Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Of Hanukah and Dreidels

I am going to get on my "Library Lady Rants" soapbox to say that Hanukah is not, not, NOT a pseud-Christmas, but a minor holiday that is mostly a family celebration. The "tradition" of eight presents was invented somewhere in the last century by Jewish families not wanting to cave in and celebrate Christmas in a secular fashion, or to tell their kids, "sorry,kids, you're Jewish--you don't get presents in December".

My own mother comes from a family of radical Jews who celebrated Christmas as a secular holiday and my father went right along with it (as he always does for my mom),so my brother and I had Santa Claus, presents and a tree.
As it turns out we both married gentiles and HIS kids are so WASPy they barely know they're half Jewish.

My girls get their gifts at Christmas. But Hanukah is for them as it was for me, a time for family and food, of lighting my menorah, eating latkes and applesauce and getting Hanukah gelt(gold wrapped chocolate coins)

I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in NYC and back then it was okay to sing Christmas/Hanukah songs in schools. And I grew to hate the "Dreidel" song with its endless "dreidel, dreidel,dreidel".

So nothing could have startled me more than receiving this book at the library and LOVING it.

It uses the song beautifully to show a family celebrating Hanukah. The book sings like a dream--the verses are smooth and fit the tune perfectly.
And there's nothing here about presents, BTW!

My one quibble is the carrot in the latke recipe--my Grandma Esther would have thought that was nuts and so do I.

I have been known to sing "Chanukkah, O, Chanukkah" at programs, both in English and what my daughter SC called "Spanish" when she was tiny.
She loved this song and when she was 2 I sang it to her at night for months--that and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". Actually, it's Yiddish and my father, who grew up in a Yiddish speaking home says my accent is pretty good.

This is the great performer Theodore Bikel, singing the song in Yiddish, English and then Hebrew.

I like to show kids real dreidels and let them try to spin them. It's challenging for preschoolers to do. And then we pretend to be dreidels by playing this game, from an out of print book called "Hanukkah Oh, Hanukkah: A Treasury of Stories, Songs and Games to Share"  


Spin little dreidels, go, go GO!                                         Turn around and around
Spin little dreidels, now go SLOW!                                  Turn around SLOW-LY!
Jump, little dreidels, jump so high                                     Jump up and down!
Now, STOP! And reach for the sky!                               Stretch arms above your head\
Now little dreidels, find your nose                                  Touch nose
Now little dreidels, find your toes!                                 Touch toes
Spin little dreidel, round and round                                Turn around and around
Round and round till you fall to the ground!                  Fall down--gently

The kids love this game and we play it at least twice--sometimes more.

I hope you have fun with all things Chanuka. By the way, have you noticed that I have spelled it at least 3 different ways in this post? That's because they're really is no one way of spelling a Yiddish word in our alphabet. Just say HA-NOO-KAH  and try to sort of spit as you're pronouncing the first syllable and you'll have it.

And you could spell dreidel  as "draidyl" "dreidle" or any other way that sounds like "DRAY-DLE"
Just rhyme it with "ladle" and you're in business.

Happy Hanukkah. Sorry I can't invite you all here for cheesecake, but if you pass a library in Northern Virginia next Monday and it smells like cooking oil that's me, frying latkes for the entire staff!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"The Nutcracker" In A Box, Or: I Think I Can Dance!

Program with my daughter JR in 2008
Alas, she is no longer dancing.....
I have been a bad amateur ballerina for years--I've been taking classes for about a decade now. Not that I'm good--when you start dancing at 40, and you're not a skinny sylph, it's not going to happen. But I love it.

About 6 years ago I took it into my head that it would be fun to do some sort of "Nutcracker" movement program with the kids at programs in December. I started hunting on the Net for idea, but found next to nothing to help me.

Fortunately, I have my teacher and dear,dear friend Lynne, who has taught ballet to preschoolers for many years. We met, in fact, when she was a preschool teacher and used to bring her class in to my library for visits.

With her help I devised several simple dances. On my own, I figured out which other pieces would be good for creative movement and came up with props to use.

This has become an annual event and I've added more props over the years. The families love this and the kids seem to as well. In fact, I had a mom ask this week if her oldest son (8 or 9) could come to the after school session--he ASKED to come!

Some of the props are handmade because making them is a lot less expensive than buying them when you need enough for 30-50 kids. Especially when some of those kids are with adults who will NOT supervise their use and some of the props need to be replaced each year :(   Others can be purchased inexpensively in bulk.

Almost everything stores away in a big Rubbermaid tub from year to year, though I keep some of the stuff out for use at other times in the year. Hence, "Nutcracker In A Box":


1) Overture: During this music, I explain what we will be doing, show the basic foot positions of ballet (which I don't expect the kids to master, but it's fun) and demonstrate several of the simple steps that we'll be doing.

2) March:  The girls wear princess crowns and the boys wear soldier hats as they march, jump (echappe), walk in circles, march into the middle and out and gallop (chasse).

The girls' crowns are from a foam kit you can buy. JR and I had lots of fun fancying them up with glitter and foam shapes--the glitter isn't showing well here.  The boys' soldier hats are made from foam pieces--I just cut and glued them as best as I could.

3)The Story of "Clara's Dream"
I don't use music during this. I tell the story of Clara's receiving the Nutcracker, of its breaking, of Clara's putting the Nutcracker to bed under the Christmas tree, then tiptoeing downstairs to make sure it's okay. The kids get to pretend that they are the mice--squeaking and wiggling their whiskers.

4)The Christmas Tree and The Mouse King: This is made from felt, backed with cardboard, and suspended from the ceiling via one of my favorite things--clear fishing line. The tree is folded down part way, but when I tell the kids about the clock striking midnight, I pull on the fishing line and the tree rises and unfolds, "growing". Then I enact the battle of the Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Clara's throwing her shoe, and the transformation of the Nutcracker into the Prince.

5)Tea:The first dance is the Chinese dance. These are folded paper fans, secured at the bottom with shiny silver duct tape (you can get it in various colors as well, BTW). I have also bought fans like this and this from Oriental Trading, but they tear easily, so unless you are working with older kids, I'd stick with the paper kind. Incidentally, Oriental Trading has GREAT customer service, and issued me a credit when I complained about how bad the fans were!
In the "Tea" dance we prance (cheval), walk on our tippy toes in a circle (bouree), and jump in and out (echappe).

6)Trepak: This is the Russian music and I let the kids free dance, something that a lot of them seldom EVER get to do, alas & alack.

I wanted noisemakers and saw bells on popsicle sticks glued into star shapes on a craft site(4th of July project). Cardboard stars are sturdier, but if you want to use these longterm I recommend finding a way to wire the bells onto the stars, something I really, really need to do as they often come loose and I'm tired of gluing them back.

7)Coffee: This is one of my favorite dances and gives me a chance to get the kids to try doing something SLOWLY.  These juggling scarves are a little more expensive than some of the other props since I've had to buy 36 of them, again from Oriental Trading, but I use them often during the year, so they are well worth it.
BTW, Johnette Downing's album "The Second Line" is pretty much ALL scarf songs, and it's great music!

When we use the scarves I suggest that the kids try walking slowly with the scarves, that they try waving them in the air, dragging them on the ground,etc. I  have them  finish curled up on the ground with their scarf!

8)Mother Ginger and Her Children: Another excuse for a noisy free dance. This time the props are egg shakers.
You could make these on your own, but I'd recommend buying the nice sturdy ones sold by Oriental Trading or  Lakeshore Learning
Again, these are a more expensive prop, but you can use them year round--start with Nancy Stewart's  "Egg Shaking" song.

The music starts fast, slows down and then gets fast again--great for galloping and jumping and arm swinging.

9) Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy: Even people who have never heard of Tchaikovsky know this music, it's been used everywhere!

You can buy commercial ribbon streamers, but they're expensive. So you are looking at my sub--ordinary straws with a hole punched at one end, threaded with several streamers made of the narrow silk ribbon you can get 2 or 3 for a dollar at the craft stores.

The kids move the ribbons up, down, to the left and to the right and shake them for "snow". They circle with the ribbons. At the end, during the fast music, they gallop & shake the ribbons as hard as they can for lots of snow!

10)FINALE: I play the last few minutes of the finale, and teach the boys how to make a bow & the girls how to make a curtsey.Well done!

And then, after 5 or 6 sessions ranging from 2 year olds and their nannies/parents (oy) to some lovely preschools, and finally my 3-5 year olds and their big brothers and sisters, everything goes back into the box until next year.......

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Story Time Cooks: Pretzels and Preschoolers

Made a test batch of dough at home for my girls!
Through the years I have loved cooking a preschool story times, but the library I work in has no oven. A fridge yes, a dishwasher that doesn't work, but no oven.

We did make mini apple cinnamon donuts some weeks ago with the donut baker I inherited from my late, much missed, mother-in-law. But unless I someday lay my hands on a convection oven, baking is out.

But we can make dough and I can send it home with instructions for home baking, provided it doesn't need a long resting time. And this pretzel recipe, similar to what you might get at the mall, works perfectly:

Pretzels For Preschoolers

Open 3 packages of active yeast.
Pour it into a large bowl. Let the kids smell it--yeast has a strong, beerlike smell that some will like and some won't!
Add 4 Tbs of sugar and  1 1/2 cups of warm water \
Make sure the water is warm--about 110 degrees F. Not tepid, not boiling, or your yeast won't work.

Let everyone take a turn stirring.
Wait about 5 minutes (I sent the kids off to wash their hands), and you will see that the yeast has become foamy.

Add 3 3/4 cups of flour.
I premeasured the flour into a large container and let the kids take turns dipping out a small amount and adding it to the bowl. They also took turns stirring it in.

A wet dough will form. Add a little extra flour and knead the dough.
Even the kids who normally DON'T like to get their hands dirty liked doing this!

Send the kids off to wash their hands again. Add a little corn or canola oil to the bowl and turn the dough to coat it lightly.

Cover the dough, wash your own hands, and head into story hour for about 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into zip-lock bags.
I had about 20 kids and was able to give each a piece about the size of a golf ball.

Send the kids home with baking instructions:

Heat oven to 450 degrees F
Pinch off bits of dough, roll into long "snakes", then shape any way you like.
Place on a greased/parchment covered baking sheet. 
Brush with a little butter, sprinkle with salt or sugar if desired.
Bake for 8-12 minutes until golden brown.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mr Fox and Me

 Posted this on "The Library Lady Rants" last year, and thought it should be here instead.
BTW, I did find the original mask.....

I do lots of fox books in November--there are so many terrific stories that foxes tends to get 2 programs, especially since there are several books that involve foxes AND turkeys.

One of my favorite stories to do has always been "Mr Bun", as originally told by Heather Forrest--it's on her album "Sing Me A Story" and you can hear a sample of it HERE.  Years ago, we turned it into a puppet show and our talented assistant made us a bun puppet.

The story is basically a Russian version of "The Gingerbread Boy" and it ends with, you guessed it, a fox. But instead of using a fox puppet, our assistant made me a wonderful furry mask--complete with ears, nose, etc, and I put it on at the end of the show. It's been wonderful for doing this story as a storytelling with puppets thing for many years.

And now it's disappeared. Can't find it anywhere in my storage. And I couldn't make another one.
Or could I?

Not one like Jason made me. But back then, I didn't have the Internet and now I do.
Thanks to a pattern on a wonderful English site called Activity Village I found a "Fabulous Mr Fox" pattern.
I printed it and cut it out then, decided I could use it as the basis of a foam mask--like the ones I made this summer for various programs. Not sure I showed those on the blog, come to think of it.

This is their finished product.

And this is mine, though I haven't added the whiskers yet.
Not sure that I want to.

If you want to see more details, I've added a slideshow of the mask being made below.

But pretty good for someone who can't draw, hmm?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On Toddler Programs, Or I Thrive On Chaos

Hey, someone's reading this blog! Got the following heart rending e-mail the other day:

Can you offer any tips on crowd control during toddler storytime? My preschool groups are great but the toddler/baby demographic has become out of control. What do you say to parents before and during storytime to keep them engaged??

Well, basically,I don't do toddler "storytimes". The one exception to this is the series of 4 programs I do every June, and that's for a limited group (20 max), age range 20-24 months (so they are nearly 2) and the same group each week. It's a controlled group, I know the kids and know the parents. I know who participates and who doesn't, which parents/nannies are treasures and which are pains in my toches who let their kids run amok or are purely there to hang out with other moms and will never look at a book on my shelf. I can plan accordingly.

The rest of the year it's a crapshoot. The ages of the kids vary from barely 12 month olds to the 23/24 month olds who really aren't toddlers any more. Their parents/caregivers range from those who really believe in what I do to those who are there because their employer has sent them there and/or they are using me as a free filller between the other programs these poor mites are scheduled into when they should be out in the park or home with a basket of toys and books!

My hat is off to those of you who use books in your toddler programs,  but I don't think that toddlers for the most part get much out of a group reading of a book unless ALL THE ADULTS PARTICIPATE AND INTERACT WITH THEIR CHILDREN.

Odds on that happening, in my experience (and yes, I've been around a bit) are low and from what I see of parents/caregivers, don't seem to be getting better with the years. Sigh....

So I do "Mother Goose Time", a half hour of songs, rhymes and games all designed to foster language development skills, which are part of the pre-reading process. It's all interactive, which to me is key in working with toddlers. And here's what I've learned the hard way:

1)Start your program by having all parents/caregivers TURN OFF THEIR PHONES.
Yes, I know that should be obvious, but it's not. I've had mothers/fathers/nannies texting, etc during programs and last spring had The Stupidest Mother I've Ever Dealt With (really) letting her child play with the phone during the program--and it started ringing!
I have taken to pulling out my phone and announcing that I'm shutting it off and that everyone else needs to do the same. "This is unplugged time with your child," is my favorite line.

2)Ask adults to put toys, books, etcetera, securely away.
Toddlers are distractable. Last week, one of the moms had a fascinating diaper bag shaped like a bee or something and one of the kids kept going over to pull on it. This morning there was an argument between 2 littles over a board book--I asked parents to put all books in their bags or behind them, and will remember to do the same next week, because this keeps happening with this particular group.

3)Limit books and focus on interactive activities
Insist on a book to set a "theme"? Fine,do that first, when there is still a chance some of the kids will focus on it. Then spend the remainder of your time in activities that engage parents/caregivers in interacting with their children. Rhymes and games require parental attention. Read a book and unless parents/caregivers are willing to actively engage, you have no way of drawing them in. On the other hand, games like "Pat A Cake"  and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" encourage parents to sing along and make hand gestures.

The most unfocused period of my programs is when I go round the circle with animal puppets for "Down on Grandpa's Farm". The kids love this, but because I am going one on one with individual kids, there's nothing for other kids or their parents to do, and the parents start to chat and ignore the kids more often than not. I wouldn't do it but they love the puppets and it's become a regular part of my routine. Speaking of which:

4)Routine: Repeat and Repeat Often
Yes, you (and parents/caregivers) may get tired of singing "The Wheels On the Bus" every week, but the kids love it and expect it. They thrive on routine and ritual, they NEED this kind of structure.
I personally sang "Chanukkah o Chanukkah" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" every night for about 6 months to my older girl when she was around 2. Ritual.Comfort music. When she was 5 and broke her leg she wanted me to sing her "Hush Little Baby" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", her bedtime lullabies for years <3
 Every week we play "Ring Around the Rosie" and repeat it at least twice and could probably do it 3-4 times. While I change rhymes week to week, these two plus a series of "bounce" rhymes are always a part of the program and it gives me a framework for anything else I throw into the program.  And we repeat each rhyme/game at least once, and applaud ourselves--the kids are good at that.
Toddler programs don't need themes. I do change rhymes with the seasons--we've been singing "The Pumpkin Song" since early October, for example, and I have rhymes for rainy days, rhymes for cold days, etcetera. But the core program remains constant. As a result, I don't have to plan heavily for Mother Goose Time.
No one has ever complained about the repetition, BTW, and I've been doing this for years to the point where in some families I am on the second or third child and with some of the nannies we've been through 2 or 3 families together!

5.Learn to Thrive On Chaos If you want nice quiet kids watching you raptly and/or participating just as you expect them to do, you will be miserable doing toddler time. Truthfully, you'll be miserable in any preschool story time (!) but toddler time is the one even skilled preschool programmers often hate/dread because it by nature is never going to be nice and smooth!
Be fully prepared for toddlers who wander around the room--as long as they're not poking/pushing/pulling hair of other kids, it's just toddler behavior.Fully expect to have inattentive kids, ones who participate and the very quiet ones who just sit there.
This last group, btw, are often the kids who go home and talk about what they did, but never say a word at programs!

Today at toddler time I had one little boy who loves to stand right in front of me and watch me, often saying "Hi!", an angelic looking little girl who likes to crawl under my table and is never still, a little girl in a ballet tutu skirt who kept pulling up her shirt and with her little pot belly looked like a "Troll Baby" doll and an almost 2 who cracked me up during "Wheels On the Bus" by the enthusiasm of his "SHHH!" sounds.

I get the little one who wants to play "Ring Around the Rosie" with ME, comments like "we sing that song all the time at home now", the joy of watching a solemn face break into a grin with a peekaboo game, the fun of watching a little boy say "dog" for every animal puppet and then suddenly one day recognize one of them as "duck!" and all the other fun that comes from watching the explosion of development that occurs in this second year of life.

Yup, it's chaos. But it's also a blast.
So have fun with it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

On Flannel Boards, Plus: "The Witch's Hat"

Some weeks ago, soon after I'd discovered the Flannel Friday folk and the Pinterest boards I wrote a post entitled "Flannel Board Free". My discussion there was really of the flannel board versus the magnet board, though I did mention that I've used them less and less.

But in thinking about the "when to flannelize?" question posed on this blog  I find myself instead wanting to talk about when NOT to flannelize.
I know this may not win me friends among the flannelers, but I am going to be the crank that I am :D and say that most of the time I don't think flannels SHOULD be used.

I admire the gorgeous flannel work I see on the blogs and the Pinterest boards. The detail, the workmanship, a lot of caring goes into them. But too many of them are for stories that have great illustrations and work just fine in the original version

And I think, in these days of the e-book, the DVD player in the car and all the rest, that librarians need more than ever to show the power of the book. To share it with our users to encourage them to do the same thing at home that we do at the library--read with the kids.

So when IS a flannel/magnet board useful?

1)For rhymes, songs and other storytime happenings that don't have a book to go with them. The sort of counting rhyme where you count down by taking away one item at a time--like "5 Little Pumpkins" or "Ten in the Bed" are great for this. The concrete objects can help you lead the song--but you also need to be pointing out to the kids that they have 5--or 10 fingers, depending on the rhyme and that they can count down with you, and there are other parts of the song/rhyme they can help with as well.

2)For books where the text is too small to work with a group, or where there's a great story, but the pictures are either too detailed or too scratchy to work with a group.

3) For any other book when you have a good answer to the key question: "What can I do by using a flannel board that I can't do by using the book?"

And if there's no real answer, probably you shouldn't be making a flannel board.

Here's the sort of book that IS ideal for the flannel board--though I like best to use the board in a combo with some props for this story. Too late for this Halloween, but something you could try next year!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Theme of the Week: It's Novem-Bear!

I am going to remind myself next year that post Halloween groups are zapped out from the excitement all the way through the week. Had a mom I really like tell me she was exhausted and it was SO  nice to come to story time and let ME lead things. Which was fine with her darling rascal of a boy (youngest and sweetest of her 3 sons),but with some of the other kids, NOT! Add to that a plethora of accompanying and unruly toddlers NOT being restrained by parents and caregivers, and well, it was a helluva week.

And then my "reading room" copy of one book was nowhere to be seen and the other disappeared during Wednesday's program and, to my knowledge is nowhere to be found. Sigh.......

But back to this week's theme, which was bears, since it is Novem-Bear:


I didn't use this book on Wednesday because I had a big enough crowd to move out of the story room onto the main floor, and this book isn't big and bold enough for that. But I did use it Tuesday. Most of the kids know this series by now, but this is the first and (I think) the best in the series, and they love to join in on the refrain: "But the bear...snored...ON!"

I fell in love with this book the day I met it and I've loved it ever since. The bold artwork is irresistible and worked even with a large crowd. Big Smelly Bear is every child who doesn't want to take a bath and Big Fluffy Bear is every sweet, forbearing (sorry)parent who has to convince her child to do so. I just wish that Teckentrup had allowed one final page revealing Bear in the pond--showing him in the pond gives away the ending!

Sometimes when things don't go well Tuesday and Wednesday I toss everything out for my Thursday afternoon crew. I really wanted something different to get this program going, and remembered at the 11th hour that I had a big book version of this story upstairs. It was a great way to open up, especially when at the end I could ask "But where was the bear?"  One of the kids knew that there is bear on the back cover, but that's just a shadow, so we discussed how you could fool someone by making a shape with your hands in a shadow!


"Sody Salleratus" has been one of my favorite stories to tell for many, many, years. I never get tired of it, because as I keep saying, a story is never the same way twice. I've told this story to school aged kids and here I especially enjoyed telling it with my 3 to 5 year old crowd on Thursday, but one tiny 2 on Wednesday did some of the most enthusiastic "One..Big...GULP!"s that I have ever seen!
My version is based on Margaret Read MacDonald's, and if you want to tell stories I'd recommend you hunt down "Twenty Tellable Tales" which is one of the books that really got me started as a storyteller. Terri Sloat has a good picture version of it as well--a patron mentioned they had borrowed it and recognized it as the story I'd told them last summer!

"The Bear Went Over the Mountain" is a natural here. You could use a flannel board for this I suppose, but I am perfectly happy having the kids make a fist of one hand as the bear and having it climb up their other arm. Then we shade our eyes for "to see what he could see", and point to our other arms for "the other side of the mountain"
"Big Brown Bear" is on Kira Willey's  "Dance for the Sun", the same place where I got "Making Apple Pie" for a September program. They are songs she uses in yoga for kids, and I modify them to use them with easy movements even my 2s can do. I also changed the last verse a little so that at the end the kids were curled up and sleeping in their caves--today's 3-5 year olds were extra good at that. You can get the words here and get part of the tune/download tracks at Amazon.com or CD Baby.

And now I am going to retreat into my cave--err, go home and make dinner. And tomorrow, think about next week's program!

Friday, October 28, 2011

"The Big Pumpkin", Or, Believe It Or Not, A Real "Flannel Friday"

As I've said, I rarely use flannelboard stories of the sort most "Flannel Friday" folks do. Occasionally I use magnetboards, a slight variation where the pieces are usually made from paper covered in clear contact paper, with magnets on the back, but even those are not much in my repetoire anymore.
I was talking about this with our circulation manager(who recalled using flannels less than successfully in Bible classes long ago) and realized that what a flannelboard is, at least to me, is a bridge to storytelling rather than reading the book out loud. It offers a visual, a way to tell the story and yet still put pictures in front of your audience.

Every Halloween for "The Big Pumpkin" I use  wonderful flannelboard pieces (which have magnets on the back, BTW) that were made for me long ago by a skilled assistant. They're fantastic, as you will see.
But it's not just her art that brings the story to the children. It's me, telling the story. Using silly voices--love doing the Vampire to sound much like "The Count" on Sesame Street. Having the children "pull and tug" along with me--was amused to realize that I automatically stand in ballet 4th position to brace my feet for this--and chorus along with "and the pumpkin just sat!"

It's the storyteller that makes a story special, whether you do it with fancy props, a magnet board, a book, or simply in what came be the most powerful medium of all, your own voice.

So take joy in this, and every story you tell, no matter how you tell it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mother Goose Monday: Halloween Special

Mother Goose Time at Halloween is more about parents/nannies dressing the kids up in costumes and the kids not being happy about it. Last week, in fact, I told the parents I would open the story room 10 minutes early so that they can take pictures to their heart's content, and then divest the kids of any uncomfortable clothes during the program!

We'll do spider songs--"Itsy Bitsy/Eeency Weency" is popular year round, of course.
And then the basket the usually contains various animal puppets for "Grandpa's Farm" will have a spider puppet in it so we can sing Raffi's "Spider on the Floor". This is an ideal "tickle" song and also, of course, names parts of the body.
This video has Raffi's original version, plus some funny spider pictures--arachnophobic types, beware!

Then there is the song I posted last week--"The Pumpkin Song" and "Five Little Pumpkins" I don't like "piggyback" songs, but adding "the ghosts on the bus go boo boo boo" or "the black cats on the bus go meow, meow,meow" is a nice Halloweenish supplement to "Wheels on the Bus", and we sing that every week anyway! And last but not least is this poem--in fact, I usually START all my Halloween story times with this action poem by Nancy Carlstrom of "Jesse Bear" fame. Sadly, "Who Said Boo?" is out of print. I am not giving the gestures--they're pretty easy to guess at or make up:


This is the way the cats walk, the cats walk, the cats walk.
This is the way the cats walk on Halloween night.
Pit! Pat! Pit Pat! Pit! Pat!
On Halloween night
Repeat with:
The kids walk.....trip trap.....
The wind walks....rip, rap....
The trees walk....scritch scratch....
The moon walks....tip, tap.
All of them together:The moon walks... The trees walk....The winds walks....The kids walk...The cats walk.....
 On Halloween Night!

And it occurred to me the other day that I COULD add my own verse--about the bats flying.
They are going to go FLIP-FLAP!

Since I didn't get to publish this on Monday, I've already done my Tuesday programs. I recorded at both Mother Goose and the 2 and up set's story time, and liked the older kids' program version better, so here's a podcast of us doing it:

Coming as soon as I can get it up here: some extra special Halloween stories!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Theme of the Week: Pumpkins,Pumpkins PLUS:Ramblings About Storytelling

The problem with becoming aware of and trying to participate in "Flannel Friday" is, as I said last month in "Flannel Board Free" that I don't really do flannel boards.

I am a storyteller. Flannel boards (magnet boards) were where I started. But if there's a way to use a prop, a puppet, any gimmick that enables me to TELL a story, that's where I'm headed.

This week's "Pumpkin" program is typical of what I like to do. I DID have this terrific book, which I could have just read to the kids, and I have done that in the past. But mostly I used it just to show them the steps in how a pumpkin grows as part of telling a story that is sometimes called "The Story of A Pumpkin" and that I just call "Feegbah"

If you listen to the podcast, you will hear that I am trying to get the kids involved in the story from the moment they look for an imaginary pumpkin seed behind their ear to the end where they become the cows tossing "Feegbah" high into the sky.  They become trees and they bend to one side and then another.They become houses and stretch their arms above their heads. It's active storytelling and where I go, they follow.

I have told "Feegbah" for many years and I never get bored of telling it. I never get bored telling it for 5 times in a week. Because a story is ORGANIC, not in a misty, New Agey nonsensical sort of way, but because the audience is never the same. I am never the same.  Each time, the story changes depending on who I am telling it to.

I listened to this story and realized that it had evolved again this year. When the Kid taunts Feegbah, this year I danced around going "nyah-nyah-nyah NYAH-NYAH", the time honored chant of my Bronx childhood. And the more the kids giggled, the more I hammed it up.

And when I asked what grows in the forest and a little ham shouted "bananas", I promptly turned the trees into banana trees. So when Feegbah squashed the trees, I honored the late great Harry Chapin by Feegbah leaving behind "30 thousand pounds of mashed bananas" :D

The other story I did this week was based on a Bengali tale usually called "The Old Woman and the Pumpkin", which I told with puppets. Again, I have told this story for years--Guitar Lady and I did it long,long ago as a puppet show in the park at Halloween, but it too keeps changing. Never having liked the ending where 3 wild animals quarrel over who gets to eat the Old Woman while she slips away, I happened to remember the Jessica Souhani version of this story and discovered in that version the Old Woman fools the tiger into thinking she is still skinny and unappetizing by poking her walking stick out of the pumpkin as if it is her arm! That's a nicer, gentler version of the story, so I used that. I was hoping to make up a flannel board version of this and film it, but I still haven't found an old lady cut out, so I've put it on the back burner.

We also sang "Five Little Pumpkins" and "The Pumpkin Song"  I podcasted in my last post. But these two stories are long, and were plenty for story time!

Thursday afternoon, instead of doing another boring pumpkin craft, we made apple cider donuts.
I will post about that on "The Library Lady Cooks" when I get a chance.

And now it's time to get ready for Halloween!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spider On A Web: A Craft They Make Themself

I am a craft anarchist.

I had an assistant some years ago who drove me crazy (among other reasons) by spending endless hours cutting out prepared perfect pieces for crafts. She missed the whole point of preschool crafts!

Crafts are not, not, NOT  about making a perfect copy  of a perfect <feh>Martha Stewart model.  There is no need for a parent/caregiver to take the item out of the child's hands so it "looks right". It's not about that. It is, as any preschool educator worth their title can tell you about the process, NOT the practice!

Craft activities can teach children  important skills, like using a scissors. They can help them can practice hand-eye coordination. They let them play with colors. They let them use their imaginations, something that kids seldom get a chance to do on a regular basis nowadays. Above all they should be FUN!

As are these spiders on a web:

I did have to cut slots around the edges of the plates in advance. Using a hole puncher way on the edge worked perfectly.

The kids chose their yarn and we taped the end to the back. Then they got to wind it from slot to slot however they pleased. One or two kids needed to be shown the basics, but then they did fine on their own.

I did also cut the pipe cleaners (now usually called "chenille stems") to size, but the kids had no trouble pushing them into the styrofoam balls. I needed to cut off a few sharp bits of wire at the ends. The faces were drawn on with markers.

The fun is in making it--all by yourself!

Mother Goose Monday:The Pumpkin Song

I have not been able to find a credit for this song which I got from my former colleage the "Guitar Lady", but it's been a favorite at the library for years.  I sing it all month at Mother Goose Time, and will also be singing it for the next two weeks at other story times.

Long ago, it was something this little pumpkin and her big sister sang with me quite a lot. They're past such things now (though happily not visits to the pumpkin farm), but patrons frequently tell me that this song is a household favorite!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Theme of the Week: Houses!

I think the book that inspired this theme was "A New House For Mouse", one of the books I found while doing apples a few weeks ago. But in the end I didn't even use it, because I had lots of other fun stuff:


There are other versions of this book--I have the lovely old version by Rojanovsky as a big book. But I never end up using it because like all the books he did for kids, Paul Galdone's bright strong pictures call to children. This is one of the books that I HAVE to sing, but this time I also asked the kids to "hide" with the turtle, "hop" with the frogs and other actions and noises as I could create them.


I didn't get a chance to take pictures of our "Three Little Pigs" puppets or poor old Mr Wolf. He's been in the library for many,many years and I keep showing the kids how worn his teeth are. He's become a Grandpa Wolf, and since I still have this damn cough, this time he had a cold too, and really wanted nothing more than a hot bowl of soup. So the third little pig made him some wonderful vegetable soup and they lived together happily ever after. Smart little pig to go to the library and get cookbooks :D
I had one little girl who was scared of the wolf and the noise the other kids and I were making with our huffing and puffing (the wolf needed help because of his cold). So I made the story milder and kept it that way, even with the older kids. Though the wolf DID go around sniffing the kids and asking if THEY were pigs!

Cut and Tell Story: 
This is known mostly as "The Little Orange House" and is a lot of fun to do. Since I am a klutz AND left handed (I cut with my right), I made some cutting lines in pencil (and poked showed the blank side to the kids and then folded the paper so the lines were facing me. You can find the how-tos  HERE.

Little Red House
The original book is a pretty slight story. A child has a little red house. Inside that is a yellow house and a blue house and a green house and a white house. And inside the final, white house is a tiny bear "Kiss,kiss!"

I was looking to find references about this book and was amused to see that a new Internet acquaintance of mine, Anna of FutureLibrarySuperhero (and as far as I'm concerned, she's one already) had this on her blog. She'd done a lovely version based on what she'd learned from Kimberly Fauvot. Ms Fauvot wrote "Books In Bloom" which is a great book on doing storytelling with props, only I find her patterns overcomplicated and downright anal, and I've done great versions of several of the stories she suggests with much simpler stuff!

Fauvot may have done this story, but I'm betting that I did it before she did. Back when the book first came out my colleague(who was a pain in the toches to share an office with but great to coordinate with) and I immediately hit on this as a great gimmick, and got our incredibly talented page (now long grown with a son of his own) to make us a series of houses out of boxes.
The houses are probably due for a bit of urban renewal (I've patched roofs several times), but it still works well enough to use it at programs. Instead of a tiny teddy bear, I get to the white box and tell the kids that white "has all the colors in it". And then I pull out a tiny bottle of bubbles and blow bubbles!

We had a craft on Thursday, when I've got the oldest kids. But that's for another post.
And next week, of course, is pumpkins!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Theme of the Week:Up In the Trees

I did apples last week, but I have tons of stories about other kinds of trees, or really about the animals who live in them!

I accidentally ordered a kit with a board book copy of this book and a tiny stuffed owl, so I put the book out to circ and kept the owl.  The kids are always asking what's in what looks like a hole on the story room "tree". So this week I told them that I had found something in the hole, and brought out the little owl for them to pet--gently! Then we read this book, which I have in a "big book" edition.
Many of the kids tell me they have this at home--and we had it at my house too when the girls were little. But they are perfectly happy to hear it again, to giggle as I ham it up with Bill's increasingly anguished cry of "I want my mommy!" and to be reassured along with the babies, that moms always come back! 

Every year, I tell Jane Moncure's story "What Will It Rain?"  in which a squirrel tells other animals that it is going to rain something special. They guess things like fish and carrots and oats, but it's none of those of course--it's acorns that rain down on the audience at the end of the story. I am just not creative enough to make a magnet board of this and the book is out of print. But I have just bought a used copy and am going to try to make some sort of film of it to post here.

Recently I did a "Magnet Monday" posting of my "Whoo's Missing?" game--you can find it here.
We played this at all the programs this week. The two year old crowd couldn't do more than one or two owls, but for the three to five year old crowd we took away three and four owls and they really did well at it!

I do this as a song with gestures. But I've added the feltboard and made a "film" for the fun of it:

I could have done even more stuff with my 3-5 year old crew, but it was the first nice Thursday in weeks.
So we went outside and played with soap bubbles and sidewalk chalk instead!

And that's all for this week. Next week's theme? "Houses"............

Friday, September 30, 2011

Theme of the Week: "Mouse Apples"

It tickles me to name this theme as such, in honor of the many pithy equivalents of "bulls*it" employed by Colonel Potter on M*A*S*H. I have a fine salty vocabulary of my own when I'm not busy being a children's librarian......

I kept finding story after story involving mice and apples last week. One of them "A New House For Mouse", I set aside for a "house" theme, but the other two, along with some new "bells and whistles", turned into a nice little "apple" program:

The problem with "Little Mouse's BIG Secret" is that the pictures are SMALL!

I get the reason why it was done that way but still think the proportions  could have been better. Even sitting close up, it's hard to see the tiny little animals As a result, this story might be a good pick for a flannel/magnet board--a good option when a good story is too small for a large group to enjoy together.

But it worked all right. Little Mouse finds an apple, doesn't want to share it and "hides" it by burying it in the ground. The apple promptly sprouts into a tree which grows into a tree loaded with apples. By the time Little Mouse realizes what has happened, there are enough apples for all to share. I took the book around the story time circle so that all the kids could see the picture where the tree sprouts out of the ground. This is also the sort of book where some fill-in dialogue may be needed by the reader since the basic text is pretty much animals asking "What are you hiding?" and Mouse replying "It's my secret and I'll never tell".

I think Melissa of Mel's Desk spotted me on Twitter and I'm delighted that she did because I am finally starting to find librarians who like what they do as much as I do--work with really young children. There aren't any other librarians around me who really do, and it's lovely to be able to share and learn again. This book is out of print and our library doesn't have a copy, but when I spotted this on her last "Flannel Friday" I knew I wanted to try telling it. I ended up finding a YouTube clip of a lady reading this, so I had the full text, then promptly took it and did what I wanted with it :D    But the basic tale is of a little mouse who patiently waits under a tree for an apple to drop. Other animals come and wait too, but when the apple doesn't fall no matter what they do, they lose patience and finally leave. Mouse keeps waiting, and when the apple DOES finally fall has a sweet reward.
I told the story with puppets and used other animals I had on hand including my beloved sheep puppet "Lambert", who as usual misbehaved and wanted the kids to give him carrots instead. It was fun, and I am looking forward to trying it out with my older kids next week and mangling the story even more to suit them and me!


I work alone these days but in past years I was lucky to work with some incredibly creative people. Jason started working for us as a page (shelver), but we soon discovered he had awesome artistic talents. He worked for me until he graduated college and made me stuff I'm still using to this day, including some puppets that Jim Henson's people would have heartily approved of.

This great big guy used to be an amiable but not very bright Giant in "Jack and the Beanstalk", but I dressed him up in an old t-shirt of mine and a pair of overalls that SC (now, alas age 16!) used to wear when she was a toddler, and now he's Farmer Brown.  As such, he was perfect for singing "Five Red Apples", a song I'd learned long ago via Sharon,Lois & Bram as "Five Green Apples". I can't find their version on YouTube, and don't like others I've seen, so here's my version of it:


There is a big wall display area in my story room. When I first moved in here, we put a tree display there, and ever since the tree has changed with the seasons. I took 5 red fake apples (craft stores have them now) and hooked them loosely to the tree. "Farmer Brown" 's right hand works with mine in it, so he took the apples off one by one and pretended to eat them. Then I hid the apples behind him--his overalls made kind of pocket scrunched up against me, and we continued the countdown. The kids counted along on their fingers and I managed not to drop a single apple!

I was working on a little film of  a story I tell called "The Caterpillar Buys Shoes"--at some point I'll get it done and up here and on YouTube--and was looking for a caterpillar song to use with the credits. In searching Amazon, I came upon "Caterpillar,Caterpillar" by Kira Willey, a musician and children's yoga instructor. You may know her work--she did a song called "Colors" that was used in a Dell commercial and you can see a video for the song HERE.

I didn't realize until later that I had seen reviews for the album "Caterpillar" is on and had bought it for the library!. I always do a lot of movement related stuff with the kids, so turning "Making Apple Pie" into an activity for my groups worked beautifully.  We crouched down small like seeds, "grew" tall into a tree, reached up high to pick apples, then sat down to knead our dough, roll our dough, bake our pie, blow on our pie, and ate it with our choice of ice cream. I used Kira's song, which is beautiful and was easy for me to sing, but adjusted the lyrics here and there and added a few bits of my own. The kids LOVED this, and I am now planning how I am going to use her "Big Brown Bear" song.

Next week, it's back into the trees, but this time with the squirrels and the owls!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Theme Of the Week: ABC/123:Loud, Active & NOISY!

Fall programs can be tough to plan. I look at past years and see the same themes cropping up over and over--you know. Apples. Fall. Pumpkins. Stuff like that.

And I love those themes. I have lots of cool things for them. I want to do them, I just don't want to bore myself--or the parents/nannies that have come with more than one child!

So I try to mix things up. Use some of the same stuff, but in a new version of the theme, with new stuff added.
Which was what happened to what otherwise might have been a basic ABC/123 kickoff program.

BOOKS:I was inspired by this book, in which a bunch of kids "do the alphabet", count, name colors, animals and vehicles. And each time, they are urged to "Shout! Shout It Out!"

Just my kind of book since I am apparently the descendent of generations of subversive, anarchistic types. You think a library story hour should be tame and quiet? HECK NO!!
Besides, I wanted any new families to know that this is NOT the sort of story hour where the kids are going to sit quietly with their hands in their lap while the librarian reads 3 dear little stories and does a limp fingerplay or two. What a patron of mine who attended story hour at another branch described as a "drive thru story hour" (!)
Nope. At MY story hours kids get to talk back to me. They get to make animal noises. They get to sing. And they get to MOVE!

So we started with this book. The kids had a blast with it. Instead of naming the animals, we made animal noises and on the last page, we just did the alphabet and the numbers again. Loved it.

The "usual" theme I built this around was what I call "ABC/123". So since we'd done the alphabet, the natural follow up book was "Chicka Chicka", as a "Big Book".

Followed, of course, by singing the "ABC" song.

Maurice Sendak's "Nutshell Library" books, sung to their Carole King "Really Rosie" tunes, have been a staple in my house and at my programs for years. The books are too small to use in programming, but years ago we enlarged the illustrations for this book with a color copier, cut them out, covered them with contact paper and added magnets.  One of my favorite number books, and a nice loud one!

I pulled this paperback book from a batch of stuff in my "reading room" and was glad to see that it still may be available as it was a perfect way to end the programs. This is not a sit down book--except when the text tells you to do so! Instead you will be doing everything from roaring like a lion to blowing a kiss to telling a secret to hopping on one foot! And finally, you "wave bye-bye".

I DID omit the line about "turning a somersault", which probably wouldn't have been a great idea. My preschool kids LOVED the "I'll tickle you if you tickle me" and used it as a chance to take turns tickling ME. How come the teachers got off so easily?

I play various dance/movement games with the kids as fillers. This week two were "Shake Your Sillies Out" and "If You're Happy And You Know It".  When I did this program for some of my favorite kids from a preschool this morning, we also did the Nancy Stewart "Hopping Like A Bunny" game with my slide whistle!

It was a great first week back. And not boring. Not one bit!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mother Goose Monday: The Gift Of Mother Goose Time

 "Mother Goose Time" resumes at my library tomorrow. It's a program for 12-24 month olds, and I look on it as a teaching program. It's intended to teach parents and nannies (lots of those) rhymes and games to play with their children to increase language development.

Of course, a lot of parents use it as a free program to add to the "schedule" of events their children attend weekly either with them or with the nanny, and I really feel sorry for those of them who miss the point. Because you don't, don't, DON'T need a formal program to use these rhymes, and they were made for life on the go.

These are the rhymes and games I played with my daughters when they were little. They were rhymes that we played and songs that we sung in the car, in the bathtub, at the doctor's office, in a restaurant and above all, at night before bedtime.

It wasn't an earnest attempt to "increase language development", or turn my kids into little geniuses.
It was play. It was FUN!

And how I miss it!
It never fails to surprise me how many people don't seem to understand this sort of play with their kids. Way before I was doing "Mother Goose Time" I was sitting with SC on my lap as the two of us poured over the pages of  the Rosemary Wells illustrations in this book.
BTW, this is still my favorite Mother Goose book because it has big clear UNFUSSY pictures with well chosen versions of the rhymes. The Jan Brett/Mary Englebreit sort of school of art is fine for grown-ups and bigger kids, but it's too cluttered and complex for toddlers!

As we read the rhymes, I often found myself bouncing SC in time to a riding rhyme, or tickling her fingers or toes to a counting rhyme. And without knowing it, I was following 4 good rules for using Mother Goose with infants and toddlers:
  1. If it mentions a body part, touch it, shake it, wiggle it, tickle it, ...
  2. If you see a picture of the word you are saying, point it out.
  3. If there is an action mentioned, mimic it.
  4. Sing whenever possible.
That book is still in our house, though it is worn and shabby after going through both SC and her little sister JR. SC will not part from it and one day (in the far, far future, I trust!) I think it will pass on to the next generation.

And I have the gift of  wonderful memories of time spent with my girls that I try to pass down to my families at Mother Goose Time.

Hopefully, some of them get that!

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Magnet Monday": Whooose Missing?

As I posted, I generally don't use flannel boards, but I do occasionally use magnet boards. So since Melissa does "Flannel Fridays", I thought I might offer an occasional "Magnet Monday" and here's a fall favorite.

The original pattern for this goes back to "Kidstuff", a nifty little 'zine for teachers/librarians that was around in the late 80s and early 90s. Each issue had a story theme, complete with books, reproducible patterns and other neat stuff. We got it at the library and I still have 5 out of 6 volumes worth in notebooks in my office. I still occasionally find useful tidbits in it.

You could play a "who's missing" game with any kind of animal, but the "whooos" makes owls perfect for this and the kids love it. You could easily make the owls from flannel or paper and could add on more if wanted, though I think 6 is plenty for the preschool set.  My two year olds tend to be more challenged by this, but there's always one extra observant one in the bunch, and my older kids would gladly play this for the full story time!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Flannel Board Free

When I started working in NYC I didn't even know what a flannel board WAS. I don't know if anyone in NY Public Library was using them back then.

Thinking back in fact, I'd say that as good as the training at NYPL was for children's librarians--and it was--it was sadly lacking in terms of story hour training. We were taught to storytell in a very traditional way (more about that sometime)but aside from that and learning how to select books, most of what I learned I learned on my own.

And I am very, very, grateful to have worked with the children's librarian who did story hours at the library I came to work at down here in Virginia. As much of a pain in the ass as "Guitar Lady" was as a coworker (and she WAS!)she was and is a marvelous, creative storyteller. By the time she resigned and I had to start doing ALL the story programs, I had really learned the basics and was ready to branch out.
"Guitar Lady" is now a freelance performer and does much better at that than she did working in an office environment, where she regularly pissed off the staff. I hire her each summer to do some programs 
with me and thoroughly enjoy it.

But back to flannel boards. What "Guitar Lady" used and I soon caught onto were not flannel boards, but  MAGNET boards. Instead of cutting objects from flannel and getting them to stick onto flannel, we made our shapes from paper, covered them with clear Contact paper, and added stick on magnet tape to the back. Then we used them on a blackboard easel.

Magnetboard shapes have a lot of advantages over flannel. Making them is much easier since you don't need to make patterns and cut flannel. Back then, we had designs in books and we would just copy them and color them. Later, Print Shop software helped as well. Nowadays, with the Internet  I can get patterns right off websites, or get pictures from sites like Google Images.  A color printer does the work, or I can always use magic markets, fabric paints and glitter glue to augment the designs.

But their biggest advantage is that they stick and don't fall off of the board, as I've seen flannel boards do. I remember going to a "sharing" program for a batch of local library systems and watching with sympathy as a pair of librarians struggled with a lovely flannel set that kept tumbling off the board. "Guitar Lady" and I just looked at each other and were glad that we used magnetboards!

Over the years though, I've found myself using them less and less, because flannel/magnet boards are basically flat objects on a board. I've found that props or puppets are much more creative and hold the kids attention far better than board stories.

Plus, you don't have kids rushing up trying to pull items off the board. Because they DO........

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Story Time Theme: "Down At the Pond"

I am catching up on programs I did in July, and this was one of my favorites, focusing on pond animals.

Since we had done In the Tall,Tall Grass several weeks before, doing this book was a natural follow-up, particularly since I have this one in a big book as well.

In that one, the children get to watch the caterpillar change size in proportion to the other animals on the page. In this one, that role is taken by the frog.

 I grew up with this album, so I was doing "The Little White Duck" as a song/magnet board long before the lovely colorful picture book version came out. Now at regular programs I usually use the book while singing the song.  But for a large group I had visor hats for the characters instead.

I also used the duck hats to do the song "Five Little Ducks"

Somewhere or another I saw a rhyme called "All the Fish Are Swimming In the Water"After doing a search, I found a song version of it from a lady named Sue Schnitzer and I've been using my version of it with the "Mother Goose" set. It worked just as well with the (slightly) older kids at this program. I had verses for fish, frogs, ducks, gators, geese and kids! You can hear a clip of it and download it HERE --I probably need to buy her CDs for our collection.

I love Tony Mitton's work--his "Dinosaurumpus" and "Playful Little Penguins" are story time standards for me. I had never done this at a story time, but it was a natural to act out with the kids.

Because there are so many characters, I didn't have all the foam visors/masks that I needed for all of the characters. I could have used puppets, but that can get awkward with young children who really can't hold puppets properly. And I wanted to have the kids participate.

So I made a bunch of new foam visors. And that will be coming up in my next post.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with a great version of "Three Little Fishies" from "The Muppet Show". I grew up singing this with my family, and had lots of fun bringing out fish visors for 3 little fish from my audience!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This Week's Story Time: Moon Day

I always do a "sun and moon" program right around now because it's around the anniversary of Neil Armstrong's setting foot on the moon. Today is the exact day in fact, and I have vivid memories of being allowed to stay up late (I was 7) to watch it happen on our black and white TV.

This story time was hampered by the fact that I was going down a water slide w/my 12 year old Sunday and broke/badly jammed my little toe. Doesn't matter which I did, end result is the same--standing too much is painful and dancing next to impossible.

Luckily, I had my 16 year old to help me today. SC is a lot of fun when she wants to be, she's good with little kids & she doesn't have stage fright. So I managed well.


I have been a fan of Bill Harley for many, many years and love to tell his stories. I'm afraid my telling isn't as good as his by a long shot, but the audience enjoyed my version of "Bear's All Night Party" We had fun at the start planning the foods for Bear's party, and SC wore different masks in turn to be Bear's brother, a fox, a rabbit, Moose, a bird, a bee and finally, the Moon!
I love singing the song that goes with this. If you get the book, make sure you also look for the original CD where Bill first recorded this. The title of the CD is also the original title of this story "Come On Out and Play"

 Years ago, I was forced into having the local "Poet Laureate" as a guest at my programs. She turned out to be really nice though, so for the second program she did with me I did this lovely book by Nancy Willard. She read the script while I acted it out with the kids.
I had masks for the sun and the moon and cut the  nightgowns out of wrapping paper glued to oaktag (rectangles with a curve at the top so I could hold them under the "Moon"'s chin. For the part where people all over the world call for the moon, I used the computer to print flags for different countries with the word in each language for "moon" on them, and gave them to audience members to hold up.

I love Frank Asch's simple stories about bear, and this one about how Bear tries to ask the moon what he'd like for his birthday (he ends up mistaking an echo for the moon's voice) is a favorite. I just needed a bear puppet, a hat, the moon mask and a tree branch ( from a fake Christmas tree) to act this out with SC. Normally I would have used a round cardboard piece covered with foil for the moon, but it went missing, and the moon mask worked pretty well.

I did today's program as one of my "Great Big Story Times", so I didn't use this lovely Eric Carle book, but it's a favorite of mine for smaller groups. The foldouts tear when mishandled, so I don't circulate this book--it's a special story time treat.

I limited movement as much as I could this week because of my foot situation, but "Aiken Drum" is a sit down sort of song:
There was a man lived in the moon, in the moon, in the moon.
There was a man lived in the moon and his name was Aiken Drum!
"Aiken Drum" is made from food from head to toe. Eyes, hair, nose, etcetera, and the audience has suggested everything from pickles to pizza. Easy to sing and great for bus rides, car trips and other times when a singalong is a good distraction. You can hear a clip of it here.

That's all for this time. I've got one more story time next week before I take a break, but I've got at least 1 story time from June I haven't talked about here, and I'm hoping to get it up in August with a special extra feature!
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