Preschool Storytime: Autumn

Storytime fell on the official first day of autumn, so it seemed natural to make that our theme today. This is a very basic theme, but I actually struggled planning it because it seemed like so many of the songs and rhymes were so alike. I planned to do individual sessions on apples and pumpkins, so I saved those, and everything else seemed to be variations on the falling leaf motif! I tried to mix it up a little bit, even though three activities were about leaves. Making two of them scarf songs kept it more interesting in my view. I borrowed heavily from Sunflower Storytime’s plan – even though I had pulled from many sources in my planning stage, hers just worked well for me and the flow of the stories! In my mind, our arc went from nonfiction, to a fictional title about nature, to a fictional title about human traditions.

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

Early Literacy Tip: Factual books are a great way to expand children’s knowledge about the world. You can read the whole book or choose certain pages your child might be interested in. In fact, it’s perfectly okay to read only parts of a book, or to just focus on the pictures. You can adapt the experience to your child’s interest and attention span.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Read: selections from Awesome Autumn by Bruce Goldstone
I paper-clipped some pages together, and read just the larger font sentences after talking about the early literacy tip. We did include the information about birds migrating, which helped transition to our first rhyme.

Each bird is one who migrates for the winter.
Fingerplay: Two Little Bluebirds
Two little bluebirds sitting on a hill
One named Jack and one named Jill
Fly away Jack, fly away Jill
Come back Jack, come back Jill

Two little blackbirds in the corn crop
One named Bottom and the other named Top
Fly away Bottom, fly away Top
Come back Bottom, come back Top

Two little geese sitting on a stick
One named slow and one named quick
Fly away slow, fly away quick
Come back slow, come back quick
Credit: traditional, adapted

Fingerplay: Autumn Leaves
Leaves are falling from the trees (Flutter fingers down)
Yellow, brown and red.
Falling, falling from above.
One landed on my head! (Hands on head)
Credit: Sunflower Storytime

What happens in nature during fall?
Read: In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes & Laura Dronzek

Scarf Song: Autumn Leaves are Falling Down
(tune of London Bridge)
Autumn leaves are falling down (flutter scarf down)
Falling down, falling down
Autumn leaves are falling down
All around the town

Additional verses:

The wind will blow them round and round… (twirl in a circle)
Take a rake and rake them up… (use scarf as a scoop)
Now let’s jump into the pile… (jump and throw scarf)
Credit: Sunflower Storytime

Scarf Song: Leaves Are Twirling
(tune of Frère Jacques)
Leaves are twirling, leaves are twirling
All around, all around
They are falling softly, very, very softly
To the ground, to the ground
Credit: Sunflower Storytime

The next book talks more about the traditions that one family has during autumn – look to see which ones you recognize and which are new to you. Perhaps you’ll want to start some new traditions inspired by this book!
Read: I Know it’s Autumn by Eileen Spinelli & Nancy Hayashi

Action Song: Scarecrow, Scarecrow
(tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)
Scarecrow, scarecrow, turn around
Scarecrow, scarecrow, touch the ground
Stand up tall and blink your eyes
Raise your hands up to the sky
Clap your hands, then tap your knees
Turn around and stomp your feet

Scarecrow, scarecrow, touch your toes
Scarecrow, scarecrow, tap your nose
Swing your arms so very slow
Now really fast to scare the crows!
Touch your head, jump up and down
Now sit down without a sound
Credit: Adventures in Storytime

Flannel Rhyme: Blue is the Sky
Blue is the sky, Yellow is the sun
Silver are the stars, When the day is done
Orange is the leaf, Brown is the tree
Red is the apple, For you and me
Credit: Mel’s Desk

flannel of Blue is the Sky: a light blue blob, yellow sun, two silver stars, an orange leaf, a brown tree with no leaves (mounted on a tan blob), and a red apple.

Craft: Tissue Paper Autumn Tree
A simple but pretty craft that allows kids to work their grip muscles by crunching up pieces of tissue paper. Liquid glue seems to work best for this. I printed a bare tree on blue construction paper. If you aren’t sure how to print on construction paper, I highly recommend learning! Makes a lot of crafts much easier!

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall & Shari Halpern
When Autumn Falls by Kelli Nidey & Susan Swan
Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka & Chad Cameron

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 9/22/20.

Storytime Handout:

Baby & Toddler Storytime: Eggs

Well, this was a very loose theme. I believe it was near Easter, and I was using only my own personal books during lockdown. It was just past my own birthday, so that’s how I looped in The Birthday Box. It was slim pickin’s at that point! I also did a bit of talking during this storytime about mask wearing, so that took up some time I would normally have done some more rhymes. This was a storytime I did exclusively on Facebook Live, and do not have a permanent YouTube version available. With everyone staying safer at home, we weren’t providing handouts or Take and Make packets at that time. I tried to suggest either crafts made with household materials or activities caregivers could do with their child.

Welcome Song: Clap and Sing Hello

I’d used the printable flannelboard for this rhyme from Sunflower Storytime before, but at home I had to do without. Instead I made it a fingerplay.
Fingerplay: Ten Fluffy Chickens
Five eggs and five eggs (show hands, one at a time, with fingers wide)
And that makes ten (bring hands together)
Sitting on top is Mother Hen (fold one hand over other)
Cackle cackle cackle (clap, clap, clap)
What do I see? (questioning pose)
Ten fluffy chickens (all fingers out)
Yellow as can be (wiggle fingers)
Credit: Sunflower Storytime

Read: Good Egg by Barney Saltzberg
This is such a fun novelty book – it includes tabs and pop-up elements and compares an egg getting ready to hatch to a dog. In the end, the egg “speaks” – “peep, peep!”

Earlier in the spring, we talked about how caregivers could make a simple shaker at home using rice or beans in a closable container their child could grip (mine is a 4 oz plastic food container secured with tape). I always say that even if you don’t have a shaker, you can participate by getting out your “magic shaker” – an invisible shaker you can shake and make noise with a “cha-cha” sound.
Shaker Song: We Shake and We Shake and We Stop
We shake and we shake and we STOP
We shake and we shake and we STOP
We shake and we shake and we shake and we shake
and we shake and we shake and we STOP
Additional verses:
We circle…
We tap…
We roll…
Credit: Jbrary

Shaker Song: Shake Your Shaker
(tune of London Bridge)
Shake your shakers in the air
Shake it here, shake it there
Shake your shakers in the air
Shake your shakers

Shake it high and shake it low
Shake it yes, shake it no
Shake it high and shake it low
Shake your shakers

Shake it up and shake it down
Shake your shaker on the ground
Shake it up and shake it down
Shake your shakers

Shake it near and shake it far
Drive your shaker like a car
Shake it near and shake it far
Shake your shaker

Shake it fast and shake it slow
Shake it stop, shake it go
Shake it fast and shake it slow
Shake your shaker
Credit: Jbrary

Read: The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli
Another book that uses a cardboard box to discuss imagination, à la Not a Box by Portis.

And now a transition from imagination to going on an imaginary trip to the moon…
Action Song: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
Zoom, zoom, zoom (scrape hands past each other rhythmically)
We’re going to the moon.
Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’re going to the moon.
If you want to take a trip (walk fingers up opposite arm)
climb aboard my rocket ship.
Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’re going to the moon.
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (count on fingers and crouch progressively lower)
Blast off! (jump up!)
Credit: Jbrary

Discussion: Masks
I made a small sized mask to fit on my Scaredy Squirrel puppet, who “attends” all my virtual storytimes, and talked about mask wearing.
I know we’re mostly staying in the house right now, but if you go out to a store or on a walk, you may see people who look a little different – they’re wearing a mask! Here’s Scaredy Squirrel’s mask. It covers his nose and mouth, and is held in place with these loops that go behind his ears. It may look a little funny and different, but it’s not scary! It is just hiding those parts of his face so that his germs can’t go out to others, and others’ germs don’t come in to his nose or mouth to make him sick. Ms. Emily has a mask, too – see how it goes over my ears and covers my nose and mouth. I’m still here underneath, and it looks a little silly, like I’m hiding. But I’m not hiding from friends, I’m hiding from GERMS! So, if you see people wearing masks while you’re out, there’s no reason to be scared. It just helps protect us if we have to go out. Your grown up might ask you to wear a mask, too. It takes some getting used to, but it isn’t hard! Grownups, remember, the CDC recommends that kids under the age of 2 shouldn’t wear a mask, but older kids can.

Ukulele Song: Down by the Bay
Down by the bay, where the watermelons grow
Back to my home I dare not go!
For if I do, my mother will say:
“Did you ever see a goose kissing a moose?”
Down by the bay!
Additional verses:
… a whale with a polka dot tail?
… a fly wearing a tie?
… a bear combing his hair?
… a llama eating pajamas?
Did you ever have a time when you couldn’t make a rhyme?
Credit: traditional, as popularized by Raffi on the album Singable Songs for the Very Young

Download a ukulele songsheet for Down By the Bay

Activity Idea: Design an Egg
Grownups can draw egg shapes on paper, then kids can draw and design fanciful patterns. You can also draw what might be inside an egg – a chicken? A duck? An alligator?!

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 4/7/20.

Preschool Storytime: Squirrels!

Hoo-boy, I have been busy! It feels like storytimes have taken a bit longer to plan, and we started offering school-age programs as well in September, so there’s been less time to write up blog posts. But I’ll get them all!

Squirrels may be one of my favorite animals. We have several oak trees in our yard at my house, so we have lots of squirrel friends to watch throughout the year. They’re cute, they have funny tails, and adorable paws for patting the ground after burying an acorn! Plus, there are some GREAT picture books, rhymes, and songs about squirrels, so it’s a perfect storytime theme.

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

Early Literacy Tip: Having your child retell a story is one way to help them understand the story. However, sometimes retelling the whole story can be hard. You can start off with having your child say a repeated phrase as we did in the book Ol’ Mama Squirrel. “Chook, chook, chook! Get out of my tree!” “And that takes care of that!”

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Action Rhyme: Sneaky, Squeaky Squirrel
Sneaky, squeaky, (tiptoe) Hippity, hop, (hop)
Up he goes to the tree top (stretch arms up)
Whirly, twirly round and round (spin around)
Down he scampers to the ground. (sit down)
Credit: Librionyian

Read: Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayre & Steve Jenkins

We talked about the different kinds of squirrels that were mentioned in the book, and I showed photographs of these. For the rhyme, we did a verse for each.

Action Rhyme: Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, shake your bushy tail
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, shake your bushy tail
Wrinkle up your funny nose…
Hold a nut between your toes…
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, shake your bushy tail
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, shake your bushy tail
(repeat with fox squirrel, red squirrel, and flying squirrel)
Credit: Jbrary

Fingerplay: This Little Squirrel
(wiggle each finger in turn)
This little squirrel said, “Let’s run and play!”
This little squirrel said, “Let’s hunt nuts today!”
This little squirrel said, “Yes, nuts are good.”
This little squirrel said, “Yes, my favorite food.”
This little squirrel said, “Come climb this tree.”
(run fingers up other arm, quickly)
And crack these nuts: one, two, three!
(clap hands three times)
Credit: Sunflower Storytime via Storytime Katie

Our grownups love us and want to protect us. In the next book, Ol’ Mama Squirrel is VERY protective of her babies!
Read: Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein

Song: Grr, Grr Went the Big Brown Bear
Grrr, grrr went the big brown bear one day (make claws and scary face)
Grrr , grrr went the big brown bear
Grrr, grrr went the big brown bear one day
And they all went grrr, grrr, grrr
But… We know bears go (clap) huggy, huggy, hug! (hug yourself)
(Clap) Huggy, huggy, hug, (clap) huggy, huggy, hug!
We know bears go (clap) huggy, huggy, hug!
They don’t go grrr, grrr, grrr

Jump, jump went the little red squirrel one day (jump!)
Jump, jump went the little red squirrel
Jump, jump went the little red squirrel one day
And they all went jump, jump, jump.
But… We know squirrels go (clap) rub a dub a dub! (arms “run” in front of you)
(Clap) Rub a dub a dub, (clap) rub a dub a dub!
We know squirrels go (clap) rub a dub a dub!
They don’t go jump, jump, jump
Credit: Jbrary

My Scaredy Squirrel puppet took these acorns off the flannel board.
Flannel Rhyme: Squirrel’s Acorns
Down around the corner by the big oak tree
Sat five little acorns looking sooo yummy
Along came a squirrel with a big bushy tail
He took one acorn and ran off down the trail
(count down)
Credit: Storytime Secrets

Photo of 5 felt acorns with a puppet of Melanie Watt's Scaredy Squirrel

Read: Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt

We need to follow that silly story with a silly song! In this one, we will click/clack our tongues. Let’s practice. If you can’t quite get it, you can clap instead of clicking!
Song: I’m a Nut (The Acorn Song)
I’m an acorn small and round
Lying on the cold, cold, ground
People always step on me
That is why I’m cracked you see
I’m a nut (clack, clack)
I’m a nut (clack, clack)
I’m a nut, I’m a nut, I’m a nut (clack, clack)
Credit: traditional

Craft: Scaredy Squirrel Headbands
Assemble the shapes as shown in the picture. Glue the headband piece to the bottom of Scaredy’s head, then measure to fit your child’s head. Glue or staple the pieces. (I made my own pattern pieces based on this blog post from LiBrionyan.)

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Squirrel’s Family Tree by Beth Ferry & A.N. Kang
Girl Versus Squirrel by Hayley Barrett & Renée Andriani
This Is a Taco! by Andrew Cangelose & Josh Shipley

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 9/15/20.

Storytime Handout:

Preschool Storytime: Mistaken Identity

What a mouthful for a storytime theme – Mistaken Identity! Yet, I easily found three books that tied to this concept and I’m sure there are many more. We spent a moment at the beginning of the session breaking down the phrase and talking about what it means, and I got feedback later that the kids really enjoyed these stories. This was an early-lockdown storytime I did exclusively on Facebook Live, and do not have a YouTube version available. With everyone staying safer at home, we weren’t providing handouts or Take and Make packets at that time. I tried to suggest either crafts made with household materials or activities caregivers could do with their child.

Welcome Song: Clap and Sing Hello

Read: Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Fingerplay: Hickory Dickory Dock
Hickory, dickory dock
the mouse ran up the clock (fingers run up arm)
the clock struck one (clap once)
the mouse ran down (fingers run down arm)
hickory dickory dock.

Additional verses:
…the clock struck two (clap twice) the mouse said, boo! …
…the clock struck three (clap three times) the mouse said, whee! …
…the clock struck four (clap four times) the mouse said, no more! …
Credit: Jbrary

Song: Grr, Grr Went the Big Brown Bear
Grrr, grrr went the big brown bear one day (make claws and scary face)
Grrr , grrr went the big brown bear
Grrr, grrr went the big brown bear one day
And they all went grrr, grrr, grrr
But… We know bears go (clap) huggy, huggy, hug! (hug yourself)
(Clap) Huggy, huggy, hug, (clap) huggy, huggy, hug!
We know bears go (clap) huggy, huggy, hug!
They don’t go grrr, grrr, grrr

Jump, jump went the little red squirrel one day (jump!)
Jump, jump went the little red squirrel
Jump, jump went the little red squirrel one day
And they all went jump, jump, jump.
But… We know squirrels go (clap) rub a dub a dub! (arms “run” in front of you)
(Clap) Rub a dub a dub, (clap) rub a dub a dub!
We know squirrels go (clap) rub a dub a dub!
They don’t go jump, jump, jump

Mmm-ahh went the little green frog one day (stick out tongue)
Mmm-ahh went the little green frog
Mmm-ahh went the little green frog one day
And they all went mm-mm-ahh!
But… We know frogs go (clap) sha-na-na-na-na (jazz hands)
(Clap) sha-na-na-na-na, (clap) sha-na-na-na-na
We know frogs go (clap) sha-na-na-na-na
They don’t go mm-mm-ahh!
Credit: Jbrary

Read: The Wide-Mouthed Frog by Keith Faulkner & Jonathan Lambert

For this song, I use three differently sized frog rasps that I purchased on Amazon. They’re a lot of fun and the kids love them. Thanks so much to Ada Moreau Demlow for posting a video of her original creation on Facebook!
Song: Three Frogs in a Bog
There was a big frog (rasp, rasp)
Lived in a big bog (rasp, rasp)
He swam in the water (rasp, rasp)
Played on a big log (rasp, rasp)
Big log (rasp, rasp)
Big bog (rasp, rasp)
Big frog (rasp, rasp)

There was a middle-sized frog…
There was a little frog…

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

Three wooden frog-shaped percussion instruments, with a line of ridges down the back; large, medium, and small.  Each holds a removable wooden percussion stick in its mouth.
Frog rasps

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, building anticipation)
Kerplop! (clap hands together)
Credit: Storytime with Miss Tara and Friends

Read: Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

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. I used animals that were in our stories and rhymes today: Rabbit, Frog, Bear, Goose, Mouse.
Credit: Laurie Berkner (Original song is “Pig on Her Head”)
Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

Craft Idea: Animal Headband
Use construction paper and any other craft materials you wish to create a headband featuring an animal you like best! Add ears, eyes, noses or snouts to evoke different animals. I made a duck, and traced my hands to make the wings. Pro tip – always staple with the smooth side toward the inside so it doesn’t get tangled in a child’s hair!

Yellow paper headband with features to look like a duck: wing feathers, eyes, and an orange beak.

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 4/14/20.

Preschool Storytime: Country Life

When I first thought about doing a City Life/Country Life duo for storytime, I thought that it would be really easy to find books about country life. But as I was clarifying in my mind what I really wanted to present, I realized that the books I wanted were much harder to identify. Of course, books about “farm life,” especially from the perspective of farm animals, are everywhere. That’s the bread and butter of children’s picture books, it seems. However, I really wanted to show a realistic view of living in the country from a child’s or family’s perspective. I eventually found a few books that worked well for me, and a couple as backup.

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

Early Literacy Tip: Learning shapes and practicing manipulating them as we do in our tractor craft this week is an important early literacy skill. A child who is able to distinguish between shapes is better equipped to notice the differences in shapes of letters. This helps not only with reading but also with writing.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Lifting Song: The Country Song
Oh, the country is great and the country is grand!
There are not a lot of buildings on a whole lot of land.
And we live way out by the forest and the trees.
We grow a lot of vegetables and maybe keep some bees.

We put the seeds in the earth, we take the vegetables out
(repeat 3 times)
And we dance and shout!
Credit: Jbrary

Tickle Rhyme: Here Is the Beehive
Here is the the beehive (show fist)
But where are the bees?
Hidden away where nobody sees
Watch and you’ll see them come out of the hive
1, 2, 3, 4, 5… (show fingers) They’re alive!
Buzz buzz buzz! (tickle)
Credit: Jbrary

Read: Green On Green by Dianne White & Felicita Sala
A beautiful book that shows a family through the seasons in different settings of their country home – a pond, the seashore, by trees, picnicking in a field with friends. Some may notice that the mother’s belly grows through the seasons until a new baby is subtly included in the last pictures.

Scarf Song: Picked a Strawberry
(tune of Clementine)
Picked a strawberry, picked a strawberry (“pick” your scarf)
That was growing in the sun. (raise arms with scarf to make a round sun)
Then I washed it, and I ate it, (“scrub” with scarf and pretend to take a bite)
And I picked another one. (pick again)
Repeat with other foods: apple, grape, tomato, blueberry, etc
Credit: Jbrary

Scarf Rhyme: Way Up High in the Apple Tree
Way up high in the apple tree, (pull scarf up through hand)
I saw two apples looking at me (make fists with scarf in one hand)
I shook that tree as hard as I could (shaking motion)
Down came the apples, and mmmm, they were good! (drop scarf, rub tummy)
Credit: traditional

Read: Hey, Hey, Hay! by Christy Mihaly & Joe Cepeda
This simple rhyming text shows a modern farm with modern equipment, a mom and daughter who work it, and explains why and how hay is made. I love that it mentions the traditional haymaker’s punch, or switchel, and includes a recipe as well as glossary of terms.

Lap Bounce: Bumpin’ Up and Down in My Little Red Tractor
(bounce child, then lift, hug, or lean on the last line)
Bumpin’ up and down in my little red tractor (repeat 3 times)
Won’t you be my darlin’?

Additional verses:

Mowin’ down the grass in my little red tractor… (bounce or “steer” tractor)
Takin’ a break for cake and switchel… (bounce or pretend to eat & drink)
Baling up the hay in my little red tractor… (bounce or roll arms)
Credit: adapted by Ms. Emily from the traditional “Bumpin’ Up and Down in my Little Red Wagon”

A lot of people in the country drive a pickup truck. It’s useful for hauling things like supplies for the farm. Here’s a story about Farmer MacDonald and his wife – they want to buy a new truck.

Folder Story: Farmer MacDonald’s Truck
Farmer McDonald and his wife go to town to buy a new truck. But each time the truck sales person offers a different color truck, it is never right. First he shows them a red truck and Farmer McDonald says:
“Oh no, that won’t do, please bring me a truck that is BLUE”
“No no, you are being mean, please bring me a truck that is GREEN”
“No no,” said Old McDonald with a gurgle, “Please bring me a truck that is PURPLE”
“No, no, I think….- I’d like to see a truck that is PINK”
“I can’t drive that bright truck around town! Please show me a truck that is BROWN”
“No, that’s just not the truck I have pictured in my head. Let’s try a truck that is RED”
“Yes, yes! That one wins the race! Why didn’t you show me that in the first place?!”
and The McDonalds drive back to the farm in their new truck.
Credit: The LibraryAnn

Picture of manila folder with a truck outline cut out, with black tires.  Paper inside the folder changes the color of the truck.
Farmer MacDonald’s Truck

Read: The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey
Story of a truck owned by a family of farmers, that worked hard but grew old. The young girl who begins the story grows older and eventually restores the truck to be used again with her own family. Great simple story of an African-American farming family.

Action Rhyme: Open the Truck Door
(act out rhyme)
Open the truck door, climb inside
I get to help my mommy drive!
Fasten the seat belt and shut the door
Start the engine, hear it roar
Turn the corner and step on the gas
If the road is clear, we may pass.
Credit: Librarian Lisa

Craft: Shape Tractors
Assemble a tractor and cart with simple shapes, then add cotton balls to represent hay bales.

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Birdsong by Julie Flett
Why Are You Doing That? by Elisa Amado & Manuel Monroy
Pond by Jim LaMarche

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 9/8/20.

Storytime Handout:

Handout with booklist, rhymes, and songs.

Baby & Toddler Storytime: Firefly Award

Since 2015, the Indiana State Library has had an annual reader’s choice award for excellent picture books called the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. Libraries around the state are encouraged to present the five nominated books and collect votes from kids ages 0-5. Even in lockdown, there were ways to promote the program. The ISL got permission to do a read-aloud video for each title available during the voting period. I promoted two of those titles during this storytime and encouraged parents to watch the remaining three and vote. (I have/will be featuring the other titles in other storytimes.) We learned later that the winning title for 2020 was Don’t Blink! The ISL does a great job promoting this program, and creates a programming guide with suggested extension activities for each title, which I drew from to create this storytime. Read more about the Firefly Award here! This was also a storytime I did exclusively on Facebook Live, and do not have a YouTube version available. With everyone staying safer at home, we weren’t providing handouts or Take and Make packets at that time. I tried to suggest either crafts made with household materials or activities caregivers could do with their child.

Welcome Song: Clap and Sing Hello

Tickle song: Spots, Spots, Spots
Spots, spots, spots, spots, spots, spots, spots, spots
A leopard has lots of spots
What a lot of spots he got
A tiger’s stripes are always nice
But a leopard has lots of spots
Spots, spots, spots, spots, spots, spots, spots, spots
Credit: Jbrary

Read: B Is for Baby by Atinuke & Angela Brooksbank

Ukulele Song: My Bonnie
(Stand up or sit down (or raise or lower arms) every time you hear a word beginning with “B”!)
My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
My Bonnie lies over the sea,
My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me.

Bring back, bring back, Oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me:
Bring back, bring back, Oh bring back my Bonnie to me.
Credit: Traditional, actions as described on the album Jim Gill Sings Do Re Mi on His Toe Leg Knee.
Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

Thumbnail of ukulele songsheet for "My Bonnie"

Many people in African countries are experts at carrying items on their head. These could be anything from a basket of fruit to a sewing machine! This leaves their hands free for other tasks and for greeting friends. (Point out illustration on the B is for Bougainvillea page) How far can you go with a beanbag, pillow, or stuffed animal on your head?

Action Song: The Bean Bag
Verse 1
Throw the bean bag and catch
Turn around, turn around, stamp, stamp, stamp
Throw the bean bag and catch
Turn around, turn around, stamp, stamp, stamp

Chorus
Put it on your head and walk around the room (4 times)

Put it on your shoulder, Put it on your elbow
Put it on your knee, Put it on your back now
Put it on your stomach, Put it on your finger
Put it on your foot, Put it on your arm now
repeat chorus
repeat verse 1

Credit: Hap Palmer, from the album Can a Jumbo Jet Sing the Alphabet?

Have you ever tried to skip bedtime? What did you do? Did it work? What is you usual bedtime routine? Here’s a story about skipping bedtime.

Read: Don’t Blink! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & David Roberts

Lullaby: Over the Ocean
Sailing, sailing over the water
Sailing, sailing over the sea
Sailing, sailing over the ocean
Sail back home to me
Credit: Kathy Reid Naiman from the album A Smooth Road To London Town

Ukulele Song: Every Little Cell
(tune of Shortnin’ Bread)
Every little cell in my body is happy
Every little cell is healthy and well
Every little cell in my body is happy
Every little cell is healthy and well

Cells on my left, cells on my right
All my cells are doing just fine
Cells from my top all the way down my spine
My cells work together to keep me in line
Credit: Mick Jeffries taught me the first verse, I wrote the second
(I also saw Allison Davies perform it with a different second verse)
Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

Thumbnail of ukulele songsheet for "Every Little Cell"

Activity Suggestion: Beading
We saw beautiful, colorful beads in B is for Baby. Spend some time this week beading! Beading is a great activity for fine motor skills. You can make big beads by cutting sections of cardboard tubes (and children can decorate them, too). Older children may enjoy beading with pasta or large wooden beads. For the string, use yarn, shoelaces, or household twine. Wrap tape around the ends of yarn and twine to make it easier to thread.

Also check out the other Firefly Award nominees!
Firefly Home by Jane Clarke & Britta Teckentrup
Pirate Jack Gets Dressed by Nancy Raines Day & Allison Black
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

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

Preschool Storytime: City Life

Life in the big city! There are so many titles that depict city life, it was hard to choose. My library is in a small town surrounded by countryside but fairly close to the larger city of Indianapolis. It’s no Big Apple, but I assumed many of them have some personal experience with tall buildings and busy streets. I quite enjoyed the extension activities for this week as well.

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

Early Literacy Tip: Rhymes like “The Hippopotamus got on the City Bus” call attention to the fact that “hip” is just one part of the bigger word “hippopotamus.” Also, when we complete the verses for cow, sheep and snake we show how familiar animal sounds can be found in other words that we regularly use. Recognizing and playing with the smaller sounds in words is called phonological awareness. Researchers have recognized this as a critical pre-reading skill that helps kids sound out words when they begin to learn how to read.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Read: City Shapes by Diana Murray & Bryan Collier

What shapes are these? Black rectangle, green circle, yellow circle, red circle – it’s a stoplight! There are stoplights everywhere, but there are LOTS in a city where there are many vehicles and traffic.
Flannel Rhyme: Green Means Go
Green means “GO!” Go! Go! Go! (roll arms quickly)
Yellow means “Slow.” Slow… slow… slow. (roll arms slowly)
Red means “STOP!” (ASL sign for stop: one hand making a
chopping motion onto flat opposite hand)

Go! Go! Go! (roll fast)
Slow… slow… slow… (roll slow)
STOP! (ASL sign for stop)
Credit: Jbrary

A simple stoplight flannel. I chose to leave the pieces unglued so we can “construct” it. Yes, I did have to look up the order of the colors!

In the city, it’s very busy, and the city is always growing and changing. Sometimes old buildings are torn down and new buildings are constructed. Here’s a stretch about a tall crane that helps build them.

Stretch Rhyme: Cranes Reach Up
Cranes reach up
Cranes reach down
Cranes reach out
And all around
Credit: Jbrary

Read: Skyscraper by Jorey Hurley
I asked the kids to notice the trees in almost every spread, showing the changing seasons. It takes a long time to build a skyscraper!

A tongue twister and a memory challenge!
Song: She’ll Be Driving a Bulldozer
(tune of She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain)
She’ll be driving a bulldozer when she comes…Push it back! (pushing motion)
She’ll be driving a bulldozer when she comes…Push it back! (pushing motion)
She’ll be driving a bulldozer, she’ll be driving a bulldozer,
She’ll be driving a bulldozer when she comes…Push it back!

Additional verses: (at the end of each verse, do ALL the previous refrains in reverse order. So, the last one would be “Clean it up! Lift it high! Mix it up! Look out below! Scoop it up! Push it back!”)
…running a big digger… Scoop it up! (scooping motion)
…working a dirt-dumper… Look out below! (hands around mouth)
…on a cement mixer… Mix it up! (roll arms)
…moving a tall crane arm… Lift it high! (reach arm up)
…steering a street-sweeper… Clean it up! (sweeping motions)
Credit: Rob Reid’s Storytime Slam! 15 Lesson Plans for Preschool and Primary Story Programs.  Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin: Upstart Books.  p8

Lap Bounce: Bumpity-Bumpity Goes the Dump Truck
(tune of Michael Finnegan)
Bumpity, bumpity goes the dump truck (bounce gently)
Bumpity, bumpity goes the dump truck
Bumpity, bumpity goes the dump truck
Dump out the load! (lean to side or back)
Credit: Jbrary

With so many people, there can be a lot of traffic on the road in a city. Many people ride together on buses, trains, and subways to reduce traffic and get from one place to another more quickly.

Rhythm Rhyme: Hippopotamus on a City Bus
(slap thighs rhythmically until the last line of each verse)
A hip, a hip, a hippopotamus
Got on, got on, got on a city bus
And all, and all, and all the people said,
“You’re squishing us!” (squish face or hug baby)

Additional verses:
A cow, a cow, a cow got on a bus
Yes, a cow, a cow, a cow got on the bus
And all, and all, and all the people said,“Mooooove over!”
(lean far to one side)
A snake…“Sssssssssit down!” (motion hand down)
A sheep…“Baaaack up!” (lean far back)
Credit: Jbrary

Read: Noisy Night by Mac Barnett & Brian Biggs

Lifting Song: The Elevator Song
Oh, the city is great and the city is grand
There are a whole lot of people on a little piece of land
And we live way up on the fifty-seventh floor
And this is what we do when we go out the door:
We take the elevator up, we take the elevator down (3 times)
And we turn around!
Credit: Jbrary

Craft: Cityscape
Draw a city with white chalk on black construction paper, then decorate with vehicle foam stickers. I used ALL my stickers on mine!
Credit: Sunflower Storytime

Photo of craft: white chalk drawing on black paper of buildings, a road, a harbor, and a railroad, with colorful vehicle stickers such as cars, buses, boats, trains, and helicopters.
All the stickers!

I also booktalked these alternative titles during the permanent YouTube video.
Good Morning, Digger by Anne Rockwell & Melanie Hope Greenberg
Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper
City Moon by Rachael Cole & Blanca Gómez
Windows by Julia Denos & E. B. Goodale

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 9/1/20.

Storytime Handout:

Handout with booklist, rhymes, and songs.

Preschool Storytime: Friends of All Kinds

I just realized that I published another “Friends” theme last week, but it was actually presented four months ago in April! This week I wanted to focus on friendship and appreciating our friends even when they are different than us. I know that my friends share their experiences with me, and I get to learn more about the world we all live in.
For this theme, I used the familiar Thumbkin fingerplay, but with a variation that I first came up with for a Thanksgiving theme in November. I had a brainstorm to work in some ASL and avoid that pesky middle finger by doing thumbkin, pointer, pinky, then all three for the sign “I love you.” When we did it in person in November it was really cute to see the kids figure out the sign and at the very end the hands “hug” each other.

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

Early Literacy Tip: When you ask your children questions, give them extra time to think and to answer you. Talking back and forth uses four different parts of the brain, so it takes them some time to form their responses.

Welcome Song: We Clap and Sing Hello

Fingerplay: Where Are Three Friends?
(variation of 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.
Run away, run away.

(repeat with pointer, pinky, then all three)
Where are three friends, Where are three friends?
Here we are! Here we are!
How are you today, Friends?
Very well, we thank you.
I love you, I love you. (Hands “hug” by clasping)
Credit: adapted from the traditional, last verse by me

Lyrics to Where are Three Friends with silhouettes of two hands with thumbs up and two hands showing the ASL "I Love You" sign.
The rhyme sheet I used when we were in person.

Read: Seagull & Sea Dragon by Sydni Gregg

Song: Put Your Puppet On Your Heart
(tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It)
Put your puppet on your heart, On your heart.
Put your puppet on your heart, On your heart.
Put your puppet on your heart, What a lovely way to start!
Put your puppet on your heart, On your heart.

Additional verses:
…on your knee… You’ll both be filled with glee…
…on your toes… Now move it to your nose…
…on your head… Put your puppet straight to bed…
Give your puppet a big hug…make them snug as a bug in a rug!
Credit: Jbrary

Action Song: Let’s Be Friends
(tune of London Bridge)
Let’s be friends with one another, one another, one another
Let’s be friends with one another
Let’s be friends today

You can sing with a friend…
(repeat with other actions such as jump, clap, dance, etc)
Credit: Step by Step Childcare

Read: My New Friend Is So Fun! by Mo Willems

Friends like to play games together. Look – Elephant and Piggie are going to play Hide and Seek! I rewrote the rhyme to go with this set to one that just flowed more naturally for me.
Flannel Rhyme: Elephant and Piggie Hiding Game
Piggie is hiding; let’s take a look
Are you behind the red book?
Credit: Literary Hoots for concept and printable files, Ms. Emily for the rhyme

Photo of laminated pieces: six books (blue, yellow, brown, green, purple, and red), and Mo Willems' characters Elephant Gerald and Piggie.
“We are in a book!”

Fingerplay: Two Little Friends
Two little friends are better than one, (raise two fingers on one hand, one on the other)
And three are better than two (raise one additional finger on both hands)
And four are much better still (raise one last finger on the first hand to make four)
Just think! What four little friends can do! (wiggle four fingers)
Credit: King County Library System

Read: Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev & Taeeun Yoo

One thing that friends do is have love and kindness for each other.
Fingerplay: Make a Heart
I put my hands together (hands palm-to-palm)
This is how I start
I curve my fingers right around (curl fingertips)
And I can make a heart!
Credit: Verona Story Time

Song: Skinnamarink
Skinnamarinky-dinky-dink, Skinnamarinky-doo
I love you!
Skinnamarinky-dinky-dink, Skinnamarinky-doo
I love you!

I love you in the morning
and in the afternoon.
I love you in the evening
underneath the moon.

Skinnamarinky-dinky-dink, Skinnamarinky-doo
I love you!
Credit: Traditional. Find hand motions at this video from Jbrary

Craft: Friendship Chains
Decorate multicolored people figures and connect them with paper hearts.
Credit: Storytime Mellie

Photo of three generic construction paper people figures of different skin tones, each colored with unique clothes and hair, connected at the arms with two hearts.

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 8/25/20.

Storytime Handout:

Preschool Storytime: Friends

This was a bit of a miscellany of a theme, but all three books did, indeed, feature friends. Rhymes and songs were loosely associated, but overall it flowed well. This was the last storytime I did on Facebook live before re-recording a permanent version for YouTube, so there is no video. Throughout these virtual storytimes, I encouraged parents to create their own props using household materials. Shakers can be made from rice or beans inside small plastic food containers, sippy cups with holes taped closed, leftover plastic Easter eggs, even cardboard tubes with the ends secured. I always mention before shaker songs that if you don’t have one handy, a “magic shaker” can be used by making the shaking motion and “ch-ch-cha”ing along. With everyone staying safer at home, we weren’t providing handouts or Take and Make packets at that time. I tried to suggest either crafts made with household materials or activities caregivers could do with their child.

Welcome Song: Clap and Sing Hello

Action Rhyme: Roly Poly
(Roll hands and change voice to coordinate with the lyrics)
Roly poly, roly, poly, up, up, up (arms up, voice higher)
Roly poly, roly, poly, down, down, down (arms down, voice low)
Roly poly, roly, poly, out, out, out (arms far from chest, voice expansive)
Roly poly, roly, poly, in, in, in (arms close to chest, voice and lips collapsed)
Roly poly, roly, poly, BIG, BIG, BIG (large movements, voice loud)
Roly poly, roly, poly, very, very small (roll only index fingers, voice quiet)
Roly poly, roly, poly, fast, fast, fast, fast, fast! (roll quickly, voice frenetic)
Rol…ly… po…ly… in… your… lap (roll very slowly, then lay hands down, speak in slow motion)
Credit: Rebecca Jane Flanagan

Read: Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris & LeUyen Pham

A song for quarantine. This one was suggested on Storytime Underground for virtual storytimes. The original goes “I am here and you are here.” You can also add motions to extend the song.
Action Song: I Am Here and You Are There
I am here and you are there but we are all together.
I am here and you are there and we’re going to have some fun.
I’m going to clap my hands.

Repeat, clapping hands throughout verse 2
I am here and you are there but we are all together.
I am here and you are there and we’re going to have some fun.
I’m going to clap my hands.
I’m going to stamp my feet.

Repeat, clapping hands AND stomping feet throughout verse 3
I am here and you are there but we are all together.
I am here and you are there and we’re going to have some fun.
I’m going to clap my hands.
I’m going to stamp my feet.
I’m going to nod my head.

Repeat, clapping hands AND stomping feet AND nodding head throughout verse 4
I am here and you are there but we are all together.
I am here and you are there and we have had some fun!
Credit: King County Library System

Fingerplay: Dance Your Fingers Up
Dance your fingers up, dance your fingers down
Dance them to the side and dance them all around.
Dance them on our shoulders, dance them on your head.
Dance them on your tummy, and put them all to bed!
Credit: King County Library System

Read: The Doghouse by Jan Thomas

Flannel Game: Little Mouse
Little Mouse, little Mouse,
Are you in the red house?

Picture of flannel pieces for the hide-and-seek game Little Mouse.  Includes 7 houses of varying colors and sizes and one mouse small enough to hide behind any of them.

Shaker Song: We Shake and We Shake and We STOP
We shake and we shake and we STOP
We shake and we shake and we STOP
We shake and we shake and we shake and we shake
And we shake and we shake and we STOP

Additional verses:
We circle and circle and STOP… (draw a circle with shaker)
We tap and we tap and we STOP… (tap on different body parts)
We roll and we roll and we STOP… (roll arms)
Credit: Jbrary

Shaker Rhyme: Pop, Pop, Pop
Pop, pop, pop
Put the corn in the pot
Pop, pop, pop
Shake it ’til it’s hot
Pop, pop, pop
Lift the lid and what have you got?
Popcorn!
Credit: Jbrary (see video for motions)

Read: The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems

Fingerplay: 5 Little Hot Dogs
Five little hot dogs (wiggle 5 fingers on one hand)
frying in a pan, (other hand flat as a pan, 5 fingers wiggle above it)
The grease got hot (rub hands together)
and one went BAM! (1 finger up, then CLAP on “bam”)

(Count down, then last verse:)
No little hot dogs frying in a pan
The grease got hot and the pan went BAM!
Credit: Jbrary

Activity Suggestion: Draw a picture of YOUR favorite food. Or, draw a picture of your favorite meal that you eat this week, or make a food journal and draw a picture of each night’s dinner. Do as much or as little as you like. Here are my favorites, a strawberry and a blueberry!

Line drawing of a strawberry and a blueberry on lined notebook paper.

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 4/28/20.

Baby and Toddler Storytime: Things That Go

I was getting down to the last few “themes” that seemed to work out of the books I had in my home and a box of books my director pulled for me while the library was closed, but transportation is a classic and there are lots of extensions that go with it! This was also the first video that I re-recorded with booktalks instead of full readings in order to archive it permanently on YouTube. (The full video went live on Facebook and was deleted in a week.) With everyone staying safer at home, we weren’t providing handouts or Take and Make packets at that time. I tried to suggest either crafts made with household materials or activities caregivers could do with their child.

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

Early Literacy Tip: When children are young, they treat books as they would any other toy – they play with them! This means they put them in their mouths and explore them by pushing and pulling and sometimes tearing them. When you allow your young children to explore books, they are learning how to handle them. Keep some in their toy box. You are helping your children develop print awareness. They are learning how books work, with pages that turn. This is one of the skills that researchers have shown is an important part of a strong foundation for reading.

Welcome Song: Clap and Sing Hello

Read: Vroom! by Barbara McClintock
I love that this title features a female protagonist, lots to look at in the scenery, and even shows the author posing in front of her race car on the back flap!

Action Rhyme: Green Means Go
Green means “GO!” Go! Go! Go! (roll arms quickly)
Yellow means “Slow.” Slow… slow… slow. (roll arms slowly)
Red means “STOP!” (ASL sign for stop: one hand making a chopping motion onto flat opposite hand)
Go! Go! Go! (roll fast!)
Slow… slow… slow. (roll slowly)
Stop! (ASL Sign)
Credit: Jbrary

Song: I’ll Take You Ridin’ in My Car
I’ll take you ridin’ in my car, car (“drive” with a “steering wheel”)
I’ll take you ridin’ in my car, car
I’ll take you ridin’ in my car, car
I’ll take you ridin’ in my car.
Additional verses:
The doors on the car go open and shut… (hands or arms move open and shut)
The windshield wipers go swish, swish… (arms wiper back and forth)
The horn on the car goes beep, beep… (push the horn)
The engine it goes “brrrmp, brrrmp”… (make engine noises with raspberry lips)
Credit: Woody Guthrie, as adapted by Jbrary

Read: Puppy Truck by Brian Pinkney

Lap Bounce: Bumpity, Bumpity Goes the Dump Truck
(tune of Michael Finnegan)
Bumpity, bumpity goes the dump truck
Bumpity, bumpity goes the dump truck
Bumpity, bumpity goes the dump truck
Dump out the load! (lean to side or back)
Credit: Jbrary

Action Song: The Wheels on the Bus
The wheels on the bus go round and round
Round and round, Round and round
The wheels on the bus go round and round
All through the town!

Additional verses:
The money on the bus goes clink, clank, clink…
The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish…
The driver on the bus says “Move on back!”…
The doors on the bus go open and shut…
The babies on the bus go “Wah, wah, wah!”…
The parents on the bus go “Shush, shush, shush!”…
Credit: Traditional

Read: The Pigeon Loves Things That Go! by Mo Willems

Rhythm Rhyme: Hippopotamus on a City Bus
(slap thighs rhythmically until the last line of each verse)
A hip, a hip, a hippopotamus
Got on, got on, got on a city bus
And all, and all, and all the people said,
“You’re squishing us!” (squish face)

A cow, a cow, a cow got on a bus
Yes, a cow, a cow, a cow got on the bus
And all, and all, and all the people said,
“Mooooove over!” (lean far to one side)

A snake, a snake, a snake got on the bus
Yes, a snake, a snake, a snake got on the bus
And all, and all, and all the people said,
“Sssssssssit down!” (motion hand down)

A sheep, a sheep, a sheep got on the bus
Yes, a sheep, a sheep, a sheep got on the bus
And all, and all, and all the people said,
“Baaaack up!” (lean far back)
Credit: I’ve known this one a long time, but Jbrary has a lap bounce version.

An off-theme song to wrap up, but one to reinforce some feelings of healthfulness.
Ukulele Song: Every Little Cell
(tune of Shortnin’ Bread)
Every little cell in my body is happy
Every little cell is healthy and well
Every little cell in my body is happy
Every little cell is healthy and well

Cells on my left, cells on my right
All my cells are doing just fine
Cells from my top all the way down my spine
My cells work together to keep me in line
Credit: Mick Jeffries taught me the first verse, I wrote the second
(I also saw Allison Davies perform it with a different second verse)
Get a downloadable ukulele songsheet here!

thumbnail of Every Little Cell ukulele songsheet

Activity Suggestion: Play with Cars
Take some time to play with cars or trucks this week! You can make a track using tape on the floor, chalk on a sidewalk outside, or use the pattern lines already on rugs or blankets. If you don’t have toy cars, you can decorate toilet paper rolls. You may even want to have a “drive-in movie” at your house by making a car with an old cardboard box. (Image credits to A Little Pinch of Perfect and Welcome to Nana’s)

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Stars

This storytime was presented virtually on 5/5/20.