Preschool: Halloween

Pumpkins at night

Happy Halloween! This might just be my favorite holiday. Every other time of year we worry quite a bit about how scary stories for kids are, but around Halloween, kids are free to imagine, read, and create scary tales. Great stories plus pumpkin carving and candy equals fun! And if you still need convincing, who doesn’t love a good costume?

little old lady afraid

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Willams

Action Rhyme: Pumpkin, Pumpkin
Pumpkin, pumpkin, big and round, (Make big circle with hands)
Sitting on the cold, hard ground. (Touch the ground)
Soon I’ll pick you off the vine, (Pretend to pick a pumpkin)
Give you a name, and make you mine (Hug pumpkin tightly)
Carve a face for all to see, (Point to face)
Add a candle for Halloween glee! (Clap your hands)


Hallo-Weiner by Dav Pilkey

Action Rhyme: 5 Little Pumpkins

Five little pumpkins sitting on the gate. (Hold up 5 fingers behind arm laid horizontally.)
The first one said, “Oh, my it’s getting late.” (Hold up thumb.)
The second one said, “There’s a chill in the air.” (Hold up index finger.)
The third one said, “But we don’t care.” (Hold up middle finger.)
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run.” (Hold up ring finger.)
The fifth one said, “I’m ready for some fun.” (Hold up pinky.)
Ooooo! Went the wind, and out went the light. (Blow through hands, then clap.)
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight! (Roll hands over and under each other.)

Bone Soup

Bone Soup by Cambria Evans

Have you seen the impressive felt board version of this tale created by SLC Book Boy? It’s perfect! (I heard about his fabulous felt version at Storytime Underground blog. Follow it, if you don’t already!)


Families chose one or more of the Halloween characters to create- a pumpkin, a cat, or a ghost. Each featured a 20131105-213232.jpgslightly different medium for kids to play around with. Families could then take the project home and decorate for Halloween the following day.

Paper plate for each character
Liquid glue
Hole punch

For the cat:
Rectangle of black construction paper with 2 triangles drawn on it (for ears)
Triangle of pink construction paper for nose
Rectangle of yellow paper for kids to draw and cut out into any 2 shapes (for eyes)
Crayons and markers
Black streamers
Yarn for hanger

For the pumpkin:
1″ x1″ orange squares of tissue paper
1/2 sheet of green construction paper for kids to cut up (for eyes, nose, and mouth)
Orange streamers
Yarn for hanger

For the ghost:
1/2 sheet of black construction paper for kids to cut into eyes and mouth
White puff balls for eyeballs
White streamers
yarn for hanger

IMG_1225I also had trick or treat bags to pass out, thanks to the fire department, and tattoos! It was great fun helping kids put on their tattoos before they left and watching and listening as I read the Boo! tattoo I put on my hand. Letters and words are everywhere!


Hop! HoEaster Eggsp! Hop! Watching children hop around the children’s library looking for Easter eggs is hysterical! I love to get kids moving during storytime.

You guessed it. We had an Easter egg hunt this week in anticipation of the upcoming holiday.

Before children arrived, I hid colored plastic eggs filled with stickers in easy-to-find and hard-to-find nooks and crannies. (At the outreach program I also added goldfish crackers since clean-up is easier there.)  Kids immediately saw the eggs, but we were able to convince them to sit down for storytime anyway. The anticipation grew and grew and grew throughout the stories and songs included this week. Kids were spotting eggs and proclaiming “I see one!” at every opportunity.

20130403-125559.jpgWith some help from my rabbit puppet, I began storytime with the finger rhyme:

The Rabbit
I saw a little rabbit come
Hop, hop, hop!
I saw his two long ears go
flop, flop, flop!
I saw his little nose go
Twink, twink, twink!
I saw his little eyes go
Wink, wink, wink!
I said “little rabbit, won’t you stay?”
Then he looked at me
And hopped away.
Credit: Artfelt (for link to free pdf of rhymes)

The first story I read was Jan Brett’s The Easter Egg filled with elaborate eggs, kind bunnies, and detailed illustrations on each page in classic Brett style.easter_egg_brett

I followed up with The Black Rabbit by Phillipa Leathers a sweet little tale about a bunny afraid of his shadow (the black rabbit) who just won’t quit following him.  The rabbit tries to shake the stalking black bunny through the early pages until that black shadow eventually scares off a predatory wolf just in the nick of time. The kids easily understood that the black rabbit was a shadow so the story was less scary than it could have been.the black rabbit

Next up was Little Bunny Foo Foo with the help of my magic wand. I modify some of the words as I go if there are any scared faces in the crowd and I explain that a goon is a useless monster that can’t do anything (including scare little children) to diffuse initial fears.

Little Bunny Foo Foo
Little bunny Foo Foo
Hopping through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And bopping ’em on the head
And down came the Good Fairy
And she said
“Little bunny Foo Foo
I don’t like you’re attitude
Scooping up the field mice
And bopping ’em on the head”

I’ll give you 3 chances.
Then I’ll turn you into a goon!
The next day…
(Repeat two more verses with 2 and 1 chances_
3. “I gave you two chances.
Now I’ll turn you into a goon!”
And the moral of the story is:
Hare today, goon tomorrow!
Credit: Scout Songs

Our last book was Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This is a fun story both if you read all of the text or if you improvise. I did both depending on the general age and interest of the group.  As you can see, it’s tricky to decide if the image is a duck or a rabbit!duck rabbit  One of the pages features a scene which relates nicely to the craft we did- a rabbit hiding in the grass. But, before craft time, it was time to be bunnies and hop around.  The last song for storytime was:

If You’re Hoppy and You Know It
If you’re hoppy and you know it, hop around.
If you’re hoppy and you know it, hop around.
If you’re hoppy and you know it, then your face will surely show it,
If you’re hoppy and you know it, hop around.
…swish your tail
…flop your ears
…wiggle your nose


At this point the kids were up and ready to grab for the first egg they saw. To slow the older kids down, I told them this egg hunt was special because they had to jump like bunnies to find eggs and once they found one they could then help someone else find an egg (I had just enough). Off they hopped and the adults couldn’t help but laugh.

I then met the families at the craft table to help them sort out the easy bunny in the grass project I found at Busy Bee Kids Crafts.

The materials needed:

1 paper plate
2 strips of colored card stock, approximately 3 inches wide
three pieces of green construction paper big enough to trace a hand
2 eyes
glue (for eyes)

Bunny EarsAt the last minute, I decided I needed bunny ears for storytime. I made these right before everyone arrived and then cut some extra strips for anyone who might want a matching set. Almost every one of the 25 kids walked out with bunny ears. Simple and fun! All you need is one sheet of pink construction paper (cut into four strips), a pair of scissors and a stapler. Staple two strips together to make a band that fits around your head and then 20130403-125534.jpgcut the other two in the shape of ears to staple on the band. Some little ones colored their ears to make them extra special.

This marked the last week of storytime on the road, a three month pilot project which allowed me to visit rural community meeting places and a school approximately twenty-five miles from our library. The grant funded storytimes were definitely successful and we hope to continue them again in the future when funds allow.

Thanks to a visit from a local public radio reporter, the program received some great publicity. The radio story and the beautiful photos were heartwarming. I highly recommend letting local news media know about your outreach projects. It’s a great opportunity for advocacy!


Here is the slideshow from the reporter’s visit:

Lunar New Year

Happy New Year!

The Lunar New Year (Asian Spring Festival) is celebrated throughout much of Asia and is often known as Chinese New Year. We 20130206-154454.jpgregularly celebrate the holiday at the library during story hour, and this year is no exception.

Instead of focusing on China, I found a book that will help me introduce many kids to Vietnam, among other countries, where the Lunar New Year is called Tết or Tết Nguyên Đán. Vietnam is on the minds of library goers these days because our community is part of the NEA’s Big Read and we are reading Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried. While O’Brien’s book might not be appropriate for story time, the Lunar New Year certainly is!

As families arrived at the library, hung up winter coats, and parted with their snow-covered boots, the kids and I explored the library’s globe. For many it was a first lesson about what it is, what it can show us, and where our Northern town sits in relation to the rest of the world! We located Alaska, China, Washington (and Seattle- a significant airport for many of us flying to and from the Lower 48), Vietnam, and other places kids had visited.

20130209-165429.jpgAfter the majority of kids had settled in we began with a color song. We started with red, the color of the Lunar New Year, and worked our way through the ten colored shapes I added to the flannel board. While ten colors made for a long song and activity, the kids were excited and enthusiastically participated. So I kept to that number throughout the week. With just a little encouragement, kids quickly began calling out the name of the color and shape as I placed each felt piece on the board.

Red, red is the color I see
If you’re wearing red, then show it to me!
Stand up, take a bow, turn around
Then sit back down right on the ground!
(Repeat with other colors)

-Originally from Perpetual Preschool,
but I found it on the KCLS wiki

I also talked to the kids about the the number ten. Ten is featured in the Vietnamese book about the New Year which I read later in the line up called, Ten Mice for Tet. I always tell kids that what I love about numbers is that they can be numbers and words (text)! You should have seen the stunned looks I got when this flannel board was full! The connections were being made- 10 shapes, 10 colors, the word ten, and the number 10.

20130206-154533.jpgWe began story time with Dragon Dance, a lift-the-flap book that introduces some of the Lunar New Year concepts. For many Lunar New Year is a new holiday, so having each little one actively engage in the book helped keep the kids focused.We talked about the importance of the color red, the idea of a tradition (story times on Wednesday, anyone?), dragons, oranges, red envelopes, cleaning your home for the New Year, and fireworks.

I keep several of these books just for story time because they are either flip books which don’t last long in our library or I only have them in paperback. We do have several great books about the New Year in our collection, so kids were able to go home with new stories and ideas about how to celebrate the holiday at home.


Back to the flannel board! My felt dragons caused a felt emergency this week. First, I had trouble finding a template so I had to create one and I didn’t have much time. (Here’s my template.) Then I ran out of red felt because I wanted them to be two-ply and a little sturdier in the inquisitive hands of the preschoolers and toddlers. This was problematic because the one place to buy felt within an 80 mile area was out of red (presumably for Valentine’s Day which is right around the corner). After a few calls I was able to find some in the crafty homes of neighbors, but it made for late night cutting and stitching. It was all worth it!

Five Red Dragons
Five red dragons Making such a roar
One danced away And then there were four
Four red dragons Dancing ’round a tree
One danced away And then there were three
Three red dragons Dancing ’round you
One danced away And then there were two
Two red dragons Dancing in the sun
One danced away And then there was one
One red dragon having lots of fun
She danced away and then there were none.

Perpetual Preschool (color adapted)

On to Ten Mice for Tet! While the book was received with varying degrees of success in the different story times, what we all liked equally were the illustrations. Each page is actually an embroidered scene by To Ngoc Trang that has been photographed. The kids could easily see the stitches, similar to the ones on the felt dragons. (Okay, mine are nowhere near as nice, but they got the idea.) It’s an impressive book and includes a nice author’s note. The kids had lots of questions about the musical instruments, the food, and the Vietnamese writing on one of the pages that looks like a list. We talked about planning a party and what might included in that list.

We finished stories with the The Seven Red Sisters. This was a good choice because there is an adventure, the sisters all have special talents, and there is a dragon who at least tries to be fierce.  The story ends with the littlest sister growing to become a storyteller and the kids loved that.  Several even noticed that she was telling stories to kids with one of which was a baby like she was at the beginning. Once you read through this story once or twice, it is easy to memorize and embellish as needed. Hmmm, maybe there is flannel board story in the making…

For crafts, kids had the choice of making a Chinese lantern (pictured above) and/or a paper chai20130206-154512.jpgn snake to honor 2013, the Year of the Snake.  Both were easy to do, and fun. Kids practiced lots of skills cutting, gluing, taping, counting, etc.

For the lantern, I folded a red piece of construction paper in half length-wise and drew lines from the fold to about 1 inch before the opposite edge. These lines were about 1 inch apart. Kids cut on the lines, careful not to cut all the way through. Once the cutting was done, the paper is opened and the two short edges are taped or stapled together to form the cylinder with slits. I cut red strips for handles that kids staped or taped on.

For the snakes, I cut red strips about 1 inch wide and about 5 1/2 inches long. Kids used as many as they wanted to make a short or long snake by taping the strips’ ends together. Each new strip is looped through the one at the end of the chain before it is taped. I had black card stock circles left over from another craft that I modified for a snake’s head. Kids stapled these on to a loop at one of the ends. Eyes and a thin strip of yellow paper were then glued on to the head.

After several kids were finished they asked if we could have a parade! Of course!  Instead of parading through the library which we often do at Halloween, we decided to dance our parade in the kids room while I happily sang the Dragon Dance Song, oh, a zillion times!

Dragon (Lion) Dance Song (tune: Mary Had a Little Lamb)

See the dragon (lion) dance and prance
Dance and prance, dance and prance
See the dragon (lion) dance and prance
On Lunar New Year’s Day

Hear the firecrackers pop
Pop pop pop pop pop pop
Hear the firecrackers pop
On Lunar New Year’s Day

See the children laugh and clap
Laugh and clap laugh and clap
See the children laugh and clap
On Lunar New Year’s Day

Talk Story

20130206-154504.jpgAs children left the library, I offered them the traditional orange and small red envelope given by elders to children. The envelope was filled with a chocolate coin as a gift, but in year’s past, I have used stickers instead of chocolate or coins. After all, it’s a party!

Santa comes to the library!

For the first time, Santa came to our library! What a hit! Santa was visiting from out of town (of course) and offered to make an appearance at the library during his stay.  What luck!Santa and kids

It was a pleasant surprise to see lots of familiar faces, especially the little ones who were meeting Santa for the first time. And what a family affair! Many kids were joined by both parents and I was able to meet those who don’t make it during the weekday programs.  It was a welcomed social event on the weekend before Christmas. Who knew?

Since storytime is going to take Christmas week off, I read stories until Santa arrived. Once he walked through the door though, it was all eyes on Santa. I wasn’t offended in the least! The kids were able to visit with Santa and decorate cookies while the adults were able to greet friends. It was lovely!

Happy holidays everyone!

Hannukah and Christmas!

We have lots of kids anxious for Christmas and the holiday season at the library so I decided to celebrate a couple of the holidays a bit early. The kids were easily in the mood!

Photo Dec 12, 10 53 41 AMMost of the kids who come to story hour are very familiar with Christmas, but few know much about Hannukah. So I decided to read books about both. The Runaway Latkes was a great pick for this group. They are familiar with The Gingerbread Man , which has a similar storyline. The little ones were entranced by the sequence of the story which is nicely supported by repeated phrases as the story progresses.

After talking about Hannukah, we moved on to Christmas stories including Jingle-Jingle and Merry Christmas, Splat. Jingle-Jingle works well with a bell for sound effects and inspired the kids to read along and finish sentences for me, always a good sign! Clip-Clop, another of Nicola Smee’s books, is also a good read-aloud with the 3-5 age group.Photo Dec 12, 12 49 18 PM

The kids need a chance to move around after the stories, so we had a Christmas light scavenger hunt (an activity found in The Holiday Handbook by Barbara Scott). I cut out a paper tree and light bulbs for the activity. Kids scoured the room for hidden light bulbs and then we taped them on the tree to look like strings of lights. Every child found a light or two, so the group felt good and had fun. We followed up the hunt with a reindeer craft. I forgot to take a photo of our creations, but reindeer popsicle stick ornament photos can be found all over.

This craft they took home since our tree is now full of beautiful gingerbread ornaments from the previous week!