Preschool: In the Jungle

The temperature rose to a whopping 35-37° this week! As Alaskan kids will do when the Winter cold starts to loosen its tight grip, 20130324-134254.jpgstorytime regulars showed up in sun hats, t-shirts, and even capri pants.  Everyone was in the mood to be hot so it was time to explore the jungle!

Thanks to the internet and lots of creative librarians out there in cyberspace, I came up with a fun program that I did at the library and on the road. The program, especially the book choice, was most appreciated by the preschool crowd, but the songs and activities equally appealed to most of the younger ones.

Alaska is a long way from any DK Picturepedia Junglejungle, aka tropical rainforest, although we do have areas of temperate rainforest in the South East part of the state. To get ourselves in the mood for the fun stories ahead we took a trip with the globe and figured out where we might find a jungle, how we could get there, and then what we might find there. We found Alaska, the Equator, and several continents including Africa and South America.

Jungle Animals, part of the series Picturepedia, gives a great overview of the variety of animals that inhabit the  canopy, understory, and rivers of the hot and wet tropical rainforest. We spent some time trying to imagine what it might look and feel like in the jungle. For many families, non-fiction books do not seem very approachable for preschoolers, but using books like the Jungle Animals in storytime is great for modeling how to read non-fiction with young children.

Since we were very excited by all of the amazing creatures, we then sang this fun song. As we sang, I placed an animal card on the felt board. I pointed to the text printed at the bottom of the card as we sang the name to support print awareness.  The lions roared loudly, the monkeys were silly, and frogs were hopping all over the room! 20130324-134420.jpg

Song: ”I Went to the Jungle One Day” (London Bridge)
I went to the jungle one day,
jungle one day, jungle one day.
I saw a lion on the way
And this is what he said, “ROAR!”
(Other animals: snake, monkey, elephant, frog, etc.)
Credit: Perry Public Library

We talked about what each animal might eat and where they might live in the dynamic jungle environment. (I found the animal images online, made the cards, and then laminated them to endure the attention of the storytime kids who like to get to know the items I use on the felt board. I made several copies of each so I could use the same animals with the jungle box- see below.)

I found a plethora of jungle related songs and fingerplays so I followed up with this fun little ditty using my five little monkey finger puppets. They’re wearing jammies, but they worked well enough!
Fingerplay: Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree
Five little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me….can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree
Four… Three… Two… One little monkey(s) swinging in the tree
No more monkeys swinging in the tree!
Oh NoWe followed up our singing with the book Oh, No! by author Candace Fleming and illustrator Eric Rohmann. This book, with its repetitive text and progressive story, is perfect for the preschool age. It’s the tale of five jungle animals that each fall into a huge hole in the bamboo forest while trying to help out the animals who have already tumbled in. When the waiting tiger appears at the top of the hole (a scene masterfully created on the page with a from-bottom-of-the-hole perspective), the animals yell “Oh! No!” for fear they will be the next meal. Don’t worry. The mighty elephant saves the day, but more than once a child declared, “Look out! There’s the tiger!” at the tiger tail or paw that is camouflaged on most pages.
My favorite page? The last. Not the one with a view of the large elephant behind with the five rescued animals being carried off to safety, but the very last with the one of the hole’s edge with tiger paws emerging. Did the tiger climb out or did he stay stuck in the hole?  It’s a nice use of the endpaper.
After Oh! No! it was time to get moving! Clapping and slapping the tops of our thighs worked well for most kids, but the younger ones just clapped their hands to this infectious chant.
Song: Down In The Jungle (chant)
(alternately clap hands on knees and then together
 to set the rhythm of the chant.)
Down in the jungle with the beat in your feet,
Think of an animal that you’d like to meet.
That you’d like to meet ________!
(Call out child’s name and have them name a jungle
A _____ A ______ She / He wants to see a ________!
Then have all of the children imitate that animal.
giraffes can't danceThe last book of storytime was either Giraffes Can’t Dance by author Giles Andreae and illustrator Guy Parker-Reyes or Kiss Kiss! by Margaret Wilde and Bridget Strevens-Marzo. While the opening scene of the savannah in Giraffes Can’t Dance led many kids to claim “That’s not the jungle!” and the book may seem unrelated to the theme at first, the story quickly evolves bringing the action to the jungle. It’s a cute story with rhyming text. The images are bright and full of detail which makes it good for sharing.

Right before craft time, I introduced the group to the jungle box I found on Abby the Librarian’s site. We practiced the “J” sound while I passed out animal cards to each child. I sang Abby’s song using the names of Jungle boxanimals found on the cards and the child(ren) with the appropriate animal card came up and put the card in the box.

Song: Jungle Box Song
(To the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”)
If you have a lion, a lion, a lion,
If you have a lion, put him in the jungle!
The activity made for a nice transitional activity that got kids up and ready to move to the tables to create their lion. Many kids told each other and me which animal was their favorite and made up sounds for each. I used the same animals as I used on the felt board so they were familiar. The toucan sounds were especially creative!

We made this simple lion I found on Pinterest using:

1 sheet of brown paper for the mane
1/2 sheet of yellow paper for the face which caregivers and kids cut into various shapes
black paper (pre-cut into circles for the bottom layer of the eyes)
additional colored paper scraps big enough for the top layer of the eyes
black strips (about 4 in. long)
Light brown paper scraps to cut ear shapes
Red paper strips for the tongue (curled around a pencil to give it shape)
Brown paper scraps to make the moth/nose
Glue and scrissors are necessary
black marker or crayon is nice to have for the whisker marks

Families got creative and few lions matched my rough sample!

Here is one of my favorites:Lion- kid creation



Last week was was all about dinosaurs at storytime.dino felt board

Looking for books about dinosaurs was incredibly easy! If your patrons are anything like ours, you have some young paleontologists in the mix and that insures lots of dinosaur picture books and information books.

I like to start storytime by introducing the theme and an accompanying letter. My storytimes are pretty intimate and I know most of the 10-20 kids that come each week so then the kids and I talk about what they know about the theme (or other random topics on their mind). For example, this week we chatted about dinosaurs, fossils and the letter D. It gets kids warmed up so they aren’t so shy during the stories and activities. As we talk, kids share more and more details and even slip in a few a conversation-inspired stories of their own. Families tend to trickle in at the beginning of storytime, so this warm-up also gives everyone a chance to get settled before I really get started.

Since dinosaurs come in all shapes and sizes, we started with this well-received, action rhyme:

This is big big big (Hold arms out to side)
This is small small small (Cup hands together)
This is short short short (Hold hands with palms facing each other)
This is tall tall tall (Reach one hand above head)
This is fast fast fast (Circle fists quickly)
This is slow slow slow (Circle fists slowly)
This is yes yes yes (Nod)
This is no no no (Shake head)

Credit: Mel’s Desk


Continuing on with the opposites, I started with the book Dinosaurs Roar by Paul and Henrietta Stickland. It’s a book that makes for lots of conversation and can involve very active reading. Roaring, pretending to be big or small, stomping, and imitating fierce and meek are all possible during this seemingly short book.dinosaur-bones

Next we got to focus on why we know about dinosaurs and the concept of extinct which a surprising number of 5 and 6 year olds knew quite a bit about. We felt our arms for our own bones and I showed them the “fossil” we were going to make after stories. We then read Dinosaur Bones by Bob Barner, a book we have in our collection as a kit.

Before continuing on with another story, it was time for the flannel board dinosaurs! We used these dinosaurs to remember our colors, count to nine, and see if we could identify the the three types of dinosaurs. Great job, all around!

Colorful Dinosaurs…
(One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians)
Have felt dinosaurs of the various colors to put on flannel board as you sing.
1 red
1 blue
1 green dinosaur
1 orange
1 yellow
1 white dinosaur
1 pink
1 brown
1 black dinosaur
9 dinosaurs in all!

Credit: Nuttin’ But Preschool

Goldilocks and the 3 dinosWe were having so much fun, that we only had time for one more story before it was time to create!

Mo Willems’ latest Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs is, of course, funny. For kids to really appreciate this one though, they need to be familiar with the Goldilocks and the Three Bears tale, so we spent some time talking about that story first. Then we worked through the story, parents snickering all the way, and looked for some of the funny little Mo Willems gifts found on each page. (Can you find the pigeon?) Goldilocks is appropriately brave and defiant and even demonstrates her reading skills towards the end of the story. The dinosaurs are not very good at catching a “chocolate-filled-little-girl-bonbon” and alas they must endure the consequences at the end. Before or after reading the story, it’s worth spending some time on the alternative titles inside the front and back covers!

shape o saurusShape-o-saurus

To reinforce our shape awareness, we made a shape-o-saurus inspired by No Time For Flashcards! The kids were able to identify the rectangles, triangles, and circle from our shape games in earlier weeks. A couple were even able to see that the semi-circle was a capital letter D asleep on its side! To help the younger kids place the shapes on the shapeosaurus, I had parents draw the shape with glue. It made for great team work.

Dinosaur Salt Dough Fossilsdino salt dough fossil

What happens when you give kids a handful of salt dough and a toy dinosaur? Some of them make fossils! This part of the storytime involved making pretend fossils by pressing the feet of toy dinosaurs into the dough and then the parents baked the dough at home to finish it off. I gave each child a bag with the final instructions for their new fossil. The dough takes paint well, so the craft could be extended for an at-home project.

Some parents took dough and some some chose not to, but kids had a great time squishing the playdough-like material and making patterns with the handles of scissors, tops of markers, keys, etc. A couple of younger ones sampled the dough, but no worries! The simple salt dough is made of flour, salt and water which I combined at home (about 10 minutes of prep time) and then brought to story time.

Since I used this program only in my outreach efforts this week, I plan to do a dinosaur themed storytime at the library this summer with some different stations, as part of the Dig Into Reading summer program. During June and July, I’ll be taking a cue from Amy Koester’s ALSC blog post and hosting science based programs during storytime. I’ll be adding a twist to the acronym and consider them STEAM-y (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math)* storytimes for preschoolers.

What ideas do you have planned for Dig Into Reading?

*Alaska’s Senator Mark Begich is also a big supporter of combining STEM and Art.

Preschool: Pigs

Oink! Oink!

I’ve been anxious to do this pig themed story time for awhile to see how all of the pieces would fit together. It all worked well for the most part. With four different story times this week, I was able to modify individual elements and the flexibility was perfect for the different audiences.  Here’s what I did:

pig booksOnce kids were settled, we talked about real pigs, both domesticated and wild, thanks to Tulip, the pig puppet, and the book Farm Animals Pigs, part of a series for younger readers that includes books about llamas, goats etc. It is a very approachable nonfiction title that helped us discover the names of mama pigs (sows), piglets, and daddy pigs (boars), fun facts about pig behavior and anatomy, and most importantly, why they like mud. In every group of kids, at least one or two asked me to read the whole book, so it’s highly recommended!

After our discussion I taught them the action rhyme To Market, To Market from SurLaLune giving everyone a chance to move around before we settled into some stories. I found the best way to teach this one to a group who hasn’t heard the rhyme before is to go through the whole thing once, emphasizing the rhyming words and accompanying actions (clapping and hopping), and then repeat it slowly with the kids. If they are willing a quicker version may be in order!

And then it was time for stories. To be honest, this story time was really about The Three Little Pigs, not just pigs. It’s a good story for both kids and parents, who will find it easy to retell by memory because of its sequence and malleability, if that can be applied to stories.  I read aloud Paul Galdone’s version, one of many classic tales he retold and illustrated before his death in 1986. This version includes the death of two pigs and the wolf, but the details aren’t gory.  I picked Galdone’s traditional retelling over the many modern variations because I have found preschool age kids don’t really get books like Emily Gravett’s Wolf Won’t Bite! (which I read afterwards in a couple of story times), Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, David Wiesner’s The Three Pigs, or even The Three Little Javelinas without a good understanding of the original. After this week, story time kids will appreciate these great stories!

Between books, I used the flannel board, my pig puppet, and the rhyme This Little Piggie Went to Market by Mother Goose to tell the story of Tulip, the pig. Building on our pig discussion, the story goes something like this:pig felts and puppet

Tulip, a farm pig (sow), had five piglets and lived in a barn. These piglets were acting wild, but not feral. These pigs ran around and made a huge mess so Tulip sent them out into the barnyard while she cleaned up the pen. The piglets went outside and wondered what to do. The first piglet decided to go find his friends at the market, the second piglet (piggie) thought it wasn’t safe to go without Mama, so he stayed home. The third piglet was hungry and needed a snack so she ate some roast beef, while the fourth piglet had none.  The fifth piglet got scared outside and wanted his mama, so he ran, wee wee wee, all the way home.

We repeated the story with our fingers (using the traditional rhyme). This went well in most of the story times since parents quickly caught on to what I was doing and the kids were entranced by the lovely and soft Tulip and the felt piglets. With the kindergarteners, who speak English as a second language, this story wasn’t familiar, but they loved the pigs anyway!

In each story time I read one of the other pictured pig books. I tried reading  a couple of different pig books, Olivia and the Fairy Princesses and Pig in a Barrow, in the first story time of the week, but they were not hits so I traded them in.  I’ve decided that Ian Falconer’s Olivia books are great for reading with one or two children, but they don’t work for me during story time.  If you’ve had better success, let me know!

pig activitiesAfter the books, I brought out The Three Little Pigs story basket, an idea I got from Sun Hats & Wellie Boots. What fun! We retold the story using rafia, large Popsicle sticks, Legos, for the three different houses and a set of Three Little Pigs finger puppets. After we worked on it together, and added different endings or events, I gave kids the chance to continue playing with the basket, make paper puppets to take home, or play with Legos. When I pulled out Legos for the basket, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to let kids use the rest of my stash!

pig paper puppetsThe puppet templates came from Making Learning Fun. The pig is on page 1 of the templates and the wolf is on page 2.

All of these activities help strengthen kids’ storytelling skills, language development, social skills, and comprehension while having fun!


This week I decided to bring out the pirate fun. I couldn’t wait for the official Talk Like A Pirate Day to come around again. There’s just something about storybook pirates and their socially acceptable mischief.

pirate booksWe had a regular guest reader join us for stories and songs this week at the library so he read the stories while I worked with kids on the letter ‘P’ scavenger hunt and the pirate crafts. It’s amazing how many kids don’t know how to make a pirate hat out of newspaper! Twenty more do now! It’s great rainy day fun and offers adults a bit of nostalgia.

This morning, I headed out the road for my outreach program. This week’s only stop was the fire station. The group of kids and parents that regularly comes to the fire station is not as big as at the library, but that’s fine. They are all familiar faces and we are getting to know each other better in a more intimate setting. I am happy to see everyone because there are a few faces I tend to see at the library only in the summer. It can be difficult to get into town for specific events during the winter-either because of weather, kid schedules, or just because of a shift to the wintertime mental state.

During storytime on the road, it was my turn to read the pirate books.  While everyone got settled, a couple of kids and I talked about the letter ‘P’ and looked through My ‘P’ Book.  They quickly rattled off a list of other words beginning with the ‘P’ sound while the littlest ones took turns playing with my felt ‘P’. We then moved on to stories. I read the tongue twisting Sheep on a Ship, The Pirates Next Door: Starring the Jolley-Rogers, a great book about differences, and Pirate Girl. Feisty girls need role models, too.

The flannel board was a success! I was proud to create this one and the kids loved it. The older kids chimed in on the song’s refrain and the youngest storytimers bee-lined to the board and the felt pieces as soon as I added them with each verse.  After which the little ones spent the rest of storytime taking off and putting on the pirate pieces.  Win, win. I got the flannel board idea (and the song suggestion) from Sturdy for Common Things.

pirate felt board

Pirate Song (Sung to “This Old Man”) via Work of Heart
This old pirate, has a hat
Where a skull and crossbones sat.
With an Ar, Ar, Ar, and an Ay Matey!
This old pirate sailed the sea.
This old pirate had a patch
Sailed the sea without a scratch.
With an Ar, Ar, Ar and an Ay Matey!
This old pirate sailed the sea.

Additional Verses:
This old pirate has a hook, uses it to hold a book.
This old pirate has a map, keeps it handy in his lap.
This old pirate has a bird, barely knows a single word.
This old pirate has a ship, travels the world in a single trip.
This old pirate looking for treasure, more than anyone can measure!

parrotAnd on to craft time! We made our hats and pet parrots before doing the letter ‘P’ treasure hunt, well, because pirates need accessories to find treasures!  If you need a tutorial on pirate hat making, check out Instructables. There are some other curiosities there also worth your time! As for the parrot, I took a template and instead of making one designed to wear on the shoulder, I modified the drawing so the parrot could be carried with the help of a Popsicle stick. It worked well for the wide range of ages at the library storytime and at the fire station.P treasure hunt

For the ‘P” treasure hunt, I laminated letters in different kinds of paper (2 of each) and then made a treasure hunt map with one of each kind of ‘P’. The others I placed around the room so that kids could explore and identify the letter. They brought the letter back to the map and taped it next to its match. Once we had all of the letters on the map matched, it was time for the treasure! I gave out library pencils to smiling pirates and we found out those pencils make great drumsticks!

By the way, if your library has access to Mango Languages, you should check out the Pirate tutorial. What a great sense of humor they have! I often show school age kids Pirate on Mango Languages because it is a great gateway to learning other languages on the site and exploring our library’s online resources.

Preschool: Weather- Winter Part 2

Christmas 2012 snow stormWinter has been a bit fickle so far this year. We have had all kinds of weather- snow, wind, rain, sun, more rain, and lots of cloudy days. So, this week was a perfect time to talk about weather at story time! With all of the fun tricks I have discovered on other librarians’ blogs, this theme also makes a perfect choice for my new outreach program.


There are so many good weather related books to choose from that I had trouble narrowing down the final list. Maisy’s Wonderful Weather Book was a must because of all of the interactive pages filled with pop ups. It’s a great starter for talking about weather and getting kids to start thinking about what’s happening in the environment around them.

Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was also a must because many of the kids receive it as part of the community supported Imagination Library program. Kite Day rounded out the three-we ran out of time after talking about the weather conditions outside, singing about the weather using the flannel board, and thinking up words that begin with the W sound.DSC02617

The envelope in the flannel board picture is a tool I recently started using at the beginning of each story time. It is addressed to the story time and is a hand written letter from Hector, our moose, who lives in the library and writes us letters at night. The letters include a clue about the story time theme. It’s a nice routine and gets the kids’ brains warmed up, but I will see how it goes. The kids aren’t asking for it, so I don’t know how effective it is. I read about the idea somewhere online, but I can’t seem to find the blog now.

The weather flannel board templates I got from While She Naps and I used them for the cutouts for the weather craft. My flannel board pieces look more like Storytime Katie’s though and I used a song from Katie’s site to go along with it. Perpetual Preschool has lots of weather songs perfect for story time.

“What’s the Weather?” (Tune: Clementine)
What’s the weather, what’s the weather,
What’s the weather, everyone?
Is it windy, is it cloudy,
Is there rain, or is there sun?
Credit: Perpetual Preschool

To finish off the morning, kids cut out the weather templates, colored them and glued them in one of the sections I divided up on each paper plate. I didn’t include windy, but added it after the first story time because a little one came up and asked me “Where is the spot for windy?” We quickly made a kite and found it a home. Shame on me!weather to day is

For my first visit in the pilot outreach program I took the flannel board, craft and books to a small group at the fire station and a group of twelve kindergarteners who are learning English as a second language. The weather was wild that morning and the group of us kept an eye on the windows to see what was coming next! The books, song, and easy-to-do craft were perfect.