Beach Reads: A Storytime About the Beach

It was a chilly day for Outdoor Musical Storytime, which maybe wasn’t the best weather for our Beach theme, but we had fun anyway. Here’s what we did:


Bea By the Sea by Jo Byatt

I love this book, and the kids did too! Bea knows everything about lions. When her mother suggests a trip to the beach, at first she doesn’t want to go. After all, she hates sand. But while she is at the beach, she meets a Sand Lion, who helps her discover that beaches can be fun after all. In return, she helps him overcome his fear of water. Very sweet, imaginative story, with adorable illustrations.

Sally Goes to the Beach by Stephen Huneck

Dogs love the beach too, and this simple, colorful story told from a dog’s point of view explains why. The kids laughed at the line about the air smelling like cat food, and the way Sally imagines the captain of the ferry boat as a dog.

Penguin On Vacation by Salina Yoon

When Penguin tires of the ice and snow at home, he decides to go on vacation to the beach. When he arrives though, he finds that all the things he usually enjoys (sledding, skiing, and skating) don’t work on the sand. Luckily, a friendly crab shows him how to have fun, and when the crab tags along with him back home, Penguin gets to share all of his favorite snow activities with his new friend. Both the kids and the grown-ups enjoyed this sweet story.


Five Little Seashells

I got this song from I sang it to the tune of Five Little Ducks. My coworker, Claire, held up five sea shells, while I did the rhyme with my fingers along with the kids:

Five little seashells lying on the shore,

Swish! Went the waves, and then there were four.

Four little seashells cozy as could be,

Swish! Went the waves, and then there were three.

Three little seashells all pearly new,

Swish! Went the waves, and then there were two.

Two little seashells lying in the sun,

Swish! Went the waves, and then there was one.

One little seashell lying all alone.

I picked it up, and then I took it home.

The Waves at the Beach

This one was from, which has a nice list of other ocean/beach songs. It’s to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus:

The [C] waves at the beach go UP and DOWN,

[G7] UP and DOWN [C] UP and DOWN,

The waves at the beach go UP and DOWN,

[G7] All day [C]long.

The crabs at the beach crawl back and forth…

The clams at the beach go open and shut…

The lobsters at the beach go snap, snap, snap!

The kids at the beach yell “Yay, Yay, Yay!”…

Other songs that we did were: B-I-N-G-O (with the MonkeyMitt. I had the kids bark the missing letters); Slippery Fish (with puppets for each animal), and The Beatles’ Octopus’ Garden, which we did as an instrument playalong.

Stay and Play: Sand Castles

Sand Dough Castle with Sea Shells

This was more of a play activity than a project, but the kids had a great time. We had a lot of play sand left over from our Library Explorer camps, so I mixed up some sand dough/kinetic sand ahead of time. I used this recipe from, which calls for sand, flour, and cooking oil (I used a lot more oil than they suggested to make it more moldable). The dough holds together a little bit, but doesn’t harden, so you can mold it into simple shapes, but nothing permanent. I made sure to tell the parents what was in the dough, in case of any food allergies, and also warned the kids several times that it wasn’t edible (it does kind of look like cookie dough).

I gave each of the kids a Dixie Cup full of the sand dough and a small paper plate. I also put out some tiny sea shells from our craft closet. In retrospect, it would have been nice to have given out Ziploc bags so they could take their sand home at the end, but most of it ended up on the ground anyway (one of the nice things about doing storytime outdoors!).

What are your favorite books about the beach? Please share them in the comments below.


A Day at the Beach

Beach scene by Indy

Beach scene by Indy

In honor of the last day of school in our coastal town, I did stories about the beach.  At first it seemed like it was going to be a challenging storytime: there were toddlers who were vastly more interested in the wooden food in our play kitchen in the kids area than listening to stories, and an older girl who was upset from something that had happened earlier in the day.  But once I started reading Rattletrap Car, they all settled in, bringing their wooden snacks to the carpet, and it ended up being such a fun evening.  Here’s what we read:


Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root; illustrated by Jill Barton ( link)

The sounds and rhymes in this book make it a lot of fun to read aloud.  Plus I get to revisit my Georgia roots by laying on the Southern accent.  On a hot day, Junie, Jakie, Papa and the baby set off for the lake in their Rattletrap Car, “it doesn’t go fast, and it doesn’t go far.” Then “Boomssssssss!” They get a flat.  Not to worry: Junie replaces the wheel with her beach ball, and sticks it on tight “with chocolate marshmallow fudge delight,” and off they go…until the floor falls out.  As their troubles (and solutions) mount, the car makes sounds like, “flippita fluppita/ fizzelly sizzelly/ wappity bappity/ lumpety bumpety/ clinkety clankety/ bing bang pop!”  The kids were mesmerized, and this one was quickly snatched up at the end.


Bebé Goes to the Beach by Susan Middleton Elya; illustrated by Stephen Salerno ( link)

Cute rhyming story about a toddler and his mother at the beach.  The text is interspersed with Spanish words, with clues to help kids decipher their meaning.  The curious, busy little boy keeps his mother on the run as he darts from one activity to another.  This one was a hit too.


Sally Goes to the Beach by Stephen Huneck ( link)

Sally the dog is excited to go on a ferry with lots of other dogs to visit an island.  A simple story told from Sally’s perspective, with humorous touches in both the text and the woodcut illustrations.  Sally imagines the ferry captain must look like a dog, and in one picture, it looks as if Sally is driving the car.  The kids especially liked the picture of Sally with a starfish stuck to her nose.  Two girls both wanted this one at the end.


Dude: Fun with Dude and Betty by Lisa Pliscou; illustrated by Tom Dunne ( link)

This one got a lot of laughs, especially from the parents.  The style parodies the old Dick-and-Jane-style books, but with surfer lingo.  Dude and Betty have an excellent day cranking waves, until Bud (the dog) eats Dude’s nachos: “Bud is harshing on Dude’s mellow.”  I wish I could read this as well as my boss, Thom Ball, does, but I still had a lot of fun.


Bumpin’ Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon

I sang this song to go along with Rattletrap Car. The toddlers were making a beeline back to the play kitchen, so I decided to sing it the way I heard it once on a Raffi recording, with lots of silly “tools” to fix the wagon.  I used the kids’ names and whatever wooden food they were holding at the time.  It worked beautifully for pulling them back in.  Yay, Raffi!  I played it on the ukulele, which is easy because you just alternate between C and G7.  Click on the triangle for the tune:

Bumpin’ up and down in my little red wagon. (C)
Bumpin’ up and down in my little red wagon. (G7)
Bumpin’ up and down in my little red wagon. (C)
Won’t you be my darlin’? (G7  C)

One wheel’s off and the axle’s broken!
One wheel’s off and the axle’s broken!
One wheel’s off and the axle’s broken!
Won’t you be my darlin’?

Ella’s going to fix it with a banana…

Bumpin’ up and down in my little red wagon.

One wheel’s off and the axle’s broken!…

Sarah’s going to fix it with a sandwich…


I sang this one after Sally Goes to the Beach. We have a lot of stuffed animals in our storytime area, and somehow, in the course of singing this song, I ended up changing Bingo into a killer whale, which one of the girls was holding.  Then other kids started holding up animals, so Bingo became a polar bear, a lion, and Tigger (instead of a farmer, we would sing, “There was a zookeeper had a lion,” etc.  It made it much more interactive and fun.  I will definitely try it that way again.

Two simple songs that I meant to do were Sandcastle and Sand in My Sandals.  I learned both of them years ago when I taught Kindermusik, and they appear to be original Kindermusik songs (here’s a link to the album they came from).  Sandcastle is especially fun, because you can give the kids three or more paper or plastic cups to make a small tower, and then let them knock it down.   Here are the tunes:


Sand in My Sandals:



Beach Scene

Beach scene by Ella

Beach scene by Ella

I got this idea from Family Spot-Blog:  It was perfect because I had some blue paper plates left over from my son’s birthday party last year, and some white Model Magic for the sand.  I also had some multi-colored foam sheets (although cloth or construction paper would have worked just as well), so I cut those into rectangles for the towel.  I did buy some cocktail umbrellas, (which made my daughter very happy because she is obsessed with umbrellas).  For the trees, I cut rectangles out of brown construction paper, which I rolled and taped together ahead of time, and I cut thin strips of green construction paper for the palm fronds.  As usual, each child made their scene a little differently, by adding extra umbrellas or towels, or making extra things out of clay, like Ella’s seagull above.


Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman ( link)

A new book that I read about in my friend Kerri’s blog, What is ML Reading?, and had to get for myself.  It’s about three bears who accidentally break their mother’s precious blue seashell, and set off in a boat to find a replacement.  The illustrations are gorgeous, and while the text is a bit lengthy, it’s a fun story with a great last line.

Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies ( link)

One of the series of Bats at books by Brian Lies, in this one the bats head off to the beach with their moon tan lotion and “bug-mallows.”  The illustrations are adorable.

Ladybug at the Beach by David Soman and Jacky Davis ( link)

My daughter loves the Ladybug Girl books, about a little girl named Lulu, who wears ladybug wings to become a superhero.  In this one, Lulu visits the ocean for the first time, and is frightened by the power of the waves, until she has to rescue a lost pail.

What are your favorite books about the beach?