Friday, October 3, 2014

The Halloween Hike

Inspired by Flannel Friday's annual Halloween Round Up, I wrote another Halloween draw and tell story. This is my third one!

The Halloween Hike
Linda Meuse
Notes from the Story Room
Joe loved to hike and explore. So did his big sister, Meg. One sunny Halloween morning they decided to explore a nearby park.  "A nice long hike will help pass the time until we can go trick-or-treating," said Joe. "We should have plenty of time to explore before then," answered Meg.
When they got to the park, the first thing they did was walk around a crystal clear lake. (Draw 1) On the other side they came to a high hill. They decided to climb up the hill.  (Draw 2) The hill turned out to be much higher than they expected and it took a long time to get to the top. (Draw 3) Fortunately Meg and Joe had packed lunch and water in their backpacks. They had a nice lunch on top of the hill. Then they went down the other side of the hill. (Draw 4) It was much easier going down than up! There were lots of trees on this side of the hill. (Draw 5) They came across a pond with plants floating in it. (Draw 6) There was also a log in the middle of the pond. (Draw 7) They watched a dragonfly skim across the pond. (Draw 8) Joe and Meg walked around the pond. (Draw 9) There were lots of trees on the other side of the pond as well. (Draw 10)
"I feel like I am being watched," said Joe. "Me, too" said Meg. "Let's hurry home. We don't want to be late for the trick-or-treating tonight." Meg and Joe quickly left the park. Who was watching them on their Halloween hike?

This week's Flannel Friday is hosted by Sue of Library Village. Be sure to visit Flannel Friday for more storytime inspiration!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Family Storytime Presentation

This is my presentation as part of a panel, "Storytime Shake-Up," for the 2014 New Jersey Youth Services Forum held on October 1, 2014. A copy will also be available on the New Jersey State Library's Youth Services site.

Linda Meuse
1.  Engage all ages
     Humorous stories and folktales have a wide appeal.
     Book illustrations should be clear and colorful to keep the interest of the little ones.
     Pop-up books and lift-the-flap books will appeal to all ages.
     Don't forget the grown-ups! Draw them in with humor.
2.  Mix it up
      Use different types of storytelling.
      There are many options:
          draw and tell stories
          paper cutting stories
          flannel board stories
          prop stories
          puppet stories
       Keep props simple. Spend time on those that will be used frequently.
       Flannel Friday's Pinterest Pages provides a wealth of storytelling ideas.
3. Make them guess
     Guessing games appeal to all ages - patterns, hidden object, memory, what am I?
     The level of difficulty can be adjusted for various ages.
     Stories and books that involve guessing appeal to all ages.
4. Be flexible
     Have a variety of books suitable for both preschool children and toddlers.
     Ages will vary from program to program.
     Drop or add stories depending on the dynamics of the group.
     Finger puppets work well when the group is young.
     Using visuals when telling a story helps young children to focus.
     Sing songs or play games when the group gets restless.
     Don't worry if you lose little ones while doing a story for older children.
          Follow the longer story with something for the little ones.
          Often the little ones like to emulate the older children and will listen.
5. Make it yours
     Sing if you like to sing.
     Do a craft if you like crafts.
     Pick stories that you enjoy, not because they fit a theme.
     You will learn what works with your group over time.
     Tweak your program to fit your group using formats that work for you.
     Allow for family and sibling dynamics but control the chaos.

Examples of my family storytime programs and of the storytelling materials that I used can be found on this blog. If you have questions please leave a comment. I will reply to your comment. You can also contact me via Twitter - @LMeuse.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Autumn Leaf

Several years ago I did a program about different methods of storytelling. Being basically lazy, I didn't bother asking for permission to use material but instead wrote my own examples.  Recently I found the handout for this presentation. I posted the draw and tell example for Flannel Friday's "Shark Week." The following cut and tell example was written for the first presentation which was in October.

Glue two pieces of paper together and then fold lengthwise. The inside piece should be yellow, red, or  orange and the outside piece should be green. I have used both construction paper and colored copy paper. I usually trim the inside paper to make it slightly smaller than the green paper so that the color doesn't show when folded. Fold and then trace the pattern onto the outside paper. Remember to always keep the pattern side facing you so your audience can't see it. Sometimes I will write the rhyme next to the traced pattern so I don't have to memorize it. If it is a story, I just write some key words to help me remember. Always do this on the part that is cut away.

Autumn Leaf: Cut and Tell
By Linda Meuse
Notes from the Story Room

I start out green,
Often fragile and small.
(Cut from 1 to 2)

I grow through two seasons
On something tall.
(Cut from 2 to 3)

But there are changes
When the nights turn cool,
(Cut from 3 to 4)

That happen to me
When children return to school.
(Cut from 4 to 5)

I am a ....... (leaf)
On a growing tree.
(Open to show a green leaf)

Watch me turn color
One, two, three!
(Turn it to the other side to show the autumn leaf)

Inside paper glued to green paper
Trace pattern onto green paper
Cut leaf & show green side
On last line turn to other side
The photo of the pattern can be found here.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by Kelly of Ms. Kelly at the Library.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Kevin's Favorite Animal

Note: This is the first draw and tell story that I wrote. I think I wrote it in 2001. I didn't write another one until 2012. I managed to find this in a box of storytelling material in my basement. The reason I decided to dig it up was that it goes with this week's Flannel Friday theme. Children will guess the animal quickly so I suggest telling them to wait until the end of the story so everyone can shout it out together.

"Kevin's Favorite Animal"
by Linda Meuse
Notes from the Story Room
Kevin likes to do many different things. He likes to play in his room. (Draw 1) He has bookcases in his room with books about his favorite animal (Draw 2) He sits in a comfy chair in his room to read the books about his favorite animal. (Draw 3) Sometimes he builds towers with blocks in his room (Draw 4) Sometimes he plays with his sister in her room. (Draw 5) Sometimes he plays with his brother in his room. (Draw 6) Sometimes he plays with his brother and sister in their backyard. (Draw 7) However, Kevin's favorite thing to do is to go to the aquarium to see his favorite animal. (Draw 8)
What is Kevin's favorite animal? SHARK!!


This week's Flannel Friday celebrates Shark Week and is hosted by Sharon of Rain Makes Applesauce. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The End is Near So I'm Writing about the Beginning

Only 23 hours left until I retire at the end of the month. Even though I've been working part-time for the last few years, it will be strange to be not working at all. However, it is time to move on.

I consider myself an accidental children's librarian. I was hired simply because I was available even though I had little experience. I had taken the children's literature course in library school so I was not completely ignorant. I had worked occasionally in the children's department as a trainee (where I learned to pin a sausage to a puppet's nose in the dark). Later I volunteered in my children's school library so I was able to observe professionals at work. That was it. I think I did one storytime as a trainee but once I had my MLS I worked in adult services. Becoming a mom changed my perspective. I was fortunate enough that I was able to stay home with my children for 11 years. During that time I discovered that I enjoyed being with children and that I had considerable patience, so when a part-time position as a children's librarian came up I applied. I figured that I would move on to something else later. Evidently there wasn't much competition for I was hired.

I ended up spending my first month in adult services covering for a librarian who was away so I had plenty of time to prepare for my first storytime session. When I started planning my first storytimes, I knew I wasn't going to read a few books and call it a program. I couldn't carry a tune so singing was not an option. I went through the small professional collection and discovered a book of flannel board stories and a series of draw and tell stories. My storytime format took shape. I also added finger puppet rhymes and cut and tell stories to my programs. These were all formats I enjoyed. I was probably not the best storyteller in the beginning but because I enjoyed what I was doing, the children enjoyed themselves as well. I have done the same types of stories throughout the years adapting the format for various ages. I used more music and rhymes with the toddlers (I found some great prerecorded songs) and told stories with props in family storytime.

My next challenge was summer reading. I found out in May that I was doing this program so there was a great deal of frenzied planning. It ended up being a very successful summer though I did some major tweaking the following year. One of the crafts, stenciling a tee shirt, became an annual tradition.

After that summer, the part-time position became a full-time position. I worked at that library for 15 years, learning and growing. I attended workshops, meetings and conferences so that I could learn from my peers. Although I worked the adult desk on my night and Saturdays, I never had any desire to return to adult services. Being the only youth services person was challenging and often stressful but I enjoyed the freedom of developing my own programs.

Each of us has our own journey and our own story to tell. We may take different paths but our goal is the same. We all hope to make a positive difference in the lives of young people. I hope that I have done so in my career.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Robot Family Storytime

Robots: A Family Storytime - All ages, Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 3:30 p.m.,  Attendance: 35

Books: Boy + Bot by Arne Dyckman
            Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli
            The Bad Birthday Idea by Madeline Valentine

Draw and Tell Story: "Building a Bot"

Board Story: "Springy Arms to the Rescue!"

Songs:  "The Robot" (tune: "The Wheels on the Bus") from 1001 Rhymes and Fingerplays
              "Five Noisy Robots" (tune: "5 Green and Speckled Frogs")
The song lyrics were found in "Here Come the Robots" a storytime plan from the Omaha Public Library. Of course there is no URL on the pages I printed out and I cannot find it again.

Magic Envelope: Robot (for information about the magic envelope see this post by Sharon of Rain Makes Applesauce.)

Craft: Robot Masks Various robot masks can be found online. Each mask was printed on card stock  and then cut out. A large craft stick was taped in the back so each child could hold it up in front of his/her face.

Notes: I did not do this storytime due to an injury. My colleague,who substituted, informed me that the draw and tell story, board story and the magic envelope were very successful. It took a while but a 5-year-old did guess what was being drawn upside down. Even the older kids were impressed by the magic envelope.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Children have to check in four times to complete our summer reading program. At the first one, they each get to color a robot. It then goes up on our bulletin board. We are getting a very colorful board!