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.

Toddler Storytime: Thankful

Well, it’s official. The tides have changed and what was once a toddler storytime (officially for 2 and unders) is now a baby storytime. 12 of the 14 kids were under the age of 1. I have been struggling with the gradual change in audience over the past couple of weeks. The difference between a 1 1/2 or 2 year old and a 5 month old is significant, as you know, and I would never know what the age range would be when I walked in the door. (We don’t have sessions or registration.)

As I was doing some research online about my predicament, I came back to a place I love- Mel’s Desk. In one of her posts she talks about a similar audience that is rich and varied and how she plans for the varied ages. She plans for the babies and the toddlers jump right in. I decided to do the same. What a fun, happy storytime we all had!

I spent a lot of time talking to parents during this storytime, not in large chunks, but in asides. I slipped in little tidbits of information here and there, without losing the interest of the kiddos. Toddlers are not as tolerant of these asides!

I talked about the importance of repetition and why we sing the same welcoming song, for example. I talked about introducing the idea of family traditions (holiday and otherwise) and being thankful. I also emphasized the signs we would use in the welcome song and throughout the Bear Says Thanks book we would read during the storytime.

Welcome: The More We Get (Read) Together
The more we get together
together, together,
The more we get together
The happier we’ll be!
For your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends,
The more we get together the happier we’ll be.

The more we read together, together, together
The more we read together
the happier we’ll be.
We’ll read big books and small books
and short books and tall books
The more we read together the happier we’ll be.

Fingerplay: Two Little Ravens Sitting on a Hill
Two little ravens sitting on a hill
One named Jack, one named Jill
Fly away Jack
Fly away Jill
Come back Jack, come back Jill! (*kiss* muah!)

Two little ravens sitting on a cloud
One named Soft, one named Loud
Fly away Soft
Fly away Loud
Come back Soft, come back Loud! (*kiss* muah!)

Two little ravens sitting on the ice
One was mean, one was nice
Fly away mean
Fly away ice
Come back mean, come back nice! (*kiss* muah!)

Credit: Adapted from the traditional and the Jbrarian variations. Inserting the name of a local bird makes this song more relevant to our kiddos and will help them connect the song with the real bird they see regularly.

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson (Photo Source: karmawilson.com)

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson (Photo Source: karmawilson.com)

Book: Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2012)

Action Song: If You’re Thankful and You Know It
If you’re thankful and you know it, clap your hands (clap baby’s hands together or clap your hands to theirs)
If you’re thankful and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re thankful and you know it, then your face will surely show it,
If you’re thankful and you know it, clap your hands.

… bounce about (bounce baby from side to side on knees)
… wave your hands (bounce baby up and down holding their hands above their head).

Credit: Adapted from the traditional version and a version found in the book Happy Baby edited by Fiona Watt (Usborne, 2007)

Action Song: Giddyup
Giddyup, giddyup ride to town, (bounce baby on your lap)
Giddyup, giddyup, up and down.
Giddyup fast, (bounce quickly)
Giddyup slow, (bounce slowly)
Giddyup, giddyup, WHOA! (dip baby backwards)

Bubbles!
1 little 2 little 3 little bubbles
4 little, 5 little, 6 little bubbles
7 littl,e 8 little, 9 little bubbles
10 little bubbles go pop, pop, pop.

Action Song: Ring Around the Rosie
Ring 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!

We sing and move with this song at the end of storytime these days. We sing the song twice and I let families know they can crouch down on the floor for the second verse or stand with their baby and stomp their feet on the floor.

Born Reading by Jason Boog (Photo Source: born-reading.com)

Born Reading by Jason Boog (Photo Source: born-reading.com)

At the end of storytime, I introduced families to Jason Boog’s book Born Reading (Touchstone Books, 2014), a wonderful, thoughtful book about inspiring readers from the day they are born. I like to share it with families in part because it is written by a parent in an easy to digest format (think 5 min chunks before an exhausted parent dozes off at night), and because it introduces the concept of joint media engagement, intentional use of digital media and the idea of a digital media plan to new families.

Toddler: Me!

Today’s toddler storytime was heavy on movement! It was high energy and lots of fun. If the song was new to storytime, I talked about the actions we would use and the body parts we were going to include. I also didn’t hesitate to ask questions during a rhyme or song. For example, can you find your nose? But really, I had no problem keeping the kids and caregivers engaged.

My favorite moment? When even the littlest toddlers hold up there 10 fingers and wiggle them for the Bubbles song.

Welcome Song: The More We Get Together
The more we get together,
together, together
The more we get together
the happier we’ll be!
For your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends,
The more we get together the happier we’ll be.

The more we read together, together, together
The more we read together
the happier we’ll be.
We’ll read big books and small books (with hand motion)
and short books and tall books
The more we read together the happier we’ll be.
Second verse credit:Storytime Secrets via Jbrary

Action Rhyme: I Am Big, Big, Big (modified version of This is Big, Big, Big)
I am big, big, big (stretch hands far to sides)
I am small, small, small (crouch down)
I am short, short, short (stay low)
I am tall, tall, tall (reach for the sky)
I am fast, fast, fast (roll hands or march quickly)
I am slow, slow, slow (roll hands or march slowly)
I say yes, yes, yes (nod head)
And sometimes no, no, no (shake head)

Movement: Everybody Knows I Love My Toes
Everybody knows I love my toes,
Everybody knows I love my toes,
I love my shoulders, my knees, my elbows, and my nose,
but everybody knows I love my toes.
…chin, shin
…lips, hips
Credit: Jbrary

Dance Break: Head, Nose, Bellybutton, Toes by The Blankies (from their Action! album)

Transition Action Rhyme: My Two Hands Go
My two hands go clap, clap, clap
My two feet go tap, tap, tap
My two hands go thump, thump, thump
My two feet go jump, jump, jump
My one body turns around
and it quietly sits right down.
Credit: Jbrary

We've All Got Bellybuttons by David Martin Photo Credit: www.candlewick.com

We’ve All Got Bellybuttons by David Martin Photo Credit: http://www.candlewick.com

Book: We’ve all got Bellybuttons! by David Martin (Candlewick, 2005)

Simple scenes, bright illustrations, and interactive text make this a good fit for a body storytime or sharing one on one. It’s not so much a story as an opportunity to talk, play, and read with kids. The illustrations offer as much as the text in terms of conversation pieces.

Movement: Bubbles!
1 little 2 little 3 little bubbles
4 little, 5 little, 6 little bubbles
7 little 8 little, 9 little bubbles
10 little bubbles go pop, pop, pop.

A giant storm is brewing out int he Pacific which means possible power outages in our community, so this song seemed more than appropriate for warding off the rain!

Action Song: It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More
It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More, no more
It ain’t gonna rain no more.
oh no, it’s up to my toe!
It ain’t gonna rain no more.

…oh gee, knee
…oh my, up to my thigh
…oh fiddle, up to my middle
…oh heck, it’s up to my neck
…oh dread, it’s up to my head
I’m just gonna swim on home
Credit: Jbrary

Action Song: The Hokey Pokey
Put your right foot, take your right foot out
Put your right foot in and shake it all about
Do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around
That’s what it’s all about.
…left foot
…right hand
…left hand
…hips
…back
…whole self

Action 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!
(repeat)

Goodbye Rhyme: Wave Hi, Wave Low

Early Literacy Tip: (from The Early Literacy Kit by Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting)
“Helping your child to put words to feelings develops vocabulary in a meaningful way. You can talk not only about your child’s feelings but about yours as well. Children can understand the words long before they can say them.”

Preschool: Bears and Earth Day

It’s Earth Day!

Our opening activity was the beloved Song Cube this week. I asked one of the volunteers to give the cube a roll and the image on top when the cube stopped was of an open sign. The open sign, is a symbol for the song Open, Shut Them, so I asked the group of kids what song has open in it to see if they remembered. An older boy said “Open, Shut- Wheels on the School Bus!” I explained what the text said on the cube (under the image of the sign), but we would sing wheels on the school bus first. I let the kids pick the verses by asking “what does a bus have on it?” “Wheels!” Then we sang about the door that goes open and shut… We also sang about the driver, kids, monkeys and then one of the kids said ‘bears!’ How perfect! Here’s what we sang for each of riders on the bus

driver- move on back (point thumb backwards as you sing)
kids- go crazy (wave hands in the air)
monkeys- eat lots of bananas (pretend to peel a banana)
bears (grr grr) perfectly anticipating the theme.

Next we sang Open Shut Them and by that time most families were settled in for storytime. So, I quickly talked about our storytime rules and then moved on to this week’s theme. I started by asking questions about bears like how many kinds of bears live in Alaska? Which ones? (Brown, black and polar)

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
Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson Photo Credit: www.harpercollinschildrens.com

Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson Photo Credit: http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com

Book: Baby Bear (Harper Collins, 2014)
Kadir Nelson’s newest book features his masterful illustrations, but instead of telling the story of an African-American leader, he tells the story of baby brown bear the family he discovers in the woods around him. It’s a touching tale that is made strong by the powerful images that accompany the text. The book provides a great opportunity to talk about illustrators with children and caregivers and what they bring to picture books. I particularly like this book because for kids here in Homer this books offers animals that they know from the environment around us (for the most part).

While reading this book, a little guy kept “asking questions” aka sharing comments during the story. He patiently and politely waited for a break, so we listened to what he had to say. It generally had to do with hugging a bear. I told him he was really going to like a song we were going to sing after this song! And then moved on to the next page…

Have you met the Jbrarians? Drum roll please…

Song: Grrr Grrr Went the Big Brown Bear

ARCTI_COVER

Over in the Arctic: Where the Cold Wind Blows by Marianne Berkes Photo credit: dawnpub.com

Book: Over in the Arctic: Where the Cold Win Blows (Dawn Publications, 2008)

National Poetry Month is coming to a close, so I decided to read this one with the Tuesday storytime group. The rhyming text and the rhythm accomplished my goal:
kids could anticipate the next number because of the rhyming text, hearing the ending sounds of words. One of the other reasons I shared this beautifully illustrated book is that even kids who live in parts of Alaska need to know more about the Arctic. For example, on the page which features wolverines the ground is brown to represent the Spring/Summer tundra. When I showed kids this page, one said “That’s not the Arctic because it is brown.” I assured him it was and explained why. The snow melts off the tundra in summer. Wolverines live on land not on the ice that covers much of the ocean in winter, the source of white many associate with the tundra.

Children-Make-Terrible-Pets-Inside

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown Photo credit: 100scopenotes.com

 

Book: Children Make Terrible Pets (Little, Brown, 2010)

Peter Brown’s books are perfect storytime humor. The mixed-media art, lovable Lucy the bear, and the idea of a bear keeping a child as a pet inspire lots of giggles.

After reading together, we brought Jim Gill to storytime for parachute play. We shook that parachute up and down and all around to the song Alabama, Mississippi. I got the idea from So Tomorrow. Check it out for more great parachute play ideas.

Activity:

In honor of Earth Day, we brought out the shaving cream and made marble painted Earths.

IMG_1861

Materials:
cardstock (with circle drawn on it using a sharpie)
scissors
marker, pencil or crayon for kids to write their names on the back of their Earth
shaving cream
food coloring (I chose blue and green for the earth project)
aluminum baking trays or other trays to contain the shaving cream and food coloring
cut squares of tissue paper (again I chose blue and green for this project)
glue
hole punch
yarn for Earth hanger
scraper for removing excess shaving cream
old t-shirts for aprons for kids to wear while painting (optional)

Each child picked out a piece of card stock with a circle already drawn on it. They cut out the circle and wrote their name on the back of it so we could identify their Earth later on (they all start to look similar when they are drying next to each other).

IMG_1851

The kids then brought their cut circle over to the painting station or to the tissue paper station. I offered the two so that kids who were waiting to paint or didn’t want to paint had another option.

IMG_1856

At the painting station I had bottles of shaving cream that kids and parents sprayed into the trays. Adults then put 3-4 drops of blue and green food coloring on to the shaving cream. Kids used popsicle sticks to make patterns in the shaving cream, careful not to spread the shaving cream like cake icing (makes for a solid color instead of a pattern if they do this). Once they were done making the pattern, they laid the circle on top of the shaving cream and gently pressed it on down.

IMG_1855

Their circle looked something like this when they lifted it off the shaving cream. The final step was to bring me their Earth. By our children’s library sink, I scraped the excess cream off of the Earths and laid them out to dry which took less than 10 minutes. This wait gave families a chance to look for books or play together.

Toddler: Things That Go

“That was really fun,” said one of the new-to-storytime parents. And it was! With the perfect mix of stories, movement, conversation, and parent involvement, toddler storytime left us all with smiles on our faces.

Wecome Song: Hello Everybody

Action Rhyme: This Is Big
This is big, big, big (stretch hands far to sides)
This is small, small, small (cup hands together)
This is short, short, short (hold palms close vertically)
This is tall, tall, tall (hold palms far apart vertically)
This is fast, fast, fast (roll hands quickly)
This is slow, slow, slow (roll hands slowly)
This is yes, yes, yes (nod head)
This is no, no, no (shake head)
(repeat)

Feltboard Game: Things that Go

This game involves matching up a place and the vehicle (or dog) that goes there. The kids loved this game! I placed these felt pieces on the board first and we talked about what each of them were.

Things That Go Felt 1

 

Then I showed the kids the things that go, one at a time. Together we placed the felt vehicle (or dog) where it belonged. It’s amazing to see kids make sense of the world right before your eyes. What smiles! We of course made the sound that corresponded with each thing that goes.

Things That Go Felt 2

Song: If You’re Ready for a Story
… bend (to the ground) and stretch (to the sky)
… tap your toes (tap left toe and say 1, then tap right toe and say 2)
… sit down please (with slide whistle)

seals on the bus

Book: Seals on the Bus (Henry Holt, 2000)
by Lenny Hort and G. Brian Karas

Just like the Jbrary rock stars, I am a fan of singable books! I always ask kids if they know a song about a bus before we begin singing and reading this one. At least one child chimes in with “Wheels on the Bus!” I tell a little back story before singing about the family waiting for the bus on the first page because we don’t have public transportation in our community and many kids don’t know about public buses. While we sang, a group of toddlers danced and acted out each of the animals on the bus. The adults all laughed at the end when the people say “Help, help, help!”

Dance Break: Happy by Pharrell Williams
With scarves! I find reluctant dancers are more apt to dance with a scarf in their hand. Today’s group was no different. We boogied! We danced for a bit and then I counted to three on my fingers before saying “Freeze!” and pressing pause. This group is really good and the freeze game! I played about 2 of the 3 minutes of the song. I used my phone and portable speakers to play this music.

tip-tip-dig-dig-274x300Book: Tip, Tip, Dig, Dig (Boxer, 2007)
by Emma Garcia

Emma Garcia’s books (Toot Toot Beep Beep and Tap Tap Bang Bang) are all toddler crowd pleasers! The combination of easy to read large text, action words, and fun vehicle images in this work vehicle delight are perfect for small and larger crowds. It even catches the attention of wandering toddlers. This one worked nicely with the This is Big, Big, Big action rhyme because we could easily replicate many of the vehicle actions with our bodies since we had used them in the earlier activity (“Let’s roll our arms around each other fast, like we did earlier!” Now, let’s roll them slowly!”)

Bubbles
This song gets kids working their fingers, build anticipation and strengthens number sense as kids count from 1 to 10. They are so ready for bubbles when this song is done! I blow bubbles by hand and make sure all of the little ones get a chance to pop some. We pop them in the air, down on the ground, with our elbows, our thumbs, our toes, our chins, you name it.

Action Song: Dance Your Fingers Up
Dance your fingers up,
Dance your fingers down.
Dance your fingers in and out
And all around the town

Dance them on your shoulders,
Dance them on your head.
Dance them on your tummy
Then tuck them into bed.
(repeat)
On the second go through I ask questions like “Can you find your shoulders? Where is your belly (Anna)? I also will accentuate the ‘in’ and ‘out’ hand movements because that part of the song can go by quickly without little ones understanding what is in and out. I’ll even add in a ‘beep beep’ when I point to my tummy.

Goodbye Rhyme: Wave Hi, Wave low

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