Friday, September 30, 2016

Cat Storyhour

What a great session we had! I got out my face paint set from Klutz and did about a half dozen children in only about five minutes.  

I talked about famous cats. Everyone recognized The Cat in the Hat (I had the hat) and Hello Kitty was recognized -- on someone's socks, actually. Skippyjon Jones' puns are a little hard for this age group, but I introduced him.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin. No need for words here.

The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend. I love to read books in bad foreign accents.

Boris and the Wrong Shadow by Leigh Hodginkson.

There Are Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz. This book deserves to be read slowly. It's very interactional because the cats ask a lot of questions as you turn the pages, and the die cuts make for very nice surprises.

Cat Up a Tree by John and Ann Hassett. All the moms were giggling at this charmer.  Great formula: the number of cats increase on each page, and on each page concerned Nana Quimby calls a different institution for help, always unsuccessfully.  I did the city officials in pompous, officious voices. I didn't count the ever increasing cats because the group was a bit young. A surprise hit.

Have You Seen My Cat?  by Eric Carle.  I acted it out with puppets.


This is the way we like to purr, like to purr, like to purr

This is the way we like to purr so early in the morning.

This is the way we wash our paws...

This is the way we play with a ball...

This is the way we hiss at dogs...

This is the way we like to purr, like to purr, like to purr

This is the way we like to purr so early in the morning.

The Old Grey Cat
The old gray cat is sleeping, sleeping, sleeping,

The old gray cat is sleeping in the house

The little mice are dancing, dancing, dancing (children dance)

The little mice are dancing in the house

The little mice are nibbling, nibbling, nibbling (children nibble)

The little mice are nibbling in the house

The little mice are resting, resting, resting (children rest their heads on hands)

The little mice are resting in the house

The old gray cat comes creeping, creeping, creeping (cat begins to creep)

The old gray cat comes creeping in the house

The little mice go scampering, scampering, scampering (children run in place)

The little mice go scampering in the house 

And when the bus went for its usual circuit, there was a cat and a dog on it inside of a baby and a mom. 


Stolen from Literary Hoots  This one turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser and it was really easy for me to prep, so win-win. I did do a bit of instruction for the kids before starting so that they knew what to do with their plain pieces of black construction paper (I did no pre-cutting). Basically, you just fold in half and cut out the letter "C". Use one cut-out piece for the head and the other piece you cut one more "C" to make a tail

 These fingerpuppets are made of rolled crepe paper for the body (Hello Kitty, of course), and dried baby wipes (they dried out sometime in the last three years) for the others.  This gave them a little flexibility. I downloaded some famous heads, we taped them at the top with double sided tape, and I cut up a leftover Fancy Nancy boa for some very effective fur.

Next year: Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj
Next year try Drat that fat Cat! by Pat Thomson

Friday, September 23, 2016

Road Trip Storytime, Friday, September 30 @ 10:30

  • Rooster's Off to See the World by Eric Carle.  Big Book.  Off to see the world, but he's soooo disorganized!
  • Let's Go for a Drive! by the immortal Mo Willems. Props: jingley keys, accordion map, sunglasses, umbrellas, bags? (cardboard boxes?)
  • In the Driver's Seat by Max Haynes.  Turn your chair around and rock this book!
  • Hungry Bird by Jeremy Tankard. This (whiny) bird went off on a hike with his friends without packing any snacks for himself, and he doesn't like the snacks his friends brought!  Real drama the kids identified with here. We talked about the pleasures of having some grapes and Cheerios packed first, and this book really worked for this young crowd.
  • Seals on the Bus
  • Penguin's Big Adventure by Saloon Yoon.
  • Oh, No! Gotta Go! by Elya.  These much needed pit stops happen to the best of us!
  • Little Red by Bethan Woollvin.  Traveling through the forest! Don't talk to strangers!
  • Are We There Yet by Dan Santat.

Motor Boat
Fire Truck
Wheels on the Bus
 Going on a Bear Hunt
   Stop & Go w. streetlight

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Color Storytime, Friday, September 23 @ 10:30

Pete the Cat and His White Shoes by Eric Litwin. Everyone's favorite cat in everyone's favorite story!

 Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. It took me a few pages to pick up on the right rhythm for this: Page One: Read with astonishment: Lemons are not red. And then point out that this is a MAGIC color book and something is going to happen to that lemon when you turn the page. Turn the die cut and -- the lemon is yellow! The apple is red! Next page: Here is some blue grass. Wait a minute! Is the grass blue? Turn page. The grass is GREEN. The sky is blue. 
Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood. Owl stays up into the day to see --- COLORS! and WOW is what he has to say. If you have ANY talent with the paint brush at all, paint along while you talk.

Vincent Paints His House by Tedd Arnold.  Amazing -- a readable book about Vincent van Gogh painting! Vincent had a French accent -- I don't know what the Dutch accent might sound like.

Butterfly by Petr Horacek.  Such a young crowd, I picked short ones.

Duckie's Rainbow by Frances Barry. They were very appreciative of the beeeautiful rainbow.

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont. I paused at the end of each couplet of this funny rhyming readaloud, I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! by ever humorous Karen Beaumont for the children to guess the finishing rhyme: "So I take some red and I paint my...HEAD"  They weren't very good at guessing last year.  I'm going to try painting on a figure on the paper this time.

One by Kathryn Otoshi. How do you stop bullying? You just do.  A simple, perfect book.

My Blue Is Happy by Jessica Young. This wonderful book is a great link between colors and the emotions we have feel. It's as wide open as the sea, leaving lots of room for discussion. For example, her friend loves pink -- makes her think of tutus and ballet. But it makes her think of itching mosquito bites! A great chance for interaction.

  • Bumping up and down in my little red wagon. I had the wagon filled up with the big pom poms, and when it went zooming uphill, I tilted them out all over the floor.  After we sang the song, I asked the kids to "Put the BLUE one in the yellow pail, put the GREEN one in the yellow pail" and that worked out OK in a crazy kind of way.
  • "Red, red, pat your head/ Blue, blue, touch your shoe/Yellow, yellow, wiggle like Jello/ Purple, purple, make a circle/ Green, green, wave and be seen/ Black, black, "Quack, quack, quack/ Pink, pink, give me a wink/ White, white, stomp with all your might/ Brown, brown, spin and sight down."  Everybody just did all of it no matter what they were wearing!
  • Different colored matchbox cars. Line them up on the edge of your table and start singing this chant: Down around the corner at the used car lot, there were ? used cars, all waiting to be bought.  Along came ?, all alone, he picked out the red one and he drove home.
  • Holding onto the matchbox cars, I put up my flannel traffic light, we did: 
"Green says, “Go!” (march quickly)
Go go go! 3x more
Yellow says, “Slow...” (march slowly)
Slow slow slow... 3x more
And red says, “Stop!” (stop and freeze)
Go go go! 3x more
Slow slow slow... 3x more And STOP!  but we didn't really count we just did it and mixed things up.
  • Using the scarves, to The Wheels on the Bus, we did:
The fish in the sea go swish, swish, swish (wave scarves side to side)
Dolphins in the sea swim round and round (scarves in circle)
Sharks in the sea go snap snap snap (back & forth quickly -- Max lookd ferocious)
Waves on the sea go up and down (waves up and down)
The swimmer on the sea floats so gently, so gently, so gently, the swimmer on the sea floats so gently (scarf on face, arms stretched out.) 

  • Five green and speckled frogs, which I do as a clapping song too.


Cellophane collage
Hah! I just set the craft tables with white paper and put the cellophane shapes in the middle. (Thanks, Monica, for getting out all those yellow circles.) "Figure it out!" while I went to search for disappearing glue sticks. That gave them enough time to experiment for a bit.
Matisse Suncatchers

Tissue paper squares/scraps plus sequinsfeathersstring on contact paper to create collages. This technique is nice because the objects are repositionable. The kids fool around with their creations more than if they’re intent on gluing.

Disco Ball.

Brown Rabbit's Shape Book by Alan Baker makes for a great storytime opener.  I have a box wrapped in bright green paper with a big bow on it, and a brown rabbit puppet.  Brown Rabbit opens the box and, just as the book says, finds four colored balloons.  I blow them up and release them by turns to go whizzing over the heads of the audience. VERY good. 

A Clown Magic Coloring Book by Haines' House of Cards, Inc., with the pages that go from blank to colored as you fan them. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Alligator Storytime, Friday, September 16 @ 10:30

Alligators pop up in so many children's stories because they are TERRIFYINGLY LARGE REPTILES. I live in Florida, and my storytime kids take alligators very seriously. They're constantly turning up in our swimming pools and roadside ditches.

On  a personal note, I would like to thank all the Crocodylia in the state of Florida. They are the only species standing -- or crawling -- between us and an invasion of pythons who have already eaten everything else that walks and crawls in the Everglades. The pythons are only having trouble swallowing the eight foot gators & crocs whole.

  • Wide Mouthed Frog.
  • Snip Snap, What's That by Mara Bergman. Lower your voice to bring the kids and read those terrifying words: "When the alligator came creeping ... creeping ... creeping up the stairs...were the children scared? (Turn page.) YOU BET THEY WERE! And then the next, as the kids are chased through the house by the until the brilliant end..This book is all action, drama, and great pictures. Storytime perfection.
  • Do Crocs Kiss? by Salina Yoon. Board Book.  Nice for audience participation; this was a young group.
  • The Three Little Gators by Helen Ketteman. The classic retold with three tender young gators and a big bad Swamp Boar. The rhyme is right on target, it's nice to include a story where the gators have to worry about their survival, and storytime kids just can't seem to resist a little bigness and badness.
  • There's an Alligator Under My bed  by Mercer Mayer.  Even at the end of storytime, this book held them. Moms loved the ending.
  • Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko
  • The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett. Duck finds a beeeyoutiful egg. All the other birds make fun of him in fun die cut pages until Duck's big, odd egg hatches, and then out guessed it.
  • I'd Really Like to Eat a Child by Sylviane Donnio. Just look at that ferocious gator. This little dude turns up his nose at all his parent's cooking, even chocolate cake. He's determined to eat a child. But how big are baby gators, after all?
  • Hello! Is This Grandma by Ian Whybrow. This one's a lift the flap AND it has farm animals mooing and quacking in it AND a hungry gator at the end as well! I know at this point I'm supposed to say the kids loved it, but heck, I loved it! Nothing's easier than selling kids on books that you yourself enjoy and want to read again.

  • 5 little monkeys swinging from the tree, teasing MR. CROCODILE etc.
  • Row, row, row your boat (if you see a crocodile, don't forget to SCREAM!)
  • Alligator, alligator, alligator pie./If I don't get some, I think I'm gonna cry/You can take away the sun/you can take away the sky/but please don't take away my alligator pie.  -- Dennis Lee.
  • The Lady With the Alligator Purse, board book by Westcott. 
  • See you later, alligator, after a while, crocodile, bye, bye, butterfly.

I dumped some pom poms behind a masking tape line on one side of the room and told the kids it was their job to save their eggs from the birds and the other alligators that wanted to eat them by taking them to the safe nest on the other side of the room, on the other side of another masking tape line.  I gave them dinosaur grabbers from Oriental Trading (leftovers), and considering they were all three years, they did pretty well.  I would have assigned numbers and colors to older alligator children; just working the grabbers was challenge enough this morning.
I realized I hadn't gotten any craft ready this morning, so we did marble painting: a shoebox lid lined with white paper, marbles in little medicine cups, and paints.  This was just the right speed for this bunch. The color experimenting was a lot of fun.

Year before last, I made an Alligator template following this example on pinterest. I asked a kindly volunteer to cut out a few for my very young craftsperson, but I was happy that most kids tackled the cutting job, nice straight lines.  I made the cut for the jaw bigger and taped white paper to the inside of the gator, then gave the kids some patterned craft scissors to cut toothy grins, and they drew on the eyeballs.  The gators were done, so I passed out the textured paint, made with one part salt, one part flour, and one part liquid.  The original recipe called for using water and food coloring, but I used liquid tempera and water.  You have  to adjust it a little to get the right texture.  The salt makes it dry nicely, and the flour makes it textured.  
Cute, huh? Will I make them again?  Kinda labor intensive, and a little too product not process.

Or: Yes, I really did have little boys running around the room attacking each other with their new alligator puppets. Note the added detail: it’s a rare diamondback alligator w/a slasher tail and a particularly savage set of purple teeth. Teen volunteers cut out the shape from a roll of paper. The original is on page 77 of Creative Crafts for Kids by Gill Dickinson. It’s a book I periodically swipe from circulation and keep behind my desk because it has so many great ideas.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Trains Storytime, Friday, September 9 @ 10:30



  • Freight Train by Donald Crews. As I turned the pages of the book, I held up each car STARTING WITH THE CABOOSE NOT THE ENGINE, asking the kids what color they were.  They loved starting off the storytime as guest experts. I hung up the train on a clothesline and we talked about the type of cars. And as I hung them up, I talked a little bit about what each car might carry. Tank Car: lemonade; hopper car: Legos (dump them right out the bottom) Cattle car: cows; gondola car: bananas; box car: boxes of books or birthday presents.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine.  I introduce this most famous of trains using the beginner book Blue Train, Green Train, but I don't actually read it.
  • Down by the Station. I love the Will Hillenbrand version about different zoo animals, but if your copy is torn to shreds, the way mine is, Jennifer Riggs Vetter has a very fun version out about different vehicles:  "Down by the bus station, airport, etc.
  • I'm Fast by Kate & Jim McMullan.  Even more fun than their I Stink. This is the story of a race between a train and a red sports car.  Maybe not a really big hit.
  • Clickety Clack by Robert and Amy Spence. This rhymy readaloud reads like a train ride. Start off slow and steady, and gradually, as talking yaks and ducks go quack, pick up the speed and the sound level until by the time those mice light their fireworks, you're really zooming!  Your voice rising and speeding up is enough to fascinate even the babies. This book is always a major performance piece. I made a stick of fireworks for the mice out of twisted bubble wrap and a little red at the tip.  I twisted it for a really big pop. Use a lot.
  • Ride, Fly Guy, Ride by Tedd Arnold. Fly Guy comes to the rescue with this verrrry funny and outrageous tale of a ride every two-year-old would like to take. Fly Guy's voice: low nasal. Buzz's: surprised boy soprano
  • The Little Engine That Could by Piper. Every year I read the board book, and it's a wonderful thing to hear the moms chime into the chorus:  I think I can, I think I can.
  • Crossing by Booth.  REally gorgeous book
  • How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton. (Check wiggle index first -- this requires a bit of a sense of humor, about "how to Train a Train" as if they were new pet puppies.  "Make the call of the wild train:  Chugga-chugga, chugga-chugga" and offer it coal."
  • Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker.   Short and sweet.

  • Window Music by Anastasia Suen. Short, nice

The wheels on the train go round and round, etc.
·                      The conductor on the train says, “All aboard! All aboard! Etc.
·                      The clowns on the train laugh, “Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha. Etc.
·                      The lions on the train roar, “RoooOAAR, RoooOAAR, Etc.
·                      The elephants like to stomp around, stomp around, Etc.
·                      The seals on the train go clap, clap, clap, clap, clap clap, Etc.
·                      The acrobats swing through the air, through the air, etc.
·                      The emcee on the train wants to take a bow, take a bow, etc.
·                      The audience on the train shouts YAAAAY!  YAAAAAY! Etc.
The wheels on the train go round and round, round and round, Etc.

JLIB sing The Little Red Train Goes Down the Track


We assembled trains out of squares and punched out circles, then decorated with crayons and also some princess and book character stickers.

Friday, August 26, 2016

ABC Storyhour, Friday, September 2 @ 10:30

Not sighted on Gulf Blvd but it almost could have been. ABC Storytime 2016 was almost a complete wash out thanks to Hurricane Hermine, but we did have some cabin fevered moms and kids attend. Had to cut it short because of general wildness.

Play: I scattered some foam letters on the floor for the kids to find, with the idea that they find the letter which began their name. I'll have to try this on a non-hurricane day. The idea was that they would find their letter and then make the craft, but mayhem just set in. Next year I think I'll stick to my original plan, hanging them on the clothesline and taking down each letter for each kid's name so they'll be ready for the craft.

  • ABC Animal Jamboree by Giles Andreae. Since I'm planning to do a craft this year of them just decorating a plaque with their initials on it (foam, Oriental Trading), I asked them what letters start their names, then read the animal that went with their names. 
  • ABC3D pop-up by Marion Bataille. We sang the ABC song first. Cute. Since this book is damaged, I started off by introducing it as a "little bit broken -- huh, I wonder which page is broken?" This at least got the attention of the parents.
  • The Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra. Another very funny hit from Judy Sierra. This is the only alphabet book I find to be readable. It doesn't just go A was once an Apple Pie, B blah blah blah.  Instead the naughty lower case letters are each misbehaving at bedtime, and the connection between letter and action isn't labored. A is wide awake, B won't take a bath, etc.  Pix are great too.
  • Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham.  Moose is understandably put out because he has to wait and wait and wait until it's his turn to be M is for Moose, and Moose is NOT a good waiter then when they get to M it's for Mouse! His outrage knows no bounds!
  • Alphabet Mystery by Audrey Woods.  The letters of the alphabet as the main characters in a tale full of drama and suspense.  After all the A is for Apple Pie stuff, who knew?
  • Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth.  Love this book.  I always have the kids do the Shoo Fly, Shoo Fly, Shoo!



Bring the foam letters in and have the kids sit on a square. 


We strung foam letter beads from Oriental Trading on pipecleaners. Make a loop at the end for closure:

Alternately, have the kids make name plaques for themselves. Foam letters and a lot of sparkle. We tried doing their initials one year. That was a bit of a learning curve.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pet Storytime, Friday, August 26 @ 10:30

What Pet Should I Get by Dr. Seuss. Don't forget your basket of little pets. These two year olds were still very fascinated by the concrete objects.

PIRATE'S PERFECT PET by Beth Ferry.  Alas, I forget to wear my pirate hat, but this was one still a big hit with the kids. Skip the note from Mom and get right into the action, the progression from farm to zoo to pet store.

Dino Pets by Lynn Plourde.Lush illustrations, short rhyming verse.  Plunk down hard on the ending rhymes. But not such a hit. Maybe the timing.

If All the Animals Came Inside by Eric Pinder. GREAT INTERACTIONAL.  This books has a wonderful rhythm you can really pound out; get the moms to join in while you hit the beat. But the kids were wandering by this time. Maybe stick to the 6 - 8 page rule.

An Octopus Followed Me Home by Dan Yaccarino.  And that's a bad thing? Maybe to Dad.

My Rhinoceros by John Agee.  His new pet rhino is just as sluggish as he looks, so the boy's a bit disappointed. Until he discovers he can fly.

Didn't get to: Mammoth in the Fridge by Michael Escoffier. The parents a horrified to discover a whoolly mammoth in their firdge one morning.  They call the fire dept., but when the mammoth escapes and runs up a tree, they leave. Turns out their daughter is in cahoots with the beast.

Be certain to define "mammoth"; ask what they think of cover picture.

Try:  USE: Is There a Dog in this book?  by Viviane Schwarz. I Love My Buzzard by Tres Seymour.  Ha ha. The Great Pet Sale by Mick Inkpen

For Older Kids:  Penguin by Polly Dunbar, This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers, Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown.  Excellent, funny books, but all a bit on the twisted side for the very, very young in this group. Strictly No Elephants by Mantchev; SPARKY by Jenny Offill.


ANY songs about animals.

Pet rugs. Materials: Fun foam rectangles & fun foam stickers, markers, scissors.

I know, I know! Dopey but easy and fun.  And a great intro for the very young for fringeing the edges of the rug without the worry of 'cutting something out' correctly. Let the kids fringe the edges and stick on the embellishments. And I had enough goofy little stuffed animals to give them all a 'pet' for their rug.