Friday, January 6, 2017

A Bear-y Fun Storytime

Many of our winter-themed picture books in my kit for the Storytime-To-Go program have to do with animals, particularly bears, hibernating. I didn't really feel like talking about winter again, so I decided to do a general "Bear" storytime. We started with our welcome song, and then talked a little about bears and how they would be sleeping, or hibernating, now that it's winter, after eating and getting fat during the fall. We followed that up with a version of the classic "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear" rhyme:

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, reach up high.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the sky.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, show your shoes.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, I love you!
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch your knees,
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, sit down please!

After singing our "story song", we read our first book, Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. I love all books illustrated by Jane Chapman, but especially Karma Wilson's Bear books. This one is particularly fun for the kids because in addition to saying the repeated line "But the bear snores on," they get to make snoring sounds. I also like the drama when the bear wakes up and at first seems angry that the other animals are in his cave, but he's really just upset that he missed out on all the fun. For 3-year olds, that's a pretty significant plot twist.

After that we sang my version of a childhood classic, "The Bear Went Over The Mountain":

The bear went over the mountain,
The bear went over the mountain,
The bear went over the mountain,
To see what he could see.

The other side of the mountain,
The other side of the mountain,
The other side of the mountain,
Was all that he could see.

The bear swam across the river...

The other side of the river...

The bear went across the meadow...

He found another bear there,
He found another bear there,
He found another bear there,
Who looked just like him.

And they went off to play,
And they went off to play,
And they went off to play,
And had lots of fun!

Then I brought out a non-fiction book to show all the different kinds of bears, Bears! from Time For Kids. I was really torn between this one, which has photographs of real bears, and Bears! Bears! Bears! by Bob Barner that has a fun rhyming text and a map at the end showing where each type of bear lives. I decided I really wanted them to see real bears, so I went with the first one, but in retrospect, I realize I could have shown them as part of the introduction, then read the second book to elaborate on them as one of the stories. 

Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20, right?

I found a song on Jbrary that was the perfect follow-up to this, adding a verse for panda bears to the Jbrary version:

"Grizzly Bears"
(to the tune of "Mary Had A Little Lamb")

Grizzly bears are big and brown,
Big and brown, big and brown.
Grizzly bears are big and brown,
And live in the woods.

Polar Bears are soft and white,
Soft and white, soft and white.
Polar bears are soft and white,
And live where it's cold.

Panda bears are white and black,
White and black, white and black.
Panda bears are white and black,
And like to eat bamboo.

Teddy bears are just my size,
Just my size, just my size.
Teddy bears are just the size,
To cuddle with at night.

[I showed a picture corresponding to the bear in each verse,
 then pulled out a real teddy bear at the end.]

I ended up using another one of Karma Wilson's Bear books, also illustrated by Jane Chapman, because it just came out this past year and I always like to introduce new books, and I really thought it would work well as a read aloud.

Big Bear, Small Mouse is the third "concept" book for the series, with the first two focusing on colors and counting. Throughout the story, as we see what Bear and his friends are up to, we are presented with opposite pairs, like big-little, slow-fast, quiet-loud, and cold-warm.

We finished up with our closing song and passed out stickers.

How It Went  
Today was not a typical day, for a number of reasons. First, it was the first storytime after Christmas break. Second, we had our first snowfall of the year overnight, and not only were the kids excited about the snow, but the daycare had opened 1 hour late, so they were off the normal routine. And third, there were two new students who were a little apprehensive. Because of the weather, it was a much smaller group than usual, which was probably a good thing, considering.

Despite the circumstances, the kids did pretty well other than being a bit more chatty than usual, and settled down pretty well after having a chance to tell me about their Christmas presents, and one who got a new baby brother. One of the new students warmed up pretty quickly and started participating, but the second was having a harder time adjusting and clung to one of the teachers the whole time. 

This group really seemed to like Bear Snores On, which I was pleased to see as some groups don't seem to appreciate Bear as much as I do. They didn't really get into "The Bear Went Over The Mountain" at all for some reason, but did like "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear" and "Grizzly Bears".  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Well, it's that time again. New Year's Day. The day many of us take stock of the past year, and make new resolutions and goals for the next year. Many we may not stick to, and some we might. I tend to do okay with professional goals, but personal ones always seem harder to stay with. Last year I addressed my professional goals on my blog, but this time I think I will include my personal ones as well. Maybe putting them out there for everyone to see will help keep me accountable.

My main personal resolution is the same as many of you: to eat better and exercise more, not only to lose weight, but to be healthier and have more energy. My previous job was much more physical, and since changing positions, I have gained a lot of weight, which was exacerbated by starting school and now having less free time for exercise and healthy cooking. My other resolution is to spend less time mindlessly surfing the internet and social media (my way to relax) and use that time for exercise and more purposeful activities.

Now on to my professional resolutions:
  1. Continue working on my MLIS, taking one class each term (spring, summer, fall).
  2. Look for other professional development opportunities, such as workshops and webinars.
  3. Continue to gain experience to further expand my skills, such as other types of programming beside preschool storytime and anything else I have the opportunity to do that I haven't done before.
  4. Continue to fine-tune and develop the storytime collection by creating two new kits and updating and improving the existing ones.
  5. Continue to work on Reader's Advisory.
That's all that come to mind for now, especially realizing that #1 will take up most of my free time. Anybody else have any specific goals or resolutions for the coming year??

Friday, December 23, 2016

Reflecting On 2016

At the beginning of the year I set several professional goals, phrased as New Year's resolutions, and some specific for storytime. So as the end of 2016 approaches, let's look back and see how I did:

  1. Read more. Well, only if you count textbooks and professional articles, but that's not what I originally had in mind. My intention was to read more for pleasure and for RA, mostly middle-grade and young adult, and I did read quite a bit of that the first half of the year. But then when I started an MLIS program in the fall, I found that I had little free time for reading anything outside of classwork, which was an unfortunate but necessary trade-off.
  2. Work on Reader's Advisory. Again, I did a significant amount of work on this the first half of the year, but it came to a halt once I started my MLIS program in the fall. I was able put together several bibliographies of read-alikes and themes based on what patrons frequently ask, and I've made an effort to read more reviews and "best books" lists.
  3. Take at least one library science class. Yes, and not only did I take a class, I enrolled in an MLIS program. 
  4. Continue to develop and expand my storytime skills.
    1. Use more non-fiction books. I have used more non-fiction, but there is still room for improvement.
    2. Experiment with working in early literacy tips. Okay, I have to admit, I failed on this one. With my storytime being outreach and not having individual caregivers to address, just one teacher, it just feels a little too awkward and direct.
    3. Develop 3-4 new storytime kits. I did get 3 more completely finished, and working on another.
    4. Finish re-vamping the existing kits. I was not able to get as much done here as I would have liked because another day was added to my storytime rotation, which means I lost half of my collection development time.
    5. Find opportunities to work with (or observe) other age groups. I observed a baby storytime, conducted a school-aged STEAM program, and conducted an adult program that was family-friendly. I also got an unexpected opportunity to present a session on early literacy and storytime to a group of childcare providers. I still would like to observe other storytimes as each of our children's librarians have different styles and strengths. I also continued to help the middle school librarian with her book club.

So, there you have it. I'm pretty happy with the progress I made, though a couple of these will continue on into the next year. I definitely did a better job with my professional resolutions than I did on my personal ones! How about you? Did you stick to your resolutions and make progress towards your goals?

Now to give some thought to my New Year's resolutions for 2017....

Friday, December 16, 2016


Today was my last storytime of the year, and yes, I did do a Christmas theme. I know this is a controversial topic, but as I've explained before, I (and many others) don't share the view that all libraries must be completely sanitized of anything remotely related to Christmas in the name of inclusivity ("And Here We Go Again", "To Holiday, Or Not"). Additionally, my storytimes are all outreach rather than for the general public, and the daycares I serve specifically request holiday and seasonal themes; I see no reason not to give it to them.

We started with our usual welcome song, followed by a brief introduction. Normally I would follow that with our story song, which [hopefully] helps them settle down and be ready for our first story, but since I was starting with a very active book first, I saved the song for afterward.

I borrowed our first book, The Santa Shimmy by Christianne Jones
and Emma Randall, from a co-worker who had bought it as part of a set for her own children. This is a really fun little book with a lot of movement: shimmy, shake, jump, and spin with Santa. I knew they'd have fun with it and *hoped* (perhaps in vain) that it would help get their wiggles out.

There are 3 others in the series: The Elf Boogie, The Reindeer Dance, and The Snowman Shuffle. Unfortunately, they are only sold to the general public as board books, but are also available as paperback 8x8's from Scholastic book fairs.

I then followed that with our story song, ending with the kids sitting down criss-cross applesauce and saying "shh". I chose a short, simple funny book from Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin that came out last year, Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! This book seems to always work well, since it is short and simple enough for the younger kids, but the humor keeps the older kids engaged, too, and they love the repetition. It's Christmas Eve, and Duck is up to something, but what? He climbs the pole and zip-lines over to the roof of Farmer Brown's house, where he promptly finds himself stuck in the chimney. The other animals go up to help and end up getting stuck as well! Along comes Santa; can he get them out or will he get stuck. too?? 

Next we did a great flannel activity I found a couple of years ago that the kids all love:

Rudolph, Rudolph

Rudolph, Rudolph pattern from Library Quine 
Rudolph, Rudolph, what will you do?
You can't guide Santa's sleigh if your nose is BLUE.

Rudolph, Rudolph, you're such a silly fellow.
Who will know it's you if your nose is YELLOW.

Rudolph, Rudolph, your way cannot be seen,
Through the wintry weather if your nose is GREEN.

Rudolph, Rudolph, Santa gave a wink.
But what will he say if your nose is PINK?

Rudolph, Rudolph, it's time to fly at night.
But you can't get through the snow if your nose is WHITE.

Rudolph, Rudolph, it's time to go to town.
But you can't help Santa if your nose is BROWN.

Rudolph, Rudolph, Santa has his sack.
But you're not ready if your nose is BLACK.

Rudolph, Rudolph, the children are in bed.
And now you can get on your way because your nose is RED!

  *Poem found at Crafty Chic Mommy

The more I ham it up, the better they seem to like it! Each time I try to convince them that whatever color I have is good enough, and of course they always insist we have to keep trying. Usually they cheer and applaud by the time Rudolph *finally* gets his red nose. Of course we had to follow the activity up by singing "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Jingle Bells" for which I had brought actual jingle-bells for them to use (if you'd like to use a recorded version, I highly recommend Laurie Berkner's).

Then we settled back down for our last book, Stowaway In A Sleigh by C. Roger Mader. This is a sweet little story about a curious cat who can't resist snooping in Santa's sack, and ends up accidentally being taking home with Santa to the North Pole. This is a nice short, calming story, and since it takes place at night I tell the kids they have to be very quiet.

This would be a good bedtime/naptime story. I had hoped it would help the kids settle down a little bit because I try hard to avoid getting them worked up, then leaving the teachers to deal with it.

As we prepared to close, I first told them about the special treat I had brought for them since it was Christmas - bags of magic reindeer food that they could sprinkle on their lawn on Christmas Eve to help the reindeer find their way. 

The "reindeer food" was made by mixing oats, red/green sparkle sugar, and confectionery sprinkles (some use glitter, but we keep everything edible just in case the kids decide to try it themselves). A small amount was placed in a ziplock bag and then inside a small brown paper sack, with a poem that gives instructions attached. I also attached a small candy cane to each (not shown) and reminded the kids that while the candy cane was for them, the food inside was just for reindeer.

[Click on the image at right for a full-sized picture to read the poem.]

I gave the bags of reindeer food to the teacher to send home with them, and we sang our closing song and passed out stickers.

How It Went 
The kids are always glad to see me, but they were *really* glad to see me today and I was greeted with lots of enthusiastic hugs and cries of "Miss Jennifer's here!" This is the best part of my job, hands down! 

As to be expected this time of year, they were a little harder to keep engaged and extra chatty. But we made it through and I think they really enjoyed it. The loved all the movement with The Santa Shimmy, and I found myself wishing I had borrowed at least one of the other books in the series since it was pretty short and they had lots of energy! Like every other group, they really got into Duck's antics in Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! and predicting everyone else that went up to help would get stuck too, and cracked up at being proved wrong when it came to Santa getting stuck. The ones with cats particularly liked Stowaway In A Sleigh, but I found I had to break my rule about substituting words with that one because they couldn't understand that "Mr. Furry Boots" was how the cat thought of Santa, and were very indignant about it, so to avoid arguments, I just said "Santa" after the first time.

The "Rudolph, Rudolph" flannel activity was a big hit as usual, and they loved having the bells for "Jingle Bells". I did accidentally commit one horrific act while I was there, though. Their class elf was hanging from the ceiling, which I wasn't used to being there and forgot about. When we reached up high to stretch between stories, I accidentally touched him, which is apparently a BIG no-no! There were immediate gasps and comments, and hushed cries of"She touched him!" and "Now he'll lose his magic!" I felt so bad, and didn't really know what to say, not being well-versed on the mythology of the elf-on-the-shelf, so just tried to quickly move to the next thing. Luckily only a few saw it and most were not too concerned and the rest seemed to forget it soon enough. Whew!

Friday, December 9, 2016

What's For Dinner? - Food Storytime

What to do on the Storytime Bus during the transition between Thanksgiving and Christmas? It isn't really winter yet, and we don't typically get much snow until January or February around here, so I usually save those themes until after the holidays. I decided to do "Food" since food does play a big part in the traditions of both holidays, and everyone has to eat, right?

We visited multiple facilities and saw many groups, for roughly 30 minutes each. We started each session with an introduction including the letter-of-the-day (Ff) and our "story song", followed by reading 2-3 books and doing a couple of other songs or activities, depending on time, with several of each to choose from.

The Books 

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague, kids love this series!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, a beloved classic, great artwork
Keisha Cane and her Very Sweet Tooth by Ashley Foxx & April Foxx, very cute
What's for Dinner? by Ann Garrett & Gene-Michael Higney; bold, simple illustrations, flaps
Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli, written to teach babies and toddlers what should 
     not go in their mouth, but the older kids love it, too.
Everybody Loves Bacon by Kelly Dipucchio & Eric Wight, silly with lots of puns
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli, humorous, short & simple
Worms for Lunch? by Leonid Gore, lift a flap, guess what animals eat
Is That Wise, Pig? by Jan Thomas, funny, counting, bold, simple illustrations

The Activities  

I had this nice set of plush fruits and vegetables that we would hold up and see if the kids could name them. They had no problem with the fruit, but the green onion, garlic, and what could be either a poblano pepper or okra game them trouble. We talked about the ones we liked and didn't like, and how they were good for you. Sometime I used them with the song below, following a reading of Is That Wise, Pig? I would hold an item up and let the kids name them to put in the soup; other times I just let the kids taking turns saying what they would like to add to the soup.

Stir, Stir, Stir the Soup
(to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat)

Stir, stir, stir the soup, 
Stir it all day long.
Add some ______,
Take a taste - SLURRP!
Soup will make us strong!

(repeat for as many verses/ingredients as desired, act out motions)


I also had a song that went with The Watermelon Seed perfectly, that helps to explain why you don't have to worry about a watermelon growing in your belly if you swallow a seed and provides the opportunity for a quick discussion about what seeds need to grow.

A Watermelon Seed
(to the tune of "London Bridges", call and response)

Oh, no! (Oh, no!)
I just swallowed, (I just swallowed)
A watermelon seed (A watermelon seed)
Will I grow a watermelon (Will I grow a watermelon)
Inside me? (Inside me?)

No, no. (No, no)
The seed won't grow (The seed won't grow)
In my tummy. (In my tummy.)
There's no rain or sunshine (There's no rain or sunshine)
Inside me. (Inside me)


The last activity provided an opportunity to discuss picky eaters, and why you should always try a bite of everything before you decide whether you like it or not. 

"Picky Paul"

There was an actual script for this, but I just winged it, telling the story with the felt pieces and acting our the motions.. This flannel set tells the story of Picky Paul, a little boy who didn't think he liked anything. One day his father was getting ready to cook dinner. He set the ingredients out one by one on the counter (let kids identify each), and each time Picky Paul would say, "I don't like ____". Then, Picky Paul's father got out a bowl and added some flour, yeast, water, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. He mixed them up (pretend to stir), then rolled it out (pretend to roll). Next he chops or slices each ingredient and sprinkles them on (imitate chopping/slicing and sprinkling). Then he puts the whole thing into the oven.

As it cooks, a wonderful aroma fills the air. Picky Paul sniffs, and comments on how good it smells. Finally the timer dings, and Picky Paul's father takes it out of the oven. "Pizza!" exclaims Picky Paul, "I LOVE pizza!" So even though Paul thought he didn't like the items individually, he loved them all together on a pizza! Then we discussed each of our favorite pizza toppings.


I used this song when we needed just a little movement, replacing the English "jelly" and "biscuits" with the American "Jello" and "Cookies".

"Jello On The Plate"
(to the tune of "Farmer In The Dell)

Jello on the plate, jello on the plate.
Wibble, wobble; wibble, wobble.
Jello on the plate.

Cookies in the tin, cookies in the tin.
Shake them up, shake them up.
Cookies in the tin.

Candles on the cake, candles on the cake.
Blow them out, blow them out.
Candles on the cake.

How It Went
The kids loved talking about what their favorite (and least favorite) foods were. Even though Yummy, Yucky is written for toddlers, they all loved saying whether each item was "Yummy!" or "Yucky!". Worms for Lunch? was also a hit, and I had fun introducing it by saying it was about what they were having for lunch. A few clever kids did think of saying they would eat worms for lunch; gummy worms, that is! Jan Thomas' new book was a huge hit as expected, and Jane Yolen's dinosaur series is always well received.

Keisha Cane is a great book, and surprisingly self-published; unfortunately there are no more copies being made. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is of course a beloved classic, though there were more than I expected that didn't seem familiar with it. One little boy commented very enthusiastically about how much he liked the colorful collages on the endpapers and preliminary pages. Everybody Loves Bacon didn't fare as well as I would have liked; I think it needs an older audience to understand and appreciate the humor.

The kids were very interested in looking at the plush fruits and veggies, and did a good job of naming most of them. They had a lot of fun with the soup song, and we had some *very* creative ingredients in our soup! One boy complained we were making him hungry with all the talk about food 😄

One thing I would add, and I didn't really realize I had overlooked, is a couple of books/activities about pies and cookies to indirectly tie in with the holidays a little more.