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Flannel Friday Round-Up 4/24/15

Happy Arbor Day, and welcome to the Flannel Friday Round-Up! I am a huge bum, so I have no #FF, but these awesome librarians have some great flannelboards for you!

Kim flies high with “Five Colorful Kites”:

Kathryn forgot her umbrella, and raindrops keep falling on her head in storytime:

Miss Meg sings about colors in spanish:

Storytime Katie is counting babies with her flannelized Ten Tiny Babies:

Danielle is doubling up this week with some great color-coded toddler storytimes:



Mallory offers up a little mouse barn flannel, with bonus favorite scissors…oh boy, tips! I love tips!

Mallory is hosting next week, so flannelize your hearts out!


Flannel Friday: I Ganked This From Mister Rogers!

Some of you may know that I have developed an enormous Mr Rogers obsession. Long story short, about 9 months ago, I found out Amazon Prime offers more than 300 episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood with their Prime streaming service. I decided to watch one, and was immediately hooked. I was like, “this will change the way I do storytime FOREVER!!!” With that, I embarked on a crazy research project. I decided to watch AND read everything I could find about Fred Rogers. It turns out that this is a much more ambitious project than I originally thought. (Sidenote: I am a pretty expert couch potato. I was a film major in college, and I’ve worked for several film festivals, so I know how to get through video.)

I mean, 9 months, and I haven’t even finished these 300 episodes…and it’s not for want of effort or interest. Every single episode of MRN is FULL of CONTENT. What’s more, I have began to explore the MOUNTAIN of archival, documentary, expository, and professional development materials available through PBS, Fred Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Company, and the (independent) and astoundingly thorough Neighborhood Archive. And let’s not forget the books, there are many, many, many books by and about Fred Rogers, Family Communications, friends, fans, etc.

Suffice it to say, I have been taken over by the learning monster. So much so, in fact, that I haven’t even been able to really think about where or how to start. So I am just going to start with the smallest little bit. But believe me, this is just the beginning! In fact, I am cooking up a way to not only share what I know, but I would love partners. I’ve had a few librarian friends contact me with Mr. R questions of various sizes: big, small, general, specific, etc. I think in all cases, I have overdone it. But I CAN’T HELP MYSELF!!! This post is getting away from me, so I will get to the purpose of this post: Flannel Friday.


Ways to Praise a Child is a magnet board I made for my Toddler Timers, but it would be great for virtually any age. In fact, it would a great tool for a parent workshop!

I was reading through old issues Around the Neighborhood on the Neighborhood Archive (This is a newsletter that Mr R’s production company, Family Communications published for parents and childcare workers when the show was in production…Unfortunately, I CAN’T REMEMBER WHICH ISSUE AT THIS POINT AND THERE ARE A LOT TO SCHLEP THROUGH, BUT GIVE ME TIME AND I WILL FIND IT). Anyway, I was reading through these old newsletters when I spotted a little blurb in the sidebar entitled, “Ways to Praise a Child”. I clipped it to hang above my desk. praise

Then, as I was staring at it the next day it came to me…”This would make an awesome storytime activity.” I opened a google doc, and typed up all the phrases, played around with the typography, and Voilà!” I printed it on magnet paper, and had a great magnet

When I used it in storytime, I just asked parents, “Do you ever run out of ways to praise your children? I mean, they learn so much, so quickly, it can be hard to think of what to say without sounding like a broken record!” Everyone loved this, parents, AND ESPECIALLY THE KIDS! In fact, they loved it so much, we didn’t have a chance to read any books. The kids loved hearing the praise out of context. And during playtime, they weren’t only repeating the various phrases, they were demonstrating the behavior that triggered the praise! How cool is that?

It just goes to show, WE NEED TO STUDY MISTER ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD! Kids, parents, teachers, and especially librarians must dig into this material! It will change your work and your life.

I can share the doc, if anyone would like to use it.  Happy Friday! Megan is our lovely host this week…Thanks Megan!





Flannel Friday: An UnQWERTY Storytime Keyboard!

Here’s a fun group activity I have used with my toddlers storytimers. I do 2 Toddler Times each week. Toddler Time is a registration-required lap-sit storytime for ages 20 months to 3. We have two sections of up to 20 kids. It runs during the school year for 4 6-week sessions. As we all know, this age group is a bit funky. I have tinkered around a lot with my storytime planning, routines, demeanor, etc, to strike the right chord with this age group.

As we all know, repetition is HUGE at this age. But let’s face it, even the most solidly beloved storytime traditions, can get stale after a while. So I start fresh with new rituals at the start of each new session. This has been hugely successful with both parents and kids!

The kids are a bit sad to say goodbye to the old routines at the end of the session, but they also get excited to see what “new, weird things Ms Cate comes up with” on the first day of a new session. And by week two, they recall the old routines fondly, but they are also excited to repeat the new ones. And I think learning to tolerate a bit of the bittersweet sadness that comes with getting older is an important experience for kids and parents alike.

At some point, I stumbled upon a box full of perfect little paper squares. I believe they were originally cut for a Minecraft program. It gave me a kooky idea: Let’s make a special storytime keyboard! First, I showed the group an old keyboard. We passed it around, and let kids push the buttons. I explained that it was called a QWERTY keyboard because the first 6 letters…yaddayaddayadda…They all love the word QWERTY, btw.

Then I taped a big piece of contact paper on the wall sticky-side out. I invited storytimers to take turns picking squares, and placing them on the contact paper. As each kid came up, I stood by with a marker, and she told me what write on the key. We started with letters, and once we got the whole alphabet on the keyboard, we moved on to other stuff, leaves, flowers, animals… We had a ball.


I brought our “storytime keyboard” each week, and used it to “type out” each storytimer’s name as a good-morning routine. The kids loved this greeting activity. More importantly, this little ritual enabled me to get all my storytimers’ names down by week 2! I can very, very tricky. And, of course, this has great letter knowledge practice going on!

Happy FF! I am hosting the FFRU, so stay tuned!

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Flannel Friday Round-Up: January 23, 2015!

Hello all! It’s been a billion years since I last hosted a FFRU!

***UPDATE! See newbie #2 Erin Davison***

Let’s begin with two FFRU-Newbies!

#1 Melody (aka the Storytime Bandit…ADORABLE!) knocks it out of the park with this flannelization of Shape By Shape by Suse MacDonald! Welcome Melody!

#2 The lovely Erin Davison shows off a foxy little flannel.

Next, we have Fun With Friends Storytime! Kathryn offers up this very festive flannelized 5 or 10 Birthday Candles. Incidentally, she matches this flannel story with my all-time favorite birthday book: Don’t Spill the Beans by Ian Schoenherr.

Lisa gets sneaky at Thrive After Three. She dreamed up a brilliant way to make One Mitten by Kristine O’Connell George interactive! She hides these amazing big yellow mittens under the carpet squares in the storytime room! Brilliant!

Look out, Bunnies! Don’t snooze on Anne’s parachute! You might get a pretty wild awakening. She uses Kathy Reid-Naiman’s”Sleeping Bunnies” for this brilliant activity in Parachute Playtime.

Storytime Katie is already looking ahead to springtime…Chicago winters can really get you down! So she’s got her butterflies on sticks and ready to flutter! 

My hat’s off to Laura’s of Laura’s Storytime Adventures. Check out the gorgeousness that is her flannelized Hurray for Hat! by Brian Won.

Here’s my nonFF…This is an oddball UnQWERTY keyboard thingy that we made in Toddler Time.

And Jane of Piper Loves the Library is partying with the Pigeon for Take Your Child To the Library Day.

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Flannel Friday: Fall Is Pretty Scary, a Halloween Hack

Let’s hop into my time machine and travel back to July of 2011 when I posted my fifth Flannel Friday post: an adaptation of Fall Is Not Easy (FINE for short) by Marty Kelley. I love this book, as many of my #FFRU friends do!  In fact, FINE was the very first book I ever read in storytime. The kids and I? We all went bananas for it. I look forward to reading it in storytime every year.

Anyway, every year, I struggle to find great Halloween books. Most of the good ones fly out the door by the end of September, and all we’re left with are some holiday-themed stinkers. Last year, I decided to pick a favorite non-Halloween picture book, Clip Clop by Nicola Smee, and adapt it for Halloween.

I like traditions. And it came to me pretty suddenly over the weekend (after a conversation about Halloween programming with @RebeccaZDunn of Sturdy For Common Things) that FINE is perfect for a fangtastic remix. So here we are: another year, another Halloween Hack: Fall Is Pretty Scary!  Here is a PDF, feel free to download, & make your own.

Hannah is our intrepid hostess this week, and she is Lovin’ the Library…Thanks Hannah!

Happy Halloween!!!