Category Archives: Ocean

Get ready for summer reading!

Get ready for the 2022 Collaborative Summer Reading Theme, Oceans of Possibilities: Océano de Posibilidades, with these 2 webinars from Stories By Hand!

Text reads: Get ready for Summer Reading with Little Hands Signing Professional Development Webinars. Ocean Signs: Thursday, May 5, 2022, 2-3 PM Eastern. Summer Signs: Thursday, June 2, 2022, 2-3 PM Eastern. Ocean Signs information appears against a background of jellyfish floating in the ocean. Summer Signs information appears against a beach with a sandcastle in the corner.

Add some American Sign Language to your storytime toolbox! In these interactive sessions, we’ll focus on basic ASL vocabulary for storytimes. Learn how to incorporate ASL into storytime songs, rhymes, and stories in a respectful and effective way. Registration includes 30 days of recording access. Individual: $40 per webinar. Group rates available.

Little Hands Signing Professional Development Webinar: Ocean Signs: Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 2 PM Eastern/1 PM Central/12 PM Mountain/11 AM Pacific. Register now.

Little Hands Signing Professional Development Webinar: Summer Signs: Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 2 PM Eastern/1 PM Central/12 PM Mountain/11 AM Pacific. Register now. 


Boogie with Books

logoheaderbestWe 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!

Baby Storytime Rhyme: Tickly Octopus

Octopus, octopus, bobbing up and down,

reaching your long arms all around.  (wave arms)


Baby tries to crawl far away

but octopus arms don’t let you stray (hug baby)


Here comes the octopus tentacle by tentacle (walk fingers up baby’s arms)

He’ll wrap you in a hug and give you a tickle! (hug and tickle baby)

Sign This! (Baby Storytime Magic Edition): Three Jellyfish

Three jellyfish,

Three jellyfish,

Three jellyfish sitting on a rock.

Zoop! One jumped off!

Two jellyfish…

One jellyfish…

No jellyfish…

But then . . . zoop! One jellyfish jumped back on.

Zoop! Another jellyfish jumped back on.

Zoop! Another jellyfish jumped back on.

Let’s count them! One. . . two. . . three!

Three jellyfish,

Three jellyfish,

Three jellyfish sitting on a rock.

Literacy bit (Share this with caregivers!): “Using basic signs with songs helps your child not only develop manual dexterity, which will later be important for grasping and holding things and for writing, but also make connections with concepts and language. This song uses a simple story to emphasize opposites.”

Baby Storytime Magic cover

Look for more active fun for baby storytimes in Baby Storytime Magic: Active Early Literacy through Bounces, Rhymes, Tickles, and More by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker, coming soon from ALA Editions.

Sign This!: In the Ocean

Use the American Sign Language sign FISH as you share this rhyme.

sample picture_fishIn the ocean the fishies swim.  (sign FISH)

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!

Surf’s Up!

beachRecommended Books

At the Boardwalk by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman.  Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales, 2012.

Beautiful illustrations and rhyming text describe all that is offered at the boardwalk.  From early morning jogging to arcade games and sweet treats, anyone who has strolled the boardwalk will enjoy this simple tale of family fun.

At the Beach by Anne and Harlow Rockwell.  New, NY:  Simon & Schuster, 1991.

This classic tale with simple pictures and text is perfect for any child.  A little girl and her mother spend a day at the beach playing in the sand and water.

Action Rhyme

Beach Day

The sun is in the sky, (point up)

the sand is under my feet, (point down)

the waves tickle my toes (touch toes)

and crash in a rhythmic beat. (SPLASH)


At the Beach

Pieces Needed: sandy beach, ocean wave, shovel, pail, sandcastle, seagulls, beach bag

At the beach we play all day,

running and splashing in the ocean spray.

I take out my pail, and my shovel too,

and build a castle for me and you.

The seagulls squawk and steal our food,

leaving my mom in a foul mood.

As the sun sets, we pack our supplies,

rinse the sand off, and say our goodbyes.

Five Fish

Piece Needed:  five fish, seaweed, sunken ship, anemone, sea turtle, setting sun

Five little fish swimming near the ocean floor,

One stopped to nibble some seaweed, then there were four.

Four little fish swimming in the sea,

One explored a sunken ship, then there were three.

Three little fish in the ocean blue,

One went to visit an anemone, then there were two.

Two little fish playing and having fun,

One caught a ride on a turtle’s back, and then there was one.

One little fish noticed the setting sun,

He swam home before the day was done.


Surfin’ Safari by the Beach Boys

While the song is playing, toss a beach ball into the crowd.  Dance around and try to keep the beach ball in the air for the entire song!


Paper Plate Beach

Pieces needed:  paper plate, glue, torn pieces of brown construction paper, shredded blue construction paper (or gift bag filler), cut out pictures from magazines of  beach umbrellas, flip flops, towels, seagulls, fish, or other beach items.

  1. On the lower half of a paper plate glue brown pieces of construction paper to create sand.

  2. On the upper half of the paper plate glue blue strips of paper to create the waves of the ocean.

  3. Glue various other pictures on the plate that you may find at the beach.

Super Scarves: 7 New Ways to Use Them in Your Programs

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”!

2) Kites:

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.

Ocean Journey

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!

4) Butterflies:

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!

See a video of the sign BUTTERFLY.

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.

6) Washcloths:

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.

Click here for a free flannelboard pattern for Dog’s Colorful Day, courtesy of artist Melanie Fitz.

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.

Click here for a free flannelboard pattern for Monkey Soup, courtesy of artist Melanie Fitz.


Ribbons and Streamers: Not Just for Parties

Ribbons and streamers are fun to incorporate into storytime and can be used in a variety of ways, all of which promote development of gross motor skills. You can use sturdy pre-made ribbons from a school and library supply company (our favorites are Lakeshore Learning’s Wrist Ribbons, which are just the right size for young children), or you can make your own using lengths of ribbon tied to dowel rods. For a less sturdy take-away streamer, tape a length of crêpe streamer to a straw.

Here are some ideas for using your streamers in storytime:

1. Share an ancient tradition:

The Ribbon Dance is a two thousand year old Chinese folk dance. Dancers use long ribbons attached to sticks to represent clouds and are supposed to bring rain and plentiful crops. Invite the children to move their ribbons in different ways as you show the sun, rain, wind, and clouds.

2. Catch a Wave:

Ribbons and streamers make wonderful waves. Make waves to your favorite Beach Boys tune, or go under the sea with a Calypso rhythm. Invite the children to stand in two rows, waving their streamers up high. Let the children take turns “swimming” between the rows so they feel they are under the sea!

3. Make a Rainbow:

Pass out streamers in a rainbow of colors. Wave them above your head when practicing your colors, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, or during a book when a rainbow is mentioned. Or share the rhyme below to reinforce color knowledge.

If your streamer is red, wave it over your head!

If your streamer is blue, shake it by your shoe!

If your stream is yellow, wave it at a fellow!

If your streamer is green, shake it while you lean!

If your streamer is pink, shake it however you think!

4. Share a Star:

Sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as you gently wave your streamers to show the shimmering starlight, or share the shooting star rhyme below:

“The Star”

There once was a star who lived up in the sky (wave streamer above head)

He twinkled and twinkled at all who came by (move streamer in small movements to represent twinkling)

He twinkled left and he twinkled right (move streamer left, then right)

He twinkled through the day and he twinkled through the night (continue twinkling)

He twinkled down at the earth and he twinkled at me (point streamer down and keep twinkling)

Until he decided Earth was where he wanted to be.

So one day he twinkled as brightly as could be (move streamer in large back and forth movements)

And became a shooting star who came down…! (slowly make streamer descend to the ground)

5. Race a Rocket:

Mark off a “course” on the floor using plastic cones or masking tape. Let the children take turns becoming “rockets” with the streamers as the fire coming out of their engines, as they skip or dance along the course.

Rocket Song (to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel”)

(Name) is blasting off into space

In a big red rocket

First we count and then we blast off

(5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Blast off!) (slowly raise streamer during countdown)

ROAR! Goes the rocket. (go along course with streamer behind you)

 6. Fly a Kite:

Play “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins and pretend your streamer is a kite in the sky.

7. Share a Shape:

Use your streamer to create shapes in the air as you sing this song.

Shape Song (to the tune of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”)

Can you draw a square, draw a square?

Oh can you draw a square, draw a square?

Draw a line and then three more

They are all the same for sure

Oh can you draw a square, draw a square?


Can you draw a circle, draw a circle.

Oh, can you draw a circle, draw a circle?

A circle is round

With no corners to be found

Oh, can you draw a circle, draw a circle?


Can you draw a triangle, draw a triangle?

Oh, can you draw a triangle, draw a triangle?

Make one side and then make two,

Then make a third, that’s all you do,

Oh, can you draw a triangle, draw a triangle?

8. Write a Word:

Use the streamer to write words or letters in the air. Encourage the children to make their letters as large as possible. This activity encourages letter knowledge, gross motor skills, and prewriting skills. As you lead the letters, describe exactly how to move the streamer to create them. For example: “Let’s make a letter A. We start at the top, then make a slanted line down to the bottom. Now back up to the top, and make a slanted line going the other way. Now make a little bridge to connect the  lines. We made an A!”


Carpet Squares: Not Just for Sitting on Anymore

Those good old standbys, carpet squares, can be so much more than just a seat! Check out these cool new ideas for using carper squares in your programs.

1) Surfboards:

Spice up a summertime or ocean-themed program by inviting the kids to climb aboard their carpet squares and surf along with your favorite Beach Boys tune!


2) Color Action Game:

If you have carpet squares of different colors, use them to play a color recognition action game. (If all your carpet squares are the same color, put processing dots of different colors in the corners.) Then sing the song below and invite the kids to perform the actions:

(to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)

If your carpet square is red, pat your head.

If your carpet square is red, pat your head.

If your carper square is red, then go ahead and show it.

If your carpet square is red, pat your head.

Blue…touch your shoe…

Yellow…wave to a fellow…

Brown…jump up and down…

White…curl up tight…

Green…do a forward lean…

Black…scratch your friend’s back…

Grey…shout “hooray!”

Any color…give a holler!…


3) Play a life-sized board game:

Set up a path of carpet squares around the room, randomly mixing up colors. (Again, if your carpet squares are all one color, mark the corners with different colored processing dots.) Designate a starting and ending square. Create cards of each color by cutting up pieces of construction paper (or put dots on index cards if you are using the dot method. If desired, mark some squares with pictures relating to your theme and make cards to match. (For example, a Fall storytime might include a pumpkin, apple, leaf, and tree.) Have the children line up at the starting square and then take turns drawing a card from the pile. If a child draws a red card, he or she goes to the first red square. If a child draws a picture card, he or she must go to that square, even if that means going backwards. Keep playing (reshuffling cards as needed) until everyone gets to the end.

Literacy variations:
  • Alphabet matching: Mark the squares with letters of the alphabet and make cards to match. (Or use a set of magnetic alphabet letters and have each child draw one out of a bag on his or her turn.) Be sure to ask the child to identify the letter and match it to the correct square.
  • What’s that sound?: Mark the squares with letters of the alphabet as above, but make cards with simple words that begin with different letters of the alphabet. On each child’s turn, read a word aloud without showing it to the child, and see if the children can guess the first letter by sound. If they have trouble, show them the card and help them identify the first letter and its sound before moving to the correct square. (Make sure that the letters on your cards and squares are consistently uppercase or consistently lowercase to avoid confusion.)
  • Big and Little Matching: Mark the squares with uppercase letters of the alphabet, and make cards showing the lowercase letters. The children must match the letters to find the correct square.


4) Make Your Own Flannelboard:

Give each child a carpet square and a set of simple felt shapes, and invite them to tell the story along with you as you use the large flannelboard. This is a great activity for baby storytimes, as it encourages one-on-one interaction between parent and child, and gives parents a useful model for storytelling with their little ones at home. A simple flannelboard story such “Dog’s Colorful Day”, based on the book by Emma Dodd, is ideal for this activity. (Download a free flannelboard pattern by artist Melanie Fitz here.)

For older children, consider using this activity with a tangram story. Tangrams, a traditional Chinese puzzle and storytelling form, are easy to make and can yield thousands of different shapes. Check out one of the books below for stories and instructions on how to make a tangram set:

  • Grandfather Tang’s Story: A Tale Told With Tangrams by Ann Tompert. New York: Crown, 1990.
  • Grandfather’s Shape Story by Brian Sargent. New York: Scholastic, 2007.


5) Lilypads:

Liven up a froggy storytime with this rhyme, performed on carpet square lilypads.  Follow up by inviting the kids to hop from lilypad to lilypad around the room while you play a frog song such as “Jumping Frog” from Pretend by Hap Palmer (Freeport, NY: Educational Activities, Inc., 1998).

Lilypad Rhyme

I am a frog, lovely and green

I sit on my lilypad, calm and serene

Until a fly comes whizzing by

Then I LEAP in the air so high!

I stick out my tongue and SLURP.

Down goes the fly and out comes a burp.

I like being a frog, so I don’t think I’ll stop

Because it’s so much fun to hop!

There goes another fly, I really must dash.

I hop into the water with a great big SPLASH!


6) Tuffets:

Invite the kids to imagine that they are Miss Muffet sitting on her tuffet and act out the silly rhyme below.

Miss Muffet’s Tuffet

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet

Eating her curds and whey

Along came a spider and sat down beside her

And frightened Miss Muffet away.

But she came back around and sat back down

And continued then to eat.

Her toes got cold, so she was told

To put the tuffet on her feet!

Miss Muffet was done, she’d eaten a ton

But she didn’t care.

The spider came back and jumped on her back

So she waved her tuffet in the air!

It started to rain, she said, “What a pain!

I don’t want my hair to get wet!”

So she lifted her hands like that, and made up a hat

She put the tuffet on her head!

The rain started to slow, and the spider had to go

So she said, “I’ll see you around!”

She put the tuffet on the floor, and then once more

She sat herself back down!

Under the Sea Storytime

Recommended Book

Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure. New York: Abrams, 2010.

A child eagerly awaits summer, repeatedly asking his mother, “Is it summer yet?” As the seasons change the mother points out all the signs that summer is arriving until she can finally respond, “My little one, it is summer now!”


Flannelboard Rhyme

Colorful Fish

For a multicultural twist, use this activity to teach colors in Spanish or another language.

There are lots of fish in the ocean today,

swimming and playing along the way.

Listen to the clues and make a wish!

Guess the color of each little fish!


These fish are the color of a cardboard box,

a bar of chocolate and dirty socks. (BROWN)


Look over there, bright fish are swimming by,

they are the color of strawberries and the apples in a pie. (RED)


These fish are the color of the night,

be careful if they sneak up on you, they’ll give you a fright! (BLACK)


These fish are the color of snow,

a piece of paper and a baseball you throw. (WHITE)


Fast fish the color of grass,

hiding from the bigger fish, swim by fast! (GREEN)


Shy fish, the color of the sky,

swim by quickly, say goodbye! (BLUE)


Action Rhyme

“I Wish I Was a Fish”

(act out the words, or use the sign FISH)

I wish wish wish

I was a fish fish fish

I’d swim down low

then jump up high

Then splash back down

oh my oh my!

I’d swim left and I’d swim right

Through the day and through the night.

I’d wiggle through the water

with a splish splash splish

If I was a little fish!


Activity Rhyme

Octopus, Octopus

Octopus, octopus, turn around

Octopus, octopus, touch the ground

Octopus, octopus, reach up high

Octopus, octopus, floating by.




Materials needed: paper plate, crayons or markers, construction paper, glue sticks, scissors.


  1. Cut a curving piece from the top of the plate so that the plate resembles the shape of a fishbowl.
  2. Cut fish shapes from various colors of construction paper. (For younger children, precut the fishbowls and fish.)
  3. Draw rocks, castles, or other shapes in the bottom of the fishbowl. Color in the blue water.
  4. Glue your fish into the bowl and decorate as desired.