Rolling in Dough: A Storytime About Cookies

To kick off the holiday season, I thought we’d do a storytime about cookies, which was a lot of fun.

I started by asking the kids what their favorite kinds of cookies were. They mentioned chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate chip.

I also taught the kids the ASL sign for Cookie, so that they could do it along with me throughout the storytime:

Here are the books and songs that we did:


The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Marcellus Hall

I had never done this book before, but it was absolutely perfect. The farmer brings each animal their favorite food: the horse gets hay, the chickens feed, the geese corn, etc. But the cow loves cookies! Why? Because every day she gives the farmer milk and they enjoy a nice treat together. The kids loved naming the animals, making the sound for each, and chiming in on the repeated line, “The cow loves cookies!” The rhyming text is charming, and the illustrations are large and colorful.

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

Several of the kids had read this one already, and were very excited to see it again. Claire read the part of the Duckling, and I read the Pigeon. When the Duckling asks for and is quickly given a cookie (with nuts!), the Pigeon is outraged. No one ever gives him anything he asks for. But then the Duckling gives the cookie to him. Featuring lots of callbacks to the other Pigeon books, and a funny twist at the end.

Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? by Karen Beaumont and Eugene Yelchin

A twist on the classic “Who Took the Cookie?” rhyme, this book features a mother Kangaroo asking all of the other animals who ate all of the cookie dough. The answer is hiding in her pouch! Claire read the part of the mother Kangaroo, and I read all of the other animals.


Old MacDonald Had a Farm

We sang this to go along with The Cow Loves Cookies. Claire held up different animal puppets for each verse: a chicken, a dog, a horse, and a cow. Always a hit:

C] Old MacDonald [F] had a [C] farm,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

And on that farm he [F] had a [C] pig,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

With an oink-oink here, and an oink-oink there,

Here an oink, there an oink,

Everywhere an oink-oink.

[C] Old MacDonald [F] had a [C] farm,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

Six Little Ducks

We sang this as a follow-up to The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?

[C] Six little ducks that I [G7] once knew,
[C] Fat ones, skinny ones, fair ones too.
[G7] But the one little duck with the feather on his back.
[C] He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

[G7] “Quack! Quack! Quack! [C] Quack! Quack! Quack!”                                             
[G7] He led the others with his [C]“Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Down to the river they would go,
Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble, to and fro.
But the one little duck with the feather on his back,
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”


Home from the river they would come,
Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble, ho hum hum.
But the one little duck with the feather on his back,
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”


If All the Raindrops

I love to throw this song in whenever we read a book about food. For the second and third times we sang it, I asked the kids to suggest food they would like to fall from the sky. The mentioned chocolate and cookies, and blueberries and cake.

[C] If all the raindrops were [G7] lemon drops and [C] gum drops,

Oh, what a rain it would [G7] be.

[C] I’d stand out- [G7] side with my [C] mouth open [G7] wide,

[C] “Ah, Ah, Ah, [G7] Ah, Ah, Ah, [C] Ah, Ah, Ah, [G7] Ah!”

[C] If all the raindrops were [G7] lemon drops and [C] gum drops,

Oh, what a [G7] rain it would [C] be!

If all the raindrops were blueberries and cake, etc…

C Is For Cookie by Joe Raposo

We had to do this tribute to my favorite Sesame Street monster as our instrument play-along. I just sang the chorus through four times. On the last time, I had the kids sing it in their best Cookie Monster voice. I also help up a paper with the word “Cookie” written in large letters as a visual.

[C] C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me.

[F] C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me.

[G] C is for Cookie, that’s [F] good enough for me,

[G] Oh, Cookie, Cookie, Cookie, starts with [C] C.

Stay & Play: Paper Gingerbread People

The kids always love decorating pictures with googly eyes, and other items, and this easy craft was no exception. I printed out this template from and gave the kids markers, glue sticks, googly eyes, buttons, and pom-poms. All of their creations were unique and colorful!

What are your favorite books or songs about cookies? Or your favorite cookie recipes? Please share them in the comments below.


Fish Out of Water: a Song for the Little Mermaid

When I was a kid, I had a mild obsession with Hans Christian Andersen. I’m not sure why: most of his stories were sad and bleak, like The Little Matchgirl, and some were downright weird and disturbing, like The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf. But the one that fascinated and troubled me the most was The Little Mermaid.

I don’t know how many times I read the story, imagining different outcomes. It frustrated me that the mermaid couldn’t figure out some way to communicate who she was to the prince. Sign language? Charades? The ending was equally frustrating: the mermaid’s sisters buy her a chance to return to the sea if she kills the prince with a dagger. Unable to bring herself to stab the prince, she dives into the sea, and turns into seafoam. Because of her sacrifice though, she is turned into a daughter of the air. Better than seafoam, I suppose, but hardly a dream come true.

Of course, when the Disney movie came out, it completely ignored the whole murder/suicide-by-seafoam business, and put the sacrifice mostly in the hands of the mermaid’s father. And while I loved the movie (especially the music!), I realized that Andersen’s story did do a better job of conveying the moral that you shouldn’t try to change yourself to fit into someone else’s world.

Regardless of the ending though, I think I was drawn to the story because of the way it captures a longing to connect with someone who seems out of reach, which as an awkward teenager, I related to deeply. This song is for that awkward teenager.


I’m a fish out of water whenever you’re near.
Tongue-tied and awkward when you appear.
I wish I could show you the things I can do.
But I’m a fish out of water with you.

I was a mermaid, a queen of the sea,
Agile and graceful, contented and free.
But I’ve been breathless and floundering, since we met,
I never intended to get caught in your net.
I may be a princess in the wild ocean blue.
But I’m a fish out of water with you.


We may be as different as people can be,
You are steady and grounded, while I’m all at sea.
I just wish I could show you who I really am,
But whenever I’m with you I close up like a clam.
And I feel like I’ve landed in a world that’s brand new.
I’m just a fish out of water with you.

I lure sailors to me with my songs by choice,
But when I’m with you I lose my voice.
I may have saved you from drowning, but you never knew.
I’m just a fish out of water with you.

I wish I could show you my world in the sea,
But I know in my heart that we’re not meant to be.
For it’s only in movies that our love can prevail,
My original story’s a morality tale.
In life happy endings are random and few,
And I’m a fish out of water with you


What stories and books were you most drawn to when you were younger? Please share them in the comments below.

Thank You Very Much! A Thanksgiving Storytime

It was a beautiful day at the park today for our Outdoor Musical Storytime. After our opening song (Put Your Finger in the Air), I asked the families what they were thankful for. They said sunshine, ice cream, and librarians (Awww!).

Here’s what we did for the storytime:


Firefighter’s Thanksgiving by Maribeth Boelts; illustrated by Terry Widener

To be honest, I don’t like a lot of Thanksgiving picture books,because they often only focus on turkeys who are in danger of being eaten. This book is a rare exception, and I never get tired of reading it. It’s Thanksgiving Day at Fire Station 1, and firefighter Lou volunteers to cook the Thanksgiving meal. But the cooking keeps getting interrupted by calls to put out fires, and Lou gets injured in a big fire that afternoon. The firefighters are relieved to hear that he’ll be okay, but they still have no Thanksgiving dinner, and the calls keep coming. But while they are out fighting yet another fire, people from the town bring them a meal and a note to say thank you. Told in simple, rhymed verse, this is one of the most poignant Thanksgiving books I’ve ever read. The kids loved making bell sounds with me every time I said, “A call comes in…”

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

Another rhyming book, this time about Bear, who would love to share a special meal with his friends, but discovers that his cupboards are bare. He is surprised when all of his animal friends show up bringing special dishes of their own to share, but is sad that he has nothing to contribute to the feast. His friends tell him that he can share stories instead, and they all say thanks to each other. I love the large, warm illustrations in the Bear books, and the story does a nice job of illustrating the idea of sharing a meal with friends and loved ones. I taught the kids the sign for Thanks, and we all used it on the repeated line, “And the Bear said, “Thanks!”

You Are My Happy by Hoda Kotb; illustrated by Suzie Mason

Sweet story about a baby bear and his mother sharing simple things throughout the day that made them happy. I like this book because thinking about things that make you happy is probably easier for younger kids to understand than the concept of feeling “Thankful.” Some of the parents were intrigued to learn that the book was written by Today Show co-host Hoda Kotb, and the book got lots of “Awww’s” at the end when the mother bear says, “You are my happy!” The illustrations are lovely too.


Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Fire Truck!

We sang this one as a follow-up to Firefighter’s Thanksgiving. I had the kids pretend to put on their fire fighter gear, and then we slid down the pole before climbing into the truck. We sang the whole thing through three times, getting faster each time (the kids loved it!). There are lots of different versions, but these are the words I use. Here’s a video from Kiboomers with the tune.

Hurry, Hurry, Drive the fire truck!
Hurry, Hurry, Drive the fire truck!
Hurry, Hurry, Drive the fire truck!
Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding!

Hurry, Hurry, Spray the water…

Hurry, Hurry, Climb the ladder…

Hurry, Hurry, Save the kitty cat…

Hurry, Hurry, Back to the station…

If You’re Thankful and You Know It

To the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It:

[C] If you’re thankful and you know it, clap your [G7] hands (clap, clap)

If you’re thankful and you know it, clap your [C] hands (clap, clap)

If you’re [F] thankful and you know it, and you [C] really want to show it,

If you’re [G7] thankful and you know it, clap your [C] hands! (clap, clap)

If you’re thankful and you know it, give a hug… (hug yourself, or a caregiver)…

If you’re thankful and you know it, say “Thank you!” Thank you!

The Turkey Jerky

To the tune of The Hokey Pokey. Although I don’t like focusing on the eating turkeys part of Thanksgiving, I do love doing this song at storytime!

You put your right wing in,

You put your right wing out,

You put your right wing in,

And you shake it all about.

You do the turkey jerky and you turn yourself around.

That’s what it’s all about! Gobble! Gobble!

Repeat with your left wing, your right drumstick (right foot), left drumstick, waddle (your chin), and tail feathers!

I Am Thankful

I wrote this one a while ago. Feel free to use it or adapt it however you like. We did it as our instrument play-along at the end:

[C] I am thankful for
The [F] colors that I see,
For [C] friends who play with me,
And for my [G7] loving family.

[C] I am thankful for [F] rainbows in the sky,
For the [C] taste of pumpkin pie,
And for a [G7] warm hug when I cry.

I’m thankful [F] for the sky above
I’m thankful [C] for the ones I love,
[D] My cozy bed at night,
And for [G] the summer sun so bright.
[C] I am thankful for the [F] monkeys at the zoo
But [C] most of all I’m [G7] thankful for [C] YOU!

[C] I am thankful for [F] bubbles in the air,
For a [C] cool breeze in my hair,
And for my [G7] snuggly teddy bear.
[C] I am thankful for [F] yummy things to eat,
For [C] ice cream cones so sweet,
And for a [G7] special birthday treat.

I’m thankful [F] for the sky above
I’m thankful [C] for the ones I love,
[D] My cozy bed at night,
And for [G] the summer sun so bright.
[C] I am thankful for the [F] monkeys at the zoo
But [C] most of all I’m [G7] thankful,

[C] I am so very [F] thankful!
[C] Most of all I’m [G7] thankful for [C] YOU!

Stay & Play: Watercolor Turkeys

I don’t often do watercolor as a Stay & Play Activity because the set-up can be a little involved. But the kids always LOVE it! In fact, the biggest problem is that many of them don’t want to stop painting, and cry when it’s time to stop.

For today, I printed out turkey pictures (I used this one from on card stock, and put them out on the tables along with watercolor sets, small paintbrushes, and cups of water. I told the kids they could either paint the turkey or turn the paper over and paint whatever they liked. Most of the kids opted to paint the turkey, but we did have some nice original paintings as well.

Happy Thanksgiving! I am grateful for all of you, and especially love hearing about your favorite books, songs, and ideas. Please share them in the comments below!

Be Kind: A Storytime for World Kindness Day

Because of the rainy weather recently, today was our first Outdoor Musical Storytime in three weeks. Our theme was Kindness, in honor of World Kindness Day on Sunday, November 13. Our library system is also offering programs in support of United Against Hate Week, and the two topics seemed to fit together nicely, although for my young crowd, I focused more on the kindness side.

Here’s what we did:


Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems

One of my very favorite Elephant & Piggie Books, which is saying a lot! In this one, Gerald buys an ice cream cone, and then is hit with a difficult dilemma: should he share it with his best friend, Piggie? After an agonizing debate, he decides that he will share it, only by then, his ice cream has melted. Luckily, Piggie has brought a cone of her own to share with him. Claire read the part of Gerald, and I read Piggie, and we had an ice cream cone made of paper to use as a prop, which the kids were fascinated by (several little ones came up to the front to have a closer look).

How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? by Bob Merrill and Iza Trapani

I love this book so much, and it fit perfectly with the theme. In this adaptation of the classic song by Bob Merrill, a little boy is determined to save his money to buy the adorable puppy in the pet shop window, but ends up spending it all to help cheer up different members of this family. When he goes back to say hi to the puppy, the shop keeper tells him the puppy has been bought by a family to thank their very special young son for all the kind things he had done. When the boy gets home, he finds the puppy waiting for him (which gets me every time!). One of the parents came up to take a photo of the book cover at the end, so she could find her own copy.

Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein

This one was a bit longer than the books I usually read, but it fit so well with the theme. A little girl’s smile inspires a woman to send cookies to her grandson in Mexico, who is inspired to share the cookies with his class, which starts a whole chain of other kind acts that spread all around the world.


If All the Raindrops

We sang this one after Should I Share My Ice Cream? This is one of my favorite storytime songs, because the kids love joining in on the “Ah-Ah-Ah-Ahs” and suggesting different foods to fall from the sky for each verse. Today we had pizza and gum, chocolate and goldfish crackers, and blueberries and watermelon.

[C] If all the raindrops were [G7] lemon drops and [C] gum drops,

Oh, what a rain it would [G7] be.

[C] I’d stand out- [G7] side with my [C] mouth open [G7] wide,

[C] “Ah, Ah, Ah, [G7] Ah, Ah, Ah, [C] Ah, Ah, Ah, [G7] Ah!”

[C] If all the raindrops were [G7] lemon drops and [C] gum drops,

Oh, what a [G7] rain it would [C] be!

If all the raindrops were blueberries and watermelon, etc…


We sang this one to go along with How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? Claire held up a dog puppet, and I had the kids bark instead of clap every time we left out a letter. At the end, we barked the whole song. This is an old standby, but here’s a video from Super Simple Songs, just in case you’re not familiar with it.

[C] There was a farmer [F] had a [C] dog,

And Bingo [G] was his [C] name-o.

[C] B-I- [F] N-G-O

[G] B-I- [C] N-G-O

[Am] B-I- [F] N-G-O

And [G] Bingo was his [C] name-o.

We Bounce and We Bounce and We Stop!

This one didn’t have anything to do with the theme, but it’s such a great movement song, and the kids always love it. I added different actions for each verse: clapping, turning, running in place, and hugging.

[C] We bounce and we bounce and we stop!

[C] We bounce and we bounce and we stop!

[C] We bounce and we bounce and we bounce and we bounce,                    

[C] And we bounce and we [G7] bounce and we [C] stop!

We clap and we clap and we stop! … etc.

This Little Light of Mine

We did this one as an instrument play-along, and everyone was dancing along. It’s such a happy song! I changed the lyrics a bit, in order to fit the theme. Here’s a Raffi video for the tune:

[G] This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

[C] This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it [G] shine.

[G] This little light of mine, I’m [B] gonna let it [Em] shine,

Let it [G] shine, let it [D] shine, let it [G] shine.

Gonna spread some kindness ’round the world. I’m gonna let it shine…

Won’t let anyone (pff!) it out, I’m gonna let it shine…

Stay & Play: Kindness Rocks

Super easy craft! I just put out small rocks and crayons and told the kids to decorate them however they liked. They could either keep the rocks, give them to a friend or loved one, or put them in a place outside where people might see them and smile. I had a wide range of rocks, some that a coworker had purchased for a previous craft, and some I just found on the beach. The one in the photo was a bit dark. If I do it again, I think I will stick to lighter colored rocks.

Other Books About Kindness

I was recently asked to do an outreach storytime at a Kindergarten about kindness, so here are two other books I read:

A Small Kindness by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Wendy Leach

Very sweet classroom story, similar to Because Amelia Smile, about a chain of kind acts that spreads from one person to another in a school. The kids loved how each kind act added color to a new person in the illustrations.

Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora

This was the Read for the Record book a few years ago, and I really enjoy reading it to elementary school classes. When an old lady named Omu (an Igbo word meaning “Queen”) makes a pot of stew for her dinner, the smell draws people from all over her community to her door. She gives a bowl of stew to each person, until it is all gone. But just as she is feeling sad about not having any stew for herself, everyone she shared with shows up at her door with a feast. The kids always love joining in on the “Knock, Knocks!”

What are your favorite books, songs, or crafts celebrating kindness? Please share them in the comments below.

Try It In the Library: Fun Activities for Kids After School

Well, my Outdoor Musical Storytime got rained out this week, so instead of a storytime post, I thought I’d write about a new program we are piloting in the San Mateo County Libraries called Power Up Afternoons.

One challenge our libraries encountered after the pandemic was getting school-aged kids back in the habit of visiting the library after school. Before the pandemic, our library offered an After School Hangout once a week on Wednesdays. Kids could drop in to enjoy a light snack, do their homework, try out a craft, play a board game, or play games on the Nintendo Switch (which we projected onto a screen). Although the Hangout required a tremendous amount of set-up and clean-up, it was so much fun to see middle school kids coaching elementary school students on how to play Super Smash Brothers, or families with kids of different ages all working on beaded bracelets to give to each other. Unfortunately, it was one of the first programs to get cancelled at the start of the pandemic, and many of those kids are now in high school, or have moved on to different routines after school.

Since fully reopening after COVID, we’ve tried a number of different programming approaches for kids and teens. For a while all of our libraries offered a monthly STEAM Team program, featuring a science or art-based activity, including bouncy balls and race cars. These were very popular, but usually only allowed for maximum of 20 kids. We also offered Take and Make bags each month, which included all of the supplies and instructions for kids to try making things like sunprints or paper flowers.

One of my favorite things we tried was the Passive Activity table, which offered a different craft or process art activity every few weeks for kids to do on their own in the library. The activities ranged from LED Lightsabers to Felt Trays. One of the simplest ones involved these adorable paper Bobbleheads from Over the summer, I was showing my visiting niece and nephew (aged 4 and 8) around the library, and they were immediately drawn to the Bobblehead project, to the point that they and my own teenaged-kids sat happily cutting and gluing together for 45 minutes straight. The Passive Activity table also came in handy for parents who needed a way to keep their kids occupied while they used our public computers. We have recently discontinued the Passive Activity table, but all of our branches will soon offer an Art Table, which will include art supplies for all ages to enjoy.

A few weeks ago, we significantly beefed up our children’s programming, by offering something every day after school, Monday through Friday. Our admin has branded this initiative “Power Up Afternoons.” Some of the programs are traditional paid providers, like local magicians or nature groups. But most of them are simple staff-led activities, similar to the ones we offered in STEAM Team or on the Passive Activity table.

The activities were selected by a small group of staff members from different branches, who put together a menu of options with the instructions and supply list for each. In our library, we divvied up the weekly schedule, so one staff member always does the Monday program, and one does the Tuesday one, etc. Fridays are always “Board at the Library,” which is where we put out a selection of board games (I didn’t think that would be a big draw until I mentioned it to a class full of second graders, who all got really excited).

We’re only on our third week of Power Up Afternoons, but aside from the extra planning and prep involved, I’m enjoying the actual programs. The staff-led activities are designed so that kids can drop in anytime within a two hour period, say from 2:30pm to 4:30pm, and I like having the opportunity to work with different kids or families individually as they arrive. A few grown-ups have even stopped to do the project too.

These are some of the highlights of the projects we’ve done so far:

Foil Art:

This was the first activity I led, and also the most complicated one so far. I made a sheet of instructions to put on the tables, which you can download here:

There’s also a YouTube video by Kim Kaskey. Basically, you glue yarn into letters or shapes onto a piece of cardboard, then cover the yarn and cardboard with a sheet of aluminum foil, and gently press the foil around the yarn. After that, you can color the foil with Sharpies, brush pens, or other markers. The kids came up with really clever designs. A number of the older kids wrote their names or initials with the yarn.


This one was much more straight-forward, but also a lot of fun. We put out sporks, markers, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, yarn, gluesticks, foam pieces, and scissors, and the kids went wild making adorable sporky characters. I loved the lady spork pictured below with the golden crown, who came with her own book and pipe cleaner pumpkins. The sporks we provided came packaged with small plastic straws, which one kid turned into arms (see below).

Alma Thomas-Inspired Art

Alma Thomas was the first African American woman to have a work of art featured in the White House Collection. Her paintings often featured small bands of color arranged in intricate patterns and shapes. For our project, we had the kids create mosaics with torn pieces of colored paper and glue. We also put out two picture books about Alma Thomas: Ablaze with Color by Jeanne Walker Harvey and Loveis Wise and Alma’s Art by Roda Ahmed and Anita Cheung, along with some examples of her artwork.

We gave the kids strips of colored paper, and told them they could either cut or tear it into small pieces. Many of the parents (and grandparents!) enjoyed making their own artwork along with their kids.

Geometric Art:

Another really simple craft involving paint and removable tape. My coworker Cloud led this one. She gave each kid a canvas and some masking tape, along with tempera paint and paintbrushes. The basic idea is to lay the tape across the page, and then paint different patches of colors in between the strips of tape. When you peel the tape away, it leaves colored shapes with sharp lines. You can also do this project with cardstock and Scotch tape, as long as the tape is easily removed.

These are just a few of the activities we have done so far. It can be a little overwhelming keeping track of the supplies needed from day to day, but it helps that we have so many staff involved, so we each only have to worry about one program a week. And we’re definitely seeing an increase in the number of kids coming to the library after school. Today, for example, we’ve had a flurry of kids I haven’t seen since we fully reopened, many of whom have been coming to the desk to ask for replacement library cards.

What are your favorite crafts or activities you have done with kids? If you work in libraries, what programs for kids have been the most successful? Please share your ideas and suggestions in the comments below.