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:ย  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!

Family Child Care Story Time – June 10, 2015

Today I filled in for a Family Child Care Story Time at our central branch. This weekly story time is for home childcare providers with small groups of children. The children were mostly toddlers and preschoolers, not too dissimilar from my usual family story time crowd.

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Bark, George!

bark george

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Roly poly

Book 2: The Seals on the Bus

seals

Action Songs

  • Zoom zoom
  • London Bridge is Falling Down
  • Head and shoulders
  • If you’re happy and you know it

Book 3: Little Owl Lost

owl

Cool-down songs:

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

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

I love testing things out on new audiences. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I don’t typically fit three picture books into my story times, but this crowd seemed primed to sit and listen, so I decided to give it a whirl. It worked surprisingly well – I chose very silly stories that I could play up with facial expressions and different voices, and as usual I stuck to my favourite standbys for this one-off story time.

I also used “If you’re happy and you know it” as my transition song, finishing the song with:

If you’re happy and you know it sit back down / If you’re happy and you know it sit back down / If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it / If you’re happy and you know it sit back down”

I wanted to finish with a puppet, but I didn’t really like any of the frog puppets I could find, so I decided to just sing “grr grr went the little black bear” with an adorable black bear puppet.One of the childcare minders had never heard that version before, and she liked it so much she came up to me afterwards for the words. I love being able to share new versions of old favourites with caregivers – like I always say, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – if you already know a few tunes, work with what you have!

Family Story Time – May 16, 2015

Remember what I was saying about variety being the norm for a children’s librarian?

I arrived for my on-call shift at the children’s department of the central branch to discover that I was scheduled to deliver the morning’s family story time. Surprise! Thankfully I am a bit of an old hat at last minute story times by now.

One of the nicest things about doing on-call story times is that you can cheat. You can bust out your favourite songs and story books, the really popular ones that everyone loves and that you’ve already done to death with your own group. Today’s family story time was a bit of a greatest hits edition, but no Pete the Cat, as I couldn’t find a copy in the story time closet…

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: I went Walking / Sue Williams

walking

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Old MacDonald Had a Farm / Jane Cabrera

macdonald

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom zoom
  • The wheels on the bus
  • Toast in the toaster
  • The elevator song

Cool Down Songs

  • The itsy bitsy spider
  • Open shut them

Goodbye Song: Goodbye Friends!

I had some very enthusiastic caregivers in today’s small story time group who were happy to belt out all of the songs, which took some of the pressure off my voice, which was still a little strained after the program-heavy day before.

Family Story Time – April 24, 2015

I had planned a very rain-themed story time for today in the spirit of the weather, complete with all sorts of songs and stories about rain. Wouldn’t you know, about thirty minutes before story time started the heavens cleared and the sun shone through – so it was back to the drawing board! Here’s what we did:

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Dear Zoo / Rod Campbell

dear zoo

Hand Rhymes

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

Book 2: The Seals on the Bus / Lenny Hort

seals

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • The hokey pokey
  • Toast in the toaster
  • The elevator song

Cool-down songs:

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

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

Funnily enough, the hokey pokey was not an audience favourite this time around. The kids enjoyed shaking and turning around, but weren’t all that excited by the song, so I kept it brief – arms, legs, whole self.

What they really, really seem to love is jumping. Jumping, jumping, anything with jumping. So, toast in the toaster was received with much enthusiasm after the lackluster response to the hokey pokey!

Mm-ahh is a perennial favourite because I make sure that all the children practice really sticking their tongues out for an authentic froggy experience, which they just find absolutely hilarious. I also happen to have a freakishly long tongue (think Gene Simmons….), which typically leads to shrieks of laughter. I’m not above an easy sight gag ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 Group Visit – March 26, 2015

Oh. My. Goodness.

All respect to preschool teachers – you guys are unsung heroes in our communities!

A local preschool group came to visit today, and this is pretty much how I felt afterwards:

By Umberto Salvagnin (originally posted to Flickr as Sleeping) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I love preschoolers – they are so enthusiastic and curious and energetic, and they can handle more complex stories and activities than my usual demographic of toddlers and babies. Preschoolers will ask questions, and let you know clearly and often volubly if they approve or disapprove of your story time selections.

But the very attributes that make preschoolers so much fun to work with can also make them a bit of a handful, especially in large numbers! Preschool or daycare visits can also be markedly different from in-house story times because of the change in child:adult ratio. In my regular story times, the attendance ratio is typically one child for every adult, while a group visit can have around 7 children for every adult. This can sometimes make wrangling the group feel a bit like herding cats. Adorable, talkative cats who give you big hugs at the end of the program, but still, cats.

"Street cats (1)" by Rodrigo Basaure from Santiago, Chile - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Street_cats_(1).jpg#/media/File:Street_cats_(1).jpg

Here’s what we ended up doing – it’s not really what I’d planned, but it’s what ended up working for this frisky group.

Book 1: Bark, George! / Jules Feiffer

bark george

Songs:

  • I wake up my hands
  • The itsy bitsy spider

Book 2: Pete the Cat I Love my White Shoes / Eric Litwin

pete

Action Songs:

  • Head and Shoulders
  • Tick tock tick tock
  • The elevator song

Book 3: The Wheels on the Bus / Jane Cabrera

wheels

Action Songs:

  • Zoom zoom
  • If you’re happy and you know it

If You’re Happy and You Know It is a great transition/instruction song. I used the tune to sing “If you’re happy and you know it wave goodbye”, “If you’re happy and you know it find your partner” and “If you’re happy and you know it line up now” – it was a perfect transition into the next portion of their visit, which was a book exchange.

Preschoolers really aren’t my typically demographic, but they’re a lot of fun! If anyone has any suggestions for great books or song to use with preschoolers, please please share!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a bit of a lie down after all that cat wrangling…. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 /ย  James Dean, Eric Litwin

buttons

Songs: I wake up my hands

The itsy bitsy spider

Book 3: I’m a Dirty Dinosaur /ย  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 –ย  a little bedraggled from the terrible rain, but ready to get this story time started!

index

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 youโ€™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 – 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!