Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Soup's On! - Family Storytime

Soup Storytime, National Soup Month

I started to do this theme in December, looking for something winter-y besides the usual hibernation and snow themes, but when I discovered January was National Soup Month, I saved it until now. Who doesn't love warm, comfort food like soup in winter, right?

Well, as luck would have it, we had a freak warm front come through and it was 73 degrees and muggy! Kids were coming to the library in shorts, sundresses, and flip-flops! Oh well, best laid plans and all that. I greeted my attendees with a "Hello" song as I passed out program sheets, then we warmed up with "Hello, Everybody". After that, I introduced myself and the topic, and tried to elicit some responses as to favorite soups, but I had a very shy bunch today. 

Soup Storytime
For our first book, I picked a very simple, straightforward book with little text and bright, simple graphics on a white background. Every Color Soup by Jorey Hurley shows the preparation of a pot of vegetable soup, one color at a time. 

Each page simply has the name of a color, with 1 or 2 ingredients pictured that are that color: purple eggplant, green celery and parsley, etc. It gives the opportunity to identify colors as well as name and count the ingredients. I like that it exposes them to a number of different vegetables, and it also ends with a complete recipe.

Next, we pretended to make alphabet soup with this song that I actually made up myself. Having a visual to go with with this is a good idea, either a printed alphabet you can point to, or a physical set (foam, plastic, wood) of letters that you can hold up and then put in a pot, which is what I did. I found it would have been helpful to tape the strings of three letters together in advance!

Soup Storytime, Alphabet Soup Song

Making Alphabet Soup
(to the tune of "Farmer In The Dell")

We're making alphabet soup,
We're making alphabet soup.
Stir the pot; soup's getting hot.
We're making alphabet soup.

First we'll add an A;
And then we'll add a B.
Next we'll add C, D, & E.
We're making alphabet soup.

Next we'll add an F,
And then we'll add a G.
After that we'll add H, I, & J.
We're making alphabet soup.

Then we'll add a K,
And next we'll add an L.
After that we'll add M, N, & O.
We're making alphabet soup.

Next we'll add a P,
And then we'll add a Q.
After that we'll add R, S, & T.
We're making alphabet soup.

Then we'll add a U,
Followed by a V.
And last we'll add W, X, Y, Z.
We made alphabet soup!
SLURP - Yum,Yum!

Soup StorytimeI next chose a humorous book to read, Duck Soup by Jackie Urbanovic. We first met Max in Duck At The Door after he accidentally missed migration with his flock and spent the winter with Irene and her many other pets. In the sequel, Max's cooking has improved and he is cooking a delicious soup of his own recipe. 

While he goes out to the garden to get some fresh herbs, his friends come home and upon discovering a feather in the soup but no Max anywhere, assume the worst. Hilarity ensues as they pour the soup in a colander in an attempt to save Max, and panic in horror as they mistake a potato for Max's head, pearl onions for his eyeballs, and carrot slices for his feet. 

We followed that with a simple song about making soup that gives everyone a chance to name an ingredient (which can sometimes produce some very unexpected responses and unusual soup). Be sure to have everyone stir, taste, and show their muscles!

Stir The Soup

Stir, stir, stir the soup.
Stir it all day long.
Add some ______;
Take a taste (slurp).
Soup will make you strong!

Soup Storytime
And finally, another funny book from Jan Thomas, Is That Wise, Pig? Mouse is making soup, and Cow and Pig want to help. Mouse adds one onion, Cow adds two cabbages, and Pig adds three....umbrellas? Then six...galoshes?? Is that wise, Pig? In the end, Pig's odd choices come in handy after all. 

Kids will love the silliness in this book, as well as Thomas' signature bold, bright, simple illustrations with heavy black outlines. This is also a counting book, as each ingredient is added in increasing numbers, from one to ten.

We ended with a closing song, and I quickly set-up and explained the optional activities.

Optional Activity
I came up with what I thought were three cute and fun soup-related activities that used various literacy skills.

Soup Storytime, Soup Activities, Soup Early Literacy Activities

For the first, I put out a bin of play food vegetables and meats, a spoon, ladle, and bowls for them to pretend to make their own soup. I included some suggested prompts, like identifying the ingredients, colors, talking about how and where they grow (dramatic play, vocabulary, background knowledge).

The second was alphabet soup, with letters taken from some other play sets in a big pot with a ladle, and suggestions to scoop out a ladle-full and identify the letters and their sounds (letter and phonological awareness), name words that began with those letters, and try to make words with the letters you got (print awareness).

And finally, "pom-pom soup" with pom-poms to pick up with tongs (fine motor, pre-writing skills) and put into bowls of the corresponding colors (pre-math and science skills).

How It Went 
I had a pretty good turnout and overall it went pretty well. The kids liked the books, especially the last two humorous books. Duck Soup was just a little long for some of them, but Is That Wise, Pig? was just right; I've never had that one fail to be a hit.

The crowd was a little lukewarm about the songs, and much to my disappointment, almost no one stuck around for the activities, and the few that did didn't really use them the way I had intended. I was actually pretty pleased with myself for coming up with them, and it was kinda hard not to take it personally when they really weren't used. It seems no matter what I do for an after-storytime activity, I get very little participation.

It could just be that my ideas aren't as great as I think they are, but I have the feeling that the weekend crowd is just very different. I really have the sense they just want to get in, hear a couple of stories, and get out; they aren't interested in singing songs, doing rhymes, literacy tips, or doing crafts or activities. I also get a strong sense that parents that come on the weekend just want to have a lazy Saturday morning and don't want to do any "work" with their child, but just want to sit and chill while the child plays by themselves or with other kids. 

And I totally get that. I just haven't figured out how to work with it, and still meet my system's requirement for having a craft or activity afterward, without wasting time and materials and feeling frustrated at the lack of participation. The challenges of a Saturday storytime....


  1. Thanks! I thought so, but the weekend crowd always seems like they're in a hurry to leave or too distracted by other things, like the train table and computers. I keep trying, though.

  2. I really like your activity ideas, but maybe they could be introduced in storytime but then set out in the library. If you have a play area, you could have a "Soup station" with the veggies and pot, and then set up a board of some type for your letters for kids to spell. I realized that this is a couple of years past this post, but might be an option for your Saturday crew.