monkey business...

I made it! I made it through my first six-week session of solo storytimes. I am super proud of myself for reading fun books, making cute crafts, and generally just enjoying the whole thing. :)

For this last week of the first session, we read stories about monkeys. I left the planning of this storytime to the last minute - I think I could have found even MORE monkey books if I'd devoted more time to it. That said, I really enjoyed the stories I shared and the kids did, too!

Here's the setlist*:

Hello, Everybody

Welcome: As usual, I asked the kids to guess what our stories were about. There were LOTS of monkey faces staring back at them from the book covers, so they guessed very quickly. :) I asked if they could tell me what kinds of things monkeys do (climb trees, swing on branches, make "oo-oo-ah-ah" noises, eat bananas)... and I told them that monkeys would be doing silly and naughty things in our stories. Exciting!


Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
I am almost ashamed to say that I have never read this book before. Though it is a charming, funny story (especially to read outloud), I think the illustrations turned me off for quite a while. I should have given this book a chance a *lot* earlier because it is terrific. The peddler in the story sells caps - and he is different from other peddlers in that he keeps what he is selling on top of his head! It makes moving around (and taking a nap) a little more tricky... and the monkeys in the story don't help much. I loved that the kids didn't see the monkeys on the cover and were a little confused at first as to why we were reading *this* story... it came together very nicely!

Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car by Eileen Christelow
Ever heard of the five little monkeys who jumped on the bed? Well, they're back - washing up their old wreck of a car to get it ready to sell! When moving the car to a better selling spot lands the monkeys in the middle of a swampy, croc-infested lake, they need some quick thinking to get themselves and their car out of a jam!

Song: 'Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed'
Five little monkeys jumping on a bed... (make a bed with your palm and 'jump' your other hand as monkeys)
One fell out (hold up one finger, make an arch out of the 'bed')
and bumped his head! (make a fist and bonk the side of your head)
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, (make a call on your thumb and pinkie)
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!" (wag your forefinger)


After the doctor's last "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!", I said, "Which was good, because there weren't any left." :)

NAF (Not a Flannel): Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
My Dear Zoo set is made from a pattern I mentioned in my Boxes storytime post. Yup, I used it again. How could I not? It's SO CUTE and it has a monkey! :D

Where's My Mom? by Julia Donaldson
Love love LOVE this silly book. Little Monkey has lost his mom! He is somewhat reassured when Butterfly offers to help find her. Little Monkey is quickly discouraged, though, when his descriptions of his mom (she's bigger than him, she's got a tail she coils around trees, she's got fur) bring him to all sorts of animals (an elephant, a snake, a bat) who are certainly *not* his mom! Will he ever find her - and what is going on with Butterfly? The answers are sweet and fun!

Craft: Make a Monkey!  (PICTURE COMING SOON!)
Mrs. M, our Babies and Books storyteller, came to the rescue on this one by delivering a simple craft with a big cute factor. Using 8 circle shapes, a football shape, and a curvy "s" shape - plus googly eyes of course! - we made our very own monkeys! We mounted them on yellow paper because - ya know... monkeys love bananas!


would you be mine? could you be mine? valentine's day...

Ah... love is in the air in the storytime room - it's Valentine's Day!

This week, in addition to the four weekday storytimes I do, I also had one of my monthly evening storytimes. I ended up singing two of my books (you'll see!) and struggling a bit with the craft, but I think it all came together in the end.

Here's the setlist*:

'Hello, Everybody'


Welcome: I usually ask the kids to guess what the week's stories are about, but I think they're on to me and remembering what I am telling them the week before. :) I also changed the mittens hanging on our storytime tree into hearts - that might have been a good clue for some. I asked what Valentine's Day is about and the most frequent answers were "hearts" and "love". We talked about the people we love (Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, sisters, brothers, friends, pets) and what we do on Valentine's Day to show them we love them (give them Valentine's cards, candy, flowers, hugs, and kisses).

Love, Splat by Rob Scotton
Splat is an awesomely neurotic cat. In this story, he's in serious like with a green-eyed kitten named... Kitten. He's made her a special valentine, but he is struggling with how she makes him feel, especially when "she pulls his ears, pokes his belly, ties his tail and calls him 'smelly' and then runs away"! And when Spike declares his like for Kitten, too, will Splat be able to share his feelings?

The Ballad of Valentine by Alison Jackson
Best thing about this book? You *have* to sing it. Set to the tune of "My Darling Clementine", it is impossible not to sing about how our hero has tried forty different ways to share his feelings for Valentine - all of which have failed. Mailman? Couldn't find the address. Homing pigeon? Dropped the message in Madagascar. Railroad car? Derailed. Smoke signal? Lost in a cyclone. My favorite lost Valentine involves a plane and wind that blow away letters, leaving just "my _al_n_ine".

Skidamarink by G. Brian Karas
I have to admit, I always thought it was Skinnamarink... but Skidamarink lends it self nicely to this adorable flap picture book of two friends - a polar bear and a penguin - slipping, sliding, and SKIDDING around a makeshift glacial RINK. :) You have to sing this one, too, but it's a great way to introduce kids to this song and all the moves that go with it!

Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink (hold right elbow in left hand and wave right hand)
Skidamarkink-a-do. (hold left elbow in right hand and wave left hand)
I (point to eye)
Love (cross arms over chest)
You (point to a you!)...

Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink (hold right elbow in left hand and wave right hand)
Skidamarkink-a-do. (hold left elbow in right hand and wave left hand)
I (point to eye)
Love (cross arms over chest)
You (point to a you!)...

I love you in the morning (interlock fingers and swing arms low)
and in the afternoon. (interlock fingers and swing arms at waist height)
I love you in the evening (interlock fingers and swing arms over head)
and underneath the moon!

Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink (hold right elbow in left hand and wave right hand)
Skidamarkink-a-do. (hold left elbow in right hand and wave left hand)
I (point to eye)
Love (cross arms over chest)
You (point to a you!)!

Valentine Surprise by Corinne Demas
This book is all about the illustrations for me. Lily wants to make Mommy a special Valentine, but the handmade hearts are just not coming out right. What happens when Lily runs out of paper? How can she make the perfect Valentine now?

Craft: Valentine Bracelets/"Hug"

I had to make two crafts this week because my monthly evening storytime had rolled around and sometimes my daytime kids are repeats in the evening session. I can't necessarily read a whole new set of books (though I do try to mix it up), but I can nake sure the craft is different. ;)

For the daytime kids, I gave each one a white pipecleaner and 12 beads - red, white, pink, and purple. They also got to choose a heart bead of any color and told them that to get it in the center, they'd have to count six beads, add the heart, and then add six more beads. Some did this diligently; others did what they liked, which is always okay with me. It was fun to watch the littlest ones work on their fine motor skills - and they all seemed to like the finished product (yes, boys liked pink/purple bracelets)!

For the evening storytime, I struggled to come up with something that incorporated the two heart diecuts we own. After surfing Google images for while, I came up with something that's kind of a combo of things I saw - I call him the "Hug". :)

I took the wider heart shape, diecut it in pink and used it for the head. I used the taller heart shape (cut in red) and made a body. Then I accordion folded strips of black paper for the arms and cut out small hearts from scrapbook paper for hands. I used a red pom-pom for a nose, googly eyes (of course) and a black marker smile. We glued the whole thing onto a popsicle stick (thanks for the suggestion, Virgy!) and voila! Hugs. :D

Hope you had a Happy Valentine's Day!!

friends, friends, friends...

Let me begin this post by saying either this storytime needs a LOT of work or I was having a *seriously* off day, but storytime was not a big success for me today. I was kind of excited about the theme - friends - because it left me open to all kinds of stories, but the kids didn't really seem to get into it and many of them even seemed distracted. :(

For what it's worth, here's the setlist:

'Hello Everybody'

Welcome: I asked the kids to guess what this week's theme was (which was hard to do!) and then gave them a hint - what do we call two people who play together and have fun? FRIENDS! I asked them what they do with their friends (play games, sing, dance, play sports, read, etc.) and told them that today's stories were all about friends - the good, the bad, and the funny.


Your Pal Mo Willems Presents Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Mo Willems rarely disappoints and this book is no exception. "Leonardo was a terrible monster." But not the way you'd think. Leonardo is terrible at being a monster. All he needs is one chance to "scare the tuna salad out of somebody" and he knows his reputation would be saved. After some research, he finds who he thinks is the most scaredy cat kid in the whole world... and Leonardo has to make a big decision.

This is a nice, big book which makes it easy to share, but the illustrations have some subtly to them that gets lost when children aren't seated close enough to spend some time viewing them. Overall, though, this is a great story to share as empathy is a skill that we must learn.

Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett
I might have forced this one because I just love it SO MUCH. Chameleon is doing all he can to find himself a friend and end his loneliness. Now, we all know that chameleons can change their color, but this Chameleon bends over backwards to fit in with his desired "friends"! The text is minimal, so the charm is really in the pictures (and some of Chameleon's own dialog, which includes asking a sock on a clothesline if they could "hang out") but I did try to make the story a little more interactive by asking the kids if Chameleon could really be friends with some of the sillier objects.

Let's Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile
I used this book with my 4-K group as I was pretty sure it would be over the 2-3 year old's heads. Frankie and Sid have done everything - played every game, baked enough cookies to "feed a small country", etc. - so there's nothing left to do... but nothing. Which is a lot harder than it sounds.

I got some serious giggles from some of the harder-to-crack storytime nuts. :)

Song: 'Skidamarink' (reprisal from last week) & 'If You're Friendly & You Know It"

A Girl and Her Gator by Sean Bryan
As a huge fan as A Bear and His Boy, which we read earlier this session, you can imagine my delight in finding A Girl and Her Gator. A girl wakes up with a gator on top of her head. All the lines rhyme with "there", so our girl is Claire and our gator is Pierre - who reassures Claire that a girl can do anything with a gator up there. And concerns about whispering, gossiping friends are put to rest when Claire has the courage to embrace her new headpiece.

I'm the Best! by Lucy Cousins
If the cover doesn't get you, the story certainly will. Dog has great friends - Donkey, Goose, Mole, and Ladybug - but he needs you to know that he wins at everything he tries, so he is the best! His friends are hurt by Dog's boastful ways and (surprisingly) it doesn't take long for Dog to realize that he isn't the *best*... or is he?

The bright and cheery illustrations are real attention grabbers and the kids in both groups really loved this one.

Craft: "My name is ____ and I am a good friend" Portraits
I definitely came up short in the craft department this week. I didn't plan far enough ahead because if I HAD, I would have tried to borrow a handprint diecut from a neighboring library to use to make a friendship wreath.

Instead, I wrote out the sentence above and drew a head with ears, a neck, and the top of a shirt. Then I had the kids (who could) write their names and add hair and features to do a self-portrait.


thinking outside the box...

As I may have mentioned earlier, this session I am flying solo when it comes to storytimes. With the exception of our Books & Babies storytimes, I am the storytime presenter here at the library. I have a drop-in each Tuesday, two storytimes on Wednesdays, two storytimes on Fridays, and a monthly storytime on a Thursday evening.

Flying solo is pretty cool in that I am solely in charge of what we read and what we make... I pick the songs and I make the nametags and I generally call the shots. Now, this is not to say that I was not able to make my own choices in the previous session - it's just different when you are collaborating with other people who bring their own ideas and favorites to the storyroom. I am the whole show these days - with repeat performances.

So I've been struggling to come up with my themes... I find myself falling back on the tried and true animals over and over. I started off with bears, but I knew that I wanted to take my other storytimes in a different direction. But where?

Enter storytimekatie - my go-to blog since I accepted this position and learned about my storytime responsibilities. Using the theme tab Katie so graciously put at the top of her page, I was able to peruse a list of themes she's used since 2010... but it was the BOXES post on the right-hand side of the screen popped right out at me!

Boxes? Katie is brilliant! I tweaked the storytime a little bit - I used shapes for the flannelboard and the craft - but the imagination/box theme was strong through the story selection.

Here's the setlist*:

"Hello Everybody"

Welcome: I didn't have enough "box" books to display around the room, so I asked the children to guess what storytime was about based on the flannel shapes I had up on the board. The most frequent guesses were "shapes" and "colors" - and I told them that they were right... but we'd be reading stories about using our imagination to play with shapes and colors.


I've been having a LOT of trouble with covers messing up my text, so I am borrowing ANOTHER page from Katie's book and doing a book collage at the top of the books section. :)
A Box Can Be Many Things by Dana Meachen RauThis book is pretty small, but it did such a good job of illustrating that all it takes to take a box from blah and boring to superfun is a little imagination - and maybe a well-placed square cut-out.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Oh how I LOVE this book! One page shows our friend the Rabbit standing next to (or on top of, or inside) what looks like an ordinary box. The next page reveals, however, that it is NOT a box. Lots of giggles on this one.
Flannel: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell OR Flannel Shapes
Katie made an UH-mazing flannel version of this set of printables; I printed the printables in color, laminated them, and added velcro (yup, BIG cheater). The story is so easy to tell without the text and the kids who haven't seen the book (not too many *haven't*!) had a fun time guessing what was in each box.

I did not, however, have this ready to go at the beginning of the week, so I also used our Ellison to make basic shapes in flannel - a circle, square, triangle, rectangle, and (for fun) a trapezoid. C'mon- it's superfun to say 'trapezoid'... it's the 'zoid'. It makes the word. :D I showed the group how we culd rearrange to shapes to make new things - a house, a rocket, a clown, a gumball machine, a tractor, a truck... and that's exactly what we did for our craft!

Song: 'If You're Happy & You Know It'

(4-K group) It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
We own the big book version of this book and it was fun to use with the older kids... they enjoyed shouting out what they saw and learning that, in the end, it was none of those things. :)
(2-3 group) Meeow and the Big Box by Sebastien Braun
This book also encouraged the kids to guess what was being made, but I thought Meow (such a cute illustration) would play better to them than the simple blue and white pages of It Looked Like Spilt Milk.
Magic Box by Katie Cleminson
We finished up with this whimsical story of a girl and her magic box - the illustrations, which use an interplay of black, white, and shocks of color, is what takes this book to the next level. Getting the pet you always wanted isn't bad, either!
Craft: Shape Creations!
I gave the kids construction paper shapes like the felt ones I'd used on the board and a sheet of black construction paper. I also gave them a quarter sheet of paper with ideas for using the shapes to make pictures!
I think that despite a rough start in trying to come up with a theme this week, I ended up in good shape.


Get it?! :D


Groundhog day is sort of a big deal in the town where I work because this happened here:
Do they license groundhogs in this state?
Groundhog Day was filmed here 20 years ago and the town celebrates this holiday in grand style - and I knew I had to bring my A game to Groundhog storytime.

One problem:
Every. single. Groundhog's Day story. is a flippin'. NOVEL.

Some books are just too long for use in storytimes - especially when your audience is two- and three-years-old. Don't get me wrong - you can get away with a longer story once in a while, but groundhog books? It seemed like they were ALL too long!

I made some adjustments and all in all, I think I did pretty well. :)

Here's the setlist*:

'Hello, Everybody'

Welcome: I really wow'ed the crowd with my groundhog knowledge. I asked the kids if they knew that groundhogs were also called whistlepigs and woodchucks - then told them that though they look like bears or beavers, groundhogs are actually closely related to squirrels! Groundhogs all make their homes in a very similar way - it a 'W' shape with two "rooms" and a "backdoor". Groundhogs go to sleep (hibernate!) for the winter and we watch for them waking up to tell us if winter will continue (for six more weeks) or if spring is coming early. A groundhog will peek out from his hole in early February - we say that if he sees his shadows, he'll duck back in and winter continues. If the groundhog stays up above ground, it's a sign that winter is over. (It was important to keep reiterating this as it tied in well with our craft.)


Punxsutawney Phyllis by Suzanna Leonard Hill
I actually only read this book to my drop-in storytime group. Because I don't do a craft with drop-ins, there is more time for reading, so I was able to work in two long stories (at the beginning and the end). Phyllis is a spunky little groundhog and a grand-niece of a very important fella - Punxsutawney Phil! When Phyllis gets it in her head that she'd make a *great* Punxsutawney Phyll, she has to overcome her family's narrow view that only a BOY can be that special groundhog.

Go to Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox
This was the best story for length and it was very cute. I mean, look at the cover up there - a groundhog in pajamas? Uh, adorable! Groundhogs usually go to sleep in the fall and wake up in February, so they miss a lot - Halloween, Thanksgiving, & Christmas. Our groundhog, however, is having trouble staying asleep. His alarm clock is set for February 2, so his friends try to help him get the rest he needs to kick off spring.

Ten Grouchy Groundhogs by Kathryn Heling
This simple rhyming story is more of a transition book; it helped bridge me to the song I used next. We visit a very crowded den of ten cooped up groundhogs and count them down and they shout, "Let me out! Let me out!" When only one is left, he decides to poke his head out and look - what does he find?

Song: 'Ten Little Groundhogs' ('Ten Little Indians')
One little, two little, three little groundhogs; (count 1,2,3 fingers)
Four little, five little, six little groundhogs; (count 4,5,6 fingers)
Seven little, eight little, nine little groundhogs; (count 7,8,9 fingers)
Ten little groundhogs sleeping underground. (lay your head down on your hands)

Ten little, nine little, eight little groundhogs; (countdown 10,9,8)
Seven little, six little, five little groundhogs; (countdown 7,6,5)
Four little, three little, two little groundhogs; (countdown 4,3,2)
One little groundhog pops up and looks around! (put your hands up like a begging dog and pop up!)

Song: 'If You're Happy & You Know It'
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap twice, sing x2)
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it!
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet (stomp twice, sing x2)
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it!
If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet.

If you're happy and you know it, shout 'hooray!'(shout twice, sing x2)
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it!
If you're happy and you know it, shout 'hooray!'

If you're ready for a story, take a seat. (sing x2)
Clap your hands (clap twice), stomp your feet (stomp twice),
And make sure your hair is neat (smooth sides) -
If you're ready for a story, take a seat!
Good job!

Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller
This is a cute, fun story, but at this point in the program, I couldn't read another one this long. So what I did here was I told the story with the illustrations. Groundhog has a sore throat and Dr. Owl tells him he must stay in bed for two days - but Groundhog Day is tomorrow! Groundhog gets an idea - he puts up a want ad at the Hidey Hole Cafe and soon, he has Mole, Eagle, Bear, and Squirrel lined up for interviews. When a strange animal arrives and claims she can do the job, Groundhog is forced to take a leap of faith - and a vacation!

Craft: Groundhog Holes
I found green paper cups at a party supply store - figured that it would simulate the ground that the groundhog is popping out of without requiring the kids to decorate the cup. I could see using white paper cups (no coating) and having the kids decorate those, though - maybe next time! I used an Exacto knife to cut slits into the bottom of the cup.

I used a bear diecut we have to make the upper half of the groundhog. A small brown pom-pom and a small square of white paper with a black line down the middle made a nose and teeth. Googly eyes topped off the look. We glued the groundhogs to tongue depressors and slipped those through the hole in the cup...

Voila! A groundhog puppet who can pop up and drop back down - and a big hit with the kids and parents alike. :)

Hope you had a very Happy Groundhog's Day!