Toddler Storytime: Favourite Songs and Rhymes

Next up in my Toddler Storytime series is my selection of songs and rhymes that I use every week or almost every week.  I’ll be doing a separate post on songs and activities to get the wiggles out – these ones are just my go-to, familiar tunes that I know the caregivers and kids love to sing.  In case you missed it, here are my other posts in this series:

Without further ado!

1. Hello, Friends


I use this as my welcome and goodbye song every week.  I love it because it’s simple and repetitive. It’s also exciting to see the toddlers get better and better at making the sign for friends each week.  And I’m always surprised at how many remember the signs even after singing it once!

2. Open, Shut Them


We do this song at least two times every week. The kids love hiding their hands behind their backs at the end of the song. I have a little boy who tells me every time, “I let them in my mouth!”

 3. Roly Poly


The BEST song for teaching opposites, in my opinion.  You can get creative and add as many verses as you’d like.  I’ve been adding a verse called “High/Low” where we just change the pitch of our voices.

4. Mmm, Ahh Went the Little Green Frog


I fell in love with this song when my 2-year-old niece was struggling to make the “K” sound. You can give lots of good early literacy tips around phonological awareness before and after singing it. We also have multiple verses to try.

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Toddler Storytime: Favourite Read Alouds

This post will feature 20 books that worked really well in my last run of  Toddler Storytime.  In case you missed it, here are the other posts focusing on this age group:

 

For toddlers, I usually only do two books and a felt story.  Maybe three books if they are all really short.  But for the most part, it’s just too hard to keep their attention for a third book, and we do more “get the wiggles out” activities instead.  And I never hesitate to skip pages or summarize the ending if a book just isn’t working.

I always start with the longest book and move to the shorter one last.  Pop-Out books have been a huge hit with my storytime crowd, so most weeks I include one of those.  Without further ado, here are my favourites!

1. Peek-A-Moo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti; illustrated by Stephanie Peterson

Peek-a-MooA lift-the-flap type book that encourages kids to guess the sounds animals make.  I love the repetition of “Guess Who?”  Cimarusti has a whole series of these books and I’ve had success with all of them.

2. Giant Pop-Out Pets

Giant Pop Out PetsA great book for teaching parents how to ask questions while they read and for teaching toddlers how to make predictions.  Two clues are given on the left page, leading to a pop-out pet on the right page.  You can also get the ocean version, food version, or bug version.  I love ending with this book as it grabs their attention.

3. If You See a Kitten and Whose Baby Am I? by John Butler

If You See a KittenOr pretty much any book by John Butler!  Short, simple sentences and bright, clear illustrations.

4. What Will Hatch? by Jennifer Ward

What Will Hatch?This 2013 book got me at first read.  Most of the toddlers can’t guess what will hatch from the eggs, but it’s a great opportunity to show caregivers how to ask questions and point out things in the illustrations.

5. Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails by Nancy Tafuri

Spots Feathers and Curly TailsA classic for a good reason. The pictures are large and realistic. And you can have lots of fun making the animal sounds.

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Toddler Storytime: How I Plan

I enjoy babytime.  And I can handle preschool storytime.  But toddler storytime – toddler storytime is my absolute favourite! Maybe it’s because I hang out with a 2-year-old on a regular basis, but I love the controlled chaos that often characterizes this group.

I’ve just wrapped up my first session of  a 12-week toddler storytime (ages 18 months-3 years), and I thought it would be helpful to share what worked with these ages.  I’ll be doing a series of blog posts over the next month on the following topics:

So let’s get to it!

How I Plan

My most successful toddler storytimes include the following ingredients:

Flexibility + Repetition + Movement + Caregiver Participation = A Good Time For All

Books are important too, but I’ve found that these other elements are more influential in determining how a storytime will pan out.  In order to get caregivers to participate, I always give out a bookmark with the song lyrics printed.  Especially if it’s a big group, having the parents and caregivers on board can make a world of difference.

I plan for a range of activities and end up using the ones that work well the kids on that day at that time.  With that said, I plan for a 30-minute program (my library doesn’t do crafts as part of storytime) with the following components in mind:

  • 1-2 books (depending on how active they are)
  • 1 flannel story
  • 1 song or rhyme with puppets
  • 5-6 songs or rhymes
  • 5-6 “get the wiggles out” activities (anything from lifting songs to egg shakers to dancing)

I will go into more detail about each of these components in my following blog posts.  Suffice it to say, when I first started doing Toddler Storytimes, I would try to plan out the order of all these different components.  While some of the planning was good (i.e. which book to read first), most of it fell apart during storytime because the kids needed something different.  So halfway through my session, I created a planning sheet that allows me to organize my thoughts, but also allows for a great deal of flexibility. I’ve included it here in case anyone would like to print and use it too.  It’s pretty simple in it’s design, but that’s why I like it!

Toddler Storytime Planning Sheet (Word Document)
Toddler Storytime Planning Sheet (PFD)

So now I have a basic idea of the types of activities I’d like to share for each session, and I let the group of kids determine what I use and what I don’t.  I may not always use a felt story and puppets, but the toddlers who come to my library absolutely love them so I make an effort to include them as often as possible.

After each storytime I’ll make little notes in each box regarding what worked and what didn’t.  Then the planning sheet goes in my “Storytime Madness” binder, making it easy to flip through when I’ve forgotten which books I’ve read or what songs worked really well.

These past three months were my first time doing a complete a full run of toddler storytime with the same community, so I anticipate the way I plan to change in the future.  But for now, this is what is working for me!

How do you plan your Toddler Storytime?  Please share your successes in the comments!

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