Hitting the Books: A Storytime about School

Tomorrow is the first day of school in our local district, so today we did a storytime about school. Here’s what we did:

Books:

Even Monsters Go to School by Lisa Wheeler; illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Very cute rhyming book showing different monsters (Bigfoot, Yeti, Frankenstein, etc.) going to school. The kids enjoyed seeing all of the different monsters, and making monster faces with me.

Rosie Goes to Preschool by Karen Katz

I don’t typically read picture books like this one, which is more of a description of a day at preschool, rather than a story, but I thought this one did a nice job of presenting preschool in a fun and engaging way, hitting all of the highlights, like playtime, music time, and lunch. Plus, the illustrations are colorful and inviting.

Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex

Chu, the panda with the enormous sneeze, is worried about starting school, and whether his classmates will like him. When each student is asked to share something they like to do, Chu says nothing, but the chalk dust in the air soon makes it clear what he does better than anyone. The kids loved joining in on the big sneeze, and naming the different types of animals in the illustrations.

Songs & Rhymes:

The Wheels on the School Bus

A simple school bus themed version of The Wheels on the Bus:

A bike version of The Wheels on the Bus.

[C]The wheels on the school bus go round and round.

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

The wheels on the school bus go round and round,

[G7]All over [C] town.

We kept most of the usual verses (the driver on the bus says “move on back,” the doors on the bus go open and shut, the wipers on the bus go “swish, swish, swish,” etc.), and then had the wheels go really fast at the end.

My Friends Go Marching

[Am] My friends go marching one by one, [C] hurrah, hurrah.

[Am] My friends go marching one by one, [C] hurrah, hurrah.

My friends go marching [G7] one by one,

They [Am] walk through the door, they don’t [E7] ever run.

And we [C] all feel [G7] happy now [Am] school has begun.


My friends go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah.

My friends go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah.

My friends go marching two by two,

They hop through the door like a kangaroo.

And we all feel happy now school has begun.


My friends go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah.

My friends go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah.

My friends go marching three by three,

They fly through the door like a bumblebee.

And we all feel happy now school has begun.

Alphabet Song

We sang this through three times, going super fast the last time through. (I also played the silly trick where I said, “Now let’s sing it backwards!” and I turned my back to the crowd).

[C] A, B, C, D, [F] E, F, [G7] G,
[G7] H, I [C] J, K, [G7] L, M, N, O, [C] P.
[C] Q, R, [F] S, [C] T, U, [G7] V,
[C] W, [F] X, [C] Y and [G7] Z,
[C] Now I know my [F] A, B, [G7] C’s,
[G7] Next time [C] won’t you [G7] sing with [C] me.

A is for Alligator

This is a great rhyme for getting kids refocused after a movement song:

A is for Alligator, chomp, chomp, chomp (clap hands together on each chomp)

B is for Bunny, hop, hop, hop. (hop up and down)

C is for Circle, round and round, (draw a big circle in the air)

And D is for when we all sit Down.

Stay & Play: Homemade Books

This was a really simple activity, and nice because it gave the kids a lot of flexibility. I pre-folded paper “zines,” little books with several pages, which are folded out of one piece of paper. You can find the instructions from Red Ted Art here: https://www.redtedart.com/mini-school-supplies-notebook-craft-study-aid/

For the Stay & Play, I gave each kid a paper book, and put out markers and stickers. Some of them wrote in their books, some drew picture, and some just had fun adding stickers to each page. Some grown-ups wrote a letter on each page and had the kids decorate the rest of the book. They had a lot of fun, and many of them said they were going to keep working on it at home.

Happy First Day of School! If you have any favorite school-related books, please share them in the comments below.

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!