What I Did in Storytime Today and How It Worked Out

Anne went to a training thing today, so I got to do her storytimes. I felt a little nervous about it, to be honest, because I’m out of practice and wanted to do a good job (Anne does excellent storytimes), but I wound up having so much fun.

Storytime #1: The Babies

For this, I searched my own blog, found this post I did on my Stories for Wee Ones at WPL, and used the rhyme and song plan I posted there. It was like visiting old friends: “Wiggle Fingers,” “Here is a Beehive,” “Five Plump Peas.” Those guys are the best. For books, I read I Like It When by Mary Murphy, We’ve All Got Bellybuttons by David Martin and Randy Cecil, and Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang. One of the babies was completely freaked out that I am not Miss Anne, but he seemed to decide that I was okay after a while. One of the babies was very wee–just five months old–and so full of smiles. There was an older sister there, too, who was about four years old and was an enthusiastic and excellent example to the smaller ones. At the end, we had playtime, for which Anne has this most excellent tube that the kids can crawl through. I wanted to crawl through it, too, but I don’t think I would fit. If I wasn’t wearing a short skirt, I might have tried it anyway. I KNEW I should have worn my yoga pants to work today.

Storytime #2: The Toddlers

I use the term “toddlers” loosely. There were maybe 20-25 kids there (Anne, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I forgot to count. I will be confessing this to you in person soon enough.), and they looked to me to range in age from about 6 months to maybe 6 years old. That one girl may have been 7 or 8. I may have the order here a little off, because I didn’t take notes as I went and made a lot of decisions as I went along, as I am wont to do.

Longer “I Wiggle My Fingers”
Seriously, how much fun is this rhyme? I’d forgotten. I had so much fun with this, we did it four times in a row. I think we’re all lucky I didn’t go on with it for the entire half hour.

The Bus for Us by Suzanne Bloom
The interactive element of this book helped me remember that it’s good to not spend the entire storytime doing one rhyme. Because books are fun, too.

“Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle”
My classic. I enjoyed watching how a group who had never heard it reacted to it.

“I Saw a Bunny Go Hop, Hop, Hop”
We did this three times. I was all about rhymes today.

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Before we read this, we counted the three mice on the cover and counted three on our fingers. It was a lot like doing the budget.

“Once There Was a Quiet Mouse”
We did this a couple times, too. The kids really liked my mouse puppet, but I hid him right away again so no one stole him or snotted on him or anything. He’s my favorite puppet, after all.

“I Saw a Snake Go By One Day”
This one is still so funny.

Cookie’s Week by Cindy Ward and Tomie dePaola
As one child observed, Cookie is a really naughty cat. Everyone seemed to enjoy the part where Cookie fell in the toilet, which is one of those things that is hilarious when it happens in a book (as opposed to when it happens in real life, but I may be the only person who has a cat who actually falls in the toilet if someone leaves the lid up).

“Little Bunny Foo Foo”
Of course.

Do Pigs Have Stripes? by Melanie Walsh
The kids were way too smart for this tricky book, per usual.

Longer “Open Them, Shut Them”
The only thing that kept me from doing this one five times in a row was the fact that our half hour was up. Too soon! Too soon!

At this point, as the kids were all standing around awkwardly, I realized I’d forgotten to bring the hand stamp they were expecting, so I ran out to Anne’s desk and stole these cool heart stickers she keeps there, which was a TOTAL WIN. Who needs stamps when you have stickers? No one, I say.

Even better? Anne asked me to do a couple storytimes again in a couple weeks!

Things That Are Happening

I have three.

Come See Lucas Get Murdered in a Shakespeare Play… FOR FREE!
Lucas will be performing in this summer’s Shakespeare at the Bowl production, Richard III. Performances will be July 6-21 at 8:00pm, no shows on Mondays or Thursdays. I am going opening night for sure, and I think the rest of you who are able to should as well. Lucas is excited about the show, and we are all just so proud of him. I will also be going to the July 14 show and can probably be talked into more. If you want to meet up,  let me know.

Vote for My Friend Terry’s Garden
Terry participated in this Garden Makeover Challenge and made her awesome yard even more awesome. I’m so proud of her, too, and I think you should go vote.

Come to My Last Stories in the Park
My last day at WPL will be July 3, which is a Stories in the Park day. I would love to have a lot of people there, so if you could come, that would be fantastic. We do the storytime from 10:30-11:00am in Ridge Park in Webster. For those who can’t come, we’ll take pictures.

Today’s Entry is Brought to You By My Achy, Achy Arm

Jason and I Doing the Stretches Part of Storytime, Even Though I Kind of Hate It

I have all these things I’d like to write about, but my arm is too sore to do so.

Curse that faulty tendon. Curse it.

Anyway, I know this looks like a photo of Jason and I maybe pretending to be airplanes, but it’s really a photo of Jason and I doing storytime stretches. I’ve mentioned before that I kind of hate the stretches, but look at me smiling and participating and everything. And it’s true that stretching is good for my faulty tendon. But still. I don’t love the stretches.

What We Did in Storytime Today and How It Worked Out

“1, 2, 3, We Are Dancing”

Whenever Jason plays this song (which he wrote), it is stuck in my head for the rest of the day. So right now, my internal soundtrack is blaring, “1, 2, 3, we are blogging now. We’re happy as can be, because we’re blogging. So sing along with me, and keep on blogging. Until we get to 1, 2, 3.” It seriously works for all daily activities. Unfortunately. Great storytime song, though.

Jason does this thing where he has the kids do stretches. During this today, one of the girls shouted at me, “Don’t listen to him, Miss A! He’s crazy!” Little does she know that the stretches were a subject of some controversy between Jason and I a few weeks ago.

My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems
Love this Elephant and Piggie book. It’s one of the most profound ones in the series, in my opinion. Adults go through this kind of thing exactly as often as kids do. Maybe more often.

“There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”
When I’m feeling good, which I was today, I like to have this exchange with the kids:

Me: Do you guys eat flies?
Kids: NO!
Me: Do you guys eat spiders?
Kids: NO!
Me: Do you guys eat cows?
Kids: NO!
Me: [raise eyebrows] You sure?

That’s when we have to move on quickly before I get in trouble.

Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems
I like this book for a lot of reasons, but what really motivates me to pull it out of the bag is how much I love saying “Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie.” The kids listened closely to the story today. One of the other things I love best about it is the richness of its vocabulary, with excellent words like “extinct,” “protest,” and “persuasive.”

“We All Join In”
Jason’s musical version of the Quentin Blake poem.

“I Saw a Snake Go By One Day”
I have been doing this in pretty much every storytime I’ve done since maybe September. I keep thinking I should give it up and move on to new ones, except it’s still making me laugh every single time I do it. And the kids laugh, too. So I’m going to keep doing it.

“Hoppity Song”
Jason’s been playing around with his arrangement of this lately, and that’s been fun. Keeps things fresh, which is especially important given my unwillingness to give up “I Saw a Snake Go By One Day.” That’s what you call teamwork.

Felt Board: Gossie by Olivier Dunrea

Some years ago, I made a felt board for Gossie by Olivier Dunrea. The book is a favorite of mine. It’s such a common story: losing a favorite thing and then finding that someone else has taken it. Dunrea has Gossie respond with the kind of generosity and grace one may aspire to but can be so hard to do, even for an adult. Then there’s the art, which draws the eye and rewards inspection. It’s the kind of book that can be read to children from birth right up through their preschool and early elementary years. It’s a great book for kids just learning how to read on their own.

Gossie would be a great storytime book, too, but the format is smaller-than-average, which works with our smaller groups but becomes a challenge for our larger groups, and most of our groups are larger.

So I made Gossie into a felt board.

Here are all the pieces in a row:

All the Pieces

Here’s a close up of Gossie as we first meet her:

"This is Gossie."

Here’s my favorite piece in the whole set:

"She wears them when she rides."

Here is poor Gossie, looking for her awesome red boots:

"She looked everywhere."

And here are Gossie and Gertie after they resolve their issues:

Gossie and Gertie

Never Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

Yesterday, when I read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems at storytime, instead of shouting the traditional “NO” at the pigeon, one little girl kept shouting, “NEVER!”

I had to pause and laugh every single time she did it.  None of the other kids switched and joined her, but she didn’t care. She just kept on: NEVER! NEVER! NEVER!

Sometimes people ask me how I can stand the repetition involved in being a children’s librarian, but to me it doesn’t feel like repetition. The best books stand up to multiple readings (and you learn which are the best through those multiple readings), and they elicit different responses from different kids and audiences.

The adults in the room are a factor, too. Sometimes they’re the ones laughing the hardest.

12 Days of Christmas Felt Board

Tonight, we’re having our annual Christmas Storytime at the library. Last year, I made a felt board for the 12 Days of Christmas, which took me FOREVER, and then I think I didn’t even blog about it.

Now I will.

I couldn’t find a set of patterns I liked for this song, so what I wound up doing was using a combination of coloring sheets and clip art as patterns to come up with images I liked. Here are the results:

The turtle dove is my favorite out of the whole set.

And, okay, those golden rings are really O’s I cut out using our Ellison machine. That was the easiest of the pieces I made.

I really like my swan a-swimming, but my lady dancing is kind of a mess. Every time I look at that piece, I think about redoing it, but it’s probably not worth it. Pretty much every time I get out a felt board story I’ve made, I think about redoing something, but this works, and we only use it a couple times a year.  

Jason did the lord a-leaping. I think he might be better at making felt people than I am, and I should probably have *him* remake the lady dancing.

The thing with the 12 Days of Christmas is that people get really fuzzy on the words after the five golden rings. If you do Christmas-themed storytimes and want the audience to sing along, this is worth the time investment–or, at least, it has been for us.

What I Did in Halloween Storytime Yesterday and How It Worked Out

Yesterday, I did that Halloween Storytime I was telling you all about. Instead of having a step-by-step plan, I brought a bunch of stuff and did what seemed best given the state of the crowd (maybe 30 kids?). Here’s what I did:

Longer “I Wiggle My Fingers”
Not Halloween-themed, but it gets us focused and working as a group.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara
This was the real keeper of the books I’d never tried in storytime before. The kids and adults laughed right out loud several times when I was reading it, and many of the adults made a point of finding me after storytime to tell me how much they liked it. It’s a combination of the illustrations being very group-friendly and a storyline that takes something that could be scary and turns it completely on its head. I’m buying a copy of this for our Story Shelf.

Annie Was Warned by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

“Five Little Pumpkins”
Classic, and one of my all time favorite fingerplays/felt board stories.

Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
This book is part of my normal storytime repertoire, and we have a puppet with removable eyes, nose, and so on to go with it. I read the book first, and then I had the kids help me reconstruct the monster’s face. Always fun.

Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming
Great book, but I absolutely should have done some kind of rhyme or fingerplay between Go Away, Big Green Monster! and this. Part of the reason I didn’t was because I didn’t have a lot of themed fingerplays, but after fifteen years, you’d think I’d have adequately learned the lesson of not overworrying the theme. Apparently I had to learn it one more time, though.

“Looking for Dracula”
I’ve never done this variation on a Bear Hunt before, and I modified the words from here. I was nervous about doing this one because I had to memorize it and had never done it, but I just kind of threw myself into it, and the kids were all “Do it again! Let’s do it again!” when I was done, so I’d call that a success.  And it was fun.

Ollie’s Halloween by Olivier Dunrea
If I had it to do over, I would have done this book first, but it still worked out okay.

The Little Old Lady Ghost PuppetWho Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams, illustrated by Megan Lloyd
Again, I use this in my normal storytimes with some regularity, and it is ever and always a hit.

We did a craft with this storytime. Colleen found the one we did, which was making a ghost puppet out of a craft stick, a coffee filter, fiberfill, and a pipe cleaner. We decorated the face with wiggle eyes and markers. The kids all needed help to assemble the craft, which I typically don’t love, but the kids and parents were clearly enjoying the process of putting them together and then naming and playing around with the ghosts. A success all around, I’d say.

What We’ve Been Doing in Storytimes Lately and How It’s Worked Out

For a variety of reasons, this fall we have converted almost entirely to drop-in storytimes, which means we never have any idea how many kids are going to show up. A couple of the storytimes have age limits, but most of them are all-ages, so we have no idea what age the children will be, either.

This has been interesting.

How I’m handling this is at the beginning of the week,  I pack a storytime bag with a lot of different books and puppets and flannel board stories and a list of rhymes. This way, I have a lot of things to choose from when the kids are in front of me, and I just kind of wing it. This has been working out well.

Jason and I are doing some of the storytimes together, and for those, we do talk in advance about at least one thing we’ll do in tandem. Our latest tandem discovery is I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. I read the bear’s part, and Jason reads all the other animals. This is a book with a twist, which not all the kids understand–it’s a bit subtle–but the ones who got it cracked right up. Because it’s funny. And a bit evil. And funny. (A shout out to Jules for letting me know about this book. She told me I would love it, and she was right.)

Another new thing we’ve done this season is put on three Preschool Dance Parties. We stole this idea from the Fairport Public Library, which is something we like to do with some regularity because those children’s librarians in Fairport are awesome. Anyway, how we did this is we made a half-hour playlist of kids’ music from CDs in our collection, played it for the kids, and danced. We’ve had a TON of kids coming–the response really surprised me. The songs that have worked best for us are the ones that have clear motions, songs like “The Mack Chicken Dance” off Big Fun by Greg & Steve (so much fun to use in any storytime) , “If You’re Happy and You Know It” off Indian Elephant Tea by The Big Kidz Band (one of the best kids’ CDs ever made, in my opinion), “Jumping and Counting” off The Irrational Anthem by Jim Gill (totally heart Jim Gill),  and “Clap Your Hands!” off No! by They Might Be Giants. It’s a fun program and a way to draw attention to kids’ music, which we have a really huge and–I’m going to go ahead and brag–excellent collection of here at WPL.

October is going to be an interesting month in storytimes because I’m going to be on vacation for a week, and then Jason’s going to be on vacation for two weeks, so we’ll each be doing all the storytimes during the times the other one is off. This sounded like a fantastic idea in August, but like so many things in life, it seems more daunting as it gets closer.

Thank goodness Terri got us a really good coffee maker this summer.

The Cornucopia

Yesterday at the end of Stories for Wee Ones, I put out the laundry basket full of toys and sat back and just watched how the babies reacted.

And how they reacted is exactly the way the tributes react to the Cornucopia in The Hunger Games.

Most of the babies lunged as best they could toward the basket, crawling or toddling or just reaching their arms out and making noise in an attempt to get their adults to take them there. They didn’t seem to have any object in their minds besides REACH BASKET.

A couple of the older babies have favorite toys in that basket that they remember, and so they got there as quick as they could, grabbed them, and scooted away.

A couple babies hung back. One attempted to flee.

In the end, the scene wound up with most of the babies around the basket, pulling toys out, grabbing them from each other, and occasionally pummeling each other with them.

I wonder if that’s how Suzanne Collins got the idea?