Family Story Time – April 17, 2015

It’s hard to believe we’re getting to the end of our spring session of story times, only four more weeks to go before we take a break for summer!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: This Little Chick /  John Lawrence

chick

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Old MacDonald had a farm (audience request)
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Tiny Little Fly / Michael Rosen

tiny

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle little star (audience request)
  • If you’re happy and you know it
  • The elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • Mm-ahh went the little green frog (with puppet)

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

Thanks to audience requests from my very enthusiastic audience, the denizens of Old MacDonald’s farm included a lion, a dinosaur, a parrot, and an alligator. Poor, poor Mr. MacDonald….

Family Story Time – April 10, 2015

It’s Friday, and you know what that means – story time! I’ve been playing around with my story time structure just a little bit, moving things around and slotting some new material in. I’m certainly not brave enough yet to bust out the felt stories with my antsy toddlers, but I am feeling the puppets. A gorgeous duck puppet came out to play today, and he was a big hit!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Bear Sees Colors / Karma Wilson

bear

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Orca whale
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat Old MacDonald Had a Farm

macdonald

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Here we go a marching
  • Head and shoulders
  • The elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • Five little ducks (with puppet)
  • When ducks wake up in the morning

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

Family Story Time – March 27, 2015

So, after the brief interlude that was spring break, we’re back to massive story times again. We ended up having to turn almost 20 people away from our story time because we were just too full. Thank goodness for my voice amplifier, I don’t think I’d be able to continually make myself heard over the crowd, week after week.

I tried out a new-to-me story this week, Two Little Monkeys by Mem Fox, and the kids seamed to enjoy it. I might suggest that it’s a good choice for early on in the program, when the kids are at their most attentive and least wiggly. I don’t think this would have flown quite as well later in the program, as there aren’t as many opportunities for audience participation. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty using Pete the Cat in story times, it feels like a bit of a librarian cop out, but when you have a large group of wiggly toddlers and preschoolers, the simple story, catchy, repetitive refrain and opportunities for participation really come in handy. We had a lot of excited counters in the audience today, and they loved helping me with each POP!

I also had some requests from the gallery today. I wasn’t planning on doing The Wheels on the Bus, but several of the kids asked for it, and I was happy to oblige. Sometimes it’s better to just go with the flow! We also added dinosaurs to our repertoire of animals who wake up in the morning, thanks to an enthusiastic audience request, which was a lot of fun!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Two Little Monkeys / Mem Fox

monkeys

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • When cows wake up in the morning
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons / Eric Litwin

buttons

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle little star
  • The wheels on the bus
  • The elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • Mm-ahh went the little green frog (with puppet!)
  • Orca whale

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

I’m also embracing puppets, slowly but surely. I’ve been introducing a different puppet friend and related song each week (I’ll start repeating them soon, we don’t have a huge puppet collection at the branch), and it’s been a lot of fun! I don’t think I’m brave enough for felt stories yet though…..!

Family Story Time – March 20, 2015

We’re in the second week of spring break, and the composition of my family story time was considerably different this morning! Typically it’s predominantly toddlers with a few preschoolers, but because of the school closures we had a number of older brothers and sisters in the crowd today, with quite a few elementary school aged kids. It certainly made for a different dynamic, but they seemed to enjoy the stories all the same.

I love Little Owl Lost, and I will take any opportunity I can find to bust out this simple but hilarious story. The kids find squirrel just about the funniest thing ever, and delight in pointing out his very silly mistakes.Like another of my all-time favourites, Bark George, Little Owl Lost lends itself to a bit of comedic over-acting in the delivery – I like to do a few dramatic double-takes when each candidate for the mummy owl is revealed, and make poor little owl more and more exasperated as the story progresses, and the kids just eat it up. Lots and lots of fun.

Funnily enough, some kids just adored The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, while others just could not wrap their minds around it. A few of the more literal-minded children in the audience wore confused expressions throughout this story – in their mind, cows are not supposed to be yellow, nor foxes purple! We talked about imagination and make believe and being creative, but these little pragmatists simply would not budge!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Little Owl Lost / Chris Haughton

owl

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • The itsy bitsy spider
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse / Eric Carle

blue

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Head and shoulders
  • Tick tock tick tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock
  • The elevator song
  • Orca whale

Puppet:

  • Little worm in an apple, sitting so still!

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

I’ve been trying to add in a few calming songs or rhymes at the end of our program, right before the goodbye song. I think of it as a way of wrapping the story time up and creating a sense of closure, rather than abruptly coming to a close right after the exuberant action song section. Today I had the children sit after the elevator song, and we sang the orca whale song, which includes some gentle hand actions. We wrapped everything up with a visit from the little worm in the apple, and used the following rhyme:

Little worm, in an apple, sitting so still!

Will he come out? Yes, he will!

He looks to the left, he looks to the right,

He looks straight ahead, then pops! out of sight.

We have several of these puppets, with little creatures that can pop out and greet the children – a worm in an apple, a chick in an egg and a turtle in a shell. The children delight in seeing the little creature POP in and out of its home, and we say the rhyme several times. It’s a nice way to round out the program, and an easy way for me to come to grips with my nervousness around using puppets!

Family Story Time – March 13, 2015

Another Friday, another set of story times! We had a smaller group at family story time today – it’s spring break, and a lot of branches take a story time break, but we decided to motor on through, even with a smaller group than normal. To be honest, though, this smaller size was just about perfect – we had about 65 people in our meeting room, and it was really nice – not too empty, not too crowded. Here’s what we did!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Ten in the Den / John Butler

ten

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly
  • Little turtle in a shell, sitting so still…

Book 2: The Wheels on the Bus / Jane Cabrera

wheels

Action Songs

  • Zoom zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle little star
  • If you’re happy and you know it
  • The elevator song
  • Orca whale

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

Remarkably similar to last week’s family story time, but I’m still struggling with my voice and my stamina, so I’m sticking to the old standards until I’ve got a bit more of my juice back!

Funny story – a mother came to tell me how her little girl was so upset at the part in “Ten in the Den’ when all the other animals have rolled out of the bed, and it’s just the little mouse alone in the den, missing his friends. So empathetic, and so sweet!

Family Story Time – March 8, 2015

One of the nice things about doing on-call story times at different branches is that it’s a great opportunity to try out new story time structures. My regular weekly group has their favourite songs and rhymes, and they know the regular structure of my story times. While I do like to change things up a little bit from week to week,children thrive on repetition, and I try to keep the structure of my story time the same from week to week, changing out books and song for variety.

Today I did a story time for a comfy cozy little group of 6 or 7 children and their caregivers, which was a far cry from my usual 80+!

Also unlike my usual story times, this one had a theme! I typically don’t do themed story times – I don’t like being tied to a theme, and having to potentially pick substandard books or books that don’t fit my demographic because I’m desperate to find books that fit a theme! But, this story time is typically themed and the theme was selected in advance, so I went with the flow.

Here’s what we did today!

Theme: Waking Up and Getting Ready

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush / Jane Cabrera

Here

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Roly poly
  • Open Shut them

Book 2: Time to Get Up, Time To Go / David Pilgrim

time to get up

Songs

  • Bend and Stretch
  • If you’re happy and you know it

Book 3: I’m a Dirty Dinosaur / Janeen Brian & Ann James

dirty

Songs

  • When cows wake up in the morning
  • The elevator song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

Definitely a different sort of story time, but a lot of fun! Both “Time to get up” and “I’m a dirty dinosaur” have great rhythm and are so much fun to chant – “Time to get up” actually became a bit of a call-and-answer experience when a couple of the older kids started repeating all the lines after me. I wasn’t expecting it, but it was a great way of including the kids in the story, and offered yet another example of the importance of learning to go with the flow and expecting the unexpected when it comes to working with kids!

Family Story Time – March 6, 2015

My first real story time after a 2 month absence. I will admit it, I was terrified. My voice is still weak and terrible, and although I have a handy-dandy new portable voice amplifier, I still can only speak for a short period of time, before my poor voice pretty much evaporates. I spent the night before worrying that my voice would just cut out completely half way through and we’d have to have a mime story time, and I’ll admit it was a bit tougher than a usual story time, but I made it through, and I couldn’t be more pumped!

The trick I found was to pick short books with lots of audience participation, choose songs that everyone knew so I could just lip synch for most of the time, drink lots and lots of tea, and use my voice amplifier when I had to talk so I could use almost a whisper and still be heard.

It felt weird with the silly headset on, I felt like I should be taking orders at the drive through, but I’ll be upgrading to a wireless one soon with a little collar microphone, which will be awesome! And I have a quiet week off in between programs to recuperate. All is going according to plan!

Here’s what we did on my first exploratory trip back to the fold:

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? / Bill Martin Jr.

bear

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly
  • Little turtle in a shell, sitting so still…

Book 2: The Bus for Us / Suzanne Bloom

bus

Action Songs

  • Zoom zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle little star
  • If you’re happy and you know it
  • The elevator song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

The kids just went nuts for today’s books, it was awesome. I pulled out “Brown bear” and a little boy cried out “animals! I love animals!” I had the group tell me what each animal was and name its colour, and make suitable noises when appropriate. I must confess I’d never used that book before in one of my story times, and it was a total it!

It was my first time using the little puppets too, and the little ones were speechless. Seeing the little turtle pop in and out of his shell pretty much blew their minds. We had to say the rhyme a couple times, due to audience demand. Who knew something so simple could be such a big hit?

Family Story Time – February 26, 2015

While I am still not fully recovered enough to tackle my own story times yet (heart broken), I was able to cover a smaller story time at a neighboring branch while their librarian visited a school.

The branch is quite small, but very sweet, and I enjoyed the experience a lot. It was so nice to be able to do a story time at all, and this was a perfect was to get my feet wet again. The group was very small, only about 24 people, which allowed for an intimate experience that didn’t strain my weakened lungs.

Here’s what we did for this gentle family story time.

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Bark, George!

bark george

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Monkey and Me

monkey

Action Songs

  • Zoom zoom
  • Head and shoulders
  • If you’re happy and you know it
  • The elevator song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

It made my heart so happy to be doing another story time, after missing over a month of my own story times (six in total, I think, which is just mind-bogglingly upsetting). Still, I am progressing, ever so slowly, and I am hoping (or trying to hope…) that I’ll be able to do my story times again soon. Keep your fingers crossed for me, I’d really appreciate the good vibes!!

Family Story Time – January 16, 2015

And we’re back! After a month away, story times are back at my branch, and I am thrilled!

Pro tip – make sure to read through your picture books before you use them in story time…I had done “Here we go round the mulberry bush” before, but didn’t have a copy in the branch, so I ordered one from another branch. Figuring I knew the story, I pulled it out in story time, only to discover that about half the pages were missing! Fortunately it’s more of a song than a story, so I could wing the ending, but it did throw me off momentarily! So – if you’re using a new copy of a book, make sure all the pages are there (and not scribbled on….)!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Clip Clop / Nicola Smee
clipclop

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Mmm-ahh went the little green frog
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Here we go round the mulberry bush / Jane Cabrera

Mulberry bush

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • The wheels on the bus
  • Orca whale
  • Here we go a-driving
  • The elevator song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

Family Story Time – December 12, 2014

Oh. My. Word…..We managed to cram 98 people into the meeting room for story time today, with a small crowd gathered outside watching. Normally I have someone outside monitoring the situation and cutting off entry at a manageable point, but because of a miscommunication with a new staff member, the post was left unmanned, and the crowds kept smooshing in! It’s hard to kick people out while reading a picture book, so it was a little stressful to say the least, and I hope people didn’t mind too much….Oh well! It’s the last story time of 2014 – I successfully completed my first full season! I also saw my attendance rise from an average of 60 to an average of 100+, not too shabby in three months, if I do say so myself, even if it has caused us a few logistical headaches…

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly! / Mo Willems

friends

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • When cows wake up in the morning
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat the Wheels on the Bus

pete

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Orca whale
  • Well hello everybody, can you touch your nose?
  • Here we go a driving
  • The elevator song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

One of the challenges this week was that the books were really, really short, which meant I had to scramble a bit to fill up the full half hour. With such big groups in such a small space (that’s the real challenge – I don’t mind big groups, but you need an appropriate space so that everyone can sit and move around comfortably) I have been struggling a bit with my books – I have been turning to really short, simple stories that I won’t lose my voice shouting across the crowd. It’s OK, but it’s certainly not ideal.

We’ve been doing our informal branch survey to find out when people would like to see an additional story time, and it looks like Thursday morning and Saturday morning are the favourites, though both have challenges. Thursday morning would involve specially opening the branch before regular opening hours, while Saturday would involve a different staff member, and probably wouldn’t solve our size problems (in particular the number of nannies and home child care providers who come to our weekday story times). I’m going to talk about it with the branch manager and see what we can figure out for the new year, so that our story times can be both inclusive and accessible for as many kids as possible!