Sharing is caring; it can be fun!

AND difficult!

Luckily, today, we had some excellent sharers.

As promised by the hint in the previous post, this storytime was all about sharing, namely with The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister Herbert. I made and performed my first flannel board. Turns out I’m pretty a-ok at making them, if I do say so myself.

We started off, again, with the Welcome Rhyme and then we moved on to the flannel board.

My pride and joy of this flannel is, of course, Rainbow Fish himself.

I made him with a felt base and then used foam stickers, a googly eye, puff paint, and glitter to bring him to life.

Just look at that self absorbed smirk. Much sparkle. Wow. So Rainbow.

I decided the cover him with regular scales because I thought it would be strange looking once I started to remove the sparkly scales if there weren’t scales beneath. I used these foam stickers that we already had in our craft supplies that were PERFECT scale shapes and adhered them by just peeling off the back and sticking them right on to the felt. Those suckers hold pretty strong! I then made sparkly scales by covering the same foam stickers in glitter and then trimming them down a bit. I did NOT adhere them with their sticky backing because I wanted to be able to remove them, so I ended up just using some bits of scotch tape and it worked quite well. I’m sure that I’ll eventually have to replace the bits of tape with new ones as they get covered in felt, but that’s easy enough.

no scale
BOOM! removable scales!

I also created a bunch of friends for Rainbow Fish; little blue fish, an angel fish that looks like a bee, a gold fish, the starfish to whom he complains, and some weird green dude that I’m not super happy with, but oh well…it works.

What’s up, Mr. Starfish? My eye placement and crooked mouth made him look somewhat nervous, oops.

I’m quite familiar with the story, but it’s decently long so I decided to go through and type out a bit of a script for myself in case I lost my train of thought.

I mostly ad-libbed the story, but I think that’s ok, they got the point, and then that way, when/if they check out the book, they won’t be bored with it. I obviously thought ahead on that one, right?  heh.

Since the rainbow ribbons were such a hit and so helpful at my last storytime, I figured I’d do something similar with this storytime. I made a bunch of small felt fish that I passed out to all the kids and told them that they would need to use their listening skills and when they heard me say “Rainbow Fish” they could hold up their felt fish and make them swim.
They seemed to really like that idea and excitedly, we practiced making our fish swim.
This is again another way to incorporate Common Core Standards, specifically ELA-Literacy  concepts; including the Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening.

We had quite the handful of younger siblings joining us for this storytime, so, unfortunately, my plan didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped. It started off pretty well with making our fish swim when we heard “Rainbow Fish“, but as I began to tell the story and place my characters on the felt board, a couple of those younger siblings really wanted to help me decorate the flannel board and began bringing up their fish and adding them to the board as well. I tried to get them to take the fish and sit down, but they seemed more interested in playing with the board. These things happen.

Things like this can be frustrating for librarians doing storytime because while the concept might work quite well with the age group for whom they are planned, you always risk having younger kids that are energetic, uninterested, grouchy, whatever, or you might have other children that are in the age group but may have learning disabilities or developmental challenges that might not allow them to be able to follow along as you had hoped and it can all go downhill quite quickly.

That’s pretty much how this storytime went. I got to a point in the story where the little blue fish follows Rainbow Fish, and a handful of toddlers came up and stuck their fish on the board. I improvised and talked about how all the fish followed Rainbow Fish but only the little blue fish caught up to him. I also used a familiar face in our youth department for some added fun; I brought in the big stuffed octopus that we keep at the reference desk. In the story, Rainbow Fish talks to a wise old octopus and I thought it would work really well. Again, I wouldn’t suggest bringing in a toy or stuffed animal for younger kids because they’ll of course all want to play with it and that’s just not fair to tease them, but I thought the age group I have would do well with it. Again, all the younger kids wanted to come grab him. I had to stop several times and suggest we find a place to sit, “Does everybody have a good color circle on the carpet, or should we find a better place to sit?” Things like that work pretty well, but sometimes it’s only a matter of a minute or so before the kids might be back up front again. I was quite worried that it was such a distraction to the older kids who were listening and behaving very well, but the kids themselves seemed to not really mind at all. I was also worried that I was a plane going down and that the parents weren’t going to be happy about my lack of control of the room, but we eventually, after a bit of a reminder about sharing the story with everybody in the room and how to sit on our bottoms, the bottom of our bottoms…the bottom of our bouncy, bouncy bottoms (thanks Miss Meaghan), we got through the story and even the parents let out some “oohs” and “aahs” when I removed the shiny scales and placed them on the other fish so that helped calm my nerves a bit.

After the story, I asked them why they thought Rainbow Fish was so happy. They’re a smart bunch and answered with things like “He did what Mr. Octopus told him to do and shared”. I told them what great listeners they were and asked if they could share in cleaning up and help me swim all the fish back home. They all excitedly swam their little fish up to the front and placed the back in the basket.

Next, we did a counting rhyme about friends. I talked about how Rainbow Fish made lots of friends by being nice and sharing his scales. I then asked them how many friends he made. He made 5 friends so we started our rhyme with 5.

5 good friends went out to play
on a bright and sunny day
one friend said “I can’t stay”
how many good friends are left to play?

The rhyme continues on until you have no friends left. Basic stuff, but the kids liked it because they caught on very quickly and were able to rhyme along with me and shout out the numbers. We actually did this rhyme twice because they seemed to have so much fun, the second time around, we started with 10! I asked them “Do you think you can count backwards from 10?” many of them said no, but turns out, they can! 😉

after the rhyme, I could tell the wiggles were sneaking up on us, so I asked them if they needed to get some wiggles out, uhm, duh, Miss Colleen. So we stood up, did the chicken pose, and got ready to wiggle.
First, we wiggled our fingers. We wiggled them fast, we wiggled them slow. We wiggled them high, and we wiggled them…low. Then we tried to come up with new ways to wiggle. We wiggled our nose, then we tried to wiggle our ears, that one turned out to be rather hard to do, but darn it if we didn’t try! Then we wiggled our toes and then we wiggled our hair. Once we had wiggled everything we could, we wiggled ourselves back down to the floor, that’s when one creative attendee suggested we try to wiggle the floor, but turns out that doesn’t wiggle (GOOD!)
Towards the end of our wiggle session, one of the younger siblings had squirmed his way up front again and was giggling and wiggling with all his might when Mr. Tentacles caught his eye again. He reached for the toy and when dad came to try to save the octopus, I suggested we use Mr. Tentacles to help practice our sharing. It looked to me like that octopus had some wiggles of his own to get out and he needed some help. The kids were AWESOME at passing him around so that everybody had a chance to give him a hug and a shake before he made his way back up front to sit with me.

Now that we had all of our wiggles out, We learned the Goodbye Rhyme. Many of the kids that were there for this session weren’t at last week’s Thursday session so it was new to them. Again, I provided printed handouts to any of the kids that wanted to follow along and help me read, and to any parents that would like to take them home to practice.  This group was just as good at learning the new words and actions as the first group was.

This storytime didn’t feel quite as successful as the first one, but it certainly didn’t feel like a failure either. I know that not every session is going to be storytime gold, but I hope they at least come close.

I have one more session this week with this theme so I might switch up a few things and see how it goes, Maybe we’ll get our wiggles out first, and maybe I’ll have to make a felt octopus and leave Mr. Tentacles to keep watch at his post on the reference desk. I’ll check back in and let you know how it goes!


The second session of this storytime was awesome! The group was at LEAST twice as large, but they were excellent listeners.

I changed things up a bit and went with the Welcome Rhyme, then we talked about a time we shared with somebody or somebody we share with at home; they were all so proud to tell me that they share with their younger siblings or cousins. Then, judging from the last session, I figured it would be good if we got our wiggles out before our first story. Hilariously, this group wasn’t very wiggly and didn’t even stand up to wiggle, they all just calmly wiggled in their seats which is totally fine, go with the flow. Because they seemed ready for a story, we didn’t wiggle very long at all. Rainbow Fish flannel went off without a hitch; we did have a few younger siblings in this group, but they were much younger and not old enough to get up and get at the flannel board. I also threw out the swimming fish idea. Again, I think it’s a fun thing to be able to make the story interactive, but I didn’t want to have to handle the very helpful younger kids AND remember my spot in the story AND keep the older kids engaged like last time so I opted for a less interactive, but overall better flannel experience. Some stories and activities are just not meant to be.

After the story we, once again, flexed our memory and counting skills and talk about how many friends Rainbow Fish made by sharing (5) and then got our counting fingers out for the 5 Good Friends rhyme. They were awesome counters, as expected.

After that, I asked them to vote; another story, or more rhymes. I didn’t even get to say “more rhymes” because as soon as I asked if they wanted another story, they all shouted “YES!”
More stories it is!

Our second story, which we didn’t get to last session, was “Mine” by Mathilde Stein.
It’s a cute story and I think the kids enjoyed it.

After the second story, I took a cue from the last session where we shared Mr. Tentacles and this time we shared shaker eggs. I told the kids we were going to practice sharing and that I would pass out these fun shaker eggs, but I didn’t have enough for everybody so we would have to take turns and share. This COULD have gone awry, but they were SO great! Once all the eggs were passed out, we shook them in a couple silly ways, then we found somebody to share with, then shook them again in some other silly ways. It went fabulously. The kids that didn’t have an egg shook their hands and giggled while they waited their turn. Yay!

Again, they were wonderful in helping to clean up and return all the shaker eggs and then we ended our session with the Goodbye Rhyme and said farewell.

I am SO not a morning person, but it sure does help to have such a great group for storytime. 🙂

Now, on to plan next week. Any suggestions?! 😉


Welcome, welcome, everyone!

I figured I’d start off my new blog with an inaugural post about my inaugural Storytime. 

This week Was my first week taking over Storytime at my library. I was SO nervous. I practiced and practiced, spent hours hunting down active rhymes and fingerplays, rewriting and Frankensteining them together until I was finally happy and confortable with what I had.

For my welcome song, I decided to use “Welcome Welcome”; my version is a combination of a few different versions I found around the web, as well as a few lines I changed, moved around, or added.  I really liked the concept of it, but many of the versions I found just didn’t flow well with me, so here is what I ended up with:

Welcome, welcome, everyone
Now you’re here lets have some fun.

Hands go up and hands go down,
I can spin around and round.

I can bend and touch my toes.
I can crinkle up my nose

I can jump upon two shoes.
I can listen, so can you.

I can sit; I’ll show you how.
Storytime is starting now.

The kids seemed to really enjoy the motions and activity involved in this rhyme and were eager to sit right down and listen. We actually did the rhyme twice because it was new for them and I wanted to repeat it to help them remember, but it’s also a good way to get them to get rid of some of their wiggly energy before having them sit quietly (relatively) for the next 20 or so minutes.  I don’t plan to do the rhyme more than once every week, but it is short enough that we can do it a couple times if we have newcomers that aren’t familiar with it, or just lots of pent up energy that we need to get out.

After our opener, I discussed the theme:


We talked about our favorite colors and places where we find lots of colors.
I asked: “Can you name something that has lots and lots of colors?”
Answers were excitedly shouted out and included things like: rainbows, markers, crayons, their clothes, and so on; all excellent answers!

I utilized some of the library’s supplies and brought out the ribbon bracelets. They WERE stashed under my chair for an activity I had planned for later, but one of the kids noticed the right away and asked what they were for. I decided to pass them out early since they were quiet and would probably give them something “constructive” to fiddle with if bored. This proved to be an excellent idea, but I would certainly suggest not handing noisemakers out at the very start, but that’s just common sense, right?  😉 Luckily, we seem to have been graced with a very patient and sharing group of children and passing things out, as well as cleaning them back up is quite a painless process as they cooperate very willingly. Once everybody had chosen their ribbons, we found our seats and began. 

The first book I chose was “Mouse Paint” by Ellen Stoll Walsh. This book has been a longtime favorite of mine since I was a child and it’s both easy to read / remember / ad-lib as well as engaging for the kids. It has lots of opportunities for the reader to involve the children in the story by asking them what colors they see, or what colors they think will be created by mixing, as well as helping them to develop memory skills by asking things like “what colors are left” or “do you remember what colors they mixed first?”  I debated between using the Flannel board and the Big Book, in the end I went with the Big Book since it’s a little easier to deal with than keeping all the felt in order as well as remembering the story and I figured I’d take all the help I could for my first run. I also think the kids enjoy seeing such a large book since it’s rather unique and striking.  

After Mouse Paint we did our first “Active Rhyme”. These rhymes are great for boosting memory skills, teaching what rhymes are, general language skills, fine or basic motor skills, as well as, once again, getting out some energy. We stood up and I had them do what I like to call the “chicken pose” I instruct them to put their hands on their hips with their elbows way out so they kid of look like wings, I then usually say something along the lines of “Now wiggle your elbows around like wings, if you bump into your neighbor, you can scooch to the side. This usually gets a giggle or two out of the kids since we all look kinda silly scooching around with our wiggly elbows and arms. After everybody has some room, we begin our rhymes. Here are the rhymes I chose:

If your clothes have any red
Put your finger on your head

If your clothes have any blue
Bend down and touch your shoe

If your clothes have any green
Wave your hands so you are seen

If your clothes have any yellow
Smile like a happy fellow

If your clothes have any brown
Turn that smile into a frown

If your clothes have any black
Hide your hands behind your back

If your clothes have any white
Stomp your feet with all your might!

Again, we are helping develop and reinforce basic motor skills, learning to recognize colors, practicing rhymes, and getting out energy! While reciting these rhymes, I like to pause a bit when saying the second line because many kids will actually be able to guess the action based on words that rhyme with the color you say. Again, I asked the kids how they liked the rhyme and if they wanted to do it again or move on to the next story; this time, the general consensus was STORY! 🙂

My second story was originally going to be “Monsters Love Colors” by Mike Austin which is very similar to Mouse Paint, but quite a bit more energetic, however, I couldn’t get my hands on a copy so I went with my backup book; “The Teeny Tiny Mouse: A Book about Colors” by Laura Leuck. This book engages the kids by asking them to find items in the book that are certain colors. It also makes it easy to ad-lib and go with the flow of the kids rather than the book. For example, I had a group that were very awake and energetic which meant excited answers so I ended up not really reading the second page in the 2 page spread sequences and just let them name things. The pages go like so:

“‘Can you name some brown things in our teeny tiny house?’ Said the teeny tiny mom of the teeny tiny mouse”

The second page lists off items of that color in a rhyming, rhythmic verse but the kids seemed more interested in pointing things out on their own so I stopped trying to read over them and just went with it.

I did have to stop a handful of times to remind some kids to back up or sit down so others could see because this book does seem to encourage kids to want to get right up in it and point to things, but I’d rather have to remind them because they are having too much fun than the other way around.

After that story I could tell we were getting fidgety again and it was time to move around before ending Storytime.  The final activity was my attempt at bringing in some of the Common Core Standards, specifically ELA-Literacy  concepts; including the Anchor Standards for Speaking and ListeningI asked the kids if they’d like to make a rainbow. This is where I had originally planned to use the colored ribbon bracelets, but since we already passed them out, I just reminded everybody to get them ready and explained what we were going to do.

I told them we were going to sing the rainbow song:

My intention was that when they heard the color of their ribbon, they would come stand in front of me so that we would end up in a single file line in the order of the colors in the song. Once in order, we could wave our ribbons and make a rainbow. Unfortunately, my group was either a little too rowdy or the concept was a bit too advanced for them so we ended up in a mishmash group in the middle of the room, waving our ribbons, singing the song. which is TOTALLY fine by me since they seemed to quite enjoy it regardless. 🙂

After that, it was time to end Storytime. I asked them to return their ribbons, which they did fabulously, and then taught them my Goodbye Rhyme. The Goodbye Rhyme is almost the same as the Welcome Rhyme, with just a couple changes.

Goodbye, Goodbye, everyone

I’m glad you came, it sure was fun.

Hands go up and hands go down,
I can spin around and round.

I can bend and touch my toes.
I can crinkle up my nose

I can jump upon two shoes.
I can clap and so can you.

I can wave; I’ll show you how.
Storytime is done for now.

After the closing rhyme, I thanked everybody for coming and offered printouts of all the rhymes and the opener and closer so that they could take it home and practice if they wanted. I also offered them to the children during Storytime and said that they could use them to follow along and practice reading. This also opens up the opportunity to ask them if they recognize and words or letters on the page. This also helps introduce them to another Common Core Standard: Reading and provides reinforcement of the concepts introduced to them during Storytime as well as providing a fun activity for parents and children to participate in together at home.  Another added benefit is that as they practice and become more comfortable with the rhymes and actions, they will develop self confidence when they come back to Storytime and are able to remember the words and actions they practiced.

In conclusion, yes, I had to stop the story and “reprimand” children for their behavior, BUT, no blood, no tears, and no angry parents! In fact, I even had a couple parents come and thank me and commend me for my patience with the rowdy group we had today; all in all SUCCESS!

Now, on to planning next week’s Storytime. I’ll give you a clue…