Fall Storytime 10-10-18

By Awnali Mills

Today’s storytime was about fall.  The books I chose were Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer and Leaves by David Ezra Stein.

After our opening song, my raccoon puppet came to visit, bringing the letter L and four pictures of L words.  After talking about leaves (our last picture), we talked about the colors they turn in fall.  Then I read Yellow Time, which is a lovely little book.  Then we sang Falling, Falling to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle.

Falling, falling, falling leaves
Mother Nature, did you sneeze?
Red ones, yellow ones, orange and brown
Big ones, little ones crinkled on the ground.
Falling, falling, falling leaves,
Mother Nature, did you sneeze?

I have four apple bean bags that I made years ago, and I set them on top of my flannel board (which is a big triangle).  I said the rhyme and had the children act like the wind, making an angry frown and blowing hard at the apples to make them fall off the board, one by one.

Four red apples, hanging in a tree,
The juiciest apples you ever did see.
The wind came by and gave an angry frown
And one little apple came tumbling down
(Count down to none)
No red apples, hanging in a tree,
Now we can eat them!  Yum!

Then I handed out shakers and we sang Shake Your Shaker to the tune of Are You Sleeping.

Shake your shakers, shake your shakers,
Like the leaves, like the leaves
That are falling, that are falling,
From the trees, from the trees.

Shake them high, shake them low.
Round about, to and fro.
Shake your shakers, like the leaves.
Falling down, falling down.

Our next book was Leaves, and then I had the children act like leaves, twirling and spinning around the room while I sang and played Leaves are Falling.  This is also to the tune of Are You Sleeping.

Leaves are falling,
leaves are falling.
All around,
all around.
Soft and quiet colors,
soft and quiet colors.
On the ground,
on the ground.

We finished up with some rousing rounds of the flannel game Little Bird.

Little Bird Little Bird

This ended up being a little shorter than my normal storytime.  The group was really quiet today but very intently focused.  They really came alive during Little Bird, though.  There was much less talking and discussion than normal, so I think that made it shorter.

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Emergencia! Spanish Storytime in a Hurry 10/9/18

By Awnali Mills

Yesterday, a coworker had a family emergency and called out.  Unfortunately, he does our Spanish language storytime, and is the only one on staff that speaks Spanish.  As the only other person here at the time, I filled in.

I don’t speak much Spanish.
Solo un poco.  No es bueno.
Ay yi yi!

I had about two hours to pull together a storytime in a language I do not speak well.  Fortunately, I HAD planned a Mexico storytime, and was able to pull some things together from those resources.  So, here is my emergency Spanish storytime plan.  The books I chose were Hello Night, Hola noche by Amy Costales and How Do You Say, ¿Como se dice? by Angela Dominguez.

I opened by greeting everyone with Buenos noches a ti (to the tune of Happy Birthday)

Buenos noches a ti
Buenos noches a ti
Buenos noches a todos
Buenos noches a ti

Then I introduced myself in Spanish and explained that their normal storyteller would be back in a few weeks (we go on break after this week).  I explained that I didn’t speak Spanish well, and asked for their help.  Except for two ladies, everyone looked at me blankly.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that, for tonight at least, only those two ladies spoke any Spanish.

Whew!  What a relief.  So, I got along in English, slipping in as much Spanish vocabulary as possible.  I put up a letter A and some pictures of words that start with A in English.  We talked about the English words for the pictures, and then the Spanish words.  Then, I quizzed the kids to see if they could remember which of the Spanish words ALSO started with A. (Obviously, it’s Airplane – Avión).

Ant – Hormiga
Apple – Manzana
Airplane – Avión
Alligator – Caimán

Then I put a mouse fingerpuppet on each thumb and did a version of Where is Thumbkin.

Dos Ratones dicen (Two Mice say…)
Buenos días, buenos días
¿Cómo estás?, ¿Cómo estás?
Muy bien gracias, Muy bien gracias.
¿Y usted? ¿Y usted?

Our first book was Hello Night, Hola noche.  I practiced this book several times and STILL got words wrong.  Oh, well.  Everyone was kind.  And it’s a lovely book.

I played Mi Cuerpo Hace Musica from the CD Bouncy Blue by Eric Litwin.  We danced and did the motions to the song (which means “my body makes music”.)

Once again, I pulled out the flannel Five Little Maracas.  Then I read How Do You Say, ¿Como se dice? Which is a very short book, but the kids said all the words with me, and seemed to enjoy doing so.

I did a fingerplay and song with them next, Uno, dos, tres, amigos (To the tune of One Little, Two Little). We held up the correct amount of fingers with each one, and did the song twice.

Uno, dos, tres amigos
Cuatro, cinco, seis amigos
Siete, ocho, nueve amigos
Diez amigos son.

Next was the flannel Papá’s ties. (Sung to: “Mary Wore a Red Dress”)
Papá wore his rojo tie,
Rojo tie, rojo tie.
Papá wore his rojo tie
All day long.
Continue with:

To finish up, we danced with scarves to La Bamba from the CD Songs for Wiggleworms.  The grown-ups seemed particularly happy with this choice.

I thanked everyone for coming, and they were very kind and told me that I’d done a good job.  My boss and I discussed and decided that we definitely need to put together an emergency Spanish storytime kit for us non-Spanish speakers.

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Happy Birthday, NASA! Storytime 10-1-18

By Awnali Mills

Did you know that Monday, October 1, was NASA’s 60th birthday?  Yep, it’s true!  Naturally, we had to have a birthday party for them!  It was a library-wide event.  The adult section sported a touch-light constellation display, teens held a NASA escape room event, and the children’s section had a space storytime followed by a rocket craft.

My co-worker Meghan and I sifted through a ton of space-themed books before choosing Life on Mars by Jon Agee and A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin.  Then, we co-taught (performed?) the storytime.

We opened by singing Happy Birthday to NASA, then Twinkle, Twinkle.  I read Life on Mars, and then we sang Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, with all the verses!  It was really nice to have Meghan doing this with me, because I was playing ukulele for everything except the birthday song and Zoom.  She did the motions and sang heartily with me.  We discovered that we sing well together.

Next up was the flannel Five Little Astronauts.

One astronaut went up in space
Upon the moon to play one day
He had such enormous fun
That he called for another astronaut to come.

Meg told the story and we all yelled.  I acted like I was the astronaut floating over to play in space.  Then we sang 10 Little Astronauts.

Ten Little Astronauts
One little, two little, three little astronauts
Four little, five little, six little astronauts
Seven little, eight little, nine little astronauts
G7                     C          (stop)
Ten little astronauts lifting off

5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Blast Off!

Meg read the book A Big Mooncake for Little Star, and then we sang Bumping Up and Down in My Little Space Shuttle

Bumping up and down in my little space shuttle
Bumping up and down in my little space shuttle
Bumping up and down in my little space shuttle
G7                                   C
Won’t you go to the moon with me?

My space suit’s on and my boots are too…
We step on the moon and bounce up and down…

We finished off with one more song, The Earth Turns Around.  We had three volunteers.  On one, we hung a picture of the Earth; on another, the moon; and another, the sun.  We had the three children “orbit” each other while the rest of us sang and “twinkled” our fingers.

The Earth turns around, the Earth turns around,
Once a day, every day, the Earth turns around.
The moon goes round the Earth… Once a month, every month…
The Earth goes round the Sun… Once a year, every year…
The stars are all around… Here, there, and everywhere, the stars are all around.

At the end of storytime, we made straw rockets, a craft that I got from Buggy and Buddy.

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Book Review – The Nebula Secret by Trudi Truett

Nebula SecretBy Awnali Mills

I’ve been taking a break from children’s books for a while, but this one came in and it looked pretty good, so I snuck it in my stack.

Cruz is excited to be accepted into the Explorer Academy, a rigorous school in Washington D.C. that focuses on ecology, conservation, anthropology, photography, and journalism.  His mother used to work for the Academy before she was killed in a tragic accident there, and his aunt Marisol is a teacher there.

But before he even leaves Hawaii for Washington D. C., someone tries to kill him.  At the Academy, Cruz is determined to do his best, but disturbing things keep happening, and he doesn’t know who to trust.  Somehow everything seems to connect back to his mother.  What secret was she hiding, and can Cruz unravel all the threads before what he doesn’t know kills him?

Fans of adventure, mystery, and puzzle books will enjoy this story.  There are codes, ciphers and clues sprinkled throughout, but not so many that the story doesn’t move along at a good clip.  Cruz demonstrates good citizenship and concern for his classmates, even in the ultra-competitive environment of the Academy.  Best of all, the book has enough illustrations to satisfy kids who want longer books but miss having pictures in them.  While there are passing mentions about environmental concerns, Truett doesn’t beat you over the head with them (easy to do with this subject), focusing instead on telling a good story.  I LOVED that she ended the book with factual information and science to back up some of the elements in the book that seemed farfetched, like 4-D objects (3-D objects that print and then assemble themselves).  She also gives pictures and blurbs about real-life explorers and the work that they are currently doing around the globe.

This is obviously the first in a series, and I’ll be glad to have another series to give to my third to fifth graders who are scientifically minded (there are only so many Nick and Tessla type books around!)

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Squirrel Storytime 9/26/18

By Awnali Mills

Today’s storytime was nuts!  Or, squirrels rather.  There were both squirrels AND nuts!  Let me ‘splain.  The books I chose were Nuts to You by Lois Ehlert, The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri, and Frisky Brisky Hippity Hop by Alexina B. White and Susan Lurie.

I opened with Love Somebody, and then our puppet friend Squirrel brought us the letter N, and some pictures of N words.  The last picture was of nuts, which Squirrel was very excited about.  And I had a surprise for him.  While he waited on my cart, I handed out brown pompom “nuts” to all the children, and brought out an oatmeal container that I had peeled the label off of and drawn to look like a tree trunk.  I let the children feed Squirrel the nuts, and he stashed them all in his tree trunk.

Squirrel and Nuts

I read Nuts to You, and then we sang Brown Squirrel, Brown Squirrel.  I had pictures on my slides of red, grey, black, and brown squirrels, and we changed the color for each verse.

Then I retold The Busy Little Squirrel using puppets.  If you aren’t familiar with the story, each of the animals (mouse, bird, frog, cat, dog, and owl) asks Squirrel if he wants to do something with them, but he can’t because he’s so busy gathering food for winter.  I stacked the puppets in a plain cardboard box in the order that I would need to pull them out.  Squirrel stayed on my left hand, busy running all around my cart, my lap, and up onto my head.  With my right hand, I reached into the box and pulled out the next animal while telling the story.  I had the kids all repeat the refrain “But Squirrel couldn’t.  He was SO busy!” At the end, when Squirrel can’t watch the moon with Owl, I left Squirrel hidden on my cart—fast asleep.  The children were absolutely glued to this retelling, so I think it worked really well!

We all stood up and sang Frisky Squirrel
 (Sung to: “The Grand Old Duke of York“)
Oh, the frisky little squirrel
He gathers nuts and seeds.
He hides them for the winter months
So he’ll have all he needs.

Oh, up-up-up he goes
And down-down-down he comes.
He runs around – goes up and down.
His work is never done.
Credit: Storytime Secrets

Our last book was Frisky Brisky Hippity Hop.  Then, we played three or four rounds of Little Squirrel’s Look and See.  Squirrel has lost his acorn under the leaves!  Can you help him find it?

Look and see, look and see!
Can you find the acorn for me?
Is it under the (red) leaf?

Little Squirrel Flannel

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Music Storytime 9/19/18

By Awnali Mills

Today’s storytime was about music.  The books I chose were Hey Diddle Diddle by Eve Bunting, and Baa Baa Black Sheep by Jane Cabrera.

I started with my opening music for this session, Love Somebody.  Then, we had three little friends visit, stuffed birds: a hermit thrush, Baltimore oriole, and a northern cardinal.  Each bird, when pressed, sings its song.  The kids then got to vote on which one’s music they liked the best.  Their favorite was the oriole.  Mine was the hermit thrush (just for the record).  The birds had brought us the letter S, and 5 more pictures of S words.

Then I read Hey Diddle Diddle, and we acted like we were playing the instruments with the book.  Up next was the song Happy and You Know It from the CD Baby Loves Jazz.  In this song, the children play the instruments to indicate that they’re happy.  They looked a little bewildered, but I showed them the instruments on my slide, and they enjoyed dancing around.

Our next activity was the flannel Five Little Maracas that I wrote and created for my Mexican themed storytime. (Unfortunately, I was sick and wasn’t able to do this storytime, but my coworker enjoyed doing it, and I got to enjoy it this time!)

Five Little Maracas

Five little maracas at the fiesta
Shaking away without a siesta!
One is taken away by a little muchacho (boy)
Now when we look, there are only cuatro! (four)

Four little maracas at the fiesta
Shaking away without a siesta!
One was taken away by a niῆa named Ines (girl)
Now when we look, we can only see tres! (three)

Three little maracas at the fiesta
Shaking away without a siesta!
One was carried away by some sneaky perros (dogs)
Now when we look, we can only see dos! (two)

Two little maracas at the fiesta
Shaking away without a siesta!
A clever magician makes one vanish into humo (smoke)
Now when we look, we can only see uno!

One little maraca at the fiesta
Shaking away without a siesta!
A musician uses it to make some dinero (money)
Now we can’t see any because there are cero!

Baa, Baa Black Sheep was our next book, and the children sang the chorus with me, and I sang the verses.  I handed out shakers, and we danced to Jim Gill’s Alabama Mississippi.  I had the kids hold onto their shakers and listen while I did a musical experiment (this was relatively unsuccessful.  It’s hard to hold shakers and NOT shake them!)

I had filled 4 Mason jars with water & food coloring—full, ¾, ½, and ¼.  Then I used a rhythm stick to tap each glass.  I tapped the ¼ glass and asked the kids if they thought the next one would be higher or lower.  We continued like that for the whole set, and after tapping around on them, I explained that the glass vibrates differently depending on the amount of water in them.  Then I explained to the parents that even if the kids don’t understand the concept, by exposing them to the vocabulary of science they will pick it up more quickly when they get into school.

We finished up with another shaker song, Shake Your Shaker (tune is London Bridge)

Shake your shaker in the air,
Shake it here, shake it there.
Shake your shaker in the air,
Shake your shaker.

Shake it high and shake it low,
Shake it yes, shake it no.
Shake it high and shake it low,
Shake your shaker.

Shake it up and shake it down,
Rub your shaker on the ground.
Shake it up and shake it down,
Shake your shaker.

Shake it near and shake it far,
Drive your shaker like a car.
Shake it near and shake it far,
Shake your shaker.

Shake it fast and shake it slow,
Shake it stop, shake it go.
Shake it fast and shake it slow,
Shake your shaker.

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Jungle Storytime 9/5/18

By Awnali Mills

This week’s storytime was jungle themed.  The books I chose were Warning Do Not Open this Book by Adam Lehrhaupt and It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle.  I looked for different books this time, since these seem to be the go-to books for me, but they’re so darn good that it’s hard to choose something else…

I started with my new opening song that I got from Storytime Ukulele, Love Somebody.

(tune: Skip to My Lou)
Love somebody, yes I do
Love somebody, yes I do
Love somebody, yes I do
Love somebody, but I won’t say who!
Love two eyes…
Love ten fingers…
Love two knees…
Love somebody…and it might be you!

Then I read Warning Do Not Open this Book.  The kids were TOTALLY engaged with the book, and shouted “Dinosaur!” at me when the alligator’s snout pushes onto the page.  But they all held their hands apart, watching me breathlessly for the signal to close the trap on all the animals.  I yelled, “GO!” and they all sprang the trap and cheered.  Then I turned to my cart and…a monkey had escaped!  But he was a good monkey, and brought us the letter J and some pictures of J words.  He was very proud of the children for guessing the J words.

Five little monkeys (2)

We did the flannel/activity for Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree, and then sang Do You Know the Jungle Animals while I brought out different stuffed animals.

(tune: Muffin Man)
Do you know the chimpanzee, the chimpanzee, the chimpanzee
Oh do you know the chimpanzee that lives deep in the jungle?

Do you know the scaly snake…
Do you know the anteater…
Do you know the chameleon…
Do you know the fierce tiger…

I finish on tiger to lead into the next activity, which is measuring how long a Bengal tiger is.  They aren’t the biggest tiger (the Siberian tiger holds that record at 12 feet), but Bengal tigers live in the jungle (Siberian tigers live in the birch forests of Russia and North Korea).  We used a measuring tape to measure 10 feet, and then I had the children guess how tall a Bengal tiger is (between 3’ to 3’6” at the shoulder), and whether the tiger was shorter or taller than the children.  They were all very anxious to stand themselves next to my measuring tape and see!

And since we were talking tigers…It’s a Tiger! was our next book.  The kids and I stood up and did all the motions the character in the book does as he escapes from tiger after tiger (or is it the same tiger?  Opinions?).

Exhausted, we sat down and did the flannel One Elephant in the Bathtub.  The kids helped me out by clapping their hands, patting their thighs, and gesturing “come on in.”

One elephant in a bathtub going for a swim
Knock, knock (clap, clap)
Splash, splash (slap hands on knees)
Come on in! (make a big “come on” gesture)

Two elephants in a bathtub, etc.
(End) And they all fell in!

Then, because we needed even more exercise, we danced to The Wiggles’ The Monkey Dance from the album Live Hot Potatoes!.  (But could it get any better?  You do the monkey, the elephant, and the tiger! The perfect trifecta!) That just about did me in, I have to say.  But, it isn’t storytime until you’re sweating, right???

As always, I finished with my goodbye chant, My Hands Say Thank You:

My hands say thank you with a clap, clap, clap
And my feet say thank you with a tap, tap, tap
Clap, clap, clap
Tap, tap, tap
I roll my hands together and I say, “Goodbye!”

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