Just Add Rhythm Sticks!

We’ve heard about these things called rhythm sticks, we’ve read many a blog post but for way too long they remained a mystery to us. Lindsey finally put her foot down and bought some. We’ve done shakers, we braved scarves and darn it it was high time we mastered the sticks! The result? We had a blast filming a whole bunch of new songs! We had so much fun we declared November #RhythmSticksMonth and you can find them all here on this playlist.


To get us started we turned to the wonderful wide web of our colleagues for ideas and strategies. Amy’s Laptime and Storytime blog provides simple instructions on how to make your own rhythm sticks, an activity to get the kids practicing responsible rhythm, lots of songs and even books with rhythm. Whew, what a post! Next up is Anne’s Library Life, where she dedicates the activity section of her babytime to rhythm sticks and includes some great parent-talk and early literacy tips on how to use them and why they’re important. Kathy and Christine at Storytime Stuff share some brilliant ways to use rhythm sticks which go beyond the ordinary and would work for school age kids as well. Using them as wands, turning them into spiders, flutes or clock hands? Pure genius! Finally, Claudia at Never Shushed has put together a magical storytime all about snow (Winter Hokey Pokey!) as well as one on rhythm and sound which on top of some neat new songs has lots of ideas for using rhythm sticks.

So with all this great advice from our wise colleagues we jumped in. We hope you’re ready for the guided tour!

Bread and Butter Storytime Chant

This is a great one to use as a hello or welcome song and then again as a goodbye song.

This is the Way We Tap Our Sticks

Practice lots of new action words with the rhythm sticks to this familiar tune.

If You Have Some Rhythm Sticks

Same goes for this one: a familiar tune and endless possibilities for those sticks!

Count to Ten with Rhythm Sticks

This is the perfect song to warm up with and allow your storytimers to get used to the sticks.

Tap Your Sticks

This is a lovely song and is a fun way to practice keeping a regular beat as well as opposites.

The Wheels on the Bus

Ending with a bang, this is a great way to breathe new life into a favourite tune!

Thanks for indulging in our rhythm sticks mania and we’d love for you to share your favourite rhythm sticks songs or programs down below in the comments.

25 thoughts on “Just Add Rhythm Sticks!

  1. Happy Friday Ladies!

    I love using rhythm sticks and I think one of the funniest parts is watching how the big the adults’ eyes get when I bring them out – and the kids always do really well! I recently did a version of “Yellow Submarine” by Greg & Steve (which has such a great rhythm) and encouraged the parents that kids don’t always need to listen to “kid” music to learn early literacy skills. It was a HUGE hit! Thanks for the all the fun, new ideas!

    1. Thanks Laura 🙂 This is such a great idea- I think we get caught up using kids tunes only and there’s a world of great music out there, which parents might find more palatable!

  2. Great ideas! We just got a package of rhythm sticks delivered to our branch, but I haven’t busted them out yet. Do you happen to have any tips on how to make passing them out or gathering them up a smoother processes? I regularly have groups of 100+, and passing out all those items sometimes feels like it takes up valuable singing and learning time, and causes a break in the flow of the program. Any suggestions for related songs we could sing while passing out or cleaning up the rhythm sticks?

    1. Hi Jane, thanks so much for your question- especially because it’s a tough one 🙂 I’m hoping other folks chime in with some genius ideas. For really big crowds I would tie-in the distribution to either coming or going. What I mean is either have children receive them when they enter the space or give them back as they leave. This way you only lose the time it takes to walk around the crowd once. Alternatively singing while you do it is a great idea! I’ve sung “It’s Time to Put the Books Away” which you could change to sticks or “Bread and Butter” and have kids use their hands on their knees until they get sticks. Maybe Lindsey and I will do some research and film some distributing songs. Thanks again for the ponder!

      1. Jane, (and anyone else out there who might be curious!) we turned to Twitter and all our amazing friends there to help us with the conundrum of how to hand out and retrieve storytime props (sticks, scarves and shakers) with a big crowd and got the following ideas: using a container by the door with a sign that says “Please take one as you come in”, leaving piles around your storytime space so folks can help themselves and/or passing around a container or two so families can take one and pass it on. Next up, finding more transition songs! Thanks again for a great question 🙂

      2. I have large groups and try to have a volunteer at every story time for just this reason. If a volunteer is not available, I will have 2 or 3 containers all the same and I will ask for 2 or 3 mommy or daddy “helpers.” I have them come to the front with me, give them each a basket, MODEL putting my shakers/sticks/scarves etc into their baskets – and then we all wade through the crowd collecting the items. It works pretty well…. 🙂

    2. Admittedly, I have smaller groups, about 40 or so, but I collect the sticks in a basket by holding out the basket and asking the kids if they can get the sticks back into the basket. I say things like, “Good aim!” and “Well done!” and “That’s one, can you push the other stick in, too?” That makes putting away time more like a challenge for the kids to master, and I try to make sure that every child feels a sense of mastery around the moment.

  3. Thank you so much for all you do! Your website is a life saver. Instead of using rhythm sticks in our baby storytime we use wooden spoons, they are easier for the babies to hit together and it shows parents that they can use items they have around their house to play at home too!

    1. Hi Brie, thank you for stopping by and sharing this awesome suggestion. We absolutely love the idea of incorporating household items into storytime!

  4. Howdy
    I am going to try using Lummi sticks in class this year. Can you update the link for Using Instruments in Storytime, it takes me to a strange not library place.

    1. Hey Laura, thanks for catching this! We’re checking in with Storytime Steph to see if her link has changed and will update it as soon as we hear back. In the meantime, happy rhythm sticking 🙂

      1. yes thank you, this rhyme from StorytimeStuff is my favorite so far.

        Windshield Wipers Rhyme

        It’s a rainy day and down the street we go.
        It’s only raining a little bit, so the wipers are going slow.
        It’s starting to rain more now, but it’s not a disaster.
        We know what we need to do: make the wipers go faster!
        Oh no, it’s really pouring now, we hope that it won’t last.
        Let’s turn those windshield wipers up, and they’ll go fast fast fast!
        The rain is slacking off again, we’re not sad to see it go.
        We’ll turn those windshield wipers down, and they’ll go back to slow.
        Oh, look, is that the sun I see? And here comes one last drop.
        The rain has stopped now, yessiree, and we turn our wipers OFF!

  5. We’ve been using rhythm sticks for years, but we’re finding the paint comes off them pretty easily with the last couple of orders. Are Lakeshore Learning sticks the best? Anyone else get them from a great supplier?

    1. Hi Lisa, we’re not sure which ones are the best. Do you know of the Storytime Underground Facebook group? You could search their page to see if other people have asked a similar question and how people responded. If you don’t find an answer you can pose the question yourself and get lots of lots of input from people around the country. Best of luck to you!

  6. Do you have an age recommendation for using rhythm sticks? I wanted to incorporate rhythm sticks into story times, but I am unsure which age groups will be best.


    1. I’ve used them with all different age groups. With babies, I have the caregivers help them hold the sticks or use the sticks themselves while the babies watch in fascination. Preschoolers can start to do the songs with you, and school-age kids are ready for the harder songs. The most challenging group is toddlers, but even they can use them when you have an engaged group of caregivers to assist. I was afraid to use them with babies and toddlers at first but it ended up being a bit hit!

  7. Hi Lindsey and Dana! I appreciate the post. I wanted to let you know that your link to storytime steph has gone bad over the years since this has been published, but that I still come back to this page again and again when looking for new ways to incorporate the sticks.


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