Money smarts

This week was Money Smart Week and we held special Money Smart themed storytimes for our Preschool crowd. We were generously provided with many many copies of The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money to give out to attendees. We also had some pretty great MoonJar Money boxes to give out or do during craft time. I did still provide my own craft though which was a super cute papercraft piggy bank. (I’ll be honest, I found it online and edited it to fit my needs. p.s. the page isn’t in English.)

piggy bank 1


As for the craft, though it was super adorable and I had lots of comments on how cute and fun it was, I also noticed that many of the ESL families had trouble understanding the concept of it. I remember doing similar projects to this growing up, even things like paper dolls, so I never even considered that this might be a strange craft to people who haven’t grown up in america. Anybody else have similar experiences with a craft or activity that you assumed was relatively common knowledge only to find out that familiarity with it might be entirely dependent upon your country or even state of origin!?

Anyhow, we read 3 books and did some rhymes.

The first book I read was Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells. I made this an interactive book by also creating flannel pieces to go with the story. I made money that matched the money in the story to help them visualize as we went along. If I read this book again in the future, I might add other flannel pieces like a music box or the bluebird earrings. I think it’s a cute book and enjoyed reading it.

bunny money


After our first book with did a flannel rhyme.

Down around the corner at the Bakery Shop

Down around the corner at the Bakery Shop
(tap hands on knees in rhythm or move arms down and over with “down around the corner”)

Were 5 little cookies with sprinkles on top
(hold up 5 fingers then “sprinkle fingers”)

Along came someone with a nickel to pay
(hold up nickel flannel piece and replace cookie on board with nickel)

They bought a little cookie and ate it right away
(pretend to eat cookie)


Down around the corner at the Bakery Shop
(tap hands on knees in rhythm or move arms down and over with “down around the corner”)

Were no little cookies with sprinkles on top
(hold arms up and shake head no)

Along came someone with a nickel to pay
But they had to come back another day


I had fun with this flannel and the kids interacted by telling me which cookie they wanted to buy next which gives them an opportunity to practice colors, shapes, or using other descriptive words. I also had fun making the flannel, who doesn’t like sparkly cookies?!

om nom glitter cookies

om nom glitter cookies

As you can see, my cookies were all round and featured different color and shaped frosting and glitter “sprinkles” but I would like to make  a few more cookies in different shapes, and maybe even doughnuts as those would also fit well with the rhyme.


Our second book was Caterina and the Lemonade Stand by Erin Eitter Kono. I thought this book was quite unique in terms of illustrations. it was very collage-y and kinda busy, but also had very pretty and soft illustrations. the story is a cute story about a little bird who wants to buy a scooter but needs to raise money so she does so by creating a very unique lemonade stand.

Our final book was You can’t buy a dinosaur with a dime by Harriet Ziefert. I quite liked the rhythm of this story, but it did have some somewhat strange bits thrown in about the money spent and such that didn’t fit the rhythm and felt cumbersome when reading out loud though I could see it working quite well for a one on one read. We talked about how many dinosaurs he had, what kind, what colors, what they’d buy with their money, good stuff.


Overall, I liked this theme, but if I do it again next year, there are a few things I’d tweak a bit.

Have any of you ever done a Money Smart or other money themed Storytime? Did you have anything that stood out as a huge win or huge fail?



I’m back!

So we took quite a bit of a storytime break over the holiday season and then I managed to lose my voice a day before we started back up again and was out for an extra week! Boo! But it’s back now. ( well, mostly,I’m still working on hitting some of those high notes on my drives in to work.)

In other news, I’m excited to say that though I’ve been in library work for over 10 years, I’ve hit a new and exciting milestone; it’s officially been 1 whole year of storytimes for me! I was TERRIFIED to start doing storytimes, hello panic attacks, and even though I still get nervous before each one, they’ve become such a rewarding and exciting part of my job. (cheesy? oh well!)



This week’s storytime was all about things that go. Transportation, motors, bikes, cars, horses, you name it!

The books I chose were:

Wake up engines by Denise Dowling Mortensen
Bunnies on the Go, Getting from Place to Place by Rick Walton
The Little School Bus by Margery Cuyler
Good Night Engine by Denise Dowling Mortensen

I read them in that order, the two middle ones were relatively interchangeable, though the school bus one was shorter and easier to skip if the kids were feeling extra antsy, and the two end cap books were perfect for introducing and then wrapping up our theme.

Wake up and Good Night Engines both read more like poems than a story but are fun and filled with excellent image evoking words and lots of onomatopoeia which is always fun for the kids and it gave me lots of chances to have them help me make noise.

I loved Bunnies on the Go because it was a guessing game! each page features a short stanza about the bunnies going somewhere in some mode of transportation and then gives you a hint to the next mode of transportation they use. The last word of each stanza is on the next page and shows a picture of it. I liked the flow, and the kids got to practice rhyming and sounding out words to guess. If you’re really good and look close enough, you’ll find that the answer is actually shown in each illustration. Some of the rhymes are pretty easy, but some are pretty tough! It’s super interactive and a great confidence boost when they make their guesses and also does a pretty good job of touching on common core standards in foundational reading skills. Also, bunnies. 🙂

I admit, I have mixed feelings about I’m a little school bus. The illustrations are super cute, and I like the kinda cheeky writing style (Bus driver Bob needs his coffee!) but I found myself getting kinda tongue tied with some of the rhymes and though the repetition of “I’m a little school bus…..” on each page is good, I felt it was a bit longer than it needed to be maybe? I’m not sure. The kids seemed to like it though so yay! Oh! and it KILLED my hands to hold it up and read it, the pages are more like a board book and the spine wasn’t cracked or anything so it was hard to hold open, so beware! haha.

Aside from the four books we read (and we did get through all 4 books in both sessions!) I did a few extension activities.

On Monday night we had a small crowd that seemed kinda sleepy so I tried really hard to get them to interact more by drawing out the activities a bit more. My Thursday morning crew was big, bright eyed, and bushy tailed though so they certainly didn’t need quite as much encouragement in the interaction department. hah.

I love the idea of teaching sign language words that relate to our theme to the attendees and I found this awesome rhyme activity on the Sunflower Storytime blog.

RHYME – Helicopter; Sign Language Rhyme
Sign “Helicopter” as you say this rhyme:  Right thumb in palm of Left hand. Left hand fingers spread and shake. 

Helicopter goes up
Helicopter goes down
Helicopter turns, turns all around

Helicopter goes left
Helicopter goes right
Helicopter goes up, up, and out of sight (hands behind back)

Watch a video clip of the sign here.

We had a blast flying out helicopters all over the place!

I also did a firetruck activity on Monday night, though we skipped it on Thursday because it is a kinda rowdy activity and we were already reaching maximum rowdiness. All we did was basically pretend we were driving a firetruck!

Oh no! somebody called for a firetruck! Hurry, start the engine! (VROOM VROOM) I then had them bounce up and down in their seats and pretend to steer as I narrated different actions.

We’re coming to an intersection, ring the bell and run the siren! (ding ding ding! weeeooo weeeooo!)
Turn the corner! (lean to the left)
Turn again (lean to the right)
We’re here! Climb the ladder!
Spray the hose!
Phew! fire’s out, good job!
Now back to the station. Everything in reverse!
Roll up the hose (roll our fist over one another)
Down the ladder.
In the truck.
Turn right (lean to the right)
Turn left (lean to the left)
We’re coming to an intersection, make sure to stop! (beep beep)
And back into the station.

you can obviously narrate this however works best for you. It’s a great storytelling tool though, you can have the kids help narrate by having them suggest different actions, or you can do the narrating and let them use their imaginations!

The other activity we did involved egg shakers, yay! I had them all grab a shaker and I pulled out 3 foam circles in red, green, and yellow. We talked about how lots of vehicles see those colors when they’re on the road and asked them if they knew what each one meant. Of COURSE they did because kids are smart and awesome. I then explained that they were gonna shake the shakers based on what color sign I held up. When it was green, we shook FAST. Yellow, shake sloooowwww, and red means FREEZE! lots of fun and giggles with this one, obviously. It was a very silly time and we all loved it. I then had them drive their shakers back home to the bin and we sat down for our last story before our craft. Luckily Goodnight Engines features trains pretty heavily which was a good segue into our craft; Name Trains!


choo choo!


For this super easy craft I put out large pieces of construction paper in a few colors, paper with a train engine printed, crayons, glue sticks, scissors, and little squares of different colors construction paper. This craft, though basic, helps strengthen fine motor skills, spelling, and counting! It also helps meet some of the common core standards for language arts presentation of knowledge and ideas with early literacy. Kids got to color and then cut out their engines, then counted out the letters in their name for the train cars, then practiced spelling and writing by putting a letter on each car, and then create a scene for their train. Again, pretty simple sounding, but lots of little things for them to do and they churned out some pretty amazing trains! WAY better than my example. I also got some pretty good feedback from the parents about liking this craft which is always good. 🙂


It felt good to get back in the saddle and I’m ready for more!




Happy birthday, USA!




America just celebrated it’s birthday! It’s 238 years old!

As far as nations go, we’re still a wee thing, but to kids, that’s like, FOREVER! I was a bit hesitant to do a fourth of July theme for storytime because we have such a diverse group of patrons that come to storytime and I was worried that they wouldn’t be as interested but then after looking through lists of good fourth of July books and seeing lots of them that weren’t just “hooray for USA”  I stopped and thought, uhm, hello, you have a diverse group of patrons, what a great time to use some really diverse books and take advantage of that unique situation!

Unfortunately I was only able to get my hands on one about a young Chinese girl and her family living in america and how they celebrate, it’s called “Apple Pie, 4th of July” by Janet S Wong. While the book doesn’t delve too deep into cultural differences, it does touch on it; I loved the line where the girl complains that nobody wants Chinese food on 4th of July and her father says “Fireworks are Chinese.” as he hands her a pan of sweet and sour pork. I thought it was a cute story and I really liked the illustration style.

We also read “Fourth of July Mice” by Bethany Roberts, “Hats off for the Fourth of July” by Harriet Ziefert and “Red, White,and  BOOM!” by Lee Wardlaw. All of those titles have pretty good rhythm to them though there were some bits where the rhythm changes and it tripped me up a little while reading out loud, but it just keeps me on my toes.
Fourth of July Mice is full of good noise words and lots of repetition and super cute mice while Red White and Boom has great rhymes and I felt allowed for me to ask lots of types of questions; anything from “What are they eating at their picnic?” to at the very end when I asked them to put their memory to the test and try to remember all the places we visited on our busy fourth of July (beach, park, and parade) . Our version of Hats off for the Fourth of July is a “big book” version so it was fun to see lots of big images and it also has a lot of great guessing prompts; “What do you think comes next?” “Have you seen horses in a parade?”


We  also did a quick and dirty flannel activity where I threw together a super basic felt birthday cake and 10 birthday candles and we talked about the US having a birthday and then did the birthday flannel board. The rhyme I used was “Ten little candles” and I found it hereI did modify it a tiny bit because I didn’t like one of the words so I changed it to “blow blow blow”. I told the kids that we were going to not just practice our counting, but we were going to count…ready? BACKWARDS! and THEN I made it super crazy because we weren’t just going to count backwards, we were going to count backwards by TWOS. let me tell you, it’s harder than you think! Luckily, I’ve got a smart bunch of kids and we had no trouble. 😉

Here’s my version of the rhyme:

Ten Little Candles

10 little candles on a chocolate cake
BLOW BLOW BLOW!  Now there are 8

8 little candles on candlesticks
BLOW BLOW BLOW!  Now there are 6

6 birthday candles and not one more
BLOW BLOW BLOW!  Now there are 4

4 birthday candles red, white and blue
BLOW BLOW BLOW!  Now there are 2

2 little candles standing one by one
BLOW BLOW BLOW! Now there are none

Here is my SUPER basic birthday cake and candles. I will probably go back and add more details later.

Here is my SUPER basic birthday cake and candles. I will probably go back and add more details later.

This was lots of fun because it was an active rhyme, a flannel, and excellent counting practice; even the kids that aren’t super fond of counting had fun!

For getting our sillies out and moving around, I planned to make fireworks inside! I grabbed our scarves, and we have some neat ribbon bracelets as well so I had everybody pick a scarf or a bracelet and we threw them in the air like fireworks. We practiced using our right hands and our left hands, we made fast fireworks and slow fireworks and also just did some silly stuff, it was lots of fun!

Unfortunately I was quite stumped when it came to a craft because we have been running low-ish on craft supplies and I haven’t gotten around to placing a big restock order and I’ve been trying to kind of use up some random supplies we have laying around so for this week we made “parade wavers”  hah.

For some reason (probably masks?) we have a bunch of paper plates with the middles cut out so I grabbed those and some red white and blue crayons and markers and put those out with some red and blue foam stickers and yarn pieces and had them get creative and then glued them to big popsicle sticks.  It wasn’t my most inspired craft, but it was last minute and easy and I really like giving the kids the chance to just kinda go crazy. There was very little structure to this craft which allowed them to go as big or as basic as they wanted. 🙂


Next week is another regular storytime and I REALLY want to do a hat storytime, but there’s a flannel board I want to do with it and I don’t have the supplies to make it yet so I keep having to put it off so I think I might have to do something beachy or summery this week and then the week after is another StoryTech which I’m excited for.



All you need is love…


As I’m sure you are aware, this week is Valentine’s Day; and to think I didn’t know what my theme would be. (duh) Love, love, love. Today I donned my heart and soul shirt, some sparkly shoes, and my red cardigan and prepared myself for a festive, love filled storytime.

This session started off, as usual, with our Welcome rhyme; lately, I’ve been trying to engage the kids a bit more during the rhyme by asking them what comes next, or doing it our of order and seeing if they can help me, but today I got myself so confused that we ended up skipping a few parts, oops! Hah It’s still cool to see that there are more and more kids that are remembering more and more of the rhyme; yay, learning!

After the rhyme, it was time to take our seats and read our stories. I like the idea of just promoting valentines day a celebration of love instead of specifically “valentines” so I picked two books about love and one about valentines day.

I started off both sessions with “Bear in Love” by Daniel Pinkwater, then moved on to “When a Dad Says ‘I Love You'” by Douglas WoodThen did a counting rhyme and finished off with “Louanne Pig in the Mysterious Valentine” by Nancy CarlsonI fell in love with “Bear in Love” as soon as I opened it. I wasn’t thrilled about performing all the singing parts, but the story is so cute and the illustrations are wonderful so it’s worth the silly singing. The kids were so proud of themselves for recognizing the long, pointy, orange things that  Bear found, (duh, Bear, carrots!) and had a lot of fun guessing what Bear would wake up and find each morning or who was leaving him these gifts.
The second story is also very sweet, I was a bit worried that some kids wouldn’t connect with it since it is a bit more “father / son” themed, but they seemed to like it and I heard many exclamations of “we play tickle monster!” or “I’d make two stops for cookies” and so on. 🙂
I think they had the most fun with the last book though. It’s a clever book in that it never really does give you the answer, directly, but I heard many gasps as I turned to the last page and they all noticed a pig with a curly tail and green pen. MYSTERIOUS! It’s so fun to watch them put the clues together and figure it out.

All three books lent themselves rather well to interacting with the kids during the story which is always good. They get to feel more involved and you can sneak in some learning while having a lot of fun.

The rhyme we did was a counting rhyme; I’m not usually thrilled with counting rhymes as they all seem to be too similar and get a bit redundant, but this one was fun! We counted forwards, and backwards, and even did some math with some adding and subtracting! Skills!

First, I had them get out their wiggly little counting fingers and get ready to put them to use. I held up six fingers and asked if anybody could tell me how many were were going to count to, of course they all shouted “SIX!” so we practiced; they’re excellent counters, then, I started the rhyme.

Six Little Valentines

Six little Valentines were sent to my house,
The first one said, “I love you, From Mouse.”
Five little Valentines in my mailbox,
The second one said, “Be mine, Love Fox.”
Four little Valentines full of love,
The third one said, “You are sweet, From Dove.”
Three little Valentines just for me,
The fourth one said, “Be my honey, Love Bee.”
Two little Valentine’s mailed with care,
The fifth one said, “Here’s a hug, From Bear.”
The last little Valentine, from my friend Jay,
This one said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

I took this right from Storytime Katie I didn’t do the flannel the same though, I made regular old valentines day cards and then put the phrases inside with a picture of each animal. I put them up on the flannel board as I read the rhyme, then opened them as I read the part about what they said / who they were from. After each addition to the board, I asked how many valentines I’d opened so far and how many I had left. The kids couldn’t see the cards that weren’t on the board so they had to use their powers of memory AND math to figure it out. They did REALLY well and I think some of the parents were even impressed with them. 🙂 After the rhyme finished, I read the Louanne book since the valentines all tied in to that story and then I asked them if they had anybody they’d like to give a valentine to. Most said things like grandma or papa or mom or dad and so on, but a few were really cute in their answers about certain best friends or siblings, one boy even said he wanted to make a card for his 86 year old neighbor. (cue collective awwwww). After they all got their answers out, we headed back to the craft room to make some cards!

I love watching how free and creative they are with their creations. Yes, my valentine cards were folded, typical cards, but lots of kids chose to fold it differently or not at all.  The craft gave them a chance to practice their writing of letters and words, as well as helped develop and perfect fine motor skills by holding crayons to write or glue sticks to glue. They’re having a ton of fun, but they’re also learning and growing. (sneaky!)

You could certainly feel the love in the room too what with all the sharing and helping I saw going on. You always want to try to have enough “stations” set up for crafts with all the different materials accessible from any part of the room so nobody has to go hunting around for whatever they need, but regardless of how close at hand the different size heart cutouts were, or glue sticks, or all the different color crayons,  kids were happy to ask nicely if they could borrow something or if the person nearest could help by passing them their needed item; I even saw some helping one another fold paper for their cards because some jobs are a bit too big for one set of little hands to handle. We counted little hearts on their cards, I asked them what letters they were writing and what colors they used and they were all thrilled to answer and show me each time they added something new “Look! Now I have 6 hearts on my card!”

This craft went over well with both the girls as well as the boys. I was a bit concerned that the boys would not be super thrilled with the girly frou-frou heart stuff, but I had blue, white, and purple paper for them to use if they didn’t want to use pink or red and most of the kids simply used whatever paper they liked best with little to no regard to “boy colors” or “girl colors” which is always nice to see. Some kids didn’t even use hearts and just opted to decorate with various foam stickers and crayons which is equally awesome. Yay, creativity! 😀

By the end of the craft, I watched many sweet little cards begin their journeys to their lucky recipients and I had also been lucky enough to have garnered quite the collection of adorable little cards. Now to find a place to put them all!


Sorry, suitors, too slow.

In conclusion:


love is all, love is all

p.s. Happy 50th to those who reminded us that all you need is love, and love to the parents to made sure I knew that. 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day!!


As promised last week, This week’s theme is:


I was really looking forward to this one, but also a bit worried; this was my first time doing a craft with storytime so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I planned for a slightly shorter storytime followed by crafting craziness and hoped it would work well.

For this storytime I made another flannel board (I kinda love making them) and I am again, quite proud of how it turned out. It’s a lot less detailed than Rainbow fish, but still pretty cool. We did “Go Away, Big Green Monster” by Ed Emberly . It’s a great read aloud book for a crowd, or for one on one, and it translates perfectly to flannel boards.

pieces of a big green monster

Pieces of a big green monster

big green monster looking kind of scared

Big Green Monster looking kind of scared



The flannel board was a huge hit again and they all had fun guessing what bits of the big green monster were going to go away next and yelled “GO AWAY NOSE” and “GO AWAY EYES”. It’s always fun when we get to one of the last parts and they think the mouth goes away next, but instead, the face goes away! (WHAT?!) so then there are just two, big, yellow eyes and a big, red mouth with chompy teeth sitting on the flannel board and the kids all thought it was pretty funny to see that.

This was the kids' favorite part to see; just some eyes and some teeth, pretty silly

This was the kids’ favorite part to see; just some eyes and some teeth, pretty silly.

It was also a big hit for me. Flannel face for EVERYTHING!

It was also a big hit for me.
Flannel face for EVERYTHING!

Hours of amusement.  Honestly.

Hours of amusement.

I also had a couple other books lined up in case they were feeling extra bookish, and turns out, they were! In both sessions we read all three books, did the monster dance, AND made monster masks! Whew! I even had one boy in my Thursday session ask, after three books, if there were more books!

After the big green monster it was time for “Go to Bed, Monster!” by Natasha Wing. I LOVED reading this book! You get to say a bunch of silly, growly words as the monster, and you get to get all huffy and do some eye rolling as Lucy. It’s a cute story, and the kids were HOOKED. I looked around and they were all glued to the book, silent and still. I ended the book and they all just sort of sat there, looking sleepy, which was perfect because my plan was to read that book, then talk about waking up and doing some dancing. Next up was the “Monster Stomp”

“Monster Dance”

If you want to be a monster, here’s your chance.
‘Cause everybody’s doing the monster dance.

You just stomp your feet and wave your arms around. (Stomp, wave arms.)
Stretch ‘em up high, (Stretch arms.) then put them on the ground. ( hands on the floor.)
Now you’re doing the monster stomp. (Stomp feet.)
That’s right!
Now You’re doing the monster stomp. (Stomp feet.)

If you want to be a monster, here’s your chance.
‘Cause everybody’s doing the monster dance.
Show off your teeth then chomp them down (chomp teeth)
Then roar real loud and spin around (roar and spin)
Now you’re doing the monster stomp. (Stomp feet.)
That’s right!
Now You’re doing the monster stomp. (Stomp feet.)

If you want to be a monster, here’s your chance.
‘Cause everybody’s doing the monster dance.

This was cute to watch, and the parents seemed to get a good chuckle out of it as well, no doubt some of it at my expense, but that’s fine. (hey, I don’t spin as well as I used to )

After roaring, and spinning, and chomping, we read one more book: “Monster Hug” by David Stein. I like the illustrations in the book, but it is kind of quick and might have a difficult time holding their attention if they aren’t feeling it, my groups both did ok though.

After the books and monster stomping, it was time to go crazy and make some sweet monster masks!

The premise for this was quite basic; I put out paper plates and large popsicle sticks / tongue depressors and a few different crafty supplies (crayons, markers, foam shape stickers, pipe cleaners, and pom poms) I gave them glue and told them to go wild!

It might just look like lots of fun, and it totally is, but it’s also a wonderful way to learn!
Not only are crafts often awesome sensory play, but you can often integrate many of the common core standards as well. for example, while the children were creating, I walked around and talked with many of them about what shapes they were putting on their monster if they were using the foam stickers, or if their monster was two or three dimensional; dimensions are still a concept that is typically beyond their learning level and comprehension as far as preschool goes, but not by too much and some children will pick up on it. Talking about  shapes and dimensions introduces Geometry which is part of the common core standards. You are also giving them the chance to exercise their language skills by asking them to talk about their monster and how they’ve decided to decorate it, this covers most of the Anchor Standards of Speaking and Listening’s  Comprehension and Collaboration as well as Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas.



Ooohhh, scary!

Ooohhh, scary!

Not only did the kids have a riot making the masks, but lots of parents talked to me about the craft, why we do them, and how much they liked it. This gave me a great opportunity to tell them why I chose the crafts and books and inform them that not only are they fun activities, but they are interactive, not just as far as common core standards go, but also present the kids with a chance to practice social skills with other people their age or adults. It’s a great way to build relationships and strengthen self confidence.

And, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want an excuse to have some fun crafting?

As Much as I’d love to do another craft next week, I think I should mix it up a bit and try something else. Maybe TWO flannel board stories?!

Then again, I don’t know, that sounds like a lot of work, and working hard always makes me pretty hungry.


om nom nom nom

makes for an excellent Rabbit of Caerbannog sweater.

Turns out, it also makes for an excellent Rabbit of Caerbannog sweater.