Earthmover and Printmaking, an Art Storytime


Tip Tip, Dig Dig by Emma Garcia
I Am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines

We’re starting to wrap up our CSLP 2013 summer reading theme, “Dig into Reading.” This week our theme was EARTH MOVERS. Since it’s getting to be the end of the summer I pulled out some of my favorites. We started out reading Tip Tip, Dig Dig. I always love a book that gives you an easy opening for incorporating movement into the story. This one had the added bonus of a loose color tie in, so as we worked on remembering the movements that accompany each truck, you can also ask the children about the colors they see. Everyone got into the action.

Our second story this week was another one of my favorites, I Am a Backhoe. This is another story that has a great dramatic play tie-in. As the child in the story plays and acts out the movements of different machines, the storytime children can play along and try to guess what kind of machine he is.


Today I introduced the children to a construction themed flannel game I created for a co-worker. The object is to match the color of the person to the color of the vehicle. For more about the flannel including the cute little song I made up, see the Flannel Friday post!

Action Rhyme:

Today’s extension activity was a great one for working out the fidgets. The kids liked it so much we did it twice.

Johnny’s Hammers

(Make hammering motion with one fist)
Johnny had one hammer, one hammer, one hammer
Johnny had one hammer then he had Two
(Make hammering motion with both fists)
Johnny had two hammers, two hammers, two hammers,
Johnny had two hammers then he had Three.
(Make motion with both fists and one leg.)
Johnny had three hammers, three hammers, three hammers,
Johnny had three hammers then he had Four
(Make motion with both fists and both legs)
Johnny had four hammers, four hammers, four hammers,
Johnny had four hammers then he had Five
(Make motion with both fists and both legs and head.)
Johnny had five hammers, five hammers, five hammers
Johnny had five hammers, then he went to sleep
(lay hands like sleeping)

Art Station:

Our art word this week was PRINT. You make a print anytime you transfer an image onto your presentation media (in this case paper). For our earthmover storytime, we created earthmover prints. First the children worked with my special fingerpaint (8 parts tempera paint to 1 part dish soap) directly on the surface of the table. Craft sticks were available for children to pretend they were bulldozers pushing paint around… or they could just use their fingers. When their masterpiece was complete, an adult would lay a clean piece of paper on top of their painting to transfer the paint to the paper. The kids seem to love any kind of printmaking project and this was no exception.

Featured art station set up:

  • Clean fingerpaint (8 parts tempera paint to 1 part dish soap)
  • Dishes with spoons for the fingerpaint
  • Craft sticks
  • Paper

Cats and Circles, An Art Storytime


Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin
Mamma Cat Has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming

We continued this month’s theme of pets by talking about CATS. We started out by reading Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. Eric Litwin’s Pete the Cat series always makes me happy. The kids love the singing and the story lines. I love that it is so easy to include the children in the storytelling. These books have everything, colors, counting, a nice message.

Mamma Cat Has Three Kittens is a sweet little story. Mamma cat does indeed have three kittens: Fluffy, Skinny and Boris. Fluffy and Skinny do everything their mother does, but Boris keeps sleeping through their antics. The kids really loved looking for the hidden creatures on every page.

Action Rhyme:

This week’s accompanying activity was a traditional counting rhyme. I used 5 cat silhouettes on my counting windows and removed each one as I progressed through the rhyme.

Five Little Kittens

Five little kittens, sleeping on a chair.
One rolled off, leaving four there.
Four little kittens, climbing in a tree
one hid in a bird’s nest; then there were three.
Three little kittens, wondered what to do.
One saw a mouse, then there were two.
Two little kittens, playing in the sun.
One chased a ball, now there is one.
One little kitten, with fur soft as silk,
Left all alone to drink a dish of milk.

Art Station:

Our art word this week was CIRCLE. We briefly discussed the difference between a circle and an oval and also talked about some things we could see that are circles. Included in this discussion were Pete the Cat’s round buttons which led us (conveniently) into our featured art project.

Our project this week used circle cut outs of various sizes as well as my hand made paint daubers. To make a dauber yourself, take a disposable water bottle (I’d suggest an aquapod type water bottle because they’re more rigid). Add about a half cup of tempera paint. Add a quarter cup of water and stir if your paint is very thick. Use a flat round makeup sponge or a cheap synthetic sponge to cover the top of your water bottle. Hold the sponge in place with a rubber band. Add masking tape around the edges of your sponge if you’re feeling paranoid. To paint, tip the bottles upside down and dot, dot, dot. Do not squeeze the bottles.

This painting method is especially fulfilling for a few reasons. First, there is a novelty factor. Second, there is slightly less painting mess to clean up as the paint almost always moves directly from dauber to paper and almost never ends up on the table. Third, the various colors seem to mix much less so the finished pieces are a pastiche of various colors, not an ugly brown mess. Fourth, although you do need some time to set up the bottles and clean off the sponges to use again another day, there is almost no wasted paint because at the end of the day, you just put the caps back on the water bottles.

Featured art station set up:

  • Paint Daubers
  • Paper
  • Circle cut outs

Bugs and Brown, an Art Storytime


The Big Bug Ball by Dee Lillegard
I Love Bugs! by Philemon Sturgis, illustrated by Shari Halpern

Our CSLP “Dig into Reading” theme continued this week with BUGS. The children were very excited to talk about all kinds of bugs. Some were very interesting (like dragonflies and butterflies) and some should be avoided (like mosquitos and fire ants). Then we read The Big Bug Ball. I enjoyed rhymes and the children enjoyed talking about all the different bugs they saw. We stopped several times in our telling to talk about the characteristics of the different bugs.

Our second story this week was I Love Bugs! Again, they were all quite excited to talk about the different bugs as they appeared in the book. One child quite emphatically told me not to touch ants because they would bite you (as he illustrated by biting his own finger.) Some of the insects in the story were not familiar to the children but they enjoyed discussing them anyway and those “in the know” were sharing their knowledge with the uninformed.

Action Rhyme:

My supporting activity this week was the Eency Weency Spider. We did the traditional, tiny spider with thumb and index finger pinched together. We followed up by singing the Big Fat Spider with the thumb and index finger as far apart as they could go. Then we rounded off the songs by singing The Really Fast Spider and The Really Slow Spider.

Eency Weency Spider

The eency weency spider went up the waterspout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the eency weency spider went up the spout again

Art Station:

Our art word this week was BROWN. None of the children claimed it was their favorite color. However, then we had a discussion about all the things that are brown: trees, puppy dogs, hair, people, chocolate. Once we started talking about all the things that are brown, they admitted that brown is a useful color.

Our featured art station this week included brown, white and red paints. The brown paint was composed of the leftovers from previous painting projects (RECYCLING!) To make the project a bit more exciting (and work on more fine motor control) the children also had access to some confetti type pieces of colorful paper they could stick to their paint and some glitter. The glitter was provided in an empty plastic spice shaker with half the holes blocked. Amazingly enough, glitter mostly stayed on the art, not the library.

Featured art station set up:

  • Brown, white and red paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper
  • Confetti pieces
  • Glitter

Vegetables and Vehicles, an Art Storytime


It’s Harvest Time by Jean McElroy
Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre

We continued our “Dig into Reading” theme again this week with VEGETABLES. We began by reading It’s Harvest Time. This book was a last minute find. I was very excited to find this book. The book features photographs of seeds and shows them in the beginnings of the germination process and then shows the harvested fruit or vegetable. The kids really liked seeing all the seeds and guessing what the final product would be. The format of this book was also interesting as each page folded out in stages.

Our second story was Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant. The kids enjoyed this book more than I thought they would. We spent the entire book looking at the quality photographs of vegetables and discussing the ones we liked to eat. I (in addition to their parents) was quite impressed with the number of vegetables they claim to eat.

Flannel Activity:

This weeks activity was a flannel rhyme, Magical Rainbow Stew. I first discovered this flannel through Flannel Friday about a year ago and every time I do it with the kids they are amazed! Check out Storytime ABC’s Flannel Friday post for more details!

Begin by introducing the children to a rainbow collection of plastic fruit. To do the activity, start with your red fruit and put it in your pot. Stir the pot with a nice big spoon as you repeat the rhyme below. At the end of the rhyme, pull out pre-cut pieces of your flannel rainbow. Repeat with all the fruit until your entire rainbow is up.

Rainbow Stew

Take an apple, put it in the pot
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot.
Take it out. What will it be?
The prettiest red you ever did see.

Art Station:

This week our art word was VARIETY. We discussed the meaning of the word and then talked about the importance of variety in our lives. The children discussed the different types of art projects we sometimes work on and then I introduced them to yet another variety of art project…. painting with vehicles. The process for this project was to drop a small amount of watered down tempera paint onto their papers and then drive through the paint with matchbox cars.

The children really enjoyed this art process. The only issue was in the amount of paint applied to their papers. I clearly stated at the beginning of this project that parents should apply the paint and there should be no more than a teaspoon of paint total. However, quite a few of the papers were soaked with paint.

Featured art station set up:

  • Paper
  • Watered down tempera paint (1 part paint: 1 part water)
  • Spoons (for dripping paint)
  • Cars

What is Art for Early Literacy

Art for Early Literacy is the name of my public library program designed for preschool children, ages 0 – 5. The program teaches early literacy fundamentals using art as its primary focus. The Art for Early Literacy program is designed to impart early literacy skills, introduce children to art concepts and give children of multiple age an interest levels a chance to explore at their own pace. This weekly program is quite popular and regularly draws a crowd of 30 – 60 children and caregivers.

Key components of my program:

  • A short story time encouraging children and caregivers to come together as a group.
  • Stations that allow me to scale up or down depending on the number of participants and are appropriate for children between the ages of 0 and 5.
  • Non-objective art activities that allow children to explore materials and techniques and learn through trial and error.
  • An environment that encourages children to collaborate, share and explore at their own interest and ability level.
  • Art stations that provide a feeling of continuity while allowing children a variety of explorations as materials are rotated.

The program is designed as a short story-time, approximately fifteen minutes long, followed by an open exploration of our multiple art stations to round out the rest of the hour. My mini-storytime is designed to be appropriate for multiple age groups. We discuss our letter of the week, read two books, sing a few songs, work on a flannel activity or finger play and practice spelling a few words. Storytime is where I introduce new art concepts. It is also where I review the rules for art class and explain the structure of the program to new participants. At the end of story time, I make sure that every family has a ticket which will tell them their starting art station. Then I demonstrate our featured art project and let the children loose to make art.

Currently I provide six to eight different activities which are roughly divided into five stations. At arrival, families are given tickets that indicate their initial station. It is the parents’ job to interest their children in the initial activity. When the child is ready to move on, the parent then looks for an open spot at another station and moves the child in the appropriate direction. I have found that the tickets prevent the attendees from bunching up around the featured art station. The five station categories are: featured project, scribbles, play-dough, needlework and manipulatives.

The featured art project rotates every week. This is also the only project that they get to take home. The rest of the stations feature materials that are changed biweekly or monthly. This allows children the chance to gain mastery and revisit skills. However after a few weeks, we change the way children are interacting with the material so they can expand their horizons and look at the materials in a new light. For more information on my stations, I invite you to read my blog posts: storytimes, featured art project, scribble station, playdough, sewing, manipulatives.

Five minutes before the scheduled end of the program, I sing a “clean-up” song and everyone helps put the materials away and clean up the mess. I have been told that clean-up-time is a favorite among many of the children and they certainly are enthusiastic helpers.

Dirt and Dip, an Art Storytime


Dirt Boy by Erik Jon Slangerup Illustrated by John Manders
Compost Stew: An A to Z recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals Illustrated by Ashley Wolff

Continuing our summer reading theme, “Dig into Reading,” this week we talked about DIRT. To begin with, we talked about digging in the dirt. Some of the children really enjoyed it; some did not like the feeling of dirt. Then we read our first story, Dirt Boy, which is the story of a child who loves being dirty and hates taking a bath so much that he runs away before bathtime one day. Out in the woods, he spends time with Dirt Man the Giant. This story was excellent for a beginner storyteller such as myself as it had only a few characters. But the story, although long, was quite engaging for my large group.

Our second story this week was Compost Tea. This story is an alphabet book with a rhyming laundry list of additions for your compost pile. If I were to read this story again, I’d begin with a better explanation of composting and making dirt. This story really didn’t resonate with my children, but I think that was my fault for not explaining better. The illustrations in this story are gorgeous collage and I recommend taking a look at this book for that reason if no other.


These flannel mushrooms were introduced at the end of my storytime. Since these were developed as a small group game for the children, I provided a general introduction to the pieces and talked to them about playing a matching game. In upcoming weeks, I will be showing individuals new ways to play with the mushrooms (if they don’t come up with the games on their own). For more information about my matching mushrooms, including how I made them and various games to play with them, see my Flannel Friday post here.

Action Rhyme:

My supporting activity this week was a song. As we sang the following song (to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It) the children pretended to be making a mud pie between their hands. Then at the appropriate point in the song, they would wipe their mud on the particular body part.

I Wish I Was a Little Hunk of Mud (tune of “If You’re Happy & You Know It”)

Oh, I wish I was a little hunk of mud
Oh, I wish I was a little hunk of mud
Then I’d oooeey and I’d goooeey over everybody’s shoooee
Oh, I wish I was a little hunk of mud.

Then I’d splish and I’d splat over everybody’s pants
Then I’d wiggle and I’d jiggle till I covered up your middle.
Then I’d spread and I’d spread until I covered up your head.

Art Station:

Our art word this week was DIP. First we talked about some things we might dip, like brushes or sticks or fingers or string. Then we talked about a few things we might dip into, like paint or water or mud. Finally I introduced our project for the week. I created some flannel “worms” which we would dip into some diluted tempera paint. The “worms” were two and a half inch flannel squiggle shapes that were hole punched and had six inches of yarn attached for a handle. The children had an excellent time wiggling their worms across their papers.

Featured art station set up:

  • Flannel worms
  • Diluted tempera paint
  • Paper

Roots and Rare, an Art Storytime


What Do Roots Do? by Kathleen Kudlinski
Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres

Our summertime reading theme, “Dig into Reading” continued this week with our storytime about SEEDS. We began by reading the very factual book, What Do Roots Do? I chose this book because it was specifically about roots and has lots of good factual information at a level that was very accessible for younger people. It also rhymed in a way that was not painful. The book was pretty long so I did have to shorten it for my audience. The kids enjoyed looking at the pictures of the different types of roots… especially the root vegetables.

Our second book this week was an audience participation story, Up, Down and Around. This story was a great opportunity to talk about the different ways that plants grow. But really, this story was a great way to get the kids up and moving around. The book follows the formula of the title the whole way through, so I had the children stand up whenever I said up, sit down whenever I said down and stand up, turn around once and sit back down whenever I said around. I’m not sure how much they actually listened to the story, but we all had fun with the activity.

Action Rhyme:

My supporting activity this week was a fingerplay about seeds and planting. The kids enjoyed it so much, they asked for a repeat.

5 Little Seeds

5 Little seeds in the deep, dark ground, (Hold up 5 fingers)
sleeping and waiting, not making a sound.(finger to lips)
Along came an ant, across the garden floor, (wiggle fingers like ant crawling)
He carried off one seed, and then there were four. (crawl fingers over to take away one)

4 Little seeds in the deep, dark ground, (Hold up 4 fingers)
sleeping and waiting, not making a sound. (finger to lips)
Down came a birdie, out of the tree, (flap hands like a bird)
He ate up one seed and then there were three. (“Eat” down one finger with opposite hand)

3 Little seeds in the deep dark ground, (Hold up 3 fingers)
sleeping and waiting, not making a sound. (finger to lips)
Out snuck a cat, as cats often do, (move hands slowly like a cat walking)
He dug up one seed, and then there were two. (Pretend to dig in the ground like a cat)

2 Little seeds in the deep dark ground, (Hold up 2 fingers)
sleeping and waiting, not making a sound. (finger to lips)
Along came some children, out having fun, (point to or tickle children)
They ran through the planted seeds, and then there was one. (Run with fingers)

1 little seed in the deep dark ground, (Hold up 1 finger)
sleeping and waiting, not making a sound. (finger to lips)
Down came the rain, and warm was the sun, (wiggle fingers down for rain, and hold up above head for the sun)
They woke up the little seed, his sprouting had begun! (Close fingers into a fist, then burst open at the word “woke”, and slowly raise hand up for remainder of the line.)

Art Station:

Our art word this week was RARE. We talked about the meaning of the word: unique, there is only one. And then talked about because there is only one of them in the whole world, they are rare and all the artworks they create are unique and rare too.

Then we talked about our featured art station. Since we were talking about roots, I thought it would be appropriate to make art with root vegetables. I gave the children some carrots and some potato stamps and they went to town. They enjoyed the potato stamps as I thought they would, but they enjoyed painting with the carrots much more than I would have suspected.

Potato stamps were created using the following method:

  1. Cut potato in half.
  2. Smash cut side of potato onto a small cookie cutter (embed it about 1/2”)
  3. Cut around the cookie cutter to remove the excess potato.

Featured art station set up:

  • Paper
  • Paint trays with tempera paint
  • Skinny carrots
  • Potato stamps

Seeds and Scribble, an Art Storytime


Growing a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
One Little Seed by Elaine Greenstein

Our summertime reading theme, “Dig into Reading” began this week with our theme, SEEDS. We began by reading the classic color story, Growing a Rainbow. The kids enjoyed the large colorful illustrations. I love the way the author illustrates real flowers and categorized them by their color.

One Little Seed is a very quick read but does a really excellent job illustrating the planting and growing process. The words and illustrations are very simple, but the idea is potentially complex. This is a story that can easily be expounded upon to give your group of children plenty to discuss… or it can be left just as it is for a baby storytime.

Action Rhyme:

My extension activity this week was a fingerplay. This was a big favorite with my group. Many of the children (including ones that would normally be considered a bit too young) were really interested in working out this fingerplay themselves. I repeated it three times during storytime, and I think I could have repeated it a few more times without any complaints.

This Is My Garden

This is my garden
(place left hand, palm toward sky, in front of you)
I’ll rake it with care
(use first 3 crooked fingers of right hand to “rake” left palm)
Then some flower seeds I’ll plant in there
(with thumb and forefinger “pinchers” touch garden four times to plant seeds)
The sun will shine
(right hand pinchers in air above “garden” twist wrist and open fingers)
The rain will fall
(wiggle fingers of right hand down to garden)
And my garden will grow up straight and tall
(put right hand under left hand “garden” push right hand fingers up through left hand to grow)

Art Station:

Our art word this week was SCRIBBLE. We had a brief discussion about the nature of scribbling. We had a brief discussion about whether we enjoyed scribbling (the jury was 50/50). Then we introduced our project this week. This project gave the children the opportunity to scribble with crayons on a smaller piece of paper. They then had were able to scribble with white school glue on top of their crayon scribble and place a variety of beans and seeds in the glue.
Despite the fact that there were multiple opportunities for this project to go wrong, it worked out very well. The amount of glue used was appropriate to the task (for preschoolers) and seeds were not scattered everywhere across the library. Most importantly, the children really seemed to enjoy the fine motor skills of squeezing the glue bottles and placing the seeds.

Featured art station set up:

  • Paper
  • White school glue (Elmer’s)
  • Crayons
  • A variety of seeds and beans

Turtles and Triangles, an Art Storytime


Turtle Splash! Countdown at the Pond by Cathryn Falwell
Hurry Up and Slow Down by Layn Marlow

Our theme this week was TURTLES. The first story we read for this storytime was Turtle Splash! Countdown at the Pond by Cathryn Falwell. This was a counting backwards from ten book. This book had rhyming (which I always enjoy) and showed many of the interesting creatures one might run into by a pond.

Our second book this week was Hurry Up and Slow Down by Layn Marlow. Before beginning this story, the children learned the ASL sign for turtle which they were able to repeat as we read. This is the story of Hare, who predictably does everything fast, and Tortoise (Turtle for the purposes of my storytime) who does everything slow except for one thing. Will Tortoise and Hare ever overcome their differences? Find out when you read this book!


I am super-proud of this flannel. It is made entirely of die cut flannel pieces that I could farm out to a volunteer I had that week. The only thing I had to do was embellish with numbers and glitter. They might not be the prettiest turtles ever, but they are still cute and the time saved was awesome.

I put these turtles up on my flannel board before I began reading Turtle Splash! and used these as a prop during the countdown. Normally I do not advocate creating a flannel for a perfectly good book, but the turtles are fairly difficult to count in the book.

For more details about this flannel, please see my Flannel Friday blog post here.

Action Rhyme:

My supporting activity for this storytime was a fingerplay. The kids enjoyed working on their fine motor skills as the turtle poked his head in and out of his shell.

My Turtle


This is my turtle
He lives in a shell
He likes his home very well
He pokes his head out when he wants to eat
And pulls it back when he wants to sleep

Make fist and extend thumb.
Hide thumb.

Extend thumb.
Hide thumb.

Art Station:

Our art word this week was TRIANGLE. We talked about a few triangles we saw in the room and then discussed our featured art project. This week our project was a hybrid collage and paint activity. I’m attempting to introduce the children (gently) to the idea of multi-step art projects. The idea is that they collage their triangles onto their paper first, and then paint on top. Not all of them got it, but then I didn’t expect them to. Their art was still beautiful.

Featured art station set up:

  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Paint Containers
  • Brushes
  • Pre-cut triangles
  • Glue Sticks

Rabbits and Fluff, an Art Storytime


White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker
Rabbityness by Jo Empson

Continuing our theme of spring, this week we talked about RABBITS. We began by reading White Rabbit’s Color Book. In a similar way to Mouse Paint (Ellen Stoll Walsh), this story reinforces color mixing concepts by having White Rabbit jump into different tubs of paint (and then clean off again). I was really quite impressed that several of the children were able to answer correctly when I asked them, “What will happen when yellow rabbit jumps into the blue paint?” This book is very sweetly illustrated, and I simply love any book that talks about color mixing in a way that children will understand and remember.

Our second story was Rabbityness. As I read, the children were encouraged to make the ASL sign for rabbit every time I read the word. Rabbityness is a book that recently came into our library’s collection. It tells the story of Rabbit, who likes to do rabbity things like jumping and twirling his whiskers. But Rabbit likes to do some very un-rabbity things as well. I love the way that the illustrations add punch to the story. And I love the message of the book as well. It encourages everyone to do the things that truly make them happy and share that happiness with the world.


White Rabbit’s Color Book was shared with the assistance of flannel props. This is one of my all time favorite flannel presentations because if you can manage to do it right, it’s almost like magic. The trick is to have different colors of flannel rabbits hidden in various containers. Then, as you read the story and White Rabbit jumps into the tub of yellow paint, you can drop your white flannel rabbit into your own yellow container and pull out a yellow rabbit. Magic!

I found this idea on the blog Sunflower Storytime. Follow the link for more details on how to make your own magical white rabbit prop.

Counting Rhyme:

My supporting activity this week was a counting rhyme. I used five flannel bunnies I had previously created for a coworker. Since these bunnies were already labeled 1-5, I did not bother with my counting windows this week.

Five Little Bunnies

One little bunny,
Wondering what to do,
Another bunny came along,
Then there were two.

Two little bunnies,
Hopping like me,
Another bunny came along,
Then there were three.

Three little bunnies,
Jumping around outdoors,
Another bunny joined them,
Then there were four.

Four little bunnies,
So fluffy and alive,
Another bunny joined them,
Then there were five.

Five little bunnies,
Ready for some fun,
Hopped away in the
Warm, spring sun.

Art Station:

Our art word this week was RECTANGLE. We talked briefly about some rectangles that we see in storytime. Then we talked about the papers that we habitually paint on (rectangles as well). Then I introduced our featured art project for the week. The children were given some white glue and paint brushes to allow them to glue bits of colorful fluff and rectangles of various dimensions. The fluff was created by dismantling a few of the giant pom poms that have been floating around our back room. They turned out to be an interesting art medium as well as a fun sensory experience.

Featured art station set up:

  • Paper
  • White glue in egg cartons
  • Cheap plastic paint brushes
  • Scrap paper cut to smallish rectangles
  • Giant pom poms cut in half and pulled apart into “fluff”
  • Scissors (for any child wishing to cut her rectangles)