Archive for the ‘Toddler Music / Movement’ Category


Bringing in props is a great way to spice up your storytime.  After a while the most enthusiastic blend of puppets, songs, and new fingerplays may seem stale – either to you as the presenter, or the caregiver’s parents.  Simple things you take for granted in your household fascinate children (and sometimes parents).  Start bringing these into the storytime arena.

Here are some examples of some simple props and what to do with them.

Apples – You can do a storytime about apples, or if you need a broader topic fruit or food.  Bring in a variety of colors.  You can play games sequencing the apples; placing them in a row thusly – red, red green, red, red, green, red, red… and asking which one comes next.  Use other sequences too!  Big to small.  You can also talk about how some apples are the same and some are diffeent.  You can slice them in half and talk about the seeds, and how they make a tree.  At the end of storytime, every child can take home one apple.  Remember to remind them to wash it before eating!

Records / Record Player – I have a big record collection, and in my kitchen at home I have an old record player.  I listen to music when I’m cooking and eating breakfast in the morning.  Well the morning before my “Shapes” storytime was happening I was eating breakfast and DUH – “records are circles!”  And perfect for musical storytimes.  I brought in the record player and a kids record I had.  We did the “Hokey Pokey” from it, and talked about how records and CDs are different and the same.

Musical Instruments – I play a few different instruments- and they always make good props (even if you can’t play them well).  Whatever you play well can be used with songs you sing. Anything else can be used for comparing and contrasting.  Remember to talk about the different sounds!  I’ve brought in acoustic guitars, electric guitars and a banjo.  Next week I’m bringing in my drum set for my advanced guitar class.  I’ll keep them at the library an extra day and then use them for my Toddler Power Hour.  We’ll be talking comparing them, talking about the sounds of big drums and small drums (and cymbals!)  and every child will get to play them.


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food Food. Everyone loves it!

…Or used to love it at one point.  Often, as we’re growing up, we’re told a lot about ‘what to eat’ – followed rather quickly by, ‘what not to eat.’  These two lists grow more complex and lengthy with every passing year.

Fortunately the innocence of children perseveres in this world of diet fads and scientists quietly retreating from the lipid hypothesis**.  And teaching them a few simple rules about food will surely do more good than harm.  Last Thursday led me to do just that.

The picture here depicts a game I played with my toddler group.   During storytime, each child received one of these food products.  We talked about each food a little bit. What we like, what we don’t.  I gave a few examples of what I eat sometimes and what I eat always.  They I called up the children to put their food on the board either in the “eat sometimes” column or the “eat always” column.

This activity was easy enough to prepare and execute, and if left a lot of room open for silly jokes.  “Not quite right – although I bet everyone in here would like to eat a cupcake often,” etc…  Parents always enjoy silly jokes.  Storytime the kids love? …Great! Storytime the kids and parents love? … Super awesome great!  The parents should enjoy the program too.  Last I heard, these kids aren’t driving themselves to storytime.

Here are some other quick and easy activities I use for this theme.

After I introduce a new vegetable to the pot we sing this song. We talk about vegetable names, colors and I tell them my favorites (typically tubers).  This song is sung over and over until the soup is done.  Have the children make a stirring motion.  If you have a favorite puppet you use, have them try the finished product.

The Soup Is Boiling Up

The soup is boiling up,
The soup is boiling up,
Stir slow around we go,
The soup is boiling up.

This apple tree song is pretty basic.  A flannel board of a tree and five apples is a good visual, but you don’t have to have it.  I put visual instructions after each phrase in parenthesis.

Way Up High In the Apple Tree.

Way up high in the apple tree, (point up high)
Five little apples smiled at me, (show five fingers and smile)
So I shook that tree as hard as I could, (act like you are shaking a tree)
Down came an apple…Mmm, it was good! (motion an apple falling to the ground, and rub you tummy)

**A small footnote book recommendation for a small book with small ideas but big execution – “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan.  If you eat food, I can’t recommend this book enough. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Clear, fresh and compelling writing, with a flair for balancing witticism and eye-opening facts.  Other books I love by him (yes, I’ve read them all) are “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “The Botany of Desire.”  Let us to begin to have our storytimes reflect not just fun and education, but also ourselves.

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So, anyone who’s even been an 8 year old knows “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Here’s a quick and fun variation for your toddler or preschool group that uses some easily built props.

Take different sized boxes (such as cereal boxes, cartons etc) and cover them with paper. Be sure to tape all the edges down, otherwise it’ll look like everyone’s opening presents for their birthday at once. You can even make the blocks different colors and use them for a color recognition game later on. Each child gets a block, then you sing this song…

Do the actions with them so they can follow along.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

If you’re happy and you know it, lift your block,
If you’re happy and you know it, lift your block
If you’re happy and you know it
and you face will surely show it
If you’re happy and you know it, lift your block.

… lay it down.
… swing your block.
… hug your block.
… tap your block.
… drum your block.
Get chords for the above song here.

On the last variation of “… drum you block” you can drum longer than the song would normally go on for each time – saying “stop!” to stop the drumming and resume the song.

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Here are some activities for a storytime involving pets.

Dear Zoo
… puppet show.
For this show you essentially show these pets to the children as the zoo ‘sends’ them to you. Flannel board pets or actual puppets work fine. You can change the number and type of animals they send as well. As you show the animals, ask kids what noise the animal makes, why they wouldn’t be a good pet etc. You can act like you’re petting the porcupine and jump up in surprise. This puppet show is based on the book Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell.

“I don’t have any pets at my house. I wrote a letter to the zoo, asking them if they could send me a pet. I waited and waited,
Finally, they sent me an…
ELEPHANT too big I sent him back
So they sent me a
GIRAFFE.. too tall ..
LION too fierce…
PORCUPINE too prickly
ALLIGATOR too scary
SKUNK too smelly
MONKEY perfect, I kept him.”

I had a Little Turtle
I had a little turtle,
He lived in a box.
He swam in a puddle,
He climbed on the rocks.
He snapped at a mosquito,
He snapped at a flea,
He snapped at a minnow,
And he snapped at me!
He caught the mosquito,
He caught the flea,
He caught the minnow,
But he couldn’t catch me!

Can You?
Can You hop like a rabbit?
Can you jump like a frog?
Can you waddle like a duck?
Can you wag your tail like a dog?
Can you fly like a bird?
Can you swim like a fish?
Can you sit back down and be as still as this?

Head, Whiskers Knees and Tail
Head, whiskers, knees and tail, knees and tail.
Head, whiskers, knees and tail, knees and tail.
And eyes, and ears, and mouth and nose.
Head, whiskers, knees and tail, knees and tail.

There was a farmer had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-o.
And Bingo was his name-o!
Get chords for the above song here.

Web Footed Friends
Be kind to your web-footed friends
For a duck may be somebody’s mother,
Be kind to your friends in the swamp
Where the weather is always damp.

You may think that this is the end,
Well it is, but to prove we’re all liars,
We’re going to sing it again,
Only this time we’ll sing a little higher.
You may think that this is the end….
Well you’re right!

Download a Word Document handout of this storytime here.
Download a cat coloring sheet here – catface.gif.
…and a dog coloring sheet here –  dog.gif.

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Here’s three simple activites for your toddler group about snow. The two songs use melodies you and the parents will already know.  Follow the links to get the chords to play along on guitar.

The Snow
… standing fingerplay activity

The snow is falling down from the sky!
We have to put on our warm hats.
The snow is all over the ground!
Let’s walk very carefully.
Let’s put on our snow shoes.
The cold wind is blowing!
Let’s put on our heavy jackets.
The snow is so thick!
Can you stomp in the snow?
Can you jump in it?
Can you make snowballs and throw them?

Winter is Coming
…to the tune of The Muffin Man

Can you feel the wind blow cold?
The wind blow cold?
The wind blow cold?
Can you feel the wind blow cold?
Winters coming soon.

This is the Way We Dress For Winter
…to the tune of The Mulberry Bush

This is the way we dress for winter,
Dress for winter, dress for winter.
This is the way we dress for winter,
Because it’s cold outside.

We’ll wear pants and jackets today
jackets today, jackets today.
We’ll wear pants and jackets today,
Because it’s cold outside.

Get chords for the above song here.

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Ed. – I’ll be appending more material for shaped themed storytimes shortly.

Shape Activity
Using construction paper and scissors, create multiple cut-outs of these various shapes; square, triangle, circle, rectangle, diamond. At random, hand out one cut-out per child – identifying which shape you give them as you do. You can then have them stand up, and try to find a new friend with the same shape.

While the children are still holding the shapes, you can sing a shape song – encouraging the children to hold up their shape when it’s being sung about.

The Shapes
…to the tune of London Bridge

All the squares have four sides,
have four sides, have four sides.
All the squares have four sides,
and this one is red.

A triangle has three sides,
Has three sides, has three sides.
A triangle has three sides
and this one is green.

All the circles are very round,
Very round, very round.
All the circles are very round.
and this one is brown.

Rectangles are extra tall
Extra tall. Extra tall.
rectangles are extra tall
And this one is blue.

Diamond shapes are very sharp,
Very sharp, very sharp.
Diamond Shapes are very sharp
and this one is white.

Get guitar chords for this song here.

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Note: “The I Am a Snake” Fingerplay isn’t on the downloadable Word document.

—- I Am a Snake
…standing fingerplay activity

I have no legs. I have no arms. (arms down close to body)
I can take off my skin. (pretend to pull off skin)
I wiggle my tongue. (like this wiggle tongue)
I’m very, very thin.  (hands on ribs, slide them down)
I can open my mouth so wide.  (open mouth)
And eat my dinner whole.  (rub tummy)
I can curl up nice and tight, (squat down low)
Or stretch out like a pole.  (stretch up tall)

…to the tune of Bingo

I had a snake
he was so fast
as fast as snakes can be!
S-N-A-K-E, S-N-A-K-E,
S-N-A-K-E, he is my favorite snake!

I had a snake
he was so green
as green as snakes can be!
S-N-A-K-E, S-N-A-K-E,
S-N-A-K-E, he is my favorite snake!

I had a snake
he waved goodbye
he waved goodbye to me!
S-N-A-K-E, S-N-A-K-E,
S-N-A-K-E, he is my favorite snake!

Get chords for the above song here.

All the Snakes
…to the tune of London Bridge

All the snakes are slithering,
slithering, slithering.
All the snakes are slithering,
across the grass.

All the snakes make a hiss,
makes a hiss, make a hiss.
All the snakes make a hiss,
and smile at the sun.

Snakes smell with there tongues,
With there tongues, with there tongues.
Snakes smell with there tongues,
and they can smell you!

Get chords for the above song here.

I’m Being Swallowed by a Boa Constrictor
I’m being swallowed by a boa constrictor,
I’m being swallowed by a boa constrictor,
I’m being swallowed by a boa constrictor,
And I don’t like it that much.
Oh No No No it ate my toe toe toe.
Oh gee gee gee it ate my knee knee knee.
Oh my my my it ate my thigh thigh thigh.
Oh fiddle fiddle fiddle it ate my middle middle middle.
Oh heck heck heck it ate my neck neck neck.
Oh dread dread dread it ate my head head head.
I’m being swallowed by a boa constrictor,
And I don’t like it that much.

Download a Word Document handout of this storytime here.
Download snake coloring sheets here.
snake1.gif, snake2.gif.

Included in the word document but not shown here;
Opening song “Open-Shut Them,” Song “Three Little Speckled Frogs”, and “Goodbye Song.”

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