Flannel Friday: Going to the Beach with Props

At the beginning of May, I attended the “Kids First” conference, which is a fantastic conference for Iowa youth services librarians that happens every two years . It was hugely inspiring and refreshing to be surrounded by other children’s and teen librarians from around the state, and I left with so many ideas! It is such a perfect way to kick off such a busy season, and I can’t wait for 2017 to come so that I can go again.


One of the sessions I attended was “Maximizing Learning From Books When Reading With Children Aged Birth to 3 Years” by Dena Goplerud. One of the activities she did was to show us an illustration of a tomato and ask what we could learn from it. “It’s a circle, it’s red, it’s flat.” Then she did the same with a plastic tomato: “It’s round, it’s red, it’s hard.” Finally, a real tomato: “It’s not quite round, it’s red, it squishes, it has a smell.”

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She reminded us that abstract representations of objects don’t mean much to young toddlers. They learn by exploring real objects, and she encouraged us to bring in real props  when possible, to reinforce the words and concepts explored in books and songs. She also emphasized that we should teach, not test with young toddlers. For example, saying “This is red” before saying “What color is this?”

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A lot of these concepts were familiar from classes in early literacy and child development that I had taken, but this session really highlighted how I could bring them into my storytimes.

What does this have to do with Flannel Friday?

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I had already planned to use the song “We’re Going to the Beach” with flannel pieces for my summer themed storytime, but this session inspired me to try it with the real objects instead! I’m packing a big bag full of a towel, beach ball, swimsuit, sunglasses, and sandals. I’ll pull each object out, talk a little bit about it, and then sing the verse:

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We’re Going to the Beach (tune: Farmer in the Dell)

We’re going to the beach,

We’re going to the beach

I think we’ll see some ______ there,

We’re going to the beach.

I’m excited to use this as a way to model talking with toddlers and using rich descriptive words! I also like that these objects are significantly bigger than their flannel counterparts, so it will work better with my typically large summer groups.

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