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Little Monsters: Their very own storytime

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Stomping, growling, gnashing, and twitching! And that is just from the adult patrons in the public library!! Ha! just kidding. But seriously, is there anything better than monsters? Little guys love monsters. Maybe it is the idea of being a little bit scared, or of overcoming/controlling something much bigger than they are. Or maybe they just like pretending to be the bigger stompier thing that gets to be (relatively) loud in the library. Whatever the reason – your little monsters are sure to love a monster theme. So, let’s get stompin’!

We’re off to meet some monsters
But don’t be scared away!
They’re made of springs and fluff and things
And they just want to play!

Snappy Little Monsters Pop Up (Steer)

Books:

There’s Something in My Attic (Mayer)

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I have a version of this in a collection of Mayer called There’s Something There! Three Bedtime Classics.  This first tale is very empowering for Preschoolers since the heroine goes on an adventure to capture the monster herself. She succeeds but he slips away before her parents can get out of bed. She is not deterred and makes a plan to try again tomorrow. The monster is completely cute (if not gigantic) and is a lover of toys. Her toys specifically. I get the impression that he is a large toddler.

I read this to both Toddler and Preschool crowds. Everyone seems to get a kick out of her red cowboy books. Ah, Texas.

 

Little Monsters (Pienkowski)

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This is a very short pop-up book with only 5 monsters. The pop-ups are both clever and a little gross so the kids and parents enjoy them. A terrific space-filler-program-move-along-er.

 

Leonardo the Terrible Monster (Willems)

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Our pal Mo Willems has given us this not terrible book for storytime that is all things. It is funny, sweet, unexpected, and (huzzah!) large enough to be seen across the room. The line that gets the biggest laugh – “scare the tuna salad out of someone!”

I read this to Preschoolers for the play on words, the age of Sam, and the laughs on the bird poop reference. Awesome.

 

If You’re a Monster and You Know It (Emberley)

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While the bright bold illustrations pop off the dark background up close, I find them harder to read across a crowd in storytime. Of course this title lends itself perfectly to standing up and singing it loud! The kids will have so much fun – it’s as if they are illustrating the book with themselves.

For Toddlers, I generally abridge the song slightly due to attention span. Claws, feet, roar and tail are usually the biggest crowd pleasers. Be prepared for lots of noise from your little monsters.

 

Go Away Big Green Monster (Emberley)

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Emberley proves his genius once again with colorful cutouts on black pages with simple descriptive text. Together we build a monster and then declare our bravery and dismantle that same monster piece by piece making him “Go away!” (until we want to do it all over again!) One of my favorite books to read at bedtime – it is completely clever and empowering at the same time.

I use this for monsters, bedtime, and colors. See the Props section below to get a glimpse of a great puppet that tells this same story.

 

Jumpy Jack and Googily (Rosoff)

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Jumpy Jack is a sweet snail that lets his imagination get away from him while he asks his friend, Googily, to check places for a monster with thin feet, two fingers on each hand, and a bowler hat. Googily is supportive and reassuring while checking behind trees and through mail slots. I read this to the Preschool crowd due to length and also because they are just beginning to catch on to clever plot lines like this one. They will laugh at the twist ending, too.

 

Frank Was a Monster Who  Wanted to Dance (Graves)

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This one is a hit every time. The story is just silly/gross enough and the pictures are fantastic. I read this to Preschool and up for the creep potential and the loss of limbs. The book itself is slightly small but my colleagues in Austin Public’s Literature LIVE! will show you how to make a Frank of your own in The Making of a Monster. That’s pretty complicated, really, so just ask the kids to scoot closer to get a good look!

 

The interstitials (the space fillers):

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Pretend to be a monster!

This theme is a great excuse just to get the kids up and start them moving. Have them show their claws, their terrible teeth, their long twitchy tails – and have them stomp around the room in a monster parade around their parents. Then break into If You’re a Monster and You Know It (see song below).

Flannel Play

5 Little Monsters

Five little monsters running across the floor
One fell down and that left four.
Four little monsteres climbing up a tree
One slid down and that left three.
Three little monsters wondering what to do
One got bored and that left two.
Two little monsters laying in the sun
One fell asleep and that left one.
One little monster sitting all alone
He got lonely so he went home

Yes, there are six monsters in this picture but that is just so I can have an extra or mix up the colors once in a while. The monsters all have different expressions so we can talk about emotions and different shapes on their chests so we can talk about shapes. I don’t mention all of that stuff at once but it is nice to have some crossover for other themes.

little monsters

Props

Go Away, Big Green Monster! puppet

This is a great Storytelling Puppet from Lakeshore Learning. It comes with the sequence of the story on a small card you can keep on your lap – if you are afraid you might forget. The kids love it. I read the book right after using this puppet. Double the fun!

big green monster

Songs

If You’re a Monster and You Know It (abridged from Emberley’s book above)

If you’re a monster and you know it clap your claws! (x2)
If you’re a monster and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re a monster and you know it clap your claws!

…stomp your feet!
…give a roar!
…twitch your tail!

 

Craft

Shape Monsters!

Found these cute little shape monsters at Fun Family Crafts. Each Preschooler chose a colorful piece of paper and some shapes. We had plenty of triangles, circles, and squares to choose from. I also had my summer teen volunteer (thanks, Evelyn!) cut lots and lots of smaller white circles and white triangles for eyes and teeth. The kids loved counting how many teeth their monster had.

This craft is great for color and shape recognition, glue stick skills (fine motor!), and counting.

monsters

 

Lots of fun and compliments from parents and monsters alike on this theme. It’s not just for Halloween season, either!

 

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

Toddler lineup:

Poem
There’s Something in My Attic (Mayer)
stretch
Go Away Big Green Monster puppet
Go Away Big Green Monster (Emberley)
5 Little Monsters flannel
If You’re a Monster and You Know It song
Little Monsters (Pienkowski)
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Preschool lineup:
Poem
Jumpy Jack and Googily (author)
stretch
There’s Something in My Attic (Mayer)
Go Away Big Green Monster puppet
Go Away Big Green Monster (Emberley)
5 Little Monsters
Leonardo the Terrible Monster (Willems)
If You’re a Monster and You Know It song
Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance(Graves)
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

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Take an umbrella….Weather Storytime

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We did a play in high school a million years ago called The Curious Savage by John Patrick. There was one particular line that stuck with me: “People say I love you all the time – when they say, ‘take an umbrella, it’s raining,’ or ‘hurry back,’ or even ‘watch out, you’ll break your neck.’ There are hundreds of ways of wording it – you just have to listen for it, my dear.”  Friends and I started signing our notes to each other, “Take an umbrella, it’s raining….”

Just a sweet memory that makes me think of old friends.

ANYWAY – some of my other favorite memories center around weather! Playing in the rain, sledding on a snowy hillside, swimming on a bright sunny day, going to the annual Kite Festival – so let’s read some stories about it!

My Umbrella
Rain on the rooftops,
Rain on the trees,
Rain on the green grass
But not on me!

Books:

The Big Storm: A Very Soggy Counting Book (Tafuri)

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I read this one for Toddlers and Preschoolers. It does a nice job of counting up to and down from 10 while telling about a storm building. The animals are recognizable and everyone laughs when the skunk shows up. I read it with some drama during the storm and speed after the surprise and it really works.

The Snowy Day (Keats)

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A classic. I’ve loved this book since I was small – and I always set it in Chicago in my head (even though I’ve read that it was based on NYC). My Texas Preschoolers aren’t too familiar with snow so everything in the book is fascinating. I once had a little girl come up to touch the end papers to see if they were cold. The Caldecott winning collage art is beyond charming. Keats received lots of criticism for not addressing Peter’s race in the story but it is such a sweet depiction of a curious little boy – the humanness of the character trumps all description.

In the Rain with Baby Duck (Hest)

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This title is a little longer so I read it to the Preschool crowd. It is fun to grouch and grumble like Baby Duck as she and her parents walk through the rain. I pair this with the umbrella craft so kids can relate back to the story.

Red Rubber Boot Day (Ray)

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So many inside activities are listed in this story – but when the child really wants to enjoy the rainy day — outside is the place to be! The illustrations are vibrant and charming.  I read this to Toddlers and Preschoolers.

Rain Rain Go Away (Archambault)

The original Mother Goose rhyme of Rain, rain, go away, Come again another day; Little Johnny wants to play. Has been adapted to include a frog in this offering from John Archambault. I read this in big book form and the Toddlers and Preschoolers really liked the frog. I do have a bit of an issue with a frog that wants it to stop raining so he can play…..um, they live in water. Whatever, it was pretty cute.

No Two Alike (Baker)

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I mostly love this book for all of the snow that makes an appearance! It covers everything in the forest. The rhyming text is simple and so it is easy to modulate the speed and force. I read this to the Preschool crowd and they, too, were in love with the snow covered forest. The two birds are also adorable as you can see from the cover.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider (Siomades)

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This is the traditional song with vibrant illustrations. A very quick read for Toddlers and Preschoolers. I sing the song immediately after reading this.

The interstitials (the space fillers):

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Rain Is Falling Down (Tune: Farmer in the Dell)

The rain is falling down, (flutter fingers down)
SPLASH (clap once loudly)
The rain is falling down, (flutter fingers down)
SPLASH (clap once loudly)
Pitter patter pitter patter (tap legs softly)
The rain is falling down, (flutter fingers down)
SPLASH (clap once loudly)

The snow is falling down, (flutter fingers down)
Whoosh (swoosh hands side to side)
The snow is falling down, (flutter fingers down)
Whoosh (swoosh hands side to side)
softly softly very softly (fingers to lips)
The snow is falling down, (flutter fingers down)
Whoosh (swoosh hands side to side)

I borrowed this first verse from King County Library System and adapted the second on my own.

Songs

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

It’s raining, it’s pouring
the old man is snoring.
He went to bed
and bumped his head
and couldn’t get up in the morning.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

The itsy bitsy spider
went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out!
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
and the itsy bitsy spider
went up the spout again!

This one is great for fine motor skills and then we mix it up and do The Great Big Spider (use entire hands for spider), The Very Quiet Spider (whisper or just mouth the song), and The Very Fast Spider (move super fast) with the Preschoolers. Giggles all around.

Fingerplays

Making it rain

Today we are going to work together to make it rain!
First we rub our fingers together. I think I hear the rain starting!
Then we lightly clap our hands. It’s falling harder now.
Lets rub our hands on our thighs. That’s a steady rainstorm.
Now pat your thighs. It’s raining really hard now!
Now stomp your feet, too! Oh, it’s so loud!
(then go backwards through the motions to make the storm stop)

Craft

Umbrella with raindrops

We made this super cute umbrella surrounded by raindrops that I found on Brooks Childcare by searching “umbrella craft” on Google . It took a bit of prep work from my summer teen volunteer but the kids had fun with the glue sticks and crayons. Having pieces of yarn for the kids to glue, really works the fine motor skills by making little fingers pinch something thin.

umbrella with rain

 

Rainbow collage

Another craft option is the old tissue paper squares glued on paper. This one is more about celebrating the colors themselves, recognizing the shape of a rainbow, and using the fine motor skills to pinch and place the squares than it is about getting the colors in any order. Let the creativity flow!

rainbow

Making memories in storytime – every week.

 

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

Toddler lineup:

Poem
The Big Storm (Tafuri)
stretch
ABCs song
Rain is Falling Down song
Rain Rain Go Away (Archambault)
The Itsy Bitsy Spider
No Two Alike (Baker)
Zoom Zoom Zoom
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Preschool lineup:
Poem
In the Rain with Baby Duck (Hest)
stretch
ABCs
Rain is Falling Down Song
The Snowy Day (Keats)
The Itsy Bitsy Spider
The Big Storm (Tafuri)
Making rain
magic bag trick
Zoom Zoom Zoom
Ran Sam Sam
Mascot visit
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Food Storytime – Lots of things to sample

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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!

Books:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Carle).

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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):

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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

Songs

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

Fingerplays

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!!!

Crafts

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:

Poem
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Carle)
stretch
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:
Poem
Sylvie (Sattler)
stretch
ABCs
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

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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.