Sharks, Halibut, and the Zen of Toddler Storytime

Many of my Small Fry storytime littles are not so little anymore. The ratio of babies to toddlers has shifted. They are all growing into wonderful kiddos who are curious, active, social, and very emotional. It makes for crazy storytimes on occasion, as you can imagine. To keep the show moving forward, I make sure the atmosphere is as stress-free as possible. Many of these parents are first timers and watching your child snatch all of the felt pieces off the board or running and screaming through the middle of the circle can cause anxiety. I try to model “It’s gonna be ok everyone. We got this!”

Even with 40-60 people in the room, we try to make a circle. This contains the wanderers and helps the adults connect with other parents and caregivers. I sit on the floor and stand during storytime so the circle helps insure that everyone can see and makes it easier to pass out shakers, scarves, and other materials. If the crowd is big I may walk around the circle with the book to help include everyone.

Here’s what I shared this week. Just imagine squeals, a few cries, clapping, a kiddo laying on the floor kicking his legs up and down, other kids standing right in front of the book mesmerized, other kids taking off and putting the felt pieces on the board, etc. It’s all good. Kids and their adults are participating: signing (and singing) along with the songs, moving their fingers to the counting songs, talking about the pictures in the book, and inviting me to read more with them by bringing me other books to read.

Welcome Song: The More We Get Together (with ASL signs for ‘more’, ‘we’, ‘together’, ‘friends’, ‘read’, ‘big’, ‘little’, ‘short’ and ‘tall’)

Fingerplay: Open, Shut Them

Four Little Sausages felt piecesFeltboard Rhyme: Four Little Sausages
Four little sausages frying in a pan,
The grease got hot and one went BAM!
Three little sausages frying in a pan,
The grease got hot and one went BAM!
Two little sausages frying in a pan,
The grease got hot and one went BAM!
One little sausage frying in a pan,
The grease got hot and it went BAM!
No little sausages frying in a pan.The grease got hot and the pan went BAM!
Source: Jbrary (Flannel Friday)
Toddler Early Literacy Tip: Sounding out and pointing to words in your family’s environment show kids that text has meaning!

Song: Octopus aka Slippery Fish (with signs for ‘fish’, ‘octopus’, ‘shark’, and ‘whale’)
Slippery fish, slippery fish, sliding through the water,
Slippery fish, slippery fish, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp!
Oh, no! It’s been eaten by an …

Octopus, octopus, squiggling in the water
Octopus, octopus, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp!
Oh, no! It’s been eaten by a …

Tuna fish, tuna fish, flashing in the water,
Tuna fish, tuna fish, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp!
Oh, no! It’s been eaten by a …

Great white shark, great white shark, lurking in the water,
Great white shark, great white shark, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp!
Oh, no! It’s been eaten by a …

Humongous whale, humongous whale, spouting in the water,

Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt

Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt

Humongous whale, humongous whale,
Gulp! … Gulp! … Gulp! … BURP!
(Cover your mouth.) Excuse me!
Credit: Charlotte Diamond
Check out the Jbrarians performing the song!
Science Tip: this song teaches about the food web!

Book: Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt (D. Fickling Books, 2002)

Song: Bubbles!

Play: Bubbles!
We always blow and pop bubbles after we read. It brings the group back together and gives everyone a movement break.

Feltboard Rhyme: 5 Little Halibut (with felt halibut and shark puppet)
There were five little halibut swimming in the sea,
Teasing Mr. Shark “Oh, you can’t catch me, you can’t catch me!”
Along comes Mr. Shark as quiet as can be, and snatched 1 halibut right out of the sea!
… 4, 3, 2, 1
(Inspired by: There Were Five Little Fish)
Toddler Tip: When kids learn to wait until I invite them to grab felt pieces off of the board during the song, they are practicing self-regulation. It takes time so we’ll keep practicing! When I want the felt pieces to stay on the board, I tell families “It’s my turn!” Then I invite (and thank) kids to remove or add felt pieces depending on the activity.

Closing Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!
If you’re happy and you know then your face will surely show it,
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!
…stomp your feet
…wave your hands in the air

Sago Mini Ocean SwimmerDigital Media Advisory and Access:
Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer
by Sago Sago

(iPad and iPhone)
After storytime I introduced families to the featured app on the mounted iPad in our children’s library. Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer is a great example of an app that can support the learning of young children. It has no bells, coins, etc. to distract or confuse children, just open-ended play with creatures under the sea!  I love the gently action of the app and the cause and effect experience kids can have exploring the animated sea. The app is wordless, so our dual language families can tell stories and talk together about the app’s animals and objects in their home language and English.

Fiber Arts in Story

This week I decided to share The Cloud Spinner and Extra Yarn with the preschool storytime kids. See reviews in my previous post. We turned it into a fiber arts storytime!

green sheepI also added a third book to the mix, Where is the Green Sheep?  written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Judy Horacek (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004) so we could talk about where the wool comes from that is used to make all of the hats and mittens we wear for much of the year. It’s a silly book that includes lots of opposites and great opportunities for color recognition and vocabulary practice.  It’s a fun book to improvise with or read the text as is.

Before I read Where is the Green Sheep? I taught the group the old song, Baa, Baa Black Sheep, using the felt board. Most kids had never heard the song before and sat intently as I sang.  After the story, I brought out my colored sheep so the kids could really learn the song and continue practicing their colors.  The visual of the felt sheep and three bags of wool helped the kids learn this song. By the fifth time around, those little ones were singing their hearts out.  At the end of storytime, when everyone was getting their boots and coats on, a two year old started singing “Baa, baa, baa, baa, baa, baa, baa.” Her mom was amazed, telling me that her daughter had never heard the song before. The mom then started singing the rest of the song to her. It put a smile on my face!

Baa Baa Black SheepBaa, baa Black Sheep felt
Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.
One for the master, one for the dame,
And one for the little boy, who lives down the lane.
Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.

Credit: King County Library System

Cloud AnimalsWe worked on a couple of projects during craft time today. Some kids made cloud animals similar to some of the cloud creatures we identified in The Cloud Spinner.  Feel free to download the templates for the cloud fish and the cloud bunny.  The cloud sheep craft and template I found at All Kids Network. I had a teen volunteer help me cut out the templates for each so the kids could focus on gluing the cotton balls in place.

STEAM moment: While this storytime focused on fiber arts, we also spent time talking about the clouds in the story. It offered me an opportunity to introduce the water cycle and the story’s message of conservation.

The other project we tried is paper weaving. I found a great example at Art Projects Paper Weavingfor Kids. This was popular with the older kids who sat and really focused on weaving the paper strips over and under. Some kids alternated the weft (or warp?) and some only did one pattern. You could see the mental wheels spinning! It was a great project for adults and kids to do together and the parents were very patient.  One parent even commented that it would make a great project to do at home (it requires very little in the way of materials).

Paper cut for weavingI used one sheet of cardstock for each child and cut eight lines from one end to within an inch of the other end. Having one end free helped the kids maneuver the strips more easily. I found colorful scrapbook paper for the strips the kids wove into the cardstock. The contrasts were beautiful and easy for the kids to see their progress.  Paper strips for weavingWhen the weavers were all done, we taped the back of the cardstock where needed so the strips wouldn’t move around.

A note for next time- I’ll make the strips a little longer than the 8″ strips I used this time and have parents trim the hanging edges. The paper fit well, but it would have been easier for kids to handle if it was a bit longer.

With a little more lead time, I’d also have a weaver come to storytime and demonstrate on a loom so kids could see weaving in action.