Storytime Planning: Resource of the Week

One of the things I’ve been working on with regards to my storytimes is the concept of intention.  Being intentional about the books, songs, rhymes, early literacy messages, and flow of those precious 30 minutes.  I’ve always been a storytime planner, and I started the year by sharing how I incorporated more repetition of stories throughout a 10 week storytime session.  Today I’m sharing my idea about how to intentionally highlight and raise awareness of other aspects of the library during a storytime.

Storytime is a wonderful early literacy program we offer at my library.  But it’s only one of many different ways we serve children and families.  I had the idea recently to start planning out ways I could quickly and easily explain library resources during storytime.  I’m treating it like an early literacy tip – directed at the adults, does not take more than a minute to say, and aimed at helping families support their child’s literacy development.  As you’ll see below, some of the resources are simply parts of the collection, while others are features of my specific library.

I’m calling this the Resource of the Week.  My goals are:

  • To raise awareness of the library’s collection, space, programs, and organizational structure
  • To encourage caregivers to ask me questions about the library or for any other type of help
  • To provide better access to the library’s collection

The thing about intention is that it makes me sit down and think and plan and organize and list and hopefully, stick to my guns.  Here’s what I’m hoping to highlight over the course of my next storytime session and how I plan to say it. I’m thinking about introducing this at the very beginning of storytime after we sing our hello song and saying something like, “The resource of the week today is….”  And again, these are meant to be quick and go with the flow of the storytime.

Week 1: Library Cards

Did you know kids can get their own library cards?  They can!  To get one for your child, come grab one of these blue forms at the end of storytime.  The best thing about a child’s card is that they don’t pay late fees.  Having their own library card can make a child even more excited to check out books to take home.

Week 2: Booklists

If you’re ever wondering what to read to your preschooler, we’ve created these booklists with some fantastic suggestions.  Our 100 Picture Books to Love booklist features our librarian favourites, while our STEAM for Early Years booklist has information books on topics like science, technology, and math.  I’d be more than happy to help you find any of the books on these lists!

Week 3: Music CDs and Streaming Music

We sing lots of songs at storytime and if you want to keep singing and dancing at home we have a Music CD collection with lots of great children’s music.  They are located right behind us in the blue bins.  You can also stream children’s music straight from our website.  If you’d like any music suggestions, just let me know!

Week 4: Program Information

Thank you so much for coming to storytime! To learn more about other programs we have for kids of all ages, check out the Program Information poster board  – it’s right back there next to the puppets.  Feel free to take a picture of any of the posters, or you can grab one of these brochures to see a full listing.

Week 5: Spine Labels

Some of our picture books have special spine labels to help you find things quicker.  For example, this book has “ABC” on the spine label because it’s an alphabet book.  To find a counting book, look for the spine label that says, “123.”  If you’re looking for a specific book, you can always ask a library staff member for help.

Week 6: Non-Fiction

We have a whole collection of information books about things like nature, pets, dinosaurs, vehicles, and other topics your preschooler might be interested in.  These books are all along the back wall.  To find ones that are good for preschoolers, look for the word “EASY” on the spine label.

Week 7: Audiobooks

Listening to stories out loud provides children with a model of fluent reading which can help them when they get older and are learning to read. They also help preschoolers develop good listening skills which they’ll need when they start school.  We have audiobooks which are stories on a CD – they’re right under our Music CDs.  Some of them even come with a copy of the book so you can read and listen at the same time.

Week 8: Books for Babies

If you have a child between the ages of 0-24 months, we have a separate picture book section called Books for Babies that has great picks for you.  On the spine of these picture books it says, “J+Babes” and these books have shorter text and are developmentally appropriate for babies and toddlers. Let me know if you’d like any help finding books for your child.

What resources would you point out in your library?  How else can we bring intention to our storytimes?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Toddler Storytime: Favourite Songs and Rhymes, Part 2

To this day, toddlers remain one of my favourite age groups to work with.   I thought I’d take some time to update the series I started two years ago that featured all the components of my toddler storytimes.  This week I’m sharing the songs and rhymes my toddlers have been loving recently.  If you’d like to read more, here are the links to my other posts:


I only recently learned new verses to this weekly jam.  Caregivers  especially appreciate seeing how to adapt and change a song to keep it fresh.  I like doing this song because it helps kids practice fine motor skills such as creeping their fingers up their arms which helps develop coordination.

This is a classic English song, but I had no idea it existed until a preschool group asked me to sing it during an outreach storytime.  It reminds me of “Open, Shut Them” and is great for getting hands back in laps.

We know that singing the alphabet song helps children learn the names of letters.  But singing it to a different tune breaks the letters down in different ways, and helps them hear strands such as “LMNOP” more clearly.  I’ve been doing the “Mary Had a Little Lamb” tune the most because it’s the easiest for me to remember.

I’ve been using this one when I have big groups that take awhile to settle back down after we’ve been up and moving.  I like to pat it out on my legs so the kids can hear the rhythm.

It’s rain season here in Vancouver, so this has been a seasonal hit.  I’ve changed it a bit from the video – we start with snapping, then clapping, then stomping. This way we move from smaller movements to bigger, whole body movements.  You can also change up the adjectives – giant raindrops, humongous raindrops, enormous raindrops!

I made super simple felt pieces to go along with this song.  It’s great for reviewing colours and counting, and the kids have lots of fun with the “pop!” at the end.  This song is also super easy to learn – new caregivers catch on after only the first verse.

I use this in babytime too, but it’s great for those one and two-year-olds who still like to sit in laps.  Rolling your hands takes so much coordination.  I tell caregivers to postiively encourage their toddlers even if they are just moving their hands by their sides like a choo-choo train.

Learning to count to five is a big deal for toddlers.  Before we start this rhyme we practice counting to five on our fingers.  You can also do it with scarves and have the kids throw them in the air when the pea pod pops.

Mel wrote this easy action rhyme that’s all about opposites.  We put it to a gentle tune in the video, but you can also just chant it.  Opposite songs are so popular in toddler storytime because they help children make distinctions and teach them how to describe different things.

This song has everything you need for toddler storytime – repetition, great vocabulary, gulping and gasping, and a chance to say, “oh no!” I love doing the sign language version and watching the kids master the signs over the course of a storytime session.

These are some of my recent favourite songs and rhymes to use with toddlers.  Let me know your favourites in the comments!

Flannel Friday: Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau

Another Flannel Friday submission! Who am I even?!

I may just be becoming a flannel story enthusiast, folks.  This one, like the ones I’ve done before, is simple.  If you’ve read French children’s book author Edouard Manceau’s book Windblown, you’ll know his brilliance when it comes to shapes.  My library recently acquired his newly translated book Tickle Monster,  and I knew after reading it that it would make a great felt story.  The story uses a set of shapes that are transformed from a monster to a landscape.

As you read the story, you tickle each part of the monster which makes that body part “disappear.”  These body parts then become elements of a scene reminiscent of a children’s drawing – a house, trees, a car.  It’s similar to Go Away, Big Green Monster! but it’s got that added element of play with shapes.

Here’s a screen-by-screen shot of how the story progresses.

tickle monstertm2tm3




Using a felt story like this one is a great chance to sneak in some early literacy messages about social emotional development.  Here are some examples:

  • Naming emotions helps children express their feelings.  If you’re child gets upset or feels scared, try naming the feeling by saying, “I can see you’re feeling scared right now.  Would you like a hug?”
  • Sometimes when we’re scared our bodies freeze up. Let’s practice taking some nice, deep breathes to help us calm down.
  • One way to help your child conquer a fear is to gently expose them to the fear.  Books and felt stories like this one take a common fear like monsters and make them fun and comfortable to talk about.  They also model how to be brave and address a fear which is empowering.

What’s even better – this book won a 2016 CLEL Bell Award!  Check out their website for an Early Literacy Activity Sheet with even more ideas on how to use this story to promote early literacy development.

Thank you so much Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime for hosting the Flannel Friday round-up this week! Check out her post for more flannel story inspiration.  Learn more about how you can participate in Flannel Friday.

Go Forth and Fort: Family Fort Night

Play seems to be in the air this Winter:  learn about inclusive play, read about toy collections in public libraries, or catch up on the Babies Need Words Every Day blog tour which includes multiple posts on play.  We even chimed in with our webinar Press Play! Injecting Play into Library Programs for Kids. All this to say, PLAY IS AWESOME! And today I’m going to take it one step further and tell you about my favourite way to play at the library: Family. Fort. Night.

Nuts and bolts:

  • We posted signs with four very simple instructions:
    • Step 1) Find a book
    • Step 2) Gather supplies
    • Step 3) Build your fort
    • Step 4) Read your story in your fort!
  • Make sure to have LOTS of books on hand. You’re going to be doing some fast booktalking and will want to have displays with your favourite read-alouds ripe for the picking.
  • Keep your supplies in a central location so the tape and ALL THE CLIPS don’t wander off.
  • If at all possible run this program after-hours. Not only is it way more fun, but you’ll also find the adults browsing the MAD magazines. Seriously.

Fort Night SignsIMG_20160126_184809


Supplies needed:

  • Blankets, sheets, pillows, tablecloths – you can ask families to bring their own or have them on hand
  • Plastic clips or wire clips or tape- do not put books or other heavy objects to hold things down
  • Flashlights and/or glow sticks
  • Books!

Extensions activities:

  • Read a story to begin the program and gather everyone together – bedtime stories are a great choice like the Pigeon Needs a Bath or I Dare You Not to Yawn or stories that inspire creativity like Chalk or It’s Not a Box.
  • Have families name their fort and draw for a winner at the end of the night.
  • Play music from your collection or nighttime sounds in the background to set the mood.
  • Make dreams come true and play hide and seek like our friend Amy, The Show Me Librarian, did at her Family Forts After Hours program. To do this she gave each family a glow bracelet, had the person wearing the bracelet hide, and instructed the rest of the family to find their person.
  • Depending on space and the age of your fort builders you could also play flashlight tag where the child who’s it can only tag other players by casting the beam of their flashlight over them



Fantastic forters*:

And now it is your turn, or in the words of our F/Hairy Godmother, go forth and fort! Have you tried a family fort night program at your library? Please share all the details below in the comment box!

*Did this pass the Nine Year Old Giggle Test? Are you kidding me?! Of course not.