Testing the Waters: A Storytime for National Learn to Swim Day

Last Saturday (May 21) was National Learn to Swim Day, which is an important skill to highlight in our coastal town. So today we did a storytime all about Swimming.

Here’s what we did:

BOOKS:

Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London; illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz

I always enjoy reading Froggy books because usually some character calls “FRROOGGYY!” and Froggy yells out, “Whaaat?” I like to point out the word Froggy on the cover before I read, and tell the kids to watch for it so they can join in. In this one, Froggy doesn’t want to go swimming, even though his mother tells him frogs are born in the water. She teaches him to put his head under the water and say, “Bubble Bubble,” then lift it out and say “Toot Toot!” And then she teaches him to back float by moving his arms in different shapes to match the words “Chicken, Airplane, Soldier.” This becomes a fun repeated refrain throughout the book. Something embarrassing happens to Froggy in every book, and in this case, he loses his bathing suit. Although this was a bit longer than the books I usually read at this storytime, there were enough interactive elements to keep the kids engaged.

Swim Swim Sink by Jennifer Harney

Cute book about a duckling that always sinks when he tries to swim. He tries lots of alternatives: water wings, SCUBA gear, and even a jet-ski, until finally he decides to travel in his own adorable pirate ship. The kids loved joining in on the “QUACKs.”

Bubbles….Up by Jacqueline Davies; illustrated by Sonia Sánchez.

Lovely book describing all of the joys of being in the water: talking underwater, sitting at the bottom of the pool, being surrounded by bubbles. There’s even a thunderstorm in the middle, which we augmented with a thunder tube (one of my favorite storytime props). A beautiful celebration of swimming.

SONGS:

Swimming, Swimming

Cute and easy song with motions. Here’s a video from Mother Goose Club Playhouse:

Swimming, Swimming,

In my swimming pool.

On hot days, and on cool days,

In my swimming pool.

Breast stroke, side stroke,

Fancy diving too!

Don’t you wish you never had

Anything else to do?

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

Claire and I each held up a frog puppet for this one, while holding up our other hand to show the number of frogs remaining. I like to stop between each verse to ask the kids how many frogs are left:

Five green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log.
Eating the most delicious bugs! Yum Yum!
One jumped into the pool,
Where it was nice and cool,
Now there are four green speckled frogs!

Four green and speckled frogs…etc.

Six Little Ducks

                             
[C] Six little ducks that I [G7] once knew,
[C] Fat ones, skinny ones, fair ones too.
[G7] But the one little duck with the feather on his back.
[C] He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Chorus:
                                       
[G7] “Quack! Quack! Quack! [C] Quack! Quack! Quack!”                                             
[G7] He led the others with his [C]“Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Down to the river they would go,
Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble, to and fro.
But the one little duck with the feather on his back,
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Chorus

Home from the river they would come,
Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble, ho hum hum.
But the one little duck with the feather on his back,
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Chorus

I’m an Anglerfish

I love Folkmanis puppets, and my daughter went through a serious deep sea fish phase years ago. So I was thrilled to discover Folkmanis had made an Anglerfish puppet (it even lights up and its eyes wobble!). We used it today for this anglerfish song, to the tune of I’m a Little Teapot.

I’m an anglerfish,

Come see my light (hold your hand up to your forehead).

Down in the sea

Where’s it’s dark as night.

When a little fish swims in my sight (move your hand like a fish).

I open my mouth (spread hands wide apart)

And I BITE, BITE, BITE! (clap hands together)

Let’s Go Swimming

I know I do a lot of Laurie Berkner songs, but I absolutely had to include this one, which is always a bit hit. Here’s a link to the YouTube video:

And here’s a link to the lyrics, which are too long to include here, as well a link to the chords for ukulele or guitar.

STAY AND PLAY: Bubble Wrap Painted Fish

Bubble Wrap Painting is one of my favorite process art activities. It works great for themes like reptiles, beehives, fish, or just for fun. For this one, I used this fish clipart template to cut fish shapes out of bubble wrap. I put out blue paper, paintbrushes, and small paper plates with a few different blobs of tempera paint for each table. The kids painted the bubble wrap fish, and then smushed them onto the paper to make a fish print. Some kids got really into it, adding eyes and teeth with the paint brushes. Messy fun!

Happy Swimming!

Wheely Fun! A Storytime for National Bike to Work Day

This Friday (May 20) is National Bike to Work Day, which our library system is celebrating with a series of bicycle workshops, giveaways, and free bike inspections in a three-day Bike to Your Library Weekend. Our libraries even allow patrons to check out bicycles for a week at a time from most of our locations.

Since my Outdoor Musical Storytime is at a local park, several of the kids ride their own bikes there each week, so I thought Bicycles would be a fun theme to explore.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon

This book worked perfectly for storytime because it features so many farm animals. The kids loved calling out the name of each one and the sound it makes. When Duck finds an unattended bike on the farm, he enjoys showing off in front of all of the other animals, until they all decide they want to ride bikes too. I wasn’t able to get a second copy of the book in time, so my coworker Claire held up puppets of the different animals (cow, dog, mouse, etc.) as I read, and then we sang Old MacDonald Had a Farm at the end, using the same puppets.

Take a Ride By My Side by Jonathan Ying and Victoria Ying

A rhyming book reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, featuring a conversation between a cat and dog as they take a trip using bicycles, a canoe, a submarine, an airplane, and a rocket ship. They finally arrive on the Moon, and then head back home. Very cute, simple story, with clear illustrations.

Bear’s Bicycle by Laura Renald; illustrated by Jennie Poh

Bear hopes to learn to ride a bike in time for the Spring Scoot, but after following the instructions in his book, he falls down the first time he tries. He decides he needs a new book, and on his way to the library, sees several other friends learning to ride too. I had the kids act out the “pedal-wobble CRASH!” each time it came up in the story, which they loved.

SONGS:

The Wheels on the Bike

A bike version of The Wheels on the Bus.

[C]The wheels on the bike go round and round.

[G7]Round and round, [C] Round and round.

The wheels on the bike go round and round,

[G7]All over [C] town.

The helmet on my head goes on and off…

The streamers on the bike go swish, swish, swish…

The bell on the bike goes ring, ring, ring…

The light on the bikes goes blink, blink, blink…

I Have a Little Bicycle

I found this one from Miss Nina, whose video is below. I printed out pictures of a red light and a green light to hold up, and had the kids move their arms in circles while we sang:

I have a little bicycle,

I got it at the shop.

And when I see the big red light,

I know it’s time to stop!

I have a little bicycle,

I ride it to and fro.

And when I see that big green light,

I know it’s time to GO, GO, GO!

My Bicycle by Laurie Berkner

I can always count on Laurie Berkner to have a song to go with almost any theme. We did this as an instrument play-along (when we hand out shakers at the end), but it would be just as fun with just the motions. You only need two chords to play it on ukulele or the guitar:

Here’s a link to the video with the melody:

[C] First I ride my bicycle very slowly,
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba [G7] bicycle riding.

[G7] Then I ride my bicycle a little bit faster
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba [C] bicycle riding.

[C] Then I ride my bicycle even faster
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba [G7] bicycle riding.

[G7] Then I ride my bicycle
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba bicycle,
Really, really, really, really, really, really [C] fast!

[C] First I ride my scooter very slowly,
Scoot scoot, scooby doot, [G7] scooter riding.

[G7] Then I ride my scooter a little bit faster,
Scoot scoot, scooby doot [C] scooter riding.

[C] Then I ride my scooter even faster,
Scoot scoot, scooby doot scooter riding.

[G7] Then I ride my scooter,
Scoot scoot, scooter,
Really, really, really, really, really, really [C] fast!

[C] First I walk around the house very slowly,
Wa-wa-wa-wa-wa walkin’ a- [G7]round.

Then I walk around the house a little bit faster
Wa-wa-wa-wa-wa walkin’ a-[C]round.

[C] Then I run around the house even faster
Ra-ra-ra-ra-ra runnin’ a-[G7]round.

[G7] Then I run around the house
Ra-ra run around the house,
Really, really, really, really, really, really [C] fast!

I’m really, really, really, really,
Really, really, really, really,
Really, really, really, really,
Really, really [G7] fast!

Stay & Play: Bicycle Drawings

This was a really easy project, but it was fun to see what the kids came up with. I printed out a blank sheet with a bicycle clip art picture in the corner. Then I gave the kids markers and stickers to create a picture of where they would like to ride their bicycle, or how they would like to decorate their bicycle, or the kinds of things they might see while they were riding. It was pretty open-ended. Here’s a .pdf of the template:

What are your favorite books about bicycles? Please share them in the comments.

Out of This World: A Storytime About Space

Last Saturday, May 7, was International Astronomy Day, so it seemed like a fun week to do a storytime about Space.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

Astro Girl by Ken Wilson-Max

Very sweet, empowering story about a girl named Astrid, who tells her father that she wants to be an astronaut. He asks her if she’s ready to eat food out of a tube, be in zero gravity, and do science experiments, and she enthusiastically says yes. In the end, the family goes to see her mother, who is just arriving home from a space mission herself.

A Kite for Moon by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, and Matt Phelan

Dedicated to astronaut Neil Armstrong, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the lonely Moon, and the boy who tries to hug her. When he finds that she is too far away, he sends up kites to keep her company. He spends his whole life studying how to be an astronaut, and finally goes to visit the Moon in person, while the whole world watches.

Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

This silly, colorful book got lots of giggles. When aliens come to Earth, it’s not to see you, but to steal your underpants, which they all love!

Songs:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

It’s always nice to throw this song in, since it’s a surefire way to get the families singing along. I like to sing it really fast the last time through.

[C] Twinkle, Twinkle, [F] Little [G7] Star,
[G7] How I [C] wonder [G7] what you [C] are.

[C] Up a-[F] bove the [C] world so [G7] high,

[C] Like a [F] diamond [C] in the [G7] sky,

[C] Twinkle, Twinkle, [F] Little [G7] Star,
[G7] How I [C] wonder [G7] what you [C] are.

If You’re Going to the Moon

This one is from JBrary, although I found it on this wonderful list of Space Songs for Preschools from Preschool Inspirations. It’s to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It:

[C] If you’re going to the Moon,

Wear your [G7] boots (stomp! stomp!)

[G7] If you’re going to the Moon,

Wear your [C] boots (stomp! stomp!)

If you’re [F] going to the Moon,

This is [C] what you have to do.

If you’re [G7] going to the Moon,

Wear your [C] boots (stomp! stomp!)

If you’re going to the Moon,

Wear your helmet… (mime putting on helmet)

If you’re going to the Moon,

Wear your gloves… (mime putting on gloves)

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!

This one is always a hit. I have the kids crouch down while we sing the first part, then jump up in the air when we blast off. Here’s a slightly different version from Jiggle Jam, which uses the same tune:

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,

We’re going to the Moon.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,

We’re going to the Moon.

If you want to take a trip,

Climb aboard my rocket ship.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,

We’re going to the Moon.

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

Blast-off!

Rocketship Run by Laurie Berkner

This one was so much fun, and worked perfectly for the theme. Here’s a link to the You Tube video.

[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!
[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!

[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] Sun,
[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] Sun,
[C]When I [G7] get there [F] I’ll be spinning everywhere.
[C]Spinning [G7] round the [F] Sun.

[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!
[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!

[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] Moon,
[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] Moon,
[C]When I [G7] get there [F] I’ll be dancing through the air,
[C]Dancing [G7] on the [F] Sun.

[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!
[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!

[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] stars,
[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] stars,
[C]When I [G7] get there [F] I’ll be jumping everywhere,
[C]Dancing [G7] from star to [F] star.

[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!
[Am] 5-4-3-2-1 [C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run!

[C]Take me [G7] to the [F] Earth,
[C]Leave me [G7] on the [F] ground,
[C]When I [G7] get there [F] I’ll be [C] home.

[Am] 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

[C] Blast off! Another rocket [E7] ship [Am] run

Stay & Play: Mixed Media Night Sky

I originally just intended to have the kids stamp circles with pompoms dipped in tempera paint (to represent planets), and then add the sparkly star stickers. But I was surprised to see that some kids were sticking the pompoms onto their paper with the paint, which added a whole other dimension. The kids loved everything about this craft.

What are your favorite books or songs about space? Please share them in the comments.

Pet Projects: A Storytime for National Pet Week

This week is National Pet Week, which is one of the easier themes to work with. There are SO many great picture books about dogs, cats, bunnies, and even unusual pets like rhinoceroses and unicorns. The hard part was deciding which ones to read. But, with the large, spread-out crowd for our Outdoor Musical Storytime, I ended up choosing books that I hoped the kids would be able to follow, even if they couldn’t see the illustrations very clearly.

Here is what we did:

Books:

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems

The Pigeon books are always a lot of fun to read aloud, and this one is no exception. The Pigeon really, really wants a puppy…until he realizes how big (and toothy!) they are. Instead, he decides, he really wants a walrus.

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

This is such a sweet book, and works well for a wide range of ages. The large, clean, black-and-white illustrations make it perfect for storytime, and so does the repetition of certain lines. When Kitten sees the full moon for the first time, she thinks it’s a big bowl of milk in the sky, and she wants it. But all of her efforts to get it just leave her soaking wet, exhausted, and hungry. Luckily, there’s a surprise waiting for her on her own front porch.

How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? by Iza Trapani, based on the song by Bob Merrill

No matter how many times I read this one, I always get choked up at the end. It’s so embarrassing! But it works so well for storytime. Iza Trapani has extended the classic song How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? to tell the story of a little boy who is saving up his money to buy the adorable puppy in the pet shop window. But he ends up spending all of his money on his family, and then discovers that the little dog has already been sold…and is waiting for him at home.

Songs:

B-I-N-G-O

We sang this one with the Monkey Mitt set, which has little removable dogs featuring each letter. I have the kids bark instead of clap every time we leave out a letter. This is an old standby, but here’s a video from Super Simple Songs, just in case you’re not familiar with it.

The Cat Went Fiddle-I-Fee

I love the Sam Hinton version of this song. It’s a great song for storytime, because you can ask the kids to suggests animals and sounds for each verse.

[G] I had a cat and the cat pleased me,

And I fed my cat under [D] yonder [G] tree.

And the cat went [D] fiddle-i-[G] fee.

I had a wolf and the wolf pleased me,

And I fed my wolf under yonder tree.

And the wolf went “Arrrrroooo!”

And the cat went fiddle-i-fee.

Two Little Kitty Cats

I learned this one years ago from a Music Together class. Here’s a video from Sally’s Music Circle with the tune:

Two little kitty cats lying in the sun (crouch down)

One jumped up and said, “I’d like to run!” (jump up and run in place)

Then said the other one, “I’ll run too!

Running, running, running, and I’ll play with you!

Meow! Meow! Meow!

Two little puppy dogs lying in the park,

One jumped up and said, “I’d like to bark.”

Then said the other one, “I’ll bark too,

Running, running, running and I’ll play with you.”

Woof! Woof! Woof!

How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? by Bob Merrill

I sang this one for our instrument playalong (when we hand out shakers to the kids). Here’s a link to the Patti Page version. It’s very easy to play on the guitar or ukulele, since it only has two chords:

CHORUS

[C] How much is that doggie in the [G] window? (Arf! Arf!)

The one with the waggley [C] tail?

How much is that doggie in the [G] window? (Arf! Arf!)

I do hope that doggie’s for [C] sale!

VERSE 1

[C] I must take a trip to [G] California,

And leave my poor sweetheart a-[C]lone.

If he has a dog, he won’t be [G] lonesome,

And the doggie will have a good [C] home.

CHORUS

[C] I read in the paper there are [G] robbers,

With flashlights that shine in the [C] dark.

My love needs a doggie to [G] protect him,

And scare them away with one [C] bark. BARK!

CHORUS

Stay & Play: Paper Bag Puppets

I got this idea from the Ann Arbor Library District web site. I had precut different shapes for ears out of construction paper (triangles for cats, ovals for dogs and bunnies, circles for mice). For the craft, I put out paper lunch bags for each child, along with the ears, some gluesticks, markers, googly eyes, and some foam shapes. One thing I love about the stay & play crafts is that a lot of the caregivers end up collaborating on the project, especially the ones with toddlers and preschoolers, and they all really seem to enjoy it.

What are your favorite books about pets? Please share them in the comments.

Kidding Around: A Storytime for El Día de los Niños

This Friday (April 30) is El día de los niños/El día de los libros, also known as Día. Author Pat Mora was inspired by the Mexican holiday known as Children’s Day, to create a holiday celebrating children and literacy around the world.

For my Outdoor Musical Storytime, I wanted to combine the idea of celebrating books about different cultures and languages, with the idea of children around the world. I considered a wide range of books, but this was what I ended up with:

Books:

I’m Hungry! / ¡Tengo hambre! by Angela Dominguez

Super cute bilingual book about a hungry Spanish-speaking T-Rex, and the English-speaking blue bird who tries to help him. The bird offers him a wide range of foods, including bananas, sandwiches, and cake, but the T-Rex only wants to eat…un pájaro azul (blue bird)! Luckily, the bird is able to convince him to enjoy some galletas (cookies) instead. What’s nice about this book is that the bird translates the dinosaur’s words for the reader in a seamless way that makes it read like an actual conversation.

The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by Kabir Sehgal & Surishtha Sehgal; illustrated by Jess Golden

Clever take on the classic song The Wheels on the Bus, featuring a three-wheeled taxi (Tuk Tuk) in India. People in the street jump on and off, the riders on the tuk tuk go bobble bobble bobble, and (my favorite) the tuk tuk stops for Moo Moo Cow. The kids enjoyed joining in on the motions and singing along.

Remarkably You by Pat Zietlow Millow; illustrations by Patrice Barton

I included this one as a celebration of the uniqueness of every child. It’s a sweet rhyme about being proud of who you are, with beautiful illustrations.

SONGS:

Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes

We sang this in English three times, getting faster each time. Then I taught them the Spanish words. We used “pies” (feet), since in Spanish “toes” is “dedos de los pies,” which is kind of a mouthful:

Here’s a video by Super Simple Español – Canciones Infantiles Y Más with the pronunciation:

Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies, rodillas y pies.
Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies, rodillas y pies.
Ojos, orejas, boca y nariz,
Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies, rodillas y pies.

Juanito Cuando Baila by José-Luis Orozco

This song is so catchy! The lyrics basically mean “When Juanito dances,/dances, dances, dances./When Juanito dances,/he dances with his little finger./With his finger, finger, finger,/That’s how Juanito dances.” Here’s a video by Elementary Music Fun with the tune.

Juanito cuando baila,
baila, baila, baila.
Juanito cuando baila,
Baila con el dedito. (wiggle little finger)
Con el dedito, ito, ito,
Así baila Juanito.

Juanito cuando baila,
baila, baila, baila.
Juanito cuando baila,
Baila con el pie, (move your foot)
Con el pie, pie, pie,
Con el dedito, ito, ito, (wiggle little finger)
Así baila Juanito.

Repeat, adding a new body part each time. We did rodilla (knee) and cabeza (head).

Wheels on the Bus

The natural follow-up to The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk. I played it on the ukulele (it only has two chords). I usually throw in a surprise at the end, like a dinosaur going “Roar, Roar, Roar!” and then we sing the first verse again, and make our wheels (and the song) go as fast as we can:

[C]The wheels on the bus go round and round.

[G7]Round and round, [C] Round and round.

The wheels on the bus go round and round,

[G7]All over [C] town.

Freight Train

FREIGHT TRAIN

This is one of my favorite storytime songs, because I love hearing the kids’ suggestions for where they want to go, and it seemed to fit with both the transportation theme of Wheels on the Tuk Tuk and our celebration of kids around the world. The song (by Elizabeth Cotten) has an amazing history, although I do the more kid-friendly Elizabeth Mitchell version. Here are the lyrics and uke chords I use:

[C] Freight train, freight train, [G7] going so fast.

[G7] Freight train, freight train, [C] going so fast.

[E7]Please don’t tell what [F] train I’m on,

So they [C] won’t know [G7] where I’ve [C] gone.

Going to Mexico, going so fast!

Going to Mexico, going so fast!

Please don’t tell what train I’m on,

So they won’t know where I’ve gone.

No One Like You by Andrea Willis Muhoberac:

For years, my manager Thom Ball and I used this as an opening song for Musical Storytime, and we recorded it with two storytime volunteers (Ellen Ron and Sue Beckmeyer) on a CD we created to give away to families. It’s such a sweet and beautiful song.

I like your [C] eyes.

I like your [F] nose.

I like your [G] mouth.

Your ears, your hands, your [C] toes.

I like your face.

It’s really [F] you.

I [Dm] like the things you say and [G] do.

There’s not a [F] single [G] soul

Who [C] sees the [Am] skies

The [G] way you see them.

Through your [C] eyes.

[F] And aren’t you [G] glad.

[E]You should be [Am] glad.

There’s [C] no one, [G] no one

Exactly like [C] you.

Stay and Play: Paper People

I was happy to find these templates of people with different skin colors from Picklebums. They were designed so that kids could make clothes out of playdough, but I just had the kids use markers and stickers instead. It was a really simple project, but the kids were very engaged.

What are your favorite picture books or songs about different cultures? Please share them in the comments.

No Place Like Home: A Storytime for Earth Day

This Friday (April 22) is Earth Day, a holiday that’s heavily observed in our coastal community, especially by the Pacific Beach Coalition, who organizes community clean-ups all over the Bay Area. So today, we had a great time celebrating Earth Day at our Outdoor Musical Storytime.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

The Digger and the Flower by Joseph Kuefler

Sweet story about a digger who discovers a small blue flower on a construction site, and takes time to water and even sing to it each day. When one of the other construction vehicles digs the flower up, Digger finds some seeds on the ground, and finds a safe place to grow a whole new group of flowers.

Rocket Says Clean Up! by Nathan Bryon; illustrated by Dapo Adeola

Great story about a girl named Rocket who discovers a baby turtle caught in a plastic soda ring while visiting the beach near her grandparents’ house. Suddenly, she notices all of the plastic on the beach, and starts asking the other beach visitors to help clean it up. Soon, the whole beach is clean, and the baby turtle is recovered enough to release back into the wild.

Thank You, Earth by April Pulley Sayre

This book features large beautiful photos of animals, plants, patterns, and nature scenes. There were lots of opportunities for the kids to identify things in the pictures.

Songs:

I’m a Little Seed

(To the tune of I’m a Little Teapot):

I’m a little seed down in the ground (crouching down)

Tiny, tiny, dark, and round (hold up two fingers as if you are holding a small seed).

With the April rain, and the warm sun’s glow,

I’ll pop right up, and grow, grow, grow! (jump up and stretch your arms high).

Rainbow ‘Round Me by Ruth Pelham

This song is always fun to do, especially because it gives the kids a chance to suggest things they would like to see outside their window. Today we had a red kitty, a rainbow rainbow (of course!), and a green tree.

When I [C] look outside my [G7] window,
There’s a world of color I [C] see.
Fiddle-dee-dee, [F] outside my [C] window 
There’s a [G7] world of color I [C] see.

CHORUS:
[F] Rainbow, [C] rainbow, [G7] rainbow ’round [C] me. 
[F] Rainbow, [C] rainbow, [G7] rainbow ’round [C] me. 

The Waves at the Beach

This one was from PreschoolEducation.com. It’s to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus:

The [C] waves at the beach go UP and DOWN,

[G7] UP and DOWN [C] UP and DOWN,

The waves at the beach go UP and DOWN,

[G7] All day [C]long.

The crabs at the beach crawl back and forth…

The clams at the beach go open and shut…

The lobsters at the beach go snap, snap, snap!

The kids at the beach yell “Yay, Yay, Yay!”…

This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie

We did this one for our instrument play-along (where we hand out shakers for the kids). Here’s an old recording of Guthrie himself.

CHORUS

[C] This land is [F] your land, this land is [C] my land.
From [G7] California to the New York [C] island.
From the redwood [F] forest to the Gulf Stream [C] waters
[G7] This land was made for you and [C] me

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway.
I saw below me that golden valley,
This land was made for you and me.

CHORUS

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps,
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts.
And all around me a voice was sounding
“This land was made for you and me.”

CHORUS

Stay & Play: Seed Bombs

I found this project on Little Bins For Little Hands. It’s a seed bomb made with different colors of construction paper. Basically, you cut the paper into small squares and soak them in water for at least twenty minutes, then shred them in a food processor (a process that sparked a lot of curiosity in my house over the weekend!).

For the storytime, I put out paper bowls of wildflower seed mix for our area for each child. Then I put bowls of shredded damp paper (a different color in each bowl) out on the tables. The kids had fun mushing the seeds into the wet paper, and mixing the colors together (some of them rolled it into balls, while others just made a colorful blend of paper and seeds in their bowls). I told them they could plant their seed bombs outside, or in a pot. (There were quite a few seeds spilled on the ground, so I’m also wondering how many flowers are going to be popping up at the park in a few weeks!).

What are your favorite books or projects for Earth Day? Please share them in the comments.

It’s a Breeze! A Storytime About the Wind

Today (April 12) is Big Wind Day, a day commemorating the strongest wind ever recorded on the Earth’s surface (231 mph on April 12, 1934 at Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire).

I love building storytimes around obscure holidays, and this one turned out to be so much fun. Coincidentally, we also had gale force winds here on the coast yesterday, so the wind was definitely on everyone’s minds.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

Kate, Who Tamed the Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon & Lee White

This is a sweet story about a man plagued by high winds in his house at the top of a very steep hill, and the little girl who helps him by planting trees. The kids enjoyed making wind noises whenever I said “the wind blew.”

Windblown by  Édouard Mansour

Cute, simple story about different animals (a chicken, a fish, a frog, a snail, and a bird) who find a collection of colorful shapes blown by the wind. All of the animals are composed of the same shapes, which could easily lead into a craft activity. The kids liked calling out the names of each animal.

The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins

This is a classic picture book about the havoc wreaked on a small town by a mischievous wind that steals hats, umbrellas, kites, shirts, and even the mail from the letter carrier. The next time I do this one, I think it would be fun to print out pictures of each of the items and throw them in the air, or give the kids play scarves to toss in the air each time the wind grabs something in the story.

Songs & Rhymes:

I’m a Little Gum Nut (Pinecone)

I got this one from PreschoolEducation.com, although their version was about a pinecone. In the picnic area at the park where we do storytime, there are a lot of eucalyptus trees, which drop gum nuts all over the ground, so I adapted it. You could do the same for acorns/oak trees or any kind of fruit. The tune is I’m a Little Teapot:

I’m a little gum nut,

Brown and small, (crouch down)

Way up high, in the eucalyptus tall (stretch up tall)

When the cold wind blows,

I dance and hop,

Down to the ground (crouch down)

With a plop, plop, plop! (Clap hands)

Way Up High in the Apple Tree

I did both this rhyme and the gum nut song as a follow-up to Kate, Who Tamed the Wind. This rhyme is an old stand-by, and fun because you can ask the kids to suggest different types of trees. Today we did apples, bananas, and plums:

Way up high in the apple tree (stretch arms up)

Two little apples smiled at me (made circles with the thumb and fingers of each hand).

I shook that tree as hard as I could! (shake imaginary tree)

Down came the apples (lower arms quickly)

Mmmm! They were good! (rub stomach)

Do You Know What Shape I Have?

We did this as a follow-up to Windblown. My coworker, Claire, held an envelope with four shapes cut out of different colored paper (circle, square, triangle, and diamond). Each time we sang the song, she would hold up one of the shapes, and we’d ask the kids to identify it. The song is to the tune of Do You Know the Muffin Man?

Do you know what shape I have,

What shape I have,

What shape I have?

Do you know what shape I have?

Right here in my hand!

Bubbles!

To go along with the wind theme, I thought it would be fun to bring out the bubble machine, both because the machine itself uses air, and because the wind carried the bubbles all around the storytime area, which the kids loved. Years ago, I did a brief stint as a Kindermusik teacher, and I learned this cute Bubbles song from there. You can hear the tune in this YouTube video posted by Talita Feuerstein.

Bubbles, Bubbles, landing on your nose!

Bubbles, Bubbles, landing on your toes!

Bubbles, Bubbles, floating to the floor.

Pop them! Pop them! Now we’ll blow some more.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman

This song from Mary Poppins was the perfect lead-in for our Stay & Play Kite activity.  I handed out the shakers so the kids could play along while I sang.

With [G] tuppence for paper and strings,
You can have your own set of [C] wings.
With your [G] feet on the [G7] ground
You’re a [A] bird in [C] flight,
With your [G] fist holding [D] tight,
To the string of your [G] kite.

Oh, oh, oh,
[C] Let’s go fly a kite!
[G] Up to the highest height.
[D] Let’s go fly a kite,
And [G] send it soaring!
[C] Up through the atmosphere,
[G] Up where the air is clear,
[D] Oh, let’s go fly a [G] kite.

When you send it flying up there,
All at once you’re lighter than air.
You can dance on the breeze over houses and trees,
With your fist holding tight
To the string of your kite.

Oh, oh, oh
Let’s go fly a kite!
Up to the highest height.
Let’s go fly a kite,
And send it soaring.
Up through the atmosphere,
Up where the air is clear,
Oh, let’s go fly a kite!

Stay & Play: Paper Bag Kites

I found this kite idea on Everyday Chaos and Calm. It basically just a simple “kite,” made out of a paper bag, with a long piece of yarn taped to it to serve as a string.

I put out paper bags for each child, along with glue sticks, markers, dot paint, some random shapes I cut out of colored paper (along with kids scissors and paper scraps so they could cut their own), crepe paper streamers,  yarn, and tape to attach the yarn.

The kids had a great time decorating and then “flying” their kites while running and holding the yarn. Claire also turned on the bubble machine, so for a while there were bubbles and kites and kids all over the picnic area.

Happy Big Wind Day!

Check It Out! A Storytime for National Library Week

This week is National Library Week, and today is National Library Worker’s Day. So we had a fun library-themed storytime at the park today. Here’s what we did:

Books:

Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss; illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

When the kids go off to school, the farm animals are bored. They decide to go to town, and wander into the public library to find something to do. Each animal tries to talk to the librarian, who only hears neighs, moos, and baas, until the chicken comes up to ask for a “Book!” I had a great time reading this aloud. The kids enjoyed supplying the animal sounds, and everyone laughed at the final pun.

The Library Book by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark; illustrated by Chuck Groenink

This super catchy song by Tom Chapin has been stuck in my head for days! The book tells a story of a trip to the library, featuring famous book characters like Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and Madeline. My only complaint is that the librarian shushes people, which is a stereotype I try to avoid, but it does make sense in the context of the song. The kids were dancing, and many of the grown-ups were singing along.

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library by Julie Gassman; illustrated by Andy Elkerton

A little boy really wants to bring his dragon to the library, but the librarian explains all of the reason why it would be a bad idea: dragons are very large, and tend to wander, and when they get too excited, they breathe fire. But she offers a solution that will allow the dragon to enjoy the books while staying safely at home. The large format of this book worked really for our storytime, and I love the diversity of people depicted in the colorful illustrations. The kids joined in on the repeated “Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library” refrain.

Songs:

These Are My Glasses by Laurie Berkner

I love this song, and the kids always seem to enjoy it too. Laurie Berkner has a great YouTube video of the song and the motions.

The lyrics are:

These are my glasses,

This is my book.

I put on my glasses,

And open up my book.

Then I read, read, read,

And I look, look, look.

I put down my glasses and whoop! close up the book.

When Ducks Get Up in the Morning

I sang this one as a follow up to Book! Book! Book! It works really well for storytime because the kids can suggest different animals, and you only need to know two chords to play it on the ukulele or guitar. Today we sang about horses, cats, T-rexes, and kids:

[C] When ducks get up in the morning

They [G7] always say, “Good [C] day!”

[C] When ducks get up in the morning

They [G7] always say, “Good [C] day!”

[C] They say, “Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!”

[G7] That is what they [C] say.

[C] They say, “Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!”

[G7] That is what they [C] say.

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

This song worked really well as a follow-up to Book! Book! Book! too. One funny thing about outdoor storytime is that since the kids are usually sitting on a blanket, they sometimes seem hesitant to stand up. So for this one, I encouraged them to hop with me each time we sang the “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” line.

Five green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log.
Eating the most delicious bugs! Yum Yum!
One jumped into the pool,
Where it was nice and cool,
Now there are four green speckled frogs!

Four green and speckled frogs…etc.

Fly, Fly, Dragon, Fly

I got this song from The Perpetual Preschool, and it was a great lead-in to Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library. It’s to the tune of Skip to My Lou:

Fly fly dragon fly
Fly fly dragon fly
Fly fly dragon fly
Way up in the sky.

Hop hop dragon hop
Hop hop dragon hop
Hop hop dragon hop
Dragon, dragon stop!

Stay and Play: Origami Bookmarks

For our Stay and Play, I had the kids decorate Origami Bookmarks (the kind that fits onto the corner of a page). They are very easy to fold, but since my crowd is largely toddlers and preschoolers, I folded a bunch in advance, and put out googly eyes, gluesticks, markers, scissors, foam shapes, some precut paper teeth, and scraps of paper. The kids really seem to enjoy projects that involve gluing things onto the paper, so this was a hit!

I printed out these instructions from the Jewish Community Relations Council and also put out pieces of origami paper, in case anyone wanted to try folding their own. There are also lots of video tutorials, including this one from Red Ted Art, if you need any help following the instructions.

Happy Library Worker’s Day!

Stuffed Animal Sleepover at the Library

Last night, we hosted a Stuffed Animal Sleepover at the library. It was an unusual program, because the kids just dropped their stuffed animals off by 5pm, and then my manager Stephanie and I photographed them in different settings around the library.

There are lots of ways to do these programs. Some branches print a picture of each animal to give to the kids when they come to pick up their stuffies. Others make a slideshow or video to email out to the participants. I wanted to have a literacy component, so I made a simple book template in Microsoft Word. It printed on two pages, front and back, but with eight pages of photos.

The kids were so sweet when they dropped off their animals. Many of them had questions about where the animals were going to sleep, or if they were going to roast marshmallows. We just had the first family come to pick up their stuffy this morning, and the mom and daughter were eagerly looking through the book to find their toy in the photos.

We ended up with 43 animals in all (we didn’t set a limit to the program). When the families dropped off their animals, we asked them to fill out a tag with their name, a name and description of the animal, and a phone number (the template is at the bottom of this post). These we attached to the animals with binder clips. At first, I was planning to make separate nametags for each one, so the tags wouldn’t show in the photos. But we ended up with so many stuffies, that we just tried to clip the tags on the backs of the toys.

We had advertised the program through the schools, and on Facebook groups for local families. It actually brought in a lot of families who hadn’t been to the library before, and ended up signing up for library cards.

In our evening hours, when the library is usually quiet, we had fun arranging the animals reading books together, exploring the staff room, playing on the 3D printer, and reading stories.

The most challenging part of the program was actually arranging the photos in Microsoft Word, which can be a formatting nightmare, especially when you’re in a hurry. I recommend setting the photos to “With Text Wrapping” so that you can fit more on each page. I’m copying a very basic template of our book below. Feel free to use it. Just make sure that when you print, you set it to “Print on Both Sides-Flip Pages on Short Edge” and to “Landscape Orientation.”

Here’s our little book, the Word template we used, and the tags for the animals:

April Fools! A Silly Storytime

My storytimes are usually pretty silly, but for April Fools’ Day this week, we went even sillier.

I started by telling the kids that I had made them all brownies, and to raise their hands if they wanted one. Then Claire handed out letter E’s that I had cut out of brown paper. At first they were disappointed, but once they understood the joke, the older kids enjoyed offering people “Brown-E’s” themselves.

Here’s what we did for the rest of the storytime:

Books:

Knock, Knock by Tammi Sauer; illustrated by Guy Francis

A sleepy bear is trying to prepare for his long Winter’s sleep, but his friends keep showing up at his door in what turns out to be an extended series of knock-knock jokes. The “Knock-Knocks” are in large red letters, providing the perfect opportunity to point them out on each page and have the kids say them along with you. My coworker, Claire, read the part of the bear, and I read the other animals. A fun introduction to word play and jokes.

I Want to Go First by Richard Byrne

Elphie, the elephant, wants to be first in the line for the watering hole, but as the smallest, he has to go to the end of the line. In order to trick the elephants in front of him, he asks you, the reader, to distract them by calling their names, hissing like a snake, squeaking like mice, and shaking the book. The kids enjoyed the participation elements, especially the squeaking!

I Will Surprise My Friend by Mo Willems

When Gerald and Piggie see two squirrels having a great time hiding from and jumping out at each other, they decide to give it a try themselves. The trouble is that they both decide to hide on either side of the same rock, and then worry when they can’t find each other. This one is always a lot of fun to read aloud.

Songs & Rhymes

I’m Singing in the Rain

There are lots of different versions of this old camp song, which riffs off the song from the musical by Alfred Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. The punchline is always the last line, where you try to say the “tee-ta-ta’s” while sticking your tongue out. Here’s the version I used:

I’m singing in the rain,
Just singing in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
I’m happy again!

(Spoken) Thumbs up!
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta (Move your thumbs back and forth in front of you)
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta

I’m singing in the rain,
Just singing in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
I’m happy again!

Thumbs up!
Knees together!
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta (Put your knees together, and move your thumbs back and forth in front of you)
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta

I’m singing in the rain,
Just singing in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
I’m happy again!

Thumbs up!
Knees together!
Toes together!
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta (Put your knees and toes together, and move your thumbs back and forth in front of you)
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta

I’m singing in the rain,
Just singing in the rain,
What a glorious feeling,
I’m happy again!

Thumbs up!
Knees together!
Toes together!
Tongue out!
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta
A-tee-ta-ta-a-tee-ta-ta-ta-tee-ta-ta-ta

There’s a Spider on the Floor

To the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It. This is an old Raffi song, although I usually change the lyrics a little. I acted it out with a big toy spider, and encouraged the kids to make spiders with their hands.

There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.
Who could ask for any more than a spider on the floor?
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.

Now the spider’s on my leg, on my leg.
Now the spider’s on my leg, on my leg.
Oh, he’s really, really big, this old spider on my leg.
There’s a spider on my leg, on my leg.

Now the spider’s on my tummy, on my tummy…
Oh, I feel so very funny with this spider on my tummy!…

Now the spider’s on my neck, on my neck…
Oh, I’m gonna’ be a wreck, I’ve got a spider on my neck!…

Now the spider’s on my face, on my face…
Oh, I’m such a big disgrace. I’ve got a spider on my face!…

Now the spider’s on my head, on my head…
Oh, it fills my heart with dread to have this spider on my head!…

Spoken: But it jumps off!

Now the spider’s on the floor, on the floor…

Who could ask for any more than a spider on the floor?…

April Fools!

We sang this one as an instrument play-along. Click on the triangle for the tune, or it also works to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It.

[C] April Fools’! April [G7] Fools’!
It’s the day when silly pranks don’t break the [C] rules.
If your orange juice is pink,
When you [F] go to take a drink,
Then it’s [C] time to stop and [G7] think,
“It’s April [C] Fools’!”

There’s an [C] alligator swimming in the [G7] tub.
A zookeeper came and said he needs a [C] scrub.
And he asked in quite a rush,
If you’d [F] give his teeth a brush…
Never [C] mind, I’m only [G7] kidding,
April [C] Fools’!

April Fools’! April Fools’!
It’s the day when silly pranks don’t break the rules.
If your orange juice is gray,
Then before you run away,
You might wonder if today
Is April Fools’!

I’m afraid your birthday cake is full of ants,
They came crawling up the side and did a dance.
If you don’t mind extra spice,
I can cut you off a slice…
Happy Birthday, and above all
April Fools’!

April Fools’! April Fools’!
It’s the day when silly pranks don’t break the rules.
If your orange juice is white,
And it gives you quite a fright,
Then remember it just might be
April Fools!
APRIL FOOLS!

Stay and Play: Crayon Resist Surprise!

Crayon resist art is one of my favorite things to do with kids, and this interactive twist turned out really well.

Before I put out the watercolor paints, white crayons, paper, cups of water, and paintbrushes, I explained that if you draw or write with a white crayon on white paper, you won’t be able see what you draw at first. But when you paint over the crayon marks with watercolors, it will appear like magic. I encouraged the grown-ups to draw or write something for the kids to “find” with the paint, and they were all really engaged in the process.

What are your favorite stories, songs, or pranks for April Fools’ Day? Please share them in the comments.