Preschool Storytime: Owls

I. Love. Owl. Storytime. Between the plethora of resources, the adorable owl crafts and the way that even my youngest kiddos enthusiastically say, “Hooooooot,” it’s easily one of my favorites.

The owl books are so popular that when I shot the photo for this post, a number of the books that had been included in the Owl Storytime had already been checked out by excited little readers.
My top picks for owl books are:
Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace
Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton
Good Night, Owl by Pat Hutchins
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenheer (for older audiences)
The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear and Jan Brett
Today’s felt board rhyme came from Leah and Mollie over at Sunflower Storytime, their “What a HOOT” storytime post is adorable.
Five Little Owls
Five little owls sitting in a tree
One flew away! How many do you see?
One, two, three, four.
Four little owls sitting in a tree
One flew away! How many do you see?
One, two, three.
Three little owls sitting in a tree
One flew away! How many do you see?
One, two.
Two little owls sitting in a tree
One flew away! How many do you see?
One little owl sitting in a tree
 She flew away! How many do you see?
 This was a big hit!
Before the kiddos left, they made these adorable (and very easy) owl handprints. Once the handprints dried, my lovely library assistant and I added the darling details. I am in love with these! I was also thrilled to discover that I could feed construction paper through the printer and would be able to add the titles of the books for our parents to reference.

Character and Setting Dioramas

I am a huge fan of cross-curricular collaborations to make learning more meaningful. My second graders are reading The One and Only Ivan in class so I recently constructed a bulletin board to feature the book and share with the community what is happening in one of the classrooms. Check out the bulletin board post here. Needless to say, the bulletin board worked. Everyone loved it, faculty, students and visitors asked second graders about the book and were encouraged to read it themselves.

When I found out the second grade kiddos were studying character and setting, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for another collaborative project. I contacted our amazing art teacher and she showed me a 3-D diorama that her daughter created for a book and we knew it was perfect for this project. I created my example using a different book so the students could be free to create without a per-conceived piece of art in their mind:

I wish I could figure out the official name of this process, I know there are other educators out there doing this and I would love to give them credit. If you have seen this process done before, or if you’re doing it yourself, please contact me in the comments section.

The students received three pieces of thick card stock, each piece is slightly smaller than the one behind it. For example, the back piece of paper is 8.5″ x 11″, the middle sheet is 8.5″ x 10″ and the front sheet is 8.5″ x 9.” This makes it so the final product curves inward and makes the diorama stand up on its own.

I cut the papers down to size and cut the window out of the front paper prior to handing them out to students. The kiddos were instructed to thinking about the following:
  • The back page (the largest piece) is to show the setting. Where did Ivan live? What did his cage look like? What was on the walls?
  • The middle page (the medium-sized piece) is to show the character(s). What did Ivan look like? How large was Ivan compared to his cage? Were there other important characters in the story?
  • The front page (the smallest piece, already cut into a frame) is to tell others what book you’re sharing. What is the title of the book? Who is the author? Who created this diorama?
It’s important to note that I cut around the character(s) after the kiddos finished their art. The pieces that turned out the best were those that were connected to the frame on 3-4 sides (the head, the arms, the legs), this made the character stay upright when on display. You can see this in some of the examples below:
The art teacher stopped by to check in and remind students to pay close attention to their craftsmanship. What details can be included to make your art even more interesting? In beautiful paintings are the backgrounds blank or do they include colors and interesting features? These questions really helped students to create some amazing pieces.
These dioramas went on display in the foyer of the school and they were a bit hit. I love successful collaborations that work to serve our students and provide them with a wonderful learning experience!

The One and Only Ivan Bulletin Board

My second graders are currently reading The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate with their classroom teacher and I wanted to amp up excitement about the book.
Initially, I had intended to simply put up the cover of the book and add some interesting facts about the real Ivan. Wait, Ivan was real? He sure was. Check out the Katherine Applegate’s webite, she has a great deal of information about the real Ivan. She also has a new book coming out in October 2014 – Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla.
In true librarian form, the more research I did, the more excited I got about the One and Only Ivan bulletin board. I ended up with a slew of facts about not only the real Ivan, but about the gorilla population, as a whole. I also added an (almost) life-size cut out of a gorilla. The paper gorilla ended up being 5’4″ with an arm span of 8 feet.
I used an overhead projector to trace the gorilla and then free-hand cut his face out of a piece of gray construction paper. 
The board has been up for two days now and people have constantly been coming in to share their excitement! I love watching the kiddos stand there and reading all the interesting facts, it has been far more engaging than I ever anticipated. The facts include:
  • The average male gorilla stands between 5 and 7 feet.
  • The arm span of an average male gorilla is almost 9 feet!
  • The average male gorilla eats over 40 pounds of food per day, the average American person eats 5-6 pounds of food per day.
  • Gorillas are herbivores – they eat leaves, shoots, roots, vines and fruits.
  • The lifespan of an average male gorilla is 35 years. Ivan lived to be 50 years old.
  • There are 4 subspecies of gorillas: Eastern lowland, Mountain, Western lowland, Cross River.
  • Gorillas are an endangered species, there are less than 300 Cross River gorillas left in the world.
  • The One and Only Ivan is fictional, but was inspired by a true story.
  • Ivan was a male Western lowland gorilla.
  • Ivan was captured in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Ivan and (what is believed to be) his sister were captured as infants and brought to the United States. Ivan’s sister died shortly after arriving.
  • Ivan was raised in a home until he became too big and unmanageable. He was moved to the B&I Circus Store in Tacoma, Washington.
  • Ivan’s cage in Tacoma was only 40 feet by 40 feet!
  • Ivan spent 27 years alone in his cage without seeing another of his kind.
  • When the mall where Ivan lived went bankrupt (they didn’t have any money), he was moved to the Zoo Atlanta. Before his move to Atlanta, Georgia, Ivan spent a short time at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
I did include a citation sheet on my bulletin board so I could model that behavior for students. I found my information on the following sites:

Library Menagerie

The library menagerie is constantly growing…

They brighten our spirits, make wonderful reading buddies, create perfect opportunities to connect with hesitant little ones, and bring already fun stories to life.
Oh, the possibilities of storytime fun…
If you don’t have a fluffy zoo in your library yet, I would highly suggest it. It opens opportunities and creates connections I would never have dreamt possible.

Updated! Shark Week Storytime

Updated! Shark Week Storytime

A few weeks back I planned to do an ocean-themed storytime to go with my Reader’s Reef genre bulletin board. What started as ocean-themed quickly turned into something attuned to Shark Week in the library. There are just too many adorable shark projects and ideas on Pinterest. I couldn’t help myself!

My book selections were good, but I will definitely make some changes for next time around. I absolutely love Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen, it is a new favorite! The kids loved, loved, loved it!
I think I’m a Shark by Bob Shea is an adorable book for students to read and check out, but it wasn’t great for reading aloud. I think next year I’ll display it, but not use it in the storytime.
Last came Wave by Suzy Lee. This. Book. Is. Wonderful. I actually really enjoy using wordless books for storytime, the kids always impress me with their level of engagement and focus. The pictures are amazing and the “story” is so sweet. Love this one!
Between books we sang “Five Little Fishies” and used the shark and fish felts (my husband’s favorite). All credit for this goes to Jane from Piper Loves the Library! I fell in love with her shark so much, that I had to make one of my own. I love his big-toothed smile and semi-grimacing eyebrow furrow. Like Jane, I mounted him on black felt so that his tail and fins wouldn’t be so fragile.
“Five Little Fishies”
(Sung to the tune of Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree)
Five little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
Four little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
Three little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
Two little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
One little fishie, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
Burp … I’m full.

Thank you, Jane, this was a wonderful success!!!Update: Thanks to Shark Week on Discovery Channel, there are a gazillion shark-themed ideas on Pinterest. These are just a few I tried (and loved!):

 Shark Fin Hats, aren’t they fun! Pinned by Raquel Hernandez, I was unable to locate the original source. I simply cut strips of blue construction paper, stapled them together and added a fin (with some CHOMP marks). So easy and so fun!

The idea for this darling clothespin shark comes from Estefi Machado. The blog is in Portuguese and while I was able to translate the post through Google, it was still a challenge to understand. So, I took my best guess.

 I did a sketch on white card stock, outlined it with black marker and added some color.

 The fishy is attached with a small section of wooden toothpick, glued to the back of the clothespin.

 Cute and fun!

 Another fast and fun shark craft? The shark clothespin for developing fine motor skills, from Make, Do and Friend. Just paint, glue and play!

 I painted my sharky with blue acrylic paint, added a construction paper fin, and squiggly eyes.

The white paint was tough… I had to clamp the clothespin open in order for it to dry and even then, the teeth stuck together. Still cute.

Up next… I’m debating creating a storytime entirely dedicated to peas. Hmmm, what do you think? You might be asking yourself, “Why peas?” Well, they’re healthy, they’re green (I’m a fan of doing color-themed storytimes) and peas in a pod are absolutely adorable. Think of the craft possibilities! Pinterest, here I come!

Lois Ehlert’s “Color Zoo” Flannel Set

This project has been a long time coming. And, boy, I’m glad I finally did it. First, I love Lois Ehlert. Reading is Fundamental has a wonderful (very kid-friendly) interview with Ms. Ehlert, if you’re interested in doing an author study. She has so many amazing, classic books and many of them can be incorporated into a ton of units. Her books are particularly great for science themes: seasons, winter, summer, fall, spring, life cycles, animals, insects, plants, trees, fruits and vegetables.
If you are looking for project and activity ideas to use with Lois Ehlert’s books, check out the collection of possibilities The Educators’ Spin On It has compiled, it’s great!
Or, how about an author interview? Check out the Reading Rockets video.
And now, on to the fun stuff…
I made copies of the pages from Color Zoo and then used the pages as cutting patterns.
 Like the book, each panel turns into the next panel. The ox becomes the monkey, the monkey becomes the deer, ect.
 And last, but not least, this interview through BookPage is beautiful and a must read.

Preschool Storytime: Ants

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! Hurrah!
This week we did an ant storytime and it was so much fun! With warm weather on the rise, it was exciting to talk about picnics in the park and snacks by the swimming pool.
When I was first brainstorming books for this theme, I was sure the selection would be small. Oh, no! It was quite the opposite. There are a ton of great ant books and many of them have a math tie-in, which I love. Any excuse to sneak in some STEM is a big success in my book.
We started by reading/singing the Jeffrey Scherer version of The Ants Go Marching, I was surprised to find that a lot of the kiddos weren’t familiar. Once they figured out the repetition, they were all on board. This was my favorite book of the week, I would definitely recommend it!
 The second book we read was the Berenstains’ A Book, so much fun! We had a blast brainstorming where those angry ants might be going. It is a perfect book to demonstrate alliteration; a after a after a.
Last but not least, the flannel project that inspired this week’s entire storytime… Five Hungry Ants. I first discovered this rhyme through Anne Hicks over at AnnesLibraryLife and it was too cute to pass up:
Five hungry ants, marching in a line,
Came across a picnic and thought they could dine.
They marched into the salad,
They marched into the cake,
They marched into the pepper…
Uh, oh! That was a mistake! Ahhh-ahhhh-ahhhhh-choo!
*Throw one of the ants over your shoulder, the kids squeal with glee*
Continue counting down until all the ants are gone.

Preschool Storytime: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Things are getting a little wild! Last week I turned our library into a giant interactive bear hunt.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
There are so many amazing ideas to bring this story to life that I could have an entire (overflowing) Pinterest board dedicated to just this one book. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a girl that lives and breathes Pinterest and I am incredibly thankful to all those amazing and talented people out there who are sharing their ideas, but when there are so many awesome ideas, sometimes my brain gets a little ahead of itself. I could do this storytime week after week and still not have completed all the cool ideas I’ve discovered. With that being said, this feels like just the tip of the potential bear hunting iceberg… One post that really resonated with me was Daniele’s from Domestic Serenity; she inspired my most hands-on storytime yet.
Our art teacher and assistant librarian made these amazing bear tracks using a piece of foam and print-making supplies, aren’t they fantastic? And to think, I was just going to find some clipart prints and make copies on brown paper. Sigh. I’m so incredibly lucky to work with such amazing people. Double sigh.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
We laminated the tracks and taped them down using 3-inch book tape. They held up throughout the week and we’ll be able to use them again in the future.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section one: Swishy-swashy grass
This one was very simple, just butcher paper, construction paper, tempera paint and packing tape. By taping the grass on both sides, it withstood many (many) little feet swishing through it.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section two: Splishy-splashy river
I used more butcher paper, rocks from a hike near the Puget Sound, and blue gel (don’t ask, it’s some fancy plastic filmmakers use to color lights. I was gifted the gel and apparently it’s not cheap. I’m sure there are other colorful alternatives.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section three: Ooey-gooey mud
This was my favorite and my least favorite. I used Anna’s recipe for chocolate play dough from the Imagination Tree, it turned out great! The only change I made was to add a scoop of garden dirt to make it look a little more rustic. Now, I initially intended to have the kids go through this course barefoot in order to make it a very sensory experience but that quickly changed (some things you just look back at and have to laugh at yourself). When I realized they would be going through with shoes, I covered the “mud” in clear plastic wrap and it worked great. They could still feel the ooey-gooey texture, but it kept the dough from sticking to their shoes. Keep in mind, it did squish out a little and did leave marks on the carpet. It was easily cleaned up using dish soap and a scrub brush (wait until it dries before you try cleaning). Also, the dough will dry out relatively quickly, so keep it well covered.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section four: Stumble-trippy forest
This was compliments of a friend who collected branches on our hike, tied them together and strung them over the table. I topped it off with evergreen branches and Viola! I wanted to be sure the forest wasn’t too dark and scary and this plan worked, the kids loved crawling through it!
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section five: Whirly-swirly snowstorm
Okay, so it’s a little lackluster, but it was actually quite popular. The younger kids especially loved stomping around in the cotton ball snow.
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Section six: Tippy-toey bear cave
Take a table, add some thick black plastic, toss in some black paper boulders, and you have a ready-made drive-thru car wash! Err, I mean, bear cave! The kids would have loved to see this stay put all year!
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
We're Going on A Bear Hunt, see more at
Our Head of School ended up bringing tours and visitors through to check out the course, so I’d say it was an all-around success! Ahh, the life of a librarian!

Feeling a Little (Hermit) Crabby, Part 2

Following our Eric Carle author study lesson (check out the Feeling a Little Hermit Crabby, Part 1 post), our brilliant art teacher, Mrs. London took over our beautiful hermit crab shells. We were very involved in one another’s lessons throughout this unit and we were thrilled to be collaborating on such a fun project. It was so exciting to be able to tie one topic into the general classroom, the library and the art room. The kids were so engaged throughout the entire process. 

Check out how we honed in on our inner-Eric Carle:
 The crab bodies were created using red modeling clay
They were sooo cute!
 Not only did the kiddos make hermit crabs, they also created underwater habitat homes!
 Next step, using Eric Carle’s style for inspiration, Mrs. London had students paint tissue paper to adorn their habitats
“More paint, cover as much space as you can!”
 The following week, the kindergarteners used the tissue paper to create seaweed, starfish, coral, sponges, sea anemones and much more!
 Mrs. London’s adorable example (she used dried flowers to decorate the floor of the habitat)
Amazing display in the front corridor of the school
 Lastly, I have to brag about our amazing kindergarten team and their stunning bulletin boards!!!
I hope you’re inspired to do your own over-the-top Eric Carle study and have the opportunity to collaborate among departments. It was truly a joy!

Feeling a Little (Hermit) Crabby, Part 1

Costume creation inspired by the very talented, Megan Kimball
My kindergarteners are in the midst of an Eric Carle author study and what started as a simple reading of A House for Hermit Crab, quickly turned into Hermit Crab fever! When I saw Ms. Kimball’s crab costume, I knew I had to try to make one. And it turned out to be a wonderfully fun success. The costume prompted an art project and a painted jumbo pasta shell morphed into a cross-departmental, month-long project.
Because the kiddos had already read Eric Carle’s story twice, I thought it would be a great opportunity to have them recall the details and then compare it to non-fiction hermit crab books. The kids were fascinated by the books and were thrilled to learn how hermit crabs poop.

 Book: Animals Up Close: Zoom in on the World’s Most Incredible Creatures by Igor Siqanowicz
This book was the kids’ first opportunity to see a “real” hermit crab and they were enthralled. They were able to see all the details and made several observations between real crabs and Eric Carle’s character.

Book: My Friend the Hermit Crab by Joanne Randolph
I did not read this book cover to cover, but it had more fun facts and big, bright photographs.
After exploring the non-fiction books using a document camera, we moved to the tables and the students transformed jumbo shell pasta into beautiful hermit crab shells. It is important to note that the Animal Planet cautions against painting a living hermit crab’s shell (we were going for the colorful Eric Carle-esque shells and I talked to the kiddos about why painting a living creature could be harmful to their well-being). 
Per the art teacher’s advice, we used tempera paint. It worked wonderfully and the kids loved it!
Beautiful! It was discovered that the kids who are paint enthusiasts and love to add layers and layers of wet paint would end up with a cracked shell.
To see what we did with these fun and colorful shells, check out my Feeling a Little (Hermit) Crabby, Part 2 post!