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:

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson (Photo Source:

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)

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 by Jason Boog (Photo Source:

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.

Preschool: Rabbits

Hoppy Easter! It’s time for the annual rabbit storytime!

This year I focused more on the actual animal instead of the mythical Easter Bunny which worked well. I also added an early literacy injected egg hunt to the preschool program.

Welcome: Song Cube (We usually sing two or three of these songs as families enter and get settled.)

Instead of moving right into reading books and singing together, it was time for our egg hunt. The kids had already noticed the brightly colored eggs hidden throughout the children’s library where we hold storytime.Hiding Eggs

I explained that each egg, there were twenty-six, had a different felt letter inside. As a team, we needed to find the eggs, open them, pull out the letter inside, and then bring it back to the storytime space so we could match it to the same letter on the feltboard. I asked the older kids to help younger ones and I explained that we could match the letters by their shape and color (as you can see below, the felt letter pairs were the same color and I used random colors to help differentiate the letters from each other). In hind sight, I should have cut the letters out of felt colors that created a pattern. Next time!

Alphabet Easter Egg Hunt

After we found all of the eggs, we sang the Alphabet Song forward and backwards while I pointed to the individual letters.

Next I brought out my larger bunny puppet to introduce storytime. Rabbit, aka Foo Foo, helps with storytime do’s and don’ts and was the star of the compare game. To talk about rabbits, and snowshoe hares which live here in Alaska, I asked kids to look at the bunny puppet and then at me. The object of the game is to figure out what is the same and what is different. I started everyone off by talking our legs- the rabbit has four and I have two, plus two arms. We observed the puppet and the kids yelled out similarities and differences including our ears, our eyes, rabbit’s tail and fur, how rabbit gets around, etc. We also talked about why rabbits might have particular features that are different from mine.

After the game I taught everyone a quick finger play that is easy to learn and repeat at home.

Fingerplay: 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)

In anticipation of our first book, we acted out an opposite rhyme. I always ask kids to stand up for this one to help them move a bit before our first story.

Action Rhyme: This is Big

Animal Opposites by Petr Horáček. Photo Credit:

Animal Opposites by Petr Horáček. Photo Credit:

Book: Animal Opposites (Candlewick Press, 2013)
There are a lot of books featuring animal opposites, but this one by Petr Horáček is my favorite. It’s a pop up book, which I love for its interactivity, but it is also special for other reasons. The opposites are spot on, the animals are very realistic and each pair offers lots of opportunities for conversation. The grand finale, a very large fold out elephant, is an excellent touch.

Song: If You’re Ready for a Story
…bend and stretch
…hop two times
…sit down please

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann. Photo Credit:

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann. Photo Credit:

Book: My Friend Rabbit (Roaring Brook Press, 2002)
Eric Rothmann’s tale of mouse and rabbit is a great companion to the Animal Opposites book we explored first. Some of the animals appear in both books, including the white goose, and the kids can see rabbit lifting the heavy hippo reinforcing what heavy means. With minimal text, the illustrations in this fun read aloud must speak loudly, and they do. Rabbit, the troublemaker and problem solver, has an idea for getting mouse’s plane unstuck and kids liked to anticipate what’s going to happen next and predict rabbit’s innovative solution.

Song: 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 2 chances.
Then I’ll turn you into a goon!
The next day…
(Repeat two more verses with 2 and 1 chances_
2. “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

I use my rabbit puppet, a mouse puppet and my bubble wand for this one. I show the kids the hand motions for the song before we start so they can sing along with me. I also sometimes just let the fairy godmother give the bunny just two chances, instead of three, if kids are getting restless. How does she turn the bunny into a goon? By blowing bubbles over him as he sits on the floor! I ask the kids to protect Foo Foo by popping all of the bubbles before they land on him.


Craft time!
Because of the activities we did today, I offered a simple craft. I have used this one before. I prepped the pink strips that kids and adults could cut into ears and provided green squares for the hand shaped grass. Kids cut, stapled, and glued to produce the bunny hiding in the grass.

Rabbit Hiding in the Grass Craft


Preschool: Food

Between Thanksgiving, Hannukah, and Christmas, it seems like this time of year is, among other things, oriented around eating and food (yea, letter F!). I’m not complaining! Sharing a meal with friends and family is a great way to pass the time. Kids generally agree so, today we read stories about pancakes, bears, fruits, and vegetables.  Some of the books went over better than others, but the kids asked questions, offered up anecdotes, and generally, we had a good time!

Food story time books and flannelboard

We began with Hey, Pancakes, after a discussion about breakfast. The books Lunch, Orange Pear Apple Bear,  and Rah, Rah, Radishes followed as did the Five Red Strawberries rhyme using the flannelboard.  Rah, Rah Radishes wasn’t a a huge hit, but we did talk about many of the vegetables included in the excellent photographs.  The strawberry patterns and the great counting rhyme were borrowed from Mel’s Desk. (Thanks to Mel and Storytime Katie generally for their insights and inspirations in the flannelboard department.)

A quick comment about flannelboards. They are magical. I never thought something so simple and, well, “old school,” could be such a hit. The pieces are a bit time consuming to make the first go ’round, but my hidden inner seamstress (along with the help of my husband) has created some great props for stories and rhymes that even 2 year olds can’t deconstruct.  Almost every little one scoots a bit closer or watches my every move as soon as the flannel pieces come out.  With these five strawberries in all of their shapes and sizes it was no different. “That long strawberry is just like one that grew in my garden!” said one excited visitor.

Gingerbread tree decorationsAfter the stories, I solicited the help of the kids to decorate our Christmas tree in the children’s library.  Each child decorated a gingerbread shaped ornament made of brown cardstock. They included the first letter of their name and other decorations to make them unique. They’ll hang until after Christmas and then go home with families. The tree looks great and it’s one of the many Homer touches sprouting up around the library this season.