Storytime

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

Storytime: Book Retellings

We are on a brief live storytime hiatus as we re-adjust for whatever the fall will bring, so I thought I would highlight one of my favorite storytelling tools: Book Retellings!

These were a part of my storytimes well before COVID and the move to virtual programs, though I’ve been happy to dig into them more retellings since I am presenting more storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers. I use this structure a little for babies with puppets, but mostly any “story” element is for the caregivers, with me focusing on and emphasizing the puppet reveal and animal sound for the babies.

Pros and Cons

Book retellings allow you to:

  • appeal to visual or action-based learners and listeners (so, most toddlers)
  • make things larger–puppets are often bigger than the pictures on a page, especially when presenting to a large in-person crowd (this distinction isn’t such a big deal behind a camera)
  • include more repetition – a book you read earlier in storytime or the week before could be used as a flannel or puppet activity
  • give caregivers ideas for ways to get excited about familiar stories that might be read over and over and over again at home
  • include props, puppets, and other manipulatives in your program

On the other hand, book retelling puts more pressure on you as a presenter. Reading the words on a page with the proper inflection, emotion, timing, and engagement is a challenge on its own. Pulling that off without exact words to guide you can be more challenging. However, I also like to think it is more freeing–viewers can’t see the words, so if I mix up an animal or two, or intentionally skip an entire portion of the story or rearrange something to make more sense visually, as long as I keep my cool, the audience doesn’t have to know. (I think there is a better word than “audience” here. Storytimes are presentations, in a way, but there is a back and forth–what is the word for an engaged, participating audience? Is that still audience? I’m digressing.)

To Memorize or Not To Memorize

I’m going to say something here that may make some library folks cringe–yell in the comments. Please. I know this is my opinion, and it isn’t a popular one, but I still feel strongly about it, so: it is better if you memorize.

Yes, we aren’t actors. Yes, our caregivers know this. No, most kids don’t really notice if we read. But there are kids that do, and there are adults who also notice, and…well I was that totally judge-y preschooler who really didn’t know any better, and compared you (rightfully or not) to Barney and Sesame Street and the Wiggles, and those real people aren’t reading off of a page or constantly glancing off screen to read their next line.

Yes, there will be mistakes, and no, you shouldn’t refilm a 30-minute pre-recorded storytime 17 times because of one error toward the end. Have a cheat sheet somewhere but don’t make it a script and don’t rely on it. I normally put a list of key words taped either directly below my camera on my tripod or right beside the location where I am hiding the puppets or flannel pieces. If I decide to do a dramatic reveal and look back and forth a few times with fun facial expressions–I’m probably re-reading the next line.

I know this isn’t the way most librarians view or encourage this type of storytime experience, especially because it can make it harder or scarier to jump into something like this. But…I do, personally, feel like it makes it a little better. The storytelling experience is stronger and less stilted. But if you need that script, try it with the script. With time and repetition, you’ll know the story so well that you may be able to stop relying on the piece of paper. (End of Annamarie being rude and judge-y. Please berate me in the comments.)

How to Make Props and Flannels

I steal. I am not as creative as some of my coworkers. Do not be fooled by awesome flannel sets in videos. Some of these things are made by them. Other things are designed based off of me seeing someone else’s work online and remaking piece by piece. Other selections are my personally owned purchased sets, made by awesomely talented people who are not me.

I am not going to continue rambling here because my skills are not great or varied. My one tip, which is obvious to regular crafters but not to those of us new to this domain: get. scissors. just. for. felt. Use for nothing else. The world is a much, much more magical place.

Retelling Examples

There are so many great ways to retell stories, but now that I’ve made so many videos for our patrons to watch online, I decided to collect some of my favorites below, in alphabetical order by book title.

Bark George by Jules Feiffer (prop & puppets)
Learn about how I made George in this blog post.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. (puppets)
Change to whatever animals you have on hand. I tried to select stuffed animals that were different colors to continue the color emphasis from the physical book.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. (flannel)
Abbreviated because you don’t realize how long this book is, and how many letters there really are, until you are halfway through.

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (puppets)
Such a great and easy story, made for retelling with props or flannel pieces.

Do Crocs Kiss? by Salina Yoon (puppets)

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd (flannel)
I’ve also seen this done as a really cool dry-erase marker activity. I was going to do this on a physical stuffed dog with flannel dots, but my velcro dots didn’t work the way I imagined. Still curious about doing this with a stuffed animal though!

Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London (flannel)
Filming this was the worst because socks kept falling off the flannel board. Something to keep in mind during creation or execution–so many small parts.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (flannel)
I re-wrote part of the story to create the all-items-enter and all-items-exit effect.

I Went Walking by Sue Williams (puppets)
Change out the animals to whatever you have on hand. I focused on having animals of different colors.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff (flannel)

Jump! by Scott Fischer (puppets)

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean (flannel)

Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau (flannel)
If you just want to try retelling, this is the story for you. The set is super easy to make, and the order of body parts really isn’t that important. Caregivers can tickle little ones throughout.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (flannel)
This is a great example of a story where you don’t need to memorize or have a script–just have your flannel pieces in the order you need them. The words are essentially the foods that you are adding to your board.

White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker (props)
I wish I had claim to any of this, but I do not. Someday I will make my own personal set, probably when I can get to a Target or craft store again and get buckets that are these sizes but solid colors.

I am always, always looking for more books to retell, especially stories that are about diverse characters or by diverse authors. This video list is very white, and and in storytimes I try to balance that, at least a little, with diversity in my physical book for the week. What are some of your favorite stories to retell?

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 8

My last preschool storytime (outside of specials)–possibly for a long while. If we keep with our proposed schedule for the fall and spring, other than those Saturday programs, I won’t be doing these again. This was such a fun age range. (I think I say that about all of them!)

For me, a benefit of COVID has been being able to really dig into storytimes for different ages. When I started as a youth librarian, I had very little storytime experience, and I essentially served as a substitute. I was tossed head first into Baby Storytime, which I made my own. I substituted for other ages, but I often just repeated the same program because I saw the kids so infrequently. Now that I’ve really been working with each age range, I can see the improvement across all of my storytimes, plus I have more awareness of what is appropriate for each age range.

One thing I didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted these last few weeks is diverse musicians. I am still working on this project, but as happens, especially now, deadlines keep trumping projects like these. I have been chipping away, however. I have a great lists of artists and CDs, and I am working on the listening. More soon!

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:

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Talking & Reading

When sharing a story together, take a look at the book cover. Have your child predict what the book might be about. Read them the title and see if that changes their thoughts. Take a look at the pictures inside, and see what they think.

Book: King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes: 9781524740740 ...

Song: Wiggledy-Woo by Mr. Eric & Mr. Michael
(No video, as we don’t need a permanent record of me dancing to this.)

Fingerplay: Five Little Caterpillars

Book Retelling: Goodnight Moon

Action Rhyme: Mix a Pancake

Flannel: We’re Going on a Bug Hunt

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 7

My second to last preschool storytime! I’m trying to keep to the same routine, but I also feel like I want to just squeeze as much content in as I can. Starting in the fall, I’m rotating between baby and toddler programs, so I don’t know when I will see this age range again outside of themed Saturday specials (Pinkalicious, I’m coming for you!).

Generally, I ended up with too many pieces this week that were a touch too long when all put in the same program (longer book, longer song, longer retelling). Virtual attention spans are still short, even with my preschool friends.

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:

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Reading

Encourage your child to choose books they are excited about, even if you think the story is too long for their attention span or bedtime. Try a “picture walk” if you really think the book is too dense, but consider trying to read it–their patience may surprise you when they are genuinely interested.

Book: Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao: Zhang, Kat, Chua, Charlene ...

Song: Waiting for the Elevator by Laurie Berkner

Fingerplay: Two Little Friends

Book Retelling: Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London

Action Rhyme: Zoom Zoom Zoom

Flannel: Five Fancy Peacocks

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 6

Another week, another storytime. Lots of first time selections for me this week–actually all of this is first time activities except for the opening and closing song. Yay new stuff!

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:

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip:

Talk about print awareness. Start reading a book upside down and let your child figure out what is wrong. Locate the cover, title, and author’s names. Talk about reading from left to right.

Book: Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd (Watch Book Talk Video here.)

Bedtime Bonnet: Redd, Nancy, Myers, Nneka: 9781984895257: Amazon ...

Song: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

Fingerplay: My Garden

Book Retelling: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Action Rhyme: Show Me How You Move

Manipulative: Shaker Time

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

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.

Enjoy watching me make a fool of myself promoting this program in the below video. I think the video did help, as we had more people at this virtual program than Elephant & Piggie three weeks prior (about 76 at Paw Patrol).

To help continue the Paw Patrol 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

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 5

I managed to incorporate shapes this week! I feel like I cover colors frequently and wow we have counted a lot in past weeks, but shapes always slip through. I haven’t put in the time to find enough great shape rhymes, but I’m going to work on that.

I’m preparing for a Saturday special storytime this week–Paw Patrol!, so a lot of storytime favorites appeared this week to make this preschool storytime a bit easier on my brain.

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:

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip:

Playing is so important developmentally—and a ton of fun! On the go, I Spy in the car can help build vocabulary. At home, act out a story or play dress up–maybe recreate a story like today’s book!

Book: What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night by Refe and Susan Tuma

What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night: A Very Messy Adventure - Kindle ...

Song: Monkey Dance by The Wiggles

Fingerplay: Old Brass Wagon

Book Retelling: Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau

Action Rhyme: Point to the Ceiling

Flannel: Little Crab, Little Crab

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 4

Due to last week’s surprise preschool storytime, I have a bit of time with this age range–6 weeks in a row. I’m passing babies back to a coworker for a few weeks as I dig into the preschool age range. Lots of fingerplays, direction-practicing, and letter and number skills!

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:

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Singing breaks up words into syllables, slowing down the sounds that words make. It also introduces new vocabulary!

Book: I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

Amazon.com: I Got the Rhythm By Connie Schofield-Morrison ...

Song: Wiggle Your Lah-Dee-Dah by Ralph’s World

Fingerplay: Five Green and Speckled Frogs

Book Retelling: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

Action Rhyme: There Was a Crocodile

Flannel Song: Five Little Ducks

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

Virtual Baby Storytime: Week 10

I’m going to be honest–this is my third time writing this paragraph and WordPress keeps deleting this draft post. Essentially, this is my last baby storytime for a while, and this is a new book for me this 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:

Baby Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip & Book: Head and Shoulders by Megan Borgert-Spaniol

Head and Shoulders by Megan Borgert-Spaniol

Early Literacy Tip: Sing to your babies! Your voice is better than a recording, and the quality of your voice doesn’t matter. Do you hear me singing on the Internet every day?

Song: Hurry Hurry Drive the Firetruck

Action Rhyme: Baby Hokey Pokey

Bounce Rhyme: Andy Pandy

Bounce: Snuggle Up

Song: Five Little Monkeys

Puppets: I Went Walking

Manipulative: Shakers

Closing Song: Skinnamarink

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 3

Surprise preschool storytime this week! This was a little more tossed together. I’ve also realized I focus so much on counting.

I’m working on bulking up the diverse titles in my home library to help with these and future storytimes. I’m still quarantining books I get from work for a while when I bring them home, so I’ve really been creating storytimes from my home collection a lot, and most of my books are animal focused. This is a part of my personality–I also beg for a lot of animal programs–but I need to expand, and I want to show that in my storytimes. This preschool storytime isn’t a great example, but it is on my mind.

I’m also working on really digging into the musicians I use in storytime and creating a collection of diverse artists to regularly pull from. This project has gotten sidelined more than I would like as I didn’t expect to be quite so exhausted and to lose quite so much time during my work in-building days.

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:

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Build writing muscles with scribbling, coloring, and fingerplays.

Fingerplay: Five Little Hot Dogs

Book: Swallow the Leader by Danna Smith

Amazon.com: Swallow the Leader (lap board book) (9781328482655 ...

Song: Jump! Jump! by Joanie Leeds

Book Retelling: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean and Eric Litwin

Action Rhyme: I’m a Little Dump Truck

Flannel Song: BINGO

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

1 2 7