Tag Archives: family storytime

Storytime: Fingerplays

Fingerplays are awesome! Fingerplays are especially fantastic for toddlers and preschoolers, allowing them to practice controlling their fingers in specific ways while building those finger muscles they will need for writing. I sometimes include fingerplays in baby storytimes, but I’ve been able to explore fingerplays more since I’ve started presenting toddler and preschool virtual storytimes.

Problems with 10 Littles

Ten Little Indians. I’ve heard librarians use it (with those original words). For a while, I used adapted fingerplays to the same tune with different words, but I’ve stopped. I may attempt to avoid dehumanizing Indigenous people by not counting Indians like they are toys, but the few times I used this fingerplay, some caregiver would often mess up my new words and loudly use the original words because they are so associated with the tune.

At the beginning of virtual storytimes, I shifted to a different counting tune I found while watching other library storytimes (I have one, I have two, I have three little fingers). I adapted this a lot virtually because it was a quick, easy fingerplay that was just…easy to adapt.

But. Not everyone has 10 little fingers. Or 10 little toes. Or 5 little fingers. I’ve made storytime videos using ten fingers that I am not highlighting below. I’m including fingerplays that count up to five, though I want to eventually phase those out to or make videos where we count to five using two hands instead of always just using one. How do you think about inclusivity in your fingerplays and overall storytime plans? What other elements to this am I not thinking about?

Fingerplays

Thinking about some of the inclusivity lessons I mentioned above, plus that some kids can’t bend their fingers one at a time, I’m also including action rhymes that focus on hand motions.

Bananas Unite

Bananas unite!

Peel bananas.
Peel, peel bananas.
Peel bananas.
Peel, peel bananas.

Continue with: Chop, Mash, Eat

GOOOOOO BANANAS!


Bubble, Bubble Pop!

One little red fish
Swimming in the water,
Swimming in the water,
Swimming in the water.

One little red fish
Swimming in the water,
Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble (roll arms)
POP! (clap)


Clap Them

Clap them, clap them, clap them so.
Clap them high!
Clap them low.
Clap them left.
Clap them right.
Clap them, clap them, out of sight!

Continue with: roll them, shake them


Cool Cat

Hey there everybody, you’re a real cool cat.
You got a lot of this,
And you got a lot of that.
So come on in
And get down (ch ch ch ch ch ch)
To the left (ch ch ch ch ch ch)
To the right (ch ch ch ch ch ch)
Up in the air (ch ch ch ch ch ch)
And get down (ch ch ch ch ch ch)


Dance Your Fingers Up

Dance your fingers up.
Dance your fingers down.
Dance your fingers side to side.
Dance them all around.

Dance them on your shoulders.
Dance them on your head.
Dance them on your tummy.
And put them all to bed.


The Elevator Song

Oh the city is great and the city is grand.
There are lots of tall buildings on a little piece of land,
And we live way up on the 57th floor,
and this is what we do when we go out the door.

We take the elevator up and the elevator down,
take the elevator up, take the elevator down
Take the elevator up and the elevator down
and we turn around.


Five Fat Peas

Five fat peas in a peapod pressed.
One grew, two grew,
And so did all the rest.

They grew, and they grew,
And they wouldn’t stop.
They grew, and they grew,
Until they popped! (clap)


Five Green and Speckled Frogs

Five green and speckled frogs
Sitting on a spaced log.
Eating the most delicious lunch,
Yum, yum!

One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were four green and speckled frogs
Ribbet, Ribbet.

Continue with: 4, 3, 2, 1


Five Little Caterpillars

Five little caterpillars wiggling on a leaf,
One falls off, goes to sleep.
Close her eyes and wait a week,
Up come a butterfly floating on the breeze.

Repeat with: 4, 3, 2, 1, None


Five Little Hot Dogs

Five little hot dogs
Frying in a pan.
The grease for hot,
And one went BAM!

Continue with: 4, 3, 2, 1


Funky Spunky Monkeys

Funky spunky monkey
Climbed up the coconut tree
Down came the coconut
And bonked him on his knee
Along came his mama
And kissed away the pain
And the funky spunky monkey
Climbed up the tree again.


Here is the Beehive

Here is the beehive,
But where are the bees?
Hidden away where nobody sees.
Watch and you’ll see them come out of the hive…
1, 2, 3, 4, 5…They’re alive!
Buzzzzzzzzz


Itsy Bitsy Spider

The Itsy Bitsy Spider
Went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and
Washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and
Dried up all the rain
And the Itsy Bitsy Spider
Went up the spout again.


Leaves on the Trees

The leaves on the trees turn orange and red,
Orange and red,
Orange and red.
The leaves on the trees turn orange and red, all around the town.

The leaves on the trees come twirling down,
Twirling down,
Twirling down.
The leaves on the trees come twirling down, all around the town.

The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish,
Swish, swish, swish,
Swish, swish, swish.
The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish, all around the town.


Little Mousie Brown

Little Mousie Brown
Little Mousie Brown
Climbed up the big, white candlestick
And couldn’t get back down.

So she called to her Grandma,
“Grandma! Grandma!”
But Grandma was not around.
So she curled into a little ball,
And rolled herself back down.


Mix a Pancake

Mix a pancake.
Stir a pancake.
Pop it in a pan.
Fry a pancake.
Toss a pancake.
Catch it if you can!


My Garden

Here is my garden.
Rake it with care.
And then, some seeds
We’ll plant in there!

The sun will shine,
The rain will fall,
And then my garden
Will grow big and tall.


Point to the Ceiling

Point to the ceiling.
Point to the floor.
Point to a window.
Point to the door!

Point to your elbow.
Point to your knee.
Now sit down,
And point at me!


Put Your Claws

Put your claws in the air.
Put your claws on the ground.
Put your claws in the middle,
And wiggle them around.

Put your claws to the side,
And pretend to soar!
Put your claws to your mouth,
And give a big ROAR!


Put Your Hands Up High

Put your hands up high,
Put your hands down low,
Put your hands in the middle,
And wiggle just so.
Put your elbows in front.
Put your elbows in back.
Put your elbows to the side and
QUACK, QUACK, QUACK!


Roll Roll Sugar Babies

Roll roll sugar babies,
Roll roll sugar babies,
Push and pull
And clap, clap, clap!

Roll roll sugar babies,
Roll roll sugar babies,
Push and pull
And clap, clap, clap!

Roll up high!
Roll down low.
Roll real fast!
Roll real slow.

Roll roll sugar babies,
Roll roll sugar babies,
Push and pull
And clap, clap, clap!


Slowly, Slowly

Slowly, slowly, very slowly,
Creeped the garden snail.
Slowly, slowly, very slowly
Up the wooden rail.

Quickly, quickly, very quickly
Ran the little mouse.
Quickly, quickly, very quickly,
Round about the house!


There Was a Crocodile

There was a crocodile,
An orangutan,
A flying eagle,
And a silvery fish.

A bunny,
A beaver,
A crazy elephant,
Da na na na na na
Da na na na na na


This is Big

This is big big big.
This is small small small.

This is short short short.
This is tall tall tall.

This is fast fast fast.
This is slow slow slow.

This is yes yes yes yes.
This is no no no no.


Two Little Friends

Two little friends sitting on a hill,
One named Jack and one named Jill.
Run away Jack! Run away Jill!
Come back Jack. Come back Jill.

Two little friends sitting on a cloud.
One named soft and one named LOUD.
Run away soft! Run away loud!
Come back soft. Come back loud.

Two little friends sitting down below.
One named fast and one named slow.
Run away fast! Run away slow.
Come back fast! Come back slow.


Zoom, Zoom, Zoom

Zoom, zoom, zoom,
We’re going to the moon.
Zoom, zoom, zoom,
We’ll get there very soon.

If you want to take a trip,
Climb aboard my rocket ship.
Zoom, zoom, zoom,
We’re going to the moon.

In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
BLAST OFF!

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

Little People Big Dreams: Ella Fitzgerald

As part of our virtual programming, I began a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different diverse individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series.

Like all of our virtual live storytimes, this program took place on Facebook. I didn’t expect an audience here, and, as I expected, I was very much presenting a storytime to no one, but we are leaving these programs up a little longer than regular storytimes due to the content. We have had a slight increase in views over time, and I’m thinking about ways to make this more accessible (such as uploading storytimes to YouTube).

Watch the full storytime here:

In the event description, I included links to:

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Ella Fitzgerald by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People Big Dreams)

Ella Fitzgerald: 11 (Little People, Big Dreams): Amazon.co.uk: Sanchez  Vegara, Isabel, Alca, Bàrbara: Books

Music Break: A Tisket, A Tasket by Ella Fitzgerald (with shakers)

Second Book: Making Their Voices Heard : The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and  Marilyn Monroe: Kirkfield, Vivian, Harris, Alleanna: 9781499809152:  Amazon.com: Books

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time

In October, I’m planning to focus on athlete Pele. I think the storytime outline is going to stay the same, though not all famous people are going to lend themselves to a specific song like Ella Fitzgerald does. I’d like to continue to always use diverse musicians for my music though, no matter who that month’s famous individual is. I’m hoping interest in this series grows over time.

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

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! (Post updated 10/15/20.)

Book retellings 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 since I am presenting more storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers. I sometimes use a book retelling element 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.

Book Retellings 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 retellings put 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 of book retellings as 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.

Book Retellings 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.

Brown Owl, Brown Owl What Do You See? (Adapted from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.) (flannel)

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 (flannel)

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (puppets)

Do Cows Meow? by Salina Yoon (puppets)

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.

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley (magnet)
Download the printable template from Kizclub.

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 Spy on the Farm by Edward Gibbs (puppets)
I made an I Spy window with a piece of cardboard hanging from a floor lamp. Change out the animals to whatever you have on hand.

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)

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Oceanb by Kevin Sherry (magnet)
Download magnet template from Kizclub.

Jump! by Scott Fischer (puppets)

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

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean (flannel)

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. (puppets)
Change out the animals to whatever you have on hand.

Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau (flannel)
If you 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.

Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia (magnet)

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 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?

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

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.