Mixed Feelings: a Virtual Storytime about Emotions

Today was my last virtual storytime, at least for a while. As our libraries have been reopening in different capacities, first just for walk-up at the door and curbside pick-up of holds, and now for in person browsing and computer use a few days a week, we’ve gradually scaled back our virtual storytimes to once a week. These were shared among different staff across our system, so I was only doing one a month, and we are taking a break for the summer.

It was a bittersweet feeling, preparing for this morning’s storytime. It’s been a long and interesting journey, moving storytimes online. At first, I absolutely hated it. Since we were still trying to work out the technical and legal details of doing interactive kids programs (which are complicated by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), for a long time we were only offering pre-recorded programs on YouTube, which made me feel completely isolated and weird.

After several months of recorded storytimes, our library system decided that what kids were really missing was the chance to see other kids, so we switched to interactive storytimes over Zoom. This was SO much better, because I could see the kids again, and they could see me. I’ve always incorporated a lot of back and forth with the audience into my storytimes, asking kids for suggestions, and I could do all of that again. Still, it’s never felt completely natural, and I’ve always worried about lots of issues that would never come up in real life: my Internet crashing, the ebook not loading, sending out the wrong Zoom link by accident, or even losing track of time and forgetting to start the program.

Still, there will be some things I will miss if we drop the virtual storytimes altogether, once we go back to in-person events again. It’s nice to see kids from all over our county, or even outside of it. Also there’s something weirdly intimate about Zoom: we can all see a little slice of each other’s homes and pets and families, which is something the kids seem to enjoy. They love it when my cat unexpectedly bites my leg mid-story, because she has dragged her toy across the room and is waiting for me to play. They love to show their favorite toys, or an ukulele of their own that they might not allowed to bring to the library. And the virtual programs do provide more flexibility for families and preschools who might not be able to come to the library in person. Plus, sharing the e-books on screen makes it much easier for the kids to see the illustrations. I can even share the link to the ebook, so they can check it out after the storytime, especially if it’s on Hoopla, which has unlimited copies.

Given all these feelings, I guess it was appropriate that I did a storytime about emotions. Here’s what I did:

OPENING SONG: Do As I’m Doing

A really easy, fun song that allows the kids to suggest different actions. Today we jumped, ran in place, made funny faces, and wiggled our fingers, and waved our arms in the air.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, follow [G7] me.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

[C] Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me.

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me,

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

SONG: The Handwashing Song

Our library has a grant to help share information about COVID-19 resources, so we have been asked to highlight our webpage for that and do a song for kids about handwashing. My favorite one is The Handwashing Song from JBrary (click on the link to hear the tune and see the motions). I usually ask the kids to pretend we’ve put our hands in something sticky, so now we need to wash them. Today they suggested applesauce and honey.

SONG: If You’re Happy And You Know It

I think most people know the tune to this already, but if you don’t, here’s a video from Barefoot Songs.

To introduce the topic of feelings, I printed out this page of faces, cut them out, and put them in a paper bag. Each time we sang the song, I pulled a face out the bag, held it up to the camera, and asked the kids to name the feeling. Then we sang about it.

Our verses were:

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…

If you’re angry and you know it, say “I’m mad”… (and stomp your feet)

If you’re scared/shy and you know it, hide your face… (I had told the kids to find a cloth or tissue at the beginning of the storytime, so they could put the cloth in front of their face and then pull it away quickly and say, “Peek-a-boo!”)

If you’re sad and you know it, cry “Boo hoo!”…

If you’re silly and you know it, make a face…

If you’re happy and you know it, shout “Hooray!”…

The chords are:

[C] If you’re happy and you know it, clap your [G7] hands.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your [C] hands.

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

If you’re [G7] happy and you know it, clap your [C] hands.

BOOK: The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

I love this book about a little boy named Taylor whose tower is unexpectedly destroyed by a flock of birds. While he sits in the wreckage, different animals come by with suggestions. The chicken wants to talk about it, the bear wants to shout about it, the elephant wants to remember how the tower was built, the ostrich wants to hide, and the snake wants to ruin someone else’s tower. But Taylor doesn’t want to do any of those things. He is miserable until the rabbit comes along and just sits close for a while, and then listens while Taylor talks and shouts and remembers and plots revenge, and then finally decides to build a new tower. It’s such a beautiful lesson for grown-ups, as well as kids. (I’ve been plenty guilty myself of just trying to jump to the solution to my kids’ problems, instead of just listening and supporting them). I shared this book on Overdrive, and held a rabbit puppet up the camera when the rabbit appeared.

SONG: Did You Ever See a Rabbit?

To the tune of Did You Ever See a Lassie (again this is a familiar nursery song, but if you don’t know the tune, here’s a video from Rock N Learn).

I used my rabbit puppet for this, and had the kids copy the motions with the cloth or tissue they found, or with their hands. Here are the lyrics:

Did you ever see a rabbit, a rabbit, a rabbit?

Did you ever see a rabbit go this way and that?

Go this way, and that way,

Go this way, and that way,

Did you ever see a rabbit, go this way and that?

We had our cloths/rabbits move from side to side, up and down, up in the air and down, and round and round in either direction.

BOOK: Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap; illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

This is a fun interactive story, about a dinosaur who is frightened by the audience. The book prompts the kids to say hello in different ways, sing Happy Birthday, shout their names, and say “Good night!” Although the kids were mostly muted, a few unmuted themselves for the prompts, and it was gratifying to hear them playing along. This one was also on Overdrive.

SONG: We Are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner

As usual, I ended with a playalong, asking the kids to make noise with whatever they had on hand (a paper cup, a shaker, their hands or feet, etc.). Here’s a link to the chords and lyrics (the chord charts here are for guitar, but I played it on ukulele).

ENDING SONG: You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis & Charles Mitchell (or possibly by Oliver Hood)

[C] You are my sunshine,

My only sunshine [C7]

You make me [F] happy

When skies are [C] gray.

You’ll never [F] know, dear,

How much I [C] love you [Am].

Please don’t [C] take my [G7] sunshine a- [C] way.

If you’ve been performing or attending virtual storytimes or other programs, what are your thoughts about them? Is it something that libraries should continue offering even when in-person programs resume? Please share your comments below.

What a Feeling! Books about Emotions

Emotion Wheel by Olivia

Emotion Wheel by Olivia

This week for Family Storytime, I read books about emotions.  I noticed that most of the books out there with that theme focus on negative emotions like anger and fear, but they are some of my favorites.  Here are the ones we read:

grumpy

What are You So Grumpy About? by Tom Lichtenheld (Amazon.com link)

This book does a great job of illustrating the frustrations of being a kid: boring grown-up conversations that never end; trips to dull museums; bland grown-up cereals.  Tom Lichtenheld takes each one to an hilarious extreme, ending with the worst: somebody making you laugh when you were trying to be grumpy, and making you forget what you were grumpy about.  This one always gets laughs, from the parents as well as the kids.

friend

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

My favorite of the Elephant and Piggie books, and one of the best for very beginning readers.   When Piggie sees that Gerald is sad, she tries to cheer him up by dressing as a cowboy, a clown, and a robot, but only makes him feel worse.  I had the kids say the repeated “Ohhhhh”s along with Gerald.   A good, funny story about friendship as well as emotion.  The kids all loved it.  By now they are all so familiar with Gerald and Piggie books that they couldn’t wait to get to the end page, which always has Mo Willem’s Pigeon hidden inside of one of the illustrations.

mousemad

Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban; illustrated by Henry Cole (Amazon.com link)

This is one of the best picture books about coping with anger.   Mouse is so angry, he jumps up and down, stomps his feet, screams, and rolls on the ground.  The problem is that other animals (hare, bear, bobcat, and hedgehog), each do those things much better, and when he tries to emulate them, he always ends up falling into a mucky mud puddle and getting even angrier.  Finally, he stands still…and breathes…something he can do better than anyone else.  A great way to teach an important skill for regaining calm, but taught in the context of a lively, non-preachy read-aloud.  My daughter, who could teach bobcat a thing or two about screaming, loves this book, so I’m hoping its quiet lesson will rub off.

crankenstein

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger; illustrated by Dan Santat (Amazon.com link)

Another funny book about being grumpy.  Crankenstein is a monster.  When you say, “Good Morning!  How are you?” he says, “MEHRRRR!”  He also says “MEHRRR” to lots of other things: getting ready for school, standing in long lines, and going to bed.  But then he meets another Crankenstein, who makes him laugh.  The kids enjoyed joining in on the “MEHRRR’s,” and this one grabbed the attention of some of the boys who love monsters.

SONGS:

If You’re Happy And You Know It:  I added new verses with other emotions: If you’re sad and you know it, cry ‘Boohoo!’;  If you’re shy and you know it, hide your face…peek-a-boo!;  If you’re grumpy and you know it, stomp your feet; etc.

INSTRUMENT PLAY WITH A CD:

My Energy by Laurie Berkner from Under a Shady Tree (Amazon.com link)

CRAFT: Emotion wheel

Emotion wheel by Sarah

Emotion wheel by Sarah

This was an easy craft I found on the Allen County Public Library Youth Services web site, on a page with a list of other good books and songs about emotions.  I adapted it a little, and created a Word document with circles for the kids to draw faces in.  You can print the template here.  I also cut out arrows out of cardstock, and punched holes in them for the metal brads (I attached the arrows to the page ahead of time because that part seemed a little tricky, and the brads are a bit sharp.  I just pushed them through the middle of the paper and twisted them a bit until the arrow could spin easily, then separated the metal tabs on the back of the page to hold them in place).

The kids had fun drawing in their faces.  I liked that this made for a simple reading activity too, since they had to learn the emotion word (happy, sad, angry, or scared), in order to know what kind of face to draw.

OTHER BOOKS:

The great thing about this theme is that you can really use just about any picture book and talk about the emotions the characters may be feeling.

Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods that Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis; illustrated by Laura Cornell (Amazon.com link)

One of the few celebrity authors I actually like.  In this book Jamie Lee Curtis explores a wide range of emotions based on situations that kids can easily relate to: feeling angry at not being included in a friend’s playdate; being sad after a fight with a friend; feeling happy at learning how to do something new.  The text is simple, well-written rhymed verse, and the illustrations are whimsical and full of feeling.  The book comes with an emotion wheel at the back, although I noticed the one from the library copy we have was missing.

How Are You Peeling?  Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann and Joost Eiffers (Amazon.com link)

The emotional vegetables and fruits in this book, all made from actual food, are hilarious: angry peppers, kissing strawberries, joyful peas.  This is a great book for a food-themed storytime as well.

Baby Happy, Baby Sad by Leslie Patricelli (Amazon.com link)

Perfect for babies, toddlers, and beginning readers, this board book goes through all the things that make baby happy (getting an ice cream!) and sad (dropping the ice cream).

Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman (Amazon.com link)

I’m including this one because it does a great job of conveying a common experience that everyone, especially young kids, can relate to: being SO excited that you rush in and do something you regret later.  This story is about an adorable dog named Katie, and three little kittens.  When her owner brings home three new kittens, Katie can’t contain herself: she rushes in howling and scares the kittens.  Then she feels ashamed and sad.  The cycle repeats several times, until she finally learns to control her excitement.  The illustrations are darling (no one conveys shame better than a dog), and it’s a terrific read-aloud, with lots of opportunities for kids to howl.

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

Another story all parents and kids can relate to: Llama Llama feels alone and scared in bed, while Mama Llama is on the phone downstairs.  Adorable rhyming book with wonderful illustrations.  Many of the other Llama Llama books (Llama Llama Mad at Mama; Llama Llama Misses Mama) would work for this theme as well.

When Sophie Gets Angry…Really Really Angry by Molly Bang (Amazon.com link) Recommended by Jeanine Asche and Erica Hohmann

Vivid colors and bold descriptions capture just how it feels to be really, really angry, and how Sophie calms down.   This is a simple story about a little girl’s frustration and anger that kids can easily relate to, and one that conveys both the overwhelming feeling of rage and the fact that it eventually passes.

Grumpy Gertie by Sam Lloyd (Amazon.com link) Recommended by Shelley Jacobsen

I haven’t read this one yet, but it looks like a fun, simple way to teach kids that the face they project to the world can affect others.  Gertie is determined to tell the world just how grumpy she is, until a monkey teaches her how to turn her frown upside down.

The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen; illustrated by Daniel X. Hanna (Amazon.com link) Recommended by Kim Day

Adorable rhyming story about a pouty fish, whose ocean friends all try to cheer him up, until he turns upside down and becomes a kissy fish instead.

What are your favorite books about emotions?