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, February 28, 2013

Series Poll Results!

I am excited to share the results of the series poll Amy and I did. It was really fun to see so many responses.  Images can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Thanks for participating! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Humpty Dumpty Craft Stick Puppet

Remember my "Five Little Pumpkins" and "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" craft stick puppets? Now it's time for you to see the last side of that same box! This one is reserved for the tale of everyone's favorite ill-fated egg dude, Humpty Dumpty. I couldn't find an open source clip-art version of Mr. Dumpty that I liked, so I drew one in Microsoft Paint. I'm sharing it as a PDF for library, home, and classroom use.

Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. 
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. 
And all the King's horses, and all the King's men, 
Couldn't put Humpty together again. 

Like the other two, this puppet was inspired by Nancy Renfro's Storytelling with Puppets. There are two puppets: broken and intact Humptys. When Humpty falls, I hold the broken puppet in my hand. To show Humpty broken, I cut out a seperate image of him and cut it into 3 pieces. I slide that stick puppet through the bottom of the box, like so:

The brick wall is red felt with lines drawn with permanent marker. It is hot-glued to the box. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quick Display: St. Patrick's Day

I love making displays! But when you work in a library with a small to medium collection, sometimes you have to work ahead of the calendar when pulling books to fit a seasonal/holiday topic like St. Patrick's Day. I try to pull books for the next holiday BEFORE the current holiday has happened. So I pulled St. Patrick's Day books the week before Valentine's Day, when they were actually still on the shelf.

Here's my sign, if you'd like to use it for your own St. Patrick's Day display. The artwork is adapted from Open Clip Art.

I'll be adding Easter and general spring books soon, as well. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

In Which I Become Overexposed

I'm excited to announce that I have two upcoming speaking gigs! 

The first is a free webinar with the Pennsylvania Library Association on planning summer reading
 programs. It's a panel discussion with 2 other YS librarians on Wednesday, March 6th at 10 a.m.
 EST. As far as I know, you don't need to be in PA to register, so I hope you'll join us.

The second is a presentation with out-of-staters Sara and Anna at the Michigan Library 
Association's Spring Institute Conference.We'll be talking about awesome passive programs you can put on at your library even if you have NO time and NO money. We'll be talking
 on Friday, April 12th at 3:00 p.m. This year's conference is in our lovely state capital of Lansing
 at the Lexington Hotel. We are the very last session of the whole conference so please don't skip
 us to start your weekend early! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Guest Post: Frog and Toad, A Lost Button

I'm hosting this guest post on behalf of Cory Eckert, a librarian in New Mexico. Cory and I are Twitter friends and when she tweeted about her Frog and Toad puppet show, I asked if she'd write it up for my blog, since she doesn't have a blog of her own. Thanks, Cory! Here's what she has to say: 

Frog and Toad have so many things going for them, mainly that they are AWESOME characters who hold up really well after all these years. I love "A Lost Button"* because it's repetitive enough to bring little kids along after a button or two. Actually, I just realized that it would pair pretty perfectly with Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons, and then you could talk about how Toad freaks out v. how Pete stays calm. Anyway, I didn't do that. I usually keep the puppet show shorter than a traditional storytime because it's at lunch time on a Saturday and it seems like my families swing by while they're downtown + then head to lunch. It's a quick little 15 minute deal from shaking our sillies out to singing one last song to say goodbye (in this case, 5 green and speckled frogs). I've noticed that, probably because the kids can't see me behind the puppet theatre, they get REALLY squirmy if the actual show is longer than about 7-10 minutes. Obviously, adapt to your crowd/age group/etc. 

For the script I tried to stick as closely as possible to the language in the book, because it didn't need any help. I mean, it's Lobel. I cut out buttons from different brightly colored felts and drew four holes, two holes, etc. I did all the buttons from the book except the thin one, because I couldn't figure out how to represent that to the kids. I also constructed a jacket on Frog with felt. I maybe should have been more careful with Frog and the hot glue gun as he is now missing some armpit hair. 

Before the show, I set up each button in order from right to left so Frog could pick it up as they walked. 

I asked the audience to slap their hands on their thighs any time Frog and Toad were walking, to liven up the parts of the script where they're wandering around. I also asked them to make a door slamming sound when Toad has his tantrum, and to applaud when Grog gets his button jacket. The kids think it's HILARIOUS when I poke my head through the puppet theatre curtains to give them a stage direction. 

The whole front of my puppet theatre is felt board, so whenever Toad stuck a button "in my pocket" I put it on the felt board just underneath the stage so the kids could see all the different buttons as they added up. When we were ready to put the buttons on Frog's jacket, I enlisted the kids int eh front row to each put a button on. 

Whenever I take a play from a book, I have the book available for checkout afterward and talk it up. All my Frog and Toad books got checked out that day!

*"A Lost Button" can be found in Frog and Toad are Friends

Cory Eckert is the Youth Services Manager/Manager of the Children's Branch at the Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup, NM. She received her MLIS in December of 2010 having never once heard of a flannel board, and has learned everything she knows from Flannel Friday. Her favorite flannel story of all time is I Am The Biggest Thing In The Ocean, but she ruins the ending by cracking up before the last page. She believes that shaking your sillies out is an essential part of living a complete life. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Signals" by Shel Silverstein Folder Story

Every youth librarian should have a folder story in his or her arsenal. A popular one is Scat the Cat, but a really simple one I made is an adaptation of the poem "Signals" by Shel Silverstein. You can find it on page 20 of A Light in the Attic.

The poem begins by describing what to do when a traffic light changes to red or green, but then asks "But what do you do/When the light turns blue/With orange and lavender spots?"

To make this folder story, I drew a traffic light in Micrsoft Paint (super simple: a rectangle with three ovals inside) and printed it on some yellow cardstock we have had forever. Then I grabbed a folder and cut out its middle. I used strips of construction paper for the red and green lights and drew a blue strip with orange and lavender dots in Paint for the last light change.

Love Silverstein? Me too! I also adapted "Shadow Wash" and "Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich" for storytime.

Popular Series Survey (Part 2)

Over the weekend, Amy and I put together part 2 of our survey. We culled the different series titles 
mentioned in part 1 to the 15-most mentioned. 

We want to know what's hot and what's not! Fill the survey out below or open it here

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dork Diaries Readalikes Display

Have hordes of Dork Diaries fans invaded your fair library? That has definitely been the case in mine. All of our copies are checked out with waiting lists. Same with my go-to readalikes. I put a call out for suggestions from my Twitter network, and like usual, they did not disappoint. I turned their recommendations into this quick display (not all titles pictured). On the right is something I have been trying to do more often with my displays: jot down notes of what titles I've included so that they can a) be reused easily in the future and b) refilled quickly in the present. Some of the titles for this display are:
  • Drama by Telgemeier
  • Amelia series by Moss
  • Dear Dumb Diary series by Benton
  • Alvin Ho series by Look
  • Popularity Papers by Ignatow
  • 8th Grade is Making Me Sick by Holm
  • Justin Case series by Vail
  • Origami Yoda series by Anglebarger 
  • Big Nate series by Peirce

Friday, February 08, 2013

"Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich" by Shel Silverstein

Yet another Shel Silverstein poem from my huge Where the Sidewalk Ends kick! Here's "Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich." It's on page 115. This is a fun story to tell with a hippo puppet (mine told me his name is Humphrey) and prop ingredients.

It goes something like this:
"A hippo sandwich is easy to make. All you do is simply take [list of ingredients]. ...And now comes the problem... Biting into it!"

The ingredients in the original version are things like bread, cake, mayonnaise, onion rings, hippo (obviously), etc. I encourage you to use whatever is handy. The sillier the better. I have an extremely high-brow sense of humor, so I threw in a pair of little mermaid underpants. I never met Mr. Silverstein, but I feel that he would have approved.

You can either hand out a bunch of ingredients in advance to the kids or you can tell the whole story yourself. The first way is much more interactive, but it's up to you if you want to go that direction.

For those of you who work in schools, I think a fun poetry writing exercise would be to have kids write and illustrate their own version of this poem. I'd love to see recipes for penguin, cheetah, narwhal, etc. sandwiches. YUM YUM.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Clutter Busting the Playgroup Schedules

Once upon a time, I got an email from the school district announcing that their March and April playgroup calenders were available. "Oh no," I thought. "Now I have to print them and stick them somewhere they won't get lost or clutter up the youth desk for the next three months... OR DO I?"

So I decided to try something different. I stapled 3 manila folders to the Events bulletin board, which is the first thing patrons see when they enter the youth department at my library. For a few months, I used handwritten index cards taped to the outsides to designate them as "January playgroup calenders," etc. It was an ugly but functional, temporary situation. 

I was amazed at how many more of the calendars patrons started picking up when it was right where they were looking as they entered the department. I'd always assumed that the spot right next to the checkout counter was where we were getting the most eyeballs. BUT, and this makes sense when you think about it, the caregivers of the playgroup aged kids are sick of being at the library by the time they make it to the checkout. They've played with puzzles and dollhouses, read a few stories, chased the kids around the stacks and are more than ready to go home. When they walk in the door, they are curious about what's going on and more tuned into their surroundings. When they are at the circulation desk, they're trying to wrangle dozens of picture books and a toddler ready for nap time. They are no longer a captive audience. 

Now I knew this was a great location for this type of information, and I wanted to make it a more attractive greeting. I whipped these labels up in Publisher and then used the paper cutter to size them for each folder. The images are from Open Clip Art, so I'm sharing my file if you too have playgroup calendars everywhere. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

Books Kids Love: Middle Grade Popular Series Survey!

Are you sick of me talking about surveys yet? In the past few months, I've done a reader survey and two ethics surveys. BUT a while back Amy Koester and I were discussing what books are going out of style and which are up and coming in our libraries. 

We plan two rounds of surveys. In the first round, which we're starting today, we're asking participants for the titles of 10 series of middle grade novels that are popular in your (public or school) library. We're also wondering what series are declining in popularity. We'll leave the survey open for about a week. Look for the second half around mid-February.  

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Flannel Friday Round-Up for February 1, 2013

I'm so excited to be hosting the Flannel Friday roundup for the first time in what feels like a decade. If you're participating this week, please leave a comment below with the link to your post. If you'd like to participate in Flannel Friday and don't have a blog of your own, I'd be happy to post it for you. Just send me an email anne [at] and we'll work out the details.

Where in the world are you? 
Did you know that Flannel Friday is going to be celebrating its 2nd anniversary on March 15th? As part of the festivities, we are putting together a map of our bloggers AND readers. We want to include you! Please fill out this survey and we will add you. You do not need to list your city. If no city is given, we will place you in the capital of your state or country, as appropriate. The map will be revealed during the anniversary roundup.

Roundup for February 1, 2013:

Mollie is showing off her flannel adaptation of The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear via a Vine video. Vine is a new app that Mollie introduced me to with this post. It is a 6-second video sharing app by the team behind Twitter.

Wasting no time since Monday's announcement of ALA's Youth Media Awards, Lisa S. has already adapted this year's Caldecott winner, This Is Not My Hat, into a puppet show.

Lisa M. (pun alert!) cooked up a flannel version of If You Like Your Eggs Scrambled.

And another! Lisa is playing King of the Castle. I love the idea of using a book from your own childhood at storytime, but updating it for today's audience.

SLC Book Boy shares his mouse finger puppet that he made to go along with Thank You, Bear. Greg Foley is someone I consider to be under-appreciated so I'm glad to see others enjoy his books too. This is a blog that is new to me and there is some amazing stuff in the archives too, so check it out.

In other mouse tales, Mary plays Hickory Dickory Dock on ukulele and felt board.

Jen in the Library Saw a Giraffe Drive By. Hope it has its license.

Andrea is driving a fire truck template, headed straight for you!

Speaking of transportation, Sarah is bumpin' up and down in her little Red Wagon. I sang this song once at Baby Storytime, and I kept singing "bumpin' up and down in my little red robot," so that's Anne's Embarrassing Story of the Day for you. Unless you are planning a robot storytime, in which case, it's Anne's Helpful Early Literacy Tip Du Jour.

The other Sarah has two posts to share this week. The first is a felt version of Skippyjon Jones: Color Crazy (great for all you toddler timers!) and the second is Five Little Stars and the Moon too.

If you're celebrating the Chinese New Year, be sure to check out the dragons Anna's co-worker made. Wow! Those are some stunning felt masterpieces.

Kay's making friends, Gingerbread Friends to be exact.

Tweet, tweet! Katie's got birds on the brain.

Arrrrrrrre you planning a pirate storytime? Our other friend Katie has you covered with an original story called Pirate Rex's X's.

Bridget Made Her Dog a Valentine, thanks to a little inspiration from Jack Prelutsky.

Amy is pointing out one of the pro's of working in the Frozen Midwest: super cheap gloves to transform into storytime props! This week it's 10 Little Snowmen.

Also celebrating winter is Jane, who will teach you a wintery tune called "Parka, Boots, Scarf and Hat." Fun! I think you could also try this one to the tune of "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes."

Also delicious this time of year is Soup for One. Have you seen this fun counting picture book? It was a big hit at my storytime a few weeks ago and I'm delighted that Cate flannelized it. It was in my TBF pile (To be Flanneled). 

Still hungry? Harold the Snake was too, until he became The Snake that Sneezed! Library Lady has a fun storytelling version for you all to take a peek at today.

My contribution is a puppet version of Mary, Mary Quite Contrary.

Please leave your post in the comments by the end of Friday. I'll finish the roundup Saturday morning, probably well before noon EST. 

Don't forget to oogle nearly two years of Flannel Friday prettiness on our Pinterest boards!

Headed to Chicago in June for ALA's Annual Conference? We are organizing a meetup of Flannel Friday friends. Join the discussion in the Flannel Friday Facebook group!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Mary Mary, Quite Contrary Puppet

Remember my Five Little Pumpkins Craft Stick Puppets from way back before Halloween? Well, what I didn't tell you then is that I actually use that same box for three different rhymes: that one; Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary; and Humpty Dumpty (coming soon to a Flannel Friday near you!). 

The words, as I learned them, are below. Wikipedia, as always, has an interesting article about all the different variations of this rhyme, most changing the last line. 

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
Mary, Mary, quite contrary. 
How does your garden grow? 
Silver bells and cockle-shells,
nd marigolds all in a row. 

I made the stems of the puppets by hot gluing felt to a craft stick. The flower petals are left over from a duct-tape flip-flop program last summer. The flowers grow as I slide the craft sticks through slits in the bottom of the box. Since my dinosaur finger puppet is in the background, let's pretend she's Mary. 

"Mary, Mary" is a lesser-known nursery rhyme, but I think it's time we brought it back. This would tie in nicely with storytime themes like spring, gardens, flowers, or even this summer's Dig Into Reading national theme. 

Puppet inspired by Nancy Renfro's Storytelling with Puppets