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:


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.


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


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:


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.


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.

[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 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.


[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.


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.”


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:


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, 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!


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:


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.


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!