Night Light by Nicholas Blechman. New York, NY: Scholastic, 2013.
This fantastic book combines the joy of a guessing game with counting, and every kid’s favorite – vehicles! On each page a clue is given, “1 Light Shining Bright?” When you turn the page, a wonderful illustration of a vehicle is shown, in this case a train. Have fun reading this book and playing. Some of the vehicles are ones you wouldn’t normally think of, which makes the book even more interesting.
Night Light is an excellent book to use in a preschool storytime. As you read each page, ask the children if they have any idea what the vehicle could be. If they don’t, you can give them another clue, like making the sound of the vehicle. This is an easy way for children to learn problem solving skills as they process the clues.
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!
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 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.
Hats! Hats! Hats! Storytime at What Happens in Storytime…, featuring “Milo’s Hats” flannelboard from Storytime 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
Bean 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!
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.
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.)
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 email@example.com and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a copy of our latest storytime resource book!
More Bean Bag Activities:
Maisy the mouse is out and about! In a series of large lift-the-flap pages, readers must put the clues together to figure out the places she is visiting in her neighborhood.
The Sounds Around Town by Maria Carluccio. Barefoot Books, 2011
Baby enjoys a stroller-ride through town with his mommy, listening to the sounds of the city, from morning birdsong to an afternoon café to evening traffic.
Five Little Trucks
(to the tune of “5 Little Ducks”)
5 little trucks drove out one day,
Over the hills and far away.
Mama Truck said, “Beep, beep, beep!”
4 little trucks came home to sleep.
4 little trucks…
3 little trucks…
2 little trucks…
1 little truck…
Mama Truck said, “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!”
5 little trucks came home to sleep!
It’s easy to add American Sign Language to this song! Click here to learn how in this video tutorial with Kathy MacMillan.
Rhymes, Songs, and Bounces
Bounce: A Smooth Road
A smooth road, A smooth road.
A rough road, A rough road.
A bumpy road, A bumpy road.
An icy road, An icy road.
Oh no, there’s a…HOLE. (drop baby gently through legs)
Bounce: Trot, Trot
Trot, trot upon a horse,
To the library we’ll go.
We’ll open books
and read just so.
“Sammy” from Getting to Know Myself by Hap Palmer (CD). Educational Activities, 1994.
Sammy imagines that he is a bird, a fish, a bug, and a bunny as he explores different ways to move on his way to the store. Adapt this movement song for babies by introduces animal puppets before the song and encouraging parents to move their babies in ways that mimic the animals:
- Bird: hold babies in the air
- Fish: Rock baby while making fish faces
- Bug: Let older babies crawl; put younger babies on their backs and move their legs back and forth
- Bunny: Bounce baby in lap
- Me: Cuddle!
Sure, you know all about using rhythm sticks to tap out rhythms, but consider these creative uses for the old storytime standby:
1) Spider Legs:
Hold your sticks vertically to make spider legs, and sing “The Spider Went Over the Mountain”. Kids love to make their spider sticks walk!
2) Magic Wands:
Pass out one stick to each child and invite them to help you cast a spell! Let the children take turns using their wands to make their friends jump, turn, bounce, and sit!
3) Giant Pencils:
This exercise is great for promoting gross motor skills and early literacy! Give one stick to each child and let them draw shapes in the air, or write specific letters or numbers.
4) Windshield Wipers:
Give 2 sticks to each child and chant the rhyme below as your “windshield wipers” keep the rain away. This activity is a great tie-in to rain or transportation themed programs.
Windshield Wipers Rhyme
It’s a rainy day and down the street we go.
It’s only raining a little bit, so the wipers are going slow.
It’s starting to rain more now, but it’s not a disaster.
We know what we need to do: make the wipers go faster!
Oh no, it’s really pouring now, we hope that it won’t last.
Let’s turn those windshield wipers up, and they’ll go fast fast fast!
The rain is slacking off again, we’re not sad to see it go.
We’ll turn those windshield wipers down, and they’ll go back to slow.
Oh, look, is that the sun I see? And here comes one last drop.
The rain has stopped now, yessiree, and we turn our wipers OFF!
5) Olympic Torches:
Give each child one stick, and stage your own Olympic relay across the room! Use an orange scarf for the flame, and have each child pass it along with his or her rhythm stick to “light” the next torch. (Make sure you play Olympic music to complete the experience!)
Make your own marching band! Have the children hold their rhythm sticks like flutes as they march around the room.
7) Clock Hands:
Hold one stick in each hand. Review where the numbers on the clock fall, and then call out times. The children should move their clock hands to the appropriate positions. (For older children, call out things like “dinnertime” and “bedtime” and have them supply the times!)
Ribbons and streamers are fun to incorporate into storytime and can be used in a variety of ways, all of which promote development of gross motor skills. You can use sturdy pre-made ribbons from a school and library supply company (our favorites are Lakeshore Learning’s Wrist Ribbons, which are just the right size for young children), or you can make your own using lengths of ribbon tied to dowel rods. For a less sturdy take-away streamer, tape a length of crêpe streamer to a straw.
Here are some ideas for using your streamers in storytime:
1. Share an ancient tradition:
The Ribbon Dance is a two thousand year old Chinese folk dance. Dancers use long ribbons attached to sticks to represent clouds and are supposed to bring rain and plentiful crops. Invite the children to move their ribbons in different ways as you show the sun, rain, wind, and clouds.
2. Catch a Wave:
Ribbons and streamers make wonderful waves. Make waves to your favorite Beach Boys tune, or go under the sea with a Calypso rhythm. Invite the children to stand in two rows, waving their streamers up high. Let the children take turns “swimming” between the rows so they feel they are under the sea!
3. Make a Rainbow:
Pass out streamers in a rainbow of colors. Wave them above your head when practicing your colors, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, or during a book when a rainbow is mentioned. Or share the rhyme below to reinforce color knowledge.
If your streamer is red, wave it over your head!
If your streamer is blue, shake it by your shoe!
If your stream is yellow, wave it at a fellow!
If your streamer is green, shake it while you lean!
If your streamer is pink, shake it however you think!
4. Share a Star:
Sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as you gently wave your streamers to show the shimmering starlight, or share the shooting star rhyme below:
There once was a star who lived up in the sky (wave streamer above head)
He twinkled and twinkled at all who came by (move streamer in small movements to represent twinkling)
He twinkled left and he twinkled right (move streamer left, then right)
He twinkled through the day and he twinkled through the night (continue twinkling)
He twinkled down at the earth and he twinkled at me (point streamer down and keep twinkling)
Until he decided Earth was where he wanted to be.
So one day he twinkled as brightly as could be (move streamer in large back and forth movements)
And became a shooting star who came down…to..me! (slowly make streamer descend to the ground)
5. Race a Rocket:
Mark off a “course” on the floor using plastic cones or masking tape. Let the children take turns becoming “rockets” with the streamers as the fire coming out of their engines, as they skip or dance along the course.
Rocket Song (to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel”)
(Name) is blasting off into space
In a big red rocket
First we count and then we blast off
(5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Blast off!) (slowly raise streamer during countdown)
ROAR! Goes the rocket. (go along course with streamer behind you)
6. Fly a Kite:
Play “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins and pretend your streamer is a kite in the sky.
7. Share a Shape:
Use your streamer to create shapes in the air as you sing this song.
Shape Song (to the tune of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”)
Can you draw a square, draw a square?
Oh can you draw a square, draw a square?
Draw a line and then three more
They are all the same for sure
Oh can you draw a square, draw a square?
Can you draw a circle, draw a circle.
Oh, can you draw a circle, draw a circle?
A circle is round
With no corners to be found
Oh, can you draw a circle, draw a circle?
Can you draw a triangle, draw a triangle?
Oh, can you draw a triangle, draw a triangle?
Make one side and then make two,
Then make a third, that’s all you do,
Oh, can you draw a triangle, draw a triangle?
8. Write a Word:
Use the streamer to write words or letters in the air. Encourage the children to make their letters as large as possible. This activity encourages letter knowledge, gross motor skills, and prewriting skills. As you lead the letters, describe exactly how to move the streamer to create them. For example: “Let’s make a letter A. We start at the top, then make a slanted line down to the bottom. Now back up to the top, and make a slanted line going the other way. Now make a little bridge to connect the lines. We made an A!”
Using sign language during library storytimes is a great way to communicate with babies and toddlers and to broaden the appeal of storytimes of your storytimes! Check out these great resources from storyteller and nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter Kathy MacMillan to help you get started!
Signing with Babies: http://storiesbyhand.wordpress.com/category/resources-for-signing-with-babies/
Benefit of Teaching Young Kids Sign Language: http://www.livestrong.com/article/217439-benefit-of-teaching-young-kids-sign-language/
American Sign Language: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/asl.asp
Kathy’s Videos on YouTube:
- Bounce: Taking Turns: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYkJcjlxZuE
- Nursery Rhyme Activity: Jack Be Nimble: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS_XURvuMQA
- Song: I Took a Walk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_psFj-5YHQ
- Flannelboard Song: Three Jellyfish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t9zAvJ2kp0
- Song: Hello/Goodbye Babies/Friends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrpBWIkO32U
- Flannelboard or Prop Rhyme: Five Snowmen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTX8ucX1sos
- Flannelboard Song: Five Little Trucks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEvTqgxeCrY
- Flannelboard or Prop Rhyme: Five Little Monkeys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5tM5vd7hts
- Action Rhyme: Caterpillar, Caterpillar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN71_Q0aMQw
- Prop Story: Bear’s Bath: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBRGWcWkmLw
- Book: Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWNQMAZ3Ggk
- Book: Bear Wants More: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXC3ll27YX0
- Group Management Signs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0qYO8RjglQ
If you’ve got a stack of paper plates, you’ve got a creative storytime prop! Go beyond mask crafts with these fun ideas.
1) Stick Puppet Theater:
Fold plate in half and cut a slit in the center of the fold. Then open the plate and decorate your stage. Poke the stick of your stick puppet down through the fold and manipulate the puppet from the back.
2) Peek-a-Boo Plates:
Use the plate to hide your face throughout this rhyme.
Peek-a-boo, I see you
Now I don’t, and now I do.
I slip behind and there I hide.
Now I pop up grinning wide.
Now I’m gone and now I’m here.
One side, other side, far and near.
I love to hide and so do you
But I love most to say PEEK-A-BOO!
After reading Hats Hats Hats by Ann Morris (Mulberry, 1993), discuss how people around the world carry things on their heads. Then say the following rhyme. Invite a child to the front to help you act it out. Place a paper plate on the child’s head and fill it with plastic food as you say the rhyme. Or get everyone in on the fun by passing out plates to each child, along with a packet of pictures of the food. Ask the children to place the plates on their heads, then add the correct food when it is said in the rhyme.
Going to the Market
I’m going to the market, I’m going just like that.
I will buy potatoes and put them in my hat.
(Repeat with tomatoes, apples, mangos, grapes, bananas, cheese, bread and other foods as desired.)
4) Steering Wheels:
Pass out a paper plate to each child, then have the kids line up and hold their paper plates like steering wheels. Play “Car Car” from Travelin’ Magic by Joanie Bartels (BMG, 1989) and let the kids act out driving, honking their horns, and the other verses of the song.
5) Find that Plate:
Mark the plates with animals, letters, or colors and when you say the animal sound, word (beginning letter sound), or color, invite the children to find the appropriate plate.