Category Archives: Seasons

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?

i-know-an-old-lady-who-swallowed-a-pie

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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 storytimestuff.net, 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 storytimestuff@gmail.com.  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!

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

Storytime Plan: Spring!

Spring!flower

Recommended Books

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano.  New York, NY:  Roaring Brook Press, 2012.

Brown is all around, and the illustrations and simple text portray a boy eagerly waiting for the spring green to arrive.  The boy waits week after week for his seedlings to sprout, until one day…  green!

I See Spring by Charles Ghigna.  Mankato, MN:  Picture Window Books, 2012.

Bold colors and simple text describe all the things you see in spring, from raindrops falling to blue birds riding the breeze.

Flannelboard

Little Seed

(Pieces needed:  seed, watering can, sun, green stem and leaves, flower top.)

We plant a little seed, (put seed in ground)

and we add a little water. (add watering can)

The sun shines bright, (add sun)

and the ground gets hotter.

Soon the seed sprouts,

and the green leaves rise. (add stem and leaves)

Out pops the flower, (add flower top)

what a beautiful surprise!

Rhymes, Songs, and Bounces

Spring is in the Air

Green grass beneath us, (look down)

Blue skies above, (look up)

Warm air all around us, (turn in circle with arms our)

I feel the love! (get a hug from caretaker or wrap arms around yourself)

 

Traditional rhyme

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells, and cockle shells,

And pretty maids all in a row.

Craft

Cupcake Wrapper Flowers

Create your own garden of cupcake wrappers.

(Supplies needed: construction paper, cupcake wrappers in a variety of colors, pom-poms, crayons, and glue.)

  1. Give each child a piece of construction paper, 2 or 3 cupcake wrappers, a few small colorful pom-poms, crayons, and glue.
  2. Have the children create a garden scene.  Encourage them to color the sky, dirt, and stem of plants.
  3. At the top of the stem, have them glue cupcake wrappers or pom-poms to create a flower.  A pom-pom can also be placed inside of a cupcake wrapper.

Action Song: “I’m a Little Flower”

I’m a Little Flower

(to the tune of: “I’m a Little Teapot”)

I’m a little flower, watch me grow.

I start as a seed in the ground so low. (lie on the ground in a small ball)

When the sun is shining up I go, (slowly rise)

I open my petals, just like so! (pop up and stretch arms to the sky)

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.

 

Flannelboard

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.

Directions:

  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.

 

Crafts

 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.

 

6 Super Ways to Use Sign Language in Your Programs

There are many advantages to using sign language with young children: it reduces frustration, stimulates language development, addresses multiple learning styles, and recent research even suggests it can reduce symptoms of ADHD! But for your programs, you just need to know two benefits: it makes your programs instantly participative, and it’s FUN! Here are six super ways to get started using sign language in your program; for more great ideas, see Try Your Hand at This!: Easy Ways to Incorporate Sign Language Into Your Programs by Kathy MacMillan (Scarecrow Press, 2005).

1) Teach a Seasonal Sign:

 The Sign for Snow

 (This rhyme teaches how to say SNOW in American Sign Language.)

When the weather is cold and the icy wind blows

And you feel a shiver right down to your toes.

Wiggle your fingers from the sky to the ground.

That’s the sign for SNOW you have found!

 See a video of the sign SNOW.

 

2) Take a poll without losing your mind:

Teach the children the signs for YES and NO. Then ask yes/no questions about the story you are reading (“Do you think the fox will catch the sheep this time?”) and invite the children to respond using only their signs. It’s a quick and easy way to get children to participate without making a lot of noise.

See a video of the sign YES. 

See a video of the sign NO.

 

 3) Spice up a song or rhyme that doesn’t have built-in actions:

There’s nothing worse than putting on music and then just standing around to it. Use American Sign Language to create participative movement. For example, you could teach the kids signs for farm animals to make an old favorite like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” instantly hands-on!

See a video of the sign COW. 

See a video of the sign DUCK.

See a video of the sign HORSE. 

See a video of the sign SHEEP. 

See a video of the sign CAT.

 

4) Play a color game:

Extend a flannelboard rhyme into a fun interactive game with this activity. This can be used with any flannelboard that has items of different colors (Five Little Leaves, Five Funny Clowns, etc.). Teach the children the signs for the colors, then invite them to look carefully at the objects. Count to three, then have them close their eyes. Remove one of the objects. Then have the children open their eyes and identify which object is gone, using only their signs. Confirm which object was taken away by showing where it was on the flannelboard. Repeat until all the objects are gone. This activity is appropriate for toddlers and up, and enhances visual acuity, attention, and memory – all important pre-reading skills.

See videos of the signs for colors.

 

5) Use signs for group management:

Sometimes a sign can get kids’ attention in a way no nagging reminder can! Introduce the signs below by signing them along with the words on the first few reminders, then let your voice fall away and do only the sign. Kids will get the message (and you may find them using these signs to police each other!) Even elementary and middle school age students will respond to signed prompts without complaining and eye-rolling. Try it!

See a video of the sign PAY ATTENTION. 

See a video of the sign LINE UP. 

See a video of the sign RESPECT.

 

6) Use signs for a story refrain:

Teach the kids a few simple signs that they can repeat throughout the story. This will give them something active to do as they say the words, and will keep them engaged by stimulating multiple senses. For example, when reading Karma Wilson’s The Cow Loves Cookies (Simon and Schuster, 2010), ask children to sign the refrain with you each time.

See a video of the sign COW. 

See a video of the sign LOVES (for objects for activities) 

See a video of the sign COOKIE.

Winter Wonderland Storytime

Recommended Books

Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2010.

When the weather gets cooler, all the animals know it’s time to get to the hibernation station. With black bear as the conductor, there is no doubt that all the animals will be snug and asleep before the first snow.

 

Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2010.

When Sneezy the Snowman is cold, he tries many ways to warm himself. Unfortunately, they often result in him melting. Luckily the children help rebuild Sneezy and share their clothes with him, helping him stay warm.

 

Fingerplays/Rhymes/Songs

First Snow

The seasons are changing,

winter is here.

When the first snowflake falls,

we let out a cheer! (pump hand in air and cheer!)

We put on our snowsuits,

and run outside. (run in place)

We build a big snowman,

so tall and so wide. (lift arms tall and wide)

To warm up we drink our hot cocoa

and sit by the fire. (pretend to drink)

Then we go back outside,

when our clothes come out of the dryer! (run in place)

 

Snowball: A Scarf Rhyme

Hand out scarves to each child and demonstrate how to use them throughout the rhyme.

I pull on my mittens (pull scarf over each hand in turn)

On my head I put my hat. (put scarf on head)

I toss on my scarf (fling scarf over shoulder)

And I’m out the door like that!

The snow is drifting down (let scarf drift down to the floor in front of you)

To the ground just so

I gather up a bunch of it (ball up scarf between hands)

And here’s the snowball that I THROW! (throw the balled scarf)

 

Craft

Glittery Snowflakes

Materials needed: 6 craft sticks, yarn or thread, glue, glitter

Directions:

  1. Lay two craft sticks perpendicular to one another to form an X. Wrap yarn or thread around the place where they intersect to hold them together.  (Yarn is sturdier, but thread will provide a more delicate look.)
  2. Lay the third craft stick horizontally across the middle of the X. Wrap more yarn or thread around the center of the sticks to hold them together, then tie the ends off.
  3. Tape a loop of yarn or thread to the top stick for hanging.
  4. Decorate your snowflake with glue and glitter.

Springtime on the Farm Storytime

Recommended Books

The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett. Walker & Company, 2011.

In fairy tales, kissing a frog turns him into a prince, but if you kiss a pig,will you get a princess? In this clever and fun new book, the characters base all of their fortune and misfortune on what they have read before in fairy tales. When Priscilla the princess accidentally switches places with Pigmella, the farmer’s new piglet, the farmer and his wife believe it’s the work of a good witch, while the king and queen blame the bad witch. Isn’t that what happens in fairy tales? This book is entertaining for both adults and children and provides a wonderful opportunity for extension lessons discussing other fairy tales referenced.

 

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. Candlewick Press, 2010.

Every night Papa Rooster tries to get Little Red Chicken to settle down and goto sleep by reading a few bedtime stories. But every night, Little Red Chicken gets too excited by the stories Papa Rooster reads and interrupts Papa to save the characters in the story – THE END! Unfortunately, Little Red Chicken’s involvement in the story doesn’t make her sleepy, so Papa Rooster suggest Little Red write her own story and tell it to him. Soon Papa Rooster is interrupting Little Red Chicken in his own way, but Little Red knows just what to do.

 

Song

Springtime on the Farm

(To the tune of “Down on Grandpa’s Farm”)

Chorus

It is spring, it is spring, springtime on the farm!

It is spring, it is spring, springtime on the farm!

 

Springtime on the farm, there is a new baby calf,

Springtime on the farm, there is a new baby calf.

The calf, he makes a sound like this – moo-moo.

The calf, he makes a sound like this – moo-moo.

 

…chick…cheep-cheep

…piglet – oink-oink

…lamb…bah-bah

…duckling…quack-quack

 

 

Flannelboard

Springtime Five Little Ducklings

Five little ducklings went out one day,

exploring the flowers and lost their way.

The mother duck said “Quack, Quack, Quack,”

but only four little ducks came back.

 

Four little ducklings went out one day,

exploring the flowers and lost their way.

The mother duck said “Quack, Quack, Quack,”

but only three little ducks came back.

 

Three little ducklings went out one day,

exploring the flowers and lost their way.

The mother duck said “Quack, Quack, Quack,”

but only two little ducks came back.

 

Two little ducklings went out one day,

exploring the flowers and lost their way.

The mother duck said “Quack, Quack, Quack,”

but only one little ducks came back.

 

One little duckling went out one day,

exploring the flowers and lost his way.

The mother duck said “Quack, Quack, Quack,”

but no little ducks came back.

 

Wah, Wah, Wah, cried mommy duck.

She looked for her ducklings with no luck.

The mother duck said, “Quack, Quack, Quack.”

and covered in flowers her ducklings came back!

 

 

Craft

Baby Bird Puppet and Nest

Pieces Needed: paper bags, twigs or other small woodsy items, craft stick,bird (cut out of a magazine or construction paper)

Directions:

  1. Crumple up the bag a few times to give it a soft, wrinkled appearance.
  2. Cut a small hole in the bottom of the bag that a craft stick could fit through.
  3. Fold the sides of the bag down about half way.
  4. Glue assorted woodsy items onto the bag to create a natural looking nest. Give it time to dry thoroughly.
  5. Glue the bird to the craft stick, and place in the bag with the stick through the hole in the bottom of the bag.

 

After making your craft, show off your puppet with this fun little rhyme.

Little bird, little bird, up in the tree,

Little bird, little bird, say hi to me!

(Pop up bird and “tweet, tweet, tweet!”)