I did some out of the box story time program planning this week on the theme of toys. I thought it was thematic without being specific to a holiday, and it can be a good opportunity to talk with children about sharing, losing, or forgoing toys they have outgrown as times for new toys approach, like birthdays or the holidays. Many thanks to Story Time Katie for a starting point.

We danced to Toy Boat by Jim Gill from his Irrational Anthem CD and found our missing teddy bear hiding under different colored circles. Use this song (you can play it twice it’s so short and encourage the kids to sing along the second time through) as a dance break and a transition after reading Train. (“We talked about trains, cars, planes and diggers, now we’re going to sing a song about a boat.”)

I used a flannel board, but I told parents they could do the same thing with pots, boxes, or pillow cases. I adapted the rhyme from several different sources, including what I could remember from a rhyme involving a mouse and houses from a previous job. The rhyme transitioned nicely after reading Where’s My Teddy?

Little Bear, Little Bear
Where is Little Bear?
Could he be hiding under
the blue circle there?

We did this one three times, with bear hiding under a green, and then a red circle. For the third time, I put the bear under a purple triangle, and then put the green circle on top of that. Both the parents and the kids were surprised when there was a triangle instead of a bear! I’ll have to remember to do that again.

Where's My Teddy.jpgTitle: Where’s My Teddy?
Author/Illustrator: Jez Alborough
ISBN: 9781413173420
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c1992. (first published in Great Britain by Walker Books Ltd)

I can’t believe I’ve never featured this book on my blog in the time I’ve been blogging. A staple for usually bear themed story times, I held off on using it until my toy theme idea sprang up. Eddie has lost a teddy named Freddie, it just so happens in the same forest where a bear has lost his teddy. They find first the other’s bear, and then there is a terror filled exchange where both Eddie and real bear run back to their beds, snuggling their appropriately sized teddy bears. Parents and kids alike love the surprise of the overstuffed bear, which they do not see coming until Eddie stumbles upon it. Be forewarned, when first introduced you may have to walk around so children can find tiny Freddie in the over-sized bear’s arms.

Train!.jpgTitle: Train
Author/Illustrator: Judi Abbot
ISBN: 9781589251632
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Tiger Tales, c2014 (originally published in Great Britain by Little Tiger Press)

This was a fabulously adorable story all around. The pictures were bright  and easily distinguishable. Elephants expressions could have been a little clearer, but it was quite obvious his single-mindedness towards his favorite toy. Some kids were thrown by the tunnel scene, I think because they forgot the characters were on a moving train for the whole story. It solidifies sharing without actually using the word, and broadening your mind to new experiences. Plus the two page spread where the animals are finally getting along is just fun to read.

Mine!.jpgTitle: Mine!
Author: Shutta Crum
Illustrator: Patrice Barton
ISBN: 9780375867118
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

This one I don’t think went over so well. They sat and they listened as I tried to narrate this nearly wordless picture book about a set of toddlers and a dog learning how to share, but  The pictures were too soft and pastel and insubstantial and I think everyone was just a little lost by the plot, as in so what that the dog and babies were playing with toys and romping in the water bowl. I don’t think it was the favorite of the night.

Knuffle Bunny Too.jpgTitle: Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity
Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems
ISBN: 9781423102991
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Disney Hyperion, c2007.

You’ve previously seen the first and third books in the series mentioned in this blog, but all three of them have been used repeatedly by me for story times. I think the kids were sitting too far back to really notice the slight differences between the Knuffle Bunnies that Trixie and Sonja bring to show and tell. I have had previous success with kids noticing before the narrative tells them that something has happened and the bunnies have been switched, which didn’t happen this time around. The older kids usually enjoy this one more than the younger kids.

Stay tuned for more toy books! A separate post will have other books considered but not used, mostly due to either time constraints or because of the length of the book.