Preschool

Pete the Cat Storytime

Another themed Saturday storytime special! This was a little different for me because I was not a Pete the Cat fan before this storytime–but I have been won over! Pete the Cat Storytime was a ton of fun, though a little more low key than some of my past virtual Saturday storytime specials.

I made another “commercial” for this program, which you can view below:

I’m not sure how much these videos contribute to the audience for these programs, but I am looking forward to some in-person marketing when our library reopens for browsing next week. This may give some new life to all of our virtual storytimes.

To help continue the Pete the Cat fun at home, I curated a PDF packet that we shared with event participants. Download it here.

The general storytime layout is below, with videos where applicable. This was a bit more chill for me, with me reading two books and retelling one more. No color-changing unicorns or flattened dinosaurs this time!

Backdrop Setup: Pete the Cat pennant banners, posters, and images. I’m happy to share these printable files if anyone is interested–just let me know in those comments or send us an email.

Pete the Cat Intro: Instead of my regular storytime intro song (Shake Your Sillies Out), we started with something a little more cool and grooving–Clap Your Hands by They Might be Giants.

Book: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean and Eric Litwin
*I read this book, but I am including a previous video of this story being retold in flannel form below.

Song: Go Pete Go!

Book Retelling: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

Action Rhyme: Cool Cat Boogie
(During storytime, we did not include the music for sake of time and so that I could include music in our last read aloud.)

Magnet Activity: Pete the Cat Playing Hide and Seek

Book: Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes
I synced up the music for this book so that I read the sentences, and we all sang along with the music each time Pete sang a song.

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes - Naturally Curious Kids

Closing Song: Pete the Cat Theme Song

Doc McStuffins Storytime

Doc McStuffins Storytime

Another themed Saturday storytime special, this time celebrating the one and only Doc McStuffins! I didn’t have much knowledge about the young toy doctor before my deep dive for Doc McStuffins Storytime, but I genuinely enjoyed the episodes I watched. I’m surprised she isn’t more of a focal point in pandemic times, as she has a series of songs that align perfectly for kids and current times–songs about handwashing, playing outside, and even one about not being able to hug your friends right now so you don’t spread germs.

Check out other virtual storytime outlines:

Doc McStuffins Storytime Preview

I made another “commercial” for this program, which you can view below:

To help continue the Doc McStuffins fun at home, I curated a PDF packet that we shared with event participants. Download it here.

Doc McStuffins Storytime Video

Unlike past storytimes, I didn’t create individual YouTube videos portionsof of this storytime. Most of the storytime included a lot of Doc McStuffins music, and the internet does not need more videos of me dancing along to music without clear motions.

I am going to risk the wrath of the copyright overlords and share a video of the complete storytime. This may be removed in a few weeks, but I am particularly proud of how this storytime came together, and I think it will make more sense in its full effect:

*The storytime starts about 5 minutes into the video. We start our livestreams early to allow viewers time to login and make sure technology is working.

Doc McStuffins Storytime Outline

Little ones were encouraged to bring their own stuffed animal to storytime.

Doc McStuffins Theme Song Intro: We got ready for storytime by dancing to the original Doc McStuffins theme song.

Book: Guess Who, Doc!

Disney Doc McStuffins Guess Who, Doc! (1): Disney Doc McStuffins:  9780794430054: Amazon.com: Books

First Patient: Stuffy

After a quick explanation of how our program was going to work, I accidentally knocked down Doc’s Big Book of Boo Boos and Doc’s stuffed dragon, Stuffy. Poor Stuffy was instantly flattened, and we had to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it.

(How to do: Stuffed Stuffy was on the bookcase. Paper Stuffy was on the floor since before storytime began. I “accidentally” knocked stuffed Stuffy onto the floor with the Big Book of Boo Boos. When I bent down, I picked up paper Stuffy. We talked through our activity and song, and then put Stuffy down so he could stomp his own feet. After the song, we picked stuffed Stuffy back up.

Doc McStuffins Storytime: Stuffy's Flat!

During Stuffy’s turn as a patient, we:

  • Gave Stuffy a checkup with our Time for Your Check Up Song.
  • Diagnosed him with Squished Flat-a-tosis.
  • Cured Stuffy by moving and grooving to shake out his stuffiness by dancing along to Doc McStuffin’s Dinosaur Stomp.

Second Patient: Gustav the Gator

Now that Stuffy was all better, we checked into our waiting room and discovered Hallie Hippo had a patient for us: Gustav the Gator! Gustav has been warned in the past by Doc about eating the right foods for him, and we had to talk to him again about foods he should sometimes eat versus foods he should always eat.

Doc McStuffins Storytime: Gustav's Getting a Check-Up!

During Gustav’s turn as a patient, we:

  • Gave Gustav a checkup with our Time for Your Check Up Song.
  • Talked to Gustav about what he ate that morning.
  • Diagnosed him with Stuffedfulliosis.
  • Taught Gustav about foods he can always eat and foods he should just eat sometimes as a special treat.

For our Always vs. Sometimes activity, I divided a magnetic cookie sheet in half, and we sorted chocolate chip cookies, apples, french fries, bananas, carrots, and ice cream (doughnuts and water were cut for time).

Doc McStuffins Storytime: Sometimes vs. Always Foods

Third Patient: Lambie

Now that Gustav was feeling a bit better, we let him rest. We were about to check in on our waiting room again, when we started to smell something odd. Lambie was covered in mud! We needed to give Lambie a bath to get her nice and clean, and then we also practiced washing our own hands.

Doc McStuffins Storytime: Lambie Needs a Bath!

During Lambie’s turn as a patient, we:

  • Gave Lambie a checkup with our Time for Your Check Up Song.
  • Diagnosed Lambie with Filthy Icky Sticky Disease.
  • Gave Lambie a bath with the song “This Is the Way We Wash Our Legs.”
  • Practiced washing our own hands to the Doc McStuffin’s Wash Your Hands song.

We sang “This Is the Way We Wash Our Legs” to the tune of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”:

This Is The Way We Wash Our Legs
This is the way we wash our legs,
Wash our legs, wash our legs.
This is the way we wash our legs,
Wash our legs, wash our legs,
When we are nice and dirty!

We continued with our arms, bellies, and heads.

Fourth Patient: Chilly

We realized that we were missing one of Doc’s friends! We hadn’t seen Chilly all morning. Doc left us a clue with a guessing game activity. We found a picture of Chilly behind a picture of a white bear, and we found the real Chilly behind the real stuffed bear in our waiting room. Chilly was a bit nervous about seeing so many people for storytime, but we helped him get over his nerves by finding ways to say hello virtually.

Doc McStuffins Storytime: We Found Chilly!

During Chilly’s turn as a patient, we:

  • Played “Chilly, Chilly, Where Do You Hide?” to find Chilly.
  • Found stuffed Chilly behind our white bear.
  • Diagnosed Chilly with a case of The Shy Guys.
  • Said “hello!” three different ways with the song “We Wave and Sing Hello!”

We played our own version of the storytime classic, Little Mouse, Little Mouse, by checking behind various toys to see where Chilly might be hiding. We used the words:

Chilly, Chilly, where do you hide?
Are you behind the _______________? Let’s look inside!

After we found Chilly, we taught him different ways to say hello:

We Wave and Sing Hello
We wave and sing hello!
We wave and sing hello!
With all our friends at storytime,
We wave and sing hello!

We continued with: Sign and Sing Hello, Smile and Sing Hello

Fifth Patient: Hallie

All this time, we had left poor Hallie in the waiting room, but we realized that she hadn’t been talking much. We found out she was very tired today, even though she slept a lot last night, and we realized she might need some exercise to get some new energy.

Doc McStuffins Storytime: Hallie Needs a Check Up!

During Hallie’s turn as a patient, we:

  • Gave Hallie a checkup with our Time for Your Check Up Song.
  • Diagnosed her with No-Talk-A-Tosis.
  • Cured Hallie by doing some exercise with the Doc McStuffin’s Ready for Action song.
  • Showed off Hallie’s talking skills (she is a squeeze and talk stuffed animal).

Closing

We wrapped things up by reviewing everyone we helped today, talking about our Doc McStuffins School of Medicine Certificates (in those Doc McStuffins At Home Packets), and dancing along to the Doc McStuffins Theme Song – Toy Hospital Edition.

I wasn’t sure about attendance at this program, as the Doc McStuffins tv show ended in April, but this was my second highest Saturday Special attendance yet (after Baby Shark). Lots of Doc love, and now that I’ve spent some time with the character, I see why.

Pinkalicious Storytime

Another themed Saturday storytime special! I first thought about having a Pinkalicious Party over a year ago after having two different moms ask me for Pinkalicious readers for their sons. Previously, I had felt that a program on this book and tv series was a little too close to conforming to gender norms for my taste, but I was convinced otherwise by the number of young boys expressing interest in the books. While it was never my intention for this program to be virtual, I see a distinct advantage to it–there were many young boys in my virtual audience, and we didn’t have any of the parent comments that could have occurred in person or the social stigma that could have kept a parent from bringing their son to a program celebrating all things pink. (Another way virtual programming can open doors for patrons!)

I made another “commercial” for this program, which you can view below:

To help continue the Pinkalicious fun at home, I curated a PDF packet that we shared with event participants. Download it here.

The general storytime layout is below, with videos where applicable.

Backdrop Setup: Pennant banners and Pinkalicious book covers and images helped make my backdrop more on-theme to increase the Pinkalicious excitement (and it helps that my wall is pink!):

Pinkalicious Intro: We got ready for storytime with Shake Your Sillies Out by Rainbow Songs, my go-to intro song.

Book: Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann

Amazon.com: Pinkalicious (8580001052694): Victoria Kann, Elizabeth ...

Song: Dance All Day by Bari Kori
Pinkalicious is fairly long, so I wanted to get some wiggles out with a movement-heavy song after the book.

Fingerplay: I Have One, I Have Two Little Mermaids (celebrating Aqua from Aqualicious)

Puppets: Down Around the Corner starring Pink Animals

Song: Pink by Pancake Manor (freeze dance!)

Action Rhyme: Pinkalicious, Pinkalicious Turn Around (skipped in storytime)

Magnet: Pinkalicious, Pinkalicious Where Do You Hide?

Magic Wish: Make our unicorn light up with our wishing powers! (only repeated twice in the actual storytime)

Closing Song: Pinkalicious Theme Song

Paw Patrol Rescue Academy

Paw Patrol and I have a bit of a history. During spring break 2019, I planned a program featuring one of the most popular kids TV shows of the time. It was scheduled for a Friday morning, and while we could tell from patron questions that there was some excitement, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had been planning for a storytime followed by eight hands-on games, crafts, and activities where you earned badges, and ending with an obstacle course where you earned your Paw Patrol “uniform” (hat and necklace).

Before the program started, I debated dropping the storytime portion because my overzealous planning had led to very little room for attendees to sit down before completing their activities. I believe I left the room to get extra supplies about 30 minutes before the program and was extremely surprised to realize that there were over 100 patrons in the hallway. Waiting for a program that started in 30 minutes. A program that was supposed to take place in meeting rooms that have a firecode of around 200 when the room isn’t filled with tables and activities. The storytime portion was dropped, and by the end of the program over 300 people stopped by.

I have never written about that program on this blog because it didn’t go the way I had hoped (high attendance or not), and I didn’t actually have that many resources to share. Pre-COVID, I had been planning to try this program again this summer with quite a few modifications. Post-COVID, this program turned into another online special storytime, following the path of the recent Baby Shark Storytime and Elephant & Piggie Storytime.

To help continue the fun at home, I curated a PDF packet that we shared with event participants. Download it here and view it below:

The general storytime layout is below, with videos where applicable.

Backdrop Setup: Pennant banners and Paw Patrol shields helped make my backdrop more on-theme to increase the Paw Patrol excitement:

Paw Patrol Intro: We got ready for storytime with the Paw Patrol theme song and explained our mission: to complete training activities to earn six Paw Patrol badges and become junior Paw Patrol members.

Book: Pit Crew Pups from Five Puptacular Tales

Amazon.com: Five Puptacular Tales! (PAW Patrol) (Step into Reading ...

Badge #1: Flying Badge with Skye: Airplane Song by Laurie Berkner

Whenever it was time to earn a new badge, we received pup mail. We had to guess which pup’s badge we were going to earn based on the front of our mail and then read about our challenge.

Our first challenge was to practice our flying skills with Skye!

Badge #2: Water Safety Badge with Zuma: Zuma Are You In a Boat?

Badge #3: Safety Badge with Chase: Crazy Traffic Light

Badge #4: Fire Safety Badge with Marshall: Hurry, Hurry Drive the Firetruck

Badge #5: Construction Badge with Rubble: Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia
This was supposed to be just a read of the book, but I couldn’t get a copy of the book in time, so it turned into a last minute magnet. I’m sure I’ll reuse this set at some point in a toddler storytime.

Amazon.com: Tip Tip Dig Dig (All About Sounds) (9781906250829 ...

Badge #6: Handyman Badge with Rocky: Our Friend Rocky Had Some Tools

Graduation: Now that we had earned all six Paw Patrol badges, as shown in our Paw Patrol Badge Zone:

We recited the Paw Patrol Pledge:

And danced the morning away as Junior Paw Patrol members!

Closing Song: Pup Pup Boogie

Elephant & Piggie Storytime

10,000 years ago, in the days that were March, spring break week was supposed to end with an Elephant & Piggie Party. We had borrowed the full body costumes for some guest appearances, I had too many games and crafts planned to fit in our space, and we were expecting a decent crowd–last year’s Paw Patrol event, on the same day and time, had 300 people.

But before spring break, our library closed because COVID, etc., etc., etc., if you are reading this post in 2020 or soon after you don’t need me to rehash the details again. If you have no idea what COVID quarantining was…well I’m surprised this blog is still being used. Hopefully Google still exists too. Anyway, last weekend, I was able to bring part of the Elephant & Piggie Party online with Elephant & Piggie Storytime.

We had a smaller turnout than we would have had in person–just 51 online viewers during our Facebook Live event–but there were many familiar faces and the engagement in the comments was amazing.

To help continue the Elephant & Piggie Storytime fun at home, I curated a PDF packet that we shared with event participants. Download it here.

The general storytime layout is below. I wish I could share the whole video with you because some of the best parts just aren’t in the pre-made YouTube videos. I added a few screenshots for your enjoyment where I could.

Find additional content at the links below:

Backdrop Setup: Pennant banners and book covers helped make my backdrop more on-theme to increase the Elephant & Piggie excitement:

Elephant & Piggie Intro: We got ready for storytime with my go-to storytime intro song: Shake Your Sillies Out by Rainbow Songs.

Fingerplay: I Have One, I Have Two, I Have Three Little Piggies!

First Book: Let’s Go for a Drive by Mo Willems

Let's Go for a Drive! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) (An Elephant ...

I used to perform this book as a puppet show back when I was a teen volunteer, so I’m very familiar with the content. I included some props and got quite energetic in sharing the book:

Song: Elephants Have Wrinkles by Rainbow Songs

Magnet: Piggie, Are You In a Book?

Magnet: Five Elephants in the Bathtub
**This was the planned starting point for Pigeon takeover. I made a full video for YouTube, but this wasn’t part of the storytime beyond the introduction.

Pigeon Takeover: I’ve been trying to think of ways to use virtual storytimes to my advantage. In a room full of kids, I could never transform a storytime space like I’m able to by covering the camera for a minute and swapping out decor. Hence, Pigeon Takeover was born.

**Our storytimes are live. This would have been much easier pre-recorded, but it wouldn’t have been half as fun.

How This Worked:

  • While swapping out magnet pieces from Piggie, Are You in a Book? to start what I told viewers was our next activity, Five Elephants in the Bathtub, I really pressed play on the iPod Touch I use for music (connected via bluetooth to a speaker), starting a Spotify playlist. The playlist contained 7 door knocking sounds followed by the Hot Dog! song by They Might be Giants (Pigeon likes hot dogs!).
  • Once the knocking started, I pretended to ignore it while making an annoyed face before apologizing to viewers and telling them I needed to check on the door. I’d be right back!
  • As soon as I was off camera, stuffed Pigeon made an appearance, using a sign to make his opinions known:
  • I moved the Pigeon Storytime sign up against the camera before swapping it out with a black washcloth. The Hot Dog! song continued to play and my awesome coworker kept the shenanigans going in the comments while letting viewers know to keep watching.
  • In a minute, I swapped out as much of the decor as I could, focusing on: the books on the bookshelf, stuffed animals, and hanging up as many Pigeon book covers and pre-cut Pigeon images on top of the Elephant and Piggie decor as I could manage. These were all pre-taped and on a table off camera.
  • I positioned myself with the Pigeon headband and holding some of Pigeon’s signage. I made sure before I started that my chair was close enough to the camera to remove the wash cloth in a clean motion. I stopped the music, moved the wash cloth, threw in a “is there a bird on my head?” joke, and let my confusion show before accepting my fate that I was now in a different storytime:

Book: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems, Hardcover ...

Since this was now Pigeon storytime, we had to wrap things up with a Pigeon story.

Closing Song: If You’re an Elephant/Piggie/Pigeon and You Know It!

Extra: 5 Little Pigeons Jumping on the Bed

Virtual Baby Shark Storytime

This has been a crazy past week of storytimes, but I kicked off May family storytime Saturdays with Baby Shark Storytime!

I ran this program in person back in January to a whopping 185 people! While that was just a few months ago, it feels closer to three years, and it was also something easy enough for me to replicate virtually that has a strong following.

We had a 30 minute storytime followed by about 10 minutes of Baby Shark bubbles and dancing. Videos of most content can be found below–as usual, there are a few more videos than I actually had time for during the storytime.

I also made a PDF for families filled with Baby Shark activities to do at home. See and download below:

We had about 63 live viewers, with 100 one-minute views by the end of the live recording. Not a bad turnout for one of our slowest virtual storytime days of the week.

Background: While my library is closed during the COVID pandemic, we are hosting five virtual storytimes a week, livestreamed through our Facebook page. While those livestreams are deleted soon after they are complete, we are also making YouTube clips of select elements of our storytimes that our patrons can view anytime they would like–and that I can share with all of you!

Find additional content at the links below:

Introduction Song

We sung and danced along to Shake Your Sillies Out. I can’t upload a YouTube video of this one because of copyright.

Fingerplay

Apparently I never uploaded the video of the fingerplay we did to get ourselves settled for our first story.

We did Two Little Sharks:

Two little sharks in the deep blue sea,
One named Luna and one named Lee,
Swim away Luna, swim away Lee!
Come back Luna, come back Lee!

Continued with: Swimming on a wave…Dorothy and Dave

Book: Baby Shark

Baby Shark: Bajet, John John: 9781338556056: Amazon.com: Books

Song: The Goldfish Song by Laurie Berkner

Puppets: Slippery Fish

Magnet: 5 Sharks in the Bathtub

Book: Shark in the Park

Shark In The Park: Nick Sharratt: 9780857534781: Amazon.com: Books

Closing Song: Baby Shark

Extras

Virtual Innovation Academy: Coding

I’ve been part of my library’s virtual storytime team over the last month, and today, it is my turn to expand into virtual school age programming, with an online adaptation of my Innovation Academy programs.

About three years ago, I started the Innovation Academy programming series because of a technology grant that gave us about $5000 in tech ideal for ages 8-11. The program series was popular, as anything with technology seems to be, but after a few years I grew close to burnout with tech. I was one of the only staff members interested in tech programming, and I felt obligated to keep creating it since there was a patron interest.

We had a mixed audience at each Innovation Academy program, which made it difficult to plan. I couldn’t move on to advanced content because at least a third of every program’s attendees would have never used any kind of tech before. Another third would have come to every single tech program I had done in the last 2-3 years, and they would quite loudly complain that they had done this activity before. The other third would be some combination of the previous two, while also regularly letting me know that they had more advanced tech at home or at school. Oh, and there were also the kids who were too young to be in the room and couldn’t read (and didn’t have the patience to try to work through any kind of problem solving).

Luckily, last year, our department divided up the Innovation Academy program series, expanding its content to cover more than tech but also expanding the staff who ran the program. This gave me a much-needed technology break, and while I can’t say I am ready to jump back into monthly tech programs, I don’t mind the occasional offering, and I definitely don’t mind trying to translate that content to a new medium–online!

My library decided to approach school age programming so that:

  • Ages are expanded–all programs have materials for ages 6-11.
  • Attendees register via Evanced (our regular event registration software).
  • On the day of the event, the program presenter will email attendees a video introduction as well as a PDF with resources, content, and activities to do at home.

My first Innovation Academy program goes live today, so I don’t know what the patron feedback will be. Four days before the event, we already have 60 sign-ups, which is fantastic! Our first school-age event from last week, virtual Young Engineers, received a great response from virtual attendees, so I’m hoping that pattern continues.

Innovation Academy Content

This session’s intro video is below. It is boring. I’m going to work on ways to make it more engaging–including seeing my face talking–for next time, but I was determined to get this done this week, and double storytimes meant that reading my notes instead of talking was just easier.

Participants can watch the video, or they can move straight to the packet, included below. It covers the vocabulary reviewed in the video, and also provides four pages of coding resources for all levels of coders, from beginning to advanced, including unplugged, block-based, and text-based coding activities.

Pros and Cons

Obviously this format is different than standard library programming, and there isn’t too much we can do about that. Until we have a vaccine for COVID-19, our world is going to look different. Encouraging people to gather for entertainment purposes, while mentally helpful, is simply dangerous at the moment. Speaking personally, my life, my coworker’s lives, and our patron’s lives aren’t worth creating an hour’s worth of entertainment–or learning–right now. When stay at home orders are lifted, some people will run from their homes to any open location–that doesn’t mean we are obligated to amuse them at our own personal risk. Other people will stay home and prioritize their and other people’s safety.

Everyone will make their own choices, and virtual programming allows us to reach people in a way that is safe for everyone. Unfortunately, it means we will be missing people, especially those that need our services the most. I don’t have an answer for that, but I will say that in almost all cases, in my particular library, the people who are coming into our library to attend our physical programs are not the people who don’t have Internet at home. They may make choices about screen time limits that may make it hard to attend our virtual programs–and honestly, if you are able to stick to those limits in these crazy times, good for you–but they still have access if they choose to use it.

I don’t think temporarily moving our programs virtual is preventing our regular users from accessing the library. Figuring out how to reach those folks who could never make it into the library in the first place is a bigger question, and virtual programming may actually be opening doors instead of closing them. According to Pew Research, 68% of low income families use social media (with Facebook being by far the most popular tool). While I don’t have the statistics, I will bet that 68% of our low income families don’t visit our library regularly.

Obviously, no matter how I try to spin it, there are still cons to online programs. They feel impersonal. I can’t adjust a program based on a participant’s response. I can’t lead them through a problem the same way I could in person. I can’t give them physical items to work with and explore, from robots and 3D printing pens to even simple craft materials. I don’t even know how many participants opened the files I sent or actually did any activity. People could really struggle with what I provide, or simply not like the format, and I may never know.

To end on a positive note, however, there are small good things to focus on too. So many of those reasons that I was burnt out on tech disappear here. I can provide activities and resources for all ages and abilities–from those preschoolers sneaking their way into school-age programs to the attendees that have been coding for years. I’ve got you all covered.

Online programs can promote family engagement in a way that in-library programs can promote peer-to-peer learning. Adults learn about fun ways they can connect with their kids without having to spend money on robots and 3D printing pens and craft supplies. Programs can be completed whenever is convenient for a family–as soon as an email is distributed, after work is done, over the weekend, a year from now. If the baby is super grumpy, a family doesn’t have to worry about leaving the house and arriving 30 minutes late. If a kid is really, really, really bored with Scratch, they don’t have to yell that at the top of their lungs in a room of their peers–they can just try Code Combat instead.

I want to get these kids back in our programming space–I miss them. I miss watching them grow up over the last few months, and possibly over the next year. Virtual programming provides us a bit of everything–while we don’t always get to see the kids, we still get to connect with families, share some cool learning opportunities, and connect our patrons to the ideas, interests, and passions that matter to them. Just with a little more distance between us and them.

Recommended Free Apps & Podcasts for Kids

Like many libraries around the country, we got the news last week that we will remain closed throughout the month of April. Since we now have a better timeline, we are able to move forward with virtual content more easily–including a ReadSquared online stay at home learning program highlighting free resources like books, apps, and podcasts.

We don’t have any prizes, just virtual badges that kids and families can earn by completing activities at home. Some are directly related to books, some connect to the library, and others just provide ideas for new ways to explore your home or the (limited) world around you.

One of the “missions” I worked on involved exploring technology. I created curated lists of apps and podcasts that families can experience at home.

After much finagling, I was very proud of myself for managing to create a list of recommended free apps that work on both iOS and Android devices. All free app suggestions are listed below and can be downloaded or shared as PDFs here:

Recommended Free Apps, Ages 2-5

Play and Learn Science by PBS Kids

Caregivers and children work together to explore scientific concepts and to develop problem solving skills. Explore water, weather, physics, light, and more. Android, iOS, Amazon

Little Chickies (Los Politos) by Encantos Media Studios, PBC

Interact with the traditional Spanish lullaby “Los Politos” through a story, art projects, music activities, digital scrapbooks, and more. Available in eight languages. Android, iOS

Fish School by Duck Duck Moose, LLC

Practice letters, numbers, shapes, and colors through fun games with colorful fish and friendly sea creatures. 
Android, iOS, Amazon

GoNoodle—Kids Videos  by GoNoodle

Filled with short videos that teach music, movement, patterns, dance, yoga, and mindfulness. Suggested to watch and dance along as a family.
Android, iOS, Amazon

Animal Sounds for Baby (Laugh & Learn Animal Sounds)by Fisher Price Inc.

Babies and toddlers can practice identifying animals and their sounds with engaging, brightly-colored illustrations and vibrant sound effects.
Android, iOS, Amazon

The Cat in the Hat Builds That by PBS Kids

Explore STEM concepts through mini-games and activities. Includes a variety of downloadable materials and ideas for caregiver and child interaction. Android, iOS, Amazon

Khan Academy Kids by Khan Academy

Explore thousands of educational activities, books, songs, and games teaching reading, language, writing, math, social-emotional development, and more. Android, iOS, Amazon

PBS Parents Play & Learn by PBS Kids

Discover games for parents and kids to play together in familiar locations, like the garden, the kitchen, the bathroom, and more.
Android, iOS, Amazon

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Duck Duck Moose, LLC

Sing along to various versions of the classic children’s song “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Includes free-play activities related to on-screen characters.
Android, iOS, Amazon

Artie’s World by Minilab Ltd

Follow Artie around the world. Create presents for Artie’s friends by tracing basic shapes on the screen. Watch your drawings come to life!
Android, iOS, Amazon

Baby Games—Piano, Baby Phone, First Words by RV AppStudios

Toddlers can engage with simple sound effects and pretend play with virtual musical instruments and simple nursery rhymes.
Android, iOS, Amazon

Pokémon Playhouse by The Pokémon Company International

Engage in this open-ended play app by interacting with Pokémon characters, listening to stories, solving puzzles, and more. 
Android, iOS, Amazon

Elmo Loves 123s by Sesame Street

Trace each number (1-20) and explore with Elmo and Abby through puzzles, games, coloring, and videos. Free version only includes numbers 1-3. Android, iOS, Amazon Cost: Free (Lite) $4.99 (Full)

Endless Alphabet by Originator Inc.

Learn new vocabulary words and practice identifying letters in this interactive puzzle game. Free version only includes seven words. Android, iOS, Amazon | Cost: Free (Lite) , $8.99 (full)

Recommended Free Apps, Ages 6-8

Molly of Denali by PBS Kids

Explore the Native Alaskan village of Qyah with Molly using diagrams, pictures, field guides, and maps. Solve problems, play games, and accomplish community tasks. Android, iOS, Amazon

Pet Bingo by Duck Duck Moose

Practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to earn adorable virtual pets, pet food, and pet toys.
Android, iOS, Amazon

ScratchJr by Scratch Foundation

Create your own interactive stories and games by snapping together programming blocks to make your characters move, jump, dance, and sing. Android, iOS, Amazon

Tami’s Tower by Smithsonian Institution

Use basic engineering principles to help Tami the golden lion tamarin solve problems encountered in the jungle.
Android, iOS, Amazon

Jet’s Bot Builder: Robot Games by PBS KIDS

Build and personalize your own robot before traveling through outer space to complete STEM challenges. 
Android, iOS, Amazon

Think & Learn Code-a-pillar by Fisher Price, Inc.

Learn basic coding and problem-solving skills as you move your virtual caterpillar through a variety of logic puzzles. 
Android, iOS, Amazon

CyberChase Shape Quest! by PBS KIDS

Practice geometry and develop spatial reasoning skills through puzzles and games as you try build a new environment in Botopolis. 
Android, iOS, Amazon

Recommended Apps, Family

ChatterPix Kids by Duck Duck Moose

Turn pictures of real life objects into silly, playful messages with filters, recorded audio, stickers, and more.
Android, iOS

Storytime Online by SAG-AFTRA Foundation

Watch diverse celebrity readers perform both classic and timely children’s picture books for all ages.
Android, iOS

Toontastic 3D by Google LLC

Draw, animate, and narrate your own cartoons. Record your voice, insert pictures, and share your creations with friends and family. 
Android, iOS

Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Identify birds flying through your backyard by answering five questions or taking a picture of the bird and identifying where you live. 
Android, iOS

NSF Science Zone by National Science Foundation

Learn about hundreds of scientific discoveries with exciting videos and high-resolution photos that will take you from the far reaches of space to the smallest bacteria. Android, iOS

Seek by iNaturalist

Learn about nature by using recognition technology to identify plants and animals in your backyard or on a nature hike. 
Android, iOS

Pick Your Plate! by Smithsonian Institution

Explore cultures from around the world through food. Learn about new cuisines and select nutritional meals that fit your virtual budget. Android, iOS, Amazon

Recommended Podcasts for Kids

1. Aaron’s World. Journey to the distant past into the world of dinosaurs and imagination. http://www.mydogrocket.com

2. But Why. Approaches silly and very real questions in a kid-friendly manner—from “why do we taste food?” and “why do lions roar?” to the timely “But Why Special On
Coronavirus.” https://www.vpr.org/programs/why-podcast-curious-kids

3. Cirlce Round. Share folktales from around the world, adapted into modern radio plays. https://www.wbur.org/circleround  

4. Ear Snacks. Music duo Andrew and Polly create a fun soundtrack for all ages
performing original children’s music. http://andrewandpolly.com/earsnacks

5. Molly of Denali. Listen to the adventures of Molly Mabray, an Alaska Native girl
determined to discover the identity of the creature that stole Molly’s birthday cake.
https://mollyofdenalipodcast.org

6. Pants on Fire. This hilarious game-show style podcast keeps kids guessing. Two
grow-up “experts” talk about a topic—one is an expert, and one is a pants on fire liar. Listeners have to figure out who is who! http://www.bestrobotever.com/pants-on-fire

7. Peace Out. Yoga and meditation for kids. Practice relaxing and mindfulness through visualization and breathing exercises. https://bedtime.fm/peaceout

8. Smash Boom Best. Debaters enter heated competitions over some intense
match-ups—such as unicorns vs. dragons and chocolate vs. cheese—to convince
listeners which is the best. https://www.brainson.org/pages/smashboombest

9. Story Pirates. Amazing performers turn original stories written by real kids into podcast episodes often featuring celebrity guests. https://www.storypirates.com/podcast

10. Story Time. Designed to serve as bedtime stories, these short, sweet episodes feel like miniature audiobooks with music and sounds. https://bedtime.fm/storytime

11. What If World. Mr. Eric examines kids’ most wacky “what if” questions from “What if sharks had legs?” to “What if dinosaurs were alive today?” with humor and levity.
http://www.whatifworldpodcast.com

12. Wow in the World. Jump into the wonders of the world with Mindy and Guy in this daily kids podcast by NPR. https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510321/wow-in-the-world

What great resources am I missing? Share them in the comments below!

Baby Shark Storytime

Baby Shark is popular. I know this. I use the song regularly in my storytimes for all ages. However, I don’t think I realized how popular until I had 185 kids and adults crammed in our programming space for Baby Shark Storytime.

Like many libraries, we are generally short-staffed on the weekends. While we provide a weekly Saturday storytime, many of our other popular programs, especially for the 0-5 crowd, take place on weekdays. This works better for us, and those events still get large crowds, but working parents do not often get a chance to attend these party style events.

This was my second Saturday Tales @ 10 “takeover” (read about Mother Bruce Storytime to learn about my first one). I like using this programming slot for a bigger event because you have a guaranteed built-it audience (our regular weekend storytime attendees), and you also provide an opportunity to attract new faces to the library without having to ask for an additional staff member to work that weekend to cover your desk time.

Baby Shark Storytime was a celebration of all things Baby Shark. We had a shark-themed storytime followed by a collection of shark activities in place of our regular free play.

My storytime powerpoint is available below:

Baby Shark Storytime

My storytime followed a very similar structure to our standard family storytime. I tried to not make everything Baby Shark related so that parents wouldn’t pull their hair out (though, surprisingly, I think this just confused parents).

Opening Song: I Wake Up My Hands by Rainbow Songs

Opening Rhyme: Open, Shut Them
Open, shut them; open shut them.
Let your hands go clap, clap, clap.
Open, shut them; open, shut them.
Drop them in your lap, lap, lap.

Walk them, walk them,
Walk them, walk them,
Right up to your chin, chin, chin.
Open your little mouth,
But do not let them in!

Book: Bedtime for Baby Shark
This baby shark title has some easy to replicate hand motions without just singing the song (which we will get to) as a group in book form.

Song: Row, Row, Row Your Boat by Old Town School of Folk Music

Fingerplay: Two Little Sharks
Two little sharks in the deep blue sea.
One named Luna and one named Lee.
Swim away Luna, swim away Lee!
Come back, Luna, come back Lee!

Action Rhyme: Slippery Fish
Slippery fish, slippery fish, swimming through the water.
Slippery fish, slippery fish, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp! (clap)
Oh no! It’s been eaten by a…

Continue with: Octopus, Great White Shark, Humongous Whale

Magnet: Five Sharks in the Bathtub
One shark in the bathtub
Going for a swim
Knock, knock (clap twice)
Splash, splash (slap knees twice)
Come on in! (wave)

Book: Shark in the Park

Music: Baby Shark! by Pinkfong

Magnet: Five Little Fishies
Five little fishies, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark — “You Can’t Catch Me!”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be…
And (claps) SNAPS that fishy right out of the sea!

Closing Song: Shake Your Sillies Out by Rainbow Songs

Activites

After the storytime, many parents bolted because 185 people in a room meant for 75 is a lot.

But for those folks that stayed, we had some activities in the room as well as a scavenger hunt around our youth department.

Shark Fin Hats

Since this was my “easy” craft, it ended up being a bit more complicated than I would have liked. Each headband required 2-3 grey strips of paper–1-2 for the standard headband and another across the middle that the grey shark fin would be attached to. A standard shark fin shape was printed on grey cardstock to create the fin.

Shark Clothespin Puppets

The more complicated craft. Kids colored their own shark prints (found here) to make moveable shark clothespin puppets. I tried to have folks use glue dots instead of bottled glue to attach the sharks to the clothespins. That wasn’t the best idea, as they didn’t stick very well.

Pin the Fin on the Shark

This is exactly what it sounds like. Kids played pin-the-fin-on-the-shark with our lovely Baby Shark banner print from our marketing department. They received a button made on our button maker afterwards.

Feed the Shark Bean Bag Toss

This game was designed to be a standard bean bag toss game. Kids threw our toy fish into the shark’s mouth. They received a sticker after a successful throw.

This sort of worked out as planned, but essentially became a fascinating activity for our younger kids (ages 0-2) who just wanted to pick up the fish, put them in the shark’s mouth, take them out, put them in the basket, and dump them back out. Since this activity seemed to work best for the little kids, this helped the flow of the room since the older kids focused on the crafts.

Baby Shark Scavenger Hunt

Our last activity was our Baby Shark scavenger hunt, which got parents and kids out of our cramped programming space and into the youth department. After completing the scavenger hunt, each kid received a Baby Shark bookmark.

Frozen Sing Along & Celebration

Whether you personally have children or not, it is impossible to work as a youth librarian and not be aware of the Frozen phenomenon. I am a Disney fan, and I have been waiting for the release of Frozen II since I started this job three years ago. I’m not kidding–I had the date for this program reserved in our meeting room scheduler for well over two years before the program finally occurred.

My library had hosted Frozen movie watching parties in the past, but I wanted to try something a little different. At the time this program was planned, I was still reeling from the Paw Patrol Program of 2019, when we had 300 people lined up outside of the building and around the corner to enter our Friday morning Paw Patrol event. Our meeting rooms, with stations set up inside, can not accommodate that many people. With those numbers in the back of my mind, I was definitely nervous about what a Frozen program would bring on a Saturday afternoon a week before the release of Frozen II.

To prepare for crowds, I structured this event much differently than other fandom based programs that I regularly run. The afternoon ran as follows:

  • 1-5 pm: Frozen Activity Stations in Youth Dept.
  • 2-2:40 pm: Frozen Sing-Along & Celebration Option 1
  • 3:30-4:15 pm: Frozen Sing-Along & Celebration Option 2

Frozen Sing-Along & Celebration

The star event was my performance–and yes, this was as close as I have gotten to a “performance” in a program–retelling the Frozen story in about 30 minutes with jokes and songs scattered throughout. The same show was presented twice during the day, to audiences of about 120 people each.

Technology

I relied heavily on technology to make this program work (which, as expected, worked flawlessly for the first program and exploded in fire like Kristoff’s sled for the second).

Two laptops were connected to our meeting room’s overhead projector. One was set to my powerpoint (included below) and the other had the Frozen Sing Along DVD set up. Under bonus features, the Sing Along DVD lets you jump right to the start of each song and takes you back to the song selection menu when finished.

Our projector remote allowed me to toggle between the two laptops with the press of one button. Essentially, when it was time to move into a song, I would continue spieling as I approached the laptops, would select the song on the second laptop, and would then press the button to change inputs on the remote. By the time the projector caught up, the DVD had as well, and the song was beginning. When I was ready for a song to end, even if I wanted to cut it off early (like after the part where the parents die in “Do You Want to Build a Snowman”), I changed the input back to the other laptop. My powerpoint appeared on the screen again, while the song played on without sound on the other laptop, invisible to patrons, and returned to the menu screen by the time I was ready for the next song. This structure worked well throughout both performances until my HDMI cable decided that it didn’t want to play sound anymore.

I imagine that explanation isn’t entirely clear–please reach out or comment below if you want to talk through this more.

Presentation

The “show” involved me bumbling through a retelling of Frozen, sometimes getting things very wrong–such as forgetting that Kristoff exists or the entire ending to the story–and sometimes cracking jokes made for parents (such as the trolls making the excellent decision to terrify a 6-year-old Elsa by telling her that her powers are extremely dangerous, but not offering her any help with them when they obviously can do magic themselves).

I used the PowerPoint below to move through the storyline, breaking for most Frozen songs as they occur.

I’m not going to upload by script here, as I didn’t entirely stick to it, and I think it makes things more confusing, but if you would like to talk through what I did, please comment below.

Frozen Activity Stations

Meanwhile, before, during, and after my presentations, the youth department was covered with snowflakes and Elsas and included a collection of Frozen activity stations.

These were intentionally kept as low-key as possible, in an effort to not completely overwhelm our two youth librarians working in the department. Teen volunteers helped throughout the afternoon as well.

Frozen Scavenger Hunt

Visitors completed a scavenger hunt to track down a collection of Frozen characters. Scavenger hunt sheets and characters can be downloaded below. They received a sticker at the youth desk upon completion.

Elsa Crown Craft

Girls and boys decorated gorgeous Frozen crowns. I printed the crown outline on blue glitter cardstock from Amazon, and pre-cut the crowns. Adults and teen volunteers measured ribbon to tie to both sides of the crown to fit to their child’s head.

Sven Reindeer Antlers

Kids also had the option to make Sven Antlers, which were loved by many attendees (there were also some interesting crown/antler mashups).

Pin the Nose on Olaf

Finally, we had a Pin the Nose on Olaf activity that resulted in getting a Frozen bookmark. Due to some teen volunteer mishaps, this activity did not run according to plan, but we did end up with extra Frozen bookmarks to distribute for days afterward to many happy children.