Celebrating International Games Day: A Games Bonanza!

Ever since I discovered Bink and Gollie I cannot get enough of the word BONANZA and I am finally working on a program which I believe deserves this title. In preparation for the upcoming International Games Day I am putting together what I hope will be a bouquet of literacy infused fun and delight! Though don’t let on to the too-school-for-cool tweens I am hoping to impress…

Cool Cat Strolling


First off, inspired by Lindsey’s song cube (which was inspired by Mel’s storytime cube) I thought I’d make a die to help us choose which game to play next. On each side will be an image representing each of these six games.

Book Characters 20 Questions: Sort of like a literary Guess Who, draw a name from a hat and the kids get 20 chances to narrow it down. Depending on your group the last guesser could draw the next name!

Rock, Paper, Scissors: We played this at ALA 2014 (as adults at conferences do) and it was a blast! Adults *cough* sorry, kids get up and battle each other and once they’re out kids keep cheering the winners on until the final battle. If you’ve got book savvy kids you could come up with trios of characters and establish the who-beats-who like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl, complete with actions of course!

Book Bingo: This was a program our library did as part of Summer Reading Club this year and it was wildly successful. In order to be the caller you must booktalk one book and then you can go on to call out the letter (B, I, N, G, O) and pick a book character out of the pile which of course adorn the awesome BINGO cards you made. Keep track of what’s called and use pennies or other chips, not dabbers. Trust us.

Would You Rather: It’s not what you’re thinking, it’s more of a choose your own adventure with characters and scenarios that kids know. C’mon! Again pull questions out of the hat like would you rather let the pigeon drive the bus or stay up late? Or if you could live in a graphic world would you rather live in Amulet or Bone? When you ask each question point to a different side of the room for each choice. Let the kids vote with their feet and then prepare for some hilarious discussions.

Eye Spy (on the cover of that book): Using either a powerpoint slide with several familiar (or new!) cover images or a real-deal book display you’ve put together play a quick game of eye spy. Super sly opportunity to booktalk while you’re playing!

Book Jenga: Last but definitely not least and quite possible the one I am most excited about.  We’re going to stack REAL BOOKS (I haven’t decided yet between paperbacks or clunky discarded coffee table books) like Jenga blocks! I will add challenges to each book (like the themed Jenga sets) with challenges like which book or movie character would you like to be friends with and as the kidlets successfully pull them out they have to answer/complete the challenge. For more awesome Jenga ideas check out Lupine Librarian‘s book themed jenga, Another Library Blog’s icebreaker jenga, or library themed Jenga from this amazing Library Games and Fun Activities board.

Because this program is still in the planning stage I cannot report on how it all went.  But I promise to update you all real soon on how it goes! In the meantime if you have any lit based kickass games for school agers please drop us a line below!


Favourite Hello Songs for Storytime

After a long summer off, I’m back in the storytime saddle! My family storytime just started up and it’s got a great mix of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. I’ve learned so many new tunes since I last wrote about my favourite storytime songs, so I wanted to put together a list of the ones I’ve been loving lately, especially at the beginning of storytime.  For even more hello and goodbye songs, check out our playlist. I’ve broken these ones into age categories, but there are no hard and fast rules about when to use them.

Do you have a favourite welcome or hello song for storytime? Let me know in the comments!


Wake Up Feet

You can wake up babies’ eyes, ears, hair, nose, etc. I also love adding the verse “Wake up Tummy” and we say “tickle, tickle, tickle” instead of wiggle. I encourage parents to use this song when their baby is waking up in the morning or from a nap.

Well Hello Everybody, Can You Touch Your Nose?

I love this song! I even sing it with toddlers if they are on the younger end. You can get creative with it too – can you pat your head, rub your tummy, touch your toes, etc.

Gilly Gilly Gilly Good Morning

It’s a bit of a tongue twister and you definitely have to teach it to caregivers over the course of the storytime session, but once they learn it it’s gold.  This song was made for an early literacy tip about phonological awareness.


Hello Friends with Sign Language

We do this one every week at my family storytime and it’s so exciting when the toddlers start to sign! It’s also got a matching goodbye song.  I also use it with my preschoolers.

If You’re Ready for a Story

I use this one a lot when I do outreach storytimes because everyone knows the tune already and it’s not intimidating.  I’ll also use it with a particularly rambunctious group of toddlers because it gets them up and moving. You can add lots of action verses such as jump up high, shake your hips, touch your toes, etc.

Let’s All Clap

I do this one with babies or toddlers as long as it’s a small group. We sing it once for every child, inserting his or her name into the song. The parents really like to hold up their baby or toddler when it’s their turn. A great choice for a smaller, more personalized storytime.


The More Get Together and Read Together

There are two ways to freshen up this traditional welcome song. First, try singing it with sign language. Second, try adding this second verse we learned from Katie at Storytime Secrets. Preschoolers are ready for these added challenges. I also use this when I visit Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes and they enjoy it too.

When Cows Wake Up in the Morning

There are so many different tunes and lyrics to this song – this is just the one we learned first. If I want to bust out the puppets early on, I’ll sing this song and ask the kids to help me identify the sounds. Preschoolers pretty much know the basic animal sounds so I always throw in a few that make them think, like a dragon or a cricket or a porcupine. We have fun just thinking up different sounds.

School Age Kids

Bread and Butter

You can use this one with preschoolers too, but my K-2 kids love it! We talk about opposites and brainstorm some before we sing. It’s more of a rhyme than a song which oddly enough gives it a cool factor that school age kids dig.

Clap Everybody and Say Hello/Ni Hao

Again, you can use this with any age, but when I use it with K-2 students I ask them all the languages they know how to say hello in. I like doing this because it gives them a chance to teach me something, and I can model how to be a learner. We usually sing it 2-3 times depending on the languages of the group.  I also encourage different actions besides clapping, such as stomping, blinking, shaking, and other silly things like cha chaing.

Happy singing!

Young Conservationist Storytime Resources

A couple months ago now in a staff meeting a colleague shared one of those books that gives your shivers. You all know of what I speak. This time around it was A Boy and A Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz. In this beautifully illustrated book Rabinowitz tells the story of a boy who stutters except in the company of animals and goes on to give voice to wildlife conservation and in particular wild cats, like the jaguar he met at the Bronx Zoo many, many years ago. Oh yes, and that boy is him! This book got me thinking about all the fabulous narrative non-fiction out there, particularly the books which focus on connecting children to the planet around them, and of course incorporating all this into storytime! (Because honestly, what else do we think about!?)

A Boy and a Jaguar

So after putting the call out to our fabulous Tweeps, I got lots of lovely ideas and wanted to throw them all together to create a list of literacy resources for Young Conservationists! Because there is a range in age I’ll break them down as such, though some are great right across the board.

Toddler- Kindergarten Crowd

First off a couple of my favourite read-aloudable (shhh!) environmental books include 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh and One Child, One Planet by Bridget McGovern Llewwllyn.  Our tweeps had the following book ideas to share: Angela likes Junkyard by Mike Austin,  Heather suggested Rose’s Garden by Reynolds, Angie had a whole bunch like The Curious Garden by Brown, The Gardener by Stewart, Plant a Little Seed by Christensen, And the Good Brown Earth by Henderson and finally Brandy mentioned the lovely All the World by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon.

Now that your books are chosen how about crafts and activities? I stumbled upon the gold mine that is the Earth Day and Environmental Awareness for Kids Board by Carolyn Hart of Storytime Standouts. And then a couple storytime outlines to round us out: Earth Day Storytime by Mollie Kay, Preschool Storytime: Earth Day by LibrErin and with great music and puppet suggestions another Preschool Storytime: Earth Day by Carol Simon Levin.

10 Things I Can Do to Help My WorldOne Child, One Planet

School Agers

Because I truly think A Boy and A Jaguar is best suited for kiddies 5 and up I wanted to include some other resources for putting together a school age Young Conservationist program (or club, oh how 10 year old Dana would have swooned!) A couple other books which would be fun to read throughout a program, while throwing some songs and games in there include The Tree Lady by Hopkins, Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Roth, selections from the movement known as The One and Only Ivan or alternatively beautiful panels from Ottaviani’s graphic novel Primates.

Rabinowitz, Alan
Rabinowitz, Alan
Rabinowitz, Alan
Rabinowitz, Alan

Rabinowitz, Alan

I found one really neat school age storytime on a new-to-me blog called Librarianism Chronicles all about Garbage, Garbage, Garbage! Finally our twitter-pal Brytani came up big with some music recommendations which could also be used with a crowd of any age. She likes Jack Johnson’s 3 R’s, Raffi’s This Land is Your Land (about Canada!) and Water in the Well.


While Earth Day is plenty far away, this gives you enough time to check out some new books and more importantly post your brilliant ideas below. Thanks to all who shared thus far, after all it’s sharing which makes our beautiful planet go around (SCIENCE!)