Step into Storytime, January 13

We had another great Step Into Storytime session this morning! Although I don’t run my storytimes that differently from when I started (all-ages storytimes in summer ’18, 2- and 3-year-olds in fall ’18), I’ve made some tweaks and the last few in particular have been smooth and successful. The grown-ups who come to storytime set a great example for their kiddos by being alert and engaged – they sing with me, do hand motions or help the kiddos do them, and react to the stories.

bowls of crayons, stack of books

  • Welcome, announcements (library is closed next Monday for MLK Jr. Day)
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • “The More We Get Together” with ASL
  • Jump! by Tatsuhide Matsuoka: I almost never do board books during storytime, because they’re smaller and therefore harder to see from the back of the room, but this one is perfect. It has a simple pattern (animal, jump, animal, jump), a funny surprise (guess what snails don’t do so well?), and ends by including the reader (“And I jump, too”). Of course we read this one standing up so we could JUMP!
  • The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld: This is a longer, quieter book, but an important one, and the kids paid attention. It’s a good reminder for everyone about how to handle disappointment: when something you made collapses and you’re disappointed, what you might want isn’t a solution – it’s for someone to listen.
  • After all that listening, we stood up again and I explained about the body’s midline, then we did some crossing the midline stretches (inspired by the December SLJ article “Storytime’s Brain-Building Power“) to help develop bilateral coordination.
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
  • Song cube: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” three times: regular, fast, slow
  • Red Light, Green Lion by Candace Ryan: I skipped most of the text in black, focusing on the text in red and green. “Red light, green liiiiiiiii-“
  • Mouse house game with felt board: Three rounds of finding the mouse, trying to make sure each kid who wanted a turn to pick a color got one. “Little mouse, little mouse, are you in the [color] house?” Everyone looked invested in the mouse hunt, even those who didn’t want to guess a color.Five colored mittens on blue felt board
  • Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant and Christian Robinson: I whipped up five felt mittens. We identified the colors before the book, then I handed the mittens out to five kids. Unlike with the fruit in The Very Hungry Caterpillar last week, there weren’t enough mittens for everyone who wanted one, so I might not do that again unless I can figure out a way to give everyone a turn. Good book for today, though, since we had snow flurries this morning.
  • “Shake Your Sillies Out” with egg shakers: This was my first time attempting freeze dance in storytime. Some of the older kids were familiar with the game (we had a couple 4-year-olds today), but the music wasn’t quite loud enough. It was fine, though! They love dancing with shaker eggs.
  • I decided to skip my last book (Make A Wish, Bear) because it had already been half an hour, and go straight to “Goodbye Friends”
  • Clean up mats
  • Color giant mittens (I drew two huge mittens in black marker on a piece of butcher paper that I taped to the floor; kids used crayons to color in and around them). Also pulled out our giant blocks to tie in with The Rabbit Listened.

Jump, The Rabbit Listened, Red Light Green Lion, Little Penguins

Stepping into storytime in 2020

The first Step into Storytime of 2020 was a great success! As usual, there were some familiar faces and a few new ones, and everyone was pretty close to the target age range (2- and 3-year-olds; some looked a little younger). The kid:adult ratio was 1:1 (except in one case where there were two adults for one kid), which helped make it a tamer affair than when there are more kids than adults. Of course, I also like to think that my book choices, songs, and felt board had something to do with their great listening today…

song cubes and picture books

  • Welcome and announcements (Happy new year!)
  • “Hello Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • “The More We Get Together” with ASL (“more,” “together,” “happy,” “be,” “friends”)
  • Book by Kristine O’Connell George and Maggie Smith
  • Stretch arms from seated position, wiggle
  • I Will Chomp You! by Jory John and Bob Shea: lots of engagement from the adults on this one.
  • Song cube: “Zoom zoom zoom, we’re going to the moon” and “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” (the latter we did once at regular speed, once slowly, and once fast)
  • Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes: This is the first time I’ve used this book at storytime and it is perfect for this age group!
  • Yoga/music: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in star pose, rocking/swaying back and forth
  • Hurray for Hat! by Brian Won: I always get the kids to show me their grumpiest faces, and they never disappoint.
  • Hand out felt pieces for The Very Hungry Caterpillar: with fifteen pieces of fruit, there was enough to go around.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: As each fruit was mentioned, the kids holding that fruit came up and stuck it on the board. I added the caterpillar at the beginning and the butterfly at the end.
  • “Goodbye Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Coloring with crayons on butcher paper

Step Into Storytime, December 9

Today was my last storytime of 2019! It was a smaller group, and I’m on the way to losing my voice, so it was quieter too. Completely different vibe from last week! So much depends on who shows up.

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Name song (“___ is here today”)
  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel
  • Yoga stretches
  • There’s A Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins
  • Song cube: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” (three times through: regular speed, slow, fast)
  • I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt: We found this book yesterday browsing at the Robbins Library. It has bright (neon!), simple illustrations which stand out well, and it also functions as a counting book (“…seven, eight, eight and a half, nine…”)
  • Stretch and wiggle
  • Mouse house game
  • Traffic light game
  • Now by Antoinette Portis: I usually save this one for the last storytime in a session, when several of the kids and their grown-ups have been coming at least semi-regularly, so when we hit the last line (“And this is my favorite now / because it’s the one I am having / with you”) there’s some feeling in it.
  • Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson: I requested about a dozen of these, more than enough for everyone to have a copy to read along. It’s interactive, so I wanted all the kids to be able to touch, tap, press, etc.
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Craft: Coloring and gluing paper stars (small and large die-cut stars, markers, glue sticks)

Step Into Storytime, December 2

It snowed yesterday and last night, then the snow turned to rain, so it was a slushy mess this morning, but we still had 8 kids at the beginning of storytime, and 14 by the end! And it was a particularly great program: I tried some new books that worked out really well, and had a new movement game for the felt board that was also a success.

Song cube and stack of picture books

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Name song (“___ is here today”)
  • Book! By Kristine O’Connell George and Maggie Smith: I found this while browsing, and it’s a great lead-off book, especially for the younger kiddos.
  • Song cube: “Where is Thumbkin?”
  • There’s A Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher
  • Stand and stretch: reach up high to the ceiling, touch toes, repeat; step feet apart and touch right hand to right foot, then left hand to left foot, then (challenge!) opposite hand to opposite foot.
  • Traffic light felt boardRed Light, Green Lion by Candace Ryan: This worked beautifully, and I really wasn’t sure how it would go. I skipped some of the text, concentrating on the red and green (“red light, green li–“), which is enough of a story on its own.
  • Traffic light felt board: First I put up the traditional traffic light colors (red, yellow, green), then started introducing different colors (orange = hop on 1 or 2 feet, pink = twirl around, purple = touch toes, blue = clap hands, white = sit down). I adapted this idea from one of the ones in Rob Reid’s book.*
  • Chicken Wants A Nap by Tracy Marchini and Monique Felix: Simple text, HUGE illustrations, lots of opportunities for animal sounds (chicken, cow, etc.).
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle,” “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” (the latter four times: regular speed/volume, then quiet, fast, slow)
  • Thank You, Bear by Greg Foley: Got an audible “awwww” from the grown-ups at the end. Foley’s Bear books are so sweet.
  • “Goodbye Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Color on butcher paper with crayons

*I’ve been slowly making my way through 200 Original and Adapted Story Program Activities by Rob Reid (2018) and mining it for new book ideas, fingerplays, rhymes, and movement activities.

Picture books on storytime chair

 

Step Into Storytime, November 25

Craft materials on top of picture books

Thanksgiving is later this week, but I didn’t lean hard on a Thanksgiving theme. Grace Lin’s beautiful, simple Dim Sum for Everyone is about sharing food, however, and I prepared a craft to go with it. Usually the craft is a collaborative one, but this was an individual project kids could take home, and they did such interesting things with the choices! I also heard one grown-up say, “I don’t think she’s ever used a glue stick before…” and that’s great – the library can be a place for kids to encounter new art supplies and tools for the first time. Experimenting with crayons, markers, glue sticks, scissors, etc. all improves fine motor control.

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Name song (“___ is here today”): We started with eight kids, two more came in during the song, and two more after that
  • Stretch
  • Sophie Johnson, Unicorn Expert by Morag Hood: This is probably better for an older group or one-on-one, as so much of the humor depends on the illustrations.
  • Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen: There is always at least one dinosaur fan in the audience. I think there was also a kid for whom the “WRECKS!” part was too loud; she moved to a grown-up’s lap.
  • Song cube (I Had A Little Turtle, I’m A Little Teapot, If You’re Happy and You Know It)
  • Just Add Glitter by Angelia DiTerlizzi (“sprinkling” glitter with our hands, and feeling the glittery pages at the end of the book)
  • What sounds do birds make? (Cheep, peep, whoo-whoo, coo, quack, etc.)
  • Froodle by Antoinette Portis: The librarian at the Fox Branch Library in Arlington read this book at storytime a few weeks ago and it was a hit. It definitely got one kid today giggling too.
  • Song cube (Itsy-Bitsy Spider, Zoom Zoom Zoom), Where is Thumbkin?
  • Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”: One time at a regular pace, one time fast, one time slow. They liked the different speeds!
  • Mouse House game: They are nuts for this! Children’s librarians and teachers, I need your help: How do you get them to sit down?? Otherwise it becomes a mosh pit very quickly, which is why I moved it from the middle of storytime to the end.
  • “Goodbye Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Clean up mats
  • Dim Sum craft: Each kid got a mini paper plate and a glue stick. I scattered different colored paper shapes on the floor so they were spread out. Most kids assembled a little plate of “dim sum,” but two used the shapes to make a face with arms, legs, and even eyebrows instead! Very creative.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Step Into Storytime, November 18

Last week the library was closed on Monday for Veterans’ Day, and last weekend was quite cold, so today’s group was large and squirrelly! I used all my quiet down and redirection strategies and it was still pretty rowdy (although to be fair, it was mostly the four in front; there were several in the back who were sitting pretty quietly and could have listened to more books).

  • Welcome and announcements (please fill out our community survey if you have 5-10 minutes!)
  • “Hello Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • “The More We Get Together” with ASL
  • Pom Pom Panda Gets the Grumps by Sophy Henn (everyone can say “Harumph!” together)
  • Will Ladybug Hug? by Hilary Leung (this is a board book, but they really seemed to enjoy it, and I think the message about consent is a good one to fit in before the holidays, when kids are likely to see some family members and family friends they might not know very well).
  • Song cube: “Wheels on the Bus” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  • Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney: They liked this one a lot, actually; I’m not sure whether that’s because it’s in rhyme or because they were sympathetic to the main character’s shyness. It also has big, bold illustrations that are easy from anywhere in the room.
  • The mouse house game (“Little mouse, little mouse, are you in the ____ house?”) They react to this game the way that Stones fans react to Satisfaction. The same three kids kept shouting out colors so I asked to hear from some of our quieter friends in the back to try to ensure everyone got a turn.
  • Want to Play Trucks? by Ann Stott and Bob Graham: This is usually a great storytime book for this group, but their attention span was completely gone at this point.
  • “Shake Your Sillies Out” with egg shakers
  • Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett: We stayed on our feet for this book so we could do the animal impressions; with the repeated “monkey and me” singsong part, it’s equal parts movement activity, song, and story.
  • “Goodbye Friends” with ASL
  • Clean up mats; reminder about surveys
  • Art: coloring with markers and crayons on brown butcher paper with a tape shape on it. (On reflection, the markers were not a good choice for today, and I got less help from grown-ups than last time with putting the caps back on. But the tape shapes were a hit! And there were so many kids I added a second paper and shape, because there wasn’t enough room around the first paper.)

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.

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