Preschool: My Body

This week was a busy one at our library! We celebrated National Take Your Child to the Library day on February 1st with a LEGOs at the Library program, hosted a tech lab for 8-12 year olds on Digital Learning Day, added an additional preschool storytime at the library (bringing the in-house count to three) and offered a family storytime at a community fire hall as part of our two month Storytime on the Go outreach program. I got the chance to interact with a lot of community members and share library resources with lots of kids and their families!

This week’s storytimes were all about My Body. I began the preschool and outreach programs with a book instead of a song because this book is so engaging and fun to look at.

Ain't Gonna Paint No MoreBook: Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont and David Catrow (Harcourt, 2005)

Ain’t Gonna Paint no More is about a boy who loves to paint anything, much to his mother’s dismay, and gets messy while doing it. The words could be sung, but the images are to be savored so reading the text is my preferred mode. I love that kids can anticipate the next body part to be painted by the rhyme that comes before it. Catrow’s illustrations are colorful and exciting, providing for lots of conversation. My favorite page features a painted arm with small black ants all in a row. We find out that the source of those ants is a mouth painted on the boy’s hand featured on the next page.

After talking about our basic body parts it was time to talk about what’s under our skin. I brought out the book, My Body (DK Children, 1991), part of the What’s Inside? series. The first chapter includes one picture of a fully clothed boy on one side and then a picture on the right of the boy’s photo peeled up revealing a skeleton underneath. It’s an easy way for kids to appreciate the connection between their bodies and bones and begin a discussion about bones. 

fablevision_digital_learning_day_2014_bannerIn honor of Digital Learning Day, I brought my iPad to storytime again! Digital media, like apps, give me and the caregivers in attendance more teaching tools and different ways to engage kids. Using an app like this one in storytime, lets parents learn about new high quality apps they could try at home and let’s me model how to use apps with kids. I strongly support joint media engagement and encourage families to use apps together. When I include digital media in storytime, I use it along with many other familiar tools so kids see there is a time for digital media and a time for books, toys, songs, and the like.

App: This is My Body (urbn;pockets, 2014)my body app This is my Body is one of two iPad apps I looked at for use during this storytime. The other app called The Human Body (Tinybop, 2013) is a more complex app with high quality images, incredible detail, and an interesting Q&A feature, but I felt that This is my Body offered the basic features I needed for a quick activity in a preschool-friendly package. I chose to focus on the skeleton with this app and introduce it by talking about the skeleton as a puzzle.

I started by showing families the starting page and what is included in the app. Then I tapped on the skeleton section, revealing a completed skeleton with a place to tap for the activity page. Select bones are skittered around the outline of a body and with a tap and a drag a bone can be slid to the right location. If the bone is slid to the right spot, it will stick. If not, it will slide back to the area outside of the body. Kids took turns tapping and dragging different bones to the proper location in the body outline.

Using the app in the storytime setting didn’t work quite how I expected, but I would try it again. Here’s what we struggled with: Even with its smaller number of bones, the page still had some bones that kids, particularly the younger ones, weren’t sure where to place. After the larger, more recognizable bones were dropped into the right spot, kids weren’t quite sure what to do. This put kids, especially the younger ones, on the spot as we huddled around the iPad. This may work better mirrored on a big screen so kids don’t feel the need to crowd the iPad making each other feel rushed to figure out the right location for the bone. If I used the app again, I would drag and drop more of the harder to recognize bones (not just one) as I demonstrate how to play the bone game.

I provided an information sheet on a healthy media diet and how to find quality digital media for kids so parents had information to take home.

Action Song: Are you Ready for a Story
If you’re ready for a story, shake and wiggle!
If you’re ready for a story, shake and wiggle!
If you’re ready for a story, If you’re ready for a story,
If you’re ready for a story, shake and wiggle!
… sit down please (with penny whistle)

stand tall mlm

Book: Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell and  David Catrow (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001)

Molly Lou’s body is unique, like everyone’s. Catrow’s illustrations celebrate Molly Lou’s beauty and strengthen the book’s message. This is a colorful, fun to read story celebrating our individuality, the love of family, and friendship. A nice read aloud for toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary.

Action Song: Hands are for Clapping by Jim Gill (1993) via Sound Cloud

This song got us moving and using specific parts of our bodies as Gill sang. I played the song using my phone, the Sound Cloud app, and a portable speaker. I connected the phone and speaker using an auxiliary cord so the two would stay connected. (Previously, I’ve had the bluetooth connection disconnect between the time when I set up for storytime and when I actually wanted to play the song.)

partsBook: Parts by Tedd Arnold (Dial Books for Young Readers, 1997)

Unlike the other books we read, Parts features a boy who is scared of his own body! He worries about bellybutton fuzz, hairs in his comb, loose teeth and ear wax. Thankfully his parents finally get him sorted out. At one storytime, the kids and I decided this boy, who we named George, should come to storytime to learn a few things about his body!

We ended with this fun action song. We started slowly and then repeated the song multiple times, going faster and faster.

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (using multiple tempos)
(Sing to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down)
(Have child mimic you and place hands on the appropriate parts of the body.)
Head, shoulders, knees & toes, knees & toes,
Head, shoulders, knees & toes, knees & toes,
Eyes and ears, mouth & nose,
Head, shoulders, knees & toes, knees & toes.


IMG_1614Potatohead Station

Potatoheads are a fun, hands-on way for kids to learn the basics about body parts. I borrowed this set of potatoheads from a local teacher who is a close friend. Before storytime I made sure all of the potatoheads were blank so kids could build the characters however they wanted to. This also gave caregivers a chance to talk about the body parts as kids added them and what goes where. Some kids added parts in imaginative ways and others placed each part with anatomical accuracy. This set of 7 large and small potatoheads worked for well as a station for storytime groups of 7-40 in combination with the second station.

Life-size self-portrait

Life Sized Self-portrait

I brought a roll of butcher paper from home for this activity. Along with our boxes of markers and crayons that regularly sit at each table during storytime, the paper was the only material needed. The butcher paper was just wide enough for preschool size kids.

Caregivers had their child lay on top of the precut sheet of paper while they traced the outline of the child’s body. This often resulted in giggling because outlining a preschooler or toddler’s body often leads to unintended tickling!

Once the outline was complete, kids and caregivers went about coloring in body parts and clothes making each one unique.

Photo credits:
Parts: Eva’s Book Addiction
Stand Tall, Molly Lou MelonThe Illustrated Book Image Collective
This is my BodyUrbn; Pockets
Ain’t Gonna Paint No More: Amazon

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

Preschool: Halloween

Pumpkins at night

Happy Halloween! This might just be my favorite holiday. Every other time of year we worry quite a bit about how scary stories for kids are, but around Halloween, kids are free to imagine, read, and create scary tales. Great stories plus pumpkin carving and candy equals fun! And if you still need convincing, who doesn’t love a good costume?

little old lady afraid

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Willams

Action Rhyme: Pumpkin, Pumpkin
Pumpkin, pumpkin, big and round, (Make big circle with hands)
Sitting on the cold, hard ground. (Touch the ground)
Soon I’ll pick you off the vine, (Pretend to pick a pumpkin)
Give you a name, and make you mine (Hug pumpkin tightly)
Carve a face for all to see, (Point to face)
Add a candle for Halloween glee! (Clap your hands)


Hallo-Weiner by Dav Pilkey

Action Rhyme: 5 Little Pumpkins

Five little pumpkins sitting on the gate. (Hold up 5 fingers behind arm laid horizontally.)
The first one said, “Oh, my it’s getting late.” (Hold up thumb.)
The second one said, “There’s a chill in the air.” (Hold up index finger.)
The third one said, “But we don’t care.” (Hold up middle finger.)
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run.” (Hold up ring finger.)
The fifth one said, “I’m ready for some fun.” (Hold up pinky.)
Ooooo! Went the wind, and out went the light. (Blow through hands, then clap.)
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight! (Roll hands over and under each other.)

Bone Soup

Bone Soup by Cambria Evans

Have you seen the impressive felt board version of this tale created by SLC Book Boy? It’s perfect! (I heard about his fabulous felt version at Storytime Underground blog. Follow it, if you don’t already!)


Families chose one or more of the Halloween characters to create- a pumpkin, a cat, or a ghost. Each featured a 20131105-213232.jpgslightly different medium for kids to play around with. Families could then take the project home and decorate for Halloween the following day.

Paper plate for each character
Liquid glue
Hole punch

For the cat:
Rectangle of black construction paper with 2 triangles drawn on it (for ears)
Triangle of pink construction paper for nose
Rectangle of yellow paper for kids to draw and cut out into any 2 shapes (for eyes)
Crayons and markers
Black streamers
Yarn for hanger

For the pumpkin:
1″ x1″ orange squares of tissue paper
1/2 sheet of green construction paper for kids to cut up (for eyes, nose, and mouth)
Orange streamers
Yarn for hanger

For the ghost:
1/2 sheet of black construction paper for kids to cut into eyes and mouth
White puff balls for eyeballs
White streamers
yarn for hanger

IMG_1225I also had trick or treat bags to pass out, thanks to the fire department, and tattoos! It was great fun helping kids put on their tattoos before they left and watching and listening as I read the Boo! tattoo I put on my hand. Letters and words are everywhere!

Preschool Storytime: Fire Safety Week


October 6-15 is Fire Safety Week this year. So, we invited some local firefighters to storytime! They are annual visitors to storytime and great friends of the library. They even brought a fire truck with them so kids could see a truck up close in front of the library.

When firefighters come to story time, I read, sing, play, and talk with the kids and their families for the first 20-25 minutes.  This gives families a chance to get settled and allows the firefighters to concentrate on the demonstration part of storytime while I get to read stories and sing with the kids!

Instead of starting with the song cube this week, we began by talking about fire safety, where fires should be and shouldn’t be, and what firefighters do. After finding out that firefighters were coming to story time, many of the kids became pretty wiggly. That meant it was time for some hokey pokey, firefighter style!

Song: Firefighter Hokey Pokey
Put your helmet in, Take your helmet out,
Put your helmet in, and shake it all about.
Do the hokey pokey and turn yourself about,
That’s what it’s all about!

gloves, boots, pants, etc.
Credit: 1,000 Fingerplays and Action Rhymes by Barbara Scott (this book comes with a DVD!)

There are many variations on this next song, but I sing this one with the kids before we start reading most books. It settles the kids who find their seats as we sing this. The families know it well and sing along with ease.

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.

fireman small 1

stomp your feet, jump two times, sit down please…

Book: Fireman Small by Wong Herbert Yee (Houghton Mifflin, 1994) is an excellent fire safety storytime read. With repeated verses and rhyming text, kids will quickly be able to fill in the blanks when given the opportunity to help read the story. Additionally, the story details the variety of jobs a firefighter does in an accessible context- animals.

I had kids stand up for this action rhyme. The kids loved this one! I said it slow enough that the kids could follow and anticipate the actions. A couple of kids could even wink.

Action Rhyme: Five Little Fire Fighters
Five little firefighters standing in a row, (five fingers up)
1 2 3 4 5 lets go. (point to fingers as numbers are said)
Jump on the engine with a SHOUT, (jump and then shout the word ‘shout’)
As quick as a wink the fire is out. (snap fingers, wink, and do the sign for all done)

Four little firefighters standing in a row,
1 2 3 4 shhh lets go.
Jump on the engine with a Shout
As quick as a wink the fire is out.

Three little firefighters standing in a row,
1 2 3 shhh shhh lets go.
Jump on the engine with a Shout
As quick as a wink the fire is out.

Two little firefighters standing in a row,
1 2 shhh shhh shhh lets go.
Jump on the engine with a Shout
As quick as a wink the fire is out.

One little firefighters standing in a row,
1 shhh shhh shhh shhh lets go.
Jump on the engine with a Shout
As quick as a wink the fire is out.

(adapted from Fire Little Firemen)

Before kids sat down, I tried the game The Fire Chief Says… which is played like Simon says… This can be a challenging game for preschoolers, so I had the fire chief say only fire related actions (spray the hose, drive the truck, climb the ladder) followed alternately with basic actions (wiggle your toes, clap your hands). Most kids didn’t get the trick of this game so I kept it short. To end on a positive note, I said The Fire Chief says… sit down. They all sat and were ready for the next part of storytime.

Firefighter and Child

I had a second book on hand to read if there was emergency call and the firefighters couldn’t come or if they were late. I had just started to read the title of Poinsettia and the Firefighters (Crowell, 1984) by Felicia Bond when the firefighters arrived! With the attention now on the visiting firefighters, I put the book away.

The firefighters first talked to the kids about the fire station and then proceeded to get dressed in their gear, one item at a time. This allowed the kids to see the transformation and appreciatethat below the fire gear is a person. Ideally this will help dispel kids’ fears of trusting a firefighter if they are ever in a fire or an emergency. The kids asked good questions and helped the firefighters choose which item to put on next.

Families were then invited to go outside and get a tour of the fire truck parked near the front door! Kids were thrilled to hold one of the firehoses, sit in the cab of the fire truck, and try on helmets. The firefighters handed out coloring books, cards, and Halloween bags.

The day was pretty windy, so the tour was brief for some little ones. Fortunately, I had planned three activity stations inside where families migrated.

Fire Truck Craft

Firetruck Craft

1 1/2 sheet of red construction paper
2 smaller rectangle shaped pieces of red construction paper
2 black circles
1 white circle to cut (or already cut) into a spiral (for hose)
yarn for ladder glued to side of truck
white square pieces of paper to create a window for the driver in the truck
markers and crayons
liquid glue

Origami Dog

Origami Fire House Dog

Some origami is difficult for families to do in the short craft time, but this origami dog is a perfect introduction!

1 sheet of white paper cut to a 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ square
markers and crayons to color the dog

Thank You Card

Firefighter Thank You

The kids signed and decorated a large thank you card which I’ll deliver to the fire station.

1 sheet of poster board
printed pictures of fire trucks
markers and crayons for writing and coloring

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.