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Adventures in early literacy


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!


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