Hoppy New Year: A Storytime for the Year of the Rabbit

We had a great time celebrating the Year of the Rabbit yesterday at our Outdoor Musical Storytime! Here’s what we did:


Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin

This colorful story about a girl waiting for the New Year is a great introduction to Chinese New Year customs, like sweeping the house, getting a haircut, carrying lanterns, and watching the parade. We handed out small pieces of bubble wrap before we read the book, and told the kids to pop them on the firecracker page, and at the end when the dragon appears.

Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes

Sweet, simple story about a white rabbit who wonders what it would be like to be green, or tall as a tree, or as still as a stone. The kids enjoyed acting out the different motions, like fluttering like a butterfly or freezing in place. The ending got lots of “Awww’s!”

Everybunny Dance by Ellie Sandall

Adorable, simple story about bunnies dancing, playing, and singing together…until a fox appears. To their surprise, the fox likes to dance too, and is only looking for a friend. The kids had a great time pretending to be bunnies.

Songs & Rhymes

If You’re a Dragon and You Know It

To the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It. I held up pictures of Lion Dancers and Chinese Dragons.

[C] If you’re a dragon and you know it, breathe [G7] fire! (mime breathing fire)

If you’re a dragon and you know it, breathe [C] fire!

If you’re [F] a dragon and you know it, and you [C] really want to show it,

If you’re [G7] a dragon and you know it, breathe[C] fire! 

If you’re a lion and you know it, give a roar!…

If you’re a rabbit and you know it, hop around!….

If it’s the New Year and you know it, make some noise! (Yay!)

Here is a Bunny

Simple fingerplay rhyme that the kids always enjoy:

Here is a bunny (hold up two fingers like bunny ears)

With ears so funny,

And here is his hole in the ground. (make a circle with the thumb and index finger of your other hand)

When a noise he hears,

He pricks up his ears, (move your bunny ears)

And jumps through the hole in the ground! (put your bunny ear fingers into the hole).

Hop, Little Bunnies!

I learned this one from a local daycare provider, who used it every day with her 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!

The Bunny Hop by Ray Anthony

This is old line dance from 1952 (it actually started at Balboa High School in San Francisco). Traditionally, people stand in a line, holding on to the waist of the person in front of them, but for storytime, I just taught the kids how to tap their left foot two times, then their right foot two times, jump forward, jump back, and then hop three times. I played it on the ukulele, but it would have been nice to play the actual recording (especially because it’s hard to do the Bunny Hop while playing the ukulele!)

[C] Put your right foot forward,
[F7] Put your left foot out.
[C] Do the Bunny hop,
[C7] Hop, hop, hop!

[F7] Dance this new creation,
It’s the new sensation,
[C] Do the Bunny hop!
[C7] Hop, hop, hop!

[C] All join in the fun,
[F7] Father, mother, son,
[C] Do the Bunny hop!
[C7] Hop, hop, hop!

Stay & Play: Dot Marker Bunnies

This was a really simple activity, but the kids always LOVE the dot markers.

Before storytime, I printed out a bunny template, like this one from seekpng.com. For the Stay & Play, I put out the printed templates, along with dot markers, googly eyes, pom-poms, and gluesticks. After they colored their bunny with the markers, they enjoyed adding pom-poms for the tail, the nose, and even the insides of the ears.

Happy Lunar New Year! If you have favorite books for the New Year or about bunnies, please share them in the comments below.