Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Marvelous, Magestic Moose

OK, so when I planned this storytime with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (aka the MN DNR) I admit that I was a bit influenced by my passion for the moose. When Jan Welsh from the DNR told me that she could bring some moose artifacts to add to my storytime, I about fainted with delight.

(side note : the moose in Minnesota are suffering from climate change and their numbers are significantly dwindling ... find out more here)

There are some absolutely fabulous moose-themed books out there, mostly because there is nothing like a moose so how fun is it to write a children's book about this wonderful creature?

Here are the two books I selected for today :
Elusive Moose  by Joan Gannij
A Moose's World  by Caronline Arnold

Then, somehow from the recesses of my brain, I recalled a call-and-respond song from my Girl Scout Days. Perfect. Fit. Here is a video clip for "Da Moose" performed by the wonderful Susan Salidor. Just as I remembered it from my childhood!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Family Storytime - Hiberrrrnation!

In honor of the first snowfall forecast for later on this week, we said good-night, sleep tight to all our furry forest friends as they prepared for a long winter's nap.

Here are the books we shared :
I liked including some nonfiction ("Not a Buzz to be Found : Insects in Winter") plus it told the hibernation story from a non-mammal point of view (where do all those ants, ladybugs and honeybees go in winter anyway??)

We sang the "Grizzly Bear" song, which I do every year ... and which kids L-O-V-E :
Grizzly bear, oh grizzly bear is sleeping in his cave
Grizzly bear, oh grizzly bear is sleeping in his cave
(make the ASL sign for "bear" : hands shaped like claws, crossed over chest, "scratch" twice)
Shhhhh ....
(finger over lips)
Please be very quiet ...
Very ... very ... quiet ...
If you wake him,
If you shake him,
He is sure to growl -- GRRRR!!!
(clawed hands up and out)

Our "action" song was a bear hibernation song based on "The Ants Go Marching" :
The bears go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah
The bears go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah,
The bears go marching one by one,
The little one knew that autumn was done ...
And they all go marching down 
To their den
Because winter had set in ...

Two by two ...
Little one stopped to sneeze : a-a-achooo!

Three by three ...
Little one stopped to claw a tree

Four by four ...
Little one stopped to eat just a bit more

Five by five 
Little one stopped to whisper : "nighty-night!"

I also shared this flannel, based on "Five in the Bed" :

It was winter ... and all the animals were getting ready for bed.
First bear climbed into bed,
Then raccoon,
Then skunk,
Then chipmunk,
And finally little mouse.
But mouse did not have any room!
So he wiggled and squirmed until ...
There were five in the bed
And the little mouse said,
"Roll over! Roll over!"
So they all rolled over and bear fell out - whoops!
(and so on ...)

Happy Hibernation!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Flannel Fun @ MLA

The lovely Anna Haase Krueger at Future Librarian Superhero and myself successfully presented a workshop last week on how to effectively make flannel stories during the annual Minnesota Library Association's Conference. Despite the fact that at times I felt we really slapped it together at the last minute, we had a great experience and were able to share some nice tips with attendees.

Here is a link to our Prezi : Flannel : Not Just Your Grandma's Pajamas

After discussing types of flannels (stories, songs, games, etc.) and how flannels can support the five early literacy elements, we dug into the "how to make" and "how to use" ... my favorite part of the workshop!

We had three options for folks to make during their time at the workshop :
1. These fabulous dinosaurs (courtesy of Piper Loves the Library)

Here is the template that was shared for attendees to use in making their dinosaur pieces :
2. Another option was to make simple shapes as faces showing emotions and expressions. The idea was to make these double-sided with a sleeping face on one side and a surprised/shocked/delighted face on the other side. Using the rhyme "Five In The  Bed" the idea was to start with the faces sleeping and turn each one over as they fall out of the bed :
3. The final option (and many folks just took the template home with them) was to create a five apples template, double-sided, to be used with any various apple rhyme :

Here is what the template looks like :

After collecting all our flannel pieces, scissors, glue, paper, tape, display boards, brains ... we made it out of the workshop room in time for the next presenter -- whew! Note to self : if presenting a crafty-type workshop? ask to be scheduled right before a break ... so many folks wished they'd had more time to work on their flannel pieces.

All in all, Anna and I brought forth the power that is ALL HAIL FLANNEL and had a superb time.
Getting Down-n-dirty with Flannel at MLA

Monday, October 7, 2013

Apples & Pumpkins

I like to do a combined apples/pumpkins storytime because the two items are a nice contrast to each other : one is red, the other is orange. One grows in trees, the other grows on the ground. One you eat fresh and raw, the other you cut up and cook (or make a jack-o-lantern!).

In either case, we celebrated the bounty of fall harvests with all things A & P ... that is, apple & pumpkin.
Here are the books we shared :

I also cobbled together this "Apples & Pumpkins" fingerplay rhyme which went over extremely well :

Apples, apples, what a treat! (rub tummy)
Sweet and tart and good to eat.
Apples green ... apples red ... (show R fist & L fist for apples)
Hang from branches overhead. (put fists up in the air)
And when they ripen, down they drop, ("drop" fists into lap)
So we can taste our apple crop!

Pumpkins, pumpkins, big and round, (arms form a large circle)
I'm glad you grow upon the ground! (point to floor)
I'm glad you don't grow in a tree (big arms over head)
For then you might fall down on me! (ahhh!! pretend that pumpkin falls SPLAT on your head)

For our flannel story I borrowed this idea from Storytime Katie -- I had used this in the past but with only a single puppet, not multiple ones as recommended.
Today I used the following puppets :
a crow
a mouse
a squirrel
a rabbit
a monkey (a monkey?!? on a farm?? you betcha)
I never thought the kids would love it so much! Seriously, with each puppet I brought out to take a bite from the farmer's apples, there was MUCH LOUD SCREAMING. Who knew???

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fall Leaves Craft Storytime

Red and yellow, orange and brown,
All the leaves are falling down.
Days are nippy, nights are clear,
Summer's over - autumn's here!

Despite the fact that it was approaching 80 degrees this morning, we celebrated the turning of the leaves at Make-and-Take Storytime today.
I read the above three books and with Steve Metzger's We're Going on a Leaf Hunt I included the following flannel pieces :
Isn't that skunk just the most adorable little guy??
I took him right out of the pages of the book.

We also shared the following action-song (tune = "Wheels on the Bus" or "Five Little Ducks", you're pick!)
The roots of the tree grown down, down, down,
Down, down, down,
Down, down, down,
The roots of the tree grow down, down, down
Deep in the forest
(we wiggled our fingers from shoulders to toes)
The trunk of the tree grows stout, stout, stout
(arms make a circle and grow out-out-out)
The bark on the tree grows tight, tight, tight
(hug yourself!)
The branches of the tree grow out-out-out
(arms up high)
The wind blows the branches back and forth
(wave arms back and forth over head)
The leaves on the tree come tumbling down
(wiggle fingers up high to down low)

Our craft was super easy (which was great since I had a few 2-year-olds in attendance)
Each child had a tree, a blue background, a glue stick and strips of red, yellow, orange and brown construction paper. Everyone ripped pieces of paper for the leaves and stuck them to the tree (including some leaves "falling down" and on the ground).
At the end, each picture was mounted on a piece of heavy white cardstock and I attached the copy of the poem for a final presentation.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Squadron of Squirrels

It was all about the little furry grey guy with the question mark tail today ...
And man, I felt like I had a room full of squirrels -- the kids were SO crazy restless!
Fortunately, I planned a shorter storytime ...
 We started off with a "guess the theme" poem (adapted from a poem on the Scaredy Squirrel website) :
There is a little furry guy
Who lives outside my door,
I've often seen him try and try
To steal from the birds' seed store.

He has a question mark for a tail
And an overcoat of grey,
He sits up straight to eat a nut
And likes to tease and play.

Scampering around is where you'll see 
Him playing night and day,
But if we run around his tree?
He goes the other way!

We sang a jazzed up version of "Grey Squirrel, Grey Squirrel" and I incorporated different types of squirrels (grey, black, fox, flying, red) ending with that super-fast red squirrel found in Northern Minnesota. Of course our song went faster and faster as our tails (backsides) went faster and faster -- too cute!

The big hit, however, was the SQUIRREL PUPPET (thank you, Folkmanis!) which I pulled out for my flannel counting rhyme, "Five Little Acorns" (adapted from Katie at Storytime Secrets)

(this could be sung to the tune of "The Fishy Song")
Down around the corner by the big oak tree
Sat five little acorns looking so yummy,
Along came a squirrel with a big bushy tail,
He took one acorn and ran off down the trail.
(continue until there are no acorns left)
last time (slower) :
Down around the corner by the big oak tree
There were no little acorns left to see ...
Along came a squirrel with a big bushy tail,
Took one look, said "Rats! None left!" and ran off down the trail.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Going Buggy!

My goodness ... summer sure makes it difficult to write blog posts! What with all the additional programs I'm hosting at the library, it's been over two months since I wrote a storytime post.

But ... without further ado, I present a Buggy Storytime!

Books We Read
"I Love Bugs!" by Emma Dodd
"Soup for One" by Ethan Long
"Waiting for Wings" by Lois Ehlert
"Buzz, buzz buzz! went Bumblebee" by Colin West

Naturally, we did the Buggy Pokey complete with antennae, stingers, wings and creepy crawlie feet.
I also sang "I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee" with the squished up bee being presented at the end (see? all clean!)
My favorite repeat-after-me chant was performed as well -- the Mosquito Chant (perfect for Minnesota) which goes something like this :
Flea ...
Flea fly ...
Flea fly flow ...
Calamine, calamine, calamine lotion
Oh, no more calamine lotion!
Itchy, itchy, scratchy, scratchy, got one on my back-y, back-y,
Owie, owie, zowie, zowie wish he'd go away!
Quick, get the bug spray! I think he went that-a-way ...
Shhh ... shhh ... shhh ... shhh ... shhhhhhhhhhhhh ......
Got him! 

Finally, in Minnesota we don't seem to get too many fireflies during the summer (not hot enough?) but I do like this flannel, based on the book "Ten Flashing Fireflies" by Philemon Sturges.

What do we see on a summer night?
Five flashing fireflies burning bright!
Catch one twinkling like a star,
Now there is one firefly in our jar.

Catch another over by the tree
Now there are two fireflies in our jar.

Catch one hiding in the bush
Now there are three fireflies in our jar.

Catch one landing near our door
Now there are four fireflies in our jar

Catch  one flying high in the sky
Now there are five fireflies in our jar.

Open the jar, for it's much more fun
To watch them fly away one by one.
Fly up and out and say good-bye,
Fly away, fly away, firefly!
One ... two ... three ... four ... five ...
Now there are none.
(many thanks to my fabulous co-workers Tami and Janet for coming up with this flannel)

Monday, May 6, 2013

H is for Hat!

OK, I must confess that the main reason I wanted to do a hat-themed storytime is because I wanted to read this book :
 At first I was a bit hesitant about reading this book in storytime, but it went over so well -- I don't know if it was my storytime families or the way I read the book or the (very) brief warning I jokingly gave before reading the book, or my cue to the kiddos to "look for the red triangle hat in the book" so they could figure out what was going on ... either way, it was great.

Ho-hum, here's the rest of what we did today :
Books Read
"Twelve Hats for Lena" by Karen Katz
"The Magic Box" by Katie Cleminson (it features a magician's hat)
"Which Hat is That?" by Anna Grossnickle Hines

I dutifully sang "My hat it has three corners" ...

And finally shared this paper-folding story :
I told it with a bit more pizazz and used a very large piece of paper so I could actually put the hats on my head as I told the story. I also pre-folded the paper so the creases were in place for easier storytelling.

Monday, April 29, 2013

At the Circus!

Bring on the dancing ponies and the acrobats! Today at storytime we went to the circus.
Not surprisingly, many kids in attendance had never been to the circus before ... I think it's a dying art.
But in any case, I whipped out all the stops for a circus-themed storytime.

Books We Shared :
Circus  by Lois Ehlert (warning : you may trash your voice if, as I did, you read this in a ringmaster's voice -- ack!)
Circus Parade  by Harriet Ziefert
Wolf Won't Bite  by the one-and-only Emily Gravett
Circus 1-2-3  by Megan Halsey

Flannel Story :
"Clancy the Clown"
super easy flannel story to make -- could also be used in a shapes-themed storytime.

Clancy is a circus clown.
He loves to make people laugh.

Before the circus begins
Clancy always puts on his clown face.

He starts with his clown eyes ...
Then puts on his clown mouth ...
And adds his crazy clown hair ...
And finally his clown nose!
(put on the blue square).

Wait a minute ... that's not right, is it?
(then put on each nose -- green triangle, large yellow circle, small purple dot -- until finally, in frustration, you ask the kids what his nose looks like. Finish the story by adding the red clown nose)
Now Clancy knows his nose ... and you do too!

I loves me a good draw-and-tell story. The trick is in finding ones that aren't too complicated to draw or too involved to tell a good, simple, SHORT story. This is one of the better ones.
"At the Circus"
Joey and his dad went to the circus.
When they entered the big top, the first thing they saw was the big arena.

Joey and his dad sat on one side of the arena. They could look across and see lots of other people.

The band began to play at the top of the arena.

They could see a conductor leading the band.

Finally, the lights all went out until one spotlight lit up the ringmaster in the center of the arena.

"Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls! Welcome to the greatest show on earth!
For your entertainment, we have dancing, prancing horses!"

"And for the brave of heart we have fierce lions jumping through hoops of fire!"

"High overhead we have the daring young man on the flying trapeeze ... watch as he swings across the crowd from side to side ..."

When Joey got home, his mother asked him if he liked the circus.
"Yes! There was a band, and dancing horses, and lions jumping through hoops of fire, and even acrobats flying over our heads! But what I loved the most about the circus was ..."
ask kids to answer

Monday, April 8, 2013

Finally ... Spring!

Spring has been a long time coming here in Minnesota. When I originally planned for storytime on this date, I thought we'd be well underway with birds, flowers and green grass. Instead, the last of the snow is slowly melting away. Still, it was time to celebrate all things spring this morning at storytime.
Books We Shared :
Wake Up, It's Spring!  by Lisa Campbell Ernst
Spring is Here  by Will Hillenbrand (complete with a snoring bear ...)
Forever Friends  by Carin Berger

I do not consider myself a super crafter ... but when I saw the instructions for creating these flannel rabbit fingerpuppets online, I could not help myself and accepted the (internal) challenge to make five of these little guys to use at storytime.

Of course I had a song/rhyme that went with these little fuzzy guys ...
tune = "Five Little Ducks That I Once Knew
(can be found on Raffi's CD More Singable Songs)
(spoken) :
Once upon a time there were five bunnies.
They lived with their momma in a tree stump.
One day ...
(sung) :
Five little bunnies
One spring day
Went to the carrot patch
Far away.
Momma bunny called
"Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump!"
stomp foot on ground
But only four came back to their stump ...

count all the way down until there are zero bunnies
last time :
Sad mother bunny
One spring day ...
Went to the carrot patch
Far away ...
Momma bunny went ...
thump ... thump ... thump ... thump ...
and ALL of her bunnies came back to their stump!!

I considered (briefly) using a large rabbit puppet for the mother but realized I needed both hands free to remove the bunnies behind my back one-by-one and (more important!) put them back on at the end.

For those crazy enough as I was to pursue this "craft" here is a link to the template :
If you put in the time, I promise you will NOT regret it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Body Parts (but not zombies ...)

"The head bone's connected to the ... neck bone, the neck bone's connected to the ... shoulder bone"
We shared stories today all about the different parts of the body.
No storytime on body parts would be complete without "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" so that was the active part of storytime today.
Here is what else was shared :
Books We Read :
We've All Got Bellybuttons!  by David Martin
Thank You For Me by Marion Dane Bauer
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
The Long-Nosed Pig by Keith Faulkner
The Pig's Picnic by Keiko Kasza (book prop)

I shared the silly song "Tony Chestnut" -- here is a cute video from Britain demonstrating how to sing the song. I didn't leave parts of the song out, as demonstrated here, but rather went faster and faster resulting in much hilarity and hitting of nose.

Finally, I shared one of my all-time favorite books about body parts, Head, Body, Legs which is a folktale from Liberia re-told by Won-Ldy Paye. I have always thought this book a bit long for storytime, and have always felt it lended itself better when told as a story rather than read from a book. So, I created a flannel to accompany the story.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy Birthday

We celebrated birthdays this morning at storytime -- and had two attendees whose birthdays were just a few days away! Always very cool when that happens ...

This storytime was simple and sweet, just like a classic birthday cake.

Books We Shared :
It's My Birthday  by Heidi Goennel (out of print)
Wolf's Coming  by Joe Kulka (what's a birthday celebration without a little, um, surprise?)
Muriel's Red Sweater  by Dora Dokas
A Birthday For Cow  by Jan Thomas

I also shared the story "The Cake That Mack Ate" using the book prop from Book Props -- I think this one is sadly no longer available. It really is one of their better efforts. Could probably be made into a flannel story with a bit of work.

Finally, I shared this flannel story :

Five little cupcakes at the bakery shop
Round and fat with frosting on top.
Along came _________ (child's name)
With a quarter one day,
Bought a cupcake and ate it right away!

Four little cupcakes ...
Three little cupcakes ...
Two little cupcakes ...
One little cupcake ...

last time :
No little cupcakes at the bakery shop ...
None with sprinkles or frosting on top ...
It was my birthday
And there was no time to bake ...
So I bought myself a birthday cake!

My cupcake template was found here :
birthday cupcake template
My cake template was found here :
birthday cake
But I imagine these two images can be fairly easily produced with freehand drawings.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Who doesn't like pizza? Pepperoni Pizza. Sausage Pizza. Cheese Pizza.
Today's storytime was all pizza, all the time.
Here's how the pie was laid out ...

Books We Read :
The Pizza That We Made  by Joan Holub
The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza)  by Philemon Sturges
Pizza at Sally's  by Monica Wellington
"Hi, Pizza Man!"  by Virginia Walter

The flannel story I shared is taken from Carole Spinelli's poem "One More Bite" -- here is the text :
At four o'clock when I came home
So ravenous from school,
I barely got inside
Before my mouth begain to drool

I stormed the kitchen like a thief
Because I craved a treat
I searched through all the cabinets
For something good to eat.

I first consumed a vegetable
For health was on my mind,
And then I chomped a piece of fruit
Right through it's bumpy rind.

Because the hunger didn't quit
I gnawed some homemade bread,
I ate a cherry lollipop
Which made my tongue all red!

I then proceeded to digest
A giant piece of pie,
With dollops of whipped cream on top
So swirly, twirly high.

Then my mother gave to me
A sandwich of baloney,
But I'd rather have a pizza pie
All topped with pepperoni!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Today's Make-and-Take craft storytime was all about snowmen, snowwomen, snowboys, snowgirls, snowbabies, and naturally snowlibrarians.

I shared this flannel, based on the Jack Prelutsky poem "My Snowman" which can be found here (scroll down to the second poem which is Prelutsky's). It can also be found in the collection "It's Snowing! It's Snowing! : Winter Poems" by Jack Prelutsky.

Here is the flannel :

These are the books we shared :
Winter is the Warmest Season  by Lauren Stringer
Pip & Squeak  by Ian Schoenherr
Everything You Need for a Snowman  by Alice Schertle
Snowballs  by Lois Ehlert

This was my sample Snowgirl

The last book led perfectly into our craft which was making your own snowperson out of construction paper and any odds & ends I had lying around (buttons, sequins, glue-on jewels, stickers, googly eyes, yarn, ribbon) plus pine needles collected from the deck outside for the arms. Here is how some of our snowpeople turned out :

Monday, January 14, 2013

Last-Minute Storytime

I'm sure this has happened to many of you before ... you schedule a 'guest star' or 'special visitor' to your storytime ... and the plans fall through at the last minute. I was to have a special visitor to storytime today to talk about Minnesota Moose. Unfortunately, my visitor had an ill child at home. I found out about this an hour before storytime was to occur.

What to do ... what to do ...

Fortunately, I have an EMERGENCY STORYTIME TUB at my disposal -- hooray!

From this tub I was able to pull out a relatively full-scale storytime for my patrons. Here's what I had at my disposal :

The Bridge is Up!  by Babs Bell
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing  by Judi Barrett
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear  by Don Wood
The Wide-Mouthed Frog  by Keith Faulkner

I also had this flannel to share, based on the book "It Looked Like Spilt Milk".
This was just about the easiest flannel I have ever made -- I got the images right from the book. I imagine you could include other ones as well, depending on your mood ...