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Adventures in early literacy

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Play, Baby, Play! Parachute Fun with Friends

Play Baby

One of the highlights of my summer so far was being visited by some of my closest friends and their kids. They attended storytime, devoured pancakes, sticky-fied my house in the best possible way, read me books, braved the coldest waters and piled rocks on the beach. It was the best. Thanks, friends, for giving me permission to use the awesome pics you took on this trip.

parachute storytime

If any of you ever get the chance to have personal friends attend storytime, do it. Sometimes as librarians we get used to talking about early literacy to people who are basically strangers, but then forget to share what we do with those closest to us. Now, all my friends have heard me talk about this for years, but it was still super rewarding for me to host them in my element.

storytimefriends maxstorytime storytime sat

Then I skipped out of work for the rest of the day and we hit the beach before they went home. And snacked. Duh.




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.



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


Baby Storytime: Eyebrows, Mustaches, Oh My!

So a couple week ago I saw this posted on Facebook (here’s another). I shared it, commenting that it probably wouldn’t be ok in baby storytime, but Angela and Josie urged me to do it. So, I did it. And this is what happened.

Today was the last storytime before our 2 week break. I like to do favorites for the last one everytime and not only did I learn a new one, that is definitely going into the regular rotation this summer, but heard lots of their favorites from this Spring. Smooth Road, Itsy Bitsy, The Elevator Song, Andy Pandy, Icky Bicky, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Giddyap, Choppity Chop, Toast in the Toaster, and the Merry Go Round song (these are all on the Rhymes page).

So, we sang, we rhymed (and used our fingers for pre-writing skills!), we read, and we talked. But what about play? Oh, we played.

This is what I had out, plus two containers of wipes (we use Huggies). I tested the markers and oil pastels on myself first and tried wiping it off with a wipe. They both came off really easily so I shared this tidbit with parents, obviously. As Lisa suggested, you could also use tub crayons. Or face paint crayons if you have them.


After we sang our goodbye bubbles song they went to town. I was really surprised by how enthusiastic they were about this activity! One dad has been begging his wife to let him draw on their daughter. She’s been able to hold him off until today. How could she say no to the children’s librarian? She couldn’t. My power is great.

The results:

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I especially love this last guy. He was obviously not as amused as the rest of us. Also, the wiggliest baby there ever was. 🙂


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Storytime for Twos: Eric Carle

Today’s 2 year old storytime ended up with an Eric Carle theme unintentionally, but hey, the guy’s great so there ya go. And this is the cutest meme and kinda related so.

Today’s outline:

Introduction, including a reminder about our district’s program marketing survey and to check out books for grown ups and let your children see you reading and enjoying it. The more you enjoy reading, the more your child will.

Hello Bubbles

Hi, Hello and How Are You with ukulele (I’m getting better, finally!)

This is Big, Big, Big

Breathe: take a deep breath and blow it out slow. Works really well for getting them ready to listen. Plus, I personally love it as a coping mechanism for stress and transition.

Book: The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

We repeated the phrase “she was very busy” in chorus on each page. It was really effective in keeping them engaged through this longer book.

Let’s Go Riding on an Elevator Love this video from Washington County of this rhyme.

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

This is Big, Big, Big


Book: From Head to Toe by Eric Carle


Warm up with shake high, low, fast, slow, fast, stop, fast, stop

We’re Tapping by Kathy Reid-Naiman

This is Big, Big, Big

Book: If You’re  Happy and You Know It by Jane Cabrera (4 verses)

Description of Activity: tell them about playdough and remind them to check out books and participate in our Library Week activity. Share what they love about the library or how the library has changed their lives in a thought bubble. We’ll photograph it and post it on Facebook. Had no takers during storytime but a co-worker was able to catch some after. So yay!

Goodbye Bubbles

Activity: playdough with cookie cutters and stampers. Lavender colored this time. ’tis Spring!






My Storytime for 1 year olds

It’s been almost a year since we created a one year old storytime.

To recap: Before, our toddler storytimes were for walkers up to 3 years. And the room was at capacity (66, but usually ended up at about 70). So not only were there a lot of people crammed into a room, the size difference in the children made everyone crazy. They were constantly falling on top of each other, stepping on each other, the big kids knocking over the little ones and the little ones freaking out about so many big kids. It was kind of like this but not quite as cute and furry.

Something had to give so we split the ages. 1 year olds and 2 year olds (though we don’t card so if parents are comfortable with their little guy being with a bigger guy, that’s fine!).

It is working beautifully and I have learned a few things about the difference between a storytime for ones and a storytime for twos. When we first made the change I kept the content basically the same with just one less book for the ones. It was fine, but I knew it could be better and there really are some significant differences between a 13 month old and a 25 month old. So, here’s what my one year old storytime looks like today. It’s more of a modified version of Baby Storytime rather than Toddler Storytime and it works a lot better that way. For me it’s all about the kinds of rhymes, songs, and books, rather than how many are happening in each storytime.


Hello Bubbles

Hi, Hello and How Are You? with the ukelele, we wave for the first verse, stomp for the second and clap for the third.

This is Big

These are the same for ones and twos. I feel it helps their transition to the older group to hear the same songs.

Book: I always have a few options on my table so I pick a meatier one for the first book because my second and final book will be sung. Examples: Jazz Baby by Wheeler, I Went Walking by Williams, Peek-A-Moo (or Zoo) by Cimarusti, Barnyard Banter by Fleming

Rhyme or Song: Usually something done seated like Giddyap, Giddyap, If You’re Happy and You Know It, or Ram Sam Sam

Rhyme or Song: Usually something a little more raucous or standing up. Head. Shoulders, Knees and Toes, The Elevator Song, or Go In and Out the Window.

Stand Up Song: Now we stand up for sure. Thanks to Anna, all my groups are now addicted to Fruit Salad so I like to work it in somewhere. The Merry Go Round song is popular as well (and works with them all on the parachute). I let grown ups know they can hold their children for these songs or just follow along with me and their children will learn the movements as they get older.

Activity/Prop: Shakers, Scarves, Parachute, Flannel Sets. I either do 3 songs with the scarves or parachute, 1-2 with shakers, or one flannel rhyme like 3 Little Ducks, 3 Little Monkeys, etc.

Rhyme: This is Big

Closing Book: This is always a sing along book, usually Jane Cabrera because I love her and so do they. I pick 2-3 verse to sing each week and change the book each month.

Explain after storytime activity

Goodbye Bubbles

Activity: Something sensory, artsy, or play centered and very open ended.


Storytime: Take a bath and paint with balloons!

Those of us who do storytimes for ones and twos decided to collaborate on the after storytime activity. Since storytimes are back to back with different presenters each time, this has helped immensely with set up each day. This week we all painted with balloons. This was one of my co-worker’s (soon to be former, WAAAAHHH!!) brilliant ideas and now I can’t wait to try variations. Like, not inflating the balloons and filling them with rice, buttons, marbles, cotton balls, whatever! Can we use other things besides paint? So many ideas!


Anyway, here’s Storytime for Twos!

Hello Bubbles

Hi, Hello and How Are You? with the ukulele

This is Big

Book: Animal Baths by Bob Barner

Ram Sam Sam

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

Book: Dini Dinosaur by Karen Beaumont (awesome one to sing and the kids responded SO well to the entire thing, as did the parents)

Coconut Soap by Frank Leto with scarves (even though this is long, they stuck with me the whole time and LOVED scrubbing with their coconut soap scarves)

Itsy Bitsy Spider with scarves

This is Big

Closing Book: The Wheels on the Bus by Jane Cabrera

Goodbye Bubbles

Activity: balloon painting

balloon painting serious painter

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Storytime for Twos

Adding storytimes this year seems to be working as the group size has been much more manageable! Fingers crossed it keeps up!


Good morning and welcome to storytime for two year olds. Before we get started, I have just a few housekeeping items. Please put away snacks during storytime and save any grown up conversations until after storytime. The table behind me and the tables by the window are no fly zones. If your little one is grabbing things off the tables or otherwise distracted by them, please re-direct them to the storytime rug.  And lastly, please sing and dance and play along with me. The more you get involved, the more your child will!

Hello Bubbles

Hi Hello and How Are You?

This is Big (Thanks to Mel for this one)

This is big, big, big

This is small, small, small

This is short, short, short

This is tall, tall, tall

This is yes, yes, yes

This is no, no, no

This is fast, fast, fast

This is slow, slow, slow

Parent Message: We have read this book in storytime before and that’s because repetition is very important. The more you do something with your child, the better they learn it. This is also why we do songs over and over again.

Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails by Nancy Tafuri

Cover image for Spots, feathers, and curly tails

3 Little Ducks Flannel Board: KCLS Tell Me a Story has a video for it here

Rather than 5 or 6 little ducks going out one day I cut the number to 3. Otherwise it’s just too long for toddlers. We’re really lucky to have these individual flannel bags that have a clear pocket on one side for holding flannel pieces and felt on the other side so families can play along. The kids love getting their own flannel set to play with.  I have no idea where these bags came from or how to find them again. They probably wouldn’t be too hard to make actually… *adds to long list of things to try*

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Elevator Song

Ram Sam Sam

This is Big

Little White Duck by Walt Whippo

Cover image for Little white duck

Toast in the Toaster

The Wheels on the Bus by Jane Cabrera

Cover image for The wheels on the bus

This is Big

Goodbye Bubbles

Activity: Dobbers and die cut shapes. This is a great fine motor activity for toddlers as they have to grip the dobbers just right. Plus it’s noisy fun to pound them on the tables.

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Baby Storytime: Sing


Hello Bubbles

Hi Hello and How Are You? with the ukulele

Parent Message: Don’t worry about how you sound when you sing. Your child loves your voice, even if you’re tone deaf or don’t think you sound great and singing is a great way for them to learn about language. And I love to hear all your voices, too!

Zoom Zoom Zoom by Kathy Reid-Naiman

Smooth Road

Dos Manitas, Diez Deditos

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Jane Cabrera (3 verses)

Cover image for Twinkle, twinkle, little star

Parent Message: Song books with multiple verses are great to share at home. You can sing as few or as many verses as your child wants to hear. Just close the book when they’ve had enough.

Elevator Song

Chop Chop Choppity Chop

Toast in the Toaster

Humpy Dumpty by Anthony Lewis (Hands-On Songs series)

Cover image for Humpty Dumpty

Go in and Out the Window

This is a Choo Choo Train

Cuckoo Clock

Goodbye Bubbles

Play time!