Monday, November 5, 2012

Talking TURKEY

Hardscrabble Harvest by Dahlov Ipcar is a wonderful book to read this time of year - all the different animals eating the farmers food! I love the style of illustration and I especially love the depiction of the turkey's tail feathers as circular and concentric, because real turkey tail feathers are!

I have the opportunity to hold real WILD TURKEY tail feathers during zoo class, and it feels like holding a delicate oriental fan.

At home, I find it exciting that at any moment while looking out the window, I might just happen to see a jenny and a tom that live in our neighborhood. It is easy to tell them apart because of the tom's beard - a special group of feathers coming off the tom's chest. It is not unusual to see them waddling down the street together or roosting on my neighbors' roofs. While out walking my dog, sometimes we see them and it stops us both in our tracks. These aren't plain white and fat like the domestic turkeys from farms, but rather colorful and physically fit. WILD TURKEYS can fly and they can fly 55 miles per hour. That is fast! To see one take flight is amazing.

As you can tell, I like talking about turkeys, so let's talk some more about the beauty and splendor of WILD TURKEYS this month at storytime. Join us tomorrow, November 6th at 10 am the Litte Red Store.

Turkey books to read. Turkey song to sing. Turkey fingerplay to learn. Turkey treat bag to decorate and fill with a turkey snack! Walk like a turkey. Gobble like a turkey. Roost like a turkey. How many tail feathers does a wild turkey have? Be ready to pin the tail feathers on the turkey. Hope you can make it!

October Thank You's

Before moving on to the details of November storytime, I would like to give a special thanks to the following storytimers from October...

Thank you for teaching us the song your teacher taught you, "The leaves are falling down..." I like how clearly, and beautifully you sing the words. And how you make your hands look like graceful leaves falling to the ground. Thank you also for singing it more than once so that I had a chance to learn it properly. I have been singing it ever since!

You have been coming to storytime since you were a wee baby, always watching & listening to me but never talking to me; and for the first time last month, I heard your voice! It was exciting to hear what animals you noticed on the page and what color leaves you wanted painted on your arm.

Thank you for showing me that there is more than one way to sit on a carpet square! Who is to say that you can only sit on the fluffy side? You are very creative.

Speaking of carpet squares, I would also like to give a great big thanks to Jim & Carolyn Taylor of Heritage Carpet & Interiors in Hartland for donating the squares that make our circle times special. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

Photo credit, CvH Studios

Monday, October 1, 2012

LEAVES Are Falling

This I do know:
Where a Leaf Man will land, only the wind knows.
So listen for a rustle in the leaves.
Maybe you'll find a Leaf Man waiting to go home with you.
- Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

In her author's note from this book Ehlert says that colored leaves "are among the most beautiful art supplies in the world."

Join us tomorrow October 2nd at 10am for storytime at the Little Red Store. We'll read Leaf Man, sing a song about falling leaves, and then use nature's art supplies to make a leaf collage of our own to take home. As always, snacks and coffee too...

Hope you can come for some FALL fun!

Monday, September 3, 2012

But I LOVE colors all mixed up!

Red is pretty for a cherry,
Purple for an elderberry,
Yellow for a buttercup.
But I LOVE colors all mixed up!

- from Colors Are Nice by Adelaide Holl

Never had an elderberry before, but LOVE this book from my childhood (and how the word LOVE is really capitalized like that). Let's celebrate COLORS and how we LOVE them tomorrow as we read this book in an interesting way at the Little RED Store-ytime at 10am!

Wear or bring something along that is YOUR favorite color as we go back to the basics for our smaller set (now that the big kids are back in school*) with a storytime about COLORS!


9:30 Doors open
10:00 Circle time - book, song, fingerplay
10:30 Snack, see snack info below **
11:00 Hand, Arm or cheek? Painting - Some little ones are intimidated by the term Face Painting (I've learned from 3 year old zoo class), so I like to offer a choice. Wait your turn (a great skill to practice at any age) to have something colorful painted on your hand, arm, or cheek! While you wait you can watch others being painted, or learn some simple folding with your grown up to make a cute COLORful origami dog (I know origami also sounds a little intimidating, but trust me grownups this one is really easy and no glue or scissors required), or go chalk-up the patio circle outside.
11:30 Clean up and say goodbye

* With the big kids back at school, I would also like to share how our September meeting will be bittersweet for me as longtime storytimers move on to full-time 5K/SKers and will no longer be attending. Best of luck to you all as you continue to grow. I will miss you.

I would also like to say a special storytime farewell and heartfelt thanks to Mrs.Taylor for all her help this year and over the years with our group. Your countless (Spanish and English, edible and non-edible) contributions will always be appreciated. Adios and best wishes to you as you return to full-time teaching Espanol to the much, MUCH bigger kiddos; they are lucky to have you!

** In Sarah's absence I will be keeping snack time very simple, and we will be having a COLORful fruit - I'll keep you guessing...(but I will say that it is juicy so wear something expendable). Also please remember that BYOSnack is always welcome too.

I love butterflies and things
With lovely splotchy-colored wings;
Brownish fawns all whitely spleckled,
People's faces nicely freckled.

Who has freckles? Look around to see. And then take some time to look at the beautiful and REAL butterfly and deer things I have to show you. See you tomorrow!

Monday, August 6, 2012

F is for FROG

FROGS are popular characters in children's literature and one prolific author in particular loved to write books about them, Mercer Mayer.

With his recent passing, we've been reading more of his books lately and the wordless ones from the boy/dog/frog series in particular. If you enjoy wordless books, do not miss these! Frog Goes to Dinner and Too Many Frogs are my other favorite titles in this series, but also be sure to check out Where Are You, Frog? from his Little Critter series (love, love, love Little Critter).

Anyway, as a personal tribute to one of my favorite authors and his love of FROGS; and also inspired by Leap Frog class at the Milwaukee Zoo (pretending to swim like an aquatic frog with 2 year olds is time well spent) as well as my face-to-face meeting with a giant but calm bullfrog out at Fox Brook Park last week, it only seems fitting that...

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 7th at 10am at the Little Red Store-ytime, we will celebrate our fine amphibian friends, FROGS!

Monday, July 2, 2012


Come soar with us tomorrow, July 3rd at 10am at the Little Red Store as we read this and other books about AMERICAN ANIMALS.

In lieu of adult registration, we are accepting donations for our American animal friends at Elmbrook Humane Society. There are many interesting things needed so be sure to check out their wish list.

Sarah is making red, white & blue M&M cookies for snack, and we will also have coffee.

The weather will be hot but the a/c will be on, so come join us!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Animal Daddies and My Daddy

Daddy Giraffe is tall as a tree.

My Daddy is tall.

He's twice at tall

as all of me.

from Animal Daddies and My Daddy by Barbara Shook Hazen

Comparing fathers to animals is fun! Beavers, porcupines, polar bears and elephants; what do they have in common with Dad?
Come join us this Tuesday, June 5th at 10am for a storytime at the Little Red Store as we find out while reading this book and others about FATHERS. If your dad can make it, great bring him along! If not, don't worry, we'll learn a fun counting game you can play with him later. Sing a song about an animal father you can teach him to sing with you. Make him a quick, thoughtful craft you can give him on Father's Day. There will be cookies and coffee inside, and chalk and water painting outside afterwards on the circle. Hope you can join us!

Monday, April 30, 2012


Birds and bees,
and these,
and these
sip NECTAR from the FLOWERS.
- from The Reason For A Flower by Ruth Heller

Tomorrow, is May 1st, May Day! Come join us at The Little Red Store at 10am as we celebrate the symbol of May Day, FLOWERS. And the animals that help make more flowers, BEES!

In Wisconsin Animals, an outreach program I teach at the Milwaukee Zoo, we talk about BEES. How they are social insects and live in big groups in a special home called a HIVE where "200-200,000 bees can be living and working together! Imagine living with that many people in your house?!" The boy bees are called DRONES and the girl bees are called WORKERS. Which ones sting? And who is the one special girl BEE in the hive??? That's right, the QUEEN BEE! And then the teacher stands up, and we say "Hello, Queen Bee," and discuss some other fun bee facts and why bees are so important, "They give us honey and help make more FLOWERS!"

Let's get back to FLOWERS and May Day...

Tomorrow we will ring, sing, rhyme, and count about flowers. We will talk about stems and petals and how flowers need water to grow. Speaking of water, we will have a vase filled with it. If you are able to, please spend a little time in the yard tomorrow morning with the little one(s) and clip a few flowers to bring along to storytime and contribute to the group bouquet! All flowers are welcome, even dandelions :)

We will pretend to be a seed that grows into a flower as we sing a song Nancy taught us (to tune of I'm a Little Teapot, but sung much, much slower)...

I'm a Little Seed in the deep, dark, ground - crouch down and be a seed.
Out comes the yellow sun, big and round - make a big circle with your arms.
Down comes the cool rain, soft and slow - make raindrops with your fingers.
Up I come now, grow, grow, grow - sprout up from the ground.

We will have a simple (much simpler than last month - no scissors required!) flower craft in the craft corner.
Sarah is baking up some Beehive Bar Rice Krispie Treats for snacktime, and serving up some Spanish vocab and counting practice.

And of course let's not leave out one of my very favorite fingerplays, "This is a beehive, but where are the bees??? Hidden away where nobody sees..."

Looking forward to seeing those of you that are able to buzz on down to the Village on May Day!

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for BIRD

"I hear birds singing through the open window."
-from Birds, By Kevin Henkes

Spring is the perfect time of year to break out this book!

Tomorrow, Tuesday April 3rd at 10am, please join us at the Little Red Store for a storytime about BIRDS.

Let's celebrate our feathered friends and fellow vertebrates. We will read, sing, rhyme, and count all things birds: eggs, nests, feathers, and beaks. B is for BEAK!

B is also for BUNNIES... a fun time to review the comparison that MAMMALS HAVE FUR while BIRDS HAVE FEATHERS. Also a great segue to let you know that Sarah is baking Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies!

Wiggle your noses if you love to eat carrots like a bunny? Can you balance like a bird? Have you noticed all the bunnies and birds outside lately? They are fun to watch. What else can you think of that starts with the letter B?

Also, if you are in the midst of spring cleaning and come across some unmatched mittens or gloves (child or adult), please bring them along to repurpose into an easy-to-make BIRD/BUNNY CRAFT to bring home!

Finally, as we transition from mammals to birds this month, let us also remember and pay tribute to beloved storytime regular, devoted grandmother, zoo class enthusiast, and bird lover, Grandma Jan, who recently made her own transition. I was blessed to have her as my friend and faithful fan.

Monday, March 5, 2012

M is for March and Mammals

And Man's best friend...

Join us Tuesday, March 6th at 10am (doors open at 9:30) at the Little Red Store for a storytime in which we celebrate all three!

Inspired by a Zoo to You program I teach called Critter Covers, and my work in general with 2-6 year olds at the Karen Peck Katz Conservation Education Center, I believe that no one is too young to learn, or too old to be reminded that..."MAMMALS HAVE HAIR OR FUR." I enjoy repeating this with class participants of all ages as we rub our heads and notice the eyelashes and eyebrows of our neighbors. Afterall, WE are mammals too!

And who is a special, furry mammal many children know and love both at home and in books?? The one who rolls over for belly rubs and cleans up the mess on the floor the children make?? The dog! Therefore we'll spend some extra time talking and reading about Man's best mammal friend, THE DOG.

Brush up on your "Knick knack paddy whack give a dog a bone..." We'll count some bones as we sing it.

We'll read some doggie books and rhyme some doggie rhymes. Hang around after storytime and make a simple doggie craft to bring home to a canine friend in your life, or make a doggie puppet.

Sarah has baked up some M&M cookies in honor of our letter of the month, M! I've had these cookies and they are mmmmm, mmmmm good. Back to the letter M...

What other words can you think of that begin with the mmmmmmmmmmmm sound???

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Animal Friendship

An unlikely friendship between mammal and bird, this is a beautiful book about being friends despite your differences!

So join us this Tuesday, February 7th at 10am at the Little Red Store, for a storytime inspired by Fluffy and Baron by Laura Rankin.

We'll continue exploring animal friendships as we read a book about a prickly mammal searching for his friend in Where is My Friend? by Marcus Pfister. Good opportunity to practice some left to right sequencing on the feltboard with the prickly objects the main character encounters - a pin cushion, a brush, a cactus - until finally he finds his friend!

So come down for the books and activities about friendship, and stay for the coffee and snacks with friends.

Speaking of friends, a big thanks in advance to my friend Sarah for baking by request some of her yummy mini pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, that may, or may not, have a Craisin in the middle??? I like a little mystery when eating a mini muffin and hers certainly are delicious!

Come early (doors open at 9:30) or stay late (until 11:30) with storytime from 10-10:30.

Looking forward to those mammals that can make it this Tuesday at 10!

For info or questions on registration, please email

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Location, Same Mission!

Children. Books. Coffee and snacks. Same concept, different space...


It's red. It's historic. It's charming. It's centrally located - a hop, skip and jump off the Oak Leaf Trail and the beautiful Menomonee River Parkway - calling all nature lovers, bicyclists, train enthusiasts, and local historians!

"As the only remaining building in the original Wauwatosa Village settlement, spared by the 1895 village fire because of its location south of the river," it was first a dwelling and then a general store, at one time a post office, a train station, a harness shop, and even a library. But this year, on every FIRST TUESDAY of the month, it becomes our official new meeting space!

After much support and interest from so many, I am looking forward to a return to Tuesdays in a place we can call our own, at least one Tuesday a month for a year!

Here are the details...

Instead of weekly, we'll meet monthly.
Previously we ment every TUESDAY AT TEN. Just tack on a FIRST in front of it and you get FIRST TUESDAYS AT TEN. I strive to keep it easy to remember. This quaint, convenient (with easy free municipal parking directly behind it and a ramp that makes stroller access a breeze) spot is booked every FIRST Tuesday of the month for the remainder of 2012. We have a year to continue the fun that began at the Parkway Cafe and continued on at Cranky Al's. How I see it, the Little Red Store is Chapter 3. When one door closes...

Another one opens, and in this case there are two doors that will open! One in the front of the building, and one in the back. Both will open at 9:30, so come early and get settled in. Storytime will begin at 10am, but the place is ours for 2 whole hours! As before, we'll have 30 minutes of whole group time and then free time to read, or snack and socialize. Whatever you choose to do, you are free to stay until 11:30, at which time Ken, the wonderful volunteer with the Historical Society, comes to move things back to their original spot; he rearranges things in a special way with the safety of the kiddos in mind. I like Ken!

And I also like the continued efforts of the Wauwatosa Historical Society. Do you know a student that's had the privilege of attending their Schoolhouse program? I do, and she came home talking about it for weeks. Which is another something special about the Little Red Store, it has history and a story to tell.

A quick story I'd like to share is how much I've personally struggled with the decision to PAY for a space. Tuesday mornings were always free, and I really wanted to keep it that way. However, because the Little Red Store has so much to offer and is such a unique space (designated one of Wisconsin's Top Ten endangered historic places in 2005), and because our rental funds will help support the on going efforts of the Wauwatosa Historical Society, I've decided to take a leap of faith by renting this special space and asking adults to pay a small fee to cover our costs. At year's end, proceeds will be donated as books to the Wauwatosa Children's Library - a good way to share the love of books with other children in our community (if you have any other questions about the adult registration fee or process, please feel free to contact me at

Now that we've covered that, here are the rest of the details...

As always, kids are free! There will never be a charge for children to attend. However, an adult $5 fee will be asked off all grown ups in attendance. This is how we will cover the rental of the space as well as refreshments and supplies. Feel free to come that day and pay at the door (as long as we haven't reached maximum capacity - you are in!), or you may reserve your spot now by registering online with the adult registration link in the upper left hand corner.

What your $5.00 Adult Registration Includes:

2 hrs (9:30-11:30am) of playtime and learning in a clean, comfortable space of our own for as many children as you bring with you. Themed storytimes which include books, movement activities, rhymes, fingerplays, feltboard stories and song, with special appearances by Nancy. Alterra Coffee. Sweet home baked snacks by Sarah; she'll teach us some Spanish too! Simple, easy clean-up crafts. Special time connecting with others who love children and books.

So please join us! Make a morning of it. Invite a friend. Make a friend. Support local services. Read. Sing. Socialize. So many great reasons to share a First Tuesday together.

There are eleven more opportunities in 2012. I'm looking forward to them!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TURTLE Tuesday

T is for Tuesday and Turtle...

After a year's hiatus from Tuesday mornings - and being on holiday break from Zoo classes with some extra time on my hands - I realized that there was a one-time opportunity to come together for the "First Tuesday of 2012."

Before I knew it, I had called and rented the Little Red Store (not to be confused with the Little READ Book Store, which is not far from there and another great place I highly recommend going!).

Nancy and I have done a handful of Saturdays outside the Little Red Store during Tosa Farmers Market, but never INSIDE before!

Because the plans were very last minute, I asked Cassandra to schedule a meetup on the Milwaukee Happy Mama Meetup calendar (a group that faithfully had Tuesday mornings on their calendar throughout the Cranky Al days, thanks ladies!). Because many mamas signed up so quickly (and because the name of the place does have "little" in it) we decided to keep it intimate for the trial run in a brand new space. And it was GREAT!!!

A warm, sunny morning and we had the whole place to ourselves! Nancy brought her guitar and playlist, and Sarah brought the coffee and the sweet treats.

And since T is for Tuesday and T is also for Turtles (I have an abundance of inspiration from teaching Turtle Class to 2 year olds at the Zoo this past December and have been looking for an opportunity to use my turtle puppet and to tell a feltboard story about where turtles go in winter, "Turtle, Where are you???"), we decided to celebrate TURTLES!

I find that talking about turtles is also a great opportunity to practice opposites...


UP/DOWN ("When the weather changes, Turtle must swim down, down, down to the bottom of the pond and dig into the mud to sleep for the winter... Turtle, where are you????")


We slowly and leisurely enjoyed our turtle time together. We sang some songs, read some books, did the Hokey Pokey, drank some coffee and chatted. And then everyone went on their way....

It was a wonderful Tuesday morning! One that reminded me so much of ones from long ago. A bit dramatic to say I know since it's only been a year since we've met on a Tuesday, but I am pretty nostalgic about all the wonderful friends both old and new that I've met on Tuesday mornings.

Stay tuned for more details coming soon about future meetings of First Tuesdays at Ten at the Little Red Store!