Ukulele in Storytime

A graphic featuring a teal ukulele. The text reads: “Ukulele in Storytime at Storytime Katie”.

While I’m figuring out exactly where to start with storytime posts and how I want to format that at this point, I thought I’d write about one of my newest loves in storytime: the ukulele!

History (of me & the uke!) 

I’ve always loved music, as evidenced by the music programming (and kits) on the blog. But the violin is not exactly the made-for-storytime instrument that I was looking for. (And I’m dreadfully out of practice at that.) When my beloved co-worker J introduced me to Wiggleworms music, I started looking at the Old Town School of Folk Music and saw that they taught adult music classes which included the ukulele. 

So, I signed up in spring of 2019 for an Introduction class. Honestly, I learned enough at the Introduction class to play ukulele in storytime! And I also fell in love with the instrument, and wound up taking more classes. 

 

In Storytime

I’ve played my ukulele a couple of different ways in storytime: as an extension activity in a traditional storytime, and as a whole storytime unto itself — thirty minutes of ukulele! I also hosted three virtual Ukulele Concerts over last summer which incorporated music knowledge, history of the instrument, and caregiver early literacy tips. 

Because of when I learned uke and (finally) felt comfortable performing in front of a storytime audience, I’ve only done two in-person ukulele outreach storytimes (30 minutes). Everything else has been virtual — which means I’ve had the ability to tape a chord sheet above the computer/phone and follow along there. 

My goal when I return to in-person programming is to have each song mostly memorized, with the chord sheet only there as a back-up. 

 

Resources

(specific to storytime) 

  • Storytime Ukulele: My favorite resource for storytime songs and chord charts! This blog has both an A to Z list and a subject list, which are very helpful to search to match storytime themes.
  • Ukulele Storytime: Rose has both tutorials for how to play individual songs AND full ukulele storytimes available for you to view! My favorite song that I’ve learned from Rose is “Peace Like a River”.
  • Miss Mary Liberry: My good friend Mary has fantastic ukulele tutorials on her blog. In addition to all the other things she’s taught me about storytime — which are MANY — her finger-picking tutorial on “Sleeping Bunnies” is not to be missed. 

(to learning the ukulele & getting music)

  • Cynthia Lin Music: I love having videos on demand to watch and play along with. Cynthia Lin’s videos are wonderful and her video was the only way that I was able to figure out chucking.
  • Ultimate Guitar (app): While I have multiple ukulele apps on my phone, I think this one has the most selection when I’m trying to find children’s music artists (like Laurie Berkner!). On the app, I do switch to searching “ukulele” to make sure I’m getting uke chords, but that’s mostly while I’m wading through the popular music. 

 

Ukuleles

As for ukuleles, I have four. My “Introduction” teacher said once you start buying ukuleles, you kind of don’t stop — and….well, that’s a yes for me. Two of my ukuleles come with me to outreach storytimes: one is a Mahalo soprano ukulele that I let the children touch and play at the end of storytime; the other is my primary uke — a concert fluke from the Magic Fluke company.

[Note: the storytimes where the children touched the ukulele were pre-pandemic storytimes.]

My other ukes are a Kala soprano travel, and a Kala mahogany concert (in blue!) that I’ve re-strung with a low G string. I haven’t brought either of them to use in storytime, but I did feature the soprano travel in one of my Ukulele Concerts where I talked about the different sizes and shapes of a ukulele. 

 

I’m planning to include PDFs of my chord charts when I post anything about ukulele in storytime. (I made the chord charts to how I best read charts, so it may not be suited to everyone’s preferences.) Other than that, I’m happy to attempt to answer any questions! 

9 comments on “Ukulele in Storytime

  1. Jessica @ Storytime in the Stacks
    July 8, 2021 at 8:06 pm #

    I took a uke class in 2019 and then completely stopped practicing in 2020, and it’s like I forgot everything! Thank you for the resources and the encouragement to strum again. I’m excited to see your plans and chords!

    Also, I see what you did there – thank you for including a caption with your image. ❤

    Jessica

  2. sweetspontaneous
    July 11, 2021 at 8:58 pm #

    LOVE IT! Hope I can incorporate one day!!!

    • Katie
      July 19, 2021 at 9:55 pm #

      *tempts you with shiny ukuleles*

  3. SH Library
    July 12, 2021 at 10:37 am #

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been poking at the ukulele, but haven’t worked up the gumption to really settle down and try it.
    I’ll be going through your posts for even more encouragement and resources. ❤

    • Katie
      July 19, 2021 at 9:55 pm #

      Absolutely! It really is a delightful instrument and I do so enjoy it in storytime.

  4. Stacey
    July 14, 2021 at 2:46 pm #

    This is yet another awesome thing you do, Katie!

    My daughter plays ukulele a little, has two of them, and I keep thinking she should teach me a little and give me her old one…

    • Katie
      July 19, 2021 at 9:56 pm #

      I think sharing is caring. 😀

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