Monthly Archives: February 2012

Dr. Seuss Truffula Trees


Introducing the newest addition to our children’s department at the Leesburg Library: our very own Truffula forest!  Many thanks to Mrs. Lodge’s Library for inspiration and instructions.  This is a big impact for minimal investment, in both time and money.

I made these for our Dr. Seuss party on March 6, but I might put them back in front of the children’s office after the party.  I love the pop of color they add!





**Be sure to join us for the Dr. Seuss birthday party at the Leesburg Library on Tuesday, March 6, during regular craft time (3:00 – 4:30 p.m.).  We’ll have birthday cake, popcorn, Yink’s Pink Ink Drink (pink lemonade), as well as Dr. Seuss themed games and crafts.  We’ll have lots of good fun that is funny!**


Crafternoon–Masquerade masks


For today’s craft we decorated handheld masquerade masks.  I got the mask templates from







What you need:

Mask template



Exacto knife

Glue (white or tacky glue)



craft stick

What to do:

1.  Print template onto cardstock in color of choice.

2.  Cut out mask with scissors.  Cut out eye holes using exacto knife.

3.  Decorate using feathers, sequins, rhinestones, markers, etc. (I used some clear packing tape to reinforce the feathers and the craft stick)

4.  Glue craft stick on the back side of mask.





Honoring Jan Berenstain


In the midst of preparing to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I learned the sad news that Jan Berenstain recently passed away at the age of 88.  Interestingly enough, it was their sons’ love of Dr. Seuss that inspired Stan and Jan Berenstain to experiment with writing their own children’s book.  The Big Honey Hunt was published by Random House in 1962, with the assistance of an editor named Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.  Since then, over two hundred books have been published featuring Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, and eventually, Honey.  Stan Berenstain passed away in 2005 at the age of 82.

I learned to read with Berenstain Bears.  My first love was Messy Room.  It came with an audiocassette that I listened to repeatedly, in addition to harassing various family members into reading it to me over and over again.  I related to Brother and Sister Bear (Brother loved dinosaurs just like me!), especially because my room was perpetually messy.  I’m certain that my mother hoped that the book would magically make me want to clean my room.  I know this because I bought it for my own daughter hoping that it would have a magical effect on her.  Unfortunately, I can’t say that she (or I) became neat and tidy because of the book.  But in a way, it was still magical.  It, like all the other Berenstain Bears books (and believe me, I think I’ve read almost all of them!) opened a dialogue.  This sweet family of bears modeled for us how to discuss problems and arrive at solutions together, tackling everything from going to the doctor to battling the “galloping greedy gimmies”.

Check out these wonderful books for yourself–Messy Room and other titles can be found at the Leesburg Library in the Easy Readers section under “Berenstain Bears”.  For more information, check out

Thank you, Jan Berenstain!

Flannel Friday (or not)–Max Cleans Up prop


As you might have already seen, I did a Clean Up storytime earlier this week.  I promised more deets about my Max prop, so here they are!

I have always liked Max Cleans Up by Rosemary Wells.  I have long cherished the idea of making it into a flannelboard but never could figure it out.  Then, one day I saw my daughter’s stuffed Max and inspiration struck!





I originally considered trying to fit everything into his existing pocket, but I knew this wouldn’t work.  For one thing, I wanted to use mixed media (not just flat designs on paper), and for another, in order to make them all fit I would have to make them extremely small.  Sooo….






I cut a pocket shape out of flannel and attached velcro to the back.  You could hot glue it if you wanted a permanent solution, but I promised my daughter that no Maxes would be harmed during my storytime antics, so velcro it had to be.






For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Ruby is trying to get Max to clean up his room.  However, each time she tries to get him to throw something away, he tucks it away in his pocket. In order of appearance (and pocket storage):

Dirt: I scanned the page of the book with dirt on it, and cropped the dirt out.  I glued it to cardstock and laminated it with contact paper.

Miracle Bubbles: The bottle is yellow fun foam with a white paper label glued on.  Bubbles are orange fun foam glued to an orange scrap of cardstock.

Ants:  Scanned from the book and cropped in the same way as the dirt

Easter egg: Cardstock cut into the shape of an egg and decorated with markers.  Laminated with clear contact paper.

Popsicle: Green cardstock taped onto a bit of a wood stick

Quack Quack duck:  Two yellow pompoms hot glued together.  Wiggle eyes hot glued (carefully!) and scrap of orange felt for beak

Gum on a string: A circle of dark pink cardstock taped to a blue piece of string

Here’s the final product!  I had Max sitting on a table next to me.  It took a little bit of maneuvering to hold the book and put the items into the pocket, but it was worth it.  I think the kids really enjoyed it, and it added a little something extra to the story.  I LOVE MAX!!!!!

Crafternoon–Presidents’ Day puppets


In honor of Presidents’ Day, we made Presidential puppets for our craft yesterday.  I chose George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.







The patterns came from this book:  Paper Bag Puppets by Arden Druce.  It includes many other presidents and historical figures, as well as some seasonal and fairy/traditional tale figures.  All I did was run copies on regular copy paper.  The kids then colored them with crayons or markers, cut them out, and glued them onto paper bags.






I also made copies of the biographical information to be glued on the back of the puppet.  These are written in the first person, so it works well for a puppet show.  I played patriotic music and set up the puppet stage for the kids to play with their puppets.  I really wish I had gotten a picture of them doing so because it was so cute and funny!  This was a super easy and fun craft–as well as being educational!

Preschool Storytime–Clean Up!


Opening Song–We Hit the Floor Together

Opening Rhyme–This is Big, Big, Big

Max Cleans Up, by Rosemary Wells.  Have I ever told y’all how much I LOVE Max and Ruby?  Really.  Love.  Them.  In fact, my daughter had a Max and Ruby party for her third birthday.  Max’s sister Ruby decides it is time for Max to clean up his messy room.  But every time she tries to throw something away, Max stores it safely in his pocket.

We have had this book at my house for a long time, and my daughter has always loved it.  Even before I became a children’s librarian, I always thought it would be fun to do it as a flannelboard and really put things in his pocket.  I never was able to figure out the logistics of a flannelboard, but one day it suddenly occurred to me to use our Max stuffed animal.  The existing pocket was too small, so I had to cut a pocket shape out of felt and attach it with velcro.  For more details, see my post about the Max Cleans Up prop here.

I thought this would flow perfectly into our next activity, which was the clean up game.  I got this idea from Mel’s Desk, and it worked like a charm.  The kids loved playing it!

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, Written by Eric Litwin and Illustrated by James Dean.  Pete the Cat just loves his new white shoes.  He loves them so much that he goes around singing a song about them until…they aren’t white anymore!  This story is so much fun to read aloud, and it even has its own song!  If you aren’t sure how to sing Pete’s song, listen to Eric Litwin tell the story and sing the song here (click on “Live telling at book release!” on the menu on the left side).  This book is fun and incorporates colors and predicting what will happen next, not to mention its great, optimistic message.

Flannel story: Mrs. Wishy Washy.  I got this idea from Storytiming.  I think it’s just brilliant to do these double-sided.  Get the pattern here.

This is a fun story to tell.  We don’t have the book, so I had to wing it a bit based on what I was able to find online.  The cow, pig, and duck live on Mrs. Wishy Washy’s farm.  There is a lovely mud puddle that they play in and get dirty.  When Mrs. Wishy Washy sees them, she goes to get her big tub of water and soap to “wishy washy” them all clean again.  She gets tired (because lifting a cow into a tub isn’t an easy thing to do!) and goes back to the house for some tea.  But as soon as she leaves…they jump right back into that mud puddle!

Harry the Dirty Dog, Written by Gene Zion and Illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham.  Harry is a talented dog who is white with black spots.  He loves lots of things, but NOT taking baths!  One day, with bath-time looming, Harry decides to run away.  He plays and plays and gets so dirty that he looks like a black dog with white spots!  In fact, when he finally decides to return home, his family does not recognize him, even though he can still do all of his clever tricks.  It seems hopeless until Harry runs to get the scrub brush he has hidden in the back yard…

I introduced this story with our black and white spotted dog.  I had him do a few tricks and a little singing and barking.

Since we had a relatively small group today, I was able to pass out scarves and we sang “This is the way we wash our hands”.  Then we listened to John Lithgow’s Singing in the Bathtub while I tried to blow bubbles.  For some reason I didn’t have much luck with the bubbles, but the kids loved it!  Maybe this is something we can incorporate every week.

Finally, we closed with My Hands Say Thank You and had some playtime with our toys.

Baby Storytime–MGOL #3


We had another great baby storytime this morning!  I am using a program called Mother Goose on the Loose, which is a wonderful early learning program that is designed especially for very young children.  The songs, rhymes, and activities in this program support parents in developing their children’s early literacy in a fun environment. Here’s what we did today:

Old Mother Goose

Old Mother Goose when she wanted to wander would FLY through the air on her very fine gander!  (hold baby up at the word “FLY”)

Goosey Goosey Gander

Goosey Goosey Gander where do you wander?  (pat legs to rhythm)

Upstairs (hold baby up), downstairs (bring baby down), and in my lady’s chamber (hugs)

Two Little Dickey Birds

Good Morning Mrs. Perky Bird




The Very Hungry Caterpillar, By Eric Carle.  Today I shared this classic story of a little caterpillar’s path to butterfly-hood.  I think this book is just brilliant, and I love it.  Eric Carle’s illustrations are gorgeous and colorful.  A perfect choice that I will be using again.






If You’re Happy and You Know It–We sang this while looking at the first page of Jan Ormerod’s If You’re Happy and You Know It.

Next, we recited Little Miss Muffet, which I acted out with these simple puppets.  I just printed out coloring pages from the internet, colored and laminated them, then attached them to craft sticks.  Then I used the spider only for the first time we recited Itsy Bitsy Spider.  The next go round I did the hand motions.






The next segment was body rhymes.  There wasn’t much new here, but I can definitely tell that they are starting to catch on, and they enjoy them more and more each week.  I think our favorite is this knee bounce:

Mother and Father and Uncle John

Went to town, one by one

Mother fell off (lean to one side)

And Father fell off (lean to other side)

And Uncle John went on and on and on and on! (bounce knees)

This week we did our drum segment using a tambourine, which was a nice change of pace.

The animal segment is usually pretty much the same, except I try to find different books to share while we sing “I went to visit a farm today”.  Today, I used Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Jane Cabrera.  I really like the clarity and approachability of Cabrera’s illustrations, especially for this age group.  Before I found this book, I was using a book that had photographs of real animals because I thought the kids might have a hard time identifying artistic illustrations.  But these illustrations are large and clear, so I will be using this book again.  (I did skip the non-animal pages and the goat page, because the only sound I can attribute to a goat sounded too much like a sheep).




I’m so excited that we are able to offer bells and shakers during our baby storytime.  These are so fun and colorful, and they are specially designed to be safe for young babies.  We shake them while we sing songs.






I also love our scarf time.  They are so much fun to play peekaboo!  Today, we used them while we sang “This is the way we wash our face”.  We also stirred them like cake batter and recited Pat-a-cake.  I am always amazed at how easily these sweet babies will put away their bells and scarves when we sing “Bells Away” or “Scarves Away“!  Proof positive that singing a song almost always improves whatever you are doing!





Today’s lullaby was:

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green.

When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen.

Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so?

‘Twas my own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.

While we sang, I showed the illustration from this beautiful book Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Salley Mavor.


Humpty Dumpty (interactive–after we recited it once, each child had a turn knocking Humpty Dumpty off the wall)

Can you kick with two feet?

After the storytime, the moms stayed to chat while babies played with blocks, puzzles, and other toys.  We had a great time!


Pre-K Storytime–Kisses (Yuck!)


Given my somewhat mixed feelings about my toddler/preschool storytime on Tuesday, I decided to change it up a little bit for pre-k on Wednesday.  (The fact that it was no longer Valentine’s Day also played into that decision).  Initially, I was going to change the theme to Hugs and Kisses, because I really liked My Froggy Valentine (more of a kiss story than a Valentine’s story, really) and I also liked Hug a Bug.  This changed to Kisses only when I was able to quickly find two kiss stories and a rhyme that I liked.

Once again, we started with the shape game, but this time I hid the lips from the My Froggy Valentine flannelboard (see below).

Next, I asked them if they ever looked at a fish’s face (be prepared for fishing stories!)  We finally decided that it always looks like fish are kissing.  I used my blue fish stick puppet (Bonnie Bluefish) and adapted Gertie the Goldfish from SurLaLune Storytime as follows:

Bonnie Bluefish goes smack, smack, smack (imitate fish kissing)

She looks at me and goes smack, smack, smack (make puppet look at you and imitate fish again)

She doesn’t laugh, she doesn’t sing, she doesn’t do a single thing (shake fish puppet to indicate “no”)

But swim around and blow kisses like smack, smack smack (make fish swim, imitate fish kissing)

This worked really well, which was a pleasant surprise.

Kiss the Cow!  By Phyllis Root, Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.  Mama May has so many children she can’t even count them all.  Luckily, she has a magic cow named Luella to provide plenty of milk for drinking and making cheese.  Each time she needs milk, all Mama May has to do is ask Luella, then thank her by–kissing her on the nose!  Mama May does not mind this at all, but her most curious, most stubborn child, Annalisa, thinks it is YUCKY!  One day, Annalisa’s curiosity gets the better of her and she decides to try milking Luella.  But she misses one critical step–she doesn’t kiss Luella to thank her!  As I mentioned earlier, I was worried about doing sugary sweet Valentine’s books for pre-k because 1) they are older and 2) I thought they might have hit Valentine’s overload by the day after.  This was really a perfect story–it definitely got a reaction from them!  They shared Annalisa’s disgust for kissing a cow right up until the end.


Next, I shared the My Froggy Valentine flannelboard that I shared in yesterday’s post.  (Thanks again, Storytiming and Read it Again!)  If the toddler/preschool storytime group liked this one, pre-k absolutely LOVED it!  I even got a few rounds of applause!  This will definitely be one that I use again!

No More Kissing!  By Emma Chichester Clark.  Momo the Monkey has had it up to here with the kissing!  It seems like it’s just everywhere!  And, despite his protestations, his family keeps wanting to kiss him!  He just knew that when his baby brother was born it would get even worse.  Putting aside for the moment the beginning, which fit perfectly with my theme, this is not a book I ordinarily would have shared.  For some reason, I have this feeling that books dealing with a new baby brother or sister are not great storytime material.  I don’t really know why, and I can’t really explain it–I just have a feeling about it.  For that reason, I don’t think I would use this one in the future.  Again, I really love the beginning of the book, but the ending was a little anti-climactic for me.



We ended with the alligator puppet, since the kids have been asking about him ever since our Soup-er Storytime.  I made him a little tuxedo for the occasion.  He recited a poem:

Roses are red, violets are blue

I like Alligator Soup, and I like you too.

Then he went around to each child to let them smell his rose, and, if they had any alligator soup to offer–well, that was just a bonus.

Preschool Storytime–Valentine’s Day!


My toddler/preschool storytime just so happened to fall on Valentine’s Day, so of course that was our theme for the week.

OPENING SONG:  We Hit the Floor Together

OPENING RHYME:  This is Big Big Big

Sweet Hearts by Jan Carr, Illustrated by Dorothy Donohue.  This sweet little rhyming book tells of a little panda bear who hides Valentines all around the house for his family to find.  I really love Donohue’s collage illustrations.  However, I have to admit that there is something that the book loses while reading it aloud (at least, reading it aloud to a relatively large group.)  This might just be one of those books that does better in a one-on-one setting.





Since the book featured hiding Valentines, we played our shape game with a Valentine hiding behind one of the shapes.  The kids like this game, but I think maybe I should only use it a few weeks at a time, or maybe change up the colors/shapes every once in a while.

Hug a Bug, by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Dan Andreasen.  Have you ever thought about what a difference a hug can make?  This story is about a girl who goes around hugging everyone and everything in sight!  She hugs books, her pillow, the mailman, and even–yes, a bug!  She even dares to hug a grouch, who is so affected by the gesture that he begins to hug everything too!  This is a nice, straightforward book.  It has a sweet message, and I think the kids enjoyed it.





Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton.  As with many of Boynton’s books, Snuggle Puppy can be (and perhaps should be) sung instead of read aloud.  I dressed up my puppy puppet (Dottie) with red hair ribbons, and she sang Snuggle Puppy.  If you’re not sure how it should be sung, check this out to get an idea:  I still think this was a cute idea, but I was a little insecure about it.  I think it would have helped if my puppet had a moveable mouth.





Next, I did the flannelboard based on My Froggy Valentine by Matt Novak.  This flannelboard was first done by Miss Cate at Storytiming, then modified by Miss Sarah at Read it Again!  I just LOVELOVELOVE the idea of making felt pieces reversible!  I did this story minus one of the frogs, and I used Miss Sarah’s idea of having a toadstool (I, too, was influenced by Super Mario Bros. as a child, perhaps unduly so…)  Anyway, this was an absolute hit!  In fact, it warmed up the crowd a bit, so that I felt comfortable sharing one more book…





How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?  By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague.  Although dinosaurs can be very temperamental, when they give hugs and kisses and give their irresistible dinosaur smiles, all is forgiven.  This book, like the other “How Do Dinosaurs…?” books, is beautifully illustrated, and the situations are so cute and funny that it’s hard not to love them.  Bonus:  The obvious parallels between toddlers and dinosaurs made a few of the parents laugh knowingly, which of course made me laugh, too!





CLOSING RHYME:  My hands say thank you





Baby Time #2


Since I am using Mother Goose on the Loose, I used many of the same rhymes and songs as I did last week.  This is wonderful for babies because repetition helps them learn.  (That’s why they want *this* book over and over and over again!)  As they begin to learn the rhyme or song, they gain confidence and enjoy the accomplishment of being able to join in.  However, throwing in a few new things here and there is a good way to keep it fresh and fun.

In that spirit, Mrs. Perky Bird (see left) made her appearance. This week I had her go around and interact with each of the children, which they really enjoyed.  They even wanted to play with her after storytime was over and other toys were out!



Another rhyme that was new for this week was “I Hear Thunder”.  One of my favorite tips from MGOL is that you do not have to read the entire book from cover to cover to enjoy it with your child.  I showed page 5 from Molly and the Storm by Christine Leeson and Illustrated by Gaby Hansen while we recited the rhyme.

I hear thunder, I hear thunder

Hark, don’t you?  Hark, don’t you?

Pitter patter raindrops, pitter patter raindrops

I’m wet through, I’m wet through.

I also made a flannelboard piece out of an umbrella coloring sheet.  After the rhyme, we identified the umbrella and talked about what it does.

This week, I shared Where is Baby’s Belly Button?  By Karen Katz.  This sturdy lift-the-flap board book is perfect for very young children because it mixes identifying parts of the body with a fun game of peekaboo!  “Where are baby’s eyes?  Under her hat!”  As I read, the children pointed out their own eyes, mouth, etc.






We used our drum again this week to play the freeze game.  Using a freeze game like this one allows you to teach the word “STOP!” in a kind, gentle way.


For our lullaby this week, we sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star again, but this time I shared page 1 of Our Stars by Anne Rockwell.  I LOVE this illustration.  Its composition is simple enough to be easily understood by very young children, and I think that it perfectly captures the wonder that “Twinkle Twinkle” is all about.  Another idea I really like from MGOL is that lullabies can be used during the daytime to help your child calm down after a particularly stimulating activity.





Please feel free to leave any feedback or suggestions in the comments!  I’m having a great time sharing these rhymes, songs and stories with you and your babies!