Language Fun Story Time – May 4, 2015

Final Language Fun Story Time  = Much, much sadness 😥

We did the seasonably-unappropriate “Froggy Gets Dressed” – nothing like reading about getting dressed to play in the snow…in June.

froggy book

But the kids had a blast helping dress both the felt and the puppet versions of Froggy. The puppet version was particularly entertaining, as Froggy’s clothes had been cobbled together from several different toys and dolls, resulting in a pretty spectacular outfit.

felt puppet

We also sang “Head and Shoulders” as a bit of a wiggle break. It also tied in nicely with our extension activities, which included a bit of body part vocabulary practice (“put the hat on his head”, “put the mittens on his hands”, etc).

It’s always sad to say goodbye at the end of a program, and I’m going to miss all my little ones.

But, the next few weeks are going to be a bit mad with Summer Reading Club school visits, activities and other events. Let the insanity commence!

P.S. Folding carts are a librarian’s best friend…



Language Fun Story Time – May 28, 2015

“Is this the bus for us, Gus?”

We started today’s session with our usual routine of “Hello, Friends” and “Roly Poly” before jumping into a reading of The Bus for Us.

busbookThe kids went nuts for this one – I’ve never seen them so excited and enthusiastic about a book! They eagerly shouted out guesses for what each vehicle might be. We were easily able to elicit vocabulary, with each child excitedly telling us what colour each vehicle was, and the tension building up to the eventual appearance of the long-awaited bus was palpable.

The group was no less excited for the felt story retelling – the SLP had each vehicle peek out from behind the felt board, and gave hints as to what each vehicle might be (“it is red, it has a ladder, it is very loud”). These great felts are from a local home-based business called “Heartfelt Stories” – their felt stories are super cute! Hurray for supporting local small businesses.


The kids have been getting pretty wiggly recently, so we took a little song break after the felt story for a round of “the wheels on the bus.”

Then it was time for the toys! We went around the circle with each child picking out a vehicle. In order to get a toy, though, they had to describe it to us using as much vocabulary as they could. For example : “I want the garbage truck. It is green. It is smelly”.

toys1Once all the vehicles had been handed out, and the kids had had a moment to drive them around, the SLP started describing each vehicle one by one, in random order. The children had to listen to the descriptions, and when they heard the description of their vehicle they came up to put it back in the toy box. So, “This truck is green. It is smelly. It picks up garbage” would be the cue for the child with the toy garbage truck to put it away. This activity was a great opportunity for the children to learn and practice new vocabulary while reinforcing existing words in a really fun way.

The kids were having so much fun we nearly ran out of time, and had to rush a little bit through snack time.

I can’t believe there’s only one more session of LFST! The children have changed so much over the past few weeks, it’s incredible. The most obvious change for most of the children is in their confidence level. LFST is a group activity, and children are encouraged to participate in front of their peers and a few grown ups (parents). For children with speech-language delays, speaking in front of others can be a terrifying prospect. Through small group activities like LFST, children can practice speaking in front of others in a safe, positive environment, and gradually build their confidence. Like so many library programs, the benefits of LFST are many, and the program impacts children in such a variety of ways.

Language Fun Story Time – May 21, 2015

On this very sunny Tuesday we shared Eric Carle’s classic ode to gluttony, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

bookMany of our kids were already familiar with the book, which really helped, because it is quite a long story with a lot of vocabulary.

Counting, days of the week, food vocabulary, cause and effect, sequencing and life cycles in the natural world – this book has it all!

Because The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the longer stories we share at LFST, we adapted the day’s format a little to accommodate our group. Instead of exploring the story three ways, we instead just retold the story twice, giving each child extra time to participate in the activities.

We do have quite a large group at LFST, with 10-12 children coming each week, and it can take a little while to explain and model an activity and then ensure that everyone has enough time to participate in the activity without feeling rushed or pressured. We always want to make sure that LFST is a fun, positive experience for the children, so rushing through an activity so that we can squeeze in another one isn’t all that beneficial for the children. Better to do two things well than three things poorly!

stuffieWe also had a very popular little caterpillar friend help us read the picture book as a group. The kids were particularly enthusiastic about this week’s story – it really does help when they’ve already experienced the book at home or at school, as it often gives them a bit of extra confidence. We dramatically munched and nom nom nommed our way through all the food in the story, and used our fingers to count out each meal.

Then it was time for the felt story!

Each child was given a different food item, and they were encouraged to tell the group which food they had, and how many pieces they had. They then fed their felt food to the felt caterpillar, with much enthusiasm. The creator of the felts somehow put the little caterpillar’s head on upside down, so he’s doing a bit of a funny wave, but the kids didn’t seem to notice. 🙂 felt

We had some great new vocabulary this week, including cocoon, and talked a bit about where butterflies come from.

Snack time fit in quite nicely with today’s theme! Then it was time for a stamp, and a copy of the book with some extension activities. I like to talk about the extension activities with the parents while the children are eating their snacks, and share other related activities parents can do with their children to build upon the vocabulary introduced in the story.

Being able to take home a copy of the book is such an important part of LFST, as it extends the learning experience for an entire week. Repetition at home really helps reinforce the vocabulary we practice at each session. For some kids, too, participating in a group setting can be intimidating or overwhelming, and they benefit from being able to explore the book in a more comfortable setting at their own pace. Everybody wins!

extensionThe group was feeling very jumpy towards the end of the program, so we sang our goodbye song with some full-body waving action, and then it was goodbye for another week. Only two more sessions to go!

Language Fun Story Time – May 14, 2015

It was a lovely morning for a walk to the community health center for today’s LFST. For a children’s librarian a little fold-up trolley is a well used and well loved piece of equipment!


Today we shared a picture book that ticks all sorts of early literacy boxes – colors, numbers, sequencing, even parts of the body: Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd.


This lovely story builds nicely on the framework we set in a previous week’s program with Pete the Cat, and introduces additional colors and numbers. We have a few vocal dog lovers in the group as well, who were thrilled when we pulled out today’s story!

The highlight of today’s program was our furry little friend, Dog.


Because Dog’s Colorful Day is quite a long picture book for our group, and requires that the children sit and listen for an extended period of time, we decided to forgo the felt story component this week. Typically we use a picture book, a felt story, and a collection of toys and items to retell each story three times, but we wanted to make sure that every child had enough time to participate in the retelling, and didn’t want to have to rush anything, or anyone! Our children need a slower pace in order to get the most out of the program, which sometimes means adapting and altering our program.

While all the LFST kits are wonderful, this kit is particularly special, as it includes so many toys and items for the children to interact with and use to retell the story. There’s a chocolate bar, a purple marker, a little pot of dried-up blue paint, and more – check out that awesome bucket for giving Dog a bath at the end of the story, and that great chunk of astro-turf representing the green grass!


The little stuffed dog is pretty special too – he actually has little pieces of velcro attached to his fur.


The children use these velcro pieces to attached different pieces of coloured felt representing the different spots.


After reading the picture book we faithfully retold the story using the toys and felt spots, then played a game in which the children placed colours of their choice all over the dog. This gave the kids opportunities to practice colour and body part vocabulary and prepositions, as well as practice asking for things and expressing opinions.

For example, each child was asked, “which colour of spot do you want?” The child used his or her vocabulary to ask for a specific colour or indicate a preference, and was then asked where on the dog’s body they wanted to put the coloured spot. Children were encouraged to say “on his ear” or “on his tail”, with as much vocabulary and accuracy as was individually appropriate. The children delighted in putting coloured spots on dog’s nose or his tail, and we played this game several times to ensure that each child got a chance to participate. Even our more reticent children were more easily enticed this week. After all, who could resist this cuddly face?


It’s amazing to see the development in each child as they progress throughout the program – we have a number of children who were so shy at the beginning that they could barely whisper their names, but who are now enthusiastically shouting out the names of the different colours. You can see that their confidence is growing in leaps and bounds, which is in turn helping them get the most benefit out of each session.

Even I couldn’t resist this fluffy little guy!


Language Fun Story Time – May 7, 2015


Sometimes life throws you curve balls. This morning I arrived at the library to discover that my LFST kit hadn’t arrived! No books, no toys, no felt stories, no program. Yikes!

I plunged into the children’s librarian’s closet and rummaged around until I found something I could turn into a make shit program – a copy of I Went Walking with a corresponding felt story. We still didn’t have toys, or copies of the book to take home, but at least we had a program!

My SLP partner tracked down some toy animals, another copy of the book, and some printable activities to send home with the children.


We sang a rousing few verses of Old MacDonald Had a Farm featuring the different animals in the book before sharing the picture book together as a group. For our main activity each child was able to choose a toy animal, then describe it to the rest of the group, using descriptive vocabulary to talk about the animal’s colour and size, as well as giving an example of its noise.

Although we weren’t able to send the kids home with a board book version of I Went Walking, we were able to give them a template for making their own version of the story. Children could colour in the different animals and put them together in whatever order they liked to retell the story. In the end, the children got a bit of a special program, and were still able to take something home with them.

The moral of the story – expect the unexpected!


Language Fun Story Time – April 30, 2015

For today’s LFST we had a very special friend visit us today:


Oh yes, it was Pete the Cat day at LFST

The kids were just over the moon when I pulled out Pete the Cat : I love my White Shoes. Most of them already knew the story, and were so excited to join in as we walked along and sang our song.

petebookEven some of the quieter, more introverted children in the group excitedly shouted out their colours, which was quite impressive!

After we read/sang the story together, it was time retell the story using our felts. The children took turns changing Pete’s shoes as he stepped in the different materials. petefeltThe kids took turns changing Pete’s shoes, and we sang the song again. And again. And again….But the kids seemed to love it, and we got a lot of words out of even our quietest participants.

Some of our children are new to circle times, group activities and felt stories, so using a felt board can be a bit challenging at times, but it is an ideal opportunity to reinforce expectations and give the children an opportunity to practice taking turns and sharing with each other in a supportive environment.

Depending on the length and complexity of the story, we sometimes only do a single activity, but because I Love My White Shoes is pretty brisk, we had ample time to retell the story in multiple ways.

Once everyone had had a turn at the felt board, we took a singing break, and went around the circle singing about everyone’s shoes. We sang “I love my pink shoes”, “I love my yellow shoes”, and more, including my favourite verse: “I love my Yoda shoes”!

Then it was back to Pete.

stuffedpeteThis was a pretty ingenious little set-up – baby socks were coloured with markers to represent the different shoe colours, and the children slipped the baby socks over Pete’s shoes. They loved it! We went through the story several times to make sure everyone got a turn.

The kids were pretty ravenous after all the singing and playing – we went through a lot of fishes and circles, as we call the goldfish and rice crackers.

Three sessions in, and I can already see the changes in the children as they become more comfortable with us and with each other. Can’t wait to see what’s waiting for us next week!

See you later, Pete!


Language Fun Story Time

Language Fun Story Time is back!

LFST is an adaptive story time for children with speech language challenges. To quote a VPL report,

For children with speech and language difficulties, attending regular Library Storytimes can be frustrating and overwhelming.

The pacing of the programs can be too fast for these kids and sometimes the children and their caregivers can feel uncomfortable in a large group when the child’s development is not typical. So to accommodate these children’s learning needs, a Vancouver Public Library children’s librarian and Vancouver Coastal Health speech language pathologist came together to create a unique program, Language Fun Storytime, for children who have speech and language difficulties regardless of any other diagnoses.

LFST participants are referred by their SLP, and the groups are kept small, typically with around 8-10 kids. Each week for 8-10 weeks, we explore one story three ways – as a picture book read-aloud, as a felt story, and with realia. The sessions are supportive and interactive, with every child encouraged to participate to the best of their individual abilities.

Each LFST kit contains a picture book, multiple smaller copies of the same book for participants to take home, handouts for families with extension activities, a felt story, puppets or toys, and usually a stamp.

kitEvery week participants are sent home with a copy of the week’s book, which they exchange the following week for the next story, allowing families to practice what they learn at LFST.

We start the program with a simple hello song, (Hello, friends!), which gives us a chance to practice everyone’s names, and helps the group connect. We then sing Roly Poly, as it’s fun, repetitive, and introduces great vocabulary.

Then it’s time to explore the week’s story.

We first read the story together, much as we would in a traditional story time. With LFST, it’s particularly important to be mindful of your speed when reading aloud, as the children benefit from a much slower pace.


We then reenact the story using felt characters. Each child is given a chance to place the felt pieces on the board as the SLP elicits speech.

Finally, we retell the story using stuffed animals, again giving each child an opportunity to participate in the retelling.


The program really emphasizes repetition, which is beneficial for all children, but particularly those with speech and language challenges.

Once we’ve finished telling the story, it’s time for a snack break! Even the snack portion of LFST is designed to help children build language skills. Children are asked which colour of plate and cup they want, and which healthy snacks they’d like. Expected outcomes are adapted to each child’s individual level, from full sentences to single mumbled words, and the atmosphere is always kept positive and supportive.


Snack time is also an opportunity for parents to connect with each other or ask the librarian and SLP questions.

We finish the hour-long session with a goodbye song, and of course, a stamp!

There really aren’t words to describe how incredibly meaningful and rewarding it is to participate in a program like this. Every week, you actually get to see the difference you’re making in a family’s life. Several of the children in this session were in my previous session, and it’s wonderful to see how much they’ve grown!

We’re known to get a little silly at LFST, too… 🙂