You’re Welcome! A Storytime for Welcoming Week

This week, all of our libraries have been offering special storytimes for Welcoming Week, a week that celebrates welcoming people, especially immigrants, into our communities.

Here is what we did:


Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

All of our library storytimes featured either Dreamers or What Is a Refugee? by Elise Gravel. Dreamers tells the story of author-illustrator Yuyi Morales’ arrival in the United States with her infant son, and how, although she made many mistakes, she found wonder and acceptance at the public library. Some of the vocabulary was a little advanced for my audience of mostly toddlers, but the kids enjoyed the beautiful illustrations, which feature lots of colorful books, butterflies, and flowers. It also provided a good opportunity to explain the word “immigrant.” It’s a gorgeous book, and an inspirational story.

The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates; illustrated by Juniper Bates

This is a simple book about a friendly, red umbrella, which is magically large enough to provide shelter to absolutely anyone who needs it. It was the perfect metaphor for Welcoming Week. I introduced it by showing the kids an umbrella. I also shared the story of how once, as a visitor in Tokyo, Japan, my two young kids and I were out sight-seeing when we got caught in a sudden rainstorm. A man rushed up to me, and before I could even react, he put his umbrella in my hand and hurried away. I’ve always remembered that as a moment of remarkable kindness and generosity, and yes, welcome!

Ways to Welcome by Linda Ashmann; illustrated by Joey Chou

Sweet, colorful rhyming book about different ways to welcome people and animals, including gifts, food, friendly words, smiles, flowers, and more. We had given out play scarves for a rhyme before we read this one, and the kids enjoyed waving them or pretending they were the lost hat in one part of the book.


Put Your Finger in the Air

This is my regular opening song, but I thought I would include it in this post because we spent even more time than usual counting to three in different languages. I always ask for volunteers to share how they count to three, and it’s often amazing how many responses we get. Today we counted in Spanish, French, Ukrainian, Mandarin, Portuguese, and German.

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.)

Put your fingers all together, all together… (clap your hands in time to the beat)
We will all be friends forever!

These Are My Glasses by Laurie Berkner

The kids always love this song, and it worked really well as a follow-up to the book Dreamers. Here’s Laurie Berkner’s video with the tune 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.

Making a Rain Storm

This is such a simple activity, but always fun, and it was a great follow-up to The Big Umbrella.  I ask the kids to copy what I’m doing in order to make a rainstorm.  First we rub our hands together, then click our tongues (to sound like drops of rain), then clap our hands, then slap our knees, then stomp our feet.  Finally I have them all stand up, and we all jump at the same time to make a thunderclap, and then we do all of the actions in reverse to make the rain “stop.” Claire added thunder effects by shaking a thunder tube

Down Come the Rain Drops

We handed out play scarves before we did this rhyme, which I got from Let’s Play Kids Music.

Down come the rain drops, SPLASH! SPLASH! SPLASH! (stamp feet on the splashes, or throw scarf in the air)

Let’s run for cover, DASH! DASH! DASH! (run in place)

Pitter patter, pitter patter, DRIP! DRIP! DROP! (clap hands or shake scarf in rhythm)

I’m under my umbrella till the raindrops STOP! (put up pretend umbrella, or hold scarf over your head)

No One Like You by Andrea Willis Muhoberac:

We did this song as our instrument play-along, after handing out the shakers. Here’s a recording we made years ago for a Musical Storytime CD we made to give out to families:

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 & Play: Coffee Filter Umbrellas

To go along with the book The Big Umbrella, we made umbrellas out of coffee filters and pipe cleaners. Before the storytime, I cut the coffee filters in half and scalloped the edge to look like the base of an umbrella. I also cut the pipe cleaners in half.

For the Stay & Play, I put out blue cardstock, markers, dot markers, glue sticks, and Scotch tape for the pipe cleaners (for those who were having trouble getting the glue to hold). Kids always love using the dot markers!

For more about Welcoming Week, visit Welcoming America.

Favorite Read-Alouds for Second Grade

Every week during the school year, I read to all of the second grade classes at a local elementary school. It’s usually the highlight of my week. The kids are so happy to have a break from their normal routine, and they are old enough to point out aspects of the story or the illustrations that even I hadn’t noticed.

Stretches for Elementary School

I usually read for half an hour, so I try to build in a couple of easy activities to help the kids refocus between books. Here are two of my favorites, which I learned from a Library Explorers camp we offered two summers ago:

The Bubble

Tell the kids to close their eyes, and take a deep breath in, stretching their arms out to either side and then up over their heads. As they raise their arms, they should imagine a big bubble around their heads that is filled with their favorite color. When their arms are just above their heads, tell them to clap their hands together, and imagine the color spilling down all over them. Repeat two or three times.

The Elevator

Tell the kids to pretend they are an elevator inside a tall building. Squat down low to the ground (say “first floor”), then slowly stand up, announcing each “floor” of the building as you go. When you get to the tenth floor, stretch your arms up high, and stand on your tiptoes. Then call out different floor numbers at random, moving up or down to demonstrate each one. The kids always love rapid changes, like moving from the tenth floor to the first floor. If you have time, it’s really fun to have the kids take turns calling out the floor numbers (in the camp, the kids loved to come up with challenging floor numbers, like “negative fifth floor” or “one millionth floor”).

Favorite Books to Read-Aloud

This week was my first time reading to this particular second grade, so I started with some of my all-time favorite picture books for that age group. I’ll add more of my favorites to this list throughout the year, so watch for updates.

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

Hilarious story about a T-Rex named Penelope who discovers that it’s hard to make new friends at school, because she keeps eating her classmates (luckily, the teacher always makes her spit them out). But when she tries to befriend the class goldfish, she learns firsthand what it’s like when someone tries to eat you.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen

This story about Annabelle and her magical box of yarn always holds the kids spellbound. They also love the illustrations, especially as Annabelle’s sweaters gradually cover everything in the town.

Claude, the White Alligator by Emma Bland Smith; illustrated by Jennifer Potter

This book always generates lots of excitement in our area, because many of the kids have seen Claude in person at the California Academy of Sciences. Even if they haven’t, they are usually excited to learn that the story is true, and to see the photograph of Claude at the end. I often use this book to discuss the difference between fiction and nonfiction, and to introduce the idea of a biography. If you aren’t familiar with Claude, he is an albino alligator, who lived in a zoo in Florida before being moved to the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The book describes how the biologists originally tried putting him with another alligator named Bonnie, but she bit Claude so badly that he lost his pinkie toe. But afterwards, he made friends with the five snapping turtles who share his enclosure.

The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak

If I had to name one surefire hit to read to an elementary school class, it would be this one, which always gets the whole class laughing hysterically, and begging for me to read it again. As the book explains, even though it may seem like no fun having someone read you a book with no pictures, the rules of reading mean that whatever the book says, the person reading the book has to say. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Guess Again by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex

Second graders are the perfect audience for this book, which asks the kids to guess the answer to a rhyming riddle, accompanied by the silhouette of the person or thing in question. At first, the riddles seem so easy that even a preschooler could guess them, but the answers are always surprising, and hilarious!

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

This one is so much fun to read aloud, especially if you like to do different voices for the characters. It’s bedtime for the Little Red Chicken, but every time Papa tries to read her a classic fairytale, like Hansel and Gretel, she interrupts the story to give it a better ending. The kids always laugh when the little chicken says, “I’ll be good!”

What About Worms by Ryan T. Higgins

Most of the second graders are very familiar with the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. So I like to share some of the Elephant and Piggie Like Reading books, which are written by other popular authors. In this one, a tiger explains that he’s not afraid of anything…except WORMS! In fact, his fear of worms leads him to break a flower pot, throw away an apple, and leave a book on the ground that looks like it might be about worms (but is really about tigers!). This one always gets big laughs.

Sun: One in a Billion by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Stevie Lewis

This is the second book in the Our Universe nonfiction series. In it, the Sun provides facts about himself, using kid friendly analogies and descriptions, and large, bright illustrations. This generated a lot of discussion about why Pluto isn’t a planet any more, and other bits of space trivia that the kids were eager to share.

Stay tuned for more favorite read-alouds for second grade. In the meantime, please share any of your favorites in the comments below.

Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Scott Magoon

When Bob the jellyfish and his crew of squid film a television special about sharks, they are shocked when Shark appears to be about to eat a fish “in front of the people!” But, Shark says, they misunderstood, he was only showing the fish his new tooth. Several other “misunderstandings” occur, including a group of beachgoers running from the beach thinking Shark is planning to eat them. But, Bob says, “you are far more likely to be bitten by another person than bitten by a shark.” I love the way this book folds facts about sharks seamlessly into the story, and the kids always laugh at Shark’s explanations.

Earth: My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by David Litchfield

Like Sun! One in a Billion, this conversational picture book with simple facts about the Earth generated lots of questions and comments, especially about dinosaurs and how the continents split apart. I love the timeline of Earth’s history, and the subtle environmental message at the end, followed by a hopeful message. This series does such a great job of conveying basic information in a fun, readable, kid-friendly way.

King and Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats by Dori Hillestad Butler; illustrated by Nancy Meyers

I love to introduce second graders to beginning chapter books and series they may not be familiar with, and I always have fun reading this one aloud. In this mystery, King, the dog, is upset when Kayla assumes that he ate three of the freshly baked peanut butter dog treats that she made for her friend Jillian’s new puppy, Thor. Luckily, Kayla figures out that it couldn’t have been King because his breath doesn’t smell like peanut butter. But who did take the treats? And why does King smell an intruder in the house? The kids love the way King declares everything he eats to be “my favorite food!”

Child’s Play: A Storytime about Toys

Today at the park, we did a storytime about stuffed animals and other toys, which ended up being a lot of fun.

Here’s what we did:


Three Grumpy Trucks by Todd Tarpley; illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees

I love a picture book with lots of sound effects for the kids to join in on. This one offers lots of opportunities to “Whirrr!” and “Chomp!” A rhyming story about three toy trucks who are too busy to go home, and keep asking to stay a few minutes more. Both the kids and the grown-ups could relate to the story, and the colorful illustrations are adorable.

Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough

This is an old favorite of mine, about a boy searching for his lost teddy bear in the woods, who stumbles upon a giant teddy bear…and its even bigger owner!

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

The classic story about a toddler’s efforts to tell her father about her missing stuffed animal. This book is so much fun to read, and always a hit with both kids and their parents.


Construction Song

I found this song on Step By Step Childcare, and it made a great follow-up to Three Grumpy Trucks. It’s to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell:

The backhoe scoops the dirt,

The backhoe scoops the dirt,

Hey-ho, look at them go!

The backhoe scoops the dirt.

The crane goes up and down…

The cement mixer stirs…

The dump truck bumps away…

The Jack-in-the-Box

Since we were doing a toy theme, I brought a Jack-in-the-Box to show the kids. It was hilarious to see the kids’ expressions whenever the toy popped out. I followed it up with this song:

The Jack-in-the-Box jumps up (squat down and then jump up)

The Jack-in-the-Box goes flop (lean over)

The Jack-in-the-Box goes round and round (spin around in circle, or move your arms in a circle)

The lid comes down with a PLOP. (crouch down and clap hands)

Here’s a video of a slightly different version of the song from Maple Leaf Learning:

The Bears Go Marching In

Fun variation of The Saints Go Marching In:

[C] Oh, when the bears go marching in,

Oh, when the bears go marching [G7] in,

Oh, [C7] how I want to be in that [F] number,

When the [C] bears go [G7] marching [C] in!

Repeat with other actions, like:

Oh, when the bears go clapping in…

Oh, when the bears go stomping in… etc.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

There are LOTS of different versions of this song, but the tune I use is closest to the one in this video from Kiboomers:

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

Turn around.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

Touch the ground.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

Tie your shoe.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

I love you!

Teddy Bear’s Picnic

This is great song by John Walter Bratton, with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy.  The best ukulele version I’ve found is on Doctor Uke (  My favorite cover of it by far is this slightly creepy one by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, which you can listen to here: 

Stay & Play: Teddy Bear Collage

For this simple craft, I printed out a blank teddy bear template on card stock, and cut up pieces of colored tissue paper. For the Stay & Play, I put out plates of tissue paper pieces, along with markers, Googly Eyes, pom-poms, and glue sticks. It was fun to see the variety of bears they created.

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

All Around the Town: A Storytime About Circles

Today I had a blast doing a storytime about Circles. There are so many books that feature circular objects, making it a really versatile, easy theme.

We started by asking the kids what things they could think of that were shaped like a circle. They had LOTS of ideas, including planets, the moon, pizza, pie, lids, cookies, doughnuts, and balls. Then we went into our books and songs. Here’s what we did:


A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems

This is one of my favorite Elephant and Piggie books, and it worked really well with Claire and I reading different parts. When a “Big Guy,” takes the big ball Piggie found, Gerald vows to get it back…until he sees that the Big Guy is an enormous whale. Luckily, the whale turns out to be friendly, and they all invent a brand new game to play together.

Bubblegum, Bubblegum by Lisa Wheeler; illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

Admittedly this one was a little bit of a stretch (no pun intended), since the actually round thing (a bubble) doesn’t appear until close to the end of the book. But it gave me an excuse to do one of my favorite scarf songs (Icky Sticky Sticky Sticky Bubblegum). It’s also a fun book to read aloud, about several animals who get stuck in a big glob of gum in the middle of a road.

Box Meets Circle by Aaron Hartline

Very cute, simple book about a box and a circle who have trouble finding activities that they can both enjoy. Circle loves to jump, but Box just falls over. Box likes to sit, but Circle can’t stop rolling. Finally, they find a way to pair their favorite activities, with Box sitting on Circle as he jumps. We only had one copy of the book today (usually Claire shows the pictures from a second copy, since our storytime group is large and spread out in the park), but Claire acted out the story with a real box and a paper circle as I read. The kids loved jumping along with Circle.


Do You Know What Shape I Have?

To the tune of Do You Know the Muffin Man? I cut different shapes (circle, square, triangle, and rectangle) out of paper, and put them in an envelope. Each time we sang the song, my coworker, Claire, pulled one out of the envelope, and we asked the kids what it was:

[C] Do you know what shape I have?

What [F] shape I have? What [G7] shape I have?

[C] Do you know what shape I have?

Right [F] here [G7] in my [C] hand!

The Wheels on the Bus

The kids are always excited to sing this song, so I throw it in whenever I can. We did all of the usual verses (wipers, driver, horn, door, babies, etc.). Then I ended with a Tyrannosaurus Rex going “Roar, Roar, Roar!” and then we sang the first verse again, making 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.

Icky Sticky, Sticky, Sticky Bubblegum

I used to do this one every week before COVID, and I was very happy to introduce it to a whole new group of kids today. We handed out play scarves before we sang it, and stretched the scarves out like bubblegum for the “icky sticky” lines, then “stuck” them to different body parts suggested by the kids: head, chin, arm, belly, etc.

Icky Sticky Sticky Bubblegum (stretching scarf between hands)
Bubblegum, Bubblegum.
Icky Sticky Sticky Bubblegum,
Sticking my hand to my nose. (put one end of the scarf on your nose)
1-2-3 UNSTUCK! (throw scarf in the air).

Repeat, sticking the scarf to different body parts: belly button, eyebrow, etc.

Can You Draw a Circle?

To the tune of I’m a Little Teapot. The kids still had the play scarves from the previous song, so I had them hold the scarves as they drew the shapes in the air, and then bundle them up at the end to throw like a ball.

Can you draw a circle in the air?

Now draw a triangle,

Now draw a square.

Draw another circle, nice and small,

And throw it in the air

Like a round snowball.

Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows by Marvin Hamlisch

This is such a happy old song, and I figured that sunshine and lollipops both fit the circle theme. We handed out maracas and other simple shakers, and all the kids were dancing and playing along.

Here’s a YouTube link with the Lesley Gore version:

[C] Sunshine, [F] lollipops and [C] rainbows,
[F] Everything that’s [C] wonderful is what I feel when [F] we’re to-[C] gether,
[C] Brighter [F] than a lucky [C] penny,
[F] When you’re near the [C] rain cloud disappears, dear,
And I feel so [A] fine [F] just to [G7] know that you are [C] mine.
My life is [F] sunshine, lollipops and rainbows,
That’s how this refrain goes, so come on, join [G7 in everybody!
[C] Sunshine, [F] lollipops and [C] rainbows,
[F] Everything that’s [C] wonderful is sure to come your [A] way
When [F] you’re in [G7] love to [C] stay.
Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows,

[C] Sunshine, [F] lollipops and [C] rainbows,
[F] Everything that’s [C] wonderful is what I feel when [F] we’re to-[C] gether,
[C] Brighter [F] than a lucky [C] penny,
[F] When you’re near the [C] rain cloud disappears, dear,
And I feel so [A] fine [F] just to [G7] know that you are [C] mine.
My life is [F] sunshine, lollipops and rainbows,
That’s how this refrain goes, so come on, join [G7 in everybody!
[C] Sunshine, [F] lollipops and [C] rainbows,
[F] Everything that’s [C] wonderful is sure to come your [A] way
When [F] you’re in love, and love is here to [C] stay!

Stay & Play: Bubble Painting

I have been wanting to do Bubble Painting for a long time, but with COVID cases still fairly high in our area, I’ve been nervous about anything involving kids blowing air around each other in a crowded area. Happily, we had a lot of cardboard tubes left over from a Cotton Ball Launcher program we did last week, so instead of blowing the bubbles onto the paper, I just had the kids dip the tubes into bowls of bubble stuff colored with different shades of liquid watercolor, and stamp them onto sheets of white paper. The tubes actually also work for blowing bubbles too though, so they could also blow bubbles directly onto the paper.

For bubble stuff, I usually mix four tablespoons dishwashing soap with a cup of water, then add a little sugar or corn syrup to make the bubbles more durable. The kids had a great time, although some of the paintings were pretty wet. But since it was all soapy water, the clean up was pretty easy.

Do you have any favorite books or songs about circles? Please share them in the comments below.

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:


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:

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:


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.


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.

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:


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.


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!


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.

[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.


Stay & Play: Pirate Hats

The kids had the best time decorating these simple paper pirate hats. I printed the template from, 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!

State of the Art: A Storytime about Painting

It was a beautiful day in the park today, and we had a great time sharing stories and songs about painting. Here’s what we did:


Monet’s Cat by Lily Murray and Becky Cameron

This book was a lot longer than the ones I usually share, since my group tends to skew more towards toddlers, but it was such a cute story I couldn’t resist. When the famous artist, Claude Monet, brings his porcelain cat, Chika, to life by tapping her with his paintbrush, she causes lots of trouble by wandering through his paintings. I kept the kids engaged by having them act out things that the cat was doing (yawning, stretching, nibbling bread, and waggling her tail). The author includes pictures of several of Monet’s paintings at the end, along with a photo of his actual porcelain cat.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont; illustrated by David Catrow

This is one of my all-time favorite storytime books, and it worked perfectly with the theme. Sung to the tune of It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More (here’s a link to a Cocomelon video for the tune), this colorful book tells the story of a boy who gets in trouble for painting all over the house. But even though his mother has ordered him to stop, he can’t resist painting himself all over. Before we read the book, I handed out play scarves for the song Paint with Me. While I read, I had the kids pretend to paint their own heads, arms, legs, etc. with their scarves.

Bear’s Picture by Daniel Pinkwater; illustrated by D. B. Johnson

Cute story about a bear who paints a picture, only to face criticism by two very proper gentlemen. But Bear doesn’t care–he just keeps painting until his picture is complete, and then looking at it because it makes him happy. This was a great lead-in to our pom-pom painting activity.

Songs & Rhymes:

I Have a Cat

We did this rhyme after reading Monet’s Cat, and the kids loved it:

I have a cat (pet imaginary cat).

My cat lies flat (put one arm on top of the other).

I have a cat (pet imaginary cat),

He wears a hat (pat your head).

I have a cat (pet imaginary cat),

He caught a rat (clap your hands together).

I have a cat (pet imaginary cat),

Purr, purr, MEOW!

Paint with Me

Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. We handed out play scarves ahead of time, and asked the kids to wave the scarves like paint brushes while we sang the song together.

Grab your brush and paint with me.

Paint a flower, paint a tree.

Paint it fast, and paint it slow.

Paint up high, then paint down low.

Paint in zig-zags, circles too.

How I love to paint with you!

Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes

We sang this as a follow-up to Ain’t Gonna Paint No More. I like to sing it three times through, getting faster and faster each time. This is an old stand-by, but here’s a video from ABC Mouse, in case you need the tune.

Head and shoulders, knees and toes,

Knees and toes.

Head and shoulders, knees and toes,

Knees and toes.

And eyes, and ears, and mouth, and nose.

Head and shoulders, knees and toes,

Knees and toes.

Rainbow Round Me by Ruth Pelham

We did this song as our instrument play-along, after we handed out egg shakers and maracas. I asked the kids to suggest things they might see outside the window for each verse. We had a blue ocean, a purple tree, a yellow bird, and a green dinosaur.

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. 

And the [C] ocean outside my [G7] window,
Is as blue as blue can [C] be.
Fiddle-dee-dee, [F] outside my [C] window 
It’s as [G7] blue as blue can [C] be.

[F] Rainbow, [C] rainbow, [G7] rainbow ’round [C] me. 
[F] Rainbow, [C] rainbow, [G7] rainbow ’round [C] me. 

And the [C] tree outside my [G7] window,
Is as purple as purple can [C] be.
Fiddle-dee-dee, [F] outside my [C] window 
It’s as [G7] purple as purple can [C] be,

And the ocean is as [G7] blue as blue can [C] be.

[F] Rainbow, [C] rainbow, [G7] rainbow ’round [C] me. 
[F] Rainbow, [C] rainbow, [G7] rainbow ’round [C] me. 

Stay & Play: Pom-Pom Painting

Pom-Pom Painting (the rock is to hold the paper down, because it was windy)

This process art activity was so easy, and the kids had a great time. I put out bowls of tempera paint (with three different colors in each bowl), along with some pom-poms of different sizes, and paper.

It was fun to watch the different ways the kids approached the project. Some were very deliberate about how they placed each pom-pom print, while others used the pom-poms more like a paint brush.

What are your favorite picture books about painting and art? Please share them in the comments below.

Swimming with Sharks: A Storytime for Shark Awareness Day

July 14 was Shark Awareness Day so we had a great time celebrating our toothy ocean friends today. I had actually planned to do it last week, but I ended up catching COVID from my daughter and having to take an unexpected two weeks off of work. Thankfully, my coworkers stepped in to cover for me while I was out.

Here’s what we did:


I’m a Shark by Bob Shea

This is one of my favorite books to read aloud. A brave shark brags about how he’s not not afraid of anything: dinosaurs, bears, giant squid, even the dark. But he seems a little bit nervous about spiders. A parent who also teaches preschool said this was one of her favorite books too.

Smiley Shark by Ruth Galloway

Very cute story about a friendly shark who just wants to play, but all of the fish swim away from him in fear. When they all get caught in a fisherman’s net, Smiley Shark saves the day by scaring the fisherman with his big smile.

The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark by Ken Geist and Julia Gorton

Cute adaptation of The Three Little Pigs, about three fish who set out to build their own homes in the ocean. Both the seaweed and sand houses get destroyed by a big shark, but when he tries to chomp down the third fish’s home in a wooden ship, he knocks out all of his teeth.


Slippery Fish

We did this one with puppets (a fish, an octopus, a shark, and a whale). Here’s a video by Silvia Sanchez with the tune.

Slippery Fish, Slippery Fish,
Swimming in the water.
Slippery Fish, Slippery Fish,
Gulp! Gulp! Gulp!

She was eaten by an octopus, octopus,
Swimming in the water.
Octopus, Octopus,
Gulp! Gulp! Gulp!

He was eaten by a great white shark,
Great white shark,
Swimming in the water,
Great white shark, Great white shark.
Gulp! Gulp! Gulp!

She was eaten by a humongous whale,
Humongous whale,
Swimming in the water,
Humongous whale,
Humongous whale,
Gulp! Gulp! Gulp!
BURP!! Pardon me!


This is an old standby of mine, except I changed the words from a fish to a shark, which made it a lot more exciting.


I caught a shark alive!

I let him go,

And he bit my toe…Ouch!


The Sharks in the Ocean

I found this ocean-themed version of The Wheels on the Bus on I asked the kids for suggestions of other animals.

[C]The sharks in the ocean go chomp, chomp, chomp,

[G7]Chomp, chomp, chomp, [C] chomp, chomp, chomp.

The sharks in the ocean go chomp, chomp, chomp,

[G7]All day [C] long.

The crabs in the ocean go click, click, click…

The turtles in the ocean go snap, snap, snap…

The fish in the ocean go gulp, gulp, gulp…

The whales in the ocean go spout, spout, spout…\

Baby Shark

Of course, we had to end with the PinkFong version of Baby Shark!

C] Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

[F] Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

[Am] Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

[G] Baby shark!

Mommy shark…

Daddy shark…

Grandma Shark…

Grandpa Shark…

Let’s go hunt!…

Run Away…

Safe at last…

That’s the end…

Stay & Play: Shark Scene

I found this fun craft on I had printed and cut out shark pictures ahead of time, along with strips of colored tissue paper to make seaweed. For the stay & play, I put out pieces of blue paper, glue sticks, the shark pictures, the tissue paper, and some play sand (the sand was everyone’s favorite part, but they liked the sharks too).

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

Happy Birthday, America! A Storytime for the Fourth of July

Today was a beautiful day in the park, and we had a lot of fun celebrating the Fourth of July a little early.

To be honest, I have a hard time finding Fourth of July books that work well for storytime, so instead I focused primarily on the theme of birthdays. After we sang our opening song (Put Your Finger in the Air), I asked if anyone had a birthday coming up. Two girls raised their hands (their moms said they were both in September, but we sang Happy Birthday to them anyway). And then I said that there was a big birthday coming up…America’s! And we sang Happy Birthday to America before reading our first book.

Here’s what we did:


This Bear’s Birthday by Alyssa Satin Capucilli; illustrated by Lorna Hussey

Sweet story about a little bear who wants to do things for himself on his birthday. He has trouble putting on his jacket, and picking apples high in the tree, but still finds ways to get things done with a little help from his family. Although it was a little on the long side for my audience (which is largely two and three year-olds), there were lots of opportunities for the kids to participate by stretching up high, or pretending to blow out candles, so it still held their interest.

A Birthday for Cow by Jan Thomas

Jan Thomas’ books are always fun for storytime, and this one was no exception. When Mouse and Pig decide to make a birthday cake for cow, they dismiss Duck’s suggestions of adding a turnip. But when it’s finally time to celebrate, it’s the turnip that excites Cow the most. The kids enjoyed pretending to stir the cake batter, and singing Happy Birthday to Cow.

Red, White, and Boom! by Lee Wardlaw; illustrated by Huy Voun Lee

Simple, colorful rhyming book about a Fourth of July celebration, with a parade, a picnic on the beach, and fireworks at the end. Before we started reading, we handed out small squares of bubble wrap (the kind with large bubbles), and told the kids we would pop them when we got to the page with the fireworks. They had a great time.

Songs & Rhymes:

Ten Candles on a Birthday Cake

Ten candles on a birthday cake (hold up ten fingers)
All lit up for me (point to yourself)
I make a wish and blow them out.
Watch and you will see! (blow on fingers and quickly close hands into fists)

After we did the rhyme with ten candles, I asked if there were any one year-olds in the group, and we did it again with one candle, then two, then three, then four.

This is the Way I Blow My Balloon

This is the way I blow my balloon: (mime holding a balloon in both hands)

Blow! (blow air out while spreading your hands apart)

Blow! (blow air out while spreading hands even wider)

Blow! (blow air out while spreading your hands as wide apart as you can)

This is the way I POP my balloon. Oh! Oh! No! (clap hands together)

Old MacDonald

We sang this one as a follow-up to A Birthday for Cow. I asked the kids to suggest animals and their sounds:

C] Old MacDonald [F] had a [C] farm,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

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

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

With an oink-oink here, and an oink-oink there,

Here an oink, there an oink,

Everywhere an oink-oink.

[C] Old MacDonald [F] had a [C] farm,

E-I- [G7] E-I- [C] O!

Wave, Wave, Wave Your Flag

For this one, I held up an American flag, and asked the kids what colors they saw. Then we handed out play scarves and told the kids we were going to pretend the scarves were flags for the next song.

These were actually two separate songs that I found on, but they were both to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat, so I combined them. In between the second and third verses, I told the kids we were going to do some magic and turn our flags into fireworks, which we threw up into the air and caught over and over again in the third and fourth verses.

Wave, wave, wave the flag,
Hold it very high.
Watch the colors gently wave,
Way up in the sky.

March, march, march around,
Hold the flag up high.
Wave, wave, wave the flag,
Way up in the sky.

Boom, crack, whistle, pop!
Fireworks in the sky.
See them lighting up the night,
On the Fourth of July.

Red, blue, gold, and green,
With fireworks we say,
“Happy Birthday, America,
It’s Independence Day!”

You’re a Grand Old Flag by George M. Cohan

We sang this for our instrument play-along (after we handed out egg shakers).

[C] You’re a grand old flag, you’re a high-flying flag,
[G7] And forever in peace may you wave.
[C] You’re the emblem of the land I love,
The home of the [D7] free and the [C] brave.

[C] Every heart beats true ’neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s [A7] never a boast or [Dm] brag.
But should [C] auld acquaintance [G7] be forgot,
Keep your [F] eye on the [G7] grand old [C] flag!

Stay & Play: Cardboard Tube Fireworks

I found this idea on and it was a big hit. We had cut small slits in the bottom half of some toilet paper and paper towel rolls ahead of time, and flattened them out to make a flower shape.

For the Stay & Play, I put out the cut cardboard tubes, along with sheets of black paper, plates of red, white, and blue tempera paint, and glitter. The kids had fun dipping their cardboard tubes in the paint and stamping them on the paper, then sprinkling on the glitter. They turned out really well!

Happy Fourth of July!