Blog Archives

iPads in Storytime: Primary Time+ (Part II) by Bradley Jones

Last fall, my library started its first storytime incorporating iPads. I wrote about it here previously, and I wanted to follow up on how it’s going. I also want to say that I have been greatly encouraged by and learned alot from reading other people’s posts on this blog. So thanks everybody–you are all awesome!

Primary Time+ is a weekday evening storytime for K-1 kids with caregivers offered once a month (except in the summer). We present a variety of formats (oral tales, big books, action songs with ukulele, & “regular” picture books) and always end with a parent-child app sharing time. We make handouts available with recommended apps, app review resources, and (since Kendra at Read Sing Play mentioned it) I’ve been providing copies of this information sheet from the Fred Rogers Center titled “Advice for Parents of Young Children in the Digital Age” to refer to and give to interested parents. For the past several months I’ve also been getting my feet wet presenting one iPad app story each session.

Here’s a bit of a recording of me presenting The Very Cranky Bear. There were only a handful of families on this night, so the atmosphere was quiet and low-key. The quality of the video isn’t all that great, but you can get an idea of how this particular equipment setup works. While a little painful, it was actually really helpful to see myself on video–I could see things I didn’t realize I was doing. One mistake was showing the iPad screen to the group while it was being projected behind me. This ends up dividing their attention–some kids are watching me and the iPad and some are watching the screen. I’m also looking at the screen instead of the kids much more than I imagined I was.

On another day, I did the iBooks version of Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes. I had the publisher’s website open to the song clip so they could hear how the song goes once. During the story, I left the iPad sitting on the projector stand so my hands were free to accompany the sung refrain with ukulele–reaching over to swipe the iPad to turn pages (maybe there’s a foot pedal for this?). This also freed me to get up and walk around in front of the projected screen.

I’ve been using a 30-pin to VGA dongle and cable to connect the iPad to a portable projector. This setup let us get started with the equipment we had on hand, but there are disadvantages to it:

  • The portable projector has to be at least 6 feet from the screen–putting it sort of right in the middle of the room.
  • Even 6 feet from the screen the projected image isn’t as big as it could be.
  • The 30-pin dongle plug will come loose if you don’t keep a finger on it.
  • You are tethered to the projector stand, which makes it harder to refer to the projected images than if you could stand up in front.

Just last week we successfully got a wireless mirroring setup to work. As Holly Southern mentioned in her post, it takes some fiddling to get it to work with your library network, but is totally worth it. Here’s more about that fiddling: We got an Apple TV ($99) and this special HDMI to VGA adapter (also available from Apple for $59). The problem (as my IT network specialist explained it to me) is that our library, and many others, block certain ports on their wifi network. This prevents patrons from accessing each other’s computers while sharing the wifi network. But that is exactly what the Apple TV and your iPad need to do–they have to access each other over the shared wifi network via these ports to do the mirroring. The Daring Librarian (‏@GwynethJones) recently tweeted this article which covers this info and has a link to this table of the specific ports that different mirroring setups require to be open. Whether or not AirPlay will work at your library depends on which ports are closed and why–hopefully this information will help you be able to talk to your IT department about it. In our case, opening all the necessary ports would hurt network security, so what my super-awesome IT person (have I mentioned how much I love them?) did was create a new, password protected wifi network separate from the public one with the ports open just for mirroring devices. I can’t wait to try the mirroring live when PT+ starts again in the fall!

Bradley Jones
Youth Technology Librarian
Skokie Public Library


I’m Teaching an ALSC Webinar: Best Practices for Apps in Storytime

Best Practices for Apps in Storytime

Parents are faced with ever-expanding media options to share with their children, and many children’s librarians are beginning to incorporate apps and eBooks for young children into their collections and programming to satisfy the growing need for reader’s advisory in the app space (“Appvisory”). This webinar will explore why and how incorporating digital media into our collections and programming is now an essential part of children’s librarianship, and tips and tricks for translating traditional storytelling techniques into the digital realm.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Identify sources for current research on the effects of digital media on young children
  • Identify review sources for digital media for children
  • Understand the difference between passive and interactive media and the implications for storytelling
  • Communicate effectively about the importance of healthy media behavior
  • Model healthy media behavior in early literacy programming

Who Should Attend

Children’s librarians, library paraprofessionals, library support staff, library administration, college faculty, and students who are interested in the subject matter.

Course Level & Prerequisites

This webinar is open to anyone of all experience levels; no prerequisites are required.


Cen Campbell is a children’s librarian at the Santa Clara County Library District and the Mountain View Public Library, and a children’s digital services consultant at She has driven a bookmobile, managed branch libraries, developed innovative programs for babies, young children and teens, and now helps other libraries incorporate digital media into their early literacy programming. She attended the California State Library’s Eureka! Leadership Institute in 2008 and now serves on the ALSC Children & Technology committee.

Date(s) & Time(s)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Apps in Storytime by Anne Hicks: Animal Sounds

Animal Sounds – Fun Toddler Game by Innovative Mobile Apps

The first app I ever used during storytime was an animal sounds app and I got the idea from this Storytiming blog post.

The app mentioned in the above link no longer works (there seems to be a glitch and the developer hasn’t issued an update) but I’ve found that the Animals Sounds – Fun Toddler Game app works perfectly.

I hold the iPad facing me and tell the kids to guess what animal is making the noise.  I say this rhyme:

“There’s someone in my garden,
Whoever can it be?
There’s someone in my garden,
Let’s listen, then see.”

I then choose an animal from the home screen and tap on it. This will activate that animal’s sound and the screen will change to an image of the animal. For example, if you choose the dog you will hear a bark and see this screen:

The kids will all shout out their guesses and then your can turn the iPad around to show if they guessed correctly.
This particular animal sounds app works really well in storytime because :

  1. It has large clear images of the animals (there are actually two images per animal so you can choose the one you like best).
  2. You can repeat the animal noise by clicking the repeat button on the upper right corner of the screen  (in case the kids want to hear it again before guessing).
  3. The name of the animal is written in bold font at the bottom of the screen.

For more storytime ideas check out my blog at Anne’sLibaryLife

Anne Hicks
Children’s Librarian
Henrietta Public Library

iPads in Storytime: Skokie Public Library Primary Time+

skokielibrary-16_600Here at Skokie Public Library, we just started a storytime incorporating iPads. It’s a monthly program for K-1 graders called Primary Time+ and we’ve done 3 so far (see photos of what it looks like on Flickr!). Paula Shapiro (a former intern who now is a children’s librarian at Deerfield Public Library but still generously volunteers to help with this storytime) and I have been presenting a “traditional” storytime format for the first half or so of each 45 minute program. By “traditional” I mean we open with an action song (accompanied by ukulele duet!) and then trade off presenting some longer picture books—we’ve also worked in a couple of jokes and magic tricks. Then we usually split the group in half if there are enough people—attendance has been between 7 and 12 families. One half gets tablets and does individual parent-child app sharing with me available for guidance and questions while Paula runs an early literacy board game like Zingo. After 10 minutes or so we switch groups.

Our library has 4 iPads and 2 LeapPads, enough for half the group. We have a folder on each iPad loaded with a selection of recommended apps such as PopOut! Peter Rabbit, Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App, and The Monster At the End of This Book. We always provide a handout that lists the apps that we’ve featured, as well as free resources such as Tumblebooks on the library’s website and the free beta. The handouts also list websites for app reviews. We gather print copies of the featured books as well and display them for checkout on a table with the handouts. For the last couple of minutes we bring it back down with “The More We Get Together” on uke and say goodbye!


I haven’t done much modeling by presenting app stories, but reading the discussions and posts on this blog has made me realize that it’s important to start doing so! One reason I haven’t yet is because of the logistics of using the overhead projector (lowering the lights, PC running the projector is in the back of the room, etc.). However, I did do a brief demo of Toontastic last month just holding an iPad, which seemed to work okay. We’ll explore our options.

pigeon on the train

On the morning of our last Primary Time+ a pigeon happened to stroll onto my CTA train car just before the doors closed. I took a few pictures of the pigeon walking back and forth with my phone camera and then shared the photos with the PT+ kids—just by holding up my phone and having them crowd in while I explained what happened. A lively exchange of ideas ensued, including–you guessed it–“Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride the Train!” While this was a spontaneous incident, thinking about it afterward I realized that it was actually a good example of how we can take advantage of new technology to enhance and even create opportunities for exploring storytelling and narrative skills.

Bradley Jones
Youth Technology Librarian
Skokie Public Library

Apps in Storytime by Anne Hicks: Peekaboo Trick or Treat

Peekaboo Trick or Treat with Ed Emberley by Night and Day Studios

I used this app during my Halloween storytime but there are other Peekaboo apps by this developer that would work with many different themes.  Once you open the app you will see an animated image of a door and hear a knocking sound.  

Here’s a screenshot of the door:

You will also hear the noise of the “trick-or-treater” who is behind the door.  For example, the ghost will “boo” and the pirate will say “arrrgh”.  These sounds aren’t loud enough for the kids to hear but since I’m holding the iPad I can hear it.  I ask the kids to guess who is behind the door and I give them clues.  If I hear that it is the pirate behind the door I will say to the kids “This trick-or-treater has a peg for a leg, a pet parrot on his shoulder, he says ‘arrrgh’, and he might make you walk the plank!  Who is it?”  Once the kids have shouted out their guesses, I tap on the door to open it up and reveal if they were correct.  The kids had a lot of fun with this guessing game.

Here’s a screenshot of the ghost:

For more storytime ideas check out my blog at Anne’sLibaryLife

Anne Hicks
Children’s Librarian
Henrietta Public Library

Apps in Storytime by Anne Hicks: Wheels on the Bus

Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose

This was a fun app to use during storytime.  It basically goes through each verse of the song with corresponding animations.  I hold the iPad facing the children and then activate the animations as we sing.  The app also lets you record your own voice and then listen to it as you go through the song again.  I recorded the kids singing a few verses and then played the app again so they could hear themselves.  According to Every Child Ready to Read singing is an important early literacy skill!

Here’s a screenshot from the app:

For more storytime ideas check out my blog at Anne’sLibaryLife

Anne Hicks
Children’s Librarian
Henrietta Public Library

Apps in Storytime by Anne Hicks: Feed the Animals

Feed the Animals by Curious Fingers

I asked the kids to help me feed the animals!  The app shows you an animated image of an animal and three choices of what that animal might eat.  When you drag the food over to the animal, it will either eat the food happily (if you choose correctly) or refuse the food (if you choose incorrectly).  I held the iPad so the kids could see and then dragged food to the animal.  This was fun because I played dumb and kept giving the animal the wrong food and the kids would get excited by my utter stupidity and yell out the correct answer.

Here’s a screenshot from the app:

I would say “We can feed the monkey some peanuts, a flower, or a banana.  I know monkeys loooove to eat flowers so I’ll give him a flower.”  The kids all shout out “No! Monkeys like bananas!”  I did this with 5 or 6 animals and the kids had a lot of fun.

For more storytime ideas check out my blog at Anne’sLibaryLife

Anne Hicks
Children’s Librarian
Henrietta Public Library