Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pumpkin Party


(I’m going to go ahead and apologize for the crazy formatting of this post.  I tried several times to make it act right!)

We had a pumpkin decorating party this past Saturday, and it was SO fun!  It was really pretty easy to do–we just had some refreshments and hauled out all of our art/craft supplies.  Patrons brought their own pumpkins to decorate and, if they wanted to, their own carving supplies.  My wonderful teen volunteer and I decorated (and I mean we DECORATED) the conference room.  There happened to be an old skool card catalog in there, so we decided to make it spooky.

This is store-bought fruit punch, fancied up in a punch bowl.  Instead of ice cubes, I put some gummy worms in the bottom of a bundt pan, then filled it with the same punch and froze it.  As it melted, the kids were able to get worms in their punch!  It looked really cool!








We are fortunate to have a popcorn machine at the library, so of course we had to have popcorn!  My artistic husband drew faces on plain orange cups from Wal-Mart (can you believe he drew a different face on each cup?!?  The most popular ones were the superheroes, like Ironman, Batman, and Spiderman!)  We called the snack table “Potions and Pebbles” so we definitely had to decorate it like a witch’s lair.








This table got completely overloaded with everything out of my office that I thought someone could use to decorate a pumpkin!  We had paint, glitter, markers, glue, felt, fake fur, pipe cleaners, pom poms, and more!










Here are a few of the finished products…

As a party favor we gave out Tootsie Roll pops decorated like ghosts.  To make them, simply fasten a tissue around the top of a lollipop with a rubber band and draw on a face with a marker.  Voila!










One of my favorite parts of our party was our photo booth.  I painted a black background and glued on assorted “spooky” eyes.  We also set up a table with dress up masks and headbands, as well as some speech bubbles taped to craft sticks.  It enabled our families to create a fun memento of their time at the pumpkin party!


Pre-K Storytime–Pumpkins!


I thought that it would be interesting to start off my pumpkin storytime with a book that discussed how pumpkins are grown.  I chose It’s pumpkin Time! by Zoe Hall and Shari Halpern (available through PINES) because it had straightforward text, good vocabulary, and vivid pictures.  A word of warning: it does mention Halloween and trick or treating specifically, but only at the beginning and end of the book, so it’s easy to skip over if you need/want to.

This is NOT a Pumpkin, by Bob Staake.  (Available through PINES).  This book is so funny, and reading it to a group of kids is even funnier!  For some reason the upside down pumpkin sent them into hysterical laughter.  Not to mention the insistent “Yes, it IS!” exclamations I kept hearing.  There is a cute “surprise” ending to this book, and I thought it was a fun, participatory addition to the storytime.

Poem with props: Jack O’ Happy.  I’ve seen this poem other places too, but the idea for the puppets came from Narrating Tales of Preschool Storytime.  In fact, mine look so similar to hers that I won’t even post them here.  I will tell you that the kids loved this poem, even more than I thought they would.  I asked them to make the same faces along with me, and they were thrilled at the ending (I changed this a tiny bit, just to make sure they understood the joke.  I said “I am Jack O’ Pumpkin Pie the YUMMIEST Jack of all!  and I rubbed my stomach while saying it).

Flannel story: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd.  Boy, do I LOVE to tell this story.  Almost all of the kids seemed to have heard it before, so I’m glad I decided to tell it as a flannel story, just for a little variety.  (I used some of the color pieces from  I’m still working on my storytelling, but this is one that I feel pretty comfortable with because of its simple structure (and the fact that my daughter made me repeat it constantly after we read it for the first time last fall!)

Pumpkin Trouble, by Jan Thomas.  Is it embarrassing to admit that I sat at my desk and actually laughed out loud the first time I read this book?  If it is, then I don’t care!  I think Jan Thomas’ other books are hilarious (What Will Fat Cat Sit On?, Rhyming Dust Bunnies) and Pumpkin Trouble is no exception.  While excitedly carving his pumpkin, Duck accidentally falls inside!   As he searches for his friends Mouse and Pig, he is mistaken for a Pumpkin Monster!  While it can be challenging to read aloud (especially to groups), I think that a book like this is great for encouraging kids to examine pictures closely to derive meaning from them in conjunction with the story.  For example, when Mouse and Pig are running from the “Pumpkin Monster”, one of them says “Hide behind the barn!”  The next page shows Duck, still trapped inside the pumpkin, saying “What barn?”  We talked about the fact that Duck couldn’t see the barn, then we predicted what was going to happen next.  This kind of discussion is good for developing reading comprehension and narrative skills.

Before I left, I had to bring out my duck (really, my nondescript multipurpose bird) for a quick hello.  He noticed a pumpkin…then promptly fell in.  “Did that pumpkin just quack?”


Paper plate scarecrow craft (and school tour!)


I had a school group come in for a tour this morning.  I loved having them here!  In an effort to make the tour a little more interesting, I reconfigured the story of The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything to incorporate tour stops within the story.  At each stop, we collected a piece of the scarecrow, and we made this craft at the end.  I *think* I made it up, but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone else has already done it.  The head is a small/dessert size paper plate painted with orange acrylic paint (I did this ahead of time).  The shoes, pants, shirt, and hat are construction paper and the gloves are white cardstock.  Everything is mounted on a paper towel roll so that it can stand up by itself–the paper plate is stapled at the top, and everything else was glued with a glue stick.

I like this craft because it is a craft–that is, we made something specific that tied in with the story that I told–but it is also open-ended because the kids were encouraged to decorate their scarecrows however they wanted.  Some kids cut shapes out of black paper for the pumpkin’s face, others drew them on (one kid drew glasses, which I absolutely loved!)  They decorated their clothes in a way that was unique to them, and I think (I hope!) they had fun.

I am attempting to attach a template for the clothes.  Please let me know if it doesn’t work and I can try emailing it to you.  I am also happy to share my tour/story, if anyone wants it.

scarecrow template


Pre-K storytime–I Spy


I started this storytime by introducing my tiger puppet, Augustus.  He looked sad, so we asked him what was the matter.  He said he lost his smile!  He even used a magnifying glass (good job, pre-k, for knowing what it is and what it does!) and *still* couldn’t find it!






Augustus and his Smile, by Catherine Rayner. (FL J 823 RAYN).  [Since this book is in Arabic and English, it can be located in the Foreign Language section at the Leesburg Library.]  The illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous.  I also love the story.  Augustus has lost his smile, so he looks everywhere to find it.  This beautiful story worked really well at the beginning of the storytime, when listening ears are at their best.  I also encouraged them to look in the illustrations for the small things that Augustus finds instead of his smile (beetle, birds, fish, shadow).







I Spy with My Little Eye, by Edward Gibbs.  (E ANIMALS GIBB).  Gold.  Storytime gold, is what this book is.  All five pre-k groups loved shouting out the colors and guessing what animal hid behind the die-cut circle.  I was so impressed at how frequently they guessed correctly–some of these animals were hard to guess!









Flannelboard game: I spy shapes.  We first went through and named all of the objects on the board (block, paints, pizza, sign, ball).  Then, I said “I spy with my little eye an object that is a _____________ shape.”  When they guessed correctly, I turned it over and revealed the shape with the shape name on it.










Duck!  Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld.  (E ANIMALS ROSE).  I was hesitant to share this at storytime, but I shouldn’t have been.  All I had to do was give a brief explanation at the beginning when I showed them the cover.  It went something like this: “The title of this book is Duck!  Rabbit!  That’s because there are two speakers in this book.  One of them thinks that the shape on the cover is a duck, and that this is his mouth.  Raise your hand if you think that this is a duck.  The other speaker thinks that this shape is a rabbit, and that these are his ears.  Raise your hand if you think that it’s a rabbit.  Let’s see if we can find out.”  There are some great opportunities for participation in this book.  I had the kids make duck noises when the book mentioned duck noises, then rabbit noises–uh, what noise does a rabbit make?  We decided to just wiggle our noses, and a few kids made hopping sounds.  We also pretended to put our binoculars up to our eyes when the book mentioned binoculars.  After we finished, we took a final vote–duck or rabbit?  Guess we’ll never know…

Preschool Storytime–Zoo!


Today’s early literacy skill was narrative skills.  This deals with a child’s ability to describe things and events their ability to tell/retell stories.  Today at storytime, we used puppets and props to reenact “Goodnight Gorilla”.  Reading with your child every day promotes the development of narrative skills by exposing your child to the structure of a story–beginning, middle, and end.

Opening song:  We hit our knees together (from Mother Goose on the Loose)

Opening rhyme:  Alphabet soup







Opening game:  we thought about what kinds of animals we might see at the zoo, and I wrote them on the whiteboard.  Exercises like this are great for print awareness.








Going to the Zoo with Lily and Milo, by Pauline Oud.  (E ANIMALS OUD).  This is a cute book about friends Lily and Milo and their trip to the zoo.  I really like a book such as this for developing narrative skills because it gives the parent/caregiver the perfect opportunity to invite the child to tell his or her own story about going to the zoo.  “Lily and Milo saw a parrot at the zoo.  What happened when we went to the zoo?”  This can be reinforced by pretend play with stuffed animals or drawing pictures.  When your child can tell a story, it means that he or she is able to understand stories and how they are structured.







I Spy Flannelboard–I just used laminated clip art for this.  I put all three animals up on the board and explained to the kids how to play I Spy.  I used physical characteristics along with sounds to describe the animals.  For example, “I spy with my little eye an animal that slithers around on his belly and says “hiss!”” 








I left these pieces up while we sang “The Wheels on the Bus”.  We did “all though the zoo” instead of “all through the town” and the animals were on the bus.  For example, “The gators on the bus go chomp, chomp, chomp…”, etc.

Dear Zoo storytelling.  I loved Sarah’s idea at Read, Sarah, Read! to act out Dear Zoo with puppets.  I had to get a little creative with my animal choices because we didn’t have puppets for some of the animals in the book.  In the end, I chose the toucan (too feathery), the tiger (too ferocious), the hippo (too big), the snake (too slithery), and the zebra (too stripey).  But the puppy was just right!








Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann.  (BB RATH).  This book is another good choice for developing narrative skills because it has very few words.  Children can interpret the pictures independently and tell their own story.  Before we started reading the story, we looked at the cover to see if we could determine what the book would be about.  We talked about who the man in the picture is, and what the gorilla is holding in his hand and the gesture that he is making. 








Closing game:  rhyme cube (Itsy Bitsy Spider)–weird how some rhymes we get all the time and others we have never gotten before!

Closing rhyme:  This is big, big, big (from Mel’s Desk)

Closing song:  My hands say thank you

Activity:  Matching game/pretend zoo play

I made “cages” out of cardboard boxes for my elephant, gorilla, and lion puppets.  (I got the idea here).  I also made signs with clip art of each animal and the name of that animal in bold print.  I designated a color for each animal and made corresponding locks and keys for each animal.

So, the yellow key with with the yellow lock, and so on.  On each key, one side was a picture of the animal, and the other side was the animal’s name in bold print.  I punched holes in the tops of the keys and put them together on a pipe cleaner “key ring”.  I invited the kids to match their keys to the locks, open the cages, and put each animal to bed using one of our scarves.

Pre-K storytime–Pockets!


The Pocket Dogs, by Margaret Wild, Illustrated by Stephen Michael King.  (E DOGS WILD)  Have you ever carried a dog in your pocket?  Well, Mr. Pockets has two very tiny dogs, Biff and Buff, who ride in his pockets.  One day, Mr. Pockets’ pocket got a hole in it and Biff fell through!  Biff is lost!  Will he ever be able to find Buff and Mr. Pockets again?









Flannelboard game:  What’s in my pocket?  This idea came from So Tomorrow, where you can find the cute rhyme that goes with it.  For some reason a majority of the kids got all of them except the clock!  Maybe because we use cell phones instead of clocks and watches these days?






Max Cleans Up, by Rosemary Wells.  (E RABBITS WELL)  It’s no secret around here that I LOVE Max and Ruby and that I LOVE this particular book.  I used it earlier this year along with a prop for a clean/dirty storytime.  I did it without the prop this time because I had so many other props going on, and i do so love Rosemary Wells’ illustrations.






Mini puppet show based on Boing by Nick Bruel.  (book available through PINES).  My little girl has a huge stuffed kangaroo that we refer to affectionately in my family as Kangaroo Jack.  My husband makes up cute stories about Kangaroo Jack and his antics, and my little girl loves it.  And she LOVES Kangaroo Jack.  I wasn’t too sure that she would let me borrow him, but she did!  I took a page from Recipe for Reading and decided to fill his pocket with real objects.  I didn’t have a grasshopper puppet, so I just skipped that part.  I also didn’t have a koala bear, so I randomly chose to replace him with a monkey (I’m so sorry, Mr. Bruel!)  Even though I took some major liberties with the story, the kids really enjoyed it.

For those who don’t know, the story goes like this.  Little kangaroo can’t jump.  Frog comes up and says “jumping is easy, watch me!”  Kangaroo still can’t jump.  Rabbit comes up and says “jumping is easy, watch me!”  Kangaroo STILL can’t jump.  Kangaroo gets discouraged.  Koala (monkey) comes up and asks what’s wrong.  Kangaroo says he can’t jump.  Koala (monkey) asks what is in his pocket, and Kangaroo reveals a bunch of random stuff.  Once he takes all of it out, he tries again and he can JUMP!

I just filled Kanagroo Jack’s pocket with stuff I had in my office.  Some sunglasses, a piece of candy, a glue stick, a pencil, a leaf, and a purple crayon.  (I did have a few astute observers who asked “What’s in his pocket?” way too early in the story!)  After he takes everything out, I got the kids to chant with me “Try again!  Try again!  Try again!”  Then we count to three and he jumps!  It was so sweet how happy they were for poor old Kangaroo Jack!








Preschool Storytime–Stop and Go!


The idea for this theme, as well as the stoplight necklace, came from Storytime Katie.  Thanks, Katie!

Early Literacy Skill:  Print Awareness.  To start off this storytime, I held up a stop sign and asked the kids if any of them knew what it said.  They identified it as a stop sign, so I told the parents that recognition of words on street signs, as well as signs on restaurants and shops, is one of the early steps to reading!

Opening Song:  We hit our knees together (from Mother Goose on the Loose)





Flannelboard: traffic light.  We talked about what traffic lights do, and what the different colors mean.










We All Go Traveling By, by Sheena Roberts, Illustrated by Siobhan Bell. (E SCHOOLS ROBE).  This book is meant to be sung, so I was a little nervous about it, but I think it turned out okay.  It’s a fun book about different modes of transportation–bus, plane, bicycle, train, etc.  This book is especially suited for storytime because you get to replicate the sounds of each.  My favorite is the plane–“neeeeeeeeee-oww”!








Activity:  Stop Game (from Mother Goose on the Loose).  I had a tambourine and we marched around in a circle.  “We walk and we walk and we walk and we STOP!  We walk and we walk and we walk and we STOP!  We walk and we walk and we walk and we STOP!  And we turn around!”  We did the same with tiptoeing and running.

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Song:  I’m Driving in My Car (from Mother Goose on the Loose).  Before we started this song, I told the kids that we were going to drive our own cars now.  I asked each of them what color their car was.  I hadn’t planned to do this ahead of time, but I’m glad the inspiration struck.  In the next book we read, they were looking for “their” cars!

Red Light, Green Light, by Anastasia Suen, Illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max.  (Available through PINES).  Thanks again to Storytime Katie for suggesting this title!  It is PERFECT for a stop and go/transportation theme!  It has rhyming text and fun, colorful illustrations.  The illustrations gave us several opportunities for new vocabulary–there was a tunnel in one picture, and we also discussed toll booths and choppers (helicopters).








Action Rhyme:  Green Says Go

Rhyme Cube:  “I’m a Little Teapot”

This is Big, Big, Big (Mel’s Desk)

My Hands Say Thank You

Activity:  We made Storytime Katie’s stoplight necklaces.  Since print awareness was our early literacy skill for the day, I decided to go ahead and add the words to it.

I also put mapped out roads on our storytime mat squares with some masking tape (this idea is all over Pinterest, so you can search there if you want to see pictures–those are much better than mine was anyway!) and put out a bucket of cars, trucks, and trains for the kids to play with.  We even pulled out the scarves to use as racing flags!  At the end, the kids loved helping me peel the masking tape off of our mat!







Storytime Lite will meet at 10:00 a.m. next Tuesday, October 16, at the Leesburg Library.  Storytime Lite is a six-week series of storytimes for children ages 2-5, ending on November 6, 2012.  Sponsored by the Lee County Library.  Free and open to the public.  For more information call 759-2369.


Leesburg LEGO Club


We had a great time at the first meeting of the Leesburg LEGO Club!  Stop by the front display case at the Leesburg Library to see these amazing creations!

The next meeting of the Leesburg LEGO Club is Wednesday, November 7 at 3:00 p.m.

The next meeting of the Redbone LEGO club is Thursday, October 18 at 3:30 p.m.

Sponsored by the Lee County Library, free and open to the public.  F/M/I call 759-2369

Pre-K storytime–cookies!


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff, Illustrated by Felicia Bond. (E MICE NUME).  I know, I know.  Everybody already knows this book.  But just in case some of the kids have never heard it before, I like to mix in old favorites with more unfamiliar titles.









Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?  I did this one just like I did with the preschool storytime, except the cow had the cookie instead of the dinosaur.







The Cow Loves Cookies, by Karma Wilson, Illustrated by Marcellus Hall.  (E FARM ANIMALS WILS).  I love the rhyming text and repetition in this book.  Most of the kids said that they had heard it before, but they definitely enjoyed hearing it again!








Five Little Cookies.  This time, I used my cow puppet and the nickels that Melissa generously provided at Mel’s Desk.  As I went through the rhyme, I replaced each cookie with a nickel.  I think using the nickels really illustrated the point that cow was buying the cookies and removing them from the store.  What a great way to introduce early math concepts!  (Incidentally, my daughter is in one of the pre-k classes that I read to, and she said that this was her favorite part!)  Just for fun, I asked what they thought cow did with all the cookies.  They all said “she ate them!”, so I had her eat them, Cookie Monster-style.  Some of them flew out across the room.  It was awesome.





The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems.  (E WILLEMS).  The last time I read a Pigeon book, I was afraid that the kids didn’t really “get” why it was funny.  Not so with this one!  Each group I read this book to thought that it was hilarious!  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–Mo Willems can do no wrong in my book, and Pigeon books in particular are SO fun to read aloud.







Preschool Storytime–Cookies!


NOTE:  There are links missing from this post because WordPress is misbehaving.  I will add the links as soon as possible. [10/4/12 UPDATE: Links have been added.]

Theme:  Cookies

Early Literacy Skill:  Letter Knowledge–knowing that letters are different from one another and recognizing them makes it easier for kids to read later on!

Opening Song:  We hit our knees together (from Mother Goose on the Loose)

Opening Rhyme:  Alphabet Soup (spelled out “cookie”).  [This fantastic idea came from In the Children’s Room.]

Flannelboard Game: Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?  All of the pieces here are clip art, printed onto cardstock.  I cut them out, laminated them using clear contact paper, and put a sticky velcro dot on the back.  (Note: I didn’t use the cow for this session–only the cat, pig, turtle, and dinosaur.  I used the cow instead of the dinosaur at Pre-K, which I’ll blog about tomorrow).  I put the cookie behind the dinosaur before starting.  Then we sang “Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?  Cat took the cookie from the cookie jar!  Who, me?  Yes, you!  Couldn’t be! (take cat off of board)  Then who?”  We went through like this until we got to the dinosaur, then I showed them the cookie with the bite taken out of it.





How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies? by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague. (BB E YOLE).









Flannelboard: I scanned in the images from the book to make a flannelboard of the different kinds of cookies we saw.  I also printed out pieces with the words on them to encourage print awareness.  We clapped out the syllables for the cookie names.

Flannelboard:  Five Little Cookies.  I’ll post a picture of the flannelboard tomorrow.  They are five flannel cookies with glitter sprinkled on top.  I used my dinosaur puppet to take the cookies away.  We counted the cookies after each time one was taken away.  See Mel’s Desk for the rhyme/song.

Rhyme:  Pat a cake (with scarves)





Mr. Cookie Baker, by Monica Wellington.  (BB E WELL).

Rhyme Cube:  Itsy Bitsy Spider

Closing Rhyme:  This is Big, Big, Big (from Mel’s Desk)

Closing song:  My hands say thank you





Activity:  Play-Doh and alphabet “cookie” cutters.

I used a cookie theme for my Pre-K storytime, too, but we read different books and I used the flannelboards differently.  I’ll be back tomorrow to share that storytime with you.  Now, go have a cookie!