Storytime Spotlight: Leaves & Trees, Take Two (Family Time)

Another fall storytime reflection! This time I had literally one of the BEST groups ever in the past three years I’ve been doing storytime. I really connected with the kiddos and the parents. It’s difficult to describe, but the whole thing felt like one long back and forth, natural conversation. The entire time, everyone was engaged and feeling it and it just flowed so naturally. Here we go:


*Welcome & Set Expectations

*Sing: This is the Way We Clap Our Hands…

Prop Talk: Owl & Squirrel


I reached into my bag for our first book and instead found… a squirrel and an owl! What?! We spent a few minutes comparing and contrasting these two tree dwellers, then we read…

Read: Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton

My kiddos always love this story of a little lost owl and a well-meaning, silly squirrel! I can’t count how many times I’ve read this book in storytime, but each time I notice something new. This time, one of the kiddos noticed Mama Owl crying when she was reunited with Little Owl:


This sparked a SUPER interesting mini discussion about feelings! “Why do you think she’s crying?” I asked.

“Because she’s sad,” one of the kiddos said.

“No she’s not,” another replied. “She’s happy.”

“Why do you think Mama Owl is happy?” I prompted.

“Because she found Baby Owl.”

“Can you cry when you feel happy and sad?”

This was the PERFECT transition to our next activity. I could not have planned it better myself!

Flannel: Faces & Feelings Photos


This is my go-to storytime flannel. I always carry it with me just in case the opportunity arises! Depending on the age of my crowd, we might talk about all the pictures in one go before we sing our action song, or one at a time. I like to alternate with happy faces so there’s a good amount of repetition when we sing.

We talked about how the kiddos in the photos were feeling and drew connections to our book – and to ourselves. “Which face reminds you of how Baby Owl felt when he was lost? What makes you sad?”

Sing: If You’re Happy and You Know It…

If you’re sad and you know it, cry “boo hoo!”

If you’re sad and you know it, cry “boo hoo!”

If you’re sad and you know it, and you really want to show it,

If you’re sad and you know it, cry “boo hoo!”


If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it,

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

(repeat with other feelings – e.g. mad/stomp your feet, scared/jump up high, sleepy/stretch and yawn)


Credit: adapted from King County Library System

Lit Tip: Talking & Building Social Emotional Vocabulary

Grown-ups, so often when kids are upset we say, “Use your words.” But which words? What does that mean? When you talk about how the characters in books feel and why, you help your child learn the words they need to better express themselves and communicate with you.

*Sing: If You’re Ready for a Story…

Flannel: Fall is Not Easy


At least not for this silly tree!

Flannel: 4 Baby Owls Learning to Say “Who”


I picked up this super fun rhyme from KCLS and turned it into a flannel! You can start with any number of owls you want, really. I started with 4 because my tree has 4 branches. The kiddos love when my Snowy White Owl puppet shakes her head and covers her eyes in despair!

Five baby owls learning to say “who”

They flap their wings and then say “shoe!”

No, no, mama cried.  Don’t say “shoe”

Owls are supposed to say: “who, who, who!”

(repeat with other rhyming words)


Credit: King County Library System

Lit Tip: Rhyming & Phonological Awareness

Grown-ups, rhyming and reading go hand in hand! Being able to recognize rhyming words helps kids pick up on word patterns, which helps them read AND write. When you say and play with rhyming words, you help your child get ready to read.

Sing: Shakin’ Like a Leafy Tree (scarves)

Rhyme: Once I Was a Seed… (scarves)

Once I was a seed and I was small, small, small.

I grew into a tree and now I’m tall, tall, tall!

My branches sway in the breeze so soft.

And when it’s autumn, all my leaves fall off!


Credit: original

*Learning Through Play

*Please visit this page to learn more about my regular storytime songs and routines.

I don’t normally do two literacy messages, but like I said, this was a super special group. We were in a good groove. 🙂

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