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.

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

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

Here’s what we did:

BOOKS:

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

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

Swim Swim Sink by Jennifer Harney

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

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

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

SONGS:

Swimming, Swimming

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

Swimming, Swimming,

In my swimming pool.

On hot days, and on cool days,

In my swimming pool.

Breast stroke, side stroke,

Fancy diving too!

Don’t you wish you never had

Anything else to do?

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

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

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

Four green and speckled frogs…etc.

Six Little Ducks

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

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

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

Chorus

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

Chorus

I’m an Anglerfish

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

I’m an anglerfish,

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

Down in the sea

Where’s it’s dark as night.

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

I open my mouth (spread hands wide apart)

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

Let’s Go Swimming

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

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

STAY AND PLAY: Bubble Wrap Painted Fish

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

Happy Swimming!

Wheely Fun! A Storytime for National Bike to Work Day

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

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

Here’s what we did:

Books:

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon

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

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

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

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

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

SONGS:

The Wheels on the Bike

A bike version of The Wheels on the Bus.

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

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

The wheels on the bike go round and round,

[G7]All over [C] town.

The helmet on my head goes on and off…

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

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

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

I Have a Little Bicycle

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

I have a little bicycle,

I got it at the shop.

And when I see the big red light,

I know it’s time to stop!

I have a little bicycle,

I ride it to and fro.

And when I see that big green light,

I know it’s time to GO, GO, GO!

My Bicycle by Laurie Berkner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay & Play: Bicycle Drawings

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

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

Out of This World: A Storytime About Space

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

Here’s what we did:

Books:

Astro Girl by Ken Wilson-Max

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

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

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

Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

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

Songs:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

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

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

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

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

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

If You’re Going to the Moon

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

[C] If you’re going to the Moon,

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

[G7] If you’re going to the Moon,

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

If you’re [F] going to the Moon,

This is [C] what you have to do.

If you’re [G7] going to the Moon,

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

If you’re going to the Moon,

Wear your helmet… (mime putting on helmet)

If you’re going to the Moon,

Wear your gloves… (mime putting on gloves)

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!

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

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,

We’re going to the Moon.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,

We’re going to the Moon.

If you want to take a trip,

Climb aboard my rocket ship.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,

We’re going to the Moon.

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

Blast-off!

Rocketship Run by Laurie Berkner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay & Play: Mixed Media Night Sky

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

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

Pet Projects: A Storytime for National Pet Week

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

Here is what we did:

Books:

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems

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

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

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

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

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

Songs:

B-I-N-G-O

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

The Cat Went Fiddle-I-Fee

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

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

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

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

I had a wolf and the wolf pleased me,

And I fed my wolf under yonder tree.

And the wolf went “Arrrrroooo!”

And the cat went fiddle-i-fee.

Two Little Kitty Cats

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

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

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

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

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

Meow! Meow! Meow!

Two little puppy dogs lying in the park,

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

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

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

Woof! Woof! Woof!

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

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

CHORUS

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

The one with the waggley [C] tail?

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

I do hope that doggie’s for [C] sale!

VERSE 1

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

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

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

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

CHORUS

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

With flashlights that shine in the [C] dark.

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

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

CHORUS

Stay & Play: Paper Bag Puppets

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

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