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.


Spring Fever: A Storytime About Springtime

Today was a beautiful day for our Outdoor Storytime, and perfect for our Spring theme. Here is what we did:


When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes; illustrated by Laura Dronzek

This large, colorful picture book describes the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of Spring. There are lots of opportunities to ask the kids about things they see in the pictures: baby birds, bees, kittens, etc. We practiced “melting” together like snowmen, and even talked about a couple of letter sounds on the pages describing things that start with the letters “B” and “W.”

Spring is Here by Will Hillenbrand

Sweet, funny story about Mole trying to wake up his very sleepy friend, Bear. For this one, I used a tactic I learned from a coworker, where you give the kids a visual cue, like putting your hand by your ear, to tell them to say a certain word or make a certain sound. In this case, I had them snore like a bear, which happened on every page. The ending got lots of laughs.

Abracadabra! It’s Spring! by Anne Sibley O’Brien; illustrated by Susan Gal

Every page of this book features a magic word (like “Abracadabra”) and opens up into an extra-long two page spread to reveal a magical change that happens in spring: flowers blooming, eggs hatching, butterflies coming out of cocoons, etc. I had the kids wave their index fingers like magic wands and say the magic words with me. On the page about “confetti trees,” my coworker, Claire, threw pink flower petals into the crowd.


Oh, Mister Sun

This was one of the first storytime songs I ever learned. I usually do the Raffi version (here’s a link to the video):

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!

Here is the Beehive

This is another favorite storytime rhyme that’s always a hit:

Here is the beehive (make a fist with one hand)

Where are the bees?

Hiding away where nobody sees.

Watch, and they’ll all come out of their hive…

One, Two, Three, Four, Five… (hold up each finger as you count)

They’re alive! (Fly your fingers around. I told the crowd they were “tickle bees” so they tickled themselves and their grown-ups)

The Little Bunnies

One of the day care providers who comes to storytime uses this song with her kids, and I have always wanted to try it. We sang it three times, and the kids LOVED it! Claire and I both held up bunny puppets, but also did the motions along with the 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!

When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along by Harry Woods

This was a song that my Dad sang a lot when I was little. It was written in 1926. There were a number of robins depicted in the books I read today, and I had been pointing them out whenever they appeared. I also explained that in many places seeing a robin means that it’s the beginning of Spring. Here’s a version performed by Bing Crosby.

When the [C] red, red, robin comes [G7] bob, bob, bobbin’ [C] along, along,

There’ll be no more sobbin’ when [G7] he starts throbbin’ his [C] old sweet [C7] song:

[F] “Wake up! Wake up, you Sleepyhead! [C] Get up, Get up, Get out of bed!

[D] Cheer up, Cheer up, Cheer up, the sun is red.

[G7] Live, love, laugh and be happy.”

[C] What if I’ve been blue?

[G7] Now I’m walkin’ through [C] fields of flowers.

Rain may glisten, but [G7] still I listen for [C] hours, and hours.

[F] I’m just a kid again, [Fm6] doin’ what I did again,

[C] Singin’ a [Am] song.

When the [C] red, red, robin comes [G7] bob, bob, bobbin’ [C] along, along.


This was a really simple project, but it worked well, even for the toddlers. I printed out butterfly templates on cardstock (there are lots of options online, but I used this one from Cliparts.co). I put out shredded tissue paper in different colors, along with craft gemstones, and glue sticks. Some of the kids (and grown-ups) got really into decorating their butterflies.

What are your favorite Springtime books? Please share them in the comments.