Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora


I just love this book Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora. Omu means “queen” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria, a country in Africa. It is what the author, Oge Mora, called her grandma. Let’s say Omu together. What do you call your grandmother?

[There are lots of aspects of this book that can be discussed and build on to support various aspects of early literacy. Here are a few.]

Background knowledge—book and story knowledge: Let’s look at the cover of this book. What do you see? What do you think this book might be about? Choose a repeated phrase to have the children join in with. Have children retell the story in order, using a flannel board or props.

Background knowledge—content knowledge: How do you think the author made the picture? It is called collage, cutting out shapes from paper and painting them or coloring them with marker. Have children make a collage.

Print Awareness: Point out the word Knock! and Thank you, Omu or any of the text written in caps. Point out word in the pictures such as TAXI, Open. Note that Omu is reading a book. The writing of a thank you card.

Phonological Awareness: make the sound of knocking, and point it out.

Letter Knowledge: Point out shapes such as the star on the police officer’s shirt, other shapes in the collages. Spell out Omu as you point to the letters. Letters spelling Thank you Omu on the last page.

Vocabulary: so many words that mean delicious—tasty, scrumptious, delectable. Say repeated phrase together “scrumptious scent wafted out the window”—talk about what the phrase means.

Pocket Craft

Craft: Make a Pocket
Using yarn and paper and/or fabric, sew a pocket. This can go with books like Pouch by David Stein or There's a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss.
Early Literacy Aside: Example Aside--Writing:  When we do crafts like this, using scissors and lacing, children are developing fine motor skills, strengthening the muscles they need for writing! If you would like to write a letter on the pocket, P for pocket or the first letter in their name, for example, then they would be learning letters as well!


Thanks to Jenny Rodriguez, Boynton Beach(FL) Public Library for this idea

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F.Isabel Campoy

Introduction: Our next book is about making a place better to live by making it more beautiful. It is called Maybe Something Beautiful and the illustrator, Rafael Lopez is the person who actually helped to make a neighborhood in San Diego, California, more beautiful by painting murals. Let's see what happened. This story is based on what really happened in San Diego. [After reading the book, or parts of it, describe what is said in "A Note from the Authors."]

Activity: Have some mural paper and paints. (if not paints, then crayons/markers) Talk about what the children might like to paint that might make a neighborhood beautiful. Then have them paint on the paper. Display it.


Early Literacy Aside (option 1): Adults, when we have children paint/draw, it is helping children develop the skills for later writing.

Early Literacy Aside (option 2): Adults, after your children have finished painting/drawing, ask them to tell you all about what they have made. Encourage them to tell you a story about it or how they got the idea. You can enrich the experience by expanding on what they say, descriptive words, words for feelings, encouraging their imagination, giving information about a topic. If they drew a butterfly, for example, you might add some information you know about butterflies. Your conversation can build their vocabulary and background knowledge, what they know about the world, which will make it easier for them later to understand what they read.

Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers

Our next story is about a rabbit who notices a black rabbit following him around in the light of day. Let's see if you can figure out what that black rabbit is.
Activity: Use a flashlight to demonstrate making a shadow. If you want you can do this after the book as an explanation.
Read The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers.
Activity: Hand out flashlights for children to make hand shadows. Ask questions about how to make a shadow larger or smaller. Have children and adults experiment together.

Early Learning Aside--Empower: As you walk around outside during the day, talk about shadows and how they are made. Do you see your shadow on a cloudy day? at night? When you talk with children about shadows, you are helping them learn about earth sciences, their world and how it works. Children are curious and interested in the world around them. Your explanations will later help them understand what they read.

Sequence Cubes

Storytime Activity: The cubes shown here are made from 6” x 6” packing boxes. There are 6 sequences per cube, one for each side of the cube. You can see here a sequence of three for caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly and from pumpkin to carving a jack-o-lantern face, to the finished jack-o-lantern.To play, each family or small group gets three cubes as a set. A child rolls a cube and describes the picture. If the child is unable to respond, the adult helps the child reply or labels the picture with one word. Next, different people in the group look for other items in the sequence on the remaining two cubes. [For easier sequences use only two items, for harder sequences use four or more cubes.] Early Learning Aside: Talking about sequences, first, second, third, what happens next supports scientific and mathematical thinking with this cube activity. In this case we will be playing with sequences of three, three in a row. Talk together about the pictures and what pictures make sense to be in the sequence. Then line up the cubes in a row in order from left to right. [Note that a 1, 2, 3, sequence could be from less to more or more to less. It is still a sequence.] Continue the game as another person rolls a cube; repeat the process. Instructions to make and use the cubes:  cubesseq


Elmer by David McKee Craft

Extension Activity: Elmer PuppetHand out elephant cut outs on white card stock and colorful construction paper squares to glue to the elephant or crayons to color the elephant. They then glue a popsicle stick to the back. Encourage children to describe what they made and to retell the story using their puppet. Adults with babies can make a colorful elephant to move in front of their babies’ eyes and talk about the shapes and colors.

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults as you play with your children or make crafts with them, try to use a word they are less familiar with. Children learn words best through their experiences, not by memorizing words. You might use less familiar words for colors, like fuschia or magenta, or perhaps the way the elephant is walking, lumbering slowly along. You have many opportunities throughout the day to build your children’s vocabulary. It is these little things you do over and over again that make a difference.

Submitted by Katie Ringenbach, Bucks County (PA) Public Library

There Were Ten in the Bed by Annie Kubler or Five Little Monkeys

Extension Craft Activity: Five in the BedHand out half-sheet of construction paper cut lengthwise and figures for children to decorate. Younger children glue five figures in the bed; older children decorate with more detail. Each child also gets a brad so that they can rotate their figures onto and out of the bed as in the book/song.

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults, your children are not only using their art to reinforce retelling the story There Were Ten in the Bed we read today, but also to reinforce our early literacy skill.  Singing is a great way to support phonological awareness in that it slows down the words and gives a different note to each syllable, so today’s activity is a 2 for 1!


Submitted by Katie Ringenbach, Bucks County (PA) Public Library

Too Much Noise by Ann McGovern


Empower Aside: I have a handout for you related to the book we did with a flannel board today in storytime, Too Much Noise. Using little cues like the flannel board pieces can help your children retell the story. The handout has squares where your children can draw in the animals, you can cut them out and then retell the story together. Your youngest children can say the animal sounds, slightly older children can say the names of the animals and perhaps repeat the words "too noisy" and your preschoolers can try retelling the whole story. All of these are stages in helping your children develop narrative skills which will help them later understand what they read and how stories work. Enjoy!Handout for Too Much Noise:  multsttoomuchnoise


Fold Your Own Book

Today you're going to make your own book, using just one sheet of paper.[You'll need one piece of paper per person per book and scissors.] Here is a video clip of how to make the book: fold a book   Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults, having your children write in the pages of their own books helps them understand how books work, both the turning of pages and also understanding that what they write represents what they say. Whether you are writing words for them or they are drawing pictures or scribbling, you are helping them develop print awareness, knowing that print has meaning. It is easy to do so you can make many books. Make little books for yourself as well as you have fun together.

Fold a Book Handout:  foldbook

Fold a Book

Craft Activity: Folding a book from one piece of paper can be used in a variety ways. You need one piece of paper and a scissors. The larger the piece of paper, the larger the book.Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Have your children draw a story with a picture on each page. Let them tell you what is happening on each page and you write it down. Your children are learning how stories work and they are learning how books work. Both are skills that will help them as they learn to read.

Fold a Book Handout:  foldbook How to Fold a Book video clip

Playing with Directional Words

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: We can help children learn new words as we play with them. In today's storytime we read We're Going on a Bear Hunt which had directional words. Here is a game you can play. Show your child an item (a shoe perhaps) and hide it in a room with a little of it showing. Give your child hints about where to find it using position words like right, left, above, below, and so on. You can also give clues like, "You're getting warmer or colder" as they get closer or farther away. Here is a handout with the game and some activities to support pre-reading skills.

Handout--game with five practices

A Rhyming We Will Go

Early Literacy Aside--Example: Let's take an interesting word from this book we just read. [Choose a word.] Now we'll play this song game. Helping your children make rhymes or notice words that rhyme is one way to help them hear the smaller sounds in words which will help them later to sound out words.Song to the tune of A Hunting We Will Go A rhyming we will go A rhyming we will go We’ll catch a rhyme In the nick of time And this is how it goes.

I caught the word _____!  What rhymes with ______? Good, what else rhymes with _____? 

 Repeat as often as you like. Rhyming words can be nonsense words!

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Remember the rhyming song game we played earlier? You can play this little game any place, any time you are with your children--in the car, waiting in line, at the doctor's office. These little things you do all add up to make a difference in helping your child be ready to learn to read. When you help them hear and make rhymes, you are helping your child develop phonological awareness, hearing the smaller sounds in words so they can later sound out words when they learn to read.


Sound in a Bag/Box

Preparation: Put some items in a bag or box, some of which starting with the sound /p/ (for example). Some examples include: pretzel, popcorn, paper, pig. Also include some items for words that do NOT begin with /p/.
Introduction: Ohhhh, here is my sound bag/box. Let’s see what’s in it today. Our llama in the book we just read was wearing red pajamas (Llama, Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney). Pajama starts with the sound /p/. Let me hear you say /p/. Good! I am going to pull out different things from my sound box. Let’s see which ones have the same beginning sound as pajama, /p/.
Play Game: As you pull items out of the bag, say what it is; or ask the children what it is. Repeat the word and emphasize the first sound. Our next item is a car. Car. Car. Car starts with /k/.  Are /k/ and /p/ the same sound? That’s right! They are not. Let’s look for our next item. What else do I have in here? What is this? Right, a pencil. Pencil. Pencil. Pencil starts with /p/. Do pencil and pajama sound alike at the beginning? Yes, they do!
Early Literacy Aside--Example Aside: Helping your child hear the beginning sounds of words, in a playful way, like with this game, is one way that you can help your child develop [phonological awareness,] hearing the smaller sounds in words.
Early Literacy Aside--Empower Aside: We played the sound in a bag game today. You can play this game with any items you have around the house. Or you can have a sound day--today is /d/ day. Throughout the day you and your children look for or think of words that start with the /d/ sound. Remember, you're not thinking about how a word is spelled, just the beginning sound. Keep it fun, not frustrating. This game is one way to help your children later sound out words when they learn to read.

Shapes Flannel Board and Matching Game

Preparation for Presenter: Using cutouts of different shapes (see attachment below) make shapes you can use on the flannel board. If you want to play the matching game in addition to talking about shapes, make more than one of each shape.
Introduction: Today we talked about shapes and alike and different. So let’s see what shapes you see up here. Depending on the size, age-level and attention span of the group, you can put the shapes up yourself or hand them out to the toddlers and have them put the shapes up on the flannel board. Say the name of the shape as well as some additional description. For example, "Here is a circle, a small blue circle.” Have the children repeat the name of the shape and/or the description.]
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Helping your child notice and talk about shapes later helps them identify letters. When you think of an upper case A, there is a triangle shape in it. For Matching Game: You keep one copy of each shape and pass out the additional copies of the shapes. Put up one shape, say what it is and describe it. Then have those children who have the same shape come up to the flannel board to add theirs to yours. Don't forget to clap for each person. Adults are welcome to help their children.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Playing matching games helps your child notice what is alike and different. This is one part of developing letter knowledge.
Matching Game Variation: You can make the matching more challenging by making patterns on your shapes. For example, you may color a couple of circles on a square, or make a design on two copies of the same shape. You can make the matching more or less challenging by how intricate or obvious the differences are. Use the handout of shapes for parents and children to cut out and play with at home. Early Literacy Aside for Shape Handout--Empower: This handout has several shapes you can cut out at home. You can use them as patterns and cut them out of different color paper. You can draw on them to make different patterns to match as well. You might ask your toddler to put all the circles together, all the ones with straight lines, all the ones with the same color. Sorting is one way of noticing what is alike and different. When children try to recognize letters they will need this skill. Think of a lower case h and a lower case n. They look similar but they are also different.

Shapes for Flannel Board

Shapes for Parent Handout

Shape Bee

Early Literacy Aside--Example:  Before children learn letters, they learn shapes. Let them play with shapes to develop later letter knowledge. Flannel Board: Do Shape Bee on flannel board. See attachment for pattern Shape Bee pattern Craft Activity: You can use the pattern as a basis to have the children make their own Shape Bee. Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Wherever you go today, look for the letter B, on signs, in books, on products. Then you can do the same with other letters throughout the week.

Submitted by Erin Nguyen, Public Library of Charlotte and Mechlenburg County (NC)

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

Early Literacy Aside--Explain: Teddy Bear puppet talking to introduce the skill: Today we are going to develop your children's story knowledge and thinking skills. These skills help them to understand what they read when they learn to read. [Then hide the bear in a black piece of paper like a cave.]Read We're Going on a Bear Hunt, putting motions to the words. Activity: Give children colored stips of paper to represent each of the scenes in the book. Connect each color strip with each scene; for example: blue for river, green for grass, brown for mud. Now, retell the story using first, second, third, etc.--first we went to the river and as they say the phrase they place the blue colored strip down, and so on. For the last action where they go home, have a piece of material to represent a blanket. Early Literacy Aside--Example:  With this activity what your child knows, by helping them in a couple of  ways--retelling the story so they understand how stories work and also with sequencing and connecting colors with actions which develops their thinking skills. 

Submitted by Irania Patterson, Public Library of Charlotte and Mechlenburg County (NC) and Saroj Ghoting

Old Macdonald Had a Farm Flannel Board

Pass out flannel board pieces of fam animals. Play or sing "Old Macdonald Had a Farm" .   When a child hears the animal he/she is holding, that child comes up to place the animal piece on the flannel board.Early Literacy Aside--Example:  Having your children hear and make the sounds of the animals is one enjoyable way to help them develop phonological awareness, to eventually be able to hear the smaller sounds in words. Take-Home Activity: Hand out shapes of animals for families to take home. Early Literacy Aside--Empower:  Parents, you can use these animal shapes to make animal sounds with your children and home and sing the song with them to practice the skill of phonological awareness.

Submitted by Helen Patzer, Dayton (OH) Metro Library, Northtown-Shiloh Branch.

Candlewick Press Storytime Plan

Storytime Plan includes these books with suggested activities and relation to the early literacy skills.Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpiller by Clare Jarrett On the Farm by David Elliott A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker Tweedle Dee Dee by Charlotte Voake [Some activities are more for school-age children.] readtousstoryhourkit.pdf