Friday, November 26, 2010


This year for the Thanksgiving storytime I decided to focus on the very first Thanksgiving and what it was like "in the olden days". So we talked about how the Pilgrims came here on a boat and they had to cut down trees, build their own houses and raise all their own food. No grocery stores back then. And we learned about how the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims grow more food the next year and they had a big feast at harvest time. I tried to include all this background information at the beginning because most of the books on the first Thanksgiving are written for older kids, with more words and more difficult vocabulary. That doesn't mean I don't use them anyway...

What is Thanksgiving by Harriet Ziefert

A simple lift-the-flap book where a mouse questions his parents about Thanksgiving. It covers both the first Thanksgiving (very briefly and simply) and the traditions we have now. It's not the best book, but I always like to start with a board book or lift-the-flap to get their attention right away and outline what we're talking about in the simplest terms.

This First Thanksgiving Day by

This Is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore
A longer, poetic book, this describes how the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, established their settlement, were devastated by disease and death, were taught by Squanto how to plant, etc. etc.. I liked all the information in this one, but it was too long for most of my groups, so I clipped a few pages together and shortened the story a bit. It still made an effective telling of the Thanksgiving story and reinforced what we had been talking about.

This week we made feather pens. I had been looking for an opportunity to do this craft. It was something that my parents would occasionally make for us and is so simple but fun for kids to play around with. All you need is a larger feather (we used wing and tail feathers from a turkey) and a simple ballpoint or stick pen. Tape is helpful too. Cut the tip off the feather and clean out anything you can from the hollow interior. Take the pen apart, just keeping the part that has the ink and the writing tip in it. Insert the pen into the feather and tape in place. This is a good use for pens that are just about used up since you can trim them better to fit inside the feather. I explained that this was NOT how they used to use feathers to write with in the "olden days" but it was a lot less messy. I had the tables covered with paper so the kids could test out their new quills.

Happy Thanksgiving!
This theme was used the week of November 22, 2010.
Next week we'll be doing superlatives: Big, Bigger Biggest!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness is a key concept in learning how to read. I incorporate it into many storytimes, but it's always nice to do a storytime just completely focused on the ABC's. There are thousands of alphabet books out there, but many of them are oddly geared toward older children and have a whole paragraph (or page!) of text about whatever they choose each letter to stand for. But for preschoolers, here's my top favorites for ABC's.

Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman
 I just discovered Creature ABC this summer and absolutely loved it. It has the upper and lowercase letters on one page, then a fantastic photograph of the animal (or concept) that it stands for. Simple. And some of the animals are not what you'd expect (N is for Nocturnal, for example). But still short and easy enough for the youngest to understand. And I really appreciate that it includes the lowercase letters as well.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
A classic, and one that many of the kids recognized and even had memorized. It doesn't spend too much time on each letter, but you do get to see all the letters - again both upper and lower case.

Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth
The ABC's here are not too obvious unless you point them out to the kids. The fly buzzes around people and objects starting with A and all the way to Z (where the fly gets squashed)!

Other books:
Didn't use these, but here are some other good ABC books:
Stuff on My Cat Presents: Cats A to Z 
This is a cute board book with photos of a cat with various objects (H is for Hat, etc.)
My Little Minnesota ABC  
Another board book, with Minnesota interests and landmarks, but I think it would require more one-on-one explanation than I have time for in storytime.

Ok, good idea, poor execution here. I found out you can adhere foamies (in this case, foam letters) to jar lids and have instant cheap rubber stamps. Yay - enough stamps for all the kids! Unfortunately, I didn't have enough stamp pads for all the kids, so we used washable tempera paint. And this just ended up messy. With the proper stamp pads, though, this might be really cool. Maybe save this for next time we have an increase in our budget (feel free to laugh here).

This theme was used the week of November 19, 2010.
Next week we'll be talking about Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day

To honor those who have served our country, I decided to do a Veteran's Day theme this week. It's a difficult subject for a bunch of preschoolers, and there are few very easy books out there, but when has that ever stopped me?

 Veteran's Day by Jaqueline Cotton and Veteran's Day by Leslie Kaplan
Both of these are good non-fiction overviews of what Veteran's Day is. We talked about "people in the army" and saying "thank you" to them.

F is for Flag by

Night Catch by

John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


We read about cookies this week at storytime, then got a little messy and made some ourselves!

Good cookie books:

If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
I have a puppet with accessories that goes with "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" so if I don't have too many kids, I will give them each something (cookie, straw, napkin, broom, etc). and the mouse puppet will grab it from them when it comes to that time in the book. 
 The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson
 The kids also liked "The Cow Loves Cookies" and joined in the refrain every time I read it, though I don't think all of them "got" the fact that the cow loved cookies because she had milk...
May I Please Have a Cookie by Jennifer Morris 
 "May I Please Have a Cookie" is a short reader book emphasizing manners, which we tied in at the end when we sat down to make our cookies. 
Ginger Bear by Mini Grey

"Ginger Bear" was one of the favorite books this week about a gingerbread bear making his own friends (only to have them be eaten by a dog), then finding a place where a cookie could be safe.

Cookies: Bite-size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
 "Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons" is a cute vocabulary book, but I only used it for the older kids that were able to sit a little bit longer. This is a book that would be best as a one-on-one book and would grow on a child with repeated readings.

This week we made cookies at the library! Now, we have a very small library and our "kitchen" consists of a teeny-tiny dorm fridge with a microwave stacked on top. But I found a recipe where you can bake sugar cookies in the microwave (and posted it here). So I brought my mixer, rolling pin, and cookie cutters from home, and for each group of storytime kids, we measured and mixed, then wrapped the dough up to cool and harden. But in our fridge, it only took a few seconds for the dough to be firm enough to use (or maybe there was some in the fridge previously and I traded, but don't tell the kids that). Each kid got their own slice of dough to pat down and use the cookie cutters on. Then I put the finished shapes on some parchment paper and voila! 1 minute later we had some piping hot, cooked through sugar cookies!

Next week we're talking about Veteran's Day!

This theme was used the week of November 1, 2010.