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, August 26, 2013

Ready, Set, Go To Kindergarten Storytime

One of the programs we do every year at my new library is "Ready, Set, Go! To Kindergarten," a storytime for kids who will be entering kindergarten in the fall. I only had about 30 minutes of actual librarian-directed time to work with and a lot of ground I wanted to cover to go over some of the kindergarten-readiness knowledge. This was an evening program we had on Monday for about 20 kids and their parents.
Books Read
Colors: Pete the Cat:  I Love My White Shoes
ABCS: Boom Chicka Boom Boom
School In General: Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come by Nancy Carlson

Song: Kindergarten Here We Come

Movement Song: The Bean Bag by Hap Palmer

Craft: School Words Book

We also sang "The Wheels on the Bus" with the parachute to close out the evening.

Note to self: Do not use the same date for this program (Monday, 8/26) next year! So many people had to cancel because it was a kindergarten open house at one of our school districts.

I actually ran a little short on time for this one, so I need to add more stuff for next year. All the kids were super well behaved and things didn't wind up taking as much time as I thought they would, oops!

**Image Credit: Open Clip Art



Summer Writing Center Activities

My new library has a small Writing Center complete with a pretend mailbox. Each month (ummm, roughly...) we change the suggested activity out. After June, I decided to experiment with using the Ellison machine to cut the papers for the kids' answers. I love the visual effect this has had in that small, dark nook!

In June, the kids told us what one thing that they "dig" was for our "Dig Into Reading" summer reading program.


In July, the kids told us what they would name a pet dinosaur if they had one:

In August, we asked the kids what their favorite ice cream cone flavor was. I'm proud to say that Superman ice cream remains a favorite. The kids are OK.


As you can see, we kept the background orange paper and balloon border up. It's really difficult to change the paper in particular given the small space that you have to work with in this spot. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Program Idea: Parachute Playtime

This summer I offered a parachute playtime for kids 2-3 and 4-5. The idea for this program came from the genius that is my close personal friend Miss Lisa, so make sure you stop by her blog to see what activities she includes in her parachute programs. In addition to her program, I also got ideas from Parachute Play by Liz and Dick Wilmes

I like to do a lot of nursery rhymes with the parachute for a few reasons:
  1. Parents/kids are more likely to participate in activities where the content is already familiar
  2. I already know them so I don't have to learn a whole bunch of material at once (just being honest here)
  3. Easy for the families to replicate this activities at home with whatever props they might have. If they (or you!) don't have a parachute, a bed sheet or blanket can be substituted easily. Even a beach towel would work for one parent and one child to play together.  This is my mean reason and I tried to hammer this in at all three programs I did the past two weeks! 
Parachute Activities
I picked different activities from this list for each group, depending on how the program was flowing. 
  • Introduction (We started each program by saying "Good Morning" to the parachute and giving it a "wake up" shake. I just think it's good manners to say "good morning.") 
  • Rules
  • Warm-up Activity: "If You're Happy and You Know It" 
    • clap your hands
    • stamp your feet
    • shake the chute
    • turn around (while holding the chute)
    • pass the chute (to your neighbor)  
    • pull it high (above your head)
  • Pass the Chute (a rhyme I found in Parachute Play. It's on page 75.) You can find the words on slide 24 of this PowerPoint. 
  • "The Grand Old Duke of York"
  • "The Hokey Pokey" (Track 7 on Disney's More Dancin' Tunes) It is surprisingly (or maybe not?) hard to find a decent version of this song. 
  • "The Wheels on the Bus"
    • The wheels on the bus go round and round (pass the chute or walk in a circle, if standing)
    • Door s on the bus go open and shut (pull chute forward and backward)
    • The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish (shake the chute)
    • The babies on the bus go waaa, waaa, waaa (use the chute as a handkerchief)
    • The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep (pretend the chute is a horn and beep it!) 
  • "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" (traditional and shouty lyrics!) 
  • "Motorboat, Motorboat
  • "Alabama, Mississippi" from Jim Gill Sings The Sneezing Song and Other Contagious Tune
    • Lift the chute up on Alabama, lower it on Mississippi. Lift on Alabama and shake it down to New Orleans. Keep shaking on the floor and then raise again for Alabama. 
  • "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" 
  • "Jump, Jump" by Joanie Leeds (Track 6 on I'm a Rock Star) Thanks Angie for introducing this CD to me! 
  • "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" with stuffed monkeys
  • "Ring Around the Rosie" and "Cows in the Meadow" This link has some great ideas for other movements you can do around the chute, like galloping and tiptoeing. 
  • "Popcorn" by Joanie Leeds (Track 8 on I'm a Rock Star) with these little monster-y ball-shaped stuffed things we have.Cotton balls or packing peanuts would work too. But I didn't want to clean up that mess 3 times (I did this program twice for 2- and 3 year-olds and one time for the older group).
  • Shark Attack: Have the kids sit with their feet under the chute. Crawl under and pretend to be a shark biting their toes. Have them yell out "SHARK ATTACK!"  For extra fun, play the "Jaws" theme in the background. 
  • Every program needs a little Raffi. Two songs to try that would be fun are "Spider on the Floor" (I've also done this with scarves) and "Shake My Sillies Out," which could be a great starter or throw it any time you need to perk up the energy in the room a little bit! 
  • Cover Up: Another game from Parachute Play. The kids sit on the chute and you call out a body part, which they then cover up with the chute. 
  • Johnny Works With One Hammer. It doesn't really have anything to do with parachutes, but I always enjoy this one. You could pretend to use the chute as covers if you end with "then he falls asleep!" 
  • “Hoki Hoki/Nga Waka” (Track 12: A World of Parachute Play by Georgiana Stewart) In this song you pretend to be drumming on the parachute. 
  • Simon Says. Or, if you've still got that Joanie Leeds CD hanging around, "Joanie Says" is Track 11.
  • Soccer Chute (Track 8: World of Parachute Play) Throw a soccer ball on the chute and let the kids kick it with their feet and knees. See how long you can keep it on the chute!  Prop: Nerf-type balls
  • Some of the ideas from Parachute Play that I couldn't try involved pretending the chute was a monster and "burping" balls through the hole, pretending the parachute was a golf hole and having the kids work together to get a ball through it. Our chute doesn't have a hole in the center! It's just mesh. Oh well! 
  • Cat and Mouse: OK, our parachute isn't big enough for this, but I watched a YouTube video of a middle school gym class and this game looks hilarious! Basically one person is a "cat" on top of the parachute, and there is a mouse underneath. The rest of the group makes waves with the parachute to help hide the mouse, while the cat tries to tag the mouse. 
  • "Duck, Duck, Goose" and chase each other around the parachute. This was a big hit, even though a lot of kids apparently don't know how to play this game anymore?!? What is the world coming to? 
  • Big Finish: Parachute Fireworks (idea from Parachute Play, page 111) The kids make fireworks by crumbling construction paper and toss them onto the chute. You all stand up, everyone counts "1, 2, 3, 4, 5- FIREWORKS!" and all together you pop the chute as high as you can in the air, to launch the fireworks. 
  • End with having everyone roll the parachute together. Then, if you've still got a few minutes, you can use that as your limbo stick and limbo! That same Disney's More Dancin' Tunes has the "Limbo Rock" (Track 5). 
If you're interested in trying a parachute program with babies (FUN!), Julia wrote about hers. So has Kendra.

Update: Don't miss my 2014 parachute program! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Moving Right Along: Transistions During Storytime

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how to improve my transistions between activities and books at storytime. I've been making a conscious effort to actually have some sort of transition and not just "Okay, now we're going to do __________." I don't write these down. They are things I kind of come up with on the fly but am sharing because it's always interesting (to me, anyway!) to see how other librarians handle this type of thing.

The pets storytime I did during the last week of July had some really great natural opportunites to move from one thing to another, so I thought I'd share how we did that. I'm still mastering this art, so if you have any suggestions or a favorite way to transition between activities, leave a comment!

Our last opening activity that we do every week is "Little Mouse, Little Mouse." So we talked about how mice are pets and then segued into picking out a pet for ourselves with "Goin' to The Pet Store". One of the pets in the activity was also a mouse! The last animal was a snake, so he gave snake kisses to the kids. They also got a chance to try and wear him around their necks. We talked about how you can love your pet and then read Dogs by Emily Gravett which starts with "I love dogs."

The surprise ending of Dogs is that it is being told by a cat! This was a good transition into Nesting Cats. After that we were supposed to sing "Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty" but Miss Anne forgot. Next we read What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas.That book ends with "what will fat cat have for lunch?" so I had the kids go on a bone hunt for our dog puppet, Oscar. The found bones were put into a dog bowl.

Since we were talking about dogs again, the kids got a little stuffed dog (like a mini-Beanie Baby) and we practiced singing "there's a puppy on my head" to the tune of "Spider on the Floor."  Then we talked about how that was a silly thing to do and read one of my favorite silly books Do Lions Live on Lily Pads? by Melanie Walsh.

Last we did a stretching activty of "Head, Whiskers, Knees, and Tail" and then cooled down with a little "Sleeping Bunnies" action from Kathy Reid-Naiman's Tickles and Tunes CD. We did that 2-3 times to practice and burn off some energy before the kids left the program room.

We had a lot of fun with this storytime! I'm beginning to get the hang of putting together programs for this younger crowd. They are so much fun to do storytime for and it always puts a smile on my face.

Friday, August 09, 2013

"Going to the Pet Store" Puppet Rhyme

Here's a fun activity also from last week's pet storytime tub, a rhyme called "Going to the Pet Store". These are puppets (all Folkmanis, as far as I know) that we had in our puppet closet. The hat box I used is where the snake puppet lives and the others I picked out to fit in there. I really liked the effect that using the smaller puppets (frog, dog, hamster?, mouse, turtle) first and then pulling out a giant snake had on the kids.


Going to the Pet Store
Going to the pet store,   (Slap your knees to the beat)
Gonna find a pet. 
I wonder what to get? 
Hmmmmm...  (Scratch your head) 
(Look in the bag/box and pull out a puppet)

After the snake came out, he went around the room and gave snake kisses. I also let the kids who were brave enough wear him around their necks. Some of the parents/caregivers snapped photos which I have no doubt wound up on Facebook. Free PR for the library! 

P.S. Have you checked out the Storytime Underground website yet? Put together by my friends Cory, Kendra, and Amy; SU aims to celebrate all of the awesome things happening in youth services librarianship and advocate for our field. So check it out! You can also participate in their virtual book club next month. If you're in my area, sorry that I've got the only local library copy of the book though. 

Monday, August 05, 2013

Instant Professional Development for Youth Librarians: Mr. Eric's Music Class

I plan to start sharing fun, free professional development and resource type-stuff. For this first one, I'm really excited to show a really fun video of Mr. Eric (Eric Litwin of Pete the Cat fan) teaching one of his music classes. There are tons of great rhymes, songs, and activities shared in this 41 minute clip. So check it out! It's the second video on this page.

No time to watch a whole class? Mr. Eric has some individual songs from the class on the YouTube page for his educational music exploration venture, The Learn
ing Groove. (It's similar to Kindermusik.)

The Birds on The Tree (lap song) Notice how he laughs off singing the wrong lyrics!
The Cookie Jar Taking audience suggestions.
The Wheels on the Bus
We are Monsters
Hey, Hello Song (this one has a sort-of "welcome to class" introduction approach that is light humored more than the typical THESE ARE THE RULES AND YOU WILL OBEY THEM approach. It's refreshing.)

When observing storytimes by other professionals, I like to sit and absorb the whole thing, putting myself in the mindset of an audience member. As I'm pretending to be a parent/caregiver, what are my impressions of this storytime? Does the presenter seem like they enjoy the material? Are the children responding to the material? If they aren't, is the presenter adjusting to that?

And we can also discuss this as fellow professionals. Is the presenter transitioning between materials? Does the storytime feel cohesive? How is he/she reacting to children who interrupt or are otherwise distracting the group? Do we have suggestions for how these situations can be improved? Notice how Mr. Eric says goodbye to all the kids, himself, the name of the store(?) they're inside, and everybody. The kids get high-fives, which is a great alternative to a hug, sticker, etc.

Please note that I'm not affilated with any of the persons or organizations mentioned in this post. I have not been paid or compensated in any way for writing about them. Just sharing the love. 

Friday, August 02, 2013

"Nesting Cats" Rhyme

This week's pet-themed storytime was a bonanza of awesome prop/puppet type stories. Here's one that I did with my 2's and 3's, who were completely fascinated by these awesome nesting cats. All credit for this one goes to my fabulous co-worker, Miss E.

"Nesting Cats"
Kitty, kitty
I hear a sound
Who is it? 
Meow! 

Kitty, kitty 
I hear a sound
Who is it? 
Meow! 

Kitty, kitty
I hear a sound
Who is it? 
Meow! 

Kitty, kitty,
I hear a sound
Who is it? 
SQUEAK! a Mouse


The nesting cats set is $10.99 as of this writing at Bits and Pieces. They have other animals too, so check them out! If you sign up for their newsletter, you will get a coupon for 10% off your first order. Note: I haven't ordered anything from this company before so I have no idea how good their service is.

P.S. Thanks to the State Library of Iowa for recommending my blog in the August edition of its youth services newsletter. That's so cool! Also thanks to Liz Anderson for spotting it and letting me know!