Toddlers: Colors

Welcome Song: Hello Everybody

Action Song: Open Shut Them
Open shut them, open shut them
Give a little clap, clap, clap
Open Shut them, open shut them
Lay them in your lap, lap, lap

Creep them, crawl them
Creep them, crawl them
Right up to your chin, chin, chin (where is your chin?)
Open wide your little mouth
But do not let them in

Shake them, shake them
Shake them, shake them
Shake them just like this this this

Roll them, roll them
Roll them, roll them
And blow a little kiss!
Muach! (blow kiss with hand)

Action Song: Red, Red is the Color I See (with felt pieces)
Red, Red is the color I see,
If you’re wearing red, show it to me!
Stand up, turn around,
And sit back down on the ground!
(repeat with different colors)

There are other verses to this color song, but I have found that for toddlers who are concentrating hard on figuring out colors, the repetition is easier to follow.

Action Song: Green Says Go!
Green Says, “Go!” (march fast in place)
Go! Go! Go!
Yellow says, “Slow.” (march slow)
Slow… slow… slow…
And Red says, “Stop!” (freeze stop)
GO! GO! GO! (march fast)
Slow… slow… slow (march slow)
STOP!!! (stop)

Credit: Sturdy for Common Things

If You’re Ready for a Story
wave your hands in the air!
… sit down please

Book: Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma DoddDogsColorfulDay

One of the many things I like about this book is that the main character is a dog called “Dog.” Kids can relate. Ask any toddler or preschooler the name of their stuffed friend and inevitably it is named dog or frog or cat, not Billy, Daisy, or Periwinkle.

This book mesmerizes toddlers and preschoolers! They are quickly drawn into the connection between what happens to Dog on his adventure and the additions of colored spots to his white fur. It is a nice complement to storytime because there are a variety of ideas, concepts (math!), objects, and places to talk about as you read the book.

Movement: Bubbles!

Our Friends group just gifted us a parachute for storytime so today I put it to use during a preschool outreach program first thing in the morning and then during the toddler storytime shortly after. The dozen preschoolers went crazy with the parachute and there were tears, I hate to say, when I started winding storytime down. So, I was a little nervous about using it at a toddler storytime with 40 people (about 24 kids). No need! It went perfectly well! Having alot of extra adults is very helpful.

I told caregiverss about the parachute experiment and asked them to help their little ones hold the chute. I mentioned that it was ok if some kids weren’t interested or if they were worried about the noise that might ensue when many toddlers play with a parachute.

This first song set the tone because it was a familiar song we sing often. It gave us the chance to try holding on to the parachute as we walked around during the first verse and then lay it on the floor during the second verse.

Parachute Song: Ring Around the Rosie
Ring (or skip or hop, etc.) around the rosie
Pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!

The cows are in the meadow
Eating buttercups
Thunder, lightning,
We all jump up!

The second song let everyone get a chance to see what the chute could do.

Parachute Song: If You’re Happy and You Know it
If you’re happy and you know it, lift it high!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it fast!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it slow!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it low!

Credit: Kendra at Read, Sing, Play

The final song got everyone laughing and giggling! We repeated this one several times before moving on to our regular closing song.

Parachute Song: Pop Goes the Lizard (with monkey and lizard puppets)Pop Goes the Lizard
All Around the Cobbler’s Bench
The monkey chased the lizard
Monkey thought ’twas all in fun
POP goes the lizard

Credit: adapted from Kendra’s version at Read, Sing, Play

Closing Song: Wave Hi, Wave low

Photo Credit:
Dog’s Colorful Day: Kentucky Department of Libraries


Looking for more toddler storytime ideas? Visit my Toddler Themes page.

Preschool: Berries and Jam

I saw Jbrary’s Pinterest board about a Berries and Jam storytime and immediately got to work planning the Alaska version. Right before the annual Iditarod Sled Dog Race is a great time to talk with my storytime kids about the rest of Alaska, and berries are an easy way to capture kids’ attention. I used basically the same plan for the two preschool age weekly storytimes I held this week and for the family storytime which is part of my two month Storytime on the Go outreach program. We began storytime with the rhyme cube. We ended up singing two songs, The ABC Song (to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb), and If You’re Happy and You Know it.

berryMagicBefore I began reading the first story, Berry Magic, I shared a quick keynote slide show on my iPad about Alaska berries which I made before storytime. Berry Magic (Alaska Northwest Books, 2004), written by Teri Sloat and illustrated by Betty Huffmon, is a wonderful story based on a Yu’pik tale about the magic of how berries came to be on the tundra, but without some additional berry visuals, kids may not understand the connection between the berries and the head scarves worn by each of the dolls in the story. Connecting the colors is a key element to appreciating the beauty of the story.

Using the quick keynote is a simple way to introduce new media in storytime in an intentional way. The clear, real-life,
Salmonberries on iPad berry images added to all of the stories I read, not just Berry Magic, and captured the attention of the children from the start. I also added text to the bottom of the images and pointed to the words as I read them aloud, an important literacy technique.

After the first story I brought out the feltboard to tell the tale of the little hungry bear and the 5 red strawberries. Before I began the story, we talked about why we knew the five strawberries were all strawberries, using our categorization skills. They are all red, have green leaves and little seeds on the outside. Our little bear puppet confirmed that they all tasted like berries also! (Mel Depper has another version with a green strawberry!)

A little message about using feltboards. I love their ability to help kids build their narrative skills and I encourage kids to touch, feel, and play with the story pieces…after storytime. As soon as I bring them out, I have lots of little hands ready to grab them off the board. Unless I am prepared to have lots of helpers, which happens some weeks, I let everyone know I am going to have the first turn and will leave the board out during craft time for others to play. Kids are learning about taking turns and the story gets told with all of the pieces intact. It works well.

Flannelboard: 5 Red Strawberries (with bear puppet)

Five red strawberries, sweet to the core.
Bear came and ate one and then there were four.

5 Red StrawberriesFour red strawberries, growing near a tree.
Bear came and ate one and then there were three.

Three red strawberries, for you and you and you.
Bear came and ate one and then there were two.

Two red strawberries, sitting in the sun.
Bear came and ate one and then there was one.

One red strawberry, left all alone.
Bear came and ate it and then there were none.

Credit: Storytime Katie

We immediately moved into a fingerplay about two bears. I used the two bear finger puppets I have, one brown and one black, to represent two of the three kinds of bears in Alaska. The families used their fingers.

Fingerplay: Two Little Black Bears

Two little black bears sitting on a hill,
One named Jack and one named Jill,
Run away Jack, run away Jill.
Come back Jack, come back Jill.

Two little black bears digging in the snow
One named Fast and one named Slow…

Two little black bears feeling very proud
One named Quiet and one named Loud..

Credit: Jbrary

Our next story was The Blueberry Shoe (Alaska Northwest Books, 1999) written by coworker Ann Dixon and illustrated by Evon Zerbetz, another Alaskan. Iblueberry shoe am biased, but this is a wonderful book about a baby who loses his shoe while he and his family are blueberry picking. After an extensive, but fruitless, search, the family returns home without the shoe. Over the winter various animals incorporate the shoe into their daily life, but only temporarily, leaving the shoe for the family to find the next summer.

The story’s highlight is the sweet, animal-filled sequence of shoe-filled events featuring eye-catching images of Alaskan creatures including bears, foxes, ptarmigan, and even voles. Many families in Alaska make at least one outing for berry picking so many children were able to recount their personal berry adventures, and misadventures.

jamberryThe final book we read together was Jamberry (Harper & Row, 1983) by Bruce Degen! This book has a rhythm that captures kids’ attention and the quirky illustrations keep them focused. We read straight through this story because many kids were ready for something different, but during other readings I have stopped often to talk about the images. Kids felt comfortable to point, touch, and call out humorous features and their favorite berries even without my usual pausing.

On to craft time!

I offered two crafts, both of which were pure hits. I even ran out of the supplies used for the second project. Note to self, have lots of contact paper on hand!


For the first option, I printed out the template for a strawberry from Artsy Momma on to a white piece of paper and cut out the berry and the leaf section. A high school volunteer traced the templates onto the red and green card stock. Families cut out the pieces, glued them together and used yellow paint to finger paint the seeds on to the berry.


Materials:1 sheet of red card stock (8 1/2″ x 11″)
1/2 piece of green card stock
strawberry template
glue stick
yellow paint
hand wipes or sink to wash hands

The second craft proved to be a great sensory activity also! Kids made berries using contact paper and tissue paper. Some made raspberries, while others made blueberries or salmonberries.


For each child, I peeled the backing off of a piece of clear contact paper and taped it, sticky side up, on to the table in front of them. Immediately, each child put their hands on the sticky paper and was completely surprised at how sticky it was! The looks were priceless! Some kids used one color to create their favorite berry, others chose to do a multi-color collage pattern but all were very clear about what kind of berry they had made.

After the berries were finished, we peeled the back off another piece of contact paper (same size and shape) and laid it on top, sticky side down to create a contact paper sandwich. the result was a square or rectangle shape. With scissors, the adult or the child cut the contact paper into a berry shape.

Two pieces of contact paper per child (approximately 12″ x 12″)
tissue paper in berry and stem colors (red, blue, orange, purple, green)

Photo Credits:
Keynote slide on iPad: Salmonberries (Nomemade)
Berry Magic: ECE Literacy
The Blueberry Shoe: Gulliver Books
Jamberry: Harper Collins Books

Preschool: Opposites

Felt OThis week;s theme was opposites at all three storytimes I led at the library and on the road!

What opposite storytime would be complete without the magical letter “O”? It’s a letter that can be a number and a shape as well!  (…and a snowman’s hat a preschooler enthusiastically pointed out!) It’s fun to find the letter “O” in books and on the displayed alphabet art in our library. It’s also easy to make the shape with our bodies and to write for many of the story time kids. So many options. Two boys by the name of Oliver and Owen were particularly pleased with the felt “O” I cut out and displayed.

To get storytime started, we talked about what an opposite is and came up with several examples. Big and little, up and down, and in and out were all mentioned. As more families trickled in on the grey day, we got started with our first of many songs.

Action song: Open, Shut Them

Action song: This is Big, Big, Big

eric carle oppositesBook: Opposites by Eric Carle (Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin Young Readers Group, ©2007)

This is a great conversation piece for an opposite storytime, and a good first book. It contains images, one word text describing the illustration, and then a flap to lift to find the opposite. It’s simple, but the lift the flap effect reinforces the concept of opposite and how two things so different can be related. Most recognize the artwork of Eric Carle so that makes it an instant crowd pleaser, even without a storyline.

We asked “What do you think is the opposite of…?” throughout the sharing of this book. An especially interesting opposite for the preschool crowd during my outreach visit was young-old. They thought about that one for awhile!

While the rest of the country enjoys Alaska’s winter weather, we are suffering through ice and rain. But, we’re dreaming of more snow and the chance to make more snow creatures. This song will hopefully keep us in the spirit and ready for the anticipated white stuff!

Action Song: Once There Was a Snowman
Once there was a snowman, a snowman, a snowman.
Once there was a snowman tall, tall, tall. (stand on tippy toes, reaching for the ceiling)
In the sun he melted, he melted, he melted. (slowly lower arms and begin to sink towards floor)
In the sun he melted small, small, small. (crouch into a ball and be as small as you can be on the floor)
But,,, (repeat).
Credit: Jbrary (see the video)

Instead of singing the usual “Get Ready for a Story” song, I learned a new action rhyme that worked very well with this week’s theme. We repeated this game each time we read a new book.

Action Rhyme: Eyes Open, Eyes Closed
Eyes open, Eyes closed
Wiggle your fingers, Wiggle your nose
Thumbs up, Thumbs down
Make a smile, Make a frown
Wiggle, clap, Wiggle, snap
Let your hands fly right to your lap.
Credit: with kiddos @ the library via Storytime Underground’s 1st Pimp My Storytime Finale post

ittybittycoverBook: Itty Bitty by Cece Ball (Candlewick Press, 2009).

This is a sweet book about a dog who could fit in the hand of a toddler or the pocket of a preschooler. Itty Bitty chews a home out of an enormous bone (of a dinosaur, we decided) and then decorates it with teeny weeny furniture after a shopping trip at a local store’s teeny weeny department store. This is a surprisingly perfect pick for storytime. Itty Bitty uses lots of new vocabulary and the opposite of small and big is explored in a variety of ways. Who doesn’t love a tiny dog who can ride a bike?

Christmas came early to the library! The Friends of the Library bought us movement scarves! With the help of a librarian on the ALSC listserv, I came across the perfect song for dancing and wiggling this morning. I played “Boogie Woogie Hand Jive” (Kids on the Move, 2000) by Merry Music Maker on my phone which was connected via bluetooth to a portable speaker. We danced and moved our scarves according to the actions in the simple to follow and nicely paced lyrics.

After the first song, I asked everyone if they wanted one more and the answer was a resounding yes. We picked up our scarves again and danced to the song: “Opposites are Opposite” (Let’s Get Silly, 2005) by Eric Lettau. This song is less about following the singer’s instructions and more about doing some free dancing. I demonstrated some suggested moves, but the kids didn’t need them. Everyone was warmed up and ready to go.

Clean pigs Dirty Pigs Felt

With the wiggles waggled, it was time for another story. This time I brought out the felt board.

Feltboard: Five Clean and Dirty Pigs
(tune: Five Green and Speckled Frogs)
Five pigs so squeaky clean,
cleanest pigs you’ve ever seen,
Wanted to go outside and play.
Oink, oink!
One jumped into the mud,
landed with a great big THUD! (clap)
now there are 4 pigs squeaky clean.
3 pigs so squeaky clean…etc.
Credit: Mel’s Desk via Miss Mary Liberry

Note: The toddlers kept making off with my pigs before we could get this song/story started at the toddler storytime. Change of plans! I had one child take care of the felt mud across the story time area from where I was standing and then the other kids took individual pigs over to the mud as we sang. It worked out well and kept the little ones’ interest. Those toddlers really love playing with the felt pieces! (see the toddler version of Opposites storytime for the full plan.)

After another round of Eyes Open, Eyes Closed, we read our last book, The Opposite by Tom MacRae and Elena Odriozola (Peachtree, 2006). This book needs an introduction because it may be a little abstract for the younger story time kids, but it is one of the few books that explores the opposite concept directly in the context of a story. (I did not read it to the toddlers.)

The book is about Nate, a boy who wakes up to find “the opposite” walking on his ceiling. In this story the opposite is a tangible thing that does the opposite of what Nate says. The opposite makes a mess, and is both clumsy and annoying. Nate realizes that “the opposite” does whatever Nate says, causing lots of trouble at home and at school. “I wish you would go away” makes “the opposite” stay, for example. Nate comes up with a plan to say the opposite and make amends. The story is interesting, but is best read after the opposite concept is explored. The illustrations are colorful and easy to share with a group because of the amount of white space on each page.

Need more opposites story time suggestions? Check out Jbrary’s opposites board on Pinterest.

Opposite OctopusActivity: The O is now an Octopus!

I found this one at Fantastic Fun and Learning.


  • Cardstock in various colors, folded in half with half of an “O” traced on one side
  • Construction paper, folded in two 2″ x 4″ rectangles with wavy stripes traced on one side (creates two legs)
  • Jewels
  • Black circles (about 1 in. diameter)
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Crayons and markers for coloring the octopus or on provided coloring sheets




Photo Credits:
Opposites – Scholastic
The Opposite – Picture Book Junkies


After storytimes, collection development, cataloging, working at the front desk, and other tasks, I try to head out and do as much outreach as I can. Since I work part-time, that mostly means bi-monthly visits to a local preschool, Spring visits to local schools before the summer program, and the three month outreach program I did last Winter.

Last weekend, I did a different kind of outreach. I was invited to be part of what I like to call Early Literacy Lane at our community’s popular Rotary Health Fair. The annual event at the high school brings in lots of families and this year, exhibitors also included organizations talking about literacy and kids.

For the better part of Saturday, I talked to families about early literacy skills and library programs in between playing with LEGOs, visiting with my little storytime friends who stopped by to play, and meeting spouses and siblings who I don’t see at storytime during the week. The fair was visited by almost 1,200 people and it was a great opportunity to connect with attendees and other exhibitors.

Literacyland- a Recipe for Early Literacy Success!20131107-215156.jpg

I wanted to design an interactive exhibit that was fun, included much more than books, and could be recreated at future events. My small exhibit featured early literacy mini-stations marked by signs featuring each of the early literacy skills from Every Child Ready to Read. The signs also included an easy to understand definition of each skill. The mini-stations provided tangible activity suggestions to strengthen the six skills.

I got lots of questions about early literacy, storytimes, digital media for kids, and our library’s other services. Literacyland gave me a chance to connect with families beyond the library and explain the elements of storytime and why we include them, something that sometimes gets lost amongst the stories, songs, and activities we do.

Literacyland Ingredients:

  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom-inspired tree (and the book by Bill Martin, John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert)
  • Magnetic letters and numbers (look for letters, like Melissa & Doug’s,  that have magnetic material completely covering the back)
  • 2 containers of large LEGOs
  • Rhyme Cube
  • variety of books (board books and picture books) and kits
  • Bean bag from the library
  • portable CD player and headphones for mini listening station
  • Card table with covering
  • Clipboard with paper and pens
  • Storytime brochures
  • How-to-get-a-library-card flyers
  • Three Little Pigs story basket
  • Feltboard and felt pieces
  • Mini-station signs (laminated early literacy skill signs attached to dowels planted in paint containers full of beach sand)
  • Nametag
  • Water bottle

The exhibit pieces were relatively easy to pull together since most of it came from the children’s room at the library. Deciding what to bring, not knowing the size of my space before the Friday night set up, was the trickiest part. The highlight of the exhibit was either the LEGOs, which attracted passersby, or the tree, which amazed visitors of all ages.

My favorite piece was the tree! After reading a post on the ALSC blog about using magnetic paint at the library, I’ve had some ready and waiting at home. I’ve been trying to figure out how I could use the magical paint in our library. LIteracyland finally gave me the perfect opportunity! A Chicka Chicka Boom Boom-inspired tree seemed perfect.

I had a friend cut the 5’h x 4’w tree shape out of finished plywood (one side finished only is fine). My husband built the stable frame to stand it up right and painted it with metallic paint on the trunk and green on the fronds. It was well worth the effort to make the tree, which we will be able to reuse at the library or at future outreach visits. Kids of all ages played with the letters; spelling their name, figuring out what was magnetic, and organizing the letters and numbers!

What kind of outreach do you do beyond school visits and traveling storytimes?

The Cloud Spinner and Extra Yarn

cloud spinner

Admittedly I was a little frazzled a couple of weeks ago as I prepared for my full day of outreach programs in between regular projects and library surprises. I needed some perfect books to read with the ESL kindergarten class at my day’s second stop. Then a lovely library patron came by on one of her weekly visits to return a stack of books. As I discharged them, I came across one that practically sparkled.  Luckily there was a lull at the front desk, because I had to read this one, and ultimately, tuck it into my “out the road” bag.

The Cloud Spinner by author Michael Catchpool with illustrations by Allison Jay ( Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012) is dreamy and magical with just a hint of the surreal. This special book features beautiful illustrations and a fantastical story that left a group of kindergarteners quiet and open mouthed as I read the soon-to-be classic tale. A young boy who weaves fine cloth from the clouds finds himself at the mercy of a greedy king who demands a wardrobe made of the boy’s wares. The story’s message, quietly and courageously proclaimed by one wise little boy, was not lost on this young crowd. “Enough is enough and not one stitch more.”

The soft illustrations are detail-rich and each page is edged like an old photograph, providing a great stage for the story as it is read aloud. The kids delighted in finding the big-bellied king’s castle in the landscape views and discovering the shapes of animals and things of all kinds in the white, gold, and crimson colored clouds.

Great for ages 5-8.

extra yarn

“That is not possible!”

So said a young storytime friend throughout Extra Yarn, the marvelous picture book by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jon Klassen (Balzer + Bray, 2012).

I quickly added Extra Yarn to my “out the road” bag once I’d picked The Cloud Spinner. I hadn’t read the 2013 Caldecott Honor Book aloud yet and this was a great opportunity.  The pair of stories featuring quiet heroes, villainous royals, and the fiber arts, was a good match.

Annabelle, who lives in a “cold little town where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys”  seems similar enough to any kid inhabiting rural Northern towns. That is until she finds a box of yarn that is never ending. She begins to transform town one knitted stitch at a time until a greedy archduke steals the box. He wasn’t meant to have the box and it finds its way back to Annabelle, again full of yarn.

Klassen’s typically uncluttered illustrations perfectly reflect the story, even couching the words on each matte page. In this book, the details are best experienced in the combination of text and images, not in one or the other. A favorite page? It must be the one with Annabelle knitting a sweater for a truck. “Little girl, said the archduke, I would like to buy that miraculous box of yarn. And I am willing to offer you one million dollars. No thank you, said Annabelle, who was knitting a sweater for a pickup truck.” Reading this page actually made the kids’ teacher laugh out loud.

Great for ages 5-8.