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.

For the Birds: Stories about our Fine, Feathered Friends

Goldfinch Feeder

Goldfinch Feeder

Last night at Family Storytime we read stories about birds, and made a simple bird feeder for goldfinches.

I was happy because I got to open with one of my all-time favorite read-alouds:

beebee

The Baby Beebee Bird by Diane Redfield Massie; illustrated by Stephen Kellogg (Amazon.com link)

This book is perfect for storytime: it has large, colorful illustrations, lots of animal noises, and a funny, annoying repeated phrase the kids get to join in on.  A quiet evening at the zoo is interrupted by the newly arrived baby beebee bird, who insists on singing, “Beebee Bobbi Bobbi!” over and over again all night long.  The next morning, the other animals are exhausted, the zookeeper is worried, and the lion has a plan to get revenge.  I’ve also seen this book performed as a reader’s theater, where it works beautifully because there are so many different parts.

hot dog

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

One of the kids spotted this Pigeon book in my stack and got really excited.  I had actually brought two Pigeon books along, and I asked the kids to vote for the one they wanted to hear: they all asked me to read both.  I think this one got the biggest laughs though.  In this book, the Pigeon is about to enjoy the hot dog he found, until an adorable, curious (and deviously clever) duckling asks him what hot dogs are like.

pigeon

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

This one is more like the original Pigeon book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, where the kids get to respond to the Pigeon’s wheedling demands by yelling, “No!”  In this case, the Pigeon is angling to stay up past bedtime, by using the arguments and excuses that every parent has heard before.

chickens

Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman (Amazon.com link)

Fun, silly farm story about the Greenstalk family, whose chickens always swoop in to save the day.  Wristwatch in the well? Chickens to the rescue! Too tired to make dinner? Chickens to the rescue!  Dog ate your book report? Chickens to the rescue.  This one is always a hit, and the kids love chiming in on the “Chickens to the Rescue!”

emu

Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles; illustrated by Rod Clement (Amazon.com link)

Edward the emu is sick of the zoo.  When he hears someone say that the seals are his favorite animal, Edward hops the fence into the seal pool and tries being a seal instead.  But then he overhears someone else saying the lions are best, and has to try that too, until another person raves about the snakes. Finally, someone says they like the emus best, but when Edward returns to his old enclosure, he finds a new emu in his place.  The illustrations in this rhyming story, showing Edward emu-lating the other animals, are hilarious.  The kids also enjoyed making animal noises along with Edward.

SONGS:

Two Little Blackbirds

One of my favorite songs/fingerplays. I usually sing it a cappella, so I can do the hand motions.  Click on the triangle to hear how it goes:

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.)

Six Little Ducks

I’ve done this song for years, and it’s a popular favorite at toddler and baby storytimes.  Last night, I had several 6 year-olds in the group, so for an extra challenge, I asked if any of them could squat down and waddle like a duck (it’s surprisingly tiring, but they had fun).  Here are the lyrics, with the accompanying ukulele or guitar chords:

C                                  G7
Six little ducks that I once knew,
C
Fat ones, skinny ones, fair ones too.
G7
But the one little duck with the feather on his back.
C
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Chorus:
G7                                         C
“Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!”
G7                                              C
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Down to the river they would go,
Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble, to and fro.
But the one little duck with the feather on his back,
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Chorus

Home from the river they would come,
Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble, ho hum hum.
But the one little duck with the feather on his back,
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Chorus

Little Bird

I actually meant to do this song, but I forgot about it completely, and sang Brush Your Teeth instead (to go along with Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late).  It’s perfect for a bird theme though, since the kids can suggest different types of birds, so I’m including it here.  I originally heard it performed by Elizabeth Mitchell on her album, You Are My Little Bird, which is one of my favorite kids’ albums.  Here’s how it goes:

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!

Jay bird, Jay bird, fly through my window…etc…

Chorus

Repeat the verse and chorus, asking kids for the names of different birds (robin, parrot, etc.) to sing in place of “Little Bird” each time. You can also do this song as a dance, where a pair of kids put their hands together over their heads to make a “window” and the other kids “fly” through the window in a line.

CRAFT: Goldfinch Feeders

Goldfinch Feeder by Sarah

Goldfinch Feeder by Sarah

I found this easy goldfinch feeder on Do-It-Yourself N Save: http://diynsave.com/?p=337.  I was really happy, because we get a lot of goldfinches here on the coast, and they are beautiful, and fun to watch.  Also, I had originally thought of doing one of the typical kids bird feeder projects, where you put peanut butter on a pine cone and roll it in bird seed, but one of my regular storytime kids has a severe peanut allergy, so this was a much safer alternative.

It is super easy to make (although a bit messy, since the thistle seed tends to spill).  After showing the kids a picture of a goldfinch, I gave each of them a knee-high stocking or the foot of a regular pair of stockings (one of my coworkers brought me some old ones from her mom, and I had also picked some up at Goodwill).  I also had a variety of old jar lids, a chopstick, some yarn, and a bag of thistle (Nyger) seed.  The kids each stuffed a lid into the bottom of their stocking, then filled the stocking with thistle seed (I gave them little plastic cups to scoop and pour).  Then they tied them shut with the yarn, and stuck the chopstick through the stocking just above the lid.  The chopstick makes a hole for the goldfinches to reach the seed, while also giving them a place to perch.   One dad wisely waited on sticking the chopstick through the stocking until they got home, to keep the seed from spilling out all over the car (and the library!).  All in all, it was easy and fun.  I hung one on a tree in my backyard at home, and I’m eager to see if the goldfinches find it.

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT BIRDS:

There are so many great books about birds, especially once you factor in all the duck, penguin, and chicken books out there.  Here are some others that I considered:

Penguin by Polly Dunbar (Amazon.com link)

This one is super-quirky, and a little dark, but I love it, and it’s always been a hit at storytime.  Ben is frustrated with his new penguin, who refuses to talk.  He tries everything from tickling it, to trying to feed it to a passing lion, but the lion eats Ben instead.  Luckily, Penguin saves the day, rescuing Ben, and finally speaking, in a language of his own.

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo; illustrated by David Small (Amazon.com link)

When Eliot secretly brings a penguin home from the aquarium, his father seems oblivious to all of Eliot’s attempts to make his new pet feel at home, until the surprise at the end.  I’ve read this one to a wide range of ages, including a few second grade classes, and they loved it.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell; illustrated by Patrick Benson (Amazon.com link)

This has always been one of my favorite books for toddler time.  A sweet story about three baby owls whose mother has left them alone in their nest.  As time passes, they grow increasingly worried, and wish their mother would come back, and of course, she does.  The illustrations are beautiful.  I have a personal copy of this book that I’ve read many, many times to my own kids.  It is perfect for a snuggly bedtime story.

What are your favorite books about birds?