Let It Snow: A Storytime About Winter

 

Salt Snowflake

Salt Snowflake

 

It’s been a while since I posted one of my storytimes, but I had a good time doing this one last week at Family Storytime. I have a new group of families who have been coming with their 2 year-olds, so I’ve had to skew my book choices a bit younger. Here is what we read:

minerva

A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke

This book has always held a special place in my heart. Years ago, I had a preschool class who used to come regularly to storytime. There was always one boy in the class I could never seem to engage…until I brought out Minerva Louise. Something about this confused chicken, who thinks a flowerpot is a hat, and a garden hose is a scarf, struck him as the funniest thing ever. He laughed and laughed, and for weeks later, everything I saw him, he said, “Remember that chicken book?” The kids at this week’s storytime laughed at Minerva Louise too. She is just that kind of chicken.

Froggy-Gets-Dressed

Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London; illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz

I read this book earlier in the week at a local preschool for special needs kids. It was a longer story than I usually share with them, but they LOVED it! Like all of the Froggy books, it has the usual refrain of “FROGGY!” (something I always point out and have the kids say with me), but this one has lots of other sound effects, as Froggy pulls on his boots (“zup!”), puts on his hat (“zat!”), etc. The kids at the preschool echoed all of these sounds, laughing all the way through, in a way I had never seen them respond to a book before. It was amazing! It made me want to seek out other books with simple sounds for them to repeat. My family storytime kids loved the book too, especially when Froggy forgets his underwear!

jack

Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Koharo

I love Kazuno Koharo’s books, with their whimsical artwork and simple, imaginative stories. In this one, a boy befriends Jack Frost, and plays with him all winter, until he accidentally mentions that spring is coming. It reminds me of Frosty the Snowman. The storytime kids were captivated.

fruitcake

If Snowflakes Tasted Like Fruitcake by Stacey Previn

A survey of the kids revealed that none of them had ever tried fruitcake, or were familiar with its reputation, so the book’s punchline (“If snowflakes tasted like fruitcake, we would give them all away.”) was a bit lost on them, but they still enjoyed the other ideas: “if snowflakes tasted like oatmeal, they would get me out of bed;” “if snowflakes tasted like cocoa, they would warm me to my toes.” A warm and simple, rhyming book that appealed to the toddlers as well as the older kids.

SONGS:

Five Little Snowmen Standing in a Row

One of my favorite wintertime songs is “Five Little Snowmen.” The kids love the part where we “melt” to the floor, and I always have them count to three and pop up for the next verse. Click on the triangle for the tune I use. I’ve found other versions of this song on Youtube, but I wish I knew who wrote the version I heard originally.

Five little snowmen standing in a row, (hold up five fingers)
Each with a hat (touch head), and a brightly colored bow (adjust imaginary bowtie).
Five little snowmen dressed up all for show.
Now they are ready,`
Where will they go?

Wait! (hold out hands in a “Stop!” motion) Till the sun shines. (move hands in a circle)
Wait! Till the sun shines.
Then they will go
Down through the fields
With the melting, melting snow (“melt” all the way down to the floor, then pop up for the next four snowmen).

SCARF PLAY:

For the past year or so, I’ve been adding in a scarf play time to my family storytime. The kids always look forward to it. You can find some of my regular songs on this post. For my winter theme, I had the kids sing the first verse of “Let it Snow.”

Let It Snow

Oh, the weather outside is frightful (put scarf around back of neck like a winter scarf)
But the fire is so delightful (hold scarf in hand and bounce it lightly so it looks like a fire).
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! (throw scarf in the air and let it fall to the ground).

CRAFT: Salt Snowflakes

Lately, given my younger audience, I’ve been switching to more process art-oriented crafts, rather than having the kids replicate a specific project. It cuts down on the frustration for the toddlers, and allows the older kids to get creative. They had a lot of fun making designs on black paper with glue sticks, and sprinkling salt on top. I also put out some chalk in case they wanted to add some color. The only challenge was keeping the kids from eating copious amounts of salt! My sample snowflake is at the top of this post. Here’s some other salt art the kids came up with:

Salt Art by Jade

Salt Art by Jade

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Salt and Chalk Christmas Tree by Jordan (and his dad)

OTHER PICTURE BOOKS ABOUT SNOW:

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The timeless classic (and one of my own favorites from childhood) about a boy’s adventures on a snowy day.

Snow by Uri Shulevitz

Another favorite of mine, and great for even the youngest toddlers. This is a simple story about a boy’s hope for snow in spite of all of the grouchy adults who insist it will never come.

The Mitten by Jan Brett

Another classic, although a bit too long for the toddlers, about a boy whose lost mitten serves as a shelter for a number of animals.

What are your favorite books about snow? Please share them in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking Outside the Box: A Storytime About Boxes

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Paper Box by Kylie

I had a group of mostly young toddlers this week, which was the perfect age group for these picture books about boxes.

thankyoubear

Thank You, Bear by Greg Foley

Very sweet picture book about a bear who opens a box and decides that he has found a perfect gift for his friend Mouse.  But the other animals who look inside are not impressed.  Spoiler alert: The box is actually empty, but it turns out to be exactly the right size to be a cozy spot for Mouse.  This one got lots of “Awww’s” from the group (especially the parents).

special delivery

Special Delivery by B. Weninger

Sadly this book appears to be out of print, which is a shame because it has a lot of kid appeal.  After her new vacuum arrives, Mom receives a new delivery on the doorstep, with something very special inside.  The book features large flaps for kids to open as the contents of the box are slowly revealed.  I love this book because my daughter used to love to hide inside boxes to surprise me.

pigfox

A Pig, A Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske

This is actually an easy reader, but one that works well as a read-aloud.  The tricks Fox plays on his good friend Pig all end up back-firing in painful ways.  A funny book, told in rhymed verse.

notabox

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

The companion to Not a Stick, this picture-driven book shows all of the different ways a box is transformed by a rabbit’s imagination.  The kids always like guessing what the box will turn into next: a rocket, a pirate’s ship, a mountain, etc.

CRAFT: Paper Box

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Paper Box by Brandon

There are lots of templates online for making paper boxes.  I used this one from Pinterest.  I cut the template out ahead of time and gave the kids markers to decorate them before gluing them together with glue sticks (the parents helped with assembly).  The kids were really happy to have their own little boxes.

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT BOXES:

Inside Outside Upside Down by Stan and Jan Berenstain

This was one of my favorite books as a child: a rhyming story featuring Brother of the Berenstain Bears, and his adventures inside a box.

Too Many Toys by David Shannon

When Spencer’s Mom orders him to get rid of some of his many, many toys, they are both in for a long day of negotiations.  But then Spencer discovers the best toy of all…

I Miss You Every Day by Simms Taback

I’m sad that this book is out of print, because it’s always been a hit with my storytime families.  A young girl wishes she could package herself up and send herself to her loved one who is far away.  Sweet, rhyming book with beautiful illustrations.

What are your favorite books about boxes?

 

Lions and Tigers (But No Bears)! Oh My!

 

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Fork-Painted Lion by Maia

It’s been a while since I wrote a post about one of my storytimes, but last night’s was particularly fun, and the kids loved all of the books.  Here’s what we read:

little red

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith

This book has been nominated for the Irma Black Award, and I had a blast reading it to two classes of second graders last week.  The storytime crowd loved it too.  When Little Red’s Auntie Rosie develops a bad case of spots, Little Red sets out through the jungle to bring her some spot medicine.  On the way, she meets a sneaky lion, who plots to shove Auntie Rosie in a cabinet and disguise himself in her clothes.  Unfortunately for the lion, Little Red is not fooled.  Before the lion has a chance to react, Little Red has given him a fashionable (and hilarious!) new hairdo, made him brush his disgusting teeth, and changed him into a lovely pink dress.  The kids laughed out loud at the illustrations!

tigerits

It’s a Tiger! by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Jeremy Tankard

I had the kids stand up and mime the motions to this one, because it takes the reader on a journey through the jungle, where the tiger pops up unexpectedly among vines, under leaves, and even in the uniform of a boat captain.  The kids loved spotting the tiger hidden in the illustrations, and running in place whenever I said, “It’s a Tiger!”

lessons

Lion Lessons by Jon Agee

I’m a big fan of Jon Agee, especially since he gave a wonderful presentation at my son’s school a few years ago.  This book was fun for the kids to act out as well, since they got to stretch, and roar, and pounce.  It’s the story of a boy’s effort to earn his “Lion Diploma” from a very hard-to-please instructor.

 

naughty

Naughty Kitty by Adam Stower

Another hidden tiger book.  This is a cute story about a girl named Lily, who blames her adorable gray kitten for some very destructive behavior.  The kids enjoyed spotting the tiger on each page, and the feeling of knowing more than the main character.  The surprise ending made them laugh too.

SONGS AND RHYMES:

We’re Going on a Tiger Hunt

Instead of the usual bear hunt, we went on a tiger hunt.  This is a great way to give the kids a chance to move around in between books.  I like to ham it up by pretending to get a grasshopper stuck in my shirt, wiping the mud off my feet, and shaking myself dry from the lake.  There are lots of variations, but this the script I use, with the kids repeating every line:

We’re going on a tiger hunt!
(We’re going on a tiger hunt!)
It’s a beautiful day!
(It’s a beautiful day!)
We’re not scared!
(We’re not scared!)

We’re coming to some grass.
(We’re coming to some grass).
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go through it.
(Have to go through it.)
Swish! Swish! Swish! Swish! (Rubbing hands together)

We’re coming to some mud.
(We’re coming to some mud.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go through it.
(Have to go through it).
Squilch! Squelch! Squilch! Squelch! (Clapping hands together).

We’re coming to a lake.
(We’re coming to a lake.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to swim across it.
(Have to swim across it.)
Splish! Splash! Splish! Splash!

We’re coming to a cave.
(We’re coming to a cave.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go inside.
(Have to go inside.)
Tiptoe…tiptoe…tiptoe…tiptoe…
It’s dark in here…
(It’s dark in here…)
It’s cold in here…
(It’s cold in here…)
Two yellow eyes…it’s a tiger!

Run!
Swim across the lake!
Run through the mud!
Run through the grass!
Into the house!
Slam the door!
Lock it!
We’re never going on a tiger hunt again!

Fun with Scarves

Something I’ve been meaning to blog about is my recent addition of scarves to my storytimes.  Our library recently received a set of play scarves, and I found some fun, easy songs that we do each week with them.  It’s a part of storytime, along with the instrument play at the end, that the kids look forward to each week.  Here are the two songs I do most often:

Popcorn Kernels
To the Tune of Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping?)

Popcorn Kernels, (hold scarf bunched up in one hand)
Popcorn Kernels,
In the Pot,
In the Pot.
Shake ’em, shake ’em, shake ’em, (shake hand)
Shake ’em, shake ’em, shake ’em.
Till they POP! (throw scarf in the air)
Till they POP!

Icky Sticky Sticky Bubblegum

(Click on the triangle to hear the tune)

Icky Sticky Sticky Bubblegum (stretching scarf between hands)
Bubblegum, Bubblegum.
Icky Sticky Sticky Bubblegum,
Sticking my hand to my nose. (put one end of the scarf on your nose)
1-2-3 UNSTUCK! (throw scarf in the air).

Repeat, sticking the scarf to different body parts: belly button, eyebrow, etc.

CRAFT: Fork Painted Lion

I found this fun and easy craft on CraftyMorning.com.  I put out plates with orange paint (along with other paint options for kids who wanted to do something different), along with googly eyes, markers, and plastic forks.  Some of the kids smeared the paint to make the fork prints less obvious.

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Fork-Painted Lion by Jade

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Fork-Painted Lion by Kiley

MORE BOOKS ABOUT LIONS AND TIGERS:

The Lion and the Little Red Bird by Elisa Kleven

This is one of my all-time favorite picture books.  A little red bird wonders why a lion has a bright green tail.  She follows him for the day, until he disappears into his cave, but the next day his tail is orange!  The reason for the lion’s colorful tail is a mystery until one stormy night when the lion rescues the bird, and brings her into his cave.  A sweet story with beautiful illustrations.

The Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Another nominee for the Irma Black Award this year, this funny book lists a wide assortment of animals sitting next to a hungry lion.  On each page, there are fewer animals, although the reason for their disappearance will come as a surprise.

The Tawny Scrawny Lion by Kathryn Jackson; illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

One of my favorite Little Golden books, this is the story of a lion who terrorizes all of the other animals, until a rabbit brings him home to enjoy some carrot stew with his large and entertaining family.  I used to read this book over and over when I was a kid, and I love it still.

What are your favorite books about lions and tigers?

In the Night Kitchen: A Storytime in Honor of Maurice Sendak

Today, Friday, June 10, would have been Maurice Sendak’s 88th birthday.  So this week I did an all-Sendak storytime.

Here is what we read:

wild

Where the Wild Things Are

Of course, I had to include the story of Max and his adventures as King of All Wild Things. I was surprised by how many of the kids hadn’t read this book yet, but they were mesmerized.  They especially enjoyed roaring and gnashing their teeth like wild things, and the silly chant I threw in for the “wild rumpus” pages (something like, “Ung-ga-da, ding-ga-da, ding-ga-da.”  I made it up as I went along).  My copy was immediately snatched up.

pierre

Pierre

I remember the day my son’s teacher read this to the class in Kindergarten (unbeknownst to me), and how he came home saying, “I don’t care!” in reply to everything I said, until I could totally understand why Pierre’s parents left him alone in a neighborhood where hungry lions occasionally wander through.  For a long time this was my son’s favorite book.  The kids at storytime loved it too, eagerly chiming in on all the “I don’t cares!”  A couple of them looked shocked when Pierre (still insisting he doesn’t care) got eaten by the lion, then relieved when he emerged again intact.  But they were all clamoring to check it out in the end.

outside

Outside Over There

This story has always reminded me of the movie Labyrinth, although I’ve never actually checked to see if there’s a connection.  It’s the story of Ida, who is left in charge of her baby sister, but fails to see the goblins sneaking in through the window to steal the baby away, and leaving a baby made of ice in her place.  Ida has to use her wits and her wonderhorn to rescue her sister from becoming a goblin bride Outside Over There.  There is something so wonderfully bizarre and otherworldly about this book.  It makes me think of the old collection of Andersen’s fairy tales I used to read over and over, feeling equally disturbed and fascinated.  My storytime group was equally entranced, and there were quite a few hands reaching for it when it was over.

night kitchen

In the Night Kitchen

This was one of my favorite books as a kid: the story of Mickey, who falls out of bed into the night kitchen, and is nearly baked in a cake by the enormous bakers who cook there.  Instead he builds a plane out of bread dough and flies into the Milky Way to find the missing ingredient: milk!  I was wondering if anyone would comment on Mickey’s nudity, but no one did (I don’t remember noticing it when I was a kid either).  A couple of kids were arguing over who would get to check this one out too.

SONGS:

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

I have an old lady puppet that the kids love to “feed.”  I do have her “die” at the end, but then we take her to the hospital and revive and pump her stomach, which always gets a laugh.

Home Again

I wrote this song a few months ago.  It’s based on several Sendak books, including Where the Wild Things Are, Outside Over There, and We are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy.

Home Again
Darling, when you feel afraid,
For you can plainly see,
The world is full of monsters
Who look just like you and me.

Just jump aboard your tiny boat
Follow the falling star.
And sail away through night and day,
To where the wild things are.

And you will dance and then
Let the wild rumpus begin.
But I will love you best of all
When you come home again.

And darling, when the goblins come,
And no one seems to care,
Climb out your bedroom window
Into outside over there.

Bring your horn, and play a jig,
And charm them with a song.
They’ll set you free, and you will soon be
Home where you belong.

And you will dance and then,
Let the wild rumpus begin.
But I will love you best of all,
When you come home again.

When the moon is in a fit,
And you are in the dumps,
Lost in the rye with one black eye,
And diamonds are all trumps.

I will come and buy you bread,
One loaf or maybe two.
And I will bring you up
Cause happy endings can come true.

And we will dance and then,
Let the wild rumpus begin.
And I will love you best of all
Until the very end.

CRAFT: Wild Thing Feet

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Wild Thing Feet by Evie

I stole this craft idea from AlphaMom.com: http://alphamom.com/family-fun/activities/where-the-wild-things-are-monster-activities-for-kids/

I precut the feet (in a variety of sizes to accommodate different kids), then gave them supplies to decorate them.

What are your favorite Maurice Sendak books?

 

 

Birds on Ice: a Storytime for Penguin Awareness Day

Today is Penguin Awareness Day, in case you were unaware.  I’m always happy to find obscure celebrations that actually lead to good storytime themes, and I was especially happy about this one, because there are LOTS of picture books about penguins.

Here’s what we read:

penguins everywhere

Penguins, Penguins Everywhere by Bob Barner

This is a cute and colorful, simple introduction to penguins.  It includes basic facts, like penguins live in hot places as well as cold ones, the penguin dads carry their eggs on their feet, etc.  It has a nice display of different types of penguins at the end.  It was an ideal length for a nonfiction opener to the storytime, and the kids seemed to enjoy it.  It was snatched up at the end.

one cool friend

One Cool Friend by Tony Buzzeo; illustrated by David Small

I’ve been getting a lot more school-aged kids at Family Storytime, and this was a fun, lengthier story for them.  When Elliot, a very proper boy, visits the aquarium with his father, he takes home a penguin in his backpack and names it Magellan.  To make Magellan feel at home, he builds an ice skating rink in his bedroom, lets him sleep in the freezer, takes him to the library to do research, and draws him a bath to swim in.  The kids loved the funny twist at the end when Elliot’s father asks him where the penguin came from, and reveals a surprise of his own.  There was a very brief, quiet skirmish after I read it between two kids who both wanted to check it out.

tacky

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester; illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Tacky is a very odd bird.  Unlike all of the other penguins, who march neatly, dive gracefully, and sing beautifully, Tacky has his own unique, boisterous way of doing things.  But when a band of hunters comes looking for penguins, Tacky’s odd ways save the day.  This one got big laughs from the kids, especially in the parts where Tacky marches, and his counting is all out of order.

lost and found

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

When a boy finds a sad-looking penguin at his door, he decides that it is lost and sets out in a row boat to return it to the North Pole.  But, once he does, he realizes that the penguin was not lost after all, but merely lonely.  A simple, sweet fantasy that worked well with the group, especially because they could relate to the huge waves portrayed in several of the illustrations (we’ve had enormous waves here on the California coast this past week, and the kids were all buzzing about it).

SONG:

I didn’t know of any good kids songs about penguins, so I wrote this one.  I played it on the dulcimer, a Christmas present from my in-laws that I am enjoying. Click on the triangle for the tune:

I Am A Penguin

I am a penguin,
My wings cannot fly.
Not like the petrols
And gulls in the sky.

CHORUS:
But put me in the water
And then you will see.
There’s no bird in the ocean,
Who flies as fast as me.

On land I may waddle,
And look quite absurd.
A flightless and clumsy,
Black-and-white bird.

CHORUS

My home is the ice
Where we huddle for heat.
I carry my egg
On the top of my feet.

CHORUS

I am a penguin,
My wings cannot fly.
But my home is the ice,
And the sea is my sky.

CHORUS

CRAFT: Fingerprint Penguins

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Fingerprint Penguins and Handprints by Paxton

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Fingerprint Penguin, Butterfly and Tree by Olivia

There are lots of versions of this craft online, but I wanted to keep mine simple, and just use markers and ink pads.  I also put out Ed Emberley’s Fingerprint Drawing Book, so the kids could explore other things to make with fingerprints.  They had a great time, and all of their drawings came out completely different.

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT PENGUINS:

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell; illustrated by Henry Cole

This book is controversial because of its portrayal of two male penguins who raise a chick together (based on real penguins at the Central Park Zoo).  But it’s a wonderful book with adorable illustrations, and while it does do an excellent job of portraying a nontraditional family in a very natural way, most kids will enjoy it simply as a sweet animal story, made even more compelling because it is true.

Turtle’s Penguin Day by Valeri Gorbachev

After Turtle hears a bedtime story about penguins, he decides to dress himself up as a penguin for school the next day.  His teacher embraces the idea, allowing his whole class to spend the day doing penguin activities: passing a ball with their feet, sliding on their bellies, etc.  This book does a nice job of seamlessly blending facts into a fictional story.

A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis

Edna the penguin knows there must be something else besides the white of the snow, the black of the night, and the blue of the sea.  She sets out to find it, finally discovering the brilliant orange of a research base.  I didn’t get to share this one at storytime, but I wish I had, because I think the kids would have been intrigued by the idea of never having seen more than three colors.

What are your favorite books about penguins?

 

Picnic Time for Teddy Bears: Storytime about Stuffed Animals

Teddy Bear Picnic Day is July 10 (who thinks these things up, and how do I get that job?), so this week I did a Teddy Bear storytime.

Year ago, when I was working at the Woodside Library, we used to do a Teddy Bear Picnic every year.  The kids would bring a favorite stuffed animal, and we would read teddy bear stories, sing songs, and hold a contest where every stuffed animal received an award (softest bear, silliest bunny, and my favorite (for the tattered ones)…most loved).  We even had a teddy bear doctor, who would give each animal a check-up.  This was always hilarious, because the kids would present all kind of symptoms: “My bear has a fever.” “My bunny has a stomach-ache.” “My Spiderman was shot!”  My coworker would examine each animal, and write them a prescription, like “Give three hugs each day.” Then we would serve Teddy Grahams and apple juice, and send them on their way.  It was always a highlight at the end of summer.

So I was feeling a bit nostalgic when planning this storytime, and dug out some of my favorite books.  Here they are:

wheres-my-teddy1

Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough (Amazon.com link)

My friend Kerri Hall shared this book with me when we were in library school at UNC, and I’ve loved Jez Alborough ever since.  It’s a rhyming story about a boy named Eddie, who has lost his teddy, Freddie.  While nervously searching through the forest, he finds his teddy bear, only to discover that he’s grown to an enormous size.  But then a giant bear appears, moaning that his teddy bear has suddenly shrunk.  The boy and the bear are equally terrified to see each other, and both grab their own teddy bears and run “all the way back to their snuggly beds, where they huddled and cuddled their own little teds.”  The rhymes are so catchy, I can almost recite this book by heart, and the illustrations are large, and adorable.  The page with the frightened bear and boy always gets a laugh.

my friend bear

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

I was planning to read That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell, but the kids seemed to enjoy Where’s My Teddy? so much that I decided to read the sequel (actually it’s the third book in what is actually a picture book trilogy with It’s the Bear, but I’ve read it often as a stand-alone).  In this one, Eddie is walking in the woods with Freddy, and wishing his teddy bear could talk.  Once again, he sees the giant teddy bear, but this time he knows who its owner is.  Sure enough, along comes the bear, and frightened, Eddie hides behind the big teddy.  This leads to a misunderstanding, where the bear thinks his teddy bear can talk, and after sorting all that out, the boy and the bear end up becoming friends.  It’s funny, like the first book, but also sweet, and the ending got a few “Awws” from the parents.

dear bear

Dear Bear by Joanna Harrison (Amazon.com link)

This is one of my favorite picture books, and one that would work well for a letter-writing theme.  Katie is terrified of the bear she is sure is living in the closet under the stairs.  She tells her mother, who suggests that she write the bear a letter and tell him to go away, which she does.  She is surprised to receive a letter back from the bear, thanking her for the suggestion because he needs a vacation.  When he comes back, he leaves a present for Katie outside the closet door.  The two exchange letters back and forth, until finally the bear invites Katie to a tea party under the stairs.  Nervously, she accepts, but when she arrives, she finds, not a big scary bear, but a large friendly teddy bear.  One of the kids asked how the bear could write letters, and then sagely said, “Maybe her parents wrote the letters.”  The book definitely hints at this, although it never says it outright.

Corduroy

Corduroy by Don Freeman (Amazon.com link)

One of my all-time favorite books from my own childhood, and one I still love to read.  It’s such a simple story, about a department store teddy bear who loses the button to his overalls, and goes on a quest to find it.  The humor of Corduroy’s interpretation of the world is timeless: the escalator is “a mountain,” the mattress department is “a palace.” Of course, most mattresses nowadays don’t have the “buttons” on the top that Corduroy mistakes for his own missing button.  But it’s still one of the few picture books I know that depicts a family in an apartment instead of the typical suburban house, as well as featuring a beautiful African-American girl who saves the day by adopting Corduroy from the store.  (Incidentally, I stumbled across this blog post by Lisa Rosenberg, the real-life inspiration for Corduroy’s Lisa). There’s been a lot written recently about the lack of diversity in picture books.  I’m acutely aware of that here in the Bay Area, where most of my storytime audiences look nothing like the kids in the books I’m reading.  Corduroy does a wonderful job of creating a lovable, classic story while silently conveying the message that children come in all different shades and backgrounds, and any of them can be a hero.  Plus I always get choked up on the last page.

SONGS:

Going on a Bear Hunt

This was one of my favorite activities when I was a kid, and I love to throw it into a storytime.  The kids echo most of the lines (the ones in parentheses).  I like to play up wiping grass off my pants, and the mud off my feet, and shaking off the water from the lake.  It’s always a hit:

We’re going on a bear hunt!
(We’re going on a bear hunt!)
It’s a beautiful day!
(It’s a beautiful day!)
We’re not scared!
(We’re not scared!)

We’re coming to some grass.
(We’re coming to some grass).
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go through it.
(Have to go through it.)
Swish! Swish! Swish! Swish! (Rubbing hands together)

We’re coming to some mud.
(We’re coming to some mud.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go through it.
(Have to go through it).
Squilch! Squelch! Squilch! Squelch! (Clapping hands together).

We’re coming to a lake.
(We’re coming to a lake.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to swim across it.
(Have to swim across it.)
Splish! Splash! Splish! Splash!

We’re coming to a cave.
(We’re coming to a cave.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go inside.
(Have to go inside.)
Tiptoe…tiptoe…tiptoe…tiptoe…
It’s dark in here…
(It’s dark in here…)
It’s cold in here…
(It’s cold in here…)
Two yellow eyes…it’s a bear!

Run!
Swim across the lake!
Run through the mud!
Run through the grass!
Into the house!
Slam the door!
Lock it!
We’re never going on a bear hunt again!

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

We have a collection of animal puppets in our kids area at the library, so for this song I had the kids each pick a puppet to act it out with.  Then I asked the kids what else they would like the puppets to do.  One girl said, “The Hokey Pokey!” So we did the Hokey Pokey with the puppets, which was a lot of fun.  The turning around part is a bit hard with puppets, but because they were animals, we could put their noses in, and their ears and tails and tummies.  Here’s the teddy bear song (you can also just chant it):

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

Turn around.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

Touch the ground.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

Tie your shoe.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

I love you!

The Teddy Bear’s Picnic

This is great song by John Walter Bratton, with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy.  The best ukulele version I’ve found is on Doctor Uke (http://www.doctoruke.com/teddybearspicnic.pdf).  It’s kind of a tricky song to sing because of the chord change.   My favorite version by far is the one by Jerry Garcia, which you can listen to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67Mowhcj8OM.

CRAFT: PomPom Creatures

PomPom Creature by Kiley

PomPom Creature by Kiley

PomPom Creature by Olivia

PomPom Creature by Olivia

The biggest challenge with this was finding a way to stick the pompoms together.  I gave the kids tacky glue, which worked okay, but I’d love any suggestions on the best way to attach pompoms.  It was still a fun craft, and I loved the way the creatures came out.

OTHER BOOKS: 

I Lost My Bear by Jules Feiffer (Amazon.com link)

I was hoping to read this book, but unfortunately our branch’s copy was out, and the one I ordered from another library didn’t arrive in time.  It’s a great story about a little girl who is looking for her lost teddy bear.  Her mom tells her to think like a detective, and the hunt begins.  I especially love her sister’s suggestion that sometimes when you throw another stuffed animal, it will find the lost one (I actually tried that in the park once when my son lost a Lego R2D2, and it actually worked!).

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

I didn’t read this one because I shared it fairly recently, but of course I have to include it in my list of favorite stuffed animal stories.  When Trixie (who is too young to talk) goes with her dad to the laundromat, she loses her beloved Knuffle Bunny.  She tries everything she can to make her Daddy understand that Knuffle Bunny is missing, including going boneless, but he just doesn’t get it.  Luckily, Trixie’s mom knows exactly what’s wrong, and the whole family rushes back to the laundromat.

That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell (Amazon.com link)

I meant to read this one, although I can’t do it nearly as well as my former boss, Thom Ball.  Emily loves her stuffed rabbit, Stanley.  Unfortunately, Queen Gloriana also has her sights set on Stanley, even though Emily refuses to give him up.  Finally, the Queen kidnaps Stanley, but complains that he no longer looks happy.  So Emily teaches her the secrets of having a happy toy companion of her own.

I Must Have Bobo! by Eileen Rosenthal; illustrated by Marc Rosenthal (Amazon.com link)

I like this one for toddler storytime.  Willy loves his toy monkey, Bobo, but so does Earl the cat.  A simple story with funny illustrations, as Willy has to constantly search for Earl’s latest hiding place.

What are your favorite books about stuffed animals?

Spring Fever: A Storytime about Gardening

Dot Paint Flowers by Amelia

Dot Paint Flowers by Amelia

In honor of the first day of Spring, I did a storytime about gardening.

sophie

Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf (Amazon.com link)

Adorable story about Sophie and her friend Bernice, a butternut squash.  The two are inseparable until Bernice begins to get spotty and brown, and Sophie digs her a warm hole in the yard.  You can guess what happens next.  This was a longer picture book than I generally read, but the kids were enthralled.

bob

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

This is one of my favorite picture books.  Bob, a caterpillar, and Otto, an earthworm, are best friends who love spending time together.  Then one day Bob decides to climb up into the big tree, while Otto digs down into the tree’s roots.  When the two friends are reunited, Otto is surprised to see that Bob has grown wings, and sad to think that if he had followed him into the tree, he might have been able to fly too.  But Bob assures him that by digging around the tree roots, he helped the tree grow leaves for Bob to eat, so that Bob owes his new wings to Otto.  A sweet story with bright, colorful illustrations, which is perfect for themes about friendship, nature, and life cycles.  The parents seemed to like this one as much as the kids did.

garden

My Garden by Kevin Henkes (Amazon.com link)

I love this one too, and the kids always seem to enjoy it, even though it’s more of an imaginative wish than an actual story.  A little girl describes the type of garden she would like to have, where jelly beans would grow into jelly bean bushes, and the rabbits that eat their lettuce would all be made of chocolate, and she would eat THEM.  The storytime kids loved the whimsical illustrations, especially the sprouting seashell on the last page.

flora

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

This one appeals to the little sister in me.  When Flora’s family plants a garden full of flowers and vegetables, Flora plants a brick in a flowerpot, and says she is growing a house.  All summer long, her brothers and sisters grow beautiful flowers and yummy things to eat, but Flora’s house never grows.  Her siblings all make fun of her, until spring comes, and the family is surprised to see that Flora’s brick has become a house…for a mother bird.  This is a great read-loud, which large colorful illustrations, and a story that is short enough for toddlers on up.

SONGS AND FINGERPLAYS:

Five Fat Peas Fingerplay

Five fat peas in a pea pod pressed (press your fists together)

One grew, two grew, and so did all the rest (extend your index fingers, then middle fingers, then ring, etc.)

They grew and they and they grew and they did not stop (spread hands wide apart)

Until one day the pod went “POP!” (clap hands together)

 

Inchworm

I did this song (by Frank Loesser) to go along with Bob and Otto.  I first described inchworms and how they moved, and had the kids crawl their fingers like worms as they sang along.  I like to add the last line “Seems to me you’d stop and see how beautiful you are,” at the end, an addition I stole from John Lithgow’s wonderful kids’ album Singin’ in the Bathtub. I found the uke chords from Ukegnome, although I simplified them a little.  I also didn’t sing the intro verse (“2 and 2 are 4, 4 and 4 are 8,” etc.), although I like it.  Click on the triangle for the tune:

Inchworm, Inchworm, (F Eb7)

Measuring the marigolds, (F Eb7)

You and your arithmetic (F Bb)

Will probably go far. (Bb C)

Inchworm, Inchworm, (F Eb7)

Measuring the marigolds, (F Eb7)

Seems to me you’d stop and see (F Bb)

How beautiful they are. (Bb C F)

Seems to me you’d stop and see (F Bb)

How beautiful you are. (Bb C F)

CRAFT: DOT PAINT FLOWERS

Dot Paint Flowers by Addy

Dot Paint Flowers by Addy

Confession time: I was originally going to do an entirely different craft.  Lately, the children’s librarians in our library system have been encouraged to pursue more open-ended, kid-directed art activities, rather than having the kids follow a set of instructions.  My coworker described a workshop she attended about the importance of allowing kids to express themselves creatively, but she was concerned that many of the activities were too messy for our craft space.  Before storytime, I was showing her my craft idea, where I was going to have the kids dip different shape “stamps” into fingerpaint, and mix the colors to make flowers or whatever they liked.  But as soon as I dipped my big circle stamp into the red paint, it slipped out of my hand, sliding all the way down the leg of my khaki pants and landing with a splat onto the workroom carpet.  Needless to say, I had to quickly rethink that activity (and spend the next half hour with a roll of paper towels, desperately trying to make myself look less like the librarian version of Carrie).

Instead, I pulled out my favorite craft supply–the dot markers.  I also gave the kids markers, gluesticks, and rhinestones, encouraging them to make flowers however they liked.  They had a great time, and the end results were wonderfully different (also far less messy than the fingerpaint!).  Some kids opted to make flowers just with markers and rhinestones, and others just went to town with the Dot Paint, making their own creations.  It was definitely open-ended, and lots of fun!

photo (7)

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT GARDENING:

Here are some other favorites about gardening and plants:

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson (Amazon.com link)

I love this interactive book where the kids get to make the tree flower and make apples by tapping different parts of the picture.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown (Amazon.com link)

Beautiful story about a boy named Liam who cares for a small, sad collection of plants, which grow and thrive, and spread, until his entire city is transformed.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss; illustrated by Crockett Johnson (Amazon.com link)

A classic, simple story about a little boy who plants a carrot seed, and patiently waits for it to grow, and in spite of what everyone else says, it does.

What are your favorite books about gardening?