Step into Storytime, February 10

Storytime books with bowls of crayons

There was a big group for storytime this morning, about 15 kids plus their adults, and many of them were at the younger end of our age group. I put out some extra colored sitting mats because I could tell not everyone would fit on the rug. Fortunately, most of my books today were relatively short and simple, and/or had an interactive component, and most of the group stayed through till the craft at the end.

  • Welcome and announcements (library is closed next Monday for Presidents’ Day)
  • “Hello Friends” with ASL
  • “The More We Get Together” with ASL
  • Mr. Scruff by Simon James: I adore this new book, which reminds me of Let’s Get A Pup, Said Kate by Bob Graham, but is much shorter and therefore perfect for two- and three-year-olds. There are person-and-dog rhyming pairs (e.g. Molly and Polly), and then there’s Mr. Scruff and Jim…who make a perfect pair, even though their names don’t rhyme.
  • Quick wiggle: Wiggle fingers up to the sky, down by our toes, out to the sides (if you can without hitting a neighbor), repeat.
  • Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer: One of my all-time favorite books to read at storytime. Everyone can identify with the grumpy penguin who washes away his mood by taking a nice cold bath.
  • Song cube: “ABCs” and “Itsy-Bitsy Spider.” The latter we sang three times: regular, slow, fast. This is a simple way to change it up and the kids are usually into it – it’s like a game.
  • My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall: I explained that all of the animals in the book were made with heart shapes, and asked if anyone knew what holiday was coming up on Friday (Valentine’s Day). I pulled my felt animals out and the kids identified them (except the clam, which is a tricky one); once they were on the felt board, I asked them to point to them when we got to that animal in the book (clam, crab, owl, penguin, frog). They did great!felt board tickle monster
  • Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau: There are a lot of pieces to this felt creation, so I asked the kids for help to put it together. I propped up the book cover so they could see what Tickle Monster was supposed to look like, then pulled the felt pieces out one by one and they told me what each one was and where to put it.
  • Yoga cube: Warrior one, forward fold, half lift, chair pose (with our invisible chairs, of course). Then some bilateral, cross-the-midline movement: touching right hand to left foot and left hand to right foot.
  • The Button Book by Sally Nicholls and Bethan Woollvin: This is a new book that invites the reader to take part in the story by pushing different colored buttons and making sounds or doing actions (beep, thbbbt, tickle, hug, bounce, sing, etc.). It includes two songs (“Wheels on the Bus” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”) and is just generally fun and delightful – recommended for groups who like Don’t Push the Button! by Bill Cotter, Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson, There’s A Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher, Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda, etc.
  • “Goodbye Friends” with ASL
  • Clean up mats
  • Craft: color and glue paper hearts to butcher paper on the floor (or color hearts and take them home to give as valentines)

Step into Storytime *and* Preschool Storytime, February 3 & 4

 

Step into Storytime, February 3

  • Welcome and announcements
  • “Hello Friends” with ASL
  • “The More We Get Together” with ASL
  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel
  • The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury: A classic, and they can help count to three with Mama Frog.
  • Song cube: “ABCs” and “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Yoga: mountain pose, forward fold/seated forward fold
  • Chicken Wants A Nap by Traci Marchini and Monique Felix
  • Mouse House game: Usually I save this for toward the end when the kids are getting wiggly and chatty, but in this case I moved it up because they were so quiet and I wanted to get them more engaged. (I know it’s possible to be engaged and quiet while listening to a book, but I felt like shifting gears would be helpful.) Needless to say, they were super into it, they love this game.
  • Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
  • Song cube: “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon” (I had the lyrics for the kookaburra song up, but decided not to sing it)
  • Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier: Our library copy was destroyed (every page scribbled on, some ripped), so I bought my own. It’s a simple but creative concept, nice and bright, and an easy tie-in craft.
  • “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with scarves. I handed out two each and we practiced waving them, throwing and catching them, then sang “Twinkle” in star pose, leaning or rocking back and forth.
  • “Goodbye Friends” with ASL
  • Craft: coloring with crayons and gluing “lots of dots” to butcher paper on the floor

Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play posters

Preschool Storytime, February 4

Due to the planned absence of another staff member, I got to do the preschool storytime this week! Attendance was lower than usual, just four preschool-age kids and one little sibling, and all five were boys. Two of them brought their own books that they looked through while I read the first two books, but all of them were responsive and engaged for songs and the mouse house game, and more interested in the last two books as well.

Stack of picture books

  • Welcome, introduction, announcements
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL (2x)
  • The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker and Mark Pett: I think at least two of the four were interested in this story, but it was hard to tell.
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” and “Where Is Thumbkin?”
  • World Pizza by Cece Meng and Ellen Shi: This one felt a little long, especially after The Very Last Castle (which is also longer than I would do with 2- and 3-year-olds), but it’s got a big sneeze and some interesting pizza toppings (seaweed, spicy pepper, chocolate cherry), so we got to talk about pizza toppings afterward. And I only teared up the tiniest bit at the line, “And in that moment the world was filled with kindness and love and no fighting.”
  • Song cube: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “ABCs,” “Itsy-Bitsy Spider”
  • Princess Bess Gets Dressed by Margery Cuyler and Heather Maoine: Proof that boys can be into princess books! Especially if the book ends with underwear. We talked about our favorite outfits (costumes and pajamas, mostly).
  • The mouse house game: this has yet to fail. If you need a sure-thing felt board activity, this is it. (Hat tip to a children’s librarian in Belmont.)
  • There’s a Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher and Greg Abbott: As close to a sure thing as there is in storytime. Everyone had fun chasing the monster out of the book, and then luring him back.
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL
  • Clean up mats and put out craft: A big castle outlined in black on butcher paper, with crayons, markers, paper animal cutouts, and glue sticks.

 

Step into Storytime, January 27 *and* ALA Youth Media Awards

Last Monday we were closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and next week I get to do a double storytime (2- and 3-year-olds on Monday as usual, preschool storytime on Tuesday), but this week was a regular Step into Storytime session. Attendance was on the low end to start with, about seven kids (all boys, coincidentally), but a few more came in during our initial songs and first few books.

Goose, Dragon, Pirate, Bear books on chair

  • Welcome and announcements (including “storytime is my favorite part of the week.” I borrowed this lovely phrase from a librarian at the library in Arlington said this at her storytime last week. It is 100% true for me as well, as long as we’re talking about the work week)
  • “Hello Friends” with ASL
  • Name song (“___ is here today”)
  • Goose by Laura WallPirate Jack gets dressed felt pieces and list
  • There’s A Dragon in Your Book by Tom Fletcher (this book encourages plenty of interaction: blowing out fire, popping a water balloon, etc.)
  • Song cube: “The Wheels on the Bus”
  • Pirate Jack Gets Dressed by Nancy Raines Day, illustrated by Allison Black: This is such a fabulous book to talk about colors (and getting dressed). I made a set of felt shapes to correspond to each item of Jack’s clothing and placed them on the felt board as we got to their page in the story. Before starting the book, we also took a look at what colors we were wearing.
  • Mouse house game (by request). “Little mouse, little mouse, are you in the [color] house?” Apparently this never gets old!
  • Song cube: “Zoom zoom zoom, we’re going to the moon” (twice)
  • Make A Wish, Bear by Greg Foley: I had A Parade of Elephants with me too, but decided to save that for next week and made Bear the last book of today’s storytime. We noticed the star shapes on the cover and in the book, to tie in to our craft project.
  • “Goodbye Friends” with ASL
  • Invited questions, and one boy raised his hand and said, “I have a question! Will you put the paper out now?” (Later, a grown-up came up and asked for books for her kindergartener who likes funny books like Elephant & Piggie and Pigeon, so I helped her find several funny picture books.)
  • Craft: Butcher paper taped to the floor, pre-cut colored construction paper stars, glue sticks, crayons.

And when I was finished cleaning up from storytime, the ALA Youth Media Awards had been announced! I was so excited to see that New Kid by Jerry Craft won the Newbery AND Coretta Scott King, and that Dig by A.S. King won the Printz, and Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez won the Pura Belpré. Many other winner and Honor titles were books I’ve liked or loved this year:

  • Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (Newbery Honor)
  • Bear Came Along by Richard Morris and LeUyen Pham (Caldecott Honor)
  • Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (Coretta Scott King Honor)
  • What Is Given From the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack and April Harrison (Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award)
  • The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais (Schneider Family Book Award Honor)
  • Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya (Schneider Family Honor Book)
  • Dominicana by Angie Cruz (Alex Award)
  • The Swallows by Lisa Lutz (Alex Award)
  • Children’s Literature Legacy Award to Kevin Henkes
  • ALSC Children’s Literature Lecture Award to Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop (if you’re heard of mirrors, windows, and doors in children’s literature, she is why)
  • Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka (Odyssey Award for best audiobook, though I read the print edition)
  • We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorrell (Odyssey Honor; American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book Honor)
  • We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey (Odyssey Honor)
  • ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market by Raúl Gonzalez (Belpré Illustrator Honor Book)
  • Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise and Paola Escobar (Belpré Author Honor Book)
  • Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal (Sibert Award; American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book Honor)
  • This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy (Sibert Honor)
  • Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis (Sibert Honor)
  • Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot! by Cece Bell (Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor)
  • The Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli (Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor)
  • Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed (Asian/Pacific American Picture Book Honor)
  • Stargazing by Jen Wang (Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature)
  • Frankly in Love by David Yoon (Asian/Pacific American Young Adult Literature Honor)
  • Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis with Traci Sorell, cover art by Marlena Myles (American Indian Youth Literature Middle Grade Award)

…and naturally I added several others to my to-read list this morning. Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators, thanks to the committee members, and happy reading to everyone! | School Library Journal ALA YMA announcement

Screenshot of SLJ tweet announcing Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz winners

 

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!