Friday, December 16, 2011

Flannel Friday Roundup for 12/16/11

Welcome to the final Flannel Friday Roundup of 2011!  As always, there is a wide variety of ideas in the following posts.  I love how creative this group is and how members easily adapt ideas to fit their own needs.  Flannel Friday has inspired me to be a more creative storyteller.

Library Quines of Loons and Quines has some adorable and very colorful felt owls featured in her post "Owls and Longevity."  She also asks readers for suggestions for keeping the felt pieces looking good.

Mary of  Miss Mary Liberry gives us "Bippity, Boppity, Boo, There's a Teddy Bear on My Shoe."  She points out how easily adaptable this rhyme would be.  I just found out I will be subbing for a January Toddler Time program so I'm thinking bippity, bobbity, bee, there's a snowflake on my knee.

Alison of Miss Alison Is Blogging presents "Hey, Mr. Snowman" which not only covers winter but colors as well.  The children can also bring the snowman pieces up to the board.

Andrea of rovingfiddlehead kidlit combines winter fun with a little bit of drama with "The, Cold, Cold Night."  Her polar bear is simply designed but very effective.

Mel of Mel's Desk unearthed a great prop for singing "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain."  She mentions that this format could be used for other songs.  Since I can't carry a tune I would use it to make a circular story linear - folding out and then folding back.  Flannel Friday inspiration already!

Meghan of Busy Crafting Mommy has again created some beautifully crafted pieces, this time for Balancing Act by Ellen Stoll Walsh.  The parachute activity looks like fun as well.

Katie of Story Time Secrets takes the "Rudolph!, Rudolph!" rhyme to a new level with a cute and cuddly Rudolph.  I love the colorful noses.

Mollie of What Happens in Storytime flannelizes Hungry Hen by Richard Waring.  She didn't give away the ending and now I have to wait until I'm back at work Tuesday evening to read it.  I love the expression on the fox's face.

Katie of storytime katie made the most incredible "Knights."  I love the detail of the armor and the colorful shields.

Sarah of Read Rabbit Read brings us her cute flannel board version of What Color is Bear's Underwear?  What could be more fun than bears and underwear?  It's certainly an entertaining way to teach colors and the days of the week.

Cate of Storytiming has come up with a great activity to go along with Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes! by Eric Litwin.  She also has lets us know about the newest Pete book!

My contribution is "Turtle Talks Too Much."  I used it for my November Family Story Time program and it is another story adapted from a Native American tale.  I made simple props but it could be a flannel board story as well.

Moxie of Storytimes with Moxie gives us a holiday gift with "A Stocking for Hoppy" by showing a lovely felt stocking she made and by sharing a wonderful personal story along with it.  I hope she lets us know what Hoppy gets from Santa.

If I missed anyone please let me know in the comments or via Twitter or our Facebook page.

You can find previous roundups at Anne's blog, so tomorrow, where Flannel Friday has it's own page.  That 's where you'll also find the hosting schedule for the beginning of 2012.

Be sure to visit Flannel Friday's Pinterest boards where you will find all of the contributions in one place and conveniently categorized. (It make take a while for me to "pin" this roundup since I'm a newbie at it and didn't have much time to practice.)

Since this is the last roundup for 2011, I would like to thank everyone for making Flannel Friday such a great resource and I'm looking forward to 2012.  May everyone have a holiday season of peace and joy and then be inspired to create fantastic flannels all through the coming year.

Flannel Friday Posts

If you have a Flannel Friday post, please leave a link to it in the comments. I will also be checking Twitter and the Facebook page throughout the day.


Update:  The roundup has been posted and can be found here.  However, I will still add posts through Saturday.  LM

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Turtle Talks Too Much

"Turtle Talks Too Much" is another Native American story that I adapted for the Family Story Time program of November 29, 2011 (see post for 11/30/11).  It is based on "How Turtle Flew South for the Winter" in Native American Stories told by Joseph Bruchac.  Although I told it using props, it can easily be told as a flannel/magnet board story.  I remember reading a version of this tale several years ago but of course I have forgotten where I came across it.  My version can be found as a Google document here.

The props were fairly simple to make.  The stick came from my front yard.  When selecting a stick make sure it is small enough for the clothes pins to fit on it.  I drew the turtle and birds and colored them with markers.  The turtle's shell is plain and I put a piece of white sticky-backed Velcro in the center of the shell and colored it with green marker.  I then made a cracked shell putting the other part of the Velcro on the back of it so it can be attached after turtle falls.  I put card stock behind the figures to reinforce them.  This also helped the birds stay upright on the stick.  I then taped clothes pins behind the birds' feet and behind turtle's head.  I taped a mouth onto turtle's clothes pin. 

Birds carrying turtle:

How it is put together:

After the fall:

It's my turn to host the Flannel Friday Round-Up so please come back Friday evening for the last Flannel Friday of 2011!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crow's Great Gift

One of the stories I told at last month's Family Story Time (see post for 11/30/11) was "Crow's Great Gift" which is based on the story "Rainbow Crow" from The Grandfathers Speak: Native American Folk Tales of the Lenape People collected and written by Hitakonanu'laxk (Tree Bear).  Libraries may have the book, Rainbow Crow by Nancy Van Laan, which is a nice retelling of this story.  Other versions can also be found by searching the internet.  My version can be found as a Google document here.

I used clip art from Microsoft Publisher to make stick puppet figures.  However, this story would work just as well as a board story.  I like to vary my ways of telling stories in a program so I decided to use stick puppets for this one.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up can be found at Liz's "Putting Smiles on Faces" blog.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

We Were Fans Before He Was a Star

Several years ago we adopted a shelter cat named Pete.  Actually he selected us by sticking his paw out of his cage and tapping on my husband's shoulder.  We had planned to adopt an older cat but ended up with Pete who was technically a kitten at 11 months according to the shelter.  When we got him home we decided he was more like a teenager.  (A few months later we adopted his sister as well.)

My husband took to calling him Pete the Cat (now you may see how this story connects to children's literature).  One day my husband told me that he had found another Pete the Cat on the internet.  He had found the work of artist James Dean here.  From Mr. Dean we learned that blue is the new black and have been fans ever since because we had our own Pete the Cat.  It was great fun to find out that Pete was going to be the featured in a children's book and even more fun when he became a hit!

Of course we have succumbed to Pete merchandising.  When visiting the Pete the Cat site last year I was pleasantly surprised to find out how affordable Pete prints are and purchased one for my husband for Christmas.  Needless to say he is getting more Pete stuff this year.  The work of James Dean is geared more toward adults while the books are definitely a hit with children.  I think it's great that Pete can be enjoyed by both grown-ups and kids and I'm looking forward to reading Pete's books to my grandson the next time he comes for a visit.  However, I don't think our Pete the Cat will be wearing white shoes any time soon.

Pete and Pete: 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Bells

Flannel Friday is having a "Holiday Extravaganza."  It is hosted by Library Quine at

Here is my contribution:

"Holiday Bells"

One silver bell rings out loud and clear,
Calls for another so that more can hear.
Two silver bells make a joyful noise,
Call for another to ring for girls and boys.
Three silver bells ring out holiday cheer,
Call for another to be heard far and near.
Four silver bells make a merry sound,
Call for another to be heard all around.
Five silver bells ring throughout the land -
May there be peace on earth and goodwill to man.

Notes:  The word "little" can be substituted for "silver" if you don't want to make your bells all silver.  I used a silver marker to color in the clip art bell I selected.  (Mine is from Microsoft Publisher.)  I added a bit of ribbon to make it festive,

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Evening Family Story Time #3

Family Story Time - Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.  Attendance: 14 (8 children, 6 adults)


Book:  Brother Wolf: a Seneca Tale by Harriet Peck Taylor

Board Stories:  "Baby Rattlesnake" from Travel the Globe: Multicultural Story Times by Desiree Webber
                        "Why We Need the Wind" based on "Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle" found in Native American Stories Told by Joseph Burchac

Prop Story:  "Turtle Talks Too Much"  based on "How Turtle Flew South for the Winter" in Native American Stories told by Joseph Bruchac

Stick Puppets:  "Crow's Great Gift" based on "Rainbow Crow" in The Grandfathers Speak: Native American Folk Tales of the Lenape People

Game:  Animal Pattern Memory

Craft:  Bowl Game

Notes - Again there was a wide age range of children attending this program.  The youngest was not even 2 and the oldest was around 11.  The stories were too old for the little one but she did seem to enjoy "Baby Rattlesnake."  The adults really seemed to enjoy the stories this time around.  I selected Native American stories.  Although I have told some Native American stories over the years, I have never done an entire program of Native American tales.  This also gave me an opportunity to tell one of my favorite board stories, "Baby Rattlesnake."  It's a favorite because I get to whine and cry and make rattlesnake noises. The craft was also a big hit.  I used a simple version of a bowl game found on the internet.  We used dried lima beans rather than nuts.  We also did not bother with the contact paper but glued designs directly onto the bowl.  It was fun hearing all the beans bouncing in the bowls at the same time as both children and adults tried to get five of the colored sides of the beans to show.  I gave markers to the older children and crayons to the younger ones.  The markers tended to smear but the crayons worked fine.  Everyone got pre-cut clip art to decorate their bowl.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Playing with Patterns

While catching up on my backlog of PUBYAC digests, I came across a reference to some Native American games.  One of the games mentioned was "Pebble Patterns."  Similar to "Memory" this game requires players to remember and then recreate a pattern made from pebbles.  This inspired me to make a similar game for my upcoming family story time. 

Using Microsoft Publisher, I made a circle (3 1/2 inches in diameter) and copied it 9 times so that I had two pages with 5 circles on each.  I then inserted clip art from Publisher into each circle.  After printing them, I outlined each circle in black to make it stand out against the white board that I use.

I use a magnet board so I will paste the circles on sturdier paper, cut them out and add magnets.  (Felt, interfacing or Velcro could be used for flannel boards.) 

I will place the circles on the board in a simple pattern then remove them.  I will probably start with three or four in a straight line.  I will add circles until they remember all 10.  Then I will arrange the circles in different patterns to see if the children can remember which circle goes where.  Since I will need to remember them, I plan to write down the patterns I will be using and have that information nearby.

What I like about this concept is that it can be simple or complex.  The circles can contain any image or pattern you want to use.  They can even be simply colored circles so that it can be played with young children.  One could make three of each color and then make color patterns (e.g. one red, two blue, two red, one blue).  Older children could even make their own sets of circles to play the game. 

Katie is hosting this week's Flannel Friday on her blog Story Time Secrets.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why We Need the Wind

This story for the flannel/magnet board is an adaptation of the story "Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle" found in Native American Stories Told by Joseph Bruchac.  I have simplified the original so that only a few pieces are needed to tell the story.  It can be found as a Google document here.

Pieces awaiting lamination:

Once the pieces are cut out I will "push" the canoe back and forth on the magnet board to illustrate Gluscabi's trouble with the wind.  Once Gluscabi reaches the top of the mountain I will use the eagle flapping his wings to make the wind.  Once Gluscabi starts to talk to the eagle I will use the standing eagle figure for the rest of the story.  Next to the standing eagle in the photo above is the carrying strap that Gluscabi makes to capture the eagle.  It will be placed across the eagle.  When Gluscabi returns to the lake, I will place the canoe back on the board.  When he returns to the mountain, I will place the standing eagle back on the board.

I enjoy using pourquoi tales in my family story time programs.  They often feature animals and animal stories are always popular with my audience.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by Cate's Storytiming blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Class Visit

Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 9:30 a.m., Grades K to 2, Attendance - 14 children, 9 adults.
Storytime for deaf children with ASL interpreters.

Board Stories:  "Pot Luck" (see post for 7/28/11)
                       "The Silly Wishes" from Teeny Tiny Folktales by Jean Warren

Prop Story:   "The Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle" (see post for 9/30/11).

Draw & Tell Story:  "The Castaways" from Frog's Riddle & Other Draw-and-Tell Stories by Richard Thompson.

Paper Cutting Story:  "The Royal Paper Puzzle" from Handmade Tales by Diane de Las Casas

Books:  Shark in the Park! by Nick Sharratt
             The Little Green Turtle by A.J. Wood (Pop-up book)

Craft:  Turtle paper bag puppet - pattern from Alphabet Puppets plus More! by Karen Sevaly

Storytime Fun Despite a Marker Malfunction

Today a group of deaf children came for a class visit.  I managed to remember to slow down for the ASL interpreters but forgot to tell one of the stories I had planned.  Everything else went smoothly until it came time for me to do the draw-and-tell story.  I had tested the marker beforehand to make sure it worked but somehow the marker part disappeared into the plastic holder part when I started to use it.  I excused myself and ran to the children's room desk and grabbed the biggest marker I could find from the drawer and ran back to tell the story.  It never ceases to amaze me what can happen during storytime.  I've been doing this for twenty years and this was a first.  Fortunately after 20 years I don't get easily rattled any more.

The children were great, the teachers were great and everyone had a good time probably because I selected mostly silly stories.  The two books that I used were selected for their visual appeal.   Other than being careful about my book selections and working with the ASL interpreter, this storytime was not any different than one I would do for any class visit.  I like to use a variety of storytelling formats that have visual appeal (see my previous post).  It helps to keep the group's attention if they are wondering what you are going to do next.

The children made turtle paper bag puppets after the storytime.  I like to do a simple craft if possible because then the children have something to take with them. 

The teachers had me stand with the children for a group photo after the program.  The highlight of the day was when the little girl standing next to me slipped her hand into mine as the picture was taken.  Moments like that are what make my job so rewarding.  Seeing a group of children signing shark as I read them Shark in the Park! is what makes my job so much fun.

I'll post the stories I used later today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Visual Storytelling

Over the years my storytelling style has evolved.  I still use most of the same elements as I did twenty years ago but now these elements are no longer "filler" between picture book readings but have become an essential part of the storytime.  One reason is that I am more confident telling a story than I was when I first started as a children's librarian and the other reason is that I really enjoy the various forms of storytelling that I use - draw and tell stories, board stories, paper cutting stories, and stories using props and stick puppets.  They all have visual elements for the listener to look at while I tell the story.  I am reluctant to move into straight storytelling because I enjoy using these elements when I tell stories.  I guess it is part of my storytelling style.

I am preparing for a class visit next week.  All of the children are deaf and some have other disabilities as well.  The group had stopped by our library during a field trip last year when one of their destinations canceled on them.  They had called ahead and I was available to do a storytime for them.  It turned out that my "visual" style of storytelling worked well for the children and they called this year asking to come back just for a storytime.  I was surprised and happy to find out that my visual style was a good format for this group.  I had been concerned that it would have been too distracting since the children had to watch the interpreter as well.  I will be using many of the new stories that I had worked on over the summer and used for my family storytimes.  I am going to have to try to slow myself down a bit though, so I don't make it too difficult for the ASL interpreters.  It's great feeling to know that this group wanted to come back to hear more stories and I'm looking forward to their visit.

This has been a busy week (particularly at home) so I don't have anything new for this week's Flannel Friday.  I'm currently selecting stories for my next family storytime so I will have something new next week.  You can find this week's Flannel Friday Round-up on Sharon's blog, Rain Makes Applesauce.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Internet Issues

Due to the unexpected snow storm last weekend we lost power at home.  Home is where I do my blogging.  Fortunately we only lost it for a little more than a day.  However it took another couple of days for us to get our internet back and the family wireless network is still not working.  Consequently I haven't been spending much time at the computer (which is not necessarily a bad thing). 

It's strange but I feel that I'm being rude for not posting or contributing a storytime resource.  I follow numerous storytime blogs and I feel as if I'm part of a larger community - a very helpful and creative group I might add.  I'm still catching up on these blog posts.  However I also don't believe in posting if I don't have something useful to contribute or something to say and this past week has not been very productive at home.  Fortunately I did come up with an idea for my next Family Story Time.  I just have to research some stories and decide how I want to tell them.  I'll be posting what I come up with during the next few weeks.

Don't forget that today is Flannel Friday.  The round-up for this week can be found at Anne's blog at the end of the day. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Evening Family Story Time #2 - Halloween!

Family Story Time - Thursday, October 27, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Attendance 68 (40 children, 28 adults).

This evening's program was truly a family story time.   Entire families came out on a cold, rainy night.  I had lots of dads this evening.  Everyone seemed to have had a great time including the parents.  I did not notice any restless children while telling the stories though a couple of the two-year-olds joined the older children up front when we were doing the "Big Pumpkin."  Even the babies were good.  Having a wide variety of stories worked well. (Even the twelve-year-old who came with younger siblings put down his book and listened.)  Having easy and difficult crafts also worked well later.  A staff member had donated several containers of Halloween foam pieces (Thank you Brenda!) which kept the younger children very happy and gave me time to pass out the other craft materials.  The older children also enjoyed the fortune tellers. 


Books:  Brooms Are For Flying by Michael Rex
             Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara

Board Stories:  "Snacks for Ghosts" (see post for 10/14/11)
                       "Juan and the Ghost" from Multicultural Folktales for the Feltboard and Readers' Theater by Judy Sierra

Board Rhyme:  "One Little Ghost" (see post for 10/7/11)

Board Game:    "Little Bat and the Witches' Hats"  - a guessing game (see post for 10/14/11)

Paper Cutting Story:  "The Little Orange House" from Paper Stories by Jean Stangl (Best collection of paper cutting stories ever!)

Draw & Tell Story:  "The Ghost on Pedersen's Farm" from Frog's Riddle & Other Draw-and-Tell Stories by Richard Thompson (Highly recommended though the stories are not simple to draw)
Participation Story:  "Big Pumpkin" based on Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman (see posts for 10/21/11 and 10/23/11)
Crafts:  Halloween picture or card - Halloween themed foam pieces glued on purple construction paper
            Halloween fortune teller
            Jack-O-Lantern smile
            Flapping Bat
(A quick shot of the crafts - the bat flaps upside down)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Big Pumpkin - Constructed

While figuring out how to make the pumpkin for the Big Pumpkin participation story I plan to use in my Family Story Time on the 27th (see my post for 10/21/11), I had three things to consider - foremost it had to be big, yet it had to be light enough to pick up and it had to be easily storable. 

First I took two sheets of 18" by 24" drawing paper and placed them together on the floor.  I sketched out a pumpkin across both sheets so that there would be half a pumpkin on each sheet when separated.  I drew a stem on a separate piece of paper.  I outlined everything in black marker.  I colored the stem with green marker but painted the pumpkin with orange poster paint because it was such a large area.  Once the paint was dry I cut the pieces out.  (The pumpkin pieces could be glued on a firmer backing or could be painted on poster board instead for a sturdier pumpkin.  I just used the materials I had, figuring I will only be using it for Halloween storytimes so it should hold up.) 

I used paper grocery bags as supports.  They are "double bagged" to make them sturdy.  I glued half of a pumpkin to one bag and half to the other.  I then clipped the bags together.  I attached the stem with Velcro (hook and loop) pieces making sure I had one piece on each pumpkin to keep the top of the pumpkin together.  Once everything was in place I had my "Big Pumpkin."

The great thing about using grocery bags is that they can be easily folded for storage.  The other props used in the story can be slipped into the folded bags.

Big Pumpkin Assembled - Front

Big Pumpkin Assembled - Back

Bags Clipped Together

Attaching the Stem with Velcro

Big Pumpkin - Deconstructed Again

Friday, October 21, 2011

Big Pumpkin - Deconstructed

My favorite Halloween book is Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman.  I don't usually mess with a great book but this title would work very well as a participation story.  Children could be the characters and the audience would contribute the key words to the story.  The librarian would direct the action and narrate.  With this in mind, I came up with -


Simple props to designate the characters:

Dialog cue cards for the audience:

Big Pumpkin (in progress - I'll post about how I put it together later -waiting for the paint to dry):

The reward:

All the clip art is from Microsoft Publisher.

Now that I have these simple props, I plan to tell this story at my Halloween Family Story Time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Not My Usual Sources for Storytime Crafts

I am a visual person (which is why I like using props and board stories in my storytime programs).  I enjoy the visual arts while my husband and daughters prefer the performing arts.  Lately I've been more interested in crafts than the fine arts.  Crafts can be found in museums or on refrigerators.  I have two sources in my Google Reader that show the wide range of crafts that can be found on the web.  One is the Craft blog and the other is Craftgawker.  I can quickly scroll through the various posts in Google Reader.  Occasionally I will stop at one that interests me.  I subscribe to these because I love seeing the work of creative people.  Every once in while I will post something that I find interesting on this blog.  (Today I found this on Craftzine.)  What I didn't expect to find was ideas for storytime crafts.  However, this showed up on Craftgawker  - jack o'lantern smiles!  So simple, yet so cute.  (Check out the lisa storms blog for other Halloween ideas -I like the owl treat boxes and the skeleton magnets - she even supplies templates.)  I plan to use this as well as a Halloween fortune teller pattern that I also found through Craftgawker as crafts for my Halloween Family Story Time program on October 27.  Now I will be looking at these sites, not just for my own enjoyment but for storytime craft ideas as well.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Snacks for Ghosts & Bats in Hats

I wanted to include The Ghost's Dinner by Jacques Duquennoy in my Halloween Family Story Time program but my current library does not own it.  So I ended up doing what I did in July (see my post for 7/6/11) - writing my own story.  This one is much shorter and can be found as a Google document here.

There are several versions of stories that feature the concept of ghosts turning the color of what they eat that can be found by searching the web.  One is called "Three Naughty Ghosts."  My web search also turned up a reference to a book, The Chocolate Chip Ghost by Meighan Peifer.  I'm not familiar with this title but I'm guessing it would be a good one to use.  I also found flannel board versions by searching that title. 

Since my library uses a magnet board I made my own figures.  I'm using the same little ghosts that I used for "One Little Ghost" (see my post for 10/7/11) plus a mama ghost.  I based the food items on clip art.  Once the pieces are laminated I will make a magnet sandwich by stapling a colorful ghost and white ghost back to back.  I made extra wide black borders so I would have room to trim the pieces to match.

 The Snacks

 The Problem

 Mama with the Solution

Ready to Go Halloween Haunting

I am also going to do a version of the critter hiding behind something guessing game (such as "Little Mouse" and those in my blog post for 8/4/11).  I found the idea for a bat hiding behind a witch's hat on Kelly's "Field Acquisitions" blog.

I based the figures on clip art, copied the hats and colored everything with markers.  I made the hat bands black because I plan to hide the little bat behind them.  The figures are not cut out yet because they need to be laminated first.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-up can be found at the "rovingfiddlehead kidlit" blog.

Friday, October 7, 2011

One Little Ghost

One little ghost, waiting to yell boo,
Calls for a friend, so now there are two.
Two little ghosts, hiding in a tree,
Call for a friend, so now there are three.
Three little ghosts decide they need more,
Call for a friend, so now there are four.
Four little ghosts, ready to swoop and dive,
Call for a friend and now there are five.
Five little ghosts, hidden from sight,
Jump out at trick-or-treaters to give them a fright.
One, two, three, four, five - “Boo!”

This Halloween rhyme can be used with flannel/magnet board figures or with finger puppets.


The Flannel Friday Round-up for this week can be found at the Future Librarian Superhero blog.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Second Grade Visits

Second graders from public and private schools in Hamilton Township spend a day attending a program about bicycle safety given by the police department.  It is held at the library with half the schools attending in the fall and the other half attending the following spring.  A visit to the children's room is included in the program.  We talk about what the library has for them, tell some stories and give them some time to browse the collection.  For our own sanity and that of the teachers, we like to vary our programs each year. 

I usually do a different program each spring and fall.  I like to read a humorous picture book and tell a story (or two).  I always promote the summer programs in the spring usually by playing a memory game.  In the fall, I tell an additional story instead.  This year I decided to use the same book that I read last spring simply because I haven't found anything I like better (that I haven't used before).  The book is Mr. Putney's Quacking Dog by Jon Agee.  It combines guessing, wordplay and silliness.  The children become very involved in figuring out each animal but it can take a long time to get through the book.  I also enjoy seeing the teachers and parents get involved in the guessing as well.

One of the stories that I am telling is "The Pearl Thief" from Travel the Globe: Multicultural Story Times by Desiree Webber.  It is based on a folktale from India and is told with props (I use paper lunch bags).  I really like this story but I may have to start leaving it out when we are short on time.  I need to work on making this one go quicker.

The other story that I am using is a paper cutting story, "The Royal Paper Puzzle" from Handmade Tales by Diane de Las Casas.  I just used this in Family Story Time (see my post for 9/27/11) and it was a big hit and surprisingly easy to do.  (I did skip the part describing the princess and making her curly hair.)  The children have been so fascinated by it that one of my colleagues starting doing it when she was doing the class visits and she does not do paper cutting stories.  (Maybe I'll be able to talk her into doing some more.)

So far I've been able to keep the attention of the second graders (and the adults that are with them).  I need to work on giving them enough time to browse the collection.  It's a fine line because if they have too much time then things can go downhill very quickly!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle

"The Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle" is a good story for beginning storytellers because of the repetition and its "circular" plot.  There are several sources available for this story.  I recommend the one in The Storyteller's Start-Up Book by Margaret Read MacDonald. 

It can be told using a flannel/magnet board or simple picture props.  I made the props by selecting a series of pictures from clip art and pasting them onto card stock.  If desired, text could be added to the back of the pictures as well.  I made the pictures fairly large so they could be easily seen by a large group.

This week's Flannel Friday posts can be found at the Rain Makes Applesauce Blog.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Evening Family Story Time #1

Family Story Time - Monday, September 26, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m, Attendance: 9 (6 children, 3 adults)

We started a monthly series of evening storytimes with this program.  We've had requests so we thought we'd give it a try.  I would have gone with a 7:00 p.m. start but the parents we talked to preferred 6:30.  Several families signed up but most did not show up.  The few who did come enjoyed themselves.  Even though the group was small, the ages of the children went from around 3 to 10.  The humorous stories were enjoyed by children and adults.  The debut of "A Few Foolish Friends" went over very well.


Books:  The Wolf Who Cried Boy by Bob Hartman
             Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox

Board Stories:  "The Silly Wishes" from Teeny Tiny Folktales by Jean Warren
                        "A Few Foolish Friends" (see post for 9/22/11)

Paper Cutting Story:  "The Royal Paper Puzzle" from Handmade Tales by Diane de Las Casas
                                 (This one is a lot easier than it looks!)

Stick Puppets:  "How the Brazilian Beetle Won the Race" from Travel the Globe by Desiree Webber

Craft:  Paper bag puppets of the Woodcutter and his wife from "The Silly Wishes."  I made my own patterns.  I made an ice cream cone as well as a sausage just for the fun of it.  The children really enjoyed sticking them on the noses of the puppets (as well as their own and those of their siblings).  We simply used rolled up tape to attach them.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Way to Your Way

I received a comment asking if I told my board stories from memory, note cards or some other way.  Rather than a quick comment I thought I would write about telling longer tales using the flannel board because that is how I learned to tell stories.  Also, telling stories with the flannel board gave me the confidence to try other storytelling formats.

When I first started as a Children's Librarian, I knew that there would not be much singing in my storytimes since I can't carry a tune.  I also didn't want to just sit and read books so I looked for other ways to tell stories.  I found that paper cutting, draw and tell and board stories were perfect for me and I've been using them ever since.  For years I was the only Youth Services Librarian so I learned to make things as simple as possible.  Memorization went out the window pretty quickly.

One of the first sources for flannel board stories that I used was Teeny Tiny Folktales by Jean Warren.  The stories were short and did not require many figures to manipulate on the flannel board.  As I became more confident, I moved to other stories.  I also ended up making the simple stories not so simple over the years (see my post for 8/22/11).  I just recently started adapting stories myself.  I also started using other props to tell stories because I wanted to give my programs some variety.

It's important for me to pick a story that I really like.  If I enjoy telling the story, that will come across to the audience.  I tend to pick humorous or silly stories.  I also enjoy stories about animals.  I am not above changing or leaving out elements that I don't care for in a story.  I want to be completely comfortable with the story I tell.

I never memorize a story.  I read it over several times to get the general plot.  I may memorize a key phrase if it is important or repeated often.  I use each figure as a cue as to what comes next in the story.  I simply place them in the order they come in the story with the first figure on top and the last on the bottom.  Each figure then reminds me of the next part of the story as I place it on the board.  I tell the story in my own words.  Sometimes I leave things out and in most cases it doesn't matter or I am able to backtrack.  I do always keep a copy of the story nearby in case I need to refer to it.  (I always do this with rhymes so I get the rhyming words in the correct order.)  Telling the story in my own words takes the pressure off for getting it just right.  It also lets me change things if I want to.  I may tell a more elaborate version to an older audience or keep it short for a younger one. 

If you haven't told folktales using the flannel board before, start with a familiar tale such as "The Three Little Pigs."  This story allows you to "ham" it up as the wolf.  (I go all out trying to blow the brick house down.)  The story also naturally lends itself to audience participation. 

So, if you have only used the flannel board for rhymes, do give storytelling with it a try.  It takes me longer  to memorize a five line rhyme than it does to learn a five paragraph story.  The rhyme won't work if you don't get the words right.  The story can be told your way.

As to the second question about being videoed - I'm wary about doing a video of a story because of copyright issues, though now that I am doing more original material, it's something to consider. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Few Foolish Friends

Again I find myself changing a story to suit my Family Story Time program.  This time it is the book Six Foolish Fishermen by Robert D. San Souci.  Like many folktale picture books it is a bit too long to read for storytime.  However, this story would be great to tell using the flannel/magnet board so I wrote my own version making several changes.  At the end of his book San Souci mentions in his "Author's Note" that his version is made up using various noodlehead stories from around the world.  He set his story in Cajun country because of his interest in Cajun culture.  I recognized elements in the book from other stories, particularly the counting episode.

I made the sensible person in the story a little girl because children know they are really smarter than the grown-ups. What I like about my version is that I can leave out elements of the story if needed to suit the attention span of the group. (This is the first of a series of evening programs I will be doing so I don't know what age range will be attending.)  My version, "A Few Foolish Friends," can be found as a Google document here.

I drew the six friends and the little girl for the story.  Their basic shape is the same (stick figures with clothes) though I varied their sizes and made an effort to give each face a personality.  It took some time but I now have a variety of figures to use in other stories.  I used clip art for the fishing poles and sandwiches and drew the coffee and bait.


Ready for the magnet  board:

This week's Flannel Friday is hosted by Mary at Miss Mary Liberry.  Previous and future postings can be found at Anne's So Tomorrow blog.   Go to the Flannel Friday Pinterest page for everything in one place.


Friday, September 9, 2011


When I read "Drakes-Tail" in Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children by Judy Sierra and Robert Kaminski, I immediately knew how I wanted to tell it.  The challenge would be creating the storytelling prop I wanted to use.  I did a quick sketch and then refined it into the figure I wanted to make.  (I did it on scrap paper so I apologize for the image from the other side showing.)  I'm posting a photo to show that you don't have to be an artist to create props. 

I then drew the body on a large sheet of drawing paper.  I drew feet and a bill on separate paper.  Then I outlined everything with black marker.  I used yellow and orange poster paint to paint him.  He was too big to color with markers.  I then glued the drawing paper to poster board, cut out (don't forget to cut a hole for the bill) and glued together the pieces.  I added a handle and a bag to the back.  The duck ended up being about 26 inches from the top of his head to the tip of his webbed feet.



I used clip art for the other characters.
(I did draw the river freehand.)

As I told the story, I slipped these pieces through the bill and into the bag:

Going into the mouth ...

and into the bag.
When help was needed, I removed a figure from the bag and pushed it out his mouth.

Versions of this folktale can be found online.  The Wikipedia article about Drakestail states that in the original version he carried his four friends in his bottom end.  I'm sure that would appeal to kids but probably not so much to parents.  Aaron Shepard has a version called Quackling in which his friends are put into a sack.  A bag and a puppet can be used to tell this version of the story.  Drakestail by Jan Wahl is version written for beginning readers. 

A similar story is "The Rooster and the Turkish Sultan."  A version called "The Little Rooster and the Turkish Sultan" can be found in Margaret Read MacDonald's Twenty Tellable Tales: Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller.  Eric Kimmel's The Valiant Red Rooster: A Story from Hungary and The Little Rooster and the Diamond Button by Celia Barker Lottridge are picture book versions of this story.

"Drakes-tail" is an easy story to tell because of the repetitive format and use of rhyme which also appeals to younger children.  It has enough silliness to appeal to older children as well, making it a good choice for Family Story Time.

This week's Flannel Friday round-up can be found at Mel's Desk.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Must See

Take a look at these sculptures with altered books by artist Daniel Lai.  Incredible.  Be sure to watch the video.

Daniel Lai


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Amazon Theater - "Don't Let the Tiger Get You!"

One of the stories that I told for my "Family Story Time - Folktales from Asia" (see post for 7/27/11) was a story from Korea called "Don't Let the Tiger Get You!" which can be found in Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children by Judy Sierra and Robert Kaminski.  Three of my all-time favorite flannel board stories ("The Elegant Rooster," "The Goat in the Chili Patch," and "The Knee-High Man") are in this book but I never looked beyond the flannel board section until recently when I started telling more stories using props.  This story comes from the second section of the book and I picked it because of the absurdity of the "characters."   The heroes are a talking banana peel, egg, mat, and rope who save an old woman from being eaten by a talking tiger.  The talking tiger was completely accepted but the others elicited several giggles especially the talking banana peel. 

I made the old woman and banana peel out of clip art.  I braided yarn for the rope and wove strips of construction paper for the mat.  Since I didn't have a plastic egg, I used a cat toy.  Although, my philosophy about making props is to use what you have and not to get too elaborate, I did make a three-dimensional tiger.  I found a one piece pattern here.  It was surprisingly easy to put together.  The "stage" where I placed the figures while telling the story was an box which I also use to store props.  This story can also be told with puppets.

Amazon Theater - "Don't Let the Tiger Get You!"

This weeks Flannel Friday round-up can be found at Anne's So Tomorrow blog here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Clever One

The Clever One" adapted from "The Girl Who Used Her Wits" in Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take by Diane de Las Casa and "The Clever Daughter-in-Law" in Celebrate the World: Twenty Tellable Folktales for Multicultural Festivals by Margaret Read MacDonald

Again, I combined elements from two different versions of a story into my "personal" version which can be found as a Google document here.  There is a variation that can be found in Joining In: an Anthology of Participation Stories & How to Tell Them compiled by Teresa Miller (1988) by Fran Stallings called "Paper Flowers."  I believe the main character in that version is a servant who gains her independence (it's been quite some time since I read this one).  I've always wanted to tell this story every since I saw it done over 20 years ago.  Diane de Las Casa's version is easier to tell.  In fact I added an element from McDonald's version to fill it out a bit more.  I did not attempt to actually make the props while telling the story though it can be done fairly easily.  I had a large group of varying ages so I did not want to interrupt the flow of the story.  I did ask the children to guess what was made from paper to carry wind, fire and water.  These items can also be made part of a follow-up craft though I used something different (see my post for 7/27/11).  My props were made from different colors of copy paper though I would have used brightly colored origami paper if I had some.

Patterns for the props can be found online or in origami books.  This one has the right size square to cut out to make the cup.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Own It

I find myself changing stories often.  Sometimes elements of a story seems silly to me or sometimes I look at a story and know that I would not be comfortable telling the story as written. 

I have even changed a story without realizing it.  Years ago I worked with a student getting her school media specialist degree.  She had to do a storytime and be observed by her professor.  She did a Saturday storytime program and I gave her all the material I had used for the weekday program including a copy of a flannel board story I had been telling for years.  She chose what she wanted to do.  She did include the flannel board story.  When she told the story at the program I was puzzled.  It didn't sound anything like the story I told.  After the program I read the original story that I had given her and realized that over the years I had changed the story tremendously and had made it my own.  (I liked my version better than the original.)

This experience brought home to me the concept that the oral tradition is a constantly changing one even with a simple flannel board story.  There are as many stories as there are storytellers.  From then on I have made stories my own by telling them the way I want to tell them.  I particularly like using the flannel board because the pieces provide the visual clues to help me tell the story but do not limit me in the way I tell it.  Some stories I never tell the same way twice.  (This is particularly true when I do my fractured version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears."  I mostly wing it with this story.)  Props also provide visual clues for storytelling. 

I actually did tell a story without any props and it went over quite well and with practice I could probably turn into a traditional storyteller but I'm a visual person and I enjoy looking at interesting pictures and objects so I want them to be part of my storytelling.  I consider myself a children's librarian first and then a storyteller.  I still feel that a great picture book is an essential part of a storytime program.   However, as fewer children are exposed to live storytelling, that aspect is also becoming a more important part of a storytime program.  So I am always looking for different ways to tell stories and different stories to tell.  In order to engage children not only do I have to be comfortable with my material but I have to enjoy telling the stories. 

Lately I have been going through folktale and storytelling compilations to find new material.  I will probably end up changing some to make them my own but then I will have some new favorite stories to tell.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Flannel Friday

On PUBYAC I came across a post about "Flannel Friday."  Started by Mel of "Mel's Desk," every Friday a group of children's librarians from across the country tweet about their flannel board ideas.  These ideas are posted on their blogs and a compilation is posted on a host blog at the end of the day.  A list of who is hosting each week can be found at the blog "So Tomorrow" under Flannel Friday.  I started checking the weekly compilations and found some really great storytime ideas.  Recently links to these posts were put on Pinterest.  Not only can everything be found in one place but the posts are put into categories. Ideas are not just limited to using the flannel board.  Although I am not on Twitter (yet), I was still able to contribute some of my ideas to Flannel Friday.  New participants are welcome so if you have something to share please do.  Information about participating in Flannel Friday can be found on Anne's "So Tomorrow" blog here.  Be sure to visit Flannel Friday's Pinterest page for some great storytime ideas. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Folktales from Europe - A Family Story Time

8/10/11 - 3 to 4 p.m. 
Attendance - 17 children, 10 adults

Drat That Fat Cat by Pat Thomsen

Board stories: 
"The Goat in the Turnip Patch" from The Flannel Board Storytelling Book (1997) by Judy Sierra
"The Old Woman and Her Pig" from The Flannel Board Storytelling Book (1987) by Judy Sierra
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" - fractured version

Stick puppets: 
"The Bremen Town Musicians"

Prop story: 
"Drakes-Tail" from Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children  by Judy Sierra


The group was smaller this week but I expected it to be.  There has been very little traffic lately driving in to work so I figured there must be a lot of people on vacation.  I live and work in central New Jersey and contrary to what the media portrays, the Jersey shore is a great place for families.  However, my regular families came today which was the last Family Story Time session.  I shall miss them because the kids will soon be in school all day and I won't be seeing them.  I've known several of them since I had them in Toddler Time for two and three-year-olds. 

I have already posted about how I was able to stack the stick puppets for the "Bremen Town Musicians" (6/10/11).  My big project was making Drakestail which I will describe in a later post.  The children enjoyed watching his friends go down his throat and then come back out when he needed help later in the story.  Another favorite with the children was "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" because when I tell it I get it all wrong and I need lots of help from the audience (which they enthusiastically give).  Circle stories are also great for a mixed-age group and this time I did "The Old Woman and Her Pig" which I haven't done for several years.

Craft - 8/10/11

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Variations on a Game

Summer programs are winding down and planning has started for fall.

One of the most popular flannel board activities for toddlers and preschoolers is "Little Mouse, Little Mouse."  Unfortunately I did not write the source on my copy but numerous variations can be found online.  (I tend to think I won't forget something and I always do.)  Years ago I did my own version called "A Daisy for Maisy" which I used for spring:

A daisy for Maisy,
Where can it be?
Behind the rock, the bush,
The house or the tree?

I drew a very simple house, rock, bush and tree.  Maisy can be found in coloring sheets online.  Draw a simple daisy but make sure it is smaller than the objects it will hide behind.  I drew on craft pellon but simple objects can be made from felt as well.  I made a laminated paper version for my current library since we use a magnet board for our storytelling.  Hide the daisy and have the children guess where it is.  Do this a few times to give them more chances to get it right.  Often once they get the hang of it, I will hide it in the same place twice.  They rarely catch on.  With the "Little Mouse" version of this game, I will hide the mouse under the houses of the least popular colors (usually brown or orange) and avoid the most picked colors (usually purple, red and blue.)  Every once in a while I have a child who figures it out.

Now that fall is coming I have made a version featuring a squirrel:

Squirrel Found a Pretty Leaf
(A Flannel Board Rhyme for Finding a Hidden Object)

Squirrel found a pretty leaf,
But the wind blew it away.
Let’s help Squirrel find it
And then we all can play.

This rhyme does not limit the number or kinds of objects so that anything can be used.  As long as there is a squirrel and a leaf, the other objects can be logical (rock, log, bush, flower) or silly (beach ball, dinosaur, snake, hot dog).  More objects can be added for older children.

Squirrel figures (logical):