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Bears, horses, and sausages! Oh my! But it’s what I’ve been doing in storytime the last few weeks, and it’s immensely satisfying to see how much the kids enjoy this mix.

After our opening song, I read The Three Bears. I prefer the Barton version. It’s simply told and the pictures are clear and colorful. The Three Bears is a magical story. I’ve never had a group of kids (from toddlers up through age eight) that weren’t just enthralled with it.

I then tell them we are all going to tell the story again, a different way! That’s when we do the fingerplay, The Three Bears (click here). Because The Three Bears relies so much on sequence, it’s a great story for reinforcing narrative skills. So the second time through the fingerplay, I reinforce it even more by letting the kids “remember” what comes next (bowls, chairs, beds, and bears).

Next book up–Bear Wants More by Wilson followed by more food: Ten Fat Sausages (click here). Bear Wants More is in rhyme so it builds phonological awareness as does Sausages with its rhythm and alliteration. I do it as a chant with the kids clapping on the beat. I hold up my handy-dandy flannel board stand-in (a whiteboard with pieces stuck on with double-sided tape) during the chant.

On it is a frying pan, complements of free clip art, and ten sausages, also from clip art. I print the pictures off, trim them to shape, and add the tape to their backs. The sausages won’t all actually fit in the pan so I fan them across the space above the pan in two groups of five.

We clap, we chant, and on POP, I remove one sausage and on BAM, I remove another. Then I pause and count the sausages and we start again till we get to zero sausages. I always do it a second time (sometimes a third, the kids love it) and when I place the sausages back on the board, I also count aloud.

Finally, I tell the kids I’ve got one more puzzle for them (because the sausages have been a puzzle; you can just see their little wheels a-turnin’ during it). Then we read Are You A Horse by Rash. I try to get straight through this one the first time without too many questions so they can get as much of the flow as possible. And I always quietly hold the last page up for many, many seconds until someone finally gets it and the giggles begin.

It’s not your traditional springtime storytime (except for Bear Wants More) but the kids enjoy it sooooo much.

Hope you do too!



Winters are long here in the San Luis Valley. We get lots of cold weather but not much snow (it’s actually a desert up here at 7600 feet). So storytimes on winter, the cold, animals, and the exciting times when we do get snow tie right into a child’s daily experience here.

Here’s what I’m currently doing for wintertime storytime. The kids and I are enjoying it!

Books we are reading include:

  • Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
  • Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep by Maureen Wright
  • Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara

Before I start reading Tacky, I show the kids my penguin stick puppet. He’s simply made out of black and white foam with a yellow beak (some kids love pointing out that he has no eyes). We talk about his colors and what he is covered with–fur? feathers? scales? hair? Once we’ve figured out penguins have feathers, we can talk about other animals that have feathers–birds! And then we can talk about birds that fly–and birds that swim like penguins!

Lots of talking happening, and of course, only for as long as the kids are interested. It’s easy talking, though, and easy for the kids to join in with their thinking and ideas and words.

Then my puppet acts out this rhyme (pardon the bullet points, WordPress inserts double spacing otherwise):

  • Little penguin black and white,
  • On the ice, what a sight!
  • See them waddle, see them glide.
  • Watch them as they slip and slide.
  • Little penguins black and white,
  • On the ice, what a sight!

Then we read Tacky with lots and lots of expression! After Tacky we talk about what other animals do in the winter and bears and sleeping come up. Before reading Big Bear, though, I tell the kids I’m going to tell the same story two different ways (a great way to build narrative skills, btw).

First I do this rhyme to the tune of  “Up on the Housetop.” As a sing through it, I place first a picture of a brown bear, then of a blue cloud with a face drawn on it (like Old Winter in Big Bear), and finally a bear sleeping in a cave onto my makeshift flannel board (I use pictures printed in color from MS Publisher and place them on a white memo board with double sided tape).

  • There once was a bear who love to play (Put up brown bear)
  • In the woods most every day.
  • But then the winds began to blow (Put up winter wind picture)
  • And soon the ground was covered with snow.
  • Oh, oh, oh, ice and snow,
  • Oh, oh, oh, I better go-o
  • Into my cave to sleep all day (Put up bear in cave picture)
  • Until the cold winter winds go away.  Jean Warren

I’m amazed at how much the kids love this! Then on to the Big Bear book. We follow it with some snow fingerplays (see the left hand side bar for those) and wrap it up with Jack Frost. Don’t let this book fool you though! It looks far too simple to hold a bunch of squirmy kids attention but it works like a charm. And they love puzzling out the ending!

There you go, lots of conversation, vocabulary, print awareness (especially in the final pages of Big Bear, narrative skills,  and phonological awareness through rhymes. All wrapped up in one winter package.

Stay warm,


I just received a terrific new board book! It’s Happy Baby, edited by Fiona Watts, and it would be great to add to your early literacy collection. Here’s why:

  • Most of the rhymes are “new” ones that you probably don’t know.
  • Each double page spread includes the words and directions for bouncing and playing with baby during the rhyme.
  • There’s a CD included so no worries about the ones you don’t know.
  • Each rhyme builds phonological awareness and fun times shared with this book will build print motivation as well.
  • Babies and parents are multicultural–AND there’s a daddy included!
  • The last two pages give a developmental guide to playing, dancing, and moving with baby.

This will check out well in any children’s collection, but it would also be a marvelous book to give to new parents and to parents who are not quite sure what to do with baby and how to play with them.

Happy Bouncing!


The sun is shining here in the Valley but who knows when it might snow next! So it’s “Snow Time!”

We read:

  • Snow Bears by Waddell (the kids get soooo tickled with the baby bears)
  • Snowmen at Night by Buehner (this one always makes the kids think, hmmm, I wonder if….)
  • Listen, Listen by Gershator (covers all the seasons with lots of good sounds for phonological awareness building)
  • The Snowy Day by Keats (click here and give a listen for one reason why I love this story).

We also did these rhymes & fingerplays:

  • Here is a snowman
  • Snow is falling
  • The day is cloudy

I’ll record and post those late on Friday when it’s quiet here in the office. 🙂

Finally, the Early Lit TIP is:

  • Many fingerplays help with sequencing skills–and sequencing helps with telling and reading stories later.

Have fun and stay warm!


Here’s a collection of songs, rhymes, and fingerplays for the holidays coming up; click here to listen and for directions. (You’ll have to scroll towards the bottom).

The “Holiday” podcast includes “The Lights on the Tree” (to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”) and “Ring the Bells.”

You’ll also find on the podcast page a set of rhymes and fingerplays having to do with Santa: “Eight Little Reindeer,” “There’s a Little Elf,” and “Here is the Chimney.”

I’ll add the words later this week under the Rhymes & Fingerplays header in the left column. And I’ll do my best to add some for other winter holidays as the month goes on.

Have fun!


Baby Gym is a fairly new series of board books for babies and toddlers that I touch & ticklestumbled across recently. There are four books in the series and come in about an 8×8 size.

My favorite is Touch & Tickle. Each double page spread is a rhyme, and four of the five rhymes are new ones to me. Illustrations are bright and colorful, and the babies all look like they are having fun with their grown-up. Families are multicultural, there’s one parent in a wheelchair, and one child is wearing a hearing aid.

The best part though? The words are followed by directions for actions–and the actions are based on baby massage! What a marvelous idea!

Others in the series includes Wiggle & Move, Calm & Soothe, and Bounce & Jiggle. (They also have movements with their rhymes but the movements are not specifically massage based.)

Have lovely time with your little one!


Cool month! All my contenders are in non-fiction! Not sure how that bass reeveshappened but it’s delightful. Real world meets great writing and illustrations.

The Winner is–Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheux Nelson and illustrations by R. Gregory Christie. I almost passed on this purchase as I had just added Gary Paulsen’s The Legend of Bass Reeves.

What was remarkable about Bass Reeves? Start with his life as a runaway slave and move forward for seventy years. Can’t say more without spoiling the story! 😉

The best compliment I can give a biography is that it makes me wish I had known the person. After reading Nelson and Christie’s book, I’d love to meet Marshall Reeves.

The biography is picture book format and deceptively simple without being simplistic. If you stop and imagine yourself writing it, you begin to realize how much research went into her telling. The illustrations are a perfect match.

A middle grader not ready for Paulsen’s longer version would find Nelson’s manageable and older preschoolers who are into cowboys or bad guys in the Wild West would enjoy it as a read-aloud.

Added (double) bonus? I can consider it written by a local author as Nelson lives in Northern New Mexico (and we’re in Southern Colorado). And Christie is African-American. I refuse to buy books just for those factors but I am proud to add this one to our collection on both counts.



With finger rhymes, I always ask the kids, “Did you bring your fingers today?” They love to wiggle them so I can see them.turkey

Then I say, “OK, now they are–TURKEYS!” (Or leaves, or pumpkins or whatever they case may be).

Click here to listen. Click here for the words.

Gobble, gobble!


blessingWe have used Johnny Appleseed as our table blessing since the boys were old enough to sit up in a high chair. We still use it (the oldest is a junior in college). Before we sing it, we go around the table, and we each say something we are thankful for, big or small. Click on the above link for the tune; click here for the words.

The second one, Let’s Be Thankful,  is shorter and simpler, and for those of you who need a blessing without a direct reference to God, this one fills the bill. Click on the previous link for the tune; click here for the words.

Be thankful,


For those who are planning ahead (now that Halloween is almost here), here’s “The Turkey on the Farm” sung to the tune of  “The Wheels on the Bus.” turkey

Click here for the words and directions.

Click here for the audio version.

It’s ppprreeetttyyy silly!

Gobble, gobble,


In honor of another  Storybox Special delivery today (complete with new books!), trainhere’s an oldie but goodie–Down by the Station.

Click here to listen, complete with directions. Click here for words.


Here are three pumpkin fingerplays for you to enjoy with your kiddos! ClickPumpkin line here for audio. Click on each title for the words or scroll down the left hand column.

Have fun!


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Contact Info for Babette

email babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail(dot)com
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73 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

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