Toddler Storytime: Favourite Felt Stories, Part 2

Using felt stories with toddlers has been an ever evolving adventure.  I started off pretty hesitant but have grown more confident as I’ve found ones that work well for this age group.  The little ones really love felt stories and songs.  I’m always amazed when a rambunctious toddler pauses and gives their attention to the felt board when I pull out the colourful pieces.  So here is my second round of felt stories I use in toddler storytime.

If you missed the other posts in this series, including Part 1 of my favourite felt stories, get caught up here:

Little Mouse, Little Mouse


I got on the Little Mouse train last year and it’s been full steam ahead. I’m not joking when I say this is the toddlers’ favourite part of storytime.  The link takes you to a post I wrote aggregating all the different versions I could find.  I’ve also done a ladybug version in the spring and summer to much delight.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

pete the cat felt story
Courtesy of Library Village

The book is storytime gold, so it’s no surprise that the felt story is too.  With toddlers, I teach them a little dance to accompany the refrain which makes it more interactive.  Because most of them have read the book it’s a great chance to talk about telling stories in multiple ways.  You can get the template here, but I also love these versions by Library Village, Libraryland, and Miss Mary Liberry.

Monster Stories

tickle monster

I love using monster felt stories in the fall around Halloween time.  My favourites are Tickle Monster, Go Away, Big Green Monster, and Nighty Night, Little Green Monster.  All three of these stories are based on simple shapes, making them a cinch to whip up even if you’re a novice felt story maker like me.  If my library did a craft after storytime I’d definitely do some sort of open-ended shape project to compliment these felts.

Hooray for Hat!

hooray for hat felt story
Courtesy of Library Lalaland
hooray for hat
Very simple hats and a present I made!

Before we do this story we practice cheering, “Hooray for Hat!” so the repetition is more engaging.  Laura’s version is detailed and beautiful! One way to adapt this story is to grab any assortment of animals from other felt stories, make five simple hats and viola! I’ve read the book one week and then shared the felt story the second week with different animals to encourage caregivers to play with the stories they read.

I Spy With My Little Eye

I spyI spy felt

Based on the book series by Edward Gibbs, this felt story has a similar appeal to Little Mouse.  With toddlers, I tend to make up my own hints rather than strictly follow the text of the book so we can move at our own pace.  I place each sea creature behind the black screen so just a little bit shows through.  Caregivers are encouraged to help their toddlers guess, and I mention how great these books are for developing the early literacy skill of talking.  Email me for the pattern!

The Great, Big, Enormous Turnip

great big enormous turnip
Courtesy of Storytime with Ms. Jenna

This Russian folktale is short enough for my wiggly toddlers.  Sometimes I’ll tell caregivers to plop their toddlers in their laps and then we all pretend to pull the turnip out together.  It’s more interactive and encourages shared storytelling.  Storytime with Ms. Jenna shared her beautiful version!  You can get the template here.

It Looked Like Spilt Milk

it looked like spilt milk felt story
Courtesy of Storytime Katie

This is an oldie and a goodie by Charles G. Shaw.  I love the repetition of the phrases, and I encourage caregivers to help their toddlers make guesses about each piece.  Visit Storytime Katie to learn how she tells it and to get a link to the pattern.  One of my co-workers came to my storytime where I did this felt story and she said that night her two-year-old daughter was retelling the story with her washcloth in the bathtub. Heart.Melted.

Bark, George

bark george felt story
Courtesy of Miss Mary Liberry

This story can be a little long for toddlers, but getting them involved in making all the animal sounds helps hold their attention.  Miss Mary Liberry makes a pocket inside George where you can store all the animals.  I also love this foam board version on Libraryland!

Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear?

polar bear felt story
Courtesy of Libraryland

This is the sequel to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  It’s another great one for talking about animal sounds.  It works well for toddlers because you can start and stop at any point in the story.  If I’ve got a rambunctious group, I may only do a few animals or split them into groups and pull them out at different times during storytime. Kids especially love playing with these after storytime. Check out Lisa’s version and all her amazing extensions activities! You can also get the patterns here.

Food Songs

bananas unite

I’ve made a bigger effort these past few months to put up felt pieces for the songs we sing too.  Check out some of my favourites.  I find it a great chance to practice the vocabulary in the songs before we start singing.  With toddlers, the extra visual cue helps them make the connection between the words and the objects.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom

zoom zoom zoom

So many different verses to sing!  I put up the moon and rocketship first and ask the kids if they know where we’re going.  Then we warm up our engines (rub our hands together) and get zooming.  For each verse I add a new piece to the felt board.  This has slowed down the song but it’s working – we have more time for conversations about what we need to go to the moon, stars, and sun.

Do you have a favourite felt story or song to use with toddlers?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Early Literacy Messages: Using Personal Stories

Fostering early literacy skills, also known as emergent literacy, is one of my favourite parts about storytime.  I’ve written before about how I include early literacy tips in my storytimes here:

I try really hard to find ways to communicate these things in a friendly, approachable manner.  One of the best ways I’ve found is to couch them in a (very) short personal story.  Now I’m lucky I have a 4-year-old niece in my life that gives me tons of early literacy fodder.  If you don’t have a little one, feel free to adapt my stories!  If I hear a good story from a friend or co-worker I’ll ask their permission to share it in storytime.

reading 4
Farting pony books FTW!

Here are some of my favourite stories about Sophie I tell in storytime to communicate early literacy development.

A Bumpy Road

I used to do this bounce with Sophie when she was a baby all the time.  Then one day when she was about 2-years-old I was pushing her in her stroller and we hit a tree root.  She excitedly exclaimed, “bumpy road!”  It was amazing to see how she had learned new words and a new concept from a simple lap bounce. They really are paying attention!

We Bounce and Bounce and Bounce and Stop

Some songs grow with your child. The other day I took Sophie out to dinner and she was getting quite bored waiting for the food. I plopped her on my lap and started to do this lap bounce.  She was enthralled. Now that she’s four she was able to contribute her own verses such as “We wiggle” and “We shake.” Not only did a song keep her occupied, but it was a great chance for us to cuddle and learn together.

The Frog Goes Tissy, Tissy, Tiss

One of Sophie’s favourite songs when she was a toddler was “Mmm, Ahh Went the Little Green Frog.” However, she liked to switch the verses and insisted that the frog goes, “tissy, tissy, tiss.”  Even though she couldn’t pronounce the “k” sound as a toddler, this song helped her practice it in a fun way.  Rather than correcting her pronunciation, we just sang this verse a lot!

Sophie, Put Your Shoes On

If you’ve ever struggled with getting a baby or small child dressed I totally feel you! When my niece was a toddler I would sing this song about all the items of clothing she needed to put on – shoes, socks, gloves, hat.  When I subbed in her name for “baby” she payed more attention, and it helped turn a struggle into a more enjoyable activity.

Oh, I Wish I Was a Little Bar of Soap


When Sophie was about one she developed a fear of taking baths. She didn’t like getting wet, she would scream when we tried to put her in the tub – it was a stressful situation for all.  Then one day I took one of her toys and started to sing this song. The crying stopped! I had to sing this song about 20 times during every bath time but it helped calmed her.

Let’s Stack the Books

stack of books

It’s common for kids to go through stages where they either don’t appear interested in reading or don’t have the attention span to sit and listen to a story.  When Sophie was a toddler my focus was on making books fun, even if we weren’t reading them.  This sometimes meant grabbing a stack of board books (not the ones pictured!) and making a tower together.  We might only look at one page before getting back to building, but books were still a part of our daily routine.

I Can’t Read

moo

One time Sophie and I were reading a book and I asked her to read it to me.  She looked at me incredulously and said, “I can’t read!” We had “read” books together before where she “reads” the pictures, so I was startled by her declaration.  One of the ways I’ve tried to build her confidence since then is to find books without words or with only one word. One of our favourites is Moo! by David LaRochelle.  She loves that she knows the word in the book and can “read” the book to me.

Do you have any personal stories you share at storytime to communicate the importance of early literacy? I’d love to hear them!

Reading Picture Books With Children by Megan Dowd Lambert

Holy hairballs, folks!  Do you ever read a book that gives you so many a-ha! moments that you’re just bursting to share it with others? Well that’s what happened when I read Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See by Megan Dowd Lambert.

reading-hires-cover

I was first alerted to Megan and her work by the great folks at Storytime Underground.  Then I got a hold of her book and I read the entire thing in one sitting (and read it a second time the next day!).  Lightbulbs were going off left and right!

Megan writes about the Whole Book Approach in which “children’s active participation in making meaning of all they see and hear during a picture book reading takes precedence over moving through the pages at the pace of the adult’s oral reading of the text.” She talks about reading the whole book with children – the illustrations, the design, the pacing, the cover, the end papers, all of it.  Reading her book truly made me consider the picture book as a piece of art, not just a container of stories.  Her approach shifts storytime from a performance to leading “co-constructive storytimes” where kids are engaged and talking during the reading of the book, not just before and after.

I think one of the reasons Megan’s approach hit home for me is that she respects kids.  Plain and simple.  The focus of her storytimes aren’t the songs, rhymes, or books – it’s the kids who attend them and their ideas, opinions, and observations.  She even says – “the child’s voice is crucial to the success of a dynamic and, yes, playful storytime experience.” I feel like that’s a philosophy I’ve been trying to put into practice for a long time now, and Megan’s book has given me some great ideas for how to make it happen.

One of the biggest things I took away from this book is to SLOW DOWN.  Like, a lot.  Sometimes I think back on storytimes where I tried to squeeze in 4 or 5 picture books to a group of preschoolers in 30 minutes.  Looking back, I see so many missed opportunities to listen.  In fact, one of my favourite quotes from Megan is: “I rededicated myself to listening – really listening – to what children had to say about the books I read with them instead of just listening for them to say things that I’d already considered.”  WHOA. Now that’s keeping it real, folks.

I admire how Megan’s Whole Book Approach also seeks to keep the tone of storytime playful.  She shares numerous examples of the hilarious and insightful things kids have said during a reading with her.  During one of my recent preschool visits, a 3-year-old girl told me, “you need rain clouds to make frozen yogurt.”  I eventually realized this had to do with her understanding of temperature and ice cream, but this little nugget would have never come about if I hadn’t spent time talking about the front matter which was covered in clouds.  At the end of Reading Picture Books with Children, Megan provides an array of prompts and questions you can use in your own storytimes to elicit these types of discussions.

This is one of those professional development books that I’ll read again and again as I try out the strategies of the Whole Book Approach.  Megan’s model positions “the picture book as a meeting space for child and adult,” and that’s a message that rings true to me in both my personal and professional lives.

For More Information:

Kirkus Review

School Library Journal: An Interview with Megan Dowd Lambert

Megan Dowd Lambert on Twitter

Full Disclosure: I received no payment, no ARCs, no monetary reimbursement of any kind for writing this review.  I simply read the book, loved it, and wanted to share it with others. I received Megan’s permission to include the quotations from her book.

Flannel Friday: Food Storytime Felts

On my quest to make flannel stories for all my go-to storytime songs, I realized I sing a lot about food! Here are some of my favourite food-themed songs to sing at storytime and some easy peasy felts to go along with them.  Click on the title of each song to watch a video of Dana and I singing the tunes.

Bananas Unite + Extra Verses

bananas unite

There are many different ways to sing this song, but I love introducing a new verse each week.  We shuck the corn, squeeze the orange, peel the apple, and mash the potato.  A great chance to point out the unique vocabulary found in songs and rhymes.

Five Little Hot Dogs

5 little hot dogsbam

My toddlers love this song! We get to count to five and say BAM! really loud.  You can also introduce some basic math concepts such as “minus” and “less than.”  We practice spelling “Bam!” and making the “b” and “m” sounds.  As a pescatarian, I always tell the kids they are veggie hot dogs.  You can sub in tater tots or french fries.

I’m a Knife, Fork, Spoon, Spatula!

knife

Perfect for a mixed-age storytime.  Caregivers can move baby’s feet or arms back and forth while older kids can do the motions with you.  I go really slow the first time, then get a little faster and a little faster.  The kids love it.  Before we sing, I put up each felt piece and we discuss what kind of foods we eat with each utensil – a great way to model the early literacy practice of talking.

In addition, Storytime Secrets has a great list of early literacy tips related to grocery shopping you could mention to caregivers either during storytime or afterwards during informal conversations.

Thank you to Cate at Storytiming for hosting this week’s Flannel Friday round-up!  Learn more about the Flannel Friday community.