Baby Storytime update (and 5.5.15 storytime)

In a mental-health-preservation move, I am simplifying my baby storytimes by eliminating themes. Usually something emerges more than once and becomes a mini theme, but rather than stress about finding at least three books that will work for my storytime crowd and a nursery rhyme that suits, I’ll be presenting a few fun board books, a picture book as an example or aside, a nursery rhyme, an ASL sign, and a few movements each week. No theme! The only theme is fun! The only theme is me not pulling my hair out! This is one of my very favorite themes.

Opening song (based on the baby storytime goodbye song from my library spiritual home, Verona Public Library): Tickle the clouds
and tickle your nose
reach up high
and tickle your toes
clap three times (1-2-3!)
and find your elbows
storytime’s starting! Say “Hello!”
Book 1: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Cover of Row, Row, Row Your Boat board book, illustrated by Annie Kubler.

Cover of Row, Row, Row Your Boat board book, illustrated by Annie Kubler.

The moms liked this one. Half of them didn’t know the additional verses in this book (crocodile, lion), so it was fun to hear their delight over those. Grown ups and babies rocked back and forth for this one, it was groovy. 🙂

Sign: Please Have I talked about how much I love ASL University? I love ASL University almost as much as I love grilled cheese sandwiches. In another simplify, simplify move, I’m pulling a sign each week from ASLU’s First 100 Signs page. That should almost get me through two years. Math!

Book: Sam Loves Kisses (Yves Got)

Cover of the board book Sam Loves Kisses by Yves Got

Sam Loves Kisses (Yves Got)

Sam Loves Kisses. Miss Alex loves this book.

Nursery Rhyme!: Patty Cake I was taught “patty cake,” but I’ve been told it’s actually pat-a-cake, which makes more sense when encouraging parents, so I wrote pat-a-cake. Everyone said pattycake. But that means everyone was playing along! Winnnnn.

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man
Make me a cake as fast as you can
Roll it, and pat it, and mark it with a “B”
And put it in the oven for baby and me!

Picture Book/Aside: The Skin You Live In

Cover of the picture book The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler

The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler

We had some squirmers today and an older sister who wasn’t so into sitting down and letting me talk or hold the story books, so it was a bit of kismet that I wanted to talk to the parents today about the power they have as readers to their children. More or less: You don’t have to read the whole book! Do babies remember every story they are read? NO. Is it good for them to be read to often? YES. Parents, you can read whatever you want, and if what you want to read is picture books and baby doesn’t enjoy that for more than a minute or two, it is a-okay to skip ahead however many pages. I like The Skin You Live In because each page has a rhyme that is independent of the one on preceding pages (they’re all related, but you don’t need to start any page with what came before in mind). The illustrations are vivid and the words are fun to say. Reading should be fun. Don’t punish yourself by trying to get through a whole book. Make up your own story if you want, or read the first and last page. While baby is a baby you’ve got a lot of wiggle room when it comes to reading. 🙂

Clock Movement

Book: Splish Splash, Baby Bundt

Cover of the board book Splish Splash, Baby Bundt by Jamie Harper

Splish Splash, Baby Bundt by Jamie Harper

This book just makes me wharrrrglllbeep with happy. It’s really cute. The moms liked it.

Picture book/aside: Alphabet Trucks Discussed a different kind of picture book: alphabet books! It’s good for baby to touch and trace the letters, it’s good for you to read different words, etc.

Book: When You’re Not Looking! by Lynne Chapman

Cover of the board book When You're Not Looking by Lynne Chapman

When You’re Not Looking by Lynne Chapman

Introduced this one as a longer board book. If baby is snuggly or okay to sit for more than a minute at a time, some board books are longer than you might expect. This one has animals, silly rhymes, and a refrain that’s fun to go over each time.

Ending song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

After storytime finished, a mom pulled me aside and said “Thank you. Really, thank you. This is helpful time for us and we learn a lot” and I went into my office  and closed the door and had a happy little fist pump/celebration dance session.


Baby Storytime – Cats

Busy busy busy week. Will clean this up later!

Sign: Cat

Nursery Rhyme: Three Blind Mice

Book: I See Kitty (Yasmine Surovec)

Book: All of Baby Nose to Toes (Victoria Adler)

Book: Baby Cat Nicky 123 (Carol Friedman)

Book: A Good Day (Kevin Henkes)

Aside: High-contrast books, Big Block Singsong, AAP MRI findings (

Baby Storytime – Babies!

Launching into the realm of meta baby activities…

Opening Song: Welcome, Welcome, Everyone

Book: Global Babies

Cover of the board book "Global Babies"

Global Babies board book.

ASL: Baby

The kids LOVED this one. It’s been the most popular sign so far in my new library.

Song: Pattycake

Pattycake, pattycake, baker’s man

Bake me a cake as fast as you can

Roll it, and pat it, and mark it with a “B”

And put it in the oven for baby and me!

Book: Baby Cheep! Cheep!

Cover of the board book "Baby Cheep! Cheep!" by DK.

Baby Cheep Cheep – DK Board Book.

Activity: Clocks

One arm goes up, one arm goes down, one arm goes up and down

Other arm goes up, other arm goes down, other arm goes up and down

Both legs go up, both legs go down, both legs go up and down

And now baby is the bell of a biiiiig clock: Ding! Dong! Dong! (sway baby side to side)

Aside to parents about board books— the engagement opportunities presented by books with special tactile opportunity pages or mirrors, in addition to the (pretty much!) indestructible quality of the books themselves. “Board books are a great way for baby to practice gripping things. It’s a-okay if it looks like your baby is hitting the pages– she may be beginning to try to grasp things. Allow baby to sit in your lap during mellow time and read a board book together, or consider a textless board book of shapes or colors for you to enjoy and chat about. In addition to cozy time with you, baby sees new things and has this opportunity to be fascinated by pages.” etc.

Book: Who Loves You, Baby?

Cover of the board book "Who Loves You, Baby?" by Nina Laden

Who Loves You, Baby? — Nina Laden

I wanted to use at least one board book with one of those special pages I’d just talked about. This one features a mirror so readers can see themselves as the face of the different animals on the pages. Cute!

Song: Hot Cross Buns

Used this as a chance to clap and repeat movements. I clapped three timesin a diagonal from my shoulder to the opposite hip for each “hot cross buns” line  and three times up for “one a penny” and three times down for “two a penny.”

Book: Little Green

Cover of the board book "Little Green" by Keith Baker.

Little Green – Keith Baker

Sweet. Would probably use this one at the start of a storytime in the future, but not as a final book. It’s longer than any of the other books we used today.

Song: Wave Bye-Bye!

Preschool Storytime – Beach/Ocean

This week’s inspiration was a craft piece: packing peanuts. I found a bigger box than I could ever use, separated the white ones, decided they’d be clouds, and that was that. We did sky scenes for a recent story hour on opposites, so I decided to make these clouds above a beach. And the story time is aliiiiiiiive! Sign: Beach (I LOVE ASL University!) Book 1: Clams Can’t Sing — James Stevenson.

Clams Can't Sing -- James Stevenson

Clams Can’t Sing — James Stevenson

Don’t let the plain cover fool you. This one was an unexpected smash hit. The kids loved doing all the sound effects with me, and it’s a decent length. I wish it were more storytime-sized, but if you move the book around for your crowd, it should be a winner. 🙂 Song: 1, 2, Ocean Blue (to the tune of One, Two, Buckle my Shoe) 1, 2 ocean blue 3, 4 waves roar 5, 6 sunburn itch 7, 8 splashing’s great 9, 10 splash again!

Whiteboard rhyme for Ocean/Beach storytime.

Whiteboard rhyme for Ocean/Beach storytime.

Activity: The Waves on the Sea (credit: Perpetual Preschool, via Storytime Katie) The waves on the sea go up and down… The sharks in the sea go snap snap snap The fish in the sea go swish swish swish The boats on the sea go toot toot toot …Allllllll throoooough the seeeeeeea! Book: The Deep Blue Sea — Audrey Wood.

Cover of

The Deep Blue Sea — Audrey Wood

This moved us nicely into our craft:

Photo of the beach craft.

Beach craft.

(Great way to use up scrap paper and those packing peanuts! I only cut out the suns and the tree trunks.) Kids got their paper and the scrap pieces to create with first, then came over to tables with the packing peanuts and glue to add “clouds.” This is the first time I’ve done a multi-stage/surface craft like this and I’ll do it again in the future, but I’ll make sure kids can stand around the tables instead of just on one side. We get a real mix of ages, so the height of the tables presented some difficulty for our youngest crafters. After the craft, we made up a story together! I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, and

Preschool Storytime – Not-so-Scary Monsters

I’ve noticed that the kids and parents are making their crafts look exactly like my examples despite encouraging them to do their own thing, so this week I wanted to not only give them two examples but to put together a craft that would look neat and be funny no matter how they pasted things on, or even if it was a little ugly at first glance. That’s how I came up with a monster theme, thinking of varying numbers of eyes on green paper. 🙂

We started with the sign for “monster,” which gave the kids the giggles. I told them my favorite thing about monsters: they are super ticklish. Since we tickle our knees during the opening stretches, I knew all the kids were good ticklers.

Book 1: My Teacher is a Monster!

My Teacher is a Monster! - Peter Brown

My Teacher is a Monster!

This was a well-timed pull from our new books shelf. It’s very dialogue heavy, but the story hour crowd got the hang of the story without a hitch. I asked if they noticed anything different about the teacher as we got closer to the end and one kid said “SHE IS TURNING INTO A PIIIIIIGGGGGG!!!”

Book 2: Go Away, Big Green Monster

Go Away, Big Green Monster! - Ed Emberley

Go Away, Big Green Monster!

As we read this, I had the kids gnash their monster teeth and blink their big googly monster eyes and wiggle their scraggly monster hair. This one is on the shorter side; the gig is apparent very quickly. But it was a crowd-pleaser!

Fingerplay: 5 Little Monsters

Photo of a dry erase board with the lyrics of

Whiteboard of “5 Little Monsters”

5 little monsters jumping under bed

1 popped out, what do you think he said?

He said “BOO! Aaaa-choo!”

1, 2, 3, 4…

Craft: Monsters!

Photo of two completed monster face crafts.

Craft from not-so-scary monsters story hour.

I drew two almost identical blurbs, and printed them out so they were two to a sheet of green paper. The faces, eyes, and teeth were provided to the kids, and I asked them to remember that today we were talking about not-so-scary monsters, so it would be nice if the monsters were smiling or goofy or had pretty lipstick (they really took the lipstick thing to heart). I had a tub of craft pom poms and let the kids pick a few to paste onto their monster face for bumps. Was heartened to see a LOT of variety; the kids and parents seemed a-okay with creating their OWN monsters instead of trying to replicate mine (I think the two presentation crafts helped).  They really liked the multiple eyes and the pom poms. Win!

Book: Leonardo the Terrible Monster

Cover for the picture book

Leonardo the Terrible Monster — Mo Willems

This crowd LOVES Pigeon, so when I told them this one was written by the same author who created the pigeon books they shrieked liked it was actually-very-scary monster story hour. I took a big breath and tried to get out as much of Sam’s two pages of angst as a could. They were really giggly about it.

Song: Monster Pokey!

You put your claws in, you put your claws out

you put your claws, in and you shake ’em all about.

You do the monster pokey and you turn yourself around

That’s what it’s all about. Monster pokey!

You put your horn in…

You put your tail in… (the crowd was so tickled by this we did it twice)

You put your fangs in…

Science Saturday: Bubbles

This was my first Science Saturday, and my first week at my new library. I’ll sleep when I’m ninety!

Poster for Science Saturday even on bubbles.

The director at my new library made this. Swanky!

I started with a longer picture book, Bubble Trouble by Margarey Mahy.

bubble trouble

This one played well to the K-3 crowd. Like I said, it’s a little longer than what I’d use for storytime for preschoolers, but the older kids seemed to like the story. It got us started nicely on a discussion of what bubbles can lift, what kinds of bubbles we’ve seen (soap bubbles, bubblegum bubbles, bubbles in the tub…!).

  • Basic Bubbles
    • I asked if anyone knew what bubble solution was made of. Blank looks. Does anyone know what’s in bubble bath? “SOOOOOAPPPPP!” Very good. I added some dish soap to a cup with water in it and blew a few bubbles for them to catch.
    • We discussed the shape of bubbles. Why are they round? We briefly talked about circles having the smallest surface area of other 3d shapes and why this means bubbles “want” to be circles. Can they be different shapes? Why do bubbles in the tub (!) rise but bubbles in the story room sink to the ground? Why does the breeze move bubbles outside? Why do they sometimes pop right away and sometimes not for a few minutes?
  • Bubble Wand Time!
    • Kids got to use pipe cleaners to make their own bubble wands. Some got really elaborate! Here are some basic bubble wand instructions. Cheap, colorful, fun! I made some complex wands and hoops in advance for the kids to use and those were a hit.
    • I allowed several minutes of free play with wands and the simple bubble solution in a wide plastic bin. Good times!
  • SUPER Bubbles
    • I swear by this recipe from Happy Hooligans. You can get glycerine (e on the end!) at cake decorating shops or craft/big box stores with cake decorating sections. Pharmacies/grocery stores may have glycerin (no e) which also works! DO NOT DRINK BUBBLE SOLUTION.
    • Brought the conversation back to making bubbles strong. What could we add to make our bubbles bigger or last longer without popping? What could we do to make our bubbles able to be poked with scissors or a needle and not pop? Why wouldn’t they pop if we poked them with a needle?!
    • Introduced the super bubble solution and showed the kids the glycerine. Let ’em at the super bubble solution! More play time. Brought out a larger premade pipe cleaner hoop and everyone tried to make a doughnut bubble going around their body.
  • Craft time!
    • Paint supplies at my new library are very low, so I used the bit of tempera I could find and added water and dish soap to several cups. I set out straws and asked the kids to please take one and keep it as their straw for this project– no swapping or leaving straws in the cups! I showed them how to make bubbles (like with chocolate milk) and then lay their art paper on top to leave the bubble print. They got a kick out of this. The resulting prints were pale but colorful.
Close up photo of bubble art project.

Bubble art!

Close up photo of bubble art project.

Bubble art!

Storytime: Frogs

Storytime: Frogs

This was a special storytime before the start of the summer reading program. I did this twice with two groups of Head Start preschoolers who visited the library. I have been DREAMING of kids this well-behaved to visit the library again! All of the kids speak Spanish and English at home, so we did a bit of Spanish together (“What’s this called?” “La rana, sí!”) but I read all the books and asked all my questions in English. Because of our limited time with both groups we didn’t do a craft– bummer, because there are a ton of fun frog crafts out there!– but I think everyone had a good time.

Room Loading Music: Frog Went Walking – The Wiggles

Intro: Explanation of theme. Show paper tadpole, briefly discuss (baby frogs don’t look like frogs!).

Fingerplay: Tadpoles Are Little Baby Frogs (Mary Had a Little Lamb, more or less)

Tadpoles are little baby frogs          (pinch fingers and thumb for size)
Baby frogs                                             (pinch)
Baby frogs                                             (pinch)
Tadpoles are little baby frogs          (pinch)
And they can swim like fish.             (pantomime swimming)

Tadpoles grow four stretchy legs    (stretch arms and legs)
Stretchy legs
Stretchy legs
Tadpoles grow four stretchy legs
So they can hop, hop, hop               (pat hands up and down into lap)

 Book: 999 Tadpoles – Ken Kimura

999 Tadpoles

This book, Internet. This book. Cute and fun and silly and sweet. It worked really well for storytime. The kids loved it.

Song: Five Green and Speckled Frogs

My library has a very nifty speckled log toy. The frogs attach via velcro on their bellies. They are numbered, and if I did this again I might put them out of order and check with the kids to see what order they SHOULD be in. For music, I used the Raffi version with no instruments. Now that I know the song through and through (and through and through and through!), I think I would sing it on my own next time and speed it up to match the group. They got some giggles out of going really fast at the end.

In each verse, a frog jumps “into a pool/where it was nice and cool” and I had the kids fan themselves for “cool” and I hopped the frog into a pool made out of a plastic bin with blue paper at the bottom and sides, supplemented by some green paper plants.

Book: The Wide-Mouthed Frog – Keith Faulkner

Wide-mouthed frog

Love sharing pop-up stories, and this one was too perfect to not include. For those of you who like to do voices, this is a nice opportunity to go all out, and for those of you who aren’t 100% on your ability to keep different voices straight, each animal the frog meets only gets one line. The animals’ faces take up the whole page spread, so you can open and close the book to make the mouths move. This one was a big hit. It’s also pretty short.

Song/Wiggles: Hop Hop Went the Little Green Frog

I like to stretch out the first word of each verse and hold it until the kids are on board with what we’re about to do. My storytime groups seemed to like the middle verses best (the silly verses, naturally). As with most song and dance numbers– have them spread out a bit!

Hoppp hop went the little green frog one day                      (hop in place)
Hop hop when the little green frog!
Hop hop went the little green frog one day
And his legs went boing, boing, boing!                                  (tap legs)

Glunnnnk glunk went the little green frog one day              (Stick out tongue to catch food)
Glunk glunk went the little green frog!
Glunk glunk went the little green frog one day
And his eyes went blink, blink, blink!                                     (BIG blinks!)

Munnnch munch went the little green frog one day           (Open and close mouth)
Munch munch went the little green frog!
Munch munch went the little green frog one day
And his mouth went gulp, gulp, gulp!                                   (BIG gulps!)

Splaaaaash splash went the little green frog one day        (Splash motion with hands)
Splash splash went the little green frog!
Splash splash went the little green frog one day
And he swam, swam, swam away!                                        (Slow swimming arms)

Book: Jump! – Scott Fischer



Good finisher. There are a lot of ways to handle the jumping in this book, but to keep things from getting out of hand, I had the kids clap each time we got to a “jump!” and say it with me pretty loud. This kept them engaged and excited, and they got to be pleased with themselves for predicting what came next. 🙂