Mother Knows Best: A Storytime for Mother’s Day

Yesterday at our Outdoor Musical Storytime, we did stories and songs about mothers. Here’s what we did:


Toad on the Road: Mama and Me by Stephen Shaskan

This is a really cute story about a Mama toad who drives a tow truck, accompanied by her little one. As they drive along, they rescue a goat who has run out of gas, a fox with a flat tire, and a moose in the muck. Finally, they arrive at a party, where they discover where all of their newfound friends have been going.

Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke; illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

Adorable book about a mother and her baby, who are shopping in a Nigerian market. The vendors can’t resist giving Baby different foods: bananas, oranges, chin-chin biscuits, and more. Each time, Baby eats one, and puts the rest in the basket on Mama’s head, without her knowing. Eventually Mama notices how heavy her basket is, and is shocked all the additional food. The crowd laughed at the ending, when the mother says Baby must be very hungry, since he’s had nothing to eat.

Everything is Mama by Jimmy Fallon

Very simple but funny book that shows a variety of baby animals who call everything they see “Mama.” Claire read the part of the babies, and I read the other parts. The kids enjoyed chiming in on the “Mama’s.”


We Bounce and We Bounce and We Stop

One of my all-time favorite storytime songs. It works so well for different ages, and you can do different motions for each verse. We did clapping, turning, leaning, and stomping. The kids always love it!


We bounce and we bounce and we stop!


We bounce and we bounce and we stop!


We bounce and we bounce and we bounce and we bounce,

C                                          G7                       C

And we bounce and we bounce and we stop!

Five Dinosaurs by Nancy Stewart

This one was a fun tie in to Toad on the Road: Mama and Me. I have the kids pretend to drive the car as we sing.

[C] There were five dinosaurs, [F] driving in cars,
[C] Having a really good [G7] time.
They said, [C] “We’ll step on the gas, and [F] go really fast!”
And they [C] did…until one [G7] had a flat [C] tire.
Ka-thunk! Ka-thunk! Ka-thunk! Ka-thunk!
She said, “Go on without me!”

Then there were four dinosaurs…

Repeat, until the last dinosaur has a flat tire, then say,

“She said, ‘I know! I’ll fix the tire! and then I’ll pick up all my friends!”

Then there were five dinosaurs,
Riding in a car, having a really good time.
They said, “Step on the gas, and go really fast!”
And they did, and down the road they went flying.


Five Days Old by Laurie Berkner

We sang this after Baby Goes to Market. It’s a fun action song, and very catchy! Here’s Laurie Berkner’s video:

[C] I’m sitting here, I’m [F] one day old, and [C] I’m sitting here I’m [F] two [G7] days [C] old.

[C] I’m sitting here, I’m [F] three days old, and [C] I’m sitting here I’m [F] four [G7] days [C] old.

[F] One [C] day, I’ll [F] be a [C] year, then [F] I’ll be [C] two, then [G7] three, then four.

[C] As for now I’m [F] sitting here, I’m [C] five days old and [F] no [G7] days [C] more!

I’m jumping up, I’m one day old…

I’m clapping my hands, I’m one day old…

I’m kicking my legs, I’m one day old…

Getting really tired, I’m one day old…

I’m jumping up, I’m one day old..


This song is always a favorite with both kids and caregivers. I go over the sign language for “I Love You” before we sing the song together. Here’s a link to a YouTube video from Super Simple Songs with the tune:

Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink
Skidamarink a-doo
I love you.
Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink
Skidamarink a-doo
I love you.
I love you in the morning
And in the afternoon.
I love you in the evening
And underneath the moon.
Oh, skidamarink a-dink, a-dink
Skidamarink a-doo
I love you.

Circle of the Sun by Sally Rogers

We did this as our instrument play-along at the end. It’s a pretty folk song, that works well because you can add your own verses about different “firsts” in the life of a child. We sang, “Babies take their first steps in a circle of the sun,” and “Babies say their first words…”

[C] Babies are born in a circle of the sun,

Circle of the sun on their [G7] birthing [C] day.

[C] Babies are born in a circle of the sun,

Circle of the sun on their [G7] birthing [C] day.


[C] Clouds to the North, Clouds to the South,

[F] Wind and [C] rain to the [F] East and the [G7] West,

[C] Babies are born in a circle of the sun,

Circle of the sun on their [G7] birthing [C] day.

Stay & Play: Dot Paint Hearts

I intended this to be a resist type project, where the kids used the dot markers to color all around different sized hearts, and then removed the hearts to reveal the heart-shape in white, like the example on the right. But the kids seemed to be more caught up in decorating the paper hearts, and some of them turned out really well (the kid on the right was VERY enthusiastic about the dot markers!).

In any case, to prepare, I cut several paper hearts out of cardstock, and then covered the back with restickable glue stick. For the Stay & Play, I put out the paper hearts, sheets of cardstock, and dot markers.

I think if I did this again, I would either just have the kids decorate paper hearts, or pre-stick the paper frames of the hearts I cut out onto the cardstock, so they could enjoy decorating a big heart, and still have the magic moment when they peeled the frame away.


Where’s My Mom? by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

At my preschool visits this month I’ve read sharing this fun rhyming story about a monkey who can’t find his mother. A butterfly tries to help by pointing out various animals (an elephant, a frog, a snake, etc.), but none of them are the monkey’s Mom. The monkey complains that none of the animals the butterfly has found look like him, but the butterfly points out that her baby caterpillars look nothing like her either. The kids love yelling out, “No, that’s an elephant!” etc. on each page, and the book has a wonderful message about how not all children look like their parents.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell; illustrated by Patrick Benson

One of my all-time favorite books for toddlers. An adorable family of baby owls wake up to discover that their mother is missing. At first they reassure themselves that she’s probably gone hunting, but then they start to worry. Luckily, their mother arrives just as they are starting to panic. The beautiful illustrations and repeated lines for kids to chime in on, along with the reassuring message make this perfect for storytime.

Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Sweet, funny story about a little girl who puts her Mommy to bed, with all of the usual negotiating and stalling tactics.

Hush, Little Trucker by Kim Norman; illustrated by Toshiki Nakamura

Another book I’ve been reading at the preschools lately is this truck-themed version of Hush, Little Baby. When a little boy loses his toy truck, his mother helps him look for it using a variety of construction vehicles.

What are your favorite stories, songs, or crafts for Mother’s Day? Please share them in the comments below.


Sprouting Up: A Storytime About Growing Things

Today was the first Outdoor Musical Storytime I’ve been able to hold in a month, because it’s been so stormy every Tuesday for the past three weeks. So, in honor of the first day that actually LOOKED like spring anyway, we did a storytime about flowers, plants, and gardening.

Here’s what we did:


Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Mathiesen

Like Tap the Magic Tree by the same author, this colorful picture book provides interactive motions for kids to do: counting to three to plant the seeds, tapping the cloud to make it rain (I just have them pretend, rather than actually touching the book), clapping to bring the sun, etc. The kids were thoroughly engaged.

First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Sweet, simple book with colorful cut-outs showing how different living things transform: an egg hatches into a chicken, a seed grows into a flower, a tadpole turns into a frog, etc. The kids enjoyed calling what each one was going to turn into on the next page.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes

This is a little longer than the books I typically read for this storytime audience, but it’s such an imaginative, whimsical book, and kids always seem to enjoy it. It describes a little girl’s dreams of having her own garden, where the rabbits are made of chocolate, jelly beans grow into jelly bean bushes, and flowers always bloom.


Ring Around the Rosy

This traditional nursery rhyme usually has kids hold hands and walk in a circle, but I just had them spin around in place. We did the song three times, and the kids loved it! I can’t remember who taught me the second verse years ago, but it’s nice for getting everyone back on their feet again. Here’s a video from Little Baby Bum with the tune:

Ring around the Rosy, (spin around in place)

A pocket full of posies, (spin around in place)

Ashes, Ashes,

We all fall DOWN! (drop to the ground).

Fishes in the water,

Fishes in the sea,

We all jump up with a

One, Two, Three! (jump up)

Oh, Mister Sun

A great song for welcoming the sun after all the rain we’ve been having. I do the Raffi version, which is shown here with the motions:

Oh, [C] Mister Sun, Sun, [F] Mister Golden Sun,

[C] Please shine [G7] down on [C] me!

Oh, [C] Mister Sun, Sun, [F] Mister Golden Sun,

[G7] Hiding behind a tree.

[C] These little children are [G7] asking you,

[C] To please come out so we can [G7] play with you,

Oh, [C] Mister Sun, Sun, [F] Mister Golden Sun,

C] Please shine [G7] down on [C] me!

Butterfly Song

My coworker Angela taught me this one. We handed out play scarves before we sang it, and had the kids bundle them up to be chrysalises and wave them in the air to be butterflies. My coworker Claire also showed the different stages of the butterfly lifecycle with this cool puppet. The song is to the tune of Up on the Housetop. Here’s a video by Colleen Niedermeyer:

First comes a butterfly (Wave scarf)

Who lays an egg. (Make a circle with your thumb and index finger).

Out comes a caterpillar (Wiggle your finger like a caterpillar)

With lots of legs.

Now see the caterpillar spin and spin (Spin the scarf),

A little chrysalis to sleep in (Bundle scarf up in a ball).

Oh, oh, oh, wait and see…

Oh, oh, oh, wait and see…

Out of the chrysalis, my, oh, my!

Out comes a beautiful butterfly! (Wave scarf).

Shoo Fly

One of the first songs I learned when I started out as a children’s librarian was this variation on the traditional Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me song, originally by Thomas Bishop. I had the kids wave their scarves for the “Shoo Fly” parts, and took suggestions for what animal the kids would like to be for the other verses. We ended up purring like a cat, and flying like a butterfly.

Here’s a recording of this version of this song, by Greg & Steve, who I think may have written it:

Shoo, Fly, don’t bother me! (Wave hands or scarf as if shooing a fly)

Shoo, Fly, don’t bother me!

Shoo, Fly, don’t bother me,

I’ll tell you what I want to be.

I wiggle, I wiggle,

I wiggle like a wiggling worm.

I wiggle, I wiggle,

I wiggle like a wiggling worm.

Oh, Shoo, Fly, don’t bother me…

The Lollipop Tree by Burl Ives

This song fit perfectly as a follow-up to My Garden, so we did it as our instrument play-along at the end. Here’s the recording by Burl Ives:

[C] One fine [G] day in
[C] early [G] Spring, I [C] played a [G] funny [C] trick.
[C] Right in the [G] yard
[C] behind our [G] house I [C] planted a [G] lollipop [C] stick.
[F] Then every day I watered it well,
And watched it [G] careful-[C]ly.
I [G] hoped one day that [C] stick would [C] grow
[F] To be a [G] lollipop [C] tree.

[C] Ha, Ha, Ha, [F] Ho, Ho, Ho!
[C] What a place to [G7] be!
[C] Under my lollipop, [F] lollipop, lollipop,
[C] Lolli-lolli-[G] lollipop [C] tree.
[C] Under my lollipop, [F] lollipop, lollipop,
[C] Lolli-lolli-[G] lollipop [C] tree!

[C] Then one [G] day I [C] woke to
[G] Find a [C] very [G] lovely [C] sight:
A tree all [G] full of [C] lollipops
Had [G] grown in the [C] dark of the night.
[F] I sat beneath that wonderful tree,
And looked up [G] with a [C] grin.
[C] And when I [G] opened up [Am] my [C] mouth,
[G] A pop would drop right [C] in!

[C] Ha, Ha, Ha, [F] Ho, Ho, Ho!
[C] What a place to [G7] be!
[C] Under my lollipop, [F] lollipop, lollipop,
[C] Lolli-lolli-[G] lollipop [C] tree.
Under my lollipop, [F] lollipop, lollipop,
[C] Lolli-lolli-[G] lollipop [C] tree!

[C]Winter came and days grew cold,
As Winter [G] days will [C] do.
On my tree, my [Am] lovely [C] tree,
Not [G] one little lollipop [C] grew.
[F] From every [C] branch an [F] icicle hung,
The twigs were bare as [C] bones.
But when I [G] broke the [Am] icicles [C] off,
They [F] turned to [G] ice cream [C] cones!

[C] Ha, Ha, Ha, [F] Ho, Ho, Ho!
[C] How I laughed with [G7] glee!
[C] Under my lollipop, [F] lollipop, lollipop,
[C] Lolli-lolli-[G] lollipop [C] tree.
Under my lollipop, [F] lollipop, lollipop,
[C] Lolli-lolli-[G] lollipop [C] tree!

Stay & Play: Flower Painting

I’ve posted about flower painting before, but it’s one of my favorite process art activities. This morning before storytime, I picked a bunch of flowers from my yard. I tried to stick to edible flowers, just in case anyone tried to sample one, so I had nasturtiums, geraniums, borage, oxalis (sour grass), lavender, and oregano leaves. For the Stay & Play, we just put the flowers out on the tables with some blank paper, and the kids smashed them to explore the different colors that they made. Always a hit, and so simple. There’s not even very much to clean up at the end.

Happy Spring! What are your favorite books about plants and growing things? Please share them in the comments below.

Love Somebody: A Storytime for Valentine’s Day

It was a chilly day in the park today for our Outdoor Musical Storytime, but we still had a great time celebrating Valentine’s Day with stories and songs.

Here’s what we did:


If You’ll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Fumi Kosaka

Short poems describe what a little boy will do for different loved ones if they will be his Valentine: scratch his cat behind her ears, take his little sister for a ride in a wagon, make a special letter for Grandma, etc. Most other books that are explicitly about Valentine’s Day are a bit too long for my storytime toddlers and young preschoolers, but this one worked well. A sweet book that celebrates shared experiences with family.

If Animals Said I Love You by Ann Whitford Paul; illustrated by David Walker

Adorable book that imagines how different animals might say, “I love you.” The kids loved calling out the names of the animals and mimicking their motions: beating their chests like gorillas; stomping their feet like secretary birds, etc.

Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Very simple, rhymed story about a girl who plants a kiss, which grows into a glittery treasure she shares with the world. We had handed out play scarves for a song before we read this one, so I had the kids hide the scarves in their hands and then pull them out slowly to mimic the sprouting kiss. Claire threw small paper hearts out into the crowd at the end.


There’s A Little Wheel a’Turnin’ in My Heart

This is a traditional song with lots of versions, but I used a variation of the one by Laurie Berkner in the video below.

There’s a [C] little wheel a-[G] turnin’ in my [C] heart, (rotate your hands around each other)

There’s a [C] little wheel a-[G] turnin’ in my [C] heart.

In my [F] hea-a-[C] art, in my [G] hea-a-[C] art, (put your hand on your heart)

There’s a [C] little wheel a-[G] turnin’ in my [C] heart.

Additional verses:

I hear two hands a clapping in my heart…

I hear two feet a stomping in my heart…

Oh, I feel so very happy in my heart… (make the ASL sign for Happy)

There’s a little wheel a-turnin’ in my heart.

Love Somebody, Yes I Do!

There are several different versions of this song, but the one I used was closest to the one in this video from Musicaliti:

Love somebody, yes I do! (ASL sign for LOVE, ASL sign for YES)

Love somebody, yes I do!

Love somebody, yes I do!

Love somebody and it’s you, you, you! (point to different people)

You, you, you!

Old MacDonald

We sang this after If Animals Said I Love You. I asked the kids for animal suggestions for each verse. We sang about a cow, a duck, a pig, a chicken, and a goat.

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!

You’ll Sing a Song by Ella Jenkins

We sang this song with play scarves, and I added verses so the kids could move the scarves in different ways: you wave a scarf; you throw a scarf, etc. It’s a wonderful song for storytime, because you can add in whatever motions suit your group best: jumping up and down, clapping your hands, etc. Plus, it is incredibly catchy!

[C] You’ll sing a song, and [Am] I’ll sing a song,

And [C] we’ll sing a [Dm] song toge-[G]ther.

[C] You’ll sing a song, and [Am] I’ll sing a song,

In [G] warm or [C] wintry [G] wea-[C]ther.

You’ll wave a scarf, and I’ll wave a scarf, and we’ll wave our scarves together…

You’ll peek-a-boo, and I’ll peek-a-boo… (put the scarf over your face, then pull it away)

You’ll throw a scarf, and I’ll throw a scarf…

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton

I’ve always loved this song from Sandra Boynton’s Philadelphia Chickens book and album. There is also a stand-alone board book version of the song. We did it as our instrument play-along, and Claire carried around a dog puppet to “lick” the kids.

Well, [G] I have a thing to tell you
And it [C] won’t take long.
The [D] way I feel about you
Is a [G] kind of a song.
[G] It starts with an ooh and [C] ends with a kiss,
And [A] all along the middle it goes [D] something like [D7] this:

We go, [G] ooh, Snuggle [C] Puppy of mine,
[D] Everything about you is [G] especially fine.
[C] I love what you are, [G] I love what you do,
[A] Fuzzy little Snuggle Puppy, [D] I love [D7] you!

I say, [G] ooh, Snuggle [C] puppy of mine,
[D] Everything about you is [G7] especially fine,
[C] I love what you are, [G] I love what you do,
[D] Ooh, I love [G] you!

Well, I [G] wanted just to tell you
And it [C] didn’t take long,
The [D] way I feel about you
Is a [G] kind of a song.
[G] It started with ooh, [C] I gave you a kiss.
I [A] hope you like the middle now we’ll [D] end like [D7] this:


We go, [G] ooh, Snuggle [C] Puppy of mine,
[D] Everything about you is [G] especially fine.
[C] I love what you are, [G] I love what you do,
[A] Fuzzy little snuggle puppy, [D] I love [D7] you!

I say, [G] ooh, Snuggle [C] Puppy of mine,
[D] Everything about you is [G7] especially fine,
[C] I love what you are, [G] I love what you do,
[D] Ooh, I love [G] you!

Stay & Play: Tissue Paper Painted Hearts

The kids had a great time with this process art (or process heart?) activity, and several of the parents commented on how engaging it was.

Before the storytime, I cut large hearts out of white card stock, along with lots of squares of different colored tissue paper. For the Stay & Play, I put out the paper hearts, tissue paper squares in bowls, small cups of water, and paintbrushes. The kids arranged the tissue paper squares on the paper hearts and then painted them with the water. I told them they could peel the tissue paper off immediately or let it dry first. Either way, it makes cool, colorful patterns.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Rockin’ Robin: A Storytime About Birds

It was a wet and chilly day today, and I wasn’t sure anyone would come to Outdoor Musical Storytime, but a few brave families ventured out (some of them said the kids were getting stir crazy indoors). I had just learned about the Christmas Bird Count, which the Audubon Society runs from December 14 to January 5, so I did a storytime about birds.

Most of my storytime participants are too young to take part in the Bird Count itself, but I found out that the Golden Gate Audubon Society allows people to register as Feeder Watchers (by registering for one of their Bird Count events, and putting Feeder Watcher in the comments field). I handed out information about how to participate, along with a list of the Most Common Birds of San Francisco from iNaturalist. We also demonstrated the American Sign Language sign for Bird, and how to say “Bird” in other languages (grown-ups in my group told us how to say it in Spanish, French, Russian, and Cantonese). One of my favorite things about the Bay Area is the diversity of languages and cultures, and I love to give people a chance to share words in their native language whenever I can.

Here are the books and songs that we did:


The Baby BeeBee Bird by Debbie Redfield Massie; illustrated by Stephen Kellogg

This is one of my all-time favorite books, about a little bird who arrives at the zoo, and keeps all of the other animals awake all night with her singing. I read the part of the little bird, and Claire read the narration and the other animals. The kids loved joining in on the animal noises and the “BeeBee Bobbi’s.” The large illustrations make it perfect for storytime too.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell; illustrated by Patrick Benson

Another of my all-time favorites, this one about three baby owls who wake up to find that their mother is gone. They grow increasingly worried, but when they close their eyes and wish for their mother to come back, she comes swooping back. Such a sweet relatable story with adorable owl pictures. The kids loved the repeated “I want my Mommy!” line.

Birds by Kevin Henkes; illustrated by Laura Dronzek

This book provided a great way to talk about the different types of birds: owls, flamingos, black birds, robins, etc., and I love the whimsical ideas and illustrations. The kids especially liked the description of how when a flock of birds flies out of a tree all of a sudden, it’s like the tree yelled, “Surprise!”

Songs & Rhymes:

Baby Bumblebee

We did this as a follow-up to The Baby BeeBee Bird (mostly because they sound so similar). I asked the kids what animals they would like to bring home, and then tried to come up with rhymes. We had snake, turtle, kitty, duck, and dinosaur. Here’s a video of the Dr. Jean version, which is similar to the one I usually use (not the one where the bumblebee gets squished!). Full disclosure: I once had a woman complain that she didn’t like that all of the animals in the song bit or scratched, but I was puzzled because I think it’s meant to be a cautionary tale about why you shouldn’t bring home wild animals!.

I’m [C] bringing home a [F] baby [C]bumblebee.
[G7] Won’t my mommy be so proud of me?
‘Cause I’m [C] bringing home a [F] baby [C] bumblebee.
[G7] Ouch! It stung me!

I’m a Wide-Eyed Owl

I actually have a little tune for this one that I learned from a friend, but I don’t have a recording of it. You can make up your own, or just chant it as a rhyme:

I’m a wide-eyed owl (make circles with your fingers to look like eyes)

With a pointed nose (make a V with your index fingers and hold it up to your nose),

I have pointed ears (hold your index fingers up on either side of your head),

And claws for toes (wiggle your fingers like claws).

I live in a tree,

And I’m looking at you (point your finger).

When I flap my wings (flap arms),

I say, “Whoooo! Whooo!”

Two Little Black Birds

We handed out play scarves before we sang this one, and had the kids pretend the scarves were birds. We changed the color of the bird each time:

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.)

Little Bird

We did this one with the play scarves as well, and “flew” them around like birds.

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!

Black Bird, Black Bird, Fly through my window…

Rockin’ Robin by Jimmie Thomas

We did this as our instrument play-along. The original version by Bobby Day has a LOT of verses, but I just did the ones below.

Here’s a link to the original song:

Tweedily deedily [Am] dee, [D] Tweedily deedily dee.
Tweedily deedily [Am] dee, [D] Tweedily deedily dee.
Tweedily deedily [Am] dee, [D] Tweedily deedily dee.
[G] Tweet, tweet, tweet tweet.

[G7] He rocks in the [G] treetops all day long,
[G7] Hoppin’ and a-boppin’ and [G] a-singin’ his song.
[G7] All the little birds on [G] J-Bird Street,
Love to hear the robin go [G7] tweet, tweet, tweet.

Rockin’ [C] robin (tweet, tweet, tweet);
Rockin’ [G] robin (tweet, tweedle-dee);
[D] Blow rockin’ robin, cause we’re [C] really gonna [G] rock tonight. (Tweet, tweedle-dee!)

[G7] Every little swallow, [G] every chickadee,
[G7] Every little bird in the [G] tall oak tree,
The [G7] wise old owl, the [G] big black crow,
[G] Flappin’ their wings [G7] singin’ go bird, go.

Rockin’ [C] robin (tweet, tweet, tweet).
Rockin’ [G] robin (tweet, tweedle-dee);
[D] Blow rockin’ robin, cause we’re [C] really gonna [G] rock tonight. (Tweet, tweedle-dee!)

Tweedily deedily [Am] dee, [D] Tweedily deedily dee.
Tweedily deedily [Am] dee, [D] Tweedily deedily dee.
Tweedily deedily [Am] dee, [D] Tweedily deedily dee.
[G] Tweet, tweet, tweet tweet.

Stay & Play: Feather Painted Owls

I found this adorable craft on The Pinterested Parent. I precut circles out of yellow and black paper for the eyes, and little triangles for the nose. For the Stay & Play today, I put out white cardstock, colored feathers, paper plates with a squirt of three different colors of tempura paint, the precut paper shapes, and gluesticks.

To be honest, I think the feather painting itself would have been enough of a craft, and made some really cool designs. But the owls turned out to be really cute too!

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

Everyone Counts: A Musical Storytime about Numbers

COVID cases are rising in the Bay Area due to Omicron, so last week our library administration made the painful decision to cancel indoor programs, including our toddler storytimes. I was happy to still be able to hold our Outdoor Musical Storytime today, especially since the weather was beautiful at San Pedro Valley Park. It all felt pretty safe, with families doing a great job of social distancing and masking, and we made an effort to spread the craft supplies out across many different picnic tables for the Stay and Play. It’s such a surreal time to be working in libraries right now, or really anywhere, but it was great to see my regular families for the first time since the holidays (we had to cancel last week due to rain).

Today I did a counting theme, which was a lot of fun. Here’s what we did:


Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin; illustrated by James Dean

This is my second favorite Pete the Cat book, after I Love My White Shoes. Pete loves his shirt with the four colorful, groovy buttons so much that he has to sing about it. The trouble is, the buttons keep popping off and rolling away. But not to worry, when all the buttons are gone, Pete has one button he can always count on: his belly button! I only had one copy of the book today, so I made a Pete the Cat out of paper, with big paper buttons that my coworker, Claire, could remove as she followed along with the story. The kids loved it!

One-osaurus, Two-osaurus by Kim Norman; illustrated by Pierre Collet-Derby

This is such a cute book! Nine dinosaurs are playing hide-and-seek, until Ten-osaurus Rex comes looking for them. The kids loved the ROAR! midway through, and the surprise at the end, when Ten-osaurus Rex turns out to be just a small yellow dinosaur. The book ends with the dinosaurs playing Simon Says, so I followed up the book with a quick round of Simon Says with the kids.

Sleep Train by Jonathan London; illustrated by Lauren Eldridge

This is a beautiful book about a young boy counting cars on a train to help him get to sleep. The kids especially liked the cattle car, and the “Mooooo-Mooooo! Chooooo-Choooooo!” page.



As usual, this was my opening song, but it worked especially well with the theme. I always do a verse that goes “Put your finger on your knee…Now can you count to three?” We count to three in English, and then I ask the participants what other languages they can count to three in. It’s always amazing how many different languages we get. Today we had Thai, Hindi, Cantonese, Italian, Russian, and Spanish. 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.)

Point your finger at the ground…
And now make a spooky sound!…

Put your fingers all together, all together… (clap)
We we will all be friends forever!


This is a wonderful, easy song in Spanish about making hot chocolate. I usually do it two or three times, and we take time to pour the hot chocolate, add whipped cream or marshmallows, and then blow on it to cool it down (I usually make a big show about accidentally blowing whipped cream on one of the kids, which they think it hilarious). Here’s a YouTube video from Babelzone with the tune:

Uno, dos, tres, cho;
uno, dos, tres, co;
uno, dos, tres, la;
uno, dos, tres, te.
¡Chocolate! ¡Chocolate!

¡Bate! ¡Bate! ¡El chocolate!


I did this one with the Monkey Mitt, which came with five bright yellow ducks that stick to the glove with Velcro. The ducks got a big “Awww!” when I pulled them out. Most of the families already knew this song. I do the Raffi version, which you can find here.


I used this one as an instrument play-along, after reading Sleep Train. This is one of my favorite storytime songs, because I love hearing the kids’ suggestions about where they want to go. Today we went to Mexico, Disneyland, the zoo, and Granny’s house. The song (by Elizabeth Cotten) has an amazing history, although I do the more kid-friendly Elizabeth Mitchell version. Here are the lyrics and uke chords I use:

[C] Freight train, freight train, [G7] going so fast.

[G7] Freight train, freight train, [C] going so fast.

[E7]Please don’t tell what [F] train I’m on,

So they [C] won’t know [G7] where I’ve [C] gone.

Going to Mexico, going so fast!

Going to Mexico, going so fast!

Please don’t tell what train I’m on,

So they won’t know where I’ve gone.


For the Stay and Play, I printed out blank snowmen (template below) on cardstock, then put out markers, gluesticks, buttons, and googly eyes, for the kids to decorate (and hopefully count their buttons at home). This was a big hit, with parents as well as kids. Who doesn’t love buttons?

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

Dancing with Dinosaurs: An Outdoor Musical Storytime

We had a very special guest at our Outdoor Musical Storytime today–a wild turkey! It was fitting for a storytime at the beginning of November, and also because our theme was an ancient ancestor of the turkey: dinosaurs!

We almost cancelled today, because it had been raining overnight and the ground was still a bit damp. But since the skies were clearning, we decided to give it a try. I posted a picture of the picnic area on a couple of Facebook groups for local families, explaining that we were still holding storytime, but to be sure to bring a towel or blanket to sit on. I also mentioned our Dinosaur theme, so one little boy showed up with his prized dinosaur collection!


Here are the books and songs that we did:

Crunch, the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap; illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

Crunch, the Dinosaur, is very shy, and likely to hide if you say “Hello” too loudly. This is a fun, interactive book that asks the kids to sing “Happy Birthday,” shout their names, and say “Goodnight,” as Crunch slowly warms up to them. This was a great way to get my shy group talking.

Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Groovy Joe is a lot like Pete the Cat, especially since the books are written by the author of the first few Pete books. In this one, Groovy Joe is preparing to enjoy his favorite ice cream, and singing his song “Love My Doggy Ice Cream!,” but he keeps getting interrupted by hungry dinosaurs. But that’s okay because, as Joe says, “It’s awesome to share!” The kids loved chiming in on the ROARs, and the families were singing along with the song every time.

Dinosaur Stomp by Paul Stickland

I love to throw in pop-up books whenever I can, because the kids are always mesmerized by them. In this colorful, rhyming picture book the dinosaurs pop off the page in surprising ways. It was fun to ask the kids to name some of the more recognizable dinosaurs.


If You’re Happy and You Know It

This one fit well with Crunch, the Shy Dinosaur, because we sang about lots of different emotions: If you’re sad and you know it, cry “Boo hoo!”; If you’re angry and you know it, say “I’m mad!”; If you’re shy and you know it, hide your face…peek-a-boo!

The chords are:

If you’re happy [C] and you know it, clap your [G7].

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your [C].

If you’re [F] happy and you know it,

And you [C] really want to show it,

If you’re [G7] happy and you know it, clap your [C] hands.

If All the Raindrops

The perfect song for our recent weather, and as a follow-up to Ice Cream and Dinosaurs. I asked for suggestions of favorite foods, so we made the rain into gummy bears and pasta, and pizza and grapes. Here’s an old video I made for the tune:

[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!

We Are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner

The little boy who brought his dinosaurs already knew this song, and it worked perfectly for our instrument play-along. I used the chords from this site:

STAY AND PLAY: Dinosaur Footprints

A Dinosaur Print Display made by Claire

For our Stay and Play activity, we gave the kids paper plates and small handfuls of Crayola Air Dry Clay, and showed them how to flatten their clay into a small disc on the plate. Then we gave them toy dinosaurs, so they could press the footprints into the clay, or lay them on their sides to make a full body print. We also encouraged them to decorate their clay with leaves from around the park. This turned out to be a lot of fun! Thank you to Big Happy House for this idea. You can also do this craft with Salt Dough, which is cheap and easy to make.

What are your favorite dinosaur books or songs? Please let me know in the comments.

Virtual Thanksgiving Storytime

My coworker Angela and I had a fun Thanksgiving-themed Interactive storytime this morning, with families and two preschools logging in via Zoom. Here’s what we did:


We opened by talking about Thanksgiving, and sharing this funny list of things that kids are thankful for from the Huffington Post, which includes gas, ceiling fans, and “Mommy wiping my poop”: 21 Things Kids Are Thankful For That Will Make You Laugh by Hollis Miller.


As usual, we asked the kids to find a cloth of some kind to wave the first time we sang this song. Then we asked for suggestions to do for the next few times we sang it. We ended up jumping (always a favorite), twirling, saying “I Love You” in sign language, and smiling.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, follow [G7] me.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

[C] Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me.

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me,

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

SONG: The Turkey Jerky

So many Thanksgiving books are about unfortunate turkeys trying to escape ending up on the dinner table. I do enjoy some of them, especially Sometimes It’s Turkey, Sometimes It’s Feathers by Lorna and Lecia Balian, but they are sometimes a bit depressing. This time, we mostly avoided the turkey theme, but I couldn’t resist including this song, because it’s so much fun.

(To the tune of The Hokey Pokey)

You put your right wing in,

You put your right wing out,

You put your right wing in,

And you shake it all about.

You do the turkey jerky and you turn yourself around.

That’s what it’s all about!

Repeat with your left wing, your right drumstick (right foot), left drumstick, waddle (your chin, or a cloth hanging from your chin), and tail feathers!

BOOK: Benjamin Bear Says Thank you by Claire Freedman, illustrated by Steve Smallman

Angela read this cute story about a bear who always forgets to say “thank you.” We showed the kids how to say “Thank you” in American Sign Language. This book is available through both Hoopla and Overdrive.

SONG: If You’re Happy and You Know It

We taught the kids the sign for Happy in American Sign Language. Then we sang the song, but added in different emotions. Angela had several paper plates with faces depicting different emotions on them, so she up a different one for each verse. We sang:

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…

If you’re sad and you know it, cry “Boo hoo!”…

If you’re sleepy and you know it, yawn and stretch…

If you’re surprised and you know it, give a big gasp!…

If you’re angry and you know it, say “I’m mad!”…

If you’re happy and you know it, shout, “Hooray!”

BOOK: You Are My Happy by Hoda Kotb; illustrated by Suzie Mason

Short, sweet story with adorable illustrations, about a baby bear and his mother, sharing the things that make them happy. It made for a great read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers because there were lots of opportunities for them to make the sign for Happy, as well as blowing kisses, giving themselves a hug, and other simple motions.

SONG: I Am Thankful

I couldn’t think of a good song for the theme, so I wrote this one. Feel free to use it however you like, or add in your own verses. We did it as a play-along, encouraging the kids to play whatever instruments or noisemakers they had on hand, or just clap or dance along.

[C] I am thankful for

The [F] colors that I see,

For [C] friends who play with me,

And for my [G7] loving family.

[C] I am thankful for [F] rainbows in the sky,

For the [C] taste of pumpkin pie,

And for a [G7] warm hug when I cry.

I’m thankful [F] for the sky above

I’m thankful [C] for the ones I love,

[D] My cozy bed at night,

And for [G] the summer sun so bright.

[C] I am thankful for the [F] monkeys at the zoo

But [C] most of all I’m [G7] thankful for [C] YOU!

[C] I am thankful for [F] bubbles in the air,

For a [C] cool breeze in my hair,

And for my [G7] snuggly teddy bear.

[C] I am thankful for [F] yummy things to eat,

For [C] ice cream cones so sweet,

And for a [G7] special birthday treat.

I’m thankful [F] for the sky above

I’m thankful [C] for the ones I love,

[D] My cozy bed at night,

And for [G] the summer sun so bright.

[C] I am thankful for the [F] monkeys at the zoo

But [C] most of all I’m [G7] thankful,

[C] I am so very [F] thankful!

[C] Most of all I’m [G7] thankful for [C] YOU!

CLOSING SONG: You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis & Charles Mitchell (or possibly by Oliver Hood)

All in all it was a fun program! Some of kids held up favorite toys or books, and we talked about them here and there. One challenge with Zoom is that, while we muted the kids while we were reading or singing (because unfortunately music doesn’t sync well over Zoom), the kids can unmute themselves by hitting the space bar, which of course is the biggest button on the keyboard, so we did have to occasionally mute certain kids (even though they were adorable!). Luckily, we had another coworker, Kelly, managing the tech side of the program. Highly recommended if you have enough staff!

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

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Picture Books about Big Machines

It’s been a while since I’ve done a write-up about a storytime, but I just did two with a construction equipment theme that were both a lot of fun.  The first was a family storytime, for a wide variety of ages. The second was a preschool storytime, although most of the kids were actually under the age of 3.

Here are the books I read for both:


Go! Go! Go! STOP by Charise Mericle Harper

I liked this one so much, I actually read it for Musical Storytime as well.  Little Green knows only one word, “GO!”  When he shouts it out to the busy machines working on the new bridge, it motivates them to work faster and faster.  But then things get out of control.  Luckily, just then, Little Red rolls into town and shouts the only word he knows, “STOP!”  It takes a while for Little Green and Little Red to figure out how to work together, but when they do, they help the machines get the bridge built.  There are lots of opportunities for the kids to shout (and whisper), “GO!” and “STOP!” throughout the book, which they loved.  It also provides a great way to model to parents how to use prominent repeated words in the text to help kids make the connection between print and spoken words.  This would work really well for a color theme as well.


Bulldozer’s Big Day by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Bulldozer is so excited about inviting his friends to his party.  But each time he rolls up to a big machine he knows and ask them what day it is, they answer that it is a scooping day, a mixing day, a scraping day, or whatever kind of day it usually is when they are working.  Bulldozer is sad, until the crane announces that it’s a “lifting day,” and lifts up an enormous birthday cake.  Fun book for kids to try to name each type of big machine, and demonstrate what each one does.  This would also work for a birthday theme.


Build, Dogs, Build by James Horvath

A crew of dogs tear down an old building and construct a new one from beginning to end.  LOTS of different types of construction equipment in this one, and funny details hidden in the colorful illustrations.  The kids especially enjoyed looking for Jinx the cat on each page.  Great for both dog fans and construction lovers.


The Construction Crew by Lynn Meltzer by Carrie Eko-Burgess

Another picture book that follows the construction of a house from beginning to end, with rhyming text that asks kids, “What do we need?” for each step of the process, starting with the wrecking ball to tear down the old building and ending with the moving truck to help the new family move in.  Even the adults loved this one.


What Can a Crane Pick Up? by Rececca Kai Dotlich; illustrated by Mike Lowery

I did this one for Musical Storytime as well.  It’s a rhyming book that describes all of the many things a crane can lift, including multiple trucks, a submarine, library books, another crane, boxes of underwear, and even you!  Quirky and fun.


I’m Dirty  by Kate and Jim McMullan

Another book by the team behind I Stink, this book introduces a mud-loving backhoe who cleans up a lot full of garbage and abandoned junk, counting what he picks up as he goes: including four cat-clawed couches, and two tossed-out toilet seats.  The kids enjoyed “eww”-ing at the pictures of trash and mud.


20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mike Lee; illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

Cute counting book about an ice cream truck that breaks down in the middle of the street, causing a traffic jam of big trucks.  No one knows what to do, until the boy narrating the story suggests that the crane truck can save the day.  The kids liked the big truck illustrations, and of course, any book with ice cream is always a hit.


Twinkle, Twinkle, Traffic Light

I did this one to go along with Go! Go! Go! Stop! to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Traffic Light,
Twinkle, Twinkle, Traffic Light,
Shining on the corner bright.
Red means STOP! (hold out hands in “STOP” motion)
Green means GO! (run in place fast)
Yellow means YOU’D BETTER GO SLOW! (run in place slowly)
Twinkle, Twinkle, Traffic Light,
Shining on the corner bright.

Bouncing Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon

This is a great song for babies on up.  Older kids like coming up with silly “tools” to fix the wagon, like a pickle or a rhinoceros.  The ukulele chords alternate between C and G7, so it is very easy to play too:

Bouncing up and down in my little red wagon.
Bouncing up and down in my little red wagon.
Bouncing up and down in my little red wagon.
Won’t you be my darlin’.

One wheel’s off and the axle’s broken… (lean to one side)

Joey’s going to fix it with his hammer…

Bouncing up and down in my little red wagon…

Repeat, asking kids who would like to fix the wagon, and what tool they would use.



Sadly, it was too crazy on Wednesday night for me to get a picture of the kids’ finished crafts, but I did my own version of this Crane Craft I found from the DeKalb Public Library. Instead of popsicle sticks, I cut up drinking straws, and had the kids thread a piece of yarn through them to attach to the arm of their crane.  It was a bit tricky for the toddlers, who needed their parents’ help, but they all seemed to enjoy it.



Our library system encourages librarians to create a handout for storytimes, listing all of the books and songs, as well as literacy tips for parents.  I don’t usually do one for my Family Storytimes, since I often have to adjust my book selections on the fly depending on what age kids show up.  But here is the handout I used this week for Preschool Storytime: May 25 Pre K Storytime (Larsen, Ashley)


Picnic Time for Teddy Bears: Storytime about Stuffed Animals

Teddy Bear Picnic Day is July 10 (who thinks these things up, and how do I get that job?), so this week I did a Teddy Bear storytime.

Year ago, when I was working at the Woodside Library, we used to do a Teddy Bear Picnic every year.  The kids would bring a favorite stuffed animal, and we would read teddy bear stories, sing songs, and hold a contest where every stuffed animal received an award (softest bear, silliest bunny, and my favorite (for the tattered ones)…most loved).  We even had a teddy bear doctor, who would give each animal a check-up.  This was always hilarious, because the kids would present all kind of symptoms: “My bear has a fever.” “My bunny has a stomach-ache.” “My Spiderman was shot!”  My coworker would examine each animal, and write them a prescription, like “Give three hugs each day.” Then we would serve Teddy Grahams and apple juice, and send them on their way.  It was always a highlight at the end of summer.

So I was feeling a bit nostalgic when planning this storytime, and dug out some of my favorite books.  Here they are:


Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough ( link)

My friend Kerri Hall shared this book with me when we were in library school at UNC, and I’ve loved Jez Alborough ever since.  It’s a rhyming story about a boy named Eddie, who has lost his teddy, Freddie.  While nervously searching through the forest, he finds his teddy bear, only to discover that he’s grown to an enormous size.  But then a giant bear appears, moaning that his teddy bear has suddenly shrunk.  The boy and the bear are equally terrified to see each other, and both grab their own teddy bears and run “all the way back to their snuggly beds, where they huddled and cuddled their own little teds.”  The rhymes are so catchy, I can almost recite this book by heart, and the illustrations are large, and adorable.  The page with the frightened bear and boy always gets a laugh.

my friend bear

My Friend Bear by Jez Alborough ( link)

I was planning to read That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell, but the kids seemed to enjoy Where’s My Teddy? so much that I decided to read the sequel (actually it’s the third book in what is actually a picture book trilogy with It’s the Bear, but I’ve read it often as a stand-alone).  In this one, Eddie is walking in the woods with Freddy, and wishing his teddy bear could talk.  Once again, he sees the giant teddy bear, but this time he knows who its owner is.  Sure enough, along comes the bear, and frightened, Eddie hides behind the big teddy.  This leads to a misunderstanding, where the bear thinks his teddy bear can talk, and after sorting all that out, the boy and the bear end up becoming friends.  It’s funny, like the first book, but also sweet, and the ending got a few “Awws” from the parents.

dear bear

Dear Bear by Joanna Harrison ( link)

This is one of my favorite picture books, and one that would work well for a letter-writing theme.  Katie is terrified of the bear she is sure is living in the closet under the stairs.  She tells her mother, who suggests that she write the bear a letter and tell him to go away, which she does.  She is surprised to receive a letter back from the bear, thanking her for the suggestion because he needs a vacation.  When he comes back, he leaves a present for Katie outside the closet door.  The two exchange letters back and forth, until finally the bear invites Katie to a tea party under the stairs.  Nervously, she accepts, but when she arrives, she finds, not a big scary bear, but a large friendly teddy bear.  One of the kids asked how the bear could write letters, and then sagely said, “Maybe her parents wrote the letters.”  The book definitely hints at this, although it never says it outright.


Corduroy by Don Freeman ( link)

One of my all-time favorite books from my own childhood, and one I still love to read.  It’s such a simple story, about a department store teddy bear who loses the button to his overalls, and goes on a quest to find it.  The humor of Corduroy’s interpretation of the world is timeless: the escalator is “a mountain,” the mattress department is “a palace.” Of course, most mattresses nowadays don’t have the “buttons” on the top that Corduroy mistakes for his own missing button.  But it’s still one of the few picture books I know that depicts a family in an apartment instead of the typical suburban house, as well as featuring a beautiful African-American girl who saves the day by adopting Corduroy from the store.  (Incidentally, I stumbled across this blog post by Lisa Rosenberg, the real-life inspiration for Corduroy’s Lisa). There’s been a lot written recently about the lack of diversity in picture books.  I’m acutely aware of that here in the Bay Area, where most of my storytime audiences look nothing like the kids in the books I’m reading.  Corduroy does a wonderful job of creating a lovable, classic story while silently conveying the message that children come in all different shades and backgrounds, and any of them can be a hero.  Plus I always get choked up on the last page.


Going on a Bear Hunt

This was one of my favorite activities when I was a kid, and I love to throw it into a storytime.  The kids echo most of the lines (the ones in parentheses).  I like to play up wiping grass off my pants, and the mud off my feet, and shaking off the water from the lake.  It’s always a hit:

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!

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

We have a collection of animal puppets in our kids area at the library, so for this song I had the kids each pick a puppet to act it out with.  Then I asked the kids what else they would like the puppets to do.  One girl said, “The Hokey Pokey!” So we did the Hokey Pokey with the puppets, which was a lot of fun.  The turning around part is a bit hard with puppets, but because they were animals, we could put their noses in, and their ears and tails and tummies.  Here’s the teddy bear song (you can also just chant it):

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!

The 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 (  It’s kind of a tricky song to sing because of the chord change.   My favorite version by far is the one by Jerry Garcia, which you can listen to here:

CRAFT: PomPom Creatures

PomPom Creature by Kiley

PomPom Creature by Kiley

PomPom Creature by Olivia

PomPom Creature by Olivia

The biggest challenge with this was finding a way to stick the pompoms together.  I gave the kids tacky glue, which worked okay, but I’d love any suggestions on the best way to attach pompoms.  It was still a fun craft, and I loved the way the creatures came out.


I Lost My Bear by Jules Feiffer ( link)

I was hoping to read this book, but unfortunately our branch’s copy was out, and the one I ordered from another library didn’t arrive in time.  It’s a great story about a little girl who is looking for her lost teddy bear.  Her mom tells her to think like a detective, and the hunt begins.  I especially love her sister’s suggestion that sometimes when you throw another stuffed animal, it will find the lost one (I actually tried that in the park once when my son lost a Lego R2D2, and it actually worked!).

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems ( link)

I didn’t read this one because I shared it fairly recently, but of course I have to include it in my list of favorite stuffed animal stories.  When Trixie (who is too young to talk) goes with her dad to the laundromat, she loses her beloved Knuffle Bunny.  She tries everything she can to make her Daddy understand that Knuffle Bunny is missing, including going boneless, but he just doesn’t get it.  Luckily, Trixie’s mom knows exactly what’s wrong, and the whole family rushes back to the laundromat.

That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell ( link)

I meant to read this one, although I can’t do it nearly as well as my former boss, Thom Ball.  Emily loves her stuffed rabbit, Stanley.  Unfortunately, Queen Gloriana also has her sights set on Stanley, even though Emily refuses to give him up.  Finally, the Queen kidnaps Stanley, but complains that he no longer looks happy.  So Emily teaches her the secrets of having a happy toy companion of her own.

I Must Have Bobo! by Eileen Rosenthal; illustrated by Marc Rosenthal ( link)

I like this one for toddler storytime.  Willy loves his toy monkey, Bobo, but so does Earl the cat.  A simple story with funny illustrations, as Willy has to constantly search for Earl’s latest hiding place.

What are your favorite books about stuffed animals?

The Very Busy Author: In Honor of Eric Carle

Seahorse by Addie

Seahorse by Addie

I got my first library job the summer of my freshman year at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.  One afternoon, I just happened to stumble into the Jones Library (a lovely public library in town with a vast children’s collection), and even though I was already working as an intern for the local paper, I asked the woman at the children’s desk if they had any jobs available.

I have no idea why I did that, and even less of an idea why they hired me, but for the next three years I worked in the children’s room: checking out books, answering questions, shelving, filing cards in the card catalog (yes, I am THAT old!), and shelf-reading.  It was baffling to me that I was getting paid to be there, because I loved every minute of it.  And one day, after an arduous meeting with my thesis advisor, I was so relieved to get to my library shift, that I realized in a rush that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

I haven’t been back to Amherst since 2001, which means I just missed the opening of The Eric Carle Museum there. I would love to visit it, especially since it hosts so many wonderful children’s authors and exhibits.  And I would love to meet Eric Carle himself, who was always one of my childhood favorites (I especially loved The Grouchy Ladybug.  and I whacked that whale’s tale at the end so many times that it eventually ripped off).

As I kid, I don’t think I ever appreciated the genius of Eric Carle, specifically how each of his books teaches something: the days of the week, how to tell time, how a spider builds a web, etc.  The repeated words and phrases also make his books great for beginning readers.  But all that is like spinach secretly hidden in a batch of chocolate chip cookies (which apparently is a thing!).  You don’t even notice it, because the story is fun to read, and the illustrations are irresistible.

So last week’s family storytime was in honor of Eric Carle.  Here is what we read:


The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse ( link)

Based on the art of Franz Marc, who was famous for his paintings of blue horses, this book shows a boy describing his unusual animal paintings: a red crocodile, a yellow cow, a black polar bear, a polka dotted donkey, etc.  It’s simple enough for toddlers to enjoy, but fun for all ages.  Kids love books that break the rules, and this one gives them permission to go out and paint their own wild creations.  Two first grade girls vied to check this one out in the end.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar ( link)

I had to read this one, and not just because my daughter is raising caterpillars at home right now.  When my son was born, my former boss from Amherst sent me a board book copy of this from the Eric Carle Museum.  Both of my kids have always loved it.  They especially enjoy sticking their fingers through the holes on each page.  It’s a naturally interactive read-aloud, since you can ask kids to name the foods the caterpillar ate each day, and to chime in every time you say, “But he was still hungry.”  The kids at storytime were all excited to see it, even though (or maybe especially because) most of them had a copy at home.


Mister Seahorse ( link)

When Mrs. Seahorse deposits her eggs in Mister Seahorse’s pouch, he proudly swims around meeting other fish fathers, who each have their own way of guarding their offspring: carrying their eggs in their mouths or on top of their heads.  But there are many other fish he doesn’t see, because of their clever ways of hiding.  The camouflaged fish are revealed behind clear plastic “peek-a-book” pages (as a kid, I was fascinated by the Human Body section of the World Book Encyclopedia, where you could flip the transparent pages to see the layers of bones, organs and muscles.  I would have loved this book for the same reason).  A great book for teaching about ocean life and camouflage.  One girl asked why the baby seahorses swim away from their father as soon as they are born, which led to an interesting discussion about instinct.


The Secret Birthday Message ( link)

A mysterious message provides shape-themed clues leading to a birthday surprise.  Fun, simple, adventure that would be great lead-in to a scavenger hunt, or a unit on maps or shapes.


A House for Hermit Crab ( link)

Another ocean-themed book, this one about a hermit crab who has outgrown his shell.  He finds a new one, but is dismayed that it is so plain, so as he travels, he asks other creatures to attach to his shell and make it more decorative.  Lovely way to learn about a variety of ocean animals and the names of the months.


I Bought Me a Rooster

To go along with The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, we sang this song, and I asked the kids to supply silly animal and color combinations: purple dog, rainbow horse, etc.  Here are the words with the ukulele chords (click on the triangle for the tune):

I bought a yellow rooster and the rooster pleased me
C G7
I fed my rooster on the bayberry tree
My yellow rooster goes, “Cock-a-doodle doo!
C F G7 C
Dee Doodle, Dee Doodle, Dee Doodle, Dee Doo!”

I bought a purple dog and the purple dog pleased me
I fed my purple dog on the bayberry tree
My purple dog goes “Woof! Woof! Woof!”
My yellow rooster goes, “Cock-a-doodle doo!
Dee Doodle, Dee Doodle, Dee Doodle, Dee Doo!”

If All the Raindrops

We sang this one after The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and the kids suggested foods to be the rain, including popsicles and chocolate:

If all the raindrops
G7                           C
Were lemondrops and gumdrops
C                                                 G7
Oh, what a rain that would be!
C                G7                           C                    G7
Standing outside, with my mouth open wide
C                 G7               C                 G7
Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah!
C                                           G7                           C
If all the raindrops were lemondrops and gumdrops,
C                   G7                     C
Oh, what a rain it would be!

CRAFT: Dot Paint Seahorse

Seahorse by Olivia

Seahorse by Olivia

Seahorse by Shelby

Seahorse by Shelby

I printed out a seahorse template from this web site. I was originally going to have the kids glue scraps of colored tissue paper on the seahorse, but I ended up letting them use Do A Dot Markers instead, which was far less messy.  They had a great time playing with the different colors.  I liked that one little girl said her dots were the seahorse’s eggs.  Another used the Dot Markers to color in the whole seahorse, which isn’t easy to do.  A third used regular markers to add seaweed.

What is your favorite Eric Carle book?