Toddler: Rhyming Words and Have You Seen My New Blue Socks?

Toddler storytime is full of little ones these days. The caregivers are hungry for tips and are so enthusiastic. The kiddos are moving to the rhythm, clapping, signing, pointing to the book illustrations, touching the felt pieces and just generally getting into storytime. What a blast!

Weekly Early Literacy Tip: Singing nursery rhymes or other songs is fun and fosters early literacy! We usually sing slower than we speak and as we sing kids can more easily hear the individual sounds in words. This is called phonological awareness and will eventually help your child sound out words when they are ready to read. often the ending sounds are the easiest to hear, so we’re focusing on rhymes today.

Welcome Song: The More We Get (Read) Together (with ASL)

I brought along my monkey puppet to sing with us on this next song. This crowd LOVES puppets.

Action Rhyme: Monkey See Monkey Do
Monkey see, monkey do
Little monkey in the zoo
Monkey, monkey, in the tree
Can you jump around like me?
(…clap your hands…climb a tree…nod your head…sit down…)

Have You Seen My New Blue Socks book image

Have You Seen My New Blue Socks by Eve Bunting and Sergio Ruzzier (Photo source:

Book: Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? by Eve Bunting & Sergio Ruzzier (Clarion Books, 2013)

Bunting’s book reads well as a story, unlike some rhyming stories that seem forced. The amount of text, story line and word choice create a pacing, when read aloud, that encourages emphasis on the rhyming words and offers opportunities for the youngest storytime kids to interact with the illustrations and make connections with the text. One on one sharing allows for even more conversation, reinforcing the value of this title as a repeat read.

 Felt game: Little Fox, Little Fox
This felt game was inspired by erinisinire. Lots of people have versions of this game (and it’s cousin Little Mouse, Little Mouse) as Jbrary found out, but I do love this fox the best and it ties nicely with the book we shared this week which includes a fox and some boxes. I used my Folkmanis fox puppet (called Big Fox in this game instead of mom or dad fox) to add another dimension and reinforce the concept of big and small.

Some of the toddlers wanted to hide the fox as well as find it which worked out great because the hiders still let us say the rhyme and were surprised when we found it behind one of the different colored boxes!

Before we sang this song and popped bubbles together, I mentioned why I count starting with my thumb. We count to three a lot during this storytime to show how easy it is to integrate counting (math) into daily activities and I always start with my thumb. These first three fingers are essential for pinching and grasping small objects and will later be used to hold a paintbrush or writing tool.

Bringing out a box of scarves after I put the bubbles away is a great transition! Before our next song which used different colored scarves, I explained and demonstrated what we were going to do with our scarves and then we sang together. For example we were going to wave the scarves overhead and then rub our hair.

Scarf Song: Scarves in the Air
Put your scarf in the air, in the air
Put your scarf in the air, in the air
Put your scarf in the air, now rub your hair
Put your scarf in the air, in the air
…on your knee, count to three
…on your toe, way to go!
…on your head, who has red? (the families with a red scarf waved it in the air)
Source: Read, Sing, Play
See and hear the tune in action with KCLS

Action Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It
If you’re happy and you know it, wave your scarf.
If you’re happy and you know it, wave your scarf.
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it.
If you’re happy and you know it, wave your scarf.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it, shout “hooray!”
If you’re happy and you know it, do all three.
(wave, wave, clap, clap, hooray!)

Time to clean up our scarves! I usually have a bag to put the scarves in, but today I brought a box so we could sing this song!

Song: Picking up scarves
Pickin’ up scarves and put them in the box
Pickin’ up scarves and put them in the box
Pickin’ up scarves and put them in the box
Put the scarves in the box
Source: KCLS

Closing Song: Ring Around the Rosie

Activity: Dot painting!
Today I brought out the paint dobbers and some plain white paper for toddlers to try. For some kids, it’s their first experience painting. For all of the kids and adults, it offers a great opportunity to experiment with and talk about colors and patterns.


Preschool: Summer!

20130526-225947.jpgSummer is here! While the weather is still a bit cool, but school is finished for the year and everyone is excited about what lies ahead in the months to come. Our summer reading program has begun (a week early this year to coincide with the closing of local schools) and so have the summer storytimes. This week, I decided to celebrate the fun expected in the months ahead.

To get us in the mood, I built a campfire in the library complete with wood from home and flames made of tissue paper. It was a great conversation starter! We discussed the steps to build a campfire and the fun you can have camping in the summer. Of course, kids immediately said aloud their favorite campfire foods, s’mores and hot dogs, when I asked “what do you like to do around a campfire?”

Song Cube

Before we read together, we sang together. I introduced the Rhyme Cube, or Song Cube as I call it, which I adopted from Anne Hicks over at Anne’s Library Life. It’s a valuable early literacy tool that is rewarding and fun for kids.20130526-230009.jpg

I demonstrated how the Song Cube works by rolling the cube in front of the kids. When the cube stopped, an image of the letter ‘A’ and some ants, a smiling sun, a spider, etc. was facing up. Below the image was the name of the corresponding familiar rhyme or song.

I made the cube using an empty tissue box which I wrapped in paper. On each side I hot glued a different image and song/rhyme name to the box. I then taped the whole box (not pictured) to help it last a bit longer.

A few kids took turns rolling the cube and we sang the song selected. All of the songs were familiar which made it easy to get the crowd singing along. Each child that rolled the cube smiled broadly as the group sang the song the child chose.It’s a fun way to start storytime and allows families to trickle inn while families already present engaged while they wait.

What is the early literacy value of the Song Cube? Emphasizing the rhyming sounds as we sing the favorite songs builds phonological awareness. It’s also a valuable tool for print awareness. The image on each side relates to the song and becomes a symbol referring to a specific song, much like letters organized in certain combinations in a word or words in the name of a song. I point to the words below each image in the sides of the cube and children see the name of the song.


In addition to camping, summer for kids in our cosmic hamlet means fish, berries, and lots of free play in the long Alaskan days. So, we read a selection of favorite picture books about these pastimes.

Marla Frazee’s A Couple of Boys Have the Week Ever (Harcourt, 2008) is a fun book about summer, grandparents, play, and boys.

Jamberry by Bruce Degan (Harper & Row, 1983) was our second book. The kids love finding the silly additions to the scenes on each page. Toast and berry waterfalls always cause shout outs. The variety of berries familiar to Alaskan kids from summers of picking makes this book a favorite.

Our last book was the wonderful This is Not My Hat, the 2013 Caldecott award winning story by Jon Klassen (candlewick, 2012). It’s a smart, witty story perfect for preschool age kids who love anticipating the tale of the small fish who steals a hat from a very large fish and attempts to hide behind a kelp forest. What happens when the large fish follows the small into the kelp forest? We’ll never know.

Before our craft time, we sang around the campfire!

Campfire Pokey
You put your marshmallow in,
You put your marshmallow out,
You put your marshmallow in,
And you cook it ’till it’s brown.

You do the campfire pokey
and you pop it in your mouth –
That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Yum!

(repeat changing out the different food that can be
cooked over a fire… apples, hotdogs, popcorn, etc.)

Credit: Storytimes with Moxie


Our craft was a paper campfire. The kids enjoyed gluing on the small colored tissue paper squares on to the black cardstock where the flames would be and small sticks where the logs would be. It was a simple craft with simple supplies.

Happy Unbirthday!

I needed a storytime at the last minute, so I decided it was time for our unbirthday party!  With a few balloons and streamers to decorate the children’s library, a birthday cake (felt), birthday hats (today’s craft), and some great songs, we were set. It was a silly day!

Kids had never heard of an unbirthday so we first talked about when everyone’s real birthday is celebrated. Most kids didn’t know their exact birthdays, but we eventually got everyone’s day figured out. We then sang both Happy Birthday and the Unbirthday Song!

Song: Unbirthday Song
Happy birthday not to me,
Happy birthday not to me,
Happy birthday to someone else,
Happy birthday not to me!
(I found this on the web somewhere!)

We then talked about what we need for a birthday party: decorations, invitations, presents, and cake! Let’s make a cake!

Action Rhyme: A Birthday
Today is everyone’s birthday
Let’s make a cake (form cake with hands)
Mix and stir, stir and mix (stir)
Then into the oven to bake (push hands out)
Here’s our cake so nice and round (make a circle)
We frost it pink and white (spread frosting)
We put five candles on it (hold up hand)
To make a birthday bright!
Credit: Addison Public Library (found on Storytime Katie)

I had the kids pick the frosting colors, instead of just saying pink, but included white for the rhyme.

The first book we read together was Froggy Bakes a Cake by Jonathan London and Frank Remkiewicz (Grosset & Dunlap, 2000). These 20130525-214644.jpgkids love Froggy!

Our birthday was out of the oven now and frosted beautifully, so the last thing to do was add the candles.  I made two of each color candle so we could put them on in a pattern the first time. I found this counting rhyme that go along with my felt cake. This was a tricky one, but the kids figured it out by the time we got down to 4 candles. The visual of taking two candles away each time we blew out the flames helped immensely. We put the candles back on the cake any which way and then sang the song a second time.

20130525-214654.jpgFlannelboard: 10 Little Candles
Ten little candles on a birthday cake.
Wh!  Wh!  Now there are eight.
Eight little candles in candle sticks.
Wh!  Wh!  Now there are six.
Six little candles, not one more.
Wh!  Wh!  Now there are four.
Four little candles, red and blue.
Wh!  Wh!  Now there are two.
Two little candles, one by one.
Wh!  Wh!  Now there are none.
Credit: ACLD Storytime

With all of this singing, we had time for one more book. We decided on I Want Two Birthdays! by Tony Ross (Lerner Publishing Group, 2010). It’s a great story about why we don’t have a birthday everyday. The other books I pulled out for storytime were checked out and taken home to be shared one on one. Perfect!

20130525-214702.jpg Our craft was the final piece of the party planning- birthday hats!  This simple craft had kids hard at work.  I copied this template onto white cardstock so kids could cut out the hat. They then decorated the hats with crayons, markers, and stickers. Before bending and stapling the hat into the cone shape, parents helped kids staple streamers on the top. We used yarn to ties the hat on kids’ heads which worked just fine. Our library’s moose even got a hat for the party!

Once we had the hats made, we played my favorite party game- musical chairs. For storytime, we used the beanbags found in the children’s library and changed the game a bit. Each time I stopped the music, we took a beanbag away and kept all of the kids in the game. When the music stopped the next time, all of the kids had to squeeze onto the remaining beanbags. Eventually, all of the kids were piled on to one beanbag. Lots of giggles ensued, as you can imagine!  My music choice? Andy Mason, who will be visiting the library this summer from New Mexico.

Our Five Senses

What can you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste?

We spent this storytime hour exploring the five senses. We began by talking about the senses which gave late arriving families a chance to get settled before I started reading the first book. We looked out the windows at the cars going by, we heard the male pheasant that lingers outside the kids library in the Springtime, and we felt the fabric of our pants and the roughness of the carpet under our sit mats. No tasting this morning, but many kids told of their favorite flavors!

To help cement the names of the newly identified senses, we sang, of course! During the song we pointed to the body part we used for each sense. Most kids new the tune but not the words, so we repeated this one a couple of times.

Song: Five Senses (Tune: Where is Thumbkin)
Five senses, five senses
We have them. We have them.
Seeing, hearing, touching,
Tasting and smelling.
There are five, there are five.

Credit: Miss Sarah’s Storytimes

baby bear sees blueOur first book was Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff (Beach Lane Books, 2012) which features all of the senses, color recognition, and the chance for kids to do some great animal spotting.  Baby Bear emerges from the den to find amazing colors as it explores the changing landscape with Mama Bear. The text is simple, but the illustrations, created using linoleum block printing and watercolor, are brilliant with lots of detail including a picture of the baby bear fishing that shows the scene above and below the waterline (my favorite). The final scene includes a rainbow to bring all of the colors together.

With the whole group assembled, we stood and stretched in preparation for this action song and more books. As with all new songs, we repeated it so kids could feel comfortable enough with the rhythm and the actions to join in.

Action Rhyme: Touch Your Nose
Touch your nose
Touch your chin
That’s the way this game begins.
Touch your eyes
Touch your knees
Now pretend your going to sneeze.
Touch your hair
Touch one ear
Touch your two red lips right here.
Touch your elbows where they bend
That’s the way this touch game ends.

Credit: Sturgis Kids

seven blind miceThe next book I shared was the Caldecott Honor Book, Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young (Philomel Books, 1992).  Several kids had read the book before and were excited to chime in or read along.  This book also reinforces color recognition, let’s us do some basic counting, and offers us an opportunity to talk about blindness. The kids all came up with suggestions on how people might use their other senses to compensate for blindness as they navigate the world. This book also provides good opportunities to get kids predicting what will happen next.

Time for a game! I found this on the internet somewhere (Pinterest, I think?), but lost 20130410-173129.jpgthe source. It reminds me of several of the activities I used when I homeschooled my son using the Montessori method.  The storytime kids loved it. I showed them the card with the texture on it and let them all have a feel. We came up with words to describe the texture and then I showed them the labeled card next to the original and read the text while pointing to the letters with my finger.  For the dry sponge I added a question mark instead of a word, introducing them to the symbol, and let them decide on a good description for it. During the craft/activity portion of the storytime, I left the game out for kids to play with their parents.


Black card stock
black-eyed peas (bumpy)
sandpaper (rough)
fleece fabric (soft)
aluminum foil (shiny)
sponge (?)

Note: I used hot glue to attach everything to the cardstock. It worked well except for the beans. They were easily picked off by determined little fingers. Also, for smooth, I didn’t add anything to the card and left it blank. The kids easily identified this texture.

toottootDepending on the group, I ended with either Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle (Big book) or Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia (Boxer Books, 2008).  Both have simple text with nice illustrations. Toot Toot Beep Beep certainly draws in the transportation hounds.

The story portion of the morning went longer than usual so the craft I planned was perfect. We made binoculars out of toilet rolls. We often make these in the Spring in 20130410-173544.jpganticipation of the annual stopover of migrating shorebirds on their way North.  The kids quickly got to work customizing the binoculars and then explored the library and outside through the new discovery tool. What’s great about these binoculars is that they help kids focus on one thing or a small area, often seeing more detail than if they looked without.


2 toilet rolls for each child
ribbon or string for the strap
hole punch
stapler (to attach rolls to each other)
stickers, markers, crayons, etc. to decorate