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)

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!”)

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.
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.


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: Friends (Valentine’s Day)

This week’s storytimes are all about friends and Valentine’s Day! I thought I’d post after today’s storytime so you could see what I’m up to the rest of this week. Please chime in if you have any suggestions for the program I’ll be working off of for the rest of the week.

Today marks the second week of our new storytime day and I wasn’t sure how many to expect. (We now offer preschool storytime two days a week through May when we will resume the one preschool program per week schedule during the summer.) I began the program with a mom and daughter, but just before I started reading the first story a preschool group arrived along with another family. We ended up with 17.  It was a great mix of enthusiastic kids and caregivers!

This was the first time the mother and daughter had been to storytime, so as we got to know each other we played with the rhyme cube- a great early literacy tool which introduces the idea of symbols, allows us to practice great songs, increases participation each time kids get to roll the cube and pick the song we sing, and builds learning confidence as kids become familiar with the songs and recognizing the pictures and text. It is also a useful conversation starter for preschoolers and caregivers.

Heart FeltBefore we read our first book about friends, we sang! I placed red and pink hearts in a pattern on the felt board the first time I sang the song. The second time, I pointed to the heart as we sang and counted while kids and caregivers counted on their fingers. We used the sign for heart and kiss (thanks for the timely Valentine’s Day videos, Jbrary!) in the song. One little girl immediately chimed in that the sign for kiss is also the sign for “more” in a lot of households! Way to go kids and parents!

Song: Hearts and Kisses (with ASL sign for heart and kiss)
1 little, 2 little, 3 little hearts
4 little, 5 little, 6 little hearts
7 little, 8 little, 9 little hearts
10 little hearts and a kiss, muuah! (We also blew kisses at the end so we could catch each others’ and save them for Friday.)
Credit: Jbrary

Book: Pepo and Lolo are Friends by Ana Martín Larrañaga (Candlewick Press, 2004)Pepo and Lolo
Pepo and Lolo is a simple book that works well as an introduction to the Friends theme. Tt became a conversation piece today. We talked about other friend books featuring pigs and discussed how to figure out which animal was Pepo and which was Lolo using clues in the illustrations and text.

Song: The More We Get Together
Oh, the more we get together,
Together, together,
Oh, the more we get together,
The happier we’ll be.
For your friends are my friends,
And my friends are your friends.
Oh, the more we get together,
The happier we’ll be!
Credit: Sur La Lune Storytime

YouWillBeMyFriendBook: You Will be my Friend! by Peter Brown (Little, Brown, 2011)
I’m a Peter Brown fan and this book does not disappoint. It is a funny, well illustrated story about Lucy, the enthusiastic bear and her search for a new friend. Her enthusiasm does not go over well with the wide variety of animals she tries to convince to be her friend (some not typically found in bear country). Eventually she gives up in frustration and decides to be herself, even if that is a lonely self. The story ends well though with a flamingo saving the day. I have several favorite pages, but one is certainly the one with a flock of flamingos all wearing sunglasses except the one who later befriends Lucy.

Song: If You’re Ready for a Story

If you’re ready for a story, blow me a kiss!
If you’re ready for a story, blow me a kiss!
If you’re ready for a story, If you’re ready for a story,
If you’re ready for a story, blow me a kiss!
… sit down please

Book: Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown, 2007)Polar-Bear-Hug
Valentine’s Day is about sharing our love and so is Hug Time. The book takes us on a global journey as kitten works on his “Hug-To-Do-List.” His adventure finishes up at the Arctic Circle, an appropriate end point for an Alaskan storytime, where he meets a friendly polar bear as pictured here.

Song: Skidamarink
Skidamarink a dinka dink. (Put right elbow in  left hand and wiggle  fingers)
Skidamarink a doo. (Put left elbow in right hand and wiggle fingers)
I love you. (Point to eyes, hug yourself, and point to others)
Skidamarink a dinka dink. (Repeat actions)
Skidamarink a doo.
I love you. (with ASL sign)

I love you in the morning. (Make a big circle over head  like the sun)
And in the afternoon. (Hold arms in circle out in front of you)
I love you in the evening. (Move arms in circle down)
And underneath the moon. (Release arms and make another big circle over head)

Skidamarink a dinka dink.
Skidamarink a doo.
I love you. (with ASL sign)


It’s not often that I’ll post a selfie here- in fact this may be the last time- but I followed Rebecca’s lead (Sturdy for Common Things) and thought you needed to see the craft fun we had. A photo of just the hat and glasses sans a face and head, doesn’t do them justice.

Heart glasses
20140211-130117.jpgThese glasses are super simple to make, I had all of the supplies on hand, and the kids were so proud to wear them! My coworkers thought it was Elton John day at the library and I didn’t tell them. Hmmm… I just might have to make them all a pair of heart glasses for Valentine’s Day! I found these glasses at Sturdy for Common Things. If you step by step directions, visit Rebecca’s site.


  • 2 full length pipe cleaners (shaped into hearts)
  • 1 pipe cleaner cut in half (to form the arms- one end of each twisted around the side of a heart)
  • 1 piece of pipe cleaner approx. 1″ long (twisted around the hearts to connect them together)

Valentine Hat
Most kids made both crafts so they left the library ready for a party. One boy decided his and mine were alien Valentine hats. After making what we thought were alien sounds we moved on to Valentine robots. I imagine there will be some kings and queens with Valentine crowns before the day is done also.
I placed a variety of materials out, along with the essential hat pieces, and let the kids and caregivers make hats however they wanted. This mostly open-ended activity is a hit at my library and the k20140211-130107.jpgids make some cool creations.

To create the hat, bend the strip of posterboard creating a band and staple the two ends together. Staple the two pipe cleaners on either side of the band, pointing up. Bend the top of the pipe cleaner over slightly to give more area for attaching a sticker. Decorate the band!


  • Strip of white posterboard 2″ wide (for kids the paper can be approx. 22″ long)
  • 1 pipe cleaner cut in half for antennae
  • lots of Valentine stickers, hearts, feathers, etc.
  • crayons and markers
  • craft glue for feathers and anything that isn’t a sticker
  • stapler to staple antennae (Kaboodle directions call for hot glue, but the stapler works fine. I used heart stickers to cover the staple.)

Credit: Kaboodle via Sunflower Storytime

Image Credits:
Pepo and Lolo are Friends Amazon
You Will be my Friend Junior Library Guild
Hug Time 32 Pages

Toddler: Movement

With the all of the unseasonably rainy weather, I knew the toddlers would be ready to move this week, even more than usual. So, along with a fun book about warm climate animals,  I picked out some of my favorite action rhymes and songs that might even help us break a sweat! That’s my New year’s resolution for story time… to get parents so involved they perspire with a smile! Here’s to 2014!

Welcome Song: Hello Everybody
(clap hands on lap and then together, clap twice on the word “you”)
Hello everybody, how are you?
Hello everybody, how are you?
It’s such a lovely day, I’m so glad you came to play,
Hello everybody, how are you?

Action Rhyme: 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.

Song: It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More (we want snow!)
It ain’t gonna rain no more, no more, (wiggle fingers down like rain)
It ain’t gonna rain no more, (waggle finger and shake head as if saying “no”)
Oh no, it’s up to my toe! (point to toe)
But, it ain’t gonna rain no more. (wiggle fingers down like rain)

It ain’t gonna rain no more, no more,
It ain’t gonna rain no more.
Oh gee, it’s up to my knee! (point to knee)
But, it ain’t gonna rain no more.

It ain’t gonna rain no more, no more,
It ain’t gonna rain no more.
Oh my, it’s up to my thigh! (flatten hand to cheek and then point to thigh)
But, it ain’t gonna rain no more.

It ain’t gonna rain no more, no more,
It ain’t gonna rain no more.
Oh fiddle, it’s up to my middle! (point to belly button/waist area)
But, it ain’t gonna rain no more.

It ain’t gonna rain no more, no more,
It ain’t gonna rain no more.
Oh dread, it’s up to my head! (place hand on top of head)
I’m just gonna swim on home… (make swimming motion)
Credit: Jbrary

Song: I’m Hopping Like a Bunny
(using penny whistle)
I’m hopping like a bunny, I’m hopping all around (hop)
Hopping like a bunny and now I’m falling down (play penny whistle down scale as you fall to floor)

(play penny whistle up the scale as you stand up, teaching kids what to listen for and the actions to follow when they hear the corresponding penny whistle sounds)

I’m stomping like a elephant, I’m stomping all around (stomp feet)
Stomping like a elephant and now I’m falling down

I’m swimming like a fishy, I’m swimming all around (make sign for fish)
Swimming like a fishy and now I’m falling down

I’m walking like an tiger, I’m walking all around (walk on all fours)
Walking like an tiger and now I’m falling down

I’m flitting like a fly, I’m flitting all around (flap hands at sides quickly)
Flitting like a fly and now I’m falling down
Credit: Nancy Stewart
We changed the animals in Nancy’s song to match the animals found in the book we read later during storytime. If you don’t want to sing the song a cappella, you can sing along with Nancy via the recorded version on her website.

Song: If You’re Ready for a Story (we sing of version of this song before each week’s book to help families transition from songs to the story)
If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands
If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands
If you’re ready for a story, If you’re ready for a story,
If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands.
… sit down please (accompanied by penny whistle)

Book: Tiny Little FlyTiny Little Fly by Michael Rosen and Kevin Waldron (Candlewick Press, 2010)

This book has brilliant illustrations, a sneaky little fly to follow through the story, and excellent action words to describe the large predators’ efforts to eat the fly. The fly outwits them all and flits away, of course.

One little, two little, three little bubbles,
four little, five little, six little bubbles.
Seven little, eight little, nine little bubbles.
Ten little bubbles go pop, pop, pop!

We then spend 4-5 minutes blowing and popping bubbles and talking about our bodies, what bubbles look like, etc.

Movement: Silly Dance Contest by Jim Gill played via phone/wireless speakers, using Sound Cloud app

Action Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

(clap hands, wiggle your knees, spin around, do all three)

Goodbye: Wave Hi, Wave Low
I think it’s time, we’ve gotta go
Wave your elbows, wave your toes
Wave your tongue, wave your nose
Wave your knees, ave your lips
Blow me a kiss with your finger tips
Wave your ears, wave your hair,
Wave your belly and derriere.
Wave your chin, wave your eye
Wave a hand, and say goodbye!
Credit: Rob Reid

Early Literacy Tip:
Think about ways to make text and literacy visible to your child so s/he can take text for granted! Place a basket of books out for your child’s easy access, read in front of your child, or write so your child can see.
Credit: Raising Readers

Preschool: Frogs

Did you know that during the winter, one of the two frog species found in Alaska completely freezes and then thaws come Spring time? Amazing.

And, so is a storytime about frogs! We had a large group again today with lots of kids ready to share their frog facts.

After everyone was settled, we gave the rhyme cube a couple of spins. The kids were ready for reading, so we started right in on our first story.

Book: Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013)

The kids loved this story of a pig who pretendsribbit to be a frog, much to the dismay of the other frogs. It’s a sweet story about friends that we just added to our library’s collection.

Between stories we got to our feet and jumped like frogs, practiced the sign for frogs and talked about the natural history of the beloved amphibian.

But, what does the frog say? We couldn’t do a storytime about frogs without learning a super silly song I learned from the Jbrary librarians via YouTube!

Song: Mm Ah Went the Little Green Frog One Day
Mm(close eyes) Nn(Stick out tongue) went the little green frogs one day.
Mm Nn went the little green frogs.
Mm Nn went the little green frogs one day,
And they all went Mm Nn Ah.

Well we all no frogs go
*clap* Na na na na na
*clap* Na na na na na
*clap* Na na na na na
We all no frogs go
*clap* Na na na na na
And they don’t go Mm Nn ah.
Lyrics modified from: Song Lyrics

wide mouthed frogBook: The Wide-mouthed Frog by Keith Faulkner (Dial, 1996)

Our next story was a simple pop-up book about a frog who knows when to keep information to himself! The dramatic ending and the fun, quick story make this a hit at both preschool and toddler story times.

Like most kids, the storytime regulars light up when I show them a pop-up book. They loved Mo Willems’ Big Frog Can’t Fit In, so I thought I would share a new frog story magically made interactive thanks to the engineering and artistic abilities of book designers and illustrators. I chose to read The Wide-mouthed Frog midway through storytime instead of last so I could talk about the activity following the upcoming stories and final singalong.

Song: Five Green and Speckled Frogs
Five Little Speckled Frogs (Hold five fingers (frogs) on top of your
other arm (log)
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum! (rub belly)
One jumped into the pool (jump a finger off the log into the pool)
Where it was nice and cool (hands across chest and shiver)
Now there are Four green speckled frogs (Hold up four fingers)

Four Little Speckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Now there are Three green speckled frogs

Three little speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Now there are Two green speckled frogs

Two little speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Now there is one green speckled frog

One little speckled frog
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
It jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Now there is no more speckled frogsA Frog in the Bog
Credit: Grandparents

Book: Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2003)

This was a nice last story because it was similar to The Wide-mouthed Frog and offered opportunities for questions and conversation. The rhyming text has a great rhythm to be read aloud. We read it more as a picture walk; stopping to talk about the illustrations, ask questions about frogs, and comment on the amazing amount of food the frog could eat.



Today’s activity was a pop up frog! We jumped, so must our frog friend!

The template and craft idea came from The Craft Train.

Pop up frog craft materials

Materials (for each child):
1 frog (I pre-cut frogs in a variety of colors before storytime)
1 piece of green cardstock (I traced a lily pad on each sheet, but did not cut it out)
2 strips of paper approx. 4″ long x 1/2″ wide, accordion folded, to elevate the frog and create the pop up affect (not seen in picture of completed frog)
tape to secure the fold paper to the frog and lily pad
Small strips of green construction paper for lily pad veins (scraps)
markers & crayons
googly eyes
small pompoms of various colors
round stickers of various colors

Image credits: Ribbit – Random House, The Wide-mouthed Frog – Amazon.