Hoppy New Year: A Storytime for the Year of the Rabbit

We had a great time celebrating the Year of the Rabbit yesterday at our Outdoor Musical Storytime! Here’s what we did:


Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin

This colorful story about a girl waiting for the New Year is a great introduction to Chinese New Year customs, like sweeping the house, getting a haircut, carrying lanterns, and watching the parade. We handed out small pieces of bubble wrap before we read the book, and told the kids to pop them on the firecracker page, and at the end when the dragon appears.

Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes

Sweet, simple story about a white rabbit who wonders what it would be like to be green, or tall as a tree, or as still as a stone. The kids enjoyed acting out the different motions, like fluttering like a butterfly or freezing in place. The ending got lots of “Awww’s!”

Everybunny Dance by Ellie Sandall

Adorable, simple story about bunnies dancing, playing, and singing together…until a fox appears. To their surprise, the fox likes to dance too, and is only looking for a friend. The kids had a great time pretending to be bunnies.

Songs & Rhymes

If You’re a Dragon and You Know It

To the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It. I held up pictures of Lion Dancers and Chinese Dragons.

[C] If you’re a dragon and you know it, breathe [G7] fire! (mime breathing fire)

If you’re a dragon and you know it, breathe [C] fire!

If you’re [F] a dragon and you know it, and you [C] really want to show it,

If you’re [G7] a dragon and you know it, breathe[C] fire! 

If you’re a lion and you know it, give a roar!…

If you’re a rabbit and you know it, hop around!….

If it’s the New Year and you know it, make some noise! (Yay!)

Here is a Bunny

Simple fingerplay rhyme that the kids always enjoy:

Here is a bunny (hold up two fingers like bunny ears)

With ears so funny,

And here is his hole in the ground. (make a circle with the thumb and index finger of your other hand)

When a noise he hears,

He pricks up his ears, (move your bunny ears)

And jumps through the hole in the ground! (put your bunny ear fingers into the hole).

Hop, Little Bunnies!

I learned this one from a local daycare provider, who used it every day with her kids. The motions are pretty self-explanatory, but you can either have the kids physically pretend to sleep and then hop around, or you can have them make bunny ears with their fingers. There are different versions of the song, but the tune I used is the same as in this video by Little Baby Bums Nursery Rhymes for Babies:

See the little bunnies sleeping

‘Till it’s nearly noon.

Shall we wake them with a merry tune?

They’re so still.

Are they ill?

NO! Wake up little bunnies!

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop!

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop!

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop!

Hop little bunnies, hop and stop!

The Bunny Hop by Ray Anthony

This is old line dance from 1952 (it actually started at Balboa High School in San Francisco). Traditionally, people stand in a line, holding on to the waist of the person in front of them, but for storytime, I just taught the kids how to tap their left foot two times, then their right foot two times, jump forward, jump back, and then hop three times. I played it on the ukulele, but it would have been nice to play the actual recording (especially because it’s hard to do the Bunny Hop while playing the ukulele!)

[C] Put your right foot forward,
[F7] Put your left foot out.
[C] Do the Bunny hop,
[C7] Hop, hop, hop!

[F7] Dance this new creation,
It’s the new sensation,
[C] Do the Bunny hop!
[C7] Hop, hop, hop!

[C] All join in the fun,
[F7] Father, mother, son,
[C] Do the Bunny hop!
[C7] Hop, hop, hop!

Stay & Play: Dot Marker Bunnies

This was a really simple activity, but the kids always LOVE the dot markers.

Before storytime, I printed out a bunny template, like this one from seekpng.com. For the Stay & Play, I put out the printed templates, along with dot markers, googly eyes, pom-poms, and gluesticks. After they colored their bunny with the markers, they enjoyed adding pom-poms for the tail, the nose, and even the insides of the ears.

Happy Lunar New Year! If you have favorite books for the New Year or about bunnies, please share them in the comments below.


Gung Hay Fat Choy: A Storytime for Lunar New Year

A beautiful Chinese dog marionette my coworker Angela loaned to me for storytime

It was a beautiful day in the park today, and also the first day of the Lunar New Year. Since 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, we did a mix of stories and activities about tigers and New Year’s celebrations.

Here’s what we did:


Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin

I started by introducing the idea of Lunar New Year, and explaining about how it celebrated in many Asian countries on the first new moon of their calendar year. I held up a picture of a new moon, so the kids could see what it looked like. I also explained very briefly about the different animals that make up the Chinese zodiac, and that this is the Year of the Tiger. Before we read the book, we handed out small squares of bubble wrap, and told the kids to listen for the page that talks about firecrackers. The book is colorful and simple, and does a beautiful job of capturing the excitement of the New Year celebration, while describing several of the common traditions (sweeping, getting a hair cut, watching the parade). When we got to the firecracker page, we told the kids to pop their bubble wrap. They had a great time!

When a Tiger Comes to Dinner by Jessica Olien

This funny, interactive story provides advice on what to do when a tiger is coming to dinner: roar hello, hold up your claws and bare your teeth, and be sure to serve peanut butter sandwiches. The problem: all of the roaring scares your tiger guest. Luckily she likes the peanut butter sandwiches. The kids loved joining in on all of the roaring.

Little Tigers by Jo Weaver

Beautifully illustrated story about a mother tiger and her two cubs, who are looking for a safe place to live. They try a spot behind a waterfall (too wet), and at the top of a tree (too high), find a hole that’s already home to a python, and a cave full of biting insects, before they finally find a new home in an abandoned temple. The kids and adults both exclaimed over the illustrations.

Songs & Rhymes:

Going on a Tiger Hunt

I did a tiger version of the Going on a Bear Hunt chant, asking the families to repeat each line after me:

We’re going on a tiger hunt!
(We’re going on a tiger 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 tiger!

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 tiger hunt again!

Five Green Dragons

I explained that dragons are a symbol of good luck. Then my coworker Claire held up five green paper dragons on popsicle sticks, while the rest of us did the rhyme with our fingers:

Five green dragons making such a roar.
One danced away and then there were four.
Four green dragons dancing around a tree.
One danced away and then there were three.
Three green dragons dancing around you.
One danced away and then there were two.
Two green dragons dancing in the sun.
One danced away and then there was one.
One green dragon having lots of fun
She danced away and then there were none.

Dragon Dance

I adapted this song from PerpetualPreschool.com. We did it as an instrument play-along, and Claire did the motions the dog marionette pictured above. The song is to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb:

[C] See the dragon hop, hop, hop,

[G7] Hop, hop, hop, [C] hop, hop, hop.

See the dragon hop, hop, hop,

[G7] On New Year’s [C] Day!

See the dragon shake its tail…

See the dragon dance around…

See the dragon stomp its feet…

See the dragon jump up and down…

See the dragon go to sleep…

Stay and Play: Painted Dragons

I found this activity on Learning and Exploring Through Play, and it was so much fun! We gave the kids cardstock, which the parents helped them fold in half, then passed out tempera paint and brushes. They could either paint with brushes or just squirt the paint on one half of the paper, then fold it in half to spread the paint onto the other side, making a symmetrical shape. I also put out googly eyes and gluesticks. Some of the paintings looked more like dragons than others (some looked like moose or butterflies), but it was a great process art activity, and fun to watch as the kids opened up their papers to reveal the designs.