Family Story Time – July 17, 2015

This is my first experience running a summer story time series, and so far it’s been very interesting. During the school year our story time audience is largely made up of toddlers, with the occasional preschool group. Because school is out and our family story times have no upper age limit, I’ve had a very mixed group, with everything from babies to older school age siblings. It definitely makes for an interesting dynamic, and it can be challenging to find material that appeals to everyone! Here’s what we did this week:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Book 1: I’m a Dirty Dinosaur / Janeen Brian

dirty

Songs:

  • I wake up my hands with a shake, shake, shake
  • Old Macdonald had a farm
  • Open/shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat – I love my white shoes / Eric Litwin

pete

Action songs:

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom, zoom, zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle
  • Here we go a marching
  • The elevator song

Soothing song:  Mm-ahh went the little green frog one day

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

I like getting the most out of my felts, so I’ve been doing a lot of animal songs. Old Macdonald likes to have a varied collection of animals, so this week we had a snake, a monkey, a lion and an elephant join the usual pig, horse and cow, which the kids found hilarious.

Family Story Time – July 10, 2015

It’s so good to be back!! After a month+ long break, story times are back for a six-week summer session. It felt so good to be back in the programming room with all my little ones!

I’m trying to venture out of my comfort zone ever-so-slightly, so today I brought out some felts – something I never do! Here’s what we did and how it went:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Book 1: Bark, George! / Jules Feiffer

bark george

Songs:

  • I wake up my hands with a shake, shake, shake
  • When cows wake up in the morning
  • Open/shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat – The Wheels on the Bus / James Dean

wheels

Action songs:

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom, zoom, zoom / Far, far, far
  • Twinkle twinkle
  • If you’re happy and you know it
  • The elevator song

Soothing song:  Orca whale

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

What a fabulous story time! We had an excellent adult/child ratio (no preschools/day cares), and the adults were all really involved and active, which was great. There was a mix of regulars and new patrons, and a lot of families who had been counting down the days until story time started up again!

For my first foray into felts, I combined pieces from “Dear Zoo” and “I went walking” to make a custom “When cows wake up in the morning”. Combining the stories meant I got old standards like “cow” and “horse” as well as fun additions like “elephant”, “snake” and “monkey”! It was a lot of fun, and I cut it down a bit because of time, but I think I could’ve easily gone through all the animals in my bag. It would also be fun to use this customized kit for “Old MacDonald had a farm”, to make a very unique set of farm animals!

All in all a really great way to kick off summer story times!

Baby Story Time – April 10, 2015

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Slowly, slowly, very slowly
  • Round and round the garden goes the teddy bear
  • Slice slice the bread looks nice
  • Eyes nose cheeky cheeky chin
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Bear Seas Colors / Karma Wilson

bear

Songs/Bounces

  • Oh I wish I were a little bar of soap!
  • Bumping up and down in my little red wagon
  • The waves on the sea (to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus)
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus

Book Two: Pete the Cat Old MacDonald Had a Farm

macdonald

Movement Songs

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

Soothing Songs

  • Orca whale

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

I ended up just shortening and simplifying the same books I used in my family time, which is a technique I like to share with parents.  Lots of picture books can be adapted for different ages, just by skipping pages or only reading part of the text. I just loved the illustrations in Bear Sees Colours so much, and I simply omitted much of the text to create a shorter, simpler introduction to colours. I also find this version of Old MacDonald to be a little long, so I just pick and choose which animals I feel like doing. Get the most out of every picture book!

I had a record four dads at baby time today! One new dad was so relieved when he came in to see the three other dads there (two of them bring their babies by themselves – brave daddies!), and another couple of mums commented on how they were going to try and encourage their partners to come. A new participant even mentioned that he wasn’t sure if dads were allowed to come to baby time! That’s one of the reasons we steer clear of “Mum and Me” or any labels like that – we welcome daddies and grandparents and nannies and all grownups who are taking part in the raising of a baby!

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…..!

Preschool visit and story time – March 19, 2015

One of the things I love so much about being a children’s librarian is the variety that comes with the position – no two days are ever quite the same! We get to do so much outreach in our positions, and I for one am pretty passionate about getting out into the community, meeting our neighbors and being involved in what’s going on around us.

Today I had the opportunity to visit a local preschool and participate in their circle time. It was a bit of a last-minute arrangement, and due to scheduling constraints I didn’t have my usual thirty minute story time allowance, so I had to be a little creative with my program. As I’ve said before, that’s one of the things I love about doing on-call or drop-in story times – they’re perfect opportunities to spread my wings a little, branch out and try new things!

We had a small group – only 16 kids, but they were so engaged in the stories and so excited to participate.

Here’s what I did with the lovely little preschoolers I met on this super soggy spring day:

Book 1: Little Owl Lost / Chris Haughton

owl

Song: Roly poly

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

buttons

Songs: I wake up my hands

The itsy bitsy spider

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

dirty

And just for fun: Here I am sitting in the neighborhood house with my books, waiting to make my grand entrance into the preschool –  a little bedraggled from the terrible rain, but ready to get this story time started!

index

Baby Story Time – January 16, 2015

Lots of new faces at baby time today – a few of my babies from last year have aged out of the program, and we had a lot of new mums with little ones. We had 60 people (we count adults and babies, so it was roughly 30 adults and 30 babies), which was about as big as we would want to go in that space – babies need lots of room because they all come with little blankets and mats for tummy time!

I’m still surprised at how much I look forward to doing baby times now. When I first started, back in September, I was so terrified. I didn’t know how to relate to the parents and grandparents – I was so used to interacting with toddlers and preschoolers that I felt awkward interacting with adults! I remember one of the mum’s telling my manager to “tell that girl (me) not to be so nervous – we won’t bite!” Now that I’ve got a structure and routine that I’m comfortable with, and a good core repertoire of songs and rhymes at my disposal, I feel a lot more confident, which in turns makes my delivery more natural.

I also had a baby chewing on my shoes….nothing like baby slobber on my toes! Yet another reason why I only buy cheap shoes that I won’t mourn when they inevitably get tossed. 🙂

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Wake up feet
  • Eyes nose cheeky cheeky chin
  • Orca whale
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Spots, Feathers and Curly Tails / Nancy Tafuri

Spots, Feathers & Curly Tails

Songs/Bounces

  • You be the lemon
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • I want someone to buy me a pony
  • A smooth road
  • The grand old duke of york

Book Two: Pete the Cat Old MacDonald Had a Farm / James Dean

macdonald

Movement Songs

  • What shall we do with lazy Katie?
  • My bonny lies over the ocean
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Rain is falling down

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!

Family Story Time – November 7, 2014

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Down on the Farm / Merrily Kutner

farm

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly
  • Mm-ah went the little green frog one day

Book 2: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

buttons

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle little star
  • Head and shoulders
  • Tick tock tick tock
  • The elevator song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

 

Down on the Farm is such a fun book! I adore rhythmic texts that I can turn into jazz chants, and this one has a great, simple refrain that is repeated on every page – “down on the farm, down on the farm.” The book is a little long for my squirrely little ones, even with lots of animal noises thrown in for good measure, so I skipped a few pages (a trick I learned as I was a student is to fasten pages together with paper clips to adapt books for different audiences), but no one seemed to mind.

Just a side note – “roof” and “woof” don’t rhyme well unless you have an American accent….

Holy smokes we had a big crowd today, this biggest I’ve ever had at this branch. It was a bit zany, to say the least!!

Sing it again!

I love to sing. In the shower, on the bus (quietly), while shopping (again, hopefully quietly), I am one of those people who always seems to be humming a merry little tune. So it’s no surprise that I love picture books that can be sung! Singable picture books are a secret weapon that I like to pull out towards the end of a story time, when the children are getting wiggly and just want to keep singing Zoom Zoom Zoom over and over again.

I also like to use singable picture books to show caregivers how much use they can get out of a picture book – read it, chant it, sing it, turn it into a felt story, act it out with stuffed toys – get as much bang for your buck out of that story as you can! Plus, kids thrive on repetition, and odds are the caregiver will be sick of the story long before their child is….

Here are just a few of the singable picture books I’ve used in my family story times.

Paint1

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More – Karen Beaumont

Colour, colour and more colour! A mischievous little boy is determined to use his body as a canvas for his riotously colourful abstract works. Sing this one to the tune of the boy scout campfire classic, “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More”.

seals

The Seals on The Bus – Lenny Hort

One of many versions of this children’s classic, Hort’s version is one of my favourites because of its wonderful illustrations and hilarious cast of noisy characters – a perfect book for encouraging audience participation.

mikamba

Old Mikamba Had a Farm – Rachel Isadora

Another spin on a familiar classic, Rachel Isadora’s beautiful collage illustrations introduce children to a host of African animals, from the familiar lion to the adorable little dassie. Expand your story time horizons in a way that is still very accessible.

pete

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes – Eric Litwin

What more is there to say? This is a great introduction to singable picture books, as it’s really only the jazzy refrain that gets sung. While many children already know this book, most are more than happy to sing it again….and again….and again…