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.

5. Rain is Falling Down

Sometimes you just need a calming song, something to bring the toddlers back to a place where they can listen to the next story.  This is my go to slow song for this age group.  I encourage caregivers to play peek-a-boo with their children in the second verse.  You can also add a winter verse with “Snow is falling down, slush!”

 6. Stop Says the Red Light

I try to incorporate as much sign language as possible in my storytimes. I love this rhyme because you can encourage caregivers to say it in the car or on the bus.  Also, traffic safety is very important for the little ones!

7. Hello, Bubbles

I used bubbles one time with my toddlers and ever since they’ve been asking for them.  We sing this song before and after using the bubbles at the end of storytime.  A great way for them to jump around!

8. Song Cube

I got this idea from Mel’s Desk and boy is it a lifesaver.  I always pull out the song cube at least once during storytime and let the toddlers roll it to see which song we’ll sing next.  It’s a great way to encourage nursery rhymes and traditional children’s songs.  I need to make a new one with 6 different songs just to add some variety though.

So those are my favourite tried and true songs and rhymes to use with toddlers.  What are your yours?  Let us know in the comments!

29 thoughts on “Toddler Storytime: Favourite Songs and Rhymes

  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful blog – it is simply a treasure trove!

    I particulary absolutely adore your Hello and Good bye songs. I am about to keep reading and watching and am sure that I will love everything I find. I visited the puppet ideas yesterday and loved them too.

    Thank you for all the effort you have devoted to this.


    Lizzie Gilmour

    1. Thank you so much Lizzie! So exciting to see we have readers and viewers all the way over in Australia! We love the second verse to “Open, Shut Them” that you shared. We’d never heard of that one, so we added the lyrics in the description box for that video. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Oh I forgot to add that I do a second verse to Open Shut Them. Maybe you already know it but didn’t include it?

    Shake them shake them
    Shake them shake them

    Shake them just like this

    Roll them
    Roll them

    Roll them
    Roll them

    Blow a little kiss!


  3. for Open them shut them
    additional verse
    Creep them creep them, right up to your chin,
    Open up your little mouth but do not let them in!

    1. Thanks, Karen! That’s actually the verse we sing in the video.

  4. oh my
    I really loved Open, Shut Them
    Mmm, Ahh Went the Little Green Frog.
    so cute! so interesting!
    I’ll try in my next Story Hours for toddlers 🙂
    thank you so much.

    1. Those ones work so well for toddlers! Try the Little Green Frog with puppets for an added challenge. Thank you for your comment!

  5. I had so much fun doing the Zoom, Zoom, Zoom song with a bunch of toddlers/pre-schoolers today who loved to blast-off. What a great resource!

    1. Thanks, Emily! The blast off is definitely the best part of the song 🙂

  6. Hi, Lindsey! I finally got around to making a song cube a couple weeks ago, and I’m loving it! It’s especially awesome at our Pajama Storytime because that group is much smaller than normal, so I’m able to give each child a turn tossing the cube before we do a final toss to choose our song. Thanks for the idea, and I hope you and Dana are doing well!

    1. That’s awesome! I had to make a second song cube with additional nursery rhymes because I was getting tired of the first one. We are doing well, thanks!

      1. I was going to ask how you “choose” which child gets to toss the song cube each week? I made one, but stopped using it because I was afraid I’d hurt a child’s feelings by not giving them the opportunity to roll the song.

        1. Kids have to get used to taking turns; it will be one of the main skills they need when they start school. So I guess I don’t really worry about hurting a child’s feelings. I might say something like, “Today it’s Sophie’s turn to roll the cube. Let’s all clap for Sophie! Next week other people will get a turn too.” If a child seems upset, you could add “The song cube will be here after storytime if you didn’t get a turn right now” and I’d let kids come roll it while I was giving stamps and cleaning up. Another option is to make it something just you roll – I’ve definitely done that when the group was too big and rambunctious.

  7. My favorite songs that played at our old story time was :

    Tick tock tick tock I’m a little cuckoo clock. tick tock tick tock stop. What time is it? ( the kids would rock back and forth for the ticks and then teacher would say 1 o clock. And all the kids would jump and say cuckoo! And they would repeat to #5)


    These are my glasses (hold fingers over eyes) this is my book (hold hands together like a closed book) I put on my glasses (hands on eyes) and open up the book (hold hands like open book) then I read read read and I look look look. I put down my glasses (bring hands from eyes to lap) and close up the book (clap hands together).

    My kids flip for these songs

    1. Thanks so much for sharing! The glasses song is by Laurie Berkner and she is one of my go-to children’s music artists.

  8. Thank you for telling me who it was. I have since moved to small town and not too happy with their story time. My kids keep asking to go back to the one with the glasses song so I have been trying to find the songs to download for them

  9. I am SO glad I saw your Toddler Planning Sheet on Storytime Katie’s blog! I’ve really benefited from your wonderful ideas and knowledge!
    I’ve featured 3 books in my 2 year old storytimes, and it’s a bit much for them. My program in 20 minutes long, but I can still feature more songs and movement, as this age definitely needs to move!
    I wanted to share a song that was absolutely FABULOUS and caused many parents to ask me which CD it’s on so they could check it out. It’s called “Walk Old Squirrel” by Kathy Reid-Naiman from the CD “When It’s Autumn”. Everyone loves the rhythm and beat, and the kids get to pretend to walk like a squirrel, run like a squirrel, chase the squirrel, catch the squirrel and hug a squirrel (which slows them down enough to sit back down). There are other wonderful songs on that CD, but this one is my favorite. If you get a chance to hear it, let me know what you think.

    1. Hi Alicia, thanks so much for your lovely comment. I’m a big Kathy Reid-Naiman fan, but I haven’t heard that song yet so I will definitely check it out. It sounds like it would be perfect for toddlers!

  10. Thank you so very much for putting together this website! A librarian friend of mine directed me to jbrary when I told her that I was having a hard time getting the two year olds at our preschool to engage in story time. Your ideas are awesome and I can’t wait to try them out!

    1. Hi Erin, thank you so much for your comment! 2-year-olds can be a challenge for any of us, so you are not alone. I hope they enjoy the songs and rhymes you learn here! 🙂

  11. Please forgive another post, but I must tell you how much I appreciate you both! Jbrary has become an indispensable resource for our library storytimes. Thank you, thank you for taking the time to post your wonderful tips and songs.
    Yay Jbrary! Children all over our state are benefiting from your blog 🙂

    Shelley Leicht
    Sheppard Memorial Libray
    Greenville, NC

    1. Hi Shelley, you never have to apologize! We absolutely love hearing from people who use our website and videos. It truly makes our day and gives us the motivation to keep going 🙂

  12. What songs do you have on your Song Cube? I use this as well and would like to change it up but am coming up blank on ideas!

    1. I use the same ones Mel has in her blog post:
      spider = a spider for “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
      star = a star for “Twinkle Twinkle”
      bus = a schoolbus for “Wheels on the Bus”
      sheep = a black sheep for “Baa Baa Black Sheep”
      boat = a rowboat for “Row Row Row Your Boat”
      hands = two hands for “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

      I made a second one though that has other nursery rhymes such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, Jack be Nimble, Three Blind Mice, and Little Miss Muffet. You could put anything!

      1. Thanks! I am trying to figure out ones that involve movement as I use this for my very active toddler storytimes. The one I have has Two Little Blackbirds, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle, I’m a Little Teapot, Row, Row, Row Your Boat and Tommy Thumbs.

  13. My song cube is a 6-inch die with the usual dots from one to six. I post a “roll-a-song” list on the wall behind me with a different song for each number. It’s simple to change the songs; just change the list!

    1. Oh, how clever! Great idea – thanks for sharing!

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