Category Archives: Feltboard

New storytimes

I’ve been working on adding some new lesson plans to my collection for the Storytime for 2’s & 3’s, and have been very happy with the three I’ve just added.  A couple of weeks ago I added a singing theme lesson plan, and it went over very well; I was pleased by how many books I was able to find that are either songs turned into picture books, or picture books that feature classic nursery rhymes, or picture books that can easily be either read or sung.  The three books that I used with the group were The Wheels on the Bus by Paul O. Zelinsky, Boom Bah! by Phil Cummings, and Today is Monday by Eric Carle.  In addition, of course, there were twenty-plus other books that I pulled and placed around the room for the quiet time (when each adult shares a book with their child).

Then last week I debuted my Monster storytime, which was a huge hit.  I was very careful in planning this one, and especially in picking the books that would be featured, because I didn’t want to create a fear in these kids that didn’t already exist, since these kids are so young and impressionable.  Best of all for the Monster storytime were the two Folkmanis puppets that inspired it:  Blueper and Twickety.   The kids absolutely LOVED the puppets, and came up and gave them hugs and gentle pats on the head – and asked to have the monsters taste their fingers instead of our usual Zebra puppet fingertaster.  The two books that I read aloud were Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems (one of my all-time favorites), and Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty.  Both are just the right combination of silly and didactic – yes, there’s a lesson in each, but it doesn’t hit you over the head, and the humor in each keeps the lesson from being cloying.

Tomorrow I’ll be debuting my new Mouse theme storytime, using two mouse puppets from Folkmanis.  This afternoon I’ll be making some feltboard pieces for the story All For Pie, Pie For All by Valeri Gorbachev; there will also be another book – no feltboard pieces – that will precede it: Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse by Lindsay Barrett George (I like that George’s book features mice that live in the wild and mice that live in our walls).  And each child will taste like a different kind of cheese when Zebra tastes their fingers at the end.

It’s a lot of work to add these new storytimes to my repetoire, most of which work is done at home, but it is so fun to have some fresh new material and new themes.  Storytimes are only as good as the level of excitement brought by the presenter, and I’m always more jazzed about something new and fresh than something I’ve done too many times before.  At some point, though, I’ll run out themes and ideas…but that’s ok, the older storytimes will then seem fresh again.  And now I’d best get going on those feltboard pieces:  a cat family, a mouse family, an ant family, and a rapidly disappearing divided pie.

Froggy Gets Dressed

Hot off the press – or out of the scissors: my newest feltboard figures, for the story Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London.

Pictured below are Froggy in his bed, with the view of a snowy day through his window; then Froggy with all of his clothes – blue hat, orange socks, blue boots, pink mittens, light pink long underwear, purple pants, yellow shirt, tan jacket, orange scarf; and Froggy outdoors with the snow and a tree, fully dressed.  Of course, in the story, Froggy never quite gets outside with ALL of his clothes on, but you’ll have to read the story to find out what does happen.  (Click on images to enlarge.)


Yes, surprise surprise, I’m cranky today.

  • There’s nothing in the house to eat for dinnner.
  • Jim is at the Patriots game…no extra ticket for the wife…grrrrr…
  • I have to make a feltboard story this afternoon for tomorrow’s storytime – and I’m so NOT in the mood.  (The story is Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London, for the Winter theme Storytime for 2’s & 3’s tomorrow.)
  • I have to finish reading the book for Tuesday’s meeting of the 6th Grade Book Group – and I HATE this book.  It’s all I can do to wade through it.  Blech.  More on this book in a separate post, but meanwhile I have to finish reading the darn thing.
  • Still haven’t gotten over the stupid cold that’s been bugging me for two weeks now. 
  • Christmas is coming, and no one seems to be in the Christmas spirit this year.
  • The mice moved in and made a nest in the flannel sheets I had down in the basement by the washer, waiting to be washed.  Lots and lots of sunflower seeds and little mouse poopies hidden in the folds of my nice flannel sheets.  Grrrr.  More laundry for me today.   Grrrrr.
  • And, did I mention that Jim is at the Patriots game, having an awesome time, and I’ll be watching the game on t.v.?  I did mention that already?  Ooops.

Cranky mood sharing done.  Stay tuned for a nicer post tomorrow.

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd

One more of my favorite feltboard creations – the pieces for Emma Dodd’s Dog’s Colorful Day.  It’s a great silly story about a white dog with one black spot on his ear who goes out for a walk in the park and gets all kinds of  spot stains on his coat, including blue paint, green grass, yellow pollen, brown chocolate, pink ice cream…you get the idea.  When I present this story to the toddler storytime, each time I add a new spot to Dog’s coat I ask the kids to help me count the total number of spots on that white dog out loud.  We also talk about the colors of each spot as it’s added to the board.  Pictured here are the spots, as well as the items that caused the spots.  Down towards the bottom of the picture are the yellow sponge that Dog’s owner uses to wash him, as well as Dog’s purple bed that he goes to sleep in after his long day.  Click on image to enlarge:


Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett

I love using this feltboard story, because I get the attendees to participate in the chant that repeats throughout the story:  “Monkey and me…monkey and me…”  As the group chants, they also pat their knees to the beat of the words.  Interactive fun!

Pictured here are the pieces I made for this feltboard version of Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett.  A little girl and her stuffed animal monkey have visited a zoo, and they list off each of the animals they saw there, including kangaroos, bats, penguins, elephants, and monkeys.  Click on image to enlarge:


Blue Sea by Robert Kalan

Another in my continuing series of photo documentation of my feltboard stories. Today we are featuring the pieces I made for Robert Kalan’s classic picturebook Blue Sea.  Once again, this feltboard story isn’t too elaborate, and doesn’t look too exciting in a mere photo: this feltboard story is all about the telling and the using of the pieces in a dramatic way.  “Look out, little fish!!” I’ll say with a scared overtone to my voice as I add the medium fish to the board…and the kids always gasp a teeny bit in fear for little fish’s life.  Just enough excitement for the under-four age group.  Click on photo to enlarge:


Five Little Monkeys

And another of my feltboard favorites, used often and with great gusto:  Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree, which I sometimes use as a simple fingerplay, and other times use in conjunction with Eileen Christelow’s book of the same name.  The monkey that appears to be white in this photo is actually a pale blue (far more attractive).  When presenting the story on the feltboard, I always have the children in attendance help me count out the monkeys, and sometimes we also name the colors of the various monkeys. This feltboard story helps me to remember that simplicity is often the best approach when making felt figures.  Click on image to enlarge:


Bear Snores On

It’s time to update my online documentation of my library of homemade feltboard stories.  Today’s featured story is Karma Wilson’s Bear Snores On, one of my storytime favorites.  Notable in this feltboard interpretation are the awake bear’s moveable eyebrows, so that he can go from intimidating/scary to upset/crying to happy.  Unfortunately, these photos don’t do justice to two of my favorite figures in this story, the crow and the wren, who just look like a brown blotch and a black blotch in the photo but actually look pretty cool in person.  Click on image to enlarge:


The Big Red Barn

Here are photos of another of my feltboard favorites – the pieces for Margaret Wise Brown’s The Big Red Barn.  I’ve included a close-up of my favorite pieces, the roosters and hens (click on images to enlarge):

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One more time for Spot…

So I used my felt pieces for Where’s Spot again last Thursday, this time for a preschool storytime (ages four to seven).  I did it partly as an experiment – comparing the reactions of the toddler age group to this age group – and partly because I had a feeling it would be lots of fun.

It was a BLAST!  By age four, most kids know this story inside out, and when I brought out a new piece – the grandfather clock, for instance – the kids would start yelling “There’s a snake in there!!!!”  And I would play the dumb adult, saying, “Gee, are you sure?  You really think there’s a snake in the clock?  Don’t you think Spot is in the clock?”  And the kids would holler back in unison, “NOOOO!!!!  It’s a SNAKE!!!!”  And I’d open the the door of the clock and find the snake, and shake my head while saying, “Wow, you guys were right.  There IS a snake in there.  No Spot, but a snake…” 

And then we’d continue on to the next felt piece, and repeat the process.  The kids had a fantastic time hollering their thoughts to me (which, surprisingly, never once felt out of control, because I was able to moderate their comments and behavior through the whole story), and I had a great time pretending to be the not-so-bright librarian who had no clue what animal was in each of the felt pieces.

In fact, it was so much fun that I’m going to extend the experiment tomorrow morning, and try using these felt pieces with the infant storytime crowd.  Lots of babies, some one year olds, a few twos or almost twos.  It will be very, very interesting to observe this crowd and how they react to the story.

Most importantly for my own storytelling, though, last Thursday was a prime example of how the best storytimes are interactive, with the storyteller paying close attention to the reactions of the kids in the audience.  If you’re willing and able to “riff” a little when telling stories, it becomes the most incredible experience for everyone, storyteller AND audience.  I left last Thursday’s storytime smiling and with a totally happy storytime buzz that lasted me the rest of the day.  Hopefully tomorrow’s telling of Where’s Spot will be just as wonderful.