On the Go: A Storytime About Vehicles

At the end of last week’s storytime at the park, we were startled when two deer came running towards our picnic area, followed by a garbage truck. The kids were briefly excited by the deer, but they were absolutely enthralled by the garbage truck, and sat spellbound as it picked up a dumpster and emptied it. So this week, I decided to do a storytime about trucks.

Here’s what we did:


No Honking Allowed by Stephanie Calmenson; illustrated by AntonGionata Ferrari

I was originally planning to read Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman, but I couldn’t get hold of a second copy (since the families are spread out pretty far apart, we usually try to have a second copy to hold up, to make sure all the kids can see the pictures). This book was a fun alternative. Rex, the dinosaur, really wants to honk his car horn, and keeps trying to find excuses to do it, but his friend points out the sign that says “No Honking Allowed…Except for Safety.” Finally, an opportunity arises: a fire truck can’t get through the traffic. Rex eagerly honks to let the other cars know. Still, he can’t resist honking just a bit more. The kids enjoyed joining in on all of the “Honks!”

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

It’s Bulldozer’s birthday, but no one seems to remember or even be interested, until suddenly all his friends start making noise, and pull out an enormous cake. This book features lots of popular construction vehicles, and opportunities for the kids to join in on the motions: scooping, lifting, etc. Always a hit!

The Mixed-Up Truck by Stephen Savage

Short and sweet (literally!), this is a cute story about a cement mixer that keeps mixing up the wrong white powder. He mixes flour into a giant cake, and sugar into frosting before he finally gets it right.


Five Dinosaurs by Nancy Stewart

This is a really fun song I learned from another librarian years ago, and it fit perfectly with No Honking Allowed. Here’s a YouTube video with the tune:

[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.


Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Fire Truck!

This one is always a lot of fun, especially if you have time to repeat the whole song and sing it faster. I usually have the kids pretend to put on their fire fighter gear, and then we slide down the pole before climbing into the truck. There are lots of different versions, but these are the words I use. Here’s a video from Kiboomers with the tune.

Hurry, Hurry, Drive the fire truck!
Hurry, Hurry, Drive the fire truck!
Hurry, Hurry, Drive the fire truck!
Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding!

Hurry, Hurry, Spray the water…

Hurry, Hurry, Climb the ladder…

Hurry, Hurry, Save the kitty cat…

Hurry, Hurry, Back to the station…

My Garbage Truck

I wrote this one to use as an instrument play-along at the end, but you can also just sing it and come up with your own motions. You can also invent your own verses with your favorite vehicles.

[C] Don’t you want to drive my garbage truck,
My [G7] garbage truck, my [C] garbage truck?
We’ll drive around town and collect the muck,
And [G7] come back home for [C] tea.

Don’t you want to drive my concrete mixer,
Concrete mixer, concrete mixer?
If the sidewalk’s cracked, we’ll be there to fix her,
And come back home for tea.

Don’t you want to ride in a [C] big machine,
With the [G7] biggest wheels that you’ve [C] ever seen,
We’ll build new roads, and keep [C] them clean,
And [G7] come back home for [C] tea.

Don’t you want to drive my excavator,
Excavator, excavator?
Dig a hole in the ground like a great big crater,
And come back home for tea.

Don’t you want to drive my giant crane,
My giant crane, my giant crane?
We’ll lift beams high as an aeroplane,
And come back home for tea.

Don’t you want to ride in a big machine,
With the biggest wheels that you’ve ever seen?
We’ll build new walls, and keep streets clean,
And come back home for tea.

Don’t you want to drive my fire engine,
Fire engine, fire engine?
We’ll rush to fires with our loud siren
Until it’s time for tea.

Don’t you want to drive my big tow truck,
My big tow truck, My big tow truck?
We’ll help people out when their cars get stuck,
And come back home for tea?

Don’t you want to ride in a big machine,
With the biggest wheels that you’ve ever seen?
We keep you safe, and make streets clean,
And come back home for tea.

Stay and Play: Paper Plate Cars

I got this idea from Glued to My Crafts, who made theirs a Garbage Truck. Basically, you cut a paper plate in half, then cut off the top right corner to make a car or truck shape. I also cut out wheels from construction paper and hole-punched them ahead of time, then provided brass fasteners to hold them on (I provided tape to tape down the ends of the fasteners, so they wouldn’t poke the kids while they were playing with them). The kids had a great time decorating them, and love the spinning wheels.


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)