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Adventures in early literacy

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When Someone Steals Your Storytime Bag

Never thought I’d be talking about scrambling to put together a storytime because someone stole my storytime stuff. But, it happened this week. On Fridays I present storytime in a different branch than the one where I usually live. So, on Wednesdays I pack all the stuff I’ll need into a bag and take it home with me. This way I can just start my day in the other library. This Wednesday, I left this bag in the front seat of my truck, which was parked on the street in front of our house. We live in a pretty urban area with lots of foot traffic and plenty of transient population scavenging in garbage bins and so on. One of those folks must have spied the bag and acted. When I went to the truck in the morning the driver side door was slightly open (sometimes the seat belt gets in a spot where the door doesn’t close completely but the alarm fob will still beep like it locked it-we’re guessing this is what happened) and my storytime bag and all it’s contents were nowhere to be found. Well, crap.

The loose plan for the storytime was to share some of the books in the bag (Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig, If You’re Happy and You Know It by Jane Cabrera, Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown, and This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne), blow bubbles, play Little Mouse, Little Mouse Are You in the ____ House?, and play with the parachute. None of this was going to happen.

While I drove to the library wondering what I’d be able to find to pull off storytime, I briefly considered going book-less like Mel talks about, but alas, I couldn’t think of a darn story to tell and I was in such a yucky mood it just didn’t feel right. Luckily, the branch had lots of great titles to choose from.


And in the closet I found miracle bubbles (a poor substitute for Gymboree and really I should have just skipped them) and some finger puppets. They don’t have any other props in that branch so the parachute will have to wait until next time (if I can remember where I put my personal one!).

I have super cute nametag stickers, too, which were also in the bag. So, back to basics with scrap paper and tape.


My mix CD’s were also taken but Barenaked Ladies to the rescue (never thought I’d say THAT!).


So, we ended up reading Bear Snores On by karma wilson. Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker, and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jane Cabrera. In between books we pretended to be popcorn and popped around the room to the Popcorn song on the album above. Then we were Jack in the Boxes and popped ourselves up instead of scarves. We made some Fruit Salad and Rowed our boats to see some animals friends.

In the end, it was a huge success! They missed Little Mouse, but I promised he’d be back next week and he will because… the bag was found! Thanks to my husband for scouring the neighborhood before asking across the street at the school. The Dean found the stuff and was drying it in his office. Most it’s contents were remaining. The parachute, storytime glove from Cory (WAAAAAAAHHH!!!!), nametags, CD’s, and my bestest water bottle are gone forever. You better be using the crap out of those things, thief!

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Moral of the story, thieves suck, and flexibility really IS the best skill to have where storytime is concerned.

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Ring in the Noon Year Party

It’s 2015! This post is late, but will be a good reminder of what went down for next year. This was a super fun event!


We started at 11:15 with the room set up with 3 sort of stations and space for a short storytime. As the kids arrived they decorated and wrote their names on a party hat. Once everyone was mostly settled we sang Hello Bubbles and Hands Are Clapping and I shared Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin. We talked a little about how different countries and cultures and even households celebrate the New Year in different ways and for different reasons. A few of the older kids were really interested in the idea that Chinese New Year happens at a different time than our New Year. After all questions were answered we did some egg shaking and I explained the stations.

OMG learn how to take a non-blurry picture!

OMG learn how to take a non-blurry picture!


Station #1: bubble wrap popping. Self explanatory. Most loved activity.

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Station #2: scratch art glasses. Because you need bling to ring in the new year.

There were a ton of these glasses in the closet at my new job. This seemed like the perfect time to use some of them. And kids love scratch art! Honestly, if you are going to get scratch art, I don’t recommend getting them from Oriental Trading-these glasses left a lot of residue and were a little too easy to scratch, I think. I’ve used things from Discount School Supply with success in the past.

Station #3: pipecleaner firework rings and 2015 pipecleaner tiaras and/or glasses. Because see above.

Got the idea for this from this site and this site via Pinterest, thanks to Elizabeth (@libraryeliza -she claims to not care about kids stuff but then somehow always finds the best ideas…)

They had about 20 minutes to explore the stations and there were shakers, scarves and dancing ribbons in the center of the room and music going for those who preferred a dance party to the activities on the tables.

As we approached noon I passed out blowers to everyone in the room. Then, as we counted down I put down some more bubble wrap and got ready to pull open the bags of balloons for a BALLoon drop.

Then it was total chaos as everyone shook shakers, blew on noisemakers, popped bubble wrap (and balloons) and played with balloons and their bling. There were 85 people in the room. So yeah.







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I Resolve to Rock in 2015

The challenge was given at Storytime Underground, to set professional goals for 2015. So, here goes!

Resolve to Rock meme image

This year, my resolutions are more about continuing in-progress goals. Because my career is very personal to me, most of these goals involve my whole self-personal and professional.


Building my confidence in myself has been an ongoing struggle for the past few years. Due to my tendency to try and please everyone, I have, in the past allowed others to walk all over me. Reminding myself continually that I am an intelligent, thoughtful woman who does, in fact, know what she is doing (or is wiling to learn) has helped me gather my courage to boldly go forth in many new endeavors from writing to presenting to programming. Having an amazing professional support system doesn’t hurt either, especially when I slip back to doubting myself (THANK YOU, ALL OF YOU).


Though I have loved the time spent on Storytime Underground and Storytime University, presenting, writing, and working, I am continuing to find a good balance between professional interests and personal ones. Part of this is due to my nature to always strive to be the best I can be. Realizing I can be the best children’s librarian for my community without needing to be known in the profession or taking away from my personal life. This year I’d like to spend more time traveling, hiking, and enjoying my family and that may mean less time working on professional development, or maybe the next and final resolution will fix this predicament.


Being raised by my extremely organized mother, one might think I would have learned something about being super organized. Alas, I hate planners and tend to rely more on sticky notes and memory. As I get older and busier, that last one has not proven to be so reliable as it once was. So, I’ve been working really hard to find an organization system that works for me. So far, a digital calendar tied to my email has been huge, as well as setting up my google calendar to alert me before things are due. Still, these options rely on my actually inputting the data so it isn’t 100% working yet. This year is the year!

So those are the three biggies for me this year. Along with some personal goals for a healthier lifestyle, it’s looking like a busy and productive year ahead.

Can’t wait to share with you all (part of getting organized will include more regular posts here)!


Songs and Lyrics, Oh My!

By now, you should all know I love to sing, even if it’s not always so great. The majority of every one of my storytimes is singing. I can’t help it, it just has to happen that way for storytime to work. I feel good, grown ups feel good, the kids definitely feel good so it’s a total win situation.

Anyway, I’ve had some requests for tunes and lyrics to various songs used in storytime. May I humbly direct you to my Rhymes page? There I have written out the words to more than 60 rhymes and songs and have recorded myself singing several of them.  I’m working really hard to get them all recorded but for now I’ve picked the ones with the trickiest tunes.

The newest members of the recorded song family are:

Hi, Hello, and How Are You?

The Elevator Song (Jbrary has also done this one)

Wake Up! Quiet and Loud song. This probably has a real name, but I call it the wake up song. VERY popular in storytime.

Hello and Goodbye Bubbles 

Wake Up Toes

Bouncing, Bouncing

Let me know if you need the tunes to anything else and I’ll get on it, asap. In the meantime, check out Jbrary and KCLS Tell Me a Story for visuals to go with the sound (I’m too lazy to get out of my pjs to do a video, sorry).

And just because. Yes, yes, I do.


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Play, Baby, Play: Ignite Session at ALA 2014

This year at ALA I was fortunate enough to be on the presenting side of things twice. Once for a Conversation Starter with the other Joint Chiefs of Storytime Underground (Amy’s write up is so good I’m just going to link to it and leave it at that). The other was an Ignite I co-presented with Brooke, who, I swear, is the best co-presenter EVER. No, really.

Mostly, the pictures speak for themselves but also we quickly (because you only get 5 minutes-each slide advancing automatically every 15 seconds) talked about why it’s important to play (motor skills, thinking symbolically, language learning, and because it’s fun, dammit!) and that babies are NOT too young for super awesome play activities in the library.

Here’s the only photo I know of that was taken. Thanks to JP for snapping it. He must have been too busy laughing (cuz, we’re hilarious, y’all) to get a non-blurry picture. Or, as Brooke said, it’s just our crazy energy!


Brooke also wrote about our Ignite, as well as the the Storytime Underground Conversation Starter: Storytime: Not Just Reading Out Loud so go over there for even more details. She clearly has her life more together than I do.

We’re both totally addicted to this kind of presentation so you can bet your bottoms we’ll be applying to do more in the future. Maybe on our collective obsession with snacks?


Baby Art in a Bag and Sensory Hoops

At the end of baby storytime we always have playtime. It is an integral part to any baby storytime, in my opinion. Usually I just put out a bin of toys (you can see what my storytimes typically look like here and here) but after a Twitter conversation between Abby, Rebecca, Mel, Lalitha, Brooke, Jbrary, Kelly, and others, I just had to start doing more. Plus, Rebecca started this which basically give me no excuse but to incorporate more than toys into that socialization play time. Way back I had parents dab their baby’s hands and feet onto jumbo washable stamp pads and make prints on postcards, but then I didn’t keep up with doing these kinds of things. Time to change!

First up, I handed out ziploc baggies with a piece of cardstock and a few squirts of washable tempura paint (just in case the bags leaked) and let them squish and feel and explore the bag. Then, parents could take the art home to let it dry and display.  Got this idea from Brooke.

This gal was only 3 months old and didn’t do a lot with it but was definitely interested.

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Next was baby eyebrows. Pure awesome.

This week was sensory hoops. Super easy to make and a lot of bang for the buck. We already had these small embroidery hoops  leftover from a screenprinting program and I just found fabric scraps in our craft closet and in my own sewing materials. Materials included felt, tulle, flannel, suede, plastic, faux fur and sheer fabrics. I set them around on the floor with the toys and told parents what they were. They all couldn’t wait to make them at home and had lots of questions. Meanwhile, their babies were going crazy feeling, mouthing, staring, and generally enjoying these new round objects in their environment.



Next? Perhaps water play!


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Guerrilla Storytime @ Washington Library Association

This was promised a month ago. My apologies for being so late.  Part of the trouble is that I did nto take very good notes so I was trying to track down some of the things I could remember but didn’t write down. I still missed a ton of stuff. So, IF YOU WERE IN THIS SESSION AT WLA, HELP ME OUT! Please add anything I missed in the comments.  Or heck, even if you weren’t there feel free to add stuff.

There were two Guerrilla Storytime sessions at WLA so I just combined both sessions. Pretty sure Washington Youth Librarians (and Librarians to be) are all geniuses. Pretty much how I felt through both sessions:


-Singing “Weeeelllll…” to catch their attention and then go into the song

-This is Big

-if you listen and you hear me go like this-cuz you’re standing really near me

Favorite songs, rhymes, openers/closers, get the wiggles out:

-Hand out lyrics sheets to parents to get more involvement

-Bubblegum song

-Have a seat on the floor (KCLS)

-Wind your watch to the tune of Frere Jacques (lyrics unknown!)

-If you’re happy and you know it

The more we read together
-cuz your book are my books
-do actions like “the more we dance together”, etc.
-use as an opener or closer
-use with names

-Storytime is over now (Mary had a little lamb)
-Good-bye sweethearts (instead of good night sweetheart)

Up down turn around

Keep your felt pieces from disappearing:
-pizza box flannel boards
-give them things to hold on to-spiders, pom poms
-make the kids your volunteers
-give them individual felt board (pizza boxes, embroidery hoops with flannel stretched, eg.)
-hide them or put them up higher

Favorite felt/prop songs:
Feet felt:-put your toes to your nose song- every kid gets a felt foot
Balloon Song (Ericka-on facebook)

Moms talking:
-ask them to stop
-make before storytime announcements
-rules displayed
-talk to them before or after storytime

-Rain is falling w/ scarves
-we’re going to kentucky-with bells
-we’re tapping-bells
-shake my sillies out

-mother and father and uncle john
-elevator song

Phone rings in ST:
-get volunteers in the room to help with crowd control issues like this
-sing to it if it’s a good tune
-hope parents hear it
-storytime guidelines that address the issue
-treasure hunt-hey kids, let’s find the phone!

-use books that have a song you can sing
-pair a book to a song- Huff & Puff by Claudia Rueda with three little pigs
-Old MacDonald with an animal book
-When animals get up in the morning
-Nancy Stewart and Jbrary are great resources

Kids punching each other:
-play a hand game that kids them doing something positive with their hands (open shut them)
-hands on your lap, hands on your ears, hands on your lap, eyes up here

-nametags every time, not where they write it at the beginning of storytime session and then find it each week from the pile
-make comments on everything they write-encouragement
-alphabet themes-letter of the day
-trace letters in the air
-weekly nametags-they spell it out for you if the can’t write it
-finger paint with shaving cream, whipped cream, pudding
-make shaving cream rain (uses eye droppers)
-write names on crafts/take homes

Other things that came up:

-Use CD’s instead of rhymes

-What if the group only wants stories and doesn’t want to do rhymes/wigglers? We basically told her to go with the group and just read if that’s all they want but be ready with the wigglers, just in case. We think she may have a group of children from outer space.

-Talk all the time-kids will be more verbal kids that way