Boxed in at Story Time

This week our story time theme was Boxes.  This is a fun theme, and there are several books that go well with this theme.  I actually did 4 books (2 book form and 2 prop stories, more on that later) and there were others I liked but could not use.

Our letter of the day was B, I tried to get fancy with my letter of the day and it has a brown paper texture like the paper that sometimes comes in boxes.  The kids got the letter right away and we discussed some words starting with the letter B.  Now that they know the drill the like to jump ahead of me and yell out the next picture, I may have to change how I present it.
We had a fun discussion about boxes.  I asked them if a they had boxes at home or if they ever had one delivered to their house.  This led to all kinds of stories about what they have at home in boxes and they were very detailed about if they boxes were big or small.

Our discussion led very well into our first story.  We read Special delivery by Brigitte Weninger.  In this story a box is delivered to a child's house and it has a new vacuum for his mother.  A little while later mother discovers another package at the door.  This one is painted and addressed to 'mother.'  She makes a few guesses at what might be in the box and when she can take the suspense no more she opens it up for a fun surprise.  The kids enjoyed this one.  They kept trying to guess what was in the box, but none of them were close.  They did like the surprise at the end too.

After reading Special Delivery we danced around to the Hokey pokey from the Songs for wiggleworms album.  They had fun with this, it is the traditional song with an upbeat track.

The next story we did a somewhat prop story version of Dee Lillegard's Sitting in my box.  I found stuffed versions of all of the creatures mentioned in the story (our baboon became a monkey) and grabbed a box that they would all just barely fit in.  In the story a boy (or in our case a princess puppet) is sitting in a box and reading a book when a giraffe knocks and wants to come in.  The giraffe is followed by an elephant, lion, monkey, and hippo.  They are all so squished that they have to stand and decide that someone needs to leave the box, but all of them say 'not me.'  Then a flea comes in and bites them one by one causing them to run out of the box (or in our case be thrown out of the box and through the air) until the boy is once again alone with his book.  The book has good repetition and made a very fun prop story.  With a really small group kids could put the animals in, but we had too many for that.  And, to help myself out, I printed out the words of the story and taped them to the back of the box just in case I needed them.
We followed Sitting in my box with Carole Peterson's Ring those bells.  Each of the kids got bells and rang them to the song as well spun around, touched our toes, jumped up high, etc.  They do repeat the phrase 'for winter time is here.'  We waved the bells in the air for that part.

I decided to squeeze in the book Dear zoo by Rod Campbell here.  I had another prop story to use, but we were doing good on timing and the kids were sitting well, so I threw it in.  In this classic book the narrator writes to the zoo looking for a pet.  The zoo sends various animals (in boxes or crates) but most are not suitable pets.  Each crate lifts up to reveal an animal such as a lion, elephant, giraffe, snake etc.  I let the kids name the animal and then asked them if they wanted it for pet and why it might not make a good pet (though one little girl was very insistent that a camel would make a great pet).  I have also done this one as a flannel board.

Next we danced to Dance, freeze, melt by the Learning Groove.  This is a fun one where they obviously dance, then freeze, then melt to the floor.  Each action is done to a count of 8, so you can count along as you go.  In subsequent verses the dance action is replaced with twirling, jumping, and running (in place).

Our last story was another prop story, this one from Antionette Portis' Not a box.  I saw this idea several years ago(I think Flannel Friday's Pinterest account has it somewhere, maybe the prop stories board? **Nope, checked, it wasn't there, but take a look anyway!**) and have wanted to try it ever since.  I took a box and cut pieces of cardboard slightly smaller than the 'front' of your box (you could probably use light brown paper or cardstock instead).  Note: if you cut them the same size - aka tracing the side of the box you are using - they will end up too big.  I learned that the hard way.  Next, draw pictures on the cardboard pieces like those in the story.  Then, punch holes in the same spot on all the pieces and the front of the box (I moved the punches on a 3 hole punch to work where I needed holes) and use binder rings to hold them all together.  I wrote some of the words to the story on the back of the cardboard pieces to help me.  Then, to tell the story use a puppet that fits in the box and flip the cardboard pieces and have the kids tell you what he is pretending the box is.

We put out materials for kids to make a 'Box Monster' or to just decorate a box if they wanted.  We had pictures of Box Monsters from Pinterest if they needed a guide.  We collected several tissue boxes and for decoration just pulled out anything from the craft cabinet that might be fun to use.  There were feathers, pipe cleaners, foam stickers, construction paper, sticky felt, and a few other random things to use.
For play time we put out lots of boxes for them to stack or play with.  My co-worker cut a few that could be used as tunnels, houses, etc.  The kids used them more for putting things in.  I was expecting tall towers and buildings but they enjoyed hiding the toys in the boxes instead.
As an activity sheet I made up a 'Not a box' coloring page.  This was really easy as you can see below :)  The idea is that they will draw something incorporating the box.  Or, as one girl did, just write box all over it.  She was practicing writing, so that is fine with me!


How are you feeling?

This week's story time theme was Feelings featuring the letter F.  It worked out well with Valentine's weekend coming up that we could talk about feelings but not have to be all mushy and gushy (which is fine, just some years it us nice to do something else too).
We looked at our letter F and talked about some of the words that might begin with an F like Firetruck, Fireworks, Flowers, Frog, and then we had the Faces.  Face starts with F, but then we discussed what might make your face change, and talked about different feelings and how your face would look with each one.

The first book that we read was My many colored days by Dr. Seuss.  This was a great book for feelings as it pairs different feeling with colors and discusses how we don't feel the same each day.  The kids enjoyed yelling out the colors.  Older kids might enjoy trying to guess the feelings that will go along with the colors, but for the toddlers we just worked on the colors.

Of course the most classic feelings song is If you're happy and you know it so we danced to the version by MFLP Band.  In this rendition the kids stomp there feet when they are mad along with clapping hands, patting knees, beeping noses, and shouting Hooray.  The actions accumulate as you go, so the kids have multiple things to do with each verse.  It is slow enough that the toddlers could easily follow along and it a nice alternative to the traditional one that they all know.

The second book that we read was Anna Dewdney's Llama, llama, mad at mama.  Little llama is not happy to be drug along on mama's shopping trip.  He was perfectly happy playing at home.  As the errands drag on Llame begins to lose his patience and then his temper.  He flings items from the cart in a rage at mama.  Mama explains she doe snot like errand either and they both clean up, finish the shopping and get a treat.  (Personally, I think little llama is rather lucky to get the treat after the fit he throws.)  The kids were really able to relate to this story - even though they all claimed that they never behaved this way.

We followed the llama book with Angela Russ's Shake your boom boom.  This is a fun, up-beat song that you can use with scarves, bells, shakers, or sticks - whatever you want to use for a 'boom boom.'  We generally use the shakers.

After shaking our boom booms we did another song, this one about how Old MacDonald is feeling.  I found the song on Jen in the Library's blog.  I changed the names of the feelings a bit from what hers were, but the song went like this:

Old MacDonald felt so happy, HA HA HA HA HA.
And when he's happy he goes like this HA HA HA HA HA.
With a HA HA here and a HA HA there,
Here a HA, there a HA, everywhere a HA HA.  
Old MacDonald felt so happy, HA HA HA HA HA.

Repeat with:

I put up the faces one at a time and the kids told me what they thought he was feeling.  They got most of them rather quickly, the Silly one was a little troublesome.

Our final book was My heart is like a zoo by Michael Hall.  This was a great one to use to tie in Valentine's day.  All of the illustrations are made from hearts and the book talks about different ways the heart can feel.  All of the comparisons are made to animals, so there are things like 'silly as a seal' 'crafty as a fox' 'brave as a lion,' etc.  The text is simple and the illustrations are very colorful.

We went with a simple Valentine craft for the week.  There was paper, some cut into hearts, doilies, sequins, stickers, and markers for the kids to make a valentine of their own design.
We found a cute activity sheet for the kids, though I am not sure any of them grabbed one.  It has half a face and the kids are supposed to draw a picture of how they are feeling.  Hopefully they took it home and talked about it some!  They did seem to check out more of the displayed books than normal, guess the grumpy books just draw them in.


Queen Elsa's Crowns

This past week at story time we had a royalty theme.  While looking for a good flannel story to go along with my books I came across an idea for using different colored crowns at Story Time Secrets.  I figured that could be an easy flannel story, have a princess who keeps changing her crown and we could sing to the tune of Mary wore her red dress.  Then, when looking for a princess clip art to use as a guide for my flannel I saw a picture of Queen Elsa and decided to go with that.  Thus 'Queen Elsa's Crowns:'

Queen Elsa wears her BLUE crown, BLUE crown, BLUE crown
Queen Elsa wears her BLUE crown every MONDAY.

I put up the picture of Elsa and had 7 crown options, each a different color (one was many colors and we called it rainbow).  Then, we went through the days of the week and at the start of each new verse I would ask the kids which day came next.  Sometimes we had to start at the beginning, but that helped them both remember and learn.  I also took suggestions for the crown color.  (There were a few little girls who took this responsibility very seriously.)
Of course they LOVED this.  Even the boys were into it - mostly for shouting out the days of the week - and they all were singing along.

Normally I prefer to make my flannels, but I do have to admit using clip art and a laminator made it super easy.  I may have to try a flannel  Elsa though, that would be a fun challenge!

Checkout this week's Flannel Friday round-up at What is Bridget Reading? or visit the Flannel Friday blog for more information including how to participate.  You can also visit the Pinterest page (click the button on your right) for ALL Flannel Friday postings arranged on rather helpful boards.


Story Time Royalty

So our story time theme this week was technically Royalty, but I thought that for toddlers that could get confusing given that I give them a letter and then a picture from our theme that starts with said letter.  I decided to make our letter of the day K for King, since he is the head of all the royals.  That was I wasn't giving them the letter R with a picture of a King or Queen and spending half of story time explaining things.  (I tend to over-think stuff like this.)

We talked about other words that start with a letter K - it was a bit concerning when they called the kangaroo a Horse (???) but they got the Kite, Kitty, King, and, with a little help, the Kiwi.

The first book that we read was Lullabyhullaballoo by Mick Inkpen.  Little Princess is trying to go to sleep, but some of the royal subjects are just too noisy.  With the help of the story time friends we shushed those noisy subjects so that the princess could get some sleep.  This story has rhyming text and some lift the flap pages as you tell various fantastical creatures to SHHH!

We followed Lullabyhullaballoo with The Learning groove's Dance, freeze, melt.  I have used this a few times with outreach groups this winter and it is always a hit.  As the song says the kids dance, then freeze, then melt.  With each action you count to 8 then to the next thing.  In subsequent verses they twirl, jump, and run, but each of those are always followed by the freeze and melt.

Our second book was King Bidgood's in the bathtub by Audrey Wood.  Once upon a time I had a projector reel with this book and an accompanying song.  I loved to show it, the song is great.  Sadly, it has not been transferred to DVD or CD.  I requested a tape of it, but it did not arrive in time for story time.  So, I read the book - which is still great.  I just have to watch myself as I really want to sing some parts.  The kids seemed to enjoy this one.  King Bidgood refuses to get out of his tub.  He battles, lunches, fishes, and dances from the bath.  Will anyone in the kingdom be able to get him out?  There is great repetition in this book and fun illustrations.

After King Bidgood we got out the shaker eggs and ran around to Mr. Eric's I can shake my shaker egg.  This song is set to the music of In the hall of the mountain king (my sisters and I used to dance frequently to this in our living room growing up) and it starts slow and gets faster.  Mr. Eirc has the kids sneak, walk, then run around the room with their shaker eggs in the fun, energy burning song.
Since the kids were a little keyed up after that song we followed it with an active rhyme I found called 'Castle Capers.'  It is posted here at the Delta Township District Library Storytimes page.  It goes:

I am the king of running,
I run and run and run.My subjects all run with me,And we have so much fun!I am the prince of turning,I turn and turn and turn.My subjects all turn with meIt’s an easy thing to learn!I am the princess of dancing,I dance and dance and danceMy subjects all dance with meAnd dance when they get the chance!I am the Queen of jumping,I jump and jump and jump.My subjects all jump with meAnd sit down with a bump.

To go along with the rhyme I made up some visuals using Disney characters.  We have Mickey the King, Minnie the Queen, Donald the Prince, and Daisy the Princess.  To help me remember the rhyme I wrote a few lines on the back (so, the visuals were more for me).
The last book that we read was The foggy, foggy forest by Nick Sharratt.  This book shows shadows in the foggy, foggy forest and kids can guess what they are.  Then, turn the page to see what it is.  Every picture has a fun twist, such as, they were able to guess the witch on the broom, but the surprise was she had a motorized broom.  The kids LOVED this book.

The kids also LOVED the final song that we did.  I called it Queen Elsa's crowns.  So, mainly they loved it because of Elsa, but even the boys had fun.  We had a picture of Queen Elsa and 7 different colored crowns (the multi-colored one we called rainbow).  The song goes to the tune of Mary wore her red dress and goes:

Queen Elsa wore her purple crown, purple crown, purple, crown.
Queen Elsa wore her purple crown, every Sunday!

Then, I would ask them what day of the week came next (a few times we started with Sunday and went through the week to get where we needed to be) and I let them pick a new color crown and we sang it again with a different color and day.  Of course picking the crown was the most important part!

Our craft was a crown that they were given to decorate.  We put out glitter, jewels, feathers,stickers,  and crayons.  More kids than normal did he craft, so they must have liked this one.

I forgot to take a picture of the activity sheet this week, but it was just a house made with different shapes so that they could work on tracing shapes.  For play time we pulled out the princess dresses, though no one seemed that interested in them, instead they played with the castle play set and had tea parties.


Flannel Pizza Friday

Friday seems to be a rather popular pizza day, so I feel that it is appropriate to share the flannel pizzas that I used in story time this past week for Flannel (Pizza) Friday.  You can read about the books and songs we used for pizza week here, below are the flanneled parts.
Whilen looking for a flannel story or activity for our pizza theme I came across this fun song posted by Jen in the Library.  It is a pizza song much like Bingo and goes:
There is a treat that's fun to eat 
And Pizza is it's name-o.
P-I-Z-Z-A, P-I-Z-Z-A, P-I-Z-Z-A
And Pizza is it's name-o.

Then, because it looks so yummy, we ate one.  The kids LOVED this.  I held out the flannel slice and we all happily pretend chewed it up.  We went back to the song and replaced the P with a clap and then ate another slice and so on until we had eaten all of the pizza.

When I sang the song with my toddler group we kept saying Pizza, even if the letters said IZZA or ZA etc.  I could not remember how the Bingo song goes (this is what happens when you start to get older and accumulate too many children's songs in your head - just wait until you forget the tune to Twinkle little star!).  I think I have heard Bingo sung both ways, so we just kept going with the full word.  And, if you just go with it like your way is right everyone will follow along and figure maybe they had it wrong :) (Until a 3 year old informs you of your error, I had one in tears over Little Bunny Foo-Foo once and I sang that one 'correctly'.)

The pizza slices are made of flannel and decorated with various toppings.  I made each one with different toppings just for fun.  I did color the white flannel with yellow and brown sharpies to get a better looking 'cheese' layer.  The letters are paper that was laminated with a velcro piece on the back.  I figured this way I could take them off if I ever needed pizza slices for another story.

For play time after story time I wanted to incorporate the pizza theme so I made up some flannel pizzas.  There is crust, sauce, cheese (cut yarn), and various toppings.  I saved a few pizza boxes over the weekend and lined them with some cardstock and let the kids use those to serve and deliver their pizza creations.  They had a great time with it.

You can find the rest of this week's Flannel Friday submissions over at storytime katie and for the best ever collection of flannel ideas check out the Pinterest boards.



Who does not love pizza?  I am sure that there is some crazy people out there who do not prefer gooey cheese and tomato sauce on bread (I assume this is due to food allergies?) but in a room full of toddlers you do not find those people.  When I revealed today's theme one child shouted 'I love pizza!' and many others followed suit adding in what kinds of toppings they enjoy.  I think that given the theme we could have done almost anything pizza related and they would have loved it.
The letter of the day was P which many of them got quickly (though we have a few over 3 year olds who know their letters).  And we had a few pictures of P words such as a Penny, Penguins, a Peacock, and a Pumpkin.

The first pizza book we read was Ding dong gorilla by Michelle Robinson.  This book is a little deceiving in that it doesn't look very pizza themed.  A little boy opens the door expecting to find the pizza man but instead discovers a gorilla!  The gorilla invites himself in and proceeds to wreck the house (of course it was the gorilla who dumped out all of the toys).  Throughout the story the little boy keeps explaining that there is bad news, but it is not that the gorilla broke things, made messes, scared away the real pizza boy, or disappeared.  Can you guess what the bad news is?  I was worried this might be a little long for the 2's and 3's, but they sat and listened really well.

After reading Ding dong gorilla we got up and moving with Angela Russ' Work your body.  This song is a toddler exercise song.  The kids stretch their arms, do some squats, and kick (very carefully!) their legs.  It is simple enough for the smaller ones and really helps get the wiggles out.

Our second book was Pete's a pizza by William Steig.  This is a classic pizza story.  When a little boy is grumpy that he can't go outside and play his dad decides to turn him into a pizza.  He kneads the dough, adds some ingredients, and pops him into the oven (or onto the couch).  This is a fun way to talk about how pizza is made, although in this story the pizza runs away and is a bit ticklish.

We followed Pete's a pizza with Carole Peterson's song Snowflake snowflake.  I like using scarves for this one.  We wave them in the air to the soothing music then when directed put them on our noses and toes.  The kids love when we make them into a ball and toss them up into the air and watch them float down (I do this when there is a long stretch of music with no instructions).

The flannel board this week was a song, so I put it before one last book.  I saw the idea here at Jen in the Library.  The song was simple, you take the Bingo song and replace it with pizza so you sing:
There is a treat that's fun to eat
And pizza is it's name-o
P-I-Z-Z-A, P-I-Z-Z-A, P-I-Z-Z-A,
And pizza is it's name-o.

Then, I pulled off a flannel pizza and we 'ate" it.  They all really loved this part as they got to pretend to eat the flannel pizza.  There we lots of giggles as they ran up and pretended to bite.  Then we replaced the letters we ate with claps in the song until we had eaten all the pizza.

I made the letters separate from the pizza so that I can pull them off and use just the pizza if need be.  The letters are printed out on cardstock and laminated and have a half velcro dot on the back.

The last book we read was everyone's favorite Hi, pizza man! by Virginia Walter.  A hungry little girl is getting impatient waiting for a pizza to arrive.  To pass the time her mother asks what she will say when the pizza man comes.  But, what if it is a pizza woman, or a pizza kitten?  What would she say to them?  Things get a bit crazy when they start to imagine pizza snakes and dinosaurs.  Finally, the doorbell rings, who will it be?  The kids really loved this one.

Our craft for the day was making a pizza out of a paper plate.  They were given some markers to color with, paint stampers for sauce, pom poms for meatballs, red stickers for pepperoni, and yellow paper they could cut or tear for cheese.  They also could have some model magic to use as dough and many of them enjoyed kneading and stretching it just like pizza dough.

For play time I made up a few play pizzas out of felt.  I cut some sauce and a few toppings that they could add and used yarn as cheese.  I saved a few pizza boxes and put those out for the kids to put their fake pizzas in.  (Since they were used I lined the bottom with cardstock to cover up the grease spots.  I had meant to see if the pizza shop would donate or sell a few and of course I forgot to do that.)

I also brought in this really cute Melissa and Doug pizza set that I have at home.  My own kids still really enjoy playing with it.  It is made of wood and the toppings stick on with velcro.
I managed to find a few pizza activity sheets to put out.  One lets the kids trace the word PIZZA and color a picture.  The other they can color and count the number of various toppings.  I put the sheets on the table so the kids can do them there, but many take them home which I think is great as they help them extend the books at home as well as work on math and literacy skills with their parents or caregiver.


Hats on for Story Time

This week's theme for story time was Hats.  Talking about hats was appropriate this week as it is rather cold out and everyone wore at hat to story time today.  We began with our usual letter of the day -H- along with some 'H' words like horse, hand, heart, and helicopter.  Then we talked about hats and why we might have worn one today.

The first book that we read was A hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke.  This book fit right in with the weather today as it was snowing and in the story Minerva loves snowy mornings but all the other hens stay inside with their heads buried under their wings.  Minerva decides to go out and explore, but she needs to stay warm in the snow.  She looks for warm clothing and sees a scarf (a garden hose), shoes (gloves), and begins to search for a hat.  She tries on a flower pot and a boot before deciding of a mitten and discovers that now she has two hats - one for her bottom!  The kids enjoyed this and were able to tell me what the 'hats' really were.

We followed A hat for Minerva Louise with the song Hat, jacket, pants, and boots by Carole Peterson.  This is a version of head, shoulders, knees, and toes but you sub in the words for clothing.  I like this version as it begins rather slow, but is then repeated 4 times getting faster with each repetition.  The kids were able to keep up at the end too, which is always a plus with toddlers and preschoolers.

The second book that we read was Brian Won's Hooray for hat!  Elephant wakes up grumpy but is cheered up when he finds a box that contains several hats.  He set off to show his friends who are all also grumpy but cheer up when Elephant shares a hat with each of them.  However, Giraffe is not feeling well and they have run out of hats!  The solution - everyone puts their hat into a box and they present it to Giraffe.  this is a great book that has lots of repetition and shows how friends can cheer you up.

After reading Hooray for hat we sang another Carole Peterson song, this one called I like my hat.  In this song she sings 'I like my hat so I put it on my __' and names a variety of body parts that are not the head.  This resulted in lots of giggles today (especially when we put the hat on our bottoms).  In the past I have used this song with scarves (once I folded paper hats) but we have a small collection of doll sized straw hats, so I passed those out to the kids.  It was very amusing before the song to watch them all put the small hats on their heads and then tell me that the hats didn't fit them!

Our last book was Which hat is that? by Anna Grossnickle Hines.  In this story a small mouse talks about what she is going to do and describes the hat that she will wear.  Then, the kids can guess the type of hat and we lift a flap to see if they got it right.  They enjoyed getting to shout out the answers on this one.

We ended with the flannelboard game Little Cat.  I have seen many versions of this, some with a mouse in a house, some with a bug in a rug, etc.  The rhyme goes;
Little cat, little cat,
Are you in the ___ hat?

You could do this with colors, but we had more occupational type hats.  The kids really enjoyed this game.  I can see why many librarians use it weekly.  I let them pick which hat we would look under.  We found the cat about half way through, but as a surprise I also hid a grumpy cat, so we looked for him too.

I also made up a career hat match game where they could match a hat to a mode of transportation.  I put it out as a game during playtime, but we also talked about it before ending story time.

As always we ended with Carole Peterson's B-bananas.  I am always surprised when they get so excited for this song (the parents too).  Although, as a result it is impossible for me to eat a banana and not sing this song.

Our craft was a very simple color/decorated a hat.  I gave them the outline of the hat, markers, tissue paper, feathers, and pompoms and let them decorate as they wanted.

During playtime we put out all of the costume hats that I could round up in the library.  Many of them enjoyed playing with these.

We also has some snow sensory bins.  The most exciting one was the snow 'goo.'  It was made by combining equal parts of glue and water and slowly mixing in the same amount of liquid starch.  For fun I also added glitter, sequins, and other sparkly things.  You can read more about the goo here.  I did realize that the original post calls for clear glue, I did not have that but it turned out fine with white glue.  I just made sure to use colored glitter and sequins so they would show up.  The kids had fun digging out whatever they could find hidden in the goo (some of the parents enjoyed it as well).

Finally, as an extra activity or take home, we put out some hat coloring sheet that my co-worker found.  They had to read (or be told) the color and then color the hat accordingly.