Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy


New Year, New Baby Storytime

Most my resolutions this year were professional ones. I’ve given up on any kind of “getting fit” or “be Martha Stewart in my spare time” resolutions. The more I resolve, the less I do. It’s my contrary brain. I’ll do it when I’m ready to, and not a moment before. Conveniently, I was ready to change baby storytime right as the new year came around so now it became one of my new year’s resolutions! Since today was so successful… this New Year’s Resolution is DONE!

Basically, I spent a couple hours on Jbrary’s youtube channel finding some rhymes and songs that are perfect for me. Part of what I love about their selection is there is something for everyone. Every storyteller has their own style and Jbrary has something for everyone.  Other songs and rhymes included here came from the WCCLS website and KCLS Tell Me a Story. The words to the rhymes and songs mentioned here can be found on the Rhymes page (only the first time they occur on the blog are they written out in posts).

Parent Message:

Happy New Year and welcome to baby storytime. My name is Kendra. We will be learning some new rhymes and songs today and the words to them are taped on the wall behind me. Feel free to use those as a “cheat sheet” during storytime, but we will also repeat songs several times in order to learn them. Part of the reason I put the words up on the wall is to help your babies start understanding that these squiggles and things they see actually have meaning. If they see you looking at the words, they know they are important and will be interested in them because you are.

Opening Song #1: Hello Bubbles

Opening Song #2: Hi, Hello and How Are You (London Bridge)

I’ve added verses to this simple song to turn it in to a name game.

Hi, hello and how are you?

How are you? How are you?

Hi, hello and how are you?

How are you today?

Hi, hello and how is Jack?

How is Jack? How is Jack?

Hi, hello and how is Jack?

How are you today?

Repeat with each baby.

When there are more babies in the room (we had 10 or less in each today) I will modify it this way:

Hi, hello and how is Jack?

How is Evelyn? How is Suzie?

Hi, hello and how is Robert?

How are you today?

Recorded Song: Zoom Zoom Zoom by Kathy Reid Naiman

Bounce: Trit Trot to Boston

Book: Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora

Stand Up: The Merry-Go-Round

Stand Up: Go In and Out the Window (see Jbrary’s video for the tune)

Go in and out the window, Go in and out the window, Go in and out the window, As we have done before (step forward and back while holding baby OR with baby lying stomach down swing them in and out of the circle)

Stand up and face your partner, Stand up and face your partner, Stand up and face your partner, As we have done before (turn baby toward the baby next to them)

Stand up OR Sit Down song: The Elevator Song

Book: Itsy Bitsy Spider by Annie Kubler

Bounce: Toast in the Toaster (go faster each time)

Toast in the toaster

Getting very hot

tick tock, tick tock

Up you pop!

Bounce: Smooth Road (bounce slowly, then faster and then dip baby between legs or off to the side)

A smooth road, a smooth road, a smooth road, a smooth road

A bumpy road, a bumpy road, a bumpy road, a bumpy road

A rough road, a rough road, a rough road, a rough road, A HOLE!

Closing Rhyme: Cuckoo Clock

Closing Song: Goodbye Bubbles

Activity: Finger paint on the windows. Not a lot of babies participated, but I had great conversations with all the caregivers about sensory development and ideas for things like this they could do at home with their babies.

One of the standers had a LOT of fun.

One of the standers had a LOT of fun.


Explore! Preschool STEAM: Pitter Patter

For October we are focusing on weather, kicking it off with rain since it does a lot of that here. Ugh. I mean, yay!

Storytime Portion:

Introduction: This program has now been going for a whole month! The basis for the program is STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. We hear from teachers that kids could use extra help in these areas and Art is there because many schools aren’t doing as much with budget cuts. I mostly hope kids will have fun, be encouraged to ask questions, and that you might get some ideas for activities to do at home. So here’s an overview of what we are going to do today.

Welcome Blocks

Now It’s Time For Storytime

Book: Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin

Cover image for Listen to the rain

I wanted to use this book in particular because of all the great sounds it makes. I explained this to the group after we read it. Great for vocabulary and pleasing to the ears.

“We just read a book about the rain and how it sounds and used lots of words to describe the rain. Let’s listen to some real rain sounds and you can tell me what they sound like. ”

App: Rain Sounds (Free)

This app is super cool. I put it on my Galaxy Note (it is available for IOS) and plugged it in to the ceiling speakers in the room. It sounded like the rain was right on top of us. So cool! I showed them the image that went with each sound, but mostly we talked about the sounds. The most popular words were pitter patter and drip. There were only 6 kids so that’s OK. They really enjoyed listening to it and were surprised that the thunderstorm rain was quieter than the rain on the tent sound.

I also gave a short message here about using technology together so kids get more out of it. Lots of big head nods to that.

Song: Rain is Falling (Frere Jacques)

Weather Station:

My coworker made this beautiful weather station so we used it to talk about the weather today. We also had a big calendar printed out so we could mark the weather on that so we can keep track from week to week, but the calendar at the wrong dates on it. Oops! Next time.

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Activity portion:

Station #1: Feel the Rain

Shallow trays with a little bit of water in the bottom were set up on the table. Cotton balls were in a container in the middle along with some eye droppers. Kids took their “cloud” and either squeezed water on it with the eye dropper to make it rain, or dipped it in the water to fill it up until it bursts. Just like a cloud! The kids were totally amazed that it got smaller when they wrung it out and bigger when it was full of water. They spent the most time at this station filling their clouds and “making it rain”.

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Station #2: See the Rain

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This idea came from Amy at The Show Me Librarian. I wanted them to have their individual clouds to work on so instead of a tub I used clear cups. Each cup was about half full of water and I squirted some shaving cream on top of the water for each child. They used eye droppers to drop liquid watercolor on top of the shaving cream until the color broke through the “cloud” and rained. The only reason they didn’t stay forever here is that parents wanted them to stop filling their cups with watercolor. Even though I said it was fine. They tried different colors to make a “rainbow that looks like ice cream”. Can you guess which of these was my demo and which was the 4 year old’s?

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Station #3: Hear the Rain

Just some rain sticks on a table. That’s it. They loved it.  Sometimes simple is good.

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Explore! Preschool STEAM: Splash!

This week’s program focused on water. You probably figured that out from the name, but I’m Captain Obvious today.

I got to do both sessions this week, which was great since there were some things about the Monday session I didn’t think worked so well. They were fixed in today’s program.


Welcome: Block Song (they LOVE this activity!)

Book: Splish-Splash by Nicola Smee

Even though this is a book I would usually share with toddlers because it’s short and simple with lots of opportunities for movement, I knew preschoolers would like, too.  With the older kids I focused on asking more open-ended questions I knew they could answer and getting their help in telling the story. For example: “Why do you think they want to do it again?” and pointing to the animals and letting them say “dog”, “cat”, “pig” and “duck” instead of me every time.

Song: The Goldfish by Laurie Berkner

This song is ALWAYS a hit. We swam all over the room and only occasionally swam in to each other. This is a great song for following directions.

Book: Seals on the Bus by Henry Hort

Usually, I just do one book so there is plenty of time for playing, but I just happened to have this on the table for today’s session (I sang it in the preschool storytime right before Explore) and since there was a seal in Splish-Splash, HAD to pull it out.



The idea for this activity is to see what kinds of things dissolve in water and what kinds of things do not. And, of course, to define “dissolve”.

In Monday’s group I let each child do their own test. They had little cups with sugar, beans, and rice plus a big cup with water. They dumped each item into the water and stirred to see what would happen. Grown ups were directed to ask them what they thought would happen before they put their item in water and then talked about what actually happened. It was great, but there were only 8 kids. Thursday there are more like 25-30 kids. So, I knew I’d have to think of something else.

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In Thursday’s group I did a demo, but had the kids help me. I pick a couple of special volunteers to be in charge of stirring and all the other kids just gathered around to watch and talk about what was happening. This way I was able to do more items, too. We had beans, rice, sugar, glitter, flubber (from our first week), salt, and dish soap. With each item I asked if they thought it would dissolve, or “go away”, or if they thought it would stay whole. They pretty much thought every item would go away, and only a few did. They were totally amazed.

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I left the cups on the table so they could keep stirring and talking and a lot of them wanted to do that. I split the group up in to 2 groups and sent them to the next station.

Sink or Float?

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Pretty straightforward! A tub with water and a tub with items. Each child/family got a paper with a chart asking them to write down their predictions (another great word to define!) and what actually happened. They mostly just wanted to play in the water, which was totally fine. They were talking about what was happening with everything they did. The pom poms got so wet you could wring them out and one girl was asking her mom why that was happening. I didn’t hear the answer, but I bet it was a good one.

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On Monday I had bins for them to sort the items that sunk or floated. With such a large group on Thursday I didn’t bother with asking them to sort.  Plus, there isn’t enough room on the tables for that much stuff plus the kids.

People checked out books, asked questions and had a great time. Another SUCCESS!

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Baby Storytime: Sing!

Though I don’t do themes in baby storytime, I do like to kind of focus on a skill. Today’s focus was on singing. Do it often, whether you think you’re good at it, or not! JUST SING.

The specific tip I gave caregivers today was that using books with songs in them, like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jane Cabrera or Itsy Bisty Spider by Annie Kubler (I didn’t actually say the titles, I just showed them the books in my hand and we sang them, too, of course) is a good way to introduce some great new vocabulary words (sparkle, flicker, etc, in Twinkle) and because they are either short, or have many verses you can sing as much or as little as you like.  Singing a book makes singing even easier and your baby will enjoy looking at the pictures or crawling around nearby while you sing them a song.

Here’s what we did today (click on the song title for lyrics and tunes):

Hello Bubbles

Penny Pointers (oh my gosh this adorable 8 month old LOVES this song and affixes her toothless grin and rocks and kicks every time we sing it-TOO CUTE)

Noble Duke of York

Pizza Pickle Pumpernickel

Cheek Chin

Tiny Little Baby

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jane Cabrera

Trot Trot to Boston  (found on Mel’s Desk)


Roly Poly


Popcorn Rhyme

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Annie Kubler

Group Pick: I’m a Little Teapot

Icky Bicky Soda Cracker

Cuckoo Clock

Goodbye Bubbles


Guerrilla Storytime @ ALA 2013

On Friday and Saturday (and Monday, too!) of the American Library Association conference in Chicago dozens of youth (and some non youth) librarians gathered in the Uncommons to share storytime favorites, advice, and laughter. The Uncommons was near registration and in a pretty visible area so throughout Guerrilla Storytime people were stopping to peer through the glass window panes of the makeshift room. A baby even made an appearance!

For the story of how Guerrilla Storytime came to be (Thank You, Cory, for sharing your awesome idea!) check Amy’s excellent post on The Show Me Librarian. Mel, Rachel, and Julie have great posts as well. I am absolutely going to be advocating for doing this at local library conferences. Hopefully folks in my area will be interested in being storytime guerrillas!

Because eloquence is NOT my forte here’s a report on Guerrilla Storytime in pictures and videos.

Video Links:

Popcorn rhyme!

Shake what your mama gave you! AND Fruit Salad song: Angie on the shaking and Anna on Fruit Salad

Tons of great stuff here with Cate and Mel and Rick and Sara and tons of others!

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BEST part of any conference EVER. It WILL be happening again.


Summer Mondays in the Library: Babies and Dancing

During the summer we hold a Dance Party after our usual Baby Storytimes. Last summer was the debut of Dance Party in this library and it was so popular we brought it back for another round. This means for the next 9 weeks I get to sing and rhyme with babies at 9:30 and again at 10:30, then rock out with kids of all ages from 11-11:45. I have the best job. 🙂

We had a 5 week break this year so I decided to ease in to storytime with some old favorites. Here’s what we did:

Hello Bubbles

Penny Pointers

Noble Duke of York

Giddyap, Giddyap

Have You Ever Seen a Baby?

I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy

Cover Art Image

Pizza Pickle Pumpernickel

If You’re Happy and You Know It

Andy Pandy, Sugar and Candy

Rub a dub dub

Icky Bicky Soda Cracker

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Annie Kubler

Cover Art Image

Cuckoo Clock

Goodbye Bubbles

Now for the Dance Party! I re-made the list I passed out last year to include only songs patrons can download from Freegal. This way the program supports our collection in addition to be great fun! The handout also includes a book list of songs with dancing, music, and the like. Everyone seemed really excited about the prospect of continuing the Dance Party at home so I think the revised handout was a good move. Since there were over 100 in attendance Freegal will hopefully be getting some extra traffic this week!

Here’s the Dance Party Handout.

Read about my Dance Party here.


Baby Storytime: Art!

Inspired by Brooke to do art with babies, I decided to let the baby storytime folk get in on the storytime postcard project every storytimer in my library did for the last weeks of storytime. Basically, we take this awesome postcard with all the information for when storytimes start back up again in 5 weeks (!) and a spot for kids and parents to decorate and write their address. Then we mail the postcards to them! I’m not sure which of my clever co-workers came up with the idea, but it’s genius. First, everyone LOVES getting mail, especially when it’s informational. Second, everyone LOVES their kid’s artwork. So getting kids’ artwork in the mail? Pure genius, I tell you.

The front of the postcard (or is it the back?) looks like this:


The older kids had markers and small stamps to decorate their cards, but for the toddlers and babies I went with jumbo washable stamp pads and oversized stamps (for toddlers) and their hands and feet (for the babies, mostly, though many a toddler contributed their adorable handprint). When doing this with the babies I passed out a tray with a jumbo stamp pad, postcard, and pen so each adult had everything they needed within reach. I also had a big container of wipes to pass around for wiping ink off hands and feet. I was sure to tell parents how completely washable the ink is (it is REALLY easy to wash off) so not to worry about it getting on our carpet or their clothes.

Here are some left behind examples from toddler and baby time.



I’m calling this a success and plan to do more art with the tiny guys-probably once a month to start. Can’t wait!

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Baby Storytime: Pat a Cake

It’s been a while since I’ve done a baby storytime post-just not enough time in a day. Thanks for sticking with me!

What We Did:

Hello Bubbles

Penny Pointers

Zoom Zoom Zoom

This Little Train


Parent Message: It’s ok if they crawl around while we’re reading and rhyming. Just because they aren’t making eye contact, doesn’t mean they aren’t absorbing what we’re doing and saying. We want to make sure books and reading are FUN so we’ll let them participate at their own pace. You can just do what I’m doing if your little one leaves your lap.

Book: Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett (this is one I use ALL THE TIME because it is AMAZING)

Cover Art for Monkey and me

Pizza Pickle Pumpernickel

Bouncing Bouncing



Mix a Pancake

Roly Poly

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Book: Pat a Cake by Annie Kubler (I suggest substituting their baby’s name for “baby” and to mark their cake with the first letter of their baby’s name)

Cover Art Image

Group choices: Ram Sam Sam in #1, and Cheek Chin in #2

Cuckoo Clock

Goodbye Bubbles


Today’s agenda was packed! And so much fun!


Tiny Tots and Toddlers: Going Digital

Got brave and decided to introduce some technology in storytime last week. For toddlers. One year olds and two year olds. For those of you gasping, (thanks Anna and Sara for the gif lessons-it’s super addictive) just hold on to your hats and let me explain WHY I made this decision:

First, I love this information sheet from the Fred Rogers Center titled “Advice for Parents of Young Children in the Digital Age” and wish every parent read it. We KNOW parents are letting their one year olds watch TV and play with their iPads. They will expose their kids to screens. Why not give them tips for using their media tools appropriately with their children? We do this with books already. We are not likely to suggest Weslandia to a mom of a 12 month old, but instead steer her towards some of our favorite board books, maybe some lift the flaps, or Karen Katz. We wouldn’t tell her Weslandia is bad for her child, just that it’s not written with her child in mind. Why should apps and dvd’s be any different? They are are going to check them out, why shouldn’t we at least steer them towards the ones which are the most appropriate for their child? Storytime gives us an excellent opportunity to do this! We have a captive audience who expects us to give them early literacy tips already.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be advocating for parents to let their tiny ones spend MORE time on the screen. I’m simply hoping to model some ways to share digital media with their children in way which may be beneficial to them. This passage from a NAEYC publication pretty much sums up what I’m trying to say:

“For infants and toddlers, responsive interactions between adults and children are essential to early brain development and to cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and linguistic development. NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center join the public health community in discouraging the use of screen media for children under the age of 2 in early childhood programs.  Recognizing that there may be appropriate uses of technology for infants and toddlers in some contexts (for example, viewing digital photos, participating in Skype interactions with loved ones, co-viewing e-books, and engaging with some interactive apps), educators should limit the amount of screen time and, as with all other experiences and activities with infants and toddlers, ensure that any use of technology and media serves as away to strengthen adult-child relationships.”
So there you have it. As an “educator” in this context, I’m certainly limiting their screen time use-the book is only 3 minutes for goodness sake-but am also acknowledging that co-viewing a Tumblebook may strengthen a parent’s relationship with their child as well as their relationship with me. Just like a regular old print book would. Plus, this way, when there are 70 people crammed in one room they can all see the pictures a lot better than with the smaller version of the book.
*This just in from Cen at Little eLit
Now for the logisitics:
After my normal introduction and opening songs my volunteer dimmed the lights. I told parents what we were about to do: “Today we are going to read a digital book together and I’m asking you to be even more participative than usual. Why? Because while you should certainly limit your child’s screen time, when you do find yourself and your child in front of a screen the experience should be interactive between you and the child and the screen. So, if you decide to read a book online together at home, have just as much fun with it as you would in storytime. It’s important that children view screens WITH you, not alone, so that their experience will be more valuable.”
Knowing me, I did NOT say it so eloquently, but that’s what I had “rehearsed” to say. And was met with about 30 head nods and looks of “oh, huh, ok”.
The first storytime I just let the book run on auto. It was WAY faster than I liked so for the second storytime I put it on manual so we could really take our time stretching and doing the motions along with the dog. Let me tell you, I have NEVER seen these grown ups get so in to a book. Maybe it was the dark, maybe it was my speech, I don’t know, but the kids and grown ups were having a great time.
The book was Stretch by Doreen Cronin. Here’s the screen I had up on pause while we did our opening rhymes.


Reach for that apple! Yum!


After the book was over I invited parents to ask me about Tumblebooks after storytime (added bonus is getting the word out about a database!) and moved on to our next activity, which was Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.

Aside from the digital book, storytime went on as usual, ending with this fabulous, no mess, finger painting activity. Finger paint in a ziploc baggy stuck to the windows. They squished, wrote, and talked to their parents for a very long time with those bags.



So, I count that a huge success (got a lot of positive parent feedback as well) and hope to repeat it monthly. Next is figuring out the best way to get a flannel board up there…


Tiny Tots and Toddler Storytime: Rhythm

It was all about music and rhythm in this week’s storytimes.

The first five activities were done with both groups. After that I’ve noted which activity went with each group. You will notice the Toddler group had an extra book and songs were shifted a little. The older kids can stay with me for a little longer than the one year olds so I could squeeze in that extra song book just fine.

Hello Bubbles

Hands Are Clapping (Hands, Feet, Bodies wiggling)

Two Little Blackbirds (This week they were sitting on a cloud being quiet and loud. I didn’t like ending on loud, so with the help of a co-worker we made it blackbirds sitting in a loft, one named loud and one named soft!)

Book: Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler

Cover Art for Jazz baby

Jump Like a Frog

Tiny Tots: If You’re Happy and You Know It (clap, stomp, tickle)

Tiny Tots: Itsy Bitsy Spider by Annie Kubler

Cover Art for Itsy bitsy spider

Toddlers: Hush Little Baby by Marla Frazee

Cover Art for Hush, little baby : a folk song with pictures

Toddlers: If You’re Happy and You Know It (clap, stomp, tickle)

Toddlers: Itsy Bitsy Spider by Annie Kubler

Both: Shakers: We’re Tapping by Kathy Reid-Naiman

Reaching For The Stars!

Both: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Jane Cabrera

Goodbye Bubbles

Splish Splash by Bobby Darin

Activity: Musical Instruments with Dance Party music playing

Parent message: At this age we’re really working on social and emotional development, so not only will we play and have fun with the instruments, but we will practice sharing and not hitting our neighbors over the head. 😉