Category Archives: Nature

Night Owl Flannelboard and Sound Story

Another sneak peek from our newest book, More Storytime Magic (ALA Editions, January 2016):

Night Owl Flannelboard and Sound Story

Based on the book by Toni Yuly (New York: Macmillan, 2015).night owl

Night Owl listens to the sounds of the night, waiting for his very favorite one: his mother returning home! As you tell the story, play clips of the sounds that Night Owl hears and ask the children to identify them.

Download full-size printable illustrations by Melanie Fitz.

Click on the links below for sounds:

Owl Hoot

Woodpecker

Train whistle

Cricket

Toad

Thunderstorm

Owl Hoot

MacMillan_cover_1p.inddFind lots more great storytime activities in More Storytime Magic, the latest volume in the Storytime Magic series!

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Woodpecker, Woodpecker: A Signing Rhyme

MacMillan_cover_1p.inddAnother sneak preview of our newest book, More Storytime Magic (ALA Editions, January 2016):

Woodpecker, Woodpecker: A Signing Rhyme

Direct Link: https://youtu.be/YCT3FEC-ZY4

Begin by teaching the ASL signs TREE and BIRD. Explain that in this rhyme, you will be learning about a specific kind of bird called a woodpecker, and will be using the signs to show how the woodpecker uses the tree.

Woodpecker, woodpecker, time to eat! (sign BIRD)

Woodpecker, woodpecker, fly to the tree. (sign TREE with your other hand and move the BIRD to your forearm)

Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap! (make the bird’s beak tap quickly on your forearm, which represents the tree trunk)

Now eat up the bugs you found, just like that. (move fingers to show beak eating bugs)

 

Woodpecker, woodpecker, time to sleep! (sign BIRD)

Woodpecker, woodpecker, fly to the tree. (sign TREE with your other hand and move the BIRD to your forearm)

Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap! (make the bird’s beak tap quickly on your forearm, which represents the tree trunk)

Now nestle in the hole you made, cozy as can be! (nestle bird in palm of hand)

 

Find lots more great storytime activities in More Storytime Magic, the latest volume in the Storytime Magic series!

Celebrating Earth Day in Storytime

earth-clip-art-earth_clip_art_24300Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970, in San Francisco, California. Since then, over one hundred countries have joined together for this annual environmental event.  This Earth Day, help the little ones in your life appreciate nature and learn about protecting the environment with this roundup of our favorite Earth day resources from Storytime Stuff and beyond!

Here at StorytimeStuff.net:

Bringing Nature Inside for Storytime – bring the best of the outdoors to your classroom or storytime room!

Nature Around the World Storytime – bring a multicultural touch to your Earth Day celebration!

Springtime Fun Storytime – celebrate the sounds, smells, and sights of spring!

Around the Web:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Earth Day for Kids Website – lots of storytime suggestions and printable resources.

Preschool Earth Day Storytime from Library Village – rhymes, songs, book suggestions, and a supercool recycling craft that easy to make.

Reading for the Earth: Ultimate Earth Day Resource Roundup – a comprehensive roundup of lesson plans, books suggestions, activities, video links and more at the Lee & Low Books blog.

 

From Last Minute to Legendary

I had a great time last Thursday presenting my brand-new workshop, “Last Minute Lessons”  at the 52nd Annual Early Childhood Education Conference.  Participants were challenged to come up with creative lesson plans in response to emergency situations – all with limited materials.  Check out some of the wildly creative things they did with waterlogged books, paper goods, and the contents of their pockets and purses.  One thing’s for certain: if I am ever stranded on a deserted island, I hope it’s with a group of these resourceful early childhood educators!

Lacing card made with an index card, hole punch, and the string from a conference badge.

Lacing card made with an index card, hole punch, and the string from a conference badge.

Found objects for each letter of the alphabet.

Found objects for each letter of the alphabet.

Sheep and fence made from clothespins, index cards, and cotton balls.

Sheep and fence made from clothespins, index cards, and cotton balls.

 

Farm animals made from a file folder, paper cups, clothespins, cotton balls, and pictures cut from a magazine.

Farm animals made from a file folder, paper cups, clothespins, cotton balls, and pictures cut from a magazine.

Caterpillar made from soda bottle and crepe streamers, Chrysalis made from plastic cups, Butterfly made from napkins and a plastic fork.

Caterpillar made from soda bottle and crepe streamers, Chrysalis made from plastic cups, Butterfly made from napkins and a plastic fork.

 

Numeracy activities: Number line using cardstock and sticky notes, Number box using a cardboard box and pennies.

Numeracy activities: Number line using cardstock and sticky notes, Number box using a cardboard box and pennies.

A simple activity for a lesson on sickness and health: place a piece of painter's tape on a card, then ask the children to color the card with a crayon.  Remove the tape to show how bandages protect wounds from germs.

A simple activity for a lesson on sickness and health: place a piece of painter’s tape on a card, then ask the children to color the card with a crayon. Remove the tape to show how bandages protect wounds from germs.

 

 

 

Sign This: “The Owl”

Did you know that August 4 is International Owl Awareness Day?  Celebrate with this fingerplay perfect for owl or nocturnal animal programs!

The owl is a creature of the night,

His great big eyes give him keen sight.

He looks to the left and to the right.

And hoots so softly through the night.

Watch this video to learn how to share this rhyme using American Sign Language:

Sign This!: In the Ocean

Use the American Sign Language sign FISH as you share this rhyme.

sample picture_fishIn the ocean the fishies swim.  (sign FISH)

They leap up high… (move FISH hand up as if fish is leaping)

then jump back in!  (move FISH hand low as if returning to water.)

Look for more fun American Sign Language rhymes, songs, crafts and more in Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together by Kathy MacMillan, coming in October from Huron Street Press.  Pre-order now!

Brilliant Bean Bags

bean bagsBean bags may be some of the least appreciated storytime props – after all, they are easy to make, cheap to buy, and they can be used for so many different activities across a variety of age groups and storytime themes.    But that’s not all!  Bean bag activities also help children to:

  • develop directionality and orientation in space, which supports writing skills
  • improve self-control
  • develop  hand-eye coordination, an important early literacy skill
  • improve gross motor skills
  • understand the rhythm of language with their whole bodies

Here are some fun ideas for using bean bags in your programs, and links for more ideas!

 

1) Butterfly

On each line, move both hands from sides to up in the air above the head.  Each time your hands go above your head, pass the beanbag to the opposite hand.

Butterfly

In the sky

Flap your wings

And up you fly

Back and forth

To and fro

Up, up, and

Away you go!

 

2) Froggy Hop

(to the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush”)

For baby and toddler storytimes: Give a bean bag to each caregiver and have them hop it on the baby’s toes, knees, etc. as described in the rhyme.

For older children: Follow the directions below to make this a balancing activity.

Froggy’s hopping on my toes, on my toes, on my toes (balance bean bag on toes)

Froggy’s hopping on my toes –

RIBBIT! (move bean bag to knee)

Froggy’s hopping on my knee…

Froggy’s hopping on my tummy…

Froggy’s hopping on my shoulder…

Froggy’s hopping on my head, on my head, on my head (balance bean bag on head)

Froggy’s hopping on my head –

RIBBIT! (make bean bag jump to floor)

He hopped away!

 

3) At the Circus

Place a masking tape line on the floor to act as a tight rope.  Invite the children to balance their beanbags on their heads as they walk across.  If they drop them, encourage them to pick them up and keep trying!

With my bean bag on my head,

I stand so very tall.

I walk along my own tightrope

And will not let it fall.

 

4) Cook Out

This is a fun bean bag activity for food or summer themed storytimes.  As a bonus, when you are moving the hamburger from hand to hand in the first part of the rhyme, you are also signing HAMBURGER in American Sign Language.  Click here to see a video of the sign.

(Hold bean bag in right hand.  Hold left hand facing up.  Turn right hand over to deposit bean bag into left palm.  Then turn both hands and repeat it the other way, as if you are shaping a hamburger patty.  Repeat this rhythmically through the first verse.)

I’m making a hamburger for the grill. 

Will I eat it?  Yes I will!

 

(Place bean bag on flat left palm.  Use your right hand as a spatula to lift the beanbag and flip it over.  Then switch hands.  Repeat this motion throughout verse 2.)

I’m flipping my hamburger on the grill.

Will I eat it?  Yes I will!

 

(Hold bean bag in left palm.  Pretend to squirt on ketchup, mustard, etc. with other hand.)

Now I’m fixing my hamburger from the grill.

Will I eat it?  Yes I will!

 

(Place bean bag in left hand.  Raise hand toward mouth, then down to right hand.  Switch the bean bag to the right hand and repeat.)

Now I’m eating my hamburger.  This is fun!

Did I eat it?  Yes, all done!

(If desired, sign ALL DONE at the end.  Click here for a video of the sign.)

 

5) Vacation

I went to the train station

To take a little vacation  (Pass bean bag back and forth between hands for the first 2 lines)

I went to the beach (Move bean bag diagonally away from you, starting at your right side, and ending up far out in front of your on you left side)

And then came home (Bring bean bag back to right side)

And had some relaxation. (Place bean bag into left hand)

 Repeat, replacing “the beach” with vacation destinations chosen by the children.  Each time you begin, you should be starting with the bean bag in the opposite hand from the previous time.  Make sure the diagonal cross-body movements also alternate hands between verses.  This simple motion of crossing the midline improves communication between the two hemispheres of the brain.

 

Got a great bean bag activity that you use in your programs?  Tell us about it in the comments below or by sending an email to storytimestuff@gmail.com and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a copy of our latest storytime resource book!

 

More Bean Bag Activities:

http://www.philosophyoffreedom.com/node/1654

http://www.ehow.com/way_5414552_bean-bag-activities-kids.html

http://www.ot-mom-learning-activities.com/bean-bag-games.html

http://craftulate.blogspot.com/2013/02/bean-bag-tutorial-and-games.html

Surf’s Up!

beachRecommended Books

At the Boardwalk by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman.  Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales, 2012.

Beautiful illustrations and rhyming text describe all that is offered at the boardwalk.  From early morning jogging to arcade games and sweet treats, anyone who has strolled the boardwalk will enjoy this simple tale of family fun.

At the Beach by Anne and Harlow Rockwell.  New, NY:  Simon & Schuster, 1991.

This classic tale with simple pictures and text is perfect for any child.  A little girl and her mother spend a day at the beach playing in the sand and water.

Action Rhyme

Beach Day

The sun is in the sky, (point up)

the sand is under my feet, (point down)

the waves tickle my toes (touch toes)

and crash in a rhythmic beat. (SPLASH)

Flannelboard

At the Beach

Pieces Needed: sandy beach, ocean wave, shovel, pail, sandcastle, seagulls, beach bag

At the beach we play all day,

running and splashing in the ocean spray.

I take out my pail, and my shovel too,

and build a castle for me and you.

The seagulls squawk and steal our food,

leaving my mom in a foul mood.

As the sun sets, we pack our supplies,

rinse the sand off, and say our goodbyes.

Five Fish

Piece Needed:  five fish, seaweed, sunken ship, anemone, sea turtle, setting sun

Five little fish swimming near the ocean floor,

One stopped to nibble some seaweed, then there were four.

Four little fish swimming in the sea,

One explored a sunken ship, then there were three.

Three little fish in the ocean blue,

One went to visit an anemone, then there were two.

Two little fish playing and having fun,

One caught a ride on a turtle’s back, and then there was one.

One little fish noticed the setting sun,

He swam home before the day was done.

Song

Surfin’ Safari by the Beach Boys

While the song is playing, toss a beach ball into the crowd.  Dance around and try to keep the beach ball in the air for the entire song!

Craft

Paper Plate Beach

Pieces needed:  paper plate, glue, torn pieces of brown construction paper, shredded blue construction paper (or gift bag filler), cut out pictures from magazines of  beach umbrellas, flip flops, towels, seagulls, fish, or other beach items.

  1. On the lower half of a paper plate glue brown pieces of construction paper to create sand.

  2. On the upper half of the paper plate glue blue strips of paper to create the waves of the ocean.

  3. Glue various other pictures on the plate that you may find at the beach.

Sign This!: Weather Song

(to the tune of “London Bridge”)

Click on these links to learn the signs RAIN, SNOW, and WIND.   Introduce these signs and then encourage the children to use them during this simple song.  Experiment with the size of the movement to covey a drizzle versus a thunderstorm, a flurry versus a blizzard, and a breeze versus a gale.

vane2See the rain come falling down, falling down, falling down

See the rain come falling down on this rainy day.

See the snow come floating down, floating down, floating down

See the snow come floating down on a snowy day.

Feel the way the wind does blow, wind does blow, wind does blow.

Feel the way the wind does blow on this windy day.

Bringing Nature Inside for Storytime

As children’s lives become more and more defined by technology, the effects can be far-reaching. Richard Louv describes it as “nature deficit disorder” in his book, Last Child in the Woods, which presents recent research showing that lack of experience with nature is linked to higher rates of obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

In addition, we all know that young children learn through their senses. So if you’re going to talk about an apple, a young child will only truly understand if he can see, touch, and maybe even taste that apple! Combat nature deficiency disorder and bring your storytime attendees and full-sensory experience with these idea for bring nature in:

1) Incorporate natural seasonal objects into a prop story.

For example, in our “Squirrely Squirrels” Storytime Theme, our original prop story, “Sammy Squirrel” uses acorns.

2) Choose a nature craft.

Make berry ink, just like the pioneers did! Find a simple recipe here.

3) Use natural props to bring a book to life.

For example, you could pass out real autumn leaves for kids to crinkle as you read an autumn book like The Leaves on the Trees by Thom Wiley. (Yes it might get messy, but that’s nothing that a vacuum cleaner can’t take care of!)

4) Explore nature through books.

Lindsay Barrett George has created a wonderful collection of books that explore nature. For a fall theme, check out, In the Woods: Who’s Been Here? As Cammy and William walk through the woods on an autumn afternoon, they find an empty nest, feathers and more, with each discovery prompting them to ask, “Who’s been here?” Use real natural objects throughout the story to simulate interest and understanding.

5) Set up a smelly scavenger hunt:

Follow up a book like Nosy Rosie by Holly Keller or Sammy Skunk’s Super Sniffer by Barbara DeRubertis by having kids use their noses to find aromatic natural objects hidden around the storytime room. (Some suggestions: a basil or rosemary plant, roses, oranges, cinnamon sticks.) See if the kids can identify the items by smell.

6) Try mud painting!

Check out this great site for ideas.

7) Take storytime outside!

If you’ve got a good place for it, take the kids outside for a nature walk, a story or a whole storytime! Make sure you plan lots of movement activities to keep kids engaged, as it’s harder for young children to pay attention to a book when there are so many novel sights competing for their attention.