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.


Preschool Storytime: Fall & Moose

Autumn Books

Fall tends to come quickly in Alaska, so the beginning of September was the perfect time for a storytime celebrating my favorite Autumn signs. Moose, leaves changing colors, and apples are just some of the annual highlights that lie ahead.

After a few songs with the song cube, this week we read two stories and explored a third.

Looking for a Moose by Phyllis Root and Randy Cecil (Candlewick Press, 2006) is the story about a gaggle of children looking through forests, bogs, and mountain tops for the elusive moose who are so well camouflaged on each page, only the readers can see them. The storytime kids loved looking for the hidden moose on each double page spread and acting out the sounds of boots tromping through the forest and feet squishing in the bog, among others. The book offers many opportunities for talking about the natural history of moose and, of course, teaching families the ASL sign for moose.

For the feltboard rhyme, I used a couple of felt pieces from my weather storytime and added a caterpillar to my collection. The leaves are similar to those of an alder, a tree found all around this part of Alaska.

Feltboard: Five Autumn Leaves 
Autumn Felt
Five autumn leaves, five and no more,
[Hold up 5 fingers.]
The caterpillar ate one, now there are four.
[Thumb down.]
Four autumn leaves, that’s easy to see.
Along came a rainstorm, now there are three.
[Index finger down.]
Three autumn leaves, nothing much to do,
A big wind blew, now there are two!
[Middle finger down.]
Two autumn leaves, that’s not much fun,
I glued one on my paper
[Ring finger down.]
Now there is one.
[Hold up pinky.]
Hang on, pretty autumn leaf!
Your branches won’t break,
You’re one less leaf for me to rake!

Credit: SurLaLune Storytime

The second story we read was Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (Harcourt, 2005). This story, a collage of Fall leaves, follows leaf man as he adventures from page to page discovering animals formed from the clever placement of leaves. Like Looking for a Moose, this is a great book to tie with nonfiction nature titles. Endpapers feature information about the variety of leaves.

Before our craft, we looked over the amazing artwork by Nikki McClure found in Apple. In the book there are individual pages with a single word followed by an accompanying page with McClure’s cut paper illustrations in black, white and red. I read the word aloud and the kids and I then told the story found in the associated picture. We didn’t read every page, but the idea was to introduce McClure’s work, encourage kids to use their narrative skills, and model for parents how books can be shared even with minimal or no text.

Apple Story

Before we moved on to the craft activity, I told what I call the Apple Star Story, but is actually known as The Little Red House with no Doors and no Windows and a Star Inside. It tells a fun tale about the star revealed when you cut a red apple in half horizontally.  You’ll need a red apple and a knife for the end of the story. I also use this amazing tree puppet I found at a local toy store. The kids love the moveable eyes.

Telling this story captivates the kids attention because there isn’t a book in my hands, just a puppet and a bag with something inside.  They are very curious! it also makes a great segue between the stories and today’s art activity- Apple Painting!

Apple Painting

Apple Art Prep

This activity is all about process! We used cut apples to paint on paper. Kids discovered how different apple halves made different patterns, as did how much paint was on the apple when pressed on to the paper. They also made patterns with the different colors and experimented using the different colors on different colors of paper.


  • 12 apples, precut and placed them on trays in the middle of several tables covered with plastic
  • plastic, reusable plates for washable paint (yellow, red, and orange),
  • white, red, and black card stock
  • a pencil for writing names on artwork at each table
  • old adult size t-shirts for kids to wear over their clothes (donated by families)

Below is just one of the many final products from today’s activity! Each child experimented several times. Some families carried their wet projects home after storytime and some left the artwork to dry until next week. I always offer that option with projects like this, so parents and caregivers feel good about the extension activities. Science and art can be messy, but by including this option and having kids help clean up after storytime, it is all manageable.

Apple Painting

Preschool Storytime: Farm Animals

With the upcoming state fair, I decided to focus on farm animals this week. Kids love farm animals and many of the families in my storytime crowd have chickens or farm animals at home. There are so many great books, songs, puppets, and apps about animals, animal sounds, and farm animals, in particular, so I couldn’t miss!

We began story time with the song cube. The experienced kids demonstrated how the game works and the new-to-storytime kids sang along.

What is a farm? After a couple of songs, we came up with animals and plants (vegetables and fruits) that might belong on a farm, big or small, and who lives and works on a farm. We also told each other about our favorite sites at the local farmer’s market

barnyard banterWhile I had several books ready to read, I started with Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming (Holt, 1994). This is one of those wonderful books where the images (handmade paper illustrations) are as energetic as the playful sounds created by the text. The book follows a goose who has wandered off in pursuit of a dragonfly (or butterfly according to the storytime kids). Each page features animals and their sounds. While all of the other animals are where they should be (“The cows in the pasture, moo moo moo…”), goose is not. Where is he?

Before turning to the first page of the story, we learned the meaning of a new word! None of the kids knew the definition of banter so I explained it and we all said it aloud.

Song: Farm Sounds 
(Tune: Wheels on the Bus)
The cows in the barn go moo, moo, moo,
Moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo.
The cows in the barn go moo, moo, moo,
All around the farm.
Other verses:
… pigs in the pen go oink, oink, oink
… hens in the coop go cluck, cluck, cluck
… rooster on the fence goes cock-a-doodle-do
… ducks in the pond go quack, quack, quack
… lambs on the hill go baa, baa, baa
Credit: The Learning Pad

As we sang the Farm Sounds song, I introduced my farm animal puppets which are always a hit with the kids.  Many of them wander off after I used them for the appropriate verse in this song to be loved and cuddled in the arms of a storytime child.  They always make it back before craft time, so it works out.

Next we played the Animal Sounds game! This game uses an app for the iPad (Animal Sounds-Fun Toddler Game by Innovative Mobile Apps) animal sounds appthat is designed in a flashcard style. Photo images of animals and recorded sounds are used to connect kids with the image of an animal, the sound it makes, and the written name for each animal. The way we used this app is similar to the method used by Anne Hicks at Anne’s Library Life and other librarians incorporating new media into storytime.

To play this game, I held the iPad in front of the group of kids. (We don’t have a large screen or monitor in our children’s library, so I only use apps in story time that are easy to see on the iPad screen.) I explained the game and then turned the screen towards me. I tapped on one of the animals which played the animal’s sound. We guessed which animal would make the sound we just heard and then I turned the screen to the group and we decided if we were correct. As I showed the image of the animal I pointed to the text and read the animal name. There are two images for each animal so sometimes I would show them the second image which was often a group of the animal (herd of cows vs. one cow). We talked about tricky animal names like sheep that refer to one and more than one while we played.

The animals are organized alphabetically, so before story time I went through and found all of the farm animals I could use to make them easier to select during the game. There are a variety of animals included and the additional in-app purchase of animals is worthwhile.

This is a game that is made better by joint media engagement. Playing together and the mystery generated by our guessing game left us all in giggles and made for a positive experience for a variety of age groups.

After the app game, we read Sakes Alive! A Cattle Drive written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Karla Firehammer (Little, Brown, 2005).

Sakes Alive! A Cattle Drive

This rhyming story about two cows that take off with the farm’s truck for a drive through town ends well and is a silly story featuring many of the animals we saw in earlier parts of storytime. It’s not riveting, but it makes for a nice last book in storytime as kids become tired and attention wains.

To round out the story portion, we sang a couple of verses of Baa, Baa Black Sheep using my different colored sheep. I had intended to also read Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek, but alas, we ran out of time.


Barn craftWe made barns and farm animal puppets (plus a tractor) so families could extend storytime and use the craft to create farm stories of their own at home.

To create the barn for kids I took a red sheet of 12″x18″ paper and pre-cut two corners off the top which became the roof. I then drew a t-shape in the center of the bottom of the page that kids would cut along to form the opening barn doors. I used a box cutter to also pre-cut a door near the top for the hay loft.

For my sample, I then glued a 81/2″x11″ sheet of heavy paper on the back covering the door to make the barn stiffer and to allow space for kids to glue the tractor or other animals in the doorway. I also glued a 1/8 page of the same heavy paper behind the loft door for a chicken and some green raffia (a nest). I found farm animal images in clipart and compiled them on one sheet so each child could take a sheet, color the pictures, and cut out the farm animals they wanted to add to their barn or glue on to popsicle sticks to use as puppets. Kids decorated their barn in a variety of ways, some of which resembled barns from one of the books we shared.

STEAM-y Storytime: Construction!

Photo Jul 22, 10 46 38 AMThis storytime continued our week of construction.  During our Maker Monday event earlier in the week we used lots of natural materials to design and assemble elaborate gnome and fairy houses. We’ll end the building extravaganza with another Maker Monday in a few days. That one will offer LEGO challenges and free play in anticipation of next week’s 3rd Annual LEGO Contest.

This storytime was SO MUCH FUN! I can honestly say “you just had to be there.”  I’ll do my best to share the highlights. It’s worth repeating!

Today I was Carpenter Claudia! Dressed up in my safety vest and hard hat while carrying my toolbox, I introduced myself to the new Photo Jul 24, 12 00 52 PMfamilies.  The kids were instantly curious about the morning’s activities. While they piled they’re shoes by the coat rack and chose a yellow, blue, or green sit mat to bring along to the storytime area, I chatted with them about what kind of construction they have seen around town.

This is an interesting summer not just because of the incredibly sunny weather we’ve been having, but also because of the large amount of construction going on. There was lots to talk about including the vehicles being used, the people working on the jobsites, what they were doing, and why they were doing the jobs!  This storytime was a great opportunity for the kids to use and learn new vocabulary.  (We even talked about camping and campfires due to a couple of stream of consciousness comments…)

When everyone was settled, I brought out my toolbox and explained that I needed helping organizing the tools inside.  After all, I Photo Jul 24, 12 03 00 PMcan’t work with a messy tool box and I can’t share tools with my friends if we can’t find the right ones for the job.  I let everyone who wanted a tool choose a hammer, tape measure, wrench, pliers, or a screwdriver out of the box. Returning to the front of the group, I placed the laminated names of the tools on the floor. Meanwhile, the kids had the chance to test out their paper tools, complete with sound effects.

Then I held up a tool, said its name as I pointed to the letters on the laminated name, and invited kids with that tool to bring their tool to the front and match it.  We counted how many of each tool we had so I would know how many I could share at the jobsite.

Photo Jul 24, 12 02 16 PMWhile this activity could also work using a felt board, I decided the floor gave us more space to lay out and match all of the different tools from the box. During the second part of storytime, I left my toolbox out so kids could explore and sort the tools with each other or their caregivers.

To create the toolbox, I used an old lightweight tackle box from home that my kids use to store stamps. I then found the pictures in clipart, printed multiple copies, laminated them, and cut them out. I did the same with the tools names, but printed only single copies. (Credit: Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives resource page for construction storytime.)

This was the perfect time for a finger play! The kids love to count with their fingers and figure out rhymes, so this short rhyme worked perfectly.

Fingerplay: “Five Little Nails”

Five little nails, standing straight and steady
Here I come with my hammer ready!
Bam, bam, bam! That nail goes down.
Now there’s just four nails to pound.
(count down)

Credit: Mel’s Desk via Storytime Katie

Most of this group of 20-25 kids has been coming to storytime consistently throughout the summer, so I cajun pigsdecided to choose a longer than usual book. They are engaged and are comfortable with the format of storytime, so I thought it could work. Choosing to read this one was a bit of a gamble, but it was one of the only storytime appropriate construction books we had available. I discovered that our library doesn’t have many of the construction picture books which I found in other librarian’s storytime suggestions and living somewhat remotely makes obtaining them quickly out of the question. Several are now on the list for the next order…

I chose to read The Three Little Cajun Pigs by Mark Artell and Jim Harris (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2006). It’s a fun twist on the building theme. It’s definitely a book that should be practiced, not just read, before reading!

During storytime, I didn’t read every word, but instead kept my eye on kids to see how their attention span was doing. I incorporated dialogic reading, which was key, and asked timely questions, explained vocabulary, and commented on the expressive illustrations. Conclusion? It worked well for this group, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. (Note: My favorite Cajun retelling of a traditional tale is Artell’s Petit Rouge: a Cajun Red Riding Hood which features even more colloquialisms and requires a Cajun accent throughout.)

Whenever I read a book with more text, I always let kids know they should get comfortable because the story is longer than the others. I took a moment here to tell them what activities we were going to do afterwards to help them appreciate what was ahead.

Before reading, I also explained that this story was the retelling of an old tale that they might know. We also talked about Louisiana, where this version of The Three Little Pigs comes from.  To help them anticipate the events in the story and be able to compare this version with the one they know, I had them tell the story of the three little pigs while I acted it out with my pig and wolf finger puppets. (I had my story basket on hand in case we wanted to use the other story props, but we were too busy.)

Activity Stations:

cardboard tomorrowAll this talk about construction got these kids hungry for building! I had just the thing.

For the last couple of months I have been stockpiling cardboard boxes in various shapes and sizes and storing them in the back of the library. I taped them all closed so they would stack flat. Then today I pulled them all out and let the kids construct (and deconstruct) with them!  Yes, you can still have fun with a cardboard box. (By the way, if you haven’t seen the video about Caine’s Arcade, check it out to see what a 9 year old can do with cardboard.)

While we didn’t create an arcade, we did build towers, houses, shopping malls, and auto shops, some of which were over ten feet tall. Kids used their budding math, engineering, design, and social skills to figure out what made the buildings stand tall or fall over, what shapes fit together, and what looked cool. They also learned how to work together even when someone wanted to build and someone else was ready to smash.

Kids who weren’t building worked on safety vests for their next pretend construction job. Our local grocery store IMG_0871donated a stack of paper shopping bags that each child and caregiver cut into the shape of a vest.  They then decorated the vest with strips of orange and yellow construction paper to look like reflective tape.

To make the vest, hold the bag flat with the open end down. Cut straight up the middle from the open end to the opposite edge. This forms the front of the vest. Open put the bag and cut a hole for the little carpenter’s head starting at the edge where you ended the first cut.  Next, cut two holes in the sides of the bag for arm holes. I also tapered the bottom edges of the vest.  You can find many versions of a paper bag vest on Pinterest, where I found this one.

For younger siblings who I enthusiastically welcome to storytime, I also had construction themed coloring sheets available. These sheets offer a great opportunity to practice their writing skills!

AWE-some Computers Arrive!

AWE computersThanks to a grant from the Alaska OWL Project, my library recently installed two AWE computers in our children’s library!  There are so many nice features about these additions to our multimedia children’s library that I can see why they are in constant use by an ever-changing group of toddlers, preschoolers, kids, and adults.

1. They offer literacy games and activities for ages 2-10. (STEM games, too!)

2. They are self-contained with preinstalled games and activities, so kids and their caregivers can find valuable games to play quickly.

3. They are not connected to the internet, so users don’t need to log in.

4. The computers are touchscreen and easy to use for most ages.

5. The diverse selection of games appeals to a variety of interests.

6. We received two headsets for each computer which encourages joint media engagement. Having two headsets also allows kids to fully utilize the computers while others are able to enjoy the library in different ways.

Do you have AWE computers at your library? What are your favorite games or activities? How are you using them in your library?