Monday, August 14, 2017

Imagination Station - Under the Sea

Imagination Station : Under the Sea
(aimed at children ages 3-6)

This program consisted of a short storytime followed by exploration of ocean themed stations. 

1. Book: Way Down Deep in the Blue Blue Sea by Jan Peck, illustrated by Valeria Petrone
This is a great read-a-loud featuring tons of ocean animals. A great introduction to the program! 

2. Flannel Board Story: Five Little Fish Teasing Mr. Shark
(Sung to the tune of 5 Little Monkeys Swinging in the Tree)

Five little fish, swimming in the sea,
Teasing Mr Shark
“You Can’t Catch Me!”
You Can’t Catch Me!”
When along swam Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be…
AND (clap hands) caught that fishy right out of the sea.
(Repeat with four fish, three fish, two fish, and one fish…)
So alone swam Mr. Shark as quiet as can be
And he looked and he looked…
“no more fishies for me.”

The kids LOVED clapping along with me. I also had the kids say with me, "You Can't Catch Me." They enjoyed it a lot :) 

3. Book: Topsy Turvy Ocean

I love these Topsy Turvy books! This one is full of super wacky ocean animals doing ridiculous things. The kids laughed at all the funny scenes in the book. It's a little long but great for older preschoolers :) 

4. Song: Carole Peterson - The Little Fish

This is such a fun song!! Kids always love pretending they are a fish that is swimming, sleeping, brushing teeth, and riding a bike. The song is goofy and kids always laugh as Carole Peterson says, "Wait a minute... fish don't ride bicycles! We're fish!"

1. Ocean Puppets fun with puppet theatre -- I basically set out a basket of our Folkmanis ocean puppets for the kids to play with. We have a portable and very light puppet theatre that we got on Amazon that I absolutely love. It's cheap but I love it because it's soooo easy to pull in and out of our closet. Of course, you can never go wrong with folkmanis puppets. I don't usually let kids play with the fancy folkmanis puppets since they're so expensive but for this program, I decided to let them. :) 

2. Sensory bin – ocean animals, water beads, and coral! I can't remember the brand I used but I know I've used Magic Beadz with success in the past. Basically I just filled a huge bin with water to let the beads soak and expand for about 15 hours. Then I added plastic coral, vinyl fish, and fine motor tools.

3. Sensory bottles - I collected some of those fancy clear water bottles and added water, hair gel, oil, and soap to them. I sort of just experimented with what I added and there is no real perfect equation as to the amount of random liquids you add. I dumped a little food coloring, glitter, sand, pebbles, shells, and tiny ocean animals in and voila - cool sensory bottles that kids love staring at! 

4. Fishbowl craft and ocean visor craft - I gave children the chance to decorate a white die cut fish bowl with die cut fish. I also had cardstock visors with lots of ocean themed shapes for kids to glue to their visors. 

5. Ocean puzzles - We had an ocean scene floor puzzle out for kids to play with if they wanted!

6. Explore seashells with magnifying glasses - Children had the chance to look at my personal seashell collection with magnifying glasses! 

7. Shell x-rays exploration - Not sure where we got these from but we put these on a table for kids to explore. Wish I had a portable light table for these but we don't. Definitely something to consider purchasing for the future. 

8. Sea animal word hunt - I put pictures of ocean animals hidden around the room and then had children "hunt" for the animals around the room. :) 

9. Submarine - I made a cardboard submarine with the help of one of our summer college student employees. We bought the fish net on Amazon and threw it over the top. I added pictures of submarine controls on the inside. We also have this piece of wood that has typical control things added to it (mini tv, buttons panel, phone, keyboard, etc). Kids absolutely LOVE IT!!! I also had some telescopes I made out of cardboard paper tubes and dixie cups that I decorated with foam ocean shape stickers. I also put a ocean tablecloth taped to the floor to make it appear more ocean-like. I also clipped blue ocean-esque fabric to these metal rolling wall things we have at the library. 

10. Water vehicles - I set these around the room for kids to play with.  They're the "Green Toys" brand. Highly recommend these very durable and awesome toys! 

11. Blow up ocean animals from Oriental Trading - These are AWESOME!!!

So that's my program. :)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring Books for Babies and Young Toddlers

Here are some of my favorite books for babies and toddlers that I've read this April storytime session!


Ducks Quack by Rebecca Glaser

This is an adorable nonfiction board book for babies with clear, bright, darling photographs of real ducks! It also has short words and simple facts that make it perfect to read at storytime. "Waddle, Waddle. There go the ducks!" are the words on the first page, paired with a cute image of 14 ducks waddling in a row. The next page features an insanely cute photograph of two baby ducks. The third page has the word "SPLASH!" in big letters over a photograph of a duck splashing into the water. This book shows ducks in a variety of places and in a variety of poses, including a close up of their webbed feet! What's not to love? 

I Kissed the Baby! by Mary Murphy

This is another really cute board book featuring ducks. This book is also perfect to read around Valentine's Day. The high contrast board book is mostly in black and white, with the last few pages showing the yellow baby duckling. This visual stimulation is an important developmental stage which librarians and caregivers can help strengthen very easily by reading books like this!  The book features a sequence of several different animals (shark, frog, mouse, for example) asking one another if they saw, fed, sang, tickled, or kissed the baby. The animals respond excitedly, "yes!", and explain what they did to the baby. The momma duck is the last one in the sequence to respond, "Of course I kissed my own amazing baby." // "And I'm going to do it again!" The next illustration shows the momma duck kissing the adorable little yellow duckling, with the words "PPfffwah!" The final two pages of the book show the duck happily quacking! This is definitely a favorite which I will read again and again.

Spring Animals

Love by Emma Dodd

This is my new favorite book by Emma Dodd. I think I just happen to have a real soft spot for bunnies. Growing up, my mom read to me Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown & I think that's why I gravitate towards reading books with bunnies in them. This picture book has very sweet illustrations very reminiscent of Runaway Bunny, showing an adult bunny doing typical bunny things with their baby. There is really unique gold paint speckled into the background on some pages, which adds a magical element to the illustrations. The book is also nice to read during the spring and/or summer because of the nature scenes showing: yellow and white daisies against green hues of grass,  yellow-gold wheat fields, blue skies and white fluffy clouds, and a rainstorm paired with the words, "Love is when we huddle close and shelter from a shower." The last page is truly heart-warming, showing the adult and baby bunny cuddling close with the words, "I love you so, and when I try to count the reasons why . . . I find there are more reasons . . . Than there are stars up in the sky." The final illustration features the two bunnies cuddling inside a burrow with a gold moon against a navy blue sky with gold and white stars. Absolutely adorable!

I Heart You by Meg Fleming

I have been focusing a lot of my Read and Play Baby storytimes on spring animals and this beautifully illustrated picture book shows just that! As I mentioned above, I have a real soft spot for bunny books so of course I was immediately captivated with this book. The first page of the book reads, "I see you. I miss you." and shows an adult bunny looking out into the grassy field for her baby bunny who's running through the field with a carrot in its mouth. The second page shows the bunnies in a burrow, cuddling together, paired with the text "I hug you. I kiss you." A red barn and a fuzzy outline of two people are shown in the background too, leaving readers wondering about them. As the story continues, many other animals are shown with their offspring - foxes, bears, ducks, birds, and deer. The soft, dream-like pencil and gouache illustrations evoke a nostalgic feeling of being young and spending precious time with loved ones. Through many short phrases such as "I start you. I stop you." and "I sway you. I swing you." we're reminded of all the ways in which parents guide us through life and it definitely pulled on my heart strings! The story comes to an end with very sweet illustrations of a mom and daughter against a setting sun. Illustrations show the mom pulling barrels of red berries and her daughter in a little red wagon with the phrases, "I pull you. I tug you." ... "I hold you" ... "I love you." This was truly the perfect picture book to read to my babies and toddlers because it introduced a wide variety of animals, it evokes feelings of love, it was short enough that I didn't have to skip any pages, and since it's a larger picture book, the group was better able to see the illustrations. Highly recommended as a spring or summer read-a-loud and also perfect for Mother's Day. 

After reading this story we listened to the song "Little Red Wagon" from the CD Wiggleworms Loves You. 😄

Early Bird by Toni Yuly

A sweet read-a-loud for babies with an adorable bright red-orange bird as the main character. Against a navy blue sky, the bird is shown taking a deep breath of fresh air (and I even instructed the parents to all take a nice deep breath in). Then the cute little bird is shown zooming off the page with a winking sun in the background. Our bright bird is next shown walking across the green grass with three lady bugs in the background - which you can certainly count with children as an added math practice. Next, our main star is peeking through the flowerbed where he soon sees a spider web. Next, he's shown being surprised by a large blue-gray cat, which he flies away to escape from. Towards the end, the book shows our bird coming upon a lovely little garden "where she finds... the early worm!" and our bird is shown hilariously holding a wiggly brown worm between her beak. Next, she lays the early worm on top of a big, fat, juicy strawberry... "and together they share an early breakfast." The last page shows a beautiful orange sunny background, a white picket fence, the bird and worm, with music notes in the sky, indicating our sweet pals singing musically in the sunny day. 

Other Excellent Spring Books:

A Seed Needs Sun by Kate Riggs

An excellent board book with detailed illustrations and simple text that introduces young ones to the growth cycle of a seed, from its planting to flowering. 

Baby Loves Spring by Karen Katz

An adorable lift-the-flap book that makes reading about the Spring season very interactive for young toddlers! This book features all my favorite spring things: birds, worms, butterflies, rain, frogs, and flowers. I really love all the lift-the-flap books by Karen Katz!

What are your favorite books to read to babies and young toddlers? Share them in the comments!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Read & Play Baby: Valentine's Day!

This storytime is aimed at 0-24 months. At the beginning of each storytime I usually introduce some of our puppets. This gets children out of their shell a little. It also helps to calm any fears they may have about coming to storytime! I make sure every child gets the chance to pet the puppets if they'd like :) 

Here is the Folkmanis puppet I introduced at this storytime:

There is a duck in the book Love You Always by Roger Priddy and this puppet would also fit well with the book I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy.

1. Opening Song: Open Shut Them

Open, shut them,
Open, shut them
Give a little clap, clap, clap
Open, shut them, open, shut them
Lay them in your lap, lap, lap

Creepy crawly, creepy crawly,
Right up to your chin, chin, chin
Open up your little mouth
But do not let them in, in in

We recite this fingerplay every week. Repetition is important for babies! 

2. Book:  Love is a Truck by Amy Novesky

I am so obsessed with this book! Plus - it's about trucks and what child under the age of 2 doesn't LOVE trucks? This book is the perfect length for baby storytime, the graphics are adorable, it reads well, and it features children of color which is a huge plus. I have been making a real effort to include books featuring diverse characters and sometimes it can be difficult to find baby books with characters that aren't animals or white people. So Yay for this book! So glad to have discovered it. 

3. Baby Bounce: “A Smooth Road" 

A smooth road—A smooth road—A smooth road—A smooth road

A bumpy road—A bumpy road—A bumpy road—A bumpy road

A rough road—A rough road—A rough road—A rough road

A hole!

I sang this one twice and used a puppet in my lap to demostrate how to do the bounce. Watch Jbrary perform this bounce so see how it's done: 

4) Book: Love You Always by Roger Priddy

If you buy board books for your library, you've probably heard of Roger Priddy. There aren't always professional reviews of his books but many are still very worth purchasing for any board book collection! This book in particular features a series of short four-line poems about love and friendship.  There is also a series of tactile heart cut outs on every page with a glitter heart in the center. These features make this a magical and captivating book for babies while helping the reader get into the Valentine’s Day spirit. Love You Always is the perfect baby storytime book for the holiday! 

5) Wiggleworms Loves You - Bumpin Up & Down 

This is a great song and I play this at MANY of my Read & Play Baby storytimes. This song gives the kids a chance to move around. Some of the older babies (toddlers, 18 months and up, especially) really need this because they're having difficulty sitting still for even a moment (which is also totally normal at this age -- why do you think they call them the terrible twos? LOL). 

I also love the Raffi version, below:

6) Shake Your Shakers

Shake your shakers, shake, shake, shake,
Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
Shake your shakers, shake, shake, shake,
Shake your shakers!

Other Verses:
Shake your shakers high, high, high,
Shake your shakers  low, low, low,
Shake your shakers  fast, fast, fast,
Shake your shakers  slow, slow, slow

This is my regular egg shaker song that I sing at every storytime!  It does require patience but it's helpful for babies and young children to practice the act of picking up a shaker before the song and putting it into the basket when we're all done. Some kids have a really hard time letting go of the shaker after the song is over so this is important to practice!

7) Two Little Lovebirds with bird finger puppets

Two lit­tle love­birds sit­ting on a hill
One named Jack, one named Jill
Fly away Jack, fly away Jill
Come back Jack, come back Jill.
*kiss* muah!

Two little lovebirds sitting on a cloud
One named Soft, one named Loud
Fly away Soft
Fly away Loud
Come back Soft, come back Loud 
*kiss* muah!

This is a variation of a classic nursery rhyme, "Two Little Blackbirds." If you don't have any bird finger puppets, you could easily make some! This awesome video brought to you by Plano Public Library shows us how to make bird finger puppets while also explaining the benefit of reading these classic rhymes to children!

8) Book: Where is Baby’s Valentine? by Karen Katz

I absolutely love these lift the flap books by Karen Katz! There is a "peek-a-boo" factor to this book that children get a big kick out of it. It also mentions a lot of things we associate with valentine's day (chocolates, flowers, valentines, etc!). Very cute and also the perfect length for little ones. 

9) Baby Bounce: Tiny Little Babies

Tune: Shortenin’ Bread

Tiny little babies love bouncin’ bouncin’
Tiny little babies love bouncin’, yeah
Tiny little babies love bouncin’, bouncin’
Tiny little babies love bouncin’ so
Bounce to the left, bounce to the right
Now hug that baby nice and tight!

I've sung this one at storytime before and it's absolutely adorable. I almost always sing this one twice in a row too. 

Early Literacy Tip:

Additional Valentine's Day books:  

I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy

What I Love About You by Susan Farrington

Huggy Kissy by Leslie Patricelli

Kisses and Cuddles by Aly Fronis 

After storytime, I bring out the toys and let children play for about 20-30 minutes. I hope you enjoyed this special Valentine's Day themed storytime for babies and toddlers, 0-24 months!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sensory Playtime for Babies 0-2

I had a word document that I put together prior to my Sensory Playtime program and I just updated it to add some tips and links on where to buy some of the things I used.

Sensory Playtime is a program for babies that consists of several stations that caregivers and their babies interact with based on the 5 senses. Each station has board books that parents can check out to read during the program or at home with their baby. 

1) Touch and Feel
This station involves a fabric board made using a large sheet of cardboard, duct tape, and various tactile fabrics.  *** For the program on 1/30/2017, The tactile fabrics used for the touch and feel boards were various ribbons and fabrics found on clearance at Joanne fabrics. We had things like faux fur, satin, felt, velcro, pom poms, large buttons, foam shapes, bubble wrap, etc. I just duct taped the fabric down onto a piece of cardboard and used a glue gun to glue the pom poms, foam shapes, and buttons on.  

This station will also include sensory bags made using hairgel (the really cheap dollar store hairgel works well or the cheap LA Looks gel from Target), large plastic bags, craft materials to put inside the bag, and duct tape to seal the bags shut. *** For the sensory bags, I used a random combination of vegetable oil, hair gel, paint, food coloring, tapioca starch (corn starch works though – I just happen to have a corn allergy so I avoid it), glitter, etc. I then added foam shapes (cut out using our die cut machine), I also added some various pieces like letters, buttons, large googly eyes, and pom poms.  Some of the bags had different consistencies and so it’s largely an experiment. 

We will also have various sensory balls that children can play with and put through large cardboard tubes. *** The large cardboard tubes were sent to us from when we purchased some large posters. You can get them from any shipping company. There are various sized sensory balls online on Lakeshore Learning. See links below.

We have a large number of bunny puppets so this station also allows parents to have fun with our soft bunny puppets! We will also provide a large number of board books with bunnies.  Bunny puppets are mostly from Folkmanis purchased on Amazon and the Adventure Puppets are from Lakeshore Learning.  

Similar puppets to the Adventure Puppets: 

Of course, we’ll also have tactile touch-and-feel books for parents to read to their children as well.

2) Face Time
This station allows babies to take delight in seeing images of other babies. We will have a giant poster with pictures of babies from all around the world!  We will also allow babies to interact with hand held mirrors.* Babies love looking at pictures of other babies and mirrors are extra fun as well. We will also include a vast array of books that have images of other babies in them.  *** We already owned these small red mirrors and I’m not sure where we got them but they are made specifically for babies, ages 3 months+

3) Cloud Dough
Just two ingredients: organic baby rice cereal and coconut oil. You can add a scent to this too if you want, as long as it’s safe for babies. In this station, we will have books about food, taste, and smell. ***For the cloud dough on this day, we added pumpkin pie spice and then a small amount of Plum Organics Orange Food puree to get a slight orange color for the cloud dough. I did not measure any of this out, just eyeballed it to get it to the consistency and scent that I wanted. This food puree has peach, pumpkin, carrots, and cinnamon. This allowed me to not use any artificial food coloring.  Here is an image of the food puree I used. 

A child playing with the cloud dough. He REALLY loved this stuff, haha. 

4) Music Station
At this station babies will be surrounded by all of the musical instruments we have! Bells, egg shakers, rainmakers, noise sticks, and Little Tikes pianos, to name a few. Books on music, dancing, and soft vs loud will be available in this station.

Animal shakers: 

Musical Instruments:  (I pulled out only the stuff that was appropriate for babies) 

More musical instruments:


5) High Contrast! 
We will have a station of black and white board books on display as well as blown up images of black and white artwork. Research shows newborn babies love high-contrast images so this station is sure to amuse the youngest babies in attendance! ***I also used our smart board to project a high contrast video that used sound effects.  Here is an example of a video: 

6) Bubble Fun
Towards the end of the program, we will put on the bubble machine and let it run for several minutes! Babies love bubbles. 

*** Our bubble machine wasn’t working this day but this is another extra fun sensory experience for babies. 

So that's the program!! :D Hope you enjoyed this post.