Winter Storytime

Birch in snow

I was asked to do a special theme storytime at one of the branches and I approached this assignment with a lot of excitement! This was the perfect opportunity to add a few storytime elements that I hadn’t used previously as backup for the librarians. Normally, I would do four books and intersperse them with songs and fingerplays. I wanted to do a more complex storytime this time, with props and more interactivity. I started out by Googling winter-themed picture books (librarian blogs and Goodreads) that performed well and came up with lineup. At the same time, I looked into ideas that would make the storytime fun and interactive.

flannel_snowmanI really wanted to do something with a flannel board and found one from a terrific site called MiSS ALiSON iS BLOGGiNG! Perfect for what I wanted to achieve! I planned on handing out snowman pieces and letting the kids put them on the snowman as I called out each verse. I also gave a lot of thought toward the songs. Since there didn’t seem to be a lot of winter-themed, non-Christmas songs that were well-known, I decided to use songs based on popular children’s tunes. That way, at least the tunes would be familiar to the kids. winter_st_program3I also felt a handout with the words to the fingerplays and songs would be helpful. I wanted to encourage the parents to sing along if nothing else! In designing the handout, I actually had a lot of fun coming up with the images and layout. Some photoshopping skills required! And I have to give credit to the following sites for giving me inspiration for the songs and fingerplays: Jbrary and storytime katie. Fantastic resources for storytime, especially if you’re new at it – check them out!

snowman_puppetsWe have a snowman monkey mitt at my library but I really wanted to use finger puppets. So I made some! I found a template on the internet here and modified it to my liking. The white flannel pieces wouldn’t stay glued together so I sewed the front and back together with yarn. It really didn’t take that long to make five puppets – I would say about 30 minutes in all. So, in addition to learning new songs, I was also getting a chance to be creative by making flannel boards, finger puppets, and handouts. They don’t teach this in library school!

Here is the outline for my Winter Storytime:



Opening Rhyme: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Fingerplay: Snowflakes, Snowflakes
Song: Snowflake, Snowflake
Book: A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke
Song: A Hat Goes on My Head
Book: The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
Song: Hibernation
Book: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Song: Snow, Snow, See the Snow
Flannel board: Hey, Mr. Snowman
Book: Snow Men at Night by Caralyn Buehner
Fingerplay: Five Little Snowmen Riding on a Sled

marshmallow snowmanAfter the opening rhyme, I launched the winter theme by saying how it didn’t seem like we were having winter weather here in southern California, so we would use our fingers to pretend they were snowflakes. That got the (snow)ball rolling and things flowed smoothly from there. The group was a little more quiet than I’d hoped, but the kids and parents laughed in all the right places. AND I was really glad to see the kids fully participate in the motions of the songs and fingerplays, even if they weren’t too vocal. The marshmallow snowman craft at the end was a huge hit! I wasn’t sure how it would go over. This was my first time doing a real craft (other than coloring sheets!) and it didn’t seem … terribly exciting … to me. But the kids were all super thrilled and the parents were happily snapping pictures with their camera phones at the end.


Tonight, I had the pleasure of doing my first ever storytime at the library! I filled in for the regular storyteller, who is on vacation, and as pajama storytime is typically a small group, it was a good time to get my feet wet. Being a newbie, I did several things to prepare. A few months ago, I had observed several storytimes at the library, but I visited the pajama one last week to familiarize myself with its particular participants and dynamics. I Googled for lists of favorite storytime books by experienced librarians. In addition, I browsed through the stacks and grabbed about eight books that looked promising based on their illustrations and subject matters. Trucks? Fairies? Sounds good to me!

ernest_the_mooseI ended up choosing a couple of books that were mentioned most often in storytime booklists – gotta have at least a couple of surefire successes at my first storytime – and to select the rest, I checked online reviews of the books I had taken from the stacks and read through them myself. One book I very reluctantly let go – the illustrations were gorgeous, but I felt the language was a bit too sophisticated for 4-7 year-olds. I don’t want to underestimate the children, so I’ll review this book with a librarian to see if she agrees. One last thing I did to prepare was to check out a few popular storytime songs on YouTube – it’s been a while! It was interesting to note that while I grew up singing “Eensy weensy spider,” out here in California it’s “Itsy bitsy spider”…

how-do-dinosaurs-say-goodnightSo tonight, I read my five stories and interspersed them with songs and poems. Some of the children piped up with suggestions of their favorites – Humpty Dumpty; Row, Row, Row Your Boat; and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star – so we sang/chanted those as well as other popular tunes. One thing I was not prepared for was the tendency of some children to want to come up to touch the book! When I observed past storytimes, I focused mostly on content and storytelling techniques. In future observations, I will pay closer attention to children management and how each storyteller controls the level of interaction with the children.

All in all, it was a fun evening. Time sped by quicker than I expected. I hope the children found it entertaining as well!

© 2016 JoAnne Chen