Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy


Songs and Lyrics, Oh My!

By now, you should all know I love to sing, even if it’s not always so great. The majority of every one of my storytimes is singing. I can’t help it, it just has to happen that way for storytime to work. I feel good, grown ups feel good, the kids definitely feel good so it’s a total win situation.

Anyway, I’ve had some requests for tunes and lyrics to various songs used in storytime. May I humbly direct you to my Rhymes page? There I have written out the words to more than 60 rhymes and songs and have recorded myself singing several of them.  I’m working really hard to get them all recorded but for now I’ve picked the ones with the trickiest tunes.

The newest members of the recorded song family are:

Hi, Hello, and How Are You?

The Elevator Song (Jbrary has also done this one)

Wake Up! Quiet and Loud song. This probably has a real name, but I call it the wake up song. VERY popular in storytime.

Hello and Goodbye Bubbles 

Wake Up Toes

Bouncing, Bouncing

Let me know if you need the tunes to anything else and I’ll get on it, asap. In the meantime, check out Jbrary and KCLS Tell Me a Story for visuals to go with the sound (I’m too lazy to get out of my pjs to do a video, sorry).

And just because. Yes, yes, I do.




Baby Art in a Bag and Sensory Hoops

At the end of baby storytime we always have playtime. It is an integral part to any baby storytime, in my opinion. Usually I just put out a bin of toys (you can see what my storytimes typically look like here and here) but after a Twitter conversation between Abby, Rebecca, Mel, Lalitha, Brooke, Jbrary, Kelly, and others, I just had to start doing more. Plus, Rebecca started this which basically give me no excuse but to incorporate more than toys into that socialization play time. Way back I had parents dab their baby’s hands and feet onto jumbo washable stamp pads and make prints on postcards, but then I didn’t keep up with doing these kinds of things. Time to change!

First up, I handed out ziploc baggies with a piece of cardstock and a few squirts of washable tempura paint (just in case the bags leaked) and let them squish and feel and explore the bag. Then, parents could take the art home to let it dry and display.  Got this idea from Brooke.

This gal was only 3 months old and didn’t do a lot with it but was definitely interested.

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Next was baby eyebrows. Pure awesome.

This week was sensory hoops. Super easy to make and a lot of bang for the buck. We already had these small embroidery hoops  leftover from a screenprinting program and I just found fabric scraps in our craft closet and in my own sewing materials. Materials included felt, tulle, flannel, suede, plastic, faux fur and sheer fabrics. I set them around on the floor with the toys and told parents what they were. They all couldn’t wait to make them at home and had lots of questions. Meanwhile, their babies were going crazy feeling, mouthing, staring, and generally enjoying these new round objects in their environment.



Next? Perhaps water play!



Baby Storytime: Eyebrows, Mustaches, Oh My!

So a couple week ago I saw this posted on Facebook (here’s another). I shared it, commenting that it probably wouldn’t be ok in baby storytime, but Angela and Josie urged me to do it. So, I did it. And this is what happened.

Today was the last storytime before our 2 week break. I like to do favorites for the last one everytime and not only did I learn a new one, that is definitely going into the regular rotation this summer, but heard lots of their favorites from this Spring. Smooth Road, Itsy Bitsy, The Elevator Song, Andy Pandy, Icky Bicky, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Giddyap, Choppity Chop, Toast in the Toaster, and the Merry Go Round song (these are all on the Rhymes page).

So, we sang, we rhymed (and used our fingers for pre-writing skills!), we read, and we talked. But what about play? Oh, we played.

This is what I had out, plus two containers of wipes (we use Huggies). I tested the markers and oil pastels on myself first and tried wiping it off with a wipe. They both came off really easily so I shared this tidbit with parents, obviously. As Lisa suggested, you could also use tub crayons. Or face paint crayons if you have them.


After we sang our goodbye bubbles song they went to town. I was really surprised by how enthusiastic they were about this activity! One dad has been begging his wife to let him draw on their daughter. She’s been able to hold him off until today. How could she say no to the children’s librarian? She couldn’t. My power is great.

The results:

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I especially love this last guy. He was obviously not as amused as the rest of us. Also, the wiggliest baby there ever was. 🙂


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Baby Storytime: Sing


Hello Bubbles

Hi Hello and How Are You? with the ukulele

Parent Message: Don’t worry about how you sound when you sing. Your child loves your voice, even if you’re tone deaf or don’t think you sound great and singing is a great way for them to learn about language. And I love to hear all your voices, too!

Zoom Zoom Zoom by Kathy Reid-Naiman

Smooth Road

Dos Manitas, Diez Deditos

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Jane Cabrera (3 verses)

Cover image for Twinkle, twinkle, little star

Parent Message: Song books with multiple verses are great to share at home. You can sing as few or as many verses as your child wants to hear. Just close the book when they’ve had enough.

Elevator Song

Chop Chop Choppity Chop

Toast in the Toaster

Humpy Dumpty by Anthony Lewis (Hands-On Songs series)

Cover image for Humpty Dumpty

Go in and Out the Window

This is a Choo Choo Train

Cuckoo Clock

Goodbye Bubbles

Play time!


New Year, New Baby Storytime

Most my resolutions this year were professional ones. I’ve given up on any kind of “getting fit” or “be Martha Stewart in my spare time” resolutions. The more I resolve, the less I do. It’s my contrary brain. I’ll do it when I’m ready to, and not a moment before. Conveniently, I was ready to change baby storytime right as the new year came around so now it became one of my new year’s resolutions! Since today was so successful… this New Year’s Resolution is DONE!

Basically, I spent a couple hours on Jbrary’s youtube channel finding some rhymes and songs that are perfect for me. Part of what I love about their selection is there is something for everyone. Every storyteller has their own style and Jbrary has something for everyone.  Other songs and rhymes included here came from the WCCLS website and KCLS Tell Me a Story. The words to the rhymes and songs mentioned here can be found on the Rhymes page (only the first time they occur on the blog are they written out in posts).

Parent Message:

Happy New Year and welcome to baby storytime. My name is Kendra. We will be learning some new rhymes and songs today and the words to them are taped on the wall behind me. Feel free to use those as a “cheat sheet” during storytime, but we will also repeat songs several times in order to learn them. Part of the reason I put the words up on the wall is to help your babies start understanding that these squiggles and things they see actually have meaning. If they see you looking at the words, they know they are important and will be interested in them because you are.

Opening Song #1: Hello Bubbles

Opening Song #2: Hi, Hello and How Are You (London Bridge)

I’ve added verses to this simple song to turn it in to a name game.

Hi, hello and how are you?

How are you? How are you?

Hi, hello and how are you?

How are you today?

Hi, hello and how is Jack?

How is Jack? How is Jack?

Hi, hello and how is Jack?

How are you today?

Repeat with each baby.

When there are more babies in the room (we had 10 or less in each today) I will modify it this way:

Hi, hello and how is Jack?

How is Evelyn? How is Suzie?

Hi, hello and how is Robert?

How are you today?

Recorded Song: Zoom Zoom Zoom by Kathy Reid Naiman

Bounce: Trit Trot to Boston

Book: Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora

Stand Up: The Merry-Go-Round

Stand Up: Go In and Out the Window (see Jbrary’s video for the tune)

Go in and out the window, Go in and out the window, Go in and out the window, As we have done before (step forward and back while holding baby OR with baby lying stomach down swing them in and out of the circle)

Stand up and face your partner, Stand up and face your partner, Stand up and face your partner, As we have done before (turn baby toward the baby next to them)

Stand up OR Sit Down song: The Elevator Song

Book: Itsy Bitsy Spider by Annie Kubler

Bounce: Toast in the Toaster (go faster each time)

Toast in the toaster

Getting very hot

tick tock, tick tock

Up you pop!

Bounce: Smooth Road (bounce slowly, then faster and then dip baby between legs or off to the side)

A smooth road, a smooth road, a smooth road, a smooth road

A bumpy road, a bumpy road, a bumpy road, a bumpy road

A rough road, a rough road, a rough road, a rough road, A HOLE!

Closing Rhyme: Cuckoo Clock

Closing Song: Goodbye Bubbles

Activity: Finger paint on the windows. Not a lot of babies participated, but I had great conversations with all the caregivers about sensory development and ideas for things like this they could do at home with their babies.

One of the standers had a LOT of fun.

One of the standers had a LOT of fun.

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Baby Storytime: Sing!

Though I don’t do themes in baby storytime, I do like to kind of focus on a skill. Today’s focus was on singing. Do it often, whether you think you’re good at it, or not! JUST SING.

The specific tip I gave caregivers today was that using books with songs in them, like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jane Cabrera or Itsy Bisty Spider by Annie Kubler (I didn’t actually say the titles, I just showed them the books in my hand and we sang them, too, of course) is a good way to introduce some great new vocabulary words (sparkle, flicker, etc, in Twinkle) and because they are either short, or have many verses you can sing as much or as little as you like.  Singing a book makes singing even easier and your baby will enjoy looking at the pictures or crawling around nearby while you sing them a song.

Here’s what we did today (click on the song title for lyrics and tunes):

Hello Bubbles

Penny Pointers (oh my gosh this adorable 8 month old LOVES this song and affixes her toothless grin and rocks and kicks every time we sing it-TOO CUTE)

Noble Duke of York

Pizza Pickle Pumpernickel

Cheek Chin

Tiny Little Baby

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jane Cabrera

Trot Trot to Boston  (found on Mel’s Desk)


Roly Poly


Popcorn Rhyme

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Annie Kubler

Group Pick: I’m a Little Teapot

Icky Bicky Soda Cracker

Cuckoo Clock

Goodbye Bubbles


Summer Mondays in the Library: Babies and Dancing

During the summer we hold a Dance Party after our usual Baby Storytimes. Last summer was the debut of Dance Party in this library and it was so popular we brought it back for another round. This means for the next 9 weeks I get to sing and rhyme with babies at 9:30 and again at 10:30, then rock out with kids of all ages from 11-11:45. I have the best job. 🙂

We had a 5 week break this year so I decided to ease in to storytime with some old favorites. Here’s what we did:

Hello Bubbles

Penny Pointers

Noble Duke of York

Giddyap, Giddyap

Have You Ever Seen a Baby?

I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy

Cover Art Image

Pizza Pickle Pumpernickel

If You’re Happy and You Know It

Andy Pandy, Sugar and Candy

Rub a dub dub

Icky Bicky Soda Cracker

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Annie Kubler

Cover Art Image

Cuckoo Clock

Goodbye Bubbles

Now for the Dance Party! I re-made the list I passed out last year to include only songs patrons can download from Freegal. This way the program supports our collection in addition to be great fun! The handout also includes a book list of songs with dancing, music, and the like. Everyone seemed really excited about the prospect of continuing the Dance Party at home so I think the revised handout was a good move. Since there were over 100 in attendance Freegal will hopefully be getting some extra traffic this week!

Here’s the Dance Party Handout.

Read about my Dance Party here.


Baby Storytime: Art!

Inspired by Brooke to do art with babies, I decided to let the baby storytime folk get in on the storytime postcard project every storytimer in my library did for the last weeks of storytime. Basically, we take this awesome postcard with all the information for when storytimes start back up again in 5 weeks (!) and a spot for kids and parents to decorate and write their address. Then we mail the postcards to them! I’m not sure which of my clever co-workers came up with the idea, but it’s genius. First, everyone LOVES getting mail, especially when it’s informational. Second, everyone LOVES their kid’s artwork. So getting kids’ artwork in the mail? Pure genius, I tell you.

The front of the postcard (or is it the back?) looks like this:


The older kids had markers and small stamps to decorate their cards, but for the toddlers and babies I went with jumbo washable stamp pads and oversized stamps (for toddlers) and their hands and feet (for the babies, mostly, though many a toddler contributed their adorable handprint). When doing this with the babies I passed out a tray with a jumbo stamp pad, postcard, and pen so each adult had everything they needed within reach. I also had a big container of wipes to pass around for wiping ink off hands and feet. I was sure to tell parents how completely washable the ink is (it is REALLY easy to wash off) so not to worry about it getting on our carpet or their clothes.

Here are some left behind examples from toddler and baby time.



I’m calling this a success and plan to do more art with the tiny guys-probably once a month to start. Can’t wait!

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Baby Storytime: Pat a Cake

It’s been a while since I’ve done a baby storytime post-just not enough time in a day. Thanks for sticking with me!

What We Did:

Hello Bubbles

Penny Pointers

Zoom Zoom Zoom

This Little Train


Parent Message: It’s ok if they crawl around while we’re reading and rhyming. Just because they aren’t making eye contact, doesn’t mean they aren’t absorbing what we’re doing and saying. We want to make sure books and reading are FUN so we’ll let them participate at their own pace. You can just do what I’m doing if your little one leaves your lap.

Book: Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett (this is one I use ALL THE TIME because it is AMAZING)

Cover Art for Monkey and me

Pizza Pickle Pumpernickel

Bouncing Bouncing



Mix a Pancake

Roly Poly

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Book: Pat a Cake by Annie Kubler (I suggest substituting their baby’s name for “baby” and to mark their cake with the first letter of their baby’s name)

Cover Art Image

Group choices: Ram Sam Sam in #1, and Cheek Chin in #2

Cuckoo Clock

Goodbye Bubbles


Today’s agenda was packed! And so much fun!


Baby Storytime: Visual Tour

One of the things I kind of love about our profession is how ideas seem to come to several of us all at once. So we all get jazzed about the same kind of thing all together. Anyway, something was floating out there for a run down of baby storytime, including room set up and basic process. I had a draft of this, specific to my storytime because after all this time blogging about baby storytime, I realized no one knows what it actually looks like.  Last week Brooke blogged about her baby storytime and it gave me some great ideas! And I think I’ve found a kindred spirit as her set up looks an awful lot like mine. 🙂

Seeing how others set up the room, etc. was so helpful to me when I started doing baby storytime 5 years ago. Little things like nametags, words on the wall, and what goes on the floor make a big difference in storytime. If you’ve never seen a baby storytime the set-up part can be hard. There are lots of storytime plans out there for content, but how do you arrange the babies and the grown ups? Do put things on the floor? What things? How can I make the room welcoming to participants? I’ve been setting up this way for many years and it has worked really well. I didn’t always have books on the floor during storytime but added those a few years ago because not all babies are the sit and listen types. It’s nice to give them something interesting in the center of our circle to play with and look at while we are singing and rhyming. They’re still soaking up everything we say and they’re happy not being trapped in a lap (and mom’s comfortable knowing he isn’t escaping).

Visual Tour of Baby Storytime:

Decided to get brave and try Vine (thanks, Mollie for your help!) instead of using just pictures.

Here’s the Vine link (could not get it to imbed!):

Baby Storytime

Pictures, too!






photoMagnetic wall makes hanging songs up SO easy!


How do you set up storytime?