Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Storytime - Trucks

My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis - This is a funny counting story about a truck that gets stuck and all of the help that comes along. I had the kids count the vehicles on the page with me and say "Beep! Beep!" with motions to add some interactivity. It was a big hit.

Where's My T.R.U.C.K.? by Karen Beaumont - This is one of my favorite storytime readalouds. It's got a nice rhyming cadence and a good story to boot. Tommy's lost his T.R.U.C.K. and can't seem to find it anywhere. I put up the Ellison letters T, R, U, C, and K on my flannelboard and point to each one as the kids and I spell out the word together whenever it pops up in the story.

A Truck Goes Rattley-Bumpa by Jonathan London - This is a short, rhyming story about all kinds of trucks. It was perfect for my toddlers.


Five Little Trucks (w/ flannel)

(I cut out Ellison truck shapes in different colors for this rhyme.)

One little truck, it happened to be blue
Along came another, and then there were two

Two little trucks, driving by the sea
Along came another, and then there were three

Three little trucks, driving by the store
Another one drove up, and then there were four

Four little trucks, out for a drive
Along came one more, and then there were five!

The Wheels on the Truck

The wheels on the truck go round and round (roll hands)
Round and round, round and round.
The wheels on the truck go round and round
All through the town!

Continue with:

The wipers on the truck go swish, swish, swish... (swish arms)
The shovel on the truck goes dig, dig, dig... (bend arms up at elbow to mime digging)
The horn on the bus goes honk, honk, honk... (pretend to pull truck horn)

Stop, Slow, and Go

Have 3 pieces of paper: green, yellow, and red (I just used construction paper but you could make signs if you are ambitious.). Go over each one - green = march in place; yellow = march slowly; red = freeze. Hold up each one in a different order as quickly as you want to. I did this with my 3 year-old storytime kids and it was a lot of fun!

I got this idea from the King's County Library System.


Garbage Trucks

I got the idea for this craft from Storytime Katie. I found a coloring sheet of a garbage truck from Google Images and printed it out onto plain white paper. We had a TON of tissue paper squares left over from another craft, so I had the kids crumple pieces up and glue it to the sheet for "garbage".

Monday, April 28, 2014

Storytime - Frogs

One Frog Sang by Shirley Parenteau - This is a fun counting book of frogs where each group makes a different "frog sound" like "Ka-blurp!" or "Peep peep peep!" I had the kids repeat all of the different frog noises to make it more interactive.

Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson - This is a sweet, short story about a baby frog that wherever he goes (even to the moon!) he can always leap back home to his mom. It's nice and short and rhyming making it a good choice for toddler time. You could even have the kids jump up every time you say the word "leap" if you like!

Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan - We own the big book version of this classic cumulative tale so I propped it up on our easel to read. Every time we got to the "Jump, frog, jump!" page I had the kids say the words with me and jump up! It's a bit of a longer read, so the actions really seems to help keep their attention.


Five Green and Speckled Frogs (w/ flannel)

Five green and speckled frogs (hold up five fingers)
Sat on a speckled log
And ate up some most delicious bugs,
Yum! Yum! (rub belly)
One jumped into the pool (mimic one finger "jumping" into a pool)
Where it was nice and cool
Now there are four green, speckled frogs! (hold up four fingers)
Ribbit! Ribbit!

Continue with 4, 3, 2, and 1

If You're a Frog and You Know It...

If you're a frog and you know it, jump up high
If you're a frog and you know it, jump up high
If you want to be a frog, then get up off that log
If you're a frog and you know it, jump up high

Continue with:

If you're a frog and you know it, blink your eyes...
If you're a frog and you know it, stick out your tongue...
If you're a frog and you know it, say "Ribbit!"...


Jumping Frog

I found this template from I printed them out onto cardstock, let the kids color them in with crayons, and then I offered either child or adult scissors to cut them out (the parents are with the kids for this storytime).

Game On!: Super Smash Brothers Tournament

One of my more successful teen programs has been my Super Smash Brothers Brawl Tournament. I usually get between 20 and 30 teens (mostly boys) who aren't my regular attendees. It's also a relatively low-prep/low cost program.

You'll need:

  • A Nintendo Wii, preferrably 2. I use 1 Wii from our teen room and I also bring in mine from home.
  • 2 - 4 Wii motes/nun-chucks per console
    • Note: Most of the teens like to play Smash Brothers with Game Cube controllers. I don't own any, so I let them bring their own from home.
  • 1 copy of Super Smash Brothers Brawl per console
  • Board games/other activity for the teens to play while they wait for their turn
  • Snacks! I set out soda, chips, and pretzels. I make sure to tell them that the food/drink has to stay away from the Wii's though.
  • Brackets
    • You can use an online bracket generator or draw your own. I print mine off onto large paper because the teens really love gathering around the bracket board to see who's playing who.

How it's done:

  • For this program, I find it best to have me and 2 volunteers (preferably ones who are familiar with the game). This way, I can have one volunteer monitoring each of the matches in case there are arguments about fairness and such and I can work on the brackets and announcing the matches.
  • As the teens arrive, I check off their names and ask them if they want a "handle" (or gamer nickname) for the tournament. Most do. I write their handle down next to their real name and have them also write their handle on a sticky name tag to wear. I also write their handles on a small piece of paper and put it into a box. I will then draw their names out of the box to randomly determine who will play who in the first round.
  • Then they can go warm up on the game while the other teens arrive.
  • Next I gather all of the teens together to go over The Rules (see below). While I am doing that, one of my volunteers can draw the names for the first round of matches and fill in the brackets.
  • Then we announce the first four players and begin!

The Rules:

  • Registration and warm-up begins a half hour before the tournament. 
  • All participants must  be registered
  • Brawls will have 2 competitors per match-up (1 vs. 1)
  • Rules of the game:
    • Time limit = 5 minute brawls
    • Stock limit = 3
    • Handicap = Off
    • Stage Choice = Decided the day of the tournament (Note: I usually choose Smashville for the tourney stage. It's small and works well for 1 on 1.)
    • No items or Smash Ball
  • This will be a DOUBLE ELIMINATION tournament
    • Winner will move on to the next round of the tournament
    • Losers of each match will get to play in the "Loser's Bracket"
    • The winners of the winner and loser’s bracket will play head to head to determine the tournament winner, but the loser’s bracket winner must beat their opponent twice in a row
  • Participants may bring their own Game Cube controllers, but NOT memory cards.
  • Meta Knight is banned.
  • Stalling is banned.
  • Trash-talking is a disqualifier.
  • No do-overs! Check your controller, etc. BEFORE you start the match.
  • Any ruling by the judges is FINAL.
With these rules/time limits in place, I was able to get through the matches for 24 participants in about 2.5 hours. You could possibly have shorter matches to let more teens play, but I think with more than 24 teens it begins to get a little crazy and everything gets more difficult to keep organized.

Have you ever done a video game tournament? What worked? What didn't?

Egg-Cellent Egg Decorating

This past Friday, I hosted an egg decorating program at the library. It was a family program where they brought the eggs and we provided the decorating supplies. I had about 90 attendees and it was a whole lot of fun!

Here's what we did:

Egg Decorating (of course): I purchased about 45 egg dye cups/tablets in total. I wanted to have enough
dye cups on hand for each child to be able to dye at least 1 egg right away. The nice thing is that the next time I do this program, I will already have the egg decorating cups and will only need to purchase the color tablets!
  • I also set out the following supplies:
    • Stickers - I just pulled out the stickers that I had on hand in my cabinet. I also found cute Easter-themed stickers at the Dollar Store.
    • Glitter Glue Pens - These were by FAR the most popular craft supply AND the messiest!
    • Crayons - Along with the little clear crayons they include in the kits, I also pulled out our storytime supply of crayons in case the kids wanted to make their eggs more colorful.
    • Plastic Spoons - Because there's only 1 egg dipper in the kit, I just gave each child a spoon and it seemed to work fine.
    • Egg Cartons - I put out a call to my coworkers to bring me egg cartons and I ended up having a TON left over! I wanted to provide them to the families who wanted something to dry/carry their eggs home in. I also provided Sharpie markers to write their names on the cartons and avoid mix-ups.
    • Paper Towels - These were definitely needed.

    As the families arrived, I directed them to the egg decorating tables. Because I knew that some children would be finished decorating quickly while others would get more elaborate in their designs, I wanted to offer some other crafts/activities for them. So I also had:

    Paper Plate Baskets: I found a cute tutorial here. Here's what my tracing template looked like which made it easier for me to make the templates for the other baskets in bulk. (Note: I didn't bother cutting off the edge of the paper plate with scalloped scissors like in the tutorial.)

    I also made up 1 1/2" wide strips of cardstock for basket handles. On the craft table I set out the paper plates, scissors, tape, ribbon from our craft closet, crayons, and paper Easter grass I purchased in bulk from the Dollar Store. The parents commented on what a cute idea it was to have a basket craft to put their decorated eggs in. This craft took a little more prep on my end, but it seemed to be worth it.

    Bunny Ears: Find the instructions here. I just set out the ears, paper headbands, glue sticks, markers, staplers, and cotton balls for tails.

    Storytime: The original plan was to give everyone about 45 minutes to finish all three activities and then read stories and have a snack of donuts and apple juice (our program began at 10:00 a.m.) for the last 15 minutes. What we found was that some kids finished all of the activities much earlier. Luckily, I had another staff member on hand to help! While I kept myself free to help out and troubleshoot, she gathered those kids around on the floor with the snack and began to read the books I pulled. Soon, almost all of the children had gathered around to hear the stories.

    My awesome colleague read stories in her awesome Easter hat!

    We read:

    Here's my program board on Pinterest for some more craft/activity ideas!

    Thursday, April 24, 2014

    Storytime - Cake


    Little Mouse and the Big Cupcake by Thomas Taylor - This is a cute story about a mouse who is too small to carry his cupcake home. So he enlists the help of his friends! The illustrations are great. The book itself is a bit bigger in size which makes it good for sharing in a group. I made this one interactive by having the kids rub their tummies and say, "Yum, yum, yummy!" with me every time a different animal took a bite of the cupcake.

    Cupcake by Charise Marie Harper - This is a colorful story about a cupcake who just wants to look as fancy as her siblings. Her friend, Candle, appears and they come up with a great solution! This one is fairly short, so it's good for younger crowds.

    If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff - In the style of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie a cat receives a cupcake and chaos ensues. This isn't my favorite in the series, but the kids seemed to like it and it has that recognition factor to make it a crowd pleaser.



    Pat a cake, pat a cake (clap hands)
    Baker's man
    Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
    Roll it (roll arms)
    Pat it (pat legs)
    And mark it with a "B" (draw a "B" in the air)
    And put it in the oven for baby and me! (give self or child a hug)

    Five Birthday Candles (w/flannel)

    (count down with fingers)

    Note: I didn't make this lovely flannel.
    Five birthday candles, wish there were more
    I blew one out and then there were four. (have children "blow" the candles out with you for extra interaction)

    Four birthday candles, pretty as can be
    I blew another out and then there were three.

    Three birthday candles, yellow, red, and blue
    I blew another out and then there were two.

    Two birthday candles, birthday cakes are fun
    I blew another out and then there was one.

    One birthday candle, the party's almost done.
    I blew that one out and now there are none!


    Cupcake Decorating

    If you wanted to get really crazy, you could bring in actual edible cupcakes and let the kids decorate them for a snack. I was not feeling so crazy, so I found this printable cupcake. I printed copies off onto cardstock and passed out crayons and glitter glue pens to decorate. Easy peasy!

    Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    Guerrilla Storytime Recap

    This afternoon, I presented a Guerrilla Storytime session at the OLC North Chapter Conference. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what guerrilla storytime is, head on over to the Storytime Underground blog and read all about it!

    Twenty participants shared their best storyime tips and tricks. Below are their responses:

    Challenge: One storytime child is being particularly disruptive. What do you do?

    • It depends on the particular behavior of the child. You could always speak to the caregiver. But if the children are in immediate danger, it should be dealt with right then and there.
    • If the disruptive child is of the vocal variety, you could involve them in your storytime and make them a helper to focus their energy.
    • Be willing to be flexible - If you notice that your entire storytime group is antsy, you might need to move on to another activity.
    • With younger children, you can use bubbles at the end of storytime. To focus them, a good thing to say is, "Ok, everyone. Go back and sit with the grown-up that you love very much." (Awwww.)

    Audience Question: How do you handle parents/teachers that aren't participating?
    • It might be good to explain to the parent/teacher what the purpose of storytime is. You could even talk to the head of the school.
    • You could make an announcement to the group up front about expectations for both the kids and the parents.
    • Have 30 minutes of play time after storytime to let parents visit and converse with each other.
    • A good trick to do in the transition between storytime activities if need be: Very quietly say, "If you can hear my voice, clap your hands." This is a good trick to get everyone's attention.

    How do you incorporate Print Motivation into storytime?
    • I choose books that I enjoy reading.
    • I like to use interactive books or books with animal sounds.
    • Pop-up books are good.
    • I read a book about different birds. I combined it with an app with different bird sound effects and the kids loved it!

    Audience Question: There's a 2 year-old child from a different country that visits the library and is very disruptive and has very limited social skills. The parents aren't any help. What can I do?
    • You could read out to a community service group in your area, such as Help Me Grow.
    • Project Learn is another good group to contact.

    What's your favorite "5 Little..." rhyme?

    What's your favorite way to incorporate singing into storytime?
    • I love to sing. I start and end with the same song every week. I like "Can't Wait to Celebrate" by Jim Gill and the CD Toddlers on Parade.
    • I like to use books that are also songs that kids love, such as "The Wheels on the Bus".
    • I like to use the "There Was an Old Lady.." books.
    • The ukulele is a great way to incorporate music into storytime. Learning 4 chords lets you play a plethora of storytime songs! 
      • For all of you Northeast Ohio librarians, Royalton Music Center offers intensive ukulele lessons.
      • If you want to teach yourself, Ukulele Mastery Simplified by Erich Andreas is a good guide. It's downloadable on Kindle for $2.99! You can also search for how-to videos on YouTube. 
      • A good site with song chords is here.
    • Pete the Cat books and the Mr. Eric CDs are my favorites to use!

    What's your favorite baby storytime song/book/rhyme?

    What's your favorite preschool storytime song/book/rhyme?

    What's your favorite way to add talking into storytime?
    • Ask the kids questions throughout storytime.
    • Using flannels that allow for activities such as shape sorting can encourage talking.
    • Use dialogic reading skills and ask the kids to make predictions about the stories.
    • Ask the kids to help you tell the story.
    • Encourage the parents to have conversations with their children after storytime, such as pointing out signs outside.
    • Using props such as puppets and ask the kids to identify the name of each prop - this builds vocabulary.

    What's your favorite fingerplay?

    How do you incorporate print awareness into storytime?
    • I put up four-letter words on a flannelboard and then move the letters around.
    • Sing "BINGO" using different words (such as "HEART" or "APPLE")
    • Point to words as you read them.

    Audience Question: What do you do if you have a storytime craft for a certain age group, but there are parents who insist that the younger siblings get to do the craft as well?
    • We always expect that, so we plan for it by having extra craft materials.
    • Maybe offer a coloring sheet for the younger siblings?
    • Set expectations ahead of time and explain to the parents that you will only have enough craft items for the age-appropriate storytime child.

    What's your favorite toddler song/book/rhyme?

    Challenge: One child starts hitting another. What do you do?
    • If it isn't full-on hitting, maybe just poking, you could point out to the group the children who are exhibiting good behavior.
    • You could try the rhyme "Criss-Cross Applesauce" to focus them.
    • I had a couple of boys in preschool storytime (no parents in the room) who started wrestling. After asking them several times to stop, I made them leave storytime without doing the craft and had a conversation with their mothers. They came back later to apologize to me and the behavior was much better next time.

    For those of you who attended the session, if I missed something or something needs to be corrected (I was furiously trying to take notes as fast as the great ideas were coming!), please comment below or send me an email!

    Monday, April 14, 2014

    Pizza and Pages: The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

    Every Saturday, I host a book discussion group for grades 6 to 9, which I wrote about here.

    While I was hopping around the Internet, I stumbled across a librarian that writes up her book discussions on her blog along with a list of her discussion questions. I thought that was ingenious and something that I find handy when I'm planning my book club discussions. (Note: I am soooo sorry, but I absolutely cannot remember what/whose blog it if it's yours, please let me know and I will make sure to give you credit!)

    This month, we read the book The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen. This was at the request of one of my middle school girls who absolutely LOVES this book. I thought that there was a lot of potential discussion here, so I decided to give it a whirl. Now, most of my book group falls into one of three categories:

    1. The majority, who would be overjoyed if I chose nothing but science fiction every month.
    2. A small group of boys who would be overjoyed if I chose nothing but epic fantasies.
    3. A VERY small group of girls who would be overjoyed if I chose nothing but romances.

    It's sometimes hard to appease all three groups. I make sure to frequently remind them that the purpose of a book club is to read outside of their comfort zone and that even if they don't like a book, come anyway.

    So when I picked this book, I knew it would be divisive. At the end of each book club meeting, I have the teens go around the table and rate the book from 1 to 10. A "1" means that "This is the worst book I've ever read in my life. Blech!" A "10" means that "This is the best, most fabulous book I've ever read in my life and I'll never read anything better." I then take an average for my notes.

    Plot Summary:

    Jessica is 16 years-old and one of the stars of her school's track team. When a terrible bus accident causes her to lose one of her legs, she must find a way to keep her dream of running again alive. Themes in the book are determination and friendship. This one would appeal the most to middle/high schoolers who love a realistic, emotional read like Jorden Sonnenblick.

    Average Teen Rating: 7.44
    Some gave it a 3 and my three romance fans gave it a 10. The rest middled around a 7.

    Discussion Questions:

    1. Do you know anyone who has lost a limb or has a similar condition? How do they compare with Jessica? How do the other kids at school treat them?
    2. How would you react if you lost one of your limbs?
    3. At first, Jessica wishes she had lost an arm instead. Which would be better/worse?
    4. Do you think Jessica's up and down emotions are normal or too dramatic?
    5. Do you find the other characters to be realistic?
    6. Do you think Jessica could have raised that money herself? Do you think she would be in the same place at the end of the book without all of the support?
    7. What do you think of Rosa?
    8. Would it be more difficult to have a challenge similar to Rosa's (cerebral palsy) or Jessica's?
    9. What do you think about Gavin? Did you like that they ended up together?
    10. Do you think the romance between Jessica and Gavin was an important plot point or did you wish it hadn't been included?
    11. Do you ever judge others or have you ever been judged for the way that you look or act?
    12. What was the toughest obstacle you have ever overcome in your life and how did you do it?

    Saturday, April 12, 2014

    Storytime - Rain

    Just in time for April showers, here's my storytime about rain!


    Itzy Bitzy House by Christine Morton-Shaw - This was the first book that I read in my Totally Threes storytime. It's about different animals that get caught in the rain. The book ended up being a bit long for them and I don't think my kids liked all the "boo hoo's" in the story. Oh well. Can't win them all.

    Raindrop Plop by Wendy Lewison - This is a cute, short counting book about a little girl who plays in the rain and then comes inside to warm up and wait for the sun. I used this as the first story in my Toddler Storytime and it went over pretty well.

    The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na - Il Sung Na is one of my favorite authors to use in storytime. His books are short, sweet, and the illustrations are gorgeous. This story is about an elephant who finds an umbrella but isn't quite sure of what it is. I like to wait until just before the end to ask the kids if they know what the "thingamabob" is. I used this in both of my storytimes.


    Itsy Bitsy Spider

    The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout (make "spider" with hands and crawl up)
    Down came the rain and washed the spider out (wiggle fingers down and make splashing motion out)
    Out came the sun and dried up all the rain (make "sun" above head)
    And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again! (make "spider" with hands and crawl up)

    Then we added a couple of other spiders:

    The giant, hairy spider (make BIG spider with hands and sing in a deep voice)
    The very quiet spider (make small motions and sing in a whisper)

    Rain Is Falling Down

    Rain is falling down (wiggle arms down to floor like "rain")
    Splash! (make splashing motion)
    Rain is falling down (wiggle arms down to floor like "rain")
    Splash! (make splashing motion)
    Pitter-patter, pitter-patter (make pitter-patter motion on legs or floor)
    Rain is falling down (wiggle arms down to floor like "rain")
    Splash! (make splashing motion)

    We're Stomping In The Rain
    (Tune: "The Farmer in the Dell)

    We're stomping in the rain
    We're stomping in the rain
    We can't go yet
    We must get wet
    We're stomping in the rain!

    Repeat with:

    Splashing, Jumping, etc...ask the kids for suggestions!


    Paper Plate Rain Shakers

    This craft was super easy to prep/do. I took paper plates and pre-stapled them 2/3 of the way closed. The kids could color them first and then pour a small amount of beans (I used great northern or navy beans - something larger) into the paper plate opening. The parents then stapled the plate the rest of the way. Lastly, the kids could add some pre-cut blue streamers for "rain".

    Storytime - Sheep


    When Sheep Sleep by Laura Numeroff - This is a sweet story about what to count to get to sleep when the sheep themselves are sleeping! I read this in my Toddler Time and it went over pretty well.

    Sheep in A Jeep by Nancy Shaw - This was a really fun book to read aloud to toddlers. It's short, funny, and has a good rhyming cadence. I just wish the size of the book itself was larger for better sharing with groups!

    Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox - This is a nice, short read-aloud that introduces the concept of opposites. This was a hit with both my Toddler and Totally Threes group.

    Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep by Teri Sloat - I used this one was the first book in my Totally Threes storytime. It's a bit longer of a book, so it's perfect for a preschool-aged group. The story and illustrations are great, making it a good choice for a storytime read-aloud. I made it more interactive by having the kids say "Baaa!" with me.


    Baa Baa Black Sheep (folder story)

    I found this idea on Rain Makes Applesauce and it sounded so easy and cute that I had to try it...and it was! I ordered The Best of Dr. Jean: Puppets and Storytime and copied the template from there.

    Baa baa (insert color) sheep,
    Have you any wool?
    Yes sir, yes sir
    Three bags full.

    (Repeat with other colors. I save black for last and sing the entire song.)

    Old MacDonald (with puppets)

    I just pulled some farm animal puppets from our collection and pulled each one out of my plastic toy chest as we sung about it. This is always a hit with my toddlers!


    Cotton Ball Sheep

    I cut out the sheep template onto black construction paper ahead of time. The kids glued the sheep to light blue construction paper and then glued cotton balls onto the sheep. I set out crayons so they could color on the paper as well.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    Anime Club - Rhythm Heaven Fever

    It was by pure happenstance that I discovered it - a genius little video game for the Nintendo Wii that combines colorful graphics and catchy tunes all into one big ball of fun.

    It's name? Rhythm Heaven Fever.


    It's pretty brilliant. Players must unlock increasingly difficult challenges by hitting their Wii remote buttons in time to the music. There are also some games 2-player mode that are unlock-able.

    And it's only $11.99 on Amazon.

    I noticed that it was created by a Japanese music producer, so I thought it would be perfect to try with my Anime Club. I set up in our large meeting room utilizing both of our projector screens. I hooked up 2 Wii systems (1 library-owned and 1 personally-owned) and secured 2 copies of the game.

    (Note: The first time I did this program, I didn't realize that you had to unlock the games so they aren't all available from the get-go. So what I did the second time was take the game home and spend an evening with some of my video gaming friends unlocking all of the games ahead of time. That way, my anime teens could just pick and choose which songs they wanted to try from the full list. You can then copy the game to an SD card and use it on multiple Wii consoles. It's up to you how you want to run the program though.)

    I also set up some tables in the middle of the room and put out some paper and pencils so that the teens that didn't want to play could just hang out. And of course, I had a snack.

    The teens loved playing the game so much, they ask me to do it every year. I usually plan it for March since it coincides with Teen Tech Week.

    It's a very low-prep program for a big payoff!

    Do you ever do video gaming with your anime club? What games do you play?