Because planning a program doesn't just take 5 minutes

Letter A


We are doing alphabet-themed storytimes again this year.  Many of the logistics are the same (although the mystery bag needed some repairs.)  See below for the 2015 Letter A Storytime.

Opening Song: “I Am Here & You Are Here” by Peter & Ellen Allard (on Sing It! Say It! Stamp It! Sway It! Vol. 3)

Mystery bag items: apron, apple, alligator, acorn, airplane (puzzle piece).  Even though this is just the first week and many of the kids are new, at least to me, this year, there were kids who were able to guess the letter right away based on the objects in the bag.

Because we’d already talked about the letter, I introduced each story or song by having them guess what A-word it was about.

ten-red-applesStory: Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins.  The repetition and rhythm in this one are great, but the book is just too long.  I introduced it as Ten Red Apples and then let them know that we were just going to read the last five because otherwise the book was too long for storytime.  I told them if they wanted the whole thing, they could read it at home.  I got some adult laughs, so I guess they were appreciative of trying to keep it to a reasonable length, and I hope I modeled that it is ok to not read the whole book every time.  The kids participated in this one, doing some of the repeated lines with me and helping with the animal sounds.

Song: “There’s a Dog in School” Because what starts with A and ends with BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ?  The alphabet, that’s what!  This is always a popular song.  We started with dog and then I let the kids choose animals.  There were no cats or birds this time.  They went straight for the big guys – lion, tiger, and crocodile!  (Crocodiles say “chomp,” in case you were wondering.)i-saw-an-ant

Story: I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track by Joshua Prince.  This one reads even better out loud than it did in my head.  The rhythm really does feel like a train coming down the track.  You can almost chant it.  To keep the kids involved, because it’s kind of long and some of the language might not be familiar, I had them chant “Tickety tack, tickety tack!” on all of the page turns, which was the sound the ant’s feet made on the track.  This was my first time reading this book in storytime, and I would definitely use it again.

Song: “Five Little Monkeys Swinging from a Tree.”  Because Mr. Alligator, that’s why.  Although I’ve also done this one with Mr. Crocodile, so I guess it could go either way.  I had considered doing “My Aunt Came Back,” because I’ve had good luck with call and response in the past, but I wasn’t sure my group was old enough.  Also, my last story was an alligator story, so it was a good segue.snip-snap

Story: Snip Snap! What’s That? by Mara Bergman.  I can’t help it, I love this book.  I will pull it out for any (or no) reason.  It’s so fun to read the creepy bits really sloooowly and drag it out.  Were the children entertained?  You bet they were!

Closing Song: “See Ya Later”

apple-treeCraft: Tissue paper apple trees.  I gave them tree outlines printed on cardstock and they decorated them with green, red, yellow, and brown tissue paper.  I had the tissue paper cut into squares, and they did a good mix of folding, rolling, and crumpling.  It was a great fine motor activity, and had a nice sensory component as well with the crinkly paper.  Tissue paper can get soggy very quickly, so I put out the glue on little paper plates with q-tips as applicators.  This helped them keep the amount of glue on the picture to a reasonable level, and it was also some stealth pre-writing practice.  The picture on the right was mine.  The kids’ pictures had a lot of variation.  This craft would work well for fall trees (red, orange, yellow, brown paper) or spring trees (green, white, pink) as well.


Opening Song: “I Am Here & You Are Here” by Peter & Ellen Allard (on Sing It! Say It! Stamp It! Sway It! Vol. 3)

mystery-bagAfter the opening song, I introduced our newest Storytime adventure, the Bag of Mystery.  Since we’re doing letter-of-the-week themes this year, I wanted to start out by showing some things that begin with the letter of the week, and then having the kids guess the letter.  I raided my kids’ bedrooms and the library play area for items beginning with A.  This week’s bag contained: apple, acorn, apron, airplane, and an Anna doll (from Frozen), as well as a large magnetic letter A.  I ended up taking out all of them but Anna.  I was surprised that the kids didn’t just start hollering the letter as soon as I pulled out the first thing, but they were pretty good about identifying the objects as they came out and then telling me the letter when I asked for it.

Because we’d already talked about the letter, I introduced each story or song by having them guess what A-word it was about.  “This story is abut something that begins with the letter A.  It’s an animal.  It’s green.  It’s scaly.  It has big, sharp teeth and long jaws that go snap!”  (Of course, then someone guessed “dinosaur.”  But what can you do?)

snip-snapStory: Snip Snap! What’s That? by Mara Bergman (alligator).  I love, love, love this book.  It has made it into my frequently-presented stories pile.  I love the slow build-up, especially when you read it in a low, slow voice to build tension.  I love how the first time you ask if the children are scared the kids say no, but then they pick up on the “You bet they were!” and shout it along.  And I love how the characters find their pluck in the end.

Song: “Five Hungry Ants”   This one has also been a favorite recently.  Who doesn’t love fake sneezing?  No one.  That’s it.  Honestly, I usually dislike “Five Little …” counting down type fingerplays (and fingerplays in general, really), but the sneezing makes this one work for me.  And it’s so fun to watch the smaller kids try to get the right number of fingers up.  It’s trivial for the 4s and 5s, but the 2s really struggle, and the 3s need to put in a little bit of effort.

letting-goStory: Letting Go by Janet Morgan Stoeke (apples).  This was the first week of storytime, and I wasn’t sure who I’d get.  Sometimes we have a lot of toddlers.  This week, I ended up with mostly ages 3 to 5.  This story worked well for them for a first week, when we aren’t all into the routine yet.  It is a pretty simple, linear narrative, with not too much happening on any page, but some interesting things going on in the pictures for the kids to think about.  Especially with the amount of repetition and participation in the other two books, this one worked.

Song:  “There’s a Dog in School”   I’ve been doing this one for my beginning-of-year kindergarten visits, and it got stuck in my head.  The word alphabet begins with A.  And the alphabet itself begins with A.  So, why not?  Because these guys are younger, I actually sang the alphabet through before we started, but then we had dogs, cats, ducks, and a few other animals barking, meowing, and quacking the alphabet.  Fun times!

aint-gonna-paintStory: I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont (art).  This is another one that I pull out a lot when I don’t know a group well.  It’s a song, and it’s funny.  The kids sing along some, and they like guessing the body part, especially if I stretch out the word “myyyyyyyyyy” really long while I turn the page to see what body part the kiddo has painted this time.


Closing Song: “See Ya Later”

Craft:  Autumn play dough – white (plain), red (cinnamon), green (apple).  For the apple dough, I used this Jello dough recipe, but there is also Kool-Aid dough or apple shampoo dough.  When I looked at the Jello dough recipe later, it turns out that it was identical to the dough I usually make, but with Jello added in.  So I guess I didn’t need a special recipe after all.  I usually have trouble getting a nice red color, but this one came out really deep.  I may have gone crazy with the red dye, or maybe the cinnamon darkened up the color nicely.  Either way, it was nice to have red instead of pink for a change!

The kids made so many cool things with this!  Even the kid whose mom said he usually hates play dough.  I didn’t take pictures until the end, but at the beginning, several families were making letters out of the dough.  Letter A, but also spelling the kids’ names.  So it ended up being a cool, multi-sensory literacy activity.  Plus, see the Very Hungry Caterpillar there?  Love it!

scented-dough-4 scented-dough-3 scented-dough-2 scented-dough-1






“Five Hungry Ants”

Five hungry ants were marching in a line.
They came across a picnic where they could dine.
They marched across a sandwich.
They marched across a cake.
One marched across the pepper. Uh-oh! That was a mistake.

Repeat with four, three, two, one.

“There’s a Dog in School”

There’s a dog in school, oh no!
What are we going to do?
As long as there’s a dog in school,
He’ll have to learn the alphabet too.
(Bark the alphabet.)

Repeat for other animals.  End with kids, and sing the alphabet.
Possible subthemes:  apples, alligators, astronauts, animals, art, ants, alphabet

Other possible titles:

It’s an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall (aardvark)

Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid (alligator)

The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara (aliens)

Your Alien by Tammi Sauer (aliens)

If I Were an Astronaut by Eric Braun (astronaut)

Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins (apples)

The Sky is Falling by Mark Teague  (apples)


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