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: Under the Deep Blue Sea

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?

Toddler Yoga: Tall as a Tree
Tall as a tree (Stretch arms overhead)
Wide as a house (Stretch arms out to side)
Thin as a pin (Arms tight against side)
Small as a mouse (Crouch small)

Action Song: If You’re Ready for a Story
(Tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It)
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

Feltboard Story: Under the Deep Blue Sea
See the preschool storytime Sharks Under the Sea for details.

Song: Five Little Fishes Swimming in the Sea (with shark puppet and felt fish)
Five little fishes
Swimming in the sea
Teasing Mr. Shark,
You can’t catch me
Oh, you can’t catch me!
Along comes Mr. Shark
As quiet as can be…
Four little fishes
Swimming in the sea…

Movement: Bubbles
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!

Action Chant: I like to…
I like to pop, I like to pop, I like to pop, pop bubbles.
I like to pop, I like to pop, I like to pop, pop bubbles.
I like to pop, I like to pop, I like to pop, pop bubbles.
(stomp, clap, blow…)

Action Song: Baby shark Doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo
Baby shark Doo-doo, doo-doo-doo, Baby shark Doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
Mama shark Doo-doo, doo-doo-doo Mama shark Doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
Daddy shark. . . .
Grandpa shark. . .
Shark’s a comin’. . .
Swam away. . .
Made it to shore…
That’s the end

After I used this song in storytime, I discovered Lisa Murphy’s (aka the Ooey Gooey Lady) rendition which is AWESOME! Watch it, learn it, sing it!

Action Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It
If you’re happy and you know it,
rub your tummy.
If you’re happy and you know it, rub your tummy.
If you’re happy and you know it,
Then your face will surely show it.
It you’re happy and you know it,
rub your tummy.
(…wiggle your wrists)
(…spin around)

Goodbye Song: 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, wave your lips
Blow me a kiss with your fingertips
Wave your chin, wave one eye
Wave a hand and say “goodbye!”

Early Literacy Tip:
Remember to share nonfiction, factual books with your children. Follow their interests: a particular animal, how things work, machines, or anything that piques their curiosity. Information in nonfiction books introduces new vocabulary words and we learn right along with our children. Encouraging their curiosity encourages a love of learning. (modified from : The Early Literacy Kit: A Handbook and Tip Cards by Betsy Diament-Cohen and Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting, 2010)

Preschool: Sharks Under the Sea

My recent trip to the island of Hawaii has left me saltwater deprived, so an ocean themed story time was in order. This program got a lot of mileage this week, demonstrating at the very least its repeatability. I used some version of this theme at both the preschool and toddler storytimes at the library and during an outreach visit at a local childcare center. (This storytime theme is featured in a radio story recorded by our local radio station. Listen here!)

Living by Kachemak Bay means that kids get a lot of marine experience, but it is usually focused on Alaskan and Arctic environments. I wanted to expand their world a bit and explore more southerly locales and give them a taste of what they might find closer to the equator. it wasn’t a stretch for them because they could use their marine knowledge and their reading experience to guess the names of plants, comment about the stories, and ask questions.

In Hawaii I picked up a Folkmanis great white shark puppet, Snappy, disregarding my husband’s remarks about the fear I would induce in the preschoolers with it. That gave me some focus and I was off to look for shark books. I found a couple that were close, but one that was recommended on Facebook we didn’t own  and the other would make a good second book, but didn’t feature my shark. (For what it’s worth, I ordered Shark in the Park, the recommended title which is now out of print, but it still hasn’t shown up…) So, I headed off to Jbrary’s Under the Sea Pinterest board for some ideas. I wandered down the rabbit hole of internet searching and ended up on Lisa Mulvenna’s site Lisa’s Libraryland where she talked about the different ways to “read” A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea by Jessica Law. She ended up creating a flannelboard of the story.

Did we have the book? No, of course not, as my luck would have it. (It’s my own fault since I order all of the kids, and many of the YA, materials at the library.) But, I agreed that the story had great potential as a flannelboard and had the added bonus of allowing me to incorporate STEAM elements into storytime, as Lisa pointed out.

I adapted the story to include snappy the shark who I met while swimming in the ocean off Hawaii. He became my tour guide20140130-220054.jpg and showed me the magical hole in the deep blue sea where lots of other animals in the food chain lived.

And that, my friends, is how storytimes are born!

(Note: the sun is from my weather felt collection and the plane is from my things that go collection. I love being able to use felt pieces in different stories!)

From there, the rest of the program fell easily into place.

We started story time with rhyme cube, but before we could even give it a roll, the designator roller saw the picture of the spider and started us all singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider!” It was a perfect segue since I am a little scared of both which I confessed to as we began talking about the day’s theme.

To set the stage for today’s theme, we used the library’s globe to see how I traveled from Alaska to Hawaii. Did I swim? Did I drive? Did I walk? Did I fly? We talked about an island and what makes it a unique landform (water). Then we talked about sharks and all of their cool characteristics like: they are fish with cartilage (like in our noses) instead of bone, they are great at growing teeth, and their eating habits. I had an eye-catching Hole in the Deep Blue Seanon-fiction Shark book on hand to share as we went along. Snappy the shark also provided a less startling approach to the shark talk. Who knew a shark could be cuddly? Those shark kisses are sweeeeet!

A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea (Barefoot Books, 2013) is a story about the food chain that is sequential. First is the shark and then comes the eel, the squid, the crab, the snail, and finally the seaweed. The story ends by going back through the chain with the sun feeding the seaweed which feeds the snail, and so on. Jessica Law’s version is worth reading and you can even watch a short video of the book made by Barefoot Books on You Tube featuring music by the Flannery Brothers.

I kept moving with the feltboard and shark puppet to sing this next song with the kids. They loved this song and were swaying, dancing and singing along by the third verse.

Song: Five Little Fishes (with felt fish and shark puppet)
(Tune: 5 Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree)
Five little fishes, Swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, You can`t catch me, You can`t catch me.
Along comes Mr. Shark, As quiet as can be… Snap!
(Repeat with:)
Four little fishes, etc…

Credit: Canton Public Library

Are you Ready for a story (with penny whistle)

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

over in the oceanBook: Over in the Ocean by Marianne Collins Berkes & Jeanette Canyon (Dawn Publications, 2004)

This is a beautiful counting book that features a variety of mama sea creatures and their babies which increase in number throughout the book. Unfortunately, after the felt board story and songs, the kids were ready for something else. So, instead of reading the book word for word, we took a quick book tour, talking about the colorful animals. This book would be a nice one to share one on one or with a group earlier in storytime. Over in the Ocean is also an iOS book app (best shared on a big screen).

Book: Mrs. Armitage and the Big Wave by Quentin Blake (Harcourt Brace Co., 1997)mrs armitage and the big wave

To bring the focus of the group back together, we read this tale of a woman and her dog who are ready to surf the big wave. While they wait for the perfect wave, Mrs. Armitage realizes there are things she is missing to help them pass the time. From snacks to a tool for detecting wind direction and force, she returns to the beach of each of them before catching the big one. The repeated lines allow for kids to participate, keeping them engaged in the story.

Activity: Cork boats and Jellyfish

I pre made these cork boats by hot gluing two equal size corks together with a small wood stick in between. The colored craft stick was approximately 2 inches long. Kids used scrap pieces of construction paper to create a sail for their boats before trying them out in the small oceans we had waiting at a big table. Kids tested to see if their boats floated and sailed them around islands, trees, and sea creatures they constructed out of play dough. (Non-paper material for sails works best so that it doesn’t fall apart when wet and the play dough eventually dissolves in the water. Several kids loved feeling the soupy mess left behind!)

Cork boats

Does it float?

2 wine corks
1 wood craft stick hot glue
scraps of construction paper, ribbon, fabric, or other sail material
craft glue
play dough (various colors)
aluminum pans for “ocean” (shared)

The paper bowl jellyfish was a craft I added at the last minute thinking some kids wouldn’t want to make a boat. In actuality, most kids made both which was great! I forgot to take a picture of the jellyfish sample, but take a look at this link for the idea.

paper bowl
google-y eyes
ribbon in various shapes and colors
craft glue
hole punch
piece of ribbon for hanger to secure on top of finished jellyfish

Photo Credit:
Marianne Collins Berkes

STEAM-y Storytime 2: Under the Sea, Matey!

Wow! STEAM-y Storytime 2 was part fabulous, part controlled chaos. With almost 70 kids and caregivers, we managed to read, sing, experiment, and create!

A storytime friend returned to the library to read this week. I provided him with a few pirate and sea books that he brought to life between songs on his guitar. This volunteer is a great addition and I love introducing storytellers to the library families.

Under the Sea books...

Lots of rhyming in this week’s books! All were kid-pleasers.

sheep on a ship

~POUT-POUT 10x10 jkt-P1.tif


Sheep on a Ship by Nancy Shaw and Margot Apple (Houghton Mifflin, 1989).

Pirate Princess by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Jill McElmurry (Harper Collins, 2012).

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008).

Under the Sea activities…

I was a little worried when I looked out on the crowd before me and explained what was happening at the three activity stations we were offering. There were a lot of kids! I quickly described the stations and how caregivers could help their little ones explore. Not to worry. With the help of great caregivers, the kids dove right in discovered new ideas and tools at the multiple stations. Storytime lasted longer than the usual hour, but I was happy to let kids experiment. Here is what we did for the latter part of storytime:

Sink and Float

sink float Sink and Float is a classic preschool activity, but it was a first for storytime at our library, perhaps because of the water that ended up all around the station! Clean was pretty easy though, thanks to plastic table covers.Photo Jun 05, 4 27 48 PM

I had four tubs of water with a variety of objects and a laminated sink-float chart alongside. Caregivers were instructed to help kids predict if each object would sink or float and why. They placed the object on the chart under sink or float based on their decision. Then they tested their prediction.

The best moment at this station was watching a little one’s face when we made an aluminum foil boat that floats and placed an object that sunk on top of it…and it floated. His mind was blown!

Squiggle Fish

This station was a hit! It allowed kids to do what they do best: create and explore across media. Using fish drawn on 1/4 page white cardstock and the Squiggle Fish app on an iPad, we turned over twenty-five fish into a digital sea swimming with creatures!

squiggle fish2

The trick with this app is having kids draw and color fish on the white paper and outline the fish with a thick black pen. I had kids write their names inside the black outline so we could easily identify the fish on-screen.

Once the fish were finished, I held the iPad over the drawings and the picture of the fish, minus the white background, was digitized and animated on screen. We had everything from a family of fish to an octopus. While the finished sea of creatures isn’t shareable (maybe in an update?), I took screenshots of different views of our sea and posted one on our library’s Facebook page for families to download.

Are you looking for other apps to integrate into storytime? Check out the field-tested apps for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary age kids pinned on Little eLit’s Pinterest boards. Each pin includes technical information and suggested storytime use.

Fish in the Sea

fish craft At the last minute I added this simple craft station, fortunately. This one was most popular with younger kids and allowed almost every kid to find something that captured their interest. I found the idea on Pinterest. The minimal materials made it affordable and easy to put together.

A sheet of cardstock folded on each of the short edges and down the middle was cut horizontally (to the side folds). Small fish were cut out of 1/8 page scrap construction paper and stapled on to the slats. I had several fish already cut out as samples, but kids and caregivers cut out many more. Some paper was cut in wavy lines making the scene look even more sea-like. This craft was perfect because it was self-explanatory and the teen volunteer and I could focus on the other two stations.

images: Macmillan, Nerdy Chicks Rule

Summer Reading Program 2013: part 2

Phew! Planning season seems to have come and gone while I wasn’t looking. School is finished in just two weeks and the summer reading program begins right after Memorial Day. I have the STEAM-y Storytime line-up ready to go and posted for all to see. While some of the multiple stations that I am cooking up for each week are still in the works, I thought I’d share the themes. Maybe you even have a suggestion or two! I’ll post the details as we do the programs.

Our library offers two storytimes each week, year round. I plan and lead both of them most of the time (we have two community members who visit for the preschool storytime also).  One is a preschool storytime and the other is a mostly toddler group. For the summer, we’ll be focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) in the preschool program. Since we are using the Dig Into Reading theme, many of the storytime themes fit nicely. I even have a teen volunteer this year excited to help with the storytime activities. The preschoolers will love him!

This summer’s storytime themes:

Things That Go! I have used a vehicle related theme for storytime before, but not for awhile. It is a hit with everyone! There are lots of great books to read on vehicles, bikes, and anything that moves. We’ll make cars for a race track, have a car matching station, and make paper airplanes.

This one will go nicely with the Heavy Equipment Show and Tell we have planned for the beginning of the summer program. We’ll be closing off the side street near the library so four construction vehicles can park where families can get a closer look. A new excavator owned by the city a nd a dump truck will be among the vehicles on display. We’ll hand out cards with stats for each vehicle to provide a kind of self-guided tour since we’ll only have a couple of staff and volunteers on hand. It will also be a great time to sign up families who haven’t had a chance to get involved.

Under the Sea, Matey! We are a coastal community so an ocean theme, with a few pirates thrown in, is a perfect fit. We’ll include a sink or float experiment station among other fun activities. This is a great time to share Mango Languages, a digital language learning tool, with families since our library provides free access to the site and app. Mango offers pirate in their list of languages to learn and it is a kid favorite.

We All Dig Dinosaurs! What schedule of storytimes would be complete without dinosaurs? I purchased some small plastic dinosaur skeletons for reading prizes this year as well as a handful to use in an excavation station. We also took the opportunity to dig up some new-to-us dino books for the collection. What do you have planned?

Plants: How Does Your Garden Grow? In June, we’ll still be planting here and the greening of Alaska will be just getting underway.  Gardens are a big part of many families’ summertime  activities, so we’ll celebrate at storytime with matching games and fruit and vegetable crafts.

Let’s Mix It Up With Colors! I’ve been looking forward to using some of the great suggestions from Amy Koester’s Color Science for Preschoolers ALSC blog post. I thought I would add it to the schedule and get kids mixing, painting, and experimenting!

Independence Day! Preschool storytime will happen on July 3rd this year, so we’ll be celebrating the national holiday a day early. Last Fall, I heard about a great picture book ideal for sharing at storytime, and I’ll use it this year. The title? Betsy Ross by Becky White and Megan Lloyd (Holiday House, 2011). Activities for this one are still being cultured in the petri dish of storytime planning….

Digging Up Trouble With Trickster Tales Trickster tales are some of my favorite books to read aloud. When done respectfully, the stories shared from other cultures can be a great teaching opportunity. Alaska has many such tales and we’ll be including some of them in this storytime. Activities still in the works, so stay tuned!

Creepy Crawly Bugs! Local naturalists will be bringing local downed Spruce logs for scientific exploration during this storytime.  We’ll investigate, deconstruct, and identify the creepy crawlies inside. Bringing the outdoors in will be a blast!

Under Construction! We sponsor a LEGO® contest every summer, and this year will be no different. We’ll even bring LEGO®s to storytime to let kids build towers, castles, bridges, and more while they also build their literacy skills! It is amazing what narrative skills and vocabulary can be developed while playing with these building blocks.

What’s Under Our Feet? Rocks and Caves Several years ago, I stumbled on a great layers earthearth activity in a Montessori book. (I’m still looking for that book….) It is a play doh model of the Earth and all of its layers wrapped inside. Once the ball is made with the layers inside, the ball is cut down the middle and each layer is visible. My kids loved it and I know my young friends at the library will too!