Friday, August 30, 2013

Flannel Friday - "Mommy, Carry Me Please!"

I love Jane Cabrera's books - her illustrations are just so sweet!  I humbly attempted to recreate some of them as flannel pieces, and I think they turned out pretty darn cute.  I will admit, however, that I spent WAY too much time on this set! So now I've got to get as much use out of them as I possibly can - I mean, you can use these animals a million different ways, right?

The book:

Mommy, Carry Me Please! by Jane Cabrera

The end result:

Mommy Hippo and Mommy Crocodile
Mommy Penguin and Mommy Lemur
Mommy Kangaroo and Mommy Tiger
 (due to a puffy paint explosion, Mrs. Kangaroo had to have emergency surgery on her left eye, but you can't really tell from this angle, can you?)

Mommy Monkey and Mommy Beaver

Mommy Koala and Mommy Spider

My photography skills are a little lacking, here, but I did include details such as eyelashes and all of my outlining was done with puffy paint.  I didn't make the babies or the human mother and child at the end because it was simply taking too long.  Maybe if I have some extra time I'll add them in later. 
I used this with toddlers and luckily had enough pieces for each child.  So each toddler got to put their animal up on the board when we read their page, to their great delight! 
I think these pieces could be used in other ways - such as when singing the song "Ten in the Bed!"  I hope you enjoy these felt pieces as much as I do - the lemur is by far my favorite! :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Preschool Story Time - Spoon

Well this was one of those 'what was I thinking?' moments.  There are SO many books you can use for the theme of cooking or eating, I thought I would narrow it down.  I love ALL of Amy Rosenthal's books, especially Chopsticks, but cuts had to be made.  Other books considered were Spork by Kyo MacLear, and Stone Soup in any format.  The kids looked puzzled when I introduced this theme, but the moms looked at me as if to say "OK, let me see you pull THIS off."  It was just good fun before we got into all of the seasonal and holiday themes which take over from September-January.

The Plan:

Spoon by Amy K Rosenthal

This super cute book is one of several about cooking utensils.  Spoon is lamenting that his friends are all so super cool and there is nothing special about him.  He doesn't realize that his friends all see the specialness in Spoon and appreciate him for his abilities.  Many of the kids have read this one, many more of the mom's wanted to see more by Ms. Rosenthal.  Of course, I had everything on display!

Too Many Cooks by Margaret McNamara

Well, I was expecting everyone to shout RATATOUILLE!!  But no one did!  One of my favorite Pixar movies was just not known by the preschoolers.  But the text is rather short and the kids did get to count the rats so it made up for it.  The down side of this book is many of the cooking terms no one knew, and some were difficult to pronounce.  I opted not to read it in my later, quieter group.

Before HALFTIME (see my Preschool Story Time Tab for the additional parts of story time I do weekly) We did this Finger Play from The Complete Book of Rhymes, Songs, Poems, Chants and Finger Plays (Silberg and Schiller):

Porridge is Bubbling
Porridge is bubbling, bubbling hot (make bubbles rising and popping with your hands)
Stir it round and round the pot (make one arm holding a pot and one arm stirring)
The bubbles plip (make pop with left hand)
The bubbles plop (make pop with right hand)
It's ready to eat all bubbling hot (rub your tummy)
Wake up baby, wake up soon (put hands up to mouth like calling for the baby)
We'll eat the porridge with a spoon (pretend to eat).

I also tried this rhyme to see if any parents or children knew it:

Peas Porridge Hot
Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold,
Peas porridge in the pot, nine days old.
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.

Then we had our HALFTIME dance.

As a cool down to our dance, we did our flannel board which was brought to me by Miss Kristie's little preschooler and my special story timer, Daisy.  Miss Kristie let me borrow her flannels for Hey Diddle Diddle which she featured in a recent Flannel Friday (Click HERE to see more about this Flannel Story)

We review Mother Goose rhymes often in story time.  I try to do them once a month, but find many of them have been fitting in with my themes, so we have been doing them quite regularly!  Children like repetition and feel successful when they can follow along.  Also, this helps with early literacy because we slow the rhymes down so they can hear sentences broken down into smaller pieces, they hear rhythms, and learn rhyme.

"If you want to hear a story wiggle your ears....if you wanna hear a story wiggle your ears....!"  Back to the books!
Little Pea by Amy K Rosenthal

An audible GASP from a MOM on this one!  I guess it is a family favorite!  I love it too.  Little Pea loves her little pea life, except what she is forced to eat for dinner every night: CANDY!  In a quaint story that every child can relate to, Little Pea must clean her plate of candy before she can have dessert - spinach is her favorite!  

A Soup Opera by Jim Gill

A man in a restaurant is pained because he cannot eat his soup!  A Waiter, a Chef, a Policeman, the Mayor and the President all come to his aid in this Operetta.  This was a strange one!  I find this book hysterically funny, but it felt like the preschoolers didn't get it.  Jim Gill does a great job of narrating/performing this book, so I put many copies on display and encouraged the kids to check them out.  Even though the kids sat quietly through it (while I acted ridiculous through it!), ALL of the books were checked out.  Many of the moms hopped up to grab it, so I guess it went over better than I thought!

Check out this blog I found a little too late - a Flannel Friday post about this book with puppets!

My Craft was based on Miss Kristie's Hey Diddle Diddle Flannels (pardon the pins!).  The kids adored this craft!  YAY!  I even got feedback from mom's saying their child played with their 'dish ran away with the spoon puppets'!!  I love it when that happens!

So in the end, this theme went over well.   Nothing compares to a rip-roaring animal theme, but its always fun to do a theme 'out of the box'...or in this case, out of the utensil drawer!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Baby Story Time - Choo Choo!

I've really wanted to read the board book, "Trains Go," by Steve Light, in Baby Story Time, so I went all out with trains this week! Who doesn't love pulling that imaginary whistle and shouting, "Choo-choo!!"?

Books We Read:

Freight Train by Donald Crews

I really like this book for babies and toddlers.  It's really a 'colors' book, with train cars in every color of the rainbow.  The text is simple and direct, and very small children always seem a little entranced as they watch the freight train travel throughout the book.
Trains Go by Steve Light

I'm loving this board book!  It's extra wide so when you open it up you get a great view of the train passing by! And the sound effects are so much fun to read aloud!

Peek-a-CHOO-CHOO! by Marie Torres Cimarusti

All of these 'Peek-a' books by Cimarusti are great books to fall back on in any baby or toddler story time.  The bright colors and big flaps make them fun and easy reads.  I will often end with one because the guessing element (what's under the flap?) helps to keep those little ones' attentions for just a few more minutes!


Our Wake-up Rhyme today was kind of a classic lap bounce - "Mother and Father and Uncle John."  The characters aren't riding on a train, but they're going somewhere! I learned this from the fantastic book, Baby Rhyming Time by Linda Ernst - such a great resource book to have in your collection!

Mother and Father and Uncle John
Mother and Father and Uncle John
     (bounce baby)
Rode to town, one by one.
Mother fell off and Father fell off,
     (tip baby to one side, tip to the other)
But Uncle John rode on and on and on...
     (bounce faster and faster!) 

After our first book, we did this "Choo-Choo Train" fingerplay, except I turned it into a lap bounce, since most of my babies right now are pretty little.  I often find myself turning rhymes into lap bounces, because babies don't have a lot of dexterity in their little hands yet!

Choo Choo Train (adapted from
This is a choo-choo train
     (bend arms at elbow)
Puffing down the track.
     (rotate arms in rhythm)
Now it's going forward.
     (lean baby forward)
Now it's going back.
     (lean baby back)
Now the bell is ringing.
     (pull the imaginary cord)
Now the whistle blows.
     (hold fist at mouth and "toot toot")
What a lot of noise it makes
     (cover ears with hands)
Everywhere it goes!
     (stretch arms out wide)

Next we sang "Little Red Caboose"!  I learned this song by watching Kidsongs with my toddler! (Anyone remember Kidsongs???)  Trust me, once you get this song into your head, it'll be stuck there all day!  I also added simple motions to this song:

Little Red Caboose
Little red caboose, chug, chug, chug,
     (chug chug with arms)
Little red caboose, chug, chug, chug,
Little red caboose behind the train.
     (thumb over shoulder)
Smokestack on his back, back, back. back.
     (pat baby's back)
Chugging down the track, track, track, track,
     (chug chug with arms)
Little red caboose behind the train.
     (thumb over shoulder)

After our second book, it was Rhythm Time - this week we used bells!  The babies gently shook their bells while I played "Down by the Station" on my guitar.  I seriously taught myself how to play it about two hours before story time!  There were only three chords, so it was actually quite easy - whew!  If you'd like to try your hand, I found the guitar tabs here.  I slightly adapted the lyrics:

Down by the Station
Down by the station, early in the morning.
See the little pufferbellies all in a row.
See the stationmaster blow his little whistle.
"Puff! Puff!" "Toot! Toot!"  Off we go!

Down by the station, early in the morning.
See the little pufferbellies all in a row.
See the engine driver pull his little lever.
"Puff! Puff!" "Toot! Toot!"  Off we go!

Down by the station, early in the morning.
See the little BABIES all in a row!
See the engine driver pull his little lever.
"Puff! Puff!" "Toot! Toot!"  Off we go!

And one more rhythm song - "Ring Them on the Floor" from Kathy Reid-Naiman's music cd I Love to Hear the Sounds.  I've used this song a few times and I really like it, but the recorded version is sooo long, so I just sing it myself.

Ring Them on the Floor
Ring them on the floor and ring them in the air,
Ring them on the floor and ring them in the air,
Ring them on the floor and ring them in the air,
And ring them all day long!

Ring them quietly, ring them loud,
Ring them quietly, ring them loud,
Ring them quietly, ring them loud,
And ring them all day long!

How it went:

I really liked this story time, but I think too many of the songs were unfamiliar to the parents, so I was often singing alone.  That doesn't really bother me, but I do strive to use tunes that sound familiar so they can continue singing them at home.  But I had 17 babies and no major breakdowns (from them or me!) so I think everyone was happy!  Until next week!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Preschool Story Time - Corn!

The first week after back to school is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're gonna get.  This was a tale of two story times, such a crazy week.  It must have been the full moon!

The Plan

Crash, Bang, Donkey!  Jill Newton

Farmer Gruff is trying to sleep but Donkey keeps making noise with his wild groove.  Can they find a good solution to the problem of too much noise?

The Little Scarecrow Boy - Margaret Wise Brown

A nostalgic favorite, the Scarecrow Boy wants to find his place in the family and learn the family business. 

Before Halftime, I just HAD to recreate and use these flannels from Mel's Desk: (Thank you!)  This was a big hit with the kids!

I used her rhyme as well:
Five Little Kernels
Put up the five kernel shapes on the board, as spread out as you can. When you say POP! slap a white popcorn shape right on top of one of the kernels.
Five little kernels sizzling in the pot
All of a sudden, one went POP!
Four little kernels… etc.

Our usual HALFTIME SONG is PERFECT for this theme:  Greg and Steve's POPCORN from We All Live Together Volume 2.  I do this song every week, but it was great to finally have a theme that was related!  We act out all of the lyrics and jump up to shout POPCORN during the chorus.  Then SHAKE IT!  The kids always love this song and so do I!  I think it gets louder every week!

After our Halftime dance, I did a nursery rhyme Little Boy Blue
Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn
The sheeps in the meadow, the cow's in the corn.
But where is the little boy who tends the sheep?
He's under the haystack, fast asleep.
Will you wake him?  No not I.  For if I do, he sure would cry.

I used a professional set of flannel boards for this rhyme, which I left on the board for free exploration after story time, and I included the rhyme in the handouts (with pictures) for children to take home and practice reciting. With 'Every Child Ready to Read' in mind, I really like to use materials that are easy to learn and recite at home.  Nursery rhymes are perfect for early literacy skills.

Raccoons and Ripe Corn - Jim Arnosky 

Very short text, but give a ground level insight into what Raccoons do at night.  The pictures in this book are lovely.

Thump, Quack, Moo - Doreen Cronin

Farmer Brown is excited to design the corn maze!  But as usual his animals wacky antics might just change the outcome of his efforts.

Today's Craft was a popcorn box made from red construction paper which has straight lines for cutting practice, then tissue paper crumpled up to create the popcorn effect.  The kids really enjoyed this craft!

How it went:

This was a tough one!  I decided not to use The Scarecrow Boy because it is a little longer and the kids were rather squirrely at the first run of this story time.  On my second day, it was the opposite!  Everyone was so quiet that I wasn't sure if they were liking it, but I guess that is actually a good sign.
The craft and flannels were an absolute hit!  Even in all of the craziness, I had some new moms tell me they loved what I did.  As long as the kids and moms are having fun, it's ALL GOOD!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Flannel Friday - Nursery Rhyme Sheep

If you follow my story times, you know I love creating flannel boards.  I really enjoy going off-book and just telling a story using flannel props.  I also love crafting sets which I can leave on the board for 'Free Exploration' after story time.  Lately I have been focusing on nursery rhymes and songs.  According to Every Child Ready to Read, singing and talking are two strong components of early literacy.  By learning and reciting poems and singing songs, children learn rhyming, patterns, how words are formed, sequence, etc.  I try to incorporate one of these rhymes at least once a month.  The children who know it feel successful, the children who don't can learn it and take home tools to be able to try it at home.

This set I have created is for an upcoming sheep story time.  I decided to immortalize three nursery rhymes in flannel in one multi-use set.  I'm sure I'll be adding pieces to it later.  Here are all of the pieces in the kit:

The sheep are cut from a coloring sheet I found at

**Shout out to my daughter, Sarah, who designed the people in her artistic style.  I used her drawings for the template for the Master, Dame, and Little Boy.

The rest of the items, the school, staff, bags, bushes, are free hand.

First: Baa Baa Black Sheep:
Baa Baa Black Sheep have you any wool?
Yes sir, Yes sir, three bags full!
One for the Master, one for the Dame, 
and one for the little boy who lives down the lane.

Next: Little Bo Peep:
Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
and doesn't know where to find them!
Leave them alone and they'll come home
Wagging their tails behind them!

Finally: Mary had a Little Lamb
Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb.
Mary had a little lamb with fleece as white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went, Mary went, Mary went,
Everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day, school one day, school one day.
It followed her to school one day which was against the rules.
It made the children laugh and play, laugh and play, laugh and play.
It made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school.  
(there is more to this story but this is generally long enough for preschool)

My flannel stories are generally created by making a template from a photocopy of a book, drawing, or coloring page.  I will first cut out the piece which will be out front (for example the dress), then do the hands and head but adding a 'tail' so there is more surface area to glue in back. T-shirt paint (also called puffy paint) is used for detail.  This paint does come in a sharpie like pen as well, but is for a softer line.  I have flesh tone markers to softly color in the skin.

Thanks to Kathryn for hosting Flannel Friday this week!  If you are new to Flannel Friday, visit her blog at: and see what Flannel Friday is all about!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Baby Story Time - We're Going to the Zoo!

No summer is complete without a trip to the zoo, so today in Baby Story Time, we did just that.  Well, sort of. :)

Books we read:

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman

Because this book is nearly wordless, I've never been sure how well it would work in a story time,  but my two year-old got it for his birthday and absolutely adores it, so I thought we'd give it a try.  (I often choose books and rhymes based on whether or not he likes them!) It went over great! Lots of laughs from the parents and the babies were very attentive.  And OMG, check out this adorable felt set that I wish I had seen before just now!

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

I love this book! I've read it to babies, toddlers, preschoolers, AND Kindergartners, and they all love it!  We read the pop-up version, but it is also available as a board book with flaps instead of pop-ups. What kids love about this book is trying to guess what kind of animal will be in the next box, especially as they get smaller and smaller.

Going to the Zoo by Tom Paxton

This book also happens to be a classic children's song, so you can sing it!  It's really long so we only did a few verses, but it was nice to be able to introduce it to a lot of the young parents who didn't know it.  I also set out Paxton's music cd by the same title with my display books so they could try singing it at home.  I like to end with a singable book if I can because music always gets the babies' attentions!
After our opening songs, our Wake-Up Rhyme was "One I Love You," a super cute lap bounce.  I have searched high and low for where I found this rhyme, and I cannot find it!  Where the heck did I learn this thing?  Can anyone cite this for me?
One I Love You
One I love you, two I love you,
     (bounce baby gently)
Three I love you so!
     (one big bounce!)
Four I love you, five I love you,
     (bounce baby gently)
Rock you to and fro!
     (rock baby side to side)
Six I love you, seven I love you,
     (bounce baby gently)
Eight you love me too!
     (one big bounce)
Nine I love you, ten I love you,
     (bounce baby gently, slowing down)
My bouncing buckaroo!
     (big, fast bounces!)
After Good Night, Gorilla, it was time to sing!  We sang "Alice the Camel," a very silly song my mom used to sing to us as kids. Mel's Desk uses this song for her "Zoo" themed story time, too.  Thanks, Mel, for reminding me about this silly song!  We turned it into a lap bounce!
Alice the Camel
Alice the Camel has 2 humps,
     (one big bounce)
Alice the Camel has 2 humps,
     (one big bounce)
Alice the Camel has 2 humps,
     (one big bounce)
So go, Alice, go!
     (quick little bounces!)
Alice the Camel has 1 hump...
So go, Alice, go!
Alice the Camel has no humps...
'Cause Alice is a horse!
Next we did a quick nursery rhyme - "Hey, Diddle Diddle" - which I like to sing.  With it I used this nice little storytelling kit from Lakeshore Learning - the pieces are a sturdy cardboard with Velcro on the back.
Hey, Diddle Diddle
Hey, diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon!
The little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the spoon!
The babies enjoyed Dear Zoo, and then we did the classic children's rhyme, "Five Little Monkeys (Swinging from the Tree)."  Five monkeys is a bit much for the babies, so I changed it to three monkeys instead.  I believe Miss Kristie used the same rhyme in Toddler Story Time this week!  Our flannel set for this rhyme is also from Lakeshore Learning, and you can use the monkeys on a flannel board or on a little storytelling glove. (P.S. I did tell the parents that if this was too violent for them, they can say "Scared that monkey" instead of "Snapped that monkey" - it's nice to offer adaptations when you can!)
Three Little Monkeys (Swinging from the Tree)
Three little monkeys swinging from the tree,
     (hold up three fingers)
Teasing Mr. Crocodile, “Can’t catch me!”
     (wag index finger)
Along came Mr. Crocodile, quiet as can be,
     (slowly swim one hand over)
And SNAPPED that monkey right out of that tree!
     (clap hands together on "snapped")
Two little monkeys…
One little monkey…
No little monkeys swinging from the tree,
I'd better watch out or he might catch me!

Next it was Rhythm Time so we got out our shakers! The babies shook it up while I sang the song "Going to Kentucky," which I adapted so that we were going "to the zoo" instead of "to the fair."  This song was so fun we sang it twice!
Going to Kentucky
(adapted from 101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children by Abigail Flesch Connors*)
Oh, we're going to Kentucky, we're going to the zoo,
To see the baby animals and watch what they can do
Oh shake it, shake it, shake it,
Shake it if you can.
Shake it like a milkshake,
And do the best you can!
Oh, wobble to the bottom, wobble to the top,
And turn around and turn around until it's time stop!
*This book is amazing!

After that we just shook our shakers as we found our various body parts - toes, tummy, etc.  And then we shook them as we sang the ABC song!  I've never bothered with the ABCs with babies before, but since rhythm helps children to break down sounds (think 'phonological awareness') I thought this would be a good activity for parents to practice with their little ones.
After reading/singing Going to the Zoo, we finished up with our closing songs and rhyme, and it was time to play!
How it went:
My group just keeps growing - 18 babies today.  They were amazingly well behaved for such a big group, so we were able to squeeze in a lot of stuff in just 25 minutes!  I'm starting to see new members joining us, and then returning the following week with their friends, which is just such a nice compliment!  I've got a pretty wide range of ages right now, and one problem we had was that when we "snapped" our crocodile hands, it startled a few of the younger babies.  I felt really bad!  I'll start working on a quieter adaptation for that rhyme for next time!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Toddler Story Time - Monkeys!

I had a lot of fun planning this week’s story time.  Monkeys!!  Ee-ee!  Oo-oo!  Last week I announced the theme at the end of story time and suggested that the little ones bring a favorite monkey.  I was so excited by how many little ones came this week with their monkey friends.  It really added to the fun of the morning! 

Books I read…

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

I had to read this book, so I did it first!  By the end of this repetitive monkey tale, all the little ones (and grownups) were saying with me, “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”.  I thought about doing this story off book, but I really liked the illustrations.  It was easy to just turn the pages while saying the rhyme.

Kiki’s Blankie by Janie Bynum

Kiki loves her blankie!  It goes everywhere with her until a big wind blows it away.  Eek!  It ends up near a crocodile!  Kiki must find a way to get it back.  The illustrations are adorable and I loved that she cleaned her blankie in the washing machine upon its return! 

 Two Little Monkeys By Mem Fox

A rhyming story about two monkeys, one named Cheeky and one named Chee.  These two little monkeys have to hide from a big scary cat in a “big old tree.” It is a great read aloud book.  It was a little longer than I usually read for a last book, but the little ones were sitting so well this week that it worked! 

How it went…

We began with the action rhyme Monkey See, Monkey Do that I found from the Perry Public Library.  This little rhyme got everyone acting like little monkeys!  After jumping around for a couple verses, it ends with all the monkeys sitting down.  It was a great intro for our first book.

Monkey see, monkey do
Little monkey in the zoo
Monkey, monkey, in the tree
Can you jump around like me?
…swing your tail…clap your hands…nod your head…sit down…

After our first book, and with all monkeys safely put to bed, we all stood up and did a sweet monkey rendition of the Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear poem.  The moves were simple enough for even the youngest toddlers to follow.  I found this action rhyme at Themed Storytime Ideas.

Monkey, monkey, turn around (turn around)
Monkey, monkey, touch the ground (Touch the ground)
Monkey, monkey, dance on your toes (Dance on tip toes)
Monkey, monkey, touch your nose (Touch your nose)
Monkey, monkey, give a little clap (Clap)
Monkey, monkey, take a nap! (Lay head on hands like sleeping)

Flannel Time travelled off the board this week and onto the storytelling glove.  This is a great prop for toddlers because I can hold it up high!  This week was Teasing Mr. Crocodile.  It is a set from Lakeshore Learning  To make it even more fun, I used silly plastic peepers that slip onto your hand to make a Mr. Crocodile puppet.  I secretly put it on my hand behind my back to surprise them as Mr. Crocodile snaps at his first monkey!  It was a fun flannel story, but next time I might start with only three monkeys to shorten it up a bit. 

Teasing Mr. Crocodile
Five little monkeys
Sitting in a tree
Teasing Mister Crocodile:
“You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mister Crocodile,
Quiet as can be
And SNAPS that monkey
Right out of that tree!

(Repeat counting backwards to one monkey)
…No more little monkeys
Sitting in a tree!

I looked high and low for a great monkey song and I think I found it with One Monkey Who from the Wiggles cd, Go Bananas!  Everyone danced around the room with their monkeys.  The song gets really fast at the end and super silly! 

Wow!  We needed to sit down and rest at this point so we did a couple quieter activities before our last book.  I found the fingerplay Three Little Monkeys which was super simple and super cute.  Then we sang the Itsy Bitsy Monkey (sung to the tune of the Itsy Bitsy Spider, of course).  We loved the song so much, we sang it twice!  Thanks SurLaLune Storytime for the idea!

Three Little Monkeys
Three little monkeys sitting in a tree   (hold up 3 fingers)
Eating bananas just like me   (pretend to eat a banana)
One had a frown   (make a frown face)
One had a grin   (make a smile)
One had banana all over his chin!   (rub chin)

Itsy Bitsy Monkey (To the tune of “Itsy Bitsy Spider”)
The itsy bitsy monkey climbed up the coconut tree   (Pretend to climb)
Down came a coconut that bopped him on the knee   (Make a fist and touch knee)
Along came his Mama, who kissed away the pain   (Give kisses!)
Then the itsy bitsy monkey climbed up the tree again   (Pretend to climb and reach way up high)

I try to occasionally highlight a nonfiction book and this week it was Monkeys by Valerie Bodden from the Amazing Animals series.  I didn’t read it, but the photos were too wonderful not to show! 
Instead of free play, we finished this week with a craft.  I drew a palm tree on a plain piece of paper and photocopied on cardstock.  I also photocopied cute little monkey heads.  (Thanks for the monkey heads!) The little ones colored their trees and glued on their monkeys.  They turned out great!

Miss Sue has done this theme for Preschool too!  If you would like to see how, click HERE!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Preschool Story Time - Wheels on the (School) Bus!

It's almost back to school here in Ohio, and it is my last story time before that happens!  Ill be losing all of the summer visitors, folks moving, and kids starting preschool or kindergarten next week.  It makes me sad to think some of my favorites will be leaving me, but hopeful that great new families will discover us soon.  I will miss them so much!

In the spirit of new beginnings, it was a chance to do a back to school theme.  There are so many back to school books.  I did a record FIVE of them today!

The Plan of What We Did: 

I'm Your Bus by Marilyn Singer

This is a great pick for new preschoolers or kindergarteners.  The text is simple and rhythmic.  Normally I would do a longer book first, but the pages are big and bold and really capture the attention of the kids.  

Pete the Cat - Rockin' in My School Shoes - by Eric Litwin

Pete the Cat ALWAYS does well in story time!  If you have never done one of Eric Litwin's books, please give them a try.  You can find great resources on Pete's website to print too! I go onto the website and listen to the songs (which are very easy to pick up) and read/sing this book to my kids.  By the first page they are 'reading' and singing with me.  

Lately I have been working on my "Versatile Pete" flannel boards.  There are an abundance of sites that use Pete in some form in felt.  Story Time Katie, MissMaryLiberry, Pinterest, Ebay among others are where I got the idea to make Versatile Pete for our library, so we can ALL use it.  You can see here in this photo, most of the pieces would work for I Love My White Shoes.  Take away the shoes and add the coat for 4 Groovy Buttons.  Take away the coat, add red shoes from the other set, add the guitar and you have Rockin' in My School Shoes.  I got the template for Pete and his coat at Making learning fun ( and did the rest by hand.

Look more closely to see how I make the guitar work.   
This Pete has an upper torso overlay, which you can probably see in this closer photo.  It's from his neck to the guitar, with the arms and guitar attached to it.  It serves a dual purpose.  Pete can play his guitar and look like he is standing on his hind paws, and the guitar covers his belly button used in the Groovy Buttons book. Rockin' Pete wasn't quite ready, because I hadn't added a backpack or accessories, but I used him to sit on my flannel board while I read the story.   Pete and his guitar also show up in a later book, by the way!

At this point, we were ready for HALFTIME!  I know, it was a rather early halftime, but I had so much I wanted to do after halftime, I thought I would get it out of the way!  That never happens!  I am usually exhausted by halftime!  (See my Preschool Story Time Tab for more about my Halftime)

I pulled out a couple of rhymes at this point for the kids.  One was called the Safety Poem which I found on I used the opportunity to talk about street safety.  I also used hand motions with this poem.

Safety Poem
Stop, Look, and Listen
Before you cross the street.
Use your eyes, Use your ears,
and THEN you use your feet!

The second finger play I found at DLTK Crafts. 

Back to School
Two little houses all closed up tight.  (make fists)
Open up the window and let in some light (open fists)
Ten little finger people tall and straight (show ten fingers)
Ready for school at half past eight! (Walk with fingers)

Then we got back to the business of reading and singing!

I'm Not Ready - Jonathan Allen

While not a bus book, Jonathan Allen's books are ALWAYS another hit in Story Time, and this one works with the back to school theme.  Lots of kids were laughing at this book. You have to use voices though!

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books - Lucille Colandro

This is the first of the "Old Lady" books that I didn't do in Flannel.  I had spent so much time recently on other projects, and wasn't sure I would use this book, so flannels never happened.  This would be a very easy one to do in flannel however, so I might get back to it.  Meanwhile, my kids love the Old Lady books.  I usually do one a month SOMEhow.  The kids think it is funny to see what she swallows and how wrong the whole idea of swallowing insane things is! As a side note, some of Colandro's books don't read as smoothly as the original tune (this is one), as she really tries to make the right items fit into the formula.  You might get to the end and really can't sing it anymore.  Keep in mind that the kids are just enjoying the Old Lady swallowing crazy things, and are waiting to see the punch line at the end....just go with it.

Pete the Cat- The Wheels on the Bus - James Dean

Talk about a wildcard book PLUS one!!!  This was our fifth book of the day!  This one is brand new!  It just came out in June of 2013.  Now, how can you NOT do this song in story time for a back to school theme?  Pete was still on my flannel board when we rocked out to Wheels on the Bus, Pete the Cat style.  I sang it A Cappella which is my normal.  Lots of fun additions in this book.  The kids really enjoyed it.  Even with five books, the kids on the carpet (babies and toddlers excluded!) sat intently the entire time. 

Our hand stamp was a school bus, of course, and this was our craft:

This is simply die cut busses on blue paper, decorated any way they would like.  Again, in the summer, we tend to do crafts that the kids can grab and go because our numbers are normally up.  I do have supplies on hand for those who would like to stay.  I also provide paper and crayons for free expression.  My bulletin board is now a gallery which I provide for any child who draws me a picture.  They can keep it on my board for one month of story times.

Finally, check this out!  One of my preschooler's mom's made me this WONDERFUL scarf to go with my glasses, and my story time theme!  It is a bus scarf!  She is the best!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Flannel Friday - Happy Hippo, Angry Duck

I love Sandra Boynton's books, but they are so darn small! For sharing with a large group, why not make a felt set of Boynton's comical characters?  I've shared this one in Baby Story Time several times, but toddlers and preschoolers would enjoy her humor, too!  This book of moods is also easy enough to retell without even using the book (if you're feeling daring ;) )

 Happy Hippo, Angry Duck: a book of moods by Sandra Boynton
"Are you happy as a hippo? Or angry as a duck?"

"Maybe sad as a chicken? (Can you sadly say "Cluck Cluck"?)"
"Are you grumpy as a moose? Or excited as a dog?"
"Worried as a rabbit? Contented as a frog?"
"Perhaps, like a pig, you are sweetly amused. Or
perhaps, like a cow, you're completely confused."
"...Or you're frazzled like thing.
(I'm not sure what it is.)"
Hope you have a Happy Hippo kind of day! And watch out for that duck! ("He's always this way.")Happy Flannel Friday!