Tag Archives: special programs

Dinosaur Dance!

The Plan



Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein
Dinosaur Vs. the Library! by Bob Shea
RAWR! By Todd Doodler


Game: “Steg, Steg, T-Rex”
Yep. This is Duck, Duck, Goose. It’s a tried and true game for preschoolers that always leads to lots and lots of giggling.

Game: “Dino Egg Hunt”
We have a ton of leftover eggs from various crafts. I hid ten of each color (pink, blue, green, and purple) and broke the kids into four teams, giving them each a color bucket that corresponded to the egg colors. I asked them to only take their color eggs so that everyone could participate. When their team finished, I awarded them their own dinosaur finger puppets that I got at Target earlier in the summer.

And then, it was time to DANCE!

Dance Mix


We Are the Dinosaurs (Laurie Berkner)
Dinosaur Dance (We Kids Rock)
Dino-5 Theme Song (Baby Loves Hip Hop Presents The Dino5)
Dinosaurs A to Z (Dinosaur Train)
I Am a Palentologist (They Might Be Giants)

For “We Are the Dinosaurs” and “Dinosaur Dance”, the kids, grown-ups, and I followed the directions in the songs. During the the “Dino-5 Theme Song”, I had the kids dance their finger puppets around. The finger puppets really helped them take a break instead of going full-force. During “Dinosaurs A to Z”, some of the kids joined me in shouting out the letters with me as I tried to make the letter shapes with my body. And for “I Am a Palentologist”, I had scarves for them to dance around with as our final cool-down.



And as (almost) always, we did finish with a craft. This was another quick Oriental Trading scratch art kit. The kids enjoyed it, but I did find that a lot of them ran out of time to scratch ALL the color off. (As so many of them try to do!)

How It Went

I had a ridiculous amount of fun at this program and I’m so happy to report that the kids did too. They busted some great moves and had a lot of good times in the air conditioning. I also had a giant blow-up TRex that I got for summer decorations. Afterwards, the kids who wanted photos took photos by him giving me some wonderful photographic memories of this day!

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Road Work Ahead!

This was a special program that I did during the Summer of 2013 for “Dig Into Reading!” Families with kids ages 3-7 were invited to spend an afternoon celebrating all things construction!

The Plan



Construction Countdown by K.C. Olson
The Construction Crew by Lynn Meltzer
Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia

Extension Activities

Flannelboard: “Red Crane, Red Crane, What Do You See?”

Action Rhyme: “Cranes”
Cranes reach up,
Cranes reach down,
Cranes reach out,
And all around.
Credit: Pre-K Fun

Fingerplay: “Five Little Nails”
Five little nails, standing straight and steady
Here I come with my hammer ready!
Bam, bam, bam! That nail goes down.
Now there’s just four nails to pound.
(count down)
Credit: Mel’s Desk


“Foreman Says”
You really can never go wrong with a special version of Simon Says. I gave the kids construction hats that I bought for the program to wear while we played. I put mine down at one point and wound up sitting on it, smashing it. I’ve never seen preschoolers erupt in such laughter.

“Dump Truck Relay”
The website linked above can give you full instructions, but basically I had two dump truck with packing peanuts that I had painted to look like rocks and two buckets. I divided the kids up into two teams and they raced to get their rocks from the trucks to the buckets. They had great fun with this one, even if I didn’t really “pronounce” a winner.

“Treasure Excavation”
Very simple way to hand out prizes. I had a bin full of shredded paper and let the kids dig using sandbox shovels for their ring pops. I figured that was as close to diamonds as I was gonna be able to afford!



I got this craft from Kids Craft Weekly. I let the kids do their own cutting and I had plenty of parents around to help the youngest ones out. I did keep the hole punchers at a single table with the brads so that teen volunteers could help with the construction aspect.

How It Went

Did I mention the part where I sat on my hat? Basically, not even ring pops could compare with how awesome that moment was! Their favorite book was probably “Tip Tip Dig Dig” and they really liked that I used the same illustrations to make the flannelboard. The craft was definitely doable for the kids, but I had a few that struggled to use the scissors, which makes me all the more determined to give them more opportunities when possible!

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Back to School!

The Plan


Foxy by Emma Dodd
Mouse’s First Day of School by Lauren Thompson
Pete the Cat: Rocking In My School Shoes by Eric Litwin
Wow! School! by Robert Neubecker

Extension Activities

Flannelboard: “Mary Had a Little Lamb”

Flannelboard: “The Wheels on the Bus”

Fingerplay: “Way Up High in the Apple Tree”
Way up high in the apple tree
I saw two apples looking at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
And down came the apples
And mmm, they were good!

Song: “Come to School” (Tune: Farmer in the Dell)
We like to come to school
We like to come to school
Our school is such a happy place
We like to come to school


This was one of my favorite crafts of all time! It was super cute, very easy to make, and it served a purpose! Some of my parents were planning on using this to store love notes for the first day! The craft and template came from Danielle’s Place.

How It Went

I did a special storytime in the morning, apart from the summer session, for the preschoolers that would be moving on to big-kid school this year. It was my hope that I’d be able to help alleviate some concerns through stories, let parents talk about which teachers their kids would have to find some ST friends that had the same class, and for me to say goodbye to them as my ST kids.

It was a great time for all. By the end of the storytime, I had all of the kids geared up and ready for kindergarten. I had picked books that talked about all the new and neat things they would see, so the kids were chanting “WOW FRIENDS, WOW TEACHER” and “I’m rocking in my school shoes” all the way out of the room.

At the end, I had giant hugs from a lot of kids that have been in storytime since I started way back in 2010. (Which isn’t *that* long ago, but it feels like a lifetime to them!) It was a wonderful send-off and I hope they started school with confidence!

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Starry Night Stories!

This was a special evening storytime program that I did over the summer. Attendance was pretty good (15 kids), so I have plans for doing a once-a-month evening storytime when the weather turns nice again.

Anyways, there are SO MANY great bedtime books that I would almost never run out of material! This time, I started with some of the books we own in our in-house storytime collection for convenience.

The Plan


Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed? by Barney Saltzburg
Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle
The Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra

Extension Activities

Flannelboard: “Ten Teddy Bears”

Fingerplay: “Going to Bed”
This little child is going to bed (point to self)
Down on the pillow he lays his head (rest head on hands)
He wraps himself in a blanket tight (hug yourself)
And this is the way he sleeps all night (snore)
Credit: Best Kids Book Site

Action Rhyme: “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear”
Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around,
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground,
Teddy bear, teddy bear, reach up high,
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the sky,
Teddy bear, teddy bear, find your nose
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch your toes
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch your knees
Teddy bear, teddy bear, sit down please
Credit: Childhood

Song: “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”
Credit: Childhood


This was a craft kit that I got through Oriental Trading. I loved this kit because it was entirely peel-and-stick which made it a no hassle craft! (I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to do a craft at Evening Storytime, but since I found such a simple one, I went ahead and did it.)

How It Went

What I really liked about evening storytime (and why I’ve decided to do it once-a-month this summer) is that I got a whole different crowd of kids and parents. I was serving patrons that for whatever reason were not served by morning or afternoon storytime! Since we’ve tried evening programming in the school year (and it flops), I’ll give it another go this summer! As for the program itself, the kids were very quiet and attentive during storytime but they really let loose during craft and we had a great time. I was the only participant to actually show up in pajamas though!

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I did this program last year right around this time, and thought I would post it so that other librarians and libraries could use it!

Flannelboard: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”

I knew that most of the kids attending this program had likely read the book prior to signing up. At first I was going to combat that by using the pop-up version to add a little twist. But then, I discovered flannelboard templates online and the rest was history.

(And because I still adore this flannelboard, I went and took some better pictures of it!)

My favorite piece is the butterfly wing! I did a ton of painting to get it to look at close to the book’s illustrations as I could.

After the flannel (which was a HUGE hit; I had a lot of kids “reading” the story along with me), we sang a little song with our pretend butterfly hands.

Song: “Fly Fly Butterfly” (Tune: “Skip to My Lou”)
Fly fly fly butterfly
Fly fly fly butterfly
Fly fly fly butterfly
Fly high up in the sky.
Credit: The Virtual Vine

After our storytime portion, I did a game with the kids:

Game: Caterpillar Race
Form two teams of three. The course should be about 20 feet long, marked with a start and finish line. To play this game you'll need 4 balloons. Each team lines up single file. Each player sandwiches a balloon between herself and the person in front of her. Each team is a little caterpillar! First team to run around the cones and back while keeping the balloons between them wins. (And you can't use your hands to get the balloons in place!)
Credit: PBS Kids Zoom

For my kids, I modified by allowing hands to help the balloons and pairing kids up instead of making teams of three. I had a lot of younger threes/fours at the program and knew that the game would be too difficult.

And then, I did two different crafts with the kids!

Butterfly/Caterpillar Craft:
• Glue pom-poms onto one side of clothes-pin. Twist 3 inch piece of pipe cleaner around top end to form antenna. Let dry.
Butterfly wings:
• Lay paper towel flat. Mix water and food coloring to make “paint.” Use paint brush to paint the paper towel. The more colors you use, the more colorful the butterfly. Allow to dry. When dry, fan fold the paper towel into approx. ½ inch sections.
Credit: DLTK Kids

I actually did the caterpillars ahead of time, using hot glue and making sure that it was nice and dry for the kids. And I SO did not want to mess with food coloring with preschoolers, so I wound up using watercolor paint. It worked just as well, with way less mess!

Bookmark Craft:
Use fingerpaint to make a caterpillar crawling across the bookmark. Add legs, eyes, and mouth with a black marker when dry. Hole-punch a hole at the top of the bookmark and tie a ribbon through it to finish it off.
Credit: Domesticali

I called each child up one at a time while they were watercolor painting and had them dip their fingers in fingerpaint to make the bookmark. Instead of taking each child to the sink after their turn -- I used hand/face wipes from the store. Another way to simplify my life!

Then, while their butterflies and their bookmarks were drying, we played one more game!

Game: Butterfly Match-Up
Cut butterflies out of cardstock and then cut them in half. Hide them around the room and ask the children to help you match up the butterflies.
Credit: The Virtual Vine

Afterwards, each child got to keep the butterfly they matched up and took home both crafts. This program was a really big success as far as I'm concerned, and I had a lot of pleased parents leaving the programming room that day.

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The Polar Express

Program Plan
1. Read “The Polar Express.”
2. Sing carols.
3. Play “Conductor Says” — Simon Says with a Polar Express twist.
4. Do crafts: Reindeer hats & “Magic Reindeer Food.”
5. Give presents. (Candy canes and Jingle Bells on leather cords.)

This is the simplest program that I have ever created for 3 to 7 year olds — and I’ve done it three times in the five holiday seasons that I’ve been at my current job. It’s such a great way for little ones and their families to participate in the holiday season! Here’s a few things I’ve learned through my years of doing this program:

1. The book is a long book; make sure to engage children with questions throughout. Tuck a bell in your pocket and when the boy receives his bell, pull yours out. It *will* grab any kid not paying attention back to the story.

2. No one will really care who wins “Conductor Says.” And it’s not worth it to try and get a three-year-old to sit out after they’ve “lost” the game.

3. Making “Magic Reindeer Food” will inevitably leave you with a gigantic mess of sprinkles, sugar, and oats on the floor. Remember to have a broom nearby!

4. Give the candy cane presents to the parent; give the bell to the child. At my first year doing this, I mistakenly gave the children the candy and I had several meltdowns on my hands when parents demanded the candy to wait until after dinner.

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Maisy & Friends

This month, I was very excited to be able to do a Maisy themed program for my 3 to 7-year-old age group. The kids at my library are crazy about Maisy, and her books are rarely on the shelf. I knew that this would be a successful program, and was pleased that I could devote a whole hour to one of their favorite characters.

I began storytime by laying down expectations for kids and parents — something new I’m trying to see if we have some better behavior. (Which we totally did!) And then, went ahead and read “Maisy Goes On Vacation” by Lucy Cousins.

This is one of those “First Experience” books, so it walks Maisy through packing, getting to the beach, and her first day on vacation. I love the Maisy “First Experience” books because they do such a good job of explaining these new places and activities to preschoolers. After we finished this book, the kids had a lively discussion of where they had each gone on their last vacation. Super cute.

Next up, “Maisy Big, Maisy Small” by Lucy Cousins.

Introducing this book was SO easy, because the kids had seen the cover of this book in the last one. (Maisy reads one of her own books on the way to her vacation.) The kids were pumped that we had Maisy’s book here! This tale of opposites led to a lot of laughter with the kids, especially the “Maisy fluffy and Maisy spiky” page layout.

After such a rousing success, I had to follow it up with my flannelbaord: “Maisy Mouse, What House Are You In?”

Talk about another instant-hit, they LOVED guessing which house Maisy was in. I was successfully able to re-hide Maisy twice before kids started to peek. I followed this with a quick fingerplay:

“Hickory Dickory Dock”
Hickory, dickory, dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down
Hickory, dickory, dock

Afterwards, I asked the kids about what kind of animals Maisy and her friends were. They kept telling me that Maisy was a mouse, but I had one little girl rattle off the other animals (crocodile, elephant, etc.) very proudly. I asked if Maisy had any fish friends, and the kids shook their heads, and that led us into “Maisy Goes to the Library” by Lucy Cousins, where Maisy searches for a fish book.

This was an accidental hilarity — THREE of the kids before the program asked me where the fish books were, so that naturally led to the kids shouting out that they were like Maisy. Then, the non-fish-asking kids all said that they asked for a fish book too, to which I nodded and let it go, asking everyone to raise their hands if they wanted to find a fish book with Maisy. That let us finish our story, thankfully. We needed the next action play to help discharge some energy:

Action Play: “The Old Grey Cat”
The old gray cat is sleeping, sleeping, sleeping,
The old gray cat is sleeping in the house
The little mice are dancing, dancing, dancing (children dance)
The little mice are dancing in the house
The little mice are nibbling, nibbling, nibbling (children nibble)
The little mice are nibbling in the house
The little mice are resting, resting, resting (children rest their heads on hands)
The little mice are resting in the house
The old gray cat comes creeping, creeping, creeping (cat begins to creep)
The old gray cat comes creeping in the house
The little mice go scampering, scampering, scampering (children run in place)
The little mice go scampering in the house (cat can surprise Maisy and meow!)
Credit: Everything Preschool Mice Games

Then, our next story, “Maisy Cleans Up” by Lucy Cousins.

This one is super quick, and easy, and the kids loved guessing what kind of chores Maisy and Charley would do next. The kids clapped when Maisy and Charley finally got to eat their cupcakes after such hard work. Another quick fingerplay:

Fingerplay: “Mouse Fingerplay”
Chorus: Boing, boing, squeak
Boing, boing, squeak
A bouncing mouse is in my house
He’s been there for a week.
He came from out of nowhere
And quickly settled in.
I’m thankful that he came alone,
I heard he had a twin.
He bounces in the kitchen
He bounces in the den
He bounces in the living room
Look, there he goes again
That mouse just keeps on bouncing
Every minute of the day
He goes bounce, bounce, bounce
But he does not bounce away
Credit: SurLaLune Storytime

This was by far one of my favorite fingerplays ever. The kids were so happy to bounce their finger-mouse up and down, and we had a lot of gigglers. And a couple of them picked up the chorus by the end of the chant!

And to finish up, our grand finale was “Maisy’s Show” by Lucy Cousins.

My co-workers tease me about how much I enjoy pop-up books that don’t require you to fix the pop-up before moving on. This book is easily my new favorite pop-up book! The actions are thoughtful and appropriate, the kids are wow-ed by them, and I don’t have to fix the book before turning the page!

Lastly, the kids played a quick game of “Pin the Tail on Maisy” that I printed off from the official Maisy website.

Followed by a quick craft of making Maisy ears (also on the official site) and a puppet coloring craft of Maisy riding a bicycle.

(Teen volunteers cut everything out, and had already attached the popsicle stick to the back of the puppet so that no one’s Maisy went flying suddenly.)

A hugely successful program, with no headaches, and a great afternoon spent at the library.

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Shake Your Sillies Out

In addition to my storytime duties, I also try to have a once in a while special program for ages 3-7. Last week at the library, we shook our sillies out.

(Really, this program was a big excuse to use my new storytime aides that we purchased after receiving a Target Early Literacy grant this summer. And believe me, the kids LOVED the new items — especially after I told them that they were the first kids to get to use them!)

I kicked off the program with “Dancing Feet” by Lindsay Craig; illustrated by Marc Brown.

The kids tapped and stomped their feet along to this animal guessing story. The book has got great rhythm and my kids love when they get to guess which animal is coming next. The book will definitely be used again and again at my storytimes.

Next up, I read “I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello” by Barbara S. Garriel.

This book is based on the “I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly” song, so my kids figured it out pretty quickly. It was fun hearing them try to recite the story along with me as I went, but the kids did get tripped up on some of the instruments. I can see this working as a great introduction to different instruments in a music class.

And that was it for the stories at this program. The rest of the program was shaking! First up, I passed out egg shakers to do the hokey pokey:

“Hokey Pokey” (with egg shakers)
You shake your egg up, you shake your egg down
You shake your egg up, and you shake it all around
You do the hokey pokey, and you turn yourself around
That’s what it’s all about!
(more verses can include: left/right, front/back, etc.)
Credit: Bay Views Storytime Ideas

Followed by a rendition of “Shake Your Sillies Out.”

“Shake Your Sillies Out” (with shakers)
Gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
And wiggle my waggles away
(more verses can include: clap my crazies out, jump my jiggles out,
stretch my stretchies out, yawn my sleepies out)
Credit: Raffi

I forgot the tune of this one as I started to sing, so I made it up and went with it. Most of the time, I try to sing this to “Skip to My Lou,” but I know there’s a proper tune out there!

Then, we traded our shakers for our activity scarves. I was done singing for a bit, so I put in a CD of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It” for the kids to move their scarves around to. Our version of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” has instructions on it to use with scarves.

Then, we put away our scarves and got out our parachute. Our is a small one — I think it’s a 20′ one — but it’s perfect for our space. I started off by throwing six soft balls on the parachute and just letting the kids shake the parachute until the balls fell off. We call this game “Bouncy Balls” and it is a crowd-pleaser! Everyone shrieks and laughs while we do this and I’m pretty sure that they could play this all day if I left them.

Next, we tried a brand-new parachute game with one of my favorite baby bouncy rhymes:

“The Noble Duke of York”
The noble duke of York (shake parachute)
He had ten thousand men (shake parachute)
He marched them up to the top of the hill (parachute up)
And marched them down again (parachute down)
He marched them to the left (walk to the left)
He marched them to the left (walk to the left)
He marched them to the right (walk to the right)
He marched them to the right (walk to the right)
And then he marched them up (parachute up)
And then he marched them down again (parachute down)
Oh, what a silly sight! (shake again)
Credit: Preschool Education – Parachute Games

Another big hit here. The kids did this one three times in a row before I went to the center of the parachute and told everyone to let go. (It makes bunching up the chute into a game, and it also goes much easier than trying to get preschoolers to fold it up.)

Our craft was just a simple paper plate shaker.

My teens pre-stapled the plates, leaving just the smallest gap for dumping beans into. We had a table just for beans, and there was a giant mess on the floor. While the kids were attaching the streamers (pre-cut) with Glue Dots, I brought out the carpet sweeper to pick up the beans — every kid INSISTED on having a turn with the sweeper to pick up the beans. After the beans were picked up, I had to put more on the floor so that everyone could have a turn.

The kids are always surprising me. A task that I absolutely hate, but find necessary, they are amazed with.

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Bubble Party

This was an insane program that I did over the summer for 3-year-olds to 7-year-olds. I had twenty-three kids hopping around, and to make matters more complicated — I needed our bigger programming room for space, but also needed our smaller programming room for painting! (I’ll show you how I solved this with ease!)

First off, I read the book “Bubble Trouble” by Margaret Mahy.

This is a pretty long book to read about a baby who accidentally gets trapped in a bubble. And I definitely recommend practicing this one *several* times because there are a lot of tongue-twisty areas. But! The kids loved this story. We had massive amounts of giggling throughout its pages.

A couple of quick songs before launching into the bulk of the program: bubbles!

“My Bubbles” (Tune: “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”)
My bubbles flew over the ocean,
My bubbles flew over the sea,
My bubbles flew over the rainbow,
Oh come back, my bubbles, to me.
Come back, come back, oh come back my bubbles to me!

“Big Bubble” (Tune: “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”)
Can you blow a big bubble?
A big bubble, a big bubble?
Can you blow a big bubble,
With your bubble wand?

Credit for both: Bubble Theme – Step by Step

And then the kids played some quick games:

Bubble Dance – A game where the goal is to simply pop bubbles, not letting the bubbles hit the ground. I played a Dora CD while the children played the game which made it infinitely better. We have a bubble machine, and I literally just let it go, set up on a table. The kids were *thrilled* to be able to pop them to their heart’s content.

Bubble Bounce – A different kind of bubble. You throw balloons into the air and have the children keep the “bubbles” afloat. Super simple, I left the CD playing while we played this one too.

Bubble Race – This game can turn into a disaster very quickly if you let it. We purchased some giant bubble wands and let the kids run with them. Instead of a disaster though, the kids practiced their turn-taking and we made lines. My older kids were great examples for my younger kids and this was actually pretty flawless in terms of execution.

Our transition between spaces was easily solved by grabbing a bubble set and leading the kids through the library on a bubble parade. Simple, and totally effective.

And the whole reason why we needed to move downstairs — our craft was Bubble Art. Add 2 teaspoons of paint to bubble solution. I had the kids blow bubbles onto white construction paper. Make sure to provide lots of different kinds of tools to make bubbles. I had straws, bubbles wands, bubble pipes, etc. set out and every color of the rainbow to use. This went great, and was again, super easy and effective.

This is a program that I would definitely consider doing again — especially because I didn’t take pictures amidst all the chaos!

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