Farm Stand Storytime

Farm Stand Storytime

Farm Stand Storytime is a new outreach program created by myself and Anna Chill of Crabtree Farms as an outlet for children to foster a healthy curiosity of the natural world around them, as well as their place in the local food system. Back in August, I took my girls to Crabtree Farms to admire their sunflowers and found myself immediately attracted to the farm. It had the same intoxicating effect on my children. We were high on fresh air and blue skies for days.  Seeing all the joy that walking around the property brought to my family, I wanted to share that same experience with other families. Thus, Farm Stand Storytime was born with the inaugural storytime taking place last week. So far it is a monthly program scheduled for September, October, and November with themes dependent upon the crops and seasons. September’s theme was “Fall & Harvest” and it couldn’t have taken place on a more perfect day just after the autumnal equinox.

Farm Stand Storytime at Crabtree

Even with an extremely large population of homeschooled children in Chattanooga, the age of kids who attended was much younger than I had expected. I’m thankful I brought a variety of books and had to be flexible with my songs and activities.  I have a feeling I’m going to have to prepare for a wide age range each time until a regular following is established.

Here is the outline for the first Farm Stand Storytime “Fall & Harvest”:

Fall & Harvest Storytime

Welcome: Anna from Crabtree welcomed everyone and talked a little bit about the farm, the events, and how everyone is welcome to use it as a public park. After, I jumped in and introduced myself, welcomed everyone again and thanked them for joining us on such a beautiful day. I explained that after storytime kids will have the option to do an activity, run and play on the farm, or both, and then went into this “Wiggle My Fingers” rhyme, but modified it a bit to this:

I wiggle my fingers,
I wiggle my toes.
I wriggle my shoulders,
I wiggle my nose.
I give my hands a clap,
I put them in my lap.

The Wondering Box: Then I asked the kids if we should take a look inside “the wondering box” to see what we will be learning about that day. The wondering box is a prop I created inspired by the show Tumble Leaf and is my new favorite way to kick things off for a storytime. I first face the box towards me, look inside, and then close it very quickly to build intrigue. I do this a couple times and then open slowly open it and turn it to the group..

wondering storytime box

I talked about how inside the wondering box were seasonal vegetables freshly harvested from the farm, and how fall is a very important time of the year because it is a time when farms are gathering all the foods like these up before winter. We also talked about how Tuesday was the first day of fall, and that for storytime we’re going to talk a little bit about the fall season, growing food, and harvest.


Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley

As suggested by Anne Clark (So Tomorrow) and Cate Levinson (Storytiming), I read a fun fall favorite, Fall is Not Easy. I also made sure to create a flannel board to go along with it. I stared by asking the kids if they notice changes about the fall season and the leaves on the trees and that this is a rather silly book about one tree that has a difficult time with its leaves changing colors.

I read the book without using the flannel until the part in the story when the leaves change colors. I set the book down and kept putting up the different leaf scenes asking the kids if that was how fall is suppose to look. “Noooooooo!” they would say They laughed and laughed! By the time the (SPOILER) leaves begin to fall off, I picked the book up and started at that part and read from the book until the end. It was a hit. Thanks for the suggestion, Anne & Cate!


The Leaves on the Trees Are Falling Down By Irmagard Guertges, modified by Rebecca Z Dunn

(To the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”)

The leaves of the trees are orange and red
orange and red, orange and red.
The leaves of the trees are orange and red
All through the town.

The leaves on the trees are falling down,
falling down, falling down.
The leaves of the trees are falling down,
All through the town.

The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish
Swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish
The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish
All through the town.

What is “Harvest”? – After singing a song I held up a sign I made with the word “HARVEST” on it. I asked the the kids if they could say the letters in this word with me and then I said the word a couple times. The first time I slowly moved my finger over the word, and then went a little faster subsequent times. Then I explained that harvest is a process or period of time when crops, like the ones seen on the farm we were at, are gathered. That fall is a very important time for harvesting before the cold winter months come.


Growing Vegetable Soup

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert

Originally I was going to read How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry, but the crowd was younger, so I opted for this story instead about the growing, harvesting, and eating of vegetables. Not as in-depth as I would have preferred, but it did the job. As I read, I invited the kids pretend to do the activities that were being described in the book (plant seeds, pick vegetables, etc.).  After the book was finished we sang a few more songs/fingerplays about harvest:


Harvest Time by Unknown

(Sung to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”)

Harvest time is here again
In the garden we must dig
Carrots, radishes, onions too
All so fresh and yummy too.
Harvest time is here again
Won’t be long till you know when!! (Guess upcoming fall holidays)


Lunch Fingerplay By Jane Willis Johnston

Rabbits eat carrots with a crunch, crunch, crunch.
(Hold your hands on your head and make floppy rabbit ears, then make your hands into fists and hold one on top of the other in front of your mouth to make a carrot to crunch.)

Monkeys eat bananas by the bunch, bunch, bunch.
(Hold your fists over your ears too make monkey ears, then flop your hands, fingers down, in front of your mouth to make banana bunches.)

Raccoons eat sweet corn with a munch, munch, munch.
(Hold your hands like glasses over your eyes to make the raccoon’s mask, then shape your hands in a long ear of corn in front of your mouth and move it from left to right.)

And I eat ______________________ for my lunch, lunch, lunch!
(Point to yourself, then call out the name of a food you like to eat, hold your hands up to your mouth and pretend to eat your lunch!)

Rah, Rah, Radishes!

Rah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre

This was also a suggestion by the wonderful Cate from Storytiming and was so much fun to read and really was the perfect story for the storytime theme and location.


Leaf man

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Storytime concluded with a personal favorite, which was also the segue into the post-storytime extension activity. After reading it I talked about how you never know what you might find if you look closely at the world around, especially during a time when the seasons are in transition (a fancy word for changing). I thanked everyone for coming to storytime, and shared with them the optional activity, making ephemeral art.


Ephemeral Leaf Art

Ephemeral Leaf Art

As mentioned before, I have been deeply inspired by nature and the Reggio education pedagogy over the past several months. After storytime, I invited the kids and their caregivers to create pictures inspired by natural items found around the farm. Before storytime I had gathered leaves and acorns and such from my backyard, and Anna collected items found around the farm.

nature provocation

nature provocation

I laid out old picture frames and small mirrors purchased from Dollar Tree on picnic tables not far from where the storytime was held. Piles of nature’s treasures that Anna and I found earlier were grouped around on the ground near the tables, plus the kids could use whatever else they found around them. These are some of the images they created:

Ephemeral Leaf Art 1

Leaf Art 2

ephemeral leaf art 4

fall art 5

ephemeral leaf art 3

mirror fall art

fall ephemeral leaf art 6

leaf man art 7

It was a magical time. More details about this project are available HERE on Library as Incubator Project.

What would I have done differently? I wish I had time to make this wonderful fall time flannel from Mel’s Desk, but I ran out of time. It too would have been perfect for the age group! Next time! The upcoming theme for October is composting, and I plan on featuring songs and stories about pumpkins and how to compost just in time for jack-o-lantern season! 

For fun, I thought I’d leave you all with the Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe Anna distributed to our storytime group. Because COOKIES!

Crabtree Farms Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups maple syrup
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups white whole wheat pastry flour/unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and maple syrup till smooth and fluffy. Add squash, puree, egg, vanilla, and mix until blended. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in another bowl, add the wet ingredients and stir to combine all ingredients. It will be a soft batter. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop using small ice cream scoop (generous tablespoon) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until toothpick comes out almost clean.



5 Responses to “Farm Stand Storytime”

  1. Anne Clark says:

    Such a magical program, Rebecca! I love outdoor storytime.

  2. rebecca elder says:

    Three librarians from Southern California are so excited to see a Farm Stand storytime–such inspiration! Thanks!

  3. Belinda says:

    What a bumper crop of storytime ideas!! Thank you :)


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  1. […] and activities about the local food system and great outdoors. (You can read about the first one HERE.) Being the October month, it’s a given that pumpkins are a must. Crabtree Farms […]

  2. […] local farm made for an ideal match. I was searching for a storytime setting outside of the library. Farm Stand Storytime created an outlet for children to foster a healthy curiosity of the natural world. During and after […]

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