Step Into Storytime, January 14

This week’s storytime crowd was a little bigger than last week’s, and it was a mix of regulars, occasional visitors, and new faces. We had about ten to start, and about eight by the end, with some coming and going in between.

Rabbit puppet and six picture books on the storytime chair

I started the way I usually do, with a welcome and songs.

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello friends” song with ASL
  • Name song (“___ is here today”)

Next, I asked a question: Does anyone know of an animal with long ears, a fluffy white tail, and it hops? Eventually the kids came up with “bunny,” and I brought out the rabbit puppet. Everyone got a chance to pet it before we started the story.

  • The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
  • Yoga cube
  • I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep! by Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt. We read I Don’t Want to Be A Frog! last week, and I’ve got the next two Frog books ready for the following weeks.
  • Song cube: “Row, row, row your boat”
  • When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson. I thought this went over pretty well despite its tall, narrow trim size (a little smaller than most picture books).
  • Song: “Happy birthday” (no one in the room had a January birthday, or would admit to it if they did, so we sang to Julie, the author)
  • Yoga cube
  • Pete’s A Pizza by William Stieg: Kids were starting to get a little fidgety by this point, so I invited them to do the pizza-making motions along with Pete’s parents: kneading, tossing, adding tomatoes and cheese, putting it in the oven, cutting it up, etc. Worked pretty well!
  • Song cube: “Shake Your Sillies Out” (with shaker eggs)
  • Dog Blue by Polly Dunbar: A perfectly good book for storytime, but I should have skipped it this time; kids were getting wiggly and some were wandering out.
  • Yoga cube
  • Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won: The kids who remained seemed to like this one (it’s usually a hit, and a safe bet for the end of the line-up)
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Clean up mats
  • Make snowflake wands with last week’s die-cut snowflakes and pipe cleaners
  • Dance to “Shake Your Sillies Out” and “Twinkle Twinkle”

Most kids liked waving their snowflake wands during the music, but didn’t want to keep them, which reinforces my belief (based on observation and talking with other librarians) that at this age (2-3 years), any crafts are strictly process over product. Next week, I think we’ll be doing some gluing to go with Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier. Till then, keep warm!

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New year! Step Into Storytime, January 7

For the first Monday “Step Into Storytime” session of the year we had lots of our regulars – about eight kids in the target age range (2-3 years) and one younger sibling. It was so great to see everyone again!

Flannel board with caterpillar and fruit, yoga cube, song cube, picture books
Very Hungry Caterpillar and fruit (including an extra fifth strawberry), yoga cube, song cube, picture books for storytime

We started off with our usual “Hello Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary, and then we sang a name song because there were fewer than ten kids (with more than ten or so, it goes on too long).

  • Don’t Touch My Hair by Sharee Miller features Aria and her hair, which she loves – and so does everyone else. It’s a colorful but firm message about consent, and the perfect length for storytime.
  • I brought a different song cube this time to change things up; the first song we rolled was “Wheels on the Bus.”
  • I Don’t Want To Be A Frog by Dev Petty, with illustrations by Mike Boldt is about a frog who would rather be almost anything else…but discovers that there is one big upside to being a frog. It is very funny (and there are more Frog books).
  • Yoga cube (3 poses)
  • We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins is one of my favorite picture books published last year. I was taking a little bit of a gamble that the kids’ attention would stretch to three longer books, and it worked. (Humor works!)
  • Song cube: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle with flannel caterpillar, fruit, and (new!) butterfly (I got to play with the hot glue gun during the holiday hiatus from storytimes). I let the kids take turns coming up and taking off the fruit for each day of the week.
  • Yoga cube (3 poses)
  • Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar, even though it was a sunny day today, and a parent ended up taking this one home afterward – yay!
  • Song cube: “Where Is Thumbkin?” I use the version of this I saw at a Cambridge Public Library storytime, which omits the “sir,” rather than the one I remember from childhood.
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, even though we haven’t had any snow yet…we made our own! I handed out paper snowflakes (thank you, die-cut) to the kids (and then to the grown-ups), and at the line “New snow was falling,” we all threw them up in the air to make it snow.
  • Goodbye song with ASL, stack up mats, bring out blocks to play with

 

Multicolored felt butterfly
Felt and a hot glue gun makes a beautiful butterfly!

1/9/19 Edited to add this piece from The Horn Book Magazine, “What Makes A Good Storytime?” by Julie Roach of the Cambridge Public Library, May/June 2016, including “Ten Tips for Reading Aloud.”

 

Step Into Storytime, December 17

This morning was my last Step Into Storytime of the year! (I actually didn’t realize this until the end, when someone asked if there was going to be one next week, and I ran to check the calendar.) We started with seven or eight kids and ended up with about twelve, I think, plus a couple of babies.

Donkey puppet atop stack of picture books

  • Welcome and announcements (this is where I should have mentioned that there wasn’t going to be a storytime the next two Mondays)
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL
  • Name song (“____ is here today, ____ is here today, let’s all clap our hands, ____ is here today”)
  • I Am Actually A Penguin by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Kasia Matyjaszek: Putting the longest book first in the set worked! The kids were pretty quiet and attentive and the grown-ups definitely enjoyed it. There is something to be said for getting the grown-ups’ engagement during storytime; it’s best if everyone enjoys the program.
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
  • Yoga cube
  • Just Add Glitter by Angela DiTerlizzi and Samantha Cotterill: I encountered this one in a storytime for three- to five-year-olds and thought it could work for the younger kiddos also – and it did! (We did NOT do a related craft program.)
  • Song cube: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  • Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
  • Yoga cube
  • Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Hickory Dickory Dock by Keith Baker: I asked the kids to make the animal noises on the appropriate pages (pig, horse, etc.) and they are so good at that.
  • Yoga cube
  • The Wonkey Donkey by Craig Smith, illustrated by Katz Cowley. (This one is so in demand in our library system right now that I bought my own copy.) We have a donkey hand puppet that I bring out as well, and the kids get to come up and pet it both before and after the book. And make the “hee-haw” sounds, of course! Lots of sound effects today.
  • Song cube: “ABCs,” “Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon”
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Clean up mats and hand out Wonky Donkey coloring sheets (available on the author’s website) and bowls of crayons
Five picture books
I Am Actually A Penguin, Just Add Glitter, Please Mr. Panda, Little Owl Lost, Hickory Dickory Dock (not pictured: The Wonky Donkey)

Step Into Storytime, December 10

Stack of books for storytime, spines out

Storytime this morning was incident-free! We had about twelve kids in the target age range to start, with a few more joining throughout, and some younger siblings, for maybe 17 kids altogether.

  • Hello friends song with ASL
  • Name song (“___ is here today, ___ is here today, let’s all clap our hands, ___ is here today”)
  • Want to Play Trucks? by Ann Stott, illustrated by Bob Graham: A librarian friend of mine read this in her storytime for 3- to 5-year-olds, and I thought it could work as a lead-off book for 2- and 3-year olds too – and it did! It’s the perfect example of “find a way to play together”; the kids resolve their differences simply and easily, without much fuss, and it ends with ice cream, which everyone can agree on.
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” to warm up for…
  • …yoga cube! (3 poses)
  • My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall, with flannel board animals. I asked the kids to raise their hands (or wave, or point) when one of the animals in the book matched one of the ones on the flannel board (I have the crab, clam, penguin, owl, and frog).
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex: This one is always fun to read aloud because of the sneezes. This time I stretched the “Achoooo” all the way into the “Oops” (there are two wordless pages in between).
  • Yoga cube (three poses)Blue, yellow, red, and green felt elephants on felt board
  • A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes, with flannel elephants. I had five volunteers to put the elephants on the board (and one to take them down). We also did some marching, parading, stretching, and a related activity later.
  • Song cube: “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (ending with “If you’re happy and you know it, sit back down…”)
  • Where, Bear? by Sophy Henn: I encouraged them to say the repeated line “Where, Bear?” along with me.
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • The Steves by Morag Hood: This one is so funny.
  • Song cube: “ABCs”
  • Poems by Shel Silverstein (“Hug-O-War,” “Early Bird,” and “Pancake?”): These didn’t seem to go over as well as I remember from the last time I did them, but at least they’re short.
  • Back to elephants! I passed out die-cut paper elephants in red, yellow, green, and blue, and sang “If you’re holding [color] today, [color] today, [color] today, if you’re holding [color] today, jump up and shout hooray!” The kids seemed into the song but not the jumping up; could be that if we repeated it for a few weeks, they’d become more familiar with it and more enthusiastic. The paper elephants aren’t even necessary, as we sit on colored mats, and I made sure we only had red, yellow, green, and blue ones today. I gave the kids the choice to keep their paper elephants or return them, and most of the kids returned them; one tried to stick hers to the flannel board.
  • Goodbye friends song with ASL
  • Asked them to come put mats away in piles according to color. Not totally successful, but they did all bring their mats up front, which is something!

Kirkus has been doing its “best of 2018” lists; here is the list for picture books. Not all of these are right for storytime, or right for two- or three-year-olds, but plenty are. Have a look – and, if you’re like me, you’ll feel the need to place about a dozen requests to the library. Happy reading!

Step Into Storytime, November 30 and December 3

IMG_20181130_103047

11/30/18: I covered an extra storytime this week, for the same age group (2-3 years) and some of the same kids. Because I wasn’t sure who would show up, I chose some of my favorite books that have been successful at storytime before, as well as a craft that has been popular in the past (and that is quick and easy to prepare, especially if you happen to have an extra-large “squeeze punch,” which is a giant hole punch that cuts out circles; ours is made by Fiskars).

  • Welcome, introduction, announcements, putting up early literacy tipsIMG_20181130_093841
  • Hello Friends song with ASL
  • Name song (“____ is here today”)
  • The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
  • Song cube: “Zoom zoom zoom, we’re going to the moon”
  • Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Zacahriah Ohora (I meant to hand out scarves before this book, but forgot until a few pages in, so I paused and handed them out in the middle, so the kids could wave them on the word “wrecks”)
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • There’s A Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins
  • Song cube: “I’m a Little Teapot”
  • Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood (foreshadowing: asked the kids what shape the peas were)
  • Song cube: “Itsy-bitsy Spider”
  • Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier (“We’ll be doing something with lots of dots later…”) When we looked around the room for dots, one observant kid noticed the round magnets holding up the early literacy tips! One grandpa also had dots on his socks.
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Clean up mats, set up craft (gluing colored paper dots to butcher paper)

IMG_20181130_103122

 

12/3/18: Monday the weather was beautiful (sunny, spring-like, felt like 50 degrees!) and we had a HUGE group of about 20 kids plus all their grown-ups. There is some overlap between the two groups – plenty of kids come to the Monday and Friday storytimes – so I only repeated one book, There’s A Bear on My Chair. Again we skipped the name song as there were at least twelve kids at the beginning of storytime, and more showed up throughout.

  • Welcome and announcements
  • Hello song with ASL
  • Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Cub’s Big World by Sarah L. Thomson, illustrated by Joe Cepeda: I wasn’t sure how this one would go over as it is a fair amount of text and not a lot of humor, but it went fairly well.
  • “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer – always a favorite
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • There’s A Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins
  • Song cube: “ABCs”
  • A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes: I cut out five elephants so we could put them up on the whiteboard with magnets on the counting page, and the kids helped tell me which color elephant came next. Then we marched in place, then marched “round” in a “parade.” There is so much to do with this book! I’m working on felt elephants so kids can put them on the flannel board.
  • Meant to read three Shel Silverstein poems, but forgot
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Clean up mats, put on music (“The Wheels on the Bus” was specifically requested”) and dance with bubbles!

Colored paper elephants

Toddlers dancing to music with bubbles closely resemble a mosh pit, so it was a small miracle that when one of the littler kids vomited, no one was hit or splattered – the kid found the only clear patch of floor and aimed there. Hurrah! (If you ever want to clear out a storytime room rapidly, this is a surefire way.) The kid had good timing, too, waiting until the very end of the storytime/dance party. Well done, kiddo, and feel better.

So that was an exciting end to the program, but even throughout, it was pretty boisterous. I used as many calming and quieting techniques as I could think of, from singing “Twinkle Twinkle” to doing resting pose from the yoga cube, to anything we could all do together, like stomping our feet during Grumpy Pants; then it’s not exactly quiet, but everyone is making the same kind of noise, so it’s less chaotic. What are your favorite techniques to settle a big group?

Picture books face-out on a chair
Nanette’s Baguette, A Greyhound A Groundhog, Cub’s Big World, Grumpy Pants, There’s A Bear On My Chair, A Parade of Elephants

 

Step Into Storytime, November 26

Post-Thanksgiving, we had a big group again, with more than ten kids (plus baby siblings) at the beginning of our Step Into Storytime program for 2- and 3-year-olds. Given these numbers, we skipped the name song that we often sing after the hello song if there are fewer than ten kids.

I started off with a long-ish book, Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins, because it’s one of my favorites and because we did have snow recently (and our craft was to do with snowflakes). It went okay, but may be better for a preschool group. The favorites today were (I think) Oh No, George! and Monkey and Me.

Picture books piled up for storytime

  • Hello song with ASL
  • Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • People Don’t Bite People by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Molly Idle
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake
  • Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Snowflake craft: White butcher paper taped to the floor, die-cut snowflakes in light blue and dark blue, glue sticks, blue/purple/white/silver crayons, blue and gray markers. Nine kids stayed for the craft and a few stayed for a long time!

I had thought about reading Cub’s Big World after Toys Meet Snow, but I think I’ll save that for next week’s lead-off book, especially if we have snow between now and then. They All Saw A Cat and A Greyhound, A Groundhog are on deck too. Often the most successful books are the ones with some humor in them (like The Wonky Donkey and Grumpy Pants from last week). Do you have any favorite funny books for this age group? Please share!

Step Into Storytime, November 19

It was a cold rainy Monday the week of Thanksgiving, so attendance was a little sparse, but we had five kids in our target age range, plus two baby siblings, and we had a great time! I introduced my new creation this week: a yoga cube, made from the illustrations in the endpapers of Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo. I showed the book but didn’t read it, explaining that it’s a little long for two-year-olds. We tried out the yoga cube and it went really well – I brought it out three times during storytime and we did about three poses each time.

Song cube, yoga cube, Carrot and Pea

Storytime books on chair, with donkey puppet and coloring sheets

I also lucked out and found a big donkey puppet in the closet, so I used that to accompany my lead-off book, The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith. Hee haw!

  • Hello song with ASL
  • Name song (including the grown-ups, as we only had six total bodies in the room at the beginning)
  • The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith, with puppet. Definitely made at least one parent giggle.
  • Introduced the yoga cube and did three poses together
  • Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer: this one is a hit every time. It is just the right length for a group of 2-3-year-olds, and just the right concept too – sometimes you can be grumpy for no reason and just need a bath to cheer you up. (A nice cold bath, in Penguin’s case.)
  • Song cube: “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands”
  • Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood: Another perfect book for this group, and a nice friendship story that emphasizes how difference can be good.
  • Yoga cube
  • I Feel Teal by Lauren Rille: I love this book, and it seemed to go over okay, but it may be that this age group doesn’t quite get linking colors and moods, they are still too literal (“I’m wearing green!”)
  • Song cube: ABC songMy Heart Is Like A Zoo flannelboard
  • 88 Instruments by Chris Barton: I hadn’t planned to include this one, it was one of my backup books, but the kids in I Feel Teal play musical instruments on one page of that story so my storytime kids got excited about that too. I pulled the jingly things out of the closet and we made some noise! The jinglers aren’t especially loud, which is good, because there aren’t good prompts built into the book to tell you when to make noise (you could jingle at every page turn, though).
  • Song cube: “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon”
  • My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall, with flannel board. I pointed to the flannel animals before starting the book and asked the kids to point or raise their hands when one of our flannel friends showed up in the book. It worked – with help from grown-ups.
  • Yoga cubepangolin coloring sheet
  • Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney: This is a cute story about an unusual animal overcoming his shyness and making friends, plus it comes with a coloring sheet, so that’s what we did for our activity.
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Clean up mats, pass out coloring sheets, set out bowls of crayons

And that’s it for this week. Happy Thanksgiving!