I cannot resist the dollar section of Target. It calls to me. It whispers my name. Lately for good reason- every season they have AMAZING felt pieces! I’ve scored candy canes, snowmen, cats, bunnies, and these super cute eggs. What I love about these is that I could 100% have made them myself, but the idea never occurred to me until I saw them.
I used them with Kevin Henkes’ new book “Egg,” which is why there is a teeny little crocodile inside. I also use a little bit owl with them when I read “Wow! Said the Owl” and “Night Owl,” but you could put anything at all inside. Dinosaurs, snakes, a platypus!
They work the same as the little mouse game (closed eyes, hide, guess the color), except we all knock on the floor and say,. “Mr. Crocodile, Mr. Crocodile, are you in the (yellow) egg?”
I’d really hate to pigeon hole myself as a stereotypical librarian buuuuut… I love cats. Every time we get a new cat picture book I think to myself, “When was the last time I did cat storytime?” And if the answer is anything other than “you’re literally doing one right now,” then I do it again.
So this week we read…
Cat Nap by Toni Yuly
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
There Are Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwartz
Paper bag cat puppets. I forgot to take a picture because I am the worst but I gave every child a brown lunch bag and a sheet of brown paper. We talked about the shape cat ears and cat tails are and I had everyone draw and cut their own. As penance, here is a picture of my real cat, whom I love very much.
Great! A fun storytime for the librarian is fun for everyone. In particular, They All Saw a Cat is such a great book. It provides so many STEM opportunities (I said “echolocation” for the first time in storytime with this one) but be prepared to chat. We spent a lot longer on this book than I had planned.
Tony Chestnut is a song I learned in elementary school that I’ve always loved. If you don’t know it, it’s similar to head, shoulders, knees, and toes. As you sing Tony’s name, you point to the different parts of your body (toe-knee chest-nut (head)). We don’t do the whole song, we end on “that’s what Tony knows,” and then just repeat it going faster and faster. It was a hit and a nice shake-up from my typical routine.
Indiana is pretty gross in January. Especially this year- we’ve barely had any snow but we’ve still been treated to freezing rain and subzero wind chills. If I had my choice, I’d hibernate, but I don’t have hibernation leave at work. As long as I’m stuck, I’ll be doing warm and cozy themes until it starts to thaw.
We read… Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson Soup Day by Melissa Iwai Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
This cute soup bowl! I found it on Pinterest with no credit and a reverse image search was unhelpful. Please let me know if you know the origin of this craft! I use plastic cups instead of bowls (we have a weird surplus of cups right now) and foam alphabet beads. Everyone got a squirt of paint inside their cup and a strip of paper with a spoon printed on it (yep, I made them cut their own- gotta work those fine motor skills). They were so cute! And it was nice to send a paint craft home in which the paint is actually contained for once. No messy paintings.
Great! Who doesn’t love soup, other than lots of picky preschoolers? They loved telling me the things they thought were gross on each page and they loved sharing their favorite foods to use in our soup song. I worried our craft might be a little too simplistic, but it was really popular.
I started planning this storytime yesterday, on November 9th, 2016. Like a lot of Americans and humans, I am having a hard time coming to terms with who my country is today and reconciling that with who I thought we were. This is the kind of thing that weighs heavy on a heart.
I have always believed that libraries are safe places. As a children’s librarian, I feel it’s my duty to show compassion and empathy to every child in everything I do, from how I talk to and connect with the kids in my library, to how I program, to how I plan displays. I emphasize every child, because it is particularly important to me to make sure I reach the groups too often overlooked- kids of color, kids with disabilities, kids who may be part of the LGBTQ spectrum and those who already know they are- every. single. child. will be safe and loved and respected in my library.
So as I planned this storytime, I felt the need to truly put this into action. Every week I make it a point to read books with diverse characters and families but I needed to do more. My heart needed this. I was close to tears most of the day yesterday especially as I pulled the books that I hoped would carry my words today.
Last Stop on Market Street
My Heart is Like a Zoo
The Peace Book
We sang what we usually sing and added Skinnamarink, The More We Get Together, and If You’re Happy and You Know It. My responsibility it not to drag these kids down but to lift them up. To help them understand they are loved, worthy, and strong. I left storytime this morning feeling hopeful in a way I haven’t felt the last few days, held up by their smiling faces and the beautiful stories they share with me and their adorable inability to pronounce “skinnamarink” but their enthusiasm to just keep trying.
This is one of my favorite themes! I’m noticing a lot of my themes fall under that umbrella… but it’s really true! For campfire storytime, I pull out my paper campfire, dim the lights, and read scary stories (relatively speaking).
The Doghouse by Jan Thomas Maisy Goes Camping by Lucy Cousins
The Great Big Enormous Turnip told by me
I spent about five years mixing up an ancient silver paint powder, added approximately nine pounds of glitter, passed out black paper, and we made night sky paintings! Once you ignore the weird smell of paint powder, it’s a really fun, special craft.
Wonderfully. I really like to touch the “traditional” elements of a campfire by reading a “scary” story and telling a folktale. I learned a variation of the Great, Big, Enormous Turnip in grad school. It has a sung refrain and hand motions that make it really engaging and unique. I use it as often as I can just because it’s so much fun for me to do and it’s such a crowd pleaser. If you’re not using storytelling in your storytimes, I encourage you to start! It captivates little minds (and really impresses the grown-ups).
In the summer, I occasionally try to tie storytime themes to the summer learning theme, but it can provide a challenge I am sometimes not up for. I don’t particularly care for athletics but I do like storytime. I don’t see a very compelling reason for using themes I’m not interested in, BUT this was the first storytime of our Summer Learning Program, so I embraced it.
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers Froggy Play T-Ball by Jonathan London Maisy Learns to Swim by Lucy Cousins
We did a traditional outdoor activity… We made chalk drawings! Black paper, chalk, done. Super easy, very popular.
How It Went…
We had so many new faces today! A lot of kids very new to storytime, so we ended up cutting Froggy and Maisy short and spent a lot of time singing instead. If Zoom, Zoom, Zoom isn’t the most popular storytime song, I don’t know what is.
Car puppets! I cut out (and drew… can you tell?) the car shapes and had the kids assembled them with the popsicle sticks. They decorated the cars and the sticks with little people. It’s always fun to ask the kids who they drew driving the cars. I got a lot of “Daddys” and a “Batman.” Fun car!
How can a storytime about cars and buses go anything other than great? My highlight moment was standing up to sing, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” which is a staple for me. I asked, “Who can guess what we’re going to sing?!” and one of my regulars shouted, “THE HOKEY POKEY!” Well… who can resist that kind of enthusiasm? We sang it, of course, and you’ve never seen a kid so happy in storytime. I call that a storytime success.