Thursday, February 23, 2012

In Springtime

I have no idea what I am doing for my April Family Story Time so I figured I'd better start coming up with ideas. (Actually I'm not completely sure what I'm doing for March either.)  I'll probably do a general "Spring" program in April.  I wrote the following rhyme to use with stick puppets but it would also work with flannel/magnet board figures.  Move the pieces to follow the rhyme. 

Since in springtime little ones are often quite wiggly, another option is to make this an action rhyme.  Have the children stand reasonably far apart (we need room for the rainbows).  Have them make a circle over their heads with their arms for the sun.  Have them hold their arms up in front of them and then have them wiggle their fingers while bringing them down to make the rain.  For the rainbow, have them start with their arms together over their heads and then bring them down to their sides. (My directions are probably as clear as mud but I'm confident you'll figure something out.)

In Springtime

In Springtime both Rain and Sun like to play.
One or the other comes every day.

Sun like to warm growing things
With the gentle rays that sunshine brings.

Rain sends raindrops down to the ground
To tickle the flowers and dance around.

Sun and Rain rarely see each other
So something special happens when they come together.

For that’s when a rainbow can be found
Reaching across the sky and down to the ground.

Sun, Rain, & Rainbow Stick Puppets
Clip Art Sources:  The sun is from Microsoft Publisher.  The rain and rainbow are from Open Clip Art Library.  I drew a face on the rain to go with the one on the sun.

Notes:  On Writing (& Drawing) One's Own Storytime Material

I don't worry about writing a piece of literature. I'm perfectly aware that my rhymes are doggerel but they serve a purpose. Having this attitude has freed me to write my own stories and rhymes. If I need something to go with my "theme," I am no longer restricted to what is available. I'm also able to use different storytelling formats in a program. My themes can be very general or very specific depending on what strikes my fancy as I am planning a program. For years I have changed around stories and rhymes to suit my needs. It's just been in the past two years that I have been writing my own rhymes and stories and adapting folktales for programs on a regular basis. I wish I had started earlier. Seeing what others have created through Flannel Friday has also encouraged me. Now if I want to add a certain type of story to a program, such as a paper cutting or board story, and I can't find one that I like, I seriously consider making one of my own and often I do. Also, if I need "art" to go with a story and I can't find suitable clip art, I now draw my own.  Children are interested in the story, not how perfectly it's presented.  After all, we're not going for a Newbery or Caldecott here, just storytelling fun.

This week's Flannel Friday Roundup is hosted by Meghan on her Busy Crafting Mommy blog.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Month Brothers

"The Month Brothers" is a folktale that I adapted from several sources for my winter Family Story Time program.  It is available as a Google document here.  As I have done for most of the folktales I have adapted, I made it into a board story using figures from a story I had done earlier, "A Few Foolish Friends," to make the figures for the Month Brothers.  I had the brothers on the top of the magnet board and the other figures on the bottom.  I moved Marushka from the bottom of the board to the top and back as I told the story.  I moved the staff from brother to brother as needed.  Even though it was a bit long for the youngest ones in the audience, the story held the interest of the rest of the group.  It would be a good story to tell for a class visit.  Although "The Month Brothers" is not a well-known folktale, it has many elements found in more familiar tales. 

Notes:  Preparing this story turned out to be quite a project.  At times I felt more like a costume designer than a children's librarian because I tried to make each brother look like the month he represented.  The story was surprisingly easy to tell and as I did so I realized that I really didn't need all those figures to keep the audience's attention.  I could have saved myself some time by simply using pictures of the items Marushka had to find in the snow - violets, strawberries and apples.  I made a set using clip art from Microsoft Publisher to show as an example for this post.  I think that the next time I tell this story I will use those as well as the figures by showing the picture to the audience as Marushka gathers each item or I might keep things simple and just use the pictures.  I tend to adapt my storytelling to the audience, time frame, and the location of the program.  For example, I have a limited amount of time when the second graders come for a visit so I would probably just use the pictures to tell the story.  The figures are colorful so it would be fun to use them again when time is not an issue.  It's always nice to have choices when it comes to storytelling.

The Month Brothers

Marushka, Stepsister, Stepmother

Violets, Strawberries & Apples

This week's Flannel Friday Roundup is hosted by Katie of Storytime Secrets.  For information about Flannel Friday, past and present, go to So Tomorrow's Flannel Friday page.

Friday, February 10, 2012

From Felt to Prop

I have a confession to make.  In the 15 years that I had a flannel board, I never once made a figure out of felt.  I truly admire those who have the patience and dexterity to create the lovely pieces I have seen on Flannel Friday.  In my previous position, I was the only youth services librarian so I was responsible for everything including programs and collection development for both children and teens.  I also had to spend time on the adult desk.  My creative time was limited so I learned to be very efficient at what I did.  I found that buying several yards of craft weight interfacing at a time and a good set of markers enabled me to make numerous story sets rather quickly - copy, trace, outline, color and cut.

My current library has a magnet board so figures are still easy to make - copy, color, laminate and cut.  However, now that I work part-time, I don't always have a chance to get things laminated.  This is partly my fault because I tend to think of things I want to do for a program at the last minute (I once changed my entire storytime program the day before).  So lately I have been making quick and easy props.

I would like to thank Erin of Falling Flannelboards for suggesting "Four Candy Hearts" from Storytime Magic and Meghan from Busy Crafting Mommy and her colleague Elizabeth for writing "Six Little Hearts." I made props for both of these rhymes.  I'm posting what I did even though most people have probably already done their Valentine's Day programs.  This one's for those last minute folks like me. 

For "Four Candy Hearts" I traced the heart pattern on neon cardstock. I added an edge to make it look more like candy.  I outlined the heart and wrote the words with marker and then cut out the heart.  It bothered me that the rhyme only had the words for three hearts so I did a little "research."  I just happened to have a bag of candy hearts available so I went through it looking for a phrase I liked. I selected "Sweet Thing."  I pasted the appropriate lines of the rhyme on the back of each heart.  I also numbered each heart so I would have them in the correct order. No memorization required.

For "Six Little Valentines" I used some envelopes I had and Microsoft Publisher.  I made 5 small hearts and one large heart and printed them out.  I found clip art for each of the animals and after making sure they would fit in the envelopes, printed them as well.  I wrote the appropriate phrase on each of the small hearts and pasted one on each animal.  I used a metallic marker to embellish the large heart.  I glued the figures to cardstock and cut them out.  I "addressed" the front of the envelopes and pasted the appropriate lines on the back of each one.  I numbered them like I did the hearts.  Each animal was in the envelope to start and I pulled it out as I read the lines.  I ended the storytelling part of my program with this rhyme.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by Library Quine at

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Evening Family Story Time #5 - Valentine's Day

Family Story Time - Valentine's Day Stories & Crafts
Monday, February 6, 2012, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m., Attendance: 21 (11 children, 10 adults)

Program -

Books:  Be Mine, Be Mine, Sweet Valentine by Sarah Weeks
             Love, Splat by Rob Scotton

Prop Rhymes:  "Six Little Valentines"
                        "Four Candy Hearts"

Paper Cutting Story:  "Squirrel Gives Her Heart"

Draw & Tell Story:  "Claudette's Valentines" from Frog's Riddle & Other Draw-and-Tell Stories by Richard Thompson

Crafts:   Heart Puzzle (Template from Simple Fun Stuff)
             Heart Art from Easy to Make Art Activities by Paula Corbett
             Valentine Puppet from Crafts for Valentine's Day by Kathy Ross
             Woven Valentine from Art for All Seasons by Jo Ellen Moore

Notes:  I only read two books because the focus for this program was more on the crafts.  I have an easier time finding Valentine's Day crafts that I like than I do books.  Since I have not come across a Valentine's Day story that I like so much that I would purchase it for my personal storytelling collection, I use what is available at the library.  Most books are either too young or too long.  Love, Splat was a bit long for the youngest children and Be Mine, Be Mine, Sweet Valentine was a bit young for most of the others but I had them guess the rhyming word behind the flap which held their interest.  The hit of the program was the draw and tell story.  The parents really liked that as well.  Everyone enjoyed the crafts. I put some cut paper and foam stick-ons on the tables for the children to use to decorate their puppets.  My sample was quite plain compared to the ones the children made. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pete Likes to Help

My Pete likes to "help" me whenever he can.  Today he is helping me prepare for tonight's Family Story Time program.  (The candy on the desk was purchased for research purposes.  I needed a model for making candy hearts.  Really.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

How I Got Mixed-Up with That Flannel Friday Crowd

To celebrate the first year of Flannel Friday posts, Melissa of Mel's Desk and the one who started Flannel Friday has asked participants to write about their Flannel Friday experience.  ( So you can blame her for this long-winded post.)

I find it a bit ironic that such a traditional form of storytelling is being shared, encouraged and supported through the use of social media and that my love of traditional storytelling forms has pushed me into using social media that I would have otherwise ignored. 

I first started this blog in 2007 when I took a Web 2.0 tech challenge.  Eventually I stopped posting but began again when I took another Web 2.0 tech challenge last spring.  (I figured things might have changed a bit since 2007.)  About the same time I came across Melissa's post on PUBYAC and started following Flannel Friday.

Since I do a Family Story Time for all ages I am aways on the lookout for storytelling ideas.  I look for stories that will engage the adults and older children as well as keep the attention of the little ones.  I have the most success with humorous stories and folktales.  A couple of years ago I started adapting folktales to tell using simple props such as stick puppets.  It began when I wanted some prince/princess stories for a "Royal" theme.  I found one that I adapted for stick puppets and for the second I made a scroll story using a roll of old printer paper.  I decided to do more of my own adapting even though it takes more effort.  Since I only work part-time, I don't have as many regular programs and responsibilities as do the other librarians which gives me a bit more prep time.  (The down side of being part-time is that I'm almost always on the desk so I also end up doing a great deal of prep at home.)  Last summer I did a program of African folktales.  My current library did not own a book I wanted to read so I decided to write my own version.  I did a little research and came up with "Silly Humans."  I decided it would be a good story for our magnet board and I came up with the figures for the story.  As I was preparing the story it occurred to me that it would be a good fit for Flannel Friday.  I sent Melissa an email and that's how it all started.

Although I thought it would be a one-time thing, I ended up contributing fairly often.  Seeing a post would remind me of something I had done so I would write it up for Flannel Friday.  I hadn't planned on blogging so much.  I joined Twitter so that I could tweet my Flannel Friday posts.  I don't tweet much but I enjoy reading other people's tweets.  Later I felt that since I was contributing so often I should volunteer to be a host.  So I joined Pinterest so I could pin the posts.  I have created two personal boards as well and I try to be selective about what I pin.   I was already on Facebook when the Flannel Friday group started.  I was only going use Facebook to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends.  I avoided liking pages and joining groups but then the Flannel Friday group was started and I couldn't resist.  So now I'm blogging, tweeting, pinning and commenting instead of watching HGTV (too much House Hunters anyway).  I wonder what those Flannel Friday folks will get me involved in next.

Yet Another Version of "The Mitten"

As I have mentioned before, I often take elements that I like from different versions of a story and put them together in a version that I enjoy telling.  That is how I came up with "A Few Foolish Friends" and "The Clever One."  Several Flannel Friday participants have posted versions of "The Mitten."  My version of this classic story features animals that would be familiar to local children and has the ending from a similiar story in Glad Rags: Stories and Activities Featuring Clothes by Jan Irving and Robin Currie which in turn reminded me of Who Took the Farmer's Hat? by Joan Nodsett.  I told the following version at a recent Family Story Time Program featuring winter stories.

The Story:

One cold winter day, several children were playing in a snow-covered forest.  Soon the wind began to blow harder and harder so the children decided to leave the forest and return to their nice warm homes.  One little boy was in such a hurry to get home that he dropped a mitten and before he could pick it up, the wind blew it away. 

Squirrel happened by and saw the brightly colored mitten lying in the white snow.  It looked like a nice warm place to stay until the wind stopped blowing so she crawled inside the mitten.  Rabbit soon came along and saw the colorful mitten lying in the snow.  She too thought it would be a nice warm place to stay so she crawled inside the mitten.  It was getting dark when owl looked down from her tree and saw the brightly colored mitten.  She thought it would be a nice warm place to stay so she flew down and crawled into the mitten.  It was starting to get pretty crowded it that mitten!

Fox happened to be walking by when he saw the mitten and decided that he would crawl inside it to spend the night which is exactly what he did.  Not long after, raccoon came by grumbling about his cold, cold nose when he saw the mitten.  He decided it would not only keep his nose warm but the rest of him as well so he crawled inside the very crowded mitten.  Surely it could hold no more.  Well, bear was the next to come along.  Of course when he saw the mitten he decided it would be a nice warm place to sleep so he crawled inside that very, very crowded mitten and it still held together.  Last came a teeny, tiny mouse who was shivering from the cold.  Surely, a teeny, tiny mouse wouldn't split the mitten.  But as soon as that mouse crawled in, the mitten burst apart leaving brightly colored pieces all over the forest.  Fortunately there were enough burrows and caves and hollow trees in the forest for each animal to find shelter. 

All the animals were happy when spring came.  Bird was particularly proud of the nest she had made.  She was sure it was the most beautiful nest in the entire forest.  Indeed, it was very colorful and looked very much like a certain warm, brightly colored mitten.

The Props:

I made the mitten from two pieces of colorful scrap book paper from a craft store.  The pieces fastened together with Velcro which makes a nice ripping sound when pulled apart.  I traced and simplified most of the animals from templates provided by Jan Brett on her site.  The bird on her nest is loosely based on an illustration found in Glad Rags.

This week's Flannel Friday is hosted by Andrea of rovingfiddlehead kidlit.  For everything you ever wanted to know about Flannel Friday go here.