Everyone Counts: A Musical Storytime about Numbers

COVID cases are rising in the Bay Area due to Omicron, so last week our library administration made the painful decision to cancel indoor programs, including our toddler storytimes. I was happy to still be able to hold our Outdoor Musical Storytime today, especially since the weather was beautiful at San Pedro Valley Park. It all felt pretty safe, with families doing a great job of social distancing and masking, and we made an effort to spread the craft supplies out across many different picnic tables for the Stay and Play. It’s such a surreal time to be working in libraries right now, or really anywhere, but it was great to see my regular families for the first time since the holidays (we had to cancel last week due to rain).

Today I did a counting theme, which was a lot of fun. Here’s what we did:

BOOKS:

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin; illustrated by James Dean

This is my second favorite Pete the Cat book, after I Love My White Shoes. Pete loves his shirt with the four colorful, groovy buttons so much that he has to sing about it. The trouble is, the buttons keep popping off and rolling away. But not to worry, when all the buttons are gone, Pete has one button he can always count on: his belly button! I only had one copy of the book today, so I made a Pete the Cat out of paper, with big paper buttons that my coworker, Claire, could remove as she followed along with the story. The kids loved it!

One-osaurus, Two-osaurus by Kim Norman; illustrated by Pierre Collet-Derby

This is such a cute book! Nine dinosaurs are playing hide-and-seek, until Ten-osaurus Rex comes looking for them. The kids loved the ROAR! midway through, and the surprise at the end, when Ten-osaurus Rex turns out to be just a small yellow dinosaur. The book ends with the dinosaurs playing Simon Says, so I followed up the book with a quick round of Simon Says with the kids.

Sleep Train by Jonathan London; illustrated by Lauren Eldridge

This is a beautiful book about a young boy counting cars on a train to help him get to sleep. The kids especially liked the cattle car, and the “Mooooo-Mooooo! Chooooo-Choooooo!” page.

SONGS:

PUT YOUR FINGER IN THE AIR by Woody Guthrie

As usual, this was my opening song, but it worked especially well with the theme. I always do a verse that goes “Put your finger on your knee…Now can you count to three?” We count to three in English, and then I ask the participants what other languages they can count to three in. It’s always amazing how many different languages we get. Today we had Thai, Hindi, Cantonese, Italian, Russian, and Spanish. Here’s a link to a version performed by Miss Nina, which uses different lyrics, but the same tune. These are the lyrics I use:

[C] Put your finger in the air, in the air,
Put your finger in the air, in the [G7] air,
Put your [C] finger in the air,
And now [F] hide it in your hair,
[C] Put your finger in the [G7] air, in the [C] air.

Put your finger on your nose…
And now see how long it grows!…(mime making your nose grow long, and then short again)

Put your finger on your knee…
And now can you count to three?…1,2,3 (uno, dos, tres; un, deux, trois, etc.)

Point your finger at the ground…
And now make a spooky sound!…

Put your fingers all together, all together… (clap)
We we will all be friends forever!

¡CHOCOLATÉ!

This is a wonderful, easy song in Spanish about making hot chocolate. I usually do it two or three times, and we take time to pour the hot chocolate, add whipped cream or marshmallows, and then blow on it to cool it down (I usually make a big show about accidentally blowing whipped cream on one of the kids, which they think it hilarious). Here’s a YouTube video from Babelzone with the tune:

Uno, dos, tres, cho;
uno, dos, tres, co;
uno, dos, tres, la;
uno, dos, tres, te.
¡Chocolate! ¡Chocolate!

¡Bate! ¡Bate! ¡El chocolate!

FIVE LITTLE DUCKS

I did this one with the Monkey Mitt, which came with five bright yellow ducks that stick to the glove with Velcro. The ducks got a big “Awww!” when I pulled them out. Most of the families already knew this song. I do the Raffi version, which you can find here.

FREIGHT TRAIN

I used this one as an instrument play-along, after reading Sleep Train. This is one of my favorite storytime songs, because I love hearing the kids’ suggestions about where they want to go. Today we went to Mexico, Disneyland, the zoo, and Granny’s house. 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.

STAY AND PLAY: SNOWMEN

For the Stay and Play, I printed out blank snowmen (template below) on cardstock, then put out markers, gluesticks, buttons, and googly eyes, for the kids to decorate (and hopefully count their buttons at home). This was a big hit, with parents as well as kids. Who doesn’t love buttons?

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

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