Category Archives: Fall (Season)

Thanksgiving Fun

Kathy and I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and to express our thanks to our followers!

In order to celebrate the season, we suggest reading I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, by Alison Jackson.  New York, Dutton Children’s Books, 1997.  This wonderful circle story with rhyming text describes how the old lady devours the Thanksgiving feast and grows larger and larger until the unexpected happens!  After reading the story, try some of the following activities with your group.

Reinforce math skills with a Pie Chart.

1.  On a piece of large paper or poster board, create a simple chart with three pies listed across the top; apple, pumpkin, and chocolate.

2.  Give each child in the group a sticker and have them place the sticker in the column with their favorite pie.

3.  Touch and count the number of stickers in each column aloud with the group.  Write the total at the bottom of the column.

4.  After all the columns are counted, ask the group which was the favorite pie.  Review the number of stickers in each column with the children.

Reinforce early literacy skills by retelling the story.  Cut food pictures out of magazines or find clip art online and distribute the food pictures to the children.  As you retell the story have each child bring up their food item.

Reinforce early literacy skills by creating extensions.  Ask the children what they will have for dinner at their Thanksgiving feast.  Do they have a favorite item that they would want to keep eating?


Are You a Happy Pumpkin?

Halloween is the perfect time to talk about feelings with young children – and American Sign Language is a wonderful way to help children connect visual cues with feeling concepts, to help them develop an understanding of their own feelings as well as empathy for the feelings of others.  Here’s a fun song to introduce feeling signs to kids.  Extend the activity by drawing a simple pumpkin face on a whiteboard and asking the child to help you draw the appropriate expressions for each feeling.

“Pumpkin Feelings” (Click on the links to see videos of the key signs)

If you’re a happy pumpkin, clap your hands.

If you’re a happy pumpkin, clap your hands.

If you’re a happy pumpkin, then your face will show us something, so

If you’re a happy pumpkin, clap your hands.

Little Hands and Big Hands coverFind more hands-on signing activities like this one in Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together by Kathy MacMillan, photographs by Kristin Brown.  (Huron Street Press, 2013).

Leaves Make Math Fun!

With the leaves falling in your backyard, it’s a wonderful time to integrate a math activity into your Fall or Leaf storytime.

  • Collect a variety of leaves from your yard or neighborhood a week or two prior to the storytime.  Make sure they vary in color, size, and type of tree (oak, maple, etc.).
  • Dry the leaves by laying them flat between pages of newspaper.  Placing books on them will help the leaves dry flat.  The dried leaves should keep their color.
  • Once leaves are dry, place an assortment in a baggie, making sure that there are some of the same color, size, and variety in each bag.  Make sure you have enough bags for each child in the storytime.
  • Pass out bags of leaves to the children.  Ask the children to do a variety of tasks:  count the leaves, group them by color, group them by type, create a pattern (red, brown, yellow, green).  This will reinforce many of the early skills needed for children to succeed in math in school.
  • When you are done with the leaves, give each child a blank piece of paper and glue stick, and have them create a leaf man or other picture using their leaves.


Look Who’s Linking and Liking!

A recent sweep of the web reveals lots of enthusiastic programmers making use of rhymes, flannelboards, and story ideas from, Storytime Magic, Kindergarten Magic, and Multicultural Storytime Magic!  Check out the links below to see how they put our ideas into action!

Away We Go Storytime at Sunflower Storytime, featuring “Vehicle Guessing Game” and “Helicopter” Sign Language Rhyme from Storytime Magic.

My Family/Mi Familia Storytime at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission/Texas Reading Club, featuring “Some Families” from Storytime Magic.

Dinosaurs Roar! Storytime at Falling Flannelboards, featuring “Dinosaur Romp” and “I’m a T-Rex” from Kindergarten Magic.

“Five Little Stars and the Moon Too” at Read Rabbit Read, from Storytime Magic.

“Five Toothbrushes” at What Happens in Storytime…, from Storytime Magic and Children’s Programming Monthly 1:5.

Colors of My World Storytime at Sunflower Storytime, featuring “Dog’s Colorful Day” Flannelboard from Storytime Magic.

Pumpkin Storytime at Falling Flannelboards, featuring “Where is My Pumpkin?” Flannelboard from Kindergarten Magic.

Hats! Hats! Hats! Storytime at What Happens in Storytime…, featuring “Milo’s Hats” flannelboard from Storytime Magic.

Outer Space Storytime from Falling Flannelboards, featuring “Bumpin’ Up and Down in My Little Space Shuttle from Kindergarten Magic.

Have you used our rhymes, flannelboard patterns, or other storytime ideas in your storytimes?  Tell us about it!  Comment on this post to share, or send us an email at  Everyone who shares will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of one of our books (winner’s choice!).  And if you send us a picture of how you used the item in your programs, we’ll put your name in the drawing twice!

Squirrely Squirrels Storytime

Recommended Books

 The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.

All day squirrel’s friends ask him to do things, but he is too busy. Squirrel sees the signs of autumn that the others don’t notice, and he knows he has to get ready for winter.

In November by Cynthia Rylant. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace, 2000.

The air grows cold and all of the animals prepare for winter. Animals seek food and shelter, and people gather together to celebrate.



5 Little Squirrels

(to the tune of “Five Little Ducks”)

Find free flannelboard patterns by artist Melanie Fitz here.

1 little squirrel went out to play

Up in the branches one autumn day.

He had such enormous fun,

He called for another little squirrel to come.

2 little squirrels…

3 little squirrels…

4 little squirrels…

5 little squirrels went out to play

Up in the branches one chilly day.

They had such enormous fun,

Then all scurried home ‘cause winter had come.

Prop Story

Sammy Squirrel

Props needed: squirrel puppet, basket of acorns (enough for each child to have one), green crepe streamers (cut in 2-foot lengths, one per child), red, orange, brown and/or yellow crepe streamers (cut in 2-foot lengths, one per child), spray bottle of water

Pass out the acorns and streamers to the children and ask them to drape the green streamers around their shoulders. Explain that they will play the trees in this story and ask them to stand up and stretch out their arms like branches.

Once upon a time, there was a little squirrel named Sammy. He lived in the forest and his best friends were the trees. In the summertime he would frolic under the green leaves. He would climb up and down the trees and hop from branch to branch. (Use puppet to act this out on the children.)

Sometimes the trees would sway in the wind, and he loved to listen to the rustle of their branches. (Encourage children to sway and make rustling sounds.)

Sometimes it would rain, and Sammy would hide under the leaves. (Spray water over the trees – be careful not to soak anyone too much, or the crepe streamers will run!)

The trees loved Sammy too. He was very kind to them. If one of them had an itchy trunk, he would scratch its bark with his little claws. (Act this out with the puppet.) And he would chitter little songs to them at night.

All summer long, Sammy played under the trees. But soon the air turned colder, and the green leaves of the trees began to change colors. (Have the children take off the green streamers and put on the autumn colors.) Sammy couldn’t believe it! His friends were changing! “You’re all dressed up!” he said. “Are you going to a fancy party?”

Sammy’s friends just laughed at him, rustling their leaves and shaking their branches. Then Sammy saw something that made him very sad – some of his friends were losing their beautiful leaves! (Cue children to take of streamers and wave them through the air.) First one, then the other, lost its leaves. (Go around the room and touch children on the shoulder to cue them when to drop their streamers. Encourage them to drop them from a high height so they will drift down to the ground.)

Soon the leaves were gone, and all Sammy could see were bare branches, waving in the cold wind. “I’m sorry, my friends,” he said. “I wish I could stay and play with you, but I need to gather food for the winter.”

The trees rustled at him. “What’s that?” said Sammy. “You have another surprise for me? What could it be?”

And the trees gave Sammy delicious acorns to eat. Sammy gave each tree a grateful hug. (Go around with squirrel and basket, collecting acorns from the children.) One tree even offered Sammy a snug little hole where he could pass the winter. (Have squirrel make a “nest” on one child’s head.)

“Thank you, my friends,” whispered Sammy. “I’ll see you in the spring.”


Fingerplays and Songs

 Squirrel, Squirrel

Squirrel, squirrel, turn around

Squirrel, squirrel, touch the ground

Squirrel, squirrel, climb a tree

Now shake that bushy tail with me!


Squirrel: An American Sign Language Guessing Rhyme

Introduce the ASL sign for squirrel with this rhyme. Find a video of the sign here.

Make two Vs,

Now bend them like so,

And tap them together.

Now you know

The sign for an animal

That climbs in the trees

And gathers up all the acorns he sees.

Do you know what it is?

Can you guess, boys and girls?

This is the sign that means a….(squirrel!)


Busy Squirrel

Up the tree and down again,

the busy squirrel looks for his friend. (look up and down and all around)

Fall is coming, don’t you know?

We have to prepare for the winter snow. (brrrr, give yourself a hug)

Squirrel knows they buried the acorns when they peaked,

Now they need to find them and stuff them in their cheeks! (puff out cheeks)

 Sensory Activity

What’s in the Bag? A Nature Guessing Game

Collect a variety of fall objects, such as leaves, pine cones, pine needles, mini pumpkins and gourds, acorns, apples, and seeds.


  1. Place all of the items in a dark colored bag.
  2. Let each child place their hand in the bag without peaking, and feel the object.
  3. As each child feels the object, sing the following song to the tune of “Around the Mulberry Bush”:

What is in the nature bag, the nature bag, the nature bag,

What is in the nature bag, that makes us think of fall?

Let the children announce their guesses, then pull the items out of the bag to show the group.

Variation: Create “touch and feel” boxes out of shoe boxes. Create a “flap” at one end of the shoe box that can be lifted a little for the children to place their hand in. At each box, have the children take turns feeling the item, then discuss what they think the item is. When all children have guessed, take the lid off the box and show the item.



 Woodland Wreath

Materials: paper plate with a hole in the center; items found outside on a nature walk such as pinecones, acorns, pine needles, seeds; glue; other fun decorating items.

Glue a variety of nature items on the wreath, sprinkle with glitter and add any other items that make you happy and think of autumn!


Super Squirrel Coloring Page

Pieces needed: squirrel coloring page (we like this one), crayons, cotton balls, glue, acorn “hats”.

Color the squirrel as desired. Glue fluffy cotton balls on the tail and acorn “hats” on the page.

Sign This Song!

Autumn Leaves

(to the tune of “London Bridge”)

Autumn leaves are falling down,

Falling down, falling down

Autumn leaves are falling down,

Red, yellow, orange, and brown.

Share this song using American Sign Language! Click here to learn how with Kathy MacMillan.


Perfect Pumpkins Storytime

Recommended Books

Where is Baby’s Pumpkin? by Karen Katz. (New York, Little Simon, 2006)

This simple board book is a perfect silly-not-scary Halloween read aloud for baby and toddler programs. Though the book itself is a bit small, its lift-the-flap format is perfect for choral reading (provide individual copies for each parent and let them read along with the group) or for a flannelboard treatment.

Pick a Perfect Pumpkin: Learning About Pumpkin Harvests by Robin Michal Koontz. (Mankato, MN: Picture Window Books, 2011)

A lovely nonfiction read aloud, this book pairs simple text with beautiful watercolor illustrations. Even those who know all about pumpkins will learn something from the fun facts here. (Did you know that pumpkins can be blue?)


Pumpkin Feelings

This activity enhances social skills and self-expression by making children aware of feelings and how they are expressed. Print out several large clip art pictures of pumpkins and laminate them. Attach magnetic strips to the back and place the pumpkins on the magnetboard, then invite the children to help you decorate your pumpkins. Ask them to suggest different feelings the  pumpkins could show. For each feeling, ask them to describe what the pumpkin would look like if it was showing that feeling. (For example, a happy pumpkin would be smiling.) Then use a dry-erase marker to draw the pumpkin’s face on before singing this song.

“Pumpkin Feelings”

(to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)

If you’re a happy pumpkin, show a smile.

If you’re a happy pumpkin, show a smile.

If you’re a happy pumpkin, then your smile will surely show it.

If you’re a happy pumpkin, show a smile.

If you’re a sad pumpkin, cry some tears…

If you’re a scared pumpkin, widen your eyes…

If you’re a silly pumpkin, stick out your tongue…

 Fingerplays and Songs

Pumpkin, Pumpkin

Pumpkin, pumpkin, turn around

Pumpkin, pumpkin, touch the ground

Pumpkin, pumpkin, stomp your feet

Pumpkin, pumpkin, trick or treat!

Picking Pumpkins

(to the tune of “Skip to My Lou”)

Picking pumpkins from the vine,

Picking pumpkins from the vine,

Picking pumpkins from the vine,

Picking pumpkins in autumn time.

Pumpkin Pie

I dug up some earth (mime digging)

And planted a seed (mime planting seed)

I gave it some water,

Because that what seeds need. (mime watering seed)

I waited and waited

While the sun shone down (make a circle with your arms to represent the sun)

And soon a little sprout

Came up from the ground. (crouch down)

It grew and it grew

And became a long vine (slowly stand up, stretching arms out like vines)

It seemed to take

Such a long long time.

Soon there was a flower (cup hands open on top of head as if a flower is growing there)

Then a yellow pumpkin grew (make a ball with hands on top of head)

It got bigger and bigger (spread arms to show pumpkin growing)

And it turned orange too.

I picked that great big pumpkin

And I rolled it away (mime rolling pumpkin along)

And I cut into pieces

And I cooked all day. (mime mixing)

I added some butter

And some sugar so sweet

Some eggs and salt and cinnamon (mime adding ingredients)

And made quite a treat.

To celebrate autumn,

That is why.

Would you like

some pumpkin pie? (mime offering pie)


Pumpkin Lantern

Cultures around the world celebrate the abundance of the harvest with festivals of thanksgiving. Many cultures also use lanterns in their festivals to represent the longer nights.

Materials: paper bowl, black construction paper, yellow tissue paper, crayons, glue and scissors.


  1. Cut eyes and mouth shapes from the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Place yellow tissue paper in the bowl to give the illusion of a glowing lit lantern.
  3. Decorate the bowl as desired.
  4. Glue the edge of the bowl to the black construction paper.
  5. Decorate as desired. You can use yellow crayons to show the glow of light on black paper.

Fall Frolics Storytime

Recommended Books

Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2009.

Right about the time school opens, Grandma announces to the family that it’s time for applesauce and the adventure begins. From buying the apples at the farmers’ market to washing and cooking the apples down, the family works together to make a variety of apple treats. Includes a recipe for applesauce, to help you create your own traditions.

One Child, One Seed: A South African Counting Book by Kathryn Cave. New York: Henry Holt, 2002. A South African girl named Nothando plants a pumpkin in this beautifully photo-illustrated picture book. The story is actually three books in one: On the left hand side of each spread is simple text that offers a basic counting story – just enough for a toddler audience. For preschoolers, librarians can also read the extended story in the middle of the page. For older readers, a sidebar on the right offers more cultural background to the story. Each throughline is a complete readaloud unto itself, or two or more parts can be combined if desired.


Prop Rhyme

“Two Little Apples”

1) Using posterboard, cut a tree shape. Cut out the top of the tree from green felt and glue it over the posterboard.

2) Using either clip art, a die cut machine or freehand drawing, create two apples from felt. If you want the apples to have some thickness to them, glue two felt apple shapes together and stuff cotton balls in the center.

3) Punch two holes in the tree, several inches apart, about half way down from the tree top.

4) Run a piece of green yarn through the two holes – the ends coming through the front decorated side of the tree.

5) Attach the yarn ends to the apples, either tied to the stems, glued or taped on, or glued into the middle of two pieces of felt.

6) Attach the rhyme below to the back of the board. When saying the rhyme, place the apples in the tree with the yarn loose in the back. As you shake the tree, the apples will shake down the front. Give each child a turn shaking the tree as you say the rhyme.

“Two Little Apples”


Way up high in the apple tree,

Two little apples smiled down at me.

So I shook that tree as hard as I could.

Down came the apples!

Yum, yum, they were good!




The leaves have fallen to the ground (wiggle fingers)

The leaves have fallen without a sound. (hold finger to lips)

But soon it sounds like we’re eating lunch, (pretend to eat)

Every time we walk the dry leaves crunch. (walk in place making “crunch” sounds)

Then our parents rake the leaves in a huge pile (pretend to pile up leaves)

And in we jump with cheers and smiles! (jump in place)


“Windy Day”

The wind blows the leaves on the tree,

the branches sway back and forth like me. (hold arms up and sway side to side)

Soon some leaves get caught in the wind,

it takes them round and round for a spin. (spin)

A gust takes them up as high as a plane (raise on tip-toes and reach up high)

then gently lays them down again. (sit down)


Action Song

“Picking Apples”

(to the tune of “Skip to My Lou”)

Picking apples from the tree,

Picking apples from the tree,

Picking apples from the tree,

Picking apples for you and me.



Fall Trees

Materials needed: one paper towel roll, tree top shape cut from white construction paper, markers or crayons or paint, glue, leaves.


  1. Cut two slits in the top of each toilet paper roll.
  2. Place the tree top shape in the two slits so that it stands up.
  3. Decorate the tree using crayons, markers, or paint and/or by gluing on bits of real leaves.