Monkeying Around: A Storytime About Monkeys

Among the little known celebrations I’ve discovered while trying to come up with themes for storytime is World Monkey Day, a celebration of all things monkey on December 14. So today we did stories and songs about monkeys. Here’s what we did:

Books:

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

This is a longer story than I typically read for my toddler-heavy storytime crowd, but it worked because of all of the motions. It’s a classic story about a peddler, who takes a nap under a tree, and wakes to find that all of his caps have been stolen by monkeys. At this point I asked the kids if they were ready to be monkeys, and had them act out all of the monkey motions: shaking one fist, shaking both hands, stamping one foot, etc., all while saying “tsz tsz tsz!” They loved it! Sometimes I’ve done this one with play scarves, and had the kids pretend the scarves were caps.

Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell

Another fun, interactive book, with large colorful illustrations. In this one, the narrator is ready to count the monkeys, but they keep getting scared away by different animals: one king cobra, two mongooses, etc. The kids are asked to help out by yelling, “scram!”, moving their hands in a zig-zag, and other silly motions. The asides (like wondering about the plural of mongoose) are hilarious. Always a hit!

Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett

This simple rhyming book was one of my daughter’s absolute favorites as a toddler. The repeated chant goes “Monkey and me, Monkey and me, Monkey and me, we went to see, we went to see some…” and then reveals a different animal (penguins, kangaroos, bats, elephants, etc.). The kids loved shouting out the different animals each time.

Songs:

Monkey See and Monkey Do

I don’t remember where I learned this song, but it’s one I’ve been doing for years.

When you clap, clap, clap your hands,

The monkey clap, clap, claps his hands,

Monkey see, and monkey do,

The monkey does the same as you!

Repeat with other motions: when you jump up and down; make a funny face; turn yourself around; and sit back on the ground.

No More Monkeys by Asheba

Claire held up the Monkey Mitt, while I sang this joyful adaptation of the traditional Five Little Monkeys rhyme by Caribbean singer-songwriter Asheba.

Here’s a video of Asheba’s version:

[C] Five monkeys were playing on the bed.
One fell off and bumped his [G7] head.
Mama called the doctor, and [F] the doctor said,
[C] “No more monkeys [G7] jumping on the [C] bed!”

[C] “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!
No more monkeys [G7] jumping on the bed!
[C] No more monkeys [F] jumping on the bed!”
[C] That is what the [G7] doctor [C] said.

Four monkeys were jumping on the bed…

(Repeat, counting down to one…)

One monkey was playing on the bed,
She fell off and bumped her head.
Mama called the children, and the children said,
“YES! More monkeys jumping on the bed!”

“Yes! More monkeys jumping on the bed!
Yes! More monkeys jumping on the bed!
Yes! More monkeys jumping on the bed!”
That is what the children said.

Going to the Zoo by Tom Paxton

We did this song as our instrument play-along at the end. Here’s 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

Stay & Play: Jungle Collage

This was a really simple activity, but the kids got really into it. I printed and cut out pictures of two different types of monkeys: an emperor tamarin and a macaque. For the Stay & Play, I put out green card stock, glue sticks, the monkey pictures, markers, and some leaves and small plants (mostly oxalis) from my yard.

The kids enjoyed gluing the monkey pictures to the paper, and then sticking the plants around and on top of them to make a kind of jungle scene, and decorating with markers. As a funny aside, I mentioned that the emperor tamarin is one of my very favorite animals, and I used to love watching them at the San Francisco Zoo. And then one of the Moms said that she used to work with the emperor tamarins there, before they got rid of that exhibit a few years ago. I was so excited to talk to her about them, especially since she said they were a lot of fun to work with.

What are your favorite books and songs about monkeys? Please share them in the comments below.

Rolling in Dough: A Storytime About Cookies

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

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

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

Here are the books and songs that we did:

Books:

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

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

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

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

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

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

Songs:

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

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

C] Old MacDonald [F] had a [C] farm,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

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

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

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

Here an oink, there an oink,

Everywhere an oink-oink.

[C] Old MacDonald [F] had a [C] farm,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

Six Little Ducks

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

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

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

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

Chorus

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

Chorus

If All the Raindrops

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

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

Oh, what a rain it would [G7] be.

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

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

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

Oh, what a [G7] rain it would [C] be!

If all the raindrops were blueberries and cake, etc…

C Is For Cookie by Joe Raposo

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

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

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

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

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

Stay & Play: Paper Gingerbread People

The kids always love decorating pictures with googly eyes, and other items, and this easy craft was no exception. I printed out this template from 4freeprintable.com and gave the kids markers, glue sticks, googly eyes, buttons, and pom-poms. All of their creations were unique and colorful!

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

Pumpkin to Talk About: A Storytime About Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a really big deal out here on the coast, especially just South of us in Half Moon Bay, where they just held their annual Pumpkin Festival. So today we did a pumpkin-themed storytime, which was a lot of fun.

I started out by holding up a small pumpkin, and asking if anyone had gone to a pumpkin patch or carved a pumpkin. I also taught the ASL sign for Pumpkin, before we read our first book.

Here’s the rest of what we did:

Books:

We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt by Mary Hogan Wilcox; illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

In this cute take on the traditional Going on a Bear Hunt rhyme, several animals go on a nighttime adventure to find a pumpkin. The kids enjoyed chiming in on the “Not me’s!” whenever the book asked’ “I’m not scared. Are you?” and acting out the different actions described in the story. One girl was so taken with the illustrations that she came up to point at different things happening in each picture,”Pig in a boat!”

Pumpkin Cat by Anne Mortimer

Simple, beautifully illustrated story about the different steps involved in growing a pumpkin. I had the kids mime the actions (digging a hole, planting the seeds, etc).

Ten Orange Pumpkins by Stephen Savage

This counting rhyme about disappearing pumpkins features lots of favorite Halloween characters: ghosts, mummies, witches, etc. The older kids loved calling out the number of pumpkins remaining on each page before we counted them together.

Songs & Rhymes:

Pumpkin Patch

I learned this rhyme from an Orff Music teacher years ago, so I don’t know who wrote it, but it’s a fun one to do with a group.

Pumpkin Patch, Pumpkin Patch, (crouch down low)
Walking all around in my pumpkin patch.
Here is a pumpkin, nice and fat (spread arms wide),
Turns into a jack-o-lantern, just like that! (make a scary face!)

There Was a Pumpkin on a Vine

This one is to the tune of Aiken Drum. Claire held up a paper pumpkin, and added the different parts of the face as we sang. Here’s the tune to Aiken Drum, in case you are not familiar with it. It’s another old favorite of mine.

[C] There was a pumpkin [F] on a vine,
[C] On a vine, [G] on a vine.
There [C] was a pumpkin [F] on a vine,
And his [C] name was [G] Jack-O- [C] Lantern.

And we gave him two triangle eyes,
Triangle eyes, Triangle eyes.
We gave him two triangle eyes,
And his name was Jack-O-Lantern.

And we gave him a big circle nose…

And we gave him a rectangle mouth…

And we put him in the window!

Five Little Pumpkins

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, “Oh my! It’s getting late!
The second one said, “There are witches in the air!”
The third one said, “But WE don’t care!”
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run!” (run in place)
The five one said, “This is Halloween fun!”
Then, “OOOH” went the wind, and OUT (clap!) went the light!
And the five little pumpkins rolled (roll your hands) out of sight.

The Pumpkin Pirate

I wrote this silly song to go with pumpkins and Halloween. You are welcome to use it if you like:

[Am] I’m gonna be a pumpkin pirate,
[C] My name is Lantern Jack.
[F] My pumpkin boat will stay afloat
[E7] ‘cross the Seven Seas and back.

[Am] I’m gonna be a pumpkin pirate.
[C] A real squash buckler, I!
[F] My pumpkin patch remains unmatched.
[E7] My pirate flag waves high!

[F] I’ll search for golden treasure,
[C] But I won’t go overboard.
[F] With a yo ho ho, away I’ll go
[E7] In my trusty orange gourd.

[Am] I’m gonna be a pumpkin pirate.
[C] My boat serves all my needs
[F] Cause whenever I get hungry
[E7] I’ll just roast some pumpkin seeds

[Am] I’m gonna be a pumpkin pirate. 
[C] In my boat I’ll travel far
[F] And if you’d like to go with me
[E7] I’ll meet you where you [Am] ARRRR!

Stay & Play: Paper Jack-O-Lanterns

This was a super easy process art activity, but the kids were really into it! I printed out blank pumpkin templates on orange paper, and cut some triangles out of black construction paper. For the Stay & Play, I put out the templates, black triangles, googly eyes, and markers, along with some black paper and scissors. I told the kids they could decorate their pumpkins however they liked. They all turned out differently, and the kids were so absorbed that many of them didn’t want to stop decorating their pumpkins when it was time for us to gather up the supplies.

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

Child’s Play: A Storytime about Toys

Today at the park, we did a storytime about stuffed animals and other toys, which ended up being a lot of fun.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

Three Grumpy Trucks by Todd Tarpley; illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees

I love a picture book with lots of sound effects for the kids to join in on. This one offers lots of opportunities to “Whirrr!” and “Chomp!” A rhyming story about three toy trucks who are too busy to go home, and keep asking to stay a few minutes more. Both the kids and the grown-ups could relate to the story, and the colorful illustrations are adorable.

Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough

This is an old favorite of mine, about a boy searching for his lost teddy bear in the woods, who stumbles upon a giant teddy bear…and its even bigger owner!

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

The classic story about a toddler’s efforts to tell her father about her missing stuffed animal. This book is so much fun to read, and always a hit with both kids and their parents.

Songs:

Construction Song

I found this song on Step By Step Childcare, and it made a great follow-up to Three Grumpy Trucks. It’s to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell:

The backhoe scoops the dirt,

The backhoe scoops the dirt,

Hey-ho, look at them go!

The backhoe scoops the dirt.

The crane goes up and down…

The cement mixer stirs…

The dump truck bumps away…

The Jack-in-the-Box

Since we were doing a toy theme, I brought a Jack-in-the-Box to show the kids. It was hilarious to see the kids’ expressions whenever the toy popped out. I followed it up with this song:

The Jack-in-the-Box jumps up (squat down and then jump up)

The Jack-in-the-Box goes flop (lean over)

The Jack-in-the-Box goes round and round (spin around in circle, or move your arms in a circle)

The lid comes down with a PLOP. (crouch down and clap hands)

Here’s a video of a slightly different version of the song from Maple Leaf Learning:

The Bears Go Marching In

Fun variation of The Saints Go Marching In:

[C] Oh, when the bears go marching in,

Oh, when the bears go marching [G7] in,

Oh, [C7] how I want to be in that [F] number,

When the [C] bears go [G7] marching [C] in!

Repeat with other actions, like:

Oh, when the bears go clapping in…

Oh, when the bears go stomping in… etc.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

There are LOTS of different versions of this song, but the tune I use is closest to the one in this video from Kiboomers:

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!

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).  My favorite cover of it by far is this slightly creepy one by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, which you can listen to here: 

Stay & Play: Teddy Bear Collage

For this simple craft, I printed out a blank teddy bear template on card stock, and cut up pieces of colored tissue paper. For the Stay & Play, I put out plates of tissue paper pieces, along with markers, Googly Eyes, pom-poms, and glue sticks. It was fun to see the variety of bears they created.

What are your favorite picture books about toys? Please share them in the comments below.

Velveteen: A Song for Margery Williams

The Velveteen Rabbit was one of my favorite childhood books. As a kid, I empathized with the poor stuffed rabbit, who was ridiculed by other toys, the nanny, and actual rabbits, before the doctor orders him burned with all of the other germ-ridden toys once the boy falls ill with scarlet fever.

But the other day, a Facebook post by a parent suddenly made me think about the song from a totally different perspective. I was curious about Margery Williams, not knowing anything about her life. I read that she had two children of her own, and that many of her books focused on children who were isolated or different from others. Parenting is always challenging, but especially when you have extra reason to fear for your kids’ safety or acceptance.

So I wrote this song for those kids, and for the people who love and support them. May the nursery magic protect us all.

Velveteen, velveteen,
Are you real,
Are you seen?
Or are you lost in between?
Velveteen.

You were a gift, bright and new,
And everybody thought they knew
Who you were, what you’d do,
We couldn’t see

The part you kept deep inside,
How you longed to be alive,
To be yourself, not just survive,
To be free.

Velveteen, velveteen,
Are you real, are you seen?
Or are you lost in between?
Velveteen.

But one day you showed the spark that burned inside you,
And let us see the you you couldn’t hide.
And though others might tease you and deride you,
I hope you know you fill my heart with pride.

Velveteen, velveteen,
You don’t know how much you mean.
You are real,
You are seen
Velveteen.

Out of This World: A Storytime About Space

Last Saturday, May 7, was International Astronomy Day, so it seemed like a fun week to do a storytime about Space.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

Astro Girl by Ken Wilson-Max

Very sweet, empowering story about a girl named Astrid, who tells her father that she wants to be an astronaut. He asks her if she’s ready to eat food out of a tube, be in zero gravity, and do science experiments, and she enthusiastically says yes. In the end, the family goes to see her mother, who is just arriving home from a space mission herself.

A Kite for Moon by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, and Matt Phelan

Dedicated to astronaut Neil Armstrong, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the lonely Moon, and the boy who tries to hug her. When he finds that she is too far away, he sends up kites to keep her company. He spends his whole life studying how to be an astronaut, and finally goes to visit the Moon in person, while the whole world watches.

Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

This silly, colorful book got lots of giggles. When aliens come to Earth, it’s not to see you, but to steal your underpants, which they all love!

Songs:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

It’s always nice to throw this song in, since it’s a surefire way to get the families singing along. I like to sing it really fast the last time through.

[C] Twinkle, Twinkle, [F] Little [G7] Star,
[G7] How I [C] wonder [G7] what you [C] are.

[C] Up a-[F] bove the [C] world so [G7] high,

[C] Like a [F] diamond [C] in the [G7] sky,

[C] Twinkle, Twinkle, [F] Little [G7] Star,
[G7] How I [C] wonder [G7] what you [C] are.

If You’re Going to the Moon

This one is from JBrary, although I found it on this wonderful list of Space Songs for Preschools from Preschool Inspirations. It’s to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It:

[C] If you’re going to the Moon,

Wear your [G7] boots (stomp! stomp!)

[G7] If you’re going to the Moon,

Wear your [C] boots (stomp! stomp!)

If you’re [F] going to the Moon,

This is [C] what you have to do.

If you’re [G7] going to the Moon,

Wear your [C] boots (stomp! stomp!)

If you’re going to the Moon,

Wear your helmet… (mime putting on helmet)

If you’re going to the Moon,

Wear your gloves… (mime putting on gloves)

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!

This one is always a hit. I have the kids crouch down while we sing the first part, then jump up in the air when we blast off. Here’s a slightly different version from Jiggle Jam, which uses the same tune:

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,

We’re going to the Moon.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,

We’re going to the Moon.

If you want to take a trip,

Climb aboard my rocket ship.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,

We’re going to the Moon.

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

Blast-off!

Rocketship Run by Laurie Berkner

This one was so much fun, and worked perfectly for the theme. Here’s a link to the You Tube video.

[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!
[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!

[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] Sun,
[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] Sun,
[C]When I [G7] get there [F] I’ll be spinning everywhere.
[C]Spinning [G7] round the [F] Sun.

[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!
[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!

[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] Moon,
[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] Moon,
[C]When I [G7] get there [F] I’ll be dancing through the air,
[C]Dancing [G7] on the [F] Sun.

[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!
[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!

[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] stars,
[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] stars,
[C]When I [G7] get there [F] I’ll be jumping everywhere,
[C]Dancing [G7] from star to [F] star.

[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!
[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!

[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] Earth,
[C]Leave me [G7] on the [F] ground,
[C]When I [G7] get there [F] I’ll be [C] home.

[Am] 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

[C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run

Stay & Play: Mixed Media Night Sky

I originally just intended to have the kids stamp circles with pompoms dipped in tempera paint (to represent planets), and then add the sparkly star stickers. But I was surprised to see that some kids were sticking the pompoms onto their paper with the paint, which added a whole other dimension. The kids loved everything about this craft.

What are your favorite books or songs about space? Please share them in the comments.

Stuffed Animal Sleepover at the Library

Last night, we hosted a Stuffed Animal Sleepover at the library. It was an unusual program, because the kids just dropped their stuffed animals off by 5pm, and then my manager Stephanie and I photographed them in different settings around the library.

There are lots of ways to do these programs. Some branches print a picture of each animal to give to the kids when they come to pick up their stuffies. Others make a slideshow or video to email out to the participants. I wanted to have a literacy component, so I made a simple book template in Microsoft Word. It printed on two pages, front and back, but with eight pages of photos.

The kids were so sweet when they dropped off their animals. Many of them had questions about where the animals were going to sleep, or if they were going to roast marshmallows. We just had the first family come to pick up their stuffy this morning, and the mom and daughter were eagerly looking through the book to find their toy in the photos.

We ended up with 43 animals in all (we didn’t set a limit to the program). When the families dropped off their animals, we asked them to fill out a tag with their name, a name and description of the animal, and a phone number (the template is at the bottom of this post). These we attached to the animals with binder clips. At first, I was planning to make separate nametags for each one, so the tags wouldn’t show in the photos. But we ended up with so many stuffies, that we just tried to clip the tags on the backs of the toys.

We had advertised the program through the schools, and on Facebook groups for local families. It actually brought in a lot of families who hadn’t been to the library before, and ended up signing up for library cards.

In our evening hours, when the library is usually quiet, we had fun arranging the animals reading books together, exploring the staff room, playing on the 3D printer, and reading stories.

The most challenging part of the program was actually arranging the photos in Microsoft Word, which can be a formatting nightmare, especially when you’re in a hurry. I recommend setting the photos to “With Text Wrapping” so that you can fit more on each page. I’m copying a very basic template of our book below. Feel free to use it. Just make sure that when you print, you set it to “Print on Both Sides-Flip Pages on Short Edge” and to “Landscape Orientation.”

Here’s our little book, the Word template we used, and the tags for the animals:

April Fools! A Silly Storytime

My storytimes are usually pretty silly, but for April Fools’ Day this week, we went even sillier.

I started by telling the kids that I had made them all brownies, and to raise their hands if they wanted one. Then Claire handed out letter E’s that I had cut out of brown paper. At first they were disappointed, but once they understood the joke, the older kids enjoyed offering people “Brown-E’s” themselves.

Here’s what we did for the rest of the storytime:

Books:

Knock, Knock by Tammi Sauer; illustrated by Guy Francis

A sleepy bear is trying to prepare for his long Winter’s sleep, but his friends keep showing up at his door in what turns out to be an extended series of knock-knock jokes. The “Knock-Knocks” are in large red letters, providing the perfect opportunity to point them out on each page and have the kids say them along with you. My coworker, Claire, read the part of the bear, and I read the other animals. A fun introduction to word play and jokes.

I Want to Go First by Richard Byrne

Elphie, the elephant, wants to be first in the line for the watering hole, but as the smallest, he has to go to the end of the line. In order to trick the elephants in front of him, he asks you, the reader, to distract them by calling their names, hissing like a snake, squeaking like mice, and shaking the book. The kids enjoyed the participation elements, especially the squeaking!

I Will Surprise My Friend by Mo Willems

When Gerald and Piggie see two squirrels having a great time hiding from and jumping out at each other, they decide to give it a try themselves. The trouble is that they both decide to hide on either side of the same rock, and then worry when they can’t find each other. This one is always a lot of fun to read aloud.

Songs & Rhymes

I’m Singing in the Rain

There are lots of different versions of this old camp song, which riffs off the song from the musical by Alfred Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. The punchline is always the last line, where you try to say the “tee-ta-ta’s” while sticking your tongue out. Here’s the version I used:

I’m singing in the rain,
Just singing in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
I’m happy again!

(Spoken) Thumbs up!
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta (Move your thumbs back and forth in front of you)
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta

I’m singing in the rain,
Just singing in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
I’m happy again!

Thumbs up!
Knees together!
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta (Put your knees together, and move your thumbs back and forth in front of you)
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta

I’m singing in the rain,
Just singing in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
I’m happy again!

Thumbs up!
Knees together!
Toes together!
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta (Put your knees and toes together, and move your thumbs back and forth in front of you)
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta

I’m singing in the rain,
Just singing in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
I’m happy again!

Thumbs up!
Knees together!
Toes together!
Tongue out!
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta

There’s a Spider on the Floor

To the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It. This is an old Raffi song, although I usually change the lyrics a little. I acted it out with a big toy spider, and encouraged the kids to make spiders with their hands.

There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.
Who could ask for any more than a spider on the floor?
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.

Now the spider’s on my leg, on my leg.
Now the spider’s 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.

Now the spider’s on my tummy, on my tummy…
Oh, I feel so very funny with this 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!…

Spoken: But it jumps off!

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

Who could ask for any more than a spider on the floor?…

April Fools!

We sang this one as an instrument play-along. Click on the triangle for the tune, or it also works to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It.

[C] April Fools’! April [G7] Fools’!
It’s the day when silly pranks don’t break the [C] rules.
If your orange juice is pink,
When you [F] go to take a drink,
Then it’s [C] time to stop and [G7] think,
“It’s April [C] Fools’!”

There’s an [C] alligator swimming in the [G7] tub.
A zookeeper came and said he needs a [C] scrub.
And he asked in quite a rush,
If you’d [F] give his teeth a brush…
Never [C] mind, I’m only [G7] kidding,
April [C] Fools’!

April Fools’! April Fools’!
It’s the day when silly pranks don’t break the rules.
If your orange juice is gray,
Then before you run away,
You might wonder if today
Is April Fools’!

I’m afraid your birthday cake is full of ants,
They came crawling up the side and did a dance.
If you don’t mind extra spice,
I can cut you off a slice…
Happy Birthday, and above all
April Fools’!

April Fools’! April Fools’!
It’s the day when silly pranks don’t break the rules.
If your orange juice is white,
And it gives you quite a fright,
Then remember it just might be
April Fools!
APRIL FOOLS!

Stay and Play: Crayon Resist Surprise!

Crayon resist art is one of my favorite things to do with kids, and this interactive twist turned out really well.

Before I put out the watercolor paints, white crayons, paper, cups of water, and paintbrushes, I explained that if you draw or write with a white crayon on white paper, you won’t be able see what you draw at first. But when you paint over the crayon marks with watercolors, it will appear like magic. I encouraged the grown-ups to draw or write something for the kids to “find” with the paint, and they were all really engaged in the process.

What are your favorite stories, songs, or pranks for April Fools’ Day? Please share them in the comments.

Spring Fever: A Storytime About Springtime

Today was a beautiful day for our Outdoor Storytime, and perfect for our Spring theme. Here is what we did:

BOOKS:

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes; illustrated by Laura Dronzek

This large, colorful picture book describes the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of Spring. There are lots of opportunities to ask the kids about things they see in the pictures: baby birds, bees, kittens, etc. We practiced “melting” together like snowmen, and even talked about a couple of letter sounds on the pages describing things that start with the letters “B” and “W.”

Spring is Here by Will Hillenbrand

Sweet, funny story about Mole trying to wake up his very sleepy friend, Bear. For this one, I used a tactic I learned from a coworker, where you give the kids a visual cue, like putting your hand by your ear, to tell them to say a certain word or make a certain sound. In this case, I had them snore like a bear, which happened on every page. The ending got lots of laughs.

Abracadabra! It’s Spring! by Anne Sibley O’Brien; illustrated by Susan Gal

Every page of this book features a magic word (like “Abracadabra”) and opens up into an extra-long two page spread to reveal a magical change that happens in spring: flowers blooming, eggs hatching, butterflies coming out of cocoons, etc. I had the kids wave their index fingers like magic wands and say the magic words with me. On the page about “confetti trees,” my coworker, Claire, threw pink flower petals into the crowd.

SONGS:

Oh, Mister Sun

This was one of the first storytime songs I ever learned. I usually do the Raffi version (here’s a link to the video):

Oh, [C] Mister Sun, Sun, [F] Mister Golden Sun,

[C] Please shine [G7] down on [C] me!

Oh, [C] Mister Sun, Sun, [F] Mister Golden Sun,

[G7] Hiding behind a tree.

[C] These little children are [G7] asking you,

[C] To please come out so we can [G7] play with you,

Oh, [C] Mister Sun, Sun, [F] Mister Golden Sun,

C] Please shine [G7] down on [C] me!

Here is the Beehive

This is another favorite storytime rhyme that’s always a hit:

Here is the beehive (make a fist with one hand)

Where are the bees?

Hiding away where nobody sees.

Watch, and they’ll all come out of their hive…

One, Two, Three, Four, Five… (hold up each finger as you count)

They’re alive! (Fly your fingers around. I told the crowd they were “tickle bees” so they tickled themselves and their grown-ups)

The Little Bunnies

One of the day care providers who comes to storytime uses this song with her kids, and I have always wanted to try it. We sang it three times, and the kids LOVED it! Claire and I both held up bunny puppets, but also did the motions along with the kids. The motions are pretty self-explanatory, but you can either have the kids physically pretend to sleep and then hop around, or you can have them make bunny ears with their fingers. There are different versions of the song, but the tune I used is the same as in this video by Little Baby Bums Nursery Rhymes for Babies:

See the little bunnies sleeping

‘Till it’s nearly noon.

Shall we wake them with a merry tune?

They’re so still.

Are they ill?

NO! Wake up little bunnies!

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop!

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop!

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop!

Hop little bunnies, hop and stop!

When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along by Harry Woods

This was a song that my Dad sang a lot when I was little. It was written in 1926. There were a number of robins depicted in the books I read today, and I had been pointing them out whenever they appeared. I also explained that in many places seeing a robin means that it’s the beginning of Spring. Here’s a version performed by Bing Crosby.

When the [C] red, red, robin comes [G7] bob, bob, bobbin’ [C] along, along,

There’ll be no more sobbin’ when [G7] he starts throbbin’ his [C] old sweet [C7] song:

[F] “Wake up! Wake up, you Sleepyhead! [C] Get up, Get up, Get out of bed!

[D] Cheer up, Cheer up, Cheer up, the sun is red.

[G7] Live, love, laugh and be happy.”

[C] What if I’ve been blue?

[G7] Now I’m walkin’ through [C] fields of flowers.

Rain may glisten, but [G7] still I listen for [C] hours, and hours.

[F] I’m just a kid again, [Fm6] doin’ what I did again,

[C] Singin’ a [Am] song.

When the [C] red, red, robin comes [G7] bob, bob, bobbin’ [C] along, along.

STAY AND PLAY: BUTTERFLIES

This was a really simple project, but it worked well, even for the toddlers. I printed out butterfly templates on cardstock (there are lots of options online, but I used this one from Cliparts.co). I put out shredded tissue paper in different colors, along with craft gemstones, and glue sticks. Some of the kids (and grown-ups) got really into decorating their butterflies.

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

Easy As Pie: A Storytime for Pi Day

Next Monday (March 14) is Pi Day, which is a storytime theme I’ve never explored, but we had a lot of fun trying it today.

My Outdoor Musical Storytime crowd is mostly toddlers and a few preschoolers, so I kept the theme largely to Circles and Pie. But I did want to do a very brief explanation of the number Pi, just in case any of the adults wanted a simple way to explain it. So I began by showing the Greek symbol for Pi, and the first few digits (3.14159265). I explained that the number Pi is a little more than 3, and that it’s a number used to measure circles.

I held up a picture of a circle with a piece of yarn glued around the outside. I had also taped a second piece of yarn (the same length) so that it was folded three times across the middle of the circle, with a little bit sticking out at the end. I told the kids that sometimes you want to be able to know how long the line around a circle is. And an easy way to figure that out is to draw a line across the middle. If you know how long that line is, you can make a line three times as long (plus a little extra). That three plus a little extra is represented by the number Pi.

I pointed out my picture, where the yarn in the middle was folded three times, with a little bit leftover, and said that that piece was just as long as the yarn on the outside of the circle. I then pulled both pieces of yarn off of the circle and held them up to show that they were the same length.

I only took about a minute for this demonstration, which was really basic. I mostly just wanted to convey that the number Pi had something to do with circles, and we were celebrating Pi with books and songs about the food Pie, and other things shaped like a circle.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

All for Pie, Pie for All by David Martin; illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev

Adorable story about a cat family who enjoys all but one slice of pie, which is then enjoyed by a mouse family, who leaves six crumbs for a family of ants. In the end, all of the animals enjoy a fresh new pie together.

Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig

This is one of my all-time favorite picture books. When Pete’s plans with friends get rained out, his Dad decides it might cheer him up to be made into a pizza. Pete the Pizza gets kneaded, stretched, and twirled in the air, then topped with sauce (water), cheese (pieces of paper), and tomatoes (checkers). After baking in the over (the living room couch), it’s time to slice the pizza! But the pizza runs away, and gets captured and hugged, just in time for the sun to come out. I love that families can participate in the kneading, stretching, and hugging, making this a great lapsit story, even for very young kids.

Mom Pie by Lynne Jonell; illustrated by Petra Mathers

Christopher and Robbie are disappointed because company is coming, and Mommy is too busy to spend time with them. So instead they make a Mom Pie with things that remind them of Mommy: gloves that are soft like Mommy, slippers that are cuddly, and a candle in her favorite color. When Mommy finds out what they are doing, she sits with them on the sofa while their family guests jump in to finish making dinner. The last line (about nothing being better than Mom Pie, except Mommy) drew big “Awwww’s” from the crowd.

Songs:

Alligator Pie

This is a fun, easy rhyme that I learned from an Orff Music lesson years ago. Kids always really seem to like it (today I had a toddler signing “More” every time the rhyme ended). We started out by clapping a steady beat, and then I chanted the words. We chanted Alligator Pie twice, and then I asked for other types of pie to substitute. We did Blueberry Pie and Pumpkin Pie:

Alligator Pie, Alligator Pie,

If I don’t get some, I think I’m going to cry.

Take away my basketball and take away the sky,

But don’t take away my Alligator Pie!

Do You Know What Shape I Have?

I learned this song from my coworker, Angela. It’s to the tune of Do You Know the Muffin Man? I cut out different shapes (circle, square, star, and triangle) out of paper, and put them in a bag. Each time we sang the song, my coworker, Claire, pulled one out of the bag, and we asked the kids what it was:

Do you know what shape I have?

What shape I have? What shape I have?

Do you know what shape I have?

Right here in my hand!

Silly Pizza Song

This song by Rachel de Azevedo Coleman from her Signing Time series is one of my absolute favorites. Here’s a YouTube video with the tune and the signs. I usually just teach the kids the sign for pizza and the sign for cheese, and then I ask them for topping suggestions. Today we had pepperoni, mint, olives, mushrooms, and pumpkin.

Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy by Guy Wood and Sammy Gallop

This is an old song, originally popularized by Dinah Shore. Here’s a link to the tune. We did it as an instrument play-along and the kids were dancing, which was adorable:

[C] Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan [G7] Dowdy

Makes my [C] eyes light up and my tummy say [G7] “Howdy,”

[C] Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan [G7] Dowdy

I [C] never get enough of that [G7] wonderful [C] stuff.

[C] Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan [G7] Dowdy

Makes the [C] sun come up when the heavens are [G7] cloudy.

[C] Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan [G7] Dowdy

I [C] never get enough of that [G7] wonderful [C] stuff.

[E7] Mama, when you bake,

[A] Mama, I don’t care for cake.

[G7] Mama, make no mistake,

[C] Go to the oven, and [G7] make some ever lovin’

Shoofly pie… (repeat first verse)

Stay and Play: Circle Art

This was really simple and fun, if a bit messy. I put out small pie tins with three different colors of tempura paint in each. Then I gave each child a Dixie cup and a piece of card stock. They had a great time stamping circles all over their papers with the cup (some cups got a little squished in the process, which made for some unusual shapes, but the kids seemed to enjoy that too). I recommend having some baby wipes or paper towels on hand.

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