Preschool: Opposites

Felt OThis week;s theme was opposites at all three storytimes I led at the library and on the road!

What opposite storytime would be complete without the magical letter “O”? It’s a letter that can be a number and a shape as well!  (…and a snowman’s hat a preschooler enthusiastically pointed out!) It’s fun to find the letter “O” in books and on the displayed alphabet art in our library. It’s also easy to make the shape with our bodies and to write for many of the story time kids. So many options. Two boys by the name of Oliver and Owen were particularly pleased with the felt “O” I cut out and displayed.

To get storytime started, we talked about what an opposite is and came up with several examples. Big and little, up and down, and in and out were all mentioned. As more families trickled in on the grey day, we got started with our first of many songs.

Action song: Open, Shut Them

Action song: This is Big, Big, Big

eric carle oppositesBook: Opposites by Eric Carle (Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin Young Readers Group, ©2007)

This is a great conversation piece for an opposite storytime, and a good first book. It contains images, one word text describing the illustration, and then a flap to lift to find the opposite. It’s simple, but the lift the flap effect reinforces the concept of opposite and how two things so different can be related. Most recognize the artwork of Eric Carle so that makes it an instant crowd pleaser, even without a storyline.

We asked “What do you think is the opposite of…?” throughout the sharing of this book. An especially interesting opposite for the preschool crowd during my outreach visit was young-old. They thought about that one for awhile!

While the rest of the country enjoys Alaska’s winter weather, we are suffering through ice and rain. But, we’re dreaming of more snow and the chance to make more snow creatures. This song will hopefully keep us in the spirit and ready for the anticipated white stuff!

Action Song: Once There Was a Snowman
Once there was a snowman, a snowman, a snowman.
Once there was a snowman tall, tall, tall. (stand on tippy toes, reaching for the ceiling)
In the sun he melted, he melted, he melted. (slowly lower arms and begin to sink towards floor)
In the sun he melted small, small, small. (crouch into a ball and be as small as you can be on the floor)
But,,, (repeat).
Credit: Jbrary (see the video)

Instead of singing the usual “Get Ready for a Story” song, I learned a new action rhyme that worked very well with this week’s theme. We repeated this game each time we read a new book.

Action Rhyme: Eyes Open, Eyes Closed
Eyes open, Eyes closed
Wiggle your fingers, Wiggle your nose
Thumbs up, Thumbs down
Make a smile, Make a frown
Wiggle, clap, Wiggle, snap
Let your hands fly right to your lap.
Credit: with kiddos @ the library via Storytime Underground’s 1st Pimp My Storytime Finale post

ittybittycoverBook: Itty Bitty by Cece Ball (Candlewick Press, 2009).

This is a sweet book about a dog who could fit in the hand of a toddler or the pocket of a preschooler. Itty Bitty chews a home out of an enormous bone (of a dinosaur, we decided) and then decorates it with teeny weeny furniture after a shopping trip at a local store’s teeny weeny department store. This is a surprisingly perfect pick for storytime. Itty Bitty uses lots of new vocabulary and the opposite of small and big is explored in a variety of ways. Who doesn’t love a tiny dog who can ride a bike?

Christmas came early to the library! The Friends of the Library bought us movement scarves! With the help of a librarian on the ALSC listserv, I came across the perfect song for dancing and wiggling this morning. I played “Boogie Woogie Hand Jive” (Kids on the Move, 2000) by Merry Music Maker on my phone which was connected via bluetooth to a portable speaker. We danced and moved our scarves according to the actions in the simple to follow and nicely paced lyrics.

After the first song, I asked everyone if they wanted one more and the answer was a resounding yes. We picked up our scarves again and danced to the song: “Opposites are Opposite” (Let’s Get Silly, 2005) by Eric Lettau. This song is less about following the singer’s instructions and more about doing some free dancing. I demonstrated some suggested moves, but the kids didn’t need them. Everyone was warmed up and ready to go.

Clean pigs Dirty Pigs Felt

With the wiggles waggled, it was time for another story. This time I brought out the felt board.

Feltboard: Five Clean and Dirty Pigs
(tune: Five Green and Speckled Frogs)
Five pigs so squeaky clean,
cleanest pigs you’ve ever seen,
Wanted to go outside and play.
Oink, oink!
One jumped into the mud,
landed with a great big THUD! (clap)
now there are 4 pigs squeaky clean.
3 pigs so squeaky clean…etc.
Credit: Mel’s Desk via Miss Mary Liberry

Note: The toddlers kept making off with my pigs before we could get this song/story started at the toddler storytime. Change of plans! I had one child take care of the felt mud across the story time area from where I was standing and then the other kids took individual pigs over to the mud as we sang. It worked out well and kept the little ones’ interest. Those toddlers really love playing with the felt pieces! (see the toddler version of Opposites storytime for the full plan.)

After another round of Eyes Open, Eyes Closed, we read our last book, The Opposite by Tom MacRae and Elena Odriozola (Peachtree, 2006). This book needs an introduction because it may be a little abstract for the younger story time kids, but it is one of the few books that explores the opposite concept directly in the context of a story. (I did not read it to the toddlers.)

The book is about Nate, a boy who wakes up to find “the opposite” walking on his ceiling. In this story the opposite is a tangible thing that does the opposite of what Nate says. The opposite makes a mess, and is both clumsy and annoying. Nate realizes that “the opposite” does whatever Nate says, causing lots of trouble at home and at school. “I wish you would go away” makes “the opposite” stay, for example. Nate comes up with a plan to say the opposite and make amends. The story is interesting, but is best read after the opposite concept is explored. The illustrations are colorful and easy to share with a group because of the amount of white space on each page.

Need more opposites story time suggestions? Check out Jbrary’s opposites board on Pinterest.

Opposite OctopusActivity: The O is now an Octopus!

I found this one at Fantastic Fun and Learning.


  • Cardstock in various colors, folded in half with half of an “O” traced on one side
  • Construction paper, folded in two 2″ x 4″ rectangles with wavy stripes traced on one side (creates two legs)
  • Jewels
  • Black circles (about 1 in. diameter)
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Crayons and markers for coloring the octopus or on provided coloring sheets




Photo Credits:
Opposites – Scholastic
The Opposite – Picture Book Junkies

Toddlers: Snow

Today’s storytime was wishful thinking… It is actually warmer than yesterday when the preschoolers explored the snow storytime! These poor toddlers. Winter is late in coming here in Southcentral Alaska and the toddlers aren’t snow experienced enough to know what fun lies ahead. We faked it and talked more about cold weather and rain than snow. But, really when is the snow coming? After all, we don’t live in Seattle…

Welcome: Hello Everybody
(clap hands on lap and then together, clap twice on the word “you”)
Hello everybody, how are you?
Hello everybody, how are you?
It’s such a lovely day, I’m so glad you came to play,
Hello everybody, how are you?

Fingerplay: Dance Your Fingers Up
Dance your fingers up,
Dance your fingers down.
Dance your fingers in and out,
And all around the town.

Dance them on your shoulders,
Dance them on your head.
Dance them on your tummy
then tuck them in to bed.

Winter Hokey Pokey
You put your mittens in, you take your mittens out. (hands in circle)
You put your mittens in, and shake them all about.
You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around,
That’s what it’s all about!
…boots (foot in circle), hat (head in circle), coat (whole self)…

Fingerplay: Mitten Weather
Thumbs in the thumb place, (thumbs out)
Fingers all together.  (fingers up all together with thumbs hidden)
This is the song we sing in mitten weather.

Book: Jingle Jingle by Nicola Smee (Boxer Books, 2008)
Smee’s two books featuring horse, cat, dog, pig and duck are toddler pleasers. This one’s cover is deceiving. It is not a Christmas book, but includes some great sound effects and snow.

Movement: Bubbles! (we pretended the bubbles were snowflakes and rain drops)
1 little 2 little 3 little bubbles
4 little, 5 little, 6 little bubbles
7 little 8 little, 9 little bubbles
10 little bubbles go pop, pop, pop.

Flannelboard: I Made a Little Snowman (adapted)
I made a friendly snowman,
I made him big and round.
I made him from a snowball,
I rolled upon the ground.
He has two eyes, a nose, a mouth,
A lovely scarf of red.
He even has some buttons,
And a hat upon his head.

20131114-153754.jpgI have 15-25 toddlers each week these days and I let whoever wants to help me tell flannelboard stories hold felt pieces. The toddlers who helped today insisted that the snowballs sit next to each other at the beginning and then they were moved on top of one another to build the snowman. This is how it ended up. Nice job, don’t you think?

This week, several kids did help or watch, but the other kids couldn’t see or lost interest and wandered off.To bring everyone back to the group, I passed out the rhythm sticks I had on hand. I made them out of dowels so they are lightweight, replacements are easy to make, and they are fairly indestructible.

Action Song: Clickety Clack (with rhythm sticks)
Clickety, Clickety Clack
Clickety, Clickety Clack
Click Clack, Click Clack
Clickety Clickety Clack.

Action Song: Snow (or rain) is Falling (with rhythm sticks)
Snow is falling, falling down; Snow is falling hit the ground. (Move sticks up and down, tapping a simple beat)
Flurries, flurries (repeat with a slow beat, slowly said)
Snowing, snowing (repeat with a faster beat)
Blizzard (Repeat, tapping loudly and with a very fast beat. I like to get kids tapping on the floor for this one.)

Action Song: Ring Around the Rosie (group forms a circle)
Ring (or skip or hop, etc.) around the rosie (move as a group to the left or right)
Pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down! (squat down on ground)

The cows are in the meadow (slap hands on floor while staying down on the ground)
Eating buttercups
Thunder, lightning,
We all jump up! (jump up)

Goodbye: Tickle the Clouds
Tickle the Clouds.  Tickle Your Toes.
Turn Around,
And Tickle Your Nose! Reach down low. Reach up High.
Storytime’s over, wave goodbye!

Play: Stacking Blocks like Mega Bloks: First Builders