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!

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Day in the Life!

Hi everyone! I'm Anne, and I'm a youth services librarian in Mid-Michigan (Lansing area). Here is a day in my life: July 26, 2010. This is my Library Day in the Life!

11:30 Arrive at work. I am not scheduled to be here until 12 but today I arrived early to have some extra time to solve a summer reading snafu (we were 30 summer reading prize tickets short by the closing bell on Friday. Luckily it was a regular patron, so I told her I'd have them ready for her next stop in. Since this involves me using special paper in the copy machine and hauling out the Official Library Paper Cutter, I came in early to do it before the patrons arrive.) I will be alone on the children's department floor until 3:00, so it is extra important to arrive early. I also draw the winner of the middle school summer reading program and will notify him of his prize: a $25 gift card to the movie theater. The most imporant thing I do before opening is turn on the air-conditioning. It is HOT out today!

High Noon. Unlock the door to the department. Someone has already checked in the books returned over the weekend for me. Put out a display with our "going to kindergarten/preschool books" for those of us anticipating back to school time. Check email. Not too much for a Monday and nothing I have to deal with (all list-serv things).

12:05 First patrons come in. Check out some books. Where are the Fablehaven books? Do you have Percy Jackson: The Last Olympian in? Can you put me on hold for it? Can you update my phone number in my record, please?

12:35 May I use a computer? How old does my grandson need to be to get his own library card? Our summer reading program ended on Friday so I will be working on compiling the statistics today. Looks like we have signed up quite a few more kids, but our circulation numbers appear lower. Could be a consquence of major road construction by the library. Storytime statistics are down too, but that is likely a consequence of us doing one less weekly storytime because I have been doing one at our other branch (about 12 miles away) instead. Or it could be a construction/weather issue too. Most of our summer storytimes are outside, at various parks and school grounds, and it has just been unbearably hot this summer. I have a dollar fine, but my Mom only gave me 58 cents. It's all the change she had in her purse.

12:43 Pay another fine. May we borrow markers for a coloring sheet? Where is Schoolhouse Rock: The Big Note Songbook? (This was my question to myself and it's a good one because it's not on the shelf in JNF where it is supposed to be. My best guess is that it might have been shelved accidentally in the adult department, and I will run up there later and look.) Everyone still here appears happy to be hanging out in the air conditioning so I take my free moments to make some photocopies out of Try Your Hand at This: Easy Ways to Incorporate Sign Language into Your Programs.

12:57 Someone is very excited to have discovered Star Wars ABC. We also just got Star Wars: Scanimation, and it is still waiting to go home with someone. I am surprised it didn't get snatched up over the weekend. Scanimation is so awesome.

1:24 ILL has arrived and the items I requested are brought down to me! It's nice that way. Today I recieved a jumbo book of easy guitar songs, Crunch by Leslie Connor, and Athena:Grey Eyed Goddess by George O'Connor, which has come all the way from my hometown library. Small world. Both the Connor and the O'Connor books are for my committee reading. I am attempting to teach myself to play a few songs on guitar for storytime purposes, which is really fun so far. There will be a blog post on this someday, which I hope will be helpful for those of you who also have no musical ability like me!

1:33 Regular library patron mom just teased me about putting the Back to School display out so early. "We all know what you're looking forward to, Anne!" Yes, I am!

1:48 Have to call the other branch to assist patron. I love my co-workers at our other branch. I have gotten to know them much more after doing a weekly storytime there this summer and everyone has been so friendly.

2:06 Everyone has cleared out for the mid-afternoon lull. Work on my committee reading list and email members to remind them of Friday's meeting.

2:41 Email sent and invitations to author the committee members only discussion blog have also been sent. More kids come in to use the computer.

3:01 Finally some relief at the desk. A page comes and checks in the books that have been returned today, and beguns to put away the shelving cart materials. It is pretty full today. Monday tends to be a big drop-off day. Help a bunch of people check out.

3:39 Go through a bunch of professional journals that have been stacking up on my desk during the summer reading program. Pick out some books to purchase and add them into my giant acquisitions spreadsheet (author, title, list price, call number) and see where my budget ends up. So far we are right on track.

4:51 Try to get everything set so I can take my dinner break. I am determined to get my desk cleared off of summer reading materials this week, never to be seen again...until April when I start planning the bulk of the 2011 program.

5:00 time for dinner! I'm planning on checking out some of the dollar stores in town for fun storytime ideas. I like to explore the town I work in during my break. We have a lot of fun little five and dime kind of stores which is just right for a librarian's budget!

6:01 Back from dinner. I picked up some awesome hats for when I do community helpers storytimes in March. This year we had visits from the fire department, the mayor, and the police department. I picked up a cowboy hat, police helmet, a fire department hat. I also have had my eye on investing in my own conductor's hat and whistle for train storytime, so I accomplished all that for about $10. Not bad! Page is leaving so I will be alone in the department again until we close at 9.

6:11 Daycare leader stops in to chat and collect her group's rewards. Help many people check out and a few kids sign-up to use the computer. Where are the Goosebumps books?

7:13 Have been working on planning the upcoming school year programs as well as our annual fall carnival. There is always so much I want to cram in but I don't want to overwhelm myself. There are just too many great programming possibilities!

7:26 Can it be true? Can I really be done compiling summer reading statistics? Oh goodness, I hope so! :)

7:39 Patron comes in to ask me what my real name is. I learn that I look like the character Lisa from the new Electric Company TV show and that they have been calling me Lisa for months not knowing what my real name is! HAHA!

8:04. Lots of people in here now, but everyone is busy reading! A librarian's dream...

8:07 Phone rings. Hi, I'd like to speak to the nice blonde lady in the children's department. The process of elimination (I'm the only blonde) leads me to discover, hey that's me! Answer her question and am glad to be flattered so shamelessly.

8:30 Things have slowed down tremendously and I begin closing procedures. Shut down computers and the copy machine, push in chairs, and other straightening jobs. When everything is off, I wait for the other staff members to join me and we all walk out together locking all the entrances & turning off the alarm on the way out.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Picture Books With a Tune

I've been working on a list of some of my favorite picture books that allow you to mix it up by adding a song.

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont Just plain fun. I give kids paint brushes so they can act this one out.

May There Always be Sunshine by Jim Gill A nice sweet song. Makes a good closer to a storytime session. Can choose a couple pages to sing at baby storytime also.

The Soup Opera by Jim Gill One of life's little pleasures is to act this out with children. There is also a genius YouTube video. You're welcome! People still sing this song to me from when I did it at storytime in July of 2009. This one I have on an iPod playlist. I made puppets using paint stirrers from the hardware store and coloring pages of people in different occupations.

Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin Don't forget to download the song. Would also make a wonderful felt board story. This is another iPod book.

Punk Farm and Punk Farm on Tour by Jarrett Krosoczka You can download the songs at Two more iPod books.

On Top of Spaghetti by Paul Brett Johnson Fun to sing and you could also accompany yourself, if you play an instrument.

Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort. Ditto.

If You're Happy and You Know It, as well as Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Jane Cabrera. These are good ones to start with, because people know the words and will probably help you out by singing with you.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dinosaur Summer Storytime

This week's theme for summer storytimes is DINOSAURS! YES! Every once in a while, I have a parent come up to me and say "I don't know why, but my kid is really into dinosaurs," and I think to myself: "Gee, Probably because dinosaurs are totally awesome." They are. So, this week's storytime is dedicated to all the dino-nuts who are kids and all the dino-nuts who are kids at heart.
The Super Hungry Dinosaur by Martin Waddell (ill. by Leonie Lord)
What to feed a super hungry dinosaur?

Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul Stickland
Counting... in reverse. The ending is the best part.

I would love to have a cookie-baking-dinosaur! Just sayin'!

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen (ill. by Mark Teague)
My favorite illustration is of the glaring dinosaur.

"Hi, Pizza Man!" by Virginia Walter (ill. by Ponder Goembel" Incidentally, Ponder Goembel is quite the name! A very fun, simple book.

"The Dinosaur" from You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together by Mary Hoberman (ill. by Michael Emberley). This is designed to be read by two people so I either enlist my assistant or hope for a volunteer from the audience. It's OK to mention that volunteers need to be able to read. If you have a grown-up that is a good sport, this is a good job for them. One of you will play The Dinosaur (purple lines) and the other will play The Other Dude (blue lines). Orange lines are read together by both readers. I like to be The Dinosaur. I always give myself the best lines.


"Oh, I Want to Be a Great, Big Dinosaur"
Oh, I want to be a great big dinosaur,
That is what I really want to be!
For if I were a great big dinosaur,
Everyone would RUN AWAY FROM ME!
Additional Verses: stomp away from me, crawl away from me, slither away from me.
"Dinosaurs in Cars" by Nancy Stewart. The instructions are very accurate--this is a fun song, but be prepared to get some exercise.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Monkeys/Elephants Storytime

This week's theme for summer storytime is Monkeys & Elephants. The best part of the storytime is definitely the craft, where kids color the face of an elephant and then cut out the middle and put their arm through the mask as the trunk. Hilarity ensued.
The craft pattern is from Never Pick a Python for a Pet: And Other Animal Poems by Tamara Hunt and Nancy Renfro.The book is long out of print, so if you would like a copy of it, e-mail me (address is in my About Me page) and I will send it to you. It is a great simple craft.


Furious George Goes Bananas: A Primate Parody by Michael Rex This one is a little long, but the kids that stuck with it seemed to enjoy it. I had to use my judgement on whether it was too long for the kids who were there or not. Adapting to your audience is one of the trickier parts of performing storytime.

Elephants Cannot Dance and I Am Going by Mo Willems. These are Elephant and Piggie books, and I like to act out the series without whatever poor soul happens to be assisting me with storytime that week. Luckily people are a good sport about this. Usually I play the more dramatic role (in both of these books it is poor Gerald the Elephant) and let the volunteer assistant play Piggie the pig. This also keeps me from having to say the word "Gerald" which I always mess up. Added bonus! We have the kids stand up and attempt to dance with us during Elephants Cannot Dance which is just fantastic and makes an awesome transistion into Jim Gill's "Silly Dance Contest" song that I love so much.

Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett. I have the kids and grown-ups pat their laps and chant the repeating part of this book (Monkey and me/monkey and me/Monkey and me/We went to see...) and then I add dramatic pauses before turning the page. Sometimes I will peek ahead to make sure the animal is not too scary. I have also been known to scream if it is. Or even if it is not. Gotta keep them on their toes.

Elephants Can Paint Too! by Katya Arnold. This is the first time I've ever done nonfiction in a storytime and it was a huge hit. The kids were mesmerized by the photographs of elephants painting. Now that is quality edutainment!

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young. I could have started with this one to introduce the theme, but I like to end with it because it puts a nice cap on things. I do wonder why the creature in this book isn't afraid of the mice though!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Summer Storytime: Crocs/Gators

Last week's theme was frogs and alligators. We read:

A Girl and Her Gator by Sean Bryan. I always find a volunteer to wear our gator puppet on his/her head while I read this book aloud. Their facial expressions and reactions are just priceless. Definitely better than if I just read it myself. In a pinch, I have done it with an alligator on my head, but it is funnier with another person.

Snip Snap: What's That? by Mara Bergman
I love the "YOU BET THEY WERE" refrain!

The Wide-Mouthed Frog by Keith Faulkner

A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson
A couple of the kids guessed early on that the "log" the frog is sitting on isn't really a log, but they didn't seem too bothered. It is not the only surprise in this book. I adore Wilson's books.

Summer Storytime: Dogs and Cats

We are already at Week 3 of our summer reading program and I wanted to post my first storytime outline for posterity (some prosperity would be nice. Kids, don't forget to tip your librarian!):

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin.

This is an adorable book and the kids loved it at every single storytime. You can download the song Pete the Cat sings (actually it is the whole book) for free from the HarperCollins Kids Website. What I have done with this track is to split it apart in Audacity, the open source music editing software program, and then covert it back to MP3 files which I then dumped into a playlist on iTunes and now I play it off my iPod. Formerly I used an iPod dock speaker, but then that broke and I discovered a cheaper option the iHome portable MP3 Player Stereo Speaker which I got at WalMart for $19. I like this option a little better because it uses a cord into the iPod's speaker jack, so you could play audio off anything with a headphone jack. It also uses AA batteries instead of AAA batteries, which are less likely to be around when you need them. YouTube has some really cute vide0s of kids reading this book, and one of the author performing it as well. There is something about a librarian dancing to an iPod that really seems to amuse people. I get lots of comments on this from the parents--"I couldn't believe it when you used the iPod! I guess libraries really are different! these days"

Dog's Colorful Day: A Messy Story about Colors and Counting by Emma Dodd. I alternated this one with What The Ladybug Heard by Julia Donaldson, depending on my mood. Ladybug doesn't fit the theme as nicely, but it works well for a slightly older audience. Dog's Colorful Day also makes a cute flannel board. I simply photocopied a picture of Dog from the book, cut it out, traced it onto felt and then made dots of each of the different colors. Easy peasy!

What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas
Jan Thomas never leads you wrong.

Dogs by Emma Gravett
Nice simple book with a clever twist at the end.

Big Cat, Small Cat By Ami Rubinger
This is a fun one because the kids have to help fill in the missing words from the rhyming text. Also deals a lot with opposites.

I am pretty happy with the way this storytime has been able to work for crowds big (yesterday we had 58 people) and small (10 today). There is just enough interaction to keep people engaged but not so much that it is hard to pull it off for a small audience.