Step Into Storytime, October 7

Cat puppet on stack of picture books

Today we started with 13 kids and ended up with at least 18, as a few more trickled in during our hello song and first book. I don’t read holiday-specific books, but we had a spooky/zoo theme today, in honor of it being October.

  • Welcome and announcements (the library is closed next Monday)
  • “Hello Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel: This is one of my favorite books to start a storytime with, because of the many opportunities for movement, observation, and saying hello to our friends and neighbors.
  • Hoodwinked by Arthur Howard: I started by asking who had a pet, and what kind, then introduced Mitzi, who wants a pet too. This is on the longer side for the younger kids, but they made it through! I found an orange cat puppet in the closet, just like Hoodwink.
  • Yoga and songs: “I Had A Little Turtle,” “If You’re Happy And You Know It.” One kid started to cry, so we segued from mountain pose and toe-touching into star pose and sang “Twinkle Twinkle” as we swayed back and forth.
  • Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett: Fortunately, Matilda’s cat looks a lot like Mitzi’s cat Hoodwink, so I could use the same puppet.
  • Skulls! by Blair Thornburgh: This might be the first time I’ve read a nonfiction picture book at storytime, and it worked out great! Halloween decorations are starting to appear, so kids had seen skeletons, and the book has a positive, reassuring message about skulls (“they’re like a car seat for your brain!”).
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” (we’d identified eyes, ears, mouth, and nose in Skulls!) and some more songs.
  • My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall with flannel board (I made a frog, crab, clam, owl, and penguin, which the kids identified before I started reading the book)
  • Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett: I stood up to read this one so we could all do animal impressions throughout.
  • The rest of the songs on the song cube, “Goodbye Friends” with ASL, clean up mats
  • Coloring on butcher paper taped to floor; Caspar Babypants music

Hello, Hoodwinked, Matilda's Cat, Skulls, My Heart is Like A Zoo, Monkey and Me

It seems really obvious, but encouraging grown-ups both at the beginning and end of storytime to come to me with any book- or library-related questions totally works! I’ve had one or two people approach me after each storytime so far this fall. Today’s question was about the Kevin Henkes Penny books (Penny and Her Song, Penny and Her Doll, Penny and Her Marble). I showed them where they should be on the shelf, showed them where Kevin Henkes picture books are, and recommended Frog & Toad and Charlie & Mouse as well.

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Step Into Storytime, September 30

Today’s group of about sixteen kids was unusually quiet and engaged! (Noisy and engaged is also fine, of course, but as someone whose voice is not naturally loud, quiet and engaged is delightful.) We read six books, did some stretching, sang some songs, and did a craft that I came up with about 20 minutes before storytime started.

Stack of picture books, spines showing

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough, with two bears (one big, one small) from the storytime puppet stash
  • Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, with flannel board sheep: I put blue, pink, and yellow sheep on the board (kids identified the colors when I held them up) before the story, and pulled out that sleepy green sheep at the end. (Hat tip to Laura L. for showing me how to read this book aloud properly.)
  • Yoga: Stretching tall, touching toes
  • Goose by Laura Wall
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle” and “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon”
  • Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan Shea: This is the first time I’ve had success with this book! I encouraged everyone to shout out “yes” or “no,” and mostly it was the grown-ups, but they get participation points too.
  • Yoga and music: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” “Where Is Thumbkin?” and more stretching (mountain pose, forward fold, star, triangle pose)
  • Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer: This book is storytime gold. Someone always checks it out afterward.
  • Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Clean up mats
  • Craft: Carrot and peas. Big orange paper triangles for carrots, medium-size green circles for peas, glue sticks, crayons for drawing on faces.

Picture books and bear on chair

Step Into Storytime, September 23

It’s officially the first day of fall, and yet today is particularly summery, and the storytime room gets HOT when it is full of people. But, I’m always happy to have lots of kiddos to read to and sing with! Today we started out with about 15, grew to 20, and ended with about 12.

Picture books cover out on chair with greyhound stuffed animal

  • Welcome, announcements
  • “Hello Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake: I love this book, though it doesn’t usually get much reaction at storytime (at least, not from the kids; the parents like it). I used it as a lead-off book to take advantage of the relatively fresh attention span, and I made it more interactive by encouraging kids to mime taking off a shirt, as well as the scrub-a-dub-dub part. It’s not pictured in today’s photos because a parent took it home – yay!Greyhound stuffed animal on stack of picture books
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
  • Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton
  • Song cube: “Wheels on the Bus”
  • A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans: I brought my stuffed greyhound as a prop.
  • “Kookaburra” – at least one parent was singing along this time! The second verse is better than the first, because (a) they’ve all heard the tune once already, and (b) there are motions (picking gumdrops, “stop” hands)
  • Handed out scarves
  • How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder: This is a new book so today was the first time I used it at storytime, and it’s phenomenal. Lots of opportunities to move bodies and wave scarves!
  • Pirate Jack Gets Dressed by Nancy Raines Day and Allison Black: We paid a lot of attention to color in the book and in the room – the color of our clothes, of our mats, of our scarves.
  • Give the scarves one more wave, then collect them.
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot,” “ABCs,” “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon”
  • Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak: This is a quieter book and I was on the fence about it, especially as the last book of the day with a squirrelly group, but one grown-up with twins said they’d read it just last night, so I went ahead. It is the first day of fall, after all.
  • “Goodbye Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Clean up mats
  • Craft: Gluing colored shapes

Craft: gluing colored paper shapes to butcher paper

Step Into Storytime, September 16

It was another large group for Step Into Storytime this morning! Again, the group skewed toward the younger end of the age range (2-3 years, with siblings welcome), and we had a mix of new families and regulars, including a couple older regulars who were very helpful during Not A Box.

Books, shaker eggs, greyhound and panda stuffed animals

Books for storytime

  • Welcome and announcements: Keep the doorways clear, feel free to come and go (wiggliness, noise, bathroom, snack breaks), calendar of events available at desk and on website, etc.)
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Stretch: a seated stretch toward the ceiling, to toes, to ceiling, to toes
  • Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex, with enormous panda bear and fake sneezes.
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle” (seemed unfamiliar to most) and “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (familiar to everyone!)
  • I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry: this giant squid knows how to make the best of things.
  • Passed out shaker eggs, tested them to make sure they worked (they did), instructed them to shake them every time they heard the word “glitter” in Just Add Glitter by Angela DiTerlizzi and Samantha Cotterill. (One of my favorite storytime tips is to recognize that little kids are going to make noise – so get them making the same noise at the same time.). Collected eggs.
  • Yoga cube: Downward dog is a little crowded when the storytime room is that full, but some kids made it work!
  • Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi and Brendan Wenzel
  • “The Kookaburra Song”
  • Not A Box by Antoinette Portis (we read Not A Stick last week): This is where my older kids came in handy, especially because one of them was already familiar with the book. If it’s not a box, what is it?
  • Songs/rhymes: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” and “Where is Thumbkin?” (twice, replacing “sir” with “friend”)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, with flannel board: I always have volunteers to help put the different fruits on the board.
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Clean up mats, invite questions (and someone did ask about chapter books with pictures for her 3-year-old!), tape down paper and put out crayons for coloring.

Kookaburra picture, yoga cube, song cube

Step Into Storytime, September 9

It’s a new season of Step Into Storytime, our library’s twice-weekly storytime for two- and three-year-olds (and siblings of various ages). I run our Monday storytime, and I’m excited to get back into a weekly rhythm!

Storytime room

Room setup:

  • Step Into Storytime laminated poster and early literacy tips (Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play) on the board with magnets
  • Colored mats in a stack
  • Storytime box (contains magnets, posters, bubbles, scissors, tape, scarves, shaker eggs, stickers, ipod with music, etc.)
  • Additional props (flannel board and shapes, puppets or stuffed animals)
  • Song cube(s) and yoga cube(s)
  • Books! (Usually 4-6 I plan to read, plus several alternates in case the crowd skews younger, older, wiggly, etc.)

Books, donkey, song cubes, scarves, yoga cubes

Storytime:

  • Welcome everyone and announcements (keep the doorways clear, location of bathrooms and where to have snacks, upcoming program info)
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Name song (“____ is here today”) and early literacy tip: we do a lot of singing in storytime, in addition to reading, because the rhythm of songs helps with language development and lays the groundwork for reading and writing later on.
  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel: This is one of my all-time favorite openers. There’s not a lot of text, but there are so many opportunities for interaction (who’s wearing dots/stripes? Can you move like an octopus? Show/touch your tongue, ears, hands, and nose, etc.). In today’s group, we had a few returning families but plenty of new kids and they were a little younger than last spring’s group. Storytime for younger groups is always going to be noisy and wiggly, so if you can get them making the same sounds/movements as each other, that’s a win.
  • Want to Play Trucks? by Ann Stott and Bob Graham: Even with a younger crowd, I like to have at least a couple books with some kind of narrative arc or story, and this one is perfectly simple, in a familiar scenario for most kids – a playground, toys, ice cream.
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot” and “ABCs”
  • Not A Stick by Antoinette Portis: An off-page voice asks the little piglet about its stick – but it’s not not not a stick! This is a brilliant representation of the way grown-ups misunderstand kids’ imaginative play, or simply don’t see the same things. (I’m planning to read Not A Box next week.)
  • Handed out scarves for Huff and Puff by Claudia Rueda. “Does anyone know the story of the three little pigs? Okay, this is different!” The scarves are fun in themselves, give the kids something to do with their hands, and help illustrate the wind created by the wolf’s huffing and puffing.
  • Yoga cube (“Yoga is a way of moving our bodies”): Warrior poses and chair pose (“Everyone pull up an invisible chair…and sit in it!”)
  • Fall Is Not Easy by Marty Kelley: Change is hard. Even young kids are familiar with the changing of seasons, and they can tell that there’s something funny about this tree’s fall leaves.A Parade of Elephants book and flannel board
  • The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith and Katz Cowley, with donkey puppet. This one is funny, repetitive, and not as much of a tongue twister as it seems.
  • Flannel board: elephants
  • A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes: Like Hello Hello, this one has so many opportunities for interaction and engagement: We identified the colors of the elephants, counted them, marched, stretched, yawned, and trumpeted.
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Clean up mats
  • Music (“Watch Petunia Dance” by Caspar Babypants) and bubbles (and no one got trampled or threw up!)

Bonus: Lots of high fives and hugs at the end, plus a huge hug from a kiddo who’s been coming for at least a year with her older brother! The storytime love was strong today.

 

Summer Storytime: Inclusion and Acceptance

Storytime books on chair

Again, I didn’t plan around a theme, but as I looked at the books I’d chosen, a theme emerged: inclusion and acceptance. Whether it’s solving world hunger through pizza, allowing every kind of pet into the pet club, or trying on new identities (penguin, mermaid), the kind thing to do is always to accept those who look or act differently.

  • “Hello Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • World Pizza by Cece Meng
  • Stretching, “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes”
  • Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
  • Julian Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love
  • “Shake Your Sillies Out” (Raffi music, scarves to shake)
  • I Am Actually A Penguin by Sean Taylor
  • Song cube: “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “I Had A Tiny Turtle”
  • Pete’s A Pizza by William Steig
  • “Goodbye Friends” w/ ASL (Jbrary)
  • Decorate a pizza slice

Most of the kids seemed engaged throughout, and the pizza slice decoration was a hit. I told them they could take their slice home or add it to our pizza on the wall, and almost everyone chose to add theirs, so we made a whole pizza (with lots of interesting toppings).

I’ve gotten out of the habit of checking the blogs I follow via Feedly (and I can’t blame it all on the demise of Google Reader, either), but I dipped in recently to see what I’d missed and found these great posts:

  • From Tiny Tips for Library Fun, an examination of the Diversity in Children’s Books infographic, comparing 2015 to 2018. We have made a little progress but still have a ways to go – especially since the percentage of books featuring white characters dropped, but the percentage of books featuring non-human characters went up.
  • From Story Time Secrets, a new storytime complete with books, songs, and activities. The Giant Jumperee is one of my favorites to read aloud for toddlers, and I might use her “Story time is starting, clap your hands”/”Story time is over, clap your hands” sometime, although I really like “Hello Friends” and “Goodbye Friends.” I also think the “elevator” movement could work as a variation on “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” while standing up.
  • Betsy Bird’s Newbery/Cadecott 2020: Summer Prediction Edition. My reading list just got so much longer, but fortunately, lots of the titles are picture books. I’m looking forward to new Brendan Wenzel and a Bob Shea/Zachariah Ohora collaboration, and I’ve already enjoyed Antoinette Portis’ Hey, Water! I love middle grade too: New Kid and Other Words For Home were amazing, and I can’t wait for Corey Haydu’s newest, Eventown. Queen of the Sea looks interesting too.

Summer Storytime: Being brave

Pile of picture books, spines showing

I have missed my weekly storytimes and was so happy to return to the storytime room this morning for an all-ages summer storytime! I chose some of my favorite summery (or anytime) books, and there’s definitely a theme about facing new situations with courage, though I didn’t set out with that intention. Sometimes it just works out!

Stuffed toy lobster on computer keyboard

  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL, via Jbrary
  • The Angry Little Puffin by Timothy Young
  • Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
  • Song cube: “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon” and “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • There Might Be Lobsters by Carolyn Crimi and Laurel Molk, with stuffed lobster (every time I held it up, the kids shouted “lobsters!” along with the word in the story)
  • Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
  • Song cube: “ABCs,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  • The Little Taco Truck by Tanya Valentine and Jorge Martin
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL, via Jbrary
  • Clean up mats
  • Activity: Use crayons to color on a food truck on butcher paper

Favorite interactive moments:

  • Before Jabari Jumps, asking who’s been swimming, who’s jumped off the side into a pool, who’s jumped off a diving board (two had!)
  • Before Roller Coaster, asking if anyone has been on a roller coaster before (yes, and it was blue!)
  • A younger kid about halfway through said “I’m done” and started toddling out. It’s good to know when to call it!
  • Asking for suggestions during “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” one kid raised their hand but then didn’t have a suggestion, so we sang, “If you’re happy and you know it, raise your hand.”

Five basic practices for early literacy: talk, sing, read, write, play

There were about fifteen kids at today’s storytime. I have one more summer storytime in August, and then in the fall our weekly storytimes will start up again. What are your favorite read-alouds for summer?

 

Step Into Storytime, May 13

Stack of storytime titles

This morning was the last Monday Step Into Storytime for the spring; our summer schedule is different, and I’ll only have a couple of all-ages storytimes until the regular schedule starts again in the fall. I will miss seeing these kiddos for storytime every week!

For our last storytime, I requested enough copies of the book Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson so that every adult/child pair could have one. It’s an interactive book (tap, pat, swish, tilt, shake, etc.) so I wanted all the kids to have a chance to be involved throughout. (I borrowed this idea from Miss Lauren, who did it with her 3- to 5-year-old storytime group.) There are plenty of other interactive titles, too, if this is something you’d like to try in your storytime, or if this is a type of book your kid likes; see list below.

Copies of Tap the Magic Tree

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel: This is a storytime favorite because it allows for a lot of interaction, like checking clothing for spots and stripes, and saying hello to friends and neighbors sitting nearby.
  • Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson: Copies for everyone. This got loud (which is fine!) as kids and their grown-ups explored each page.
  • 88 Instruments by Chris Barton: Because we were pretty loud already, I handed out instruments (shaker eggs and jingle bells on sticks) for this musical story. (Storytime tip: if the group is loud, getting everyone to make the same noise makes things more manageable.)
  • Song: “Shake Your Sillies Out” (then collect instruments)
  • Pete’s A Pizza by William Steig: We did this one just a couple weeks ago, but it works so well. Kids can do a movement to go along with each page of the story: kneading and stretching dough, tossing it, spreading oil, sprinkling cheese, etc.
  • Song cube: “ABCs”
  • A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes: Five of the kids got to put an elephant on the felt board, and those who didn’t got to come up and give the elephants pats to make sure they were stuck up there firmly. Then we marched round and round, trumpeted, yawned, and stretched.
  • The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith: Kids could come up and say hello to the donkey puppet before and after the story. (Note: some kids like being nibbled on, and SOME DON’T. Keep it to “hee haw” and ear wiggling!)
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Clean up mats, put out butcher paper and crayons, hand out surveys* to adults, remind everyone about summer schedule.

*Surveys: I’ve been wanting to do a brief survey for this group for a while, to see if there was anything I could tweak to improve the program. I based my four-question survey largely on Jbrary’s Sample Evaluation Forms. LibraryAware also has a long post about feedback on programs.

Seven adults filled out and returned the survey; two of the seven said that the books/songs/movement/crafts were “not engaging enough”; the other five respondents felt that the books/songs/movement/crafts were “just right” for their children. I may try to do fewer, longer stories in the fall (three or four books instead of five or six), still with plenty of songs and movement. Then again, it could be a different group in the fall. We’ll see!

A few other interactive picture books:

  • Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
  • Press Here and Mix It Up by Herve Tullet
  • Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter
  • Bunny Slopes and Hungry Bunny by Claudia Rueda
  • Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau

Step Into Storytime, May 6

This is our second-to-last Monday Step Into Storytime before our schedule changes for summer (which seems optimistic, as spring has barely arrived, but so it goes). A few a my favorite families were there, which made it extra special, and all of the books really lent themselves to movement and interaction (though we still did plenty of extra songs and movement in between them as well).

Stack of picture books with bag of shaker eggs on top

  • Welcome, announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex: Chu’s fakeout sneezes got some laughs. If you are looking for humor in books, sneezes are a sure way to go.
  • Yoga: stretch to ceiling, touch toes, repeat; step feet apart, touch toes; touch opposite toes (e.g. left hand to right foot – cross-body exercises stretch the body and the brain!)
  • This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson and Suzy Lee: Perfect, as we’ve been having plenty of gray and rainy days and very little sunshine. “Beautiful” is in the eye of the beholder. And there’s some built-in stomping and toe-tapping.
  • Yoga/music: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
  • Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton: The BEST thing happened at the part where George sees the cat: When I read “What will George do?” one of the kids called out “He ate the cat!” which made everyone burst out laughing. (Don’t worry, cat lovers: no cats were eaten in the reading of this book.)
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot” and “Wheels on the Bus”
  • Yoga/music: Make stars with bodies (feet apart, arms out) and sway to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
  • My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall: I brought out the flannel animals one by one and the kids yelled out what they thought they were. Pretty high accuracy on this, actually, and even when someone called out “a heart!” they weren’t wrong – all of the animals are made out of heart shapes.
  • Now by Antoinette Portis: Another book with some built-in opportunities for participation/movement, plus an audible “Awww” from lots of the grown-ups at the end (“And this is my favorite Now / because it’s the one I am having / with you”).
  • Song cube: “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett: With animal impressions, of course.
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Clean up mats, hand out shaker eggs, put on music (“Shake Your Sillies Out” and “Wheels on the Bus”), dance! Collect eggs afterward.

Step Into Storytime, April 29

IMG_20190429_095418
Storytime books and scarves for Huff & Puff

It has been a very wet and windy April, but today was sunny and we had a slightly smaller group – I imagine some others were taking advantage of the weather to go to the playground. But we had a great time at storytime, with several regulars, a couple of younger siblings, and a pair of older kids (older kids are almost always less shy and more able to answer questions like “What’s this animal?” so I like having them in the group).

  • Welcome, announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Name song (“___ is here today”): I usually do this if there are 10 kids or fewer, as was the case when we started today (a couple more came in later)
  • Hugs From Pearl by Paul Schmid: I chose to use this as a lead-off book because it’s on the longer side for this age group, but it’s got a gentle humor and shows good problem-solving.
  • “Sun and rain yoga”: stretch up to the sun, then bring the sunshine down to your toes; stretch up to the rain, bring the rain down to your toes
  • Huff and Puff by Claudia Rueda, with scarves for the huffing and puffing parts. (We keep our scarves stuffed into empty tissue boxes.)
  • Song: “Where is Thumbkin?”
  • Song: “Kookaburra” (I put the words up on the whiteboard, along with a picture of a kookaburra)
  • Pete’s A Pizza by William Steig: This one is fabulous for incorporating movement into the story, as the kids pretend to knead their pizza dough, toss it in the air, spread oil on it, decorate it with tomatoes, sprinkle it with cheese, and slide it into the oven. Yum!
  • “Pizza yoga”: sit in a forward fold and “spread” oil, sauce, cheese, and toppings over your legsIMG_20190429_095346
  • Bark! Park! by Trudy Krisher: Simple, minimal words but plenty going on in the pictures, and an opportunity for kids to join in (“Bark, bark bark!”). Someone actually checked this out afterward, hurray! I brought out four dog puppets/stuffed animals for kids to come up and pet before and after the story.
  • One Very Tired Wombat by Renee Treml: They were super wiggly and kind of noisy during this one; I’m not sure how much is due to the book itself (a kind of counting book of Australian animals, with illustrations in mostly black and white, and somewhat detailed) and how much it had to do with the book’s place near the end of the lineup.
  • Song: “Kookaburra” reprise, to start cementing it in memory so it becomes part of our regular rotation. Maybe I will make a new song cube…
  • Spots in a Box by Helen Ward: A favorite, with simple text and a lot of visual interest, and a nice message as well: “So the best spots to choose if it’s friends that you seek, are the spots that you find put a smile on your beak.”
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Clean up mats
  • Spots/dots craft: using gluesticks to stick spots to butcher paper

IMG_20190429_104359