Beach Reads: A Storytime About the Beach

It was a chilly day for Outdoor Musical Storytime, which maybe wasn’t the best weather for our Beach theme, but we had fun anyway. Here’s what we did:


Bea By the Sea by Jo Byatt

I love this book, and the kids did too! Bea knows everything about lions. When her mother suggests a trip to the beach, at first she doesn’t want to go. After all, she hates sand. But while she is at the beach, she meets a Sand Lion, who helps her discover that beaches can be fun after all. In return, she helps him overcome his fear of water. Very sweet, imaginative story, with adorable illustrations.

Sally Goes to the Beach by Stephen Huneck

Dogs love the beach too, and this simple, colorful story told from a dog’s point of view explains why. The kids laughed at the line about the air smelling like cat food, and the way Sally imagines the captain of the ferry boat as a dog.

Penguin On Vacation by Salina Yoon

When Penguin tires of the ice and snow at home, he decides to go on vacation to the beach. When he arrives though, he finds that all the things he usually enjoys (sledding, skiing, and skating) don’t work on the sand. Luckily, a friendly crab shows him how to have fun, and when the crab tags along with him back home, Penguin gets to share all of his favorite snow activities with his new friend. Both the kids and the grown-ups enjoyed this sweet story.


Five Little Seashells

I got this song from I sang it to the tune of Five Little Ducks. My coworker, Claire, held up five sea shells, while I did the rhyme with my fingers along with the kids:

Five little seashells lying on the shore,

Swish! Went the waves, and then there were four.

Four little seashells cozy as could be,

Swish! Went the waves, and then there were three.

Three little seashells all pearly new,

Swish! Went the waves, and then there were two.

Two little seashells lying in the sun,

Swish! Went the waves, and then there was one.

One little seashell lying all alone.

I picked it up, and then I took it home.

The Waves at the Beach

This one was from, which has a nice list of other ocean/beach songs. 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!”…

Other songs that we did were: B-I-N-G-O (with the MonkeyMitt. I had the kids bark the missing letters); Slippery Fish (with puppets for each animal), and The Beatles’ Octopus’ Garden, which we did as an instrument playalong.

Stay and Play: Sand Castles

Sand Dough Castle with Sea Shells

This was more of a play activity than a project, but the kids had a great time. We had a lot of play sand left over from our Library Explorer camps, so I mixed up some sand dough/kinetic sand ahead of time. I used this recipe from, which calls for sand, flour, and cooking oil (I used a lot more oil than they suggested to make it more moldable). The dough holds together a little bit, but doesn’t harden, so you can mold it into simple shapes, but nothing permanent. I made sure to tell the parents what was in the dough, in case of any food allergies, and also warned the kids several times that it wasn’t edible (it does kind of look like cookie dough).

I gave each of the kids a Dixie Cup full of the sand dough and a small paper plate. I also put out some tiny sea shells from our craft closet. In retrospect, it would have been nice to have given out Ziploc bags so they could take their sand home at the end, but most of it ended up on the ground anyway (one of the nice things about doing storytime outdoors!).

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


Opposite Day: A Storytime About Opposites

This was a fun theme, and one I don’t think I’ve done before. Here’s what we did:


Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack

I love Jeff Mack’s books for their humor and simplicity. In this one, a rabbit and mouse are going for a picnic on a beautiful sunny day. “Good News!” the rabbit says, holding up the basket. Oh, but “Bad News!” the mouse replies, as it begins to rain. The book continues in this vein through ever worsening “Bad News,” situations: bees in the cake, a lightning storm, an angry bear. But the rabbit always finds some “Good News” to be happy about. The families enjoyed chiming in on the “Good News” and “Bad News.”

Big Bear, Small Mouse by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Jane Chapman

Very sweet addition to Karma Wilson’s Bear series. This rhyming book follows a group of animal friends through a series of opposites: Big Bear, Small Mouse; High Owl, Low Wren; Slow Badger, Fast Hair, etc. culminating in a cozy Warm Lair on a Cold Night. This one worked beautifully for our theme, and the kids loved joining in on the “Big Bear” at the end of each refrain.

Dinosaur Roar by Paul and Henrietta Stickland

Colorful, simple rhyming book about different types of dinosaurs, with opportunities for the kids to “ROAR!” Always a hit.


A lot of standard nursery rhymes work well for this theme including:


I did this one with a mouse puppet, which I walked around the group to say hi to the kids before we sang the song:

Hickory Dickory Dock (clap hands in rhythm)
The mouse ran up the clock (run fingers up arm)
The clock struck one: BONG!
The mouse ran down (run fingers down arm)
Hickory Dickory Dock (clap hands)

…the clock struck two: BONG! BONG!
The mouse went “boo!” (cover eyes with hands, then peekaboo)

…the clock struck three: BONG! BONG! BONG!
The mouse went “whee!” (slide fingers down body)


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

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

Two little blackbirds 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.)


I love this song because it works well for both toddlers/preschoolers, who can follow along on their own, and as a lapsit song for babies, whose parents can lift them up and down:

The noble Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men.
He marched them all to the top of the hill, (stretch up high)
And he marched them down again. (crouch down low)
And when you’re up, you’re up. (stretch up high)
And when you’re down, you’re down. (crouch down low)
And when you’re only halfway up,
You’re neither up, nor down. (stretch up high, then quickly crouch down)

He marched them to the left,
He marched them to the right,
He marched them all around and round,
Oh, what a silly sight!

STAY AND PLAY: Texture Collage

This was a simple activity, but both the kids and the caregivers got really into it. The idea was to explore textures that were opposites: sand (rough), paper (smooth), feathers (soft), and acorn caps, or other found objects from the park (hard). I put out gluesticks, play sand, and feathers. These were two examples where the caregivers drew out “surprises” in glue for the kids to discover when they poured the sand on their paper. Some of the older kids did elaborate patterns of their own.

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

Love Stories: A Storytime for Valentine’s Day

We had a fun Valentine’s Day storytime this morning at the park. Here’s what we did:


Love Monster and the Last Chocolate by Rachel Bright

Although this isn’t specifically a Valentine’s story, it is a funny, sweet friendship story that revolves around chocolate. When Love Monster arrives home from vacation, he is thrilled to find a box of chocolate waiting on his front doorstep. Before he opens it though, he wonders if he should share the chocolates with his friends. This leads him to worry about what would happen if there weren’t enough chocolates for everyone, or if someone else might eat his favorite chocolate, and he almost decides not to share them. In the end, he rushes out to share with his friends before he can change his mind, only to learn that they have already shared the chocolates from the box, and saved Love Monster’s favorite one just for him.

Click, Clack, Moo, I Love You! by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Betsy Lewin

In this cute addition to the Click, Clack, Moo series, the animals on the farm are getting ready for the big Valentine’s Dance. Little Duck has decorated with streamers, and balloons, and made Valentine’s for everyone. When Little Fox follows the decorations down the hill to the party, all the animals stop dancing…until Little Duck gives Little Fox a Valentine, and they all dance together. Full of lots of opportunities for kids to join in on the “quack, quack, quack’s” and “yip, yip, yips.” Plus, the mice do The Hustle several times, so I invited the kids to join me for a few seconds of the Travolta Move while we sang part of The Hustle.

Be Mine, Be Mine, Sweet Valentine by Sarah Weeks; illustrated by Fumi Kosaka

Very cute rhyming Valentine’s book, which invites the kids to guess which Valentine gift would be best for each animal, with flaps that open to reveal the answer. The dog gets a bone, the cat gets cream, etc. The kids had fun guessing.


If All the Raindrops

We sang this song after reading Love Monster and the Last Chocolate. After singing the first verse together, I asked the kids to suggest favorite foods to sing about for the next two verses. We sang “If all the raindrops were pizza and mac and cheese,” and “If all the raindrops were chocolate and ice cream.” Here are the lyrics and chords, and a YouTube link for the melody:

[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!


This song is always a favorite with both kids and caregivers. I go over the sign language for “I Love You” before we sing the song together. Here’s a link to a YouTube video from Super Simple Songs with the tune:

Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink
Skidamarink a-doo
I love you.
Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink
Skidamarink a-doo
I love you.
I love you in the morning
And in the afternoon.
I love you in the evening
And underneath the moon.
Oh, skidamarink a-dink, a-dink
Skidamarink a-doo
I love you.

Six Little Ducks

I sang this one after we read Click, Clack, Moo, I Love You, which featured lots of quacking. I invited the kids to waddle and quack with me. Click on the triangle below for the tune:

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

G7                                         C
“Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!”
G7                                              C
He led the others with his “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!”


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!”


Old MacDonald

Claire held up the Monkey Mitt with the Old MacDonald animal set while we all sang the song together:

[C] Old MacDonald [F] had a [C] farm,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

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

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

With a cluck-cluck here, and a cluck-cluck there,

Here a cluck, there a cluck,

Everywhere a cluck-cluck.

[C] Old MacDonald [F] had a [C] farm,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

Stay and Play: Dot Resist Hearts

Paper heart taped onto blank cardstock, then decorated with Dot Markers

This was such an easy, fun activity. I adapted it from this Thumbprint Craft from A Dab of Glue Will Do, only instead of using thumbprints, we gave the kids Dot Markers. I cut hearts out of cardstock ahead of time, then taped them with removable tape onto blank cardstock. For some kids, I taped the outline of the heart to the paper instead.

The kids loved covering the pages with colored dots, and then peeling the top layer off to reveal the heart underneath.

What are your favorite picture books, songs, or crafts for Valentine’s Day? Please share them in the comments below.

Gung Hay Fat Choy: A Storytime for Lunar New Year

A beautiful Chinese dog marionette my coworker Angela loaned to me for storytime

It was a beautiful day in the park today, and also the first day of the Lunar New Year. Since 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, we did a mix of stories and activities about tigers and New Year’s celebrations.

Here’s what we did:


Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin

I started by introducing the idea of Lunar New Year, and explaining about how it celebrated in many Asian countries on the first new moon of their calendar year. I held up a picture of a new moon, so the kids could see what it looked like. I also explained very briefly about the different animals that make up the Chinese zodiac, and that this is the Year of the Tiger. Before we read the book, we handed out small squares of bubble wrap, and told the kids to listen for the page that talks about firecrackers. The book is colorful and simple, and does a beautiful job of capturing the excitement of the New Year celebration, while describing several of the common traditions (sweeping, getting a hair cut, watching the parade). When we got to the firecracker page, we told the kids to pop their bubble wrap. They had a great time!

When a Tiger Comes to Dinner by Jessica Olien

This funny, interactive story provides advice on what to do when a tiger is coming to dinner: roar hello, hold up your claws and bare your teeth, and be sure to serve peanut butter sandwiches. The problem: all of the roaring scares your tiger guest. Luckily she likes the peanut butter sandwiches. The kids loved joining in on all of the roaring.

Little Tigers by Jo Weaver

Beautifully illustrated story about a mother tiger and her two cubs, who are looking for a safe place to live. They try a spot behind a waterfall (too wet), and at the top of a tree (too high), find a hole that’s already home to a python, and a cave full of biting insects, before they finally find a new home in an abandoned temple. The kids and adults both exclaimed over the illustrations.

Songs & Rhymes:

Going on a Tiger Hunt

I did a tiger version of the Going on a Bear Hunt chant, asking the families to repeat each line after me:

We’re going on a tiger hunt!
(We’re going on a tiger hunt!)
It’s a beautiful day!
(It’s a beautiful day!)
We’re not scared!
(We’re not scared!)

We’re coming to some grass.
(We’re coming to some grass).
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go through it.
(Have to go through it.)
Swish! Swish! Swish! Swish! (Rubbing hands together)

We’re coming to some mud.
(We’re coming to some mud.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go through it.
(Have to go through it).
Squilch! Squelch! Squilch! Squelch! (Clapping hands together).

We’re coming to a lake.
(We’re coming to a lake.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to swim across it.
(Have to swim across it.)
Splish! Splash! Splish! Splash!

We’re coming to a cave.
(We’re coming to a cave.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go inside.
(Have to go inside.)
It’s dark in here…
(It’s dark in here…)
It’s cold in here…
(It’s cold in here…)
Two yellow eyes…it’s a tiger!

Swim across the lake!
Run through the mud!
Run through the grass!
Into the house!
Slam the door!
Lock it!
We’re never going on a tiger hunt again!

Five Green Dragons

I explained that dragons are a symbol of good luck. Then my coworker Claire held up five green paper dragons on popsicle sticks, while the rest of us did the rhyme with our fingers:

Five green dragons making such a roar.
One danced away and then there were four.
Four green dragons dancing around a tree.
One danced away and then there were three.
Three green dragons dancing around you.
One danced away and then there were two.
Two green dragons dancing in the sun.
One danced away and then there was one.
One green dragon having lots of fun
She danced away and then there were none.

Dragon Dance

I adapted this song from We did it as an instrument play-along, and Claire did the motions the dog marionette pictured above. The song is to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb:

[C] See the dragon hop, hop, hop,

[G7] Hop, hop, hop, [C] hop, hop, hop.

See the dragon hop, hop, hop,

[G7] On New Year’s [C] Day!

See the dragon shake its tail…

See the dragon dance around…

See the dragon stomp its feet…

See the dragon jump up and down…

See the dragon go to sleep…

Stay and Play: Painted Dragons

I found this activity on Learning and Exploring Through Play, and it was so much fun! We gave the kids cardstock, which the parents helped them fold in half, then passed out tempera paint and brushes. They could either paint with brushes or just squirt the paint on one half of the paper, then fold it in half to spread the paint onto the other side, making a symmetrical shape. I also put out googly eyes and gluesticks. Some of the paintings looked more like dragons than others (some looked like moose or butterflies), but it was a great process art activity, and fun to watch as the kids opened up their papers to reveal the designs.