Toddler: Things That Go

“That was really fun,” said one of the new-to-storytime parents. And it was! With the perfect mix of stories, movement, conversation, and parent involvement, toddler storytime left us all with smiles on our faces.

Wecome Song: Hello Everybody

Action Rhyme: This Is Big
This is big, big, big (stretch hands far to sides)
This is small, small, small (cup hands together)
This is short, short, short (hold palms close vertically)
This is tall, tall, tall (hold palms far apart vertically)
This is fast, fast, fast (roll hands quickly)
This is slow, slow, slow (roll hands slowly)
This is yes, yes, yes (nod head)
This is no, no, no (shake head)

Feltboard Game: Things that Go

This game involves matching up a place and the vehicle (or dog) that goes there. The kids loved this game! I placed these felt pieces on the board first and we talked about what each of them were.

Things That Go Felt 1


Then I showed the kids the things that go, one at a time. Together we placed the felt vehicle (or dog) where it belonged. It’s amazing to see kids make sense of the world right before your eyes. What smiles! We of course made the sound that corresponded with each thing that goes.

Things That Go Felt 2

Song: If You’re Ready for a Story
… bend (to the ground) and stretch (to the sky)
… tap your toes (tap left toe and say 1, then tap right toe and say 2)
… sit down please (with slide whistle)

seals on the bus

Book: Seals on the Bus (Henry Holt, 2000)
by Lenny Hort and G. Brian Karas

Just like the Jbrary rock stars, I am a fan of singable books! I always ask kids if they know a song about a bus before we begin singing and reading this one. At least one child chimes in with “Wheels on the Bus!” I tell a little back story before singing about the family waiting for the bus on the first page because we don’t have public transportation in our community and many kids don’t know about public buses. While we sang, a group of toddlers danced and acted out each of the animals on the bus. The adults all laughed at the end when the people say “Help, help, help!”

Dance Break: Happy by Pharrell Williams
With scarves! I find reluctant dancers are more apt to dance with a scarf in their hand. Today’s group was no different. We boogied! We danced for a bit and then I counted to three on my fingers before saying “Freeze!” and pressing pause. This group is really good and the freeze game! I played about 2 of the 3 minutes of the song. I used my phone and portable speakers to play this music.

tip-tip-dig-dig-274x300Book: Tip, Tip, Dig, Dig (Boxer, 2007)
by Emma Garcia

Emma Garcia’s books (Toot Toot Beep Beep and Tap Tap Bang Bang) are all toddler crowd pleasers! The combination of easy to read large text, action words, and fun vehicle images in this work vehicle delight are perfect for small and larger crowds. It even catches the attention of wandering toddlers. This one worked nicely with the This is Big, Big, Big action rhyme because we could easily replicate many of the vehicle actions with our bodies since we had used them in the earlier activity (“Let’s roll our arms around each other fast, like we did earlier!” Now, let’s roll them slowly!”)

This song gets kids working their fingers, build anticipation and strengthens number sense as kids count from 1 to 10. They are so ready for bubbles when this song is done! I blow bubbles by hand and make sure all of the little ones get a chance to pop some. We pop them in the air, down on the ground, with our elbows, our thumbs, our toes, our chins, you name it.

Action Song: 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 into bed.
On the second go through I ask questions like “Can you find your shoulders? Where is your belly (Anna)? I also will accentuate the ‘in’ and ‘out’ hand movements because that part of the song can go by quickly without little ones understanding what is in and out. I’ll even add in a ‘beep beep’ when I point to my tummy.

Goodbye Rhyme: Wave Hi, Wave low

Looking for more toddler storytime ideas? Visit my Toddler Themes page.



STEAM-y Storytime 1: Things that Go! Go! Go!

Kids finish school towards the end of May here. In years past we have started our summer reading program the first week in June, leaving a gap. I have wondered if we lose kids this way, so this year we began the program the Monday after school gets out, turning the eight-week program into a ten-week extravaganza. So far so good.  More kids (and teens and adults) are registered and they are enthusiastic!

Another change, is better integration of the preschool storytime program that we offer every week of the year into the summer program. Instead of the habitual storytime that happens every week, I want them to be special and relevant and engaging and the Heavy Equipment Show and Tellhappenin’ place to be! Storytimes are generally well-attended, and during the summer its economical to use the well-established storytime venue to provide summer-related programming especially for young kids instead of adding programs to a very full schedule  that includes events for kids, teens, and adults.

As mentioned in previous posts, I decided to develop a series of STEAM-y Storytimes for June and July (our summer program ends August 3rd) to draw attention to storytime and to try highlighting valuable STEAM (STEM + Art) elements in the storytime setting. The Dig Into Reading theme we adopted for this year allows me to nicely connect storytime and the overall program.

Stories that go…

To go along with the Heavy Equipment Show and Tell we were hosting on the weekend, this week’s storytime was all about things that go. But first, I started storytime with the Rhyme Cube again. Kids really like the idea of choosing songs, and of course, the rhyming songs are great for kids’ phonological awareness!Photo Mar 08, 10 41 51 AM

To introduce the theme of the day, I brought out my portable flannelboard which was already set up with “things that go,” including the settings for each. The kids immediately called out that things weren’t as they should be. I had the things that go all mixed up! A boat was pulling a dogsled, a train in the clouds, and so forth. Together, we got them all sorted out in no time at all. Time for stories! Find the templates here ThingsThatGo1 and ThingsThatGo2.

We read just two books this week, since we were so busy giggling and talking about the two I selected. Two may not seem like very much, but I don’t set an absolute number of books to get don't let the pigeonthrough during storytime.  Instead I focus on how we read the books. Some weeks we read three or even four, and some we read less.

We were recently gifted a big book version of Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Hyperion Books for Children, 2003). It amazes me just how much kids enjoy this story, even if they have heard it a hundred times! With the large format pages, simple but expressive illustrations, and the interactive story, it’s ideal for reading together as a group. Thanks, Mo Willems! And if you haven’t seen the related app, Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App, check it out.

Before the next story, it was time to jump up and get our legs going! When I unfurled this traffic light on the flannelboard, the kids pointed out that it was like the single traffic light in town! Despite the rarity of traffic signals, kids still knew what to do when we marched our way through this action rhyme.

Green Says Go!Photo Mar 08, 10 42 23 AM

Green Says, “Go!” (march fast in place)
Go! Go! Go!
Yellow says, “Slow.” (march slow)
Slow… slow… slow…
And Red says, “Stop!” (freeze stop)
GO! GO! GO! (march fast)
Slow… slow… slow (march slow)
STOP!!! (stop)

Credit: Sturdy for Common Things

Our last story was David Shannon’s Duck on a Bike (Blue Sky Press, 2002). As Duck rides a bike past the other farm animals they lots to say and think about Duck’s peculiar behavior. The repetitive text and easy duck on a biketo identify animals are a treat for kids, as is the second to last page which features all of the animals happily riding bikes unbeknownst to the child owners inside the farm house.

The STEAM-y Storytime format includes two or three activity stations after the traditional story segment. For this week, we included three stations and the average sized crowd moved from one to the other smoothly. Most children and their caregivers tried out each station. I didn’t set a time at each station, but designed the time as free exploration. With a teen volunteer on hand, the format worked very well.

Things That Go Activity Stations:

Photo May 28, 2 51 58 PMPaper Airplanes

I set up an area in the children’s library that was dedicated to paper airplane building. We have several Photo May 28, 2 54 15 PMpaper airplane design books including the Paper Airplanes series by Christopher Harbo (Capstone Press, 2011) which are written for various age levels, so I displayed those at the station along with paper in a variety of weights and colors. Paper clips, tape, and fasteners were also on hand so kids could experiment with weight distribution as they tested their planes.

Once their planes were engineered, kids had a chance to see how they flew. A long area between stacks offered a great spot to lay tape at various intervals so kids could measure how far their designs could fly. There was even a contest or two!

Car Color MatchingCar Color Matching Station 

Many of the younger kids were immediately attracted to the car color matching station. I placed a basket of toy cars and trucks in the middle of the table with colored construction paper in a circle around it. Kids quickly started placing cars on the sheets based on their body color. I encouraged caregivers to help the little ones count the matching vehicles and also find other ways of matching the cars based on the color of their wheels, windows, and racing numbers, for example.

Did kids play with the cars after they matched them? Of course!

Town CollagePhoto Mar 08, 10 52 24 AM

The art station was all about creating a collage which I found over at Sturdy for Common Things. For this station, I set out large pieces of blue construction paper for the backdrop along with wavy black paper strips to represent a curvy road. Kids used the magazine scraps, other construction paper, and cotton balls to create buildings, trees and clouds/fog. I cut out small cars and glued them to popsicle sticks so kids could drive them on their newly crafted roads, turning their artwork into something interactive.

Another station idea…

At other “Things That Go” storytimes, I have also provided materials to make toy cars for racing on a race track made out of blue tape on the carpeted floor. Creating the cars and racing them offered great DSC02389opportunities for language development and using their budding narrative and social skills as kids raced around the track together.

toilet rolls
brass fasteners
black paper circles
markers or crayons
any other items for decorating the cars

Image Credits: Neat Solutions, Little Big Shots

Summer Reading Program 2013: part 2

Phew! Planning season seems to have come and gone while I wasn’t looking. School is finished in just two weeks and the summer reading program begins right after Memorial Day. I have the STEAM-y Storytime line-up ready to go and posted for all to see. While some of the multiple stations that I am cooking up for each week are still in the works, I thought I’d share the themes. Maybe you even have a suggestion or two! I’ll post the details as we do the programs.

Our library offers two storytimes each week, year round. I plan and lead both of them most of the time (we have two community members who visit for the preschool storytime also).  One is a preschool storytime and the other is a mostly toddler group. For the summer, we’ll be focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) in the preschool program. Since we are using the Dig Into Reading theme, many of the storytime themes fit nicely. I even have a teen volunteer this year excited to help with the storytime activities. The preschoolers will love him!

This summer’s storytime themes:

Things That Go! I have used a vehicle related theme for storytime before, but not for awhile. It is a hit with everyone! There are lots of great books to read on vehicles, bikes, and anything that moves. We’ll make cars for a race track, have a car matching station, and make paper airplanes.

This one will go nicely with the Heavy Equipment Show and Tell we have planned for the beginning of the summer program. We’ll be closing off the side street near the library so four construction vehicles can park where families can get a closer look. A new excavator owned by the city a nd a dump truck will be among the vehicles on display. We’ll hand out cards with stats for each vehicle to provide a kind of self-guided tour since we’ll only have a couple of staff and volunteers on hand. It will also be a great time to sign up families who haven’t had a chance to get involved.

Under the Sea, Matey! We are a coastal community so an ocean theme, with a few pirates thrown in, is a perfect fit. We’ll include a sink or float experiment station among other fun activities. This is a great time to share Mango Languages, a digital language learning tool, with families since our library provides free access to the site and app. Mango offers pirate in their list of languages to learn and it is a kid favorite.

We All Dig Dinosaurs! What schedule of storytimes would be complete without dinosaurs? I purchased some small plastic dinosaur skeletons for reading prizes this year as well as a handful to use in an excavation station. We also took the opportunity to dig up some new-to-us dino books for the collection. What do you have planned?

Plants: How Does Your Garden Grow? In June, we’ll still be planting here and the greening of Alaska will be just getting underway.  Gardens are a big part of many families’ summertime  activities, so we’ll celebrate at storytime with matching games and fruit and vegetable crafts.

Let’s Mix It Up With Colors! I’ve been looking forward to using some of the great suggestions from Amy Koester’s Color Science for Preschoolers ALSC blog post. I thought I would add it to the schedule and get kids mixing, painting, and experimenting!

Independence Day! Preschool storytime will happen on July 3rd this year, so we’ll be celebrating the national holiday a day early. Last Fall, I heard about a great picture book ideal for sharing at storytime, and I’ll use it this year. The title? Betsy Ross by Becky White and Megan Lloyd (Holiday House, 2011). Activities for this one are still being cultured in the petri dish of storytime planning….

Digging Up Trouble With Trickster Tales Trickster tales are some of my favorite books to read aloud. When done respectfully, the stories shared from other cultures can be a great teaching opportunity. Alaska has many such tales and we’ll be including some of them in this storytime. Activities still in the works, so stay tuned!

Creepy Crawly Bugs! Local naturalists will be bringing local downed Spruce logs for scientific exploration during this storytime.  We’ll investigate, deconstruct, and identify the creepy crawlies inside. Bringing the outdoors in will be a blast!

Under Construction! We sponsor a LEGO® contest every summer, and this year will be no different. We’ll even bring LEGO®s to storytime to let kids build towers, castles, bridges, and more while they also build their literacy skills! It is amazing what narrative skills and vocabulary can be developed while playing with these building blocks.

What’s Under Our Feet? Rocks and Caves Several years ago, I stumbled on a great layers earthearth activity in a Montessori book. (I’m still looking for that book….) It is a play doh model of the Earth and all of its layers wrapped inside. Once the ball is made with the layers inside, the ball is cut down the middle and each layer is visible. My kids loved it and I know my young friends at the library will too!