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.

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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…

Step Into Storytime, January 28

Stack of six books, spines out
Hello Hello, I Don’t Want to Be Big, Where is the Green Sheep?, Bark Park!, Where’s Walrus?, Lots of Dots

Today we had a big group – at least 15 kids but I think closer to 20, including a couple of older and younger siblings, plus the grown-ups of course. I had a little bit of a cold so I explained that my voice was not going to be as loud, and on we proceeded as usual. Many helpful grown-ups who bring their kids regularly helped out with the familiar songs – thank you!

  • “Hello Friends” with ASL
  • Name song (“____ is here today, ____ is here today, let’s all clap our hands, ____ is here today”) (at this point we had 11-12 kids but more continued to trickle in throughout)
  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel, one of my favorite lead-off books. It’s simple but visually interesting and there are lots of opportunities for movement (wiggling like an octopus, etc.).
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • I Don’t Want to Be Big by Dev Petty and Mike Boldt: We did I Don’t Want to Be A Frog three weeks ago and I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep two weeks ago (last week was a Monday holiday). These books are great, but they don’t have any textual indication of who’s speaking (e.g. “Dad frog said…”) so I sometimes add those in or at least point to which character is speaking as I read aloud.
  • Song cube: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
  • Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek: I made felt sheep for this story a while ago, so I put the yellow, pink, and blue sheep on the flannel board and hid the green sheep behind it. It worked out that one of my regulars spotted it, so I let her pull it out of hiding and stick it on the board at the end of the book. Perfect!
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • Bark Park! by Trudy Krisher and Brooke Boynton-Hughes: a newer book and a great simple one for storytimes, especially for the younger kids. I got everyone to “Bark, bark, bark!” with me at the appropriate times.
  • Song cube: “Shake Your Sillies Out” (with shaker eggs)
  • Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage: I wasn’t sure how well a wordless, hide-and-seek book would work at storytime, but this one definitely did! The walrus isn’t too hard to find on each page, and there isn’t a lot of visual clutter, plus I had two kids on the older end of our range, who always pointed right away.
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier: Our library’s copy has had a page ripped out since I last used it, but other than that blip, this is always a good one – we always look around the room for polka dots and buttons on clothing, and it ties in to the dot craft.
  • “Goodbye Friends” with ASL
  • Clean up mats
  • Spread butcher paper on the floor and tape it down, put down a bowl of glue sticks, and throw a bowl of colored paper dots in the air! Commence gluing dots. Ask for grown-ups to help keep track of caps.

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!

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.”