Toddlers: Birds

What do you do when you have barely a voice left (because of some weird cold going around town), you feel otherwise fine, and you have no subs? You modify toddler storytime and carry on.

As you know, my toddler storytimes involve A LOT of singing, rhymes, and finger plays mixed in with the books. This routine is much harder to do when I can only squeak a few notes here or there. Now my singing voice isn’t anything to write about or even mention, but this week, it was downright awful. I couldn’t even try the ol’ “if I can sing, so can you” trick I often pull out. So, plan B.

I’ve been considering how to shake up this storytime for several weeks and this was my opportunity. I’m not sure if its the kids’ ages, the lovely Spring weather we’ve been having, the storytime space, or my program, but the kids have been wandering and restless. So, I cut storytime back to twenty minutes and then provided materials for a thematic craft. The caregivers were a little shocked and took a few minutes to get into the idea, but it worked out well. I mentioned that the craft provided a great opportunity to talk about the different shapes and colors which would later help them with letter recognition since letters are made up of different shapes. The craft also became a fun toy!

This week was Bird week, in honor of the annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, a celebration of the Spring magic that occurs when zillions of birds migrate through Homer to eat on their way North. Some stop for the summer, but many head to the tundra or the coastline of the Arctic. It’s quite spectacular.

Welcome Song: Hello Everybody

Fingerplay: Two Little Ravens (based on Two Little Black Birds)

2 little raven chicks sitting in a nest,
One named east and the other named west.
Fly away east, fly away west.
Fly back East fly back west!

Two sandhill cranes
Standing tall on the hill,
One named Jack and the other named Jill.
Fly north Jack, Fly north Jill.
Fly south Jack, fly south Jill.

Book: Birds by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 2009)

This sweet story of a girl who is mesmerized but the varied birds she sees out the window is perfect for toddlers. It was the only time I captured the attention of all of the two year olds who attended storytime this week. It offers opportunities to talk about colors and movements and fit nicely with our craft.

Birds by Kevin Henkes Photo Credit:

Birds by Kevin Henkes
Photo Credit:

Dance BreakSix Little Ducks by Raffi (More Singable Songs)

Song: If You’re Ready for a Story
…flap your wings (two times)
…bend and stretch
…sit down please

Book: Purple Little Bird by Greg Foley (Balzer + Bray, 2011)
Despite being another color rich picture book, this simple story about a bird who wanders off from his perfect home in search of “greener pastures” did not capture the hearts of the toddlers. I’d give it another try under different circumstances though.

Purple Little Bird by Greg Foley Photo credit:

Purple Little Bird by Greg Foley
Photo credit:


Movement: Bubbles

Craft: Flying birds!
For many of the younger ones, this was their first craft. I found it in a book we recently purchased called Artsy Toddler Storytimes: a Year’s Worth of Ready-To-Go Programming. There are some great storytime ideas inside and each section features a craft to go along with the theme. The bird theme is the first that I have tried.
The craft worked well for a smallish group of of 10-15 kids, but I’m not a fan of pre-cutting every piece of a project for many more than that week in and week out. I like to give kids more control over the project normally, but I do think this project was age appropriate.
The real issue I had was figuring out what the bird was supposed to look like when completed! They provided the template (helpful), but not an image of the finished product. It took an especially-blessed coworker to figure it out. Maybe that says more about me than the book…
Anyway, I think I’ll seriously consider adding crafts for toddlers to my library’s programs ‘s some for or another. I love what art can do to extend the storytime experience. Stay tuned for what I decide to do! Do you do a toddler storytime with art projects? How does it go for you?

pre-cut construction paper shapes in a variety of colors (see book for template)
pre-cut piece of yarn
precut rectangle of tissue paper
glue sticks
crayons or markers

Each child and caregiver chose these parts from a selection at each table. I encouraged the kids to pick the pieces and select different colors for each part.

Toddler bird parts

They glued the head, nose, and body together, slid the tissue paper through the pre-cut slit in the body, and taped the yarn behind the head. The finished product flew around the library behind smiling toddlers!Toddler Bird Craft

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