  • Song cube: ABC song
  • Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
  • Song cube: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed by Eileen Christelow (jumping encouraged!)
  • Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • Scarves (by audience request) for Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake. Collected scarves.
  • Goodbye song with ASL. Put away colored mats. Dance party with bubbles! (We have an old ipod loaded up with Raffi and Disney versions of classic kid music. And I brought my own bubbles from home because I am devoted to Pustefix bubbles.)

I skipped the flannel board and craft this week, but for next week I am thinking of a craft with paper dots and glue to go with Lots of Dots, and maybe The Very Hungry Caterpillar flannel board again…if I can make a butterfly before next Monday!

Library (re)design: Hopkinton Public Library

“The fountain of Wisdom flows through books”

This week I attended a meeting of the MetroWest Program Planners at the Hopkinton Library, and after the meeting we got a tour of the recent redesign and addition (they reopened October 2017).

Fold-up tables and lightweight chairs

There was so much to love about the new library, I almost don’t know where to begin. But if you’ve been reading here long, you know how I love mobile, modular furniture, so we can start with the fact that everything is on wheels: tables, chairs, displays, even the circulation desk (though the circ desk, we were told, is heavy and they don’t plan to move it often. The reference desk is not on wheels, but that is because it moves up and down). Many of the tables fold up, as well, so they can be folded and wheeled out of the way to make room for events.

Now, let’s go upstairs, and work our way down. Upstairs is the children’s room; it has historically been upstairs, and it was important (to the community? to the staff?) that it remain there. It had beautiful light from lots of windows; a friendly low desk with display space built into it (they feature a different kid’s collection each month); a central area with low tables and chairs; a puppet theater and a Duplo table; and plenty of little reading nooks with built-in benches (okay, not modular, but very cozy). There was also a glassed-in separate room for storytimes and other programs, with a little cart of floor mats, built-in storage cabinets, and two sinks (big and small). Perfection!

Above, clockwise from top left: A brilliant, double-pun bulletin board display; the central area of the children’s room; a puzzle corner; a reading nook.

Downstairs on the main floor is the circulation desk, new books, adult fiction, the teen room, a large meeting/conference room (formerly part of an Episcopal church, incorporated into the library in 1967 if I remember right), and a smaller board room that was part of the original library (complete with grandfather clock donated in the early 1900s).


Let’s talk about the teen room: the awesome, amazing teen room! Separated by a glass wall from the public computer area, adult fiction, magazines, and newspapers, the teen area is obviously unique; visual clues such as paint color and matching carpet squares (bright blue) set it apart from the rest of the library. There is a laptop bar, plenty of comfy “mitt” chairs, tables and chairs for group work, and of course, a great selection of teen books.

The teen room: laptop bar, tables and chairs, stacks with endcap displays, and the mitt chairs by the windows on the right.

Downstairs on the basement level (with with some windows high up and some skylights – skylights in the meeting rooms! – there was plenty of natural light) is the reference desk, which can move up or down with a switch, so librarians can be seated or standing. (There is also a beautiful heritage quilt on the wall behind the desk.) There is a small reference collection in addition to the nonfiction, a local history room, meeting rooms for small groups, and a larger meeting room set up as a classroom – that’s where Girls Who Code takes place, and there’s a laptop cabinet (on wheels, of course) in the room.

Above: Was it weird to take photos of these? Yes. But I love the inclusive signage AND the transparency built into the door lock so people waiting can tell at a glance if it’s vacant or occupied without having to knock or try the door.

Above: Offering bags for wet umbrellas is a nice touch (and protects the new carpet); cafe-style seating across from the circulation desk offers visitors a place to snack.

Throughout the library, most of the display space is on beautiful endcaps, where books are face-out. In many places, displays are coordinated so a flyer for an event is positioned above relevant books.  Overall, it’s an impressive, clean, friendly place that will serve its population flexibly for years to come. Bravo, Hopkinton!

Step Into Storytime, September 17

There was a smaller group at storytime today, but that allowed me to do the name song (“____ is here today, ____ is here today, let’s all clap our hands, ____ is here today”) after our usual “Hello friends” song. If the group is bigger than ten or so, I don’t do it, but because we only had seven or eight today, we did. I think it’s a good way to start because all the kids feel included, and it helps me learn the names, so I can address kids by name throughout the storytime.

When we use the song cube, or sing a new song, I make sure we do it twice, because young brains are hungry for patterns and repetition.

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?, Flyaway Katie, Five Little Monkeys, My Heart Is Like A Zoo, Perfect Square, Make A Wish Bear, Where Bear?
  • Welcome: Glad you’re here, please keep the doors clear, take snacks outside, feel free to come and go as needed.
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL
  • Name song
  • Book: Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan Shea
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • Hand out scarves
  • Book: Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar
  • Book: Five Little Monkeys by Eileen Christelow
  • Collect scarves
  • Book: My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall (with flannel, but not interactive)IMG_20180917_094132
  • Song and activity: “Shake Your Sillies Out” with shaker eggs
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Book: Perfect Square by Michael Hall
  • Song cube: “Itsy-Bitsy Spider”
  • Book: Make A Wish Bear by Greg Foley
  • Song: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
  • Book: Where, Bear? by Sophy Henn
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Activity: coloring with crayons on a big piece of butcher paper (one bowl of crayons at each corner of the paper)

See last week’s Step Into Storytime here.

Step Into Storytime, September 10

Today kicks off our fall series of storytime programs, and mine is “Step Into Storytime” for two- and three-year olds (though siblings are allowed to join, and we’re pretty lenient about ages; the come-and-go-as-necessary philosophy enables kids and their grown-ups to leave if they’re having a tough time and come back in when they’re ready, or next time).

We started off, as usual, with an introduction and a few guidelines (keep doors clear, take snacks outside), then our welcome song: “Hello friends” with sign language. I sang it through once with the motions, then showed each sign (should have done that first!), then we sang it through again, and lots of the kids and adults participated. Next:

  • Song cube: “Zoom zoom zoom, we’re going to the moon” (standing, twice)
  • Book: Fall Is Not Easy by Marty Kelley
  • Activity: Adding leaves to the tree on the flannel board. I think every kid participated and we had 16 leaves!
  • Song cube: “I had a little turtle”
  • Book: Hooray for Hat by Brian Won (“Show me your grumpy faces!”)
  • Song cube: “ABCs”
  • Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleIMG_20180910_095130
  • Activity: Very Hungry Caterpillar flannel board. At the appropriate point in the story, a kid would come up and remove the fruit the caterpillar ate that day (apple, pears, plums, strawberries, oranges). One kid who wanted to participate didn’t get a chance to take fruit off the board so I let her take the caterpillar off. And note to self: I need to make a butterfly!
  • Song cube: “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” (standing, twice)
  • Book: Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex (kids loved the big sneeze!)
  • Song/activity: I passed out shaker eggs and we stood to sing “Shake Your Sillies Out.” Kids brought the eggs back to the front and put them in the bag at the end of the song.
  • Book: The Duckling Gets A Cookie by Mo Willems (I put my flannel Pigeon and Duckling up on the flannel board but we didn’t do anything with them)
  • Song: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to calm a slightly squirrelly crowd. I meant to do the “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL like usual but I forgot!
  • Activity: Coloring with crayons. I traced one of the pages from Blue Chameleon and made copies for kids to color however they liked. We have a giant bin of crayons and they color right on the floor – next time I would scoop a few smaller bowls of crayons and spread them out around the room. People were great about putting the crayons back when they were finished!

Overall, this was a great storytime. Hooray for Hat seemed to be a favorite, several kids recognized The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I think the Mo Willems book might have been more successful earlier in the lineup.

We have a whiteboard along one wall, and after “Welcome to Step Into Storytime!” I had written the five activities that support early learning: Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play. Next time I want to incorporate more early literacy information into the storytime for caregivers, explaining in a sentence here and there why I’m doing what I’m doing (why sing songs twice, for example, and why do fingerplay or sign language) to support that early learning.