Family: Bugs

What happens when a storytime guest doesn’t make it? Bug Storytime!

Everyone should have a storytime in their bag, so to speak, ready for unplanned events whether at your own library or at another location. This is one of the storytime plans I keep handy and it works nicely. Who doesn’t love bugs?

We started with the song cube. It provides instant singing and moving ideas, regardless of the theme, and invites the kids to be actively involved in storytime. It is also a great icebreaker for new families that aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves at the beginning.

Next we talked about bugs and insects and bugs that aren’t insects (arachnids for example). Kids were a little sad when I told them spiders were bugs, but not actually insects, which made me break into song (Itsy Bitsy Spider, of course). The kids quickly followed along! To keep the smiles going, we also sang the opposite, Biggy Wiggy Spider using our whole bodies.

We read three books this week, but there are many more that would work well for this storytime. Most of them are common in any library collection so you can find something at the last minute.

Insect by L A Mound (DK Publishing, 2004)
This book offers great illustrations for talking about the common anatomical features of insects. Any nonfiction title that offers high quality photographs works well.

DK Insects Photo credit:

DK Insects Photo credit:

Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2008)
This book, and the several related titles, are popular with both girls and boys. Each title shows ladybug girl using her imagination and dealing with the emotional aspect of childhood experienced by many kids.

Ladybug Girl Photo credit:

Ladybug Girl Photo credit:

Bugs Galore by Peter Stein and Bob Staake (Candlewick Press, 2012)
This book’s rhyming text and bright images make for a fun read. As a group we enjoyed playing versions of I Spy… a blue bug or a flying bug, for example. Instead of kids running up to point to the bug, I asked them to use their words to describe for the rest of us where the bug was on the page.

Bugs Galore Photo credit:

Bugs Galore Photo credit:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Philomel Books, 1987)
A timeless book that kids love and delight in being able to predict the story and read along.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Photo credit:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Photo credit:

Other ideas:
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema
Butterfly Butterfly: A Book of Colors by Petr Horacek
I Love Bugs! by Emma Dodd
Beetle Bop by Denise Fleming
Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
Alphabet of Insects story app by Oceanhouse Media in collaboration the Smithsonian could be read in parts on a large screen


In between stories we played a game of Simon Says, bug style. I found the idea on Jbrary’s Bug and Insects Storytime Pinterest Board (check out the board for other related storytime reads and songs).  I couldn’t find the actual cards seen on the board, but I had time to make my own quickly using clip art. The game was quite a hit and got us all moving in creepy crawly ways.


We also danced around the children’s library to the Caterpillar Conga by Tim Russ & Jedda Roskilly from their Bugsters Tunes & Tales album (played on my iPhone and broadcast on portable speakers).

We had three stations this week that were easy to put together with items I keep on hand.

Fingerprint Spiders
Tinker Lab has a nice write up about this craft and I used a modified version of the project based on the materials I found in my craft stash.
black ink pads (2)
thin black pens
googly eyes
watercolor paper (card stock will work) cut into 1/4 page (or postcard size pieces)
sink nearby or wet cloths to wipe ink’d fingers

Fingerprint Spiders

Fingerprint Spiders 2

Butterfly Sensory Tub
I like to include activities that offer experiences, but not always a take home product. Sensory tubs are always popular with a wide range of ages and I love the bug spin on this one from No Time for Flash Cards. Noodles need to be prepared in advance with time to dry overnight. This activity could be used in a bug storytime, color storytime, or anytime!

Bowtie pasta
Food coloring
Ziploc bags
Rimmed cookie sheets
Penne pasta (not dyed)
Plastic dish tubs
Plastic spoons
Measuring cups or other small cups
Colored plates
Small tongs

Butterfly Sensory Tub

I invited kids and caregivers to sort the butterflies by color using these colored plates from Ikea, spoons, and measuring cups. You could also use play tongs. Most kids just played with the noodles using their hands, but some took on the sorting challenge.

Butterfly Sensory Tub Coloring Sorting

Snail on a Leaf 
I did offer another craft station at which kids could make simple snails. Having multiple stations at storytime can be a lot of action and prep sometimes, but with large crowds and small tables, a third activity provides additional options to address different interests and prevent waiting. I found this craft at Art For Young Children.

Lightweight paper in several different colors for snail
Green paper for leaves (could be lightweight or heavyweight paper)
White glue
snail and leaf template from Art for Young Children  (I copied the template on to the colored paper before storytime)
Crayons and markers for adding color and decoration (optional)

Toddlers: Colors (variation)

Colors is a theme I return to often in storytime, especially with toddlers. Here is another version of the theme. What’s different about this storytime is the adaptation of the song “If You’re Wearing” and the sensory activity we enjoyed after stories and songs.

Welcome: Hello Everybody

Fingerplay: Open Shut Them

This next rhyme/song is familiar to many of you. When I have used it with toddlers in the past, the group has had trouble with it. Little ones respond slower than adults and need enough time to identify the color and find it on their clothing, which can be a lot of time. Then many of them stand up and turn around regardless of whether or not they are wearing the color. Sometimes this combination can turn the activity into chaos and no one can remember the point of the song and toddlers start to lose interest.Color ChipsI decided to go with the toddlers flow and create laminated color chips out of construction paper scraps for the group so we all had the same colors. It served the purpose of teaching or reinforcing color identification and allowed us the chance to get up and move together without confusion! The kids were all so proud and delighted in finding the color I said allowed and doing the actions that followed.

Red Keynote Slide

I used a keynote presentation I made on my iPad to show the color for each verse. I pointed out to caregivers that including text at the bottom of each color slide andpointing to it helps kids understand that text has meaning. I also held up my color chip next to the iPad screen so they could see the match.

Action Rhyme: If You’re Holding…
Red, red is the color I see
If you’re holding red then show it to me.
Stand up. Spin around.
Show me your red and then sit back down on the ground.
(blue, yellow, green)

The toddlers were really ready for a story at this point so we sung a few quick verses of this transition song. I selected actions that connected the song and the book we were about to read.

Action Song: If You’re Ready for a Story
(Tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It)
If you’re ready for a story, flap your wings!
If you’re ready for a story, flap your wings!
If you’re ready for a story,
If you’re ready for a story,
If you’re ready for a story, flap your wings!
…meow like a cat
… shake and wiggle
… sit down please

red hen

The Red Hen Photo Credit:

Book: The Red Hen by Rebecca & Ed Emberley (Roaring Brook Press, 2010)
I’ve used this book before with both toddlers and preschoolers with great success. I chose it this week because of the illustrator’s excellent use of color to create expressive characters that draw readers into the story.

Movement: Bubbles!

I have a couple of new families with infants that are regularly joining us for storytime. I also have some grandparents that bring their toddlers. Both sometimes have trouble getting to the floor for the second verse of this song, so I recommend that they stomp on the ground with their feet while we slap our hands on the floor or they can clap along.

Movement: Ring Around the Rosie
Ring (or skip or hop, etc.) around the rosie (group moves in circle formation holding hands)
Pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!

The cows are in the meadow (kneel or sit on the ground and slap hands on floor)
Eating buttercups
Thunder, lightning,
We all jump up! (jump up)

Activity: Sensory Tubs

I bring out a special toddler activity every so often for the toddlers. When I do, I usually end the storytime portion of the program a few minutes early so the whole program runs for about 30 minutes, allowing families the scheduled amount of time if they have somewhere to be. When I bring out these activities I usually stay a bit longer, allowing extra exploration time. This activity will also require a few minutes with a broom or vacuum!

This week I brought out the colored butterfly noodles I made for a Family: Bugs storytime early in the summer and also brought out tubs filled with colored rice. The toddlers loved filling measuring cups with the rice and noodles, the babies loved watching, and the older siblings who came along were great participants, helping the toddlers and even playing in the rice themselves! Everyone needs a chance to play with colored rice.

The parents were thrilled to get the instructions on how to make colored rice and noodles at home. It’s super simple and I used vinegar in place of alcohol to get the food coloring onto the rice and noodles. My daughter helped me dye the rice at home several days before storytime so that it was nice and dry of the little ones.

Colored Rice