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!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Little Worm Hide and Seek

"Little Worm Hide and Seek" is a game I dreamed up on the reference desk Wednesday night. I am a big fan of felt board games like Little Mouse and Snowball, Snowball. Another game that I came up with is forthcoming on March 30th, which is when we will share ideas for the "Dream Big--READ!" summer reading theme.

Little Worm Hide and Seek
"Little Worm" can be played (at least!) two ways. One is to make a bunch of apples in different colors similar to Little Mouse and Snowball, Snowball. Another way, which I thought up just now while typing this post, would be to use felt food pieces (like in this earlier Flannel Friday), and have the kids guess the type of fruit or veggie the worm is hiding under. I like this idea better.

Little Worm Hide and Seek
Little worm playing hide and seek.
Are you under the __name OR color of fruit___ 
Let's take a peek! 

For this one, I modified clipart from the OpenClipArt library. Since all of their content is licensed through Creative Commons, I can share the PDF I made with you. I already have a set of felt apples that I intend to use for this rhyme so I only made one apple and worm to make sure the pattern worked decently.

I'm hosting Flannel Friday today, yay! Please leave a comment on the roundup post from earlier this morning if you're participating. I'll have the roundup available by Saturday morning at the latest.

Flannel Friday Roundup for Jan. 27, 2012

Good morning #flannelfriday-ers! Please leave a link to your posts in the comments here and I will edit them in throughout the day.

This week on our Facebook page, Kay has challenged us to leave comments on all the Flannel Friday posts.  It might take me a few days, but as Barney Stinson would say, "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!" We would love if even non-bloggers left us a little comment love to feed our weary blogger souls in the middle of a dreary winter's day.

In other FF news, we'd like to thank Anna for talking up our little group to her fellow Wisconsinians (Wisconsonites? Wisconsinganders?) on the YSS blog this week.  It is almost enough to make me forgive Wisconsin for trying to pretend it is the Mitten State, when everyone knows that it's Michigan. Stick to the cheese thing, Wisconsin. Everyone likes cheese. Except maybe vegans. Also, happy 175th birthday this week to Michigan! Woohoo. She doesn't look a day over 174.

In other Michigan news, the Michigan Library Association has the schedule for its 2012 Spring Institute online. This is our 2-day conference for youth librarians, which is Ann Arbor this year. Speaking this year are Chris Crutcher, Donna Jo Napoli, and Eric Litwin of Pete the Cat fame. My fellow Michiganders Gary Schmidt and Johnathan Rand are also keynoting. Those are some talented folks! Anyone planning on attending?

Speaking of mittens, if you have a huge stack of felt ones then you will love Teach Preschool's ideas for felt board mitten math. If only math was always this adorable, right?

On to today's roundup... 

First things first---let's give a warm Flannel Friday welcome to our first time posters Lissa at tickle the clouds, who is counting 5 Little Snowmen and Danielle at A Bad Case of Books who has Two Little Elephants for you. Can't wait to see more from them in the future (no pressure!).

In other wintery treats, Katie at Storytime Secrets has a colorful mitten rhyme for you, while Alison's Three Little Kittens have lost theirs. Oh no! Linda at Notes from the Story Room is promoting poetry with a charmingly illustrated (reminds me of Lauren Child) version of Shel Silverstein's "Snowball". Cate at Storytiming is thinking along the same lines with her "Hey, Mr. Snowman," inspired by a previous Flannel Friday post. Even more snow flakes come courtesy of Katie (from storytime Katie) who has actually stitched together "Five Little Snowflakes". And all this snow wouldn't be anything without a few penguins, would it? So good news! Kay at Storytime ABCs has you covered with There Was a Little Penguin.

Sarah at Read it Again is looking forward to Groundhog Day with her "Groundhog's Shadow". Just after that will be another February holiday and Meghan has you covered with "Six Little Valentines" over at Busy Crafting Mommy. In the mood for more celebrating? Kari at My Storytime Life is serving up a big piece of Birthday Cake. Yummy!

The weather is always a popular topic this time of year, as it's probably either already snowing or going to be shortly, so I have an appreciation for Library Quine's beautiful pieces of all kinds of weather. She promised to share the patterns next week, so stay tuned for those.

Erin at Falling Flannelboards shares the folder story "Cinderella's Rat". In other rodent posts, In the Children's Room has an adorable version of "Little Mouse," which is the one flannel I think every children's librarian needs in his or her collection. Another storytime classic is "10 in the Bed" and Tracey has adapted it to be "5 Bears in the Bed," a very cute idea for anyone planning a stuffed animal sleepover. Speaking of stuffed animal sleepovers, Mary from Miss Mary Lieberry has a flannel version of the older picture book Lisa Can't Sleep.

Katie at Recipe for Reading is calling "ALL ABOARD!" for her "Riding in My Trains" song. Meanwhile, see what happened when Mollie called it quits on her attempt to make a squirrel flannelboard. Find out what happened by reading Definitely Not a Flannel Friday Post.

And I've got a little game I made up--"Little Worm's Hide and Seek"

If I have missed you, please accept my most sincere apologies!  Just leave a comment and I will include you as soon as possible. Thanks! 

Flannel Friday can also be found on Pinterest. Archives and future schedule are right here. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yummy Watermelons

While it's hardly watermelon season here, it's always nice in the middle of winter to think summery thoughts! Since I will be on maternity leave for most of the summer, I thought I'd share this simple flannel rhyme now, Yummy Watermelons by Shelley Lovett (of 

Yummy, yummy watermelon...I love watermelon!

I had a piece of watermelon at breakfast. 
I had another piece of watermelon when I was playing outside.
Read the rest of the poem and find the patterns here. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings

Today's Flannel Friday comes to us courtesy of Multicultural Folktales for the Feltboard and Readers' Theater, by Judy Sierra. Ms. Sierra, though I have never met or seen her perform/speak, is a treasure trove of storytelling gems. The one I want to share for the Flannel Friday Mushy Gushy Valentine's Day Extravaganza today for is "The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings." This story is a cute one about a parent's love for her child just the way he is. I think it's appropriate for Valentine's Day because parents are a kid's first Valentine, right? Right.

Here is an extremely simplified version:

Once there was a little rabbit  who always wanted to be like the other animals he would see.

He finds a magic pond  and wishes for red wings like the red bird he sees in the woods.

He gets them! But he can't fly. So he goes home to Mama Rabbit, but she doesn't recognize him. So he has to go back to the pond and wishes for the wings to be gone.

After they disappear, he goes home and Mama gives him a hug, and tells him he's perfect just the way he is.

While we're talking about this book, I think it would be great for a school library's collection because it presents each folktale with patterns for a felt board story told be the teacher AND also gives a script for the kids to do a readers' theater performance with. It looks like the book is still in print also. Please don't be put off by the plain cover or 1996 copyright date. Others who might enjoy this book are camp counselors and Scout leaders.

Other Flannel Fridays I have posted that are appropriate for Valentine's Day storytimes are The Big-Hearted Elephant, Moose in Love, and A Blanket for the Princess.

Don't forget that Anna is hosting our Extravaganza today!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Imagination Storytime

Image Courtesy of
For the winter storytime session, I have been challenging myself to use as many new picture books as possible. I sometimes feel that I rely too heavily on my old favorites and while there is always room for them, I've enjoyed trying some of the great 2011 and 2012 books showing up from processing. Two of them inspired last week's Imagination-themed storytime.

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle
That's How by Christoph Niemann
The Game of Light by Herve Tullet This is a really fun board book designed to be used with a flashlight to make shadows in different shapes on the wall. Check it out! The kids got a kick out of being in the library in the dark. I had them lie on their backs and look up at the ceiling. I asked a parent to hold the flashlight for me so I could focus on reading the words and manipulating the book so the images would be seen. I had to try a few different flashlights (FOUR) before I found one bright enough. 

I didn't quite realize until after I was done reading that all three of these books are pretty short. So if anyone has any suggestions of  titles that would go well with these, please leave them in the comments!

For the art activity afterwards, I gave the kids each a sheet of chart paper and let them draw their little hearts out. I am really trying to focus more on the process of making art than trying to recreate a product made by an adult.

I always start my storytimes with the same rhymes: "Open, Shut Them" and "Let's Hear You Roar Like a Lion" but for the winter session I'm using "Snowball, Snowball" instead of "Little Mouse" for our felt board game.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Try this Book: Kindergarten Magic

If you've been reading So Tomorrow for any length of time, you'll most likely have noticed that I am a huge fan of the book Storytime Magic by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker. Many of my Flannel Friday posts originiated in that incredible resource. I am excited to let you know that I have finally been able to borrow a copy of Kindergarten Magic, also by MacMillan and Kirker.What follows is a review of sorts.

For public librarians, I would suggest browsing a copy from ILL as there is some good material but I find Storytime Magic to be more applicable to the public library setting. It would be useful to presenters who perform storytimes for school-age kids. I did really like the third chapter, "Welcome to the Library," as it lays out a great program for those orientation visits that are so popular with Scout troops and classroom teachers. Likewise, chapter 4 "Welcome to Kindergarten" would be a great starting point for a "Back to School" storytime in the late summer.

I know many libraries do an annual gingerbread house making program. If you want to add a storytime to that tradition, with all apologies to the Apple Store, there's a "chap" for that. It's 17. I've also heard of libraries who throw a New Year's Eve Countdown for kids at 11:30 a.m., which I think is adorable. Chapter 19 is all about The New Year. Another holiday it can be hard to find ideas for gets its due in chapter 30: St. Patrick's Day.

The rest of the topics are pretty standard for storytime planning books. There are chapters on: nutrition and food, nocturnal animals, the five senses (sidebar: someone needs to do a storytime on the 6th sense!), different seasons, transportation (which includes My Dump Truck Fred), fairy tales and folklore, dinosaurs, weather, zoo animals, farm animals, etc.

All chapters also include options for incorporating American Sign Language (ASL) and Spanish. In addition, there are also skill-building games to help kids learn to use the library as well as "takeaway activities," some of which would make good crafts to follow storytime.

One thing I did like as someone who has invested a lot of time and felt into making patterns from the previous book is this book uses many of the same pieces with different stories. You may have to make 1-2 additional pieces, depending on the story. This is so helpful. I know I struggle to think of how to recycle pieces in this way and there are some wonderful stories.

Judge a professional reference book by # of pages marked!
In my opinion, this is a great resource for our friends working in elementary school libraries. One of the reviews on Amazon criticized it for promoting flannel stories when smart boards and document cameras are all the rage, which was so sad to me. In my experience, even elementary aged kids are just as fascinated by good old-fashioned storytelling done by a gifted performer as they are by all the fanciest technologies in the world. If you don't have time to make flannel pieces, MacMillan and Kirker suggest the option of converting their felt stories into prop stories. This is pretty genius, if you ask me.

As with Storytime Magic, Kindergarten Magic has associated activities that you can print off the Internet.I wish more publishers would do this as my copy machine can be so fussy when I am trying to copy off flannelboard patterns from professional reference books.  I was a little disappointed that some of these were repeats from the previous book, although I understand how much work must go into putting a resource like this together. One of these that jumped out at me was the texture book craft, which is one of my favorites from Storytime Magic.

Has anyone seen this book? Or planning to check it out now? Let me know what you think!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Flannel Friday: Snowball, Snowball

"Snowball, Snowball" is my Flannel Friday for the day. I spotted this idea on Pinterest & I know this will be a hit with my storytime kids because they LOVE "Little Mouse, Little Mouse" and this is exactly the same thing but winter-themed. Perfect for mixing it up during our long Michigan winter storytime session. 

Snowball, Snowball

Snowball, snowball 
Cold and round!
Behind which mitten
Can you be found?

I ran out of different colors of felt, so I only had time to make three different mittens. But I plan to make at least two more and will most likely add some puffy paint details, although I don't have Mary's steady hand I used a coloring page image of a mitten and used Microsoft Publisher's auto shapes's oval for the snowball. This was a quick and fun flannel to make. I think it would be perfect for a new librarian to tackle. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Pinterest for Librarians

One of the things that has surprised me lately is the number of emails I get with questions about Pinterest. I thought it might be handy to put some tips together. I know I am not the first librarian to write about Pinterest, by any means! I hope this helps someone out there though.

How do I use Pinterest? 
There is a pretty good help page. Pinterest is still in beta mode, but you can request an invite from It sounds like most people are getting them within a few days. If you can't wait, you can email me for an invite, and I'll try to send one on. Not sure how many Pinterest will let me send though. If you have any questions, I will try to answer them, but I am a librarian, not a Pinterest staffer. It is also important to remember that Pinterest is still a start-up and is somewhat prone to crashing. A victim of its own popularity, if you will.

One thing I would like to point out is that it is extremely important if you are adding a pin (by which I mean being the first person to pin something) to make sure that the source is correct. For example, if you are pinning a Flannel Friday post, you want to make sure that it will take you back to the right post in the future and not just the main blog page.

How can I use Pinterest "on the clock" for library purposes? 
There are so many great ways to use Pinterest at work. You can find ideas for programs you are planning, decorating ideas, craft ideas, and printables to give to parents/teachers/etc.. To give you an idea, here are some of my work-related pinboards:
Library Bulletin Boards and Displays
Kids Sewing Projects (for our Sewing School program)
Superhero Camp
Spy Camp
Lego Programming Ideas
Camping Storytime
Library Carnival Ideas
Circus Storytime
Western Theme Storytime
Outer Space and Robots Storytime
Pirate Party
Star Wars Program
Art Attack Program
Instant Awesome Storytime Ideas
Printables for Parents (I like to give out ideas for road trip games, indoor activities, etc. as seasonally appropriate)
Gaming Programs
Library Puppet Show Ideas

There are also a collaborative board for teen programs, and of course Flannel Friday's page. If I am missing some good boards, leave a comment and let me know, please.

How can I encourage people to pin content from my blog? 
I've been experimenting with this a little bit, and I have a few suggestions. First is that Pinterest will not accept a pin if there is no image on that page, so always include an image. It can be an image from or a banner you made just for that post (like my Pinterest for Librarians banner at the top of this page) in MS Paint. It does not have to be anything fancy.

Another way is to give people a freebie. Whether it is a printable list of 100 books to read in kindergarten, signs to use for library displays, or something else entirely, I see lots of freebies pinned in my feed. This category could also include innovative ideas for marketing a collection, storytime crafts, or really any topic applicable to librarians.

Pins from
Can I see what has been "pinned" from my blog? 
Yes, or for any other site as well. But be careful because it can be addicting to see! And, as always, not everyone will like your content.

There are two ways to do this.
1. Put the URL in after this address: So to see what has been pinned from So Tomorrow, you'd visit this URL: (Make sure you drop the HTTP and WWW portions or you will get an error message.)
Other examples from some of my favorite sites (not all work-related):

Items that were pinned from my blog before I purchased my own URL are pinned here:

How to find other pins from the same site

2. You can also open any pin and see what else has been pinned from the same site. Down on the left side of the Pinterest site is a box that says Also From (it's highlighted in orange in the image). Click the link and you'll be able to see what others have pinned from that site.