Toddler Spring 2014 Fingerplays, Rhymes, & Songs

To read more about how I plan and prepare my Toddler Storytimes, please visit this post.


Each session, I pick some extension activities to repeat from week to week. Most of the time these have nothing to do with my theme of the day and just allow me to add more movement or songs if that’s what the toddlers need that week. Of course, I don’t use every activity every week. I’ll note in the individual theme summaries which activities I used. These are the activities that I had planned for Spring 2014.

Action Rhyme: “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes
Two eyes, two ears, a mouth and a nose
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes
Credit: Childhood

Action Rhyme: “This Is Big”
This is big, big, big (stretch hands far to sides)
This is small, small, small (cup hands together)
This is short, short, short (hold palms close vertically)
This is tall, tall, tall (hold palms far apart vertically)
This is fast, fast, fast (roll hands quickly)
This is slow, slow, slow (roll hands slowly)
This is yes, yes, yes (nod head)
This is no, no, no (shake head)
Credit: Mel’s Desk

Fingerplay: “Dance Your Fingers Up”
Dance your fingers up, dance your fingers down
Dance your fingers to the side, dance them all around
Dance them on your shoulders, dance them on you head
Dance them on your tummy, and put them all to bed
Credit: Best Kids Book Site (Site appears to be completely reorganized…)

Fingerplay: “Two Little Blackbirds”
Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill
One named Jack, the other named Jill
Fly away Jack, fly away Jill
Come back Jack, come back Jill
(Other verses: cloud/quiet & loud; pole/fast & slow)
Credit: Modified from childhood

Fingerplay: “Where Is Thumbkin?”
Where is thumbkin? Where is thumbkin? (put hands behind back)
Here I am! Here I am! (bring hands around from behind the back)
How are you today, sir? Very well, I thank you! (wiggle thumbs, one at a time)
Run away, run away! (hide hands behind back again)
(Repeat for each finger; I did leave out middle finger/tallman. It was too early in the morning and I feared I would burst into giggles.)
Credit: Childhood

Lift/Rhyme: “Tick, Tock”
Tick, tock, tick, tock
I’m a little cuckoo clock
Tick, tock, tick, tock
Now I’m chiming one o’clock
(Count up to three o’clock)
Credit: My co-worker Jane

Song: “Open, Shut Them”
Open, shut them, open, shut them
Give a little clap, clap, clap
Open, shut them, open, shut them
Lay them in your lap, lap, lap
Creep them, crawl them, creep them, crawl them
Right up to your chin, chin, chin
Open up your little mouth
But do not let them in, in, in!
Credit: My co-worker Sarah

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Explore the World: Snow

In response to the STEAM movement (and with great thanks to such great inspiration & encouragement from colleagues: Amy, Abby, and Kendra), this past fall I started a STEAM storytime series at the library. This is primarily aimed at preschoolers and their families, registration open to ages 3-7 in our library.


Books & Group Activities

Opening Activity
Building blocks from Kendra.
“Building Blocks”
(Tune of Good Night Ladies)
Hello ________
Hello ________
Hello ________
Come build something with your blocks!



The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
Winter Is for Snow by Robert Neubecker

I think the most successful book for this day was “The First Day of Winter” — the kids were very into the cumulative nature of the book and it definitely held their attention.

Station Activities

Snow Painting
I brought snow in from outside. I put it in giant plastic bins (that normally housed our cushions for storytime) and let the kids paint with watercolors in the snow. This station BLEW their minds. I don’t think that any of the kids had ever thought that it was possible to paint with snow. I heard a lot of good conversations as to why the snow worked like water.

Mixing “Snow”
Using cornstarch and shaving cream, the kids made snow dough. I found out about this on Kendra. This is obviously a station full of mess, but another station that the kids thoroughly enjoyed. I had parents tell me that the dough lasted for a couple of plays after the program — I gave each kid a ziplock bag to take their dough home. This was a great trial and error experiment for the kids. They had to figure out which ingredient they needed more of to make a consistent dough.

Marshmallow Snowmen
I also took this station from Kendra. I put out a bunch of toothpicks, paper, glue, marshmallows, cotton balls, etc. and let the kids build their own snowmen. I spent a good deal of time during the introduction of the stations to remind parents that these were crafting marshmallows and that they were not meant for eating! I had a few kids that didn’t want to get their hands messy, so this station was a lot better for them.

This was a flannelboard made by a predecessor. It has a little spinner and tells the kids what parts to add to the snowman. We played it as a group during the storytime session and I left it out during the station activities. Honestly, I so didn’t need it! The kids were more than happy to keep rotating between the first three stations.


My book display for this program:

And my handouts: which included an activity page, booklist, and a coloring page.

This is my official last Explore the World post! I did this last winter before I left my old library. I just felt like holding off the post until it was actual winter again.

And a Pinterest friendly image!


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Toddler Storytime


I thought before I write up any of my toddler themes, that I would first give a run-down on how my new storytimes are planned and prepared!

I have been using Lindsey’s AMAZING toddler planning sheet for toddler storytimes. I tweaked it just a little bit by changing “Stamp Used” to “Supplies Needed” since we don’t use stamps at my library. That way I have a supply list of things to make sure I have everything.


Welcome & Guidelines
Hi everyone! My name is Miss Katie and I’ll be leading the toddler storytime class this session. I’d like to go over some guidelines with you before we begin. Because I’m used to working with small people, I understand that accidents happen — I have tissue, wipes, and paper towels on both sides of the room in case of accidents. Bathrooms are located on either side of the storytime room, please feel free to use the bathrooms and supplies as needed.

We all want storytime to be a positive experience. If your child isn’t feeling up to storytime, please take them outside of the storytime room. You can always come back in after they’ve calmed down or you can always try storytime on another day. I’m okay with movement, but I would like to point out two areas that I need you to keep your child clear of: the area by the door and the area right in front of me. They don’t have to sit down, but they do have to leave these spaces.

Lastly, you are your child’s best model for storytime. If you participate, they will participate. So, I want to see lots of movement and hear lots of voices! Let’s get started!

Name Fingerplay
I learned this from my wonderful co-worker who does it at her baby storytimes. Since babies “graduate” into the toddler storytime, I really wanted to keep the consistency of a few things between the program.

Everyone introduces themselves one at a time. Together, we hold up our hands and trace our fingers as the group says each child’s name five times. Parents can run their finger around each of their child’s finger or tap each finger or touch each finger — whatever the child is comfortable with. Before we say the child’s name for the fifth time, we say “OOPS!” and on the “OOPS!”, I flick my finger up before going back to trace the last finger. (At “OOPS”, some parents give their child a tickle.) So it sounds like this: parent/child says “Hi, my name is Barb and this is Katie” and the group says “Katie (thumb), Katie (pointer), Katie (middle), Katie (ring), OOPS!, Katie (pinky).”

This gives each child a chance to say their name (some will, some won’t) and if not, the parent can introduce. It’s a great way for the whole group to learn names together and it doesn’t take too long with my classes capped at twenty toddler/parent pairs.

You can watch me demo the fingerplay in this video:

Opening Song
Although I sing it a capella, I used “Clap Everybody and Sing Hello!” by Kathy Reid-Naiman, from her album “Sally Go Round the Sun.” I got the suggestion from Kendra who uses it for her toddler times and I learned it from King County Library System.


Like Lindsey, I plan a lot more than I actually use. I plan 3-4 books, 1-2 puppet activities, 1-2 flannelboard activities, 6 songs/fingerplays, and 6 movement activities. There is absolutely no way that I would USE all of these activities, books, and songs in a single program, but I wanted to have them.


I used Melissa‘s “This Is Big, Big, Big” as the beginning of my closing routine. I also used it while I was covering baby storytime in the spring and summer, so it was another nod of continuity.

Song Cube
I’m still using a Song Cube, but I have changed up the songs that are on it. At the old library, I had “Apples and Bananas”, “Five Green and Speckled Frogs”, “The Ants Go Marching”, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, “The Wheels on the Bus”, and “Itsy Bitsy Spider”.

But I got rid of “Apples and Bananas” since I started to dread singing it and “The Ants Go Marching” since it was too long of a song for the cube. I added “I’m a Little Teapot” and “ABCs”. Overall, I’m so much happier with this incarnation of the cube. I also took the time to memorize literacy tips to go with each of the songs on the cube so matter what song we roll, parents get a hopefully new tip!

Closing Rhyme
After seeing a version on Pinterest, I was absolutely IN LOVE with “Tickle the Clouds.” I knew that it had to be my new closing activity.

Bubbles are a strong tradition at my library. The librarian before me did bubbles in toddler storytime, and we also do bubbles in baby storytime. And I certainly wasn’t going to break with tradition! Bubbles have become one of my favorite parts. Kids are SO EXCITED and parents surround them with phones to capture those moments. It’s adorable.

And that’s the bones of every toddler program. In my write-ups, I’ll talk about what I actually used and what worked/didn’t. I’ll also likely talk about why I didn’t use some materials. As always, if I did a theme multiple times, I’ll write about all the sessions in the same post. Look for a weekly toddler storytime update starting next week!

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Flannel Friday: Shape Game

A Flannel Friday post inspired by possibly the best hugger in the world, Brooke at Reading With Red!

(No, seriously, I think Brooke has the hugger title locked in.)

The shape game!


I started using this flannel immediately after starting my position and taking on baby time. I scoured websites looking for ideas and I have to report: there’s something magical about the shape game. I would hide another flannel piece behind one of the shapes and talk to the babies and caregivers.

One by one, I would “eliminate” one shape as I talked about it. All of these guesses would end with some variation of “No, it’s not under there. Let’s try another shape!”

“Can we find a shape that makes a noise? What about the heart? What kind of sound does it make?”

“Which shape has three points?”

“Miss Katie is wearing a dress that matches a shape. What color is it?”

I always keep the object hidden until the very last shape. Then our theme for the day is revealed!

The shapes are are large as I could get them on a 9×12 piece of felt. The star is the tiniest, so I hide things under it very rarely.

Lisa is hosting the round-up today! You can also check out our website, Pinterest, or Facebook!

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Shake, Shimmy, & Dance: 6/10

For the first time in my library’s history, we ran our own summer reading program — Make Some Noise! What better opportunity to do a bi-weekly music and movement dance party? This program was advertised for ages 0-7 and their families.


The Plan

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
I chose this one because it’s a classic, storytime gold, and it has great movement opportunities. It served as a great icebreaker for getting the kids up and ready to move. I paperclipped the donkey kick page. It always makes me nervous that someone’s foot will hit someone else’s head.

Shaker Eggs!

The Playlist
Hello & How Are You? — Old Town School of Folk Music
Take the Sun — Caspar Babypants
Fee Fi Fo Fum — Ralph Covert
Shaky Shaky — The Wiggles
I Know a Chicken — Laurie Berkner Band
Silly Dance Contest — Jim Gill
Turn-Around — Hap Palmer
Shake Hands With Friends — Ella Jenkins

How It Went

This first week, I was a bit of blur and didn’t take as good of notes as I should have. I had a wonderful experience with this first program. It was a lot of energy and very fun. During this session, I had a grandmother pull me aside and tell me, “You were born to do this program!” Talk about gratifying, right?

Since this was the first session, I introduced the kids to the welcome song and the goodbye song. “Take the Sun” was one of my favorite discoveries while previewing music. The kids enjoyed both “I Know a Chicken” and “Silly Dance Contest” the most out of all the songs. There’s a reason that Laurie Berkner and Jim Gill are staples of Music & Movement programs.

Presentation & Handouts

Behind me, I keep a Powerpoint up for the grown-ups in the room to see basic instruction to help their kids dance along. I did always introduce the song, but I found that this helped keep parents on track.

And as everyone left, I gave out a playlist handout that looked like this:


That’s the end!

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Storytime Katie: Facebook Page

In case you were looking for another way to read the blog, I made a Facebook page yesterday, which you can find here: Storytime Katie on Facebook.

It’ll be a round-up of the blog posts and I may consider adding original content like sneak peeks at flannelboards and links to relevant library posts/issues.

Like if you’d like!

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Flannel Friday: Song Cube

A different kind of Flannel Friday to kick off the New Year!

This is my hugely successful, used in nearly every toddler storytime, song cube. The first time I saw this prop used was from Melissa at Mel’s Desk. Since then I’ve seen it in a whole lot of places because it’s the best thing ever.

And here’s mine:



I have six songs on my cube and since I use the cube in every program, I also took the time to pair up each song with an early literacy tip:

ABCs — If you child is having trouble with mashing up LMNOP, try singing the ABCs to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” to break up those syllables.

Five Green and Speckled Frogs — Counting helps to develop early math skills and prepares children for school readiness.

I’m a Little Teapot — Pretending helps your child develop their imagination. By pretending to be a teapot, we are encouraging dramatic play.

Itsy Bitsy Spider — Because we sing Itsy Bitsy Spider three ways (Itsy Bitsy, Teensy Weensy, Great Big Hairy), we are giving children more vocabulary. And repetition helps with learning!

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star — Lullabies or other slow songs can help children to relax. Sing this song when you need your child to settle down.

Wheels on the Bus — Songs like “Wheels on the Bus” teach children about how things work. You can expand this song throughout different places and include new lyrics.

As for the actual construction, I went a bit advanced and bought these dice to use as the contents. It’s saved me from a lot of “OH MY GOODNESS, DON’T CRUSH THE CUBE, HELPFUL TODDLERS” stress. After that, it’s laminated pieces taped together with book tape. No one has destroyed it yet!

Anne is hosting the round-up today! You can also check out our website, Pinterest, or Facebook!

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Resolve to Rock in 2015

This year, Storytime Underground is asking anyone who wants to participate to set goals for 2015, write about them, and support one another.

At least my resolutions have nothing to do with procrastination…


Library Life

1. Stop checking my email first thing every morning. I get bogged down so fast by email and it just frustrates me. I’d rather accomplish something large every morning before the little stuff starts.

2. Start delegating more. My biggest adjustment that I’m still working on at my new (ten months in) job is learning that I am no longer a one librarian department. That we have building/maintenance staff around the clock. That I have two other coworkers that just do storytimes and early lit work.

3. Continue getting to know the patrons and the collection. I’m finally in a good ordering routine, but I need to up my readers advisory game, particularly in middle grade.

4. Actually practice and learn the ukulele. I’ve had one for two years and kept thinking “one day” and “when I have time”. I need to *make* time.

Professional Life

1. Keep up with committee work. I’m chairing Popular Paperbacks for YALSA, am on the Public Awareness Committee for ALSC, Illinois’s K-3rd state choice award (Monarch Committee), and YALSA’s Summer Reading and Learning Taskforce.

2. Answer email immediately after opening even if it’s an “I’m working on it”. I feel this is especially important as a chair.

Blog Life

1. Post a Flannel Friday submission every week. I have so many flannelboards that have never gotten their own posts simply because I have gotten around to it. I’ve been working on this for a week or so and am scheduled through April.

2. Actually write my series on favorite storytime tools. I’ve had the logo designed for over a year and no posts. Tons of ideas and I hope it will be a great resource to share outside of my storytime theme posts.

3. Get better about commenting. I read nearly 100 storytime and library blogs and I’m awful at commenting on them.


They always say that resolutions work better with concrete goals, so here are the ones I can assign numbers to:

1. Read one middle grade book a month for fun. This will be a nice break from YA novels and picture books.

2. Learn and perform three uke songs.

3. 52 Flannel Fridays.

4. One storytime series post a month.

5. Five meaningful comments per month.

I think I’ve got this, but I’m always optimistic when setting goals…

Good luck to everyone participating!

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Early Lit 101

My library is currently embracing a year of learning opportunities (YOLO), with different staff members presenting on different topics. I presented last week (and am presenting again this week) on how all staff can encourage early literacy practices throughout the library. My training is a mandatory training, with all 100 staff members required to attend. That means that I have a great opportunity to educate all staff about early literacy practices.


There’s not a lot of info in the actual Powerpoint, but I promise I talked a lot!

My presentation also included a touch-and-feel component where staff members got to use/touch/see early literacy materials and they had the chance to “sort” them after the Powerpoint into the five Every Child Ready to Read practices of read, write, play, talk, and sing.

If you have any questions or want to know more about this presentation, please feel free to contact me through email [simplykatie[at]gmail[dot]com] or via Twitter @storytimekatie.

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Storytime & Flannelboards Presentation

Last week, I presented an hour and fifteen minute presentation all about flannelboards for a fabulous Illinois group, Prairie State Story League.


(I have no idea why the “Performing” title slide put the G on its own line. I promise it wasn’t that way in the actual presentation.)

Also: I updated my flannelboards hand-out from this spring; and I also traced several flannelboards to make some patterns which are available here: patterns!

Patterns include:

I want to thank the Prairie State Story League for having me present and I’d also like to thank Schaumburg Township Library District for hosting the event.

And of course, I want to thank everyone that came to the workshop — I had such a wonderful time meeting and talking with you! If you have any questions, please let me know either through a comment, email [simplykatieATgmailDOTcom] or via Twitter — @storytimekatie.

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