…storytime, books, and ideas

Archive for the ‘Apps’ Category

Play with Words!

Book cover: recipes for playThis post is to supplement a workshop I am doing at the NSCC for Child Care Providers. Below are links to resources for the workshop, Play With Words! Other readers might find these links useful. Enjoy!

Be Fit Kits: Play and be active  AVRL currently has Be Fit Kits for borrowing, and is working on Be Fit Kits 2.o, which will be launched in March 2017.

Time to Play – AVRL Booklist for adults. Place holds on the books directly from the list!

AVRL – Play in the Library (PDF) This has resources on why play is important in the library setting. Applications to child care settings are similar.

Zero to Three – Videos, research,  resources, and articles on the connections of play and early learning.

Zero to Three video on play and thinking skills

Let’s Play : Free app from Zero to Three  — searchable, and has age levels as well as selected activity locations (bed & bath,  chores, etc)

Full-colour booklet on the Power of Play. Intended for parents, but has lots of good tips  for care providers as well.

Really Rosie play workshop guide. Tips & activities for adult learners.

Center for Childhood Creativity: Research, articles, tips, blog posts.

Importance of Play (PDF) Whitepaper from  Association for Library Services to Children.

Child’s Play: a 4-page handout good for quick tips and sharing with parents.

Center for Excellence for Early Childhood Development (Canadian). Lots of resources here.

Blog Post: Modeling Pretend play

How to do a Fort Night (or day) – blog post from Jbrary

Photos of AVRL fort night on Facebook

Jbrary YouTube Playlist: songs for every occasion and then some.

Knife, Fork, Spoon song from Jbrary

Physical Literacy is like reading literacy: 10 ways they are similar (article)

Active play for the early years from Participaction

Words at Play— Philadelphia  Free Library initiative using literacy as basis for play experiences.

Stories to Act Out: Beyond the Book Blog- play with story, and also this blog has loads of tips on using puppets.

Storytime Underground Resource Depot: The Importance of Play

Blog Post: How to do Life-size Candyland – great game idea!

Drive-in Movie using boxes as cars.

Baby Dance Party (blog post on how to do it, includes playlist)

All things STEAM  (science play) from “The Show-Me Librarian” blog

Box Town – create a whole city from boxes! Blog Post from “Tiny Tips for Library Fun”

Flannel Friday on Pinterest: a bazillion ideas

NOTE: If you have other great resources or blog posts, add them in the comments!

App of the week: Mo on the Go

From Disney Publishing, available for iPhone and iPad, comes a new Mo Willems app called Mo on the Go. For $3.99, you and your child can spend some quality time with the Pigeon’s creator. There’s a monster maker, where you get to choose the top, middle, and bottom of your monster. There’s a fun “Dream Drive” game where you pick moup all the ducklings at the bus stops. There are sticker pictures, which is my least favourite of the app, but I’m sure kids will have fun with it.  There are two other games that I find really fun. There’s Dance-o-Rama where you get to choose 3 dances for Piggie and Gerald the Elephant. You can dance along, and after a few dance sessions, Mo Williems will come out and dance with you! Fun! ** And Mo’s Squillems is a fun drawing activity. You start with a squiggle then the next person adds to the drawing. You can choose for Mo to start the squillem, or you can play with 2 people (parent and child would be the obvious choice!). For kids who love Mo Willems’ books, this one is an entertaining addition to the app collection. It features several of the author’s characters, so if you already have the Pigeon app, this one is a nice way to look beyond the famous bird books.

**I’ve used this app in storytime — had everyone dance along. Great way to get some movement in!

App-like books

aa countHas anyone else noticed the trend to make books more like apps? Just today, I read another one.  COUNT THE MONKEYS by Mac Barnett made me feel like I was reading a book app.  This is not a bad thing, in fact, I rather enjoy the active instructions.  For example, you are asked to turn the page slowly, raise your hand, move your hand in a  zigzag, etc.  The book does not actually DO anything, it is the reader that is doing the actions. And the actions will be great fun in storytime.

TAP THE MAGIC TREE by Christie Matheson is coming out in August.  This one really reminds me of an app, especially since the reader is asked to tap, pat, knock, shake, and rub the tree. Again, lots of fun for storytime. I will be really surprised if these books don’t get their own apps. It only seems natural and easy.

One of my favourite app-like books is PRESS HERE by Herve Tullet. This one does have its own app, and it is almost as much fun as the book. I love that Tullet has so many active books — just about every one of his books are almost toy-like in their interactive design. aa tap

Other books that remind me of apps are: TUCK ME IN by Dean Hacohen, THERE ARE CATS IN THIS BOOK by Viviane Schwarz, and TANKA TANKA SKUNK, by Steve Webb.

How about you? Have you found any app-like books you love to use in storytime?



Silliness abounds!

Set up for the book app

Set up for the book app

I learned a few new silly songs at the ALA conference, so I decided to share them at my monthly Milk & Cookies Story Hour.  I also share an app, and was looking for something silly, and then found out that Sheree Fitch’s book, There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen, has been made into an app. This is the first time that I have used a book app in storytime (I have usually used shorter, interactive apps).  I actually let Sheree Fitch read it, (using the “Read to Me” option) since she is a well-known and beloved author for Nova Scotians.  And she does a good job of reading it. But 3 year olds would rather have a LIVE person read to them, even with the interactive elements such as popping a bubble-gum bubble and dancing along with monkeys. The older kids (ranging from 6-9) enjoyed it, and sat for it, but the younger ones got a bit fidgety. Lesson learned! The adults in the audience also enjoyed it.

But the main reason I wanted to use a silly app was that I had these awesome silly songs and puppet show that I just learned. We did “Fruit Salad”, which I learned at ALA during “guerrilla storytime”.  You can see it in action here, at around 3:16 in the video. We’ll be doing that “Shake Shake” song next month, so stay tuned!  I also learned “The Wishy Washy Washer Woman” from the WCCLS wunderkind, Rick. Both songs were very well received by the whole age range (even adults).

I also found a fun little puppet story that I adapted a bit to match my puppets (I didn’t have a chick, so I used a hen). The story is from the book Farmyard Beat by Lindsay Craig, and here’s how Steven Engelfried does it.  After the puppet story I had to read the book because the crowd demanded it! Always fun to compare.

Play storytimeOther books we shared were: Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea, which again was more appreciated by the older kids, but since this storytime has turned into a family free-for-all, I’m ok with having some things that are over the littler ones heads.  I also read The Doghouse by Jan Thomas and Duck on a Bike by David Shannon.

Then it was time for play and also milk & cookies. Vanilla sandwich cookies and chocolate milk this time. It really doesn’t matter how cheap the cookies are. Kids will eat them. And these were pretty good for cheap cookies. The 6 iPads were quickly snapped up, but so were the puppets, the textured balls, and the magnets. I also brought along the Monster Feet which are always a hit.

Milk & Cookies storytime is really fun– and I consider it my Testing Ground storytime — I get to try out new things on a live audience. And so far, they really seem to enjoy being my guinea pigs!

App of the Week: My A to Z

ABC appThis is the best free app I’ve seen, maybe ever! More than a flash-card ABC app, this one allows for personalization that can be an excellent learning tool. Each letter of the alphabet is presented with simple clip art and a spoken word. No big deal, right? Plenty of apps do that. But with this one, from Night & Day Studios, you can make your own ABC flashcards! Record your own voice (or your child’s). Record the dog barking! Take it with you to the zoo and record some animals! Go on an alphabet hunt around your house, your yard, your town — and personalize the alphabet with your child!

It works on iPhone and iPad, so if you have one of those and a child between the ages of 3-6, you need to go get this app right now! And free is a very good price for something with such great learning potential.

Here’s a great way to use it: Start with A. With your child, go on a hunt for something that starts with A. Take a photo of it, and change the default apple picture! Now, record your voice, or your child’s, saying the word or making a sound. Then move on to B….  And once your child has learned all the words you find, you can start over, and add more vocabulary! And you don’t have to stick to English– customize it to help teach your child any language!

I just love this app. What a great way to share a technology tool with your child.


App of the Week: Grow a Reader

Calgary Public Library has created a lovely app for parents.  I just can’t stop looking at this agrowpp and how amazing it is!

The app is called GROW A READER and it is free for iPhone and iPad. It has early literacy tips for parents in video form, it has mini-videos of rhymes and songs, and it suggests books, all within the Every Child Ready to Read  “Talk, Sing, Read, Play, Write” areas.  I love this app so much– I think I have a crush on Calgary Public Library!

Any parent with a young child and an iPhone or iPad should rush out right now and download this sweet app.  I’ll even make it easy for you. Just click HERE!



App of the Week: Bugs & Bubbles

App: Bugs & Bubbles                                                bubbles

Developer: Little Bit studio

Price: $2.99

Platform: iPad/iPhone

Educational Use:  colors, counting, letters, patterns, shapes, sorting

Age: 2-7

Why I like it:  Lots of games, different levels, and many ways to learn. Nice graphics, too.

There are 18 games in this app, so the $2.99 pricetag is pretty reasonable (and it looks great on the iPad, which is how I tested it).  Each game has levels, so the youngest can play and older kids will probably be interested as well.  It has soothing background music and  really nice graphics. And who doesn’t love bubbles? There are games for learning colors, counting, recognizing patterns, learning about opposites, vocabulary, matching, a game that uses “pinching” -(building those pincer muscles again),  a letter drawing activity, and several more! The games are entertaining enough to play more than once, and the skills that can be developed are many.


App of the week: Chalk Walk

Welcome to my new feature, App of the Week! Each week,  I will showcase an app that I’ve tested and recommend.  Here’s my inaugural choice!     chalk wlak

App: Chalk Walk

Developer:  Mrs. Judd’s Games

Price: FREE

Platform: iPad

Educational Use: writing, fine motor skills

Age: 2-6

Why I like it:  fun and funky music, have to use 2 fingers to draw, which mimics the fine motor skills needed to use a pencil.


There are two modes: Trace and Doodle. In trace, you follow a line that gives puzzle clues to spell words. In Doodle, you can, well, doodle – you can also change backgrounds,  save your pictures, and change the chalk color.  This is a good app for children who like to draw and write. Because you have to use the “pincer” muscles – the thumb and finger- it develops the same fine motor skills as holding a pencil. the Parents and Teachers section has some nice tips for extending and sharing this app with kids.  While it does have occasional notifications, I have not noticed any other annoying ads or in-app purchases. You can turn off the music, though it is really not bad.  Settings allow for right or left-handed users.

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