Be Kind: A Storytime for World Kindness Day

Because of the rainy weather recently, today was our first Outdoor Musical Storytime in three weeks. Our theme was Kindness, in honor of World Kindness Day on Sunday, November 13. Our library system is also offering programs in support of United Against Hate Week, and the two topics seemed to fit together nicely, although for my young crowd, I focused more on the kindness side.

Here’s what we did:


Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems

One of my very favorite Elephant & Piggie Books, which is saying a lot! In this one, Gerald buys an ice cream cone, and then is hit with a difficult dilemma: should he share it with his best friend, Piggie? After an agonizing debate, he decides that he will share it, only by then, his ice cream has melted. Luckily, Piggie has brought a cone of her own to share with him. Claire read the part of Gerald, and I read Piggie, and we had an ice cream cone made of paper to use as a prop, which the kids were fascinated by (several little ones came up to the front to have a closer look).

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

I love this book so much, and it fit perfectly with the theme. In this adaptation of the classic song by Bob Merrill, a little boy is determined to save his money to buy the adorable puppy in the pet shop window, but ends up spending it all to help cheer up different members of this family. When he goes back to say hi to the puppy, the shop keeper tells him the puppy has been bought by a family to thank their very special young son for all the kind things he had done. When the boy gets home, he finds the puppy waiting for him (which gets me every time!). One of the parents came up to take a photo of the book cover at the end, so she could find her own copy.

Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein

This one was a bit longer than the books I usually read, but it fit so well with the theme. A little girl’s smile inspires a woman to send cookies to her grandson in Mexico, who is inspired to share the cookies with his class, which starts a whole chain of other kind acts that spread all around the world.


If All the Raindrops

We sang this one after Should I Share My Ice Cream? This is one of my favorite storytime songs, because the kids love joining in on the “Ah-Ah-Ah-Ahs” and suggesting different foods to fall from the sky for each verse. Today we had pizza and gum, chocolate and goldfish crackers, and blueberries and watermelon.

[C] If all the raindrops were [G7] lemon drops and [C] gum drops,

Oh, what a rain it would [G7] be.

[C] I’d stand out- [G7] side with my [C] mouth open [G7] wide,

[C] “Ah, Ah, Ah, [G7] Ah, Ah, Ah, [C] Ah, Ah, Ah, [G7] Ah!”

[C] If all the raindrops were [G7] lemon drops and [C] gum drops,

Oh, what a [G7] rain it would [C] be!

If all the raindrops were blueberries and watermelon, etc…


We sang this one to go along with How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? Claire held up a dog puppet, and I had the kids bark instead of clap every time we left out a letter. At the end, we barked the whole song. This is an old standby, but here’s a video from Super Simple Songs, just in case you’re not familiar with it.

[C] There was a farmer [F] had a [C] dog,

And Bingo [G] was his [C] name-o.

[C] B-I- [F] N-G-O

[G] B-I- [C] N-G-O

[Am] B-I- [F] N-G-O

And [G] Bingo was his [C] name-o.

We Bounce and We Bounce and We Stop!

This one didn’t have anything to do with the theme, but it’s such a great movement song, and the kids always love it. I added different actions for each verse: clapping, turning, running in place, and hugging.

[C] We bounce and we bounce and we stop!

[C] We bounce and we bounce and we stop!

[C] We bounce and we bounce and we bounce and we bounce,                    

[C] And we bounce and we [G7] bounce and we [C] stop!

We clap and we clap and we stop! … etc.

This Little Light of Mine

We did this one as an instrument play-along, and everyone was dancing along. It’s such a happy song! I changed the lyrics a bit, in order to fit the theme. Here’s a Raffi video for the tune:

[G] This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

[C] This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it [G] shine.

[G] This little light of mine, I’m [B] gonna let it [Em] shine,

Let it [G] shine, let it [D] shine, let it [G] shine.

Gonna spread some kindness ’round the world. I’m gonna let it shine…

Won’t let anyone (pff!) it out, I’m gonna let it shine…

Stay & Play: Kindness Rocks

Super easy craft! I just put out small rocks and crayons and told the kids to decorate them however they liked. They could either keep the rocks, give them to a friend or loved one, or put them in a place outside where people might see them and smile. I had a wide range of rocks, some that a coworker had purchased for a previous craft, and some I just found on the beach. The one in the photo was a bit dark. If I do it again, I think I will stick to lighter colored rocks.

Other Books About Kindness

I was recently asked to do an outreach storytime at a Kindergarten about kindness, so here are two other books I read:

A Small Kindness by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Wendy Leach

Very sweet classroom story, similar to Because Amelia Smile, about a chain of kind acts that spreads from one person to another in a school. The kids loved how each kind act added color to a new person in the illustrations.

Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora

This was the Read for the Record book a few years ago, and I really enjoy reading it to elementary school classes. When an old lady named Omu (an Igbo word meaning “Queen”) makes a pot of stew for her dinner, the smell draws people from all over her community to her door. She gives a bowl of stew to each person, until it is all gone. But just as she is feeling sad about not having any stew for herself, everyone she shared with shows up at her door with a feast. The kids always love joining in on the “Knock, Knocks!”

What are your favorite books, songs, or crafts celebrating kindness? Please share them in the comments below.

Try It In the Library: Fun Activities for Kids After School

Well, my Outdoor Musical Storytime got rained out this week, so instead of a storytime post, I thought I’d write about a new program we are piloting in the San Mateo County Libraries called Power Up Afternoons.

One challenge our libraries encountered after the pandemic was getting school-aged kids back in the habit of visiting the library after school. Before the pandemic, our library offered an After School Hangout once a week on Wednesdays. Kids could drop in to enjoy a light snack, do their homework, try out a craft, play a board game, or play games on the Nintendo Switch (which we projected onto a screen). Although the Hangout required a tremendous amount of set-up and clean-up, it was so much fun to see middle school kids coaching elementary school students on how to play Super Smash Brothers, or families with kids of different ages all working on beaded bracelets to give to each other. Unfortunately, it was one of the first programs to get cancelled at the start of the pandemic, and many of those kids are now in high school, or have moved on to different routines after school.

Since fully reopening after COVID, we’ve tried a number of different programming approaches for kids and teens. For a while all of our libraries offered a monthly STEAM Team program, featuring a science or art-based activity, including bouncy balls and race cars. These were very popular, but usually only allowed for maximum of 20 kids. We also offered Take and Make bags each month, which included all of the supplies and instructions for kids to try making things like sunprints or paper flowers.

One of my favorite things we tried was the Passive Activity table, which offered a different craft or process art activity every few weeks for kids to do on their own in the library. The activities ranged from LED Lightsabers to Felt Trays. One of the simplest ones involved these adorable paper Bobbleheads from Over the summer, I was showing my visiting niece and nephew (aged 4 and 8) around the library, and they were immediately drawn to the Bobblehead project, to the point that they and my own teenaged-kids sat happily cutting and gluing together for 45 minutes straight. The Passive Activity table also came in handy for parents who needed a way to keep their kids occupied while they used our public computers. We have recently discontinued the Passive Activity table, but all of our branches will soon offer an Art Table, which will include art supplies for all ages to enjoy.

A few weeks ago, we significantly beefed up our children’s programming, by offering something every day after school, Monday through Friday. Our admin has branded this initiative “Power Up Afternoons.” Some of the programs are traditional paid providers, like local magicians or nature groups. But most of them are simple staff-led activities, similar to the ones we offered in STEAM Team or on the Passive Activity table.

The activities were selected by a small group of staff members from different branches, who put together a menu of options with the instructions and supply list for each. In our library, we divvied up the weekly schedule, so one staff member always does the Monday program, and one does the Tuesday one, etc. Fridays are always “Board at the Library,” which is where we put out a selection of board games (I didn’t think that would be a big draw until I mentioned it to a class full of second graders, who all got really excited).

We’re only on our third week of Power Up Afternoons, but aside from the extra planning and prep involved, I’m enjoying the actual programs. The staff-led activities are designed so that kids can drop in anytime within a two hour period, say from 2:30pm to 4:30pm, and I like having the opportunity to work with different kids or families individually as they arrive. A few grown-ups have even stopped to do the project too.

These are some of the highlights of the projects we’ve done so far:

Foil Art:

This was the first activity I led, and also the most complicated one so far. I made a sheet of instructions to put on the tables, which you can download here:

There’s also a YouTube video by Kim Kaskey. Basically, you glue yarn into letters or shapes onto a piece of cardboard, then cover the yarn and cardboard with a sheet of aluminum foil, and gently press the foil around the yarn. After that, you can color the foil with Sharpies, brush pens, or other markers. The kids came up with really clever designs. A number of the older kids wrote their names or initials with the yarn.


This one was much more straight-forward, but also a lot of fun. We put out sporks, markers, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, yarn, gluesticks, foam pieces, and scissors, and the kids went wild making adorable sporky characters. I loved the lady spork pictured below with the golden crown, who came with her own book and pipe cleaner pumpkins. The sporks we provided came packaged with small plastic straws, which one kid turned into arms (see below).

Alma Thomas-Inspired Art

Alma Thomas was the first African American woman to have a work of art featured in the White House Collection. Her paintings often featured small bands of color arranged in intricate patterns and shapes. For our project, we had the kids create mosaics with torn pieces of colored paper and glue. We also put out two picture books about Alma Thomas: Ablaze with Color by Jeanne Walker Harvey and Loveis Wise and Alma’s Art by Roda Ahmed and Anita Cheung, along with some examples of her artwork.

We gave the kids strips of colored paper, and told them they could either cut or tear it into small pieces. Many of the parents (and grandparents!) enjoyed making their own artwork along with their kids.

Geometric Art:

Another really simple craft involving paint and removable tape. My coworker Cloud led this one. She gave each kid a canvas and some masking tape, along with tempera paint and paintbrushes. The basic idea is to lay the tape across the page, and then paint different patches of colors in between the strips of tape. When you peel the tape away, it leaves colored shapes with sharp lines. You can also do this project with cardstock and Scotch tape, as long as the tape is easily removed.

These are just a few of the activities we have done so far. It can be a little overwhelming keeping track of the supplies needed from day to day, but it helps that we have so many staff involved, so we each only have to worry about one program a week. And we’re definitely seeing an increase in the number of kids coming to the library after school. Today, for example, we’ve had a flurry of kids I haven’t seen since we fully reopened, many of whom have been coming to the desk to ask for replacement library cards.

What are your favorite crafts or activities you have done with kids? If you work in libraries, what programs for kids have been the most successful? Please share your ideas and suggestions in the comments below.

Witching Hour: A Storytime for Halloween

For Outdoor Musical Storytime today I read three of my favorite non-scary Halloween books, and had a great time.

Here’s what we did:


Moonlight: The Halloween Cat by Cynthia Rylant and Melissa Sweet

Very sweet book describing the sights of Halloween through the eyes of a cat who loves them all. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and the book does a nice job of presenting Halloween as a fun and festive night instead of focusing on the elements that might scare younger kids (my storytime audience includes a lot of babies and toddlers, so this was perfect).

Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

My coworker Angela and I read this one together (I read the part of Sam, which includes one of my favorite monologues of all time). Leonardo is a terrible monster, who can’t scare anyone. Frustrated, he searches for the most scaredy-cat kid in the entire world to scare, and roars and makes scary faces until the little boy (Sam) cries. But when he hears Sam’s story, he decides to become a wonderful friend instead.

Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara

This is my all-time favorite Halloween books for younger kids. A girl moves into a big old house that has one problem: it is haunted! Luckily the girl is a witch, who knows how to catch ghosts. One by one, she catches them, puts them in the washing machine, dries them on the line, and turns them into very friendly-looking curtains, tablecloths, and blankets. We had handed out movement scarves before we read this one, and I had the kids pretend the scarves were ghosts.

Rhymes & Songs:

On Halloween

I asked the kids for suggestions of Halloween things they might see in the house for each verse. We had pumpkins, monsters, cats, bats, tigers, and witches. I always end with “The kids at the door say, ‘Trick or Treat!'”

To the Tune of The Wheels on the Bus

[C]The ghosts in the house say, “Boo! Boo! Boo!”

[G7]“Boo! Boo! Boo! C] Boo! Boo! Boo!”

The ghosts in the house say “Boo! Boo! Boo!”

[G7]On Hallo- [C]ween!

Five Little Pumpkins

This was a repeat from last week, which was nice because the kids recognized it and found it easier to say the rhyme with me.

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, “Oh my! It’s getting late!
The second one said, “There are witches in the air!”
The third one said, “But WE don’t care!”
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run!” (run in place)
The five one said, “This is Halloween fun!”
Then, “OOOH” went the wind, and OUT (clap!) went the light!
And the five little pumpkins rolled (roll your hands) out of sight.

We Are Scary Ghosts

We handed out movement scarves before we sang this song, so the kids could put them on their heads and pretend to be ghosts. I took suggestions from kids each time we sang it, so we were creepy cats, scary wolves, flying bats, and scary witches.

We are scary ghosts floating down the street,

Walking down the street,

Walking down the street.

We are scary ghosts walking down the street,

We’ll scare you…BOO! 

Candy Corn for Dinner

We sang this as our instrument play-along (after handing out the shakers). This was one of the first songs I ever wrote.

This song was also on an album we made a long time ago to distribute to storytime families at the Millbrae Library. Here’s a link to that version on Soundcloud:

C                                                                     G7                  
Mom and dad put me in charge of our dinner tonight.
C                                                                                G7
They said I could make anything as long as we ate right.
C                                                        G7                   C
I had to serve some vegetables, a salad, and a stew.
C                                                                        G7               C
I thought a while and cooked a bit, and here is my menu.

F                                                     C
We’re having candy corn for dinner
G7                             C
With a side of chocolate stew.
F                               C
A three jelly bean salad,
G7                                                C
And an ice cream sandwich too.

I don’t know why Mom and Dad say cooking is a chore,
‘Cause I had such a great time going to the grocery store.
My mom said we were out of milk, so I bought a big milkshake,
And since my dad likes cheese so much, I got him a cheesecake.

We’re having candy corn for dinner
With a side of chocolate stew.
A three jelly bean salad,
And an ice cream sandwich too.

Life is better when it’s sweet,

Like a big hot plate of Rice Krispie treat.

So if you have to cook tonight, I hope you’ll learn from me.
And make your family carrot cake, or cherries jubilee.
Even if they don’t approve, you can count it as a win.
You’ll have a yummy dinner, and you won’t be asked to cook again!

We’re having candy corn for dinner
With a side of chocolate stew.
A three jelly bean salad,
And an ice cream sandwich too.

Stay & Play: Paper Bag Monsters

This was an easy, versatile craft. The paper bags can be puppets, but also double as trick-or-treat bags. Basically, I just put out paper bags, googly eyes, glue sticks, markers, and an assortment of colored paper shapes. The kids always seem to enjoy projects that involve a mix of drawing and gluing, and it’s fun to see all of the different things they create.

What are your favorite Halloween books or songs? Please share them in the comments below.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin to Talk About: A Storytime About Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a really big deal out here on the coast, especially just South of us in Half Moon Bay, where they just held their annual Pumpkin Festival. So today we did a pumpkin-themed storytime, which was a lot of fun.

I started out by holding up a small pumpkin, and asking if anyone had gone to a pumpkin patch or carved a pumpkin. I also taught the ASL sign for Pumpkin, before we read our first book.

Here’s the rest of what we did:


We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt by Mary Hogan Wilcox; illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

In this cute take on the traditional Going on a Bear Hunt rhyme, several animals go on a nighttime adventure to find a pumpkin. The kids enjoyed chiming in on the “Not me’s!” whenever the book asked’ “I’m not scared. Are you?” and acting out the different actions described in the story. One girl was so taken with the illustrations that she came up to point at different things happening in each picture,”Pig in a boat!”

Pumpkin Cat by Anne Mortimer

Simple, beautifully illustrated story about the different steps involved in growing a pumpkin. I had the kids mime the actions (digging a hole, planting the seeds, etc).

Ten Orange Pumpkins by Stephen Savage

This counting rhyme about disappearing pumpkins features lots of favorite Halloween characters: ghosts, mummies, witches, etc. The older kids loved calling out the number of pumpkins remaining on each page before we counted them together.

Songs & Rhymes:

Pumpkin Patch

I learned this rhyme from an Orff Music teacher years ago, so I don’t know who wrote it, but it’s a fun one to do with a group.

Pumpkin Patch, Pumpkin Patch, (crouch down low)
Walking all around in my pumpkin patch.
Here is a pumpkin, nice and fat (spread arms wide),
Turns into a jack-o-lantern, just like that! (make a scary face!)

There Was a Pumpkin on a Vine

This one is to the tune of Aiken Drum. Claire held up a paper pumpkin, and added the different parts of the face as we sang. Here’s the tune to Aiken Drum, in case you are not familiar with it. It’s another old favorite of mine.

[C] There was a pumpkin [F] on a vine,
[C] On a vine, [G] on a vine.
There [C] was a pumpkin [F] on a vine,
And his [C] name was [G] Jack-O- [C] Lantern.

And we gave him two triangle eyes,
Triangle eyes, Triangle eyes.
We gave him two triangle eyes,
And his name was Jack-O-Lantern.

And we gave him a big circle nose…

And we gave him a rectangle mouth…

And we put him in the window!

Five Little Pumpkins

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, “Oh my! It’s getting late!
The second one said, “There are witches in the air!”
The third one said, “But WE don’t care!”
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run!” (run in place)
The five one said, “This is Halloween fun!”
Then, “OOOH” went the wind, and OUT (clap!) went the light!
And the five little pumpkins rolled (roll your hands) out of sight.

The Pumpkin Pirate

I wrote this silly song to go with pumpkins and Halloween. You are welcome to use it if you like:

[Am] I’m gonna be a pumpkin pirate,
[C] My name is Lantern Jack.
[F] My pumpkin boat will stay afloat
[E7] ‘cross the Seven Seas and back.

[Am] I’m gonna be a pumpkin pirate.
[C] A real squash buckler, I!
[F] My pumpkin patch remains unmatched.
[E7] My pirate flag waves high!

[F] I’ll search for golden treasure,
[C] But I won’t go overboard.
[F] With a yo ho ho, away I’ll go
[E7] In my trusty orange gourd.

[Am] I’m gonna be a pumpkin pirate.
[C] My boat serves all my needs
[F] Cause whenever I get hungry
[E7] I’ll just roast some pumpkin seeds

[Am] I’m gonna be a pumpkin pirate. 
[C] In my boat I’ll travel far
[F] And if you’d like to go with me
[E7] I’ll meet you where you [Am] ARRRR!

Stay & Play: Paper Jack-O-Lanterns

This was a super easy process art activity, but the kids were really into it! I printed out blank pumpkin templates on orange paper, and cut some triangles out of black construction paper. For the Stay & Play, I put out the templates, black triangles, googly eyes, and markers, along with some black paper and scissors. I told the kids they could decorate their pumpkins however they liked. They all turned out differently, and the kids were so absorbed that many of them didn’t want to stop decorating their pumpkins when it was time for us to gather up the supplies.

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

Turning Over a New Leaf: A Storytime for Fall

The San Francisco Bay Area is unusual in that September and October are often the hottest months of the year. But lately we’ve actually had what feels like Autumn weather, which made it perfect for a Fall-themed storytime in the park.

Here’s what we did:


The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry & The Fan Brothers

Very sweet rhyming story about a scarecrow who rescues an injured baby crow, and raises it until it flies away. The scarecrow is lonely through the long winter, until the crow returns and starts a family. The illustrations are beautiful.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Colorful leaf collages form different animals and scenes in this simple story about a Leaf Man who blows away on the wind. I’ve also followed up this book by having the kids make “leaf people” of their own, which is a lot of fun.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein

I love the simplicity of this story about a young bear who is surprised when the leaves fall off of the trees, and tries to stick them back on. We had handed out play scarves before we read this one, and we had the kids toss their scarves in the air during the parts about the falling leaves. Claire also dropped some actual leaves as we read.

Songs & Rhymes:

Scarecrow, Scarecrow

To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star. I got this one from Little Fox — Kids Songs and Stories.

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, turn around.

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, touch the ground.

Stand up tall and blink your eyes.

Raise your hands up to the sky.

Clap your hands, then tap your knees.

Turn around and tap your feet.

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, touch your toes.

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, tap your nose.

Swing your arms so very slow,

Now real fast to scare the crows!

Touch our head, jump up and down.

Now sit down without a sound.

Two Little Blackbirds

I had done this one last week too, so it was fresh on the kids’ minds.

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

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud,
One was quiet, and the other was loud (I make my voice as loud and obnoxious as possible each time I sing the word “Loud!”)
Fly away, Quiet!
Fly away, Loud!
Come back, Quiet!
Come back, Loud!

Two little blackbirds sitting in the snow.
One flew high,
And the other flew low…

Two little blackbirds sitting on a gate.
One was early,
And the other was…late!…  (I like to drag the pauses out as long as possible before saying “Late!” until the kids are all yelling it out.)

Way Up High in the Apple Tree

This is a classic rhyme that works really well for toddlers and preschoolers. Today Claire and I held up maracas shaped like apples as a visual the first two times we did it, and then asked for suggestions of another fruit that could be in the tree (the kids chose oranges) the third time.

Way up high in the apple tree (stretch arms up)

Two little apples smiled at me (made circles with the thumb and fingers of each hand).

I shook that tree as hard as I could! (shake imaginary tree)

Down came the apples (lower arms quickly)

Mmmm! They were good! (rub stomach)

Leaves are Falling on the Ground

To the tune of The Wheels on the Bus. I got this one from, who credits Jean Warren as the author. We handed out play scarves before we sang it, and pretended they were leaves falling through the air, then swished them in the air like rakes for the second verse:

The leaves on the trees are falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
The leaves on the trees are falling down,
All through the town.

Let’s rake the leaves into a mound,
Into a mound, into a mound.
Let’s rake the leaves into a mound
All through the town.

The kids in the town jump up and down,
Up and down, up and down.
The kids in the town jump up and down,
All through the town.

What Falls in the Fall? by Laurie Berkner

This is a really catchy, moody song for Fall. Here’s a link to the YouTube video:

[Am] What falls in the Fall?
[F] Rain falls in the Fall.
[G] Down, down, down, down ,[Am] down.
[Am] The rain is falling down,
[F] Puddles on the ground,
[F] It’s wet beneath my feet in the [Am] Fall.

[Am] What falls in the Fall?
[F] Temperatures fall.
[G] Down, down, down, down, [Am] down.
[Am] It’s when the summer ends,
[F] You’ve got to hug your friends,
[F] To keep your body warm in the Fall [Am].

[G] And when the leaves start to [C] change,
[F] It’s beautiful to me.
[G] Red, gold, and yellow [C] colors all around,
[F] High up in the trees.

[Am] What falls in the Fall?
[F] Leaves fall in the Fall
[G] Down, down, down, down, [Am] down.
[Am] They twirl everywhere,
[F] And I throw them in the air.
[F] They crunch beneath my feet in the [Am] Fall.

[Am] What falls in the Fall?
[F] Kids fall in the Fall.
[G] Down, down, down, down, [C] down.

Stay & Play: Leaf Rubbings

This was a really simple process art activity that many of the kids (and grown-ups) had never done before. I put out leaves of different shapes and sizes (along with some Scotch tape for anyone who wanted to tape their leaf to the back of the paper to hold it in place), along with crayons to do leaf rubbings.

One thing I forgot to take into account is that the concrete tables at the park have a bumpy texture of their own that also came through in the rubbings. But the kids still enjoyed the magic moment when the leaf shape appeared, and loved trying out the different crayon colors. Some of the caregivers commented that they had never thought to try this activity with their kids before.

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

Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends: A Storytime for Kindness to Animals Day

Today is Kindness to Animals Day, a day that originated in the Philippines in 1958. It made for a great storytime theme. I started by asking the kids for ideas on how to be kind to animals. Most of them said things like, “pet them,” and “be gentle,” and “talk quietly.” Then we went into our books and songs.

Here’s what we did:


How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham

I told the kids that this book hit home for me because we are constantly having to rescue hummingbirds that get trapped in the library. I must have cursed myself, because sure enough, another one (our fifth this year!) flew in this afternoon, and it took us over an hour to catch it in our special extra-long hummingbird net. Anyway, all that aside, this is a very sweet book about a boy named Will who finds a pigeon who has broken its wing after crashing into a window. He carefully brings it home and patiently nurses it back to health until it is ready to fly away. The kids were mesmerized by the story.

Ginger Finds a Home by Charlotte Voake

Another very sweet story, about a thin cat who lives in a patch of weeds at the end of a garden. One day, he finds a plate of delicious cat food, and the next day another, and then he meets a little girl who wants to take him home. The author does a nice job of capturing the patience it requires to earn the trust of an animal. The ending got a collective “awwww!” from the crowd.

Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman

I love this book. Not only are the illustrations hilarious, but it captures so well the overwhelming excitement that dogs (and kids!) feel in the face of small animals. Plus, there are lots of opportunities for the kids to say “AROOOOOO!” throughout the book. Katie loves the three adorable kittens that Sara Ann brought home, but every time she sees them, she ends up scaring them away. Finally, when she is so sad that she curls up in her bed and goes to sleep, she wakes up to find all three kittens lying on top of her, and she is finally able to stay still and quiet.

Rhymes & Songs:

Two Little Blackbirds

This is one of my favorite songs to use with toddlers and preschoolers. They especially love the loud and late verses. Today I started out by teaching them the ASL sign for bird.

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

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud,
One was quiet, and the other was loud (I make my voice as loud and obnoxious as possible each time I sing the word “Loud!”)
Fly away, Quiet!
Fly away, Loud!
Come back, Quiet!
Come back, Loud!

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

Two little blackbirds sitting on a gate.
One was early,
And the other was…late!…  (I like to drag the pauses out as long as possible before saying “Late!” until the kids are all yelling it out.)

Little Bird

This is an old folk song, which I’ve also done as a kind of a dance with small groups of kids. You have the kids stand in a circle with their arms raised out to the sides and their hands touching, and then each kids takes a turn “flying” under their raised arms, in and out of the circle. For larger groups, I just have them suggest bird names to sing about. Today they suggested chicken and pigeon.

Little Bird, Little Bird,
Fly through my window.
Little Bird, Little Bird,
Fly through my window.
Little Bird, Little Bird,
Fly through my window.
G7                       C
Find molasses candy.

Fly through my window, my sugar lump!
C                            G7            C
Fly through my window, my sugar lump!
G7                        C
Find molasses candy!

Robin, Robin, Fly through my window…

I Have a Cat

Simple rhyme that the kids always enjoy. They especially like the “caught a rat!” part, and the “MEOW!” at the end.

I have a cat, (pet imaginary cat)

My cat lies flat, (put one hands on top of the other)

I have a cat, (pet imaginary cat)

He wears a hat. (pat the top of your head)

I have a cat, (pet imaginary cat)

He caught a rat (pretend to catch a rat in your hands)

I have a cat, (pet imaginary cat)


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:


[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!


[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.


[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!


Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends

I threw this one in as a surprise at the end. We actually used to use this as our final song for Musical Storytime years ago. The abrupt ending always gets a laugh. It’s to the tune of Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Souza.

[C] Be kind to your web footed friends,
For a duck may be somebody’s [G7] mother.
Be kind to your friends in the swamp,
Where the [C] weather is [F] very, very [G7] damp.
You [C] may think that this is the end:
And it is!

Stay & Play: Cheerio Bird Feeders

This was one of the easiest Stay & Play activities I’ve ever done, and the kids loved it. They were especially excited to see the Cheerios, (which many of them also ate). Basically, all I did was put out pipe cleaners and paper plates full of Cheerios. The idea was for them to thread the Cheerios onto the pipe cleaner and then bend it into a circle and twist the ends together. You can hang it on a tree to turn it into a bird feeder, but a lot of the kids just made bracelets.

Happy Kindness to Animals Day! If you have any favorite animal stories, please share them in the comments below.

Sign of the Times: A Storytime for International Day of Sign Languages

Last Friday, September 23, was International Day of Sign Languages. I try to incorporate basic ASL signs (more, bird, thank you, etc.) into my storytimes when I can, because I know firsthand that they can be really helpful for families with young children. So I was happy to have the opportunity to highlight signing with kids.

A few weeks ago we were approached by one of our regular storytime parents who happens to be fluent in American Sign Language, and she offered to provide sign language translation whenever we liked. She helped us out today by signing along to the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, which the kids found mesmerizing. She had also suggested sticking to one main sign for the audience to focus on, so we chose the word “bear.”

I started out by asking the kids to guess what animal I had in a paper bag, and giving them some clues (“It’s furry! It has claws! It growls!”). Once they guessed, I pulled out a teddy bear, and taught them the sign for bear. We repeated the sign whenever the word appeared in one of our songs or books.

Here’s what we did:


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle

Coincidentally, last week was Banned Books Week, and I learned that this book was accidentally banned by the Texas Education Board in 2011, because they confused its author for another Bill Martin. As I mentioned above, we had a parent sign the entire book while I read it aloud. The kids enjoyed shouting out the colors and animals on each page, and joining in on the familiar rhyme.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood and Don Wood

The classic book about a little mouse who finds the perfect red, ripe, strawberry, only to be told (by a tricky narrator) that he needs to watch out for the Big Hungry Bear. The illustrations are absolutely stunning and hilarious, and we were lucky enough to have a big book version to read from, so that the kids could see them more clearly.

Thank You, Bear by Greg Foley

Adorable, simple book about a bear who finds a box. When he looks inside, he knows he has found the perfect gift for his friend, Mouse. But none of the other animals he meets think it’s anything special. Luckily, Mouse thinks the box, which turns out to be empty, is the perfect place to curl up and go to sleep. Claire held up an empty box as a prop, and we also taught the sign for thank you.

Rhymes & Songs:

Going on a Bear Hunt

This was one of my favorite activities as a kid. I ask the kids to repeat each line after me, and I really ham it up: pretending to have a grasshopper in my shirt, scraping mud off my shoes, shaking dry after the swim in the lake, and RUNNING away from the cave with the bear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bears Go Marching In

The kids loved this variation of The Saints Go Marching In. We did lots of spinning, and jumping, and clapping.

[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 several versions of this song, but the tune I use is closest to the one in this video from Kiboomers. Claire held up my teddy bear to demonstrate the motions along with me.

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!

I’m a Gummy Bear by Gummibär

I couldn’t resist doing this one, even though it is a terrible earworm. I just sang the English lyrics. Here’s a video of the Just Dance version (I apologize in advance for getting it stuck in your head!):

[Am] Oh I’m a gummy bear.
Yes I’m a [C] gummy bear.
Oh I’m a [G] yummy tummy funny lucky gummy [F] bear
I’m a [Am] jelly bear.
Cause I´m a [C] gummy bear.
Oh I’m a [G] movin’ groovin’ jammin’ singing [F] gummy bear.
Oh yeaoooh.

[Am] Ba Ba Bidubidubi Yum Yum,
[C] Ba Ba Bidubidubi Yum Yum,
[G] Ba Ba Bidubidubi Yum Yum,
[F] Three times you can bite me.

[Am] Ba Ba Bidubidubi Yum Yum,
[C] Ba Ba Bidubidubi Yum Yum,
[G] Ba Ba Bidubidubi Yum Yum,
[F] Three times you can bite me.

Stay & Play: Bear Masks

Full disclosure: the prep work for this project (cutting eye holes in the plates, and precutting noses and ears) was a bit of a pain. But it was totally worth it because the kids had such a great time wearing their masks and pretending to be bears! A couple of kids made dinosaurs instead. Lots of fun (and roaring and growling!) was had by all.

Other than the precutting, I just put out craft sticks, tape (for the craft sticks), glue sticks, and markers, so the project itself was fairly simple.

Happy International Day of Sign Languages!

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.