Family Story Time – July 24, 2015

As I mentioned in a previous post, the heavens finally opened this week, and there was much rejoicing.

Who would’ve thought that Vancouverites would be happy about rain?! Obviously we had to include a few rain-celebrating songs this week.

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Book 1: Farmyard Beat / Lindsey Craig



  • I wake up my hands with a shake, shake, shake
  • Come under my umbrella
  • Open/shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Dear Zoo / Rod Campbell

dear zoo

Action songs:

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom, zoom, zoom
  • If you’re happy and you know
  • Rain is falling down / Jump in the puddles
  • The elevator song

Soothing song:  Mmm-ahh went the little green frog

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


  • 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


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!

Family Story Time – April 24, 2015

I had planned a very rain-themed story time for today in the spirit of the weather, complete with all sorts of songs and stories about rain. Wouldn’t you know, about thirty minutes before story time started the heavens cleared and the sun shone through – so it was back to the drawing board! Here’s what we did:

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Dear Zoo / Rod Campbell

dear zoo

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: The Seals on the Bus / Lenny Hort


Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • The hokey pokey
  • Toast in the toaster
  • The elevator song

Cool-down songs:

  • Mm-ahh went the little green frog (with puppet)

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

Funnily enough, the hokey pokey was not an audience favourite this time around. The kids enjoyed shaking and turning around, but weren’t all that excited by the song, so I kept it brief – arms, legs, whole self.

What they really, really seem to love is jumping. Jumping, jumping, anything with jumping. So, toast in the toaster was received with much enthusiasm after the lackluster response to the hokey pokey!

Mm-ahh is a perennial favourite because I make sure that all the children practice really sticking their tongues out for an authentic froggy experience, which they just find absolutely hilarious. I also happen to have a freakishly long tongue (think Gene Simmons….), which typically leads to shrieks of laughter. I’m not above an easy sight gag 😉

I Survived Mall Story Time

On Saturday and Sunday I packed up some of my favourite story time books, grabbed a stamp, set up a folding chair and some floor mats in a shiny, cavernous hallway, and delivered my first ever mall story times – four of them, to be exact – as part of a library fundraising and outreach event.

Following my own advice I initially planned a simple story time that would feature lots of familiar songs and action rhymes and two books I knew like the back of my hand. I brought five books so I’d have a bit of flexibility, but I expected to spend most of each thirty-minute session on my feet moving around.

Well, as Robbie Burns said, the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley. Instead of rowdy groups of bouncing preschoolers, I peered into the serious faces of school aged children, who sat criss-cross-apple-sauce in front of me in rapt silence. And what did my little audience want, you ask? Did they cheer when I announced it was time to wake up our hands with a shake, shake, shake, or jump with joy for Zoom Zoom?

No. No they did not. For the first story time, I did try to incorporate some singing, some rhymes, and even the Elevator Song, but the response was lackluster, at best. You know what my audience did keep saying?

“Read us another story! Read us another story!”

They didn’t want to sing. They didn’t want to dance. They didn’t want to jump up and down. They wanted to listen to me read them stories.

At first I read two stories, interspersed with some singing and movement. Then I read three, with fewer interruptions. For the final story time I began with a hello song, finished with a goodbye song, and read four books in between. I’m pretty sure I could have read even more, if I’d had the time!

The small group sizes (usually 10-12 kids) allowed for very intimate, interactive story times. When we read “Bark, George”, for example, we all made delightful animal noises, mimicked George’s mother’s priceless expressions, and reached deep, deep down like the vet. For “Dear Zoo” we debated whether or not we should keep each animal or send it back, and suggested reasons why a camel or a lion might or might not make for a good pet. It was interactive, it was engaging, it was hilarious, and the kids didn’t want it to end.

Side note: The absolute highlight of the whole story time experience was a little boy who experienced “Dear Zoo” for the first time. Every time I dramatically revealed what was behind each flap, his whole body just shook with excitement, and his whole face lit up with joy. I think he could have watched me read that book all day.

As a colleague of mine suggested, as children grow older, they often don’t get read aloud to as much anymore. The children in the audience obviously relished the simple joy of experiencing a story together, and I saw several children twice or even three times over the course of the weekend (they didn’t seem to mind that I read several stories several times!).

Here are the books we shared, to much delight and audience approval:

pete go away big green monster dear zoo bark george