Parachute Storytime Revisited

A while back I posted about a Parachute Storytime I did as my baby storytime theme. It had been a while since I used that storytime, so I decided to dust off my parachute and try it again. This time I did it with several different age groups and added a few new songs to the mix.


I have now done this with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and families of many age groups. It works with all of them. For babies, I recommend parents sitting Baby on their laps and letting them just feel the air and watch the parachute go up and down. For toddlers, preschoolers, and school agers, I let them hold on to the parachute and participate in the movement. You have to know your audience, though–that is the key!

For the most part, I followed my previous plan. This time we started by shaking the parachute fast and slow, up and down several times to warm up and go over the “rules.” I also started with the book Jump by Scott M. Fischer. It gets the children excited and warmed up. I like the addition of the book. The children know it’s time to start and get excited every time they get to jump in the air. I also added two new rhymes.

London Bridge
(As we sang the song, we moved the parachute up and down.)

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
(I couldn’t find five monkey puppets, so I had the children use their imagination while I placed five soft blocks on the parachute. For the toddlers, I used a smaller parachute, so I used the finger puppet monkeys.)

London Bridge was fun, but many children don’t know the rhyme so we did it twice and moved on. Five Little Monkeys is a little long, so depending on your group, you may want shorten it to just three monkeys. If you read the original plan, Toast in the Toaster and Popcorn are still the rhymes we repeat the most.

Next time I do this storytime, I plan to add in a little finger warm-up with Wiggle Them.


Christmas storytime with a twist…

Today, I had the opportunity to be a guest storyteller at one of our branches. I knew I wanted to do a Christmas-themed storytime so I could share my favorite book, but I wasn’t sure what else I wanted to do. Planning a storytime for an unknown audience is a very daunting task. I did have one Christmas storytime planned from a few years ago, but it just wasn’t very appealing to me. So I took to Google in search of some fun Christmas-themed activity that we could use during storytime. And that’s when I this. And then it all came together.

Candy canes. That would be our theme for the activities.

To begin, I raided the new Christmas bookshelf at the beginning of December–these books go fast! Since I wasn’t sure how old the children would be or how many would be there (it ranges and is billed as a family storytime), I found a couple board books and a couple story books.

  • The Animals’ Santa by Jan Brett
  • Llama Llama Jingle Bells by Anna Dewdney
  • Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman
  • Peek-a-Boo Snowman by Charles Reasoner
  • Shh by Julie Sykes

I grabbed my water table and several water toys, the candy canes, and a few crafting supplies for a fun marble painting project (more on that in a bit).

We had one family participate in the storytime: a preschooler and his one-year-old sister. For the storytime portion of the program, I followed this schedule (although I really didn’t map it out before I arrived; I knew what we would do, I just needed to meet the children to know what order we would do things).

  • Welcome Song: “Wiggle Them, Wiggle Them”
  • Action Rhyme: “This is Big, Big, Big” 2x
  • Story: Llama Llama Jingle Bells (I went with this one first because one of the children recognized the cover and lit up with excitement.)
  • Song: “Up on the Housetop” with hand motions 2x
  • Story: Shh (this is my absolute favorite Santa story)
  • Song: “Jingle Bells” (next time I will add actual bells)
  • Story: Peek-a-Boo Snowman (l gave the children a choice for the last book and this is what they chose.)

IMG_4428And now it was time to play a little. I filled the water table with about three inches of water and asked the children to place their hands in it. Then I gave them candy canes. I asked questions:

  • What does the water feel like? Is it hot? Cold? Cool? Warm?
  • What will happen when we add the candy canes?
  • Will the water change colors?

Immediately, the water around the candy canes started to bubble and the color started to disappear. The preschooler was excited that he had guessed correctly. I brought out the water toys and let them play for quite a while. We played until the candy canes disappeared (I used the small sized ones). And then we did a quick craft.

Marble Painting: Candy CanesIMG_4435

In a large flat container, I poured a small circle of red paint. I placed my candy cane cutout on the bottom of the container and added a marble. To start, I helped the preschooler wiggle the container back and forth, side to side to allow the marble to roll over the white paper and create a candy cane pattern. And then after just a few seconds, he started doing it on his own. His baby sister needed a little more help and lost interest after a short while. You could also add peppermint extract to the paint to give this project another level of sensory.

Storytime Song Cube

I love storytime. I love storytime for babies. I love storytime for toddlers. I love storytime for preschoolers. I love storytime for school-agers. I will even do a storytime for adults–although I haven’t had the opportunity to do that, yet–and I’m not sure what it would look like, but I’m sure it would be fun! It’s a half hour of my day where I get to read stories, sing fun songs, and dance around like I’m five again. It’s true. Oh! And I get to teach parents and caregivers about the benefits of reading and how to have fun with reading at home.


Unfortunately, over the last year , I haven’t done many storytimes due to the nature of my new position. I do try to do it once a  month at my Young Moms’ Club program. And so, this week I finally had the chance to test out my new Song Cube. I found the idea here at so tomorrow. I have been wanting to use this idea since I saw her post last year. So this week, I made the song cards, stuffed them into the cube slots, and added it to my storytime set up.

We started with our standard welcome song, “Wiggle Them, Wiggle Them,” and then I read a story. After the book, I told the children (there were four this week), they would each get a chance to roll the cube and pick the song. We did two in a row. We read one more story and then finished with two more songs from the cube. The children were excited to see what song we would do.

The cubes came in a three pack with storytelling photo cards. I think next month we will use the other two cubes to make up  a story.

All on Display (Part 2)

Last week, I posted pictures of some of the fun teen displays we have created. This week, I am going to share some of my favorite children’s displays. I don’t have as many displays from our Children’s Department as I was originally hired as a teen programmer. Next time, I’ll post some of my favorite bulletin boards from my days as a preschool teacher.


This board is from our Literacy Corner. We typically leave these displays up for a few months at a time due to their large nature and placement in the department. This was for Spring. The six early literacy skills were glued in the center of each flower.


This was for our poetry month display. Every year we hold a poetry contest for children and teens (and now adults). The theme this year was “How Sweet It Is,” so after a few different layouts, we finally went with the gumball machine. Some of the gumballs have our favorite poets written on them.


When I did baby storytime, I always tried to include a little sign language. And after visiting a local elementary school, I discovered many of the hearing impaired students attended the school. So we tried a sign language storytime. It didn’t draw as many people as we had hoped, but we had fun creating the display.!


To celebrate Chinese New Year and the year of the dragon, we created this “Blazin’ Reads” bulleting board. It took at least three or four of us to create it. One staff member had a dragon-head from a previous job, so we worked around it. The books on display were all about dragons or featured dragons as main characters.


I just love penguins! And some of these penguins were so adorable. Thanks to some awesome coworkers, this display was a so “cool!” The books on display were all about winter and penguins.

All on Display (part 1)

Here is a collection of displays we have done in the YA Department over the last couple of years. There was definitely a team effort involved as we put these up and found books that fit the theme of each display.



An audio book display. Eventually, we put great audio books on the table.


Here we highlighted new and young YA authors.


The idea was to do a large crossword puzzle–which is much harder than you think. But we also highlighted some of our favorite YA mysteries!


This was from a couple of years ago to celebrate PROM season. I asked staff to submit their prom photos for the display. We had a wide range of years to showcase. The balloons didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. I think next time I would use cardboard cutouts (with glitter!) and the streamers. The books all had to do with prom or school dances.


We were trying to push book bundles to get our non-fiction collection in the hands of teens (a very hard task). Some of them were popular, some were not. It was a trian and error display. The display on the window used old puzzle pieces.


To change things up midsummer one year, we did a camping, out door themed display. We used painted styrofoam pieces as the graham crackers and paper marshmallows.


This display was special because of the “dripping” blood handing from the acrylic stands. We used window clings to give the sense that the books were bleeding. And we snagged some caution tape from the maintenance department. (It actually served two purposes–in October we used it for a banned books display.)


This was by far one of the most successful displays we had done. We wrapped random YA books (in a variety of genres) and labelled with a personal ad of sorts (something that would entrigue teens and adults). They were barcoded on the label so no one could see what the actual book was until it was completely checked out. We even added some “pick up lines” to some of the books.

Snowball, Snowball

Last week, we celebrated winter during storytime. We sang songs, played Snowman I Spy with colors, read a few stories, built a paper snowman and made ice cream in a bag. It was so much fun! This was one of my favorite games/rhymes we did. All of the children had the opportunity to participate!


Snowball, Snowball
Snowball, Snowball
Big and round
Behind which mitten can you be found?
I had the children each take a guess. Luckily, they didn’t find it until the second to last mitten–otherwise this would have been a very short game!

To make the pieces, I used the Ellison mitten cut-out on felt and some fabric puffy paint.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Teens

December 5 is National Ninja Day. Did you know that? Well, if you didn’t, now you do. Last December I wanted to celebrate this day with the teens, so we held a program called Teenage Mutant Ninja Teens. I invited a martial arts instructor to come and teach teens basic self-defense/karate/martial arts for the first 30 to 40 minutes. He went over his expectations which were very strict but very appropriate–things like calling replying with “Yes, Sir” and always standing at attention. Afterward, I set up several games for the teens to play to practice the art of being a ninja:

    • Patience: Make the tallest card tower in a ten minute period
    • Composure: Cotton Ball Relay; move cotton balls from one end of the table to a cup at the other end using chopsticks
    • Endurance: Hula Hoop Challenge
    • Posture: Book Balance; balance books on your head and walk from one end of the room to the other and back
    • Agility: 15-yard box tag; we marked off a square in the room and the teens had to be the first to tag the other person without stepping out of the box
    • Acuteness: bow and arrows; unfortunately, this one never happened. We tried several instructions on making bow and arrows from popsicle sticks and q-tips but they never really worked, so we eliminated this one.
    • Snack: Fortune Cookiesninja3

The teens who came to this program were the teens that regularly visited the teen department but not necessarily our programs. I remember it was raining very badly on this night so the group of 20 teens I was expecting never came–but they had would have had to walk a few blocks in the cold, dark, downpour. I had a mixture of boys and girls come and they both enjoyed it equally. The week prior I set up a display at the teen desk with a sign and YAninja-themed fiction and non-fiction. If nothing else, the teens talked about it and picked up the books to read at the tables in the departments.

I wanted to repeat this program this summer, but unfortunately, I planned it during the week of July 4th–I’m not sure why I did that. The martial arts instructor is unable to make it due to lack of staff at his own business, and since we haven’t had any sign-ups for the program, I’ve decided to make it a passive program instead. So as I was perusing Pinterest last week, I found a fun ninja-themed craft, and it was then that I decided to offer a make-it-take-it craft to teens who come in lieu of a live-action program.


Box of supplies needed for ninjas: pipe cleaners, pony beads, wooden beads, straws, instructions, Sharpies, and scissors.

Parachute Play with Babies

Icon-ParachutePlay Baby Storytime was a little different this week. This summer, we have typically had two to three babies with their moms (and dads). Since it is the summer I’m trying different things with my programs. (Summer in my mind means relaxed and fun…although as I reminded my storytime parents, storytime is always relaxed and fun!) So this week we did a parachute storytime. No stories (although I did have one as a back-up in case this didn’t work). Just nursery rhymes and songs.

gr-25972To prepare, I consulted the internet and the book Parachute Play by Liz and Dick Wilmes. So as not to confuse the babies too much, we began with our usual opening song, “Where is Baby?” sung to the tune of Frere Jacques. This is the rest of the storytime (we did repeat each rhyme or song at least two or three times unless noted):

We do a song every week called “The Scarf is on My Head” with lightweight shear colorful scarves. They love this song, so I adapted it for the parachute. I had to change a couple of the actions, but we did this song several times.  

Action Rhyme: The ‘Chute is on My Head! (to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)
The ‘chute is on my head, the ‘chute is on my head!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute is on my head!
The ‘chute goes up and down, the ‘chute goes up and down!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute goes up and down!
The ‘chute goes fast and slow, the ‘chute goes fast and slow!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute goes fast and slow!
The ‘chute is on my head, the ‘chute is on my head!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute is on my head!

This next song worked really well because we managed to match the lyrics with the action of moving the parachute. 

Action Rhyme: Itsy-Bitsy Spider

This one is a real arm-workout. 

Action Rhyme: If You’re Happy and You Know It
If you’re happy and you know it, lift it high!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it fast!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it slow!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it low!

I didn’t actually read this book during the storytime only because I didn’t find it was necessary. It was one of the most appropriate stories I could find as far as action books. If you have done a storytime with a parachute before, please comment with appropriate books you have used. 

Story: Jump! by Scott M. Fischer

Action Rhyme: Row, Row, Row Your Boat
(sit on the floor, hold the parachute tight and row back and forth)

Action Rhyme: Hickory Dickory Dock

For the next song, I couldn’t find the plastic balls we have (the kind you would find in a ball bin at an arcade in the 80’s or 90’s), but we have soft, fabric blocks, so I placed about ten or twelve of them in the center of the parachute. We waved the parachute slowly as we chanted the rhyme, and then when we got to the end of the song, we lifted it high in the air to make the blocks bounce high in the air. The babies loved watching the blocks fly and land on the floor. We must have done this one at least six times. 

Action Rhyme: Popcorn!
Put the oil in the pot and make it real hot.
Put the popcorn in and begin to grin.
Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, POP!

If there were any blocks remaining on the parachute, I just left them there for the next song. 

Action Rhyme: Toast in the Toaster
I’m toast in the toaster
I’m getting very hot
Tick tock, Tick tock,
Up I pop!

This song is our closing song every week. 

Closing Song: Bounce You Here
I bounce you here, I bounce you there.
I bounce you, bounce you everywhere!
I hug you here, I hug you there.
I hug you, hug you everywhere!
I tickle you here, I tickle you there,
I tickle you, tickle you everywhere!

This was one of my favorite storytimes I have done, but I will say that it could have been a little longer. When I do it again, I will add in a few more rhymes. Repetition was the key literacy skill this week, and we definitely repeated the rhymes many, many, many times, but I would like to add more variety next time.

Library Tour with Elephant and Piggie

I just finished with a fun tour group this afternoon. We had such a good time. It was a small group from the inner city. Most of the children in the group were in elementary to early middle school. We started by doing a little exercise on the organization of the library. I barcoded them and we practiced using the online catalogue to figure out where each child would be located on our non-fiction shelf. I borrowed this idea and had the children choose their favorite subject. We created a spine label by finding the call number for each child’s favorite subject and using the first three letters of the child’s last name. While I worked with each child, the rest of them would go off and find where they were located on the shelf. They enjoyed trying to find “their” book.

Then we toured the rest of the library, stopping at the Genealogy Department where they learned how to use the microfilm Eleph_Pig_i_am_going_lgmachine and find articles in older newspapers. They wanted to stay longer in this department, but we had to keep moving. We rode the glass elevator to the main floor, and then finished the tour portion of the program with a scavenger hunt–a simple question and answer page.

To end the program, the children’s librarian and I read “I am Going!” by Mo Willems to the children. We wanted a story that would be appropriate for multiple age groups, and Mo Willems was the perfect choice! They loved this story! To tie it all together, they completed an Elephant and Piggie Mad Libs page and comic. The best parts came when the shy children who didn’t want to read their Mad Libs out loud finally did so because the adults were so enthusiastic about them.

What kind of tours do you like to do?

A New Kind of Babysitters’ Club

indexIt has been quite a while since I had the chance to post anything new! Sorry for the delay!

Last week, I held a Babysitter’s Workshop for teens. It has been something I have wanted to do since I started almost two years ago. The idea was to help give teens (especially those living in the inner city, the population I serve most often) a basic foundation on caring for children as a summer job. As I researched and researched, it became clear that this program was going to be very expensive if I wanted to make sure participants were certified. To be certified, not only did they had to go through a babysitters’ training class, but they also needed certified in CPR and First Aid. The class would have been 6 hours long. It was more than I was prepared to offer.

I decided that I would run it as a workshop where teens could learn the most basic first aid tips, activities to do with children of different age groups, and ways to start their business. I had 10 signups and 5 teens actually come! And they came ready to learn with notebooks in hand.

The program was an hour and half long. We had a speaker from the American Red Cross talk about Emergency Preparedness in terms of tornadoes, power outages, poisonings, and other situations. While he spoke, I gave tips on remaining calm and talking to parents. Afterward, I gave the girls a quiz from the book Don’t Sit on the Baby by Hally Bondy on deciding if babysitting is right for them. It wasn’t really a serious quiz–just something to break the ice and lighten the mood. Then I gave them two different objects (things like cars, clothes pins, books, puppets, sponges, bowls, a bandana, etc) and asked them to come up with creative ways to use them with different age groups. The last thing we did was learn to change a diaper. I had my storytime buddy, Winslow T. Bear, available for the girls to practice changing his diaper.

They each received a tote bag and folder with notebook paper and tip sheets for babysitting. They also put together a couple games to take with them for their first babysitting job–cotton balls with straws and a yarn matching game.

Overall, it was a successful program. I had plenty of books on hand and some even checked out which is a win in my book! The books were about babysitting in general but I also had some available that were about games to play with babies and toddlers.

I’m currently looking at ways to improve this program, and one of those ways is to offer certificates upon completion.