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I despise cancelling any storytime but especially Toddler Time for babies through 3-ish. Most of the kids are between 12-24 months, and I appreciate (and vividly remember) how difficult it is for someone that age to change gears quickly and deal with disappointment.
So I never, ever, ever cancel Toddler Time unless I have to. Which includes getting caught at a specialist’s appointment. There should have been plenty of time for the appointment (and you know how specialists are; you’ve got to take the appointment they’ve got open). But there wasn’t.
Back at work that day, I learned how the morning had gone without me. There were no tears, no fits, no meltdowns–not even a wimper. Why?
Because the parents stepped in and did it themselves!
They did rhymes, fingerplays, songs, circle games. They even read a book. They did this all with no planning and no advanced warning. And their kids had a great time!
These parents come week after week. They sit in the circle with their children and do all this “silly” stuff with smiles on their faces and excitement in their attitudes. I affirm nearly every week how important the time is for language development–and how they need to do the same outside of the library, at home, in the car, in the doctor’s waiting room, at the restaurant. Learn here and do there is the message. Learn here and do there is the purpose of Toddler Time.
What a terrific bunch of parents!
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.
If you’re happy and you know it–speak your first word in Toddler Time! Oh my, what a moment! We were all singing and had reached the “Hooray!” point–when out of the blue, a just barely walking kiddo said, “Hap-py!” I’m not making this up. 🙂
We read Choo Choo Clickety-Clack by Mayo and we all got louder and louder and louder. So many great sounds to make in that book! So good for phonological awareness! So fun!
And Ring Around the Rosies was a winner as well. Lots and lots of giggles. And when the little boy with some social struggles grabbed his dad’s hand to join in–well, we did it again! We do Rosies with two verses (scroll down the column on the left to listen) and today there were children anticipating what comes next! Another name for “what comes next” is anticipation, which leads to making predictions and later reading comprehension, and sequencing, which leads to understanding how letters go together to make words (and that was the early literacy TIP for the day).
Betcha didn’t know you could have all that in twenty minutes of fingerplays and singing and a dash of reading!
Nothing but awesomeness!
Here’s one of my favorite indoor winter games for kids. It really burns off the energy, leads to lots of giggles, and requires nothing but up and down movement! They’ll even build a bit of phonological awareness in the process.
First, show a “B b” letter and remind kids of the sound.
Then, teach them the song, “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.”
Next, while they are all sitting, tell them when they hear a “b” sound to stand up if they are sitting and to sit down if they are standing. Now start singing!
It sounds simple but it is hysterically difficult even for older kids!
- 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.
We 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.
Despite having sleet here in the Valley this morning (sheesh!), we had “all things fall” storytime.
Here’s what was included:
- The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri
- I Know It’s Autumn by Eileen Spinelli
- Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond (not fall, just for fun)
- Old Bear by Kevin Henkes (my extra, just in case book)
We did rhymes & fingerplays (scroll down left column for words and audio):
- Whisky, Frisky Squirrel (displayed a picture of squirrel with nuts)
- Five Little Leaves (five leaves taped to white board with tree trunk and branches drawn in)
- I’m an Orange Pumpkin (sung to tune of I’m a Little Teapot).
Early Literacy TIP: Changes happen almost daily in the fall. Help kids notice them and talk about them, building vocabulary and narrative skills.