Tag Archives: toddlers

Virtual Toddler Storytime: Week 4

My fourth (and final) virtual toddler storytime this week! Next week we are on to preschool!

I had quite a bit of fun with this age range. My baby storytimes tend to focus on the 12-24 month crowd because of their size and tendency to dominate the program, so this was just a small nudge up that allowed me to use slightly longer books and activities with more motions. I’m bouncing all over the place age-wise now that we are sticking with virtual programs for a bit, moving into semi-regular preschool storytimes and a return to baby storytime in June.

These virtual storytimes have been really helpful for my storytime repertoire–I came into libraries as the only youth librarian in a large department who wasn’t presenting a regular weekly storytime. I filled in and did outreach, but there is so much more to learn week-to-week. I was suddenly tossed into baby storytime knowing nothing other than that babies have large heads and don’t respond when asked a question, but I was able to get my footing with that age range and figure out a program structure that worked well for me and that the parents (and littles) enjoyed. Being able to dig into some of the older age ranges consistently is letting me explore and discover new (to me) content in a great way.

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!

More Toddler Storytime Content:

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Toddler Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip & Book Recommendation: Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap

Song: Can You? by the Wiggles

Fingerplay: Here is the Beehive

— Find more Fingerplays in this post. —

Retelling: White Rabbit’s Color Book

— Find more Book Retellings in this post. —

Manipulative: Stuffed Animal Play

Closing Song: The Popcorn Song by Laura Doherty

Virtual Toddler Storytime: Week 3

My third virtual toddler storytime this week!

Some new materials for me in this storytime–this is my first time reading Spunky Little Monkey in a storytime. I also decided to use some of the materials that I didn’t have time for last week–they fit a bit better than some of the new rhymes I was planning to try this week.

Weird question for the wide world of virtual storytime presenters: if you have a team presenting virtual storytimes, do you coordinate with them? Choose the same intro/closing songs? Talk about what you each have planned for a particular week?

For example, one of my coworkers did the scarf activity I was planning to do with toddlers this week–adapted for babies–at Baby Storytime last week. Generally, at in-person storytimes, I don’t know about or care about this kind of overlap, as we mostly have different audiences for each storytime. However, these virtual storytimes feel different. Yes, I’m preparing an activity for toddlers–and that activity can really work for babies and preschoolers too–but a decent portion of our audience is the same at every storytime. Is it weird to do the same larger activity–not talking about opening/closing songs and more intentional week-to-week repetition–at two storytimes in the same week when the audience is the same? Am I overthinking this? (Answer: yes.)

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!

More Toddler Storytime Content:

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Toddler Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Settle Down Rhyme: This is Big

— Find more Fingerplays in this post. —

Early Literacy Tip & Book Recommendation: Spunky Little Monkey by Bill Martin Jr.

Song: Walk and You Walk and You Walk and You Stop by Rainbow Songs

Action Rhyme: Bubble Bubble Pop

— Find more Fingerplays in this post. —

Flannel: Five Little Penguins

— Find more Flannel & Magnet Activities in this post. —

Action Rhyme: The Elevator Song

— Find more Fingerplays in this post. —

Manipulative: Shaker Time!

Closing Song: The Popcorn Song by Laura Doherty

Extra, Extra:

No video for this, but I was planning to read Snip-Snap Pop-Up Fun, but I cut it due to time.

Virtual Toddler Storytime: Week 2

My second virtual toddler storytime this week (and my first in my new set for the month of May!).

I’m mixing up my routine a little bit with this age range, including adding some new types of materials. I think attention-span-wise I am pushing preschool with some of this material, but from what I can tell in the Facebook Live comments, most of our audience is preschool age, so I think that’s okay. Next week leans more toddler.

I’m also working on getting to that 30 minute mark–I have a clock now that I can see while presenting, which really helps. I’ve also figured out my setup so that I can see myself–I can’t read comments, but I can tell if I disappear off screen, which is a little more likely since I am mixing up my activities.

For sake of time, I dropped the intro bits from my videos…it saves me a few minutes a video, and I’m looking for ways to make this take less time, since our audience does seem to watch them. I did realize that now I don’t introduce myself, so I’ll adjust for that next 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!

More Toddler Storytime Content:

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Toddler Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip & Book Recommendation: There’s a Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher

Song: Hot Potato by the Wiggles

Action Rhyme: Roll Roll Sugar Babies

Book Retelling: Bark George

— Find more Book Retellings in this post. —

Action Rhyme: Bananas Unite

— Find more Fingerplays in this post. —

Flannel: Little Mouse

— Find more Flannel & Magnet Activities in this post. —

Closing Song: The Popcorn Song by Laura Doherty

Extra, Extra:

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!

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 Toddler Storytime: Week 1

A sick coworker led to my first virtual toddler storytime–and my first toddler storytime in over a year! It was fun to explore this age group again.

This week’s content is visible through the videos and links below.

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!

More Toddler Storytime Content:

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Toddler Storytime Introduction Song & Rhyme

I started with Shake Your Sillies Out by Rainbow Songs, which I couldn’t upload a video of due to copyright. Listen here:

Early Literacy Tip & Book Recommendation

I didn’t create this combined video this week because the book I was sharing isn’t available in our catalog as an eBook.

615346

I talked about giving little ones at least 10 seconds to process a question you ask and to formulate a response, before sharing Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt.

Fingerplay

— Find more Fingerplays in this post. —

Song

Action Rhyme

Magnet Activity

— Find more Flannel & Magnet Activities in this post. —

Action Rhyme

Song

Manipulative Time – Stuffed Animals

Closing Song

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.

Science Baby!

Before there was Play & Learn, there was the idea of Science, Baby. A presentation at an annual ALA Conference by Brooklyn Public Library about their Science Baby! program opened my eyes to how much more babies can do than what many baby storytime outlines imply. Babies are so much more than passive observers–their brains are developing faster than they ever will for the rest of their lives–combined. STEM concepts do not need to be limited to older children. In fact, babies are the perfect example of little scientists as they learn everything about the world:

Poster from Nerdy Baby

My own Science Baby! program finally became a reality during our winter storytime break in late December. Seventy babies and adults joined me for a morning of baby play with a STEM twist.

Activities were broken down into a few rough categories. They included:

Some of these stations just involved putting out an item, like mirrors for mirror play. Others involved some ahead of time creation, like the sensory bottles. Still more involved in-room setup, like attaching sticky contact paper to the wall and building the pool noodle counter by stringing pool noodle pieces to string tied between two chairs.

Each station included a front and back laminated handout explaining the value of the particular activity, what little ones are learning, conversation starters, and vocabulary to stretch conversations with little ones.

We had many older siblings join in the fun as well, particularly enjoying all of the building activities. The sticky contact paper, baby pool play, bubbles, pom pom drop, and sensory bottles were the most well-loved activities.

Most families stayed for about 45-50 minutes. I’m looking forward to bringing this back again someday!

Storytime Prop: Bark George

Funny stories and book retellings are a staple of my storytimes. I love leaning into the humor of preschoolers, and I particularly like when a story can make parents snicker as well.

I like retelling stories in different formats, and I am always looking for books that can be retold with large props or puppets. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of flannel board story retellings. I do not have great vision, and I struggle to focus on (or even see) tiny flannel pieces. We often have large storytime crowds, and all I can think about when holding small items is that if I was sitting on a chair in the back of the room, I would have no idea what the librarian was holding up. The same goes for finger puppets.

Because of that, I look for ways to adapt things in a large scale way. The book Bark George by Jules Feiffer is a perfect story to retell with props. Essentially, the dog George makes various animal sounds that dogs don’t make (moo, quack, oink, etc.). When George goes to the vet, everyone realizes he has swallowed these animals. The vet pulls them out safe and sound. This continues until George barks again. At the very end of the story, George says a slightly ominous “hello.”

When I was in library school, I saw an amazing online post where a librarian retold Bark George with a giant dog stuffed animal with a mouth that opened. She cut the seam inside the mouth and used some awesome sewing skills to make it possible to physically stuff the dog with animal puppets that can be pulled out as you reach that point in the story.

I unfortunately don’t have those sewing skills, but another amazing librarian blogger made a dog out of a box, and I copied their structure for my Bark George prop.

I found a large square box (about 18-20″ on each side). I taped the flaps and reinforced the seams with duct tape and shipping tape. I then cut a slit diagonally down two sides and about two-thirds of the way down the new “front” of the box using a box cutter.

This creates a “mouth” that can be opened easily for me to reach inside and find various animals.

I used brown butcher paper to wrap the box, aiming to keep all seams as invisible as possible. In this case, seams are located on the inside, bottom of the box, the back of the box, and underneath what eventually are covered by dog ears.

This was my second time making George, and I had learned a few lessons from the first time. Double sided tape and shipping tape were my main tools. In the past, I attempted to use hot glue, but that resulted in a lot of peeling over time.

After wrapping the box in brown paper, I worked on the smaller elements to create the dog face. I used dark brown construction paper for the ears.These wrapped around the front corners of the box, to cover the paper seams. Ears were secured with double sided tape.

From my first version of George, the ears were the element I had to replace the most often. I have debated laminating them, but I am not sure how the shiny ears would look on the overall box.

The rest of the dog face was created using black, pink, and white cardstock and black sharpie.

George is a staple in my family or preschool storytimes. I hide him in a large black garbage bag before it is time for him to make his debut, with 4-5 animal puppets inside. Since I tell the story myself, I pick whatever puppets are most readily available that make obvious animal sounds. Just make sure you remember what puppets you put inside–it was an interesting storytime the day that George said “oink” but hadn’t eaten a pig.

Do you have a favorite storytime prop? I’d love to learn about it in the comments!

Play & Learn

This summer, I worked with a fellow librarian to start a nine-week play series for ages 0-3 and their families. Play & Learn quickly turned into one of my (and our patrons) favorite programs of the summer.

Each Wednesday, from 9:30-10:30 am, parents and their little ones interacted with 10-12 activities we placed around our large meeting room. On average, we had 80-120 visitors each week. People came and went on their own schedule–for some babies, 10 minutes was more than enough time in the crowded room; others enjoyed a full hour of play and even stayed to help with clean-up.

Some activities repeated each week (bubbles!), while others rotated in and out throughout the summer. We grouped our activities into four categories and made sure to have a mix of these each week:

  • Fine Motor
  • Gross Motor
  • Sensory
  • Belly Babies (for our littlest prewalkers)

We picked activities that kids of all developmental abilities could enjoy, such as ball pit balls in muffin tins.

Some of our most popular activities included:

  • Cereal Boxes and Straws
  • Baby Pool Play
  • Pom Pom Drop
  • Sensory Tiles
  • Tumbling Mats
  • Sensory Bags & Bottles
  • “Messy” Sensory Play (rice, beans, sand, easter grass, water)
  • Instrument/Sound Play

This program is particularly great because you can adapt it to whatever budget and space you have available. We have very large crowds in the summer, and this program was able to meet the needs of parents and little ones while appealing to a large range of ages. We included a mix of purchased play items and items that parents could re-create at home cheaply–another library could do a similar program just focusing on one of these categories, to save staff time (pre-purchased items) or money (cheap, home-made items).

Play & Learn also encouraged parent-child interaction. Each activity included laminated sheets on the floor nearby, explaining the value of the activity along with questions and vocabulary words to encourage parent engagement.

Play & Learn has already been requested multiple times by our community to be continued this fall. While that cannot happen, unfortunately, due to our busy school-year programming schedule, I am looking forward to this program’s return next summer.

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