Starstruck: A Storytime about the Night Sky

Today we did a storytime about the Night Sky, which ended up being a really fun theme.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Adorable story about a little boy who dreams of having a star for a friend. The kids were really engaged, with some of them even mimicking the boy’s efforts to reach way up into the sky. The story ends with the boy finding a sea star, which was an ideal conclusion for our beach community.

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay

Very sweet illustrated poem about a night-time walk with the moon.

Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson

Like Tap the Magic Tree by the same author, this book encourages kids to participate by touching, swiping, or waving at different things in the illustrations like fireflies, stars, and owls, and tracing the Big and Little Dipper in the air. Several of the kids were so interested, they came up to stand right in front of me.

Songs:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

We sang this three times–twice at normal speed, and once really fast, which the kids always enjoy.

[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.

Bend and Stretch

An old classic from the TV show Romper Room.

Bend and stretch,
Reach for the stars.
There goes Jupiter,
Here comes Mars.
Bend and stretch,
Reach for the sky.
Stand on tippy toes,
Oh, so high!

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] Moon.

[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

I Don’t Want to Live On the Moon by Jeff Moss

One of my very favorite Sesame Street songs.

[C] Oh, I’d like to [G] visit the [Am] moon,
On a [F] rocketship [G] high in the [C] air,
[C]Yes, I’d like to [G] visit the [Am] moon,
But I [F] don’t think I’d [G] like to live [C] there.
Though [F] I’d like to look down at the [C] earth from above,
I would [F] miss all the places and [C] people I love.
So al-[F]though I may [C] go, I’ll be [E7] coming home [Am] soon,
‘Cause I [F] don’t want to [G] live on the [C] moon.

[C] I would [G] travel under the [Am] sea,
I could [F] meet all the [G] fish every-[C]where.
[C] Yes, I’d [G] travel under the [Am] sea,
But I [F] don’t think I’d [G] like to live [C] there.
I might [F] stay for a day there, if I [C] had my wish,
But there’s [F] not much to do when your [C] friends are all fish.
And an [F] oyster and [C] clam aren’t [E7] real fami-[Am]ly,
So I [F] don’t want to [G] live in the [C] sea.

I’d [F] like to visit the jungle hear the [C] lions roar,
[F] Go back in time and meet a [C] dinosaur.
There’s so [F] many strange [E7] places I’d like to [Am] be,
But [F] none of them [G] permanent-[C]ly.

[C] So if I [G] should visit the [Am] moon,
Well I’d [F] dance on a [G] moonbeam and [C] then,
[C] I will [G] make a wish on a [Am] star,
And I’ll [F] wish I was [G] home once a-[C]gain.
Though [F] I’d like to look down at the [C] earth from above,
I would [F] miss all the places and [C] people I love.
So al-[F]though I may [C] go, I’ll be [E7] coming home [Am] soon,
‘Cause I [F] don’t want to [G] live on the [C] moon.
No, I [F] don’t want to [G] live on the [C] moon.

Stay & Play: Watercolor Night Skies

I got this idea from Pre-K Pages. Crayon resist art has always been one of my favorite activities, and this one worked out so well that several kids didn’t want to stop painting.

I put out watercolor paper, watercolor paints, brushes, small cups of water, and white crayons. The younger kids usually had their caregiver draw a star or other shapes with the white crayon, and then the kids painted over it to reveal the image. They had such a great time mixing the colors.

What are your favorite books or songs about night-time? Please share them in the comments below.

ARRR is for Reading: A Pirate Storytime

August is International Pirate Month, which made for a fun theme for us at storytime today.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

Pirate Jack Gets Dressed by Nancy Raines Day and Allison Black

This colorful rhyming picture book follows Pirate Jack’s dressing routine, from his gray long johns to his silver hook, gold earrings, and pink socks. I asked who was wearing each color as we read about it, and the kids enjoyed showing off their own colorful clothes.

Captain Jack and the Pirates by Peter Bently and Helen Oxenbury

This one was a good fit for our little beach community, since it focuses on three boys building a galleon out of sand, and imagining a big sea adventure with pirates and a treasure (a table full of cupcakes and other goodies). In the end, the boys are captured by pirates, but luckily their captors turn out to be their own parents, who give them ice cream.

The Night Pirates by Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright

I liked this one because the pirates are girls, although the plot revolves around a boy named Tom, who catches the pirates stealing the front of his house to disguise their ship. They allow him to join their crew, and together they scare a band of sleeping pirates away from their treasure, and return Tom and the front of his house safely back home. I modelled making “Shhh!” sounds as the pirates are sneaking around in the quiet night at the beginning, and the kids enjoyed joining in.

Songs:

If Your Clothes Have Any Red

This was a fun follow-up to Pirate Jack Gets Dressed. Sung to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It.

[C] If your clothes have any red, any [G7] red,

If your clothes have any red, any [C] red,

If your [F] clothes have any red,

Put your [C] finger on your head!

If your [G7] clothes have any red, any [C] red.

If your clothes have any blue…put your finger on your shoe…

If your clothes have any green…make believe you can’t be seen… (cover your eyes with your hands, and then say, “Peekaboo!”

If your clothes have any black…put your finger on your back…

When I Was One

One of my favorite action songs.

When I was one, I had some fun,
When I travelled out to sea. (move hand in a wavy motion)
I jumped aboard a pirate ship (jump)
And the captain said to me. (salute)

He said, Go this way! (lean right) 
That way! (lean left) 
Forward! (lean forward) 
Backward! (lean backward) 
When you travel out to sea!”

For the next verses, I asked the audience for words that rhymed with “two,” “three,” “four” and “five.” We sang “When I was two, I tied my shoe…” “When I was three, I climbed a tree…” “When I was four, I knocked on a door…” and “When I was five, I went for a drive…” It’s a great way to teach kids about rhyming, and model creating songs together, both of which are wonderful ways to encourage early literacy.

Silly Pirate Song by Jack Hartmann

This was a new song for me, but it ended up being a lot of fun. Here’s the YouTube video:

Once there was a pirate, who sang a pirate song.
Then interrupting the pirate, a surfer came along.

You’d hear…Yo, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee,
Hey dude, surfs up!
Yo, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee,
A pirate’s life for me!

Once there was a pirate who sang a pirate song
Then interrupting the pirate,

A big shark came along.
You’d hear…Yo, ho, ho ho, hee, hee, hee,
Chomp! chomp! Hey dude, surfs up!
Yo, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee
A pirate’s life for me!

Once there was a pirate who sang a pirate song
Then interrupting the pirate,

A helicopter came along.
You’d hear…Yo, ho, ho ho, hee, hee, hee,
Swoosh, Swoosh! Chomp! chomp! Hey dude, surfs up!
Yo, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee
A pirate’s life for me!

I asked the kids for other suggestions, so for the last two verses, we added a dinosaur and a kitten. Lots of fun!


Barges

I learned this song many years ago as a kid at Girl Scout Camp, where they had us melt birthday candles onto large pieces of bark to make little boats. We then sang the song as we floated them out on the lake, and made a wish. For the storytime, I showed the kids a picture of a barge before we sang it, and we handed out maracas so they could play along.

[C] Out of my window, [F] looking through the [G7] night,
I can [C] see the [F] barges [G7] flickering [C] light.
[C] Softly flows the [F] river to the [G7] sea
And the [C] barges [F] too go [G7] silent-[C]ly.

CHORUS:
[C] Barges, I would [F] like to go with [G7] you.
[C] I would like to [F] sail the [G7] ocean [C] blue.
[C] Barges, have you [F] treasures in your [G7] hold?
Do you [C] fight with [F] pirates [G7] brave and [C] bold?

[C] Out of my window, [F] looking through the [G7] night,
I can [C] see the [F] barges [G7] flickering [C] light.
[C] Carrying their [F] cargo out into the [G7] sea
How I wish that [C] someday [F] they’d [G7] take [C] me.

CHORUS

Stay & Play: Pirate Hats

The kids had the best time decorating these simple paper pirate hats. I printed the template from justfamilyfun.com, and used it to cut the hats out of black paper ahead of time. For the storytime, I put out the paper hats, along with strips of paper which they could attach to either side to make a band, gluesticks, colored feathers, stickers, and gem stickers. They needed a bit of help figuring out how to make the bands the right size to fit their heads, but they all looked adorable in their finished hats!

Happy International Pirate Month!

State of the Art: A Storytime about Painting

It was a beautiful day in the park today, and we had a great time sharing stories and songs about painting. Here’s what we did:

Books:

Monet’s Cat by Lily Murray and Becky Cameron

This book was a lot longer than the ones I usually share, since my group tends to skew more towards toddlers, but it was such a cute story I couldn’t resist. When the famous artist, Claude Monet, brings his porcelain cat, Chika, to life by tapping her with his paintbrush, she causes lots of trouble by wandering through his paintings. I kept the kids engaged by having them act out things that the cat was doing (yawning, stretching, nibbling bread, and waggling her tail). The author includes pictures of several of Monet’s paintings at the end, along with a photo of his actual porcelain cat.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont; illustrated by David Catrow

This is one of my all-time favorite storytime books, and it worked perfectly with the theme. Sung to the tune of It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More (here’s a link to a Cocomelon video for the tune), this colorful book tells the story of a boy who gets in trouble for painting all over the house. But even though his mother has ordered him to stop, he can’t resist painting himself all over. Before we read the book, I handed out play scarves for the song Paint with Me. While I read, I had the kids pretend to paint their own heads, arms, legs, etc. with their scarves.

Bear’s Picture by Daniel Pinkwater; illustrated by D. B. Johnson

Cute story about a bear who paints a picture, only to face criticism by two very proper gentlemen. But Bear doesn’t care–he just keeps painting until his picture is complete, and then looking at it because it makes him happy. This was a great lead-in to our pom-pom painting activity.

Songs & Rhymes:

I Have a Cat

We did this rhyme after reading Monet’s Cat, and the kids loved it:

I have a cat (pet imaginary cat).

My cat lies flat (put one arm on top of the other).

I have a cat (pet imaginary cat),

He wears a hat (pat your head).

I have a cat (pet imaginary cat),

He caught a rat (clap your hands together).

I have a cat (pet imaginary cat),

Purr, purr, MEOW!

Paint with Me

Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. We handed out play scarves ahead of time, and asked the kids to wave the scarves like paint brushes while we sang the song together.

Grab your brush and paint with me.

Paint a flower, paint a tree.

Paint it fast, and paint it slow.

Paint up high, then paint down low.

Paint in zig-zags, circles too.

How I love to paint with you!

Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes

We sang this as a follow-up to Ain’t Gonna Paint No More. I like to sing it three times through, getting faster and faster each time. This is an old stand-by, but here’s a video from ABC Mouse, in case you need the tune.

Head and shoulders, knees and toes,

Knees and toes.

Head and shoulders, knees and toes,

Knees and toes.

And eyes, and ears, and mouth, and nose.

Head and shoulders, knees and toes,

Knees and toes.

Rainbow Round Me by Ruth Pelham

We did this song as our instrument play-along, after we handed out egg shakers and maracas. I asked the kids to suggest things they might see outside the window for each verse. We had a blue ocean, a purple tree, a yellow bird, and a green dinosaur.

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. 

And the [C] ocean outside my [G7] window,
Is as blue as blue can [C] be.
Fiddle-dee-dee, [F] outside my [C] window 
It’s as [G7] blue as blue can [C] be.

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

And the [C] tree outside my [G7] window,
Is as purple as purple can [C] be.
Fiddle-dee-dee, [F] outside my [C] window 
It’s as [G7] purple as purple can [C] be,

And the ocean is as [G7] blue as blue can [C] be.

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

Stay & Play: Pom-Pom Painting

Pom-Pom Painting (the rock is to hold the paper down, because it was windy)

This process art activity was so easy, and the kids had a great time. I put out bowls of tempera paint (with three different colors in each bowl), along with some pom-poms of different sizes, and paper.

It was fun to watch the different ways the kids approached the project. Some were very deliberate about how they placed each pom-pom print, while others used the pom-poms more like a paint brush.

What are your favorite picture books about painting and art? Please share them in the comments below.

Swimming with Sharks: A Storytime for Shark Awareness Day

July 14 was Shark Awareness Day so we had a great time celebrating our toothy ocean friends today. I had actually planned to do it last week, but I ended up catching COVID from my daughter and having to take an unexpected two weeks off of work. Thankfully, my coworkers stepped in to cover for me while I was out.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

I’m a Shark by Bob Shea

This is one of my favorite books to read aloud. A brave shark brags about how he’s not not afraid of anything: dinosaurs, bears, giant squid, even the dark. But he seems a little bit nervous about spiders. A parent who also teaches preschool said this was one of her favorite books too.

Smiley Shark by Ruth Galloway

Very cute story about a friendly shark who just wants to play, but all of the fish swim away from him in fear. When they all get caught in a fisherman’s net, Smiley Shark saves the day by scaring the fisherman with his big smile.

The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark by Ken Geist and Julia Gorton

Cute adaptation of The Three Little Pigs, about three fish who set out to build their own homes in the ocean. Both the seaweed and sand houses get destroyed by a big shark, but when he tries to chomp down the third fish’s home in a wooden ship, he knocks out all of his teeth.

Songs:

Slippery Fish

We did this one with puppets (a fish, an octopus, a shark, and a whale). Here’s a video by Silvia Sanchez with the tune.

Slippery Fish, Slippery Fish,
Swimming in the water.
Slippery Fish, Slippery Fish,
Gulp! Gulp! Gulp!

She was eaten by an octopus, octopus,
Swimming in the water.
Octopus, Octopus,
Gulp! Gulp! Gulp!

He was eaten by a great white shark,
Great white shark,
Swimming in the water,
Great white shark, Great white shark.
Gulp! Gulp! Gulp!

She was eaten by a humongous whale,
Humongous whale,
Swimming in the water,
Humongous whale,
Humongous whale,
Gulp! Gulp! Gulp!
BURP!! Pardon me!

1,2,3,4,5

This is an old standby of mine, except I changed the words from a fish to a shark, which made it a lot more exciting.

1,2,3,4,5,

I caught a shark alive!

I let him go,

And he bit my toe…Ouch!

1,2,3,4,5!

The Sharks in the Ocean

I found this ocean-themed version of The Wheels on the Bus on empoweredparents.co. I asked the kids for suggestions of other animals.

[C]The sharks in the ocean go chomp, chomp, chomp,

[G7]Chomp, chomp, chomp, [C] chomp, chomp, chomp.

The sharks in the ocean go chomp, chomp, chomp,

[G7]All day [C] long.

The crabs in the ocean go click, click, click…

The turtles in the ocean go snap, snap, snap…

The fish in the ocean go gulp, gulp, gulp…

The whales in the ocean go spout, spout, spout…\

Baby Shark

Of course, we had to end with the PinkFong version of Baby Shark!

C] Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

[F] Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

[Am] Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

[G] Baby shark!

Mommy shark…

Daddy shark…

Grandma Shark…

Grandpa Shark…

Let’s go hunt!…

Run Away…

Safe at last…

That’s the end…

Stay & Play: Shark Scene

I found this fun craft on messylittlemonster.com. I had printed and cut out shark pictures ahead of time, along with strips of colored tissue paper to make seaweed. For the stay & play, I put out pieces of blue paper, glue sticks, the shark pictures, the tissue paper, and some play sand (the sand was everyone’s favorite part, but they liked the sharks too).

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

Happy Birthday, America! A Storytime for the Fourth of July

Today was a beautiful day in the park, and we had a lot of fun celebrating the Fourth of July a little early.

To be honest, I have a hard time finding Fourth of July books that work well for storytime, so instead I focused primarily on the theme of birthdays. After we sang our opening song (Put Your Finger in the Air), I asked if anyone had a birthday coming up. Two girls raised their hands (their moms said they were both in September, but we sang Happy Birthday to them anyway). And then I said that there was a big birthday coming up…America’s! And we sang Happy Birthday to America before reading our first book.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

This Bear’s Birthday by Alyssa Satin Capucilli; illustrated by Lorna Hussey

Sweet story about a little bear who wants to do things for himself on his birthday. He has trouble putting on his jacket, and picking apples high in the tree, but still finds ways to get things done with a little help from his family. Although it was a little on the long side for my audience (which is largely two and three year-olds), there were lots of opportunities for the kids to participate by stretching up high, or pretending to blow out candles, so it still held their interest.

A Birthday for Cow by Jan Thomas

Jan Thomas’ books are always fun for storytime, and this one was no exception. When Mouse and Pig decide to make a birthday cake for cow, they dismiss Duck’s suggestions of adding a turnip. But when it’s finally time to celebrate, it’s the turnip that excites Cow the most. The kids enjoyed pretending to stir the cake batter, and singing Happy Birthday to Cow.

Red, White, and Boom! by Lee Wardlaw; illustrated by Huy Voun Lee

Simple, colorful rhyming book about a Fourth of July celebration, with a parade, a picnic on the beach, and fireworks at the end. Before we started reading, we handed out small squares of bubble wrap (the kind with large bubbles), and told the kids we would pop them when we got to the page with the fireworks. They had a great time.

Songs & Rhymes:

Ten Candles on a Birthday Cake

Ten candles on a birthday cake (hold up ten fingers)
All lit up for me (point to yourself)
I make a wish and blow them out.
Watch and you will see! (blow on fingers and quickly close hands into fists)

After we did the rhyme with ten candles, I asked if there were any one year-olds in the group, and we did it again with one candle, then two, then three, then four.

This is the Way I Blow My Balloon

This is the way I blow my balloon: (mime holding a balloon in both hands)

Blow! (blow air out while spreading your hands apart)

Blow! (blow air out while spreading hands even wider)

Blow! (blow air out while spreading your hands as wide apart as you can)

This is the way I POP my balloon. Oh! Oh! No! (clap hands together)

Old MacDonald

We sang this one as a follow-up to A Birthday for Cow. I asked the kids to suggest animals and their sounds:

C] Old MacDonald [F] had a [C] farm,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

And on that farm he [F] had a [C] pig,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

With an oink-oink here, and an oink-oink there,

Here an oink, there an oink,

Everywhere an oink-oink.

[C] Old MacDonald [F] had a [C] farm,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

Wave, Wave, Wave Your Flag

For this one, I held up an American flag, and asked the kids what colors they saw. Then we handed out play scarves and told the kids we were going to pretend the scarves were flags for the next song.

These were actually two separate songs that I found on PreschoolEducation.com, but they were both to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat, so I combined them. In between the second and third verses, I told the kids we were going to do some magic and turn our flags into fireworks, which we threw up into the air and caught over and over again in the third and fourth verses.

Wave, wave, wave the flag,
Hold it very high.
Watch the colors gently wave,
Way up in the sky.

March, march, march around,
Hold the flag up high.
Wave, wave, wave the flag,
Way up in the sky.


Boom, crack, whistle, pop!
Fireworks in the sky.
See them lighting up the night,
On the Fourth of July.


Red, blue, gold, and green,
With fireworks we say,
“Happy Birthday, America,
It’s Independence Day!”

You’re a Grand Old Flag by George M. Cohan

We sang this for our instrument play-along (after we handed out egg shakers).


[C] You’re a grand old flag, you’re a high-flying flag,
[G7] And forever in peace may you wave.
[C] You’re the emblem of the land I love,
The home of the [D7] free and the [C] brave.

[C] Every heart beats true ’neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s [A7] never a boast or [Dm] brag.
But should [C] auld acquaintance [G7] be forgot,
Keep your [F] eye on the [G7] grand old [C] flag!

Stay & Play: Cardboard Tube Fireworks

I found this idea on TheBestIdeasforKids.com and it was a big hit. We had cut small slits in the bottom half of some toilet paper and paper towel rolls ahead of time, and flattened them out to make a flower shape.

For the Stay & Play, I put out the cut cardboard tubes, along with sheets of black paper, plates of red, white, and blue tempera paint, and glitter. The kids had fun dipping their cardboard tubes in the paint and stamping them on the paper, then sprinkling on the glitter. They turned out really well!

Happy Fourth of July!

Velveteen: A Song for Margery Williams

The Velveteen Rabbit was one of my favorite childhood books. As a kid, I empathized with the poor stuffed rabbit, who was ridiculed by other toys, the nanny, and actual rabbits, before the doctor orders him burned with all of the other germ-ridden toys once the boy falls ill with scarlet fever.

But the other day, a Facebook post by a parent suddenly made me think about the song from a totally different perspective. I was curious about Margery Williams, not knowing anything about her life. I read that she had two children of her own, and that many of her books focused on children who were isolated or different from others. Parenting is always challenging, but especially when you have extra reason to fear for your kids’ safety or acceptance.

So I wrote this song for those kids, and for the people who love and support them. May the nursery magic protect us all.

Velveteen, velveteen,
Are you real,
Are you seen?
Or are you lost in between?
Velveteen.

You were a gift, bright and new,
And everybody thought they knew
Who you were, what you’d do,
We couldn’t see

The part you kept deep inside,
How you longed to be alive,
To be yourself, not just survive,
To be free.

Velveteen, velveteen,
Are you real, are you seen?
Or are you lost in between?
Velveteen.

But one day you showed the spark that burned inside you,
And let us see the you you couldn’t hide.
And though others might tease you and deride you,
I hope you know you fill my heart with pride.

Velveteen, velveteen,
You don’t know how much you mean.
You are real,
You are seen
Velveteen.

Fun in the Sun: A Summer Storytime

Today was the first official day of Summer, and boy, was it hot! We actually had to move our storytime to a shadier part of the park.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz

Great book for a hot day! This story celebrates paletas, a kind of Mexican popsicle made with real fruit. In the story, a boy is anxious to find Paletero José, to buy a cool treat on the hottest day of the year in Los Angeles. But when he finally finds him, he discovers he has lost his money along the way. Luckily, his friends arrive to save the day. Simple Spanish words are scattered throughout the text, and there’s a repeated refrain that’s fun for the kids to join in on.

The Whale in my Swimming Pool

When a little boy goes to swim in his wading pool, he finds a very unexpected surprise: a giant whale. He tries everything he can think of to move the way or encourage it to leave, until finally he realizes that having a whale in your pool can be fun after all. Simple, funny story, with clear, cute illustrations.

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

Adorable story about a crocodile who loves watermelon, until he accidentally eats a seed. He is convinced that a watermelon will grow in his stomach, and relieved when he burps the seed up. He vows never to eat watermelon again…but who can resist watermelon? I asked the kids throughout if they thought the watermelon would really grow in his stomach, so they could call out, “NO!”

Songs:

If All the Raindrops

This one worked well as a follow-up to Paletero Man. I asked the kids to suggest other favorite foods for the second and third time we sang it. We sang “If all the raindrops were popsicles and ice cream” and “If all the raindrops were chocolate and cookies.” Always a hit!

[C] If all the raindrops were [G7] lemon drops and [C] gum drops,

Oh, what a rain it would [G7] be.

[C] I’d stand out- [G7] side with my [C] mouth open [G7] wide,

[C] “Ah, Ah, Ah, [G7] Ah, Ah, Ah, [C] Ah, Ah, Ah, [G7] Ah!”

[C] If all the raindrops were [G7] lemon drops and [C] gum drops,

Oh, what a [G7] rain it would [C] be!

Oh, Mister Sun

This was one of the first storytime songs I ever learned. I usually do the Raffi version, which is linked below:

Oh, [C] Mister Sun, Sun, [F] Mister Golden Sun,

[C] Please shine [G7] down on [C] me!

Oh, [C] Mister Sun, Sun, [F] Mister Golden Sun,

[G7] Hiding behind a tree.

[C] These little children are [G7] asking you,

[C] To please come out so we can [G7] play with you,

Oh, [C] Mister Sun, Sun, [F] Mister Golden Sun,

C] Please shine [G7] down on [C] me!

Baby Shark

A fun way to follow-up The Whale in My Swimming Pool, especially since most of the families already knew it. I sing the PinkFong version, which is linked here:

[C] Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo


[F] Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo


[Am] Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo


[G] Baby shark!

Mommy shark…

Daddy shark…

Grandma Shark…

Grandpa Shark…

Let’s go hunt!…

Run Away…

Safe at last…

That’s the end…

Here Comes the Sun by George Harrison

[G] Here comes the sun doo, doo, doo, doo,
[C] Here comes the [A7] sun,
And I say, “[G] It’s all right.” [C6][G] [C6] [G] [D][G] [D]

[G] Little darling, it’s been a [C] long cold lonely [D] winter.
[G] Little darling, it seems like [C] years since it’s been [D] here.

[G] Here comes the sun doo, doo, doo, doo,
[C] Here comes the [A7] sun,
And I say, “[G] It’s all right.” [C6] [G] [C6] [G] [D][G] [D]

[G] Little darling, the smile’s re[C]-turning to their [D] faces.

[G] Little darling, it seems like [C] years since it’s been [D] here.

[G] Here comes the sun doo, doo, doo, doo,
[C] Here comes the [A7] sun,
And I say, “[G] It’s all right.” [C6][G] [C6] [G] [D][G] [D]

[B flat] [F] [C] [G] [D]

[B flat] Sun, [F] Sun, [C] Sun, here it [G] comes [D] (Repeat five times)

[G] Little darling, I feel that [C] ice is slowly [D] melting.

[G] Little darling, it seems like [C] years since it’s been [D] clear.

[G] Here comes the sun doo, doo, doo, doo,
[C] Here comes the [A7] sun,
And I say, “[G] It’s all right.” [C6][G] [C6] [G] [D][G] [D]

[G] Here comes the sun doo, doo, doo, doo,
[C] Here comes the [A7] sun,
And I say, “[G] It’s all right.” [C6][G] [C6] [G] [D][G] [D]

Stay & Play: Clay Summer Mementos

This was a really simple project, but a big hit with the kids and grown-ups (one grandparent even asked what kind of clay we were using, so he could try it with his other grandchildren). I put out balls of Crayola Air Dry Clay on paper plates, along with small rocks, sea shells, and rhinestones for the kids to smash into the clay. The clay was very stiff, so the grown-ups sometimes had to help to flatten it, but you can also mix it with water to make it softer. I recommend rolling the clay into balls ahead of time to make it easier to set-up.

Happy Summer!

Good Clean Fun: A Storytime for International Bath Day

Today (June 14) is International Bath Day, supposedly created to celebrate the Greek mathematician Archimedes’ famous bath time discovery about water displacement and buoyancy. It also makes for a wonderful storytime theme. Here’s what we did:

Books:

Animal Baths by Bob Barner

Cute book describing the bathing habits of different animals. We had the kids act out different motions: the monkeys grooming their hair, the ducks preening, etc. I asked the kids if they’d like to have their teeth cleaned by shrimp, which got lots of “eww’s” in response.

Get Out of My Bath! by Britta Teckentrup

An interactive story about an elephant struggling with uninvited guests in her bathtub. Readers are asked to tilt the book left and right, shake it, and call out different phrases (I had the kids tilt their bodies left and right and shake their hands instead). Claire spritzed the crowd with water from a spray bottle at the end, when the elephant sprays all the water back into the tub.

Mommy Go Away by Lynne Jonell and Petra Mathers

This was a favorite of my daughter’s when she was little. When Christopher gets tired of being told what to do, he tells his mother to “Go away on this boat.” When she says that she is too big for the boat, he tells her to “Get Small.” She shrinks down, and he puts her on a boat in the bathtub, reminding her to brush her teeth, remember her manners, and “no hitting the other Mommies.” When she says that she is scared, he promises to help her, towels her off, and tells her she can be big again, while they both reflect on how hard it is to be small. I noticed that some reviewers on Amazon objected to the premise, but I think it’s a compelling fantasy for kids to be in charge, and, despite the book’s title, it’s a nice story about a moment of empathy between parent and child.

Songs:

Brush Your Teeth

This Raffi song is always great for toddlers and preschoolers. Here’s a video with the tune:

When you wake up in the morning,
It’s a quarter to one,
And you want to have a little fun,
You brush your teeth,
Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch!
You brush your teeth,
Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch!

When you wake up in the morning,
It’s a quarter to two,
And you just can’t think of something to do,
You brush your teeth…
When you wake up in the morning,

It’s a quarter to three,
And your mind starts humming,
“Fiddle-dee-dee,”…
When you wake up in the morning,

It’s a quarter to four,
And you think you hear a knock on the door,
You get a little scared,
And then you brush your teeth…

When you wake up in the morning,
It’s a quarter to five,
And you just can’t wait to come alive!…

Down in the Jungle

This was a lot of fun, and worked perfectly after reading Animal Baths. The lyrics I used were from Let’s Play Kids Music, which also includes this video of just the tune:

Down in the jungle where nobody goes,
There’s a great big elephant washing his toes,
With a rub-a-dub here, and a rub-a-dub there,
That’s the way he washes his toes!

CHORUS

Boom, boom, boogie-woogie boogie-woogie,
Boom, boom, boogie-woogie boogie-woogie,,
Rub-a-dub here, and a rub-a-dub there,
That’s the way he washes his toes!

Down in the jungle where there’s nobody there,
There’s a great big lion washing his hair,
With a rub-a-dub here, and a rub-a-dub there,
That’s the way he washes his hair!

(repeat chorus)

Down in the jungle, if you look in the trees,
There’s a cheeky monkey washing his knees,
With a rub-a-dub here, and a rub-a-dub there,
That’s the way he washes his knees!

(repeat chorus)

Down in the jungle if you care to check,
There’s a very tall giraffe washing his neck,
With a rub-a-dub here, and a rub-a-dub there,
That’s the way he washes his neck!

Down at the river, if you look underneath,
There’s a great big crocodile brushing his teeth,
With a rub-a-dub here, and a rub-a-dub there,
That’s the way he brushes his teeth!

I Love My Hair

This one’s to the tune of Love Somebody, Yes, I Do.

I love my hair, yes I do! (nod)

Love to wash it with shampoo (Mime washing your hair)

Rinse it, dry it (shake head vigorously), style it too.

Don’t you love my new hairdo? (fluff your hair with your hands)

I Had a Little Turtle

Cute version of the old children’s song by JBrary. Here’s a video that shows the motions:

I had a little turtle,

His name is Tiny Tim.

I put him in the bathtub

To see if he could swim.

He drank up all the water,

He ate up all the soap,

And now he’s home sick in bed

With bubbles in his throat!

Bubble Bubble Bubble,

Bubble Bubble Pop!

Bubble Bubble Bubble,

Bubble Bubble Pop!

Rubber Ducky by Jeff Moss

I couldn’t resist doing this classic song from Sesame Street. Here’s a .pdf of the lyrics and ukulele chords from jenfo.com.

Stay & Play: Foam Bath Toys

To be honest, I had no idea if this project was going to work, but it ended up being a lot of fun. Basically, I put out foam sheets for the kids or grown-ups to cut into shapes. When these get wet, they will temporarily stick to the walls of a bathtub. To decorate them, I put out some small pieces of adhesive foam sheets that they could cut into mouths, noses, or other shapes. I brought several different kinds of scissors: regular kids scissors, as well as adaptive scissors for both kids and adults. I also put out googly eyes and some markers, which were really intended for drawing out the shapes before cutting, since they would wash off in the bathtub, but some kids used them to draw on their shapes too.

My main purpose was to give kids a chance to work with scissors, and I left the choice of what shape to make up to the them, although I provided a couple of samples (a fish and an octopus) to give them ideas or to serve as a template if they were stuck. It was fun to see all of the different things they came up with, and the ways the kids and grown-ups ended up working together. Some kids did the whole project on their own. Some had the grown-ups cut out shapes that they decorated. Some kids made really intricate layered foam art pieces. They were all really engaged, and excited to try out their creations in the bath.

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

That’s What Friends Are For: A Storytime for Best Friends Day

Tomorrow (June 8, 2022) is National Best Friends Day, which made for a really fun storytime theme. During the Stay & Play activity at the end, one little girl asked everyone at the table, “Do you want to be a friend?” so I think the message got through!

Here’s what we did:

Books:

Bob and Flo by Rebecca Ashdown

Very cute story about a penguin named Flo, who discovers that her lunch bucket is missing on the first day of preschool. Meanwhile, another penguin named Bob seems to be wearing an unusual hat, standing on a familiar looking stool, and making bucket-shaped sand castles. When Bob gets stuck on the top of the slide, Flo uses her bucket to set him free, and the two new friends enjoy whooshing together through the water.

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

Adorable book about a boy named Dennis, who never speaks, but loves to communicate in mime. Although he is lonely at first, he soon finds a friend who shares his interests. I read the story, while my coworker Claire demonstrated the different mime motions for the kids to copy. Lots of fun!

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Very simple, clever story about a stick and a stone who start out alone, but become friends when Stick saves Stone from a bullying Pinecone. Stone returns the favor when Stick gets stuck in a puddle, and they become the best of friends.

Songs:

Do You Want to Be My Friend?

To the tune of Do You Know the Muffin Man? or Mary Had a Little Lamb

I found this one on this nice collection of friendship songs from PreschoolEducation.com. We had fun doing different actions suggested by the kids and parents:

Do you want to be my friend,

To be my friend,

To be my friend?

Do you want to be my friend,

And jump along with me?

Repeat, changing the action each time. We did jump, clap, spin, nod, dance, pat, and skip.

Do As I’m Doing

We sang this as a follow-up to Be a Friend, and asked for the kids to demonstrate different actions for us to copy as we sang the song each time.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, follow [G7] me.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

[C] Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me.

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me,

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

If You Want to Be a Friend

To the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It. We used the American Sign Language signs for Hello, Name, and Play.

[C] If you want to be a friend, say, [G7] “Hello!”  Hello!

If you want to be a friend, say, [C] “Hello!” Hello!

If you [F] want to be a friend, you can [C] talk to without end,

If you [G7] want to be a friend, say, [C] “Hello!” Hello!

If you want to be a friend, say, “What’s your name?”…

If you want to be a friend, say, “Come and play!”…

We Are Going to Be Friends by the White Stripes

We did this song as one of our instrument play-alongs (when we hand out shakers to all the kids). It’s a song that has special meaning to me because it was a favorite of Barbara Amberg’s, a dear friend and mentor of mine, and one we used to do in Musical Storytime, led by my friend and manager, Thom Ball. Both of them are no longer with us, but I thought of them while we were singing, and the kids really seemed to enjoy the song.

[C] Fall is here, hear the yell,
[C] Back to school, ring the bell.
[F] Brand new shoes, walking blues,
[C] Climb the fence, books and pens.

[G7] I can tell that [F] we are gonna be [C]friends.
[G7] I can tell that [F] we are gonna be [C]friends.

[C] Walk with me, Suzy Lee,
[C] Through the park and by the tree.
[F] We will rest upon the ground,
[C] And look at all the bugs we found.

[G7] Safely walk to school [F] without a [C] sound.
[G7] Safely walk to school [F] without a [C] sound.

[C] Here we are, there’s no one else.
[C] We walk to school all by ourselves.
[F] There’s dirt on our uniforms,
[C] From chasing all the ants and worms.

[G7] We clean up and [F] now it’s time to  [C] learn.
[G7] We clean up and [F] now it’s time to [C] learn.

[C] Numbers, letters, learn to spell,
[C] Nouns and books, and show and tell.
[F] At playtime, we will throw the ball.
[C] Back to class, through the hall.

[G7] Teacher marks our [F] height against the [C] wall.
[G7] Teacher marks our [F] height against the [C] wall.

[F] And we don’t notice any [C] time pass
[F] We don’t notice any [C] thing
[D] We sit side by side in every class.
[F] Teacher thinks that I sound funny,
[G7] But she likes the way you sing.

[C] Tonight I’ll dream while I’m in bed,
[C] When silly thoughts go through my head.
[F] About the bugs and alphabet,
[C] And when I wake tomorrow I’ll bet

That [G7] you and I will [F] walk together a-[C] gain.

Cause [G7] I can tell that [F] we are gonna be [C]friends.
[G7] I can tell that [F] we are gonna be [C]friends.

 

Stay & Play: Craft Stick Friends

This was a simple idea that ended up being a lot of fun. I put out craft sticks, markers, pipe cleaners, yarn, googly eyes, scissors, and glue sticks for the kids to make their own “craft stick friends.” Both the kids and the grown-ups got really involved in making them, and they were all adorable!

Busy as a Bee: A Storytime for National Pollinator Month

Last week, we had a few hundred unexpected visitors to our storytime area in the park…a swarm of honeybees, all clustered together on a small evergreen tree. I had never seen a swam in person before, so it was pretty exciting, but at the same time, I didn’t want to call too much attention to them, in case of curious hands and fingers. Luckily, no one got too close, and by today they had moved along.

Coincidentally, I learned that June is National Pollinator Month, which gave us the perfect opportunity to celebrate our bee friends, along with butterflies, bats, and hummingbirds (even though these frequently fly into our library). I began with a very brief explanation of how these types of creatures help plants grow seeds and many of the fruits and vegetables we eat, by carrying pollen from one flower to another. I brought some flowers as an example, and also shared some pictures of bees, butterflies, and bats, before launching into our stories and songs.

Books:

The Hidden Rainbow by Christie Matheson

This was the perfect introduction to the topic of pollination, since it features bees visiting different colored flowers. Like Matheson’s other books, it also invites the reader to participate by tickling the flowers, blowing a kiss to the lilac tree, and brushing off the snow from the camelias (I had the kids mime these activities in the air). The kids loved calling out the different colors on each page.

Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert

Beautiful book about the life cycle of butterflies, from the eggs they stick to leaves “with butterfly glue” to the caterpillars hatching, eating, and forming a chysalis, and ending with the newly hatched butterflies laying their own eggs. I brought out our Folkmanis butterfly puppet to show the kids the long, curly tongue.

I Am Bat by Morag Hood

I love to read this simple picture book if for no other reason than I get to use my high, squeaky bat voice. Bat loves cherries, and is very sad when somebody steals a few (“Was it you?”). Luckily, some hidden animals leave him a pear to cheer him up again. The bat pictures are adorable, and the book as a whole highlights the fact that many bats only eat fruit.

Rhymes and Songs:

Here is the Beehive

One of my favorite rhymes for baby and toddler storytimes. This was such a hit today that we did it three times:

Here is the beehive (hold up fist)

Where are the bees?

Hiding away where nobody sees.

Watch, and they’ll all come out of their hive!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5! They’re alive! (fly fingers around).

Peanut, Peanut Butter…Jelly!

We did this one after reading The Hidden Rainbow and talking about how bees help some of our favorite fruits grow. I asked the kids what kind of jelly they wanted to make, and we ended up picking strawberries for the second verse.

First you take the peanuts and you pick ’em, you pick ’em,
You pick ’em, pick ’em, pick ’em! (Mime picking peanuts)
Then you smash ’em, you smash ’em, you smash ’em, smash ’em, smash ’em! (clap hands together each time you “smash”)
Then you spread ’em, you spread ’em, you spread ’em, spread ’em, spread ’em! (mime spreading peanut butter)
Singing “Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!
Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!”

Then you take the berries and you pick ’em… (repeat the first verse)

Then you take the sandwich and you bite it, you bite it, you bite it,
Bite it, bite it!
Then you chew it, you chew it, you chew it, chew it, chew it!
Then you swallow it, you swallow it, you swallow it, swallow it, swallow it.
Singing, “Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!
Peanut, peanut butter…jelly!” (I usually sing this part in a slightly garbled voice, as if I have peanut butter on the roof of my mouth. Then we all mime drinking a glass of milk).

Two Little Butterflies

A variation of Two Little Blackbirds. Instead of holding up our thumbs, we waved our hands like butterflies. Click on the triangle for the original version.

Two little butterflies sitting on a hill, (Hold up both hands)
One named Jack, and the other named Jill.
Fly away, Jack! (Put one hand behind your back)
Fly away, Jill! (Put the other hand behind your back)
Come back, Jack! (Bring the first hand out in front).
Come back, Jill! (Bring the second hand out in the front).

Two little butterflies sitting on a cloud,
One was quiet, and the other was loud (I make my voice as loud and obnoxious as possible each time I sing the word “Loud!”)
Fly away, Quiet!
Fly away, Loud!
Come back, Quiet!
Come back, Loud!

Two little butterflies sitting in the snow.
One flew fast!
And the other f-l-e-w s-l-o-w!…

Two little butterflies sitting on a gate.
One was early,
And the other was…late!…  (I like to drag the pauses out as long as possible before saying “Late!” until the kids are all yelling it out.)

You Are My Flower by A. P. Carter

This is a sweet, old song by The Carter Family. I especially love this version by Elizabeth Mitchell. It’s also very easy to play on the ukulele or guitar, with a two chord pattern that repeats all the way through.

[C] The grass is just as green, the sky is just as [G7] blue.
The day is just as bright and the birds are singing [C] too.

You are my [C] flower, that’s blooming in the mountain for [G7] me.
You are my flower, that’s blooming there for [C] me.

The [C] air is just as pure, the sunlight just as [G7] free,
And nature seems to say, it’s all for you and [C] me.

You are my [C] flower, that’s blooming in the mountain for [G7] me.
You are my flower, that’s blooming there for [C] me.

So [C] wear a happy smile, and life will be worth-[G7]while.
Forget your tears, but don’t forget to [C]smile.

You are my [C] flower, that’s blooming in the mountain for [G7] me.
You are my flower, that’s blooming there for [C] me.

When [C] summertime is gone and snow begins to [G7] fall,
Just sing this song and say to one and [C] all.

You are my [C] flower, that’s blooming in the mountain for [G7] me.
You are my flower, that’s blooming there for [C] me.

Stay and Play: Butterfly Squish Art

I got this craft idea from The Craft Train. Basically, I cut out butterflies from theirprovided template ahead of time, then gave one to each child, along with a paintbrush, and a small paper bowl with three different colors of paint. The idea is to brush or drop paint on one half of the butterfly and then fold it up and squish it, so that when you open it up, the pattern appears on both sides. Some kids just painted the whole butterfly, but they all had fun.