Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Story Time Starter: Welcoming New Siblings

Recently, I received a review copy of Rosemary Wells's brand-new Max & Ruby picture book, Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble. It immediately inspired me to think about the possibility of a story time about welcoming a new baby (or more!) into the family. I only have story time twice a month this fall with a couple of my mom friends, so it might be a while before I get to the babies theme, but I wanted to highlight this book leading up to its publication on October 1, so I decided to put together some story time ideas now that I'll be able to use later on. These suggestions are for a family story time, and the books are geared toward ages 2-5.


Miss Katie's Recommended Books 

  • Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble by Rosemary Wells
    Though this book is primarily about the surprise of welcoming twins into a family with older siblings, it also provides a really warm and positive outlook on the experience of welcoming a baby. Not only does it portray the reality of life with a baby - the crying, the feeding, the diapers, etc. - but it also shows how bigger kids can be just as nurturing to new babies as their parents are, thus highlighting the importance of big brothers and sisters, even for newborns. 
  • What Shall We Do with the Boo-Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell
    In this sweet story, a group of animals tries to help a fussy baby calm down by offering her toys, food, and a bath. They finally get her to take a nap, only to fall asleep themselves, just before she wakes up again. Though this book isn't about siblings per se, it does use a fun approach to help young kids understand what little babies need and how they might behave.
  • One Special Day: A Story for Big Brothers and Sisters by Lola M. Schaefer
    This gentle reflection on the special role of older siblings is a great book for building up the confidence of big brothers and sisters and helping them to see the value in their own interactions with a new baby. The especially nice thing about this book is that it emphasizes the closeness of siblings rather than potential rivalry or jealousy.
  • We Just Had a Baby by Stephen Krensky
    In this well-written and appealingly illustrated picture book, a young boy describes in simple terms what life is like with a newborn in the house.  Told in a toddler-friendly way, this book uses gentle humor to highlight the joy of a new sibling without dwelling much at all on any potential negative feelings. 


Other Possible Books


  • Baby Dear by Esther Wilkin and Eloise Wilkin
  • Julius the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes 
  • Ready, Set . . . Baby! by Elizabeth Rusch
  • There's Going to be a Baby by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury


Songs & Rhymes

  • Rock-a-Bye Baby (Animals)
    This flannel board puts a twist on the traditional song by placing animals in the cradle one by one.
  • One Little Baby
    A fingerplay that counts babies and acts out their movements in different scenarios.
  • This Little Baby
    I wrote this original rhyme for use on the flannel board, but it can also be done as a simple action rhyme.
  • Here is a Ball for Baby
    This action rhyme has lots of different motions, so it's great for preschoolers. 
  • Head and Shoulders, Baby
    This song isn't about babies per se, but it still matches the theme pretty well and provides a great opportunity to get the wiggles out mid-story time.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Family Story Time, 8/9/19 (Colors Theme)

This was the last story time of the summer. I forgot to take a photo, but here is my color-themed plan. More story times are coming this fall - stay tuned!

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting

Book: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle

Book: Blue on Blue by Dianne White, illustrated by Beth Krommes


Book: Rain by Robert Kalan, illustrated by Donald Crews

Rhyme: Rainbow Over the Waterfall

Song with ukulele: Stop and Go (originally by Ella Jenkins)

Book: Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley

Book: Mary Wore Her Red Dress and Henry Wore His Green Sneakers by Merle Peek

Closing Song: Story Time is Over

Family Story Time, 8/2/19 (Flying Theme)

Toward the end of our summer story time session, I fell behind in posting my plans here (and in taking photos!) But here is my flying-themed story time from back in the beginning of August.

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting

Book: The Grumpalump by Sarah Hayes, illustrated by Barbara Firth

Song with Ukulele: Up Up Up 

Book: Higher Higher by Leslie Patricelli

Rhyme: Catch the Moon

Song with ukulele: Stop and Go (originally by Ella Jenkins)

Book: Birdsongs by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Song: Way Up in the Sky

Book: Butterfly Butterfly: A Book of Colors by Petr Horacek

Song: Butterfly Pals
I changed Butterfly Gals to Butterfly Pals to include the boys.

Closing Song: Story Time is Over

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Family Story Time, 7/26/19 (Construction Theme)

This story time was a small one - just my kids and one other family. We read about construction.

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting

Book: The Diggers by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Antoine Corbineau

Song: The Diggers at the Site
Using the tune of The Wheels on the Bus and the structure of the book Dig Dig Digging by Margaret Mayo, I came up with an action song. 

The diggers at the site go dig, dig, dig
dig, dig, dig,
dig, dig, dig
The diggers at the site go dig, dig, dig.
They can work all day. 

The cranes at the site go lift, lift, lift...
The dump trucks at the site go tip, tip, tip...
The dozers at the site go push, push, push...
The mixers at the site go round and round...

Book: Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney

Rhyme: This is Big Big Big

Song with Ukulele: Stop and Go (originally by Ella Jenkins)

Book: Builders and Breakers by Steve Light

Flannel Board Rhyme: Goodnight, Builders
 I used a small flannel board that I could hold in my lap, which (mostly) kept my toddler from grabbing the pieces.

Five little builders working at a site
The moon comes up as the day turns into night
One little worker lets out a big yawn.
And he/she goes home to sleep until dawn.

Song: Construction Worker Song

Book: Stanley the Builder by William Bee

Closing Song: Story Time is Over

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Family Story Time, 7/19/19 (Moon Theme)

There were seven families (including mine) at this story time back in July, and our theme was inspired by the anniversary of the moon landing.

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting

Book: How To Be On The Moon by Viviane Schwarz
This was a review copy from Candlewick. The dialogue is wonderful for reading aloud, and it was great for my three-to-seven-year-olds. We had some babies in attendance who got a bit restless, but it wasn't a big deal.

My own toddler tried to sabotage my flannel board, and I immediately wished I hadn't bothered with it. It did seem to be a good attention grabber for some kids, but I had to enlist help from my 5-year-old to keep her sister from taking the whole thing down. I have a smaller flannel board that I can hold in my lap, and I think that's what I'll need to use for the remaining sessions of story time. 

Book: The Moon Jumpers by Janice May Udry, illustrated by 
This is my three-year-old's favorite picture book. I had never tried it with an audience, but this group seemed like it would be receptive. They mostly seemed to like it. 

Rhyme: Moon Jumpers, Moon Jumpers 
I took the words I use for Book Bear, Book Bear and modified them slightly to suit the "moon jumpers" concept. I repeated the jumping line in both stanzas to emphasize the jumping aspect of the story.

Moon jumpers, moon jumpers
say hello! 
Moon jumpers, moon jumpers
high and low.
Moon jumpers, moon jumpers
Jump up and down
Moon jumpers, moon jumpers
Turn around.

Moon jumpers, moon jumpers
Clap clap clap
Moon jumpers, moon jumpers
Tap tap tap
Moon jumpers, moon jumpers
Jump up and down 
Moon jumpers, moon jumpers
Sit right down.

Song with Ukulele: Stop and Go (originally by Ella Jenkins)

Song with Flannel Board and Ukulele: Aikendrum
I did this on the flannel board, and my five-year-old put all the pieces up for me. If I do this again, I'll just use the ukulele. The flannel board doesn't add much.

Book: Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
My own two girls were so sympathetic to kitten they kept saying "awwww!" on every page. 


Book: Wynken Blynken and Nod by Eugene Field, illustrated by Giselle Potter
This was not a hit. I wish I had learned one of the tunes to which this poem can be sung because I think it would have done better as a singable book.

Closing Song: Story Time is Over

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Family Story Time, 7/12/19 (Kings and Queens Theme)

For this story time, I had my largest audience of the summer: 13 kids, ranging in age from 1 to 10. The theme was kings and queens.

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting

Book: May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, illustrated by Beni Montresor
The four-to-seven-year-old crowd loved this book the most. They laughed at the different animals that the narrator brought to the castle, and they loved the various ways the royals accommodated the unexpected visitors.

Rhyme: The Queen Commands
I found a rhyme with this title through the King County Library System, but ended up writing my own version that made the actions a little more complicated for my very movement-oriented big kids.

The queen commands that you clap your hands.
The queen decrees that you pat your knees.
The queen proposes that you pinch your noses.
The queen insists that you do the twist.
The queen desires that you reach up higher.
The queen implores that you make loud roars.
The queen directs that you fly like insects.
The queen wishes that you swim like fishes
The queen prefers that you bow to her.
The queen requests that you take a rest.

Book: King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey & Don Wood
This is one my all-time favorite books to read aloud. A few of the kids (including my five-year-old daughter) spent the entire book speculating on where King Bidgood was keeping all the props for the various scenes before he put them in the tub.

Song: There is Clapping in the Castle (originally by Nancy Stewart)
I couldn't master the ukulele chords for this one, so I did it a cappella. Even when the kids did other motions, I kept clapping to keep the beat, which was a new approach to this song for me, and I liked it better than doing the exact motions the kids were doing.

Song: Stop and Go (originally by Ella Jenkins)
This has become a staple of this story time. The kids love to come up with movements - even some of the twos and threes!

Book: The Foggy Foggy Forest by Nick Sharratt
I've never had a group actually try to guess what the pictures portrayed, but most of the elementary-age kids called out guesses, and it was fun to see them surprised by the fun little twists, like the fact that the witch had a motorized broom. Even the oldest kid in the room (a ten-year-old who was accompanying younger siblings) was into this book.

Song: There was a Princess Long Ago
I saw this mentioned on some story time blogs, tracked down a few versions on YouTube and cobbled them together. The linked version is the one closest to what I sang.

Book: The Missing Tarts by B.G. Hennessy, illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson
I threw this book in for the toddler crowd, but the big kids loved filling in the names of the nursery rhyme characters to match the rhymes at the end of each sentence.

Song: Moon Moon Moon
The Missing Tarts ends with Hey Diddle Diddle, so I segued quickly into this song, which I had not planned, but which fit well.

Closing Song: Story Time is Over

Friday, July 5, 2019

Family Story Time, 6/28/19 (Rain Theme)

For my second summer story time session,  there were 12 kids in attendance ranging in age from 6 months to 7 years. Though it was a hot and sunny day, I did a rain theme because I ended up pulling a bunch of rain books from our shelves, and they all fit together really nicely.

Opening Song (with ukulele): Story Time is Starting

Story time is starting - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!
Story time is starting - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!
Story time's begun; I hope that you have fun!
Story time is starting - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!

Book: Noah Builds an Ark by Kate Banks, illustrated by John Rocco
This new picture book (March 2019) tells the story of a little boy who builds an ark over his wagon to shelter the creatures in his backyard from a storm. I chose this book with the oldest kids in the group in mind, and they were the ones who were most attentive to it.

Rhyme: Rainbow Over the Waterfall
I changed the second verse of this rhyme so I could use easier and more obvious hand motions. My version of that second part went like this:

Rainbow over the rabbit
Rainbow over the bee
Rainbow over the butterfly
Rainbow over me

Book: My Red Umbrella by Robert Bright
I chose this book specifically for the younger end of the age spectrum, but the big kids helped me make all the animal sounds of the animals that appear in the story. I'm not sure how much the other toddlers liked the book, but my 20-month-old has been asking me to re-read it all week.

Song: Come Under My Umbrella
I used the motions Jbrary shared in this video, but I stuck with the tune which I originally learned for this song, "Did You Ever See a Lassie?"

Song with Ukulele: Boots (originally by the Laurie Berkner Band)
I used some of Laurie Berkner's verses for this song, and then added a few verses for other motions like skipping, marching, etc.

Song with Ukulele: Stop and Go (originally by Ella Jenkins)
This was the best-received song from the first week, so I brought it back and once again had the kids supply the motions they wanted to do. My favorite suggestion came from my friend's four-year-old who wanted to breakdance. The group got a little wild, so I quickly improvised a final verse:

Tippy toe, tippy toe, tippy toe to your seat...

By the end of the song, they were seated and silent. It was kind of amazing. 

Book: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal
The kids were all very quiet during this book, possibly because all the dancing wore them out. I realize now that I have done two cumulative stories like this in a row, so I'm making a mental note to change things up for next time.

Rhyme: When Water Drops
I wanted an action rhyme that would help us act out what animals do when it rains. I used the text of Rain Dance by Kathi Appelt (which I borrowed from Open Library) and then made some additions and alterations based on information in When Rain Falls by Melissa Stewart.

When water drops
Frog hops
Water beetles swirl
Snakes curl 
Caterpillars crawl
Ladybugs fall 
Spiders skitter
Chicks flitter
Cows swish
Pigs squish
Rabbits hurry
Squirrels scurry
Dogs splatter 
Cats scatter
Turtles hide
And I go inside. 

Book: Singing in the Rain, illustrated by Tim Hopgood
I had never sung this song in front of a group before, and no one jumped in to sing along, which felt a bit awkward, but it was fine. I love the illustrations in Hopgood's books!

Closing Song (with ukulele): Story Time Is Over

Story time is over - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!
Story time is over - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!
Story time is done; I hope that you had fun!
Story time is over - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Family Story Time, 6/21/19 (Houses & Homes Theme)


Remember me? The last time I did a story time before today was June 14, 2017! In that time, I've published a second book and added another daughter to my family. This summer, I've invited the families in my homeschool group and my Catholic women's small group to join me for story time in my living room. The seven-session series kicked off today, and three families besides mine participated. There were 8 kids: a little boy under one year, 3 girls who will turn two soon (including my toddler), two 3-year-olds (including mine), a five-year-old (also mine), and a 7-year-old. There were at least five other families interested who couldn't make it this week, but plan to come to future sessions, so this was really just the warm-up.

Opening Song (with ukulele): Story Time is Starting

Story time is starting - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!
Story time is starting - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!
Story time's begun; I hope that you have fun!
Story time is starting - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!

I started using this hello song when I was doing story time at a church 2 years ago. It works better than a hello song because we are all friends and have already greeted each other and chatted a bit when story time starts. 

Book: We Were Tired of Living in a House by Liesel Moak Skorpen, illustrated by Doris Burn
I am kicking myself for not remembering I had a song to go with this book! (See this post.) The kids seemed to like this one, and it is such a pleasure to read aloud.

I found this on YouTube and decided to only sing the English for fear of really butchering the Spanish. I had my kids practice it ahead of time so I'd be guaranteed some audience participation, and they didn't let me down. My mom friends were also really awesome about doing the motions too. (The librarian on whose YouTube channel I found this song has a lot of good stuff in both English and Spanish.)

Book: The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury
I think this book was just right for this broad span of ages. I do wish it had some more interactive elements, but it does have repetition and a simple plot, making it ideal for those toddlers and young preschoolers. 

Song (with ukulele): Stop and Go
I had the big kids choose the motions we would do for this song, and they had a great time with it. My friend's 7-year-old picked jumping jacks, which was really fun. 

Rhyme: Elevator 

First floor (touch toes)
Second floor (touch knees)
Third floor (hands on hips)
Fourth floor (touch shoulders)
Fifth floor (hands on head)

Going down! 

Five (hands on head)
Four (touch shoulders)
Three (hands on hips)
Two (touch knees)
One (touch toes)
Basement! (sit down)

This was a bust. Even my own kids didn't seem to get it. 

Flannel Board Story: This is the House that Jack Built
I had the kids help me tell this rhyme by pointing to the image of each character on the flannel board and having them say its name. I used this booklet and just cut out the characters.

Book: I Can't Said the Ant by Polly Cameron
One of the other moms remembered this book from childhood too, which made me so happy. My five-year-old laughed through the whole thing, but it was harder to get a read on the other kids. 

Song: I'm a Little Teapot 
My kids somehow don't know this song, so they weren't as keen on demonstrating the motions. I also messed up the chords more times than is really forgivable. I suspect, though, that my audience is going to skew much older next week and this won't be an appropriate song anyway.

I had intended to use Visor, T-shirt, Shorts, and Shoes, but there weren't enough big kids, so we just did the basic version. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. 

Book: The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes
I tossed this book in at the end, mostly because one family had come really late and I felt like they had missed out. My oldest daughter gasped and oohed and aahed through the whole book, but no one else seemed that impressed.

I had this in the back of my mind as a potential song for this session, and the kids seemed like the right ages. At least one mom knew the song from listening to Laurie Berkner. 

Closing Song (with ukulele): Story Time Is Over
Story time is over - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!
Story time is over - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!
Story time is done; I hope that you had fun!
Story time is over - clap your hands [stomp your feet / shout hooray]!

I ended story time with this song, and then my kids got out a few toy bins we had set aside. Everyone stayed for at least an hour to play.  It's nice to be back in the saddle. I can't wait for next week! 
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