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The Alphabet For Us: New Alphabet Song for Storytime!

23 Apr

Hey guys, I wrote a thing! This melody magically formed itself in my head one morning, and soon alphabet lyrics started joining it. I had the good sense to record it on a voice recorder, and later I fleshed out the lyrics. I tried to use words that don’t appear in lots of alphabet songs but might be somewhat familiar (except for the Xantus, of course. I had to google that one).

Here’s the tune and ukulele chords! The lyrics are written below. As I say in the video, the fun part is that you can substitute any words you want for each of the letters – except maybe for the last two verses, as those are the ones that rhyme. Put in silly words, vocabulary words, new words, whatever! (Thanks Julie for the suggestion!)

Alphabet For Us from Mary K on Vimeo.

A is for Airplane, and B is for Bug,

C is for Cupcake, and D is for Dog,

E is for Eggplant, and F is for Fun,

And that’s the way the alphabet’s done.

G is for Gumdrop, and H is for House,

I is for Ice Cube, and J is for Jump,

K is for Kitchen, and L is for Land,

And that’s what makes the alphabet grand.

M is for Mushroom, and N is for Nose,

O is for Octopus, and P is for Pants,

Q is for Quiet, and R is for Run,

And that’s the way the alphabet’s done.

S is for Sandbox, and T is for Toes,

U is for Underwear, and V is for Vine,

W is for Walrus, and X is for Xantus (a kind of hummingbird),

And Y and Z end the alphabet for us.

Flannel Friday Roundup for Jan. 6 2017

7 Jan

Hello Flannel Friends!

We’ve got a plethora of excellent flannelboards today to inspire and delight you!

Let’s start with Fun with Friends at Storytime’s terrifically cute fox and all his many socks! The kids get to learn some color words outside of the usual – turquoise and tan!

Next, The Dilley Dally has a 3D Cold Lady Who Swallowed some Snow. I’ll bet the kids LOVED feeding her!

Look. Just LOOK at these adorable little kitties from One for the Books! And glove puppets are such fun, too!

The Felt Board Magic has given us not one, but TWO awesome flannelboards this week! Thank you Kate! Five Little Birthday Candles and Two Little Black Birds (with excellent feathery tails).

Mr. Keith at Felt-tastic Flannelboard Funtime (BEST. NAME. EVER.) has graced us with some disgustingly cute kawaii bunnies and which is appropriate given that I totally fell down a rabbit-hole of cute going through all his past posts.

On my own blog I shared my new flannel for Emma Garcia’s Toot Toot Beep Beep. I hope y’all like the 60s shout-out with the tie-dyed VW van!

And last but miles from least a special cheer for my glorious friend Julie and her FIRST EVER FLANNEL FRIDAY POST (in fact, it’s her FIRST blog post!)! She’s got Eensy Weensy AND his pals Itzy Bitzy and Big Humongous Spiders (the latter I hope to never ever meet in real life).

Happy Flanneling!

Flannel Friday: Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia

6 Jan

Hello Flannel Friday Friends!

Today I’ve got a flannelboard version of Emma Garcia’s Toot Toot Beep Beep. We’re doing a storytime about colors, and this is a GREAT toddler-appropriate book that talks about colors and vehicles and lets us make great noises like WHOOSH! and CHUGGA and, of course, BEEP. There are a number of excellent vocabulary words that mean “goes” – rushes, glides, trundles, hurtles, and more.

I made the vehicles very much emulating Garcia’s illustration style. Why mess with a great thing?

And here are the vehicles all tucked away for the night in the parking lot:


Please note my shout-out to the 60s-era camper van with the tie-dyed felt background on the green van.

I’m lucky enough to host the roundup today! So check back here on Saturday to see all the Flannel Friday goodness compiled in one place.

Happy flanneling!

Flannel Friday: Hooray For Hat!

4 Nov

Wow, it’s been a super long time since my last FF post. Happy to be back, even temporarily!

I assume most, if not all, of you are familiar with the excellent book Hooray for Hat by Brian Won. It’s a perfect toddler book – fun story, colorful pictures, repeated refrain the kids can join in on reading, positive ending. Due to its simplicity and repetition, it makes for a great flannel board, too! But I must give credit where due – I got the idea from Laura at Library Lalaland (who’s post I found on the Flannel Friday Pinterest)

While Laura made her animals reversible (genius!) to show their grumpy and happy faces, I did not. I just kept their faces neutral. I also added a tiny piece of velcro to the back of each of the hats to help them stick together as one so it would be easier for me to handle.

Here are the animals, wearing their hats, sans Giraffe, who was still hiding in his tree feeling sad. Note I skipped turtle as I wanted to shorten the story a smidge because I do storytime for ages 0 – 5 and I get a lot of the younger crowd:


And here’s Giraffe with all the hats. . HOORAY FOR FRIENDS!


Finally, I made a felt “Hooray for Hat” sign that I could put up the first time we say it and then point to each time. This helps with print recognition and children beginning to think of themselves as readers. I cut the letters out with my library’s die cut so I think they look super cute.



Today’s FF roundup will be hosted by Mollie Kay! Check out all this week’s awesome posts there!

Beyond the 5 Practices: How Storytime Helps Kids Get Ready for Success in School and Life

19 Oct

Hi all! Today I had the pleasure of presenting on executive (“soft”) skills development in storytime at the Nevada Library Association Conference. It was a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful to everyone who attended and SHARED their storytime best practices that help children become better human beings! At any rate, here’s the presentation. I try very hard to NOT include a lot of text on my slides, so some of these may be hard to figure out, but as soon as I’m able I’ll post a summary of the presentation to give you more information. In the meantime, though, here’s an idea of WHAT executive function is, why it’s important for children to develop these skills (SPOILER: they’re a better predictor of success in school than IQ) and how our storytimes are helping children develop these skills. (SPOILER NUMBER 2: LOTS of what we do helps develop executive function!)



Soft Skills and Storytime Part 2: Perspective-Taking

29 Mar

[If you need a refresher on what “soft skills” are and why they’re important for early child development visit my first post in the series. Thanks!]

I’ve lived abroad three times; four, if you count Canada (go, T.O.!). I lived in Ottobrunn, West Germany (it was still delineated at the time) when I was very young, spent a summer living with a family in Algorta, Spain in right after I graduated High School, and spent four months with a wonderful family in San José, Costa Rica, in my junior year of college. Each experience was unique and interesting, and very different from my “normal” life in the U.S. One thing I definitely learned was perspective: seeing things from another’s point of view.

The second “soft skill” I’d like to talk about helping young kids develop in storytime is perspective-taking. Everyone, kids and adults alike, can benefit from the ability to see things from another’s point of view, and understanding that just because something is different, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. “Flexible thinking” is the ability to make connections between our known world and the unknown; seeing similarities between the two.

We encourage this skill in a number of ways:

  • Choosing a variety of books in storytime that are not only mirrors (reflect our audience’s experience) but also windows (allow them to see something outside their experience). I saw the impact of having books that are mirrors once when giving away books to a group of preschoolers; one young girl, when choosing her book, saw Anna Quinn’s Lola at the Library and, eyes wide, said “I want THAT one.” Lola in the book looked EXACTLY like this little girl. She was the only African-American child in that class and I’m sure wasn’t used to seeing herself represented in stories. But at that moment, she was, and her awe and happiness were clear. She matters. She’s worth having her story told in a book. This is why the “We Need Diverse Books” movement is so important. They say that the benefits of reading diverse books include:
  • They reflect the world and people of the world
  • They teach respect for all cultural groups
  • They serve as a window and a mirror and as an example of how to interact in the world
  • They show that despite differences, all people share common feelings and aspirations
  • They can create a wider curiosity for the world
  • They prepare children for the real world
  • They enrich educational experiences
  • Allowing children to assist in storytelling – pretending to be a character (“I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”), moving like an animal, figuring out how a character would react, making predictions – all of these help children grow their imaginations and try out new roles in a safe place.
  • We can ask lots of questions while reading a story that help a child think more deeply about the perspectives of others. For example, ask: “how is Bobby the same as you?” “Why do you think he feels sad?” “Have you ever felt sad? What made you feel sad?” My friend Melissa suggested asking “What would happen if you changed one thing in the story?” Preschools often talk about having children make connections when hearing stories. Text to text (connecting one book to another), text to self (connecting the book to one’s own experience), and text to world (connecting the book to the wider world they know). In storytime we can do the same, and encourage through questions.

How else might you encourage perspective-taking in storytime? How would you talk to parents about this skill? Please share your comments!



13 Mar

Earlier this week a tweet came across my feed saying that my blog, along with several others (including my awesome friends Kendra, Melissa and Brooke), was mentioned in a School Library Journal article as one of the best early learning blogs.

WHAT. *cue happy dance*


See this kitty? I’m as happy as this kitty. 

Well, color me tickled pink. I am SUPREMELY, OVERWHELMINGLY honored to have been mentioned along with these folks I admire so much. The author of the article, Lisa G. Kropp, whom I would hereby like to virtually hug, said that my blog offers inspriation for those who think they can’t “do” early literacy.

Gosh, I sure do hope so. I think her assessment may primarily be based on this post, which is fine with me, as I really loved writing that one and it’s a topic close to my heart. Sharing the message of early literacy/early learning is something I am indeed passionate about, and I DO believe that everyone, librarians and non-, can advocate for. It’s such a straightforward idea – brains are forming and growing most between birth and age 5, and so it makes sense that early experiences are going to have an impact on how that brain develops. And, as we say here in Colorado, Earlier is Easier when it comes to learning. How simple is that? We learn throughout our lives, but learning “sticks” most and best when we are very young and our brains are building.

Librarians who work with young children: we ARE experts. We CAN and DO help parents help their children learn. Simply by being a caring adult in a child’s life who gets excited about the books they’re borrowing from the library you’re helping to develop a love of reading and motivating a young child to become a reader. Simply by modeling a fingerplay in storytime you’re helping the child build their fine motor skills. And when the parent and child repeat that activity at home, that skill is growing. Because YOU modeled it. Simply by clapping the beat to a song you’re helping the child learn to break words into smaller sounds and hear and rhymes, and when that child is using those skills to sound out words when they’re reading on their own – know that YOU helped with that. YOU made a difference.

I admit I haven’t posted much recently, but perhaps the honor of being included in such illustrious company will motivate me to write more. I’ve got some ideas percolating – one, especially, about executive function skills and what the experts are saying about how those relate to future success (and how we foster them in storytime!). I’ll get on that right away, I promise.

Meanwhile, DFTBA. Because you ARE. And thank you!

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