Parachute ideas for all kinds of programs!

Stumped for ideas for using the parachute at storytime?

Think outside the picture books stacks!

Here are some great ideas for incorporating material from other areas of your collection.

Want to make your own clip art?

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started!

Some easy ways to spice up your site!

Be sure to suggest your favorites in the comments!

Ideas for incorporating factual materials into storytime

There is lots of great nonfiction for kids out there. If I missed your favorite, leave a comment!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don't be a Halloweenie!

I've said in the past that one of my favorite parts of my job is doing a "Family Reading Night" at the local elementary school. Tonight was the first one of the year and had a Halloween theme. About 60 people attended the dinner portion (hot dogs and chips! yummy!) and the parents and kids split up for the remainder. The parents were treated to a presentation on elementary students and reading, while I entertained the kids (and the elementary and high school librarians) with the following stories:

1) Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly
I did this story at last year's Halloween Family Reading Night as a felt board story, but this year I decided to tell it using the world's most awesome monster puppet. I just had to tell the kids we were pretending that puppet was green and not purple. It helped that they knew the story and they really seemed to love watching me velcro on the various pieces of the monster and it made the most satisfying riiiiiippppppppppiiiiingggg noise during the "GO AWAY *insert body part here*!" parts.

2) Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
I love Mo Willems so much and every group of kids I have ever tried this book with (of all ages) always loves it too. You have to say the part where Sam explains why he is really crying all in one breath and you have to be whining and sobbing the whole time or you are just ripping off your audience.

3) Inside a House that is Haunted by Alyssa Capucilli and illustrated by Tedd Arnold
I tried a little audience participation with this one. It was a not entirely successful effort but it was hilarious to watch. I made a bunch of signs representing the different creatures that are added in this cumulative chain-reaction story. As each creature in the text gets added, the kid holding that sign would hold it up and each page a new creature was added (monster's hand, spider, ghost, cat, etc.). Well, in theory that was how it was supposed to work, but some of the kids were too young, and others weren't paying attention, but it was awesome anyway.

4) Beware of the Frog by William Bee
I dressed up as the old lady (Mrs. Collywobbles) from this story (hat, shawl, etc.) and used a frog puppet to play the titular frog. It's definitely the wordiest of the books on this list, but the props definitely helped keep the kids' attention until the (surprise!) ending.

So, there you have it. Obviously for next year, I will have to get more puppets, because I only used two in a 30-minute program. That is like... only one for every other story. That is like...completely unacceptable. Buy me some puppets!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

All the world's a stage...

Some books are meant to be read independently and others are perfect for bedtime, but my absolute favorites are those that are meant to not just be read-aloud, but are perfect for performing!
Some of these have been mentioned in other blogs, but I hope a few of them will be new to you, or at least remind you of an old favorite. I especially have to give credit to Adrienne (of What Adrienne Thinks About That) and her readers for giving me some new ideas/inspiration for how to use books differently with kids.

Almost any of Mo Willems' Pigeon books could work, but Don't Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus and Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late have been the most sucessful for me. Who doesn't love to yell "No, pigeon!"? Probably someone who I wouldn't like very much.

If you have another staff member handy (or parents who are game--in my case, it was a teen volunteer to torture) and an extra copy of the book, some of the entries in the Elephant and Piggie beginning reader series are wonderful when read aloud. Like the Pigeon books, there is no pesky narration to bog down the story, just pure, delightful dialogue. In library school, I turned My Friend is Sad into a felt board story. This summer I did I Am Invited to a Party for "Getting Dressed" storytime. (Because the books are too small for a crowd, I made sure we had two on hand and divided the crowd into 2 halves of a semi-circle. We had a large crowd this summer-45 people, when 20 is normal, so I had everyone yell "PARTY!" after each time the word was used in the story, so people would listen.)

Another story primed for a two-person performance is Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka. It makes me sad that this book hardly ever gets checked out at my branch, because it is such a great one. I like to read it just because the kids love to see two grown-ups yelling at each other (inside the library! Horrors!). If you have 2 copies handy, then you can do a little bit of acting--start well apart from each other as the two strangers in the book do and come closer to each other as indicated by the book's pacing.

Books I Want to Try This Method With:
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont. I think it would be fun to tell this story with a paintbrush and pretend to paint yourself, or some of the kids in the audience if they seem up for it.

Good Boy, Fergus! by David Shannon

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How to Make Fireworks in a Glass

Fill a tall, clear drinking glass with room-temperature water, leaving about an inch of space at the top.

Pour 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a smaller glass and add 1 to 2 drops each of red and blue food coloring.

Gently stir the mixture once or twice with a fork to barely break up the beads.

Pour the shorter glass into the water glass and watch.

It takes about 30 seconds for the beads to burst through the oil, releasing miniature fireworks.

This is an idea from the July/August 2007 issue of Family Fun magazine (last page).

Friday, May 23, 2008

First Grade Library Visits

I did a first-grade library orientation program today and I just wanted to share what we did (and record it for this time next year). I need to point out that I had help from my wonderful co-worker Denise, so this is really designed for 2 people from the library to present, which we needed today because we had four 1st grades in attendance at once! That's about 100 kids!

And it worked well to have two "performers" because we could play off each other and one of us could prep the next part while the other kept the kids occupied. So, thanks Denise! I put the things we said in bold and the "stage directions" in regular font and in parantheses.

The section on library cards is taken mostly verbatim from the library's system "how to do" orientation, but I just shortened it so I could look through it as we went easier.

Hi! Today we’re going to talk about the library and all the things we can do for you there, but first we want to make sure you’re all really good listeners. So, we’re going to play a song, and see if you can follow along.
Let’s teach you the rhyme first, so you can say it along with the CD. Listen to us say it once and then we will all say it together, OK?

Here it is:
Jump up!
Turn around.
Clap your hands.
Stamp the ground.

OK—Let’s say it all together.
Jump up!
Turn around.
Clap your hands.
Stamp the ground.

Good job! Now let’s try it with the actions, along with the music.

(Play “Jump Up, Turn Around”—track #4: Jim Gill Sings Moving Rhymes for Modern Times This song is especially great because each time you go through it, the actions get progressively harder. You start normally just fitting the actions to the words, and the second time you do it with your hands held up high. The third time you shut your eyes, and the last time through you hold your breath (only do one of these challenges at a time, but it is plenty hard to jump while holding your breath.)

Great job, everyone! Now that we know you’re all such good listeners, let’s talk a little bit about the library and all the wonderful things it has.

(Hold up a giant library card and ask the kids if they know what it is. Pretend to stuff it in your pocket. Talk about how the card is really cool because with it, you get to bring stuff home FOR FREE! Explain that the materials must also be returned to the library so that other kids can use them. You can also talk about how you should never lend your library card to a friend. Ask for a volunteer to “be your best friend.” Then pretend to go to the library together and beg him to let you check out a book on his card. If he says yes (which kids almost always do), make up all kinds of horrible stuff that might happen to the book at your house—your sister might eat it, it might get dropped in the toilet, your dog might use it for a chew toy, etc. Talk about how he would be responsible for that item and then reenact the scenario, giving him a chance to tell you no.

Start a discussion about the importance of taking care of library books. Ask questions like, “Do you think you should eat nasty, crumbly rotten fish while you’re reading a library book?” And when the kids laugh and yell “no,” you can say something fun like, “And you should never eat rotten fish anyway!”)

Now, let’s listen to one of my favorite stories, A Girl and Her Gator, by Sean Bryan but instead of just reading it to you, we’re going to act it out a little bit.
(One person reads story, another acts it out with alligator puppet on her head)

Now I’m sure someone has read you a story before, and we’ve just acted one out for you, but has anyone ever drawn a story for you? We’re going to do just that with a story called “Catching a Pest.”(Read and draw “Catching a Pest” from Handmade Tales by Dianne de Las Casas)

OK, we want to do one more thing! Since you’ve seen us act a story and draw a story for you, don’t you think it’s time for you to tell a story with us? Well, I think so. And I know just the story! It’s called “Alphabet Adventures of Little Letter O” and I am going to need a couple volunteers to come up here and help.

(Have one person read the story while the other demonstrates the movements with the volunteers. “Alphabet Adventures of Little Letter O” is from Movement Stories for Ages 3-6 by Helen Landalf and Pamela Gerke. We had about 15 or 20 volunteers to come up and help act out this story, so after they were done, I gave all of them a bendy straw for helping. )

Wow, great job! Thanks for helping, volunteers. And thanks to everyone else for coming! We've got some stuff for you all to take home with you! Now it’s time to say goodbye! We’ve got one song about all the silly ways you can say goodbye when waving just won’t do! It’s called “Family Goodbyes” and if you listen closely you can use all the different parts of your body. Let’s give it a try!

(Play “Family Goodbyes” (track 14) on Jim Gill Sings Moving Rhymes for Modern Times)

Thanks everyone for coming!


As the kids left, a lot of them waved goodbye to us Jim Gill-style by waving their tongues and their knees and their hair at us. It was hilarious and really showed that they were paying attention and having a good time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Whither Weather Storytime

No storytime this morning as the library system opened at noon, instead of normally scheduled hours due to a huge winter storm that rolled in last night. Funnily enough, the scheduled theme was to be "weather," so I guess we all got a little lesson in that today.

We also did not have the normal TAB meeting yesterday as the school was closed yesterday. They have had 3 snow days so far in January. That means I will do no programming this week. It is a little weird to say the least.

I did however play a game of Zombie Fluxx with a regular teen who stopped in after finishing his duties as Official Library Snow Remover.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Playful Penguin Storytime

I lost my notes for this week, so this is from memory of what we did at penguin storytime this week.

sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It"
If you're a penguin and you know it, flap your wings (flap, flap)
If you're a penguin and you know it, flap your wings
If you're a penguin and you know it and you really want to show it
If you're a penguin and you know it, flap your wings

Other verses:
...waddle your feet (waddle, waddle)
...bite a fish (bite, bite)

To the tune of "The Bear Went Over the Mountain"
The penguin went over the iceberg,
The penguin went over the iceberg,
To see what he could see
To see what he could see
The penguin went over the iceberg,
The penguin went over the iceberg,
To see what he could see.

The other side of the iceberg,
The other side of the iceberg,
Was all that he could see
Was all that he could see
The other side of the iceberg,
The other side of the iceberg,
Was all that he could see.

Let’s Hear You Roar!
Let’s hear you roar like a lion!
Let’s see you jump like a frog!
Let’s see you snap your jaws like a crocodile!
Let’s hear you howl like a dog!
Pretend you’re an elephant with a big, long trunk.
Pretend you’re a monkey. Let’s see you jump, jump, jump!
And now you’re a mouse… Just let me see
How very, very quiet you can be!
(From Preschool Favorites: 35 Storytimes Kids Love)

Book: Your Personal Penguin (Boynton)
Book: The Puzzled Penguin (Faulkner)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wake UP, Bear!

Decorations: Make a bear cave with blankets and chairs, tape bear prints on the floor

"Hibernation Song" (to the tune of "Are you Sleeping?"/"Frere Jacques"):

Bear is sleeping, bear is sleeping
In the cave, In the cave,
I wonder when he’ll come out. I wonder when he’ll come out.
In the spring, In the spring.

Birds are flying, birds are flying
In the sky, in the sky
I wonder when they’ll come back, I wonder when they’ll come back,
In the spring, in the spring.

Where is Bear? (Egg-Shaker Song)
(Tune of “Where is Thumbkin?”)
Where is bear? (hide shaker behind your back)
Where is bear?
Here I am! Here I am! (bring shaker out and shake)
How are you this winter? (pretend to talk to the shaker)
Very tired, thank you.
Go to sleep.
Go to sleep. (hold shaker like sleeping baby)

Teddy Bear (Egg-Shaker Song)
Teddy bears, teddy bears (jump shaker to beat)
Like to sit in teddy chairs. (“sit” shaker in hand)

RunaroundrunaroundrunaroundrunaroundRUN! (sing very fest with shaker in “standing” position, running fast in a circle)

And then be quiet!

Teddy bears, teddy bears
Like to climb up teddy stairs.


And then be quiet!

Wake Up, Bear
Wake up, bear (quiet)
Wake up, bear (medium)
Wake up, bear. (LOUD)

Quiet Down Song: "Roar like a Lion" from Preschool Favorites: 35 Storytimes Kids Love (page 196) Really cute, fun, and it works! One of the moms, who works in a school daycare during the afternoon, asked me for a copy of it.

Read Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson

Activity: Bear Crawl Race
Activity: Snoring Contest

Craft: Bear masks
Snack: Apple Juice and Teddy Grahams

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What happens in storytime, stays in storytime

I found this great list of "10 Tips for Making Story Time Memorable" at and it has solified what is my current pet peeve with my library school education: in my literature classes, all we do is talk about books and not about how to make books come alive for kids. Maybe people who have children do not need this type of education, but reading to kids takes practice and that is something childless library workers like myself do not get much of before being thrown into the job.
Here are a few that I would add:
-It's OK if the attendees like the crafts (or the snack, if you serve one) better than the story
-It's OK if it takes you a few months (or longer) to really get a rhythm going.
-Play games
-Don't be a slave to the theme, although some parents are ALL about the theme. Sometimes I just throw in a phrase like "and now for something completely different!," which I think is a trick I picked up at
If you have any tips, I would love to hear them!