let readers grow!


Flannel Friday: Happy Cephalopod Week

I got to work a little early this morning. I was  frittering around. I checked Twitter. Then I started to plan out my work for the day. I looked at our desk schedule, and spotted my name slated to do the drop-in storytime.  Gah! Summer Reading, you did it again! I have been crazy busy for the last two weeks. I completely forgot to plan for this. 

Luckily, at this point, you could shake me out of a deep sleep, yelling, “Cate, you have storytime in 30 minutes!” And I could pull together in time…as long as there is some form of caffeine available. So I poured one of my emergency Red Bulls down my throat, and got to work. 

I was about to close Twitter when I spotted this tweet in my feed. 

“Eureka!” I shouted, “Cephalopod Storytime will be awesome!” 

*BTW, you should check out Cephalopod Week 2016 on the Science Friday website. It’s as gorgeous as it is informative.*
Recently, I’ve developed a sort-of formula for choosing books that strike a variety of emotional tones in a storytime. I find it works particularly well for a storytime serving a wide age range like the one I had today–8 months to 7 years. I find that this allows kids and their parents (esp newbies) get comfortable with me, and helps us all focus our attention on the content of the stories we read. 

I start with a sweet, simple story.

Herman the Helper (public library)

Then I move onto a silly story. 

Good Thing You’re Not an Octopus (public library)

And I end with a well-written, and somewhat challenging informative nonfiction book. 

Gentle Giant Octopus (public library)

I have had a lot of success with this game plan. Today, when I introduced my nonfiction selection, I warned them that I saved the book with the biggest words and ideas for last. I gave the littlest littles an out.  I said, “Are you guys getting antsy? If you are done listening to stories, and you want to go play we can sing our goodbye song now. But if you want to learn about how a real octopus lives and becomes a mommy, we are going are going to read this book.” I pulled out the book with a flourish. “It’s full of fancy words, and beautiful pictures.” They all started shouting, “Read it!” “We’re staying.” 

Then they all scootched up close to me. And they loved this story…even the little, little kids were totally engaged the whole time. They asked great questions. They wanted to know what every word meant.

Anyway, enough about all this noise, it’s Flannel Friday! I used felt to make an adorable plushy octopus a little more anatomically correct, and used it as a prop. 

We’ve had an adorable little octopus for years. As I was pulling out one of my favorite storytime books, Herman the Helper by Robert Kraus (public library) I realized how much this little dude looks like Herman. But as I skimmed through my nonfiction selection I realized there was something missing: his suckers. So I grabbed some self-adhesive felt. I cut little circles, and stuck them on to all of his legs, and voilà! 

“Hello! Check out my suckers”

Mollie of What Happens in Storytime is hosting the #FFRU this week! Thanks, Mollie! 
If you’re looking for storytime ideas, the Flannel Friday Pinterest archive is a bottomless pit of brilliance. And if you was to join the party the Flannel Friday blog has all the information you need to dive in! The water is fine, after all.

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Flannel Friday: There’s a Rabbit

Hey two Flannel Fridays in a row–I’m almost on a roll!

This is an adorable piggyback+prop song for toddler times. The best part is you probably have the supplies in an odds-and-ends drawer somewhere. All you need is some sort of small basket and some sort of rabbit toy.

I found it in my new favorite book from our teacher collection, More Than Singing: Discovering Music in Preschool and Kindergarten by Sally Moomaw.


It’s a fun way to explore concepts like inside, on top, behind, etc.

There’s a Rabbit (tune: “Put Your Finger on Your Nose”)
There’s a rabbit in his hutch, in his hutch.
There’s a rabbit in his hutch, in his hutch.
Oh, I think he might be hungry and he’s looking for his lunch.
There’s a rabbit in his hutch, in his hutch.


Cheers, dears!


Early Literacy is APPening @ Calgary Public Library

Now if this doesn’t inspire you to start working your way through the courses available on codeacademy, I don’t know what will:

In early February Calgary Public Library released Grow A Reader, a free mobile app that offers parents and caregivers practical early learning tips and activities on-the-go. Grow A Reader is an informational app based on the Every Child Ready to Read 2. It presents the 5 practices—Talking, Singing, Playing, Reading, and Writing—in simple, concise terms followed by clear instructions for putting them to use. Users can toggle between booklists, videos and “tips” that put the 5 practices to use.

Calgary PL clearly put a lot of love  (and money) into developing this product. The proof is in the pudding. Grow A Reader is a beautiful, engaging app that delivers vital information in an elegant form.   The app functions smoothly even under my tap-crazed fingers.   The videos are polished and professional. Many of them feature multiple camera angles!  The librarians are poised and professional in each video.  The had time to get comfortable in front of the camera.

Here are some screenshots:

Looking Good, Librarians!

Looking Good, Librarians!



The 5 practices in everyday life

The 5 practices in everyday life

Quick tips

Quick tips

Most importantly, they’ve packed a ton of knowledge into this app.  The app includes booklists, quick tips, and dozens of video clips of librarians performing interactive rhymes, lullabies, bounces, tickles, etc. In addition, short documentary-style videos demonstrate the 5 practices in action and explain why they are an essential part of early childhood education. In fact, I would go as far to say this app demonstrates all the best librarianship has to offer.

I can’t wait to show this to every parent I meet.


Flannel Friday: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons… Plus a GIVEAWAY!

Happy Flannel Friday!

I’ve been in a storytime/program tornado this fall. I keep promising to get back in the swing of blogging, but then I’ve seriously been so busy, that I just run out of time and brain power (seriously, I just typed brian power, and could not figure out what was wrong with itIn preparation for our annual teacher workshop on the Latest and Greatest in Children’s Books, I made 3 flannelboards (compete with patterns) so I have 3 #FF posts ready to go!

Anyway this week is that lovable, easy-going feline Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin

I borrowed the pattern from But I wanted to make the shirt open(-able),

Pete is such a dapper dude!

and  (well, and I really I wanted to give Pete a bellybutton)  so I made a few changes.

Pillsbury Meow-boy! Hee Hee!

It’s a little more work, but this one is going to log a lot of  miles, so it’s worth the effort. Anyway click on the link above for MLF version and/or this one: Pete The Cat 4 Groovy Buttons for the pdf pattern I made for the teacher workshop handout.

It occurs to me that I had to do a little trial & error to assemble this little dude. So I will make a copy, so I can take pictures of the  how I put it together. Then I’ll do a special #FF giveaway.

Leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be entered to win the demo version of this flannelboard, and you won’t even need the “some assembly required” follow-up post. Cheers!


Step 1: Lay "head" on a flat surface.

Step 1: Lay “head” on a flat surface.




Flannel Friday: The Was A Bold Lady Who Wanted A Star

This week’s (very late thanks to technical difficulties) #FF is:

There Was A Bold Lady Who Wanted A Star by Charise Mericle Harper

I love this version of the well-worn storytime rhyme. Sadly my library doesn’t own a copy, and it’s out of print. But I want to use it for storytime. So I was thrilled saw this pattern for a flannelized version in Storytime Magic.  What can I say, I love a broad has chutzpah! Anyway, here’s a picture:

(sans the airplane. I set it out to dry, but now I can't find the #*@#$ thing!)

Anyway, I may be too late for the #FFRU… Sorry folks. But check out Andrea’s blog and the #FF pinterest archive for more storytime ideas.

Cheers dears!


Flannel Friday: Hey, Mr. Snowman

I swiped this one from the lovely Miss Allison. My storytimers went soooooooooooo bananas over it, that did it twice.

Hey, Mr. Snowman

It goes like this:

I went walking through a winter wonderland
I spied a snowman who needed a hand.

“hey Mr. snowman what do you need?”
“I need 2 eyes so I can see.”

“hey Mr. snowman what do you need?”
“I need 1 carrot nose so that I can sniff”

“hey Mr. snowman what do you need?”
“I need 2 stick arms so I can wave.”

“hey Mr. snowman what do you need?”
“I need 2 blue mittens to warm my hands”

“hey Mr. snowman what do you need?”
“I need 2 red boots on my feet”

“hey Mr. snowman what do you need?”
“I need one purple scarf to stay cozy”

“hey Mr. snowman what do you need?”
“I need a top hat to look snazzy!”

Once again, thank you Allison for such a delightful flannel board. My storytimers and I will enjoy for many storytimes to come!

For more awesome storytime ideas, check out the #FFRU Anna’s blog

And if you need 600 more awesome ideas, hit the rainbow-licious button on in the sidebar of this blog.


Flannel Friday Round Up 11.18.11


I’m here! Sorry for the delay folks, but this #FFRU is ENORMOUS! I think we have 16 so far this week. Is this a record? I’ll check and get back on that one.

I said in my post that I’d be happy to post late posts over the weekend (I refuse to skip a single football game this weekend (I worked Saturday, Sunday AND Monday evening, so I’m jonseing for the gridiron. GO BEARS!)

#FFRU 11.18.11

UPDATE: I am so sorry Tracey and Katie! I just saw your posts in my google reader account. I must have missed them on my twitter search.


Check out Tracey of 1234 More Storytimes awesome hot dogs!

And Katie of Storytime Secrets sings We Eat Turkeys!

We have 2 adorable versions of the classic homage to the matron of gluttony: I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie. They are very different and delightful:

Alison of Miss Alison Is Blogging offers her version

Natasha the Arty Librarian’s has hers.

Anne Clark of so tomorrow has enough to go around in her version of ‎Two of Everything

Mary Kuehner of Miss Mary Liberry gets Froggy ready for his first romp in the snow in Froggy Gets Dressed! (Spoiler alert: He forgets his underwear! hahahahhahah)

The mercury may be dropping, but according to Andrea Flemming of RovingFiddleHead Kidlit (and me!) it’s never to cold for Ice Cream

The Metamorphosis will be flannelized! by Melissa of Mel’s Desk. She’s sharing her version of Very Hungry Caterpillar. (You’re welcome, Mel.)

Sarah of Read Rabbit Read is talkin’ 5 Little Turkeys! Like, gobble gobble, dudes.
Meghan, the Busy Crafting Mommy posted several AWESOME T-Day flannel boards. PLUS, she posted an announcement for a special Holiday Extravaganza Giveaway 🙂
Mollie of What Happens In Storytime… offers these 3 Marvelous T-day flannel boards

Linda of Notes From The Storytime Room adapted one of my favorite 398s: Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle.

Elizabeth of Read Mrs. D posted a delightfully colorful version of Turkey Feathers.

Sarah Holtkamp of AWESOME STORYTIME (and a former classmate of mine, hi Sarah!) offers this awesome autumnal sing-along.

Lisa of Story Time With The Library Lady is quite the foxy lady behind the mask.

Kate of Recipe for Reading offers a great big bowl o’ lemons from which to make sweet lemonade: Five Big Lemons. (I LOVE IT!)

Sarah‘s bears are getting shmushed in here adorable version of Five In a Bed. Those bears are #(&*$ing cute!

And if you’ve made it this far, you’re a champ!

Here’s my Reader’s Theater version of The Glerp by David McPhail. GLERP!

Had enough?

NO?!?! Well then get your butt over to the Flannel Friday archive on Pinterest and the Flannel Friday Facebook Group.

Ms. Anne maintains the schedule of #FFRU past, present, and future.

Did I miss anyone? If so, let me know.

Happy Flannel Friday everyone!

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Mummy Says What?

I recently made a guest appearance at Monsters’ Ball, the annual Halloween celebration at the Niles Park District. They throw a great party: dinner, costumes, games, and a storytime under the stars (if the weather allows). Side note: I don’t know who did the decorations, but they completely blew my mind!

Anyway, it’s an easy program to plan since it’s only about 20 minutes. And yes, the conditions are unpredictable: there’s a noisy street less than twenty feet behind me, a bonfire on my right, and 150 strange kids crazed with suger and eye-candy. But they’re fired up, and ready to go.

With such a short program, there’s only time for a few activities. And because it was dark, books and flannelboards didn’t make much sense. I started with If You’re a Monster And You Know It (the Rebecca Emberley version), followed by the hilarious jump story Ruby Red Lips, and finally an activity I like to call my special magic spell.

This is a tricky storytime activity, because it all hinges on cooperation from your volunteer(s). But when it works, the results are total hilarious mayhem. Here’s how it works: I ask for volunteers to come up. Then I wiggle my fingers and say some magic words.

Hocus pocus, Ala Kazaam, 
Become a kitty cat if you can!
(Now I cross my fingers) and if I’m lucky, the kids immediately begins to meow.  

I picked 2 girls who were dressed as kitties, and they were awesome! So I turned them back into kids using the reverse spell:

Hocus pocus, ala kazoo
now turn back into you!

And hands went up all over the place. Kids were coming up 5 at a time. I asked who wants to become a dog?

Hocus pocus, ala kanoodles
Turn these kids into poodles!

For my final transformation I picked a wild little bugger who was dressed as a mummy. He ran up in a flash, he was bursting at the seams he was so excited. He bounced up like a little super ball.

Me: Ok, mummy, what do you want me to turn you into?


Me: A POOP!?!? I don’t know, that might be pretty stinky! Let’s put it to a vote: what do you think everybody? should we turn him into a poop?

Crowd: NO!

Luckily, that didn’t get him down.

Me: I have an idea, how about a tasmanian devil?

Mummy: YES!!!!

Me: Hocus Pocus, Ala kanevil, now you are a tansmanian devil!

He spun away like a little tornado, and his dad managed to catch him before he did any serious damage.

Happy Halloween!


My Bag O’ Tricks

I haven’t been a children’s librarian for very long, but a lifetime of being scatter-braine has taught me to keep stashes of extra in-case-of-memory-lapse-emergency items (i.e. chapstick, keys, $10) stashed away in all my bags, jackets, and desk drawers. I have found this rule work for me in the storytime room, too. I keep a mix CD of my favorite interactive kids songs hidden near the CD player. If things are going a little rocky, I need to fill some time, kids are getting restless; I pop it in on shuffle, and go with whatever the machine chooses. It’s a silly thing, but there something about that small element of surprise that I could never fake in a million years. It never fails to shake things up, and get storytime back on track.

So here’s my Storytime 911 mix:

  1. Clap Your Hands/ They Might Be Giants
  2. Shake Your Sillies Out/ Raffi
  3. Brush Your Teeth/ Raffi
  4. Brush Brush Brush/ of montreal
  5. 1, 2, 3, 4/ Laura Freeman
  6. Do You Wanna Know My New Dance Step/ Dog on Fleas
  7. The Hokey Pokey/ Dan Zanes
  8. Song about Slow, Song about Fast/ Hap Palmer
  9. Shake Your Sillies Out/ Michael and Jello

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The Gist

This should have been post #1, but (hey) better late than never. Here is the basic outline developed for my preschool storytime:

    Hello Song

    My right hand waves hello
    My left hand waves hello
    Everytime I see my friends
    My hands wave big hellos
    Con’t belly, feet, fingers, toes

    Circle Meeting: To Do List & Introduce Theme

    Book #1

    Action Rhyme:

    Book #2:

    Get up and Move Activity:

    Book #3:


    Good-bye Song: The More We Get Together

Pre-K Storytime is a 1-hour, weekly storytime for 3.5-5 year-olds runs for 9 weeks in the fall, and perhaps 11-12 weeks in the spring. Registration is required. There are 30 children currently registered, and about 20-25 show up each week.

Each week we open with the same Hello song.

Then we sit down for our “Circle Meeting” where we discuss that day’s theme, and make a to-do list using a sticky board and some pictures I printed and laminated for this purpose. I choose the number of activities we do each week, but I take suggestions for the order in which we perform those activities. I like the to-do list for several reasons: 1) I tend to be a bit of a scatterbrain, so it keeps me on task; 2) the children children seem to like knowing what the plan is. And during the storytime, as we complete an activity the children LOVE to remove each picture and place it behind the sticky board. In fact, I’ve noticed during my drop-in storytimes if my preschoolers are in attendance, they ask “Ms Cate, where are our pictures?”  Here’s the to-do list

We generally read 3 books and do 2 action-rhymes/activities. Then I give them about 10 minutes to color/draw. The first day of the session I provided a blank book for each child with his/her name on it. The first day we decorated the books using crayons and markers. In the subsequent weeks  I provided a small theme-based coloring page, along with the books. At the end of storytime, the children slip the page into the front of their book, and hand it into me.  I glue the coloring page into the blank book. On the last day when we have the Last-Day party, I will pass out the books when their moms are their so they can take them home.

Last year I did this a little differently. I provided blank folders (instead of books) and coloring pages and then laminated the CPs at the end of the session. The kids enjoyed it, but I have noticed that the kids seem more connected to their books than they did to their folders. The books are also much easier to manage than the folders were.

So here’s the outline. I fill in the specifics each week depending on the theme: