These books bust gender stereotypes. They also feature LGBTQ families and kids. I couldn’t find the perfect phrase to encompass both of these, but I liked “gender expansive” which I saw in a recent School Library Journal article on gender expression and early learning. And I’m sneaking this in just before the end of Pride month (though we should be Proud all year!).
Any standouts to you? Let me know in the comments!
Here are the other posts in my 2019 Picture Book series:
Welcome back to my New to Storytime series. It’s been awhile! These posts are aimed at people just starting out as storytime leaders. It’s really fun, I promise. This post will cover the basics of picking felt stories and songs and using them with small children in storytime or circle time setting. Don’t miss the other posts in this series:
Choosing a felt story or song can be daunting. My tip for beginners, especially if you are new to storytelling in general, is to start with a simple song. I’ve shared many of the felt songs I use weekly and I use them because they are so easy to incorporate. Already have a favourite storytime song? Try making felt pieces to go along with it and incorporate them before or during singing. Here are some examples:
I whipped these up to act as a visual guide for toddlers and preschoolers as we sing the songs. You don’t have to learn anything new in this case – you already know the song!
If you want try a felt story, choose something with a basic plot, a manageable amount of felt pieces (sorry, Very Hungry Caterpillar) and repetition. The felt pieces themselves act as a trigger to help you remember what to say, though you can also have a printed copy of the story on your lap or beside you as a guide. Sometimes I highlight the key words on the paper to help me remember the order of things. The great thing with felt stories is that you don’t have to tell a story word-for-word. You can use the pieces as your guide and make it your own. Here are some examples of simple stories that are easy to learn. All of the pictures are from Storytime Katie because she’s the bomb when it comes to felt stories:
These three examples are based on books. Just like with books, it’s important to practice felt stories ahead of time. Grab your felt board and let’s get started!
How To Use
There are a few things to do to set yourself up for success when using felt or flannel stories. Firstly, practice, practice, practice. Consider the following:
Do all of the pieces fit on my felt board? Do I need to arrange them in a certain order for them all to fit or make sense?
What colour is my felt board? If it’s black do I have any pieces that are hard to see?
Where will I store my felt pieces when I’m not using them during the storytime? Do I have a place on an easel, a table behind me, a special storytime bag, etc? Are they easily accessible to little hands?
Do I have the words to the story printed or have I memorized the story?
Before every storytime I take the time to put all of the pieces I’m using in order. Trust me, you do not want to be scrambling to find the next felt piece in the middle of the story! Once the pieces are in order I find a secure place to store them until I need them during storytime. My felt board easel has a tray on the inside where I can tuck away my felt story until I’m ready to tell it. Out of sight is better for little ones who will be tempted to come up and grab it if they spy it!
One way to use felt pieces is to introduce the vocabulary in a song or story. For example, before we sing Zoom, Zoom, Zoom I put up the rocket ship. Then I ask kids if they are ready to go on an adventure. How will we get there? I point to the rocket ship and we say it together. Where should we go? I put up the moon and get kids to tell me our destination. Next we warm up our engines (rub our hands together). All of that vocabulary frontloading is done with the felt pieces before we sing the song. After a few weeks the kids instantly know what song we are about to sing as soon as I pull out the rocket ship. You can easily do the same for a story with unique vocabulary.
Practice Early Numeracy
Flannels are a natural fit for incorporating early counting and number skills with kids because they provide a visual aid that helps little ones see numbers. Flannel Friday has a Pinterest board filled with counting ideas and Storytime Katie has a list of her Five Little Whatsits if you need inspiration. My favourite counting story to use with felt pieces or puppets is Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd. If you use a counting rhyme take some time to put all of the pieces up first and ask the kids about them – what are they wearing, how are they different, how are they the same, what do you notice? This encourages the early literacy practice of talking and incorporates math and scientific thinking in a fun way. Here are two I’ve shared on Jbrary:
Don’t feel like singing or telling a story? Try playing a game with your felt pieces! My all time favourite is any variation of Little Mouse, Little Mouse. Seriously. I have a blog post with a bajillion renditions. See how it’s done:
There are so many game ideas out there though! If you have a small group and can give kids the chance to take turns to come up and interact with the felt pieces that’s even better. Some librarians leave the pieces up after storytime too so that kids who really want a chance to play get access to the story. Here are some other game ideas:
Using flannel pieces as games is a low stress way to integrate them into your storytime. You don’t have to memorize anything, there are endless options, and there is no one “right” way for kids to interact. It also encourages lots of open-ended conversations where you can model the serve-and-return model of talking to kids.
Making Felt Pieces
You do not need to be an artist or a crafty person to make some awesome felt pieces. Trust me. Here are some tips and resources for building up your collection.
Clipart and Google Images are your friend – you don’t even need felt! Printing some nice pictures and taping them or clipping them up for the kids to see still provides that visual cue which is so helpful in toddler language acquisition.
Bigger is Better: I love how Mel makes oversized flannel pieces for her babies and toddlers. It makes so much sense – they can actually see them and manipulate them better. If you have a big group I also recommend going large over small if you’re board can fit them.
Keep Calm and Use Clipart: In this post by Storytime in the Stacks, she walks you through how she uses clipart to create her felt pieces. She includes a list of websites where you can get clipart for a fee or for free.
Flannel Friday: This online community has myriad felt stories arranged by theme. They link back to the blog post where the flannel was shared.
It is hiking season and I couldn’t be more excited! Growing up as a Girl Scout gave me an appreciation of nature that I treasure today. Here are some of the nature-themed titles coming out this year that grabbed my interest. Which ones look the best to you? Let me know in the comments!
I am so excited to share this guest post about bilingual storytime today! I am even more excited because the writer is a youth services librarian from my hometown library, Sacramento Public Library! So many exclamation points!
This post is a great follow-up to my Bilingual Storytime Resources as its written by someone who actually does these types of programs. Please welcome Adilene (Addie) Rogers, a bilingual outreach youth services librarian in Northern California. You can often find her blogging about bilingual storytimes on her blog thelatinxlibrarian.blog, arguing with someone on twitter @latinxlibrarian or taking artsy pictures of her corgi, Shakespeare. Take it away, Addie!
¡Hola y bienvenidos! I have been creating bilingual storytimes for almost 5 years and it is still by far one of my most rewarding library programs. It feels great being able to share the joy of reading to a child in their native language or to see a child explore a new language. While an English storytime is still wonderful by all means, a bilingual storytime brings with it the opportunity to engage new families that may not be familiar with storytime or with the library. So for those of you who have ever wondered how to start a bilingual storytime, or for those who may already be seasoned pros, here are a few tips and tricks.
Can I do a bilingual storytime if I don’t know Spanish?
One of the biggest questions that I get asked is “Do I have to speak Spanish to present a bilingual storytime?” The answer is no, but you will need a little help. You can present a bilingual storytime with the help of a partner often that would be a bilingual staff member or a bilingual volunteer. The librarian will handle the english portion of the presentation while the bilingual staff member will help with the Spanish portion. Remember, this is NOT a Spanish class. Your job is not to teach Spanish. Yes, children will pick up Spanish along the way, but you are not there to teach you are there to support parents as they help develop their children’s early literacy skills.
There are two ways to present a bilingual storytime:
One presenter presents in English and Spanish.
One presenter presents in English.
Second presenter presents in Spanish.
If you are not bilingual, then you would opt for two presenters. Keep in mind that in order for you to have a bilingual storytime at least one of your presenters should be fluent. I know that we may want to try and teach ourselves some simple phrases and words in Spanish to try and have a bilingual storytime, but unless you can answer a caregiver’s questions or concerns in the other language fluently, it is far better to get someone else to help. If your partner is a native speaker, that will also help when it comes to adding traditional Spanish songs and rhymes.
When it comes to reading your books, you have a couple options. You can read one book in Spanish and then the same one in English. You could read a bilingual book which would require you read the English part first and then the Spanish part afterwards. If you have two presenters, I usually recommend bilingual books but you can also have one person read the English version of a book while the other reads the Spanish version. When you have two presenters, I usually have each presenter have a copy of the book because it makes it easier to read.
There are a lot of great Spanish and bilingual books out there. You can usually find out about the newest books through Spanish publishers and book vendors. Jbrary’s Bilingual Resources listed some great resources where you can find book reviews.
Bilingual Storytime Outline
Once you have your reading format down you can choose how you would like to outline your storytime. I usually follow the outline below:
Spanish/English Opening song
English scarf song
Spanish scarf song
Movement song Spanish
Movement song English
Parachute or fingerplay
Spanish/English Closing song
I do my best to keep my storytimes 50/50 when it comes to the distribution of English and Spanish, but this can change depending on your audience. I always recommend that you do a good amount of traditional Spanish songs and NOT just translations because it will help native speakers in the audience feel more comfortable if they hear songs they are familiar with. I do my best to translate everything I say in one language to the other which means I do a lot of talking, but it helps the parents who may not be comfortable with English only. If you have two presenters, you follow a very similar format except that when you read your stories you will have someone else reading the story in the other language as well. You will also notice that I only do two stories and that is because Spanish stories are often a lot longer, plus if you are doing it with a partner, you are technically reading 4 stories so it is best to stick to just a couple.
Música y Movimiento
I do a lot of music and movement in my bilingual storytimes and that is because it is less intimidating to learn a new word or phrase through a song or rhyme. I use shakers, claves, bells and, my favorite, the parachute which is a great way to get people up and moving! I am fortunate enough to have a projector by which I put the lyrics up on the screen. For traditional Spanish songs I do not usually do the song in English, the reason being that it can be difficult to find a translation that both fits the rhyme scheme and translates well. I also recommend CD’s for those of us who may be a little shy to sing in Spanish, but keep in mind that even if you mess up, the audience will be happy to teach you the proper way to say something. Music and movement could be a whole blog post by itself, but the biggest take away I suggest is using instruments and props to emphasize movement and couple that with some Spanish vocabulary. For example, when I use the parachute I say “Arriba, Abajo, Adentro y Afuera” which is just “Up, Down, In and Out”. Simple movements that can be done together as a group.
Lastly, bilingual storytimes take practice. It can be especially hard if you are working with a partner because that requires good communication between both presenters. When I present with someone else we always go over our songs, books and rhymes beforehand. It will help maintain an even flow and make it easier for whoever is translating. A bilingual storytime can be a wonderful addition to any library’s programs and your families are sure to enjoy it!
Ahhh, librarian’s best friends! Personally, I enjoy watching funny GIFs of these furry creatures better than interacting with them in person. I couldn’t help creating list just about cats and dogs though. Also, this list is HUGE. The biggest one yet! Which ones stand out to you? Let me know in the comments!