Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy


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?

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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


Upcoming Webinar: Create a Personal Learning Network That Works For You

Hooray! I’m excited to announce that on March 25th I will be co-presenting an ALSC Student Session webinar (this means it’s free!) with fellow Joint Chiefs Cory and Amy. We will be talking about the whys and hows of creating your own personal learning network.

This promises to be a good time (we have Ninja Turtle gifs, need I say more?) and educational so we hope you’ll join us! If you can’t make it on the day the webinar will be archived.

Here are the details:

Create a Personal Learning Network That Works For You

Join the Joint Chiefs of the Storytime Underground, an online community for youth services librarians, as we discuss how you can use social media to create your personal learning network, or PLN. We will explore how your PLN can help you meet and collaborate with others in the field as you take charge of your career and professional development.

Who Should Attend

This webinar is open to all students, ALSC members, non-members and anyone with an interest in a career in children’s services.

Course Level & Prerequisites

No specific course level nor prequisities are required for this course.


Cory Eckert is a Librarian III with the Houston (TX) Public Library. She also serves on the ALSC Quicklists Consulting Committee, the LLAMA Membership Committee, the YALSA State Association Outreach Committee, and the YALSA State Conferences Road Trip Task Force.Kendra Jones is a Children’s Librarian at the Vancouver Community Library, part of the Fort Vancouver (WA) Regional Library District. She also serves on the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.

Amy Koester is the Children’s Librarian at the Corporate Parkway Branch Library of the St. Charles (MO) City-County Library District. She served on the ALSC 2014 (John) Newbery Award Committee.

Date(s) & Time(s)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
7 PM Eastern
6 PM Central
5 PM Mountain
4 PM Pacific

Credits &/or CEUs Heading

College credit nor CEU’s are available for ALSC Student Sessions at this time.


Student sessions are offered free of charge.

Technical Requirements

To take part you must have a computer, Internet access, web browser, and a copy of Flash® Player 8 or higher. You can download a free copy of Flash® Player from the Adobe website if you do not already have it. For more information, view a video about Abode Connect meetings produced Adobe.

How to Register

To sign up for this webinar, please fill out the registration form. Registration is free. Participants must register before Monday, March 24 at 4pm Central. A few days before the event, registrants will receive an email with a direct link to the forum. For more information, please see the contact information below.


Dan Bostrom
ALSC Membership/Marketing Manager
(800) 545-2433 ext 2164


Why My Tweeps Rock: 3rd Grade Read Alouds

Ok, there are SO MANY ways in which my tweeps rock. For reals, if any librarian or aspiring librarian asked me what ONE thing they should do professionally I’d say “Get active on twitter.”  So many fabulous people to meet and great brains to tap.

Tuesday I was stumped for 3rd grade read alouds. I mean stumped. The only titles that popped into my head were checked out (and not really exciting me anyway-Alexander by Viorst and Strega Nona by DePaola, True Story of the Three Little Pigs (that one excited me but it was gone)).

So, I turned to twitter.

My plea for help

What’s your favorite story to read to 3rd graders? Having a mental jam.

Guess how many replies I got? 12 librarians. With 30 different title suggestions! In half a day! Amazing!

These are the titles they suggested, in case you ever find yourself needing them (in no particular order):

The Stupids by Harry Allard

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (like Fresca!)

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Vote For Me! by Ben Clanton

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea (who is also on twitter and really funny)

Crankee Doodle (3 people suggested this one!) by Tom Angleberger

I Scream, Ice Cream by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The Dark by Lemony Snicket

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger

Pancakes for Supper by Anne Isaacs

Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by D.B. Johnson (We had this one, hooray! They loved it, hooray!)

Let’s Do Nothing by Tony Fucile

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell

Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Owen and Mzee by Isabella Hatkoff (book talked it-it was too long for my tastes, but they liked looking at it)

The Dirty Cowboy by Andy Timberlake

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman

Guess Again by Mac Barnett (Had it, read it, they LOVED it!)

The Wolf Who Cried Boy by Bob Hartman

Hip and Hop, Don’t Stop by Jef Czekaj

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach

Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech

Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude by Kevin O’Malley

Thank you Mary, Nicole, Emily, Brooke, Marge, Sarah, Ms. Lizzie Anne, Melissa, Angie, Liz, Heather, and Annie for your suggestions!!

Moral of the story: get on twitter and make some friends. You won’t be sorry. Also, don’t procrastinate like me. It’s bad.


Explore! A Preschool STEAM Program

Our first Explore! program was Monday afternoon and I think it was a success. There were 30 people in attendance, 17 of which were children. About half came for the program and the other half were in the library at the time and decided to attend. ALL of them had a great time. How do I know? Lots of smiles, half the books on display were checked out, everyone was there for at least 30 minutes, and these exclamations were overheard: “I want to come to every single one!”, “This is the best day!”, “I love this, it’s sticky stuck.”

Need I say more?

Here’s how it went down:

As families came in, children wrote their names on these wooden blocks and took them to the storytime rug where they sat on a lilypad, fish, or stone. The blocks idea came from the Library Makers blog.


Once everyone had their name on a block we sang this song (to the tune of Good Night Ladies):

Hello ________

Hello ________

Hello ________

Come build something with your blocks!


I then invited those 3 children, and only those 3 children (this is great patience and taking turns practice, parents) to come up to the tray where my name block was sitting and add their blocks to it. They chose to stack it like a tower. Then I asked them to sit back down and we did the next 3 names and so on until everyone had placed their block.  As Library Makers mentions, the engineering part of this activity is awesome. I did not rush the children as they were having great conversations about where to put things after the tower collapsed everyone had to come back up and fix it. They had a LOT of fun working together on that one. Best part: one girl asked which was her block and I picked it up and said I think it is this one because it has the first letter of your name on it. She said “Yes, the M!” and pointed to the letter. Work those literacy skills, little ones.


After the tower was all fixed up we sat back down for another song and a story.

This one is sung while getting a beat on your knees.

Song: Now It’s Time for Storytime (tune of Camptown Races)

Now it’s time for storytime, doo, dah, doo, dah

Now it’s time for storytime, oh de doo dah day

Raise your arms and say “Hooray!” it’s a library day

Now it’s time for storytime, oh de doo dah day

We repeat on our heads and tummies.

Book: Bubblegum, Bubblegum by Lisa Wheeler (it was between this and Hippospotamus so I just randomly grabbed one form the table-I hate hard decisions!)

Exploration time: Oobleck

I explained the activity to the children and parents, emphasizing that all Explore activities are designed to be done with parents and children working together. We have prompts on the tables in case parents want some ideas for questions to ask their children while exploring.


Corn starch was placed in orange dishes and there were pitchers of water on the tables. Kids dumped the cornstarch from the orange dish to the black dish they were given and took some time to play with the corn starch by itself. Some kids (like me) did not like the way it felt but others loved it saying it felt soft. Then they added water. Some added too much and had to decide if they needed more corn starch (I had more on hand to add upon request). That meant asking their neighbors what was happening to theirs and asking me whether it was right. I described what it might feel like and if they didn’t feel that they might need to add either water or starch. In the end they all ended up with white goo they were happy with. One boy could NOT understand why it felt like he could pick it up but then it “went away”. It was fun to watch him try over and over.


After they were done with Oobleck I had baggies of orange Flubber (aka Gak) for them to play with and then take home. Originally I was just going to have them take them home as I thought they would spend more time on the Oobleck. I’ve noted that for future programs we should have 2 stations of activity.

I also had some Flubber and 2 Ingredient Slime for them to play with if they wanted to save their Flubber for home.

People left gradually after having their fill of Oobleck and Flubber, but not before I handed out Explore Journals suggesting to parents that they ask about what they saw, heard, felt today and let their kids write or draw about it in the journal. They can add an entry each week after they attend the program.

Other handouts: Recipe sheet and Prompt sheet (see image with pitcher above)

My coworker will repeat this program on Thursday.

*Note* We planned to have the kids playing with Oobleck the whole time. But that did not keep their attention so at the last minute I added the Flubber free play, We’ve decided for future programs we need to have 2 stations of activity for them to move between.  Since 3 year olds are in a different place than 6 year olds it makes sense to provide a station-like atmosphere so those who need to vary their tasks can and those who want to focus on one thing for an hour can do that.

Next week’s theme: Fizz!

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Storytime Undergound

This blog has been slow lately, but it’s for good reason. I’ve been helping build a community. Cory Eckert had this great idea to start this community where people who do storytime could get and share advice and advocate for storytime at the same time. The HOW and WHY behind storytime. She says it much better than I in the first Storytime Underground post.

Anyone who provides storytime or is interested in early literacy should definitely visit the site. I would also encourage you to show the site to managers and others who might have a say in storytimes and early literacy in your library and community.

If you really know your stuff, please consider signing up to be a Storytime Ninja. If you sign up, you will receive emails with questions to answer about storytime. You can choose to answer the question, or skip it if aren’t jiving with that particular question. The question and answers will be posted on the website with your name (and blog and/or twitter handle) attached to the answer.

If you have some AMAZING early literacy research, websites, anything like that, please share it with us so we can post it to the Armory of Awesome. Or ask to write a guest post about it.

These are just a couple ways to be involved with this movement. Go here for information about participating.

Oh, and in looking for an awesome gorilla picture to attach to this blog, I saw this one. And for some reason it cracks me up so much so you get to see it, too.

Very excited gorilla. He clearly needs storytime.

Very excited gorilla. He clearly needs storytime.

This is more how I feel about this project, though.

Hell, yes! We can do this!

Hell, yes! We can do this!

So, let’s do it! We know how important storytime is, so let’s tell the world. Back it up with research and experience, help each other learn and grow, and have a good time doing it.

This has been the best collaboration I have ever been a part of. Amy and Cory are AMAZING women and I have learned so much from them over the last few weeks.This has been, and will continue to be, a wonderful experience for me so a big THANK YOU for letting me be a part of this!