Storytime Songs with Crossover Appeal

Being a parent or caregiver can be a tough. Finding the time to memorize dozens of different songs, rhymes and bounces to share with your child as they grow up just isn’t always in the cards.

Fortunately for the families at my storytimes, I am all about the efficiency. Why learn 24 songs when you can learn 6 songs and learn how to adapt each of them in 4 different ways (woah, that’s enough math for one day…)?

In all seriousness, though, repetition is a vital part of supporting early literacy, and having an arsenal of multipurpose rhymes and songs at your disposal is always a good thing.

Here are a few of my favourite songs and rhymes with crossover appeal.

Zoom Zoom Zoom / The Elevator Song

Caregivers get an arm workout lifting their babies, and toddlers/preschoolers/kindergarteners get to work off some of that energy by jumping in these storytime classics. Everybody wins!

Sleeping Bunnies

I just tested this preschool classic out as a lap bounce with at the families my babytime, and it worked like a charm. We rocked the babies gently on our laps for the first part of the song, then hopped them up and down like like bunnies for the second part – lots of fun.

My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean

Now this one’s a real classic. When I was little we sang this song in school, and every time we sang a word that started with the letter “b”, we jumped! As you might imagine, the line “bring back my bonny to me” had us in stitches! It’s a great way to reinforce listening skills and letter sound recognition while burning off some energy. In a babytime, caregivers can lift babies into the air every time they sing the word Bonnie, making for another great arm workout.

Tick Tock Tick Tock / Toast in the Toaster

Have I mentioned that I’m a big fan of jumping in storytimes? I’m a big fan of jumping in storytimes. Kids will spend much of their school lives being asked to sit down and sit still, so why not let them express their natural exuberance while they still can? Both of these songs work brilliantly as lap bounces in babytimes, and as high energy movement songs for older children.

London Bridge is Falling Down

You get the picture – babies are lifted and lowered, kids drop themselves up and down. This song makes for a nice change from lifting songs, though, as it’s a lowering song, and you can take a walk around for the second verse.

Head and Shoulders

Sometimes songs become classics for a reason – this song works as beautifully with babies as it does with toddlers, preschoolers, and even kinders (especially when you pick up the pace). It’s also a fantastic song for introducing different languages into your programs, or for encouraging families to share their languages with a group. My partner taught me how to sing Head and Shoulders in Japanese so that I could share it at my storytime, and it works brilliantly in so many different languages.

Do you have any favourite all-purpose storytime songs? I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Baby Story Time – July 28, 2015

Story times with a new crowd in a new neighborhood are always exciting.

A mother came up to me after the program to say that she was new to story times and had attended a program at a different library where the facilitator ran through the material quickly and without any repetition.  She felt lost and a bit embarrassed –  it felt like she was the only person in the room who didn’t know the words to every song. I always try to repeat the material in my story times because I understand the developmental importance of repetition. The patron really appreciated getting a chance to practice new material, and it was a good reminder for me to not race through my programs!

Here’s what we did:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Songs/Tickles:

  • Slowly slowly
  • Wake up feet
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly

Book : I Went Walking / Sue Williams

walking

Bounces:

  • Here we go a bouncing
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • Giddyup horsey

Book 2: Jump! / Scott Fischer

Jump

Movement Songs:

  • Dancing with bears
  • Zoom zoom
  • Elevator song

Soothing Songs:

  • Orca whale

Baby Story Time – July 24, 2015

To be honest, I can’t exactly remember what we did this week….I normally plan my programs in advance, but the summer has just thrown me for a loop. So…I’m fairly sure we did something along these lines….

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Tickles/Songs:

  • Here are baby’s fingers
  • Slowly slowly
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly
  • Come under my umbrella

Book 1: Cat the Cat, Who is That? / Mo Willems

whoisthat

Bounces:

  • A bouncing we will go
  • Gregory Giggs
  • London Bridge is falling down

Book Two: Farmyard Beat / Lindsey Craig

farmyard

Movement Songs:

  • Dancing with bears
  • Mamma’s little baby loves dancing
  • Zoom zoom
  • Elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • Rain is falling down

Goodbye song: Goodbye friends!

I like Farmyard Beat, but I definitely make a few changes when I use it in story times. Adapting picture books is something I talk about a lot in my programs. To make things a bit more consistent I replace all of the different noises in the story with animal sounds, and I shorten the story a bit by changing the ending.

I encourage caregivers to view picture books as interactive objects that can be adapted to meet different moods/needs. Most picture books can be made appropriate for any audience with a bit of creative interpretation. Caregivers can even forgo the printed text all together and make up their own stories using the pictures – this is a really fun activity to do with children, as kids can be insanely creatively!

Baby Story Time – July 17, 2015

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Tickles/Songs:

  • Baby put your pants on
  • Two little eyes
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly/ Mo Willems

fly

Bounces:

  • A bouncing we will go
  • Giddyup horsey
  • You be the lemon
  • Trot trot to Boston

Book Two: If You See a Kitten/ John Butler

kitten

Movement Songs:

  • My bonny lies over the ocean
  • What shall we do with lazy Katie?
  • Zoom zoom
  • Elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • Mm-ahh went the little brown bear one day

Goodbye song: Goodbye friends!

I really like branching out and using picture books that aren’t necessarily targeted towards babies in my baby time. I think it’s helpful to model ways in which caregivers can adapt materials for their children when they’re at different ages. I know that several of the parents in my group have older children, so I like to showcase ways in which they can use the same books and songs with all of their children just by making a few adaptations. For example, the Cat the Cat books grow with children – they’re simple and repetitive enough for babies, with big bold text and colorful illustrations, and there are plenty of opportunities for fun animal noises, but they’re perfect for older children who are just learning to read.

Similarly, many of the songs we do in baby time are perfect for older children! While babies love being lifted in “zoom zoom” or “the elevator song”, older kids love jumping instead! Parents can continue using familiar material as their children grow, and can use the same material with several children, just by making a few simple changes. When you’re a busy caregiver, anything that can make life a little easier helps!

Baby Story Time – July 15, 2015

Baby time at a new-to-me branch this morning!

A bit of an interesting experience – story time took place in the children’s area, rather than in a meeting room, meaning that the entire branch was treated to my rousing rendition of The Wheels on the Bus….

The branch is also without air con at the moment, which made for a very glowing story time…I had meant to do more lifting/movement songs, but because of the intense heat I decided to keep things a bit more mellow.

I like to stick with the standards when doing a drop in program, simply because I can’t anticipate what material my audience will be familiar with.

Different branches of course have different demographics, and it’s fascinating to observe the families that attend programs in different neighborhoods. My local branch story times welcome a lot of newcomers and non-parental caregivers (typically grandparents, nannies and daycare workers). Today’s story time audience was almost entirely mothers, the majority of whom were native English speakers (we also had a lot of tattoos – this is a very cool neighborhood!)

Here’s what we did:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Tickles/Songs:

  • Two little eyes
  • The moon is round
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Animal Opposites / Petr Horacek

animal

Bounces:

  • A bouncing we will go
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • Bumping up and down on my little red wagon

Book Two: Giant Pop Out Pets

pets

Movement Songs:

  • Dancing with bears
  • London Bridge
  • Zoom zoom
  • Elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • The wheels on the bus
  • Orca whale
  • You are my sunshine

Goodbye song: Goodbye friends!

Baby Story Time – July 10, 2015

What we did:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Tickles/Songs:

  • Two little eyes
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly
  • Wake up feet

Book 1: I Went Walking / Sue Williams

walking

Bounces:

  • A bouncing we will go
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • Hostile baby rocking song
  • I wish I were a little bar of soap

Book Two: I Spy on the Farm / Edward Gibbs

i spy

Movement Songs:

  • Dancing with bears
  • London Bridge
  • Zoom zoom
  • Elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • I love you
  • Orca whale
  • Rain is falling down

Goodbye song: Goodbye friends!

Our baby time was crazier today than our family story time! We had a lot of babies who will soon be moving into family time, so they were very, very active, and loved our bounces and movement songs.

I also shortened both of the stories, because my wiggly audience just wasn’t having any of it, and it’s a great opportunity to talk to caregivers about adapting stories at home to suit how kids are feeling.

So great to be back into the swing of things!

Baby Story Time – May 15, 2015

Yesterday was our last spring story time session – we’re on a bit of a break now until July. We had a full house again, and interestingly we had a few new faces in the crowd. I’m also pleased at how many dads we have attending story time – it’s great to know that we’ve created a space in which all different kinds of caregivers feel welcome.

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Well hello everyone, can you touch your nose?
  • Grr grr went the little brown bear one day
  • Slowly, slowly
  • Head and shoulders
  • Slice slice the bread looks nice

Book 1: All of Baby Nose to Toes / Victoria Adler

baby

Songs/Bounces

  • Giddyup horsey
  • Gregory Griggs
  • Pudding on the plate
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus

Book Two:Noisy Farm

farm

Movement Songs

  • London bridge is falling down
  • Up, up, up in the sky like this
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Come under my umbrella
  • Orca whale

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends

I shorted “Nose to Toes” a bit – there’s a lot of text on each page, which is lovely, but I have a large group of squirmy babies, so I often have to make some adjustments to my picture books to make them fit my audience a bit better.

“Noisy Farm” is an awesome baby book – simple text, bold illustrations, flaps to lift, and animals noises to make, what could be better in a baby book? 🙂 I also have a very obliging group of caregivers who don’t bat at eye at being asked to oink like a piggy!

I also had a few new faces in the audience who had never attended any story times before, so I tried to pick short, very repetitive songs whenever possible, and we sang everything at least twice, to help the newbies get the hang of things.

I can’t believe we’re wrapping up until July – some of my little guys will have grown so much by then, they’ll be graduating into family story time!

Baby Story Time – May 8, 2015

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Slowly, slowly
  • Round and round the garden
  • Wake up feet

Book 1: Animal Opposites / Petr Horacek

animal

Songs/Bounces

  • Giddyup horsey
  • I wish I were a little bar of soap
  • The hostile baby rocking song
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus

Book Two: I Spy Pets / Edward Gibbs

i spy

Movement Songs

  • What shall we do with lazy Katie?
  • London bridge is falling down
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Twinkle twinkle
  • Orca whale
  • Yo Te Amo

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends

Baby Story Time – May 1, 2015

This week we introduced the hostile baby rocking song, and it was a hit, lots of laughter from the caregivers!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • The moon is round
  • Two little eyes
  • Head and shoulders
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Peek-a-bloom / Marie Torres Cimarusti

peek a bloom

Songs/Bounces

  • The hostile baby rocking song
  • Gregory Griggs
  • Tick tock tick tock
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus

Book Two: Tuck me in / Dean Hacohen

tuck me in

Movement Songs

  • Dancing with bears
  • My bonny lies over the ocean
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Come under my umbrella

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends

Baby Story Time – April 24, 2015

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Well hello everyone, can you touch your nose?
  • 1 little, 2 little, 3 little fingers
  • Slowly slowly very slowly
  • Pizza pickle pumpernickel
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Dear Zoo / Rod Campbell

dear zoo

Songs/Bounces

  • Giddyup giddyup giddyup horsey
  • Trot trot to Boston
  • You be the lemon
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus

Book Two: I went walking /  Sue Williams

walking

Movement Songs

  • London bridge is falling down
  • Up up up in the sky like this
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Come under my umbrella

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

I Went Walking is very similar to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, so it’s great for babies and toddlers. It can work very well as a call-and-response activity, where the audiences asks the reader, “what did you see?”

I try to include a little bit of sign language in my story times (both my hello and goodbye songs have signs), and Come under my umbrella introduces a few new signs. When it comes to signing, I’m less interested in teaching pre-verbal babies to communicate than I am in introducing and promoting diversity. We often think of diversity in terms of ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual identity, but diversity includes different abilities and means of communication as well. Some of us speak with our mouths, but others of us speak with our hands, or with a computer, but we all have a special voice worth sharing! Hopefully, by introducing children to the diversity of the human race at a young age, we can help them learn to understand and celebrate the differences that make us all so wonderful!