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:

Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson Photo Credit:

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


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

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 by Peter Brown Photo credit:


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.


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


cardstock (with circle drawn on it using a sharpie)
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)
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).


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.


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.


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.


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

Preschool: Tigers

This is the easiest preschool storytime I have even put together! The books are all fabulous and the kids loved the program. This storytime incorporated science, math, and early literacy skills, with the art of story supported by beautiful illustrations.

new sit mats

As families arrived, kids picked out one of our new sit mats for themselves and then joined me for singing and movement guided by our Rhyme Cube. I love these new mats which were paid for with an early literacy grant from the Alaska State Library!

big catsBook: Everything Big Cats (National Geographic, 2011)

I used this non-fiction title to introduce the storytime theme, Tigers. We spent several minutes looking at high quality photographs of tigers and talking about what a tiger looks like, what distinguishes a tiger from other big cats like lions, where tigers live, and what they eat.

Action Song: Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree (with sign language)
Five little monkeys swinging in a tree
Teasing Mister Tiger “can’t catch me!”
Along came the tiger, slowly as can be
And…POUNCE! (hands with fingers extended away from your body like claws)
Four little monkeys….. (last verse is done with signs only)
Now there are no little monkeys swinging in a tree
(three, two, one…)
Song Credit: Perry Public Library

The sign language version of this song was modified from Marge Loch-Wouters‘ crocodile version of the Five Little Monkeys song.

To see images of the tiger-related signs go to: (tiger) Life Print and (roar) Handspeak

Action Song: Are you Ready for a 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 (with penny whistle)

When I sing the second verse with the penny whistle, I play down the scale when I ask them to sit down and play up the scale to have them stand back up. The kids quickly associate the change in sound with the appropriate action.

mr.-tiger-jacket-from-FB-pageBook: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013)

A well-paced story about being yourself, this story is a great read-aloud. Mr. Tiger, frustrated with the normalcy offered by the tame city life he knows, discovers his wild side and learns to be himself. His friends who once promoted the sterile, domesticated lifestyle Mr. Tiger rebels against, accept his individuality and even reveal their own. The illustrations compliment the simple text creating a tale suited for storytimes about tigers, individuality, and friends. (Also available as an E-book.)

Book: Oh, No! written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Oh No!Rohmann (Schwartz & Wade, 2012)

Another fabulous book by Fleming, Oh No! offers kids the opportunity to predict the story’s elements, repeat the story’s refrain (Oh no!) and imagine their own ending. The tale is one about a deep hole in the jungle and all of the animals who fall into it, one at a time, trying to rescue the animals who have already fallen in. The climax of the story occurs when tiger comes to “help,” only to be bumped into the hole by the earth-shaking steps of an elephant who rescues all of the other animals at the same time. Just when the story appears to be over, a turn of the last page reveals the tiger’s paws appearing out of the hole on the inside back cover. It provided a great opportunity to ask kids “what happened to the tiger?” (Also available as an E-book.)

Action Chant: Down In The Jungle
(clap hands on knees and clap them 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!
(have child name a jungle animal)
A tiger, A tiger , I want to see a tiger! ROAR!
Song Credit: Perry Public Library

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

Rosen’s gift for writing picture books is demonstrated, yet again, in this story about a sly little fly that is able to escape the swatting of a tiger, the rolling mass of a hippo, and the tramping of an elephant. This is a fun story to read aloud because of the sound words, repeated text, and accompanying illustrations.

Along with the other books I read today, Tiny Little Fly‘s artwork is noteworthy. Waldron’s illustrations are sophisticated but child friendly. The nature-inspired hues on an off-white background provide a good context for the story. Waldron adds to Rosen’s story with the placement of the animals throughout the book. The book design includes a partial view of each animal as the story progresses which invites kids to interact by guessing what animal comes next in the sequence.


Tigers provide a subtle way to talk about patterns which was the focus of the craft/activity portion of this storytime. Drawing attention to something as simple as the orange and black pattern of a tiger helps kids recognize patterns, important for both language and math literacy.


Storytime and the following activity, both take place in our children’s library. Before each storytime, I set up the large table seen here with all of the materials kids and their caregivers will need for the activity.  This week, I put small signs and labels by the needed materials to make it easy to choose the materials for the two activities I provided today. The signs also demonstrate to parents one way to create a text-rich environment for their kids.

Creating a tiger mask was the first activity. Before this week’s storytime, I cut out the center of each of the paper plates and hot glued the plates on to wooden craft sticks. I also prepped some of the materials they used to decorate the masks, as noted below. Today kids used the supplies to assemble the mask.


Tiger Mask

Materials (for each mask):

  • paper plate (with center cut out)
  • large
  • craft stick (one end hot glued to bottom of paper plate to serves as mask handle)
  • one black strip approx. 8 1/2″ x 2″ (kids cut into eight pieces to create striped pattern on mask)
  • one orange strip approx. 8 1/2″ x 2″ (kids cut into eight pieces to create striped pattern on mask)
  • 2 circles cut from white paper
  • 2 googly eyes
  • black paper for whiskers and ears (cut by kids and parents)
  • white paper for teeth (cut by kids and parents)
  • glue
  • scissors


The second activity was a simple pattern project. Kids, particularly the younger ones, ripped strips of black paper and glued them on the orange paper to create a pattern.

Materials (for each pattern project):

  • 1 orange piece of orange construction paper
  • piece of black construction paper approx. 4″ x 10″
  • glue

Image credits:
Everything Big Cats Geo Librarian
Mr Tiger Goes Wild Peter Brown
Oh No! Amazon
Tiny Little Fly Michael Rosen