So Long, Storytime Themes!

There Is No Theme
Halfway through my shift today, I returned to my little desk cubicle area in the Children’s Staff Workroom, looked at the to do list that I had scribbled onto a post-it, and realized….that I hadn’t accomplished anything.  Now, this isn’t an unusual occurrence for me.  Librarianship is just one of those careers where, sometimes, you just don’t get anything done that you had planned to do.  And that’s okay!  But as I was looking at my post-it to do list, I decided that I wanted to get SOMETHING accomplished.  So I decided to plan next week’s preschool storytime.

Earlier in the day, I had considered doing an elephant theme for storytime.  I had pulled two books, and was thinking about that 5 Elephants Came Out to Play song, but, really, my heart wasn’t into it.  I tried to think of some book that would get me excited about an elephant theme, or an activity that would make the whole theme worth it, but nothing really stood out for me.

So I thought, “Okay, so you don’t want to do an elephant theme.  Choose a different theme.”  So I sat down, opened up my Evernote account, browsed the themes, and said, “Eh.”  And then it hit me:  I want to take a break from themes.

Now, if you had told me in 2012 that I would want to do away with storytime themes, I would have clutched my pearls and possibly fainted from the shock of it.  I loved themes!  I loved doing leaves and pumpkins and friendly monsters in the fall.  I loved polar animals and snow in the winter.  And rain and flowers in the spring.  And, honestly, I still love those things and will probably return to them someday, but for right now, I’d rather have every storytime theme be:  BOOKS AND SONGS AND ACTIVITIES THAT I LOVE!!!

And as soon as I decided to do away with themes, I suddenly felt excited for storytime again.  The books that I pulled for next week’s storytime don’t have too much in common, but I love them all, and I know that that’s going to show as I’m reading them.  The activities have nothing to do with the books.  But they’re fun!  And while I’m still keeping the same opening and closing rhymes, as well as my trusty old rhyme cube, I am feeling pretty darn rejuvenated about this whole storytime thing.

Toddler Art – Oct 2014

I have been wanting to do a Toddler Art program ever since I started reading Library Makers way back in…well, I don’t know the year…early 2013? Maybe?  Whatever.  The point is that this is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, and I can’t believe that I’m just now getting around to it.  Especially considering that anything involving toddlers is sure to be popular.

So I offered my first Toddler Art program last week, and it was a huge hit!  Here’s what we did:

Pinecone Leaf Art

Pinecone Leaf Art - Falling Flannelboards

Right now, I’m planning to offer two projects for each Toddler Art program:  one messy and one clean.  I know, I know, I’m crazy.  And I’m bound to run out of ideas (especially since I’ll be doing this program monthly), but that’s what Pinterest is for, right?  Speaking of Pinterest, I got this fun craft idea from our favorite idea pinning site.  This was our messy craft, though the mess was pretty well contained.


  • Cardstock Leaf Cutouts
  • Cardboard boxes and lids
  • Non-Toxic Finger Paint
  • Pinecones
  • Tape


  • Have parents write their child’s name on the back of the leaf cutout
  • Tape leaf cutout into box and/or lid
  • Pour dollops of finger paint into the corners
  • Add a pinecone or two
  • Let the toddlers shake the box

Some of the toddlers were REALLY into shaking the box.  Others were more interested in reaching in and fingerpainting or using the pinecone as a paintbrush.  One of the things that I’m trying to emphasize with this program is to let the toddlers explore their mediums, and parent’s were pretty good about letting their kids go at it.

Leaf Rubbings

Leaf Rubbings - Falling Flannelboards

For my clean art project, I had originally intended to do something that involved tissue paper and contact paper, but contact paper is one of the most elusive art supplies for me to find for some strange reason.  I ended up having to order it online, and I knew it wouldn’t come in in time for me to prep the project, so I asked my coworkers to bring in some fall leaves from their yards so that we could do leaf rubbings instead.  I offered paper and colored pencils for the traditional leaf rubbings, but also had aluminum foil on hand to replicate this Library Makers project.  Funnily enough, the traditional leaf rubbings were more popular with my crowd, and some of the toddlers just wanted to scribble instead (which was perfectly fine).


  • Leaves
  • Paper
  • Colored Pencils and/or Crayons
  • Aluminum Foil


  • Place leaves under paper and use the pencils/crayons to color over it and make a leaf print
  • OR place the leaves under the foil and use rub fingers over it to make a leaf print
  • OR let the kids do whatever the heck they want

Blog Update!


Can you believe that it’s October already?  Time has just been flying by these past couple of months!  I had high hopes of updating more this fall, but first there was the ALSC Institute, and then catching up on work after the ALSC Institute, and now I’m a CYBILS judge (very excited!!!) so the likelihood of having regular blog posts is slim (though I will try my utmost to post something!!!).

While I most likely won’t be posting much, I am planning on doing some maintenance type things for the ol’ blog.  One of the things I’d like to do is update my blogroll.  SO…

If you have a blog or know of a blog that I should include in my blogroll, please leave a comment with the URL!*

Due to how busy I’ve been these past couple of months, I haven’t been keeping up with new blogs! And I know that there are many new bloggers out there who are posting amazing stuff, and I want to be sure that I’m highlighting their work!  So don’t be shy!

*I am only accepting blogs that focus on early literacy or some aspect of children’s services within libraries.  This includes storytime blogs, early literacy blogs, programming blogs, book reviewing blogs, and librarianship in general blogs.  I’m also okay with preschool teacher blogs, homeschool blogs, and maybe even teen services blogs.

California Dreaming!


Today I am packing up my bags and preparing for my 6 AM flight to Oakland, California for the ALSC Institute!  (Why I thought a 6 AM flight was a good idea when I was booking it, I’ll never know.)

This is my first ALSC Institute, which is very exciting!  Also exciting is the fact that I’ll be liveblogging the Institute over at the ALSC Blog, so be sure to check it out!

Want some more options for keeping up to date about what’s going on at the ALSC Institute?  Try the ALSC National Institute Event Page on Facebook, or follow the hashtag #alsc14 on Twitter!

A Few of My Favorite Themes: Apples

Fall Banner

Fall themes are my absolute favorite themes, so I’m hoping I can post a couple of these within the coming months.  However, seeing as I have little to no time to work on blog stuff at work (and my life outside of work is pretty busy too), I honestly think that I’ll be lucky to post more than 1 favorite theme this season.  But we’ll see…  Maybe the stars will align or something.

I’m also changing up how I do favorite themes.  I’ll still post a PDF of my favorite books like usual, but I’ll also be posting PDFs of any flannelboard templates I make.  As for crafts, STEM, and other storytime activities (including rhymes), I’ll be providing links to those at the end of the post.  I want to be sure to credit others, and I think providing links is the best way to do that.

So, here we go:

Apple Books PDF:

Apple Books Image








Apple Flannelboard Templates:

Click the images to be taken to the PDFs of the flannelboard templates.  The first image is for the flannelboard rhyme, “Five Little Apples” (Credit).  The second image is for the “A-P-P-L-E” flannelboard song (Credit).  The second image will take you to a previous post of mine — scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the PDFs of the apple images.  To make the flannelboard, print out the apple images, tape or glue them to construction paper, and then tape or glue the letters to the other side.

Five Little Apples




Apple Crafts, STEM, and Other Activities

  •  Everyone knows that worms like to live in apples, so introducing an activity that focuses on worms can add a nice variety to your storytime.  This Wiggle Worms game by Little Family Fun is one of my favorite activities to do in storytime!  It works well with almost any age group, and it’s a good way to change up your regular storytime.
  • If you don’t mind a little mess in your storytimes, try this super cute Apple Prints craft from Make and Takes.  While they used Popsicle sticks as handles for the apples, you can also use those nifty corn on the cob holders too.  Or do without handles and let the kids pick the apples up and stamp away.
  • Want a cute apple craft, but not a big mess?  I don’t blame you!  This Tissue Paper Apple Craft from Storytime Katie is super cute and doesn’t require any paint!
  • Looking to add some STEM to your storytime?  Here’s a whole Pinterest board dedicated to Apple Science!  (I couldn’t just choose one activity, when there are so many great ones on there!)
  • You can’t have an apple storytime without talking about apple picking!  This Apple Picking/Finding Game from So Tomorrow is not only a great way for kids to stretch their legs and get their wiggles out, but it also gives the storyteller a breather.
  • This Picking Up the Fruits rhyme from What Happens In Storytime is a great sorting activity!  If you want to keep it limited to apples only, you can change it to picking up red apples, green apples, yellow apples, etc.
  • A storytime roundup would not be complete without a five little whats-its rhyme.  My favorite is Five Apples in a Basket by Future Librarian Superhero.
  • Like to use props in storytime?  1234 More Storytimes has a great prop to use for the 2 Red Apples rhyme.
  • And, just in case you missed them, here are the rhymes for the flannelboard templates from above:  Busy Crafting Mommy’s Five Little Apples rhyme (there are many great versions of this rhyme which are linked in her post).  And A-P-P-L-E by RovingFiddlehead Kidlit.

Minecraft Madness!


This summer, a coworker and I decided to provide a Minecraft program for children ages 6 to 11.  Originally, we planned to only offer it every other Monday; however, due to the high demand for the program, we ended up offering it EVERY Monday and EVERY Wednesday!  We have been doing this for just over a month now, and I feel like I should talk about this program.  Because this program is so popular and it draws in an age group that doesn’t always have a lot programs geared towards them, I can see a lot of libraries wanting to jump onto the bandwagon.  So here I am…talking about it.  Except…I’m not sure I have all that much to say.

We use MinecraftEdu for this program.  I’m not going to talk about MinecraftEdu because the awesome Anthony Martocello of the Northport-East Northport Public Library has already created a stupendous MinecraftEdu primer that you should all check out now! It is amazing, and it will walk you through everything you’d want to know about MinecraftEdu.

A few pointers for hosting a MinecraftEdu program:

  • Be very familiar with the game.  Load it onto your work computer and spend a good deal of time playing it before you even think about going into a room filled with Minecraft fanatics.  I had the game loaded onto my computer a week before the first Minecraft program, but, due to Summer Reading being in full swing at the time, I only spent about 15 or 20 minutes on it, and I only knew the very basic, basic, basics.  Even now, over a month later, I’m still learning new things about this game and freaking out every time something happens that doesn’t make sense to me.
  • Kids are pretty good about helping each other (and you!) out, so when you do encounter something that you don’t know how to do, just ask…someone’s bound to know what to do.
  • RULES!  You’ll need to set some rules at the start of the program.  Some of our rules include 1) No griefing (no bullying…don’t go into someone’s house without permission…don’t kill other peoples’ animals, etc.), 2) No swearing (it has happened, unfortunately…in the chat no less), 3) No begging (some kids want the weather on…some want the weather off…some want monsters…some don’t…some what day/night…some don’t), let the kids know that you’ll try your best to create an awesome world, but you can’t please everyone.
  • Also, let the kids know that if someone’s in their house uninvited or destroying their house, they should raise their hand to have you come over and look.  That way you know who to freeze/talk to.  You’ll find a lot of times kids will randomly say “SOMEONE’S IN MY HOUSE!” but when you go to inspect, no one’s there.
  • Use creative mode.  Flying is awesome.
  • You’ll want to bring a piece of paper to write down each child’s real name, their username, and the computer they’re at.  This comes in handy if you have to freeze someone due to behavioral issues, or if you’re TPing (transporting) someone.  It’s also cool to see who shows up every week.
  • We’ve found that 25 is the magic number for us.  Having more than 25 people on the server causes lagging…and sometimes we even have lagging when there’s under 25 people.

And that’s about it (I’m sure I’m missing something though).

I’ll be honest with you guys…I have very mixed feelings about this program.  On the one hand, I love it because it’s cool and it’s bringing kids into the library.  I love it when kids say, “Hey, Miss Erin, come look at this house I built!” or when they say hi to me when I’m at the ref desk because they recognize me from Minecraft.

However, this is also a stressful program for me.  There are days when the technology is lagging and kids are near tears.  There are days where everyone seems to be griefing one another.  There are days where I’m surrounded by kids who all want to TP to someone else and it’s very confusing for me to keep everyone straight.  I have taken to bringing a stress ball with me into this program.

BUT, I think the pros outweigh the cons for the most part.

Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I have to go play some Minecraft.


Perfect for Storytime: May Edition!

Perfect for Storytime Banner

Adventures of BeekleThe Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Published 4/8/2014

In this heartwarming story, Beekle is an unimaginary friend.  He has waited his entire life for a child to imagine him, but hasn’t had any luck.  So he does the unthinkable:  He builds a ship and enters the real world.  At first the real world is strange, drab, and gray.  But when Beekle finally finds his friend, the real world turns out to be not so bad at all!  This story is wonderful and captures the imagination of a child beautifully.  I’m especially enthralled by the illustrations and wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being a Caldecott contender!

Here Comes DestructosaurusHere Comes Destructosaurus! by Aaron Reynolds
Published 4/1/2014

When Destructosaurus comes to town, he causes all kinds of trouble! His tail topples building and bridges, and his feet track seaweed, and he burps fire! The narrator tries to calm Destructosaurus down by telling him to watch his manners, but Destructosaurus has other things on his mind — like finding his lost teddy bear. Once the bear is found and Destructosaurus gives us a big hug, he heads back out to sea, ignoring the narrator who tells him to help clean up. But, never fear, a giant chicken named King Kluck arrives just in time to help clean up (or, more accurately, cause more destruction). Jeremy Tankard’s digital illustrations are wonderful and eye catching, though I’m not so sure how parents will feel about the fact that Destructosaurus doesn’t learn his lesson. Kids, however, will find the ending humorous.

Who's In the TreeWho’s in the Tree? And other Lift-the-Flap Surprises by Craig Shuttlewood
Published 4/1/2014

This book has so many great things going for it! Rhyming text? Check! Animals? Check! Lift-the-flaps? Colorful illustrations? Humor? Check! Check! Check! The text provides a clue as to who’s hiding, and each hiding animal is peeking out just a little bit, so that kids can guess who it is. However, some of the clues are pretty ambiguous, and some of the animals just aren’t peeking out enough for large storytime crowds to get a good look. Still, I think this has the potential to be a storytime favorite! I can also see a flannelboard being made from this!

Chengdu Could Not Would Not Fall AsleepChengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep by Barney Saltzberg
Published 5/6/2014

Chengdu is a panda bear who just cannot fall asleep. He tries tossing and turning and even hanging upside down to no avail. Finally he finds the perfect place to fall asleep — right on top of his brother. This silly story is a perfect addition to a panda, jungle, or bedtime storytime. With simple text, foldout pages (you’ll definitely want to practice this one before reading in front of a crowd…just so you know which pages are the foldouts), and illustrations done in black, white, and green, this book is sure to be a hit!