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

Toddler: Friends (Valentine’s Day)

These toddlers were ready to move today! And not just move, but run around in circles! We kept it moving, and all of the adults seemed ready for the unstructured, post-storytime play and socialize time. We must have worn them out because thekids played so intently and quietly you could actually hear the adults’ voices over their usually loud antics. Go figure!

Welcome Song: Hello Everybody

Song: The More We Get Together
Oh, the more we get together,
Together, together,
Oh, the more we get together,
The happier we’ll be.

For your friends are my friends,
And my friends are your friends.
Oh, the more we get together,
The happier we’ll be!

Pepo and LoloBook: Pepo and Lolo are Friends
by Ana Martin Larranaga

I don’t usually read two books during the this half hour storytime, but this one is sweet and quick. The kids easily connected with the pig and chick and all of their antics. We even had a conversation about other books that feature friends and a pig. What’s your favorite?

Toddler Yoga Break: Tall as a Tree

 Song: If You’re Ready for a Story
…blow me a kiss!
…sit down please

Owen K HenkesBook: Owen
by Kevin Henkes

My son’s name is Owen and I first read this book when it was gifted to us years ago. I love Owen’s confidence and his parents’ creativity and love. The repeated text keeps the story centered and kids can relate, often too easily, to Owen’s blanket love.

Movement: Bubbles

Heart FeltSong: Hearts and Kisses (with ASL sign for heart and kiss)
1 little, 2 little, 3 little hearts
4 little, 5 little, 6 little hearts
7 little, 8 little, 9 little hearts
10 little hearts and a kiss, muuah!
Credit: Jbrary (and Sur La Lune Storytime)

Song: Skidamarink
Skidamarink a dinka dink. (Put right elbow in left hand and wiggle  fingers)
Skidamarink a doo. (Put left elbow in right hand and wiggle fingers)
I love you. (Point to eyes, hug yourself, and point to others)
I love you in the morning. (Make a big circle over head  like the sun)
And in the afternoon. (Hold arms in circle out in front of you)
I love you in the evening. (Move arms in circle down)
And underneath the moon. (Release arms and make another big circle over head)
Skidamarink a dinka dink. (Repeat actions)
Skidamarink a doo.
I love you. (with ASL sign)

Goodbye Rhyme: Wave Hi, Wave Low

Preschool Storytime: Back to School!

School begins in just two weeks! To help all of the story time kids prepare for kindergarten, a back to school storytime was on the menu this Back to School week. With just a few schools in our small town and vicinity, I was able to share little details about most of the great kindergarten teachers in our area as kids shared which school they were going to attend. These little connections always help on the first day of school!

To get warmed up, we sang the ABC Song using shakers.

kwelz_alsc_ebadgeThen we played the Name game which I read in a comment about a Back to School Storytime post on the ALSC Blog. We all stood in a circle and each of us took a turn saying our name and performing a unique movement. The rest of us all do the movement together. With a little help from each other we made it around the circle and did quite a dance. Even with lots of regular faces, we all learned some new names while coming up with some silly movements. It offers a great opportunity for early morning stretching!

Owen K Henkes

Owen by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 1993) was the first story we read. I absolutely love this book, and almost everything Kevin Henkes has written. I’m particularly fond of this one because it is my son’s namesake and it was given to him at birth by a lifelong friend of mine. I also love the gentle flow of the story, with hints of mischief, and bits of repeated text.

Owen is the story of a young mouse getting ready to start school. He is very attached to a blanket which he carries with him everyday, but is “encouraged” by a neighbor (via his parents) to get rid of it before starting school. After trying all of the neighbor’s suggestions to get Owen to part with the blanket, unsuccessfully, they finally come up with a creative, loving solution that works for everyone.

There are a couple of back to school Splat the Cat books by Rob Scotton, but I stuck with the original, Splat the Cat (Harper Collins, 2008). In it, Splat is reluctant to start school and the first few pages feature Splat’s humorous splat the cat in bedattempts to avoid school. He finally agrees to go, with his mouse friend in his lunchbox.  Once at school, he learns that cats and mice aren’t supposed to be friends, much to his surprise. In the end, the mouse saves the day and all of the cats learn to love mice. This book is a perfect fit for storytime.

What storytime would be complete without a rendition of the Wheels on the Bus? We sang several school bus related verses before moving on to a favorite book.

pigeon Willems

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (Hyperion Books, 2003) is not a school related read, but all ofMo Willems’ books are not only sharable in storytime, but epitomize the idea of an interactive picture book. The spirited responses to Pigeon’s questions throughout the story easily demonstrate the power of good storytelling to engage even the youngest reader.


Instead of a craft activity, we rode a school bus today! The local school bus company donated a bus and driver to take our storytime group on Back to School Bus Ride a drive to one of the local elementary schools. Most of the kids loved the experience, but one or two kids who were not quite ready for the experience, shall we say, and their caregivers did stay behind at the library. We sang, asked questions, and practiced getting on and off the bus. What was the most important question we asked? Would the driver let a pigeon drive the bus? No!

Note: The bus was late! The dispatcher had forgotten today was the day. As the clock ticked and no bus driver arrived, I started to wonder. I had a coworker call the company who sent the driver right over. The lesson? Always have an extra book on hand, some stories memorized, or some songs/games to play to keep families from losing interest.

Photo credits: Owen- Scholastic, Splat the Cat –, Pigeon- Mo Willems’ blog