Storytime On the Go

I’m excited to announce that my first ever recorded storytime is now public on the Washington County Library website and social media feeds.

With everything going on with COVID-19, our library is closed for programming however we are working on getting more and more videos recorded and ready for our families. I’m so glad my regular families and a variety of new ones will be able to access these “storytimes on the go” made by myself and my fellow youth services librarians. Hooray team!

Stay tuned for more on the way and focus on your own mental and physical health while distancing yourself from others.

Your librarian,


2020 Star of the North

Every year the Minnesota Youth Reading Association (MYRA) hosts the Star of the North Award which is aimed at the K-2 audience and celebrates picture books! To learn more about the Star of the the North Award please visit their site.

I first developed these rating sheets while working as a school librarian in southern Minnesota and they continue to be useful as a public librarian. Homeschool families and families whose children are not informed about the award through their school benefit greatly from learning to read, rate, and vote (especially with this being an election year).

I’ve saved these both as PDFs and as Google Docs (both include an informational sheet of how to rate using 5 stars). Please use whichever is helpful to you.

2020 Star of the North Rating Sheet for Schools
Google Doc

2020 Star of the North Rating Sheet for Libraries:
Google Doc

I apologize for not getting this posted sooner but hopefully it’s still useful to some of you in getting your students to read, rate, and choose what book they are voting for for the 2020 Star of the North Award.

Thank you for reading!

Your librarian,


Pom Racing

I was looking for fun ways to use leftover supplies and stumbled upon The Great Pom Pom Race. After reading, I decided this was a great activity for one of my library’s STEM Saturdays (something we are expected to do monthly). I edited it because I wanted it to be a fun, desirable activity for a variety of ages with a focus on a K-6 audience.

Stay inside the lines and get to the center with as few errors as possible. Child pictured moving a pink pom by blowing through a flexible straw.

I decided to make several different “tracks.” Two of them fell into the category of a maze. One required the participant to move from the outside to the center of a square and then back out again while the other required them to start at one entrance and make their way out of the maze through the other entrance. These were great individual activities requiring precision and focus. The goal here was not to hit the tape and to stay in the track (no focus on speed).

Child pictured blowing through a straw to move a pom through a maze.

Another track included a head-to-head race that was about two feet wide (for each person) and roughly 15 feet long. Two people could start at one end and race one another while also being timed. Amazingly, one participant did this one in 3 seconds (the overall winner)! Participants had to make sure they stayed within the track. For older kids and adults, they had to restart if they went out of bounds.

Two children are pictured racing their poms side by side by blowing through straws. Overall winner in this type of maze is pictured to the right.

The final option for racing was an A and B track that were both 39 feet however one was curvier than the other. This was also timed when people were racing one another.

View of most of the tracks are pictured. One maze not pictured.

To begin our time together, I asked the participants which track they thought was longer between A and B. I then told them to find out whether they were correct and handed out tape measures to two pairs (make sure they know how to measure). It’s fair to say all were surprised the tracks were the same length (rounded to the nearest foot).

Then the kids all chose their straw (I’d recommend straws with a flexible end for maximum skill) and started evaluating which pom they wanted to use. I informed them this was their one and only straw so they needed to keep track of it. (All straws were cut before entering the trash to lead to less unintended consequences.)

Various sizes and colors of poms are pictured.

They all slowly learned that the smallest poms were the fastest while the larger were easier to control in small spaces. This led to them choosing different poms for different purposes which was lovely to see occur. You don’t actually need that many poms since everyone is only using one at a time.

For the next time:

  • I’m going to make more mazes in order to provide for more individual practice and focus. For a group of 25, i’d recommend at least five different mazes.
  • I’m going to make the side by side race at least three feet wide for each participant as opposed to two feet. It was tight with larger participants.
  • I’m going to make an A, B, and C track that are all the same length to accommodate more participants at the same time.
  • I’m going to acquire more stopwatches to allow for participants to be timers at each of the appropriate stations so I can focus on management and photos.
  • I’m going to have a class immediately preceding where participants design the tracks instead of myself.

Painter’s tape is your best friend for this activity as it easily comes off of most surfaces very well. (Be careful with carpeting of how long you leave on the tape. I’ve found about 3 days is the longest it lasts without becoming too hard to remove.) Plus, painter’s tape comes in a variety of colors and widths!

This would be a great school-wide activity as each classroom could design a course, try it out, edit it, and then have another group visit. You could have pom racing all over the school and best of all, the main component is tape.

Your librarian,


Year of the Rat Storytime

To celebrate the year of the rat, we had a rat-themed preschool storytime! I use a puppet named Penelope Pack Rat to do our letter/word of the day so this was also her celebration. I printed out pictures of famous rats and hung them festively to help us in celebrating this new year. Rat is a fun word to celebrate because we got to practice moving the letters around to make new words!

Famous Rats!

The storytime plan linked below outlines the books, songs, and activities we did to celebrate. Informational suggestions are included in order to incorporate your favorite rat facts however there are also some wonderful video options if that is an option available to you.

Did you know rats are utilized to detect landmines and tuberculosis? This is just one of the many pieces of information I enjoy about these curious animals. Learn more at APOPO or watch:


The aroma putty activity linked above utilizes the Aroma Putty created by Crayola. I’ve had mine for about a year and they are holding up well. The scents are strong enough to recognize without overpowering the entire space. Additionally, the file allows for several ways to implement the activity. There are two different printouts – one that involves writing while the other involves coloring. There are also two different display sheets – one that tells the scent on the sheet while the other set numbers them so the scents need to be figured out by the participant.

Another activity asks the child and their grown-up to find the animal associated with their birth year and draw. I utilized the images and resources available at China Highlights for this activity.

The Year of the Rat – 2020

How are you celebrating the year of the rat?

Your librarian,


Illustrator Scavenger Hunt

Every 4-6 weeks I put out a new scavenger hunt in the children’s area of my library. I try to make them informational and a major bonus if I can integrate a few book recommendations.

The latest scavenger hunt features ten illustrators! Of course, I had to pick ten that I love but these ten also represent a variety of populations and cultures. I specifically wanted to focus on including photographs that would mirror the variety of families at my branch and preference underrepresented groups. It’s hard to choose which ten to utilize but for now, I’m very happy with my selections.

The ten illustrators include Cori Doerrfeld, Paola Escobar, Vashti Harrison, Kaylani Juanita, Yuyi Morales, Kadir Nelson, Dan Santat, Don Tate, Duncan Tonatiuh, Basia Tran.

Download a copy to use in your setting via these links:

  • Finding Sheets – There are 2 types to provide for a variety of settings, choose what is more appropriate for you. Then print 2 per page, double-sided, and flip on short edge.
  • Display Poster – There are questions and prompts included that I print and display on the back to encourage families to talk.
  • Illustrators to Find – There are two different options. One includes call numbers and one does not. Choose what is most appropriate for your setting. I print them, cut them, and laminate them so they can used again in the future.

All of the images utilized to create this scavenger are cited via their link to the left of the photograph. I utilized PiktoChart to create this resource. This is for educational and library purposes only and cannot be used for profit.

Please let me know if you see any errors or would like accommodations made for your library or educational setting. I’ll be posting more of these in the near future so check back again for more I’ve made.

Have a beautiful day!

Your librarian,


Last, are you someone who is fluent in a language other than English and willing to translate the wording within this scavenger hunt into another language? Please contact me!

Costumes: as we approach Halloween

Do you celebrate Halloween? What are you dressing up as this year? What are your children dressing up as?

Costumes are a great way to explore future options or make your imagination come to life. However, they are also a common source of cultural appropriation.

Therefore, I was SO happy to see the following post from Molly of Denali:

If you’re asking yourself, what’s wrong with cultural appropriation? Please read Everyday Feminism’s article from 2015, Bustle’s article from 2017, and/or Medium’s article from 2017.

There are so many wonderful, creative costumes you can use this year. What are you going to be?

Your librarian,

Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez

Sorry for the hiatus and thank you for reading. Here’s hoping I’ll be posting a bit more regularly again!

How do you want to say hello?

When learners enter your space, how do you say hello?

I created this page to give learners a choice of how they would like me to say hello to them as well as how they would like to say hello to me. I simply print it, laminate it, and post it on the door. This way they can point to tell me their preference upon entry.

Very young children through older adults are all able to participate in this task. It’s a simple but worthwhile addition to any storytime or program to make everyone feel welcome and included.

You are also welcome to use the PDF:

How do you want to say hello?

Your librarian,

Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez

Thank you for your time. I hope you find this to be a useful addition to your programming, teaching, and general learning space. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to make this resource more relevant to you by commenting on this post.

Storytime Plans

I’m happy to announce that I’ve got storytime plans to share with all of you! Check out the list below, download what you like, give attribution when you share, and contact me with comments. I’d love to hear what you think.

All of the plans are connected to the Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators of Progress, the AASL Learner Standards, and the Teaching Tolerance Anti-bias Standards.

Connect with my on Instagram @circulatingknowledge to see what I’m up too.

Your librarian,

Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez


Happy Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Check out their website for a plethora of information, resources, and reasoning behind the day. This year I was able to review one of the books that is highlighted for this year’s celebration.

I received the book Mama’s Needle written by Jeanette W. Stickel and illustrated by Helen S. Worcester & Jeanette W. Stickel. This picture book takes place inside a home and involves a mother and her child. It takes the reader on a journey from mending clothes, to making quilts, to dreams of what is possible. Though the ending was slightly abrupt, the path the story takes is reminiscent of many dreams, ideas, and thoughts children have related to common, everyday experiences.

I especially appreciated the pages that were void of white space, completely covered in illustrations. Highlights include a loving family, environmentalism (reuse), and nod toward poverty with the potential need of the family to mend and reuse all fabrics in the home.

Additional Information:

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board: *View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here:
*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here:

Medallion Level Sponsors

Honorary: Children’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab WorldLanguage Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low BooksMiranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, RedfinAuthor Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie FlettMehrdokht Amini,

Author Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia ChuCultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana andA Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram KimAuthor Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia LiuFeyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma VenkatramanPatricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci SorellShereen RahmingBlythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula ChaseErin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianLori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls RevolutionSoulful SydneyQueen Girls Publications, LLC

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon ReadsEducators Spin on it Growing Book by BookHere Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s ClassKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details.


Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:

Thanks for including me this year, take a moment to explore the other authors, titles, and resources that are all a part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019!

Your librarian,

Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez

Wolves, Birds, Bats, & Mice

Wolves, birds, bats (my favorite), & mice took center stage during the month of November for storytime. It was wonderful focusing on on some of our local wildlife, incorporating lots of facts, and singing plenty of new songs.
Highlights include:

  1. We were able to change up the same traditional song of “5 Little Ducks” and rhyme of “Two Little Blackbirds” to fit each storytime. Plus, some of the regulars (children and adults) became proficient in a variety of ASL signs and opposites.
  2. Many were able to learn something new about an animal they may or may not have been familiar with before. I enjoy using the time during the letter of the day and before or after a text to throw in additional facts or activities involving movements.
  3. I’ve tweaked the plans I made to make them reflect how I plan to implement these stories again sometime next year!

Switching up Traditional Songs

How did I switch up “5 Little Ducks”? Well…first of all, you’ve got to be familiar with the song. Give it a listen if you’re not quite sure how it goes. Typical of most children’s songs, this song rhymes so I had to make sure and keep that element, therefore: 

Five little wolves ran out one day,
Over the hill and far away,
Mama wolf called, “Aaaaoooooooo,”
But only four little wolves came back.,, 

Five little birds flew out one day, 
Over the hill and far away, 
Mama bird called, “Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet,”
But only four little birds came back… 

Five little bats flew out one night, 
Over the hill and out of sight, 
Mama bat called, “click, click, click, click,”
But only four little bats came back…

Five little mice ran out one night, 
Over the hill and out of sight, 
Mama mouse called, “squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak,” 
But only four little mice came back…

During the wolf and bat song we howled and made clicking sounds. During the bird and mouse songs we said the words that mimic the noises. You can find copies ready for printing in sharing in the list of resources at the end of this post. These are also great songs for children to hear the change in plurals! 

To accompany the lyrics we signed some of the words. Not interested in learning any ASL? That’s okay, flannel boards accompany this song well! I’ve been working to incorporate more ASL into my songs. Handspeak and Signing Savvy are my go-to sites for learning how to sign words. As referenced above, the words used last month include: wolf, bird, bat, mouse, five, four, three, two, one, zero, fly, run, hill, awaycome, and mama/mother

Disclaimer: I am not fluent in ASL but am trying to learn more. Please let me know if anything I have referenced is inaccurate. 

Switching up Traditional Rhymes

When it came to changing up the rhyme of “Two Little Blackbirds” for the weeks that were not about birds, I utilized fellow storytime librarians for inspiration and came up with a bit of my own. This is a favorite among the toddler crowd but the preschoolers also seem to enjoy it so it’s common for me to use it in both places (our audience is mixed anyhow). The finger plays included: 

Two little wolf pups sitting on a hill, 
One named Wanda, the other named Will, 
Run away Wanda, 
Run away Will, 
Come back Wanda, come back Will. 

Two little wolf pups staring at the sky, 
One named low, the other named high, 
Run away low, 
Run away high, 
Come back low, come back high. 

Two little wolf pups chewing on stick, 
One named slow, the other named quick, 
Run away slow, 
Run away quick, 
Come back slow, come back quick. 

Two little wolf pups under a rain cloud, 
One named quiet, the other named loud, 
Run away quiet, 
Run away loud, 
Come back quiet, come back loud.

Two little wolf pups howling in the night, 
One named joy, the other named fright, 
Run away joy, 
Run away fright, 
Come back joy, come back fright. 

For the other animals featured the rhymes followed the same model as above however were changed to…

Two little brown bats crawling up a hill, 
One named Betty, the other named Bill,
Fly away Betty, 
Fly away Bill, 
Come back Betty, come back Bill. 

Two little brown bats flying through the sky
Two little brown bats hanging from a stick…
Two little brown bats flying through a cloud…
Two little brown bats flying at night….

Two little brown mice running up a hill, 
One named Felicia, the other named Phil,
Run away Felicia, 
Run away Phil, 
Come back Felicia, come back Phil. 

Two little brown mice looking at the sky
Two little brown mice sitting on a stick…
Two little brown mice under a rain cloud…
Two little brown mice sleeping at night….

As with any fingerplay, expressions is HUGE. I do my best to exaggerate, have big emotions and be silly. Everyone has fun with this finger play. 


Plans, songs, and additional resources. All plans are designed as jumping off points and are designed for a preschool audience. Recommendations are included for how to edit the plan to fit a toddler crowd. All were created using Google apps or PiktoChart. Citations are included for resources found from alternative sites or persons. 

Thank you for your time, please reach out if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions! 

Your librarian, 

Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez