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!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tween Book Club: The Graveyard Book

Last night at my tween book club, we discussed The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, one of my very favorite Newbery winners. It was a great choice for a spooky October evening, close to Halloween. Here's what we did:

Word Search
I always do a word search or crossword puzzle at the beginning of book club. It gives the kids something to do together while they eat their pizza. I try to alternate whether it's a word search or crossword each month.

Book Discussion
I always look online for good book discussion questions before I plan anything else. For this book, I found Multnomah County Library's questions really helpful, as well as those from Gaiman's official site for young readers, Mouse Circus. We watched the book's official trailer to refresh everyone's memory. The kids had some great insights this month. We talked for a long time about Gaimain's tendency to hint about the book's setting (pounds as currency, etc.) and characters (just what is Silas anyway?). We had a really good chat about why there are so many orphans in children's literature also.

If You Like This Book, Try... Booktalks
I like to booktalk some related titles after the discussion is over. I try to keep this a mix of fiction, nonfiction, chapter books, and anything they might enjoy glancing over. This time I book-talked a couple creepy reads that I thought the kids would like:
Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices by David M. Schwartz They were impressed and disgusted.
Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen Fun opportunity to introduce the new vocabulary word "epitaph".
Your Skeleton is Showing : Rhymes of Blunder from Six Feet Under by Kurt Cyrus

I found a planning sheet to spark ideas for kids on how to write their own epitaph. I also printed out an article called How to Write a Funny Epitaph. Then I printed out a gravestone template for each kid so they could put the final version on there. These prompts were also helpful. The discussion was so good this month that we didn't have time to cover this, so I sent everything home with the kids.

I like to end by introducing the next month's book, so I did a short book talk for Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix, our title for November. Wish I had I showed this fan-made book trailer that I just found though! I think the kids will really like Among the Hidden. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series but I will wait until after our book discussion next month so I don't accidentally spoil anything from the later books.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Storytime Apple Picking

It's officially fall storytime season here in Michigan! That means the caregivers are toting pumpkin spice lattes and we're going apple picking in storytime! This week we talked about fall and read Leaves by David Ezra Stein, Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley, and The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri. Following the last book, the kids (and their grownups--some of the apples are still up on the higher branches--aka bookshelves) are dismissed to find some of the 70-ish apples hidden around the back half of our children's programming room where the craft tables are. After the kids are done, they come back to the circle and we recite "Way Up High in the Apple Tree" using the apples they found:

Way Up High in the Apple Tree
Two red apples smiled at me. 
I shook that tree as hard as I could,
Down came an apple...
Mmmmm mmmm good!

The apples were included in our storytime tub this week and suggested to go with that rhyme. Instead of passing them out myself, I thought it would be more fun to let the kids find them. We've done this with gemstones for a pirate theme and they always love to collect objects. It gives them a chance to stretch their legs and then I can set-up for the next activity. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Prop Story: Halloween Hilda

Halloween Hilda
From Super Story Telling With Reproducible Patterns by Carol Elaine Catron and Barbara Catron Parks

This is basically a rhyming, Halloween themed version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It's similar to There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat, but much shorter, just perfect for my 2 and 3 year old storytime kids. I plan to tell it with our puppet" who swallows a few Halloween-y creatures like bats and monsters.

I traced the artwork from the patterns in the book but clip art printouts or small puppet objects would work just as well (if not better). The puppet has been at my library longer than I have and I couldn't find a tag, so I am not sure where it came from.

Here's Lisa Mulvenna's version of Hilda. 

Jack O' Lantern Flannelboard Play Station

For Flannel Friday, I'm posting an activity that we have left out in our children's room for the kids to play with on their visits. This flannel board is on a support column between one bank of public computers and our official "play area". This has been one of the most popular felt board activities since I started this job in April.

I asked one of my coworkers to take some jack o' lantern coloring pages from the Internet and trace the pieces to make a Jack O' Lantern Flannelboard Play Station. Here's one way it has been put together as well as the extra pieces. You could do this as a storytime activity too by asking the kids what body parts make a jack o'lantern.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Decorating Program

One of the fun programs my new library has put on for a number of years is a pumpkin decorating program. I can take absolutely no credit for the idea or execution of this program. My co-workers even set the room up for me the day before the program (THANK YOU!).

This program is a great way to use any random leftover craft supplies that you have hiding in the crevices of your storage areas. Even if you can't think of a way to use something weird rest assured that the kids definitely will. Some of the odds and ends we put out (spread out over 4 supply tables in the back):

  • Plastic drinking straws
  • Plastic bottle caps
  • Tinsel
  • Foam stickers
  • Pipe cleaners/Chenille stems
  • Rectangles of felt and foam
  • Plastic spider rings
  • Fake spider web
  • Left over die-cuts from other craft programs
  • Silk leaves
  • Googly eyes
  • Feathers
  • Different colored paper and paper strips
  • Sequins
  • Buttons
  • Pom-Poms
  • Crepe paper strips
  • Tissue paper squares
  • Yarn
  • Shredded newspaper
The kids were given paper plates to assist in carrying their chosen supplies back to their seats. Their pumpkins set on paper plates for stability and easy transport. On the tables were supplies for them to share with their tablemates (scissors, glue sticks, glitter glue, glue dots, dot markers, etc.) The kids had an hour to decorate. At my first library system, we did pumpkin carving programs, and this decorating program is a lot less clean up! I just had to break everything down and run the vacuum quickly versus spending hours cleaning pumpkin guts off the carpet. 

General setup notes: 
  • Pumpkins were purchased in a large quantity (several hundred) for all of our branches from one farm in our county (I work for a county library system). One of our maintenance staffers picked up and delivered these pie-sized pumpkins to all 4 branches on the same day. Staffers at each branch were responsible for unloading and cleaning the pumpkins that day and storing them until the day of their branch's program. 
  • My branch's program was this past Saturday. We are the biggest branch, so we held three programs with a registration cap of 30. The times offered were 11:30, 1:30, and 3:00. Very few people signed up for the last program so we may not do three times in 2014. If that's the way we go, I will put a longer break between the two programs since it was difficult to get the room set up again and fit lunch breaks in there. 
  • You will want 2 people for this program, if you run it as a decorating contest like my branch* does. I did it with one of our esteemed volunteers. Basically I stayed in the room and she used a book cart to deliver the finished pumpkins to the judging area. She also helped me clean up at the end, thank goodness.  
This program was a lot of fun! I am always amazed at what the kids can create when you give them the raw materials and get out of the way. Our Lego programs are another example of this. 

*At my branch, this program is actually run as a contest, but our other 3 branches just do a decorating program. The contest portion gets really complicated so please forgive me for not blogging about how that all works in detail. :) I will say that we have 3 different grade levels and the winner of each level gets a $10 gift card. The public votes to pick a winner. Where the system gets complicated is in keeping track of the entrants while not making their names and contact information known to the voters.  

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Halloween Storytime: 2013 Edition

Last week was Flannel Friday's Halloween Extravaganza Roundup, so at the same time I was working on my posts, I also was thinking about what other material I would want to include in my upcoming storytimes. My Halloween storytimes aren't until October 28th and 29th, so I'm sort of listing everything that could possibly wind up happening at the end of the month. Consider this my brainstorming list. If you see anything great that I'm missing, please let me know. As a reminder I do storytimes just for 2 and 3 year olds. I also wrote this post before the completed Extravaganza was posted, so bear in mind that I will most likely use one (or several) ideas from Flannel Friday too!

Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas
The Spooky Box by Mark Gonyea
If You're a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca and Ed Emberly
In a Dark, Dark, Wood by David Carter (in our storytime reference collection)

Flannelboard: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat (our set is by The Teacher Express)
Song: The Haunted House (to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus)

Little Bat
(Source: Artsy Toddler Storytimes: A Year's Worth of Ready-to-Go Programming)
Little bat, little bat, fly up high. Flap wings
Little bat, little bat, drop on by. Swoop arms as though flying
Little bat, little bat, listen for your lunch. Put hands to your ears
Little bat, little bat, give a punch Pretend to punch the air
Little bat, little bat, let's do a spin.
Little bat, little bat, let's see a grin.
Little bat, little bat, hang by your feet. Point to your feet. 
Little bat, little bat, have a seat. Sit down. 

I Saw a Witch
I saw a witch in a tall peaked hat,                      
Riding a broom with a coal black cat!
I saw this witch, but she didn't see me,
For I was hiding behind a tree!
As she went by, I jumped out and yelled, "BOO!"
And my, she was frightened, and away she flew!
She left her broom and her tall peaked hat,
Her painted mask and her coal black cat!
I don't know when I've had such fun,
As on Halloween* night when I made a witch run!

Actions: hold hands above head for the hat, hold hands over eyes and peek out, wave hands as if flying)

Here is a pumpkin, big and round;  (form circle with hands) 
Here is a kitty, soft and brown; (hold fists on top of each other with two fingers up)
Here is an owl with great big eyes;  (cup fingers around eyes)
Here is a witch--see how she flies. (make flying motion with hands) 

*If you prefer, you can use the word "that" instead of "Halloween"

Jack-O-Happy by Liz and Dick Wilmes--felt board story
Mouse's Halloween House by Judy Sierra--felt board story
Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly--draw and tell story
Inside a House that is Haunted by Alyssa Capucilli--clothes line story
The Ninjas by Barenaked Ladies--felt board song
Five Little Pumpkins (traditional)-- craft stick puppets
The Pumpkin Patch by Anne Clark--draw and tell story
Jack O' Lantern-- Flannelboard Play Station
Halloween Hilda by Carol Elaine Catron and Barbara Catron Parks-- prop story

Friday, October 04, 2013

Halloween Draw and Tell Story: "The Pumpkin Patch"

Today is Flannel Friday's Halloween Extravaganza Roundup over at Storytime ABC's. This week I am sharing an original draw and tell story I wrote called "The Pumpkin Patch." I just wrote it on Monday so I haven't had a chance to share it with my storytime friends yet. I would love your feedback, if anyone does this with a group. It's a really short and simple one, so if you've never tried this storytelling form, it's a good one to begin with.

The words and drawing instructions are available here.

In the next week or so I will be posting the rest of my storytime plan (at least so far!) for our Halloween storytimes. I'm sure there will be lots of great new Flannel Friday ideas too that I'll want to add.

Looking for more Halloween or monster storytime ideas? Here's some I've posted previously:
Jack-O-Happy by Liz and Dick Wilmes--felt board story
Mouse's Halloween House by Judy Sierra--felt board story
Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly--draw and tell story
Inside a House that is Haunted by Alyssa Capucilli--clothes line story
The Ninjas by Barenaked Ladies--felt board song
Five Little Pumpkins (traditional)-- craft stick puppets