Toddler Storytime: Hide & Seek

One of my group’s favorite activities is our hide-and-seek flannel board, inspired by this project from Miss Merry Liberry. They love it so much, as well as searching for hidden objects in our other books, that I decided to build a storytime around it!

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Books Read:

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox & Judy Horacek
Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow
All Ears, All Eyes by Richard Jackson & Katherine Tillotson

Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”
To the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” We use the ASL sign for “hello” in the first verse.

This is the way we wave hello,
Wave hello, wave hello,
This is the way we wave hello
So early in the morning.

Repeat with clap our hands, stomp our feet, jump around.

Discussion & Sign: I explained that today’s storytime would be all about using your eyes and ears to find hidden objects, then we practiced our sign for Look. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: Where is the Green Sheep? A classic book that also tackles the topic of opposites. As we read, I asked the kids to think about where a green sheep might like to hide.

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Action Song: “Roly Poly”
One of my favorite action songs from JBrary, and a great way to reinforce the opposite pairs introduced in Green Sheep.

Fingerplay: “Open, Shut Them”

Book 2: Have You Seen Elephant?. A sweet book about a boy who decides to play hide and seek with an elephant, and then cannot find him anywhere (despite the animal’s size and lack of skill). This is a fun one for the kids, as the elephant is featured on each page in obvious and increasingly absurd hiding places. The watercolor illustrations are bright and beautiful, perfect for panning to a crowd.

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Flannel Board: “Little Mouse, Little Mouse”
We had to include a hide-and-seek game! This time, we were looking for a mouse in a house. I made nine different houses in different colors, then hid a mouse behind one and various animals behind some of the others, making sure to leave a few empty. Before checking each house, we asked: “Little mouse, little mouse, are you in the [color] house?”

512bkn-izkl-_sx356_bo1204203200_Book 3: Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt. I really, really wanted to use All Eyes, All Ears because it’s so beautiful inside, but it’s a very quiet story — great for bedtime, but not for a rambunctious storytime group. I had to sub in something more exciting, and Shark in the Park worked well. It also allowed me to repeat a popular activity from our shark-themed storytime…

Activity: “Sherman the Shark”
A project inspired by Sunflower Storytime. I used tacky glue to adhere an old white basket to the back of a cardboard shark. This allows the shark to stand on its own, and acts as a “net” to catch fish. I cut out some creatures and had the kids “fish” for them by picking them out of a blue basket, then we recited the following rhyme: “I’m Sherman the Shark and I’m so hungry! Someone put a nice red crab in my tummy!” We repeated the actions for all of the critters — a green turtle, an orange seahorse, a pink squid, etc.

Closing Rhyme: “Wave Hi, Wave Low”
The version we use, with the ASL sign for goodbye:

I think it’s time, we’ve got to go,
So wave your elbows, wave your toes!
Wave your knees, wave your lips,
Blow me a kiss with your fingertips!
Wave your ears, wave your hair,
Wave your hips and your derriere.
Wave your fingers way up high,
Wave a hand and say goodbye!


Wrapping Up: Another great group, with 22 people and a few new faces. The hide-and-seek themed worked beautifully, and the kids had a great time scanning the pages for “missing” objects. I wish I’d been able to incorporate All Eyes, All Ears, but it just wasn’t right for this group. Shark in the Park worked much better.

Toddler Storytime: Mother’s Day

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, we celebrated moms, grand-moms, and caregivers of all kind. We also incorporated a (very) simple craft at the end of today’s session.

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Books Read:

The Biggest Kiss by Joanna Walsh & Judi Abbot
Nope! A Tale of First Flight by Drew Sheneman
Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino & Stephen Kellogg

Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”
To the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” We use the ASL sign for “hello” in the first verse.

This is the way we wave hello,
Wave hello, wave hello,
This is the way we wave hello
So early in the morning.

Repeat with clap our hands, stomp our feet, jump around.

Discussion & Sign: I asked the kids if they knew what holiday we’d be celebrating this weekend, and then we talked about the things our moms, grandmas, and caregivers do for us: tucking us into bed, making our lunches, kissing our bruises, etc. Today, we learned the ASL sign for Love. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: The Biggest Kiss.  A sweet book about different types of kisses between different types of creatures, that ends with a kiss from the reader. Walsh also has a companion book, The Perfect Hug.

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Action Song: “Skinnamarink.”  An old camp favorite. Somehow, I’ve made it through nine months of storytimes without using this once. We practiced all of our hand motions together, including our ASL sign for love, and then ran through this twice.

Fingerplay: “Open, Shut Them”

Book 2: Is Your Mama a Llama?  A classic story about a baby llama asking different animals about their mamas. Not only does this book have a built-in guessing game (always a hit), but we also own it in big book form, which I haven’t used with this group before. It was a bit cumbersome, but they loved how big the pictures were. When I asked if everyone could see, and one little boy ran straight up the book, pressed his face to the page and bellowed: “I can see it!”

Matching Activity: “Who’s My Mama?”
I knew I wanted to incorporate some kind of activity into this session using different animal babies. Thankfully, Jen in the Library already came up with a great matching game! I created seven animal “pairs” using clipart, cut and laminated them, and distributed one animal to each child. We used Jen’s rhyme, copied below, to try and identify each animal.

This baby makes a mooing sound
when his mother’s not around.
Calf is the name of this baby.
What is his mother called?

Once we’d found both the “mama” and her “baby,” I had the kids stash their animal back inside a paper barn I’d made. I decided to use this in lieu of crafting another flannel board, and because it worked so well during my shark storytime.

To make this, I printed a clipart barn onto cardstock, reinforced it with a second piece of cardstock, and glued the edges to an old plastic basket (we have those in abundance at my library, my supervisor saves everything). Because the barn was a bit too short for the basket, I added some blue paper in the upper corners to serve as sky, and also printed some pictures of hay to paste on the inside. The kids love these types of activities, and the baskets are a big hit. For one, they provide built-in storage for all the pieces we need, and they’re also a great 3D prop to make the story come alive. I wish I’d thought of making a barn earlier — this is one prop I’ll definitely use again.

Book 3: Nope! An adorable book about a baby bird who’s afraid to leave his nest. This book is largely wordless, but Jessica from Storytime in the Stacks made an awesome video demonstrating, for rookies like me, how to use a wordless picture book in storytime. I’d originally earmarked this for use during a bird-themed storytime in the summer, but it worked wonderfully in today’s session, too.

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One of only two words in the book.

Flannel Board & Song: “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”
Sometimes, mom has to refer things to a professional. This is always a hit.

Craft: “You Have My Heart” — Mother’s Day Cards!
Following storytime today, I invited the kids to make Mother’s Day cards for whomever they wanted. I pre-cut large hearts on our Cricut Machine, scored them, and added a simple message inside. Once everyone had a heart, I brought out crayons, stickers, stamp pads and ink so they could decorate and personalize their cards. I’ve been looking for a craft to do with this group for a while, but because my group skews toward infants, it had to be something simple. This project, with the cutting and folding already done, worked perfectly. One of my younger patrons was very excited because, according to his mom: “he’s not often invited to use markers.” In the end, they opted for crayons.

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Closing Rhyme: “Wave Hi, Wave Low”
The version we use, with the ASL sign for goodbye:

I think it’s time, we’ve got to go,
So wave your elbows, wave your toes!
Wave your knees, wave your lips,
Blow me a kiss with your fingertips!
Wave your ears, wave your hair,
Wave your hips and your derriere.
Wave your fingers way up high,
Wave a hand and say goodbye!


Wrapping Up: I’m not a huge fan of traditional books about family, so I tried to choose books that were more abstract (The Biggest Kiss, Nope!). I wasn’t sure how well those would go over, but in truth none of the books were particularly embraced today — my group was just too big. All of my regulars showed up, and showed up early, plus about ten visitors. From the outset, the energy was high and the attention spans were compromised.

Despite the chaos, everyone seemed to have a good time, even if things weren’t as seamless as I would have liked. I’m actually glad I had a craft planned today, because it split the group into two slightly-more-manageable factions. And I had juuuuuust enough animals for our matching game — close call.

Toddler Storytime: Bears

Bears! For whatever reason, this is one of my favorite storytime themes. I’ve done it several times now, and I always have fun with it. Maybe it’s because there are so many awesome books about bears, or maybe because I sometimes feel my spirit animal is a bear. At any rate, I needed a trusted, reliable theme to whip out during school vacation week (after the February-fiasco-of-which-we-do-not-speak): enter bears.

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Books Read:

Welcome Home, Bear by Il Sung Na
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. & Eric Carle
Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera

Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”
To the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” We use the ASL sign for “hello” in the first verse.

This is the way we wave hello,
Wave hello, wave hello,
This is the way we wave hello
So early in the morning.

Repeat with clap our hands, stomp our feet, jump around.

Discussion & Sign: We talked about the different kinds of bears we know, and what they look and sound like, before learning the ASL sign for Bear. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: Welcome Home, Bear.  A simple, beautifully-illustrated book by one of my favorite children’s authors. This book explores different animal habitats, after bear grows sick of the forest and decides to visit his friends where they live — in the desert, swamp, rainforest, and Arctic. In the end, he decides that the forest was just right for him.

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The rainforest is too wet for bears.

Song & Flannel Board: “Five Bears in the Ring”
An adorable song and flannel set from Mel’s Desk. I used laminated clipart to represent our different bears — in my case, a brown bear, a black bear, a polar bear, a panda bear, and a teddy bear. This song explores different types of bears and the foods they eat, and it’s ridiculously catchy.

Brown bear in the ring, sha la la la la,
Brown bear in the ring, sha la la la la,
Brown bear in the ring, sha la la la la!
Looking for some honey in the comb.

Black bear — berries in the bush
Polar bear — fishies in the sea
Panda bear — bamboo in the sun
Teddy bear — snuggles from a friend!

Action Rhyme: “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear”

Book 2: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  A storytime classic, and one that, somehow, I’ve never used before! Via Pinterest, I found that all of Eric Carle’s illustrations are available online. I printed out two copies of each animal, laminated them, and threw some Velcro on the back. I also made matching strips in each color. While we read, the kids came up to the flannel board and matched their animal to the corresponding strip.

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Action Rhyme:  “Red, Red is the Color I See”
Since we were on the subject of colors, we turned to “The Color I See,” an action song that gets everyone up and moving. Each person stands according to the colors they’re wearing.

Red, red is the color I see.
If you’re wearing red then show it to me.
Stand up, take a bow, then turn yourself around.
Show me your red, and sit back down!

Book 3: Polar Bear’s Underwear. I first saw this book when it came in more than a year ago, and it’s been on my radar ever since. It’s perfect for a storytime group — a simple, repeating structure, bold illustrations, a built-in guessing game, and, obviously, underwear. It’s also perfect for a flannel board! (Note: I had way too much fun making this).

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Polar bear, looking appropriately bashful.

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An assortment of underwear.

Song: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

Closing Rhyme: “Wave Hi, Wave Low”
The version we use, with the ASL sign for goodbye:

I think it’s time, we’ve got to go,
So wave your elbows, wave your toes!
Wave your knees, wave your lips,
Blow me a kiss with your fingertips!
Wave your ears, wave your hair,
Wave your hips and your derriere.
Wave your fingers way up high,
Wave a hand and say goodbye!


Wrapping Up: I had too many books planned for this unit, which meant we never got around to We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. I’d still like to use this in a storytime and build a scavenger hunt around it, especially since we have a copy with sound effects in our collection.

The books we did use, though, were great. Lately I’ve been using a lot of flannel sets and/or visual elements to supplement our stories, and it’s really brought them to life. The kids love “interacting” with the book rather than just listening to the story. And now when I look for new books to incorporate, I’m often looking for ones that can be “acted out.” I guess what I’m trying to say is, I finally understand the librarian’s divine worship of flannel boards. A few of the parents have noticed too, and told me today how much they like the new format. Looks like we’ll have to keep doing it!

All in all, a great session with plenty of energy and enthusiasm. Plus, I got invited to a party! A birthday party, for my storytime assistant. A Power Ranger birthday party. It’s one of the coolest things that’s happened to me as a librarian.

Toddler Storytime: Sharks

Aw, yeah. It’s finally shark week! I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. Although our collection was a little short on shark-themed books, there are so many songs and extension activities to enhance this theme that coming up with content was never a problem. I might have traumatized a few children along the way, but I think that goes with the territory. Right?

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Books Read:

Swallow the Leader: A Counting Book by Danna Smith & Kevin Sherry
I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry
I’m a Shark by Bob Shea

Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”
To the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” We use the ASL sign for “hello” in the first verse.

This is the way we wave hello,
Wave hello, wave hello,
This is the way we wave hello
So early in the morning.

Repeat with clap our hands, stomp our feet, jump around.

Discussion & Sign: Today, I challenged the kids to guess our theme of the week. I decorated our flannel board with seaweed and bubbles to create an underwater scene, and then described a big, blue creature that lives in the sea, with fearsome teeth and a fin that rises out of the water. Once the kids had figured it out, we practiced our ASL sign for Shark. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Before I go too far: much of the inspiration for today’s session comes — once again — from Sunflower Storytime. Check out her post celebrating shark week!

Book 1: I’m a Shark. A bright, comical book from Bob Shea about a fearsome shark who harbors a secret fear of his own: spiders. One of my concerns during this storytime was that the kids would be too scared of sharks to read about them — opening with a book about a goofy, blundering shark who has his own fears helped to quell our anxiety a bit.

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Flannel Board: “Sharks in the Bathtub”
A spin-off of the more traditional “Elephants in the Bathtub,” and one of my few flannel sets that is actually made of felt. This rhyme reinforces counting, and allows the kids to clap and tap a little bit. Once the last shark enters the bathtub I fling the whole set off the flannel board, which is always a crowd-pleaser.

One little shark in the bathtub,
Going for a swim.
Knock, knock. (Clap twice)
Splash, splash. (Pat knees twice)
Come on in!

Repeat verse 4 times, adding another shark to the tub each time. After the fifth shark, change “Come on in!” to “They all fell in!” and knock the flannel board down.

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Song: “Bubble, Bubble, Pop!”
A fun, repetitive action song set to the tune of “Ten Little Indians.” We swapped out fish for sharks, and sang through five verses.

Book 2: Swallow the Leader. A counting book that doesn’t look too much like a counting book. A series of fish and other undersea creatures play a game of follow the leader, with a shark in the rear, and then gulp up the person in front of them until all nine fish end up in the shark’s belly. After a well-timed burp, the fish escape and start the game all over. This is a creative way to practice counting up to, and back from, 10.

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While reading this book, I also used our number buttons. I made these about a year ago, inspired by a post from — I think — Storytime Katie (I can’t seem to find the post again). Basically, these are just different colored “buttons” that help us count to and from 10, and they’re versatile enough that they can be used with any book that involves counting. Like most of my stuff, they’re made from laminated cardstock and felted on the back.

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Activity: “Sherman the Shark”
Also inspired by Sunflower Storytime! I loved her idea of making a stand-up shark that the kids could “feed.” I used tacky glue to adhere an old white basket to the back of the shark. This allows the shark to stand on its own, and acts as a “net” to catch the fish. I cut out some creatures and had the kids “fish” for them by picking them out of a blue basket, then we recited the following rhyme: “I’m Sherman the Shark and I’m so hungry! Someone put a nice red crab in my tummy!” We repeated the actions for all of the critters — a green turtle, an orange seahorse, a pink squid, etc. This was a great way to reinforce our work on colors, and acted as a perfect follow-up to Swallow the Leader.

Book 3: I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean! This isn’t strictly shark-related, but does include one shark. A big, bright book perfect for panning to a wide audience at storytime. It also got us talking about other creatures we might find in the ocean, which led to:

Song: The Creatures in the Sea”
A great song from Adventures in Storytime, set to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.” We began with our shark verse, and then included four other undersea critters. I made flannel pieces for this song, too, in case the kids were unfamiliar with the animals featured. In conclusion, I might have gone overboard on the flannel this week.

The sharks in the sea go chomp, chomp, chomp,
Chomp, chomp, chomp,
Chomp, chomp, chomp!

The sharks in the sea go chomp, chomp, chomp,
All day long.

The fish in the sea go swim, swim, swim
The crabs in the sea go pinch, pinch, pinch
The dolphins in the sea go jump and splash
The clams in the sea go open and shut

Closing Rhyme: “Wave Hi, Wave Low”
The version we use, with the ASL sign for goodbye:

I think it’s time, we’ve got to go,
So wave your elbows, wave your toes!
Wave your knees, wave your lips,
Blow me a kiss with your fingertips!
Wave your ears, wave your hair,
Wave your hips and your derriere.
Wave your fingers way up high,
Wave a hand and say goodbye!


Wrapping Up: I had a great group today, with 22 total and a few new faces. I was worried that sharks would be too scary for some, but I shouldn’t have been. All three books were well-received, as were the songs and activities (especially Sherman the Shark! Might have to use him again soon). All in all, another good week.

Toddler Storytime: Rabbits

In preparation for Easter, we learned all about rabbits. We had so many fantastic books about our long-eared friends, it was hard to choose only three! In the end, we read:

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Books Read:

White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker
Peek-a-Book Bunny by Holly Suplice
If You’re Hoppy by April Pulley Sayre & Jackie Urbanovic

Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”
To the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” We use the ASL sign for “hello” in the first verse.

This is the way we wave hello,
Wave hello, wave hello,
This is the way we wave hello
So early in the morning.

Repeat with clap our hands, stomp our feet, jump around.

Discussion & Sign: We chatted about the upcoming holiday briefly, and once we’d identified its “mascot” (the Easter bunny), we talked about bunnies themselves — how they move, how they sound, and how they look! I sported some Dollar Store rabbit ears during the discussion, and then  we practiced the ASL sign for Bunny. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: White Rabbit’s Color Book.  A very simple book about a white rabbit who jumps into some precariously open paint jars, leaving her a different color on each page. I first read this book during a color-themed storytime in December, and I made a live rendering of the story using felt rabbits and colored tins, inspired by Sunflower Storytime.

It’s so much fun to act this one out, and the youngest kids will think you’re a magician. I’d been looking for an opportunity to use the felt set again, since it took some time to make. I’m happy to report that today’s performance went off without a hitch! I didn’t use the book at all, just made up a story to go along with the props. My storytime assistant liked the idea so much, he spent fifteen minutes trying to recreate the story himself during our play time.

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Some of the colored rabbits, made with felt and a die-cut.

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The “paint” tins the rabbit falls into.

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Rabbit’s bath, with a few extra white rabbits tucked inside.

Song & Flannel Board: “B-U-N-N-Y”
From Felt Board Magic. Set to the classic tune of “Bingo,” but with rabbits instead! I made my own set of rabbits that aren’t half as cute as the ones linked above, but I loved the surprise pom-pom on the back and had to try it for myself.

Fingerplay: “Open, Shut Them”

Book 2: Peek-a Boo Bunny.  A bright, colorful book about a rabbit playing hide-and-seek with his woodland friends, and looking in all the wrong places. This book provides a great opportunity for kids to scan and search the pages themselves.

Flannel Activity: Peek-a-Boo Bunny Game (Baby Bird, Baby Bird)
A great activity from Miss Mary Liberry. I tried this in my baby themed storytime a few weeks ago, and it was an instant hit. I made eight different colored eggs, and hid a picture of a bunny beneath one of them. We repeated the phrase: “Bunny, bunny, peek-a-boo! Bunny, bunny, where are you?” And then lifted each egg to check. I always include decoys with this activity, and the kids have come to expect it. I hid a skunk and a turtle beneath two of the eggs, since they appeared in our book. Today, the rabbit was under the last egg we checked, which always heightens the anticipation.

Book 3: If You’re Hoppy. By this point in our storytime we usually need to expend some energy, and this book did the trick. We stretched our toes, flapped our wings, and — of course — hopped about like rabbits. We followed up with a few rounds of the original song.

Song: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

Activity: Egg Hunt!
I had placed about 30 eggs around the Children’s Room before today’s session, and now it was time to hunt! I handed each child a cellophane bag (a pack of 25, featuring rabbits, purchased at the Dollar Store) and let them go to town. I held back about 10 eggs for the babies, just in case they lost out to the older, more mobile participants, and I think this was wise. Inside the eggs I’d hidden stickers featuring flowers, butterflies, chicks and rabbits. Once the hunt was done, I handed each child a sticker book to take home and decorate! The sticker books were created in Publisher using images from Freepik.

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The inside of the sticker book, with a backdrop for the kids to decorate.

Closing Rhyme: “Wave Hi, Wave Low”
The version we use, with the ASL sign for goodbye:

I think it’s time, we’ve got to go,
So wave your elbows, wave your toes!
Wave your knees, wave your lips,
Blow me a kiss with your fingertips!
Wave your ears, wave your hair,
Wave your hips and your derriere.
Wave your fingers way up high,
Wave a hand and say goodbye!


Wrapping Up: I worked hard to make this storytime special, and it definitely paid off. White Rabbit’s Color Book worked wonderfully, even though I was slightly terrified about working without the book itself. The Peek-a-boo bunny game was a hit, as always, and everybody loved the egg hunt (although I think I need more eggs for next time!). Despite a last minute venue change, everyone was able to roll with the punches and we had a great time. Total attendance was 26, which is just about damn-near perfect.

Toddler Storytime: Rain

We’re back in action after a 2-week break, and I’m really excited to start. I saved most of my animal-themed programs for the spring session, along with several just-for-fun ideas, and I can’t wait to see how the kids respond. This week, in the midst of two full days of heavy, soaking rain, our theme was finally on point.

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Books Read:

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
Puddle Pug by Kim Norman & Keika Yamaguchi
The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na

Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”
To the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” We use the ASL sign for “hello” in the first verse.

This is the way we wave hello,
Wave hello, wave hello,
This is the way we wave hello
So early in the morning.

Repeat with clap our hands, stomp our feet, jump around.

Discussion & Sign: We spoke about the rain coming down outside, and what we like to do when it rains — jump in puddles? Play in the mud? Or stay inside where it’s warm and dry? We also discussed the sounds rain makes when it drizzles or pours, or when lightning strikes. This led us into a game called “Rain Storm,” which I found at Program Palooza. I simplified the activity a bit to suit our age group.

“Rain Storm” Game: Basically, you invite everyone to help you “make” a rain storm. Together, we slid our hands against our laps, then graduated to patting our knees, then hand clapping, and finally stomping to bring on the thunder. Then, as the storm recedes, you perform all of the actions backward until you’re sliding your hands again, and then stop. It’s a fun, simple way to douse the group’s energy before the first story, and to encourage them to follow directions. Plus, stomping! Really, any excuse to stomp.

Lastly, we practiced our ASL sign for “Rain.” My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: Cloudette. A sweet book about a cloud named Cloudette, who has aspirations of rain-grandeur despite her minuscule size. From the illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.

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Action Song: “Rain is Falling Down”
Courtesy of JBrary. We use our ASL sign for the line “rain is falling down,” and then clap when the rain splashes.

Rain is falling down,
SPLASH! (Clap)
Rain is falling down,
SPLASH! (Clap)
Pitter patter, pitter patter (Sway arms side to side)
Rain is falling down,
SPLASH! (Clap)

Sun is peeking out,
PEEK! (Put hands over eyes, then peek out)
Sun is peeking out,
PEEK! (Put hands over eyes, then peek out)
Peeking here, peeking there, (Put hands over eyes, pan the room)
Sun is peeking out,
PEEK! (Put hands over eyes, then peek out)

Action Rhyme with Flannel: “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”

Book 2: The Thingamabob. A colorful book from Il Sung Na about an elephant who finds a “thingamabob,” and can’t figure out how to use it. Spoiler alert: it’s an umbrella. After sharing this book, we learned the ASL sign for Umbrella.

Action Song: “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More”
Also courtesy of JBrary, although this seems to be a traditional song that has somehow become crossed with Shel Silverstein’s “Boa Constrictor.” Again, we used the ASL sign for “rain” while singing the first two lines, then shook our heads and fingers “no” for the last line of each verse.

It’s ain’t gonna rain no more, no more,
It ain’t gonna rain no more
Oh, no, it’s up to my toe!
But it ain’t gonna rain no more!

Additional verses: Oh gee, up to my knee! Oh my, up to my thigh! Oh fiddle, up to my middle! Oh heck, up to my neck! Oh dread, up to my head!

Action Song: “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” Since we were standing, and already talking about body parts, we ran through three verses of the storytime classic.

Book 3: Puddle Pug. A story about a Pug named Percy who loves puddles, especially the pigs’ squishy, squashy mud puddle.

Closing Rhyme: “Wave Hi, Wave Low”
The version we use, with the ASL sign for goodbye:

I think it’s time, we’ve got to go,
So wave your elbows, wave your toes!
Wave your knees, wave your lips,
Blow me a kiss with your fingertips!
Wave your ears, wave your hair,
Wave your hips and your derriere.
Wave your fingers way up high,
Wave a hand and say goodbye!


Wrapping Up: It’s always a little tough coming back from break; I feel rusty the first time around. And families don’t always remember that we’re back in action, so attendance tends to dwindle. That definitely didn’t happen. I had twenty-one people in the room, circled around the rug, ten minutes before we were due to start. That is unprecedented. We actually started a few minutes early, which I also try to avoid because stragglers are a weekly reality. I guess everyone was ready to return.

Overall, though, this week was middling. The kids were quiet, more buttoned-up than usual (maybe a result of the break?) and didn’t really participate in songs or rhymes. The Thingamabob was probably their favorite book of the bunch, but none were greeted with much enthusiasm At least we’re back in action, and next week should go off a bit more smoothly.

Toddler Storytime: Spring

I planned this theme back during a week of uncharacteristically warm weather, to coincide with the start of spring on Monday. I’d planned to point out the library’s budding crocuses and rapidly greening grass, and then we got a blizzard and things are looking wintry again. C’est la vie.

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Books Read:

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
Abracadabra, It’s Spring! by Anne Sibley O’Brien
Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi

Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”
To the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” We use the ASL sign for “hello” in the first verse.

This is the way we wave hello,
Wave hello, wave hello,
This is the way we wave hello
So early in the morning.

Repeat with clap our hands, stomp our feet, jump around.

Discussion & Sign: Weather was on everybody’s mind, so we started our discussion by mentioning how rainy, breezy, and changeable spring can be. We also talked about grass, flowers, and trees budding, and the reappearance of insects like ants, spiders, and bees. Together, we practiced the ASL sign for Spring. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: Tap the Magic Tree.  An interactive book about the shifting seasons, featuring a tree that undergoes all sorts of changes. This is a book kids can easily get involved with — blowing kisses to the tree to bring out flowers, or tapping their feet to make apples fall. It’s a fun way to show which changes each season brings, and it begins (and ends) with spring.

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Movement Game: “Spring Flowers”
I found this idea on Pre-K Pages, via a circuitous route through Pinterest. The site offers tons of lesson plans featuring crafts and activities for teachers. I adapted this one for my younger group — we had five different colored flowers, and as I called each one I gave them an action to perform. For example, anyone holding a yellow flower had to hop like a bunny, while anyone with a pink flower should tweet like a bird. Originally, I had hoped to collect the flowers in a basket afterwards, but I decided to use them again for our second book (see below).

Fingerplay: “Open, Shut Them”

Book 2: Abracadabra, It’s Spring! This book focuses on the changes that come with spring — flowers blooming, chicks hatching, snow melting, and so on. Each page also features a fold-out picture, which is always a nice surprise. To bring about each change, the reader has to say a magic word, as if they were performing a trick. I had the kids help me with this bit, and we used the flowers from the movement activity as magic wands.

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Flannel Activity: Baby Bird, Baby Bird
A great activity from Miss Mary Liberry. I tried this in my baby themed storytime a few weeks ago, and it was an instant hit. It was easy enough to adapt for today’s theme. I made eight different colored eggs, and hid a picture of a baby bird beneath one of them. We repeated the refrain: “Baby bird, baby bird, are you under the _______ egg?” And lifted each egg to check! I also hid a butterfly and a bee beneath two of the other eggs — every good mystery needs a red herring.

Fingerplay: “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”
This group loves fingerplays, and this seemed like an obvious fit. I did two verses — the first featuring rain, and the second wind — which connected to our discussion about weather. Our third book was all about bugs, so this was a nice lead-in to that, as well. Here’s the second verse, since I’m not sure it’s common knowledge. I actually tweaked this a bit to make it rhyme better.

The itsy bitsy spider climbed up a willow tree.
WHOOSH went the wind, and made the spider freeze!
Out came the sun, and stopped the icy wind,
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the tree again.

Book 3: Some Bugs. A simple book introducing different types of bugs, beautifully illustrated by Brendan Wenzel (who also wrote They All Saw a Cat, one of my favorite picture books from last year). There’s a nice guide in the back introducing all of the bugs featured, since some of them are less familiar.

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Closing Rhyme: “Wave Hi, Wave Low”
The version we use, with the ASL sign for goodbye:

I think it’s time, we’ve got to go,
So wave your elbows, wave your toes!
Wave your knees, wave your lips,
Blow me a kiss with your fingertips!
Wave your ears, wave your hair,
Wave your hips and your derriere.
Wave your fingers way up high,
Wave a hand and say goodbye!


Wrapping Up: It’s official – I love this group. I had a full house again, about 34 people, and they were all fantastic. All three books were well-received, although I think Abracadabra was the favorite. They also enjoyed the movement game and, as I’d hoped, loved the  hide-and-seek eggs. I need to remember to incorporate something similar every couple of weeks. After a snow-filled week, the parents were happy to see flowers, leaves, and birds on the pages. I think we’re all ready for spring. Awesome group, awesome theme!