Every Thursday! Online Little Hands Signing Storytimes with Queens Public Library

Little Hands Signing: Feeling Sign Stories By Hand With Kathy MacMillan
Sing, sign, play, and learn basic American Sign Language! These fun, hands-on storytimes for the whole family are presented by Kathy MacMillan, author of “Nita’s First Signs” and “Little Hands & Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together.”
These storytimes will be streamed live at 12 PM each Thursday December 1- February 1 on Facebook and YouTube. We also invite you to join us at Astoria Library to watch the livestream with fellow library customers! Can’t watch live? Check out the recordings and sign and play anytime!
December 1: Friendship Signs
December 8: Family Signs
December 15: Celebration Signs December 22: Giving Signs
December 29: Countdown to Fun (and New Year’s) Signs
January 5: People Signs
January 12: Sing and Dance Signs
January 19: Togetherness Signs
January 26: Manners Signs
February 2: In My Community Signs
This program is funded by NYC Council Member Tiffany Cabán. Click here for more information. 

Guest Post: Garden-themed Signing Storytime with Dawn Babb Prochovnic

Today I’m featuring a guest post from Dawn Babb Prochovnic, author of the excellent Story Time with Signs and Rhymes series (more about that here), about her just-released picture book, Lucy’s Blooms, and blooming garden-themed storytime plan for you!

Take it away, Dawn!

Hello readers and signers!

Kathy was kind enough to invite me back to her blog to write a guest post to celebrate the upcoming release of my latest book, Lucy’s Blooms, a multigenerational story about a young girl who learns from her grandmother about the enduring nature of love, the strength in rejecting labels, and the wisdom in standing with those who are different.

I thought the best way to celebrate would be to share an American Sign Language story time lesson plan that incorporates the gardening themes in the book. So let’s dig in!

Gardening-Themed Signing Story Time Lesson Plan featuring Lucy’s Blooms

NOTE:  This lesson plan is geared for a digital/remote storytime format. Feel welcome to modify appropriately once remote services are no longer necessary in your service area.

Welcome, Icebreaker, and Introductions

Screen share and/or share the link for a resource that illustrates the handshapes of the ASL alphabet. 

Introduce yourself by fingerspelling your name. Invite participants to introduce themselves by fingerspelling their names. Practice fingerspelling L-U-C-Y.

Introduce Five Words that Participants Can Listen for and Sign Along With When You Read the Book

Here are links to some reputable video-based resources for the selected ASL vocabulary words, along with some brief reminder notes to help jog your memory as you are learning the signs:

  • BLOOMS (flower): Fingers move from one side of nostril to the other
  • DANCE: Two fingers dance on palm of other hand
  • GRAM (grandmother): Five handshape moves away from chin
  • WATER: “W” handshape taps on chin
  • WHISTLE: “F” handshape makes whistling gesture near mouth

Read: Lucy’s Blooms by Dawn Babb Prochovnic. Illustrated by Alice Brereton
West Margin Press

Invite all participants to sign the American Sign Language signs for Gram, blooms, water, whistle, and dance each time they hear these words in the story.

Introduce/Review ASL Vocabulary Words in Preparation for Song

  • BLOOMS (flower): Fingers move from one side of nostril to the other
  • GROW: Like a plant growing out of the ground
  • SOIL: Like feeling granules of sand between your fingers and thumb
  • SUNSHINE: Like a ray of sunlight coming down from the sky
  • WATER: “W” handshape taps on chin
  • YES: Closed fist “nods” yes

Sing! (to the tune of “Where is Thumbkin?”)
(sign the words in capital letters)

YES they do. YES they do.
Plant your BLOOMS in SOIL. Plant your BLOOMS in SOIL.
Watch them GROW. Watch them GROW.

YES they do. YES they do.
Feed your BLOOMS with WATER. Feed your BLOOMS with WATER.
Watch them GROW. Watch them GROW.

YES they do. YES they do.
Set your BLOOMS in the SUNSHINE. Set your BLOOMS in the SUNSHINE.
Watch them GROW. Watch them GROW.

Prepare to Read Book Another Book:

You can find a collection of logical book pairings for this story time theme here.

Example: Read the poem about spring from Four Seasons! Five Senses! by Dawn Babb Prochovnic and Stephanie Bauer (Abdo).

Introduce/Review ASL Vocabulary Words in Preparation for Book/Poem #2:

  • SPRING: A double movement, similar to GROW
  • BLOOMS (flower): Fingers move from one side of nostril to the other
  • BUMBLEBEES (Bee): Like swatting a bee away from your face
  • LOVE: Cross arms over chest
  • RAIN: Like sheets of rain coming down
  • TREE: Bent arm with five handshape moves, like top of tree waving in the wind

Here is the text of the poem:
(sign the words in capital letters)

I see pink BLOOMS on bright green TREES.
I hear the buzz of BUMBLEBEES.
I feel wet puddles with my feet.
I smell the air. It’s fresh and sweet.
I LOVE the taste of homemade bread on a RAINY SPRINGTIME day.

Create a Rainstorm

Start by slowly rubbing the palms of your hands together and gradually getting faster. Next, snap your fingers together, gradually getting faster and faster. Now pat your thighs with one hand then the other, first slowly, then faster.  Now stomp your feet until they are stomping like crazy. The rainstorm is full-on now! I like to end by doing all of the hand motions in reverse to return the storm to a soft sprinkling of rain, and then quiet.  This is most fun with a large group, but it’s something you can do all by yourself…go ahead, try it!

It’s not quite the same group experience in a digital environment, but it is still fun!

Dance a Little Dance

In the book, Lucy’s Blooms, Lucy dances for her blooms. Set a timer for two minutes and dance a little dance of your own. If it helps to turn on some music to go along with your dancing, play the book trailer for Lucy’s Blooms with the original music composed and performed by Maiah Wynne.


Conclude by encouraging an at-home activity such as:

  • Planting and tending to seeds and observing them as they grow into plants.
  • Counting the dandelions currently in each participant’s own yard or a nearby park.
  • More themed activity ideas for Lucy’s Blooms will be added at this link over time. Check it out!


Connect with the author:

.Dawn Babb Prochovnic is the author of Lucy’s Blooms, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes Series, including one title that was selected as an Oregon Book Awards finalist. She is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud. Dawn is a vocal advocate for school and public libraries and was honored as a 2015 Oregon Library Supporter of the Year by the Oregon Library Association. She is a frequent presenter at schools, libraries and educational conferences, and the founder of SmallTalk Learning, which provides American Sign Language and early literacy education. Dawn lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, two kids, two cats, and a feisty dog. Learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com.


5 Little Flowers: A Flannelboard Rhyme to Sign

I’ve posted before about my friend Dawn Babb Prochovnic, author of the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes series (Abdo) and many other great books for kids. (See my previous posts about Dawn’s books and storytime signing resources here!)

Well, Dawn has a new picture book coming out next week from West Margin Press: Lucy’s Blooms. I was lucky enough to get an early copy. (See my full review of the book below). I was inspired to share this storytime rhyme using ASL that would pair beautifully with the book:

5 Little Flowers: A Flannelboard Rhyme to Sign

Lucy’s Blooms by Dawn Babb Prochovnic. Illustrated by Alice Brereton
West Margin Press, 4/13/21

This is a beautiful story of the nurturing power of love – Grams’ love for Lucy, and Lucy in turn pouring that love and care into her blooms. Like many children, Lucy must confront the reality that not everyone will see the magic she sees in the things she loves – some people might even dismiss them as weeds. But buoyed by the security and affection of her grandmother, Lucy knows that her blooms have something none of the prize-winning flowers can boast. Dawn Babb Prochovnic’s lyrical text skips along like Lucy’s twirling dance in the meadow, perfectly paired with Alice Brereton’s exuberant art. A celebration of connection – human to human, and human to nature – that shines with all the warmth of a sunny summer day in the garden. Click here for more info about the book!

Watch this space for more Lucy’s Blooms content! Next week, I will be hosting Dawn for a guest post with a gardening-themed signing storytime plan!

Nita’s Holidays Storytimes in ASL and English

Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa! Celebrate the holidays with Kathy MacMillan, author of NITA’S DAY and NITA’S FIRST SIGNS as we share stories, signs, and songs!  How does Nita celebrate with her family? Watch one of the storytime videos below to find out!

Nita’s Holidays Storytime in English

(presented in spoken English with closed captions)


Nita’s Holidays Storytime in American Sign Language

(presented in American Sign Language only with no voiceover)


Find out more about the Nita books

Order signed copies of NITA’S DAY, NITA’S FIRST SIGNS, and all of Kathy MacMillan’s books to benefit Deaf Camps, Inc.’s scholarship fund

Order your own Nita doll or other custom-made doll (all proceeds benefit Deaf Camps, Inc.’s scholarship fund)

Kirkus calls NITA’S DAY “a handy resource for hearing and Deaf families alike”

Nita’s Day, the latest book in the Little Hands Signing series, got a great review by Kirkus!

“Tabbed pages make flipping to the correct sign easy for sleep-deprived parents using the book as a reference. Short, simple, descriptive sentences put the signs in context. Brezzi’s stylized cartoons are clear and accessible, employing a wide range of patterns and unusual colors…Deaf culture, ASL, and early-childhood content were vetted by experts, making it suitable for Deaf children or families who want to incorporate sign into their daily routine. A handy resource for hearing and Deaf families alike.” – Kirkus Reviews

Check out the Little Hands Signing series homepage for video demonstrations of the signs in both books, teacher and librarian guides, and ASL storytime and classroom activities to share!

Order Nita’s Day now for holiday gift-giving! 

Autographed copies from the Deaf Camps, Inc. Online Bookstore |  Indiebound.org | Bookshop.org  |  Workman.com |  Amazon.com  |  BarnesAndNoble.com

THE RUNAWAY SHIRT Storytimes in English and ASL

If you missed the online launch celebration for The Runaway Shirt, you can still check out the videos below!

The Runaway Shirt Storytime in English

Kathy reads The Runaway Shirt and teaches clothing signs in ASL for a laundry-inspired song and game!

The Runaway Shirt Storytime in ASL

This storytime is presented in ASL only with no voiceover or captions. Kathy shares The Runaway Shirt, a fun laundry-inspired guessing game, and an ASL rhythm.

Order The Runaway Shirt now!

Enter the Giveaway!

In honor of the release of The Runaway Shirt, I’m giving away a signed copy of the book! This makes a great gift and may be personalized. Must by 18 or older to enter. US Only. Giveaway closes August 30, 2020.
3 chances to enter! Each one counts as a separate entry.

  1. Enter on Twitter:

2. Enter on Facebook!

3. Enter here on my website! If you are not already a follower of my website, click on “follow by email” in the right hand menu and enter your email address. Then fill out the form below to enter the giveaway!

Storytime resource books 50% off though August 15!

ALA Editions has lots of great storytime resources on sale at 50% off, including 2 of my titles:

Multicultural Storytime Magic coverMulticultural Storytime Magic by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker (ALA Editions)

Regular price: $48 – Now on sale for $24!

Weave diversity into any and every storytime, no matter what the topic! Arranged thematically around dozens of popular storytime themes, this resource book presents original and traditional resources from all over the world that will enrich storytimes for ages 2 through 5. Includes download links for flannelboard and stick puppet patterns and illustrations of American Sign Language signs. Buy now.


A Box Full of Tales by Kathy MacMillan (ALA Editions)

Regular price: $52 – Now on sale for $26!

Children’s programming made easy. Really easy. What librarian doesn’t dream of offering more and better children’s programs with less effort? Story boxes offer a simple method for capturing ideas, talent, creativity, and resources available in your library. This handy resources also includes detailed plans for fifty great story boxes including suggested books, fingerplays, songs, props, crafts, and sign language activities. Buy now.


Browse the entire sale here! Sale ends August 15, 2020.

Thank You Rhyme: A Rhyme to Sign

In Nita’s First Signs, Nita learns about using her manners. Here’s a fun action rhyme that reinforces the ASL sign THANK-YOU!

Thank You Rhyme: A Rhyme to Sign

This is the latest entry in my Little Hands Signing video series. See the whole series here and look for more videos to come!

Roll the Ball: A Song to Sign

In Nita’s First Signs, Nita loves to play with her colorful ball! Here’s a followup song to sign with young children using American Sign Language to introduce and reinforce manners signs and turn-taking.

Roll the Ball: A Song to Sign

This is the latest entry in my Little Hands Signing video series. See the whole series here and look for more videos to come!

Manners: A Song to Sign

Sign, sing, and show your manners! Here’s a fun song to practice manners signs in American Sign Language with young children:

Manners: A Song to Sign

This is the latest entry in my Little Hands Signing video series. See the whole series here and look for more videos to come!