Story Time Fox

Ever since I heard the song The Fox (what does the fox say?) by Ylvis I knew it would make for good fun in story time.  Kids love animal sounds and that song has a lot of them.  Then, the picture book came out and I knew it was time.  So, a few weeks ago we did a Fox themed story time.

I will say, it was hard to find lots of books with nice foxes.  There were a few, but most were too long for my toddlers.  I decided not to worry about how the fox was portrayed, just like in real life not everyone is nice.

Our first story was Fox tale soup by Tony Bonning.  This is a re-telling of the classic tale Stone soup featuring a travelling fox who stops by a barnyard looking for something to eat.  When none of the animals offer up food he asks for some water and finds a stone to make stone soup.  Soon, the curious animals are rushing off to find things to add to the soup until the fox has a nice vegetable soup brewing.  I think the overall point of this story was a little lost on my toddler crowd, but the text was simple enough that it was not too long, so they probably thought it was a nice story about soup!

After reading Fox tale soup we did Sue Schnitzer's song All the fish.  This song has lots of animal movements with a fun 'Splash!' at the end of each verse.

The next book we read was Richard Waring's Hungry hen.  The fox in this book has his eye on a hen who lives at the farm on the hill below him.  But, each day as he watches the hen eats he decides he should wait a little longer for the hen to get bigger.  As the hen grows bigger the fox grows slimmer and weaker.  When he finally decides to make his move, the poor fox is so weak that he is in for a surprise!

We followed Hungry hen with Johnette Downing's song Scarves up, down, and around.  The kids had fun waving the scarves as well as throwing them into the air and trying to catch them.

Our last story was a flannel version of the book The fox with cold feet by Bill Singer.  I found an adaptation on the Storytiming blog and you can see that version here.  In this story fox is looking for some boots to warm his cold feet.  Unfortunately for fox, he has never seen a pair of boots before.  So, other animals dupe him into doing tasks for him in exchange for 'boots.'  Soon, fox is wearing a nest, a pail, earmuffs, and a scarf on his feet.  It doesn't take him long to determine that boots hurt!  Kicking them off fox decides boots aren't for him after all.

Of course, we could not end story time without doing something with the song The Fox (what does the fox say?).  I made a quick flannel using clip art of all the animals mentioned in the first verse of the song.  As I put them up, I would say 'dog says____' and the kids would shout out the sound that the animals made.  They loved this and got louder and more animated as we went.  Once all the animals were up I looked at the kids and said 'but what does the fox say?'  I was met with blank stares and silence.  It was fairly amusing.  Finally, one kid (mine) shout out 'AAAARRRROOOOO.'  Like one part of the song.
After that flannel board I played the Kidz Bop version of The Fox (what does the fox say?) and they all danced around while I pulled out the parachute.  We ended story time with some parachute play, which the kids loved.  I put some scarves in to bounce around.  I had planned on using stuffed animals from the song, but they seemed too heavy.  I thought about using the flannel board, but since it was cardstock I was worried a child might end up with a paper cut.  Really, they did not care about bouncing things out, they just wanted the adults to make it a 'tent' over their heads.
Our craft was a tissue paper and torn paper fox that I found via Pinterest.  We gave the kids watered down paint and a straw to make the tree and they decorated a fox head and body cut out that they then glued to the paper.


Feeling Grumpy Story Time

It seems that around March is a rather Grumpy month.  Many of us are ready for spring to come (especially this year with the extra cold weather we have had) but March likes to hold on to the cold and snow creating grumps all over the place.

So, for this week's preschool visit I decided that I would do stories about being Grumpy.  I discovered that there are several great books for kids with a grumpy theme.  Lots of authors must be hanging around with grumpy preschoolers.  And, since weather leads to much of the grumpiness around here, I threw in a song about rain and my snowmen flannel board.  Little id I know that as I was doing story time we would be able to watch rain turn to snow, I could not have planned it better!  (I am probably the only person around here who was happy to see more snow.)

I have been starting off my visits with A new way to say hello from the Exercise Party album, so we began with that.

Our first book was the Pout-pout fish by Deborah Diesen.  I love this book.  It features Mr. Fish, a pout-pout fish with big pouty lips who thinks that it is just his nature to be pouty.  With a pout like his he just can't help it, and no amount of cajoling and cheering up from his friends will change him.  I really like that this book has a repeating refrain by Mr. fish about why he is pouty and it ends with three gloomy 'bluuubbbs.'  It is catchy enough that many of the kids were saying it along with me by the second or third round.  Mr. Fish does cheer up in the end, but you'll have to read it to see how.

We followed Pout-pout fish with the song If you're happy and you know it by the MFLP Band from the album Apples and Bananas.  This version has the kids clap their hands, pat their knees, stomp their feet (for this verse they sing 'if you are mad...'), beep their nose, and shout 'hooray.'  At the end of each verse you also add the previous motions, so at the end you shout, beep, stomp, pat, and clap.  It is a nice little twist to the version they all know.

The second book that we read was Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard.  In this story bird wakes up grumpy (all of the kids claimed that they did not wake up grumpy).  Bird is even too grumpy to fly, so he starts walking.  His friends see him walking and decide to join him (I have no idea why because he grumpily tells each one that he is walking, but it is a good opportunity to discuss how to speak to your friends - especially when bird starts yelling).  However, bird discovers that doing things with his friends causes him to forget to be grumpy.

After reading Grumpy bird we sang Carole Peterson's version of Singing in the rain.  It was rather appropriate since it was raining when we started this morning.  (I did this song before during a drought and it was raining as we ended the song, so I am wondering if the rain might be my fault...)  This song mashes Singing in the rain with motions like form Dr. Jean's Tooty-ta, so very fun and active.

Our third book was Crankenstein by Samantha Berger.  This book came out late last year and was a favorite with my kids at home.  It features a little boy who looks very Frankenstein-ish and who says 'mmmmwwwwhhhhhheeerrr' or something like that, when he becomes Crankenstein.  The book explains all the things that might bring out Crankenstein, like; waking up, rain, melting pops, long lines, a cold Halloween, etc.  Luckily, Crankenstein goes away once he meets another Crankenstein - which is hilarious.  The kids really enjoyed that spread.  The one class especially liked how the pictures of the author and illustrator had been 'zombie-fied.'

We followed Crankenstein with the song Toes, knees, shoulders, and head by Kimmy Schwimmy.  Obviously it is like head, shoulders, knees, and toes backwards.  Between verses kids can point to or move other body parts.  Another fun twist on a classic.  I like those as the kids basically know what to do, but it is still new and a little different.

The last 'story' that we did was my Melting snowmen flannelboard.  Since we had snow in the forecast we tried to preemptively melt it away.  However, as we were doing the rhyme we could see the rain turning to snow.  I'm really starting to feel like I have some kind of weather power.  The kids liked this one so much that we did it twice - so bring on more snow!  You can see the snowman rhyme and how I made the flannel here.

To end my visit we did the Banana song by Carole Peterson.  The real title is B-Bananas (you can find it on her album Stinky Cake) but all the kids ask for the banana song as soon as they see me.  My toddler crowd has started to do the same thing.  We do it every week.  It is just that fun.



W is for Winter Story Time

I live in a place where there is no escaping winter.  A few weeks ago we were having record cold temperatures with wind chills below 30.  And, after a little warm up, it looks like the mercury is going to plunge again.  The best way to embrace this weather is with a story time - in a warm room of course.

Our letter of the day was W.  I went with a more vague Winter theme so that I could throw in all kinds of winter themes, such as snowmen, warm clothing, snow, etc.  W was a little difficult for the kiddos, one of them guessed 'M' which was close.  So we talked about W and its sound along with the other pictures I had.

The first wintry book that we read was Snow by Uri Shulevitz.  In this story a boy and his dog get excited when they see one single snow flake.  Every one keeps telling him that the flake will melt, as will the next one, and the next one...  There is no snow in the forecast.  But, the snow does not know that, and it begins to fall faster and faster, blanketing the city with white.  This book has very simple text that is good for the little kids and it is fun to watch the snow 'accumulate' on the pages.

After reading Snow, we did Carole Peterson's song We're marching in the snow.  This is a fun and active song where the kids march, run, slide, roll, etc. in the snow.

Our second book was Karla Kuskin's Under my hood I have a hat.  This is a great story for a winter or clothing theme.  The little girl in the book talks about all of the layers of clothing that she wears for a cold day in the snow.  We talked before the book about all of the items of clothing that the kids had put on that day to go out in the cold weather.  The book has simple, bold illustrations that are easy for the kids to see despite the fact that the book is a little smaller in size.  I especially love the end when the little girl talks about how when she goes out she mustn't fall down, as it is hard to move with all the layers she is wearing.

We followed Under my hood with another Carole Peterson song, Ring those bells.  Basically you do lots of bell ringing while Carole sings that Winter time is here.  Always good for mid-winter story times, though I have found it you try it before January the parents give you lots of eye rolls.

Since I wasn't planning a snowman theme this year I brought out my Melting Snowmen for our winter week. You can read more about them here.  They have a rhyme and each one melts away after each round of the rhyme.  This is always a hit with the kids.  Especially once they join in with the rhyme.

Our final story of the day was a version of There was a cold lady who swallowed some snow by Lucille Colandro.  I decided to make this more of a participation story, so I made pieces for all of the kids to feed the cold lady as we told the story.  In the book, the lady eats various items that make up a snowman and then hiccups out a completed snowman.

Here is the lady.  I made her from a shoe box.  To make her face I just used circles and crescents in a word file.  Then i taped the picture on the box and cut out her mouth with a knife and taped around the opening.  I taped white yarn to the top of the box for hair and stuck a hat on here (this is the spare I keep in the car for my son).

These are the pieces to give the kids.  I had extra coal and snowflakes to ensure that there were enough pieces to go around. 

This is the back of the box.  I just taped on black construction paper so that from the front the mouth looks black but there is a gap to slide the snowman through at the end.

During the story the completed snowman is velcroed to the hat in the back.  As I read the book the kids brought their pieces up to feed the lady.  Many of them needed a little prompting, but they got them all in there.

And at the end, out pops a snowman!

We finished story time with yet another Carole Peterson song (what can I say, her music is great for toddlers and preschoolers).  This one was called Snowflake snowflake and in the song there are snow flakes softly falling.  I don't know if the song was meant to be used with scarves, but I gave all of the kids tissues.  For starters, the kids just love getting to pull one from the box.  Secondly, during the song you try to hold the 'snowflake' in the air by blowing at it.  I figured that if the kids were to have any success with this at all we needed something very light, so the tissues did nicely.  Plus. we threw them away at the end so no worries about spit being blown on the scarves.  The kids did enjoy this one, they had a little difficulty getting those tissues to blow around, but they had fun trying.
Our craft for the day was a simple hat and mittens.  Each kid got a hat with two mittens cut out of construction paper.  They also had a piece of card stock with a circle on it to be their face.  They could decorate with foam snow stickers and makers.


Monkeying Around in Story Time

This week we resumed our story times and were up to the usual monkey business - literally.  Our theme this week was Monkeys and we had quite a bit of fun with it.  So, as you can see below, our letter of the day was M.  This is what I put out for story time.  We start with it covered up with the words to our hello song and then I pull  that away to reveal our letter and the theme.  For this session I also started adding some other words that begin with the same letter.
Instead of having Sparky my dragon reveal the letter today we had a guest monkey.  We talked about the words on the paper that start with the letter M and then talked a little bit about monkeys.

Our first book was Steve Haskamp's Eight silly monkeys.  In this version of monkeys jumping on the bed the monkeys the monkeys do a different action on  each page as you count down from eight to none.  So, you have monkeys that are spinning, dancing, sliding, and more.  The kids enjoy the repetition with this book and many of them were doing the 'mama called the doctor' part along with me.

After reading Eight silly monkeys we sang Five little monkeys by Eric Litwin and the Learning Groove.  This is a nice bouncy version of the rhyme and we jumped along with those five monkeys.

The second book that we read was Two little monkeys by Mem Fox.  This is the story of two monkeys, Cheeky and Chee.  When danger is nearby they have to scamper to safety.  This story has a nice rhythm and rhyme and the illustrations are great for sharing in story time.  The kids enjoyed trying to figure out what the monkeys were running from.  We were also able to discuss some new words as the monkeys 'scamper' and 'tremble' so hopefully a few kids went home with a bigger vocabulary.

We followed Two little monkeys with Hap Palmer's song Five little monkeys.  Another version of the song, but this one has the kids jumping, hopping, and turning.  It ends with all the monkeys jumping outside (because there is nothing wrong with jumping outside) and then they all fall down - a perfect landing for the start of the next story.

Our last story was a prop story.  The previous library I worked at had a stuffed palm tree with monkeys that could velcro to the leaves.  It was great for the rhyme Five little monkeys and the crocodile.  When I started planning a monkey story time I found myself missing it, so I had to make a replacement.  I decided to go big and make an almost life sized prop story.

I took my umbrella and made some large paper leaves that I taped on with book tape.  I taped them both at the top and underneath the bottom, though the bottoms pulled off in a few places. 

For the rhyme I had 5 monkeys with the hands that velcro together.  I pulled them out one by one at the kids counted as I velcroed the monkeys' hands around the metal bit on the underside of the umbrella.  I hind site I should have added some velcro to the underside of the umbrella and stuck the monkeys to that.  They went on fairly easy, but were a little hard when it came time to pull them off. 

So, here we have all monkeys on the tree and we did the rhyme:
5 little monkeys swinging in a tree,
Teasing Mr. Crocodile 'you can't catch me.'
Along came Mr. Crocodile, quiet as can be,
And SNAPPED a monkey right out of the tree.

Repeat until all the monkeys are gone.  We did have an alligator puppet, but I thought that would be a bit 'graphic' for 2 and 3 year olds.  We 'snapped' with our hands instead.

When I was doing the rhyme I just held the umbrella.  That worked fairly well, it was a little harder getting the monkeys on, but I was able to make them 'swing' in the tree.  The trunk in the picture is a roll of brown paper.  Next time, I might leave it on the trunk to put the monkeys on, then pull it off for the rhyme.

In addition to me doing the rhyme, the kids also had a version to use.  Someone who was here before me made a large number of these sheets:

So, each child in story time had their own sheet and they could pull off the monkeys with me.  They seemed to enjoy this, though many of them got ahead of themselves and pulled all the monkeys off as fast as they could.  They adults with them were great about stepping in to help and we worked on counting our monkeys that were left each time one was removed.

We had two monkey crafts.  The first, above, is made out of cardstock and pipe cleaners.  I put a monkey head on an oval and the kids colored it and taped pipe cleaners to the back.  They used 3, one for the arms, one for the legs, and one for the tail.  They bent the pipe cleaners for feet and the tail so that the monkey could stand.

The second monkey craft was a smaller version of the above monkey.  Instead of pipe cleaner arms and legs they folded paper.

We used the smaller monkeys to decorate the bulletin boards in our story time room.  The kids really liked being able to pick out a spot for their monkey and tape it up there.


Silly Santa Stories

Based on the last two post I have been feeling rather silly lately.  We decided to offer a Holiday story time this year and I went with a Silly Santa theme.  Santa tends to be fairly safe in this area as a theme, he seems to be everywhere this time of year for breakfasts and photo ops.  he was even at our library last week for pictures during a holiday open house.  However, I did advertise that the theme was Silly Santa Stories so that people would know what they were in for.  I did the same theme at the local head start when I visited earlier this week and I asked before going to make sure that the theme would be ok.

I started with the story Santa's new suit by Laura Rader.  In this story Santa discovers that all of his red suits are dirty, torn, or too small, so he goes shopping for a new suit.  But, while he is out he decides that he will go in a different direction and picks a suit that is not red.  This does not go over well as the elves and reindeer hate the new outfit and the kids don't recognize him.  What will Santa do?  This is cute as a book, but I have also seen it as a flannel board.  You can find one version here with the storytimelady.

We also read the story Santa Duck by David Milgrim.  When Duck finds a package with a red Santa coat and hat he is thrilled.  He sets off to find Santa to give his wish list, but along the way is repeatedly stopped by the other animals who give their own lists to duck.  This is a cute book and the kids really liked the quacking holiday song that duck sings a few times.

The next book didn't quite make it in time for my preschool visit, but I was happy it arrived for the in-house story times as it is a fun book.  Have you been naughty or nice by Ethan Long is about duck, who is fairly sure that he is on the nice list this year.  That is until he eats all of the cookies that were intended for Santa.  Then he is certain that he will be on the naughty list.  Does duck have time to get back on the nice list?  This fun story is great for very dramatic reading.

I decided to use the flannel story that I came up with last year.  Since I moved to a new library no one here has heard it :).  The story is called Away flew Santa's hat and the idea is that on a windy Christmas Eve Santa's hat keeps flying away.  Each time a hat goes someone lends him a new hat, although at one point he is in a bind and has to use underpants.  You can read the full story here.

I managed to find some songs that weren't too Christmas-y.  We danced along to Carole Peterson's Freeze.  The music is the song Let It Snow, but they do not sing the words.  The kids dance to the music and occasionally it will stop and they have to freeze.  Some kids like this as they get to dance however they want (they are very enthusiastic) others just sit there and stare at you.

Carole Peterson has another song Jingle bells and stop.  Similar to the freeze only with bells.  This song has the kids jingle their bells and stop periodically.  In this one the stopping is more predictable as there are words and you stop at the end of each verse.  During the song you jingle bells high, low, fast, and slow.

We also used Laurie Berkner's version of Jingle bells.  She adds a little extra verse of her own at the beginning, so we just jingled through it.  Then the kids got to sing along to the traditional verse which they all loved.

As an extra activity, we did Santa exercises.  We sang 'ho, ho, ho' to the tune of Jingle bells and stretched up, down, out, and in.  We started with our hands out in front like we had a really big belly.  This was a good movement activity to help get the wiggles out.


Those Silly Babies

Last month we started visiting a local Head Start program.  I went and did a story time for 2 of the classes there.  Generally I would use a theme that I was already doing for story times, but since story time is on a break I decided to use the theme 'Silly Babies.'

The first book that we read was Mustache baby by Bridget Heos.  This book has been a favorite at my house (so much so that we bought our own copy).  Even my husband likes it and he is NOT into picture (or any other books). This is the story of baby Billy who was born with a mustache.  His parents are told that they have to wait and see if it will be a 'good-guy' or 'bad-guy' mustache.  This is a very cute and funny story.

Our second book was Simon Puttock's The baby that roared.  In this story Mr. and Mrs. Deer are unable to have a baby of thier own, but as luck would have it they find one!  However, the poor little baby will not stop roaring.  The Deer send for help but oddly their friends keep disappearing when they are left alone with the baby.  This silly story has a bit of a surprise ending, adults will see it coming, but kids may not.

The third story that we read was The cow that laid an egg by Andy Cutbill.  Poor Marjorie the cow is sad that she cannot do any special tricks like the other cows.  But, when she lays an egg she gets all sorts of special attention.  The other cows are suspicious that the chickens have something to do with this odd event, but they all just have to wait for the egg to hatch to find out what the baby will be.

Since I do my 'on the road' story time much like my in-house story time I took along my ipod.  Sadly the dock quit working (despite the fact it had been fine a few days earlier).  But, as luck would have it, each of the classes that I visited had a dock, which was great as the alternative was using my phone and that speaker is not very loud, or having me sing sans music.  So, there was music and dancing...

We started with the song Shake a Friend's Hand by Carole Peterson.  This is a good group song as it has the kids shaking hands, bumping hips, and scratching the backs of their neighbor.

I had them counting with Mr. Eric and the Learning Groove's 1,2,3, Whee!  This song is very fun as the kids love to throw their hands up into the air and yell 'whee!'  They also get to jump and shake.

I took the library shaker eggs and we sang Shake your boom boom by Angela Russ.  While your 'boom boom' can be anything, we use the shakers and move the shaker a directed in the song, such as up and down, in and out, back and front.

We ended with the 'Banana Chant' or B-Bananas by Carole Peterson that I used all story time session. I enjoy this fun chant and the kids always seem to enjoy it.  It is nice that this version repeats so that the kids can do it once to get the hang of it and then they get to do it again.


Sing a song in Story Time

This past week our story time theme was books that you can sing.  This theme is always fun because there are a lot of great books that can be sung.  And, you tend to get lots of audience participation when you pick songs that are well known by your toddler crowd.

Our letter of the day was S for Sing.  Many of the kids knew the letter S and were able to tell me the sound that it makes.  They had a little more trouble coming up with words that started with an S, but they had a few that started with the letter C, so that was close.

The first book that was sang was If you're happy and you know it by Jane Cabrera.  This is a fun one since the kids know the song but it adds lots of extra motions like flapping your wings, nodding your head, or turning around that get the kids up and moving.  And, Jane's illustrations are always nice and bright making them easily visible for story time.

Our second sung book was Lenny Hort's The Seals on the bus.  This is another familiar tune with the toddler crowd, so many of them sang along.  Though, in Hort's version there are many animals on the bus who make different noises.  To get the kids more involved I would ask them if they knew which animal was on the bus and what sound they made.  And, I really like the ending of this book when the skunks get on the bus...
This was our last story time for the fall session and though Thanksgiving is most of the month away I thought we could throw in the Turkey song.  I actually did this one last year, but that was at a different library and even still it is a fun one.  You can read about how I made the turkey here and watch the video to get the song lyrics.  The song is about colors of the turkey feathers, so it is good for the little kids.  I did modify it this time around and put the turkey on a paint stirrer stick.  I used velcro to stick the turkey on the front and added another piece of velcro to the back to put the feathers on.  This made changing the feathers easier since I did not need to pull the turkey all the way off of the flannel board to add new feathers.

We sang Carole Peterson's version of the song Shoo Fly.  In this one there are animal actions in between each verse so the kids are up and acting like alligators, birds, etc.  I have also done this in the past with scarves that the kids wave around to 'shoo' the fly.

We got out our shaker eggs for another Carole Peterson song and did the Shaker Hop.  This is a fun song to the tune of the Bunny Hop where the kids are putting the shakers in and out and then hopping around.

It was Carole Peterson day as we threw in the song Tommy Thumb is up.  This is a great finger play song that I use quite a bit to transition from a movement activity to a book.  It is kind of like Where is thumbkin, but you only use the thumb, pointer, pinkie, and then all of the fingers (skipping the 'bad' one and the hard one!)  And we ended with her song B-Bananas.  We have done this song every week of the session at the end of story time and the kids have really enjoyed it.

Our craft was a kazoo.  This was a very simple one.  Each kid got a toilet paper roll and a piece of white paper that was cut to fit around the roll.  They decorated the paper with markers and paint stampers then taped it to the roll.  Then, they used a rubber band to cover one end of the roll with wax paper.  When they sang or talked into the roll it made a funny sound.