Category: Outreach

The Day the Crayons Quit

The Day the Crayons Quit

Crayon book and tin

My new favorite picture book is now a flannel story! I wanted to use this book with my outreach programs, but some of my groups are pretty big. So, while I was back-to-school shopping for glue sticks and crayons I found this Crayola tin. Perfect! Here’s how you can have a matching story:

Take the butcher paper that you use to cover your craft tables with and cut them into big pieces (white construction paper will work, too). You’ll need a total of 12, plus one extra big one for the finale. Fold them to fit into the tin. Cut out coordinating felt pieces to go with each color. With my big groups, I’m going to just use the tin with Duncan’s letters to read the story. You can pass out the felt pieces to get the children to match the colors at the right time throughout the story.

red crayon

1) Red Crayon

purple crayon

2) Purple crayon

beige crayon

3) Beige crayon

gray crayon

4) Gray crayon

white crayon

5) White crayon (I used black construction paper and white chalk. Then I sprayed the paper with fixative so it won’t smudge.)

black crayon

6) Black crayon

green crayon

7) Green crayon

yellow crayon

8) Yellow crayon

orange crayon

9) Orange crayon

blue crayon

10) Blue crayon

pink crayon

11) Pink crayon

12) Peach crayon (I haven’t made a prop to go with this yet. I was thinking of making a giant crayon and removable wrapper to give him “clothes” at the end of the story. Until then, I think I’ll skip this color because as of right now there’s no closure for this color.)

Day Crayons Quit

The big finale where all the colors live happily ever after! This sheet is about two feet by two feet and makes quite an impact when unfolded!

For more flannel ideas check out Notes From the Story Room. She’s hosting this week’s Flannel Friday.

One-Person Puppet Shows

One-Person Puppet Shows

It took me a while to use puppets in storytime. I was hesitant because this was something I didn’t learn about in grad school. Every professional workshop I attended about puppets had strict rules and Never Lists such as “Never leave a dead puppet” and “Never let the children see you and the puppet at the same time.” When I finally became comfortable with the job and performing in front of families, I ventured out into the puppet world, forgetting all of the nevers. It has worked for me and it can for you, too! Being a one-person children’s department I don’t have the luxury of “team teaching.” I also share my storytime space with the adult department who hosts authors, book talks, art openings, and I don’t have space to store a puppet theatre. I additionally do outreach to eight classes every month and like to share my puppet stories on the go.

I wrote a post about creating Puppet Bins for Outreach, but I also use them in-house to store puppets in while I’m storytelling. (As seen in the video below, you can also use a basket–no fancy materials required.) Doing this kind of storytelling is freeing. I don’t have to worry about rules that the children don’t seem to care about. The children know that the puppet is a toy and isn’t “alive” and they know that I’m controlling it. Having these bins sets the story up, and it usually helps me expand a story. The children will see a barn and yell out animals I haven’t packed (so I can use them next time!). If you are too reluctant to try puppet storytelling, watch these stories to see how I adapt a picture book. You don’t have to use my favorite stories, choose your favorite book to try out. I like choosing picture books for a few reasons: 1) the children can take the story home 2) sometimes I tell the story using puppets, then read the picture book and ask them what differences they notice 3) if I lose my place, I can always open up the book and find where I’m at.

Puppet cheat sheet1
Tape an excel sheet to the back of the book with a “cheat sheet” of puppets in order of appearance with their important “line” in the story.
Puppet cheat sheet2
Use a sticky note with a cheat sheet of puppets in order of appearance that you can hide in your lap.
Puppet cheat sheet3
Use the picture book in your lap and turn the pages as you tell the story using puppets.

I always have cheat sheets for my storytelling. Telling it to your husband at home is much different from a storytime crowd! Sometimes I tape an excel spreadsheet to the back of the book and display it next to me as I storytell. Sometimes I write a Post-It Note and stick it between my legs. Sometimes I take the picture book and lay it in front of me and read it as I go. All of these tricks work well and no child is ever bothered by them. Reading along with the picture book shows the children that they can also storytell with their stuffed animals at home. So don’t be afraid! You can do it!

Here are two of my favorite prop-helpers:

Here’s a demonstration for Are You a Horse? (I wrote a detailed blog about this story here with craft ideas.)

Here’s a demonstration of The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo. (I wrote a detailed blog about this story here with a craft coloring page.)

For more storytime ideas check out Piper Loves the Library, she’s hosting Flannel Friday this week.

What’s your favorite one-person puppet show story?

Revised Puppet Bins for Outreach

Revised Puppet Bins for Outreach

About six months ago I wrote about my Puppet bins. I love them and have been using them weekly ever since. But oh my goodness! Rubbermaid now makes an All Access bin that has a pull out drawer. You should have seen the happy dance I did at Home Depot (who usually goes in with her husband kicking, screaming, and pouting).

Rubbermaid Bin

I’ve designed a number of backgrounds so now I just need one bin to use for all of my puppet stories (and so can you)! You can print these out (on two 8.5 x 11″ sheets of paper), trim the left edge of the second sheet of paper and glue together. The total height will be 8.5″ and the total length will be 15″ once trimmed. You can glue to construction paper, laminate, add Velcro tabs to each corner, and store for future use. Just look at these beautiful pieces of artwork and story background! Here’s a quick list of stories you can use with each background:

River bin photo

River Rubbermaid Bin: Little Beaver and the Echo, Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, The Perfect Gift

Winter bin photo

Winter Rubbermaid Bin: Santa Duck, Ten on a Sled

Zoo bin photo

Zoo Rubbermaid Bin: Goodnight Gorilla, Dear Zoo

Ocean bin photo

Ocean Rubbermaid Bin: Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark, This is Not My Hat

Forest bin photo

Forest Rubbermaid Bin: I Want My Hat Back, Oh No!, Thank You Bear, Good Luck Bear, Tweak Tweak

Barn bin photo

Farm Rubbermaid Bin: Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo, Clip Clop, What Will Fat Cat Sit On?

Fall bin photo

Fall Rubbermaid Bin: Little Mouse’s Big Secret, Busy Little Squirrel

Desert bin photo

Desert Rubbermaid Bin: Are You a Horse, Who Took the Cookies?, Pouch, Wide-Mouthed Frog, Who Ate All the Cookie Dough?

Bus bin photo

Bus Rubbermaid Bin: Seals on the Bus

Here’s a short video about using puppet bins:

What stories can I add to my repertoire?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Caterpillar Butterfly

I cannot take credit for this imaginative “flannel” story (it’s actually made from foam). This story has been in my library’s basement for years, and some other children’s librarian created it (I wish I could give credit). I use this every spring and children (and adults) of all ages enjoy this telling. I actually had a parent groan when I announced that I was going to read the classic story in the beginning of storytime. She said that she’s heard the story a million times over the years with her five children. After storytime, she came up to me and apologized and said that my telling of the story was enthralling! So you can dazzle your audience, too! You’ll just need lots of foam, glue, a dark brown knee high, and googly eyes (or black and white felt).

Hungry Caterpillar

I begin reading the story and I introduce my “friend” (my pantyhose arm). Sometimes the children like to name him, so I go with whatever suggestion they like.

Caterpillar beginning

I pass out all the pieces (there are a lot, so I use them with field trips and outreach) to the children. I ask them to come up to me and put their piece on my friend when it’s their turn.

Caterpillar end

Near the end of the story, I show the children the beautiful, colorful caterpillar.

Caterpillar Butterfly

Unless I need the extra piece for a child, I keep the butterfly piece with me and add it on at the end of the story.

Here are all the pieces you can make from the story. Cut a hole in the middle of each shape to fit your arm. There are 1 apple, 2 pears, 3 plums, 4 strawberries, and 5 oranges, and 1 of each object:

Caterpillar food 1 Caterpillar food 2 Caterpillar food 3 Caterpillar cocoon and butterflyEnjoy!

For more flannel ideas, check out Storytime Katie (who posted her very own hungry caterpillar story last week) or Flannel Friday.

Arthur’s Nose

Arthur’s Nose


I was totally inspired by So Tomorrow’s Shadow Puppet story for Arthur’s Nose, I decided to make my own version. I know it’s not nearly as cool, but it works for my needs since I don’t have A/V equipment and use my stories in outreach programs. This is the great thing about Flannel Friday, which will be celebrating its second birthday next week. Being introduced to new stories, finding a new way to tell a classic story, and bouncing ideas off of like minds is what I get from the FF community. I’m a department of one, so even though I love my independence and ability to do anything I want I sometimes need ideas. I lurked for about a year before I started this blog in December 2012. Since then I’ve posted pretty much every week and hope to continue to do so. I was even a guest speaker at a college Children’s Lit class last week and shared some flannels I made from FF! Thanks for making my storytimes more exciting. I don’t think I’ll ever get through my To-Do List! =)

Here’s my version of Arthur’s Nose:

First, I used a legal size paper to draw Arthur.

Arthur Nose

Then I cut down letter size paper to 8.5 x 10 to fit to Arthur’s nose.

Arthur Alligator

Then I drew noses from the story, and added my own touches. I used crayons to make the colors really pop. (You could also get a volunteer to color for you.)

Arthur Nose 1Arthur Nose 2Arthur Nose 3I lined up the noses and punched two holes in each piece of paper. Then I laminated them and hooked them together with two book rings. Tada!

Arthurs Nose CompleteFor more ideas, more inspirations, and more flannel stories check out What Flannel Friday Means to Me being hosted by Rain Makes Applesauce.

This is Not a Stick

This is Not a Stick

Not a stick

After my very successful storytime prop of Not a Box, I decided to try making one for Not a Stick. I went to the hardware store and bought a 1″ thick wooden dowel, which perfectly complements the book cover! I wanted to keep the simplicity of the story, so I tore up a cardboard box for the props from the story. They easily slide on and off the wooden dowel and fit in a sandwich baggie for easy storage and for use in outreach storytimes. I used red yarn because I thought the color would show up best, though you could use blue to be true to the picture book. If you want something more fancy, you could use foam or even cover the cardboard with felt.

Stick Fishing PoleHere is the fishing pole complete with a paper clip fishing hook.

Stick batonHere is the baton. Now I just have to find a conductor’s hat!

Stick paintbrushHere is the paintbrush.

Stick WeightsHere are the weights.

Stick reignsHere are the reigns (and I use my horse puppet and maybe even throw on a cowboy hat!).

Stick swordAnd here is my sword, or Not-a-Stick!

Here’s my craft for the storytime. If it were any other season right now, I’d get some sticks from the trees. But the craft sticks work just fine!

Not a Stick Craft

For more ideas, check out Storytime Katie’s blog. She’s hosting this week’s Flannel Friday! I promise not to post anymore “Nots” for a while! Haha.

This is Not a Box

This is Not a Box

Not a Box

I love this book! It’s so fun and creative, but it’s slightly small to use with big storytime groups. I decided to make a prop to tell this story for my big groups and outreach storytimes. Here’s how:


Take a plain cardboard box (you may have one kicking around, if not you can purchase one for a couple of dollars at the office supply store) and fold the sides in the top down. Cut off the top pieces of whichever side you want to face the children. Using a hole punch, punch a hole on each side of the box.

Threaded Story

Using scrap pieces of cardboard, cut out nine pieces to accompany each scene in the book. Draw the picture on one side and dialogue on the back side using black and red permanent markers. Using two book rings (I used 2″ ones) thread the story backward on the rings with the dialogue facing you. (When you cut the pieces out, make sure they will fit in and out of the box on the rings easily.)

Not a Box

Here is the Not-a-Box! When I tell the story I use my rabbit puppet and the kids love it!

For more ideas to use in storytime, check out Courtney’s blog. She’s hosting Flannel Friday this week.

Using Puppet Bins for Outreach

Using Puppet Bins for Outreach

Farm Puppet Bin

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to use my puppet collection more in storytime. As I was poking through the clearance isle at my local department store, I saw red tupperware bins on blowout. “This would be perfect for a farm!” I thought. So I bought the 18-gallon bin and brought it home. I used white fabric paint (the same paint I use for my felt animals) and decorated the bin to be a barn. Each of the four sides is identical. It didn’t take very long and it dried pretty quickly!


Now I have a barn to use in storytime…and for all for my outreach visits, too!

Here are some stories I plan to use:

  • Clip, Clop by Nicola Smee (horse, cat, dog, pig, duck)
  • The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri (squirrel, mouse, bird, cat, dog, frog, owl)
  • Mother, Mother I Want Another by Maria Polushkin Robbins (mouse, frog, pig, duck, donkey)
  • I Went Walking by Sue Williams (cat, horse, cow, duck, pig, duck)
  • Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham (children, rabbit, cat, dog, pig, sheep, chicken, calf, goat)
  • Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins (horse, cow, donkey, goat, pig, sheep, goose, duck, hen, farmer)

Here are some songs I plan to use:

  • When Pigs Get Up in the Morning by Kimbo from Circle Time Songs & Games (pig, duck, sheep, cow)
  • Down on the Farm by Greg & Steve from We All Live Together v.5 (rooster, cow, pig, dog, horse, turkey, donkey, people)
  • There’s a Dog in School by Carole Peterson from H.U.M. (dog, cat, duck, bunny, kids)
  • Old MacDonald by Notso Swift from Mother Goose Rocks (cow, pig, horse, duck)
  • Say Good Day by Carole Peterson from Music for the Very Young Child (cow, pig, dog, chicken, kids)
  • Down on Grandpa’s Farm by Raffi from One Light One Sun (cow, hen, sheep, dog, horse)

Forest bin

Bamboo bin

Here are a couple more ideas…the possibilities are really endless!

Oh my goodness! I just changed the way I’m using these. Check out my Revised Puppet Bins post:

River bin

Theme: Overlay by Kaira