Put a spin on a familiar favorite by sharing this rhyme from the Philippines:
The little spider, the little spider
Climbed up the branch.
The rain came down and pushed it away.
The sun came out and dried the branch.
The little spider is always happy.
Now watch this video to learn how to share this rhyme with American Sign Language:
For more engaging multicultural fun for any storytime, check out Multicultural Storytime Magic by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker.
(to the tune of “London Bridge”)
Click on these links to learn the signs RAIN, SNOW, and WIND. Introduce these signs and then encourage the children to use them during this simple song. Experiment with the size of the movement to covey a drizzle versus a thunderstorm, a flurry versus a blizzard, and a breeze versus a gale.
See the rain come falling down on this rainy day.
See the snow come floating down, floating down, floating down
See the snow come floating down on a snowy day.
Feel the way the wind does blow, wind does blow, wind does blow.
Feel the way the wind does blow on this windy day.
What’s better than a great storytime book? How about a great storytime book followed by a great tie-in activity? Following up a story with related activities can reinforce vocabulary, concepts, and story structure and provide fun, active learning for little minds! Here are five of our favorites:
1) Pizza at Sally’s by Monica Wellington. New York: Dutton, 2006.
Sally and her cat bake up delicious pizza pies in their pizzeria. Follow up by passing out scarves to serve as pizza dough. Invite the kids to spin the “dough” in the air as they make their pizzas!
2) Raindrop Plop! by Wendy Cheyette Lewison. New York: Viking, 2004.
A little girl in a red raincoat counts her way up to ten and back again as she explores on a rainy day. Follow up by handing out water-filled eyedroppers or pipettes (both available cheaply at your local teacher supply store) and paper cups. Invite the children to “plop” the raindrops into the cups with you, counting as you go! This is also a wonderful sensory activity for baby and toddler storytimes.
3) Thirsty Thursday by Phyllis Root. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2009.
In this story, Bonnie tickles a cloud with a feather to make it rain. Hand out craft feathers to all of the children and retell the story, having the children help Bonnie tickle the clouds. This helps children develop narrative and sequencing skills.
4) Wild About You by Judy Sierra. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.
Animals are waiting for the babies to arrive at the zoo, and when they do, the entire zoo takes care of them. Prior to storytime, hide some pictures of baby animals, or stuffed baby animals, throughout the room. After the story, go on a hunt to find the baby animals hidden around the room. If you used stuffed animals, have each child find one, then play a fun song and bounce the animals on a parachute. Try it with “Fifteen Animals” or “Jump Rope Jive” found on Philadelphia Chickens by Sandra Boynton (New York: Workman, 2002).
5) The Shape of My Heart by Mark Sperring. New York: Bloomsbury, 2012.
There are shapes all around us that represent different parts of our day and life. After reading this book, pass around shapes to the group and ask them to share their shape and what they think of when they see it. Shape ideas: heart, sun, vehicles, lips, various foods, shoes, feet, hands, animals, trees, flowers.
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!)
We posed this question to our newsletter readers:
With math and science benchmarks playing an ever-more important role in early childhood education, librarians are often expected to incorporate these concepts in conscious way into storytimes. How do you incorporate meaningful math and science concepts into your storytime activities?
“Introduce simple graphing…..when doing colors, have bags of M and M’s available. Have a simple graph with the colors listed available (we have one we found online sometime back). Have participants count the numbers of each color and record on the graph. Or do this in front of the whole group and have small bags for participants to eat. Graph other things….do you like red, yellow, or green apples? Do you like snow or not? What Easter/Halloweencandy is your favorite?” -Barbara S.
“I started a monthly program that is history or science based for kids 7 to 14. We offer programs for babies, preschool kids and teens but there was nothing for the in-between ages. The mummy program has been the biggest hit so far. There was a slideshow of actual mummies and artifacts, an online game that showed how Egyptians embalmed their dead, and the kids got to dissect a mummy that I made. I have kids that talk to me about it months later.” -Elizabeth L.
Kathy and Christine say:
Incorporating math and science into your regular storytimes is easier than you think! Here are some simple ideas:
- Invite children to count the objects placed on the flannelboard. With preschoolers, pose simple math problems, such as, “If I take away one apple, how many will be left?” Use the tangible objects to make the math come alive.
- Graph the objects. Create columns of like objects then count them. Ask the children which object had the most?
- When doing crafts, count how many objects you’re gluing on or how many colors you’re using.
- You have to count your storytime attendees for your statistics, so why not make it part of the program? Invite the kids to count along with you as you count attendees. For family programs, count how many kids and how many adults, then ask the kids to compare the numbers – were there more children or adults? Write the number on a whiteboard or chalkboard so children can connect the written and spoken forms of the numbers.
- In a color storytime, discuss the primary colors and how to mix them to create secondary colors.
- In a weather storytime, practice blowing bubbles or scarves and discuss wind and what makes a windy day. Is it snowing? Talk about what the temperature needs to be to snow.
In the Snow by Sharon Phillips Denslow. New York: Greenwillow, 2005.
A child leaves seeds in the woods to encourage the animals to come out and eat. We are treated with beautiful illustrations by Nancy Tafuri, depicting the animals and their prints in the snow.
In the Snow: Who’s Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George. New York: Greenwillow, 1995.
Two children follow a trail, discovering evidence of a variety of animals on a snowy day. After exploring, they also find a treat at the end of the trail has been left just for them.
Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming. New York: Henry Holt, 1997.
Many animals hibernate in the winter. In this gentle story, each animal hurries to tell another that winter is arriving, until the word spreads through the forest. Click here for free flannelboard patterns for this story by artist Melanie Fitz.
Animals in the Snow
Out in the wilderness, I can see (hold hand up to forehead as if looking into the distance)
So many animals have been here before me.
I refill the bird feeders and put out seeds, (mime scattering seeds)
In hopes that the animals will have plenty of feed.
I wipe off the window from inside my house, (mime clearing window)
And spot the flash of a little mouse.
Soon other animals come to eat,
and the birds whistle an appreciative tweet. (whistle)
When nighttime falls, the seeds are gone, (open hands wide)
But I’ll scatter more in the morning at dawn. (mime scattering seeds)
Winter Camouflage Song
(to the tune of “Three Blind Mice”)
Helps animals hide
Helps animals hide
Across the snow hops a white snowshoe hare
See the white fur on the polar bear
Their secret to safety is one they will share,
Winter Animal Tracker
Create your own animal tracker! Animals often leave their footprints in the snow. Using a piece of white construction paper, draw a winter scene and add a variety of animal tracks. Click here for examples.
If you have snow in your area, look for animal tracks. Observation is a key component to science. When observing tracks, see if you can distinguish between the tracks and classify them into different groups based on their characteristics. Ask questions: Do some animals have only skinny marks? What animal do you think has a footprint like that?
Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner. New York: Penguin Putnam, 2002.
After building a snowman, a child awakens the next day to discover the snowman looks nothing like it did the day before, leaving the child to wonder what do snowmen do at night? We are treated to a fantastical tale of snowmen games and adventures, all of which explain why the snowmen often look a bit disheveled the day after they are built. The rhyming text keeps the story racing along and the book encourages children to use their imaginations.
Five Little Snowmen
Five little snowmen dancing under the starry sky.
One found a snow girl and said goodbye.
Four little snowmen out on the town.
One stopped for hot chocolate and began to frown.
Three little snowmen sledding down a hill,
One hit a tree and took a spill.
Two little snowmen having a snowball fight,
One lost the battle and said goodnight.
One little snowman left all alone,
Decided to eat an ice cream cone.
Building a Snowman
I’m going to build a snowman, big and round. (hold arms out)
I’ll start by rolling snow from the ground. (pretend to roll the snow)
First I’ll make his body; one, two, three. (count on fingers, 1,2,3)
Then I’ll add his nose and eyes, so he can see. (point to nose and eyes)
Last I’ll add a bit of magic, so he’ll come to life at night. (blow in hand like spreading magic dust)
I’ll put a top hat on his head; now he looks just right! (pat head)
I’m a Little Snowman (to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”)
I’m a little snowman, short and fat.
Here is my scarf and here is my hat.
When the snow is falling, come and play.
Sun comes out, I melt away.
Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2009.
Right about the time school opens, Grandma announces to the family that it’s time for applesauce and the adventure begins. From buying the apples at the farmers’ market to washing and cooking the apples down, the family works together to make a variety of apple treats. Includes a recipe for applesauce, to help you create your own traditions.
One Child, One Seed: A South African Counting Book by Kathryn Cave. New York: Henry Holt, 2002. A South African girl named Nothando plants a pumpkin in this beautifully photo-illustrated picture book. The story is actually three books in one: On the left hand side of each spread is simple text that offers a basic counting story – just enough for a toddler audience. For preschoolers, librarians can also read the extended story in the middle of the page. For older readers, a sidebar on the right offers more cultural background to the story. Each throughline is a complete readaloud unto itself, or two or more parts can be combined if desired.
“Two Little Apples”
1) Using posterboard, cut a tree shape. Cut out the top of the tree from green felt and glue it over the posterboard.
2) Using either clip art, a die cut machine or freehand drawing, create two apples from felt. If you want the apples to have some thickness to them, glue two felt apple shapes together and stuff cotton balls in the center.
3) Punch two holes in the tree, several inches apart, about half way down from the tree top.
4) Run a piece of green yarn through the two holes – the ends coming through the front decorated side of the tree.
5) Attach the yarn ends to the apples, either tied to the stems, glued or taped on, or glued into the middle of two pieces of felt.
6) Attach the rhyme below to the back of the board. When saying the rhyme, place the apples in the tree with the yarn loose in the back. As you shake the tree, the apples will shake down the front. Give each child a turn shaking the tree as you say the rhyme.
“Two Little Apples”
Way up high in the apple tree,
Two little apples smiled down at me.
So I shook that tree as hard as I could.
Down came the apples!
Yum, yum, they were good!
The leaves have fallen to the ground (wiggle fingers)
The leaves have fallen without a sound. (hold finger to lips)
But soon it sounds like we’re eating lunch, (pretend to eat)
Every time we walk the dry leaves crunch. (walk in place making “crunch” sounds)
Then our parents rake the leaves in a huge pile (pretend to pile up leaves)
And in we jump with cheers and smiles! (jump in place)
The wind blows the leaves on the tree,
the branches sway back and forth like me. (hold arms up and sway side to side)
Soon some leaves get caught in the wind,
it takes them round and round for a spin. (spin)
A gust takes them up as high as a plane (raise on tip-toes and reach up high)
then gently lays them down again. (sit down)
(to the tune of “Skip to My Lou”)
Picking apples from the tree,
Picking apples from the tree,
Picking apples from the tree,
Picking apples for you and me.
Materials needed: one paper towel roll, tree top shape cut from white construction paper, markers or crayons or paint, glue, leaves.
- Cut two slits in the top of each toilet paper roll.
- Place the tree top shape in the two slits so that it stands up.
- Decorate the tree using crayons, markers, or paint and/or by gluing on bits of real leaves.