Monthly Archives: April 2012

Crafternoon–flowers and butterflies


After last week’s glue-intensive Easter eggs and baskets, I was looking for a springy, yet glueless, craft for this week.  Watch this video for detailed instructions on how to make these cute tissue paper flowers.  For the butterflies, just take three squares of tissue paper, pinch them in the middle like a hairbow, then wrap a pipe cleaner around the middle and twist at the top for antennae.  I also provided ribbons for the kids to tie together their bouquets.

What you need:

Tissue paper, cut into squares of roughly the same size

Green pipe cleaners


What to do:

1.  Place four tissue paper squares in a pile.

2.  Fold the squares like a fan.

3.  Cut the ends off of each side–you can use a rounded edge or a point.

4.  In the middle, cut a small slit.  This is where your pipe cleaner stem will be attached.

5.  Loop the pipe cleaner around the middle and twist it around the longer end several times.

6.  Separate the paper so that it looks like flower petals.

Again, if these directions are unclear, I encourage you to view the video link above.

7.  Make several flowers and tie them together into a bouquet using ribbon.  Or, you could make a vase out of a cardboard tube (from paper towels or toilet paper).

8.  Save your scraps–I love gluing bits of tissue paper onto a picture for a collage effect!


Crafternoon–Easter Baskets


We had an amazing turnout for this week’s crafternoon, probably thanks to spring break! I didn’t get this idea from any particular source, though I’m sure some crafty, paper-plate-loving soul like myself has done it before.






What you need:

1 dinner size paper plate, cut in half

hole punch

white glue



pipe cleaners

egg template (here’s the one I used), printed on cardstock

markers/crayons/colored pencils/paint

glitter glue, bling, tissue paper squares, stickers, other stuff to decorate the eggs with

Easter grass (or shredded up paper, preferably colorful)

What to do:

1.  Staple the paper plate halves together using about 5 staples.

2.  Determine which side will be the back.  Punch a hole in either side of that paper plate half (this is where you will attach the ends of the pipe cleaner handle)

3.  Thread one end of a pipe cleaner into one of the holes and twist to secure it.  Reach the other end to the other hole and do the same thing.  You should have a handle.  Try twisting two pipe cleaners together for a thicker and more colorful handle.

4.  Decorate the front of your basket as desired.

5.  Apply a line of glue onto the inside of the front paper plate.  Press some Easter grass into the glue.

6.  Draw some Easter egg shapes or print out template on cardstock.  Cut them out and decorate as desired.  (I loved doing a collage on one of mine with the cut up tissue paper squares).

7.  Glue the eggs onto the inside of the back paper plate.  This will give the look of eggs sitting in the basket.

This is my favorite kind of craft to give my crafternoon kids.  I supply the materials and the general idea, and they let their imaginations run wild.  I absolutely love seeing what these amazingly creative kids come up with!


Preschool storytime–Hippity Hoppity, Easter’s on its way!


Opening song: We hit the floor together

Opening rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Quiet Bunny’s Many Colors, by Lisa McCue.  Quiet Bunny just loves springtime and all the beautiful colors he sees around him.  In fact, he wishes that he could be a beautiful spring color, instead of brown and white, which reminds him of winter.  He experiments with covering himself in these spring colors (yellow daffodils, green lily pads, blue berries, red mud), until he learns to accept and appreciate all of nature’s colors, including his own.  I told this story using my new bunny puppet (50% off at JoAnn Fabrics!) and my yellow, green, blue, and red scarves.









Easter Egg Hunt flannelboard: To make this, I just googled coloring sheets for things you would find outside in the springtime–tree, bucket, flower, wagon.  I colored them in with markers and laminated them using clear contact paper, then attached velcro dots on the back.  Same with the Easter egg.  One astute young storytimer noted that the egg couldn’t be behind the flower, because the flower was too small!  Ha!





The Best Easter Eggs Ever! by Jerry Smath.  Easter Bunny is tired of the same old polka dotted eggs he has been painting, so he recruits his three young helpers to enter a contest to design the best Easter egg ever!  They each find inspiration in different places, but who will win the title of Best Easter Egg Ever?  I liked this book a lot when I read it myself, but in storytime it seemed to go on forever!  I tried to make it a little bit interactive by having the kids vote for which egg they liked best, but that came near the end of the story.  I definitely like the book, but it is probably best for older audiences–say, three and up.




Song: Little Bunny Foo Foo.  I have to say that I absolutely love this song and have since childhood.  My husband, however, had never heard of it prior to hearing me sing it to our daughter.  I think that this is a travesty!  I thought an Easter/Bunny themed storytime would be the perfect vehicle for this cute little tune.  Of course I had to use my new bunny puppet (who, randomly, squeaks.  Do bunnies squeak?) and a little monster guy for the GOON at the end.  I thought about trying to find a puppet to play the Good Fairy and one to represent the field mice, but I didn’t want to complicate things too much.  I think having a mouse for him to “bop on the head” might have added more interest, so I might try at least that next time.  But definitely having a goon at the end was a hit!



Hippity Skippity Easter, by Maria Fleming, Illustrated by Katy Bratun.  Easter Bunny is out delivering eggs to his friends when–UHOH!–he has an accident that sends his basket of eggs flying!  Has Easter been ruined?  This is a much shorter, simpler Easter book, more appropriate for younger audiences.






Closing song: My hands say thank you

Then we had playtime!  Check out my recent post about playtime here.

Baby Storytime–Playtime!


Today I want to talk about an important staple in my storytime supplies–toys!  I think toys are so important because play is how children learn.  Toys are a safe way for young children interact with the world around them–with the toys themselves, with adults, and with other children.  They are useful for learning cause and effect, sorting, counting, motor skills, as well as in developing social skills and imagination. I allow time for free play after my baby storytime and my preschool storytime.  It gives the parents/caregivers a chance to socialize with each other, as well as providing important social time for the children.  After storytime, I go get my cart of toys (hidden away in a back room until ready for use), turn on music, and spread the toys out on our mat.  I usually sit on the floor and either join in or facilitate play.

Now that I have explained why I think toys and playtime are so important, I want to talk a bit about the kinds of toys we offer. I think offering the right kinds of toys is every bit as important as offering toys in the first place.  The general rule of thumb I used when shopping for toys was this: the less a toy “does”, the more room it leaves for the kid to use his or her imagination.  Thus, you will find no “educational” electronic toys (well, the shape sorter can play music and talk, but I usually leave it turned off).

MegaBlocks (left) and blocks (pictured above).  This was a no-brainer.  The blocks are from Lakeshore learning.  They are lightweight plastic with rounded edges to make them safer for the youngest children.  They have letters on them, as well as simple pictures (sun, teddy bear, etc).  They come in four colors: green, blue, yellow, and red.  The MegaBlocks belonged to my daughter when she was younger.  In storytime, I have seen these become a castle, lip balm, and a blender, just to name a few.  Both kinds of blocks are great for imaginative play and for developing motor skills.





Puzzles.  These are Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles.  I like them because they each have three simple pieces with a knob that is easy for little hands to grab onto.  These are also great for motor skills, and the kids use the pieces in imaginative play.  For example, they have taken the clear plastic tub that the blocks come in and put the water creatures in it, making an aquarium.






Here is an assortment of other toys we have.  We have two bouncy balls, a shape sorter, and two cars.  The elephant is a wooden pull-along toy, and the circles on his tummy spin around when he moves.  The crab rocks back and forth and has a mirror on it (mirrors are great for very small babies–they love to look at themselves!).  Last, but not least, Rex from Toy Story.  He used to belong to my daughter and I just threw him in with the other toys to see if they would like him.  They love that he walks on his own and talks!





In my mind, these are the essentials.  They cost very little money, but have endless playtime possibilities.  First is the phone.  What child doesn’t love to pretend play with a phone?  It does make sounds and talk, but I honestly think the kids would be just fine with it even if it made no sounds.  They love holding the phone up to their ears and pretending to call Daddy, or Grandma, or even me!  In the middle is our stacking toy.  This is a classic that most people are familiar with.  The rings fit onto the base in a certain order, according to size.  I just love the imaginative play that happens with it, too!  The rings have been bracelets, doughnuts, earrings, and even gardening gloves.  The base is usually a trumpet!  Finally, I have to tell you about the superstar of the toys.  On the far right are my two sets of stacking barrels.  I got these at Kohl’s for 40% off, making them way less than $10 for both sets together.  We stack these, play tea party with them, put things inside them….and they also nest inside each other, which is an endless source of amusement for the kids.


A few more notes about our playtime.  I always play music during our playtimes–not loud, just a pleasant background.  Usually Mozart, Bach, or my Parents Playtime Jazz CD.  For my preschool group, I also leave out any flannelboard pieces I used during the storytime–they love playing with those!  I sometimes leave out my scarves and/or shakers for them to play with, too.  We also have a tunnel that I use for the preschool group.  And yes, I clean all of the toys after every playtime.

My opinion is this: don’t worry about buying “educational” toys that do lots of talking and doing, especially for babies and toddlers.  Yes, babies and toddlers should be exposed to as much vocabulary as possible, but ideally this interaction would come from a caring adult.  The toys that do them the best good cost little money, such as the ones listed above.  (Even no money–a pot and a wooden spoon or a box make great toys too!)  And don’t forget the art supplies like washable crayons and fingerpaints!