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!

Family Story Time – May 15, 2015

For this our last story time of spring, I wanted to go out with a bang, so I tried to plan an extra-special story time that would include all of our favourite songs and activities. To make it extra-special, we did almost the entire story time standing up! We sang our hello song as usual, then sang “when cows wake up in the morning (including a lion and a dinosaur, of course), and then it was up and moving around, even during the stories!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Song: When cows wake up in the morning

Book 1: From Head to Toe / Eric Carle

head

Hand Rhymes

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

Book 2: Jump / Scott M. Fischer

jump

Action Songs

  • Zoom zoom
  • The wheels on the bus
  • Here we go a marching
  • Toast in the toaster
  • Elevator song

Cool-down songs:

  • Grr-grr went the little brown bear one day (with puppet)

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

I know my audience, and what my audience loves best is jumping! So, we jumped to the moon, the people on the bus went up and down, we went a jumping, our toast popped, and our elevators went up and down. Even our second book was all about jumping! We had a delighted, if exhausted crew after story time today, and it was a wonderful note on which to finish off the session.

Family Story Time – May 8, 2015

Well, that was interesting….

Yeah!

Today we implemented a new ticketing system to manage the size of our story times, which meant I had the smallest story time I think I’ve ever had – only 50 people (adults and children) in the big meeting room.

It was a bit of an adjustment, to say the least. What had worked with 40 or 50 children didn’t work as well with only about 25.There was so much space in the room that several of the children took to running around, and it was difficult to wrangle them back for our picture books. It was unlike any story time I’ve ever had in this branch, and my original plan simply didn’t stand a chance, so I had to do some last-minute rejigging to try and MacGyver something together.

I only have one session of story times before we take a break until July, so I only have to manage one more crazy story time before I can rethink my story time strategy to reflect the new reality of my set up.

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: The Very Hungry Caterpillar / Eric Carle

Hand Rhymes

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

Book 2: I Went Walking / Sue Williams

walking

Action Songs

  • Zoom zoom
  • If you’re happy and you know it
  • Tick tock
  • Elevator song

Cool-down songs:

  • Mm-ah went the little green frog

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

Only one more week until we take a much-needed summer break!

Baby Story Time – March 20, 2015

A funny little baby time today – at 11:10, five minutes before we were due to start, there were only two babies and their mothers waiting in the program room! I was getting a little nervous – we typically have a pretty good group, but a combination of terrible weather and older siblings home from school had kept our programs a little smaller all week. I needn’t have worried – the babies and their caregivers kept trickling in over the next 30 minutes (one family came in without about 5 minutes left in the program!), and although we certainly weren’t at capacity, we still had a comfortable group. That’s the thing about babies – they don’t always understand schedules! I like to make sure that my patrons know that they are always welcome to come and go as they need to during baby time – I’d rather they benefit from 15 minutes of baby time and get a chance to meet other parents after the program, then not come at all!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Eyes, nose, cheeky cheeky chin
  • Baby put your pants on
  • Slice, slice, the bread looks nice

Book 1: Do cows meow? / Salina Yoon

index.aspx

Songs/Bounces

  • Oh I wish I were a little bar of soap!
  • I’m toast in the toaster
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • Gregory Griggs

Book Two: The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse / Eric Carle

blue

Movement Songs

  • What shall we do with lazy Katie?
  • Dancing with bears
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Orca whale
  • Rain is falling down

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

Do Cows Meow is a really fun book because it has flaps – those gaping animal mouths really caught the attention of more than a few babies! It was also a perfect day for Rain is falling down….it was pouring, just pouring, and I was actually surprised that so many families braved it out through the deluge!

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!

Baby Story Time – March 13, 2015

A wonderful, wonderful baby time today. We’ve got lots of busy active crawlers in our group, who just delighted in all the lifting and bouncing we did!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Wake up feet
  • Baby put your pants on
  • Roly poly
  • Head and shoulders

Book 1: Chick / Ed Vere

Chick

Songs/Bounces

  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • You be the lemon
  • A smooth road
  • Tick tock tick tock

Book Two: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? / Bill Martin Jr.

brown bear

Movement Songs

  • Dancing with bears
  • London Bridge is falling down
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • You are my sunshine
  • Orca whale

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

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 – October 24, 2014

My family time is a really mixed all-ages group, with everyone from babies to preschoolers! Our groups aren’t as large as some (we typically get between 60-80 people), but our meeting room isn’t huge, so it does make for a very cozy setting sometimes!

I’ve been doing this story time since the beginning of September, and I’m starting to get to know the families in my area. The families are starting to get to know me, too – it’s so sweet when the little ones start shouting my name as soon as they see me. 🙂

So, here’s what I did in today’s family story time (more or less…) I like to have an outline for my story times, but like I’ve said before, I don’t believe in forcing yourself to follow an outline if it’s just not working. Because I can never be quite sure who will be attending each story time, I have to be flexible enough to change up my plans if they’re just not going to work! If you’re unfamiliar with any of the songs I’ve chosen, I’d recommend checking out www.jbrary.com, an amazing resource for anyone who works (or lives!) with children.

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Book 1: The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse / Eric Carle

blue horse

Hand Rhymes

  • I Wake Up My Hands With a Shake, Shake, Shake
  • Wiggle Your Fingers
  • Roly Poly
  • Open Shut them

Book 2: I ‘Aint Gonna Paint No More / Karen Beaumont

Paint1

Action Songs

  • Bend & Stretch
  • Zoom Zoom
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Tick Tock (I’m a Little Cuckoo Clock)
  • The Elevator Song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

Lots of movement, lots of action, lots of laughter – an all-around fun story time!