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:

Books:

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.

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

Chorus:
G7
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)

PURR! PURR! MEOW!

Two Little Kitty Cats

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

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

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

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

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

Meow! Meow! Meow!

Two little puppy dogs lying in the park,

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

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

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

Woof! Woof! Woof!

How Much Is that Doggie in the Window by Bob Merrill

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

CHORUS

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

The one with the waggley [C] tail?

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

I do hope that doggie’s for [C] sale!

VERSE 1

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

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

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

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

CHORUS

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

With flashlights that shine in the [C] dark.

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

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

CHORUS

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.