Tag: afternoon storytime

Valentine’s Day!

The Plan


The Biggest Kiss by Joanna Walsh and Judi Abbot
Mouse’s First Valentine by Lauren Thompson
Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Sweethearts by Jan Carr
Valentine Surprise by Corinne Demas

Extension Activities

Flannelboard Song: “H-E-A-R-T”

Flannelboard: “Six Little Valentines”
Six little Valentines were sent to my house,
The first one said, “I love you, From Mouse.”
Five little Valentines in my mailbox,
The second one said, “Be mine, Love Fox.”
Four little Valentines full of love,
The third one said, “You are sweet, From Dove.”
Three little Valentines just for me,
The fourth one said, “Be my honey, Love Bee.”
Two little Valentine’s mailed with care,
The fifth one said, “Here’s a hug, From Bear.”
The last little Valentine, from my friend Jay,
This one said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Fingerplay: “Heart”
I put my hands together,
This is how I start
I curve my fingers right around,
And I can make a heart!
Credit: Everything Preschool


This was another kit from Oriental Trading. I was a bit frustrated when I opened the kit and it was not self-adhesive, like the website said. However, since I had such an older crowd at storytime it turned out to not be a problem, thank goodness!

How It Went

This was a bizarre, but really wonderful storytime. We had just hosted a Valentine’s Day party/card making event in our department and five of the eight-year-olds at the party really wanted to go to storytime when I called for line-ups. I said “yes” before I could really think about it and then suddenly we were downstairs, about to sing the welcome song. My preschoolers were clapping, waving, and singing and the eight-year-olds were frozen on the rug. I whispered, “Just go with it!” and minutes later, they were all stomping their feet gleefully. The rest of the storytime went AWESOME. Everyone participated in the flannels, stories, and fingerplay; and the craft went over much smoothly since the older kids helped the preschoolers around them. All in all, I was VERY glad that I said yes!

Fairy Tales!

The Plan


The Foggy Foggy Forest by Nick Sharratt
Over at the Castle by Boni Ashburn
The Sunflower Sword by Mark Sperring and Miriam Latimer
The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Rachel Isadora

Extension Activities

Flannelboard: “Five Knights In Shining Armor”
Five knights in shining armor, fearless and brave,
Went dragon hunting deep in a cave
The dragon started breathing fire,
The knights’ knees were all aquiver,
So one little knight went off to the river!

Song: “Curtsy Like a Princess” (Skip to My Lou)
Curtsy like a princess just like so
Curtsy like a princess just like so
Curtsy like a princess just like so
Curtsy like a princess!
(Bow like a prince, juggle like a jester, fly like a fairy, roar like a dragon)
Credit: Story Time Secrets

Puppets: “Here Is…”
Here is the knight with his feathered cap (take off hat, bow)
Here are his boots which go tap, tap, tap (tap feet)
Here is the dragon, listen to him roar (roar)
Here are his wings to help him soar (soar)
Here is the princess with her golden crown (four fingers over head)
Here is her lovely blue ball gown (curtsy)
Adapted from: Hummingbird Educational Resources

Song: “There Was a Princess” (repeat every line twice)
There was a princess long ago, long ago, long ago (curtsy)
And she lived in a big high tower, big high tower, big high tower (hands above head in triangle)
A wicked fairy cast a spell, cast a spell, cast a spell (wiggle fingers, cackle)
The princess slept for a hundred years, a hundred years, a hundred years (head on hands)
A great big forest grew around, grew around, grew around (spin)
A handsome prince came riding by, riding by, riding by (gallop)
He took his sword and cut the trees, cut the trees, cut the trees (make chopping motions)
He woke the princess with a kiss, with a kiss, with a kiss (blow kisses)
And everybody is happy now, happy now, happy now! (shoot “hooray!”)
Modified from Perpetual Preschool (I know I got the words from there, but I watched several YouTube videos to learn the song and wound up mashing some of the versions together.)


I bought the crowns from Oriental Trading and we used whatever foam stickers were around to decorate them. The squares were left-overs from an Earth Day program and the stars were left-overs from this summer. We also had letters so the kids could put their names on their crowns.

How It Went

This storytime skewed WAY older than I anticipated — right around the eight/nine year old mark (which is out of the suggested age range, but I had so many older siblings attend with their younger ones). Basically it meant that I had some very enthusiastic kids who sang and participated and I had some who didn’t. Somehow this still managed to work. All of the kids were very good listeners during the stories. Their favorite books were “The Sunflower Sword” and “The Foggy Foggy Forest.”


The Plan


Banana by Ed Vere
Be Quiet, Mike! by Leslie Patricelli
Kiki’s Blanket by Janie Bynum
Tall by Jez Alborough

Extension Activities

Flannelboard: “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”
Credit: Childhood

Puppets: “Five Little Monkeys Swinging in the Tree”
Five little monkeys swinging in the tree
Teasing Mr. Crocodile, “You can’t catch me; no you can’t catch me!”
Along comes Mr. Crocodile, as quiet as can be…
And snatched that monkey out of that tree!
(count down)
Credit: Childhood

Action Rhyme: “Little Monkeys Swinging In the Tree”
Little monkeys swinging in the tree,
All hold hands and swing with me
Swing up high and swing down low
Swing in the tree, now don’t let go!
Swing, swing, like I do
Swing like the monkeys in the zoo
Credit: Perry Public Library

Action Rhyme: “Monkey See, Monkey Do”
Monkey see, monkey do
Little monkey in the zoo
Monkey, monkey, in the tree
Can you jump around like me?
(swing tail, clap hands, nod head, sit down)
Credit: Perry Public Library


This was another Oriental Trading craft kit. I think it kind of looks a bit like a bear instead of a monkey though…

How It Went

This was an energetic group of kids. Definitely a lot of monkey business. I would say that they had the most fun with “Be Quiet, Mike” — though it wound up riling them up, which made it difficult for the next book. (Which was “Tall” — most of the kids were bouncing around and not “reading/guessing” if the monkey was tall or small.) The craft was a huge hit with parents and kids; everyone was definitely tired by the time they left — I heard a few meltdowns on the stairs as everyone was leaving.



Go to Bed, Monster by Natasha Wing
If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca and Ed Emberley
Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty
Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Ten Little Beasties by Rebecca and Ed Emberley

Extension Activities

Song: “Five Little Monsters”
Five little monsters jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
“No more monsters jumping on the bed!”
Credit: Childhood (Adaptation)

Song: “Monster Pokey”
You put your claws in, you take your claws out
You put your claws in, and you shake them all about
You do the wild rumpus and you turn yourself about
That’s what it’s all about
(horns, tail, big feet, and hairy self)
Credit: Perry Public Library

Action Rhyme: “Monster Stomp”
If you want to be a monster, now’s your chance
‘Cause everybody’s doing the monster dance
You just stamp your feet, wave your arms around
Stretch ‘em up, stretch ‘em up,
Then put them on the ground
‘Cause you’re doing the monster stomp
That’s right! You’re doing the monster stomp
Credit: SurLaLune Storytime

Flannelboard: “Go Away Big Green Monster”


How It Went

This was an afternoon storytime, and I have to say that it was a much quieter storytime than I thought it would be. I had about fifteen kids; none of which really wanted to roar or monster around. They were attentive and definitely enjoyed listening to the stories that I was reading, but were not into the extension activities. After a minorly disastrous “Monster Pokey,” I decided to skip the “Monster Stomp.” The minute we hit the craft though, the kids were racing through the hats only to put them on and chase each other around the room, roaring. Go figure!


July’s afternoon storytime session was “Zoo!”

The Plan


Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
My Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
Two at the Zoo by Danna Smith

Extension Activities

Action Rhyme: “Big Gray Elephant”
The big gray elephant slowly walks.
She doesn’t make a sound.
She swings her trunk from left to right,
When she puts her feet on the ground.
Swing, swing, left and right,
She doesn’t make a sound.
Credit: Alphabet Soup – Zoo Poems, Songs, and Fingerplays

Puppet Song: “Came to the Zoo” (Tune: My Body Lies Over the Ocean)
I came to the zoo to see lions, elephants, tigers, and bears!
I came to the zoo to see zebras. I love all the animals there!
Lions, tigers, elephants, zebras, and bears, and bears!
Lions, tigers, elephants, zebras, and bears!
Credit: Mel’s Desk

Action Rhyme: “Kangaroo”
Jump, jump, jump (jump)
Goes the kangaroo. (jump)
I thought only one – (hold up one finger)
But now I see two! (hold up two fingers)
Mommy and her baby
With his head popping out (wiggle thumb from fist)
He holds on tight (hug self)
As they jump all about! (jump around)
Credit: Preschool Education — Animals: Zoo

Song: “You Can Hear” (Tune: She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain)
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo, ROAR ROAR!
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo, ROAR ROAR!
You can hear the lions roaring, you can hear the lions roaring,
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo, ROAR ROAR!
(Snakes hissing, bears growling, wolves howling, frogs croaking, zebras braying)
Perpetual Preschool


Puppets! The kids glued their foam pieces onto the bags. I got the kit from Oriental Trading, but the bag glue was kind of stinky. (I wound up having to re-glue some of the bags after the ripped at the seems.) They got to choose between zebra, lion, tiger, and giraffe.

How It Went

This was an awesome group of storytime kids. I skewed way older for this session (averaging around a 7-year-old), so I was mildly worried that the books would be too young for them. But I had nothing to fear! Their favorite book was “From Head to Toe” because I always do it in a big book form and let them play along with me. It’s a great book for movement. The kids loved the craft and once I fixed the bags, many of them chased each other around roaring and braying and well, whatever noise a giraffe makes.


Afternoon storytime update! I did a summer theme with my 3-7 year-olds about three weeks ago at this point! (Between power outages and ALA’s Annual Conference, I took a much needed blog break!)

Started off storytime with “Mouse’s First Summer” by Lauren Thompson.

I swear, every single seasonal storytime that I do involves a “Mouse’s First” book. I absolutely plan on using this series to prime my crowd. Most of the kids know the names of seasons and that the weather changes, but this series lets them get some concrete images to associate with the season!

Afterwards, I led them in a cheerful rendition of “Mr. Sun.” I used this song as my opening song last summer session, and I was pleased that some of my regulars launched right into it with me!

Then, I read “It’s Vacation Time” by Lerryn Korda.

This was a book that inspired me to do a vacation storytime! However, I could not find enough material to do a successful storytime. So, I put this one into my summer storytime instead. The book ends with the group taking a vacation at home in their backyard.

Since the biggest problem in “It’s Vacation Time” is when the group forgets to pack their boat, this next song was a great fit right after:

Action Song: “Splashin’ Up and Down” (bounce up and down)
Splashin’ up and down in my little red rowboat
Splashin’ up and down in my little red rowboat
Splashin’ up and down in my little red rowboat
Won’t you be my darling?
(Additional Verses: lookin’ out to sea (shade eyes); wavin’ to a whale (wave), don’t stand up or you might tip over (lean to right or left)
Credit: Mel’s Desk

And then I got to use my new “Summer Shapes” flannelboard.

My next book was “Playground Day” by Jennifer Merz.

This was a great book for the crowd that I had at storytime. They were overjoyed to guess which animal was coming next. A lot of the kids figured out the trick (there’s a small animal hidden on each page as a clue to the next page) and said the animal’s name before I prompted them.

Before launching into my next song, we talked about different places that we went in the summertime (library, park) and it wasn’t long before someone called out pool, which took me straight to our flannelboard song:

Flannelboard Song: “If You’re Going” (Tune: If You’re Happy)
If you’re going to the pool, wear your suit,
If you’re going to the pool, wear your suit,
If you’re going to the pool, then a suit will keep you cool
If you’re going to the pool, wear your suit.
(Additional verses: hat, flip flops, sunglasses)
Credit: Mel’s Desk

This was a big hit. Some of my girls kept wanting to do the “shorts” verse because I had a picture of swim trunks up next to their swimsuit. That led me to an unexpected conversation about how boys and girls wear different clothes to swim in. My parents were cracking up in the background. “But why, Miss Katie? Why don’t boys wear bikinis?”

Going away from the bikini conversation, I asked the kids where else they could swim and thankfully a child shouted out about the ocean. Which led us to reading “Beach Day” by Karen Roosa.

I used this one last summer during beach storytime, and I didn’t re-read the book. One of the pages had been ripped out since the last time I did storytime. Sad face! I improvised, but it taught me a valuable lesson — always, always pre-read even if you know the story! I re-used this rhyme from last year, which was great after a beach book.

Action Rhyme: “Swimming”
Swimming in the water cool and bright (pretend to swim)
I kick my feet with all y might (kick feet)
And when I’m tired I turn and float (spin and hold arms out)
Pretending that I’m a boat! (rock hands)
I like to hold my breath and dive (take a breath and bend down)
I swim beneath the water and count to five (count to five)
Wow! What a dive!
Credit: Hummingbird Educational Resources

And then, I brought out “Jump” by Scott Fischer.

I chose “Jump” as my last book because it ends with a splash! It’s just a really fun animal book that was a great cap to the storytime. Then, for our craft we made a summer picture frame.

This was an Oriental Trading purchase and it was pretty successful. I wound up using Glue Dots for this project, and really, REALLY wish everything came self-stick these days!


Two weeks ago, I did my afternoon storytime for 3-7 year olds. I really love this storytime, but in particular this week was amazing. The amazing theme of bugs was a gigantic thumbs-up across the board.

Started off storytime with “Little Bea” by Daniel Roode.

As promised, I used this one again for bugs storytime. This one was a great way to open up storytime and my favorite part this time was the knock-knock joke page because my 1st graders cracked up. After the story was done, I brought out our bee puppet to do this rhyme:

Puppet Rhyme: “Bumble Bee”
Bumblebee, bumblebee, landing on my nose.
Bumblebee, bumblebee, now he’s on my toes.
On my arms, on my legs, on my elbows.
Bumblebee, bumblebee he lands and then he goes.
Credit: Mrs. Jones – Insects

I did the rhyme with the bee, and I asked the kids to pretend they had bees too. Bee buzzed away after the rhyme and then, I picked up “I Love Bugs!” by Emma Dodd.

Dodd’s book are just perfect storytime gems. And I love reading them! This is the second time I’ve been able to read “I Love Bugs!” this year, and it just gets better each time I use it.

Time for my favorite bug though — butterflies!

I started off with my “Very Hungry Caterpillar” flannelboard. This is the third time I’ve used the flannel since making it last April and every time it is a HUGE hit with parents and kids. Kids who know the story love seeing it come to life on my “magic” board. (One of my little boys calls it the magic board. I love that.)

Then it was on to a song:

Song & Puppet: “Flutter, Flutter”
Flutter, flutter butterfly, floating in the spring sky
Floating by for all to see, floating by so merrily
Flutter, flutter butterfly, floating in the spring sky
Credit: Best Kids Book Site

I used the song and puppet in my Orange Storytime this spring, and have this memorized as one of my go-to activities if I have more wiggling than listening. It was an easy fit into this theme!

Next, I read “Butterfly, Butterfly” by Petr Horacek.

This was such a great book. It had great cut-outs and a lovely pop-up spread at the end of the book, and doesn’t just focus on butterflies. Since it’s not as well-known as some other books I love sharing it with a new audience if only for the delighted gasps when Lucy finally finds her butterfly again.

But it was time to get up and move! So, I did “The Ants Go Marching.”

Song: “The Ants Go Marching”
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants go marching one by one,
The little one stops to suck his thumb,
And they all go marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.
(two, tie his shoe; three, climb a tree; four, shut the door; five, take a dive)
Credit: Childhood

While I know all the verses to ten, I only went to five so that no one got bored with the song. Three of my little boys stopped marching in place and started marching in a circle on the rug. It was absolutely precious.

My next book was a choice recommended by Sarah and Kelly, “Can You Make a Scary Face?” by Jan Thomas.

Talk about an instant hit! This book had every single person in the room laughing and playing along. I’m so glad that I added it to the storytime this week! It was on to a quick song to settle the crowd back down:

Song: “Insects All Around”
Lady bugs and butterflies
Buzzing bees up in the sky
Teeny, tiny little ants
Crawling up and down the plants
Many insects can be found
In the sky and on the ground
Credit: Preschool Rainbow

And then onto a book that I distinctly remember reading in 1st grade as a unit week, “The Very Busy Spider” by Eric Carle.

It was very hard choosing just one Eric Carle bug book, but since this one was the one from my childhood, I really wanted to share it with my storytime kids. And it has the bonus of having animal noises in it, which we all know is a clear storytime winner.

And what bug storytime would be complete without “Itsy Bitsy Spider?”

Once we were done sharing stories, the kids went on to the table to make our craft from Oriental Trading.

The best part of this craft was that it came with glowsticks for the kids to put inside their firefly jars to make them glow. Another great storytime day!


Another round of afternoon storytime was last week, on Tuesday. Our theme was spring which was perfect because the weather had been so nice and kind to us last weekend (we hit the 80s on Sunday), and the kids are definitely hitting spring fever. [Unlike this week, where it SNOWED this morning. Oh, Chicago, why do you hate me so?]

Our first book for today was “Mouse’s First Spring” by Lauren Thompson.

I’ve used the Mouse books as a way to introduce a lot of the seasons in other storytimes, but I really enjoyed the spring edition because it’s a guessing game of objects and animals in the springtime. My kids really this as a warm-up activity. By the end of the book, everyone was shouting guesses! Next, we did the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” three different ways, which is always a crowd-pleaser.

Next, I introduced our next book by first doing a fingerplay:

Fingerplay: “Here is a Bunny”
Here is a bunny with ears so funny (hold up index and middle fingers for ears)
And here is his hole in the ground (make a circle with the other hand)
At the first sound he hears, he pricks up his ears (extend two fingers)
And hops in the hole in the ground (fingers jump into the hole)
Credit: Early Literature

And that brought us to the next book, “What Does Bunny See?” by Linda Sue Park.

This is another book that my group had a lot of fun, in this book they got to guess the colors of flowers. I have some color masters in storytime — they always know every color! And naming the flowers was a good way to increase vocab and also get them prepped for our craft later on. And that also led us into a quick song:

Song: “Ten Little Flowers” (Tune: Ten Little Indians)
One little, two little, three little flowers
Four little, five little, six little flowers
Seven little, eight little, nine little flowers
Ten flowers in the spring.
Give them rain and lots of sunshine
Give them rain and lots of sunshine
Give them rain and lots of sunshine
So they’ll grow up tall
Credit: Modified from The Holiday Zone

Our next book was “Hurray for Spring!” by Patricia Hubbell.

This book has a lot of different spring activities which is a nice contrast to objects or animals or weather. I asked this kids after each spread if they had done the activity shown. It will not surprise you at all to know that everyone has done everything…even if they really haven’t.

I loved this fingerplay, and we repeated this one four or five times, the kids giggling the whole time.

Fingerplay: “During the Spring”
During the spring, it often showers (flutter fingers down)
Or the sun shines for many hours (form circle in the air with arms)
Both are good for the flowers! (cup hands and extend arms like flowers)
Credit: SurLaLune Storytime

And then, I led the kids in singing our flannelboard: “Five Little Ducks.”

Followed by our next book, “Dimity Duck” by Jane Yolen and Sebastien Braun.

This is one of my favorites. I love the wonderful alliteration and sounds from saying names like Dimity Duck and Frumity Frog. Last but not least (I mean I’m doing a whole bugs only theme in May), I wanted to talk a bit about spring bugs. First with a butterfly…

Song & Puppet: “Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly”
Flutter, flutter butterfly
Floating in the spring sky
Floating by for all to see
Floating by so merrily
Flutter, flutter butterfly
Floating in the spring sky
Credit: Best Kids Book Site

And then with a lot of different bug in “Bumblebee, Bumblebee, Do You Know Me?” by Anne Rockwell.

This book was one of those books that should have gone over really well, but I had one little boy act out during the whole time. One of my kids asked, “Miss Katie, why can’t he sit down and listen?” Needless to say, since this book isn’t a linear story, I did skip a few page spreads to get us to the end of storytime and our craft. For craft, we made felt and foam flower bouquets, which came in a kit from Oriental Trading.

This kit was a huge hit! Some of the kids required some parental help, but most of the kids figured it out themselves.


I am a glutton for a great storytime theme, and I cannot get enough of using birds. I had a great time using this theme in the fall, and knew that there were enough books to do a completely different storytime for my afternoon kids this spring. (I had no crossover between the two groups…which I still find strange.)

I started off with “How Rocket Learned to Read” by Tad Hills.

While this is a great book, it is very long, and not a book that I anticipated the littlest storytime attendees would sit for well. My average age in storytime yesterday was a little over 5, so I went with the longer book. (I had “Grumpy Bird” prepared and ready to go if we had skewed younger.) The kids did really well with the book, and my older kids were so into it that I definitely would use it again for my older ones.

Next up, a fingerplay to reward the little ones for sitting through the long book. I did “Two Little Blackbirds.” Followed by the book “Wow! Said the Owl” by Tim Hopgood.

Love this book! Love it! I already went ahead and bought it to live permanently in our storytime collection because I can think of a thousand themes (well, maybe not a thousand), but definitely day/night, birds, colors, sleep, exclamations!, rain, rainbows, that the book could be used at storytime. (I will be using it again in just a few weeks for our rain storytime.) And the kids really liked shouting out the colors as they appeared — overall, this was a success with everyone.

Then, the kids got up and stretched and we did this super cute action rhyme, one that I modify all the time to fit different themes:

Action Rhyme: “Little Bird”
I saw a little bird go hop, hop, hop (hop three times)
I told the little bird to stop, stop, stop (hold out hand for stop)
I went to the window to say “How do you do?” (handshake)
He wagged his little tail and far away he flew! (shake tail and fly away)
Credit: Childhood

Next up, one of my most favorite books to read at storytime, “I’m Not Cute!” by Jonathan Allen.

There is nothing more wonderful than watching reactions when I read this book aloud. The kids LOVE this one, and I do too. There’s also a great chance for audience participation here — I always ask the kids several times if Baby Owl is cute. They always think so, and I always respond, “He is not cute!”

After I was done, I went straight into the flannelboard: “Ten Fluffy Chickens”, which I used at the last Bird storytime.

Then, the library purchased a ton of finger puppets and puppets with money we received for a Target Family Reading Grant written by one of my fabulous co-workers, and I finally got to use the hummingbird puppet this storytime!

Poem & Puppet: “Hummingbird’s Sound”
A hummingbird gets its name from the sound
Of its hum – hmm – as it darts all around.
The sound is not a song that it sings
But the fast flapping of its tiny wings!
Credit: Artfelt

Next book, “Riki’s Birdhouse” by Monica Wellington.

I actually previewed this one the first time I did bird storytime, but passed on it because it was too long for my ages 0-5 storytime. But it was perfect for ages 3-7 storytime. This is a sweet story about a boy who builds birdhouses and feeds the birds and watches them throughout the seasons. It was a great read for this time of year, as the seasons are slowly getting ready to turn.

Another repeat from last time:

Action Rhyme: “Little Birds, Little Birds”
Little birds, little birds, jump up and down.
Little birds, little birds, don’t make a sound!
Little birds, little birds, tip-toe to me.
Little birds, little birds, bend your knees!
Little birds, little birds, peep, peep, peep.
Little birds, little birds, sleep, sleep, sleep.
Little birds, little birds, fly to the leaves!
Little birds, little birds, sit down, please.
Credit: Greatest Resource Education Child Care

Before finishing up with “Little Quack” by Lauren Thompson.

This story is so bright and lively, and I love the counting meter at the bottom of the page spreads. This was a natural segue into our closing song: “Five Little Ducks.”

Afterwards, we made plastic cup blue birds using a kit from Oriental Trading.

The kit called for a paper cup, and to decoupage tissue paper squares to make the bird blue. I was not having ANY of that, so I just bought regular cups from the party store. (The cups were not sold with the kit anyways.)

Wild Animals!

For my second afternoon storytime, I decided to do a wild animals storytime. And I had nineteen kids show up to practice their animal noises! (I was floored, given the weather!)

First up, I read “Dancing Feet” by Lindsay Craig.

I used this book in my “Shake Your Sillies Out” program, and promised that I would use it again. It was the perfect book to kick off storytime. The kids love guessing which animal is coming next. I did not have the kids stomp their feet with the animals though, because I didn’t want to get them all riled up at the first book! And since they were sitting so well, I went straight into “Jump!” by Scott Fischer.

This is a great repetitive, cause-and-effect book — the kids quickly caught on to the animals pouncing on each other, happily shouting out “JUMP!” between pages. My favorite part of this book is the vertical spread. Make sure you know when it’s coming, and the kids will be so surprised when you turn the book around! Since they were already such great jump shouters, I gave them a chance to practice their own jumping with this action rhyme:

Action Rhyme: Kangaroo!
Jump, jump, jump (Jump)
Goes the kangaroo (Jump)
I thought only one (Hold up one finger)
But now I see two! (Hold up two fingers)
Momma and her baby
With his head popping out (Make a fist, have other hand pop out)
He holds on tight (Hug yourself)
As they jump all about! (Jump)
Credit: Preschool Education — Animals: Zoo

Next up, I had the kids sit down for our flannelboard: Dear Zoo (Based on the book by Rod Campbell).

All of the kids kept trying to guess what animal was coming next from the zoo — and I had one boy who insisted the zoo should send a dog, which was excellent when I got to the end and he proclaimed, “I WAS RIGHT!”

After that energetic story, I led the kids in a quick round of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” slow, fast, slow to get them prepared for the next book. It actually gave me a great segue for “Whose Nose and Toes?” by John Butler.

Now this book is definitely for the younger crowd, and my older kids dominated the younger kids. But! One of my youngest loved the pictures and kept pointing all the way from the back row, trying to sound out the animal’s names. The only one that she got clearly was dog.

(Another reason why I like to mix things up, and do some younger books is that I often have bilingual families attending. So this simple book can be understood without actually understanding all of the English words I’m saying. The reason I know this? I had some kids guessing Spanish animal names instead of English.)

The book ends with an elephant as the last animal to guess, so that was another great intro to our next action rhyme.

Action Rhyme: “Big Gray Elephant”
The big gray elephant slowly walks.
She doesn’t make a sound.
She swings her trunk from left to right.
When she puts her feet on the ground.
Swing, swing, left and right,
She doesn’t make a sound.
Credit: Alphabet Soup – Zoo Poems, Songs, and Fingerplays

Next up, “My Heart is Like a Zoo” by Michael Hall.

Definitely a great rhyming story; my (and their) favorite page is the page where hippos are drinking apple juice. The kids were very talkative during this story, and I definitely had to lower my voice to sometimes get their attention between rhyming couplets. Overall, this is still one of my favorite books for its bright colors, and almost homage to “Color Zoo.”

Next, I just couldn’t resist using two flannels in one program! So, I pulled out my Seals on the Bus flannel (Based on the book by Lenny Hort) and we sang the book out loud.

One last song before our last book! I pulled out my Manhattan Toy “Sweet Safari” finger puppets for this one, and modified what animals we heard so that the puppets would fit.

Song & Puppets: “You Can Hear” (Tune: She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain)
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo, ROAR! ROAR!
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo, ROAR! ROAR!
You can hear the lions roaring, you can hear the lions roaring
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo! ROAR! ROAR!
(Elephants trumpeting, zebra braying, monkey eeking)
Credit: Perpetual Preschool

Last book, I did as an action rhyme/book — “From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle.

Luckily, we own the big book version of this one, so I was able to have all the kids stand (short ones walk towards the middle of the rug to see better, tall ones move to the sides) while I held up the book, panning back and forth and doing (most) of the motions with them. This led to hysterical giggles — I don’t recommend doing this as the opening story!

But for me and my kids, it was time for the craft. They made lion masks that I found on my new favorite website, KidsSoup. (Again, it’s paid, but for me it has been WORTH it so that I’m not struggling to find a craft to fit my theme.)

Nothing beats little ones running out of the program room roaring at one another.