Testing the Waters: A Storytime for National Learn to Swim Day

Last Saturday (May 21) was National Learn to Swim Day, which is an important skill to highlight in our coastal town. So today we did a storytime all about Swimming.

Here’s what we did:


Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London; illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz

I always enjoy reading Froggy books because usually some character calls “FRROOGGYY!” and Froggy yells out, “Whaaat?” I like to point out the word Froggy on the cover before I read, and tell the kids to watch for it so they can join in. In this one, Froggy doesn’t want to go swimming, even though his mother tells him frogs are born in the water. She teaches him to put his head under the water and say, “Bubble Bubble,” then lift it out and say “Toot Toot!” And then she teaches him to back float by moving his arms in different shapes to match the words “Chicken, Airplane, Soldier.” This becomes a fun repeated refrain throughout the book. Something embarrassing happens to Froggy in every book, and in this case, he loses his bathing suit. Although this was a bit longer than the books I usually read at this storytime, there were enough interactive elements to keep the kids engaged.

Swim Swim Sink by Jennifer Harney

Cute book about a duckling that always sinks when he tries to swim. He tries lots of alternatives: water wings, SCUBA gear, and even a jet-ski, until finally he decides to travel in his own adorable pirate ship. The kids loved joining in on the “QUACKs.”

Bubbles….Up by Jacqueline Davies; illustrated by Sonia Sánchez.

Lovely book describing all of the joys of being in the water: talking underwater, sitting at the bottom of the pool, being surrounded by bubbles. There’s even a thunderstorm in the middle, which we augmented with a thunder tube (one of my favorite storytime props). A beautiful celebration of swimming.


Swimming, Swimming

Cute and easy song with motions. Here’s a video from Mother Goose Club Playhouse:

Swimming, Swimming,

In my swimming pool.

On hot days, and on cool days,

In my swimming pool.

Breast stroke, side stroke,

Fancy diving too!

Don’t you wish you never had

Anything else to do?

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

Claire and I each held up a frog puppet for this one, while holding up our other hand to show the number of frogs remaining. I like to stop between each verse to ask the kids how many frogs are left:

Five green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log.
Eating the most delicious bugs! Yum Yum!
One jumped into the pool,
Where it was nice and cool,
Now there are four green speckled frogs!

Four green and speckled frogs…etc.

Six Little Ducks

[C] Six little ducks that I [G7] 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!”

[G7] “Quack! Quack! Quack! [C] Quack! Quack! Quack!”                                             
[G7] He led the others with his [C]“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!”


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!”


I’m an Anglerfish

I love Folkmanis puppets, and my daughter went through a serious deep sea fish phase years ago. So I was thrilled to discover Folkmanis had made an Anglerfish puppet (it even lights up and its eyes wobble!). We used it today for this anglerfish song, to the tune of I’m a Little Teapot.

I’m an anglerfish,

Come see my light (hold your hand up to your forehead).

Down in the sea

Where’s it’s dark as night.

When a little fish swims in my sight (move your hand like a fish).

I open my mouth (spread hands wide apart)

And I BITE, BITE, BITE! (clap hands together)

Let’s Go Swimming

I know I do a lot of Laurie Berkner songs, but I absolutely had to include this one, which is always a bit hit. Here’s a link to the YouTube video:

And here’s a link to the lyrics, which are too long to include here, as well a link to the chords for ukulele or guitar.

STAY AND PLAY: Bubble Wrap Painted Fish

Bubble Wrap Painting is one of my favorite process art activities. It works great for themes like reptiles, beehives, fish, or just for fun. For this one, I used this fish clipart template to cut fish shapes out of bubble wrap. I put out blue paper, paintbrushes, and small paper plates with a few different blobs of tempera paint for each table. The kids painted the bubble wrap fish, and then smushed them onto the paper to make a fish print. Some kids got really into it, adding eyes and teeth with the paint brushes. Messy fun!

Happy Swimming!


The Great Outdoors! Stories about Adventure

Foam Shape Boat by Shelby

Foam Shape Boat by Shelby

Last week, Ella, one of my regular storytime patrons, asked if she could read a Bob book about Outdoor Adventures at storytime.  So I based last week’s Family Storytime on that theme.  Unfortunately, Ella wasn’t able to come, but I still had fun sharing outdoor adventure books.


The Day Louis Got Eaten by John Fardell (Amazon.com link)

When Louis gets unexpectedly eaten by a Gulper, his sister, Sarah, sets out to rescue him.  Unfortunately, just as she gets close, the Gulper is eaten by a Grabular, who is eaten by an Undersnatch.  Sarah is undaunted.  Pursuing the creatures on a bike that magically transforms to suit the terrain, she saves the day with the help of a hiccup frog.  The whimsical illustrations in this book are always a hit.


Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham (Amazon.com link)

Fun, simple story about a man whose boating outing is complicated by all the animals who want to come along.  The kids enjoyed joining in on the animal noises.  This one is also fun for kids to act out.


Frog by Susan Cooper; illustrated by Jane Browne (Amazon.com link)

Sweet story with beautiful illustrations.  When a frog gets trapped in their swimming pool, Little Joe, who can’t swim, watches as his family tries frantically to get it out.  But it is Little Joe who quietly comes to the rescue, and, inspired by Frog, finally learns to swim.


That’s Good!  That’s Bad!  by Margery Cuyler; illustrated by David Catrow (Amazon.com link)

While visiting the zoo with his parents, a little boy is carried off by a red balloon to a perilous adventure in the jungle.  Each page reveals a new part of the story followed by a refrain of “That’s good! No, that’s bad!” Or, “That’s bad! No, that’s good!” which the kids quickly learned to repeat.


I wish I had thought to do “Going on a Bear Hunt,” since that’s a kind of interactive adventure all its own.  Instead we sang:

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

I added in these two verses.  This song is super easy on the ukulele, since you can play the whole thing with just a C chord:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently to the shore.
And if you see a lion,
Don’t forget to roar! ROAR!

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
And if you see an alligator,
Don’t forget to scream! AAAAAHHHH!

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

I have a rude toy frog that burps when you put your hand in its mouth.  I passed that around when I sang this song, but it’s just as fun to pretend your hand is the frog’s tongue, and pretend to catch flies on the kids’ heads.  Click on the triangle for the first verse:

Five green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log.
Eating the most delicious bugs! Yum Yum!
One jumped into the pool,
Where it was nice and cool,
Now there are four green speckled frogs!

Four green and speckled frogs…etc.

Going to the Zoo

I do this one on the ukulele too.  Click on the triangle to hear the tune:

Daddy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow (C)
Zoo tomorrow, Zoo tomorrow. (G7)
Daddy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow, (C)
And we can stay all day. (C  G7)

We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo!  (F)
How about you, you, you? (C)
You can come too, too, too! (G7)
We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo! (C G7 C)

See the elephants with the long trunk swinging,
Great big ears and a long trunk swinging.
Snuffing up peanuts with the long trunk swinging,
And we can stay all day!


See all the monkeys, they’re scritch, scritch, scratchin’.
Jumping all around and scritch, scritch, scratchin’.
Hanging by the long tails scritch, scritch, scratchin’,
And we can stay all day!


Well, we stayed all day, and I’m getting sleepy,
Sitting in the car getting sleep, sleep, sleepy.
Home already and I’m sleep, sleep, sleepy,
‘Cause we have stayed all day!

We’ve been to the zoo, zoo, zoo!
So have you, you, you!
You came too, too, too!
We’ve been to the zoo, zoo, zoo!

But Mommy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow
Zoo tomorrow, Zoo tomorrow.
Mommy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow,
And we can stay all day!


CRAFT: Foam Shape Boats

Foam Shape Boat by Kiley

Foam Shape Boat by Kiley

I got this simple craft idea from DLTK-kids.com: http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/transportation/mhalvesboat.html  I had some colored foam sheets that I used to cut the shapes out, but you could do it just as easily with construction paper or card stock.  I made a mix of colors for the kids to choose from, and gave them markers to decorate if they wanted.  They each made their boats a little differently.


So many other books fit this theme.  Here are just a few:

Journey by Aaron Becker (Amazon.com link)

I don’t often “read” wordless books at storytime, but I have shared this one several times and the kids always love it.  A beautifully illustrated story about a lonely girl with a magic red crayon who draws her way into another world to find adventure and a new friend.  Reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon, which would also fit the theme.

Fortunately by Remy Charlip (Amazon.com link)

An older book I love that reminds me of That’s Good! That’s Bad!  This one is about a boy who is trying to get to a surprise party.  Unfortunately, the party is in Florida and he is in New York.  Fortunately, he borrows a plane from a friend.  Unfortunately, the engine explodes.  Fortunately, he has a parachute.  You get the picture.

My Friend Bear by Jez Alborough (Amazon.com link)

The third book in the picture book series about Eddie, his teddy Freddy, and the big bear who lives in the woods.  They are all funny rhyming stories with large colorful illustrations, but this is the sweetest one, where the bear thinks his teddy bear can talk (because Eddie is hiding behind it), and Eddie and the bear end up becoming friends.

What are your favorite picture book adventure stories?