Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy


My Storytime for 1 year olds

It’s been almost a year since we created a one year old storytime.

To recap: Before, our toddler storytimes were for walkers up to 3 years. And the room was at capacity (66, but usually ended up at about 70). So not only were there a lot of people crammed into a room, the size difference in the children made everyone crazy. They were constantly falling on top of each other, stepping on each other, the big kids knocking over the little ones and the little ones freaking out about so many big kids. It was kind of like this but not quite as cute and furry.

Something had to give so we split the ages. 1 year olds and 2 year olds (though we don’t card so if parents are comfortable with their little guy being with a bigger guy, that’s fine!).

It is working beautifully and I have learned a few things about the difference between a storytime for ones and a storytime for twos. When we first made the change I kept the content basically the same with just one less book for the ones. It was fine, but I knew it could be better and there really are some significant differences between a 13 month old and a 25 month old. So, here’s what my one year old storytime looks like today. It’s more of a modified version of Baby Storytime rather than Toddler Storytime and it works a lot better that way. For me it’s all about the kinds of rhymes, songs, and books, rather than how many are happening in each storytime.


Hello Bubbles

Hi, Hello and How Are You? with the ukelele, we wave for the first verse, stomp for the second and clap for the third.

This is Big

These are the same for ones and twos. I feel it helps their transition to the older group to hear the same songs.

Book: I always have a few options on my table so I pick a meatier one for the first book because my second and final book will be sung. Examples: Jazz Baby by Wheeler, I Went Walking by Williams, Peek-A-Moo (or Zoo) by Cimarusti, Barnyard Banter by Fleming

Rhyme or Song: Usually something done seated like Giddyap, Giddyap, If You’re Happy and You Know It, or Ram Sam Sam

Rhyme or Song: Usually something a little more raucous or standing up. Head. Shoulders, Knees and Toes, The Elevator Song, or Go In and Out the Window.

Stand Up Song: Now we stand up for sure. Thanks to Anna, all my groups are now addicted to Fruit Salad so I like to work it in somewhere. The Merry Go Round song is popular as well (and works with them all on the parachute). I let grown ups know they can hold their children for these songs or just follow along with me and their children will learn the movements as they get older.

Activity/Prop: Shakers, Scarves, Parachute, Flannel Sets. I either do 3 songs with the scarves or parachute, 1-2 with shakers, or one flannel rhyme like 3 Little Ducks, 3 Little Monkeys, etc.

Rhyme: This is Big

Closing Book: This is always a sing along book, usually Jane Cabrera because I love her and so do they. I pick 2-3 verse to sing each week and change the book each month.

Explain after storytime activity

Goodbye Bubbles

Activity: Something sensory, artsy, or play centered and very open ended.


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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!


Books are Not Just for Reading: My First Presentation

Can’t believe I’m JUST getting to this! I did the presentation the first week in April!

The presentation was part of Tapestry, an Early Learning conference for Southwest Washington. According to one of the conference chairs (who also happens to be my boss!) the conference was not as well attended as in the past, and that’s really too bad because there were a lot of GREAT looking programs. I didn’t get to go to any since I was presenting the whole day, but man, the descriptions sounded awesome.

Even though I did two presentations, really workshops, there was some overlap. That was OK, though because there were different people in each workshop (except one who was with me all day!).

Here are my original outlines, done through Evernote (thanks Mel for that idea):

Books Are Not Just for Reading Outline

Read Sing and Play with Infants and Toddlers Outline

Set up: in each room I set books up for display all around the classroom (used the marker holder on the white boards) for browsing before and after the session. This was a feature participants really seemed to love. The props I brought were on display at the front of the room and available for “petting” after the session. Handouts were on a counter by the door for taking as they came in or left.

Presentation #1: Books Are Not Just for Reading

This one was originally intended to be specific to infants and toddlers, but there was a mistake on the program so it was listed as being for preschoolers and kindergartners, too. I brought along several books for older kids with a few ideas for ways to use them besides straight reading, so no biggie.

Having been to many, many presentations over the years I know the ones I’ve learned the most from included lots of audience participation. So, as people came in I handed them a book and a piece of paper. I tried to match the book to the ages each participant works with, which was a great opportunity to learn more about each participant right away.

After introductions they had 3 minutes to look through their book and write down ways they thought they could use it besides straight reading.

Then I wrote what they came up with on the white board.


We talked about each of the things they came up with and I added or embellished a few as we went along, and clarified and grouped them in to main ideas (on the left). I loved that they thought of things I hadn’t-using a book for crowd control, yes!

Now time for demonstrations! I spent about 20 minutes showing them various ways to “extend” a picture book. I even addressed ways they could use a book for crowd control since that was something they suggested. In toddler storytime I use a song book (usually something by Jane Cabrera) right after our prop activity to calm everyone down and get storytime wrapped up. It works every time!

Ways to use a picture book: sing it, dance with it, bounce to the rhythm, picture walk, flannels (and cookie sheet magnet boards), instruments, show pictures with music cd playing, puppets, signing, eBooks (Tumblebooks), play with it (flap books and more!) and act it out.

Next I put them in groups and asked them to work together with the books they had from the beginning to come up with activities they WOULD use in their classrooms. I wanted them to be able to walk out the door with some practical ideas they knew they would and could use. Taking the planning step out makes it more likely they will use what they learned.

They all wrote down TONS of ideas. One was reading Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth to Kindergartners armed with flyswatters and asking them to wave the swatters at the book on the Shoo Fly part. Then follow with dancing to a version of Shoo Fly and art with the flyswatters. Sounds like a great time to me! Others included sharing Piggies by Don and Audrey Wood with toddlers and then doing This Little Piggy on their fingers; singing Brown Bear, Brown Bear followed by an art project with paint to talk about the colors they saw in the book; and sharing Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig (dancing all the while, of course!) followed by art with different mediums like the ones in the book (corrugated cardboard was the one they were most excited about).

My goal was for participants to leave with practical ideas to apply to their classroom and to feel comfortable using books in many ways. I felt like the presentation was a total success (and the evaluations said they liked it!). They left smiling and with lots of ideas written down on their notes.

Presentation #2: Read, Sing Play with Infants and Toddlers

My goal for this session was to put all the stuff I do in baby and toddler storytime and share on this blog, in a presentation. There were a few things I had to tweak from my original outline (there was NO way to get the parachute out in that classroom due to the number of desks, for example) but overall I think it went well. Two hours is long time to sing, rhyme, read, and play with a small group of grown ups. Still, I think we all had fun and we all learned lots of songs and rhymes to use with real, live kiddos!

Program description: Music and rhythm activities for infants and toddlers using books, props and our bodies.

I started similarly to the first presentation by introducing myself and asking them to do the same. Only this time I asked them to share their current favorite song, rhyme, or music activity in their classroom. A couple of them had the same favorite: Wheels on the Bus, with a twist (animals, etc. on the bus).

Here’s their list:


Before going any further we all had to learn these songs. I, for one, did not know the Firetruck Song! Toddlers + Firetrucks = WIN.

Next I asked them why they thought music and rhyming was important for babies and toddlers (see what they came up with below) and talked to them about the importance of music for the littlest kids (you can see all the stuff I talked about in my outline). I didn’t want to go on about this forever because this was the after lunch session and I got the feeling they were much more interested in learning rhymes, songs and techniques to take away than the philosophical stuff. Plus, based on their responses to why music is important, they already know why to do it. They needed the how, the practical part.


I talked a little about how to choose appropriate recorded music: if there are actions to follow they need to be slowly paced, find songs that are relevant to their lives (Firetruck song!), music you enjoy as well so you’ll be more likely to want to play it. For other songs and rhymes they should be easy to sing, repetitive, and fun! Songs to work on self regulation are great (stop and go, sit and stand, etc.) and simple movement rhymes (wigglers) are great for toddlers and most bounces or tickles are appropriate for babies and toddlers.

For learning rhymes and songs, each participant received a shaker, scarf, and paper sun glued to a craft stick (for You Are My Sunshine). For any activity involving the parachute I asked them to use their scarf instead.  We spent the last hour rhyming, singing, tapping, playing and dancing. I started by demonstrating a lot of the same things from my first presentation (this was the overlap) like reading Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett to be a bounce and doing a 5 or 3 little anythings to the same tune of 5 Green and Speckled Frogs or 5 Little Monkeys, or to a rhyme (they all left with directions to access Flannel Friday for a plethora of counting rhymes).

They were each given a rhyme sheet to take with them so after my demo we learned all the songs and rhymes on that sheet, plus some. We had to do them each 3 times, of course, to learn them better, just like we would with children.

It’s a Wrap!

At the end of each session I gave them information about how the library can help them, how to get an educator card, etc. and handed out a resources postcard with info about Flannel Friday, web resources and library resources, rhyme sheets, and a booklist (I’m happy to share any of these documents, just let me know!). Then there was time for questions and general after program chatting. It was a lot of fun!


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!


Storytime in Action: Stand Up Rhymes

Your Valentine from me this year is another video! This shows three stand up rhymes we do pretty regularly. This was only the second time we’d done them. It works really well with a small group like this, but we’ve done them with very large groups as well and just have them spin in place or make several smaller circles with the parents around them. Lots of fun!


Baby Storytime and Hello Bubbles Video

It snowed here yesterday, which hardly ever happens (like the hurricanes in Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire) which may have been why our baby storytimes were a bit smaller than normal. That and the fact that everyone seems to be sick this month! That’s no way to start off the new year. It was actually quite nice with the smaller group. 25 babies is just too many. 15 is perfect!

Click on any linked rhyme or song below to see the lyrics.


Hello Bubbles (see video below)

Penny Pointers (see a video here)

Zoom Zoom Zoom by Kathy Reid-Naiman

These are Baby’s Fingers

Rock the Baby

Icky Bicky Soda Cracker

Book: A Kiss Like This by Mary Murphy (yes! a new book by Murphy! If you love I Kissed the Baby, you’ll love this one)

Giddyap, Giddyap

Stand Up Rhymes:

Andy Pandy

Let’s Go Riding in an Elevator

Merry Go Round

Book: Wee Willie Winkie by Annie Kubler

Parent Message: We’ll be sharing this same rhyme book each Monday this month. Repetition is so important-the more we say the rhyme, the more your babies will learn from it. Works for adults, too!



Roly Poly

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Goodbye Bubbles

Splish Splash by Bobby Darin


Got permission from the mom in this video to use it so here we go! Nicole, this is for you. Cuz if you ask me one more time how this song goes… ❤

Hello Bubbles Video

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Storytime: Relationship Building

Yesterday was the first day of a new session after a three week break. Those babies grew so much in three weeks!

Welcoming people back got me thinking about the relationships we make with our young patrons and their caregivers.  I’ve seen so many “methods” of bonding that work really well, but here’s what has worked for me. Visually, I’d say my approach is to expect a big smile rather than a big hug after a break (from adults, not kids-what would life be without knee hugs?).

1) Learning the child’s name is the most important thing, but it doesn’t hurt to learn the names of caregivers who are regulars, especially those with babies. They appreciate the thought and greeting them by name makes them feel like a regular which means they’ll likely keep being a regular. Babies don’t care much about you knowing their name, but knowing it and their mom’s name can make a huge impression on Mom.

2) Don’t get too personal. Forming relationships doesn’t mean being friends. You might make some friends along the way, but you shouldn’t be thinking about friendship when talking with caregivers. Stick to conversation about the library, literacy, their babies, and the weather. Occasionally a topic turns political, etc. and that’s when I quietly exit the conversation and leave parents to talk amongst themselves. They don’t need me for that conversation any more and I need to remain neutral to keep and gain trust with all patrons.

3) Be friendly but genuine. We are all used to putting on a smile to help even the most difficult of patrons. That kind of smile isn’t going to cut it with storytime adults. They can tell if you aren’t being genuine and that’s going to put space between you. How can they believe the things you are telling them if they don’t even believe you are happy to see them? P.S. If you aren’t happy to see people at storytime, you might rethink doing storytimes…

4) Passion and enthusiasm. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely got this already. But are you expressing your passion enthusiastically to your patrons? I’m not talk cheerleading here, just be excited to talk about what you do! You have great, important things to say and caregivers would much rather hear those things coming from a happy, lively librarian (that they trust, see #2) than one who is giving a lecture and doesn’t seem to enjoy doing it at that. This goes the other way, too. open your mind and heart to what caregivers are sharing with you, too. They often have great tips and kernels of advice you can “steal” and incorporate into another storytime’s parent tip. Mom’s have shared free spots for parents to hang out with their kids (great after storytime announcement!), Grandmas have taught me new songs, and Dads have demonstrated the proper way to make elephant sounds. These may seem little, but when they see you share them in a subsequent storytime, you’ve made a forever storytime lover and you’ve learned something new-hooray!

5) Be honest. Honesty is the key to any good relationship, but especially in the library. If you can’t give a patron an answer to their question for privacy reasons, etc. simply tell them that. “I’m sorry, but I can’t give you that staff person’s schedule. You are welcome to stop in on the 4th floor when you are here and ask for her, however.” OR “Oh, thanks for your interest, but I really prefer not to discuss politics at work. But I’d love to hear more about Katie’s music class!” They will appreciate your candor and you will not have alienated other patrons within hearing distance. Honesty also applies to setting expectations. Make sure your groups know what you expect from them right from the get go (trust me on this!). If you expect them to sing with you, ask them to sing with you! If you want them to sit and be quiet (oh, I hope not!), ask them to. It’s that simple. You are the expert. They will follow your lead.

6) Ask them to sing along. Really, I’m sure you all do this, but I find the best way to bond with people in storytime is by singing as a group. Not only does this bond you to your patrons but it bonds patrons to each other. They giggle over being tone deaf or singing the wrong words (no such thing, I say, as long as you’re singing), and encourage each other. Singing also breaks the ice for future conversations-hopefully AFTER storytime. Mostly, music makes us happy! Happy adults=happy kids.

7) It’s about the adults AND the kids. This sums everything up, really.  We are modeling how to interact with children for the adults in the room, some of whom may never have had experience with kids before they had their own. This is a huge part of storytime, especially for parents of babies. Parents are learning rhymes (for the first time!) we hope they will repeat at home, getting tips from other parents in the room, making friends, and watching their babies grow. We facilitate all this by providing our expertise and a safe, welcoming environment for them so they will want to return again and again. And if they can’t, they’ll at the very least have a positive image of the library and hopefully plenty of rhymes to carry with them for the rest of their lives.

I’m sure there’s so much more that I’m forgetting!

What kinds of relationships do you build with your patrons and how do you maintain them?



All this talk on alsc-l, ALSC blog, and LOTS of other blogs about using digital content and devices in storytime have gotten me thinking about ways to incorporate digital media, or at least tips relating to it, into storytime. The trouble I keep running in to is I do storytime for babies and toddlers. All the messages and information I can think of to spew at parents is all “No, no, no!” and that is NOT the negative kind of energy I want to have in storytime. I DO want them to know the cautions and research in regards to young children and screens, but I DON’T want them to feel as though I’m lecturing them.

So far my ideas for incorporating digital media:

-simply using the projector to broadcast words to the songs on the wall (I already do this with lyrics on paper hanging on the wall)

-project the cover of the book we’re reading while I read it

-project real-life images of things related to the book I read while reading (e.g. a dump truck while reading Tip, Tip, Dig, Dig by Emma Garcia)

-ditto with songs (e.g. a bus while singing wheels on the bus)

That’s not much folks!

Do any of you incorporate digital media in toddler storytime? Baby storytime? If so, what do you do?

Do you see a benefit for doing these things with toddlers and babies? Besides providing information about using media with kids?

I’m really hoping to generate some practical conversation on the topic. I’ve heard so much on the philosophical end and now I’m left with a happy brain and the question, “But HOW?”

There’s a lot out there about using tech in storytimes with older kids (mostly K and up) but I can’t seem to find much for the wee ones. I want to know what you are all doing and what works and doesn’t, or whether you think I’m just plain crazy for even thinking about doing something with toddlers.

So, PLEASE share!

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Baby Storytime: Bath Time!

Kind of a strange storytime today with just two babies to start and a third arriving late. But then our attendance for a lot of this weeks programs has been slightly down.

We started with If You’re Happy and You Know It as usual then read Bath Time by David Bedford right at the start. Mostly I did this because one of the two babies there at the time was still taking his bottle and thought it would be better to save the bouncing rhymes, etc. for when mom’s hands were free and baby could move around. That worked fairly well, but that was one big bottle. So the active part of the storytime was pretty much just the one baby. Oh well. I shared Baby Faces by Margaret Miller a little later. With the small group I was able to take the book to each baby and show them the pictures close up, which they loved, of course.


Here are the rhymes for today:


Noble Duke of York (from Baby-O by MaryLee Sunseri)

Rock the baby, rock the baby, 1, 2, 3

Watch the baby, watch the baby smile at me

Bounce the baby, bounce the baby on your lap

Don’t forget to teach the baby how to clap: clap, clap, clap, clap



Mix a pancake, stir a pancake, pop it in the pan

Fry the pancake, toss the pancake, catch it if you can

Where is Baby? (see last week’s baby post for words)



We’re going to Kentucky, we’re going to the fair

To see the senorita with flowers in her hair

Shake it baby, shake it, shake it if you can

Shake it like a milkshake and put it in a can

Shake it to the bottom, shake it to the top

Shake it round and round and round and round

Until I tell you STOP!

Shake Your Sillies Out-Raffi


We ended with bubbles and tunes. Even though it was small (and all boys!!) they still seemed to have a good time.