it's spring...

Well, it was spring when I was reading these stories! We had a week and a half of very unusual weather for March in this part of the Midwest - several days we had temperatures in the 80's! This morning, however, it was less than 40... back to reality!

I decided to do spring stories because the first day of spring fell during that week of storytime - but I kept the theme pretty loose... we read a spring book, a flower book, and two "green" books. Our flower craft (one to take home and one to display in the storytime room) tied it all together and we had fun springing into spring.

Here's the setlist*:

'Hello, Everybody'

Welcome: I asked the children if they knew what season it was? This was hard because the 'season' concept is difficult for 2-3 year olds. So I asked, 'Is it winter?'... 'Is it fall?'... what season brings all the flowers out? With some help, we arrived at spring. I pointed out how our clothes are changing (we're wearing shorts, short-sleeves, sandals) and how our world is changing (we see leaves on trees and flowers on the ground). I told them it was like everything wakes up!


Hurray for Spring! by Patricia Hubbell
This book is more of a poem than it is a proper story, but it highlights a lot of what children will notice around them as spring arrives. Our narrator (the little boy in the picture) sees ants and flowers, puddles and geese. A nice way to ease ourselves into the season.

Bumblebee, Bumblebee Do You Know Me?: A Garden Guessing Game by Anne Rockwell
As I was emphasizing flowers and their association with spring, this book seemed very fitting. Each page asks a different garden insect if it recognizes the flower being described - lilies, irises, zinneas, daffodils, roses - until we ask the children if they recognize a flower... the guessing is fun. I had the children repeat the names of the flowers for added participation.

Where is Tippy Toes? by Betsy Lewin
This book was a bit of a stretch and would have probably fit better with last week's "green" theme, but I did like the neat pages and I think the kids did, too. "Everyone knows where Tippy Toes is when the sun is up and the day is his..." but where does Tippy Toes go when evening comes? We had a good time finding out.

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
Okay, this one *definitely* belonged in last week's storytime, but it arrived (interlibrary loan) too late to use - but I couldn't NOT share it with the kids! It was by far the BEST book we used this week - we all had a ball. Since it repeats throughout the book, I had the kids asking with me, "But where is the green sheep?" In one storytime, they repeated each and every line - it was so fun!

Flannel: Five Little Bunnies
(I used five brown and white bunnies made from our bunny Ellison die for this counting rhyme)

One little bunny, wondering what to do?
Along came another - and then there were two!
Two little bunnies, hopping near a tree...
Along came another - and then there were three!
Three little bunnies, playing outdoors...
Along came another - and then there were four!
Four little bunnies, so fluffy and alive...
Along came another - and then there were five!
Five little bunnies in the warm spring sun...
they all hopped away and then there were none.

Rhyme: This is My Garden

This is my garden. (one palm up)
I rake it with care (use three fingers from opposite hand)
And then I plant little seeds in there. (pinch fingers and plant in palm)
The sun with shine (arms above head)
and the rain will fall. (fingers sprinkling down)
My flowers will bloom (cup two hands)
and grow straight and tall. (reach up high and stretch)

Craft: Flower Pictures/Blooms for Storytime Tree
We have a three piece Ellison die for building flowers - a large petal piece, a medium petal piece, and a small center. I cut these out in red, orange, yellow, blue, pink, and purple and mixed and matched them around the table. I asked children to make one for themselves - to glue onto a half sheet of blue construction paper with a pre-cut stem and circle "bumblebee". They also made grass with a sixth of a sheet of green construction paper and scissors - great practice for fine motor skills. The other flower was for the tree on our bulletin board.

It's beginning to look a lot like spring around here - even if it doesn't feel like it today! :)

wearing o' the green...

Yup... it's another St. Patrick's Day storytime post. My last post was about the storytime I presented for the monthly Evening Storytime group... this one has been tweaked a bit for my weekly drop-in (more books, no craft) and 2-3/4-5 year-old groups.

I complained a bit about how much I dislike St. Patrick's Day storytime... and my main complaint is basically, "How many leprechaun stories can I possibly read and STILL keep the interest of a group of children?" Well, this time around I decided to sorta half-sies the storytime - yes, I would read St. Patrick's Day/Irish/leprechaun stories... but I would also read plain ol' "green" stories, too - which gives me a lot more freedom in picking out stories! I just finished the drop-in and I was really happy with how it went!

Here's the (tweaked) setlist*:

'Hello, Everybody'

Welcome: As is my custom, I asked the kids if they had any guesses about what storytime was about today. The daycare group that comes once a month was in today and those kids are a little older, so the guessing went well. ;) I had five shamrocks up on the flannel board, so they guessed green right away... and when I asked what holiday was coming up this weekend, they got that one, too. I explained that St. Patrick's Day is a holiday when lots of people celebrate their Irish hertiage... so I asked what the kids knew about Ireland? No answers here, so I told them that Ireland was an island - and they told me that islands are in oceans and they have sand. :D I told them that Ireland is a very GREEN island, which is why the tiny creatures - called leprechauns - that we read about like to dress in green... so they can hide! When I asked what leprechauns were hiding, the kids knew the answer was gold - and I got my jumping off point for my leprechaun stories.


Lucky Leprechaun by Dawn Bentley
This is a sparkly board book, but I chose to start out with it because a) the illustrations are sweet and b) it's a pretty simple text for introducing/recalling the leprechaun concept. Lucky Leprechaun has a few more coins to add to his pot of gold... but he can't recall where he put it! Ultimately, it's right where you'd expect it to be... but half the fun is getting there.

Clever Tom and the Leprechaun by Linda Shute
I used this one in my Evening Storytime - it's a bit long and I changed some of the words as I read it ('spade' to 'shovel', 'boliauns' to 'weeds') but it turns out that is is an adaptation of a traditional Irish story called 'The Field of Boliauns' and so I am very happy to have shared it with my groups.

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
I love love LOVE Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I just adore the way she thinks - and so did the kids in today's drop-in. While Little Pea is like those kids in so many ways, there is one big comical difference: it turns out that veggies eat CANDY for dinner. And Little Pea can't stand it! Lots of good chuckles here.

Lizette's Green Sock by Catharina Valckx
This story is translated from French really is a heartwarmer. I was really taken with the illustrations and I think the children enjoyed them, too. Lizette is out on a walk when she finds a beautiful green sock - and puts it on. It's not long before some mean boys (cats, really) point out that socks come in PAIRS... and Lizette sets out to find her match. There's a subtle humor in this story that had parents in the room smiling and chuckling, too - this one's a winner.

Song: "I'm a Little Leprechaun" (to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot")

I'm a little leprechaun (gesture to self)
dressed in green (drag hands - palms up - down body)
Tiniest man that you've ever seen (hold thumb and forefinger "small" gesture in front of eye)

If you can catch me it is told (grasp air, trying to 'catch' something)
I will give you all my gold! (gesture to self, then extend hands, palm up)

Flannel: Five Little Shamrocks
(I used our shamrock Ellison die to make five felt shamrocks, which we 'planted' on the flannel board.)

Five little shamrocks growing outdoors,
If (child's name) picks one, now there are

Four little shamrocks as green as can be,
If (child's name) picks one, now there are

Three little shamrocks in the morning dew,
If (child's name) picks one, now there are

Two little shamrocks swaying in the sun,
If (child's name) picks one, now there is

One little shamrock for St. Patrick's Day fun,
If (child's name) picks it, now there are none!

We did this a few times so that every child had a chance to pick shamrocks (and plant them again). :)

Craft: Green Shamrock Crowns!

Our Spanish-language storytime presenter came up with for this storytime. It involved what is traditionally one of my craft-time no-no's (GLITTER), but you know what? It turned out great!

Each child got a 2-inch wide green strip. I asked them to glue the shamrock diecut in the center of the strip. Then, we decorated with glitter glue (gold was awesome), shamrock jewels (Oriental Trading), and markers.

The kids looked positively royal. :D


what's making me happy today... first edition!

I thought it might be fun to document some of the things that make me happy here at work... in addition to the time I spend in the storytime room. :)

I was just going through some of the pictures I've been taking to update my posts so that they include actual PHOTOS of the crafts that I describe doing, and I came across this one...

We had a terrarium program here at the library not too long ago and in prepping for it, a co-worker and I became slightly obsessed with teeny, tiny gardens in containers. So I bought a jar and decorative rocks at IKEA and last weekend, I trekked out to the gardening center and got myself some pea gravel, charcoal, sphagnum moss, potting soil, little plants AND tiny terracotta pots! *squeee!*

I can't wait to make a fairy garden with my kids this summer. :)

And that's what's making me happy today... my desktop terrarium.

luck of the irish...

Last night was our monthly Evening Storytime and being that I won't see this group again until April, it seemed only fitting to make our theme St. Patrick's Day. Now, as my regular readers know, (wait... do I *have* regular readers - Hi, Mom!) I am new to the storytime game and this is my first go-round with holiday themes. I learned in February that Groundhog's Day books can be terribly long. In March, I am learning that St. Patrick's Day books can be just terrible. :)

Now, to be fair, I am a little bit biased when it comes to St. Patrick's Day. My mother is from Belfast and my father is from Derry, so I am an Irish girl through and through. As an Irish girl, I know that the Irish are not four leaf clover enthusiasts - our symbol is three-leafed shamrock, thank you very much - and I know that there is a lot more to our folklore than the cheeky leprechaun. So I get a little frustrated with offerings that don't go much beyond that.

That said, it's all in fun and fun is what storytime is about - so I read my leprechaun stories and presented my fairly detailed paper-piecing leprechaun craft and I think all went very well indeed.

Here's the setlist*:

'Hello Everybody'

Welcome: I asked what people knew about St. Patrick's Day and/or Ireland. My evening storytime has a wider variety of ages, so I get some pretty cool answers - it's about being Irish, people eat corned beef and cabbage (not this Irish girl!), leprechauns hide gold at the end of rainbows, Ireland is green, etc. etc. I shared that I am Irish and have visited Ireland just recently (over Christmas) and that the Irish tell wonderful stories about magic and fairies and (yes) leprechauns.


Clever Tom and the Leprechaun: An Old Irish Story by Linda Shute
I have to be honest and say that I did like this leprechaun story -- because Tom was caught in a way that didn't make him seem like a complete fool and the leprechaun was wearing something other than a green suit. :) Tom knows his leprechaun stuff - once you find one, you can't look away from them or they'll escape and leprechauns though tricky are true to their word. Tom is clever, but like most he is no match for a little man with a treasure to guard.

Song: 'The Hokey Pokey'
I shared with the group that the Irish love to dance. We formed a big circle and I talked a little bit about ceili dancing - which I guess could be likened to (and likely is the origin of) American square dancing. Since we didn't have time to learn to do either of those things, I told the kids we'd do a big group dance that we all know - the Hokey Pokey!

Looking for Leprechauns by Sheila Keenan
Twins Kevin and Devin live with their granny and are always up to mischief - which often includes making "monkey faces". When they hatch a plan to catch a leprechaun, they know that in order to get his gold, they'll have to make him laugh (which is news to me, but okay...) - putting their monkey-face making skills to the test.

Craft: Leprechaun Pots
Yep, I went the easy route. I did want to do something with shamrocks (we have the Ellison die, after all!), but the ideas I came up with were either too much like a craft we'd recently done (The Valentine's Day Hugs) or I was missing a crucial element (enough green pipe cleaners for Shamrock headbands). Instead, I came up with a fairly intense paper-piecing craft (7 paper pieces, googly eyes, a pompom, a gold coin, and a confetti "sticker") that the families really seemed to enjoy.

Wish I'd thought of that flag, too - but it's just a Picnik add-on. :)

The pot o' gold is a black pumpkin diecut with a strip of black glued across the top (I did that ahead of time) and the leprechaun is a gingerbread man. I made the signs with MS Publisher clipart and a free font from fontspace.com. We had the coins on hand from a previous Summer Reading Club and I used big Glue Dots to turn them into stickers. I also used Glue Dots for the pompom nose (most were smaller than this, but I was short on the ones that were more flesh colored) and the confetti shamrock (I wanted a shiny shamrock sticker, but I couldn't find any!).

Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley
I actually read this book after the craft - I wanted to have enough time to do the craft, but I didn't want to leave it at two books and one song. I decided to use this story as a way of explaining to the kids that the Irish identify with the shamrock more than the four-leaf clover (though in fairness, the shamrock is a clover). In this sweet and simple story, Bear is told that a four-leaf clover is lucky and he does his best to find one as other animals chime in with their thoughts (and appetites!). At the end of the story, I gave every child the  pièce de résistance of the evening's craft - the shamrock sticker. :)

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 


bird's the word...

Though there are still some drifts of snow where I am, today is a bright and breezy 60 degrees and I couldn't be happier. The sun is shining, the snow is melting, the birds are singing... and we're reading stories about birds!

Even though we take a week off between storytime sessions, I still found myself planning this one at the beginning of the week I am presenting it. That said, I know the theme of every subsequent week already - yay! And, I *really* like how this last-minute bird storytime came together - so I'm okay with it!

Here's the setlist*-

"Hello Everybody"

Welcome: I opened with the guessing game - and had to give a hint that the animals we are reading about have feathers. That pretty much gives it away! I asked what we already know about birds - and we knew that they fly, then build nests, they eat seeds and worms, the lay eggs... we know lots of things! I also mentioned that birds and I have something in common - we like to sing!


Sylvie by Jennifer Gordon Sattler
I know. I say it all the time but, PEOPLE. Sylvie is SO. CUTE! She's a little pink flamingo who wants to know why she and her family are pink, but the rest of the world is so many different colors. When she gets her answer, it starts her down the road to color adventure... and a tummyache. A great story for the little ones in the crowd because it moves quickly and has great pictures.

I'm Not Cute by Jonathan Allen
I had to borrow this one from another library, but I've heard good things and wanted to use it. It did not disappoint. Baby Owl is trying to stress to friends like Rabbit and Owl that he is NOT "cute", but is in fact a stealthy hunting machine... but he's trying to convince them of this as they are in the middle of hugging him and telling him how soft and cuddly he is. Mama understands, though - doesn't she?

Flying Lessons by Gilbert Ford
A group of doves (pigeons when you get right down to it) have been doing things the same way for time immemorial - same way of flying, same way to pass the time, same songs, same resting places. When a strange bird with no feathers decides to join them in their travels, the doves really have their feathers ruffled. As is usually the case, however, the strange bird is more than he seems and more than a friend to the rude doves when the time comes and they need him most. I can't say that I *love* this book, but it is definitely one worth sharing - especially for the airplane fans in the room.

Feathers for Lunch by Lois Ehlert
This is a fun, poetic story about a housecat who has a particular meal in mind - and it's *not* canned cat food. The purpose of this book is really to introduce common North American birds, but the text is sweet as well. I did take the time out the name all the breeds of birds that were featured but I think it disrupted the flow of the book.

How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills
Ahhhh! This was my *favorite* book this week!! Rocket is spending his fall afternoon doing all the things he loves - and topping it off with a nap when a little yellow bird introduces herself as his teacher and starts reading the story of an unlucky dog named Buster who loses his favorite bone. She leaves Rocket (an initally unwilling student) with a cliffhanger that has him "begging" for more. Before he knows it, he is caught up in the "wonderous" alphabet and learning to read one letter at a time.

Song: 'Be Like a Bird' (to the tune of 'London Bridge')

Flap your wings and fly around,
fly around, fly around.
Flap your wings and fly around -
be like a bird.

Land on the ground and hop, hop, hop,
Hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop.
Land on the ground and hop, hop, hop -
be like a bird.

Tuck your wings and peck your seed,
peck your seed, peck your seed,
Tuck your wings and peck your seed -
be like a bird.

Craft: Springtime Bird Ornaments
I found this bird ornament at Oriental Trading but didn't have time to order (as I am a last minute sorta gal). Instead, I substituted what I do have - a chick Ellison die, googly eyes, scrapbook paper, ribbon, buttons, and Glue-Dots - and made a pretty good knockoff version of the same thing. :)