Thursday, November 1, 2012

Flannel Friday: Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash

After taking a long break from FF during which I just copied flannels that I've admired by other Flannel Fridayers, my offering this week was made by my colleague Lou to tell the story Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash by Sarah Weeks with a clothesline. I love Lou's detailed pieces!  Many of them are even double-sided to make them sturdier to last through multiple uses by children.

And here's what part of it looks like on the line:

Of course, we passed out the flannel pieces and asked children to come and hang their items on the line when they were mentioned in the story.  It was a hit!  We found a few pics of flannelized or photocopy-and-laminate clothesline versions of the book on various blogs, so we don't know who to credit with the original idea. And although we chose not to use them, there are some Mrs. McNosh activities and printables available here.

When we someday do Mrs. McNosh again, we'll figure out a way to stabilize our line--we just tied it between two chairs, but as pieces were added, some twisted up and around so that they weren't all hanging straight down.  There are so many pieces that it might work better with a few smaller lines rather than one long one.

Since Halloween is over now and there's no rush, next week I'll post the flannel song I used for the two weeks leading up to Halloween.

Check out all of this week's Flannel Friday posts here.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mrs. McNosh

Because two of our weekly storytimes this week are after Halloween, we decided to do our Halloween storytime last week, so this week we did Mrs. McNosh stories by Sarah Weeks.  We read:

Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash

Oh My Gosh, Mrs. McNosh!

and Mrs. McNosh and the Great Big Squash

My colleague Lou created the most wonderful flannel set to use as a washline and clothespin story.  You can see that here.

Between stories we did an action rhyme called "Washing Clothes" by Susan Dailey that can be found here and "Early in the Morning" by Judy Nichols from v. 1, n. 6 of Children's Programming Monthly, the My Clothes issue.

Our craft was to bedazzle some of the wash from Mrs. McNosh's line with foam stickers, plastic jewels, buttons, sequins, and markers.  Here's a sample:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Window Silhouettes

We're into silhouettes in our windows at my library...and shadow puppet shows, too.  I just had to share these spooky designs done by my artistically talented colleague Dan.  It must be nice to be so talented!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


For an upcoming storytime on comparing/relative size, I'm using a plan similar to one I did at my other library last year.  We'll read:

Bigger Than Daddy by Harriet Ziefert
Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long

and Is It Larger? Is It Smaller? by Tana Hoban

I'm going to reuse the flannel story A House For Birdie based on the book by Stuart J. Murphy that I think was first posted on Storytiming.  It's absolutely perfect for discussing relative size. 

We'll also watch an episode of Peg + Cat, a new PBS Kids show that will premiere sometime next fall.  In this episode Peg matches pieces of cake to her picnic guests based on their size--the smallest piece goes to her smallest guest and the biggest piece to the biggest guest.  There are also lots of chickens in the episode.  :-)

Our craft will be a set of nesting dolls made from paper cups (small, larger, largest). I'll post a pic when the sample is ready.
Once again we'll have take-home activities from Virtual Pre-K for families to do for more comparing fun.

Where Is It?: Location Words

We're doing a storytime about location words, and these are the books we'll read:

In Front of My House by Marianne Dubuc

Peepsqueak by Leslie Ann Clark (I'll do some questioning such as, "Who is behind the sheep?")


and All About Where by Tana Hoban

After the first book, we'll jam to the song "Up and Down" by The Pop-Ups with scarves.  This is one of my favorite activity songs for storytimes!  We'll follow the directions in the lyrics:

Up and Down by The Pop-Ups
Pick it up, put it down (4 x)
Turn yourself around (2 x)
Stand up, sit down (4 x)
Turn yourself around (2 x)
Toss it up, it drops down (4 x)
Turn yourself around (2 x)
Up and down, up and down (2 x)
Turn it up, turn it down (4 x)
Turn yourself around (2 x)
Sun goes up, sun goes down (4 x)
Turn yourself around (2 x)
Up and down, up and down (4 x)

The Tooty Ta song would work just as well, but I just love the Pop-Ups!

After the second book, we're going on a bear hunt!  There are lots of versions on the web, but I'm planning to use the book version retold by Michael Rosen.

Our craft is a paper bag bear puppet similar to this one from

Parents will be given a take-home sheet of location word activities to continue the fun at home. 

Other books that could be used for this storytime:

Over, Under, and Through/ Tana Hoban
Over and Under/ Marthe Jocelyn and Tom Slaughter
We're Going on a Lion Hunt/ David Axtell

Patterns and Sorting

The books we'll read for our patterned storytime are:
Bees, Snails, and Peacock Tails by Betsy Franco and Steve Jenkins

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

and The Monkey with a Bright Blue Bottom by Steve Smallman

After our first book, we'll play a finish-the-pattern flannel game from Notes from the Story Room.

After the second book, we'll sing "Clap Your Hands" from American Folk, Game & Activity Songs by Pete Seeger.  We'll talk about how patterns can be in sounds as well as images.

Our craft today will be to make a patterned friendship bracelet with pony beads--the pattern is the child's choice.

Parents will be given a take-home sheet of activities from the Virtual Pre-K kit so parent and child can have more fun with patterns at home.

For toddler storytime, instead of the finish-the-pattern flannel game, we'll match patterned dinosaurs with solid colored ones, an idea from Piper Loves the Library.

Other pattern and sorting books for storytime friends to check out:

Alike or Not Alike?: A Photo Sorting Game/ Kristen McCurry
I Like Black and White/ Barbara Jean Hicks
Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom/ Stuart J. Murphy
Old Bear's Surprise Painting/ Jane Hissey
A Pair of Socks/ Stuart J. Murphy
Patterns Outside/ Daniel Nunn
Sort It Out!/ Barbara Mariconda
The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth/ Margaret Musgrove
Spotty, Stripy, Swirly: What Are Patterns?/ Jane Brocket
A Star in My Orange: Looking for Nature's Shapes/ Dana Meachen Rau
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature/ Joyce Sidman


Tuesday, July 31, 2012


In an upcoming week during preschool and toddler storytimes, we're learning about shapes.  The books we'll read for preschool storytime are:

Circle Dogs by Kevin Henkes

Circus Shapes by Stuart J. Murphy and

Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier

In honor of shapes, after the first book we'll do a circle song, "Bluebird, Bluebird."  If you've never done this one before, you can find some demos on YouTube.  We'll do ours somewhat like this one.

After the second book, we'll build a picture with flannel shapes, an idea from a Flannel Friday post from Mel's Desk. I'll give a couple of pieces to each child, we'll decide what to build, and each child will contribute her/his shapes to the picture where they make the most sense. 

After the third book, we'll play another circle song game I saw on Everything Preschool.  The shapes are just cut out of construction paper and laminated.  We'll sit in a circle with the shapes in the center, and the child who is "it" will walk around our circle as we sing, [to the tune of "Skip to My Lou"]
Lost my circle, what do I do?
Lost my circle, what do I do?
Lost my circle, what do I do?
What do I do, my darling?
Then the child will find the shape we've been singing about.  We'll repeat, substituting the names of the other shapes until we've found all of them, and for each verse a different child will be "it."

There will be a take-home sheet for parents for more fun with shapes at home.

For the craft this week, we'll be making quilt squares with wallpaper samples.  One of the youth staff made the quilt templates, and we'll provide children with the wallpaper shapes that they'll glue onto the templates to make a design. 

For toddler storytime, the books will be Shape by Shape by Suze MacDonald, Circus Shapes by Stuart Murphy, and One Sunny Day by Tammi Salzano.  In place of the building blocks flannel activity, we'll do a flannel shape matching activity from Piper Loves the Library. I made triangles and squares in addition to circles, and I'll keep a set for myself, distribute one from the matching set to each child, and sing this song, to the tune of "Happy Birthday to You."

Which circles are the same? 
Which circles are the same? 
Can you tell me, can you tell me,
Which circles are the same?

Children with the matching shapes will come to the flannel board during the song and put theirs together.  Then we'll repeat the verse, substituting the other shapes when appropriate. 

Other books considered that were displayed for check-out after storytime:
Apes Find Shapes/ Jane Belk Moncure
Circle/ Sophie Schrey
Not a Box/ Antoinette Portis
Perfect Square/ Michael Hall
Pond Circle/ Betsy Franco
Rectangle/ Bryony Jones
Shape Capers/ Cathryn Falwell
Shapes, Shapes, Shapes/ Tana Hoban
So Many Circles, So Many Squares/ Tana Hoban
Square/ Bryony Jones
Triangle/ Bryony Jones


Our preschool and toddler storytimes for an upcoming week will have us counting up a storm.  As children are arriving, I'll ask their grownups to write their children's names on a grid I made on a large sheet of bulletin board paper, one letter per space.  It looks something like this:






I'll refer to our grid later in the storytime.

We always begin with the same hello song and end with the same goodbye song.

There are so many great counting books that choosing three was difficult, but I finally settled on

                                                   Doggone Dogs! by Karen Beaumont

One Drowsy Dragon by Ethan Long and

One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root.

Although there are lots and lots of counting books, not all of them make good storytime reads, so I looked for books that tell a story, too.

After the first book, we'll sing "Over in the Meadow,"  The Wiggles' version.   After the second book, we'll play a game called Count & Move (Virtual Pre-K! Ready for Math [kit], Chicago Public Schools and PBS Kids, 2011).  For this game, I made two sets of cards.  One set includes numbers and the other includes actions (jump, clap, twirl, etc.).  I'll draw one card from each deck and we'll perform that move the number of times the card shows. 

After the last book, we'll do a number of things with our name grid: count the number of letters in the first name, find other names that are the same length (easy to see on a grid), look at the second name and decide whether it has more or fewer letters than the first name, identify the longest and shortest names on the grid, and note who has the same number of letters in their names. 

I'll give each parent a take-home sheet of counting activities, but so that they wouldn't feel as if it is homework, I'll say something like, "If you had fun counting today, here are some things you can do at home to practice counting."   The take-home sheet comes directly from the Virtual Pre-K kit mentioned above.

Our craft this week is a circus train with animals to count:

For the toddler storytime counterpart, the activities are the same, but for books I'll use One Pup's Up by Marsha Wilson Chall, Ducking for Apples by Lynne Berry, and Ten Little Caterpillars by Bill Martin Jr.  For our toddler storytimes, the hello and goodbye songs are slightly different, and we always play "Ring Around the Rosy," which was a part of the toddler storytime routine at this library long before I was hired.  (During one of the first storytimes I did when I accidentally forgot to play "Ring Around the Rosy," one of my storytime friends reminded me that we couldn't leave storytime without doing that first!)

Books that I also considered that will be displayed for check-out after storytime:
10 Little Hot Dogs/ John Himmelman
10 Little Rubber Ducks/ Eric Carle
At the Edge of the Woods: A Counting Book/ Cynthia Cotten
Bunny Party/ Rosemary Wells
Chicka Chicka 1 2 3/ Bill Martin, Jr.
Double the Ducks/ Stuart J. Murphy
Look Whooo's Counting/ Suse MacDonald
One Little Chicken: A Counting Book/ David Elliott
One More Bunny: Adding from One to Ten/ Rick Walton
Seven Hungry Babies/ Candace Fleming
Ten Red Apples/ Pat Hutchins

Ready to Learn: How I'm involved

Early this spring, I was asked to participate in Iowa Public Television's Ready to Learn grant program at one of my libraries.  In a nutshell, for this strand of Ready to Learn, PBS has created new programs and games for children ages 2-8 to boost their math skills. (Be sure to check out Peg + Cat on PBS when it premieres during the fall of 2013--it is absolutely adorable!)  Many of the games are available for iPads and iPhones, and they are every bit as engaging as games that weren't designed to boost math skills.

As a public librarian, I was asked to think about how I could introduce children and their parents to these resources.  After several planning sessions with the grant coordinator from IPTV and others in the community who were participating--our local school district, the YWCA, and some daycare providers--we decided that the major focus at the library would be two things: gaming sessions at the library for children and their parents to introduce them to the games, (IPTV provided coupons for the families for the apps. that are not free) and incorporating some of the Ready to Learn math concepts into our preschool and toddler storytimes.  We were already incorporating these concepts into our storytimes, but not with any particular scheme in mind, so we decided to make these concepts the focus of a series of storytimes.  We were provided with Virtual Pre-K kits, developed by the Chicago Public Schools and PBS Kids, which contain activities that parents can do with their children at home to teach math skills using ordinary household items.  Each segment of the kit focuses on a specific set of math skills: counting, understanding the connection between a group of things and a number, identifying and naming shapes, etc.  After each of the storytimes, parents will leave with a list of activities from the Virtual Pre-K kit that they can do at home to extend the concepts beyond storytime.

This was the jumping off point for our Ready to Learn-inspired storytimes.  You can see my plans for these storytimes, including book lists and crafts, by clicking on the tag for Virtual Pre-K on the right side menu of this blog.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Learning from Researchers

In July I was visited by a team of researchers investigating the Ready to Learn programs in which one of my libraries is participating.  As a graduate student, I learned to do "big girl research," so their methods and questions did not come as any surprise to me.  What was a surprise, though, was how much food for thought their questions left for me. 

As we were talking about the PBS Kids Lab games, I mentioned that based on my observations of children in my library, the Kids Lab games are every bit as engaging as games that aren't educational.  Of course, they followed up with, "Can you give us an example of some games that aren't educational?" Now I'm not new to gaming.  In fact, games based on books were a research interest of mine not too, too many years ago, so I've done a fair bit of reading, playing, and writing about games--video games, board games, card name it.  But asked that question, I was hard-pressed to think of games that aren't educational, except maybe shooting games, to which one of the researchers replied that maybe they teach hand-eye coordination, but that might be a stretch. 

James Gee, noted scholar of video games, writes about video games as perfect literacy environments that require complex problem-solving (What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy, 2nd ed., 2007), perhaps even the shooting games I had in mind.  But what I was trying to express goes to the intent of a game--in my observation, games with an obvious educational purpose often feel more like lessons than play.  And I'm not implying that lessons can't be fun--I'm just saying that most of the intentionally-educational games I've played and seen have a different sort of feel to them, and to some children, those overtly educational games are not appealing. There are some children I couldn't pay to play such games.  So I have been pleased to see that there are children and families who visit our library on gaming days specifically for the Kids Lab.  Above all, the Kids Lab games are fun...they just also happen to be designed with math objectives.  And I'm not getting paid to say any of this, by the way.

So getting back to that food for thought...designing storytimes that have specific math objectives driving them have proven to be difficult for me to plan while preserving that spirit of play that we think our storytimes have, so although I have them drafted, I'm hoping for a burst of creative inspiration before September so that the number one thought in the minds of our storytime friends is, "That was fun!"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Flannel Friday: Hide-and-Seek Mice: A Flannel Rhyme

For an upcoming storytime with a "Let's Play" theme, I made my own original hide-and-seek flannel game rhyme.  In the photo, the mice are visible, but for the game/rhyme, I'll hide them behind the chimney, the hole in the tree, the window, the door, the doghouse, some grass, and the flower.  (I accidentally left the grass out of the photo.)  The line for the window might be a bit too obscure for toddlers...I may revise it after I see how they respond.

Hide-and-Seek Mice

Can you find me? Where can I be?
I’m where Santa comes in with gifts all for me.

Can you find me? Where did I hide?
A squirrel lives here, deep down inside.

Can you find me? Where, oh, where?
Look close at my hiding place, and you’ll see yourself there.

Can you find me?  Where have I been?
My favorite hiding place is soft and green.      
Can you find me? What will you do?
I’m behind something you can walk through.

Can you find me? It’s very dark,
In this place I share with someone who says, “Bark.”

Can you find me? I’m the last one,
Behind something that grows on a stem in the sun.

Check out this week's Flannel Friday roundup at Roving Fiddlehead Kidlit!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Flannel Friday:" I Wish I Were" flannel song

The last week of our summer program is Dreams and Wishes week, and I've had a mental block about what to do between stories at storytime.  I couldn't think of a good wishing game that would work with 40+ children, but as I was searching the Internet for inspiration, I came across a song on the Toronto Public Library's web site, and I've written new lyrics to fit my own storytime.  You can find the original song here.  I'm not completely happy with my lyrics yet, so I may revise them before I do the storytime during the second week of July.  I'm thinking this could be adapted for themed storytimes, using all jungle animals or sea creatures or whatever the theme happens to be.

I Wish I Were (sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It")
Oh, I wish I were a floating butterfly, (2 x)
I’d go flutter, flutter, fly in the bright blue sunny sky,
Oh, I wish I were a floating butterfly.

Oh, I wish I were a shiny little fish, (2 x)
I’d go swimmy, swimmy, glide in the big blue ocean tide,
Oh, I wish I were a shiny little fish.

Oh, I wish I were a silver airplane, (2 x)
I’d go soar, soar, soar as my engines loudly roar,
Oh, I wish I were a silver airplane.

Oh, I wish I were a tall, tall leafy tree, (2 x)
I’d be a place to rest for the birdies in their nest,
Oh, I wish I were a tall, tall leafy tree.

Oh, I wish I were a green and speckled frog, (2 x)
I’d go croaky, croaky, croak as I jump into the brook,
Oh, I wish I were a green and speckled frog.

Oh, I wish I were a bright and shining star, (2 x)
I’d go twinkle, twinkle, spark in the nighty nighttime dark,
Oh, I wish I were a bright and shining star.

This week's Flannel Friday roundup is being hosted by Sarah at Read It Again!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Flannel Friday: Five Little Rockets

This week’s flannel is for toddler storytime during our Space Adventures week of the summer library program.  The rhyme comes from a link to teaching materials on NASA’s web page at:  I’ve changed the last verse so it makes sense for one rocket, and I’ve added a countdown to blast off.  We can’t possibly have a rocket rhyme without a countdown!

Five Little Rockets
Five little rockets ready to zoom,
This one says, “There’s not enough room.”
It starts its engine;
Ready to fly,
Looks at the others and waves good-bye.

Four little rockets…[continue counting down to one rocket]
One little rocket ready to zoom,
This one says, “Everyone’s gone!”
It starts its engine;
Ready to fly,
Looks at us and waves good-bye.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, blast off!

We’ll also do a song from the same NASA page, sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”:

I’m a Little Rocket
I’m a little rocket, tall and thin.  [stand with arms stretched overhead]
Here is my nose cone.  [fingertips meet overhead to form cone]
Here is my fin. [hold arms from sides pointing down like fins]
When I get all fired up,
Launch begins.
Watch me rise  [jump up]
And see me spin! [spin in place]

The Flannel Friday roundup this week is at Recipe for Reading!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flannel Friday: Sleeping Bag Chant

One of my favorite storytime CDs is H.U.M.: Highly Usable Music by Carole Peterson, and this summer in toddler storytime, we’re doing her “Sleeping Bag Chant” every week during the summer library program.    This week’s flannel figures are visual cues to help us remember the critters in this cumulative chant.  

The chant on the CD has verses for owl, bat, ghost, and add-your-own animal, but we’re going to do it without the CD and I’ve added several of my own.  Here are the lyrics:

Sleeping Bag Chant
I was lying in my sleeping bag—I couldn’t get to sleep
When the wind began to howl and the bugs began to creep.
So I rolled to the left and I rolled to the right
And I heard every sound that you hear at night—
Owl.  Hoo hoo.

Repeat the chant with:
bat (flap, flap)
ghost (whooooooooo)
and add-your-own, but I’m adding …
coyote (aroooooo, aroooo)
cat (meow, meow)
mouse (squeak, squeak)
bunny (hop hop)
and cricket (chirp, chirp)

Each time a new creature/sound is added, we will repeat the previous ones, too. I can’t wait!  The chant has been stuck in my head all week!  If I had smaller groups for storytime, I would pass out drums and we would drum to the chant, but our toddler groups are already huge and get even bigger during the summer, so we’ll just keep time by patting our legs. 

The owl is a miniature version of Sunflower Storytime's template, and for the rest, I used clip art from a database to which my library subscribes.  

At my other library, we're doing the chant as part of our shadow puppet show on June 13th, but we're still working on the puppets, so I'll post a pic when they're done.

This week the Flannel Friday roundup is being hosted by Lisa at Libraryland.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Flannel Song: Little Sandman

Our summer library program starts in just over a week, and this week’s flannel song is for storytime that week.  We’re using the national theme, Dream Big: Read, and our subthemes are Asleep and Dreaming, Night Owls,  Space Adventures, Night Shivers, and Dreams and Wishes.  My flannel for week 1, Asleep and Dreaming, is “Little Sandman,” the Brahms lullaby.  I’ve seen at least two different versions of the lyrics, but I took my favorite bits from each and combined them into this version.  During the last verse, I'll sprinkle a little clear glitter onto the flannel child's face.

Little Sandman
Beneath the silvery moonlight
Like tiny sparkling gems
The flowers all are sleeping
Upon their slender stems.
The trees wave gently to and fro
And whisper soft and low
Slumber, slumber,
Oh, sleep my little one.

The birds you heard this morning
Have long since gone to rest
And now are close together
Safe in their downy nest
And there they lie so still and warm
Secure from every harm.
Slumber, slumber,
Oh, sleep my little one.

Now comes the little sandman
In every house he’ll peep
To find the wakeful children
Who will not go to sleep
And then a little sand he tries
To sprinkle in their eyes.
Slumber, slumber
Oh, sleep my little one.

I’m going to be brave and try this a cappella…we’ll see how it goes. This is the most subdued flannel song I’ve tried, so I hope my storytime children will enjoy it. 

Check out all of this week's Flannel Friday posts here.