Monthly Archives: September 2014

Get dressed! Clothes Storytime


What better topic for storytime than Clothes? Kids relate to it, parents relate to it, and who hasn’t seen a precious storytimer in an inventive and crazy outfit and known right away that they were in charge of their own outfits that morning?


I’m glad I’m not a centipede
and I will tell you why.
I would have 100 feet
and 100 shoes to tie!


Whose Hat is That? (Bijsterbosch)


New for 2014 – this book follows a hat that keeps getting blown by the wind onto different animals’ heads. Each animal claims it as their own and revels in how good it looks on them. The animals range from a cat to a polar bear and each animal appears on their own page – and then again on the next page as the hat blows away. It is difficult to modify this book for a shorter story so I read this to Preschoolers. A colleague decided to adapt it into a flannel story and it really does read well. This one fits for these themes: Animals, Animals Sounds, Clothes, Wind, and Hats!

Hooray for Hat (Won)


Hooray for this book! Also new for 2014, it goes from animal to animal showing how to share the happiness that is hat! In the end, everyone pulls together to cheer up one more friend. This book is great for Wild Animals, Hats, Friends, and Moods. I read it towards the beginning for Toddlers since it travels through 6 different friends and in the middle for Preschoolers and have them march when the animals go visit.

Caps for Sale (Slobodkina)


A classic, this title goes over best when I read it from our Big Book collection. Also, it’s pretty impressive to pronounce her name correctly: pronounced ess-FEER sloh-BOD-kee-nah. When the monkeys start to misbehave and talk back to the peddler, I pause after each infraction and share the “I can’t believe they DID that!” face with the kids. By the end, it is pure disbelief that they monkeys would/could be so rude and then the giggles take over. I read it for Toddler and Preschoolers. And anyone else who will sit still for it.

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed (Chodos-Irvine)


Everyone in Ella Sarah’s family has opinions about what she should wear – but she is having none of it! The patterns of the house and clothes are wonderful from across the room and Ella Sarah’s emphatic responses keep the story moving. When her friends show up for a tea party, you can see why she was insistent on her ensemble.  I read this to Toddler and Preschoolers and am still searching for a pair of fluffy sheep pajamas in my size.

Too Purpley! (Reidy)


This turns out to be almost the opposite of Ella Sarah Gets Dressed. Our protagonist tries on many many outfits and has specific reasons for disregarding them all. The scale is a little smaller than Ella Sarah so some of the pictures may be lost on a big crowd.  It is a good opportunity to have Preschoolers finish rhymes with you.

Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes (Litwin)


Pete is pretty awesome – and I love groovin’ this song with the crowd (if you haven’t heard it: ). It is about the shoes but it is really about taking it easy, going with the flow, letting it slide. We all need to  do that, right? I read it to Toddlers and Preschoolers and use it for storytimes about Cats, Clothes, Colors, Shoes, and Singing.

Aliens Love Underpants (Freedman)


Bloomers, panties, long-johns, and aliens! This book is all silliness and rhyming. The illustrations are bold and bright and show, of course, lots of underwear. Toddlers might sit still for it but underpants mean so much more to Preschoolers. They will appreciate the silly – and you will probably get some new potty stories. Woo!

Animal Pants (Moses and Boretzki)


Another book about underpants! Warthogs, skunks, cats, and frogs – they are all featured in this silly book about animals and their underwear.  I save this one for a Preschool crowd that is hanging with me.

Old Hat New Hat (Berenstain)


I wish this was in a bigger format. My copy is a beginning reader and so is on the small rectangular side. It remains great, however. The illustrations are bright and funny. They rhyme itself cruises right along. I speed up as the descriptions move along and can then come to a screeching halt for, “WAIT!” and of course, the joke at the end just tickles the kids. Due to size, I wouldn’t read this to a room of more than 30 people and Preschoolers will appreciate it more than Toddlers.

The interstitials (the space fillers):


Put Your Pants On (Tune: Mama’s Little Baby Loves Shortnin’ Bread)

Let’s all put our pants on, pants on, pants on,
Let’s all put our pants on, 1, 2, 3.

[Repeat with other articles of clothing (socks or tights, shoes, etc.)]

Now that you’re all dressed, all dressed, all dressed,
Now that you’re all dressed, let’s go out to play.

Borrowed it from: Storytime Hooligans
who adapted it from: King County Library System

Flannel Play

Snoozers (Boynton)

Chickens like pajamas with a hat to match
Piggies like pajamas with the feet attached.
Hippos wear pajamas just a little tight
Lions like pajamas that fit just right.
Rabbits like pajamas just a little loose
But you’ve got to have buttons if you’re a moose.

The book this rhyme is from is a board book and just too small to share with more than 3 people so I made enlarged copies of the animals onto cardstock, laminated them, and added velcro on the back to make the whole thing into a flannel board story. I go through it twice so they can really hear the rhymes. Kids laugh hardest at the hippo and the moose.

snoozers     488887

Whose Shoes?

For this game, I have the kids guess who the shoes belong to. I put the pieces up one at a time and then we talk about what kind of shoes they are. My little Austinites seem to have the hardest time with the ice hockey skates – go figure.

These shoes are all clipart on cardstock. I laminated them for sturdiness and velcro on the back holds them on the flannel board.


UPDATE/ADDITION: This Sorting Socks Game just popped up in my feed from Miss Mary Liberry and I will be making it and using it next time I plan this storytime theme! It is so cute and what a great chance to get the kids up and involved. I’ll add my own pictures after I create the washing machine and socks. (10/10/14)


Flower/Straw Necklaces

We made flower necklaces today (and got the really cute idea from Homeschool Antics). I had a summer volunteer cut pieces of yarn and wrap tape on one end. I put out small die cut flowers and pieces of colored straws. The tape allows the kids to do the “sewing” and that really works the fine motor skills. Yea! Some of the parents were insistent on the child following a pattern – but most just let them get creative. Regardless, everyone left storytime looking fancy!


So, let’s get dressed!

This week’s line up:

Toddler lineup:

Caps For Sale (Slobodkina)
ABCs song
Snoozers flannel
Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes (Litwin)
Zoom Zoom Zoom song
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Preschool lineup:
Aliens Love Underpants (Freedman)
Snoozers flannel
Hooray for Hat (Won)
Whose Shoes? flannel
Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes (Litwin)
Ella Sarah Gets Dressed (Chotos-Irvine)
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear


Going Crazy! Wild Animal Storytime


Confession: Storytime Fail.

For the first few years of planning storytime, I would try to create a Toddler and Preschool storytime theme for snakes. I would find a handful of books, break out my 5 Little Snakes flannel, plan to sing I’m Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor, and head into the program. And I was always disappointed at how it would come together – or how it really didn’t. I finally realized that I was trying too hard to make it happen. So, I put a post-it note on the topic page in my theme binder that said, “Dear Ann, Please don’t try to do a theme on snakes. It just never works. Plan for Wild Animals instead! Love, Ann.”

I have come across that note many times as I plan my season of storytimes and I thank PastAnn each time.

So here are the things I use for Wild Animals.


The secret of the polar bear–
Is that he wears long underwear.
                –Gail Kredenser

The alligator chased his tail
Which hit him on the snout.
He nibbled, gobbled, swallowed it
And turned right inside-out!
                –Mary Macdonald


Tiny Little Fly (Rosen)


This book is just about perfect for Wild Animal Storytime. Rosen’s narrative is clever in its rhymes and cadence. Waldron’s illustrations are large and interesting giving just enough clues in the pages before the reveal of the animal  that kids can guess who is next. The fly is a nimble escape artist – quickly flying away as each animal tramps, rolls, and swoops as they try to “catch that fly!”  I read this for Toddlers and Preschoolers – having the Toddlers point to their own body parts as the fly lands on the animals, taking more time to guess the animals with Preschoolers, and encouraging everyone to chant “catch that fly!” with me.

 I Am an Elephant (Carr)


This non-fiction title is part of the AV(2) Media Enhanced series. The whole series focuses on animals. The Media Enhanced part is a URL with a book code to enter. Then you get interactive audios etc. But back to storytime. The books have great photos, there is one easy reader sentence per 2 page spread and it is full of interesting facts. The last pages provide more details – a great cheat for didactic reading or throwing in some “didyaknows.”  These books are short enough for Toddler Time and interesting enough for Preschool Time. A few of the other animals in the series are: dolphin, giant panda, gorilla, jaguar, tiger, and shark. I Am a Shark is the only one that might be a little scary. Lots-o-teeth!

From Head to Toe (Carle)


Love me some Eric Carle! And this one is a great opportunity to stand up to read! Get the kids on their feet and have them do all of the movements from the book- yelling out “I can do it!” each time. I read this to all ages – and encourage parents and caregivers to play this game while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic.

Big Little Monkey (Schaefer)

Big Little Monkey

Big Little Monkey wakes up earlier than his whole family and decides that he is old enough to go out on his own to play. He meets several jungle animals and tries to play with them but when he meets Mr. Boa and his tricky ways, Big Little Monkey knows he is big enough to know when to head home. Great saturated color and fun language make this good for storytime. It is a little longer and complicated with some movement phrases like bim-bala-bim so I read this one to preschoolers.

The Wheels on the Bus (Cabrera)


Who doesn’t want a great excuse to sing Wheels on the Bus one more time? Cabrera’s colorful illustrations are easily seen from across the room and each page invites everyone to sing along, ” The lions on the bus go roar roar roar!” And along with the typical animals (zebras and monkeys) there are a few surprises (hyenas and bush babies)! The end pages include the simple melody just in case you forgot (yeah, right).

Through the Heart of the Jungle (Emmett)


Emmett’s book is based on There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly but is all jungle animals! The illustrations are bright and beautiful. The descriptions of the animals are delicious “the toad with the big googly eye,” “the monkey that let out a shriek,” and “the snake that slithered and slunk” but there are several and (true to the rhyme) they are all repeated each verse so it does get a little long. That makes it better for older kids than the littles. An attentive Preschool crowd or school age would love it.

The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A Pop-Up Book (Faulkner)
The Big Wide-Mouthed Frog (Martin Larranaga)

106559          1180910

I love the story of the big wide-mouthed frog and both of these versions are lots of fun. The pop-ups in Faulkner’s book are big and fun – especially the last when he closes his mouth tightly. The frog visits a bird, a mouse and an alligator – ending with a big splash! Martin Larranaga’s version is full of Australian animals – making it a tad more interesting. How many emu’s are there in kids books?

The copy I have is on the small side so I actually made a flannel of the characters. The frog has an overlay so his mouth can be small at the end. I’m kind of ridiculously pleased with the emu.

big mouthed frog

The trick is to use a very wide mouth when reading as the frog and then a very very small mouth at the end. I just about sprain my jaw when I read these. It’s like these big mouth parts were written for me……hmmmmmm.

The interstitials (the space fillers):


In the Jungle

Giraffes are tall with necks so long (on tip toes, raise hands)
Elephants’ trunks are big and strong (hand and arm as trunk)
Zebras have stripes and gallop away (gallop in a cirlce)
While monkeys in the trees do sway (sway back and forth)
Old crocodile swims in a pool so deep (pretend to swim)
Or lies in the sun and goes to sleep. (close eyes, go to sleep)

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Monkey, monkey in the tree
Can you ________ like me?
(jump around, swing your tail, scratch an itch, eat a banana…)

Flannel Play

Teasing Mr. Alligator

5 little monkeys
Swinging from a tree
Teasing Mr. Alligator
“You can’t catch me!”
Along comes Mr. Alligator
quiet as can be and
SNAPS that monkey out of that tree!

This one has the makings of storytime/flannel magic if you get quieter and quieter as Mr. Alligator closes in on those smart-alecky monkeys and then SNAP pretty quickly. It doesn’t even need to be that loud – it is startling and the kids loooooove it.

I made this one from clipart, cardstock, and the handy-dandy laminator. Add velcro on the back and it is ready for storytime!

teasing mr croc

Count the Tigers

One big tiger, standing on a tree
Two white tigers looking at me.
Three little tigers, I bet they are brothers.
Four big tigers each different than the other.
Count them all and that makes 10 –
Do you want to do it all over again?

I wrote this rhyme because I wanted to include tigers in my storytime but couldn’t find anything I liked. I found the photos online, printed them on cardstock, wrote the lines of rhyme on the back (as well as photo credits), and laminated them. The 5th page is the other 4 photos all together. I present it like flashcards from a sitting position. It is 5 cards but we count all the way to 10 for a bit of a change.


Five Little Snakes

Five little snakes
Hid under Mom’s chair
My brother grabbed the orange one
Leaving four there.

Four little snake
Swinging in a tree
The blue one slipped and fee
Leaving only three

Three little snakes
Wondered what to do
The red one took a nap
Leaving only two

Two little snakes
Basking in the sun
The purple one slithered off
Leaving only one

One little green snake
Lonely as could be
Went looking for some fun
And came and played with me!



I Went to the Zoo (tune: My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean)
(Raise or lower your arms every time you mention an animal.)

I went to the zoo to see lions, (up)
Elephants, tigers, and bears. (down, up, down)
I went to the zoo to see zebras, (up)
I love all the animals there. (stay up!)

Lions, tigers, elephants, zebras, and bears and bears. (down, up, down, up, down, up)
Lions, tigers, elephants, zebras, and bears (down, up, down, up, down)

This song is awesome and the whole room will love it. If you practice – you’ll be able to do it faster and faster. Lots of laughing!!


Down in the Jungle
(clap hands on knees and clap them together to set the rhythm of the chant)

Down in the jungle with the beat in your feet
Think of an animal that you’d like to meet!
That you’d like to meet!
(Child calls out an animal)
A ____! A _____! You want to see a ______!
(Then all children imitate that animal)


(update 2/5/15) A Zebra

I found an unstriped zebra in Google and cut a bunch of thin strips from black paper. I left the strips longer than the zebra on purpose. This allows the kids to tear the strips and develop their fine motor skills of pinching. They glue the strips onto the blank zebra thereby making stripes (and practicing more fine motor skills with all the gripping and pushing) and voila. The results are organic and interesting. Try it!

blank zebra      zebra

Snake Spiral

Our diecut machine does a great spiral so I prepared some from cardstock. The kids taped a piece of yarn to one end and colored the spiral. Then when they lifted it by the yarn, it spun out so very nicely! The coloring and taping work the fine motor skills, the walking while lifting the yarn – the gross motor skills.

spiral snake

So, I guess I did put a lot of snakes in there anyway. Maybe I could do a storytime just about snakes….

Dear FutureAnn,
Just say, “no.”
Also, drink more water. Because, water.

This week’s line up:

Toddler lineup:

Tiny Little Fly (Rosen)
ABCs song
Teasing Mr. Alligator flannel
From Head to Toe (Carle)
Five Little Snakes flannel
Zoom Zoom Zoom song
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Preschool lineup:
Big Little Monkey (Schaefer)
Teasing Mr. Alligator flannel
Tiny Little Fly (Rosen)
Count the Tigers
Wheels on the Bus (Cabrera) book/song
The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A Pop-Up Book (Faulkner)
I Went to the Zoo song
Five Little Snakes flannel
I am an Elephant (Carr)
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

So Many Fish in the Sea – Ocean Storytime


Fish/Ocean/Sea are all great themes to choose for storytime because they can be as specific or as broad as you like. There are lots of books that include ocean animals in and out of the water – so go for it!

A golden fish went swimming by.
He swam down low; he swam up high.
He wriggled his fins and shook his scales.
and swished his graceful golden tail.


Swimmy (Lionni)


Swimmy is an awesome book about working together. It has its dark moments – mass pescacide at the very beginning and sweet revenge at the end – but in between there are lots of ocean animals and a self-confident mind set. I usually read this to preschoolers because of length and concepts.

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean (Sherry)


This book is hilarious on so many levels. The main character just keeps bragging about how big he is – until he meets someone SO much bigger. I read this with a lot of bravado mixed with matter-of-factness. He is bigger than all those other fish, after all. Be sure to read the back cover – the parents will laugh.

Hooray for Fish! (Cousins)


I love this book for both Toddlers and Preschoolers. The colors are vibrant and the illustrations are whimsical and visible from far away. Toddlers are lured in by the Maisie-like colors and Preschoolers will like all of the silly creatures. Be sure to count the page that asks how many there might be before reading it aloud. I read that page and a tired Dad-voice piped up from the middle of the room, “24.” Clearly, he’d read it many many times.

I Spy Under the Sea (Gibbs)


The parents and I talk through the animals in this book with Toddlers but Preschoolers can get it on their own. Gibbs does a nice job of playing I Spy with the kids – the animals are easy enough to guess and the artwork is beautiful. Kids get a peek at the animal he is describing through a hole in the center and each animal spread has varying numbers – so you can use it for counting, too. We’ve also enjoyed his I Spy on the Farm.

My Octopus Arms (Baker)


This octopus talks with a crab about all the different things his arms can do and kids relate to that. They are learning to swing bats and stir pots and of course they all know the best thing about arms – hugging! The book is written in rhyme and there are several stanzas so if you feel the need to shorten it for any reason, it could easily be done. (That is a topic for another blog post.)

Peanut Butter and Jellyfish (Krosoczka)


This title would be good for a young school-age read aloud as it deals with friendship and bullying behavior. The pictures are very colorful and easy to see but the content and the vocabulary are a bit advanced for the Preschool Storytime crowd. I do like how the friends work together to save Crab despite his earlier behavior.

Mister Seahorse (Carle)


I read this book to Preschoolers because of length. The illustrations are beautiful and the kids find the clear but painted pages fascinating. I love that the story is all about fathers taking care of their babies. This one, too, would be an easy one to abridge if needed.

The interstitials (the space fillers):


This is a silly action rhyme to do with the kids and you get a few stretches and some movement in, too!

Have You Ever Been Fishing?

Have you ever been fishing
On a bright sunny day (cast fishing rod)
With all the little fishies
Swimmin’ up and down the bay (wiggle hands)
With your hands in your pockets
And your pockets in your pants (put hands in pockets)
and all the little fishies do the
Hootchy-Kootchy dance! (wiggle hips and do a dance)

Flannel Play

5 Little Fishes

5 little fishes swimming in the sea
First one said, “Come swim with me!”
Second one said, “This sea is deep”
Third one said, “I want to sleep”
Fourth one said, “Let’s dive and float”
Fifth one said, “I see a boat!”

The fishing boat comes
The line goes splash
And away those 5 little fishes dash

5 Little Fish

5 Little Jellyfish

5 little jellyfish swimming by the shore, the purple one got lost and that left 4.
4 little jellyfish swimming in the sea, the blue one swam far far away and that left 3.
3 little jellyfish in the ocean so blue, the pink one took a seahorse ride and that left 2.
2 little jellyfish swimming in the sun, the orange one took a dive and that left 1.
1 little jellyfish swimming all alone, it was time for him to go home and the left none.

I got these little guys from a Flannel Friday post and the ribbons really do make them the cutest things ever. I used eye stickers but googly eyes look terrific, too.


5 Little Seahorses

5 little seahorses play on the ocean floor. One went to swim and that left 4.
4 little seahorses live in the sea. One went to be and that left 3.
3 little seahorses in the ocean blue. One went to play and that left 2.
2 little seahorses having some fun. One went home and that left 1.
1 little seahorse yes, just one. He swam away and that left none!

I found this in The GIANT Encyclopedia of Circle Time and Group Activities: For Children 3 to 6 (Charner) and used clip art on cardstock for the pieces.

5 Little Seahorses

Teasing Mr Shark

5 little fish swimming in the sea,
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me!”
Along come Mr. Shark as quiet as can be and
SNAPS that fish right out of the sea!

For the Toddlers, I usually have Mr. Shark sneeze and have all the fish be saved but Preschoolers get a little cautionary fish tale. 🙂

teasing mr shark


Row Row Row Your Boat

Row Row Row Your Boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily Merrily Merrily Merrily
Life is but a dream.

Alternate version:
Row Row Row Your Boat
Gently out to sea
If you see a great big shark
Don’t forget to scream – AHHHHHHHHHH!

(to the same tune)
Down down down we go
Into the deep blue sea
Deeper and deeper and deeper we go
What do you think we’ll see?

Use this last version to get them seated again and then dig into a bag of sea creature puppets, give clues to the animal, and let them guess what it is. For example: This animal has 8 legs…an octopus! This animal has a hard shell and moves sideways…a crab! etc.


Out to Sea

A goldfish went out to sea sea sea (wiggle hand)
To see what she could see see see (hand to forehead to look far away)
But all that she could see see see (shrug shoulders and put hand to forehead to look far away)
Was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea (wiggle hand down low)

My Goldfish

My darling little goldfish (wiggle finger)
hasn’t any toes (point to toes)
He swims around without a sound (swim with finger)
and bumps his hungry nose (point to nose)
He can’t get out to play with me (point to self)
Nor I get in to him (point to kids)
Although I say, “Come out and play!” (come here motion with hand)
He says, “Come in and swim!” (paddle arms)


Shark Head

Use large grey or blue rounded triangles for the head, a black half circle for the mouth and lots of little triangles for teeth and you have a pretty great shark head. The kids draw the eyes on. The sharks can be smiling or not.

The gluing and crayons work the fine motor skills. You can also encourage counting the teeth and using the head as a make-shift mask for imaginative play.

shark heads

Pet Goldfish

This craft is an easy way for kids to take home a pet! Well, sort of. You start with a hand drawn bowl copied on to colored paper. Then all you need are die cut fish or stickers. Stamps would work, too.  Let the kids decorate their fish and bowls in any way they want. No water to pour or spill.

They will be working their fine motor skills with the glue sticks and crayons.

fishbowl 2 fishbowl 1

Do you have any storytimes?

Go fish!

This week’s line up:

Toddler lineup:

Hooray for Fish! (Cousins)
ABCs song
5 Little Jellyfish flannel
I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean (Sherry)
Row Row Row Your Boat song
Zoom Zoom Zoom song
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Preschool lineup:
Mr. Seahorse (Carle)
5 Little Jellyfish flannel
Hooray for Fish! (Cousins)
Row Row Row Your Boat song
Teasing Mr. Shark flannel
I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean (Sherry)
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Food Storytime – Lots of things to sample


Food is an awesome theme for storytime because there are about 800 books, songs, fingerplays and flannels that fit. The only stress is picking which ones to use. So I’m going to  list my favorites and how I generally use them. I’ll add my Toddler lineup and Preschool lineup at the bottom, I wish I could fit everything into the program each time I do this theme. Then again, changing it up keeps it fresh so I’m good.

Ozum (my beatnik orangutan) starts us off with this fun poem:
I have a doughnut
round and fat
There’s a hole in the middle
Now, I can’t eat THAT!


The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Carle).


A modern classic if there ever was one. There is so much to do when interacting with this book. From the finger-in-the-cheek “pop” when the caterpillar comes out of the egg, to counting the food each day, to saying in unison, “but he was STILL hungry!” And we do them all.  I’m always sure to point out that all of the foods the caterpillar ate along the way are represented in the colors of the butterfly – and we notice the pickle color and the plum color, etc.

I read it straightforward for the Toddlers but for the Preschoolers, I purposefully mix up the words, say “shoes” instead of “pears,” “basketballs” instead of “oranges.”  It cracks the kids up and they wait breathlessly for the next mistake. When I read all of the random food correctly, they usually applaud as if saying, “Good job, Miss Ann! We knew you could do it!” Precious. Then I mess up a few more times. It puts a new twist on a classic that they may have heard 50 times.

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (Yolen)


A great rhyming book that stresses manners with a sense of humor and giant colorful dinosaurs. The pictures are easy to see from far away and the idea of dinosaurs sticking beans up their noses makes everyone laugh. The whole series is good for storytime with How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food and How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night being the most successful for me.

You can be more interactive with the Preschoolers – they actually know that you shouldn’t squeeze oranges with your toes!

Sylvie (Sattler)


Sylvie is a flamingo that wonders why she (not to mention her whole family) is pink! It’s because of the pink shrimp they eat. So she tries lots of different snacks to see if she can change her colors – and she can! The preschoolers like finding the patterns and colors and also that she eats other things besides food. A swimsuit? Really? But of course she gets a tummy ache and decides that she likes pink best….but there is always dessert…..

Hi, Pizza Man! (Walter)


One of my favorites – a sure fire hit in storytime. Unfortunately it is out of print. There is a Facebook campaign to get it published again.  Anyway, it is a great book full of opportunities for the audience to play along. You go through a whole gamut of animals that might be delivering your pizza – getting progressively sillier. And then the doorbell rings. I play a guessing game with the kids as to who it might be. We even throw in a few more animals. It’s such a natural story extender.

This is one that I read for the pure joy of playing in storytime. We don’t have many in the system so not everyone will get to take it home that week – but everyone will have the experience of stretching their imaginations and enjoying a book together.

If you ever find a copy of this for a reasonable price – get it. You won’t be sorry.

The Watermelon Seed (Pizzoli)


This one is very funny! The kids will relate to the thoughts going through this crocodile’s mind when he accidentally swallows a seed. Pizzoli won the ALA Geisel Award for this charming  bit of silliness and the kids love it, too. Bonus: Lots of chances to make chomping noises.

A Birthday for Cow (Thomas)


Jan Thomas is a genius and everything she writes is gold in storytime. So you know this one is going to be hilarious. I read this one with an exaggerated voice for Duck because he is just. so. enthusiastic!


The interstitials (the space fillers):


Wiggle Worm Game

I’ve been using a version of this game for years but I don’t do it every week- so it stays fresh.

Wiggle Worm game

Wiggle Worm game

The wiggle worm cards are laminated so they stand up to lots of use. The color pictures (fruit in this case for the food theme) are just printed from the color printer on 8 1/2 x 11 paper. I created them in Publisher and picked about 8-10 photos to print, and then made doubles of 3-4 more. I’ve made several sets of these sheets: Things that Go, Fruit, Bedtime, Wild Animals and I keep them clipped together in file folders.

The game is this: Interfile the wiggle worms in among the picture pages before storytime. For example – wiggle worm, orange, banana, apple, wiggle worm, blue berries, pineapple, pear, wiggle worm, grapes, banana, wiggle worm, lemon, wiggle worm  – when it is time to play, hold up the pile and say, “Let’s play Wiggle Worm! When you see this guy, you’ll stand up  and then wiggle wiggle wiggle all the way back down! Ready?” Remove first wiggle worm and say, “What’s this?” and they’ll all say, “an orange!” and you move through the stack one by one. When you get to wiggle worm, shout, “Wiggle Worm!” stand up and wiggle back to your seat. Then continue on with more fruit.

The fist few times will be 3-4 items and then a worm. Then mix it up and only so 2 items before a worm. Then maybe 1! The suspense is delicious and the kids will really pay attention.

The beauty of this game is that it gets rid of the wiggles (literally), has them practicing listening and vocabulary, and you can adjust it to any length.

Flannel Play

I got the 5 Little Cupcakes flannel from a Flannel Friday on Storytime Katie’s blog and used the branch Golden Retriever puppet, Hamlet, as the customer.

5 Little Cupcakes

Down around the corner in the bakery shop
Were five yummy cupcakes with sprinkles on top
Along comes Hamlet with a dollar to pay
He bought a cupcake and took it away
(continue with four, three, two, and one)

5 Little Cupcakes

5 Little Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie

5 little pumpkins sitting on the ground
the first one said, “I’m big, orange and round!”
the second one said, “I’m fresh off the vine!”
the third one said, “I taste divine!”
the fourth one said, “I’m ready to be tasted!”
the fifth one said, “Bake my seeds so they’re not wasted!”
Someone from the kitchen picked them up and we know why…
The five little pumpkins became pumpkin pie!

I don’t remember where this one came from but I made it in Publisher (each pumpkin took up a sheet of paper) with clip art from an internet search, printed it on cardstock on the color printer, laminated it and added velcro on the back. I love the size and the vibrant colors.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Lunch (Fleming)
Some wonderful soul donated a box of flannel stories that she created for her classroom years ago. She retired and no longer needed them so I got them! Her recreations of Denise Fleming’s wonderful book, Lunch, are amazing. Big enough for the littles to see from far away and really colorful. It is another great way to share a story with your group. Seeing it depicted in alternate way helps cement the early literacy connections in those growing brains.

Denise Fleming's Lunch!

Denise Fleming’s Lunch


I’m a Little Teapot

We stand up to sing I’m a Little Teapot. We sing it twice – leaning one way the first time and the other way the second. I also put the words on the flannel board just in case someone doesn’t know them. We have quite a few ESL patrons at my library.

I'm a Little Teapot

I’m a Little Teapot with lyrics

On Top of Spaghetti

I pass out the lyrics to this song as parents are coming in to storytime and leave a pile at the back of the room. I put the graphic on the flannel board and tell the parents to get their sheets ready. It is really something to see the kids watch their parents sing with me – it is almost as if they are seeing a whole new side of them. Then we all clap enthusiastically for the parents doing such a good job. Mutual admiration society.

On Top of Spaghetti

On Top of Spaghetti


Let’s Make a Pancake

Let’s make a pancake pat pat pat (pat hands)
Do not make it fat fat fat (spread hands apart)
You must keep it flat flat flat (press hands together)
Make a pancake just like that (clap)

See My Apple (this works well with an apple/worm finger puppet)

See my apple, red and round (show plain side of apple)
I picked it up from off the ground ( pick up apple)
But when I went to take a bite (bite into apple)
Look what gave me a terrible fright! (wiggle worm out of apple)

What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm in your apple!!!


Paper Plate Watermelon

Fold a paper plate in half, color with chunky crayons and made watermelon slices. Mine are always boring red and green with black seeds but the kid’s are much more creative. Blue with purple, scribbles with a smiley face, etc.

watermelon plate

Ice Cream from Shapes

Give the kids precut circles and larger triangles and squares. Have them glue a triangle or square to a piece of paper and add circles for ice cream scoops. You can use colored paper or let them color their own flavors.

Paper Plate Lunches

Give the kids plain paper plates and crayons. Ask them to draw what they would like to have for lunch. You’ll get everything from asparagus to pizza to yams – kids are amazing.


These are the bits of fabulous that I picked for the theme this time

Toddler lineup:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Carle)
ABCs song
5 Little Cupcakes flannel
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (Yolen)
I’m a Little Teapot song
Let’s Make a Pancake fingerplay
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Preschool lineup:
Sylvie (Sattler)
5 Little Cupcakes flannel
Hi Pizza Man! (Walter)
I’m a Little Teapot song
Lunch (Fleming) flannel
See My Apple fingerplay
The Watermelon Seed (Pizzoli)
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Look to my post on The Infrastructure to explain some of the closing rituals.

The Infrastructure


My storytimes follow a formula. I’ve been doing it on and off for 16 years and it has been working really well so far. If it ain’t broke….

So what is the scaffold of my storytime?

Here we go.

The start before we start:

I have music playing before the program starts and I encourage patrons to come into the room and look at the books displayed on the tables. I use CDs because our library does not have mp3 players. So I burn compilations of music that I like. Some kid specific music makes it on there but most of the songs are from the Sony Music 100 Year: Soundtrack for a Century. So the kids hear old Broadway tunes, some 70’s funk, some 80’s pop, some swing, some blues – all suitable for little ears. And all stuff that we have in our collection so that is another chance to highlight the library.

Once starting time comes, I make housekeeping announcements. I cover the standard things, “That is our emergency exit…” “Pick up a branch calendar on the back table.” “Fill out a ‘How  are We Doing’ card, please” etc. And then I launch into expectations. My usual spiel goes something like this:

“Good Morning! Welcome to (Toddler/Preschool) Storytime! My name is Ann and I am the Children’s Librarian here at the branch. (T/P) Storytime is meant for children (18m-3/3-5 years) but we love kids of all ages. If you have kids outside of that range that have a hard time being here and become disruptive, please take them out of the room until they calm down. Then come back in! Storytime is a learned behavior and if your little one needs to be up and moving around, please stay to the back of the room.

Parents, your children will get more out of storytime if you participate with them. So, I expect you to sing along, listen to the stories, and interact with your child. Please keep your conversations with each other outside of storytime.

(This is where I insert emergency exit location, branch calendars, seasonal breaks, feedback, etc.)

Please turn off your cell phones, put away snacks and noisy toys, and let’s have some fun!

At storytime we sit on our bottoms, open our ears thiiiiiiiiiiiis wide (hands move out from ears), and close our mouths very gently like this (cover mouth), until we are ready to sing (muffled). Are you ready to sing? (muffled)”

We always sing the same opening song:

If You Want to Hear a Story (tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It)
clap your hands, stomp your feet, nod your head, sit very still.

I think it’s important to get them engaged as a group but also to finish on “sit very still” so they know it is time to try to listen.

I introduce the theme:

Most of the time, I’ll talk for a few seconds about what we are going to read about. Sometimes the kids can guess from the books on the cart. If it is a big theme, like Farms, I’ll have the kids help me list things that are connected. ie. What other animals live on the farm? What else goes on at the farm?

My beatnik orangutan puppet, Ozum, reads a poem to the crowd that is connected to the theme. Usually it is short and silly. I like it because he is reading, rhyming, and ready to listen.

Getting to the meat:

I read the first book. Usually my longest or most complicated.

We stretch:

Clap your hands,
touch your toes,
turn around
and touch your nose.
Flap your arms,
jump up high,
wiggle your fingers
and reach for the sky.

We stand up and do it twice for Toddlers and three times for Preschoolers – getting faster and faster as we go. This helps get their wiggles out and give them some gross motor skill practice. I make all of the parents/caregivers get up and do it, too. They are modeling behavior for their little ones, after all.

We sing:

The ABCs
We sing the ABCs, all together and at a slow enough pace that all of the letters are pronounced separately (but no need to drag). No elementos here! I sing this with both Toddler and Preschool and drop in the early literacy note to parents that they should sing this often so their kids are sure to know it by Kindergarten.

The flannel board goodness:

I usually throw in a flannel at this point. I set up the first flannel before we start so I can turn the easel board around for the big reveal! I do some variation on 5 Little somethings according to the theme.

The back and forth:

At this point, I read the second book. Maybe a rhyming story or something quirky.

Then I alternate back and forth doing a fingerplay or song and then perhaps a prop of some kind (magic bag, silly hat, something). We might play a game or stand up to march around the room. In short, at this point, I do two or three things to engage them, get some wiggles out, and to refocus their attention.

I read a third book – or a variation on a book (ie. a big book or a flannel based on a book) if the crowd is hanging in. They usually are but I have to take stock at this point in each program.

Again with the back and forth (see above)

I read a fourth book. Usually my shortest, funniest, most memorable.

The closing routine:

My closing song is called Ran Sam Sam and there are several variations out there. We roll our hands, wiggle our fingers, and raise our arms up high. It is the  most participation I get because it is familiar. It’s also a fun song.

I have a mascot puppet – Chick. He is a white mouse with a high squeaky voice and he comes to visit after every storytime. He’ll usually repeat any important news (“Next week is our last storytime of the season!”) and he throws kisses. He also gets lots of birthday invitations from kids. And just how do they think he’ll get there, hmmmm?

Our final chant is Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear turn around
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear touch the ground
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear  show me your shoe
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear I love you.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear climb up the stairs
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear brush your hair
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear turn out that light
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear wave good-bye!

The Toddlers approach me for a stamp on their arm (or 2). I started putting the stamp on arms because they would disappear when the kids washed their hands. This way, they stay a little longer.

The Preschoolers settle in for a craft.

The craft:

I do crafts at Preschool Time but not at Toddler Time. The little littles just aren’t ready. I usually pick crafts that go with the theme but the more important thing is to practice some skills. Fine motor skills with giant crayons, glue stick, safety scissors, threading yarn – all of these are helpful for little hands and brains. The final product does not matter as much as the trial and error to get there.

I let the Preschoolers give themselves a stamp while I hold the inkpad. It is amazing to watch them figure out how to switch hands so they can do a second stamp.


So that is the outline for my weekly storytimes. There is some flexibility built into the plan so I’m not doing the same games/flannels/fingerplays every week. I do repeat things a lot (right now we are singing Zoom Zoom Zoom every week) but I can also throw in new things. This setup is conducive to catering to the crowd. If they are hanging in and can stand a 4th book – great! If not, let’s wrap this up!

And so I wrap it up.


Are you a closer?


Where to start?

The beginning is good. But perhaps the end is better. How will you wrap up your time with the littles? How will you wish them well and say, “Until next time!!”

Having an opening and closing routine truly signals the start and finish of your time together at storytime. When you sit at your spot and greet the crowd, they take the cue that something is about to begin. By what is it about a closing routine that makes it special?

After reading your books, counting your flannels, and doing your fingerplays together – having a closing routine with several steps signals that the special time is wrapping up. It is an opportunity to recap the fun from the day’s program and to reinforce any announcements from the start of storytime.

As an example, when my program starts to wind down, we all sing Ran Sam Sam together. The parents and the kids really get into it. I start it with, “Can you all do this?” and roll my hands. There are gasps and laughs because everyone knows what is coming. Then I ask, “What about this?” and wiggle my fingers under my chin. More laughing and lots of wiggling. And finally, I say, “Let me see you do this!” and I raise my hands in the air. Everyone does it and then we launch into the song and we clap for ourselves afterwards.

The next signal is the visit from my mascot puppet, Chick.


He greets the kids, talks about the weather or reminds folks of special announcements, and then throws kisses to the room. Everyone waves and says, “Bye, Chick!” when he leaves.

The final piece is to get everyone up so we can all do Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear together.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around,
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, show me your shoe,
Teddy bear, teddy bear, I love you.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, climb up the stairs,
Teddy bear, teddy bear, brush your hair.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn out the light,
Teddy bear, teddy bear, wave “good-bye!”

Not only does this rhyme end with waving “good-bye!” everyone is standing!! That makes for a quick exit for most families.

A closing routine that is gentle and fun allows for a smooth transition out of the program. No one wants to be unceremoniously dumped outside of the room – a waving, smiling, “See you next time!” exit is so much nicer.

So, pick your favorite song – the one you love to sing with kids, the one they have fun with, the one that makes everyone happy – choose that as your closing song and leave on a happy note!

Thank you! Good Night!