Latest Event Updates

Bark for a Good Book – Toddler Move ‘N’ Read Storytime

Posted on

Today at Storytime our theme was dogs. Our opening song was “If You’re Happy and You Know It” from 40 English Songs for Kids. Rufus the sheepdog joined us for our opening song, I’m wasn’t sure if Mr. Tom Cat would make an appearance today, since out theme was dogs. We would have to wait and see.


Rufus is happy to be singing with us…


and everyone was happy to see Rufus.

Please Take Me for a Walk by Susan gal was our first book. The dog in this story loved to go for walks and experience life in his neighborhood. From chasing cats and squirrels up trees, to saying hi to all his friends that owned different stores, dog enjoyed his walks. His favorite person to meet was the butcher, because he always left with a nice, tasty bone. Dog also enjoyed watching people shoot hoops on the basketball court, and play chess in the park. His favorite activity of all to do on his walks, was visit the dog park and catch up with all his friends.

“Where’s Spot?” was our first activity, based on the book of the same name by Eric Hill. In Hill’s book Spot’s mother was trying to find him, and had to search all over the house to do so. The props for this activity were borrowed from Kidzclub. I printed out, and laminated, Kidzclub’s images of various hiding places such as closets and baskets, along with images of what animal was hiding behind the objects. Prior to Storytime I placed the images of the animals up on the board and covered them with the images of their respective hiding places. As I read through the story, the children and I had an enjoyable time trying to find Spot. I would ask the children, “Where is Spot? Behind the door?” then a child would come up and pull back the door to reveal what animal was hidden behind it. As an added element, each time a hiding place was uncovered, and a new animal revealed, a puppet. The children enthusiastically shouted out the names of the animals that were hiding and, after much searching, we found Spot concealed in the basket!


Was Spot in the closet?


No, that was the monkey.


Was Spot hiding under the bed?


No one there but an alligator.


I know, Spot was in the piano, right?


Nope. There was a hippo in the piano


Yay! We found Spot, he was hiding in the basket all along.

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd was our next book. As Dog, who was white with one black spot on his ear, went through is day, he kept acquiring colorful spots. The red spot came from jam that dripped on him at breakfast, the brown spot came from a little boy petting Dog with chocolate on his hands, the pink spot came from someone dropping ice cream on Dog’s ear. More and more spots appeared, from wide ranging locations and circumstances. At the end of the day, Dog’s owner noticed he was a lot more colorful than he was at the start of the day. She decided Dog needed a bath. After being washed and dried, Dog, now white with just one black spot, settled into his bed for a good nights sleep. We had a dog puppet act out this story with us, and each time Dog acquired a new spot, so did our puppet!


Dog started out with one black spot on his ear.


By the end of the story, Dog had ten colorful spots all stuck to his fur!

Dog’s Day by Jane Cabrera was our next book. In this delightful tale we met a dalmatian who really knew how to have fun. He would swing from trees with monkey’s, swim underwater with fish and hand upside down with bats. The little dalmatian had lots of animal friends that he really enjoyed spending his day with. His favorite thing to do though, was to play with his father at the end of the day.


This is our friend the dalmatian, and he had a very interesting day…


Hanging upside down with bat…


Slithering along with snake…


And running really fast with cheetah.

The jingle bell shakers made an appearance for our last activity. Everyone chose a shaker, and then I strung a piece of tape across the length of our puppet stage. What could the tape be for? It turned out to be a tightrope for the amazing, stupendous circus dog named Wags. As we listened to “Wags the Balancing Dog,” from the CD The Wiggles: Hot Poppin’ Popcorn, and shook our shakers along to the music, we saw Wags come out and dance across the tightrope. Wags, one of our dog puppets, was especially adept and balancing and running across the tightrope. At the very end of the song, Wags bowed and exited, and Mr. Hippo came out to try his luck on the tightrope. It bowed a bit in the middle, but Mr. Hippo was able to balance just like Wags.


It’s Wags, the amazing circus dog!


And his little known partner, the amazing circus hippo!

Me and Dog by Gene Weingarten was our last book. Sid, the little boy in this story, owned a wiener dog named Murphy who idolized him. Murphy thought Sid was an extraordinary little boy. Sid thought Murphy was the best dog in the world. This book was a wonderful look at the relationship between a boy and his four legged best friend. Each were just ordinary, but to each other, they were extraordinary.

Several of the books and activities we did today had musical and rhyming elements. As this article from Nellie Edge explains, books that have rhyming or musical components are some of the most beneficial literature we can give to children. They help children distinguish sounds, build phonic awareness and so much more. These books also aid children in memory development and vocabulary expansion, which in turn increases their literacy skills. In addition, the article recommends various books that have musical and rhyming elements.

At the very end, when we all had given up hope of seeing him, Mr. Tom Cat did appear to dance and shake his sillies out with us, and Raffi, from his CD More Singable Songs.


Mr. Tom Cat joined us in the end, clapping and jumping his sillies out


Everyone was very happy to see him.

A howling good Storytime was had by all!

Trees will be our theme next week!

-Miss Jessica


Posted on

This Page is for the “Next Dr. Who Contest”. for Clearwater Library in July 2015.

Call David L. on 727-562-4970 for Info. Must live in Pinellas County to be able to compete.

ON STAGE, OFF STAGE – Theatre from Both Sides of the Curtain

Posted on Updated on

On Stage Off Stage 2015_3

From March 30th through April 2nd Mr. David and I held a four day camp that dealt with the basics of live theater, puppetry, video and sound editing. The children who participated were able to experience such exciting things as auditioning, performing in a skit, staging a puppet play and editing videos of the plays they were a part of.

Day One:

Our first day was all about live theater. We began with the audition process. This was where you assigned characters to each actor, then had them read a scene from the script you would be performing. This process allowed you to not only see how all the individual actors worked and sounded together, but also gave the actors an opportunity to express their creativity and skills with characterization. After everyone read for whichever parts they liked, Mr. David and I cast the play we chose to do, After Once Upon a Time, an original play I had written.

In between casting, and our read through, which will be described in a moment, Mr. David taught the children about the art of improv. Improv is a type of theater where the actors are given just the bare bones of an idea, perhaps some characters or a partial plot line, and from that they must create a scene, complete with dialogue, all on their own. Several different ideas were introduced to the children, and they were able to take the basics and create some very imaginative skits. One common scenario is “The Party” where each new visitor to a party has a different emotional state and the host must discern what it is and take on that persona as well. The kids loved this one. We also did one called the “Pancake Man”.
Click HERE for a list of many others you could do if you are aching to act.

Once the scripts were edited, and everyone knew their role, we commenced with a “read through”. A read through involved everyone sitting in a circle and reading the script from beginning to end just to become familiar with the story line and dialogue. After Once Upon a Time was a play about a storyteller who read a book of fairy tales whose characters, one by one, came to life. As each character materialized they all had demands and, little by little, the storyteller slowly lost control of his characters. It was a fun, energetic play with a wide variety of roles.

This play uses many well-known characters from FOLKTALES which helps beginners easily understand their roles.

“Blocking” was the next step in staging a live play. Blocking is a term that stands for such things as where the actors are told to enter from and move to. Blocking a play can be a long process because as you see actors bring the story to life, and move around the stage, ideas occur to a director for how to make the play more interesting and engaging. Once blocking was done, and everyone had a good grasp of when to enter, where to move to and who to interact with, we rehearsed the play several times till everyone involved felt comfortable with it.

On Stage Off Stage 2015_1

Day Two:

Our second day began with rehearsing After Once Upon a Time in preparation for recording it. Once the last minute kinks were ironed out we recorded the play three times. These three separate takes would then be used later to show the participants how to edit a video.

After the live theater portion of the camp concluded, we moved on to adapting a story into a play. Adaptation involves taking a story, in many cases a folk or fairy tale, and reworking the narration and dialogue into a play (puppets or live).
First, Mr. David read the participants the tale Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, then showed them a video of how his puppet troupe, the Dascaloja Puppeteers, adapted the story for use with puppets. After they had a visual idea of what adaptation could be, we broke the participants up into two groups, and had them adapt a different story, The Well Diggers, which was an Indonesian folktale. In this story two characters, Guno and Koyo had to work together to dig a well. Along the way though, mishaps occurred, and not a lot of well digging was accomplished. The children had complete freedom to take the story in any direction they chose, and Mr. David assisted them along the way with tips and tricks for how to write dialogue, and move a story forward. The participants were given time to come up with their own unique adaptation, then we all came back together and each group presented their new take on the story. One decided to have the setting be millions of years in the past, with Guno and Koyo being dinosaurs. The second group worked in a Tom and Jerry type of dynamic into their adaptation.

HERE is an article for adults on the adaptation process from novel to film which is very close to adapting a folktale to a puppet play.

The conclusion of Day Two saw everyone applying the skills they had learned not only in staging a live play, but also adapting a story, to puppetry. We gave everyone a copy of the script we would be using for our puppet play, The Littlest Rabbit. As we did with the live play, we had everyone sit in a group and read through the play so they became familiar with it. Day Three would begin with auditions for the puppet play.

Puppet Rabbit with Carrot

Day Three:

As with the live play we worked on the first day, Mr. David and I had everyone read for several parts for The Littlest Rabbit. This allowed David and I to hear how several individuals sounded reading the same role. Puppet theater is more about fitting a voice to a character, since the physical actors are not seen. Once our puppet play had been cast, Mr. David recorded everyone’s voices reading the script through as their character. In a puppet play, the audio the audience hears is pre-recorded, with the actors moving the puppets to coordinate with the story and that audio. The voice recording would also be used later that day to show the participants how to edit sound.

Once recording was done, Mr. David and I proceeded to block the puppet play, just as we did with After Once Upon a Time. Once everyone had a better idea of their blocking, and their audio cues, we rehearsed the play several times in preparation for recording it on Day Four.

The final activity for Day Three involved editing the audio we recorded for The Littlest Rabbit. The software program we used to do this was WAVEPAD, a free downloadable sound editing software.

Please be aware that the free version has limited capabilities and at some point when your trial is over you will need to purchase. There are other audio editing softwares available (like Audacity), WAVEPAD is just one I am familiar with and use to edit the libraries puppet shows. It has an extensive sound effect library as part of the platform.

This wonderful tool allowed the children to edit and manipulate audio files. Mr. David showed everyone some basic skills, such as how to eliminate dead space in an audio track and how to download special effects sounds and splice them into an existing audio track. These skills would become useful for our video editing on the final day.

Puppet Rabbit Bully Owl

Day Four:

Our final day started off with recording our puppet play, The Littlest Rabbit. As with After Once Upon a Time, several takes were made, so we could edit them together later. Once the play was recorded, I showed the participants how to edit video in Windows Movie Maker. This software program is also available for free download. I began by walking them through some of Movie Maker’s basic features, including those dealing with transition, panning and animation, by having them try out those features on stock photographs.

Once everyone felt more comfortable using Movie Maker, one of the recordings of one of the plays was downloaded to each participant’s computer, and they were able to work on editing it. With an actual movie to work with, Mr. David and I could teach them more detailed movie editing skills, such as how to cut out a section of the film you do not want, and how to highlight a specific frame and apply layered special effects to that frame.

Everyone was able to take copies of the live play, puppet play, and puppet audio recording home with them on individual USB’s. That way, if they chose, they could download the free software and continue to play around with editing the movies on their own. Anyone who wanted to send us their own version of an edited movie was encouraged to do so and Mr. David told them they would be posted on YouTube, right alongside the originals.

-Miss Jessica (with the tiniest assistance from Mr. David)

Fresh Fruit – Toddler Move ‘N’ Read Storytime

Posted on Updated on

Today we sampled many different kinds of fruit. Our opening song was “If You’re Happy and You Know It” from 40 English Songs for Kids.

Happy1 Happy2

Mr. Tom Cat joined us from the orchard today, clapping to show he was happy!

Little Apple Goat by Caroline Jayne Church was our first story. The little goat in our book was just like any other normal goat, except instead of eating grass, she loved fruit from the orchard. One day, something sad happened. All the fruit trees were damaged in a storm. The animals on the farm didn’t know what to do they loved the orchard, and the little goat lost her favorite source of food. All was not lost though, for something extraordinary happened at the end of our tale. We had a lively goat puppet act out the story as we read through it.


Little Apple Goat, enjoying her orchard

Our first activity was an action rhyme loosely based on “Rainbow Stew,” which was borrowed from Library Village. This was a whimsical, enjoyable activity for the children, that I modified a great deal from it’s original state so it better fit this Storytime. Before Storytime began I gathered a plastic cauldron (like the kind used in Halloween decorations) and laminated images of rainbow stripes. Prior to beginning the rhyme during Stortime, I gave each child a laminated image of a piece of fruit in every color of the rainbow. Then, utilizing a dialogue with our Mr. Hippo puppet, we built a rainbow. As Mr. Hippo told us all his favorite fruits, the child with that fruit was able to come up, place his fruit in the cauldron, and pull out a stripe that was the same color as the fruit. The stripes were then placed on the board. The children delighted in showing their rainbow stripes to Mr. Hippo before placing them on the board.

FruitRainbow5 FruitRainbow3 FruitRainbow2 FruitRainbow1 FruitRainbow4 FruitRainbow6

Everyone dropped in their fruit, then, one by one, the rainbow strips appeared.

Pie in the Sky by Lois Ehlert was our next book. A father and his little boy had a tree in their backyard. A cherry tree, or was it a cherry pie tree? That is the question this enchanting book strove to answer. All year long the father and his son watched the tree, and all the animals that interacted with it. As we saw, the cherries were particularly popular with the birds and raccoons. At the end of the summer we had our answer, as all the cherries were harvested, and delectable pies were created for family and friends. Throughout the story, each time a new animal was mentioned, a puppet of that animal made an appearance, and sampled some cherries from our tree.

Cherry1 Cherry2

The butterflies, and raccoons, all loved the cherry tree.

Blackberry Banquet by Terry Pierce was our next book. Deep in the forest was a blackberry bush filled with the ripest, most delicious berries. This bush was popular with all the forest animals. Mice, birds, foxes and more flocked to this bush for its tasty berries. Even bears came to eat the wonderful blackberries. Wait, bears?! Yes, bears, that scared all the other animals away. Once they saw bear, they were running and tripping over each other to get away, which had us laughing at the animal’s comical antics, which were acted out by our puppets. In the end, bear thought he had all the blackberries to himself, until a clever bird swooped in and grabbed the last berry out of bear’s paw and flew away with it. Pierce provided a wealth of end material on what blackberries are, how they can be eaten, the inter-connectivity of plants, animals and the food web and much more.


Those are tasty blackberries, aren’t they Miss Mouse.


Watch out for the bear! He will steal all the berries.

Our last activity had everyone shaking along to a song with their egg shakers. Laurie Berkner’s energetic song “Fruit Salad Salsa,” from her CD Victor Vito, was perfect for our theme. The song talked about various different fruits, including apples, papayas and mangoes, that all dance their way into a bowl and get mixed into a fruit salad. For each of the fruits mentioned, a stick puppet of that fruit danced its way across the stage, and leapt into a fruit bowl. As the song played we all shook our shakers, and danced along to the beat.


Dance into the bowl little pineapple.


Shake all the fruit together, and you have fruit salad!

Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington was our last book. Annie owned an apple orchard, she was a very busy apple farmer. This story followed Annie through a day at her apple farm. We got to go along with her as she picked her apples, counted them and sorted them. Next she sat aside some of her apples for baking pies, making applesauce or apple cider. We also got to see that Anne took a lot of her apples to market and sold them. After a busy, but productive day at the market, Annie heads home where she snuggles with her cat, a good book, and a nice tasty apple. Wellington included some very basic recipes using apples at the end of her book.

Who would believe that fruit and literacy go together? Well, they do, and this article from Early Childhood Ireland discusses how. The article describes ways to teach literacy and numeracy concepts to your children. Several of those ways revolve around food. The article has an entire section related to food and how to use it to teach. There are also topics in the article including bath time, meal time and more, and how each of these activities can be used to further childhood literacy and numeracy skills.

It was time to shake our sillies out with Raffi, from his CD More Singable Songs. We had two special guests join us today, Mr. Tom Cat and his new friend Miss Mouse. They danced and clapped right along with all of us.


Shake your sillies out Mr. Tom cat and Miss Mouse!

We munched on lots of delicious fruit today at Storytime.

Dogs will be our theme next week!

– Miss Jessica

Happy Easter! – Toddler Move ‘N’ Read Storytime

Posted on Updated on

Easter time is here again, and we celebrated during our Storytime today. Our opening song was “If You’re Happy and You Know It” from 40 English Songs for Kids. Today we had a little fun, and instead of an Easter bunny being the star…


We had an Easter hippo! Here is his with five of his Easter bunny friends joining us in our first song.



Clap your hands, and pat your head if you’re happy.

Happy Easter!  by Liesbet Slegers was our first book. It was springtime, and Easter had come again. New flowers were blooming, and mother animals welcomed their new babies. Springtime also meant the return of the Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny lived in a small cottage in the woods, and every year he gathered, painted and hid lots of beautiful Easter eggs for all the children. Every Easter morning the children would excitedly wake up and go out on their Easter egg hunts. Once Easter was over, the Easter Bunny would retire to his cottage for a well deserved sleep, until he was needed next spring.


Mr. Tom Cat loved our first story today, he really likes the Easter bunny

Our first activity was a counting down rhyme entitled “Five Little Bunnies” that was borrowed from Once Upon a Storytime. In this rhyme we started off with five little bunnies, as each one hopped away, we counted down from five to zero. As an added bonus, I incorporated not only five bunny puppets, but also a tree and sun stick puppet into the activity, because the bunnies interacted with both of those items. As we counted down one puppet at a time left the stage. The children really enjoyed activities such as these, but it is even more satisfying for them when puppets were involved. It created a visual dimension, they could see the objects disappearing as each puppet left, and this helped reinforce the concept of subtraction.


Four little bunnies were under a tree, one hopped away, and then there were three.

Easter Parade  by Irving Berlin was our next book. This delightfully colorful rhyming book, based on Berlin’s song of the same name, showed a plethora of animals getting ready for the Easter parade. Everyone had to select their very best hat. We saw straw hats, large brimmed hats with flowers and even a hat that was a real beehive. The most exceptional hat of all belonged to a lovely little girl rabbit. Her hat had Easter eggs, pinwheels, feathers and so much more. It was the most beautiful, whimsical hat of them all, and she showed it off proudly when her daddy took her to the Easter parade.




Bear, Turtle and Frog all showing off their magnificent Easter bonnets

Splat the Cat: Where is the Easter Bunny? by Rob Scotton was our next book. Scotton’s delightful feline Splat was back, this time on the hunt for the Easter Bunny. On each page was a lift the flap element that incorporated Splat’s search. As we read through, several of the children helped me tell the story by lifting up each flap, hoping that would be the one to finally reveal the Easter Bunny. It was not until the very end of the story, Easter morning, that we lifted the last flap and saw the Easter Bunny scurrying across Splat’s front yard, leaving him eggs.


All Splat wanted for Easter was a large Easter egg.

Our major activity for this Storytime was an Easter egg hunt! Before the start of Storytime I hid eggs in the program area and the children got to search for them. We had musical accompaniment during the search in the form of the CD Easter Party Music Activities such as this encourage the development of social, thinking and motor skills in children. Hunting for the eggs was an individual activity, but doing it in a group helped reinforce the ideas of fair play and letting everyone have an opportunity to find an egg. Thinking and motor skills worked hand in hand in an activity such as this. The children had to think about the most likely places where an egg would be hidden, and, of course, the entire activity involved movement from the physical act of searching to grabbing the eggs and putting them in a basket. This article from highlights why developing motor skills in children is so important and how motor skills tie into the development of other essential attributes. Overall though, the children really had such fun.


Where could the eggs be? Lets go look for them.


We found some taped to a chair and table.


Others were hidden behind doors.


Still more were stuck to windows.

Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure by Kimberly and James Dean was our last book. In this installment of our favorite groovy feline’s adventures, Pete was given a special task by the Easter Bunny. Pete had to find, paint and hide all the Easter eggs, all while wearing bunny ears so no one would know he was not the Easter Bunny. Pete took on his task with gusto, gathering eggs, painting them and even, after much trial and error, finding perfect hiding spots for them. Just as Pete hid the last egg, the Easter Bunny arrived, with an award for Pete for a job well done. Pete had fun, and got to help a friend.


Today, Pete had to help his friend the Easter bunny.


Pete gathered eggs from the chickens…


Then put on his Easter Bunny costume and hid the eggs for all the children to find

After our last book, we all stood up and danced, shook and clapped our sillies out with not only Raffi, from his CD More Singable Songs, but also our friend the Easter hippo, who made one final appearance today.




Shake your sillies out with us Mr. Easter Hippo!

Our craft today was a giant egg made out of construction paper. The children, with some help from their parents, cut the egg down the middle in a zigzag pattern, and then glued a chick to the bottom half of the egg. I attached the bottom and top halves together with brass fasteners so they would open and close in a hinged motion. The children then decorated their eggs with crayons.


This was a wonderfully enjoyable Storytime. Happy Easter everyone!

We will not have Storytime next week, due to “On Stage, Off Stage,” a teen program taking place all next week. We will return April 7th and our theme will be Fruit!

-Miss Jessica