Perfect for Storytime: May Edition!

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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!

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What I’m Reading

Some of my favorite posts on other peoples’ blogs are of the “What I’ve Been Reading” variety.  I don’t even care if they include detailed reviews or short synopses or just a few bullet points about what they liked or hated about the book.  I just love these types of posts and want to start including my own from time to time.  So here we go:

Ophelia and the Marvelous BoyOphelia and the Marvelous Boy
By Karen Foxlee

Goodreads SummaryUnlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy’s own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

My Thoughts:  I should admit that I personally feel that the Snow Queen plot is a bit over done in children’s literature, and it’s never been one of my favorite stories.  So I went into this story with low expectations.  What saved this book, for me, was the setting.  I may not like the Snow Queen plot, but I do love museums, and the majority of this story takes place in one of the most interesting museums I have ever encountered.  I loved how big the museum is, how much history it possesses, and how it has rooms upon rooms of seemingly random objects!

Another plus for this story is the main character.  Ophelia is portrayed as a very realistic girl.  She is grieving for her mother and trying to connect with her father and sister, all the while trying to help this mysterious boy even though the thought of helping him and going against the Snow Queen terrifies her.  She is nervous — almost to the point of panic — yet courageous.  She is flawed and innocent, yet intelligent.

While this book isn’t one of my favorites and even felt slow in parts, I still enjoyed it overall.  Which is saying a lot, considering I really don’t like the Snow Queen plot.  I would definitely place this book in the hands of fantasy enthusiasts.

attachmentsAttachments
By Rainbow Rowell

Goodreads Summary:  “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ”

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

My Thoughts:  Okay, this isn’t a children’s book.  It isn’t even a YA book (though I can see it having a YA audience).  This is an adult book that came out in 2011 and focuses on characters who are 28 and who are trying to make that final transition into full blown adulthood.  I loved this book!  Maybe not as much as I loved Eleanor and Park or Fangirl, but I still really, really enjoyed it.  Rowell has a talent for writing characters who could very well be my best friends.  Her stories are bits and pieces of my own experiences sewn together and — okay — given a bit of fictional flair.  This book may not be the next great American novel, but it’s definitely a story to get attached to.

a snicker of magicA Snicker of Magic
By Natalie Lloyd

Goodreads Summary:  Introducing an extraordinary new voice—a magical debut that will make your skin tingle, your eyes glisten . . .and your heart sing.

Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere—shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears—but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.

My Thoughts:  I’m calling it now…this one’s a Newbery contender.  This book has the unique talent of combining the ordinary with just enough of the fantastical to make you believe that maybe, just maybe, magic exists.  A strong cast of characters, an intriguing setting, and a whole lot of ice cream makes this a book worth reading.

Two things that I really loved about this book were Felicity’s penchant for seeing words, and the fact that Jonah’s in a wheelchair but it isn’t made into a big deal.  The words that Felicity sees are no doubt magical in themselves, and I firmly believe that Lloyd considered each word she chose for Felicity to see with great care.  The groups of words usually have a cadence that feel as though they belong with one another, and often they represent the characters or situations being mentioned in the book.

As for Jonah being in the wheelchair…  Usually in media, the characters don’t possess any real handicaps, or if they do, their handicaps become their story.  That isn’t the case with Jonah.  Yes, he’s in a wheelchair, but he is not helpless and the chair does not define who he is as a person.  He is an amazing character, who does a lot of good and becomes Felicity’s quasi-crush (this isn’t a romance, but the crush is hinted at for both parties).  While I don’t have a problem with stories that focus on handicaps, I still think that it’s very refreshing to see a character who’s in a wheelchair, but isn’t defined entirely by the wheelchair.

Perfect for Storytime: March/April Edition

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I’ve been a bit remiss with my posting lately.  I wish I could promise that I’ll rectify this problem, but the truth is that my updates will most likely become more and more sporadic as Summer Reading draws nearer (and I’ll probably go on a full on hiatus in June and July…you’ve been warned).  But it’s not summer yet, so here are a few books that are perfect for storytime!

orangutangled

Orangutangled by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Published 2/11/14

This wild romp of a book is perfect for any jungle themed storytime!  Two orangutans wake up, craving a snack, in the middle of the night.  They find some delicious mangoes in a tree, but when they reach for them, they lose their balance and the mangoes and monkeys come crashing crashing down and end up orangutangled!  Several other jungle animals attempt to free the primates but end up being orangutangled as well!  The illustrations, rendered in ink, brush, and photoshop, fit well with this silly story that kids will love.

DangerousDangerous by Tim Warnes
Published 3/1/14

This book is short and simple, but would still be wonderful to share in storytime.  Mole loves labeling things, but when he comes across an alligator, he doesn’t know what to label it.  So he labels it many things, such as bumpy and lumpy and dangerous.  The alligator wants to befriend mole (and, believe it or not, his reasons aren’t nefarious), but mole grows angry when the alligator continuously eats all his labels.  In the end, they both apologize and mole gives alligator a new label: friend.  The cartoonish illustrations are awash with bright greens and yellows, and the text is large enough to read easily to a group.  But the best thing about this book is the vocabulary.

the short giraffeThe Short Giraffe by Neil Flory
Published 3/1/14

Boba the baboon wants to take a picture of the tallest animals, the giraffes.  But there’s one tiny problem — Geri the giraffe is much smaller than his friends, and it’s difficult to get him into the shot.  They try stilts, a turtle tower, and even helium, to no avail (but some hilarious pictures result from it).  Finally, a tiny caterpillar suggest that instead of raising Geri up to their heights, the taller giraffes should bend down to Geri’s height.  This works perfectly and the final picture of the giraffes is the best one yet.  The giraffes look a little silly, and the text can’t decide if it wants to rhyme or not, but overall this is a great story to share for a jungle theme, a big and small theme, or a theme about being a little different.

go go go stopGo! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper
Published 2/25/14

This terrific book combines the concept of stop and go with construction!  One day, little green said a word:  Go!  And the construction trucks woke up and got to work.  But when there’s a little too much go and things get out of hand, little red steps in with a new word:  Stop!  They work together with hilarious results and a bridge gets built.  And just as the cars start to drive over the bridge, little yellow rolls into town.  I bet you can guess little yellow’s word!  This book would work well with any construction, things that go, or movement storytime!

tiny rabbit's big wishTiny Rabbit’s Big Wish by Margarita Engle
Published 3/4/14

Tiny rabbit wants to be big and strong, but the only thing that seems to be big for him are his ears.  However, he soon realizes that his big ears are very useful because they allow him to hear all sorts of things — including a hungry lion.  And his tiny frame is useful too because it allows him to hide from the hungry lion.  The acrylic illustrations are adorable, although I’m not quite sure what forest animals are doing in a jungle animal habitat.  Also, the text in this book is a little bit on the tiny side, which is appropriate for the story but it makes group sharing a tad bit difficult (but not impossible, especially if you practice beforehand).

 

Perfect for Storytime: February Edition

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February is slowly creeping to an end, which means it’s time for me to talk about a few of my favorite new picture books!  I was able to keep a better eye on the new books that came in this month, and I was also able to read a good selection and ended up writing reviews for a few on Goodreads.  I’m going to post my favorite books today, so here we go:

I HatchedI Hatched by Jill Esbaum
Published 1/23/2014

This picture book features rhyming text that details the hatching and first day of a baby bird. The ink/watercolor/pencil illustrations steal the show as the young bird discovers running, singing, and eating, among other things. The book ends with another hatching and the baby bird says hello to a sister. The rhyming text and large scale illustrations makes this book perfect for sharing with a group.

How to Wash a Wooly MammothHow to Wash a Woolly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson
Published 1/21/2014

Joining the ranks of other great odd pets picture books, How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth is a hilarious step-by-step bathtime story that preschool children will love!  While this book would work well for storytime, I would also encourage parents to check it out after storytime so that they and their little ones can pour over the illustrations.  There are some details in the pictures that they may not have noticed in a storytime crowd, but would love to laugh over together in a one on one reading session.  One of my favorite things about this book in particular is the mammoth’s facial expressions.

MonsterBeGoodMonster Be Good by Natalie Marshall
Published 2/26/13

Colors abound in this short picture book in which the audience is in charge of a group of rowdy monsters.  If a monster is noisy, children can tell him to be quiet.  If a monster is selfish, children can tell him to take turns.  Storytime crowds will love the chance to tell monsters to “sit still” and “go to sleep” and parents will appreciate that this book introduces a fun way to talk to their kids about manners and other social situations (including bullying).  What I love best about this book, is what usually grabs my attention when it comes to picture books:  bold, bright, and fun illustrations!

Big-Rig-Cover

Big Rig by Jamie A. Swenson
Published 2/4/14

While there are a lot of things to love about this picture book about an 18-wheeler big rig, two things that really stand out for me include:  the terminology and the sound effects.  This book introduces young children to the work, mechanics, and terminology of trucking.  The word ‘cargo’ is explained in the text, and the other terms are defined in a glossary at the back of the book.  While adults will love the fact that this book helps expand a child’s vocabulary, children will love sounding the horn along with the truck throughout the story.  I can already see myself going “URRRNNT-URRRNNNT!” in storytime now!

And now two books that would be great for toddler or baby storytimes:

NestNest by Jorey Hurley
Published 2/4/14

Wonderful photoshop illustrations chronicle a year in the life of two birds.  With one word per page, this book would be perfect for baby or toddler storytimes, though it could also work well with a slightly older group under the right circumstances.  While not nonfiction, this book could still be used as a way to introduce habitats.  My favorite thing about this book is how the seasons change in the illustrations.  This book would be perfect for a birds, homes, forest, or seasons storytime.

say hello like thisSay Hellow Like This! by Mary Murphy
Published 2/11/14

Reminiscent of Murphy’s “A Kiss Like This,” this picture book is bright, colorful, and has ample opportunity for little ones to make animal sounds.

Perfect for Storytime: January Edition

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A few years back, when I was still a very new full time librarian, I used to read Awesome Storytime. Back in the day, this blog had a series that I loved called “Storytime Contenders.”  As someone who was new to children’s services and who hadn’t read a picture book since 1st grade, this series was immensely helpful to me.  Not only for finding quality books to use for storytime, but also as a collection development tool.

Since the first couple of months at my new job were very busy for me, I fell out of the habit of checking out new picture books.  In order to rectify this, I’ve decided to start a monthly blog series similar to Storytime Contenders.  Each month, towards the end of the month, I’ll post a list of a few of my favorite new-to-me picture books.  My hope is that this series will not only keep my butt in gear about reading new picture books, but that it’ll also be beneficial for others as far as storytime planning, collection development, or just providing a place to talk about a picture book that is particularly awesome (or not awesome).

So here we go:

Love Monster Rachel BrightLove Monster by Rachel Bright
Published 12/24/2013 (American Version)

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this picture book features a cuddly and very lonely monster who just wants to be loved!  He searches high and low and even middle-ish for someone who will love him as he is, googly eyes and all.  Just as he starts to believe that he’ll never find a companion, his luck changes and a bus driven by another monster rolls into town.  I love the use of color in this book — bright pastels darken as the monster gets sadder, but the light from the incoming bus brightens the pages once again!  The theme of feeling alone or out of place is universal, and is something that children will empathize with.  The story does run slightly on the sappy side, but not overly so and would be all kinds of amazing for a Valentine’s Day theme storytime!

Planes Fly George Ella LyonPlanes Fly! by George Ella Lyon
Published 7/23/2013

In many ways, this picture book is reminiscent of Airplanes: Soaring! Diving! Turning! by Patricia Hubbell.  However, while I love Hubbell’s version, I personally think this one outshines it for several reasons.  First, it covers not only different planes and what they can do, but also the different people associated with planes, such as pilots and air traffic controllers (and even passengers).  Second, it doesn’t shy away from introducing airplane terminology (I had to look up what ailerons were!).  Lastly, the large scale, digitally rendered illustrations are spectacular!  They give kids a sense of how massive some planes can be, and make the readers feel as though we’re going on a journey with the planes.  Plus the bright use of color is very eye-catching.  I’m definitely excited to try this one with a Things That Go theme for storytime!

Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy LambPaul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb
Published 12/10/2013

Fantastic oil illustrations depict a fish’s world in this (possible Caldecott contender?) picture book.  Paul, a fish who barely pays attention to the world outside his fish bowl receives a new companion one day.  Bernadette, a lovely salmon-colored fish, enhances Paul’s life by encouraging him to see past his fish bowl glass and admire the world around them.  Kids will delight over how Paul and Bernadette confuse real world objects (my favorite is the tea pot/elephant mix-up).  In the end, Paul not only has a new friend, but he also has a new appreciation for the world around him.  Sweet, charming, and lovely to look at, this is a great story to share with the storytime crowd.

Michael_Austin__JunkyardJunkyard by Mike Austin
Published 1/7/2014

This picture book features two robots: one a brilliant green and the other a combination of black and red that invokes the sense of rust.  These robots find themselves in the midst of a junkyard and immediately get to work clearing it away for the green of a garden.  There are plenty of books out there about keeping our world green; however, I feel like this one holds its own with its rhyming text and boldly colorful illustrations.  What I love best about the illustrations (other than how bright the colors are) is the fact that, in the beginning of the story, the junk illustrations are very cacophonous, but the resulting garden at the end is very tranquil.  This book can work equally well for a robots, messy, or garden theme!

Pre-K Storytime: Nighttime

I’m back!  …Well, sorta.  While I’m starting to get settled in at my new job, I’m still adjusting.  Which means that my posts will probably continue to be sporadic until 2014.  In the meantime, here’s a storytime plan that worked very well with a group of preschoolers who were touring the library:

Opening Song:  The More We Get Together (wigh ASL signs)

Book #1:  Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Steam Train Dream Train
I talked about my love for this book back in August, and I have to say that that love has not abated!  The children were riveted to this book!  Their eyes were glued to the pages, they asked all kinds of wonderful questions, and one little boy flat out told me “I like that book!” when we finished it!  Storytellers beware though…this book runs a tad on the long side and probably isn’t best for wiggly crowds.

Activity #1:  Where is Bear? (Fingerplay Rhyme w/ Finger Puppets)

Bear Puppets 2
[to the tune of Thumbkin]

Where is bear?  Where is bear?
Here I am.  Here I am.
How are you today, bear?
Very tired, thank you.
Go to sleep.  Go to sleep.

After we finished singing the rhyme, I had the children count to 3 then shout, “Wake up, bear!”  The bear finger puppets woke up, then we did the whole thing over again.

Credit:  Preschool Education

Book #2:  I Dare You Not to Yawn by Helene Boudreau

I Dare You Not To Yawn
In this book, a small child gives advice on how to avoid yawns and bedtime.  Prior to reading, I told the children that no one was allowed to yawn during this book.  Of course, as I was reading it, I emphatically yawned throughout the story, much to the children’s delight.  Some of the kids yawned right along with me…others clamped their hands over their mouths to keep from yawning.  Overall, this was a very fun book for when you’re feeling silly in storytime.

Activity #2:  Little Moon, Little Moon

Little Moon 2
We all know how fond I am of doing the Little Mouse games in storytime.  In this one, I hid a little moon behind a cloud and the children had to guess which cloud it was behind by reciting:  “Little moon, little moon, are you behind the ___________ cloud?”

Credit:  So Tomorrow

Book #3:  A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na

Book of Sleep
This book is another favorite of mine!  I love Il Sung Na’s artwork in all of his stories, but this one is especially whimsical for me.  I also love how this book is very short but has plenty of opportunities for discussion.

Activity #3:  Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high.
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are.

Credit:  Traditional

Book #4:  How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

How do Dinosaurs
You can never go wrong with dinosaurs, and the kids especially loved saying “No” or “Yes” after every question in the book.

How It Went:

I really enjoyed this storytime!  In the past, I never really liked the nighttime/going to bed theme, which is probably why I never posted any of my past plans for this theme.  But this one had a great collection of books (from the whimsical to the funny), and the kids really enjoyed the rhymes/activities (especially waking the bears up!).

Also, you might have noticed the new opening rhyme!  I’ll be using a new closing rhyme as well, but I didn’t include it for this storytime since we started our tour as soon as the storytime was finished.

Pre-K Storytime: Robots

This week I did a new-to-me theme:  Robots!  We had another big crowd for this one, and while there were 4 and 5 year olds present, the crowd tended to skew to the 2 and under side of the age range.  Due to this, I felt that the two shorter books worked better than the two longer ones.  Still, this was a really fun, high-interest theme.

Opening Song:  Open, Shut Them

Books:

Robot Books

Beep and Bah by James Burks
When Bah the goat finds a single sock one morning, his robot friend, Beep, insists upon finding its missing mate.  The two embark on a journey that involves a lot of stopping to ask random animals about the missing sock.  When the two come to the end of the road and turn around, it’s revealed to the readers that the missing sock is on Bah’s backside!  This is a fun book, but one that I think would work better with slightly older children, or for a one-on-one sharing.  It’s written in a comic book-esque style with mostly dialogue, which I personally find challenging in a read-aloud.  Still, the kids really loved making the various animal sounds as we met the characters, and there were great opportunities for me to ask ‘what’ questions during the story.

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
Boy and Bot are friends, but when Bot’s power is switched off one day, Boy thinks Bot is sick and tries to nurse him back to health.  That night, when Bot regains power and Boy’s fast asleep, Bot thinks boy is malfunctioning!  This is a sweet story that seemed to hold the older kids’ attention, though not so much with the younger kids.

Hello, Robots! by Bob Staake
Hello, robots!  Metal robots!  Smiling bolt to bolt!  In this colorful story, four robots each have their own job to do, but when they get stuck in the rain, their robo-brains get fried and they confuse their jobs.  Lucky for them, they’re robots and can switch heads to correct the malfunction.  This book was the best received by all the children.

The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli
A toddler receives a puppy as a birthday present, but is more interested in using the box that the puppy came in for imaginative play.  I love this book because I believe that every child should use a cardboard box to pretend to be a robot at least once in their childhood.

Activities:

Five Noisy RobotsFive Noisy Robots Clip Art – Credit:  Open Clipart via What Happens In Storytime
Five Noisy Robots Rhyme – Credit:  Anne’s Library Life 

Five noisy robots in the toy shop,
Shiny and tall with antennae on top.
Along came a girl with a penny one day.
She bought a noisy robot and took it away.

(continue with 4, 3, 2, 1 noisy robots)

I’m a Little Robot – Credit:  Anne’s Library Life

[to the tune of I’m a Little Tea Pot]

I’m a little robot, short and strong.
Here are my handles, just turn me on.  (press sticker ‘on’ button)
When I get all warmed up, watch me go.
Sometimes fast, sometime slow.  (march in place fast and slow)

If You’re a Robot and You Know It – Credit:  Anne’s Library Life

If you’re a robot and you know it, clank your coils (clap).
If you’re a robot and you know it, clank your coils (clap).
If you’re a robot and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you’re a robot and you know it, clank your coils (clap).

…clunk your gears (stomp feet)
…press your buttons (beep, beep)

Rhyme Cube:  Itsy Bitsy Spider and I’m a Little Tea Pot

Closing Song:  Children, Children Turn Around

How It Went:

The activities were a big hit with this group.  Prior to storytime starting, I gave each child a sticker to wear on his/her shirt or hand.  Then for I’m a Little Robot and If You’re a Robot and You Know It, we pretended that the sticker was our on button and that’s what we pressed when the rhymes instructed pressing buttons/turning on.  The kids loved this!