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.


  1. Thank you for sharing a story from my book, Handmade Tales! Draw and tell stories are so much fun. The cool thing about "Catching A Pest" is that the children can actually draw along as you tell.

    Best wishes!

    Dianne de Las Casas
    Author & Award-winning Storyteller


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