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Janelle Valera's Preschool Storytime Program Page




Word cloud created at Wordle.net


 Written by Lois Ehlert

(Harcourt Books 2005)



Andy Lopez

Used with Permission






Created at Tagxedo.com


















Title of Program: Enhanced Literacy Story Hour: Fall into Books 


ALSC Competencies:


I. Knowledge of Client Group

          1. Understands theories of infant, child, and adolescent learning and development and their implications for library service.

          2. Recognizes the effects of societal developments on the needs of children.

          3. Assesses the diverse needs, preferences, and resources of the community on a regular and systematic basis.

          5. Demonstrates an understanding of and respect for diversity in cultural and ethnic values.

          6. Understands and responds to the needs of parents, caregivers, and other adults who use the resources of the children's department.

          7. Cultivates an environment which provides for enjoyable and convenient access to and use of library resources.


III. Communication Skills 

          2. Listens and interacts actively when speaking individually with children, families, other patrons, and staff, paying genuine attention to what is being communicated, and           confirming understanding. 

          4. Communicates effectively when addressing or presenting to large or small groups of children and/or adults.


VI. Programming Skills

          1. Designs, promotes, presents, and evaluates a variety of programs for children of all ages, based on their developmental needs and interests and the goals of the library.

          2. Identifies and utilizes skilled resource people to present programs and information. 

          4. Establishes programs and services for parents, individuals and agencies providing childcare, and other professionals in the community who work with children.

          5. Promotes library programs and services to underserved children and families.



Age Group of Audience: September Storytime designed for 3-6 year olds




 Book 1: When Autumn Falls

                Nidey, Kelly.  2004. When Autumn Falls. Illustrated by Susan Swan. Park Ridge: Albert Whitman & Company. ISBN: 978-0807504901


Description and purpose for activity:

In rhyming and simple text, this book explores what happens during the autumn season and how that relates to the word, “fall.” Although this book is a traditional picture book, it is more informational based than story based. This book is read first, as it provides a foundation for concept of fall, which enhances the comprehension of the following songs and books.


 Book 2: Leafman

               Elhert, Lois. 2005. Leafman. Orlando: Harcourt Books. ISBN: 0-15-205304-2


Description and purpose for activity:

Through leaf colleges this book explores various adventures a man made of leaves can have when catching the wind.  The book encourages cognitive development such as imagination use and concentration, as young readers are encouraged to identify animals and other items made out of leaves. The large size, repetitive refrain, colorful pictures, and novelty di-cut pages make this book an excellent choice for group sharing.


 Book 3: Fall Mixed-Up

               Raczka, Bob. 2011. Fall Mixed-Up. Illustrated by Chad Cameron. Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing Group. ISBN: 978-0-7613-4606-7.


Description and purpose for activity:

Through short rhyming verse and colorful illustrations, children are encouraged to find all the ways in which fall has become “mixed-up.”

This book is purposely read last, as it requires the most analytical thinking and background knowledge for full comprehension. Additionally, as the last page instructs readers to go through the book once more to find the mistakes, this book encourages re-reading.



Activities including fingerplays, songs, and readings:


           “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” - traditional song/finger play

Twinkle, twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are

Up above the world so high

Like a diamond in the sky

Twinkle, twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are.”


Description and purpose for activity:

Opening song which signals the beginning of story hour. 

I have chosen a familiar tune because it is one which most children are familiar; so even newcomers will feel welcome to join in. It also sets the tune for the next song.


           “Library Welcome Song” – adapted song sung to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”

“Welcome, welcome everyone

Now you’re here, let’s have some fun

First we’ll clap our hands just so

Then we’ll reach and touch our toes

Welcome, welcome everyone

Now we’re here let’s have some fun.”


Description and purpose for activity:

2nd Opening song which signals the “real” beginning of story hour. 

This song is unique to Story Hour and not used with any other library program, and therefore it is part of a “special” routine.  Additionally, it is a welcoming tune, familiar enough for young ones to catch onto feel accepted as part of this special gathering.


           “Clap Your Hands” song – Action song played on CD

Cedarmont Kids. 2007. 100 Sing-Along-Songs for kids. Franklin: Cedarmont Kids “Clap Your Hands” no. 10. 1:57. 

Clap, clap your hands, Clap your hands together, (2X)

Clap a little harder now, clap along with me

Clap a little softer now, clap along with me.


Stamp, stamp your feet; stamp your feet together…

Nod, nod, nod your head; nod your head together…

Shake, shake, shake your head; shake your head together…


Description and purpose for activity:

3rd opening song which is upbeat and allows for more wiggly fun.

This song provides for an opportunity to practice school readiness skills, as children need to follow instructions during the song, practicing the ability to turn “on” and “off” a specific behavior. The children are instructed to do something fast and then change suddenly to doing it slow.


           Otis – Mascot Dog Puppet

Puppet show: Otis introduces the concept of Fall/Autumn with weather changing, leaves falling from trees, chasing squirrels and eating acorns.  An interactive element is added with this particular theme, as children are handed paper slips with acorns printed on it and encouraged to “feed” Otis. Otis eventually falls asleep, as always, before the first book is read.


Description and purpose for activity:

Routine puppet show utilized each week to introduce the topic in a fun context.

Additionally, Otis is a grumpy, ill-mannered dog who always sleeps through story hour.  The children learn appropriate story hour behaviors through reverse psychology.  As part of the routine, children become comfortable with Otis as part of the magic of story time.


          Song 1: “All the Leaves are Falling Down” – Adapted song sung to the tune of “London Bridges falling down.”

“All the leaves are falling down,

Falling down, falling down.

All the leaves are falling down,

It is fall


Take the rake and rake them up,

Rake them up, rake them up.

Take the rake and rake them up,

It is fall


Make a pile and jump right in,

Jump right in, jump right in.

Make a pile and jump right in,

It is fall”


Description and purpose for activity:

Action song with children standing up and down, pretending to rake, and jumping.

Displayed pages printed with oversized words allow parents to sing along and encourage print awareness for the children. The song also allows for a break between books and provides a different approach introducing literacy concepts with an auditory and tactile focus.


           Song 2: Five Little Squirrels - counting finger play and feltboard

“Five little squirrels with acorns to store.

One went to sleep and then there were four!

Four little squirrels hunting acorns in a tree.

One fell down, and now there are three!

Three little squirrels tossing acorns for fun.

One got tired, and now there is one!

One little squirrel playing in the sun.

He ran away, now there are none!”


Description and purpose for activity:

Counting song with children counting to five forwards and backwards, a vital math readiness skill.  Displayed pages printed with oversized words allow parents to sing along and encourages print awareness for the children. Adding feltboard squirrels to the finger play also adds another visual component, which can be helpful in counting.  The song also allows for a fun break between books.


           Song 3: Leaves on the Trees – adapted song sung to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus”

“The leaves on the trees turn orange and brown

Orange and brown, orange and brown

The leaves on the trees turn orange and brown

In the town.


The leaves on the trees come tumbling down

Tumbling down, tumbling down

The leaves on the trees come tumbling down

Down to the ground


The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish

Swish, swish, swish; swish, swish, swish

The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish

Down on the ground.”


Description and purpose for activity:

Action song with children rotating hands, squatting up and down, and waving arms low.  Displayed pages printed with oversized words allow parents to sing along and encourage print awareness for the children. The song also allows for a break between books and provides a different approach introducing literacy concepts with an auditory and tactile focus.


Hands-on Learning Component:


                Fall Tree Sculpture Craft-

Two different craft patterns are provided, in order to accommodate different crafting skill levels.


Simple Pre-cut foam fall tree craft for 3 & 4 year olds


2 pre-cut foam tree trunks

8 pre-cut foam leaves

8 glue dots



Fit two pre-cut foam tree trunks together and use glue dots to stick leaves on tree branches.



Advanced uncut paper fall tree craft for 5 & 6 year olds


2 paper trunk templates printed on card stock

8 pre-cut foam leaves

8 glue dots



Tape (optional)



Color and cut tree trunk patterns. Fit together two pieces. Add foam leaves using glue dots. Reinforce card stock with tape, if needed.



Caregiver Involement and/or ECRR2 Family Education:


Aside #1:

Explain: Many words in the English language have double meanings which can be confusing to young children who may be familiar with one use of a word but not another.  By introducing different ways to using the same word, children will be able to express themselves in new ways.


Example: In the book, When Autumn Falls, I will make a special effort to explain that “Fall” can be a noun and synonym for Autumn, as well as a verb, meaning to drop to the ground or become less.  Although the children may not fully comprehend the concepts of noun and verb, they will have some understanding of the same word used in two different ways.


Empower: Always be ready to introduce new words to your child. Never take for granted that your child understands every word you say, even if it is a common every day word. Find ways to add definitions to your sentences such as, “It is getting chilly out here; that means the air is getting colder.” If possible follow up with a conversation that shares a new meaning to that word. For example, you can say, “Hey, that makes me think of Chili dogs. Isn’t that the same word, but it doesn’t mean that the hot dogs are cold. That would be silly.  It means that the hot dogs are covered with a sauce called Chili.  I think that’s cool how chilly can mean two different things?”


Aside #2:

Explain: Developing vocabulary is about learning new words and providing children with the ability to recognize an unknown word and seek ways in which to discover the meaning for that new word, whether it be looking for clues in the words around it or simply asking someone for the meaning.  Books are an excellent place for children to find more complex words than are normally spoken aloud.  Introduce new vocabulary words to the children, not only as words in the book but also related words which help to start a dialog regarding the story and/or pictures. This will help them not only learn new words in of themselves, but also develop the skill to recognize and actively engage in vocabulary development.


Example: In the book Leafman, I have specifically called attention to a small collection of words used in the book which are not “common” every day words.  These words include “marsh”, “orchard”, “prairie”, “gliding”, and “lonesome.”  Notice how I stopped reading for just a moment to take the time to define these new words.  I have also defined other words, not necessarily mentioned in the text but also relate to the story, such as “burr” and “identify.”


Empower: When reading a book to your child and a new word appears, do not change the word to a simpler one or skim over it.  Instead use the opportunity to stop reading for a moment to define the word.  For example, if a book reads, “that pumpkin pie looks scrumptious,” explain that the pie looks really yummy to eat. Books will often use higher vocabulary than spoken conversations; this is an excellent teaching moment to expose children to new words.


Aside #3:

Explain: Part of vocabulary development is recognizing a “wrong” word, even if the “correct” word is not known.  Children can often tell when a word doesn’t make sense (even if they do know the definition of a word), but cannot explain why.  Therefore, developing a strong vocabulary can allow them to not only recognize a “wrong” word but help take the next step to matching the use to a better word. Providing an opportunity to recognize and correct misused words will help them to develop this skill.


Example: In the book Fall Mixed-Up, many words are misused and the context is jumbled in a fun manner.  At the beginning of the book, notice how I introduced the concept of mistakes and challenged the children to find the wrongly used words and correct them.  This allows the children know what to look for when sharing the story.  Throughout the book I will read the silly and incorrectly used words, and pause a moment for the children to discover a wrong word.  For example, when the book says that apples are orange and pumpkins are red or that geese hibernate and bears fly south, I asked which words would be the “right” words.  This enhances vocabulary as children are challenged to identify words used incorrectly and replace them with words with the appropriate meaning.


Empower: Purposely make mistakes in saying the wrong word and allow your child to “correct” your silliness.  For example, say “Wow look at those leaves falling up” or “those squirrels sure are gathering a lot of pineapples.”  Using this trick with opposites is especially helpful in expanding vocabulary.  


                Literacy handout for parents and guardians

This double sided print out is given to parents to empower them with further literacy activities throughout the week.  Included in the handout are the books and songs from the story hour, as well as additional activities to complete at home and simple tips for parents to incorporate into their own daily book sharing with their children.


Valera_Fall into Books handout.docx


  1. A.      Link to 5 minute reading of Leafman by Lois Elhert



  1. B.      Link to 27 minute full story hour which includes songs, books, and craft.






Association for Library Service to Children. 2009. Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Librarieshttp://www.ala.org/alsc/edcareeers/alsccorecomps(accessed September 16, 2014).


Elhert, Lois. 2005. Leafman. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Books.


Lopez, Andy. Photograph from the Personal Collection of Janelle Valera. Used with permission.








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