Family Storytime: Arctic Animals

To do an arctic animal storytime in July, we needed to put on our pretend hats! I don’t think I would have come up with this theme myself, but the parks camp I did outreach to had this as their theme, so I adapted it for my outdoor storytime.

To be honest, I felt like this storytime was a little “off.” Maybe I wasn’t super comfortable with some of the materials. Maybe the audience was just a little more wiggly than usual. Maybe the imminent threat of rain made me feel rushed. More than likely, it was a combination of things. I don’t dwell. Some days you just have an off day, and that’s okay.

You can see the virtual program that does not include the full books read aloud here.

Early Literacy Tip: Counting up or down in songs like Five Little Polar Bears helps kids strengthen their number recognition. And don’t be afraid to change up the number – eight little polar bears or ten little polar bears will let kids hear lesser-used numbers.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends
(tune of Goodnight, Ladies)
Hello, friends! Hello, friends!
Hello, friends, it’s time to say hello!
Hello, [name 1], hello, [name 2]!
Hello, [name 3], it’s time to say hello!
(ASL motions: salute for “hello,” then take the index fingers on each hand and you link them together as though they are hugging each other back and forth for “friends”)
Credit: Glenside Public Library District

Our new warm-up for the last few weeks of the summer session.
Warm-Up Rhyme: We Wiggle and Stop
(Use the ASL sign for the word “stop” – one hand “chops” across the opposite hand)
We wiggle and we wiggle and we STOP
We wiggle and we wiggle and we STOP
We wiggle and we wiggle and we wiggle and we wiggle
And we wiggle and we wiggle and we STOP
(Try other motions such as jump, twirl, stretch)
Credit: Jbrary

This book might have been the start of my “offness” – although I like that it shows a wide variety of arctic animals AND it shows the arctic in the summertime AND it’s a book you can sing, it just wasn’t right for my group. It was too long, and because it was a regular sized book, the pictures were too small. I skipped a few pages, but I could still see the attention wandering.
Read: Way Up in the Arctic by Jennifer Ward & Kenneth J. Spengler

For the virtual, I stuck velcro on the back of these laminated pieces, but for the in-person session, I taped craft sticks on the bears to make them easier to hold.
Counting Song: Five Little Polar Bears
Five little polar bears riding on a sled
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
“No more polar bears riding on a sled!”
(count down)
Credit: Literary Hoots

Laminated clipart of five polar bears on a sled

Another regular-sized book. The illustrations of cut and torn paper are AMAZING, but again, probably too small for my audience to really see.
Read: A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett & Shawn Harris

Movement: Arctic Animal Movement
Can you…
…Walk on four feet like a polar bear?
…Turn your head like a snowy owl?
…Swim like an orca/beluga whale?
…Flap your wing like an arctic tern?
…Stomp your feet like a caribou?
…Hop like an arctic hare?
Credit: Guilderland Public Library

Breathing Break: Five Finger Breathing
Our breathwork visualization for the last few weeks of the summer session. We inhale while tracing up a finger, pause at the top, then exhale while tracing down, and pause at the bottom. Repeat for all five fingers. At the end, I let them know this is a great way to get calm, get centered or focused, and get ready for the next thing. I also remind them they can take a ten finger break if they need to, and it’s always available for them whenever they need it.

One more new repeated activity. This has always been a favorite song!
Action Song: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!
Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon!
(hands scrape past each other rhythmically)
Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon!
If you want to take a trip (fingers walk up arm)
Climb aboard my rocket ship!
Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon!
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BLASTOFF! (crouch, then jump!)
Credit: Jbrary

I always try to do several songs that use a particular prop so that the kids have some time with them. Today was scarves! To collect them at the end of the in-person session, I sang “If You Have a Red Scarf” to the tune of The Muffin Man and directed kids to listen for their color.

Scarf Song: Dance Like Snowflakes
(tune of Frère Jacques)
Dance like snowflakes
Dance like snowflakes
In the air, in the air
Whirling, twirling snowflakes
Whirling, twirling snowflakes
Everywhere, everywhere
Credit: Jbrary

Scarf Song: We Wave Our Scarves Together
(tune of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow)
We wave our scarves together (3x)
because it’s fun to do!
Wave them up high
Wave them down low
Wave them in the middle
Because it’s fun to do!
Credit: Jbrary

I added the “drying” verse because this song is too fun to just do two verses! For the “tumble” action, we threw our scarves up and caught them, like they were tumbling around in a dryer. This song was probably the most successful activity of the storytime!
Scarf Song: The Walrus Washes His Winter Coat
Oh, the walrus washes his winter coat
Down by the wavy ocean
He adds some water and he adds some soap
and he waits…and he waits…and he waits.

Then the laundry shakes, shakes, shakes
The laundry shakes and shakes and shakes
The laundry shakes, shakes, shakes
until it’s clean. (repeat)

Additional verses:
The laundry spins … until it’s clean
The laundry tumbles … until it’s dry
Credit: Brytani Fraser via Jbrary

Recorded Song: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

Craft: Polar Bear Scene
This was inspired by Tompkins County Public Library, and I loved how they suggested different mediums and let the kids decide what to do with them. So I printed an outline of a polar bear on a dark blue sheet of construction paper, provided cotton balls and chalk, and gave both example photos below. Kids could use the cotton for snow or for the bear, and chalk for the opposite, or do whatever they liked!

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Sweetest Kulu
by Celina Kalluk & Alexandria Neonakis
The Bear Report
by Thyra Heder
Sea Bear
by Lindsay Moore

Goodbye Song: See You Later, Alligator
(tune of Clementine)
See you later, alligator (wave with one hand, then the other)
In a while, crocodile (open and shut arms like a croc’s mouth)
Give a hug, ladybug (hug yourself or a loved one)
Blow a kiss, jellyfish! MWAH! (move hand like a jellyfish then blow a kiss!)
Credit: King County Library System

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented in-person and virtually on 7/13/21.

Storytime Handout:

Family Storytime: Wiggly Bugs

I knew I’d done a bug storytime recently, but I couldn’t resist repeating the theme for our summer outdoor storytime. For one, I had two big books that featured bugs, and for another, there’s just so many good songs and rhymes and movement activities for bugs. It worked out really well, and the families seemed enthusiastic. All summer, I didn’t use many props or flannelboards, so these blog posts have seemed kind of boring with fewer pictures. I’ll have more to show for fall programs!

You can see the virtual program that does not include the full books read aloud here.

Early Literacy Tip: When we do fingerplay activities like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” we use various finger motions, and change and exaggerate them for verses like “the great big spider.” These motions help your child’s finger strength and dexterity which is important later when they are learning to write, tie shoes, or hold utensils like a fork or toothbrush.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends
(tune of Goodnight, Ladies)
Hello, friends! Hello, friends!
Hello, friends, it’s time to say hello!
Hello, [name 1], hello, [name 2]!
Hello, [name 3], it’s time to say hello!
(ASL motions: salute for “hello,” then take the index fingers on each hand and you link them together as though they are hugging each other back and forth for “friends”)
Credit: Glenside Public Library District

Our new warm-up for the last few weeks of the summer session.
Warm-Up Rhyme: We Wiggle and Stop
(Use the ASL sign for the word “stop” – one hand “chops” across the opposite hand)
We wiggle and we wiggle and we STOP
We wiggle and we wiggle and we STOP
We wiggle and we wiggle and we wiggle and we wiggle
And we wiggle and we wiggle and we STOP
(Try other motions such as jump, twirl, stretch)
Credit: Jbrary

Read: In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming

Song: The Itsy Bitsy Spider
The itsy bitsy spider
climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain and
washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider
climbed up the spout again
(repeat with Great Big Spider, teeny weeny spider)
Credit: traditional

For this session, I used fruit instead of Herman’s relatives and went grape, apple, banana, pineapple, and watermelon!)
Silly Story: Herman the Worm
I was sittin’ on my fencepost,
chewing my bubblegum (munch, munch)
Playin’ with my yo-yo, (wee-oo! wee-oo!)
When along came Herman the worm
And he was this big (measure a small worm)
And I said: “Herman? What happened?”
“I ate a grape.”
(Herman gets bigger and bigger, eating more fruit, then goes back to being tiny)
…And I said: “Herman? What happened?”
“I burped!”
Credit: traditional, see motions at Jbrary

So, this book is all about different vegetables that grow up, down, or around, but there are SO MANY wiggly bugs in the illustrations! So, in addition to asking the kiddos to reach up, reach down, and turn around when the text says, we also pointed out and identified one bug on each page.
Read: Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres & Nadine Bernard Westcott

Breathing Break: Five Finger Breathing
Our new breathwork visualization for the last few weeks of the summer session. We inhale while tracing up a finger, pause at the top, then exhale while tracing down, and pause at the bottom. Repeat for all five fingers. At the end, I let them know this is a great way to get calm, get centered or focused, and get ready for the next thing. I also remind them they can take a ten finger break if they need to, and it’s always available for them whenever they need it.

One more new repeated activity. This has always been a favorite song!
Action Song: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!
Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon!
(hands scrape past each other rhythmically)
Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon!
If you want to take a trip (fingers walk up arm)
Climb aboard my rocket ship!
Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon!
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BLASTOFF! (crouch, then jump!)
Credit: Jbrary

I handed out scarves for the last three songs – yay for being able to do props again!
Song: We Wave Our Scarves Together
(tune of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow)
We wave our scarves together (3x)
because it’s fun to do!
Wave them up high
Wave them down low
Wave them in the middle
Because it’s fun to do!
Credit: Jbrary

Scarf Song: I’m a Caterpillar
(tune of Skip to My Lou)
I’m a caterpillar, wiggle with me (rep. 3x, wiggle scarf)
What’ll I be my darling?

Additional verses:
I’m a chrysalis, now sleep with me… (whisper)
I’m a butterfly, come fly with me… (hold scarf in middle and “fly”)
Credit: Adventures of a Bookworm

For the virtual program, we did:
Popcorn Kernels
(tune of Frère Jacques: sing each line twice)
Popcorn kernels (wave scarves overhead)
In the pot (bunching scarves up in fist)
Shake them shake them shake them (shake fists)
’til they POP! (toss scarves)
Credit: Jbrary

For the outdoor program, I collected scarves with this song.
Song: If You Have a Scarf
(tune of Do You Know the Muffin Man)
If you have a red scarf,
Red scarf, red scarf
If you have a red scarf
Please bring it up here!
Credit: have used this a long time, not sure the original source!

Recorded Song: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

Craft: Butterfly Mask
Just a nice printable template from Simple Mom Project. I purchased the elastics since this library didn’t have any in the supply room, and asked a volunteer to pre-cut the masks. I added some sequins to the supply bags to give them some sparkle!

picture of butterfly mask colored blues, greens, and purples, with green and gold sequins.

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
The Spider and the Fly
by Mary Howitt & Tony DiTerlizzi
The Eensy Weensy Spider Freaks Out! Big Time!
by Troy Cummings
Daddy Is a Doodlebug
by Bruce Degen

Goodbye Song: See You Later, Alligator
(tune of Clementine)
See you later, alligator (wave with one hand, then the other)
In a while, crocodile (open and shut arms like a croc’s mouth)
Give a hug, ladybug (hug yourself or a loved one)
Blow a kiss, jellyfish! MWAH! (move hand like a jellyfish then blow a kiss!)
Credit: King County Library System

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented in-person and virtually on 7/6/21.

Storytime Handout:

Family Storytime: Going on a Bear (and Berry) Hunt

I’d been wanting to use the Going on a Bear Hunt chant/rhyme for outdoor storytime, and just happened to have a big book copy of The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, so that translated quite well into a theme. We had a lot of fun going THROUGH various obstacles, roaring like mad, and identifying berries. Since this was our fifth week of outdoor stories, I changed up our recurring rhymes and activities, too.

You can see the virtual program that does not include the full books read aloud here.

Early Literacy Tip: Pretend play helps your child act out and understand stories and events they have seen, heard, or experienced. Simple props or costumes like the bear ears we’ll make in today’s craft help enhance the fun and promote more immersive play.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends
(tune of Goodnight, Ladies)
Hello, friends! Hello, friends!
Hello, friends, it’s time to say hello!
Hello, [name 1], hello, [name 2]!
Hello, [name 3], it’s time to say hello!
(ASL motions: salute for “hello,” then take the index fingers on each hand and you link them together as though they are hugging each other back and forth for “friends”)
Credit: Glenside Public Library District

Our new warm-up for the last few weeks of the summer session.
Warm-Up Rhyme: We Wiggle and Stop
(Use the ASL sign for the word “stop” – one hand “chops” across the opposite hand)
We wiggle and we wiggle and we STOP
We wiggle and we wiggle and we STOP
We wiggle and we wiggle and we wiggle and we wiggle
And we wiggle and we wiggle and we STOP
(Try other motions such as jump, twirl, stretch)
Credit: Jbrary

Read: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, & the Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood

Outside, I held up large pictures of the various berries at the end of each verse for the kids to shout out. The kids got all of them except the gooseberry! In the video, I had a laminated version for the flannelboard, made from Canva.
Counting Rhyme: Jamberry Hunt
Under the bridge and over the dam,
looking for berries, berries for jam
1 berry, 2 berries, pick me a strawberry
(repeat, counting up to 10 and asking for different berries each time: blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, gooseberry.)

Last line:

Under the bridge and over the dam,
Back home to cook my berries, berries for jam
Credit: Jbrary

laminated flannelboard set of a canoe, simplified water, and 5 berries: strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, and gooseberry.

Action Rhyme: Bears Eat Honey
Bears eat honey (pretend to eat)
They think it’s yummy
In their tummy (rub tummy)
But the bees don’t think it’s funny!
Buzzzzzzzzzzzz! (tickle)
Credit: King County Library System via Storytime Katie

I pretty much did as Michael Rosen does in this video, but encouraged the group to repeat the first four lines as call and response. You can download my reminder sheet here.
Retelling/Chant: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury

Breathing Break: Five Finger Breathing
Our new breathwork visualization for the last few weeks of the summer session. We inhale while tracing up a finger, pause at the top, then exhale while tracing down, and pause at the bottom. Repeat for all five fingers. At the end, I let them know this is a great way to get calm, get centered or focused, and get ready for the next thing. I also remind them they can take a ten finger break if they need to, and it’s always available for them whenever they need it.

screenshot from virtual storytime, showing five finger breathing.

One more new repeated activity. This has always been a favorite song!
Action Song: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!
Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon!
(hands scrape past each other rhythmically)
Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon!
If you want to take a trip (fingers walk up arm)
Climb aboard my rocket ship!
Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon!
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BLASTOFF! (crouch, then jump!)
Credit: Jbrary

Movement: Bear Brain Break
Based on this worksheet from the OT Toolbox, we moved like a bear and did the Bear Crawl, Bear Scratch, Bear Bend, Bear Stretch, and Bear Hug!

thumbnail of Bear Brain Breaks worksheet.

Sometimes this song features bears, so that’s where my thoughts were in choosing it. You could sing “and the little bear said…” to further reinforce it. And I saw my colleague Rebecca B. do the Whole Bed schtick, which I thought was a hilarious and perfect end! I use a flannel (template from Making Learning Fun) for this on the video, but we just did hand motions in person.
Counting Song: Five in the Bed
There were five in a bed,
and the little one said (5 fingers up)
“Roll over, roll over” (make rolling motion)
And they all rolled over and one fell out.
There were four in a bed… (continue to 1)

There was one in the bed
and the little one said,
(tune of He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands)
“Ahhhhhhh. I’ve got the whole bed to myself!
I’ve got the whole wide bed to myself!
I’ve got the whole bed to myself,
I’ve got the whole bed to myself! Goodnight!”
Credit: traditional

Flannel for Five in the Bed - bed with a blue cover and two white pillows, as well as one small brown bear and four larger bears in purple, yellow, light blue, and red.

Recorded Song: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

For the virtual session, I did this instead of the recorded Teddy Bear song.
Song: Bear Went Over the Mountain
Oh, the bear went over the mountain, (rep. 3x)
To see what he could see!

But all that he could see,
Yes, all that he could see
Was the other side of the mountain, (rep 3x)
Was all that he could see!
(repeat with “around,” “under,” and “jumped over”)
Credit: traditional, movement ideas from Intellidance

Craft: Bear Ears Headband
Simple, simple craft that allows for lots of dramatic play.

picture of bear ears headband - brown construction paper band with brown bear ears (and pink inner ear) glued on.

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Jamberry
by Bruce Degen
Where is Bear?
by Jonathan Bentley
There’s a Bear on My Chair
by Ross Collins

Goodbye Song: See You Later, Alligator
(tune of Clementine)
See you later, alligator (wave with one hand, then the other)
In a while, crocodile (open and shut arms like a croc’s mouth)
Give a hug, ladybug (hug yourself or a loved one)
Blow a kiss, jellyfish! MWAH! (move hand like a jellyfish then blow a kiss!)
Credit: King County Library System

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented in-person and virtually on 6/29/21.

Storytime Handout:

Family Storytime: Dinosaurs!

Hopping on to the theme chosen by my summer outreach session, this week was all about dinosaurs! This is an easy theme with lots of great books and extension activities, so it all came together quickly.

You can see the virtual program that does not include the full books read aloud here.

Early Literacy Tip: Everybody knows at least one preschooler who can rattle off the names of dozens of dinosaurs. There’s a reason for that! Preschoolers’ brains are wired to learn as much vocabulary as possible. So don’t underestimate them: give them all the words you can! Use the most specific terms possible and they will soak them up like a sponge.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends
(tune of Goodnight, Ladies)
Hello, friends! Hello, friends!
Hello, friends, it’s time to say hello!
Hello, [name 1], hello, [name 2]!
Hello, [name 3], it’s time to say hello!
(ASL motions: salute for “hello,” then take the index fingers on each hand and you link them together as though they are hugging each other back and forth for “friends”)
Credit: Glenside Public Library District

We did a repeated warm up each week to get everyone loosened up.
Warm-Up Rhyme: Roly Poly
(Roll arms and change voice to coordinate with the lyrics)
Roly poly, roly, poly, up, up, up
Roly poly, roly, poly, down, down, down
Roly poly, roly, poly, out, out, out
Roly poly, roly, poly, in, in, in
Roly poly, roly, poly, BIG, BIG, BIG
Roly poly, roly, poly, very, very small
Roly poly, roly, poly, fast, fast, fast, fast, fast!
Rol…ly… po…ly… in… your… lap
Credit: Rebecca Jane Flanagan

Read: Dinosaur Vs. the Library by Bob Shea

The flannel can be used for both this song and “One Dinosaur Went Out to Play,” below, and the template is available at Mel’s Desk.
Action Song: All Through the Swamp
(tune of Wheels on the Bus)
The Tyrannosaurus Rex goes grr grr grr
Grr grr grr, Grr grr grr
The Tyrannosaurus Rex goes grr grr grr
All through the swamp

Additional verses:
The Stegosaurus’ tail goes swish, swish, swish…
The Brachiosaurus’ mouth goes munch, munch, munch…
The Pteranodon’s wings go flap, flap, flap…
Credit: Mel’s Desk

laminated dinosaurs and fern for the flannelboard.  Includes a yellow stegosaurus, orange t. rex, purple pteranodon, blue triceratops, and red brachiosaurus.

Song: Dino Ditty
(tune of Do Wah Diddy Diddy)
Here they come just a stompin’ with their feet (stomp)
Singing “Dino ditty, ditty, dum ditty do”
Searchin’ around for something good to eat
Singin’ “Dino ditty, ditty, dum ditty do.”
They’re big! (They’re big!)
They’re strong! (They’re strong!)
They’re big, They’re strong, won’t be hungry very long!
Singin’ “Dino ditty, ditty, dum ditty do…”

Additional verses:
Here they come just a flying through the sky (flying motions)
Singing “Dino ditty, ditty, dum ditty do”
Looking around for a good fish pie…

Here they come just a swimming in the lake (swimming motions)
Singin’ “Dino ditty, ditty, dum ditty do”
Looking around for a good clam bake…
Credit: King County Library System (WA)

Read: Crunch, the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap & Greg Pizzoli

Breathing Break: Soup Breathing
This was part of our repeated activities in June. I asked the kids to imagine they were holding a bowl of their very favorite soup, and asked what kind they liked. Then with their hands cupped in front of them, we slowly breathed in the delicious aroma of their very favorite soup through their noses, then slowly and gently breathed out through their mouths to cool off this hot soup. We repeated about 5 times, and after the 1st time with explanation, I used my Hoberman sphere to help them visualize the in and out breaths. Afterward, I let them know that this exercise always makes me feel good and more grounded, and they could always get out their bowl of soup if they need help calming down or feeling more connected to their bodies.
Credit: Lucky Little Learners

Another repeated activity during June.
Song: Look at All the Bunnies
Look at all the bunnies sleeping til it’s nearly noon
Shall we wake them with a merry tune?
Oh so still! Are they ill?
Wake up, wake up, wake up little bunnies
Wake up, wake up, wake up little bunnies
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Stop little bunnies, stop, stop, stop
And…. 1, 2, 3, SILLY FREEZE!
Credit: King County Library System

Action Rhyme: Dinosaur Stretch
Spread your arms, way out wide
Fly like Pteranodon, soar and glide
Bend to the floor, head down low
Move like Stegosaurus, long ago
Reach up tall, try to be
As tall as Brachiosaurus eating on a tree
Using your claws, grumble and growl
Just like Tyrannosaurus Rex on the prowl
Credit: Storytime Katie

Recorded Song: We Are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner

In the virtual session, I did this song instead of the recorded one:
Ukulele/Flannel Song: One Dinosaur Went Out to Play
(tune of Five Little Ducks)
One dinosaur went out to play
By a giant fern one day
She had such enormous fun
That she called for another dinosaur to come:
Oh, Diiiiiiiiiinosaur! (slap hands on thighs)

(count up to 5)
Last line:

…That they played until the day was done!
Credit: Mel’s Desk

Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

Thumbnail of ukulele songsheet for One Dinosaur Went Out to Play

Craft: Shape-o-Saurus
Make a dino using simple shapes. I created a template to get all the shapes for two dinos on one sheet of construction paper, which you can download here. I printed them on red, green, and purple, but you could do any color you like.

Printable Shape-o-Saurus Template

photo of shape-o-saurus craft - purple shapes on a black paper make a stegosaurus.  triangles, half-circles, circles, and rectangles make up the body.

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
We Love Dinosaurs
by Lucy Volpin
We Are the Dinosaurs
by Laurie Berkner & Ben Clanton
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
by Ryan T. Higgins

Goodbye Song: See You Later, Alligator
(tune of Clementine)
See you later, alligator (wave with one hand, then the other)
In a while, crocodile (open and shut arms like a croc’s mouth)
Give a hug, ladybug (hug yourself or a loved one)
Blow a kiss, jellyfish! MWAH! (move hand like a jellyfish then blow a kiss!)
Credit: King County Library System

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented in-person and virtually on 6/22/21.

Storytime Handout:

Parks Department Outreach

Our local parks department runs a summer half-day camp for preschoolers, and asked the library to come out for a story and craft session once a week. It was another outdoor opportunity to connect with our community, so I was happy to do it! We had time each week for a book, a song, and a craft, and the kiddos were a lot of fun. The camp had their own weekly themes, so I tailored each session to what they were already doing. Where I could, I then used any overlapping animal themes for my weekly library storytime (dinosaurs, arctic, jungle), but did something different the weeks they had non-animal themes (transportation, olympics).

Pets: 6/17/21

I’d done a pet theme a few months earlier, so this was an easy one. I got to read a book that was a little long for my “all ages/family” virtual program, but was perfect for a group of preschoolers. I did a different voice for each pet and really hammed it up. They loved it! For our song, I wanted to get the ukulele out, so did “How Much is that Pet in the Window.” Their “job” was to make the animal noises after each line, and they took that job *very* seriously. 🙂

Book: Mr Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by Stacy McAnulty & Edward Hemingway

book cover of Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He's the Favorite

Song: How Much Is that Pet in the Window?
How much is that doggy in the window? Woof woof!
The one with the waggily tail?
How much is that doggy in the window? Woof woof!
I do hope that doggy’s for sale

Additional verses: (What do other animals do and say?)
Kitty…meow…whiskers so long
Bird… tweet tweet…flappity wings
Rabbit…hop hop…hoppity legs
Fish… glub glub… swimmy fins
Credit: Jen in the Library

Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

Thumbnail of ukulele songsheet for How Much is that Doggie in the Window

Craft: Paper Plate Fishbowls
In the past I’d used dried beans for the aquarium rocks, but for simplicity and weight I used crispy rice cereal for this group. My photo is from my original sample.

photo of fishbowl craft - paper plate colored blue, with multicolored dried beans glued to the bottom, tissue paper aquatic plants, and two goldfish with googly eyes.

Dinosaurs: 6/24/21

Again, I’ve done dinosaurs in the past (pre-blog), so it was easy to pull together a song and book. I figured out the chords for Five Little Ducks the way I sing it (which seems to be a little different from a lot of the chord sheets I looked at, strangely enough). I also had flannel board dino pieces that I brought along and held up for each new dinosaur. They were from a template on the Mel’s Desk blog.

Book: We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

book cover of We Don't Eat our Classmates

Ukulele Song: One Dinosaur Went Out to Play
(tune of Five Little Ducks)
One dinosaur went out to play
By a giant fern one day
She had such enormous fun
That she called for another dinosaur to come:
“Oh, Diiiiiiiiiiiinosaur!” (slap thighs for “running” sounds)

(count up to 5)
Last line:

…That they played until the day was done!
Credit: Mel’s Desk

Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

Thumbnail of ukulele songsheet for One Dinosaur Went Out to Play

Craft: Shape-o-Saurus
Make a dino using simple shapes. This was a tough one to do on a windy day – shapes blew everywhere! But the kids still enjoyed it. I created a template to get all the shapes for two dinos on one sheet of construction paper, which you can download here. I printed them on red, green, and purple, but you could do any color you like.

Printable Shape-o-Saurus Template

photo of shape-o-saurus craft - purple shapes on a black paper make a stegosaurus.  triangles, half-circles, circles, and rectangles make up the body.

Transportation: 6/28/21

Another easily adapted theme from sessions I’ve done in the past. I used a new-to-me book and tried to keep the craft as simple as possible. I figured a familiar song would be welcome and the kiddos were happy to call out the Wheels on the Bus verses we did together.

Book: Toad on the Road: A Cautionary Tale by Stephen Shaskan

book cover of Toad on the Road

Ukulele Song: The Wheels on the Bus
The wheels on the bus go round and round, (circle arms)
Round and round, Round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
All through the town.

Additional verses:
The wipers on the bus go Swish, swish, swish (wiper motion)
The doors on the bus go open and shut (open/close hands)
The horn on the bus goes Beep, beep, beep (push a horn)
The driver on the bus says “Move on back” (cock thumb back)
The people on the bus go up and down (bounce up and down)
The baby on the bus says “Wah, wah, wah” (wring hands at eyes)
The parents on the bus say “Shush, shush, shush.” (bring index finger to lips)

Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

Thumbnail of ukulele songsheet for The Wheels on the Bus

Craft: Name Train
Simple craft this time. I printed a train engine on two halves of 11×17 paper and provided construction paper squares to make cars. (My cars were too big for kids to have one per letter, so we figured out how to get their name on using 4 cars or less…) For a little extra sensory experience, we glued down cotton ball steam – which is hard to see in the picture!

Download the train template (print to 11×17 paper and cut in half)

photo of name train craft.  long rectangular (5.5"x17") white paper with a train engine printed on the left side, followed by purple, green, blue, and orange rectangles behind it.  Letters on each train car spell EMILY.  Cotton is glued to the smoke stack on the engine.

Arctic: 7/15/21

A cold weather theme for the middle of summer! I had an inflatable globe I’d intended to bring to point out the arctic and antarctic (the fact that polar bears and penguins get grouped together is one of my pet peeves), but I’d left it behind. Oh, well, next time! I also left the ukulele at home this week on purpose – our song worked better with motions, and I brought our storytime scarves for it. I added a verse about the dryer since it felt wrong to wash without drying!

Book: A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett & Shawn Harris

book cover of A Polar Bear in the Snow

Scarf Song: The Walrus Washes His Winter Coat
Oh, the walrus washes his winter coat
Down by the wavy ocean
He adds some water and he adds some soap
and he waits…and he waits…and he waits.

Then the laundry shakes, shakes, shakes
The laundry shakes and shakes and shakes
The laundry shakes, shakes, shakes
until it’s clean. (repeat)

Additional verses:
The laundry spins … until it’s clean
The laundry tumbles … until it’s dry
Credit: Brytani Fraser via Jbrary

Craft: Polar Bear Scene
This was inspired by Tompkins County Public Library (NY). I printed a picture of a polar bear on dark blue construction paper, and gave kids chalk and cotton balls. They could choose to fill the bear with either chalk or cotton, or the snow (or really, whatever they wanted.) I showed them examples of both and let them go. It was fun to see the variety of what they made.

Olympics: 7/22/21

This theme was actually not one I’d ever done before, so I pulled a lot of books to see what might fit. I considered Peanut Goes for the Gold by Jonathan Van Ness & Gillian Reid – it’s super cute and a pretty recent title (plus, Peanut uses they/them pronouns – bonus!), but ultimately decided to go with Jabari Jumps. I’d thought it would be more relatable, and worked with the song I’d chosen. Our craft was an abstract process art piece that the kids really got into.

Book: Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

book cover of Jabari Jumps

Ukulele Song: If You’re Going to the Pool
(tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It)
If you’re going to the pool, wear your suit
If you’re going to the pool, wear your suit
If you’re going to the pool, then a suit will keep you cool
If you’re going to the pool, wear your suit
(Additional verses: hat, flip flops, sunglasses, what else?)
Credit: Teeny Tiny Library

Craft: Olympic Rings
Inspired by the Happy Hooligans blog, this was a simple process art. I brought paper plates, tempera paint, toilet paper tubes, and construction paper, showed them how to make a ring, and let them at it! Some were done in three minutes, some lingered for ten.

photo of olympic ring craft - rings are randomly stamped on the page from toilet paper tubes in black, red, yellow, green, red, and blue.

Jungle: 7/29/21

The last session! Our book was on the longer side and the group got a little wiggly during it, so perhaps it is a better fit for slightly older kids – maybe kindergarten. The other option I was thinking of was Oh, No! by Candace Fleming & Eric Rohmann, which might have been better with the interactive option for the repeated phrase. I set up the chant by talking about monkeys and what the phrase “go bananas” meant – that helped them know exactly what to do on the last line! And the craft was one I was pretty proud of – I’d seen this lion fork painting at Crafty Morning and adapted the idea to painting the tiger’s stripes! (Since grouping savanna animals with jungle animals is another pet peeve of mine…) I found a picture of a stripeless tiger, made some jungle leaves, and the kids built their scene.

Book: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

book cover of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Action Chant: Bananas Unite!
Bananas……unite!
Peel bananas, peel, peel bananas (x2)
Chop bananas, chop chop bananas (x2)
Mash bananas, mash mash bananas (x2)
Eat bananas, eat, eat bananas (x2)
Goooooooooo BANANAS!
Credit: Jbrary

Craft: Tiger in the Jungle
I asked the kids to glue down all the parts and pieces first – leaves and tiger, then gave them forks to dip into black paint to add the stripes. Lastly, they could draw any other elements on their page, such as vines or other animals.

picture of tiger craft - orange tiger on a green paper, with 4 different colored leaves glued on.  The tiger's stripes are made with the tines of a fork.

A Hoppy, Jumpy Family Storytime

Photograph of storytime, showing families on the grass and me presenting.

In a further attempt to keep us moving and engaged, I used two books that were smaller/standard size, but big on interactivity for this week’s storytime. Both of them focused on animals that jump and hop! I remember that it was a pretty hot and humid day – can you see most of my families clumped in the shady area to the back? I think we’d mostly lost steam by the time we got to the Croaky Pokey, but the kids did seem to enjoy the party noisemakers that I put in their bags to simulate the *thwap* of the frogs’ tongues!

You can see the virtual program that does not include the full books read aloud here.

Early Literacy Tip: We do a lot of singing in storytime! Singing is important to early language development because it slows down language and there is often a different note for each syllable. Both of these help children hear the smaller sounds in words. This will later help them sound out words as they learn to read. And don’t worry about how you sound. Your kids love your voice and the fun you have singing together.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends
(tune of Goodnight, Ladies)
Hello, friends! Hello, friends!
Hello, friends, it’s time to say hello!
Hello, [name 1], hello, [name 2]!
Hello, [name 3], it’s time to say hello!
(ASL motions: salute for “hello,” then take the index fingers on each hand and you link them together as though they are hugging each other back and forth for “friends”)
Credit: Glenside Public Library District

We did a repeated warm up each week to get everyone loosened up.
Warm-Up Rhyme: Roly Poly
(Roll arms and change voice to coordinate with the lyrics)
Roly poly, roly, poly, up, up, up
Roly poly, roly, poly, down, down, down
Roly poly, roly, poly, out, out, out
Roly poly, roly, poly, in, in, in
Roly poly, roly, poly, BIG, BIG, BIG
Roly poly, roly, poly, very, very small
Roly poly, roly, poly, fast, fast, fast, fast, fast!
Rol…ly… po…ly… in… your… lap
Credit: Rebecca Jane Flanagan

Read/Sing: If You’re Hoppy by April Pulley Sayre & Jackie Urbanovic

I made up a new verse for this song for a little gray bunny. The “crunch-a-munch-a-munch” was for some carrot-eating, and the motion I picked was a cross between Bugs Bunny and Groucho Marx waggling a carrot/cigar. (Wait, was Bugs Bunny imitating Groucho? Lightbulb moment!)
Song: Mmm-ah Went the Little Green Frog
Mmm-ahh went the little green frog one day,
Mmm-ahh went the little green frog
Mmm ahh went the little green frog one day,
And they all went mmm, mmm, ahh
But… We know frogs go sha-na-na-na-na
Sha-na-na-na-na, Sha-na-na-na-na
We know frogs go sha-na-na-na-na
They don’t go mmm, mmm, ahh!

Hop, Hop went the little gray bunny one day…
But… We know bunnies go crunch-a-munch-a-munch…

Grr, Grr went the big brown bear one day…
But… We know bears go huggy-huggy-hug…
Credit: adapted from Jbrary

During the virtual program, I used my log prop, but since it’s pretty small just did hand motions for the outdoor session.
Counting Song: Five Green & Speckled Frogs
Five green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs (yum, yum)
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were four green speckled frogs
(count down)
Credit: traditional

Five Speckled Frogs prop - paper towel tube with 5 frog tabs that can be pushed downward to show a wave on the opposite side.

Breathing Break: Soup Breathing
This was part of our repeated activities in June. I asked the kids to imagine they were holding a bowl of their very favorite soup, and asked what kind they liked. Then with their hands cupped in front of them, we slowly breathed in the delicious aroma of their very favorite soup through their noses, then slowly and gently breathed out through their mouths to cool off this hot soup. We repeated about 5 times, and after the 1st time with explanation, I used my Hoberman sphere to help them visualize the in and out breaths. Afterward, I let them know that this exercise always makes me feel good and more grounded, and they could always get out their bowl of soup if they need help calming down or feeling more connected to their bodies.
Credit: Lucky Little Learners

Another repeated activity during June.
Song: Look at All the Bunnies
Look at all the bunnies sleeping til it’s nearly noon
Shall we wake them with a merry tune?
Oh so still! Are they ill?
Wake up, wake up, wake up little bunnies
Wake up, wake up, wake up little bunnies
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Stop little bunnies, stop, stop, stop
And…. 1, 2, 3, SILLY FREEZE!
Credit: King County Library System

Fingerplay: Mr. Bullfrog
Here is Mr. Bullfrog (make fist)
Sitting on a rock (place fist on other palm)
He jumps into the water… (lift fist)
KERPLOP! (clap hands together)
Credit: Storytime with Miss Tara and Friends

I invited the group to get out their party noisemakers from their packets during this book and use them everytime the frog went “Thwap!” As I mentioned, it was hot and by this time the kids weren’t doing the hokey pokey movements, but there were a lot of “Thwaps” happening!
Read/Sing: The Croaky Pokey! by Ethan Long

Three multi-colored party noisemakers, which when blown, unwrap like a frog's tongue.

Recorded Song: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

In the virtual version, I did this song instead of Teddy Bear. I realized that morning I had forgotten my three frog rasp instruments that I usually use for this song, so improvised with a plain rasp we have at the library and used three different sounding implements to make a big, middle, and small sound.
Instrument Song: Three Frogs in a Bog
(find 3 instruments (even pots and pans!) that make a big/deep sound, a middle sound, and a little/high sound to imitate the frogs)
There was a big frog (big sound, big sound)
Lived in a big bog (big, big)
He swam in the water (big, big)
Played on a big log (big, big)
Big log (big, big)
Big bog (big, big)
Big frog (big, big)

(repeat for middle-sized and little frogs)
And then one day (big sound, middle sound, little sound)
The frogs got together (big, middle, little)
They swam in the water (big, middle, little)
In the bright sunny weather (big, middle, little)
Three frogs (big, middle, little)
Three friends (big, middle, little)
The end! (big, middle, little)
Credit: Ada Moreau Demlow

Screenshot of video, showing the rasp instrument and me holding three implements to make different sounds on it.

Craft: Jumpy Frog
There are LOTS of frog crafts out there. I didn’t want anything too intricate since I was short on time and needed to make a lot of them, so settled on a frog with accordion-folded arms and legs. I was inspired by this craft at All Kids Network but decided to simplify the head and make the body more squat and oval shaped, and leaving off the tongue and separate mouth piece entirely. My template works well printed on regular paper, then stapled to a few sheets of green construction paper to cut out. The blank side and top parts can be cut into 1 inch strips for the arms and legs.

Download the template here!

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Leap!
by JonArno Lawson & Josée Bisaillon
Ah Ha!
by Jeff Mack

Goodbye Song: See You Later, Alligator
(tune of Clementine)
See you later, alligator (wave with one hand, then the other)
In a while, crocodile (open and shut arms like a croc’s mouth)
Give a hug, ladybug (hug yourself or a loved one)
Blow a kiss, jellyfish! MWAH! (move hand like a jellyfish then blow a kiss!)
Credit: King County Library System

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented in-person and virtually on 6/15/21.

Storytime Handout:

Hooray for… Family Storytime

photo of outdoor storytime

I was really happy to find a Big Book copy of Hooray for Hat in our library consortium that I could borrow – it was the newest large-format title I could find. It seems like all of the others are quite a bit older, and I like to present newer material when I can. I paired this one with Hooray for Birds, which has a lot of movement, interaction, and bright, bold pictures – perfect for a socially distanced outdoor storytime.

I was fortunate that the weather held every Tuesday for outdoor storytime this summer. On this particular day, it had rained early in the morning, and chances were good for rain at around 11:30 AM, so I chanced it with my 10:30 program and it worked out perfectly. Since the grass was very wet, we moved to a large brick courtyard my library is fortunate to have. I asked if families liked this better than the grass throughout the summer, but they liked the softness of the yard for future programs – as long as it was dry!

You can see the virtual program that does not include the full books read aloud here.

Early Literacy Tip: Although it might get old for grownups, repetition is the bread and butter of early learning! When kids ask for the same book/song/rhyme/activity over and over again, their brain is creating neural pathways to learn the words, narrative structure, actions and more. You might offer suggestions to add a new twist to the activity, but it’s okay to repeat exactly, too.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends
(tune of Goodnight, Ladies)
Hello, friends! Hello, friends!
Hello, friends, it’s time to say hello!
Hello, [name 1], hello, [name 2]!
Hello, [name 3], it’s time to say hello!
(ASL motions: salute for “hello,” then take the index fingers on each hand and you link them together as though they are hugging each other back and forth for “friends”)
Credit: Glenside Public Library District

We did a repeated warm up each week to get everyone loosened up.
Warm-Up Rhyme: Roly Poly
(Roll arms and change voice to coordinate with the lyrics)
Roly poly, roly, poly, up, up, up
Roly poly, roly, poly, down, down, down
Roly poly, roly, poly, out, out, out
Roly poly, roly, poly, in, in, in
Roly poly, roly, poly, BIG, BIG, BIG
Roly poly, roly, poly, very, very small
Roly poly, roly, poly, fast, fast, fast, fast, fast!
Rol…ly… po…ly… in… your… lap
Credit: Rebecca Jane Flanagan

Read: Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won
I asked the group to repeat the phrases “Go away, I’m grumpy!” in their best grumpy voices, and “Hooray for hat!” in their best happy voices.

I put a simple cone party hat in each kid’s packet, and asked them to use it for this song.
Song: Silly Hat Song
(tune of This Old Man)
On my head, I wear my hat
It is such a silly hat!
That my head will wiggle waggle to and fro
Where else can my silly hat go?
Repeat with other body parts: foot, elbow, etc
Credit: Johnson County Library (KS)

For my virtual program, I used the emotions faces from Sunflower Storytime to demonstrate the feelings, but that was too much to deal with for the in-person program.
Ukulele Song: If You’re Happy
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap!)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap!)
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap!)

Additional verses:
Grumpy – stomp your feet
Silly – do a dance
Sad – say boo-hoo
Credit: traditional

Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

thumbnail for ukulele songsheet
simple faces showing emotions: teal scared, pink happy, blue sad, red mad, green surprised, and yellow silly.

Read: from the book Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander & Ekua Holmes, et al.
I read the poem “Majestic” by Kwame Alexander, and explained it was about an inspiring poet named Maya Angelou, but it could apply to all of us.

Breathing Break: Soup Breathing
This was part of our repeated activities in June. I asked the kids to imagine they were holding a bowl of their very favorite soup, and asked what kind they liked. Then with their hands cupped in front of them, we slowly breathed in the delicious aroma of their very favorite soup through their noses, then slowly and gently breathed out through their mouths to cool off this hot soup. We repeated about 5 times, and after the 1st time with explanation, I used my Hoberman sphere to help them visualize the in and out breaths. Afterward, I let them know that this exercise always makes me feel good and more grounded, and they could always get out their bowl of soup if they need help calming down or feeling more connected to their bodies.
Credit: Lucky Little Learners

Another repeated activity during June.
Song: Look at All the Bunnies
Look at all the bunnies sleeping til it’s nearly noon
Shall we wake them with a merry tune?
Oh so still! Are they ill?
Wake up, wake up, wake up little bunnies
Wake up, wake up, wake up little bunnies
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Stop little bunnies, stop, stop, stop
And…. 1, 2, 3, SILLY FREEZE!
Credit: King County Library System

Being in person allowed me to do some recorded music in a way I really didn’t let myself do virtually. This song was omitted in the virtual version.
Recorded Song: Silly Dance Contest by Jim Gill

Fingerplay: Two Little Blackbirds
(use two fingers or thumbs to follow motions)
Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill
One named Jack, one named Jill
Fly away, Jack, fly away, Jill
Come back, Jack, come back Jill

Additional verses:
Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud
One named Quiet, one named Loud…
Two little blackbirds flying in the sky
One named Low and one named High…
Two little blackbirds sitting on a pole.
One named Fast and one named Slow…
Credit: traditional

Read: Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins

Recorded Song: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

In the virtual version, I played a ukulele song instead of the recording, and used animals from the books we read:
Ukulele Song: Duck On Her Head
Ms. Emily’s got a duck on her head
Ms. Emily’s got a duck on her head
Ms. Emily’s got a duck on her head
And she keeps it there all day! (Quack, quack!)
Repeat with children’s names and other animals.
Credit: Laurie Berkner (Original song is “Pig on Her Head”)

Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

thumbnail for ukulele songsheet

Craft: Hooray for Birds Craft
Inspired by these birds at the Happy Hooligans blog, I provided a paper plate, construction paper beak and strips for tailfeathers, and embellishments like feathers and sequins.

paper plate craft of a bird.  plate is painted yellow and purple, has long tailfeathers, feathers glued to the body, and sequins.

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Grumpy Pants
by Claire Messer
Hooray for Kids!
by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang
Birds of a Color
by élo

Goodbye Song: See You Later, Alligator
(tune of Clementine)
See you later, alligator (wave with one hand, then the other)
In a while, crocodile (open and shut arms like a croc’s mouth)
Give a hug, ladybug (hug yourself or a loved one)
Blow a kiss, jellyfish! MWAH! (move hand like a jellyfish then blow a kiss!)
Credit: King County Library System

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented in-person and virtually on 6/8/21.

Storytime Handout:

Farm/I Went Walking Family Storytime

Hello, blog, old friend! Do I even remember how to write you?! I decided early in the summer that I would concentrate on my programming and not worry about getting blog posts done, and I think that was wise. As a part-timer, I felt like I had just enough time to plan and present 2-3 programs each week and didn’t have the extra mental capacity to get a blog post done, too. But it’s good to be back.

This summer I offered my community our first in-person storytimes since March 2020. We were outdoors, in a nice big lawn area just outside the library, and it was fantastic. I didn’t realize how much I was longing for that in-person interaction during a year of virtual programming until I got out there with the kiddos and families. It was refreshing and rejuvenating! I also continued to record a virtual version of each week’s storytime, as well as doing a short outreach to our preschool parks department day-camp once a week.

This wasn’t without new challenges! Although I had done outdoor storytimes at a previous job, I hadn’t done them spaced out so much and didn’t need amplification before. With a large space to cover, we purchased a speaker with a hands-free mic. I knew I needed to keep everyone engaged, so I focused on more movement and interactive activities than I had been doing. And with the pent-up demand for programming, I went from making 8 weekly Take & Make craft packets to making 30 or 40!

Although I made sure to have a connection to animals each week to support our Tails & Tales summer topic, my themes were much looser than usual, which is not a bad thing. My rhymes and songs had some tangential thread, but were not all focused on one THING. As the summer progressed, I may have slipped back into thematic thinking – I think that’s just how my brain organizes activity – but I always had some repeating and unrelated extension activities. It’s something I’ll likely feel freer to incorporate in my planning going forward.

Anyway, on to the content! Our library has a good number of big books, so I pulled from them as much as I could, as well as more interactive titles that weren’t so dependent on the pictures. It seemed to go well, despite my nerves at being in front of real people for the first time in awhile! I also incorporated some mindful breathing exercises, which were honestly helpful for me to remember to slow down!

You can see the virtual program that does not include the full books read aloud here.
I decided to start bookmarking my videos for each activity/transition, so they are hopefully easier to navigate. Look at the full description to see and jump to timestamps of each activity.

Early Literacy Tip: Learning to “stop” is an important skill for children, both for safety as well as for impulse control. Practicing “stopping” in a fun way, like with freeze songs, helps work on this skill in a positive environment. We did this with the songs “Walking, Walking,” “Look at All the Bunnies,” and Jim Gill’s “Silly Dance Contest.” You can also add the American Sign Language sign for “stop” to further reinforce this concept: one hand “chops” against the other as if blocking the way.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

I decided to do a second welcome song which incorporates kids’ names to help me learn/relearn them faster! It was popular, and kids seemed to light up when their name was sung. I do the “friends” verse once, then repeat the name verse as many times as I need to cover everyone. I also liked that this song lets us get through names quickly, making it feasable even with a largish group. As the summer went by, I found that calling out 3 names before singing the verse helped everyone sing along. I encouraged everyone to give a big wave and hello to the kids named after each verse, too. I think I’ll continue to use this one going forward!
Welcome Song: Hello, Friends
(tune of Goodnight, Ladies)
Hello, friends! Hello, friends!
Hello, friends, it’s time to say hello!
Hello, [name 1], hello, [name 2]!
Hello, [name 3], it’s time to say hello!
(ASL motions: salute for “hello,” then take the index fingers on each hand and you link them together as though they are hugging each other back and forth for “friends”)
Credit: Glenside Public Library District

We did a repeated warm up each week to get everyone loosened up.
Warm-Up Rhyme: Roly Poly
(Roll arms and change voice to coordinate with the lyrics)
Roly poly, roly, poly, up, up, up
Roly poly, roly, poly, down, down, down
Roly poly, roly, poly, out, out, out
Roly poly, roly, poly, in, in, in
Roly poly, roly, poly, BIG, BIG, BIG
Roly poly, roly, poly, very, very small
Roly poly, roly, poly, fast, fast, fast, fast, fast!
Rol…ly… po…ly… in… your… lap
Credit: Rebecca Jane Flanagan

I wanted something familiar everyone could join!
Song: Row Your Boat
(move arms back and forth as if to row & match the song)
Row, row, row your boat
gently (quickly/slowly/quietly/loudly) down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream!
Credit: traditional, via Jbrary

Read: I Went Walking by Sue Williams & Julie Vivas (Big Book)

Movement Song: Walking, Walking
(tune of Frère Jacques)
Walking, walking (Walking, walking)
Hop, hop, hop (Hop, hop, hop)
Running, running, running (Running, running, running)
Now we stop (Now we stop)
(repeat, substituting other movements in the first line like tiptoe or marching)
Credit: Jbrary

Fingerplay: This is Big, Big, Big
This is big, big, big (hold arms out to side)
This is small, small, small (cup hands together)
This is short, short, short (flat hand lowers)
This is tall, tall, tall (flat hand reaches up)
This is fast, fast, fast (circle fists quickly)
This is slow, slow, slow (circle fists slowly)
This is yes, yes, yes (nod head)
This is no, no, no (shake head)
Credit: Mel’s Desk

Breathing Break: Soup Breathing
I asked the kids to imagine they were holding a bowl of their very favorite soup, and asked what kind they liked. I got some good ones – tomato, potato, lentil, sausage, noodle, chicken, nacho! So, with their hands cupped in front of them, we slowly breathed in the delicious aroma of their very favorite soup through their noses, then slowly and gently breathed out through their mouths to cool off this hot soup. We repeated about 5 times, and after the 1st time with explanation, I used my Hoberman sphere to help them visualize the in and out breaths. Afterward, I let them know that this exercise always makes me feel good and more grounded, and they could always get out their bowl of soup if they need help calming down or feeling more connected to their bodies.
Credit: Lucky Little Learners

(In our virtual program, I booktalked My Mindful Walk with Grandma by Sheri Mabry & Wazza Pink after our Breathing Break)

After taking the energy down, I wanted to bring us back up. This was a song I’d never heard of, but several people suggested to me when I asked on Storytime Underground what a good Low to High energy song was. It was perfect! At the final stop, I did a “Freeze” like in the first KCLS video, and quickly learned that I am AWFUL at coming up with freeze poses on the fly.
Song: Look at All the Bunnies
Look at all the bunnies sleeping til it’s nearly noon
Shall we wake them with a merry tune?
Oh so still! Are they ill?
Wake up, wake up, wake up little bunnies
Wake up, wake up, wake up little bunnies
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Stop little bunnies, stop, stop, stop
And…. 1, 2, 3, SILLY FREEZE!
Credit: King County Library System

Being in person allowed me to do some recorded music in a way I really didn’t let myself do virtually.
Recorded Song: Silly Dance Contest by Jim Gill

Big, clear pictures and highly interactive – Jan Thomas is always a good choice for storytime! It was probably pretty painful to hear me try to manically sing the chicken dance song, though… 🙂 In my virtual program, I acted out the story using a chicken puppet and an alligator puppet. The success of which I’ll let you judge for yourself. I opted to just read the story in-person!
Read: Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas

Thanks to Annamarie of Bookcart Queens for introducing me to Jazzy Ash. Her Teddy Bear is so much fun! I highly recommend checking out her blog post on diversifying storytime music, too!
Recorded Song: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

(In my virtual program, I played my ukulele instead of doing the recorded songs.)
Ukulele Song: Shake My Sillies Out
I gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
And wiggle my waggles away!

Additional verses:
I gotta clap, clap, clap my crazies out…
I gotta jump, jump, jump my jiggles out…
I gotta stretch, stretch, stretch my stretchies out…
I gotta yawn, yawn, yawn my sleepies out…
Credit: Raffi (from the album Raffi in Concert with the Rise and Shine Band)

Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

thumbnail of "shake my sillies out" ukulele song

Craft: I Went Walking Scene
I cobbled this one together after seeing elements from different places. The animals I found in a PDF from The Mailbox and sized them to be able to fit on my background, which I created in Canva. Kids could draw themselves at the far right of the page, then line up the animals behind them from the order in the book and retell the story.

Download the templates here!

I added a goodbye song just because I was enamored of this one I saw on the King County Tell Me a Story page.
Action Song: See You Later, Alligator
(tune of Clementine)
See you later, alligator (wave with one hand, then the other)
In a while, crocodile (open and shut arms like a croc’s mouth)
Give a hug, ladybug (hug yourself or a loved one)
Blow a kiss, jellyfish! MWAH! (move hand like a jellyfish then blow a kiss!)
Credit: King County Library System

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Turtle Walk
by Matt Phelan
Taking Time
by Jo Loring-Fisher
Farmyard Beat
by Lindsey Craig & Marc Brown

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented in-person and virtually on 6/1/21.

Storytime Handout:

Preschool Storytime: Hello & Goodbye

This was the end of my storytime season – at my library we take the month of May off for planning our summer reading program. We start back up in June, and I’ll be doing OUTDOOR STORYTIMES! I’m very excited to be seeing the kids and caregivers in person again (and a little scared, too – will I remember names? Will it be terrible? Have I lost all my in-person skills?) Deep breath – we’ll be good.

You can see the virtual program that does not include the full books read aloud here.

Early Literacy Tip: Helping children cope with transitions is something we caregivers can do mindfully, whether going from one activity to another or going to a new school or moving to a new house. Ease into transitions by creating or continuing routines that evolve as a child gets older. A goodbye routine might be a special hug and kiss, but can evolve into pat and a smile by the time they are “big kids.” Simple songs can signal going to bed (it’s time to go bed, it’s time to go bed, heigh-ho the derry-o, it’s time to go to bed) or time alerts (5 minutes until bed… 3 minutes until bed…) As you show your child ways to cope, they will develop their own internal transition skills.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Rhyme: How Do You Say Hello?
Hey! Hi! Howdy! Yo!
There are many ways to say hello!
Wave your hand. Nod your head
Smile big or wink instead
Blow a kiss. Tip your hat
Shake your hands. Give a pat
Of all the ways to say hello,
Here’s the way I like to go…
HELLO! (choose your favorite!)
Credit: Storytime Katie

In this book, a little girl named Carmelita loves to say hello to all the people in her neighborhood. Many of them speak a different language, so she’s learned to say hello many different ways.
Read: Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora

Fingerplay: Where is Thumbkin?
Where is Thumbkin? Where is Thumbkin?
Here I am! Here I am!
How are you today, friend? Very well, I thank you!
Say goodbye. Say goodbye.
Credit: adapted from the traditional

Action Song: Say Hello to Your Toes
(tune of London Bridge)
Say hello to your toes, to your toes, to your toes!
Say hello to your toes. Hello, toes!
(repeat for knees, tummies, elbows, middle, etc.)
Credit: Storytime Secrets
via the Reading Room

Fingerplay: Open, Shut Them (Hello/Goodbye Version)
Open, shut them, open, shut them
Put your hands down low, low, low
Open, shut them, open, shut them
Wave and say hello-lo-lo!

Open, shut them, open, shut them
Raise your hands up high, high, high
Open, shut them, open, shut them
Wave and say goodbye, bye, bye!
Credit: One Little Librarian

This one is a little long, but it’s so sweet.
Read: Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari & Patrice Barton

Using this farm set from Oriental Trading, I hid various animals behind farm objects, with little bits of them sticking out.
Flannel Song: Can We Find?
(tune of Do You Know the Muffin Man?)
Can we find a pink pig? A pink pig? A pink pig?
Can we find a pink pig? We want to say HELLO! (oink, oink!)
(can be used for any hide-and-seek type game at home!)
Credit: Sunflower Storytime

Action Song: See You Later, Alligator
(tune of Clementine)
See you later, alligator (wave with one hand, then the other)
In a while, crocodile (open and shut arms like a croc’s mouth)
Give a hug, ladybug (hug yourself or a loved one)
Blow a kiss, jellyfish! MWAH! (blow a kiss!)
(can you think of other goodbye rhymes? wave goodbye, butterfly, toodle-oo, kangaroo, gotta go, buffalo, take care, teddy bear, etc)
Credit: King County Library System

Discuss: This is our last storytime before our summer programs, so we’ll be saying goodbye for a little while, but I’ll be planning and getting ready to have some amazing fun storytimes for you starting again in June. This next book is about how saying goodbye to one thing always means saying hello to something else.

Read: Goodbye Brings Hello by Dianne White & Daniel Wiseman

Action Rhyme: Thank You Rhyme
My hands say thank you with a clap, clap, clap
And my feet say thank you with a tap, tap, tap
Clap, clap, clap; tap, tap, tap
We roll our hands around and we say goodbye
Credit: Mansfield/Richland County Public Library (OH)

Ukulele Song: Hello Goodbye
See songsheet for lyrics. I couldn’t resist singing this classic Beatles tune for a Hello & Goodbye theme! Honestly, it’s kind of perfect for contrary toddlers. I simplified it for storytime, but kept the full song on the sheet in case you have time or want to play the whole thing on your own. (The parts I eliminated for storytime are in gray.)
You can channel the original from the Beatles, or maybe try to embody Caspar Babypants!
If you’re in-person and not a singer, you could play these recordings instead.

Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet for “Hello Goodbye” here!

Craft: Hello Goodbye Elephant
Another simple craft from Sunflower Storytime. I love her printables! I had (too much?) fun making a purple elephant with pink polka dots.

I also suggested these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Say Hello Like This!
by Mary Murphy
Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away
by Meg Medina & Sonia Sánchez
Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!
by Cori Doerrfeld

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 4/27/21.

Storytime Handout:

Preschool Storytime: Bugs

Bugs are so fun, and I feel like kids have more of a fascination than the fear and disgust that many adults have. Maybe because they are closer to the ground? I used the unscientific term “bugs” for this storytime, since I wanted to be able to include non-insects like spiders, roly-polys, and worms. Maybe “creepy crawlies” is another synonym to use!

You can see the virtual program that does not include the full books read aloud here.

Early Literacy Tip: Go ahead and use words that are unfamiliar to your children. Don’t replace words in books that they may not understand. Explain them. When you talk with them try to use the word for a specific thing. For example, if you see a bug, call it a bug, but also the kind if you know it, like a cicada or praying mantis.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

I used one of my small felt ladybugs for this – pictured below.
Rhyme: 1, 2, 3, There’s a Bug on Me
1, 2, 3, there’s a bug on me! (pretend to brush it off)
Where did it go? (look around)
I don’t know! (shrug shoulders)
Credit: Perry County (OH) Library Storytime via Library Village

Read: Some Bugs by by Angela DiTerlizzi & Brendan Wenzel

This flannel was a lot of fun to make. I have really been enjoying finding clipart and then transforming it into multilayered flannel pieces. (My favorite is little roly-poly, who curls up when you tap him (flip him over))
Flannel/Rhythm Chant: Going on a Bug Hunt
Repeat between each bug:
We’re going on a bug hunt!
We’re going to see some big ones.
What a sunny day! Are you ready? OK!

Oh, my! A bee! A black & yellow bee, Flying over the flowers. BUZZ
Oh, my! An ant! A tiny, black ant, Crawling through the grass. SHH
Oh, my! A grasshopper! A big, green grasshopper, Hopping around the tree. BOING
Oh, my! A butterfly! A pretty, orange butterfly, Floating in the sky. WHOOSH
Oh, my! A spider! A big black spider, Creeping on the tree. CREEP
Oh, my! A ladybug! A bright red ladybug, climbing up a flower. CLIMB
Oh, my! A roly-poly! A gray, armored roly-poly, hiding under a rock. ROLL
Credit: adapted from Small Town Story Time Lady Blog

Picture of felt bug hunt set, including a tree trunk, grass, flower, and rock, with a roly poly, bee, ladybug, butterfly, ant, grasshopper, and spider.
Closeup of the roly poly felt flipped to the other side, showing it rolled up in a ball.

I didn’t end up doing this one, but it’s a fun one for babies and toddlers.
Bounce: I’m a Little Beetle
I’m a little beetle and I wiggle all day (bounce)
If you get too close to me, I’ll FLY away! (lift or jump at end)
Repeat with other bugs that fly or jump:
bumblebee, ladybug, grasshopper, dragonfly…
Credit: Mel’s Desk

Song: The Itsy Bitsy Spider
The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again
Repeat with a “great big” spider and a “eensy weensy” spider, making your hands and voice match.
Credit: traditional

What a gorgeous book. I loved looking for Poppy when she was trying to blend in to the background at social functions.
Read: A Way with Wild Things by Larissa Theule & Sara Palacios

I used five of the small ladybugs from a set made by a predecessor for this song, one for the 1,2,3 rhyme above, and nine (plus three paper ones) for Ladybugs’ Picnic.
Flannel/Counting Song: Five Little Ladybugs
adapted tune of “Five Little Ducks”
Five little ladybugs climbing up my door
One flew away and then there were four

Oh, ladybug, ladybug I’m happy to play,
Ladybug ladybug don’t go away

Four… climbing up a tree… then there were three…
Three… climbing up my shoe… then there were two…
Two… playing in the sun… then there was one…
One… on my honey bun… then there were none…
Credit: adapted from Betsy Diamant-Cohen

Felt ladybugs in various sizes, including 2 large, 3 medium, and 5 small.

Movement: Bug Cube
Many librarians use a song cube during storytime, to add some interest and randomization to the familiar songs and rhymes they repeat. I saw a very cute version of this with bug movements, and decided to create my own. It fits a standard “cube” shaped tissue box. Yes, the sides are a bit larger than the top and bottom, but we’re not going to Vegas here.

Download a copy of my template here!

Picture of bug cube, showing three sides which say "march like an ant" "zip like a dragonfly" and "buzz like a bee" with an illustration of each bug.

This goes beyond the standard counting book by counting to 10 on each page, split between bugs and plants, and using all the various ways to get to ten: 1+9. 2+8, 3+7, etc.
Read: 100 Bugs! A Counting Book by Kate Narita & Suzanne Kaufman

A simple but seriously fun song that brings back the nostalgia from my own childhood, watching Sesame Street reruns. The verses go a little fast, so practice a bit so you don’t get tongue-tied. The arrows in the songsheet reminded me whether the melody goes up or down, as it changes at various parts. Listen to the original and you’ll get it. I put up 12 ladybugs on the flannel board to reinforce the number concept, using some paper ones since I only had 9 small bugs from the set I inherited from my predecessor.
Ukulele Song: Ladybugs’ Picnic
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ,8 ,9, 10, 11, 12
Ladybugs came to the ladybugs’ picnic

They had twelve sacks so they ran sack races
And they fell on their backs and they fell on their faces
The ladybugs 12 At the ladybugs’ picnic

They played jump rope but the rope it broke
So they just sat around telling knock-knock jokes
The ladybugs 12 At the ladybugs’ picnic

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ,8 ,9, 10, 11, 12
And they chatted away At the ladybugs’ picnic

They talked about the high price of furniture and rugs
And fire insurance for ladybugs
The ladybugs 12 At the ladybugs’ picnic. 12!
Credit: Sesame Street

Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet for “Ladybugs’ Picnic” here!

Thumbnail of ukulele songsheet

Craft: Clothespin Dragonflies
A simple but fun 3D craft. I knew we had some sparkly pipe cleaners in our supply closet, which sealed the deal. Thanks to Crafty Morning for the inspiration!

Picture of dragonfly craft using a wooden clothespin with blue and green marker stripes, googly eyes, and sparkly wings made from silver and green pipe cleaners.

I also suggested these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Backyard Bugs by Jill McDonald
Stories from Bug Garden
by Lisa Moser & Gwen Millward
(seriously charming!)
There’s a Bug on My Book!
by John Himmelman

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 4/20/21.

Storytime Handout:

Handout including book suggestions, rhyme and song lyrics.