Brighten up any storytime by teaching the American Sign Language colors!
Learn the color signs from Shaylee, Ivy, Manny and Sheena in this adorable video from ASL Nook! It’s perfect for learning the signs yourself, and also short and engaging enough to share with students or in storytime!
Then incorporate the ASL signs for colors in your favorite songs and rhymes! Here’s a fun one to get you started. This song is terrific for online storytimes and lessons too, because it keeps kids engaged even through a video screen! For more signing fun, click on the links to learn the signs for the movements too.
Where are Colors? Song
by Kathy MacMillan
(to the tune of Frere Jacques)
Where is RED? Where is RED?
Look around. Look around.
Point to something RED, Point to something RED
JUMP up and down, JUMP up and down.
Need a storytime song about pizza? Looking for some new songs to use with shakers or scarves? Want to find some music to support your STEM programming? Look no further than Song Catchers’ Library, a handy database of music for children’s programming compiled by Heather of littleliteracylibrarian.org and Kelsey of librarybonanza.com. With an ever-growing, searchable database of song references and handy tabs that compile some of the most commonly searched items such as seasons, action songs, and prop songs, this is a site anyone who uses music with children will love. Don’t see a favorite song listed? Just fill out the form on the homepage – Heather and Kelsey are adding to the database every day.
We just became aware of the great “Book to Boogie” series on the Library as Incubator Project blog, which pairs great storytime books with dance and movement activities in monthly themed guest posts. This month’s entry features books about the sea, with accompanying activities by Julie Dietzel-Glair, author of the great storytime resource Books in Motion. Check out Julie’s post and the whole series for more idea to put some motion in your storytimes or lessons!
Last week, Kathy’s “Stories By Hand” blog featured an interview with Dawn Babb Prochovnic, author of the “Story Time with Signs and Rhymes” series. Click here for the interview.
We were so excited to learn that Dawn has a great series of “Start to Finish Story Time” posts on her blog. Each of these lesson plans centers around one of her books, and includes suggested songs, rhymes, signing games, and reading activities to use with kids, all in a modular format that allows educators and librarians to select the materials that work best for their groups.
As Dawn says, “Each lesson plan incorporates ideas that are suitable for infant/toddler, preschool and/or school age audiences, and each program incorporates activities that promote literacy/early literacy and one or more of the six keys skills recommended by the National Research Council for preparing children to become readers when they enter school. Programs can last from 20 – 45 minutes, depending on what you include and who your audience is.”
There are 4 available so far, with the promise of more to come:
A to Z, Sign with Me
You may also want to bookmark this Summary Post, where Dawn will link to future installments.
Halloween is the perfect time to talk about feelings with young children – and American Sign Language is a wonderful way to help children connect visual cues with feeling concepts, to help them develop an understanding of their own feelings as well as empathy for the feelings of others. Here’s a fun song to introduce feeling signs to kids. Extend the activity by drawing a simple pumpkin face on a whiteboard and asking the child to help you draw the appropriate expressions for each feeling.
“Pumpkin Feelings” (Click on the links to see videos of the key signs)
- If you’re a sad pumpkin, cry some tears…
- If you’re an angry pumpkin, stomp your feet…
- If you’re a scared pumpkin, curl up into a ball…
- If you’re an excited pumpkin, jump up and down…
Find more hands-on signing activities like this one in Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together by Kathy MacMillan, photographs by Kristin Brown. (Huron Street Press, 2013).
Use the American Sign Language sign FISH as you share this rhyme.
They leap up high… (move FISH hand up as if fish is leaping)
then jump back in! (move FISH hand low as if returning to water.)
Look for more fun American Sign Language rhymes, songs, crafts and more in Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together by Kathy MacMillan, coming in October from Huron Street Press. Pre-order now!
Bean bags may be some of the least appreciated storytime props – after all, they are easy to make, cheap to buy, and they can be used for so many different activities across a variety of age groups and storytime themes. But that’s not all! Bean bag activities also help children to:
- develop directionality and orientation in space, which supports writing skills
- improve self-control
- develop hand-eye coordination, an important early literacy skill
- improve gross motor skills
- understand the rhythm of language with their whole bodies
Here are some fun ideas for using bean bags in your programs, and links for more ideas!
On each line, move both hands from sides to up in the air above the head. Each time your hands go above your head, pass the beanbag to the opposite hand.
In the sky
Flap your wings
And up you fly
Back and forth
To and fro
Up, up, and
Away you go!
2) Froggy Hop
(to the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush”)
For baby and toddler storytimes: Give a bean bag to each caregiver and have them hop it on the baby’s toes, knees, etc. as described in the rhyme.
For older children: Follow the directions below to make this a balancing activity.
Froggy’s hopping on my toes, on my toes, on my toes (balance bean bag on toes)
Froggy’s hopping on my toes –
RIBBIT! (move bean bag to knee)
Froggy’s hopping on my knee…
Froggy’s hopping on my tummy…
Froggy’s hopping on my shoulder…
Froggy’s hopping on my head, on my head, on my head (balance bean bag on head)
Froggy’s hopping on my head –
RIBBIT! (make bean bag jump to floor)
He hopped away!
3) At the Circus
Place a masking tape line on the floor to act as a tight rope. Invite the children to balance their beanbags on their heads as they walk across. If they drop them, encourage them to pick them up and keep trying!
With my bean bag on my head,
I stand so very tall.
I walk along my own tightrope
And will not let it fall.
4) Cook Out
This is a fun bean bag activity for food or summer themed storytimes. As a bonus, when you are moving the hamburger from hand to hand in the first part of the rhyme, you are also signing HAMBURGER in American Sign Language. Click here to see a video of the sign.
(Hold bean bag in right hand. Hold left hand facing up. Turn right hand over to deposit bean bag into left palm. Then turn both hands and repeat it the other way, as if you are shaping a hamburger patty. Repeat this rhythmically through the first verse.)
I’m making a hamburger for the grill.
Will I eat it? Yes I will!
(Place bean bag on flat left palm. Use your right hand as a spatula to lift the beanbag and flip it over. Then switch hands. Repeat this motion throughout verse 2.)
I’m flipping my hamburger on the grill.
Will I eat it? Yes I will!
(Hold bean bag in left palm. Pretend to squirt on ketchup, mustard, etc. with other hand.)
Now I’m fixing my hamburger from the grill.
Will I eat it? Yes I will!
(Place bean bag in left hand. Raise hand toward mouth, then down to right hand. Switch the bean bag to the right hand and repeat.)
Now I’m eating my hamburger. This is fun!
Did I eat it? Yes, all done!
(If desired, sign ALL DONE at the end. Click here for a video of the sign.)
I went to the train station
To take a little vacation (Pass bean bag back and forth between hands for the first 2 lines)
I went to the beach (Move bean bag diagonally away from you, starting at your right side, and ending up far out in front of your on you left side)
And then came home (Bring bean bag back to right side)
And had some relaxation. (Place bean bag into left hand)
Repeat, replacing “the beach” with vacation destinations chosen by the children. Each time you begin, you should be starting with the bean bag in the opposite hand from the previous time. Make sure the diagonal cross-body movements also alternate hands between verses. This simple motion of crossing the midline improves communication between the two hemispheres of the brain.
Got a great bean bag activity that you use in your programs? Tell us about it in the comments below or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a copy of our latest storytime resource book!
More Bean Bag Activities:
Maisy the mouse is out and about! In a series of large lift-the-flap pages, readers must put the clues together to figure out the places she is visiting in her neighborhood.
The Sounds Around Town by Maria Carluccio. Barefoot Books, 2011
Baby enjoys a stroller-ride through town with his mommy, listening to the sounds of the city, from morning birdsong to an afternoon café to evening traffic.
Five Little Trucks
(to the tune of “5 Little Ducks”)
5 little trucks drove out one day,
Over the hills and far away.
Mama Truck said, “Beep, beep, beep!”
4 little trucks came home to sleep.
4 little trucks…
3 little trucks…
2 little trucks…
1 little truck…
Mama Truck said, “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!”
5 little trucks came home to sleep!
It’s easy to add American Sign Language to this song! Click here to learn how in this video tutorial with Kathy MacMillan.
Rhymes, Songs, and Bounces
Bounce: A Smooth Road
A smooth road, A smooth road.
A rough road, A rough road.
A bumpy road, A bumpy road.
An icy road, An icy road.
Oh no, there’s a…HOLE. (drop baby gently through legs)
Bounce: Trot, Trot
Trot, trot upon a horse,
To the library we’ll go.
We’ll open books
and read just so.
“Sammy” from Getting to Know Myself by Hap Palmer (CD). Educational Activities, 1994.
Sammy imagines that he is a bird, a fish, a bug, and a bunny as he explores different ways to move on his way to the store. Adapt this movement song for babies by introduces animal puppets before the song and encouraging parents to move their babies in ways that mimic the animals:
- Bird: hold babies in the air
- Fish: Rock baby while making fish faces
- Bug: Let older babies crawl; put younger babies on their backs and move their legs back and forth
- Bunny: Bounce baby in lap
- Me: Cuddle!
Beyond peek-a-boo and freeze dances, what can you do with a scarf? Plenty!
1) Windy Days:
Perfect for weather or springtime storytimes, the activity encourages children to imitate the qualities of the wind with their scarves. With or without music, ask the children to move their scarves as they would in a light wind, a medium wind, and a heavy wind. They can even be the wind and blow their scarves into the air! Ask older children to make two lines facing one another and wave their scarves at shoulder height, then have each child take a turn walking through the lines and experiencing the indoor “windy day”!
Using the song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from the Mary Poppins soundtrack or the original song below, encourage children to fly their kites through the air.
“Kites Are Flying” (to the tune of “Frere Jacques”)
Kites are flying, kites are flying
In the sky, in the sky
See them in the springtime,
In the windy springtime
Kites fly by, kites fly by.
Blue kites flying, blue kites flying…
Red kites jumping, red kites jumping…
Yellow kites circling, yellow kites circling…
Green kites diving, green kites diving…
Orange kites turning, orange kites turning…
Purple kites wiggling, purple kites wiggling…
(Adjust color verses to the scarf colors you have; End by repeating first verse)
3) Waves in the Ocean:
Pass out scarves and encourage the children to wave them at waist height to mimic the waves as you tell the story below.
We’re going on an ocean trip
We’re boarding a great big ship.
Se the tiny waves below
In the harbor rippling slow.
Now we’re leaving from the shore
And the waves are moving more.
Slow and steady, our ship goes past
But now the waves are getting fast.
Here comes a wind, the waves get bigger.
Will we make it, do you figure?
The ship is rocking to and fro
As higher and higher the waves go.
A storm is coming, see the clouds?
This is getting scary now!
The waves are huge! Big and rough!
I’m getting seasick! I’ve had enough!
But look! The sun is shining through.
The waves are growing calmer too.
They are still big, but getting slow.
Back and forth and to and fro.
Now we’re almost safe in port.
And the waves are getting short.
Little ripples in the water.
And we’ve arrived at the shore, just like we oughta.
The waves are waving, small and shy
So we wave too, and say goodbye!
Make a beautiful butterfly using American Sign Language along with your scarf! First, hold both hands up facing away from you. Then hook your scarf over one thumb. Next, cross your wrists. Now carefully turn your palms so that they face you. (Don’t drop the scarf!) Hook your thumbs together and wiggle your fingers and you’re signing “butterfly”! Play instrumental music or a freeze dance as the children make their butterflies fly around the room!
5) Flag-waving Fun:
Have a Fourth of July Parade! Pass out scarves in red, white, and blue and play patriotic music as your storytimers march through the library! Make it a St. Patrick’s Day Parade by using green, white, and gold scarves.
Read Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodds and invite the children to “scrub” the colorful spots off the dog with their scarves when he takes his bath. Then invite everyone to scrub-a-dub with Bert and Ernie as you sing “Everybody Wash” from Splish Splash: Bath Time Fun.
7) Soup-Stirring Tissue:
Share Monkey Soup by Louis Sachar, and invite the children to “stir” the soup with their “tissues” (scarves). This book lends itself well to a flannelboard or prop story presentation.
Sure, you know all about using rhythm sticks to tap out rhythms, but consider these creative uses for the old storytime standby:
1) Spider Legs:
Hold your sticks vertically to make spider legs, and sing “The Spider Went Over the Mountain”. Kids love to make their spider sticks walk!
2) Magic Wands:
Pass out one stick to each child and invite them to help you cast a spell! Let the children take turns using their wands to make their friends jump, turn, bounce, and sit!
3) Giant Pencils:
This exercise is great for promoting gross motor skills and early literacy! Give one stick to each child and let them draw shapes in the air, or write specific letters or numbers.
4) Windshield Wipers:
Give 2 sticks to each child and chant the rhyme below as your “windshield wipers” keep the rain away. This activity is a great tie-in to rain or transportation themed programs.
Windshield Wipers Rhyme
It’s a rainy day and down the street we go.
It’s only raining a little bit, so the wipers are going slow.
It’s starting to rain more now, but it’s not a disaster.
We know what we need to do: make the wipers go faster!
Oh no, it’s really pouring now, we hope that it won’t last.
Let’s turn those windshield wipers up, and they’ll go fast fast fast!
The rain is slacking off again, we’re not sad to see it go.
We’ll turn those windshield wipers down, and they’ll go back to slow.
Oh, look, is that the sun I see? And here comes one last drop.
The rain has stopped now, yessiree, and we turn our wipers OFF!
5) Olympic Torches:
Give each child one stick, and stage your own Olympic relay across the room! Use an orange scarf for the flame, and have each child pass it along with his or her rhythm stick to “light” the next torch. (Make sure you play Olympic music to complete the experience!)
Make your own marching band! Have the children hold their rhythm sticks like flutes as they march around the room.
7) Clock Hands:
Hold one stick in each hand. Review where the numbers on the clock fall, and then call out times. The children should move their clock hands to the appropriate positions. (For older children, call out things like “dinnertime” and “bedtime” and have them supply the times!)