Thursday, May 31, 2012

On the Move!

Preschoolers are always on the move, so this makes a great storytime for little movers and shakers.  Be sure to be energized when conducting this session because you'll be up on your feet!

Tips for reading:  Encourage the kids to join in on the refrain in Gingerbread Man and My Truck is Stuck.  That's half the fun!  And be sure to point out the groundhogs, or whatever, in My Truck is Stuck.  Ask the kids what those guys are doing and tell them to get an eye on them.  And don't forget to stop and ask questions and talk about the books while you read.  That's how children learn.  Take time to count objects, or ask for their predictions on what happens next.  I guarantee you'll be surprised by the answers!

On the Move
Preschool Storytime

Opening Song:  Bendable, Strectchable by Georgiana Stewart
Opening Rhyme: My Hands
Make your hand go up, make your hands go down, make your hands go to the side, and go round and round
Dance them on your shoulders, dance them on your head, dance them on your belly, and now put them to bed!

Book:  The Great Gracie Chase by Cynthia Rylant
Song:  BINGO!
You know it, so just sing it! 

Book:  Someone Bigger by Jonathan Emmett

Activity:  Going on a Bear Hunt

Book:  The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth

Song:  Walking, Walking from Songs for Wiggleworms

Book:  My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis

Song:  Wheels on the Bus
You know this one too, so sing it loud and sing it proud!

Closing Song:  Thank You Clap
My hands say thank you with a clap, clap, clap
My feet say thank you with a tap, tap, tap
Clap, clap, clap, tap, tap, tap
And now we say goodbye.

Playing Hooky!

Yesterday, I received a gift from the procrastination gods-a half day off!  There was some work being done on the water lines in my office building and there was an unplanned water outage to the whole building-not just one floor as planned.

So, armed with four hours of free time, I went home, grabbed a book and headed to the deck.  You didn't think I'd do housework or Pintertest projects when I had a beautiful afternoon off, did you?  Nope, I sat outside in the sunshine and read with the dog.  I read Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen and Lucy read Crime and Punishment.  Just kidding, she's more of a John Irving fan.

I managed to finish off Someone Like You, take a little nap with the dog, and then get in a nice long walk with Lucy leading the way.  By the time my hubby came home, he had two sleepy girls on his hands, and veggie pizza to eat!  All in all, a great unexpected treat.

What would you do with four hours of unexpected free time?  I highly suggest chilling out with a book, so something else that you find enjoyable.  And if you can't wait for a review of Someone Like You, find mr on Good Reads!

And if you are one of the thousands of hopeless Pinterest addicts like me, then follow me on Pinterest.  Just search for Tiffany Lynn.  If I pin anymore, I'll have to change the name of my blog to Miss Tiff Pins!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Silly Stories

Summer time at a public library is insanity.  But, my storytimes would actually be simpler.  I remember that I didn't have registration and I often had brothers and sisters outside of my target age range of 3-5, so I felt like I could be more flexible.  So, for the rest of this week, I'll put up one storytime per post from a summer session.

First up:  Silly Stories

This is a really loose theme.  Anything strange, funny, and absurd makes the cut.  Then, add in rhymes to go with whatever book, or any rhyme that is funny, and you've got yourself a storytime.  As always, for more information on any books, songs, or rhymes, just email me at

Silly Stories
Preschool Storytime

Opening Song:  Bendable, Stretchable by Georgiana Stewart
Opening Rhyme: My Hands
Make my hands go up, make my hands go down.
Make my hands go to the side, then go round and round.
Dance them on my shoulders, dance them on my head.
Dance them on belly, now put them to bed!

Book:  Alpha Oops:  The Day Z Went First by Alethea Kontis

Rhyme:  C is for Cookie
C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me
C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me
C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me
Oh, cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C
--Now add other words and their first letter.  
It helps to have a picture or prop for this song so children can identify the next object.
B is for Bunny, I is for Ice Cream, S is for Sunny
Z is for zebra, P is for penguin
Book:  King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood

Rhyme:  Have you ever gone fishing?
Have you ever gone fishin on a bright and sunny day
With all the little fishies swimming up and down the bay?
With your hands in your pockets and your pockets in your pants?
And all the little fishies doing the hutchie-cutchie dance?

Book:  When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach

Rhyme:  Chay-Chay Koo-Lay
--This is a Swahili version of Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes-at least that's what I was told. Have the children repeat after you.
Chay-chay koo-lay (touch head), chay-chay ko-fee-suh (touch shoulders)
Ko-fee say longa (touch knees), la-la chee-longa (touch feet)
Koo-me-lay-lay! (come up to standing and wave your hands all around)

Book:  Imogene’s Antlers by David Small

Rhyme:  Do your antlers hang high?
Do your antlers hang high, do they reach up to the sky?
Do they keep you up at night, do they make your way so tight?
Do they bump into the trees, do they make it hard for knees?
Do your antlers hang high?

Book:   A Birthday for Cow  by Jan Thomas

Closing Song:  Thank You Clap
My hands say thank you with a clap, clap, clap
My feet say thank you with a tap, tap, tap
Clap, clap, clap
Tap, tap, tap
And now we say goodbye!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Okay for Now

I had this book on my Kindle for months.  Over a year actually, and I just couldn't bring myself to be interested in it.  I have a problem with meaningful books.  I convince myself that they are going to be dry, heavy-handed, and slow, but most of the time I end up enjoying the book.

I more than enjoyed Okay for Now, I was absorbed by this book.  This is the story of Doug Swieteck, good friend of Holling Hoodhood from The Wednesday Wars.  Doug's down-on-his-luck dad gets a new job out of town, so the whole family moves.  But from the start, things are tense at the Swieteck household.  Doug's dad is out all night, his brother seems to be enemy number 1 in the eyes of the police, but Doug wants to get away from all of that.  He starts with the library, and starts learning to draw birds from kindly librarian Mr. Powell.  Then, he gets a job delivering for the deli, and he even starts getting along better with his teachers.  

But as Doug says often in this book, when things are going good, something bad is bound to happen.  There is abuse in Doug's family, his brother comes home from Vietnam wounded and different, and Doug can't read.  Then Doug works his way back.  This is a kid that wants to be good, but his family life is bringing him down.  Thankfully there are many people that believe in him, and even those that don't, he will prove them wrong.  

Okay for Now is an endearing book.  I felt so deeply for Doug and his struggles and I was so excited for him, and slightly embarrassed at times too (his theatrical deput was even more embarrassing than Holling Hoodhood's deput!).  

I highly recommend this book to everyone that has read The Wednesday Wars, and anyone that just wants a good story.  This would be an excellent addition to a unit on Vietnam, art, theater, and there are many other instances where a couple passages from this book will say more than an hour long lecture.  

Don't be like me and let this sit on your Kindle for over a year!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Series Conundrum

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series is a fun, snarky, Victorian romp that will delight fans of Lemony Snicket.  But as I look at my Good Reads reviews, I see that I like each book a little less.  Which begs the question, how long can a series hold the interest of the reader?

Now, to be fair, I don't mean a series like Sweet Valley High, or Baby-Sitter's Club, which just went on and on.  I mean a series where each book feeds off the other.  A series best read in sequence with major questions left unanswered at the end of every book. 

In the case of ICAP (this acronym pays homage to the many acronyms used in installment three and typing Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place takes a very long time) the questions that need to be addressed are, what happened to the children that they were able to survive in a cave?  Where are Miss Lumley's parents?  Are Miss Lumley and the children connected?  And there are several more questions that get brought up with each book.  While the books are fun, by the third book, I'm growing tired of the narrator speaking directly to the reader, the sayings of Agatha Swathborne, the propriety of the times, so on and so forth.  I want answers!

How long can a children's series evade questions?  Readers grow up and move on, and returning to a "kids book" is quite embarrassing.  I once made the mistake of letting a 7th grader know that I had put the latest 39 Clues book on hold for her while at a teen volunteers meeting.  The look she gave me was one of sheer horror, and I'm sure she told her friends it was for her little brother later that day.    

To me, when a series drags on without giving readers at least some new information, it is a struggle to keep readership up to the very end.  Yes, new readers will come along and read the whole series start to finish, but your original readers are not going to stick it out.  Who knows, by the time ICAP finishes up, the original readers (likely 9 year-olds in 2010) could be coming up on high school!  They are not going to go back.

My advice to publishers and authors writing what look to be lengthy series, publish quicker!  You've hooked young readers for a reason, so let them read the series to completion!  And I might be selfish here because I don't want to to wait another 6 years to find out what happens in ICAP.  But, this series might just fall by the wayside for me, like so many others.  I'm no longer reading the 39 Clues, Bright Young Things, Sisters of Prophecy, and I'm only reading some series out of a sense of obligation. 

It's like the show How I Met Your Mother.  It's funny, I enjoy the new episodes, but at the same time, I just wanna meet the stinkin' mother already and move on!

What do you think?  What is a good length for a children's series?  Would you favor a faster publishing schedule?  Anyone else wondering when we're gonna meet the mother?

Happy reading!

And to see my review of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place:  The Unseen Guest, find me on Good Reads.  Just look for Miss Tiffany!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Liesl and Po

The world has been dark and grey for so long that few can remember the sun.  Life is even worse for Liesl, who is locked up in an attic room while her stepmother spends her late father's fortune.  And life isn't great for Will either.  He is the alchemist's assistant and must work for a man that is as vain as he is cruel.  But Will's bright spot is seeing Liesl drawing at her window, and Liesl's bright spot is meeting Po, a ghost of sorts who hopes to help her find her father.  Things go array when Will accidentally leaves a rare magic at the funeral director's home while running an errand, so instead of magic, the Lady Premiere receives ashes and instead of ashes, Liesl receives a rare magic.  Liesl runs from her stepmother to spread her father's "ashes" by their old home, and Will runs to avoid being punished.  The guard chases to give Will a hat.  The alchemist and Lady Premiere chase to get the magic.  A woman and police officer chase because they think that Liesl is crazy.  There is a lot of running and chasing in this tender but lively story.

While this is an adventurous story, Lauren Oliver reveals in the notes that she wrote this story because a close friend had died and her world felt gray.  That explains the character of Po, who is both at peace with being on the Other Side, but lost too.  And it explains the optimistic sorrow of Liesl, who misses her father so but wants to continue to live and be happy somehow.  This is the type of book that I want to read over and over again.  It makes the heart swell and break all at the same time.

I would recommend this book for children in grades 3 to 5.  I hope that this book becomes a Caudill nominee soon, since this is a book that begs to be read.  Also, this would make a great classroom read aloud.

Liesl and Po is one of my new favorite books.  5 stars, 2 thumbs up, 10 million points, however you want to say it, it's good.  I checked this book out from the library and then bought a copy to keep-it is that good!

Friday, May 18, 2012


I am part of a book club that loves to read these literary tomes (at least they feel like that to me) and I almost exclusively read children's and young adult books.  So, last night I went to book club with a crazy suggestion for our summer reading-When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle.  And you know what, it worked!

I think that most of the women voted due to a nostalgia for A Wrinkle in Time, and it will be very interesting to see what they think of it as adults.  A few of the younger moms had heard of When You Reach Me and were actually pretty excited to read that book too, and a Newbery Award never hurts. 

My When You Reach Me story is this.  I read this book right when it came out and was instantly in love.  The whole time travel story and story behind the story (a man with amnesia reveals events that haven't happened yet under hypnosis) was very engaging to me.  I loved the misunderstood, bad boy Marcus.  He's brilliant and unusual and flawed, and just a great character.  And the Laughing Man is such a cleverly drawn character, and in his one moment of lucidity, he says "It's alright.  I'm old and she's gone now."  That one line follows me everywhere.  That one line tells me how much he loved his wife and what he was doing to be with her.  Maybe I'm overreaching with that, but the whole story is wrapped up in that one line for me.

I only read A Wrinkle in Time after I read When You Reach Me, so I am excited to read it again and see what I think about it.  I would like to take more time to read it, because it really didn't leave any kind of an impression on me, other than the part with the little boy and the ball.

So, we'll see how the book club goes in July.  Hopefully I can bring people to my side and start a splinter group of rogue children's book readers!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nursery Rhyme Crafts

First, I have to apologize for not having pictures of all of my crafts.  Before I left the library world, I took pictures of the crafts that I had left and only kept a few very precious creations intact.  So, I'll just have to be very descriptive!

Dog Craft

This craft is just a piece of brown fun foam cut in the shape of a bone.  Then, you add pom-pms for the feet and nose, and felt ears.  The original idea was actually a real dog bone to use as the base, but that seemed weird, so I adapted it.  Add sticky magnets to the back, and you have a furry friend for your fridge!

Bath Time Craft
No picture-sorry!  This simple craft takes a cork, as found at Hobby Lobby-not your wine bottle-a toothpick or dowel and some cardstock.  Simply decorate a cardstock triangle that will become your sail, glue it to the stick and put the stick in the cork.  Now, theoretically, it will float, but bath times can get crazy, so maybe limit this toy to sink sailing.

Cow Over Moon Craft
I'm actually quite ticked at myself for not having a picture of this, since it's one of my favorite crafts, so instead I have a crudely drawn example from Publisher, so you can see what I mean.
First, you have a paper plate, that your child can color in any way (that would be the giant circle).  Then you have a 6 inch or so piece of cardstock.  Finally, a cow printed and cut out of cardstock.  Again, this can be colored.  To assemble, simply glue the cow to one end of the cardstock, and attached the cardstock to the paper plate with a brad.  Now your cow can jump over the moon!

NOTE:  When using brads, it's a good idea to prep the materials by making a small cut with an exacto knife.  For example, for this craft, I cut a small slit in the paper plate and cardstock so it was easier to push through.  Otherwise you have frustrated kids and annoyed adults, and no one wants that.

Here's my memory of this craft.  I'd finished my storytime and brought my crazy kiddies in for craft and started explaining, this is the moon, here's the cow.  Then one of my little guys said, "oh, then we connect them and the cow jumps over the moon!"  That kid's a genius!  I miss those "ah-ha" moments.

Humpty Dumpty Craft

This was an ambitious craft to prep, but for one or two kids, it will be a breeze.  First, trim the bottom off of a styrofoam egg so your Humpety Dumpety sits flat.  Then, cut a pipe cleaner into four equal pieces for the limbs and stick into the egg.  Glue a ribbon sash around his waist, and add a bow if you're feeling fancy.  Then add stickers for the eyes, a brad nose and draw on the mouth.  My Humpety Dumpety had pom-pom bead hands and feet.  I have no idea where the library got pom pom beads, so you may want to use a different bead, or try to glue pom poms.  This little guy sat on my computer speakers and fell often, but never broke!

Mother Goose Village Map
Using Publisher or Word, create a simple map by drawing lines and roads.  Then, print out clipart fairy tale characters and glue them to the map.  This is a great activity to talk about map making and directions.  You could even give some children rules, like the Three Little Pigs want to live by Miss Muffet and the Muffin Man lives on the opposite side of town from Little Bo Peep.  This was a simple glue and color project, but sometimes simple is great.

Egg Carton Spider
Again, no picture.  (I'll have to start remaking some of these crafts to show you.  My hubby would love it I did craft time all over our dining room table!)
First, cut apart and egg carton.  The cardboard ones work best, since you can color on them.  Then, punch holes in the carton with a whole punch.  Cut up black pipe cleaners for legs and let your little one color the egg carton black (or whatever color, spiders come in all shades).  Then thread the legs through the holes and bend them so your spider can stand.  Now, this will likely not be a spider with eight legs, but this is a great time to teach about artistic freedom and expression! 

So, there you go, 6 great crafts to go with a nursery rhyme unit. 
Happy reading, or crafting!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nursery Rhyme Storytimes

Nursery rhymes are an essential part of every child's development.  Not only are they a big part of pop culture, but rhyming is very useful to children, and I think that you would prefer to teach your children this skill, and not rely on Rhianna to do it for you.  With that in mind, here is my story time unit on nursery rhymes.

Tomorrow I will be back with pictures of the crafts.  And as always, if you have questions, just email me at

Happy reading!

Where Has My Little Dog Gone?

Opening Song:  Hello Everybody

Opening Rhyme:  Where Has My Little Dog Gone?

Book:  Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Rhyme:  Make a Mud Cake/This is the Way We Wash
       Make a mud cake, make a mud cake
       In the mud, in the mud
       Digging, scooping, patting, digging, scooping, patting
       Just feels fun, just feel fun
       This is the way we wash our hands,
       Wash our hands, wash our hands
       This is the way we wash hands
       Early in the morning.

Book:  Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things that Make Me Happy by Scott Menchin

Song:  I Love Dogs from Crazy Hair Day by Barney Saltzberg

Book:  Puppies, Puppies, Puppies by Susan Meyers

Rhyme:  My Little Puppy
       My little puppy’s name is Rags
       He eats so much his tummy sags
       His ears flip flop and his tail wig wags
       And when he walks his hips zig zap
       Flip flop, wig wag, zig zag

Book:  Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle

Rhyme:  Love Your Pets
       Love, love, love your pets
       Love them everyday
       Give them food and water too
       Let them run and play

Closing Rhyme:  Thank You Clap

Craft Time:  Dog Magnets

Here We Go Looby Loo

Opening Song:  Hello Everybody

Opening Rhyme:  Here We Go Looby Loo

Book:  Bubble Bath Pirates by Jarrett J Krosoczka

Rhyme:  Trouble in My Bubble Bath
       There’s trouble in my bubble bath.
       It’s time to disembark
       Beneath the soap and subs there swims
       The cleanest, meanest shark

Book:  Rabbit Ears by Amber Stewart

Song:  Wishy Washy Washer Woman

Book:  Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s Farm by Joy Cowley

Rhyme:   Animals on the Farm (tune:  Wheels on the Bus)
       The cows on the farm go moo, moo, moo
       Moo, moo, moo, Moo, moo, moo
       The cows on the farm go moo, moo, moo
       All day long!
       (pigs-oink, duck-quack)

Book:  Squeaky Clean by Simon Puttock

Rhyme:  Bathtub Toys Rhyme
       Little Duck, Little Duck, what do you see?
       I see a squeaky fish looking at me.
       Squeaky Fish, Squeaky Fish, what do you see?
       I see a sailboat looking at me.
       Sailboat, Sailboat, what do you see?
       I see a clean child looking at me.
       Clean Child, Clean Child, what do you see?
       I see a Little Duck, Squeaky Fish, Soap Crayon,
       and a Sailboat, that’s what I see!

Closing Rhyme:  Thank You Clap

Craft Time:  Bathtub Sailboat

Hey Diddle Diddle
Opening Song:  Hello Everybody

Opening Rhyme:  Hey Diddle Diddle
        Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle
       The cow jumped over the moon.
       The little dog laughed to see such a sport
       And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Book:  Two Cool Cows by Toby Speed

Rhyme:  Airplane
      The airplane has great big wings
      It’s propeller spins around and sings VVVVV
      The airplane goes up, the airplane goes down.
      The airplane flies high all over town.

Book:  Cows Can’t Fly by David Milgrim

Song:  Moon Moon Moon by Laurie Berkner

Book:  Over the Moon by Rachel Vail

Rhyme:   I went to the farm
      I went to the farm the other day
      I saw a cow across the way
      And what do you think I heard it say?
      Moo, moo, moo, moo, moo!

Book:  I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis & Alison Jay

Rhyme:  Sleep Baby Sleep
      Sleep baby sleep
      Your father tends the sheep
      Your mother shakes the dreamland tree
      And from it fall sweet dreams for thee
      Sleep baby sleep, sleep baby sleep
      Sleep baby sleep
      Our cottage vale is deep
      The little lamb is on the green
      With snowy fleece so soft and clean
      Sleep baby sleep, sleep baby sleep.

Closing Rhyme:  Thank You Clap

Craft Time:  Cow over the Moon craft

Humpty Dumpty

Opening Song:  Hello Everybody

Opening Rhyme:  Humpty Dumpty

Book:  Humpty Dumpty by Daniel Kirk

Rhyme:  Where’s Humpty Dumpty?
      Humpty Dumpty, where did you fall?
      Are you behind the (color) wall?

Book:  Little Lumpty by Miko Imai

Song:  Fixin’ Humpty Dumpty
      I stand up straight and I stand up tall
      I’m walk-walk-walking across the wall
      My knees get weak and I start to crawl
     Then I shudder and start to fall.
      Fallin’ down again
      Fallin’ on all the king’s men
      All the king’s horses and the king too
      Couldn’t put me together, can you?
     Don’t you worry, you’ve got it made
     All you need is a big bandaid
     You fell down and I do too.
     What you’ve got is a big boo-boo
     Chorus Again

Book:  Eggbert, the Slightly Cracked Egg by Tom Ross and Rex Barron

Rhyme:  I Can Paint
      I can paint, how about you?
      I can paint, how about you?
      I can paint, how about you?
      Paint on the floor like I do!
      (paint on your arm, leg, stomach, etc)

Book:  The Cow that Laid an Egg by Andy Cutbill

Activity:  Walk on the Wall

Closing Rhyme:  Thank You Clap

Craft Time:  Take Home Humpty Dumpty

Muffin Man

Opening Song:  Hello Everybody

Opening Rhyme:  Muffin Man

Big Book:  If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Jaffe Numeroff

Game:  Moose See, Moose Do

Book:  What’s Cookin’ by Nancy Coffelt

Song:  Cookie Bakers of the Night by Laurie Berkner

Book:  Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington

Rhyme:   Make a Cake
      Mix the batter, stir the batter
      Shake some flower in.
      Mix the batter, stir the batter
      Pour it in a tin.
      Sprinkle on some raisins
      And put it in to bake.
      Open up the oven door
      And out comes the cake

Book:  To Market, To Market by Anne Miranda

Activity:  Food Type Match 

Closing Rhyme:  Thank You Clap

Craft Time:  Mother Goose Village Map

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Opening Song:  Hello Everybody

Opening Rhyme:  Itsy Bitsy Spider
      The itsy bitsy spider crawled up the water spout
      Down came the rain and washed the spider out
      Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
      And the itsy bitsy spider crawled up the spout again.

Book:  The Eensy Weensy Spider by Mary Ann Hoberman

Rhyme:  Spiders Spin
      At early morn, the spiders spin
      And by and by a fly drops in
     And when they call the spiders say
     Take off your things and stay all day!

Book:  The Roly-Poly Spider by Jill Sardegna

Song:    Spider on the Floor by Raffi

Book:  Aaaaaaagghh! A Spider by Lydia Monks

Rhyme:   The Spider in the Web  (Tune Farmer in the Dell)
      The spider in the web, the spider in the web
      Spin, spin oh watch him spin.  The spider in the web.
      The spider eats a fly, the spider eats a fly
      Spin, spin oh watch him spin the spider eats a fly.
      (substitute other insects)

Closing Rhyme:  Thank You Clap