Also known as passive programs, these programs do not require a library staff person to supervise. They have no definitive start and end time besides when you put it out and take it down. Though most are geared towards school-age kids, younger ones can often participate with the help of an adult. Here are some of our favourite ideas!
Spring Bunny Scavenger Hunt The cutest bunnies on the internet if you ask us. Hide these book character bunnies around your library and have kids find them and either write their names or draw their costumes. All files included – just print and go!
Who Hatches? Spring Scavenger Hunt Lisa at Thrive After Three is the queen of scavenger hunts. Her latest one features fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals all hiding within their eggs. Send your patrons on an egg hunt!
Story Action Pods Bryce Don’t Play has shared a variety of different ways to get kids writing. Her Story Action pods present kids with a writing prompt and the tools of the trade (paper! pencils! crayons!). We especially love the robot themed pod based on Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman.
Post Office in the Library Rebecca at Sturdy for Common Things set up an adorable post office station where kids can fill out postcards to send to another library branch, give to a friend, or respond to the question of the month. We love how she incorporated local history too.
Table Top Time Sometimes it’s the simplest of ideas that provide the aha! moment. Hafuboti shared this super easy drop-in activity that kids of any age can participate in. Cover tables with butcher paper and leave out drawing supplies. We recommend having a nice display of drawing and sketching books nearby for an added collection bonus.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles This awesome program is basically an obstacle course crossed with a character party. Kids are encouraged to travel between stations and test their ninja skills like agility and composure all the while channeling the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! It’s easy on supplies but big on fun and Erin even shares extension activities if you want to build on the TMNT theme.
StoryWalks These were started in Vermont and and refer to reproduced images from a picture book which have been displayed in an outdoor or indoor space for families to explore. Rebecca at Sturdy for Common Things put together an incredible Halloween themed indoor storywalk, complete with activities which is well worth checking out. These can be a bit of work up front but are pure magic!
Library Lend a Friend Especially fun around spring break or the summer holidays lend out popular characters (laminated of course!) and have your young readers report back about what they got up to with their new friend.
Weekly Showdown While there are lots of great ideas in this post we love how simple yet engaging Angie’s Weekly Showdown is. Post a provocative question like trains vs. planes in a highly visible spot and let your patrons decide!
9 Weeks of Pop-Up Programming This is a treasure chest of independent program ideas- try one or try them all! Amy had teen volunteers run the pop-up sessions, each one featured a maker activity suitable for preschoolers to middle schoolers.
Do you have a favourite passive program that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
The last time I wrote about my favourite picture books to read in toddler storytime was three years ago! This updated list features a blend of newer publications with older titles I didn’t include in the first round. I’ve included a short note about why they make a great choice for toddler storytime or how I use them with this age group.
Want to see the other posts in my toddler storytime series? Here they are:
Bear Counts by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Jane Chapman. Before reading this book I have caregivers practice the refrain with me: “Number, numbers everywhere. Can you count along with Bear?” I don’t read every single word – the focus is on practicing counting to 5. I encourage the toddlers to practice using their fingers to count while we read.
Big Bug by Henry Cole. Perfect for teaching opposites. Only a few words on each page allow you to compare and contrast things based on size and distance. Follow up with your favourite opposites song.
Boats Go by Steve Light. This one is part of a transportation-themed sound extravaganza. As large board books, they are perfect for those babies who are just walking. I encourage everyone to make the different sounds with me.
Breathe by Scott Magoon. Toddlers are notorious for being little balls of emotion. When I read this one we practice taking deep breaths together. I mention to caregivers that modeling deep breathing to kids is one way they learn how to calm themselves.
The Bus is for Us by Michael Rosen; illustrated Gillian Tyler. The pages are nice and big for your larger toddler crowds. We have lots of fun chanting, “The bus is for us!” I love the diverse array of children and the rhyming text. When I’m done reading, we always do a transportation song.
Butterfly, Butterfly: A Book of Colors by Petr Horacek. One of my favourite springtime reads for toddlers. Only one short sentence per page and you can talk about the different colours Lucy observes. The pop-out page at the end always delights the little ones. I follow it up with my favourite butterfly song.
Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea. Before I read this book we practice making claws and roaring our terrible roars. I also like pointing out the letters while we read – R-O-A-R. Never to early to promote print awareness.
Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang. I’ve found that the toddlers love seeing all the different animals, while caregivers appreciate seeing a diversity of families. If it gets too long you can always skip a few pages.
Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins. Big, bold illustrations hold a toddler’s attention. I truly believe Cousins is one of the masters of books for toddlers and this one explores all sorts of imaginative fish.
Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won. I love reading this one to a mixed-age storytime group. With toddlers, practice making a grumpy face and cheering, “Hooray for hat!” before you begin reading. Caregivers always ask for a copy to take home.
Hello, Airplane! by Bill Cotter. I like reading this one in the summer when many families go on holiday. The sentences are short and sweet and you can sneak in a STEAM early literacy tip about prepositions such as above, over, and under.
I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison; illustrated by Frank Morrison. With toddlers you can encourage them to point to the different body parts mentioned as the little girl walks through her neighbourhood. Perfect for getting out some energy while reading.
I Love Bugs! by Philemon Sturges; illustrated by Shari Halpern. Super simple sentences allow you to read this one quickly or spend time talking about each insect if your toddlers have the attention span. I like to read it in the spring and summer.
If You’re a Robot and You Know It by David A. Carter. My new favourite pop-up book! The movable parts keep toddlers engaged, and the funny new verses are a refreshing twist to the classic song. Perfect for when you need to get up and move.
I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian; illustrated by Ann James. My co-worker Elizabeth taught me how to sing this book to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot” and it’s been magical ever since. I have the the toddlers mimic the actions while I read – sniff, shake, tap, and stamp about. Could work well with scarves or egg shakers!
Jump! by Scott M. Fischer. Lots of great rhyming in this one. I either stand up and have the toddlers jump with me or I hand out scarves and they make their scarves jump as I read. I’ve also done a felt and puppet version that the kids love.
Little Mouse by Alison Murray. This is another fun one to act out. We practice waddling like a penguin and playing a trumpet like an elephant. You can also make the animal noises. The ending is sweet and you can encourage caregivers to read it again and find all the animals on the last page.
My Bus and My Bike by Byron Barton.
Say Hello! by Linda Davick. One of my new favourite books to read at the beginning of toddler storytime. I actually think you could read it every week and practice making all the different motions. Love the diversity of kids and the diversity of greetings.
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert. My favourite winter read aloud! Also works great with a mixed-age group because the older kids will notice all the different items Ehlert uses to create the snow family. If you’ve just got toddlers though, the pages are nice and big and you can quickly scan through the snow people.
Supertruck by Stephen Savage.
This Little Chick by John Lawrence.
What a Wonderful World by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss; illustrated by Tim Hopgood. This entire list could be singable books, but I thought I’d just mention a recent discovery. I had to practice this one a few times before reading it in a storytime, but once you get the tune down it’s quite a gentle song to sing and read.
Where is Baby? by Kathryn O. Galbraith; illustrated by John Butler.
What are your favourite books to read in toddler storytime? Let me know in the comments!
One of my goals this year is to make flannel pieces for all the songs I sing on a regular basis. I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile, mainly to act as a visual cue to both the kids and the ESL caregivers who may not know the songs yet. So this week I’m sharing how to make flannel pieces for one of my all-time favourite storytime songs: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!
Firstly, if you don’t know about Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, we’ve recorded a couple versions.
The original from three years ago! Perfect for mixed-age groups as you can jump with older kids while little ones are lifted into the air by caregivers.
Extra verses! You can go to the sun and the stars too. Watch until the end for an adorable baby adaptation.
Ahoy, mateys! Try this version out when doing a pirate or ocean themed storytime.
This sign language version has ASL you can teach to your storytimers before singing.
Now to the pieces! All of these pieces are basic shapes with a few embellishments. A huge shout-out to my co-worker Karen for helping me make these!
Thank you Anne at So Tomorrow for hosting Flannel Friday this week. To learn more about how to participate in the Flannel Friday community, visit their website.
I’m updating my toddler storytime series, yay! This week is all about moving, grooving, and putting all that squirmy toddler energy to good use. To read more about toddler storytime, check out the links below:
A toddler’s physical development is closely tied to their literacy development. It’s unfair of us to expect them to sit still for a 30-minute storytime, and I always let caregivers know it’s okay if their toddler moves around as long as the caregiver keeps them clear of my storytime supplies. Here are some of my recent favourite ways of making movement fun at storytime.
My mom takes my 2-year-old nephew to storytime every week down in Southern California, and they play this one every week. My nephew loves it! I knew it would be perfect for toddler storytime – you just need some room to stretch and march.
Before I sing this one I tell caregivers that one of the ways you can make learning to stop fun is by practicing it in a song. I do three verses: walking, tip toe, and marching. Get creative and ask the kids for other actions you can do.
Oh, I really love this one! Being able to follow three simple directions by the time they start kindergarten helps kids do better in school, and this song helps them practice that skill. I sing it very, very slowly the first time and then get faster and faster. We always joke about being ducks and not even knowing it.
If you’re like me and do Zoom, Zoom, Zoom every single week for fear of a toddler riot, then you’ll love this pirate themed version. Pair it with our ocean themed version of The Elevator Song and you’re halfway to a pirate themed storytime. One of the things I tell caregivers is that even if a toddler can’t get both feet off the ground when jumping at the end, they are still practicing their gross motor skills.
Get ready to shake your booty! Probably most appropriate for the autumn season, I’ve also been using this squirrel song to practice colours. It also works perfectly as a scarf song because you can use the colours of the scarves as inspiration for the lyrics.
My toddlers adore Bananas Unite, so when I learned these new verses with verbs like shuck, slice, peel, pop, and squeeze I was sold. I use this one often when I visit preschools right before lunchtime because they can connect the song to something they are about to do – eat!
Start with your thumbs, move to your hands, then your arms, then your legs, then your hips, then your whole body. You will *literally* get the wiggles out! I like doing this one with toddlers because you can extend the song as much as you’d like or just do a few verses depending on their levels of wiggles.
Another great one for teaching the power of stopping. Mix it up with actions such as wiggling, bouncing, jumping, tapping, waving, spinning, clapping, and stomping. This makes a fun prop song too if you want to add in some shakers, scarves, or rhythm sticks.
This right here is my go-to, all time favourite way of getting toddlers to sit down. It starts with actions – clapping hands, jumping – but it ends with a quiet, gentle instruction to get seated. I don’t know why it works so well, but this song never fails me. We get one last chance to move before settling down for a story.
What are your favourite songs to help toddlers express their energy? Let me know in the comments!
Oh picture books, oh picture books, how lovely are your pages!
Today I am in the picture book spirit. I recently attended another Library Bound book preview event where they showcased children’s books coming out this spring, summer and fall. So I thought I’d highlight some of the titles that I’m especially looking forward to. Want more? Make sure to check out Part 1!
Sing With Me! by Naoko Stoop. A lovely collection of nursery rhymes featuring a diverse cast of babies and suggestions for actions in the margin. From the author of the Red Knit Cap Girl series.
One Little, Two Little, Three Little Children by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Mary Lundquist. Sing this book to the tune of the classic children’s song. A celebration of a diverse group of children and families that would be perfect for storytime.
Ten Little Fingers, Two Small Hands by Kristy Dempsey; illustrated by Jane Massey. All about the things you can do with your hands featuring a diverse cast of toddlers. Putting this one on my storytime list.
Rosco vs. the Baby by Lindsay Ward. A cute rivalry between a dog and a baby that ends in friendship.
Can I Tell You a Secret? by Anna Kang; illustrated by Christopher Weyant. From the team behind You are (Not) Small comes this tale of a frog who is scared of swimming. Great for helping preschoolers overcome their fears.
Daddies are Awesome by Meredith Costain; illustrated by Polona Lovsin. A gentle rhyming story about how cool dads are featuring an array of pups. Look for the sequel Mommies are Lovely.
Be Glad Your Dad….Is Not an Octopus! by Matthew Logelin and Sara Jensen; illustrated by Jared Chapman. Debut authors bring us this silly yet informative book about animals. Back matter includes additional facts.
Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer. Mark for storytime! A repetitive phrase frames this story of a penguin in a bad mood who needs to wash away his grumpiness. Traditional print making illustrations stand out.
Splashdance by Liz Starin. Bear is told he can’t compete in the water ballet championship, but a group of friends make his dream come true. A lovely story of social justice and inclusion.
Miles of Smiles by Karen Kaufman Orloff; illustrated by Luciano Lozano. Retro illustrations fill this delightful story of why and when we smile.
It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton. Perfect for encouraging writing, this friendship story tells what happens when a little boy writes a letter asking for something in return.
A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young. A little girl gets a unicorn that looks suspiciously like a goat when she replies to an ad in the newspaper. Funny and endearing.
Ooko by Esme Shapiro. Ooko is a fox that has everything it needs except a friend. A charming and funny story about being true to yourself.
Lucy Ladybug by Sharon King-Chai. Lucy gets made fun of for having no spots so she decides to find some of her own. Teaches colours, numbers, and would make a great felt story.
School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex; illustrated by Christian Robinson. Pictures by Newberry winner Robinson. Told from the point of view of the school as it awaits the first day with students and teachers. Try spotting school’s face in each picture.
Barnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske. Oh, this is a funny one that will be great for storytime. Barnacle bemoans his boring existence but learns the grass (kelp?) may only appear to be greener on the other side of the ocean.
The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien. A non-fiction/story hybrid about blobfish that is refreshingly funny. Blobfish may just be the new trend!
Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat. Caldecott Medal winner Santat is back with this boredom busting tale of a summer adventure that takes the reader through different time periods.
Blue Boat by Kersten Hamilton; illustrated by Valeria Petrone. Part of a vehicle trilogy that features bold illustrations and rhymes perfect for toddlers.
The Mixed-Up Truck by Stephen Savage. If you loved Supertruck then this is a must read! A funny tale of a truck that builds a birthday cake. Marking for storytime.
A Fire Truck Named Red by Randall de Seve; illustrated by Bob Staake. An intergenerational tale where a grandpa passes down his toy truck and tells his grandson the stories behind it.
I Love Cake!: Starring Rabbit, Porcupine, and Moose by Tammi Sauer; illustrated by Angie Rozelaar. A laugh out loud tale of friendship and forgiveness. Three friends prepare for Rabbit’s birthday party when the cake goes missing.
Make Way for Readers by Judy Sierra; illustratd by G. Brian Karas. A rhyming tale from master storyteller Judy Sierra about the joys of storytime in a preschool classroom.
Wally Does Not Want a Haircut by Amanda Driscoll. A tale of overcoming fears. Wally will do almost anything to avoid a pair of shears touching his wool.
On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Bob Marstall. This book is loosely based on the song “The Green Grass Grows All Around.”
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak. A brown-skinnmed girl takes a journey through her town and forest to note the passing of the seasons. Parts of nature respond back to her as she says hello and goodbye.
Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson. A boy and a bear both take off an adventure only to have an unexpected run-in with each other other. A British Columbian author and illustrator!
Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli. I loved The Watermelon Seed and Number One Sam, so I am super excited to get this one about an owl who is ready to fall asleep until a mysterious noise keeps him up.
Chicken in Space by Adam Lehrhaupt; illustrated by Shahar Kober. Go on a funny adventure with the courageous and brave Zoey the Chicken as she and her friend Sam the pig venture into outer space.
Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. A misbehaving dragon has a village in near shambles when an unlikely hero uses the power of storytelling to tame it.
Playtime? by Jeff Mack. Following his one-word trend, Mack brings us this story of a gorilla who isn’t quite ready for bedtime.
1 Big Salad: A Delicious Counting Book by Juana Medina. Medina adds to photographs of fruits and veggies with her innovative drawings. Count up to ten to make a big, healthy salad.
Some Pets by Angela DiTerlizzi; illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. A companion to Some Bugs. Great for a storytime that celebrates pets of all shapes and sizes.
The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley; illustrated by Kate Berube. Debut author Manley combines cats, reading, and the library for a sure fire hit. Really looking forward to this one!
Lion Lessons by Jon Agee. Agee brings his trademark humour to this tale of a boy who signs up for lion school and learns about looking out for friends.
Hill & Hole Are Best Friends by Kyle Mewburn; illustrated by Vasanti Unka. An import from New Zealand, this book sets geometric opposites as best friends. The ending was a bit dark.
The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright; illustrated by Jim Field. A mouse who yearns to be brave decides to ask Lion for help only to find Lion is scared of mice. From the author of the Love Monster series.
Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith. This spin-off of Little Red Riding Hood ends in friendship and features a cast of safari animals. I’m in love with the little girl’s ponytails!
Ten Hungry Pigs: An Epic Lunch Adventure by Derek Anderson. I loved Anderson’s first pig book, so I’m really looking forward to this food-themed one which stars a pig who wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’ve got a hunch it will make a great felt story for storytime.
Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Ed wants to be good at something just like the rest of his African American family. Perfect for dog lovers.
Who Wants a Tortoise? by Dave Keane; illustrated by K.G. Campbell. When a little girl gets a tortoise for her birthday instead of a longed-for puppy, she learns that friendship comes when you least expect it.
Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd; illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Two children go off an adventure to discover the beauty of nature in the wild and in their own backyard. Illustrations are top-notch.
City Shapes by Diana Murray; illustrated by Bryan Collier. Not just a concept book! Explore city life and discover the shapes that are hidden there. Collier modeled his illustrations on his own daughter – adorable!
Dario and the Whale by Cheryl Lawton Malone; illustrated by Bistra Masseva. One of the only books I’ve seen about an immigrant family coming out this year. When Dario and his mom move to Cape Cod from Brazil, Dario finds a friend in a creature who also doesn’t speak English.
Hooray for Today! by Brian Won. Super excited for this one by the author of Hooray for Hat! Owl is ready for fun, but all the other animals are ready for bed. A tale of patience and friendship.
It is Not Time for Sleeping by Lisa Graff; illustrated by Lauren Castillo. A cumulative tale of getting ready for bed even though the little boy is sure it’s not time just yet.
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty; illustrated by David Roberts. Girls and science, heck yes! Ada loves asking why and embarks on a scientific adventure. Love seeing girls and STEAM together.
Duck on a Tractor by David Shannon. Duck on a Bike remains one of my favourite preschool storytime books, so I can’t wait to see what mischief Duck gets up to on a tractor!
I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony. The animals all want to know what Panda is making, but only one little penguin has the patience to wait. Sequel to Please, Mr. Panda.
Hungry Bird by Jeremy Tankard. One of our local authors is back with another story about Bird. Looks like someone’s stomach is rumbling!
Is That Wise, Pig? by Jan Thomas. Thomas’s books are laugh-out-loud funny and storytime gold. In this upcoming title, Pig keeps adding silly ingredients to a soup he is helping Mouse make.
Return by Aaron Becker. Another wordless wonder that appears to complete the story told in Journey and Quest.