An UnBEARably Fun Story Time

My library internship continues apace, and I ran my first solo story time this week! I’ve been helping the librarians with story times pretty frequently over the past few months, but this is the first time I’ve done one by myself start to finish. The librarian who usually does the three- and four-year-old story times on Wednesdays couldn’t do it this week, so I subbed in for her. I was a bit nervous — not because of the kids, but because their parents stay for this program, and I always feel like parents are judging me — but it went really well! I had a good time, and a few very kind parents told me that I did a nice job, so: success!

While I was preparing for this story time I came across this great blog by a children’s librarian, which inspired me to start keeping track of my own library projects. So, in the interest of posterity, here’s what I did:


We do the same intro song for just about every story time we do, so a lot of the kids know it by now. If I think the kids are up for it I’ll explain a bit about sign language and teach them the signs for “together” and “fun” so we can use them in the song.

I am here and you are here and we are all together
I am here and you are here and we’re gonna have some fun
We’re gonna clap our hands…
We’re gonna stomp our feet…
We’re gonna nod our heads…

After the song I explained a bit about bears and hibernation — right around this time of year, all the bears in the forest curl up in their dens and sleep for the whole winter, etc.

Bear Wants More, by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman


I opened with Bear Wants More because it was the longest of the three books I pulled, and I wanted to get it in before the kids got antsy. I love Karma Wilson’s Bear books — they’re beautifully illustrated and the rhymes are catchy without being overly sing-song. Every time I’ve used one in a story time it’s been a smash hit. This one has an almost refrain, with “but bear wants more” every few pages, and the kids enjoyed shouting out “MORE” once they figured out the pattern.


We have a million “animal hiding behind object” flannel sets — bears and chairs, sloths and cloths, owls and towels, etc. etc.  — because every time we use them the kids lose their minds. I don’t know what it is about this concept that’s so exciting but it consistently brings down the house, especially if you get really theatrical with it. I did this one probably four or five times, just so everyone could have a turn choosing a chair. The second group of kids was so excited that they were having trouble sitting down and not grabbing the chairs to look for the bear themselves, which was a bit of an issue, but at least they were having fun.


The kids were restless after the bears behind chairs flannel board so I moved up the action rhyme, which I had originally planned for later. The nice thing about this one is that it ends with the kids sitting down, and some of them were having trouble staying that way.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, jump up high
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, reach for the sky
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch your knees
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, sit down please

We did it a couple of times because the kids seemed into it — and I wanted to make sure that the “sit down please” actually stuck!

Old Bear, by Kevin Henkes


Brought to you by Kevin Henkes, the author of Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse and about a hundred million other picture books! This was recommended by that librarian blog I mentioned earlier, and I liked it a lot. It is quite short, though, and I don’t think it had enough of a narrative to keep the kids really interested. This might be a better fit for a slightly younger crowd. The illustrations are awesome, though!


This one’s great because the kids like to count out loud — much like the “more” refrain in Bear Wants More, the kids cotton on to the pattern pretty quickly and like to get involved.

One little bear wondering what to do
Along came another, then there were two!

Two little bears climbing up a tree
Along came another, then there were three!

Three little bears ate an apple core
Along came another, then there were four!

Four little bears found honey in a hive
Along came another, then there were five!

Five little bears heard a loud roar
One ran away, then there were four!

Four little bears climbing up a tree
One slid down, then there were three!

Three little bears deciding what to do
One fell asleep, then there were two!

Two little bears having lots of fun
One went home, then there was one!

One little bear feeling all alone
Ran to his mother, then there were none!

I actually laughed out loud at one point because when we got to “one ran away, then there were four” one little girl yelled out “TWO!” with utmost conviction. She might not know how to count yet but dang if she isn’t going to try!

Big Bear Hug, by Nicholas Oldland


I had never come across this book before I was pulling every bear book I could find off the shelves, but it turned out to be really fun! Not very long, but just enough suspense to keep the kids interested. The bear hugs some strange things, and it was a good book for talk-back — asking the kids if they would hug a skunk or a snake, or what they would do if a bear hugged them.


Like “I am Here and You are Here,” this is the song we use just about every story time.

My hand waves goodbye
My hand waves goodbye
When story time is over
My hand waves goodbye

It’s always funny to have the kids suggest other body parts to wave goodbye with — there’s always a foot or an elbow, but this time we got “tongue” and “armpit,” which were entertaining. It’s tough to sing with your tongue waving around!

I also had them make big bear claws and wave goodbye as bears, to keep with the theme.


I forgot to include this when I actually did the story time, even though I had the bear puppet and everything!

Where is black bear?
Where is black bear?
Here I am!
Here I am!
How are you this winter?
Very tired, thank you.
Go to sleep. Go to sleep.

The kids yell at the end to wake the bear up and sing the song again. I was so mad that I forgot, because it would have been super fun. Oh well!

Next time, bear puppet!


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