Tag: discovery!

Discovery!: Play Dough


Our mission: to make three kinds of play dough in a forty-five minute session. These were our recipes:

1. Dirt Playdough
For each batch, use:
Equal parts flour, salt, and water
Add two spoonfuls of black tempura paint for color
Add coffee grounds for texture

2. Snow/Cloud Playdough
For each batch, use:
Equal parts cornstarch & shaving cream

3. Scented Playdough
For each batch, use:
1 cup of flour
3 TBSP of salt
2 TSP olive oil
1 TSP of cream of tartar
1 & 1/2 packets of sugar-free Crystal Light
1/3 cup of water

I still can’t believe that I made play dough with a class full of preschoolers and no one died! Here’s a few tips:

1. Since I don’t have twenty five sets of measuring spoons and cups, I improvised. I put a popsicle stick into a styrofoam cup. I measured where each measurement hit on the stick and marked it. The kids were told to measure to the “blue line” for a cup, the “red line” for 1/3, etc. That was excellent.

2. I had a tarp underneath the tables to prevent too much mess and disposable tablecloths on the tables.

3. Parents went to the sink to get the water instead of the kids doing that part and potentially spilling on the floor.

4. I had a set of purchased name-brand PlayDoh at the front of the room. I talked about how much it cost ($20) and that the supplies for 25 kids cost just about that for three types of homemade playdough.

5. The mess took FOREVER to clean up and I was so very blessed by my co-worker who pitched in for an hour of clean-up including vacuuming.

Overall, a fun and fantastic program. It teaches math skills (measuring), science (chemistry!), and it gives everyone a great take-home since I let them keep each dough they made!

Discovery! Dino Science


(I want to take this moment to thank Abby at Abby the Librarian immensely for her Preschool Lab Dinosaur science program where I got most of my ideas.)

Today’s storytime began with another set of books to introduce our topic for the day: dinosaurs!


Dinosaurs by Lila Prap
Inside/Outside Dinosaurs by Roxie Munro

We had a lot of great conversations during the books. Some of the kids wanted to know whether or not the dinosaurs were meat-eaters or plant-eaters. A lot of the kids were super impressed that I could explain what each dinosaur name meant. (Inside/Outside Dinosaurs translates each dino name!) This also turned into a great teaching lesson for caregivers as I talked to them about how I didn’t read every word/box in “Dinosaurs” but was still able to share a non-fiction book with this age group.

And our stations for today:

IMG_1069Stegosaurus Spike Roll
The kids rolled a large foam dice and tried to get all five spikes on their dinosaur. This could have been played as a game between kids, but my kiddos worked collaboratively trying to get everyone’s dinosaur loaded up with spikes.

IMG_1070Model Magic Fossils
I bought some dinosaurs for the program and had the kids use them at this station to make fossils. We talked about how if they left their Model Magic out to dry that it would harden overnight and feel like a real fossil. A lot of the kids spent a good deal of time here making fossils over and over again.

IMG_1072Dinosaur Puppets
I wanted to have a station that encourage imaginative play and this was an easy solution. Kids also had the chance to work on scissor skills which is something that local teachers have told me is in desperate need *before* children arrive at school. There was lots of great play here with kids chasing their caregivers with their dinosaurs.

IMG_1073Footprint Size
I drew a rough template of an apatosaur using the American Museum of Natural History’s website as a guide. My footprint was definitely not perfect, but it got the point across. The kids were *amazed* as how big the footprints were.

IMG_1071Mud Dough
I made some dirt dough/paint using this recipe. I added dinosaur figurines to our play set and the kids went to town. (The library does have smocks which are mostly old summer reading t-shirts.) Most of the kids absolutely loved this station, but I had a few mess-phobic kiddos that made me worry about next week’s all play dough making session.

This session’s Pinterest photo:

Discovery! Parachute


I did a second parachute program in the spring sessino of Discovery!. Here’s our playlist:

1. Introduction & Rules: Do not walk on the parachute. If Miss Katie asks you to find a spot on the wall, you need to put a hand on the wall. Caregivers, I need your help to watch out for our little ones. We don’t want anyone to trip on the parachute. If anyone does step on the chute, we need to stop what we’re doing until everyone is safe again. Thanks!

2: Read “Higher, Higher” by Leslie Patricelli: I read “Higher, Higher” while the kids/caregivers sat on the floor. As we read each page, we raised the parachute higher and higher until everyone was standing at the end of the book and I was reading under the chute so the kids could still see. This worked out beautifully and was a very engaging way to read the book.

3. “Take the Sun” by Caspar Babypants: We worked on different parachute directions with these next two songs. This song was up and down. Eventually kids got bored and started running under the parachute which was fine by me. When that happens though, I do stick my head underneath and police kids that might be running too fast or aren’t aware of their surroundings.

4. “Fast and Slow” by Laurie Berkner Band: Shaking the chute fast and slow absolutely brought the kids back to holding the chute. I cannot describe the shrieking that occurs when I tell the kids that they can shake fast again.

5. “The Tempo Marches On” by Jim Gill: I tried very hard to get the kids to shake slow at the beginning of this song and to shake faster towards the end. Thankfully the parents helped make that happen!

6. “Boom Boom” by Bari Koral Family Rock Band: This song has actions (stand up, jump up, spin around, comb your hair, shut the light) which I adapted for the parachute — stand up, jump up, kids spin while parents hold the chute up, give yourself static hair, and curl up under the parachute. This was incredibly fun and was a great transitional piece for our next book.

7. Read “Monsters Love Colors” by Mike Austin: I made this interactive by asking the kids to shake the chute while sitting to help mix the colors. I also had the secondary colors scarves in bags, prepared to toss on the chute when we “made” that color. The kids thought that this was magic and were so happy when another color joined the chute. I kept the scarves on the chute for the next song.

8. “All My Colors” by Ralph Covert: We had another round of shaking the chute since the kids were ready to get back up again. Afterwards, they all found the wall and I collected the scarves by walking on the parachute.

9. “Pass & Clap” by Michael Plunkett: This is a song that’s supposed to be used with bean bags, but I had the kids/caregivers sit back down and pass the chute around the circle. This is a great chance to develop some teamwork skills. One of my kids struggle with this and mom pulled her away from the chute since she couldn’t/wouldn’t pass it.

10. “Peek-a-Boo” by The Learning Groove: A really quick fun game from Mr. Eric & Mr. Michael. I asked the kids to crawl under the chute and their caregivers lifted it slightly so the kids could peek out. Lots of laughter with this one.

11. “Popcorn” by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights: I made paper popcorn again out of recycled materials and the kids shook the chute. After a while, I invited them to go underneath and “pop” the popcorn off the parachute. This was a great way to get the paper off of the chute without having them find another wall to do it safely.

12. “Rocks and Flowers” by Caspar Babypants: This last song, the kids went underneath the chute and crawled around to pick up the paper and bring it to me!

Another successful parachute program! I absolutely love playing with the kids and the parachute. It brings back such fond memories of when I was in school and we did the parachute. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures though because it’s so difficult to try and lead this program and document it at the same time.

Discovery!: Alphabet


This week, I took the time to focus on the Alphabet. My library gives parents a survey after every storytime session and no matter which storytime program parents are attending, we have constant requests for alphabet identification and practice. While it’s very difficult to do this in baby/toddler storytime, it was a great opportunity for preschool Discovery!.

This was another activity station Discovery! and our stations were: salt writing, letter building, lowercase/uppercase eggs, do-a-dot markers, and alphabet identification game.

Salt Writing
This was a great sensory experience for the kids, but I didn’t see too much actual letter writing take place. Most of the kids were content to draw in the salt. But that let me pass on a great parent tip — shapes are the precursors to letter writing. If your child isn’t ready to start learning letters, work on shapes instead.

Letter Building
One of my upcoming Book Bundles has this kit: Letter Construction Activity Kit. I borrowed it for the program. I love that this kit teaches both uppercase and lowercase letters and that it puts some great emphasis on the kinds of lines and shapes we use to create our letters and words. This was definitely the favorite station of the day.

Lowercase/Uppercase Eggs
I’ve seen this activity on Pinterest since Pinterest started. I bought some eggs at Target immediately after Easter on clearance for $1. I wrote letters on either side of the eggs and let the kids spent the time to match them up. I made sure that no uppercase/lowercase pair were on the same color to up the difficulty for the kids.

Do-a-Dot Markers
I had paper available and purchased Do-a-Dot Markers. Caregivers were able to write a particular letter that their child was struggling with for practice. Kids used the markers to trace the letter. This is great fine motor practice and lots of the kids walked away with their whole name stamped on a piece of paper. Easily one of the more popular stations.

Alphabet Identification Game
Since the library has a foam letters set, I tossed them on the ground and used some re-usable dry erase dice to write letters on the sides. Kids rolled the dice and had to find the corresponding letter on the ground. This game worked great in theory. But the dice didn’t work. Either the kids rubbed the letters off of the dice or the dice actually broke (the dry erase part came off the foam body).

This was another program that I got a lot of great feedback from and I’m so happy that my community found it useful.

I’ve included a Pinterest friendly image if you’d like to pin this program:

Discovery!: Building


Another station activity for this week’s Discovery!. I decided to take the time to focus on building/engineering. I was really excited for this event since we have so many wonderful building kits and equipment at the library.

(We’re in the process of developing circulating kits, so I was able to use the materials from these kits for this program.)

I put out the following materials: Legos, Duplos, Megablocks, wooden blocks, Castlelogix, Jenga, Gears Gears Gears!, Goldieblocks, playing cards, clay (ModelMagic), Tangrams, and a paper/pencil station.

While the kids loved lots of different parts of this program, my favorite part was reading “Dreaming Up” by to them. “Dreaming Up” is one of the Monarch nominees (our state’s K-3rd award) and I had the pleasure of serving on the committee. It was really exciting to share one of our choices with the kids.

I had a lot of great feedback from this event. Several of my kids picked a station and stayed there for most of the time. One little boy spent his time mastering the Gears Gears Gears station. Another family spent their time at the pencil/paper station and drew house plans and cotton candy factories. But the biggest hit was the Lego station. One parent remarked that if the library had an all-day Lego program that the kids would never leave!

A Pinterest friendly picture for you:

Discovery!: Mini-Masters


I also want to include an art activity in every session of Discovery!. Last fall, I had an art class that talked about the importance of process art vs. product art. This session, I wanted to spend some time and talk about how all artists started as kids. And that artists create art in different ways.

To start off the program, I read two books:


Art by Patrick McDonnell
Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter

Both books were huge successes with the kids. I absolutely loved reading a non-fiction book for the event and “Henri’s Scissors” was perfect. The book naturally led to our table activities. I put out images of each artist along with the accompanying materials. I made sure to tell caregivers that the point of this class was to try different art techniques and not to make a masterpiece.


Henri Matisse: I put out colored paper and scissors and let the kids go to town.

Georges Seurat: I put out white paper and markers for the kids to practice pointillism.

Piet Mondrian: I had pre-cut blue, yellow, and red squares and added black markers to the table.

Georgia O’Keefee: I had planned to put watercolors out on the table. But on the day of the program, the watercolors weren’t where they were supposed to be. So, I had to make a last minute substitution…

Claude Monet: I took some black paper and sidewalk chalk and let the kids go to town.

The kids spent the most amount of time at the Matisse table and the Mondrian table. They had such a good time and I had so many compliments from parents about the ideas presented. And a true librarian victory: my book display was completely gone by the end of the program.

And a Pinterest friendly picture:

Discovery!: Throwback Games


For this spring session of “Discovery!”, we switched to a 30-45 minute format instead of the hour long program it had been in the fall. This worked so much better for our families!

I wanted to start off the session with another icebreaker type of activity so that the kids would become familiar with me and be cool with the harder/more complicated things we might try in the future. Instead of doing the parachute as an icebreaker (I did use it later on in the session!), I went with a throwback game session so that parents would also have some fun with me.

To start it off, we read two books:


Playground Day by Jennifer J. Merz
Follow the Leader by Erica Silverman

And that led us straight into our games:

1. “Follow the Leader” I played this in a slightly modified version where each child got to tell us what they wanted the group to do. Instead of having the child led the line, we just stayed in our group bunch. Most of the kids decided that we should jump, so be prepared for that possibility.

2. “Red Light, Green Light” I had the kids line up against the wall of our meeting room and stood at the other end. I turned my back to them and called “Green Light” while they all raced towards me. I shouted “Red Light” and turned around quickly to catch any kiddos that didn’t freeze in time. Since I was playing with preschoolers, we did not play for “winners” in any of the games and just played for fun. So as far as the kids know, none of these games have a winner.

3. “Musical Cushions” I wasn’t about to use chairs with preschoolers since that seemed like a recipe for disaster. As each child was knocked out, I let them control the CD player for the next round. Most of the kids decided that the best part of the day was when they got to push the CD player buttons!

4. “Duck, Duck Goose” This is where having parents help the kids was imperative, otherwise they all tried to run at the same time to chase the runner. I spent most of this game running with the “goose” to help them around the circle. Again, we didn’t play for winners, so no one was taken out by the game.

And that was it! I had a few other games in my head (Mother, May I? & Simon Says) but we were running short on time anyways. And I didn’t take any pictures since I was very busy facilitating the whole ordeal, but I sure had fun.

Discovery!: Process vs. Product Art


This was my simplest Discovery! program for good reason: it was the end of the session and I had two presentations during the month of November to prepare for. I purposely planned the most intense programming towards the beginning when my energy would be up.

The Plan

Brief Art Storytime


The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle
A Day With No Crayons by Elizabeth Rusch
Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin

Flannelboard: “Mouse Paint”

Free Art

I made sure to explain to parents and caregivers what a product art is and what process art is. Today, the group was going to concentrate on the process of creating and not making a product. I had different craft supplies out — paper, paper bag, paper plates, crayons, feathers, buttons, glue, scissors, markers, felt scraps, etc. The important point of today’s program was to have the kids enjoy doing their art. Furthermore, this was about letting them touch the supplies without saying “No, do it this way.” (Obviously, if it was a safety I did ask them to intervene.)

Here’s just a few pictures of the day:


How It Went

The kids loved the book selections. A few of my boys were excellent at color identification and color mixing. During “Mouse Paint”, they proclaimed loudly, “Those are the PRIMARY colors and those are the SECONDARY colors.” (Librarian pride!) I had several parents and caregivers compliment me on giving the kids the freedom to explore these materials without providing a sample. Overall, while this was a shorter program (about forty-five minutes instead of an hour), this was also a huge success in my book.

Discovery!: iPad


For set-up, I used our staff iPad and mirrored on the television with Apple TV. I sat on the counter underneath the TV and the kids piled in on the floor. This was another program that I planned in stages to help me choose from our myriad of iPad apps that we have on our in-house circulating equipment. I did purchase four apps for the program: “Wheels On the Bus”, “Peekaboo Vehicles”, and “Press Here” (for $1.99 each) and “Flip-Flap Safari” for $0.99.

Before I began the program, I talked a little about what we know about young children and new media. I mentioned the American Association of Pediatrics’s recommendation. And then I talked about using new media with young children in the library. (At the time this fabulous inforgraphic was not available, but you should use it going forward!)

My grand conclusion that I left them with is that parents/caregivers need to make the iPad/tablet an interactive experience as often as possible and that each family needed to decide for themselves what was appropriate for their child. And that’s what I was going to model today!



David Carter’s Spot the Dot
I started off the program using this app because I knew it would be a great icebreaker and a great way to model questions. While the kids scoured the television screen to find the dot, I modeled questions like: “What is the dot next to? Is it on the right side or left side? Is it big or little right now? Is it moving or flashing?” Kids answered the questions loudly and enthusiastically. I made sure to mention that in a one-on-one session it might be easiest to just touch the dot, but asking these questions brings in other concepts like size (math), spatial relations, etc.

Find Little Dot 1-10
Afterwards, I switched to another dot app. This is definitely more for babies and toddlers than preschoolers. But I took this opportunity to talk about the fact that apps can be aged and that older siblings can become the model in this situation. I asked each child to take a turn finding the dot with this app, which meant I walked around the room and let everyone touch the iPad. This was also a good learning experience since some of the children had never touched an iPad before. They now knew how hard to push to make something happen. (Like with my violin, some of them were extremely cautious!)

Press Here
I bought the book “Press Here” into the room with me. I put the iPad down for a second and took a book break. This was a great chance to talk about moderation to parents/caregivers. It also introduced my next kind of apps — ones that extend the book by having activities. After we read “Press Here”, I demonstrated some of the extras in the app. The kids were particularly taken with the fireworks section!

We moved on to Transportation apps next!



Peekaboo Vehicles
Another app for the younger kids in the audience (the three-year-olds) that they really enjoyed. My tip to parents/caregivers for this app was that these kind of guessing games are excellent for long car trips. I also recommended having Animal Sounds installed on their phones. An adult or older sibling in the passenger seat can play the sound and have the preschooler guess what animal is it.

Byron Barton’s Planes
For this app, I talked about how flat a book can be when you read it. An iPad version of the same book allows for more interactions. I asked the kids what they wanted to “touch” to see more. In the Barton app, if you touch different areas of the app you can hear different words and names of items and places. The kids were fascinated and wanted to touch every part of the app.

Wheels on the Bus
So to end this session, I (and the app) led them in a spirited version of this popular song! We played the song several times and then recorded our own version. We played it back to a lot of giggles. I gave this tip to parents/caregivers: these apps that allow a recording can show a parent who was at work or on a business trip what was going on at the house while they were gone. Technology is a great tool for keeping in touch with family we don’t see every day.

And then it was on to animals!



Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
This was a fun experience for the kids. We played along to each language and got up to stretch our muscles. For this app, I talked about expanding language needs using apps. Children who are interested in learning a new language or who are working on learning English as a Second Language can find supportive apps to increase their knowledge. Children learn languages much faster than adults, so now is the time to start if you’re interested!

Flip-Flap Safari
My only “app” disaster. It crashed twice as we were using it. It’s also a UK author so some of the word choices didn’t make too much sense for the kids. This is the only app that didn’t work well for me. I guess every program has to have one dud!

Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App!
But we recovered easily with the Pigeon, aka every preschooler’s best friend. I read aloud the original version to make sure everyone knew the story before we delved into the app. We recorded our own very funny Pigeon story and the group left with lots of giggles under their belts. I once again reiterated about looking for opportunities to interact with apps and to not use them as babysitters.

How It Went

Planning the program using the small segments was brilliant on my part. The kids remained engaged and excited on each journey. I only had one child who kept getting up to try and touch the big screen (which no one can reach). His caregiver did a good job of chasing him down. Everything went incredibly well, even though I had a power outage/surge that required a re-set of Apple TV in the Transportation segment. Of course that would happen, haha!

Discovery!: Yoga


Yep. I did yoga with PRESCHOOLERS.

[Small background: I taught yoga in college for a semester and have taken yoga on and off again since high school. I do not have a certification, but I talked with my supervisor about whether or not this program would be covered under liability. It was decided that we ask patrons to follow movements in all programs (lifts, bounces, games, etc.) and would therefore be covered under the library’s general insurance policy. Please check with your administration before attempting this program.]

I broke up the day into Intro, Animal Poses, Shape Poses, and Cool-Down.

For your understanding of what I’m talking about, I’ve linked each pose to a picture from Namaste Kid. They are a wonderful resource for teaching yoga to children. I watched both “Once Upon a Mat” and “Yoga Motion” to help prepare for specifically teaching to children. [“Yoga Motion” is available to rent on Amazon Prime; another library in my system has “Once Upon a Mat” which I ILLed.]


I began class by telling the kids that we were going to do some yoga, which is a form of movement. I asked parents and caregivers to participate as best they could. I also said that the kids could opt out of any pose that they didn’t want to do. If they wanted to take a rest, they could sit cross-legged while the rest of us were in pose. Then, we practiced taking some deep breaths all the way from our bellies. I had the kids touch their stomachs to feel if their stomach moved. If their stomach was moving, they were breathing deep enough.

Animal Poses

fromheadtotoeBook: From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
I started with “From Head to Toe” because it’s a great book about movement and getting kids to think about their bodies standing in for animals. I thought this would be a great way to kick off yoga poses and would also work with the plethora of animal poses available to teach!

Monkey Pose

Butterfly Pose

Giraffe Pose

Downward Facing Dog Pose

Cat & Cow Pose

Lion Pose

Frog Pose

Shape Poses

roundisamooncakeBook: Round Is a Mooncake
I wanted, again, to introduce a concept to the kids that we would then mirror with our bodies. This is one of my favorite shape books ever. While there aren’t as many shape poses, I think the kids really responded to this section because the shapes were easier to see in their friends than the animals.

Star Pose

Triangle Pose

Crescent Moon Pose

Child’s Pose (Oval)

Corpse Pose (Line)


A trillion thanks to Laura for the amazing idea of using Beanie Babies to help the kids practice their deep breathing in a cool-down. I used bean bags since the library does not own Beanie Babies.

Since they did such an amazing job being still and calm, I put on some music and let them end with a dance party. Some kids left right away, others stayed for about fifteen minutes to dance with me!

How It Went

Preschoolers + YOGA. (Yes, it really happened!) Some tips that worked for my kiddos was counting out loud five breaths while we were in poses. I kept my voice low and calm to keep up the relaxation going on. Our meeting room has a dimmer installed on some of the lights, so I did use low-level lighting which also helped. Since the meeting room is carpeted, I did not ask parents/caregivers to bring towels or mats. Before we started, I had each child make sure they were three carpet squares away from their friends so we didn’t have any crash landings! I had so many compliments from caregivers and parents. And one Twitter friend said I should apply for sainthood, haha!