Eric Carle Story Time

This week we did an entire story time featuring Eric Carle books.  I probably could have planned several weeks of Eric Carle books with no repeats as so many of them are great for a story time setting.

We featured the letter C since to find most of Eric Carle's books you need to look in the C's under Carle.  Sadly, none of the kids could recognize the letter C!  So, we talked about it a little longer and the sound that the letter C makes.
Our first book was From head to toe.  I originally was not going to start with this one, but we had a few wiggly kids, so I was hoping this might help get the wiggles out.  I love this story as it gets the kids up and moving as you read.  I have used it with a variety of themes, but since they get to participate it never gets old.  (Plus, I work with toddlers who love to repeat the same thing over.)
We followed our story up with Singing in the rain by Carole Peterson.  This is a good dancing song.  It is a  lot like Dr. Jean's Tooty-ta if you have ever heard that one.

The second book we read was the 40th anniversary pop-up edition of The Very hungry caterpillar.  This book is mesmerizing (though I should admit I have an affinity for pop-ups).  It worked very well in story time, which is not true of many pop-ups.  And, it is different, so even if they had heard the story before this is an alternate way to present it.  (They all claimed to have never heard it before, but one of the kids in this group was MINE, so I know that not all of them were telling the truth!)

After our second story we did another song by Carole Peterson as we danced to the Shaker Hop.  This song goes to the tune of the bunny hop, but the kids each have a shaker that they put in, out, and hop with.  There is a spot where music plays with no directions and while sometimes it is fun to free dance I have found that many kids will just stand there unless I tell them what to do.  So, we make our shakers go high, low, on our head etc. whatever I feel like having them do.

For this week's flannel I made a version of The Mixed up chameleon.  I threw this one together a little last minute (never be afraid of making a flannel, once you have done a few you can pull off one with lots of pieces like this in under 2 hours!)  The story itself may be a little long (by toddler standards) but with the different colors and items being added they could participate by calling out what color the chameleon had turned.
We ended with a quick reading of the Artist who painted a blue horse.  Normally I would just have moved on to a song, but we had a great crowd of kids who were sitting very nicely so we read the book and I introduced the craft where they were going to free paint.  We talked about how in art you can make something look however you want.

We have been ending every week with the Banana song (B-Bananas, again by Carole Peterson).  This is a camp type chant where the kids will 'be' a banana, 'peel' bananas, 'eat' bananas, and 'go' bananas.  It has become a favorite with all my groups.  Several preschoolers ask for it as soon as they see me.

Storytime ends with playtime where the kids can play with age appropriate toys as well as do crafts and activities that I put out.  Many will do the crafts, though on paint days I have noticed many will just play.  We did provide t-shirts for the kids to put over their clothes.

As part of play time I decided to put out a few literacy activities that I have from other programs.  There is a sheet my co-worker found where the kids fill in the missing alphabet letters.  I had found road letters on Pinterest and printed them out for a different program, so I put a few out with some cars to give parents ideas of things that they can do at home to build literacy skills.


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.