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
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Step Into Storytime, April 1

Song cube, yoga cube, picture books

Happy April! Today was a super fun storytime. We had a great group of about 14 kids and their grown-ups, and I was excited for our activity/craft to go with A Parade of Elephants. Initially I was planning to read The Rabbit Listened, but ended up swapping it out for Z Is for Moose.

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel: I’m tempted to lead off with this book every time. It always elicits engagement from the kids and provides so many opportunities for moving and thinking.
  • Wolfie the Bunny by Amy Dyckman and Zachariah Ohora: This was a little long, but funny, and it doesn’t go where you think it’s going to go. The kids stuck with it (one of them took one look at the cover and observed, “That doesn’t look like a bunny!” Correct, kiddo.)
  • Yoga flow: mountain pose and forward fold, feet apart and gentle twist
  • I Am Josephine by Jan Thornhill and Jacqui Lee: In general I like to stick to books that have some kind of story (and forward momentum), but this one has questions and animals, which worked out pretty well. It’s also a good one-on-one book to discuss the different categories: living thing, animal, mammal, human being.
  • Song cube: “Itsy-bitsy Spider” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
  • Goose Goes to the Zoo by Laura Wall: The last goose book until she writes a new one. The best part of this one was the page with all the honking: one kid yelled “It’s a car horn!” (It’s not. It’s geese.)
  • Yoga flow: tree/flamingo pose (there were flamingos in Goose Goes to the Zoo), Warrior 1 and 2
  • “ABC” song to get ready for…Z is for Moose (pages D and E)
  • Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinsky: If you’ve never read this aloud before, give it a few run-throughs first, to decide how you’re going to do the interruptions by Moose and Zebra. So funny, and a sweet ending.
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • Clean up mats
  • A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes: We cleaned up the mats first because I wanted clear space for marching and parading. I also turned the flannel board around so everyone could see the flannel elephants, and lots of kids came up to touch them, take them off, and put them back on. Then we read the book and marched!
  • “Goodbye friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Craft: using glue sticks to glue paper elephants and stars to butcher paper on the wall. I drew a path for them to use if they wanted but we ended up with beautiful chaos, of course. The kids spent a long time doing this – gluing is always a fun activity.

Kids gluing paper elephants and stars

 

Step Into Storytime, March 25

It was a beautiful day and a BIG group in our little storytime room today – about 18 kids plus a baby or two and accompanying grownups. It was a correspondingly loud storytime, so when possible, I used techniques to harness and direct the noise: CAW-ing like a crow in Harold and His Woolly Hat, HONK-ing with Goose Goes to School, lots of songs from the song cube.

Books arranged on the reading chair

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Harold Loves His Woolly Hat by Vern Kousky: I got a little brown bear out of our stuffed animal/puppet closet and let the kids pet it after the story. Hat tip to Lauren at the Robbins Library for reading Harold at her storytime a few months ago.
  • Yoga: forward fold to touch toes, stretch to touch ceiling
  • Goose Goes to School by Laura Wall: Again, Goose was a hit. I don’t know if it’s the bright colors or the text-to-illustration ratio or what, but it’s magic.
  • Song cube: Itsy-bitsy Spider, I Had A Little Turtle
  • Alfie Is Not Afraid by Patricia Carlin: Nearly all of the humor in this book comes from the juxtaposition between the pictures and the text, so I mentioned that upfront as something to look out for.
  • Yoga: Seated forward fold, stretch toward the ceiling, stretch to either side
  • When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes: An informal poll shows that EVERYONE likes jumping in puddles.
  • “Shake Your Sillies Out” with shaker eggs (and scarves, because I ran out of eggs)
  • The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson
  • Song cube: Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon; I’m A Little Teapot; Where Is Thumbkin?
  • Just Add Glitter by Angela DiTerlizzi and Samantha Cotterill: This has textured pages, which I let the kids feel after the story.
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Clean up mats, get coloring sheets (I drew two different types of hat and made copies), color with crayons, come choose a colored pom pom and get a dot of glue.

Storytime live action shot - Goose Goes to School

Step into Storytime, March 18

I’ve missed two weeks of storytime – there was a snow day on March 4 and last week I was on vacation – and it felt like ages! It was good to be back today and see some familiar faces and some new ones. Today’s books were mostly on the shorter, simpler side, so we managed seven(!), as well as lots of songs and yoga.

song cube, yoga cube, picture books

  • Hello, welcome, announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary (skipped the name song because we had a big group – about 15)
  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel: Still one of the best lead-off books I know of – so many opportunities for getting kids engaged (“Who’s wearing stripes? Who’s wearing spots? Can you wiggle like an octopus?”)
  • Yoga flow: resting pose, mountain pose, forward fold, tree
  • Goose by Laura Wall: This went over splendidly. It has the perfect amount of text on each page for this group, and the simple illustrations on brightly-colored backgrounds work really well for a group.
  • Song cube: “If you’re happy and you know it,” “I had a little turtle”
  • Shh! We Have A Plan by Chris Haughton: I’ve done Oh No, George! several times in storytime but this was the first time I did Shh! and it was excellent! There is “shh”ing of course, which keeps things quiet, but also counting, and also pointing (“Where’s the bird? Did they catch it?”), and it’s funny.
  • Yoga flow
  • Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood
  • One Little Blueberry by Tammi Salzano, illustrated by Kat Whelan
  • Song cube: “Itsy-bitsy Spider,” “I’m a little teapot,” “Zoom zoom zoom, we’re going to the moon”
  • Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton: We were running ahead of schedule and I had a little extra time, so I used this one from my pile of backup books. Always a favorite. What WILL George do?
  • My Spring Robin by Anne and Lizzy Rockwell
  • “Goodbye friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Clean up mats
  • Coloring sheet: I traced the robin from the last page of My Spring Robin, enlarged it by 20%, and made copies for kids to color with crayons. (One kid didn’t want the robin so I gave him a leftover Wonky Donkey. Leftovers never go to waste!)

It really was good to be back. And here’s one more new resource I heard about through one of my book groups: Diverse BookFinder. If you’re looking for picture books featuring people of color or indigenous people of color, this is a tremendous resource, including books from 2002 to the present. The design is clean and clear and easy to navigate, and I’m looking forward to discovering new picture books using the Diverse BookFinder.

Step Into Storytime, February 25

Stack of storytime books, with storytime box and scarves in the background

It was a full house this morning, with 16+ kids and their grown-ups, and a slightly wider age spread than usual – plenty of younger kids, but also some at the top of our 2-3 age range. It’s always helpful to have some older kids there, as they usually pay close attention to the pictures and are not shy about participating, which moves things along; during Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? I had a chorus of two boys shouting “no!” after each thing that didn’t grow. Fun!

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL, from Jbrary
  • Huff and Puff by Claudia Rueda, with scarves for huffing and puffing
  • Yoga flow: Stretching tall with hands in the air, forward fold to touch toes, stretch tall again
  • Winter Is Here by Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek: Luckily(?) we had a spurt of windy snow earlier this morning.
  • Song cube: “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”
  • Solutions for Cold Feet by Carey Sookocheff: I’ve been wanting to read this Canadian author/illustrator’s book at storytime for several weeks, and it finally seemed like the right time.
  • Here I switched up my original plan to read Goose by Laura Wall and read Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex, because a book with a huge sneeze in it is always, always a winner. Next week, Goose!
  • Yoga flow: more mountain pose and touching toes, as well as chair pose and tree pose
  • I’m My Own Dog by David Ezra Stein: This is one of those flip-the-script books and it’s got that humor going for it, but I’m not sure kids this age (or anyone, anymore) are familiar with dog behavior stereotypes that seem 1950s-ish (fetching slippers, etc.) Still, it’s a book about a dog, and it’s a just-right length for storytime.
  • Song cube: “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan Shea: This seems like the perfect storytime book – stark, bright illustrations, fold-out flaps, rhyme – but the last time I read it there seemed to be no reaction whatsoever. This time it went great!
  • “Shake Your Sillies Out” with music and shaker eggs
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL, from Jbrary
  • Stack mats, more music, bring out giant blocks, fin.

 

Step Into Storytime, February 11

Picture books on a chair with a donkey puppet

We had another large bunch today, with fewer regulars than usual and some kids on the younger and older ends of the spectrum. While I don’t usually do a theme, we did one valentine book and one book with heart shapes (as well as a valentine craft), and talked a little about colors and shapes. I also tried clustering books and songs a little more than I usually do (i.e. two books and then two songs instead of book/song/book/song). Lots of kids were in a wiggly, singalong mood today.

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL from Jbrary
  • Name song (we had about 11 kids at this point, more came throughout and some left before the end)
  • Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood and Claudia Rueda: This one is a little long (lots of pages, not too many words), and the illustrations aren’t big and bright, but it’s such an unusual, funny book – not the usual Valentine’s fare – that I wanted to try it.
  • Song cube: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “Where Is Thumbkin?”
  • Green Is A Chile Pepper by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and John Parra: This has one or two Spanish words incorporated into the text on each page, as well as a translation of the color. For each color, I asked if anyone was wearing that color or sitting on that color mat.
  • Yoga cube: Instead of doing three static poses like usual, we did three and then cycled through them: mountain pose to forward fold and back to mountain pose, then tree pose. Some of the little ones have great balance! We always try standing on each leg – sometimes one side is steadier than the other.
  • My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall: I used the flannel board for this (I’ve made the penguin, owl, frog, crab, and clam), and said we would be making our own animals out of hearts as our craft at the end.
  • Song cube: “Shake Your Sillies Out” (with egg shakers)
  • The Steves by Morag Hood
  • Perfect Square by Michael Hall
  • Yoga (mountain pose, forward fold, tree pose, seated forward fold)
  • Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
  • The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith and Katz Cowley
  • Craft: Colored paper hearts, crayons, googly eye stickers. For two- and three-year-olds this is simple, but it could be scaled up for older kids: add glue sticks and hearts of different sizes, and they can make animals like in the book, or invent their own.

Paper heart with googly eyes

 

Step Into Storytime, February 4

Storytime books and scarf

I’ve been thinking lately that I’d like to ask storytime attendees for feedback with a short survey, and while I mulled over what questions to ask, I wrote down all the elements I bring to storytime aside from books: early literacy tips (for the grown-ups), scarves, shaker eggs, other musical instruments, flannel board, the song cube, the yoga cube, stuffed animals and puppets, various arts and crafts activities, bubbles, and music. I don’t use all of these in every storytime, of course, because that would probably be sensory overload, and it’s good to change things up; while the overall pattern of the program is the same each week, some elements are familiar and others are new. If you have a storytime program, do you evaluate it? What questions do you ask, and how? A quick search turned up a useful blog post from storytime goldmine Jbrary.

Here’s what we did today, with a group of about ten kids, including a couple of four-year-olds (welcome, because we had a couple of books that required sharp eyes – Sophie Johnson, Unicorn Expert and Where’s Walrus? And Penguin? – and the older kiddos are great at spotting the hide-and-seek characters).

  • Hello and announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL (from Jbrary)
  • Name song (“____ is here today…”)
  • I Wish It Would Snow by Sarah Dillard: I had planned to hand out scarves for this one, but I forgot. We talked about how we haven’t had very much snow yet this year. The adults were particularly engaged during this storytime – thanks, grown-ups! I also brought out one of our rabbit puppets, which I invited kids to come pat after the story.
  • Yoga cube
  • Sophie Johnson, Unicorn Expert by Morag Hood and Ella Okstad: This has a bit of hide-and-seek to it, so I passed out scarves for this one instead. The littler kids had fun with the scarves, and the four-year-olds spotted the real unicorn right away.
  • Song cube: “Row Row Row Your Boat” and “Shake Your Sillies Out” (with scarves)
  • Spots in a Box by Helen Ward: This is a new favorite of mine. I like the rhyme scheme and the art. On the final page, the dots are textured, so I invited kids to come up and feel the book.
  • Yoga cube
  • There’s Nothing to Do! by Dev Petty and Mike Boldt: This completes our quartet of frog books…until they write some more!
  • Song cube: “Where is Thumbkin?” Everyone loved this. Even the littlest kids have the fine motor skills to do a thumbs-up! I sang the Cambridge Public Library version, which omits the traditional “sir.”
  • Pouch! by David Ezra Stein: This late in the storytime lineup, I like books with less text, and this one is perfect. To start, I asked which animals had pouches, and the kids said “kangaroo!” I told them that all animals with pouches are called marsupials. Word of the day!
  • Yoga cube
  • Where’s Walrus? And Penguin? by Stephen Savage: Again, my observant four-year-olds were quick to spot the escaped zoo animals.
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL (from Jbrary)
  • Clean up mats, color with crayons

Before and after

Instead of putting down blank butcher paper, I drew a few outlines of circles of different sizes before our program. That way, kids could color inside those circles, or make their own, or draw anything else they wanted. I even saw a yellow snowman…