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Happy Valentine’s Day! – Toddler Move ‘N’ Read Storytime

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Today we celebrated Valentine’s Day. Our opening song was “If You’re Happy and You Know It” from 40 English Songs for Kids.


If you’re happy and you know it…


pat your head!

Sweet Hearts by Jan Carr was our first book. This story, written in rhyme, told the tale of a little panda on a mission. He set out to hide Valentine ’s Day hearts all over the house for his family members to find as surprises. His baby sister found one in her crib, his mother found one by her coffee mug, even the family dog received one in his food dish. All the while the little panda was convinced no one knew who was hiding the valentine’s, but perhaps his parents knew all along.

Our first activity was a musical motion song entitled “Simon Says,” from the CD Drew’s Famous Kids Valentine’s Day Hits. Before beginning the activity, I handed out hearts to all the children. Then, as we listened to the song, we used our hearts to follow the motions Simon told us to perform. We waved our hearts in the air, moved them to the left and right, placed them on our head and more. The children really enjoyed the various movements associated with this song, and motioning with the hearts made it that much more silly and fun. This type of activity augmented skills associated with listening and following directions. The children were told we would be following directions from the song, and they had to listen to know what to do, Music was a large part of today’s Storytime. Having children listen to music or play games where music is a major component aids in childhood development. This article from encapsulates the many benefits music gives children with regards to education and development.

Simon Says

Simple Simon says…

Simon Says1

put your heart in the air.

The next book read was If You’ll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant. This story is a favorite of mine for Valentine’s Day Storytime. It was told in rhyming verses and was the tale of a little boy who created unique Valentines for his family and friends. His cat, dog, grandmother, and more, all got their own unique Valentine. At the end we saw the little boy receiving a valentine of his very own, from his loving mom and dad.

Love, Splat by Rob Scotton was our next book. Scotton has a series of books about the adventures of Splat the Cat. In this Valentine’s Day edition Splat had a Valentine that he wanted to give to Kitten, the cat in his class that he really liked, but she had another admirer. It was really fun to see how Splat worked through his problem and plucked up his courage. In the end, he received a surprise from Kitten herself that made it all worthwhile.

After our story out came the CD player and one of our puppets. Laurie Berkner’s  “There’s a Little Wheel a-Turnin’ in my Heart” offered a perfect Valentine’s Day themed song. The song can be found on her CD Buzz, Buzz. For each verse there is an accompanying action. Each action was demonstrated prior to playing the song so the children would know when to act out each part. Clapping, stomping, barking, with our dog puppet, and honking were just some of the fun sounds, and movements, we acted out.

Little Wheel

Everyone enjoyed all the movements with this song.

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Especially when our dog joined us in our dancing.

Mouse’s First Valentine by Lauren Thompson was our last book. Thompson has a series of books featuring Mouse, and sometimes his big sister MInka, celebrating different seasons and holidays. In this story, Mouse followed Minka as she crept around the house gathering items. A bit of red paper, some lace and even a little ribbon. What was Minka making? The children and I were all curious to find out, which we did, along with Mouse. At the end we saw the Minka made her little brother Mouse his very first Valentine’s Day card, which Mouse just adored.

After our final book, we all stood up and shook, clapped and jumped our sillies out along with Raffi, from his CD More Singable Songs.



Clap your sillies out everybody!

For our craft today we made a pop up Valentine’s Day card. Using our die cut machine I cut out hearts in Valentine’s Day themed colors. I then taught the children how to make springs out of two strips of construction paper, instructions for this can be found below, just click on the image for a detailed explanation. We glued the springs to the front of our cards, and then glued the hearts to the springs. The children were then able to decorate their cards and address them to whoever they chose.


Who will I give my Valentine to?

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

Day and Night will be our theme next week!

-Miss Jessica

Penguins and Puffins-Toddler Move ‘N’ Read Storytime

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Today we celebrated those enchanting black, white, and in some cases, colorful, birds, penguins and puffins. Our opening song was “If You’re Happy and You Know It” from 40 English Songs for Kids, in which Mr. Tom Cat and his guest Penguin, joined us in our dancing and clapping.

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Today, not only Mr. Tom Cat, but also a penguin joined is in showing how happy we were

Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon was our first book. Yoon has a series of books featuring her loveable penguin and his many zany adventures. Our story began when a little penguin found a curious object. It was small and brown, too hard to be food and too brown to be a snowball, but that was about all Penguin knew about the strange object. Penguin and his new find became best friends, they did everything together. One day though, penguin’s brown object let out a great big sneeze. That was when Penguin’s grandfather told him that his pinecone needed to be in a forest where he could grow strong, not living in ice and snow. So Penguin, being the good friend that he was, took pinecone home to the forest. Penguin returned home to his icy world, but he always wondered what happened to pinecone. One day, he decided to go find out, and it turned out pinecone had grown into a big, strong pine tree. When you care for something that caring spreads.

Our first activity was an original one that I called Piper and the Penguins. Piper was one of our penguin puppets, and she was looking for a new friend. Prior to Storytime I printed out, and laminated, images of penguins in various colors, and during the activity I kept one set and the children were given a set. Utilizing a dialogue between Piper and I, one by one the children matched their penguin to the one I held up. We went through many different colors, with Piper always telling us that she wanted her new friend to just be black and white. Each time a new color penguin was mentioned, the child with that color would bring their penguin up to the board, and Piper would offer a silly answer as to why that color penguin would not do for her. Eventually, we found Piper the perfect penguin friend, a black and white polka dotted penguin.

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We tried lots of different colors, but eventually Piper the penguin found her new best friend. She was black and white and polka dotted!

If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor was our next book. This book, written in rhyme, asked the question what could you do if you were a penguin. The children and I were treated to a delightful array of activities that could only be performed if we were penguins. From diving really deep underwater, to having an all black and white wardrobe, the possibilities abounded. At key points in the story, our penguin puppets acted out the motions that we were seeing the penguins in the book perform. At the end we learned that many of the things penguins could do, we could do too. Minor provided a wealth of interesting facts about penguins in her end material.

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One thing we learned from this story is that penguins can live in warm, or cold, places

Polar Opposites by Erik Brooks was our next book. Alex was a big polar bear, and Zina was a tiny penguin. These physical differences were just the beginning of how these two were opposites in so many ways. Alex and Zina lived at opposite ends of the earth. Alex was loud where Zina was quiet, and the differences went on and on. Just because these two animals were vastly different did not mean they could not be friends, and the best of friends they were. Alex and Zina always found a way to come together.


Alex and Zina were polar opposites


Though, best friends can always meet in the middle

The parachute made an appearance for our last activity. “Penguin Parade” from the CD of the same name by the Banana Slug String Band was put on. This song told us a lot about penguins, and some of the other animals they encountered in the arctic. Each time a new animal was mentioned, a puppet of that animal was tossed on the parachute, while a puppet of the same animal danced with us from the puppet stage. We saw fish, seals and of course lots of penguins!

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We bounced our fish and seal, while the puppets danced with us

Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek was our last book. One day two puffin friends, Peter and Paul, got swept out to sea in a storm. Peter’s only thought, where was his friend Paul. Paul was funny, and noisy and black and white, which should have made him easy to find, right? Well, it turned out, Paul was a little hard to track down. A blue whale came to Peter’s aid, and with the whale’s help Peter searched and searched for his missing friend. The whale brought Peter to visit many different birds, from toucans to penguins, but none were exactly like Paul.Just when Peter despaired of ever locating his friend, he found Paul safe and sound. Horacek’s illustrations were so vibrant and lively, with deep rich colors that conveyed motion very well. We added to this story with the use of puffin, whale and penguin puppets. Each time a new bird was mentioned, a puppet of that bird made an appearance, and the children loved seeing our stick puppet of Peter riding around on the blue whale’s back.


Puffin Peter, and the blue whale, searched for Paul

Today, not only Mr. Tom Cat, but also a penguin, joined us in shaking our sillies out from Raffi’s CD More Singable Songs.


Jump your jiggles out Mr. Tom Cat and Penguin

A truly enjoyable Storytime.

Valentine’s Day will be our theme next week!

-Miss Jessica

Silly Storytime – Toddler Move ‘N’ Read Storytime

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Today we were willy, nilly and silly! Our opening song was “If You’re Happy and You Know It” from 40 English Songs for Kids.


If you’re happy and you know it, pat your head

Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster by Alex Scheffler was our first book. Scheffler has a series of books focusing on Pip the mouse and Posy the rabbit, two toddler friends who are wonderful at teaching children valuable lessons. Pip and Posy go through a lot of the same experiences toddlers to, from learning to share, to understanding that sometimes your friends may have different ideas about things than you do. In this story, Posy decided to do some baking. Once her cupcakes were in the oven, Posy settled down for the best part of baking, licking the bowl! Suddenly, out of nowhere, a blue furry hand appeared at her window. The hand was attached to a blue furry monster, who came right into Posy’s house. Posy was uncertain what to do, until she saw the monster was her friend Pip, in costume. She and Pip spent the rest of the day playing outside, taking turns being the monster. At the end of the day, they both ate all of Posy’s delicious cupcakes. We incorporated soung effects, and a lively blue monster puppet into this story, to the delight of the children.


There’s a silly blue monster at the door!

For our first activity I put on the CD Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and Other Contagious Tunes, and the song “Silly Dance Contest.” This is a wonderfully interactive tune where participants get to dance, jump and move around exuberantly as they want, until the singer shouts ‘Freeze!’ then all movement had to cease. Our blue monster puppet from our first story, joined us in the silly dance contest.  Any activity where children are able to get energetically involved is fun and beneficial. Activities that involve music and dance can be integral to childhood development, as this article from outlines. When children are in an environment where they have to not only relate to, but also interact with, other children, opportunities for developing skills concerning sharing, taking turns and cooperating arise. Group activities such as this, where everyone is in a defined space, and sharing that space in an energetic way, provide excellent chances to enhance these skills. Also, the act of dancing allows children to develop motor skills, learn how to use their bodies and promote self esteem and confidence.


Dance really fast, but stop when the singer says ‘freeze’


Dance really slow, but stop when you hear ‘freeze’

I Swapped My Dog by Harriet Ziefert was our next book. The farmer in our tale had a problem, he could not decide on the perfect pet. His first choice was a dog, but that soon got replaced for a horse, which in turn was traded for a pig. All along the way, the farmer, and his pet of the moment, would get into all manner of hilarious mishaps. In the end, the farmer realized, the best pet of all was the one he had from the very beginning, his faithful dog. Each time the farmer selected a new animal, a puppet of that animal would pop up, which the children really enjoyed.


The farmer swapped his dog for a cat, but the cat was afraid of rats!

Silly Suzy Goose by Petr Horacek was our next book. Silly Suzy Goose was just like the other geese. She honked like them, and looked like them, but all Suzy wanted was to be distinctive, to stand out. She triend to accomplish this change in ever increasingly silly ways. From hanging upside down like a bat, to swimming like a seal, each time Suzy met a new animal, she tried to imitate them. It was not until Suzy met a very cranky, and hungry, lion that she saw the advantage of blending in. However, as we turned the last page, we saw Suzy, hoking, and roaring, all at the same time. Perhaps being an individual is a good thing after all.


Silly Suzy, your a goose, not a bat

Our last activity was taken from the CD Musical Scarves and Activities. This CD had many well known songs on it, including “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Over the Rainbow,” and each song included directions for how to move your scarf. For our Storytime today we played “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” As the song played, we tossed our scarves in the air, rolled them into balls and hid them behind our backs, and even draped them on our heads.The children really enjoyed interacting to songs with the scarves, they could toss them in the air, wave them around, or even run all over the room with the scarves streaming behind them, it was fun for all.


Wave your scarves all around

Silly Sally by Audrey Wood was our last book. This comical rhyming story followed Silly Sally as she made her way to town. Sally, being silly, did not simply walk to town though, she sang and danced her way to town, all while walking upside down. Along the way, she encountered several animals. Each time Sally met a new animal, a puppet representing that animal appeared on our stage. At one point Silly Sally, and her animal friends, fell asleep just outside of town. What were they going to do now? Luckily, Neddy Buttercup came along, woke everyone up, one by one, and they all danced into town together, upside down.


Silly Sally met a dog, they played leapfrog

After our last story, Mr. Tom Cat joined us in shaking our sillies out from Raffi’s CD More Singable Songs.

Shake3 Shake2 Shake1

Shake your sillies out everyone, you too Mr. Tom Cat!

We had a fantastic time being as silly as possible in Storytime today.

Penguins is our theme next week!

-Miss Jessica

Did You Hear? New Car Seat Laws For Children

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childRestraintThe Florida Legislature approved changes to the vehicular child restraint laws (FL Statutes §316.613) during the 2014 Legislative Session and those changes became effective on January 1, 2015.

The details listed below can be confusing. The Clearwater Police Department serves as an inspection station. You can call AmeriCorps at 562-4142 to schedule an appointment for this free inspection  service. A lot of experienced parents have gone to these inspections and learned that their child restraints were not installed correctly, so consider paying them a visit if you have small children or grandchildren.

Here are the highlights of the law:

  • In a vehicle, children aged four (4) and five (5) must be secured in a crash-tested, federally-approved child restraint device such as a child safety seat OR a booster seat. Previously, four (4) and five (5) year olds could be restrained with just a seatbelt.  This is no longer the case; the seat belt must be used in conjunction with the booster seat.
  • Exception: Four (4) and five (5) year olds can be secured with just a seatbelt if the child:
    • Is being given a ride as a favor by someone who is not an immediate family member
    • Is being transported in a medical emergency
    • Has a medical condition documented by a health professional that necessitates an exception
  • Children that use only a seatbelt must meet ALL of the following requirements
    • Child is at least 4’9” tall;
    • The child can sit all the way back in the seat and bend knees as the edge of the seat;
    • The shoulder belt lies across the chest, not the neck;
    • The lap belt lies across the upper thighs, not the stomach.
  • It seems that the new law’s intention was to make vehicular travel safer for four (4) and five (5) year olds by placing the children in a more appropriate seated position to allow the seat belt to function properly. For most 4- and 5-year old children shorter than four feet nine inches (4’9”), a booster seat in conjunction with a seat belt will provide the most safety and satisfy the new legal requirements.
  • Children age three (3) and under must be secured in a car seat, not a booster seat. The seat must be attached to the vehicle’s seat or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.

Shapes All Over the Place – Toddler Move ‘N’ Read Storytime

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Today we learned all about shapes. Our opening song was “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” from 40 English Songs for Kids.


If you’re happy and you know it, pat your head!

The Shape of My Heart by Mark Sperring was our first book. The children and I went on a journey as we discovered all sorts of shapes. From the shape of our ear, along with things we might hear, to the shape of our eye and things we might see. We took a journey throughout the city, and visited a wide range of locales, from the zoo to the home, hunting for a myriad of shapes. This book invited the reader to seek and find the shapes being discussed which was such a wonderful element for Storytime. Each page would have a prompt such as “This is something cold to eat,” then the reader could search the page for cold edible items. Once the items were found the question could be asked, what shape is that? This was a wonderfully interactive book, with vibrant illustrations that held the children in thrall. Puppets were incorporated as well. When we saw the shape of the sun, moon and stars, stick puppets were utilized. When the story took us to the zoo, a variety of animal puppets made appearances.


This is the shape of the sun…


These are the shapes of the moon and the stars


When we go to the zoo we see animals, like this elephant, this giraffe…


and this alligator, that are all different shapes.

Our first activity was based off the song “Color Squares” from the CD Move and Learn. Four squares, red, yellow, green and blue, were laid out on the floor. I also created a smaller set of squares, and taped them to the puppet stage, so one of our puppets, Mr. Tom Cat, could conduct the activity with us. Once the song began, we were told what square to move to, and what movements to do when we were on it. The children were so excited when they found the correct color square, and they loved watching the puppet move to the song right along with them.

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Everyone enjoyed playing the color squares game!

Our next book was Round is a Pancake by Joan Sullivan Baranski. This book focused on only one shape, the circle. Yu-Mei Han’s brilliantly vibrant and energetic illustrations had a definite 1800’s era feel to them, but were presented in a way that children would instantly relate to and love. Each page mentioned different round objects, from a king’s crown, to the wheels on a wagon, to a birds nest. As we read through the story, we pointed out not only all the objects mentioned, but several others that the children enthusiastically recognized..

I adapted our last book into an interactive activity utilizing Lois Ehlert’s Color Zoo.This book was very cleverly constructed. Each page had a cut out in the middle that was a different shape. As you turned the pages, and one shape was removed from the image, the animal changed. For example the first image was a tiger, but when you turned the page, and removed the circle making up the tiger’s head from the image, the illustration became a mouse.The name of each shape was on the back of the page corresponding to its cutout. When we encountered unfamiliar shapes, such as octagon and hexagon, we counted the number of sides each shape had. As we learned what each animal was, one of our puppets of that animal popped out and said hello to the children. The children absolutely love the puppets, they look for them to be a part of Storytime and enjoy interacting with them.


In the book, the face of our goat was in the shape of an octagon, which, when we counted, we discovered had eight sides

“The Shape Shake” from the CD Colorful Shapes 15 Fun Songs! was our last song. This interactive song was based on the tune “Hokey Pokey.” Five shapes were mentioned in the song, circle, heart, square, star and triangle. Before beginning the activity, each child was given two different shapes. I kept another, and a final set was used on the puppet stage. As we sang the song, we all held up whatever shape we were singing about and moved it in various directions. The children really enjoyed this energetic activity.


Put your star in, and shake it all about!

Circle, Square Moose by Kelly Bingham was our last book. This was a delightful story about different shapes, and the objects we see in the world that are those shapes. For example we learned that buttons were circles and sandwiches could be squares. This book had an added element though, in the form of two characters Moose and Zebra. Each would pop in at strategic moments in the story and hijack the plot. When we were learning about triangles, Moose interrupted and informed us that cats ears are in the shape of triangles. It was all very hilariously done, and the children loved seeing Moose and Zebra just pop in whenever they wanted. The last few pages of the book were solely Moose and Zebra, so the puppets took over and finished our story for us.


Moose, don’t eat that sandwich, it’s our triangle!


Zebra tried to get Moose to listen to what the different shapes were

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When we learned about curves, Moose and Zebra got a little wrapped up!

Learning to recognize shapes and colors is one of a child’s first educational steps. As this article from highlights, learning to identify shapes and colors is a base from which children can develop other integral skills such as sorting and object recognition. Also, as the child gets older these skills with shapes will aid them in various school math classes. The article also goes on to provide some wonderful tips for fun activities and exercises that parents can do with their children to enhance their abilities with shapes and colors. To help children learn color, include color words when describing objects, or ask the child for specific objects. Have the child learn to make shapes with their bodies, or search the house for objects that match a particular shape you identify.

As always, we ended the program by shaking our sillies out with Raffi, from his CD More Singable Songs, and Mr. Tom Cat.

We got to know all about the wonderful shapes that make up our world today at Storytime!

Silly will be our theme for next time!

-Miss Jessica