The Great Outdoors! Stories about Adventure

Foam Shape Boat by Shelby

Foam Shape Boat by Shelby

Last week, Ella, one of my regular storytime patrons, asked if she could read a Bob book about Outdoor Adventures at storytime.  So I based last week’s Family Storytime on that theme.  Unfortunately, Ella wasn’t able to come, but I still had fun sharing outdoor adventure books.

louis

The Day Louis Got Eaten by John Fardell (Amazon.com link)

When Louis gets unexpectedly eaten by a Gulper, his sister, Sarah, sets out to rescue him.  Unfortunately, just as she gets close, the Gulper is eaten by a Grabular, who is eaten by an Undersnatch.  Sarah is undaunted.  Pursuing the creatures on a bike that magically transforms to suit the terrain, she saves the day with the help of a hiccup frog.  The whimsical illustrations in this book are always a hit.

gumpy

Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham (Amazon.com link)

Fun, simple story about a man whose boating outing is complicated by all the animals who want to come along.  The kids enjoyed joining in on the animal noises.  This one is also fun for kids to act out.

frogcooper

Frog by Susan Cooper; illustrated by Jane Browne (Amazon.com link)

Sweet story with beautiful illustrations.  When a frog gets trapped in their swimming pool, Little Joe, who can’t swim, watches as his family tries frantically to get it out.  But it is Little Joe who quietly comes to the rescue, and, inspired by Frog, finally learns to swim.

good

That’s Good!  That’s Bad!  by Margery Cuyler; illustrated by David Catrow (Amazon.com link)

While visiting the zoo with his parents, a little boy is carried off by a red balloon to a perilous adventure in the jungle.  Each page reveals a new part of the story followed by a refrain of “That’s good! No, that’s bad!” Or, “That’s bad! No, that’s good!” which the kids quickly learned to repeat.

SONGS:

I wish I had thought to do “Going on a Bear Hunt,” since that’s a kind of interactive adventure all its own.  Instead we sang:

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

I added in these two verses.  This song is super easy on the ukulele, since you can play the whole thing with just a C chord:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently to the shore.
And if you see a lion,
Don’t forget to roar! ROAR!

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
And if you see an alligator,
Don’t forget to scream! AAAAAHHHH!

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

I have a rude toy frog that burps when you put your hand in its mouth.  I passed that around when I sang this song, but it’s just as fun to pretend your hand is the frog’s tongue, and pretend to catch flies on the kids’ heads.  Click on the triangle for the first verse:

Five green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log.
Eating the most delicious bugs! Yum Yum!
One jumped into the pool,
Where it was nice and cool,
Now there are four green speckled frogs!

Four green and speckled frogs…etc.

Going to the Zoo

I do this one on the ukulele too.  Click on the triangle to hear the tune:

Daddy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow (C)
Zoo tomorrow, Zoo tomorrow. (G7)
Daddy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow, (C)
And we can stay all day. (C  G7)

CHORUS:
We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo!  (F)
How about you, you, you? (C)
You can come too, too, too! (G7)
We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo! (C G7 C)

See the elephants with the long trunk swinging,
Great big ears and a long trunk swinging.
Snuffing up peanuts with the long trunk swinging,
And we can stay all day!

CHORUS

See all the monkeys, they’re scritch, scritch, scratchin’.
Jumping all around and scritch, scritch, scratchin’.
Hanging by the long tails scritch, scritch, scratchin’,
And we can stay all day!

CHORUS

Well, we stayed all day, and I’m getting sleepy,
Sitting in the car getting sleep, sleep, sleepy.
Home already and I’m sleep, sleep, sleepy,
‘Cause we have stayed all day!

We’ve been to the zoo, zoo, zoo!
So have you, you, you!
You came too, too, too!
We’ve been to the zoo, zoo, zoo!

But Mommy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow
Zoo tomorrow, Zoo tomorrow.
Mommy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow,
And we can stay all day!

CHORUS

CRAFT: Foam Shape Boats

Foam Shape Boat by Kiley

Foam Shape Boat by Kiley

I got this simple craft idea from DLTK-kids.com: http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/transportation/mhalvesboat.html  I had some colored foam sheets that I used to cut the shapes out, but you could do it just as easily with construction paper or card stock.  I made a mix of colors for the kids to choose from, and gave them markers to decorate if they wanted.  They each made their boats a little differently.

OTHER BOOKS:

So many other books fit this theme.  Here are just a few:

Journey by Aaron Becker (Amazon.com link)

I don’t often “read” wordless books at storytime, but I have shared this one several times and the kids always love it.  A beautifully illustrated story about a lonely girl with a magic red crayon who draws her way into another world to find adventure and a new friend.  Reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon, which would also fit the theme.

Fortunately by Remy Charlip (Amazon.com link)

An older book I love that reminds me of That’s Good! That’s Bad!  This one is about a boy who is trying to get to a surprise party.  Unfortunately, the party is in Florida and he is in New York.  Fortunately, he borrows a plane from a friend.  Unfortunately, the engine explodes.  Fortunately, he has a parachute.  You get the picture.

My Friend Bear by Jez Alborough (Amazon.com link)

The third book in the picture book series about Eddie, his teddy Freddy, and the big bear who lives in the woods.  They are all funny rhyming stories with large colorful illustrations, but this is the sweetest one, where the bear thinks his teddy bear can talk (because Eddie is hiding behind it), and Eddie and the bear end up becoming friends.

What are your favorite picture book adventure stories?

 

 

Under the Sea: Books About the Ocean

shark

Paper Shark by Stephanie

Such a fun storytime this week, with a big fun crowd of multiple ages.  We read books about the ocean and sea creatures. Often when I’m working with a theme, I end up reading at least one or two books that I haven’t shared with a group before, and I don’t know how they’re going to go over with the kids.  But these books were all old favorites of mine that I was eager to share.  Here they are:

sharkshea

I’m a Shark by Bob Shea (Amazon.com link)

I had actually read this book to two second grade classes in the morning before storytime, and I still wasn’t tired of reading it aloud, because it is so much fun.  You get to take on the persona of a shark who claims to not be scared of anything.  Squid, dinosaurs, the dark, bears, they all just make him laugh.  But clearly he gets nervous about the very idea of spiders. “That’s not scared,” he says. “That’s smart!”  Hilarious book that would work well for a theme about fear or emotions (the message is that everyone is afraid of something).  It could also lead into a fun writing assignment, where kids could write from the point of view of a different type of animal and describe the kinds of fears they might have.  The book was a big hit with both the second grade and the family storytime crowd, and two kids desperately wanted to check it out at the end.

squid

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry (Amazon.com link)

Like I’m a Shark, this book also features a large, boastful sea creature, this time a giant squid.  “I’m the biggest thing in the ocean!” he brags, and then points out all of the creatures that are smaller than him.  “I’m bigger than these shrimp.  I’m bigger than these clams.”  But then a giant whale comes along and puts him quite literally in his place.  Not to fear.  He finds a way to look on the bright side: “I’m the biggest thing in this whale!”  There were a lot of kids who wanted this one too, and I wish I had thought to order over more than one copy.

fidgety

Fidgety Fish by Ruth Galloway (Amazon.com link)

I remember my friend Barbara Bruxvoort telling me about this one years ago, when her son was still a toddler.  He loved the line, “Out shot Tiddler!”  This one goes well with I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean because it’s about a tiny, very active fish, who accidentally swims into a big fish’s mouth, and then escapes.  The illustrations are colorful and appealing.  I don’t even know which of my storytime kids checked this book out, because it was snatched up the instant I finished reading it.

swimmy

Swimmy by Leo Lionni (Amazon.com link)

Classic Leo Lionni book that several of the Kindergartners recognized.  Swimmy is a tiny black fish who manages to escape when all of the other little fish he knows get eaten.  He roams the ocean, seeings lots of wonderful sea creatures, until he finds another school of small red fish.  Swimmy wants to play, but the other fish are too frightened of being eaten to come out of hiding.  Swimmy devises a plan so they can all swim together like one giant fish, and scare all the big fish away.

SONGS:

There’s a Spider on the Floor

I did this song to go along with I’m a Shark, in honor of the shark’s arachnophobia.  I usually do it with a large spider puppet, but I forgot to bring it out.  Instead I had the kids make spiders with their hands, and act out the song.   I’ve changed the lyrics a bit from the original Raffi version, so these are the words I sing. The tune is the same as If You’re Happy and You Know It:

There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.
Who can ask for any more
Than a spider on the floor.
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.

There’s a spider on my leg, on my leg.
There’s a spider on my leg, on my leg.
Oh, he’s really, really big, this old spider on my leg,
There’s a spider on my leg, on my leg.

There’s a spider on my tummy, on my tummy…
Oh, I look so very funny, with a spider on my tummy…

Now the spider’s on my neck, on my neck…
Oh, I’m gonna’ be a wreck, I’ve got a spider on my neck!…

Now the spider’s on my face, on my face…
Oh, I’m such a big disgrace, I’ve got a spider on my face…

Now the spider’s on my head, on my head…
Oh, it fills my heart with dread to have this spider on my head…

But it jumps off!

Now, there’s a spider on the floor, on the floor…

Slippery Fish

The perfect song to accompany I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean. Most of the kids knew it from swimming classes or preschool.  Here’s a YouTube video by Silvia Sanchez with the song.  I do hand motions: swishing my hands for the fish and putting my hands on my cheeks for the “Oh no!”

1,2,3,4,5

An easy counting fingerplay.  Click on the triangle for the tune:

1,2,3,4,5,
Once I caught a fish alive.
6,7,8,9,10,
Then I let it go again.

Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so!
Which finger did it bite?
This little finger on the right.

CRAFT: Paper Shark

I found this craft online at Almost Unschoolers: http://almostunschoolers.blogspot.com/2011/03/paper-plate-shark-craft.html.  I didn’t have paper plates, so I used a CD to trace and cut out white circles for the mouths.  I drew the shark shapes on blue paper and cut them out ahead of time, then gave the kids googly eyes, gluesticks, crayons, and kids scissors.  I had made my example like the Almost Unschoolers ones, with triangular shaped teeth, but I let the kids cut their teeth however they wanted, and they each did something different.  Some kids cut straight lines all the way around the circle, while others cut the circle in half.  It was fun to see the variety.

shark2

Paper Shark by Lena

OTHER BOOKS:

Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark by Deborah Diesen; illustrated by Daniel X. Hanna (Amazon.com link)

The sequel to The Pout-Pout Fish, an adorable story about a “pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face” who spreads “the dreary-wearies all over the place.”  In this book Mr. Fish braves the scary dark of the deep sea to search for Ms. Clam’s lost pearl (I thought only oysters made pearls, but I looked it up, and apparently clams occasionally make them too).  Again there is a refrain that recurs throughout the story: “I’m fast as a sailfish, I’m strong as a shark, I’m smart as a dolphin, but I’m scared of the dark!”  I’m partial to this book because when my son was 2 and 3, he was obsessed with deep sea creatures, and my husband and I searched everywhere for books about angler fish, gulper eels, dumbo octopus, and all the other bizarre, toothy, glowing things that live down there.  I would have been thrilled to find this one.  A similar story is Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea by Marcus Pfister.

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead (Amazon.com link)

We’ve been seeing a lot of whales off the coast lately, and it’s always a thrill.  This book captures the patience required to look for them, and the joy and wonder you feel when they suddenly appear.

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle (Amazon.com link)

I love this story about a little hermit crab who outgrows his shell.  His new shell is very plain, so as he explores the ocean, he invites other creatures (anemones, coral, a sea star) to attach themselves to his shell and join him on his adventures.  A lovely story featuring Eric Carle’s colorful illustrations, and including information about different sea creatures.

Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex (Amazon.com link)

Whenever Billy Twitters doesn’t do what he’s told, his parents threaten to buy him a blue whale.  He doesn’t believe they’ll follow through, but one day, much to his shock, a blue whale is delivered to his house, and it’s up to Billy to take care of it.  Wacky story packed with whale facts, by one of my favorite author/illustrator combos.

Baby Beluga by Raffi; illustrated by Ashley Wolff (Amazon.com link)

This song has become one of our standards for Musical Storytime, and one that kids often request.  This board book version, featuring illustrations by Ashley Wolff, is perfect for babies on up.

What are your favorite picture books about the ocean?

 

We Are in a Book: Storytime with Elephant and Piggie

puppets

Paper Bag Gerald and Piggie Puppets by Nina

A few weeks ago, one of my storytime Dads asked if his son could come with his Boy Scout troop for a tour of the library and to read books at storytime (it happened to be the night that one of the Kindergarten girls read a book to the group at the beginning of storytime, and inspired several other kids to want to do the same). We arranged for the troop to come to Family Storytime this week, and I pulled a bunch of Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books for them to read.

Elephant and Piggie books are perfect for kids (or adults) to read in pairs, because the text is simple, and usually involves a conversation between the two main characters, Gerald (the elephant) and Piggie (sometimes other characters have a few lines too). The parts are color-coded, making it easy to figure out who is speaking. The stories and illustrations are hilarious, and entertain everyone from toddlers to adults. Plus the kids love looking for the pigeon from Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, who always shows up somewhere on the end pages at the back of the book.

We ended up with six Scouts, who read three books. I made simple pig and elephant noses out of paper and taped them onto the boys’ noses to indicate which part they were reading. In order to keep the rest of the kids engaged, I also made a few cue cards for some of the words or phrases that were repeated a lot in each book, so they could join in on those. The boys did a wonderful job reading, and didn’t seem to have any qualms about having an audience. Some of them even took on different voices for Elephant and Piggie. The hardest part was getting them to remember to hold up each page slowly for the audience to see, but then I’ve seen adults who struggle with that too. Here is what they read:

going

I Am Going! by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link) Gerald is horrified when Piggie says she is going, and begs her to stay, until he finds out she is only going to lunch. This book has a page where Gerald chants, “Why?” and I wrote that word on a cue card that I held up on that page so the other kids could join in.

party

I am Invited to a Party! by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

Piggie is excited to receive an invitation to her very first party. Gerald wonders what kind of party it is: a fancy party? A fancy pool party? A fancy costume pool party? They must come prepared! The cue card I made for this one was the word, “PARTY!” which both characters chant together throughout the book. The kids really liked that.

frogpig

I’m a Frog by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

Gerald is shocked when Piggie says that she is a frog, until she explains she is only pretending. I wrote the word “Ribbit!” on a cue card because Piggie says that throughout the book. There’s also a page where Gerald and Piggie get into an argument consisting solely of: “No I can’t!” and “Yes you can!” I made cue cards for those two phrases too, and the kids enjoyed chanting them back and forth. The adults liked the part where Gerald asks if even grown-ups pretend to be something they’re not, and Piggie says, “All the time,” with a knowing look.

sad

My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

I got to read this one myself, which I was happy about because it was the first Gerald and Piggie book I ever read, and it will always be one of my favorites. When Piggie sees that Gerald is sad, she tries to cheer him up by disguising herself as a cowboy, a clown, and a robot. But Gerald seems sadder than ever. For this one, I made a cue card for Gerald’s repeated, “Ohhh…’s”

SONGS:

Elephants Have Wrinkles

After each verse of this song, I ask the kids where else elephants have wrinkles and we add in a new body part, while singing the song faster and faster. This time the kids suggested teeth (we clicked our teeth together), feet (we stomped our feet), and faces (we patted our cheeks). Click on the triangle for the tune:

Elephants have (pat legs on each syllable)
Wrinkles, Wrinkles, Wrinkles (clap hands on each syllable)
Elephants have (pat legs on each syllable)
Wrinkles (clap hands on each syllable)
Everywhere! (stomp feet on each syllable)
On their nose! Oh-oh! (touch your nose, and mime a trunk)

Repeat

Elephants have wrinkles…

On their legs! On their nose! Oh-oh!

I Bought Me a Rooster

We have a variety of stuffed animals in the children’s area, so I passed those out, and we sang a verse of the song about each one. I play it on the ukulele in C.

C
I bought me a rooster and the rooster pleased me
C G7
I fed my rooster on the bayberry tree
C F
My little rooster goes, “Cock-a-doodle doo!
C F G7 C
Dee Doodle, Dee Doodle, Dee Doodle, Dee Doo!”

No No No No No! I think this song is also called The Argument. It’s basically the tune to Reverie, but you sing, “No, no, no, no, no” all the way through the first half, while shaking your head, then “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,” for the second half while nodding. If you have an older group, you can divide them up and have them sing both parts at the same time.

INSTRUMENT PLAYALONG WITH A CD: Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Rufus Thomas, from Sing Along with Putumayo.

CRAFT: Gerald and Piggie Paper Bag Puppets

Gerald Paper Bag Puppet by Chloe

Gerald Paper Bag Puppet by Chloe

Piggie Paper Bag Puppet by Chloe

Piggie Paper Bag Puppet by Chloe

I got this idea and the templates from Three Little Birds: http://threelittlebirdsnorth.blogspot.com/2012/04/elephant-and-piggie-party.html. I copied and pasted the picture of their template into a blank Word file, then printed it out, and made copies. The Gerald one worked out well just on white paper, because it ended up looking gray in the copies. For Piggie, I copied it onto pink paper. I did all the cutting ahead of time, so the kids just had to glue the pieces onto paper bags.

OTHER BOOKS BY MO WILLEMS: Okay, so I have a huge librarian crush on Mo Willems. He’s definitely one of my favorite children’s authors, and although he has an astounding number of books, they are all perfect for storytime. Here are some of my other favorites:

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

Before Trixie has learned to talk, she goes with her Dad to the laundromat along with her beloved stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny. But on the way home, she realizes that Knuffle Bunny is missing. She tries everything she can to tell her Dad, but he just doesn’t understand. Of course, as soon as Trixie’s mom opens the door, she says, “Where’s Knuffle Bunny?” The whole family races back to the laundromat to look. A book that resonates with both kids and parents. I love Trixie’s attempts to communicate, including going boneless (a phenomenon familiar to anyone with a toddler). The illustrations are equally hilarious. Followed by two sequels: Knuffle Bunny Too and Knuffle Bunny Free (this one makes me cry).

City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems; illustrated by Jon J. Muth (Amazon.com link)

A departure from Willems’ usual funny, cartoonish style, featuring paintings by Jon J. Muth. When a city dog visits the country, he meets a frog who teaches him to play frog games. The two have a wonderful time throughout City Dog’s visits in Spring and Summer. By Autumn Country Frog has grown tired, and in Winter, when City Dog comes, he can’t find his friend, but ends up making a new one. A lovely and bittersweet story about the seasons and friendship.

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs as Retold by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

Hilariously dark take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In this one, three dinosaurs prepare bowls of chocolate pudding at varying temperatures and go…uh…someplace else, where they are definitely not lying in wait for brazen little girls. The kids love to spot the Pigeon hidden in the cookie jar, and the rejected title ideas on the back, including Goldilocks and the Three Major Networks, Goldilocks and the Three-Foot-Long Hoagies and more.

Cat the Cat, Who is That? by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

Very simple easy reader that introduces Cat the Cat and her friends Fish the Fish, Duck the Duck, Mouse the Mouse. But then she meets someone entirely new: a strange creature who says, “Blargie! Blargie!” This is a fun read-aloud for toddlers, and a great book for beginning readers. Followed by several sequels.

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

I like the Pigeon, but I love the clever, manipulative Duckling even more. Pigeon is excited to find a hot dog, until a wistful Duckling who claims to have never tried a hot dog asks him to share. There are lots of great Pigeon books, and a fun iPhone/iPad app as well, which allows kids to create their own Pigeon story and learn how to draw the Pigeon (both my kids love it).

What are your favorite Mo Willems books?

 

 

All About My Mother: Books for Mother’s Day

photo (100)

Big, fun crowd this week, with a wide range of ages.  In honor of Mother’s Day, we read books about Moms.

robomom

Baby Brains and Robomom by Simon James (Amazon.com link)

Mr. and Mrs. Brains hoped to have a smart baby, but they never expected one as smart as Baby Brains, who not only talks, but builds amazing inventions.  One day, hoping to save his parents from their daily chores, he invents a robot who can iron, cook, and wash the car.  The problem is that the new Robomom also wants to do the things Baby Brains prefers his parents to do: changing his diaper, putting him to bed.  The other problem is that Robomom is working so hard that she eventually explodes.  The kids loved the explosion part.  Delightfully far-fetched and silly, this book demonstrates that there are some things technology still can’t do.

blueberries

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (Amazon.com link)

This was one of my mother-in-law’s favorite books as a child, and I think of her whenever I read it.  It made for a nice old-fashioned contrast to Baby Brains and Robomom.  Sal and her mother are picking blueberries on the same hill as a mother bear and her cub.  When the two young ones swap places, both their moms are in for a big surprise.  This one was a bit long for the younger kids, but the older ones enjoyed it, and it was snatched up at the end.  A gentle and timeless story.

llama

Llama Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (Amazon.com link)

Given how popular this book and its sequels are, I was surprised that a number of the kids had never read it.  A rhyming story about a llama lying alone in bed and calling for his mother, then panicking when she doesn’t come right away.  The illustrations are big and adorable, and the story is something both kids and parents can relate to.  I love the mother’s frustrated, but soothing reminder at the end, “Mama Llama’s always near, even when she’s not right here.”  There was a bit of llama drama at storytime over who was going to get to check out this book, and I’m ashamed to say that my daughter was the instigator (my husband couldn’t get off work in time tonight to watch our kids, so she tagged along with me).  Anyway, the book is clearly a hit.

whine

Love You When You Whine by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier (Amazon.com link)

This book got lots of laughs, especially from the moms.  It’s a list of things a little kitten does that upsets his mom, and how his mom still loves him always: “Love you when you whine.  Love you when you interrupt…Love you when you scream ‘Lollipop Lollipop Lollipop’ for forty-five minutes on line at the bank.”  I usually add a disclaimer not to try these things at home, especially hiding mom’s keys and painting the dog.  It was a hit though, and another mild dispute arose over who was going to get to take it home (thankfully not involving my daughter this time).

SONGS:

Five Days Old

Great Laurie Berkner song that the kids enjoyed.  I played it on the ukulele, which is tricky with the jumping up and down.  Click here for Laurie Berkner’s video.

Peanut, Peanut Butter

A song I learned at Girl Scout camp a thousand years ago.  The version I sing goes like this (click on the triangle to hear the first verse):

First you take the peanuts and you pick ’em, you pick ’em,
You pick ’em, pick ’em, pick ’em! (Mime picking peanuts)
Then you smash ’em, you smash ’em, you smash ’em, smash ’em, smash ’em! (clap hands together each time you “smash”)
Then you spread ’em, you spread ’em, you spread ’em, spread ’em, spread ’em! (mime spreading peanut butter)
Singing “Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!
Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!”

Then you take the berries and you pick ’em… (repeat the first verse)

Then you take the sandwich and you bite it, you bite it, you bite it,
Bite it, bite it!
Then you chew it, you chew it, you chew it, chew it, chew it!
Then you swallow it, you swallow it, you swallow it, swallow it, swallow it.
Singing, “Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!
Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!” (I usually sing this part in a slightly garbled voice, as if I have peanut butter on the roof of my mouth. Then we all mime drinking a glass of milk).

No More Monkeys

I gave out instruments for this one, and played it on the ukulele.  It’s the wonderfully catchy Asheba version of Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed from Putumayo’s Animal Playground album.

CRAFT: All About My Mother 

My Mommy by Olivia, Sarah, and Lily

My Mommy by Olivia, Sarah, and Lily

I stole this idea from my daughter’s preschool last year, and adapted it for Father’s Day as well.  I love it because the kids’ answers are so adorable.  (Last year my daughter told her teacher that I was 4-years old.  This year, of course, she said I was 5).  Here’s the .doc I created: My Mommy is  Most of the kids needed help filling out the form, so I interviewed each of them and wrote in their answers, but they enjoyed drawing pictures of their moms.

OTHER BOOKS:

My Mom by Anthony Browne (Amazon.com link)

Lovely tribute to a Mom who is a fantastic cook, a brilliant juggler (of daily tasks), a magic gardener, and much more.  The illustrations are fun and full of humor.   It would also be a good example to use in a lesson on similes, which are used throughout the text (she “sings like an angel,” and “roars like a lion,” etc.)

Mom Pie by Lynne Jonell; illustrated by Petra Mathers (Amazon.com link)

When two brothers are frustrated that their mom is too busy preparing for company to pay attention to them, they decide to make a “Mom Pie,” made of all the things that remind them of her.  Sweet story with childlike stick-figure drawings.  This book, along with Mommy, Go Away by the same author and illustrator, do a nice job of capturing the wistfulness and frustration that kids often feel, in the context of a warm and playful story.

Please Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee; illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Amazon.com link)

One of the few celebrity picture books I actually like.  A simple, repetitive rhyme that follows an adorable toddler throughout her day with her mom: “Go back to bed, baby, please, baby please / Not on your head, baby, baby, baby, please!”  The illustrations by Kadir Nelson are full of life and mischief, and it has a sweet ending, with the little girl begging for a kiss from her tired Mama.   This also makes a good book for beginning readers. because of the rhymes and repeated words and phrases.

What! Cried Granny: an Almost Bedtime Story by Kate Lum; illustrated by Adrian Reynolds (Amazon.com link)

Because Mother’s Day is for grandmothers too.  This is one of my storytime standbys.  A little boy named Patrick is ready to go to bed at his Grandma’s house.  “But Granny!” he says, “I don’t have a bed here!” “What?!” cried Granny.  She rushes out to chop down some trees, and quickly builds him a bed.  But he still needs a blanket, a pillow, and a teddy bear.  This is a terrific read-aloud.  The kids love joining in whenever the Granny says, “WHAAAATTT?!” and guessing what Patrick is missing this time.

The Grandma Cure by Pamela Mayer; illustrated by John Nez (Amazon.com link)

I love this story about two grandmas who come to take care of a little girl named Sophie when  she stays home sick from school.   But each grandma has a different idea of how to do things: one thinks Sophie needs hot tea, the other wants to give her orange juice.  Sophie has to step in and explain how to sort out their differences the way her Kindergarten teacher has taught her.  Funny story that kids and grown-ups both enjoy.

Happy Mother’s Day!  If you have any favorite books about moms or grandmas, please share them in the comments.

Earthly Delights: Books to Celebrate Earth Day

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Model Magic Earthworms by Colette and Ben

This week, in honor of Earth Day on Tuesday (April 22), I did books about nature, gardening, and recycling. An exciting thing happened though: one of my regular participants, who is now in Kindergarten, asked if she could read Biscuit Goes to School by Alyssa Capucilli aloud to the group. There were a few minutes before storytime started, so I said yes. She did an amazing job, even holding up each page so the other kids could see the pictures. Afterwards, one of my other regulars asked if she could read I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems, so I told her she could read at the end of storytime, just before the craft. She did a wonderful job too! I was so proud of them both, for their developing reading skills, and especially for their bravery. I told them I know a lot of adults who would be too scared to read to a group like that, and it’s true.

gecko

Go to Sleep, Gecko: A Balinese Folktale by Margaret Read MacDonald; illustrated by Geraldo Valério (Amazon.com link)

One of my favorite folktales to read-aloud and perfect for Earth Day. Gecko complains to Elephant that he can’t sleep because the fireflies keep shining their lights on and off all night long. When Elephant confronts the fireflies they say they have to shine their light because Buffalo leaves poop in the road that someone might step in. But Buffalo says he is filling the holes that Rain washes out, and Rain says she is making puddles so there will be mosquitoes for Gecko to eat. The part about poop in the road always gets appreciative giggles, and the kids like joining in on the Gecko’s repeated cry of, “Geck-o! Geck-o! Geck-o!” Great story about the interconnectedness of things in nature. I love the last line, “Some things you just have to put up with.”

bob

Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel; illustrated by Nick Bruel (Amazon.com link)

Another favorite of mine, and one my daughter has asked to hear over and over. Bob, a caterpillar, and Otto, a worm, are best friends who like to play together at the base of big tree. But one day Bob decides to climb high up into the tree. Otto doesn’t want to follow. Instead he digs deep down under the tree and crawls all around the roots. When the two friends meet again, Bob has transformed into a butterfly. Otto wishes he had followed Bob, so he might have grown wings too instead of just being a “big fat worm.” But Bob tells him that all his digging is what made the tree grow leaves, so he could eat and grow wings. Sweet story about friendship, as well as the importance of earthworms. This one got snatched up at the end.

flora2

Flora’s Surprise by Debi Gliori (Amazon.com link)

When Flora’s family plants a garden, Flora plants a brick in a pot and says she is growing a house. As the seasons pass, everyone else’s plants grow and blossom, but Flora’s house never grows. But at the end of winter, they are all surprised to find that someone (a bird) has discovered Flora’s brick, and that it has become a perfect house after all. Large, colorful illustrations and simple text make this a great book for gardening themes for toddlers on up. It was quickly snatched up too.

joseph

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback (Amazon.com link)

I hadn’t thought of this as an Earth Day book until I saw it in a list somewhere, but it fits well with the “ReUse” part of the “Reduce, ReUse, Recycle” motto. When Joseph’s coat gets old and worn, he turns it into a jacket, and then a vest, a scarf, a necktie, a handkerchief, a button, and finally…a story. The charm of this book is in the cutouts that give hints to each new thing Joseph makes. The kids loved trying to guess what was coming next. This book won the Caldecott Medal in 2000.

SONGS:

Elephants Have Wrinkles

I did this one to go along with Go to Sleep, Gecko. I ask the kids where else elephants have wrinkles and we add in a new body part each time, while singing the song faster and faster. Click on the triangle for the tune:

Elephants have (pat legs on each syllable)
Wrinkles, Wrinkles, Wrinkles (clap hands on each syllable)
Elephants have (pat legs on each syllable)
Wrinkles (clap hands on each syllable)
Everywhere! (stomp feet on each syllable)

On their nose! Oh-oh! (touch your nose, and mime a trunk)

Repeat Elephants have wrinkles…

On their legs!
On their nose!
Oh-oh!

Two Little Blackbirds

I did this one after Flora’s Surprise:
Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill (hold up two thumbs)
One named Jack and the other named Jill.
Fly away Jack (put one thumb behind back), fly away Jill (put other thumb behind back).
Come back, Jack (bring thumb out in front), come back, Jill (bring other thumb out in front).

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud, One was quiet (whisper), and the other was loud (yell)…

Two little blackbirds sitting in the snow, One was fast and the other w…a…s…s…l…o…w…

Two little blackbirds sitting on a gate, One was early, and the other was… (pause)…late…. (I drag out the pause until the kids are all yelling “late!”)

INSTRUMENT PLAYALONG WITH A CD: I meant to play You Are My Sunshine by Elizabeth Mitchell from Sing Along with Putumayo, but that track wouldn’t play (I know from many past experiences that you should always check to make sure the song plays ahead of time, but I didn’t get a chance). Instead we did a totally random song from the same disc, although it’s a goofy one that I love: Bellybutton Song by Music for Aardvarks & Other Mammals.

CRAFT: Model Magic Earthworms

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Model Magic Earthworm by Colette

To fit with Bob and Otto, we made earthworms out of Model Magic, a nontoxic Crayola air dry clay. I mixed white and red Model Magic ahead of time to make a rosy-pink color. I gave each child a hunk of the clay and a plastic knife to add the little ridges in the earthworm’s body. I also put out other colors so they could add eyes. They ended up adding all kinds of things, and each worm was completely unique.

OTHER BOOKS:

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Harry Bliss (Amazon.com link)

Another great worm book, and one I shared with two second grade classes this week. A funny look at the joys and perils of being a worm. The kids especially loved the part where the worm gets so hungry, he eats his homework, then has to write, “I will not eat my homework” ten times, and then eats that too. The other Diary of books are great fun too.

Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker (Amazon.com link)

I read this one to second grade too. It’s a heavy and fairly lengthy story, and I wasn’t sure how they would take it: they were uncharacteristically quiet at the end. But several kids, mostly girls, said it was their favorite. It’s based on the Sparrow War, a true event that took place in China in the 1950’s, when Mao Zedong decreed that all the sparrows should be killed to prevent them from eating the grain. The death of the sparrows and other birds left the insects free to ravage the crops, and a terrible famine ensued. Sara Pennypacker makes this the backdrop of a story about a little girl who bravely saves seven of the sparrows, and hides them away until the farmers in her village realize the terrible mistake they have made. The second graders seem fascinating by true stories, although I was sad to have to tell them that in this case it was the more hopeful part of the story that was fiction. It is a vivid portrayal of the importance of understanding the complex interactions between every living thing, and how even small environmental changes can be devastating. (This is the same message conveyed by Go to Sleep, Gecko in a much lighter, sillier way).

The EARTH Book by Todd Parr (Amazon.com link)

Simple book about easy environmental things kids can do, and how they help the Earth: “I use both sides of the paper and bring my own bags to market because…I love the trees and I want the owls to have a place to live.” Some of the connections may not be immediately clear to kids, for example, turning off the lights and shutting the refrigerator door to help the polar bears. But it’s nice to have a concrete list of ways kids can have an impact, and the colorful, multicultural, artwork is eye-catching and fun.

What are your favorite books for Earth Day?

 

Shell-ebrate! Books about Eggs

Pom-Pom Chick by Olivia

Pom-Pom Chick by Olivia

In honor of Easter, Spring, and my daughter’s newfound obsession with eggs, I did an egg theme this week.  And boy, are there a lot of fun books about eggs.  It’s Spring Break this week, so I was expecting a small turn-out, but after the first few minutes a big crowd arrived, and it ended up being a wonderful large group with a wide variety of ages.  Here’s what we read:

: owen

Owen’s Marshmallow Chick by Kevin Henkes (Amazon.com link)

I hadn’t originally planned to read this, but at the beginning of storytime I only had two families, both with very young kids.  This board book worked perfectly for them.  Owen eagerly gobbles down all of the candy in his Easter basket, until he gets to the yellow marshmallow chick, which is the same color as his fuzzy yellow blanket. Will he eat it too?

except

Except If by Jim Averbeck (Amazon.com link)

A fun book to read aloud, especially because the kids get to join in on the repeated line “Except If,” which is usually set apart on its own page.  The older kids caught on quickly, and eagerly shouted it out each time they spotted it.   “An egg is not a baby bird, but it will become one, except if…it becomes a baby snake.”  Each page shows a different possible outcome: the egg might actually hold a lizard, or a dinosaur.  Except if…it actually becomes a baby bird.

bird

There is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

Another great Gerald and Piggie book.  In this one, Gerald is disturbed to discover that he has a bird on his head, and even more disturbed when another bird arrives, followed by a nest, and three eggs.  This book got lots of laughs, even from kids who had clearly heard it before.

flap

Flap Your Wings by P. D. Eastman (Amazon.com link)

The first time I checked this book out, my daughter demanded to hear it three times in a row.  And when I had it in my stack at storytime, one of the Kindergartners pulled it out and said, “Oh!  Read this one!”  It is a fun story, with hilarious illustrations.  When a boy finds an egg lying in the middle of a path near a pond, he puts it in an empty nest in a nearby tree.  Mr. and Mrs. Bird are surprised to find it there, but kindly decide to care for it, even though the baby that eventually hatches from it is like no bird they’ve ever seen (he’s an alligator).  Thankfully he doesn’t eat his adoptive parents, who keep him well fed until it’s time for him to fly from the nest…  This one was quickly snatched up at the end.

SONGS:

Three Baby Birds

I had a puppet with three baby birds in a nest that I held out for the kids to “feed.”  I made this song up using the tune to Shortnin’ Bread (click on the triangle to hear the first verse):

Three baby birds were sitting in a tree,
Crying to the Mama Bird, “Feed me! Feed me!”
One little bird got a wormy from his mum.
Gulp it up! Slurp it down!
Yum! Yum! Yum! (Repeat with two little birds, and then one).

Two Little Blackbirds

 Two Little Blackbirds (The kids love this song, especially the quiet/loud and early/late verses.  Click on the triangle to hear the tune.)

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill (hold up two thumbs)
One named Jack and the other named Jill.
Fly away Jack (put one thumb behind back), fly away Jill (put other thumb behind back).
Come back, Jack (bring thumb out in front), come back, Jill (bring other thumb out in front).

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud, One was quiet (whisper), and the other was loud (yell)…

Two little blackbirds sitting in the snow, One was fast and the other w…a…s…s…l…o…w…

Two little blackbirds sitting on a gate, One was early, and the other was… (pause)…late….  (I really exaggerate the pause, until all the kids are shouting out “LATE!”)

INSTRUMENT PLAY-ALONG WITH A CD: Red Red Robin by Rosie Flores from Sing Along With Putumayo (Amazon.com link)

CRAFT: Pom-Pom Chicks

Pom-Pom Chick by Jonas

Pom-Pom Chick by Jonas

My son did this craft in preschool many years ago, and it’s always been one of my favorites. I cut diamond shaped beaks out of orange paper, and little feet (these were triangles with the point cut off, and tiny triangles cut in the wide end to make a W shape).  Then I gave them to the kids along with pom-poms, wiggly eyes, glue and glue sticks, feathers, and plastic Easter eggs.  (The feathers make it harder to fit the finished chick inside the egg, but they are very cute).  One girl asked for stickers to decorate her egg, so I brought some of those out as well.  The glue sticks worked pretty well for holding things on, but you have to rub them hard against the pom-pom.

Pom-Pom Chick by Liat

Pom-Pom Chick by Liat

OTHER EGG BOOKS:

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston; illustrated by Sylvia Long (Amazon.com link)

I meant to read this nonfiction book, because it is beautiful.  Every page shows different types of eggs, all in brilliant colors, while describing various characteristics of eggs: eggs are quiet, eggs are colorful, eggs are shapely.  It also includes a brief description of the parts of an egg, and how the protect and feed the embryo inside.  The last page shows all of the different creatures who hatched out of the eggs.  The illustrations in this book are so striking that when I read it to my daughter, she wouldn’t let me turn the page until we had talked about every single egg.

The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown and Leonard Weisgard (Amazon.com link)

A fun, simple story by Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Moon), that is perfect for Easter because it includes an egg and a bunny.  When a bunny finds an egg, he tries everything he can think of to make it hatch: kicking it, jumping on it, and rolling it down the hill.  He is so worn out from his efforts that he falls asleep…and the egg hatches.

Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller (Amazon.com link)

Another great nonfiction title that is simple enough for preschoolers.  This book describes, in rhymed verse, all of the different creatures that hatch from eggs.

Daniel’s Mystery Egg by Alma Flor Ada; illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Amazon.com link)

A cute easy reader that also works well for storytime.  When Daniel finds an egg, all of his friends take turns guessing what kind of animal will come out of it: a duck? an ostrich? an alligator?  But they are all in for a surprise.

An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni (Amazon.com link)

My daughter loved this story about a frog named Jessica who finds an extraordinary pebble.  Her friend insists that it is a chicken egg, so when it hatches, Jessica and her friends assume the new baby is a chicken.  They become close friends with the new baby, until the chicken finds her mother.  The frogs all find it very funny that the chicken’s mother calls her “my little alligator.”

What are your favorite books about eggs?

 

Oh, the Places We’ll Go! A Celebration of Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss’ Birthday (his 110th, if he were still with us) was on March 2, so a Dr. Seuss storytime was definitely in order for this week.  It’s not as easy as it might sound, because most of his books are too long for the baby/toddler crowd.   But a number of his easy reader books still fit the bill for my Family Storytime.

I’m still in awe of Dr. Seuss.  I don’t think anyone’s ever quite matched his genius for telling compelling stories in memorable rhymed verse using simple language, all with unforgettable characters and artwork.   As a kid, I think I owned only three of his books: The Eye Book; Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose (which is admittedly a bit dark, but I was obsessed with it); and The Cat and the Hat Comes Back.  (Although oddly, not The Cat in the Hat).  I read them each countless times.  The Eye Book was actually the very first book I remember reading on my own.  (It’s also the first book I remember reading that mentioned pink underpants!)

For Family Storytime, I had pulled a wide selection of Seuss books.  I was hoping to get to The Cat and the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, but the storytime audience that night was large, with a number of younger, wiggly guys, so I stuck to the shorter ones (although oddly, a number of these are not actually illustrated by Dr. Seuss).  The kids loved them all.

I started out the storytime by asking the kids if they knew what Dr. Seuss’ real name was.  Most of them didn’t know, or had forgotten, that it was Theodor Seuss Geisel.  I also like to point out that a lot of his books, especially the beginning readers, were written under the pseudonym Theo LeSeig (in many libraries, these are often shelved under L instead of S, which can make them hard for kids to find).

wacky

Wacky Wednesday by Theo. LeSeig; illustrated by George Booth (Amazon.com link)

This one actually ended up being a bit tricky, because the kids kept popping up and down in front of me in their eagerness to point to the wacky things happening on each page.  Finally, I stood up so they could all see.  In spite of that, they were all mesmerized.  My daughter loves this book, and laughs at every wacky illustration.

octember

Please Try to Remember the First of Octember by Theo. LeSieg; illustrated by Art Cumings (Amazon.com link)

I actually wasn’t familiar with this one until I helped someone find it on the shelf last week.  What a great book!  The narrator promises a boy that he can have absolutely anything he wants…on the first of Octember.  I love that it’s kind of a wish fulfillment book, with money falling from the sky, skateboard TVs, swimming books, giant hammocks, and other fantasies from the mind of Dr. Seuss.  It would make a great lead-in to a drawing/writing assignment for elementary school students: what you ask for on the first of Octember?

eye

The Eye Book by Theo. LeSieg; illustrated by Joe Mathieu (Amazon.com link)

As I mentioned above, this was the first book I remember reading on my own, and I’m pretty sure I can recite the whole thing from memory.  I still consider it one of the best books for beginning readers.  The text is simple, with repeated phrases (“They see a _____,” “They look at ______”).  The rhymes and illustrations help kids decipher the new words.  It’s also a great book for a classroom unit or storytime about the five senses.

foot

The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss (Amazon.com link)

A great book for teaching left and right.  I actually had the kids stand up and act it out: standing on their left or right foot, holding their feet up, etc.   It was also the shortest of the books I read, and was the perfect one to end with.  I paired it with The Hokey Pokey the next day for a Toddler Storytime, and it was a hit there as well.

SONGS:

I did several active songs like Shake My Sillies Out and Five Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, to give the little guys a chance to move around.  Then I had the kids grab stuffed animals to dance with for Waltzing with Bears.  This song was written by Dale Marven (not Seamus Kennedy, as I had written originally.  Thanks for Mike for the correction), but based on a song from Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat Songbook called My Uncle Terwilliger Waltzes With Bears.  Here are the lyrics as I remember them, along with the uke chords I used.  Click on the triangle to hear the first verse and chorus:

Waltzing with Bears

G                                               C                          G
My uncle Walter goes waltzing with bears.
D            G
It’s a most unbearable state of affairs.
G                                                                C                          G
Every Saturday night, he creeps down the backstairs,
G             C                  G                                D                     G
Sneaks out of the house and goes waltzing with bears!

CHORUS
G                                             C                        G
He goes wa-wa-wa-wa, waltzing with bears,
D                                                     G
Raggy bears, shaggy bears, baggy bears too.
G                                                             C                         G
There’s nothing on earth Uncle Walter won’t do,
G    C                G                C                    G
So he can go waltzing, wa-wa-wa-waltzing,
G   C                  G                D                       G
So he can go waltzing, waltzing with bears!

I went to his room in the middle of the night.
I tiptoed inside and turned on the light.
But to my surprise there was no one in sight.
I’m sure Uncle Walter goes waltzing at night!

CHORUS

I gave Uncle Walter a new coat to wear,
But when he came home he was covered with hair,
And lately I’ve noticed there’s several new tears,
I’m sure Uncle Walter goes waltzing with bears!

CHORUS

We asked Uncle Walter, “Why won’t you be good?
And do all the things that we say you should?
We know that you’d rather be out in the wood,
We’re afraid that we’ll lose you, lose you for good!”

CHORUS

We begged and we pleaded, “€œOh please won’t you stay!”
And managed to keep him at home for a day,
But the bears all barged in, and they took him away!
Now he’s waltzing with pandas, and he can’t understand us,
And the bears all demand at least one dance a day!

CHORUS

CRAFT: Cat in the Hat Fruit Kebabs

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There are a number of variations of this snack ideas online, including some that use grapes, marshmallows or bananas to make the head of the cat.  For mine, I printed this picture from PBSkids.org, then cut out the cat, cutting off his hat.  I taped the picture onto wooden chopsticks for the kids, then gave them bowls of bananas and strawberries to make the hat.  They didn’t last long!  This would be a fun and healthy patterning activity too.

OTHER BOOKS BY DR. SEUSS

Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss (Amazon.com linkRecommended by Jeanine Asche

Talk about a reading challenge: this book is full of tongue-twisters that get harder and crazier with each page!

Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now? by Dr. Seuss (Amazon.com linkRecommended by Lindsey Tear

Between this book and Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, I get the impression that Dr. Seuss had trouble with unwanted houseguests.  This is a fun one to read aloud.  Lindsey, who recommended it, also mentioned this interesting fact from Wikipedia: “In a July 1974 collaboration with political humorist Art Buchwald, Dr. Seuss took a two-year-old copy of his book, crossed out ‘Marvin K. Mooney’ wherever it occurred and wrote in ‘Richard M. Nixon’. With Dr. Seuss’s consent, Buchwald and his editors reprinted the markup as a newspaper column, published July 30, 1974. Beset by Watergate, U.S. President Nixon resigned ten days later on August 9.”

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss (Amazon.com linkRecommended by Linda Anderson

My son used to demand to hear this one every night for what felt like weeks!  It’s a wild ride through all manner of wacky Dr. Seuss inventions: Yinks and Yops and Zans and Gox and lots and lots of fish.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss (Amazon.com linkRecommended by Linda Anderson and Michelle Rosoff

I still have the copy of this my parents gave me when I graduated high school.   A great read for any age, describing all the ups and downs, frustrations and hopes of growing up.

What Was I Scared Of? by Dr. Seuss (Amazon.com linkRecommended by Ria Tajbl

I know this story from the Seuss collection called The Sneetches and Other Stories.  I didn’t realize it had since been published as a separate picture book with glow-in-the-dark ink.  It’s a fun, slightly spooky story about pale green pants “with nobody inside them!”  A good read-aloud for a storytime about emotions and fear.

I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss (Amazon.com link) Recommended by Michael Lambert

I admit I don’t think I’ve ever read this one, but I will have to check it out!  A bold, little version of The Cat in the Hat brags that he can beat 30 tigers, but then reconsiders until the number gets smaller and smaller.  Michael Lambert, who recommended this one, also mentioned that one of the other stories in this collection, King Louie Katz, is a great one for storytime.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (Amazon.com linkRecommended by Maria Kurland

Another childhood classic about a wonderful, naughty character.  As a kid, I always wished the Cat in the Hat would pop by my house for a visit, in spite of all the trouble he caused.

I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla-Sollew by Dr. Seuss (Amazon.com linkRecommended by Thomas Moore

My parents are always telling me “there is no Utopia,” and this book is proof.  When the hero of this book stubs his toe, he decides to move to “the City of Solla Sollew, on the banks of the beautiful River Wah-Hoo, where they never have troubles! At least, very few.”  Until he gets there, and realizes every place has its problems.

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book and why?

Hail to the Chief: Books about the Presidents

Abe Lincoln Finger Puppet by Paxton

Abe Lincoln Finger Puppet by Paxton

Here’s a (very) little known fact: I once ran for President!  Although my entire campaign consisted of this one post from an old blog I shared with two of my friendsHere’s a (very) little known fact: I once ran for President!  Although my entire campaign consisted of this one post from an old blog I shared with two of my friends.

Anyway, last Monday was President’s Day, so I thought I’d give a president-themed storytime a try.  I was pleased to find that there are some pretty good picture books out there, some of which I really enjoyed.  The only problem was that my Family Storytime audience  was almost all toddlers.  Don’t get me wrong: I was thrilled to see them, especially because a few of them were new families.  But I quickly realized that, even though I had picked relatively short books, they were still too long and complex for the under-two set.   I adapted by throwing in a lot of songs in between books, excerpting some pages here and there, and then completely abandoning the theme at the end.  In spite of it all, I actually had a great time.  I would rather be a librarian than President any day!

Here’s what I ended up doing.  I’ve included the books that I had planned to read in the list at the end:

washington

George Washington’s Teeth by Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comara; illustrated by Brock Cole (Amazon.com link)

If your kids don’t like to brush, read them this book.  Poor George Washington.  Not only did he have that whole Revolutionary War thing to deal with, he also suffered from horrible teeth that rotten and hurt and fell out all the time!  This book tells you exactly how, and when, he lost each one, all in solid, entertaining rhymed verse, which is quite an art.  A lot of the story was lost on the toddlers, but they hung in there, especially whenever I held up my fingers each time George lost a tooth, to show just how few he had left.  The older kids were mesmerized, and one of the moms said at the end, “I never knew that!  It’s kind of disgusting.”  And it is.  But it’s a great picture book all the same.

teacher

My Teacher for President by Kay Winters; illustrated by Denise Brunkus (Amazon.com link)

I was relieved to have this book in my stack because it was short and simple, with large illustrations.  A kid explains all the reasons why his teacher would make a great president: she is a great listener; she goes to lots of meetings; she is good at finding people jobs.  Each two page spread shows the teacher demonstrating the skill (like catching a loose snake on the page about being good in an emergency), as well as showing how she might put it to use if she were President.  This would be a nice lead-in to a discussion about what kinds of challenges Presidents face, and what kind of person would make a good leader.

lincoln

Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner; illustrated by Donald Cook (Amazon.com link)

This one was far too long to read in its’ entirety, so I ended up just sharing parts of it.  It’s actually an easy reader about Abe Lincoln, featuring some fun anecdotes about his career as a lawyer.  The part I mostly wanted to share (because of the craft I had planned) was that Lincoln carried letters and important papers inside his hat.  This would make an excellent book to share with an elementary school class for Lincoln’s birthday, since it does a good job of conveying his cleverness, integrity and good humor.

elephants

Elephants Cannot Dance by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

Okay, this was the point where I completely abandoned the theme.  All the other books in my stack were far too long for the toddlers.  So I grabbed this book from the shelf behind me, and it was great.  I even had the kids try to do the dance steps along with Piggie.  In this story, Piggie tries to teach Gerald to dance, even though Gerald tells her emphatically that “Elephants Cannot Dance.”  In the end, Piggie is forced to agree, but meanwhile Gerald has found a following for his “Elephant Dance.”  Totally unrelated to presidents, but the toddlers loved it (thank you, Mo Willems!), and hey, at least elephants represent a political party.

SONGS

Brush Your Teeth: This Raffi song is always a hit, and it paired perfectly with George Washington’s Teeth.

Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes: This didn’t connect with any of the books, but was great for bringing the wandering toddlers back in.  I do the song several times, doing it faster and faster every time.  Sometimes, if I want to especially tricky, I’ll have the kids try to sing it backwards: Nose, and Mouth, Ears and Eyes, Ears and Eyes…etc.   I also ham it up a bit by flapping my lips with my fingers when we sing the word “Mouth” and pinching my nose when we sing “Nose.”  Yes, I am a huge goof-ball, which is yet another reason why I will never be President.

Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee: Another song for the toddlers.  I have a big bee puppet that I brought out for the first verse.  After that I asked for animal suggestions, and we had to invent new rhymes for each one: “I’m bringing home a baby lion.  Won’t my Mommy really start a-crying?” “I’m bringing home a baby grizzly bear.  Won’t my Mommy pull out all her hair?”  etc.

INSTRUMENT PLAY WITH A CD: This Land is Your Land from 20 Great Kids Songs (Amazon.com link)

CRAFT: Abe Lincoln Finger Puppet

Abe Lincoln Finger Puppet

Abe Lincoln Finger Puppet

I thought this craft from Spoonful.com was adorable.  I gave each child a rectangle of black paper, which they rolled around a finger and taped or glued together, a tiny black strip for the hat, a white paper triangle for the shirt-front, a penny for the face, and a red paper bowtie.  They were all very cute.  I thought it was funny that even though I told them at the beginning that Lincoln’s face is on the penny, most of them glued the penny on upside down.

You can do the same craft for Washington, Roosevelt, or Jefferson, but it would be more expensive!

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT PRESIDENTS:

So You Want to Be President by Judith St. George; illustrated by David Small (Amazon.com link)

This one was too long for my family storytime, but I read it to a second grade class a while back when we were showcasing Caldecott Award winners.  It’s a nice overview of the presidents, and the ways they were alike and different.  There are a number of funny anecdotes and quotes, and the caricature-style illustrations are fun.

What Presidents Are Made Of by Hanoch Piven (Amazon.com link)

Another books with simple stories and facts about different presidents.  This one is short enough to use with Kindergartners, or even older preschoolers, especially if you just share certain stories.  Hanoch Piven has a unique collage style, where he uses objects that represent different people to create mixed-media caricatures (for example, his illustration of Ronald Reagan uses jelly beans, and George W. Bush has a hot dog nose).   The stories are simple and fun, and give a more human portrayal of each president.

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Amazon.com link)

I was really hoping to share this one, but in the end, it was too long.  When Grace learns that there has never been a female president, she is determined to start by winning the class election.  What I find interesting about this book is that the school election mirrors the electoral college process, with different students representing different states, and some having more votes than others.  In the end, the decision comes down to one vote, and Grace’s hard campaign work pays off.  This would be a great book to share around election time.

President’s Day by Anne Rockwell; illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell (Amazon.com link)

This is a nice story about the holiday, featuring a school play about different presidents, with an election at the end.

What are your favorite books about the presidents?

The Year of the Horse

Paper Rocking Horse by Kiki

Paper Rocking Horse by Kiki

This year, Chinese New Year begins on January 31, and it’s the year of the Horse (you can find a list of all the animal signs and dates on TravelChinaGuide.com).

I didn’t know much about Chinese New Year until we moved to the Bay Area, but it’s such a fun and colorful celebration.  At my son’s school, each Kindergartner decorates a box in bright colors, with holes in the front so they can wear the box on their heads and still see out.  One of the teachers wears a big dragon’s head, and the kids line up behind her, making a huge 60-person dragon that winds around the play-yard, while the first graders pop big sheets of bubblewrap behind them.  It’s something the whole school looks forward to every year.

For storytime this week, I read books about horses and Chinese New Year.

dragon dance

Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the Flap by Joan Holub; illustrated by Benrei Huang (Amazon.com link)

This one was new to me, but the kids always love Lift-the-Flaps (although they argue over who is going to get to open them).  It’s a simple rhyming book that explains the different parts of the New Year celebration: sweeping away the old year, buying fish and flowers at the market, getting red envelopes, and of course, enjoying the big dragon parade.  The illustrations are warm and colorful.  A good introduction to the holiday for toddlers on up.

clip

Clip Clop by Nicola Smee (Amazon.com link)

This is actually a board book, and unfortunately out of print, but it’s a great horse book, especially for younger kids (I read it again today to both a preschool class, and a toddler storytime, and they all loved it).  Mr. Horse offers a cat, a dog, a pig and a duck a ride on his back, but when he gallops too fast, and then stops suddenly, they all fly off into a haystack.  The kids enjoy saying the repeated, “Clip Clop!  Clippety Clop” lines.

unicorn

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea (Amazon.com link)

Okay, I know unicorns are not horses, but I thought the kids would love this one, and they did.  It was the clear favorite of the evening, for the 5 year-olds especially.  Goat is jealous of Unicorn, and why wouldn’t he be?  Not only can Unicorn fly, he makes it rain cupcakes!  But when Goat finally meets Unicorn, he finds that he’s got some special talents of his own that Unicorn admires, and to Goat’s surprise, they end up becoming friends.  I love all of Bob Shea’s books, especially I’m a Shark and Oh, Daddy!

my pony

My Pony by Susan Jeffers (Amazon.com link)

This is the book for little girls who love horses.  I would have been all over it as a kid.  The little girl in this story wants a pony more than anything else in the world, but her parents say a pony is too expensive, and they don’t have room for it.  So she draws a pony instead, a beautiful dapple-gray she calls Silver, and together they fly through the sky and meet lots of other ponies.  The illustrations are gorgeous.

SONGS:

Giddy-up!

I do this one often as a bouncing rhyme for babies and toddlers.  This time I had the kids gallop in a line around one of the bookshelves.  They especially liked the sudden “Whoa!” when we would all stop short. You sing it to the tune of The William Tell Overture:

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up-up-up!
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up-up-up!
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up-up-up!
WHOA, Horsie!

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

INSTRUMENT PLAY WITH A CD: Hop Up, Ladies from Putumayo Folk Playground (Amazon.com link)

CRAFT: Paper Rocking Horses

photo (67)

Paper Rocking Horse by Kiki

I adapted this craft from AHC Arts & Crafts, which has a tremendous number of craft ideas.  I printed their template, but since I wanted the kids to be able to color their rocking horses however they liked, I traced the template onto white card stock and cut it out (I had to redraw the lines for the base).  I folded the paper in half before I cut it, so it would make a mirror image of the horse.  Then I folded it over, so the two horse shapes lined up.

I gave each child a pre-folded horse to color in with markers on both sides, and a paperclip to put on the back, clipping the two horse shapes together.  If you bend the bottom of the two horses slightly apart, it will stand up.  If you touch the tail lightly, it will rock just like a real rocking horse.

Other Chinese New Year Books:

Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin (Amazon.com link)

This is the book I usually read for Chinese New Year, and I still love it.  It’s shows a family preparing for the New Year by sweeping their house, making get-rich dumplings, getting haircuts, and looking forward to seeing the dragon, which is presented on pages that fold out into a big spread at the end.  In the past, I’ve brought bubblewrap for the kids to pop on the page with the firecrackers.  Simple enough to work for toddlers as well as preschoolers and older kids.

This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong; illustrated by Yangsook Choi (Amazon.com link)

I didn’t get this book in time for my storytime, but it’s a good one.  A Chinese-Korean boy shares what the New Year means to him and his friends from other cultural backgrounds.  I like that the story gives a sense of having a fresh start: a chance to clear away all the mistakes of the past and look forward to the future.  A little too lengthy for toddlers, but I think this would work well for preschoolers and elementary school kids.

My Lucky Little Dragon by Joyce Wan (recommended by Sapphira Edgarde)

Sapphira writes, “Our daughter is a dragon, but this book describes a child who has a good trait from each of the signs. Then at the end it says how lucky the reader is to have this particular baby, and there’s a heart-shaped mirror on the last page, which is always a big hit.”

Other Horse Books:

Are You a Horse? by Andy Rash (Amazon.com link)

When Roy gets a saddle for his birthday, he sets out to find a horse.  The problem is, he doesn’t know what a horse looks like.  Kids like shouting out the names of the other animals he thinks might be a horse, including a snake, a crab, a lion, and a zebra.  Plus it has a funny surprise ending.

What are your favorite horse or Chinese New Year picture books?

We Are Family!

olivia

Paper doll by Lilyanna

Since it’s the holiday season, I decided to do a storytime about family.  It was a great, big, lively, fun bunch of kids tonight, and a wide mix of ages, so I ended up doing some of the shorter books.  Luckily, they were some of my favorites.  Here they are:

Bedtime for Mommy

Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Amazon.com link)

Adorable story about a little girl’s efforts to put her Mommy to bed.  Of course, Mommy asks for five more minutes…and an extra story…and a glass of water.  Both the parents and kids loved this one, and there were several kids asking to check it out at the end.  I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Her book Exclamation Mark (Amazon.com link) is probably my favorite book of the year.

dog smelly

My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks: and Other Funny Family Portraits by Hanoch Piven (Amazon.com link)

Perfect book for storytime or classroom themes about families.  When her teacher asks her to draw a picture of her family, a little girl complains that a picture doesn’t tell the whole story.  Her father is as playful as a spinning top, for example, and her mother is as bright as the brightest light.  So her new pictures feature her dad with a top for a nose, and her mother’s nose as a lightbulb.  This would work great for a lesson on similes, or as the lead-in to a collage project with different objects or magazine pictures.   The kids loved this book too.

pete

Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig (Amazon.com link)

Okay, I do this one a lot, because it works well for almost any age.   When Pete’s dad notices his son looking miserable, he decides to make him into a pizza.  He spreads him on the kitchen table and starts kneading the dough, and stretching it, and whirling it in the air.  Then it’s time for toppings, including tomatoes (they’re really checkers), and cheese (it’s really pieces of paper).  In a lap sit storytime for toddlers or even babies, parents can act out the kneading and stretching and tickling.  For older kids, I like to mention that William Steig wrote the book Shrek (Amazon.com link), and also that they can play this pizza game with their parents, or even with younger siblings.

kissing

No More Kissing by Emma Chichester Clark (Amazon.com link)

Another favorite for both toddlers and older kids.  Momo the monkey hates kissing, especially when people kiss him.  He tells his family he wants “No More Kissing!” but of course, it makes no difference.  Then his baby brother is born, and everybody kisses him.  When Grandma asks him to help his brother stop crying, Momo tries everything, but nothing works until he does the one thing he never thought he’d do.  Sweet, funny book about siblings, and a good one for kids with a new baby in the house.

SONGS:

Brush Your Teeth by Raffi  This is a favorite song of mine.  We all pulled out our finger toothbrushes and I asked the kids what flavor toothpaste they had.  I add in an extra verse that my son invented, “When you wake up in the morning at a quarter to six, and you feel like you’ve been beaten with sticks…”  (Which is exactly how I feel at a quarter to six, although I tend to go for coffee instead of toothpaste.)

B-I-N-G-O  I brought out my dog puppet for this one (he likes to lick the kids faces), and we barked the missing letters.

Silly Pizza Song by Rachel de Azevedo Coleman, from Signing Time volume 3 (Amazon.com link)  We did baby sign when my son was little, and the Signing Time videos were my favorite.  This is a fun song, where the kids get to suggest different toppings for their pizza.

INSTRUMENT PLAYALONG WITH A CD: Who’s That? by Laurie Berkner from her Under a Shady Tree album (Amazon.com link)

CRAFT: My Family Paper Dolls

Paper doll by Jonas (of himself)

Paper doll by Jonas (of himself)

I cut out blank paper dolls from the template provided on the Family Crafts About.com page.  The kids colored the dolls with crayons and glued on different colored pieces of yarn for the hair to make them look like members of their family.  Most of them only got one doll done (a lot of them made themselves or their moms), but they were all adorable.

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT FAMILY:

There were so many books I didn’t get to read at storytime.  Here are just a few:

The Family Book by Todd Parr (Amazon.com link)

I wish I had gotten to this one at the storytime.  It’s a celebration of every kind of family, with the message that every family is unique and special in their own way.  The illustrations are colorful and fun.

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Stephen Gammell (Amazon.com link)

This book, with its colorful illustrations by Stephen Gammell, captures all the apprehension, chaos, and exuberance and love of a large family gathering.

Five Creatures by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Tomek Bogacki (Amazon.com link)

A little girl who lives with her parents and two cats counts her family’s traits in a variety of ways.  There are four grownups, and one child; three with orange hair, and two with gray; three who don’t like taking baths; five who loves birds (but not in the same way); etc.  A unique counting book, and a fun way of exploring similarities and differences.

Families by Ann Morris (Amazon.com link)

Lovely book of photographs depicting all different types of families from around the world.

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers; illustrated by Marla Frazee (Amazon.com link)

For baby lovers everywhere.  This book shows all the day to day experiences of babies of every kind of family and race.  Adorable.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norman Juster; illustrated by Chris Raschka (Amazon.com link)

A little girl describes all the fun and adventures she has at her Nanny and Poppa’s house.  The story, by Phantom Tollbooth author Norman Juster, is rich with childlike details.  The colorful, abstract illustrations by Chris Raschka depict a happy, multiracial family.  A lovely celebration of grandparents.

Have any other favorite family stories?  Please share them in the comments.