Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Flannel Friday: Lost and Found

This has been the most fun storytime game! It is so simple and the kids have a ball. My storytime theme was "Lost and Found" and I wanted to sing the old popular song, "Oh Where, Oh, Where Has My Little Dog Gone?"  I found this little felt board piece of a cute dog in my folder of random felt pieces (retired preschool teachers and guest readers often give these to me). I cut out felt shapes in different colors, and bam! the game was created. I had no idea it would be such a huge hit. 

But of the books I used for storytime is "Found" by Salina Yoon, which features a toy bunny. 
It's a very sweet story and I wanted to make a connection with the book and the game, so I cut out a simple bunny shape (a template from the internet, which I cannot find now) and colored it to look like the bunny in the story. Then I could use either the dog or the bunny depending on the books I was reading. 

I turn the felt board around, hide the bunny or dog behind a shape, turn the board to face the kids and we sing the song, or we try to sing the song, the kids get so excited they just start choosing shapes right away! Lift the shapes as they name them until you find the character. The children are thrilled when they find it. Turn the board around and repeat - mix the shapes up, hide the character and sing again. The kids go crazy with delight. One little boy came up to me after the storytime and told me, "That was so much fun."

You can adapt this game to any book character. I used the dog shape for some of the storytimes and the bunny shape for others. I just changed the word in the song from dog to bunny. I also use the words "so short" and "so long" instead of "cut short" or long.  The idea of cutting a dog's tail or ears bothers me. 

Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?
Oh where, oh where can she be?
With her tail so short
and her ears so long
Oh where, oh where can she be? 

My pieces are fairly large: the square is 4 1/2 inches, the heart is 5 inches across. The triangle and square are so light the kids can actually see the outline of the dog or bunny behind them. And sometimes I let a little piece of a paw or ear show at the edge of a shape and the kids love that.

You can also use this felt board for storytimes about shapes or colors. It will take you about 10 minutes to make the entire set, and you and kids will love it.

Find more awesome flannel ideas at Library Lalaland.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blast Off With Books! Stars Storytime

Our storytime theme this year, 2014-15, is "Blast Off with Books!" I will be posting a variety of sky and space related storytimes. This week it is "Stars."


Tinker and Tom and the Star Baby / David McPhail
 I added a few storytelling devices to this book. whenever the rocket flies, I wave a small rocket attached to a wand:

When the text says, "they thought they heard a small voice crying," I ask the kids to cry softly like babies. When the text says, "Tom hugged the baby,"  I ask the kids to give themselves a bear hug. When the text says the "rocket began to hum,"  I ask the kids to hum until the rocket takes off.

There Was a Bold Lady Who Wanted a Star / Cherise Mericle Harper

This story is based on the song, "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly."  If you want to you can sing the text. Older kids, ages 4 or 5, will pick up the pattern and begin to sing or say the text with you. Three year olds need to be encouraged to join in.

At the end of each verse I hold a star high in the air (the star is "too far"). At the end of the story I put the star in my pocket, then transfer it to a jar, just like the Bold Lady. This star is made with craft tissue and contact paper, is not very big, and is flexible enough to slip into a pocket or jar. I made this one at a storytime a few years ago, so I already had it, but they are easy enough to just make out of paper.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star / Iza Trapani
 I like to sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star before we read this book. We sing it 3 times: the first time the regular way with hand motions, the second time we hum the tune and use the hand motions, the third time we just use the hand motions without any tune or words. It's fun to see the kids thinking the lyrics as they use their hands.

Another way you could sing it is to sing it once the regular way, then once with HUGE motions and a GREAT BIG VOICE - just alter the words to Twinkle, twinkle, GREAT BIG STAR. Then sing it a third time with a teensy weensy voice and tiny finger tip motions, change the words to Twinkle, twinkle, tiny star. The kids LOVE this and think it's HILARIOUS!!!

  Stars / Mary Lynn Ray and Marla Frazee

The first three books, Tinker & Tom, Bold Lady, and Twinkle Twinkle all have properties in common, which I only noticed after reading them several times. In addition to stars, they all feature or mention rockets. Tinker & Tom and Twinkle both start out the same way, with a picture of the house and the characters looking out the window; and they both feature dubious cats in the story.  The fourth book, Stars,  I used when one of the other books had been mislaid and I couldn't find it. It worked really well for a group of 4 and 5 year olds, it's all about imagination and wishing and feelings. It is probably too abstract and too wordy for younger children.

Stretches, Action Rhymes and Songs

Tickle the Moon Stretch
Tickle the moon
Tickle your toes
Tickle the stars
Tickle your nose
Tickle your knees
Tickle the floor
Then sit down quietly
and we'll read some more

I don't remember the origin of this rhyme. I may have made it up, or adapted it from another rhyme. I've used it for many years. 

Bend and Stretch
Bend and stretch, reach for the stars
There goes Jupiter
Here comes Mars                                      
Bend and stretch
reach for the sky 
Stand on tippy toe, oh so high!

This is a traditional rhyme you can find online or many action rhyme books. I like to use large motions, for example, I bend down and touch the floor on one side of my feet after the first line, and then swing my arms in an arc over my head and down to the other side where my fingers touch the floor - that's "Jupiter." Then I swing up again and to the other side for "Mars."

Felt Board: Stars Shine

I found this gem here at Nancy's Music.
It is my new favorite song, action rhyme, felt board, and I use it every chance I get!
For my regular storytimes at the library or at Head Start and other preschools, I use the secular version. For the Christian preschool I use the Christmas tree version. 

Stars shine brightly through the trees
Tell me what color star you see
Yellow star shine, Yellow star shine
Twinkle and shine all through the night.

I hide the stars behind the felt board and bring them out one at a time. At the end of the song I put all the stars out and we count them. This picture shows the stars with the Christmas tree version.

Happy Stargazing!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Springtime Storytimes

Planning a seasonal storytime can be a little overwhelming because there are SO many books, songs,  and rhymes about seasons. I've tried to divide up the book suggestions by putting them in sub-categories. The book lists are at the bottom of this post. First here are some action rhymes, songs and crafts all about springtime. 

Spring Action Rhymes and Songs and Crafts
     Most of these rhymes I've used for years, some are traditional, some are adaptations. I didn't make note of where I got them, so I'm sorry I can't give credit. If you know the origin of any of these, leave a comment. 
Craft: Tissue Paper flowers. Cut circles in tissue paper. Pile up a dozen or so layers. Fold in half and punch a hole at the center, bottom edge. I use a small bore 1/8" hole punch. Thread a chenille stick through the hole and twist the stick to secure it. . Unfold and lightly crumple the layers. They look like ranunculus, very pretty! 

Action Song: The Gardener  tune: The Farmer in the Dell
     actions: match actions to words
The gardener plants the seeds
The gardener plants the seeds
Hi ho the cherry-o
The gardener plants the seeds

v. 2    The sun shines down so warm...
v. 3    The rain falls gently down...
v. 4    The plants begin to grow...
v.5     The flowers smile and sway...

Action Song: Roots, Stem, and Leaves and Flowers   tune: Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes
I may have written this, I don't remember. I've used it for years and it's lots of fun to do. 

Roots, stem, and leaves, and flowers
leaves and flowers.
Roots, stem, and leaves, and flowers
leaves and flowers.
Butterflies, bees, and sunshine and rain showers,
Roots, stem, and leaves, and flowers
leaves and flowers!

Talk through the song and actions once or twice till kids know what to do. Sing once slowly.  Repeat several times getting progressively faster. Sing last time at normal pace.

Roots  -   touch toes
Stem   -   stand up straight and clap arms to sides
and leaves  -   bend elbows and hold hands out at sides
and flowers  -  frame face with fingers and flutter fingers like petals

Butterflies   -  make butterflies with your hands - cross at wrist, palms facing you, link thumbs and
                                flutter fingers like wings
Bees            -   make an OK sign with thumb and forefinger, and waggle hand
and sunshine   -   circle arms overhead
and rain showers -  fingers flutter down

Craft: Zip Bag Butterfly  Have kids fill zip top bags with scraps of tissue paper. Zip closed. Fold the zip top down. Twist a chenille stick around the middle and curl the tips. Cute & fast! I've also done this with fold over sandwich bags.

Action Poem : Spring

Showers   -   flutter fingers down
Flowers   -   hands grow up
Trees       -    yoga tree pose, sway
Bees       -     make wings with arms & buzz
Sun      -      circle arms over head
Fun    -   jump up and down
Muck   -  pretend to be stuck 

Craft: Honey Bee  Use up your construction paper scraps. You can do this in different ways. Have kids glue skinny scraps onto a rectangle scrap. (I believe artists can use any colors.) Then cut out the bee body shape (oval or jelly bean shape, or give them a pattern or template). Or have them cut the bee shape first, glue on stripes then trim along the edge. Add an eye and face. Stick on some antennae (paper or chenille sticks), add a stinger. The main thing that is distinctive and cool is the bubble wrap wing - you could put one on each side. We always have boxes full of bubble wrap saved from packages, it's a great craft material.

Fingerplay Song:  Spring is Here!  tune Are You Sleeping  (Frere Jacques)
I think I found this in one of Jean Warren's Piggyback Songs books
I see flowers                        - "grow" hand up through other fist
I see birds' nests                  -  cup hands
Butterflies                            -  link thumbs with palms facing you, flap hands
Rainy skies                           -wiggle fingers down through air
Everything is growing             -wiggle fingers up through air
The wind is gently blowing     -sway hands back and forth
Spring is here! 

Action Poem: A Robin
When a robin cocks his head       -make wings with arms 
Sideways in a flower bed            -tilt head to side
He can hear the tiny sound         -tap ear, cup ear
of a worm beneath the ground    - wiggle finger

Craft: Rockin' Robin  I like to play the song Rockin' Robin at our spring storytimes. I use either the Jackson 5 version or the Toddlers Sing Rock and Roll version. The kids love to get up and dance. It's just a little too long at 2 and half minutes. And here is a rockin' robin craft.   from Happy Hooligans. There are a lot of versions of Rockin' Robin, but this one is the cutest I think. The original instructions start with painted paper plates, but at library storytimes we don't have time to wait for paint to dry so we just use circles cut out of construction paper. It works just as well. Tap the corner of your bird and it will rock. If you want a more realistic robin see the same Happy Hooligans website for the robin colored craft.

Okay enough rhymes and songs and crafts for now. I will do Spring showers in another post.
Here are a few of my favorite springtime books.

Spring Flowers
The Happy Day / Ruth Krauss
Buster and the Dandelions / Hisako Madokoro
Dancing the Breeze / George Shannon
Planting a Rainbow / Lois Ehlert
Alison's Zinnia / Arnold Lobel
Flower Garden / Eve Bunting

Spring Robins
My Spring Robin / Anne Rockwell
Little Robin Redbreast / Shari Halpern
Round Robin / Jack Kent
Robin's Home / Jeanne Atkins
    2 nonfiction picks to show kids:
A Nest Full of Eggs / Priscilla Belz Jenkins
The Robins in Your Backyard / Nancy Carol Willis

Spring is Coming
Possum and the Peeper / Anne Hunter
It's Spring! / Samantha Berger

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Flannel Friday: Green Eggs and Ham

Here is my Flannel Friday post. See more great felt board ideas this week at Story Time Secrets.

We celebrated Dr. Seuss last week and included Green Eggs and Ham, of course.
For a stretch between stories, I adapted the traditional rhyme, "Way Up High in the Apple Tree" and created a felt board to go along with it. We stood up and acted it out using the felt board as a visual aid.

Way Up High in the Green Egg Tree

Way up high in the green egg tree,             ~ point way up high
Two green eggs smiling at me!                   ~ make 2 fists up high 
I shook that tree so hard and fast,             ~ with both hands shake imaginary tree trunk
And Noooooooooo!!!!                            ~ look up horrified
Down came the green eggs                       ~ lower fists quickly toward your face
Splat! Splat!                                             ~  Splat hands over face

I cut out a Dr. Seuss-like tree from light blue stiffened felt for the trunk and red stiffened felt for the tree top.  Then I made eggs and added google eyes and smiles drawn with a sharpie. The eggs are double sided as you can see in the next picture.The tree trunk is about 12 inches long, the eggs are the size of real hen's eggs. I didn't use patterns.

During the last 2 lines of the rhyme, I take the eggs off the tree and hold them way up high over my face and bring them down in slow motion while I cry out, "No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!" Then I flip them over on top of my eyes so the yolks show. They look like big eyeballs. The kids loved it!

This is a super simple felt board design. I love the stiffened felt which we bought from the School Specialty Art Education catalog.

Wockets in my Pockets - Celebrating Dr. Seuss

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!  

When I was about 4 years old my mother brought home The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss, and I was completely hooked. When she brought home The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, I was ecstatic. This was the late 50s, and the books were not only brand new, but they were a brand new kind of children's literature. Learning to read has not been the same since.

Book: There's a Wocket in my Pocket

This is not a narrative story - it's a list of wacky rhymes describing unusual household creatures. You could stretch this book by asking kids to make up their own wacky rhymes.

Action Song: Five Wockets in my Pocket
I adapted this song from Music with Mar, Five Fingers in my Pocket, which you can download or purchase on CD   

I've got five wockets in my pocket      ~   hold up five fingers
Five wockets hidden away                    ~   put hand in pocket or behind back
Five wockets in my pocket, Look!        ~  hold up four fingers (back of hand facing children)
Oh, no! One went away.                    count fingers, then start song over

I've got four wockets in my pocket, etc.        (Be sure to act this out with facial expressions,
                                                                      look disappointed when a wocket is missing, make
Repeat till you have NO wockets:                   your voice sound sad. The kids think this is hilarious.)

I've got no wockets in my pocket
No wockets hidden away
No wockets in my my pocket, Look
Oh! Five wockets here to stay!                 ~  pull hand out with five fingers showing

Book: Green Eggs and Ham

This was my son's favorite book when he was about 2 years old. He asked for it so often and I read it so many times, he memorized the text, and would sit and look through the pages and recite it. When I read this book in storytime many of the kids recited the lines along with me.

Action Rhyme:  The Green Egg Tree

I took the traditional rhyme, Way up High in the Apple Tree, and adapted it for this storytime. I also created a felt board to go along with it. 

Way up high in the green egg tree,             ~ point way up high
Two green eggs smiling at me!                   ~ make 2 fists up high 
I shook that tree so hard and fast,             ~ with both hands shake imaginary tree trunk
And Noooooooooo!!!!                            ~ look up horrified
Down came the green eggs                       ~ lower fists quickly toward your face
Splat! Splat!                                             ~  Splat hands over face

Here is my version of a Dr. Seuss tree, cut out from stiffened felt. The eggs have google eyes and smiles drawn on with a sharpie. The eggs are also double-sided.
During the last two lines of the rhyme, I took the eggs off the tree and held them way up high over my face and brought them down in slow motion while I cried, "No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!" Then I flipped them over on top of my eyes so the yolks showed. They look like big eyeballs. The kids loved it and laughed and laughed. And we had to do it again.

Book: The Cat in the Hat

Echo Song: Cat in the Hat
For this song I used the tune and style of the Crazy Moose Song (although I can never remember tunes correctly - the kids didn't seem to care). I dashed off new lyrics, and then realized after I printed the song sheets that I had mixed up both Cat in the Hat books (the cat cleans up the mess with Mom's dress in the second book.) Oh well, everybody makes mistakes.

Leader sings the line and kids echo. Each line is sung twice.

There was a great big cat               ~ make whiskers with fingers
He liked to wear a great big hat     ~ raise hand high over your head
There was a great big cat
He liked to wear a great big hat
Sing wayo wayo wayo                 ~ swish hands and arms back & forth over head
Sing wayo wayo wayo                ~  swish hands and arms back & forth in front of knees

The cat came in one rainy day     ~ hands wiggle down for rain
He had a lot of tricks to play       ~ rub hands together and smile
The cat came in one rainy day
He had a lot of tricks to play
Sing wayo wayo wayo
Sing wayo wayo wayo

But the goldfish said NO NO!    ~make fish with hands, shake finger sternly
Tell that Cat in the Hat to go!    ~Jerk thumb over shoulder
But the goldfish said NO NO!
Tell that Cat in the Hat to go!
Sing wayo wayo wayo
Sing wayo wayo wayo

Then that cat made such a mess   ~ wave arms haphazardly OR put hands on hips and frown
But he cleaned it with Mom's dress  ~ make feminine hourglass shape with hands
Then that cat made such a mess
But he cleaned it with Mom's dress
Sing wayo wayo wayo
Sing wayo wayo wayo

Now the cat has gone away           ~  wave bye bye
But he'll come back again someday   ~  smile knowingly
Now the cat has gone away
But he'll come back again someday
Sing wayo wayo wayo
Sing wayo wayo wayo

I was inspired to make wockets after reading Miss Alison is Blogging. I used a slightly different pattern for our wockets from 30 Minute Crafts and also included the yottle in a bottle craft from the same cool website. The kids colored their Wockets and Yottles and then I laminated the creatures and adults cut them out. My little Scotch desktop laminator is my new favorite toy.  On the back of the Wocket picture are instructions to take your Wockets in your pockets wherever you go, then take picture of the Wockets and send the digital pictures to the library. We will post the pictures on our website, FB page, and this storytime blog.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Beach Party Storytime!

Oh, winter, is it over yet? Nope. The wonderful thing about books is that they can take you anywhere! Yay! Let's go to the beach!

The Books

 Senses at the Seashore / Shelley Rotner
This will give us an idea of what the beach looks, smells, sounds, feels and tastes like.

Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey / Mini Grey
What fun! And one of the characters is named after me:  the fully posable Beach-Time Brenda!

Harry by the Sea / Gene Zion
An oldie but a goodie, my oldest two children (now in their mid-thirties) loved the Harry books and this one was a special favorite. I confess I did the unthinkable: I left out the word "fat" when reading about how Harry walked in lady's shadow.

Sand Castle / Brenda Shannon Yee
There is nothing particularly creative or wonderful about this book or its illustrations just showed a typical time at the beach, and I really wanted to show my Iowa kids what that looked like. No sea monsters, no superheros, no goofy dialogue, just kids playing in the sand with the water nearby. Also, this is a beach at a lake, which may be more familiar to some of our midwestern kids.

More Books about the Beach: 
Sally and the Limpet / Simon James
Stella, Star of the Sea / Marie-Louise Gay
Seven Little Mice Go to the Beach / Haruo Yamashita
Sally Goes to the Beach / Stephen Huneck
On the Seashore / Anna Milbourne
Out of the Ocean / Debra Frasier
Curious George Goes to the Beach / (Rey)
D. W. All Wet / Marc Brown

The Stretches

For Flannel Board Possibilities click here.

Action Song: Baby Shark
 - There are many versions of this hilarious song - just check them out on YouTube and get ready to smile. I actually learned this song from one of my Sunday School kids, who had learned it at church camp. It's one of our favorite songs.

Baby Shark do do  do do dah do
Baby Shark do do do do dah do
Baby Shark do do do do dah do
Baby Shark!

Repeat with Mama Shark, Daddy Shark, Grampa Shark, I went swimming, Saw a shark, Swam faster,
Lifeguard running, Saved my Life

This looks long, but the song goes pretty fast, in the following two videos you will see that the song is completed in 1 min. and 36 seconds.

Click here for video with lyrics and tune.

Click here for video of same version with arm motions.

Cold Water Pokey
I am a Hokey Pokey girl and I use a variety of Pokey songs throughout the year including a Halloween Monster Pokey and a Christmas Reindeer Pokey. Here's the beach or pool version: 

You dip your toe in
You dip your toe out
You dip your toe in
and you jump and scream and shout!  (shout: It's so cold!)
You do the Cold Water Pokey
And you turn yourself around
That's what it's all about!  (clap! clap!)

Then do as many body parts as you want. I used toes, waist, shoulders, head, and whole self.) 

After the Stories
Because this was a "Beach Party" I had more than just a craft. I filled a wading pool with playground sand and tossed in some plastic cups so kids could build sand castles. I brought out beach balls (buy them by the dozen from Oriental Trading),  a snack cabana with fruity ice pops (left over from a summer program), and I had many sea shells scattered along the edges of the room so kids could collect them. Each child could take 1 sea shell home. My shells were donated from a patron who spends her winters at Sanibel Island in Florida, but you can buy real sea shells from Oriental Trading as well.

For our craft we made Jelly Fish out of Bubble Wrap and pieces of ribbons. Easy and cute.

We had such a good time at our Beach Party on a snowy, snowy day in Iowa.

The storytime setting.

I am lucky enough to have the jaws of a bull shark.(Thank you to my son Andrew, who has never asked for this after he left home!) Only adults may handle as the teeth are razor sharp! It is fascinating to see the many rows of extra teeth.

A generous patron gave us a huge jar of shells she had gathered at Sanibel Island. I scattered these around the story room so the kids could do some beachcombing after the stories. Each child picked out one shell to take home.

Starfish are also worth examining.

Kids sat on beach towels for the storytime.

Building sand castles was a popular activity!

We made jelly fish out of bubble wrap and ribbon scraps.


One of the best purchases we ever made was a dozen beach balls from Oriental Trading. We gave most of them away as summer prizes, but kept a few for storytimes. They are crazy popular among the wee folks. We bring them out regularly after our baby storytimes. They are light, so they don't hurt the building or people.

Another generous patron donated this little lemonade stand/grocery store. I took off the vinyl awning and replaced it with some shredded cardboard packaging to make it look like a tiki hut. Then I stashed an ice chest full of popsicles behind it so everyone could have a sweet treat.

A good time was had by all!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Flannel Friday Beach Party

I created 3 felt board sets to go along with my Beach Party Storytime. I will use just one, Five Little Sandcastles, and save the other two for another time.

Five Little Sandcastles
Five little sandcastles built by the shore,
Along came a wave and WHOOSH!
there were four. 

Four little sandcastles built by you and me,
Along came a wave and WHOOSH!
there were three. 

Three little sandcastles built by me and you,
Along came a wave and WHOOSH! 
there were two. 

Two little sandcastles built in the sun,
Along came a wave and WHOOSH!
there was one. 

One little sandcastle built just for fun,
Along came a wave and WHOOSH! 
there were none. 

I believe I first found this rhyme at, but I've seen it on many other sites. I don't know the original author. 

I used sandpaper for my sandcastles. My artistic daughter designed them and cut them out for me. I discovered that if I used double-stick tape and attached scraps of sandpaper on the backs of the sand castles, that it worked just as well as velcro and better than flannel or felt. Very cool!

When reciting the rhyme I will use a blue scarf as the wave and swoosh it across the board to remove the castle. You could also pick a child or five children to take away a castle. 

I almost always leave my felt board set up after the storytime so children can play with the pieces.

Five Little Seashells

Five little seashells lying on the shore,
Swish! went the waves
and then there were four.

Four little seashells pretty as can be,
Swish! went the waves 
and then there were three. 

Three little seashells all pearly new,
Swish! went the waves
and then there were two.

Two little seashells lying in the sun,
Swish went the waves
and then there was one. 

One little seashell lying all alone,
I picked it up
and I took it home!

Apparently this is a traditional rhyme and you can find it in many places. I discovered it on Songs for Teaching: 

I made my seashell set using photographs of real shells, laminated. I also made an identical little set for use on a felt storytelling glove. You could use real shells set on a lap board, or the floor if you have a small group. Wouldn't that be fun?

Five Cranky Crabs

Five cranky crabs were digging on the shore,
one swam into a net and then there were four. 

Four cranky crabs were floating in the sea,
one got tangled up in seaweed, then there were three. 

Three cranky crabs were wondering what to do,
one dug a deep, deep hole, then there were two. 

Two cranky crabs were warming in the sun,
one got scooped up in a cup, then there was one. 

One cranky crab was smarter than his friends,
he hid between the jagged rocks, that's how this story ends.

This is another rhyme that can be easily found with a keyword search. I found this version at