Toddler Storytime: Penguins

This is our first animal themed storytime of the year, and it’s kind of a one-off. We’re coming back from a two-week break and then we’re off again for Thanksgiving, so I wanted a fun, simple theme that wouldn’t be left hanging. Enter penguins!


Books Read:

One Day On Our Blue Planet (In the Antarctic) by Ella Bailey
A Mountain of Friends by Kerstin Schoene
Up & Down by Britta Teckentrup

Sign of the Week: Each week, I plan to teach 1 or 2 signs that correlate with our theme. Today, we learned the sign for Penguin. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Introductions: “Let’s All Do A Little Clapping” (To the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas)

Opening Song: “We Wave and Say Hello”

Discussion: I began storytime with a few facts about penguins, had the kids practice their penguin waddles, and then had everyone try to balance a shaker egg on their feet as they walked around (like papa penguins do to protect their young). We also practiced our ASL sign (a waddle, appropriately).


Everybody got a “penguin egg” when they came in, with a tiny paper penguin hidden inside.


I encouraged the kids to take really good care of their eggs, and to try to make it through storytime unscathed. After our last song of the day, we opened our eggs together!

In the past I’ve always launched into animal storytimes with little explanation or aplomb, but I wanted today’s session to be a bit more educational. With that in mind, I spent more time than usual on our opening discussion, and then launched into a terrific opening book.

Book 1: One Day On Our Blue Planet. I really love this series. The illustrations are eye-catching and colorful, the text simple but informative, and these books beautifully bridge the line between fiction and non-fiction. There’s another entry in the series that follows a lion cub (In the Savannah), and a third one coming in 2017.



Song: “Five Little Penguins (Bubble, Bubble, Pop!)”
Another song courtesy of the amazing duo at JBrary, and adapted to fit the theme. I changed the first line to “five little penguins swimming in the water,” and we counted down on our fingers. I also had some penguins on our flannel board to help us count.


Fingerplay: “Open, Shut Them”
Now that our fingers were warmed up, we moved onto our storytime staple. This is one item I repeat every week, to give our sessions some consistency.

Book 2: Up & Down. I’ve discovered that I really like Britta Teckentrup’s books, and this is no exception. I actually pulled it for an opposites storytime I’m planning later this year, but it worked perfectly for our penguin theme. Each page has a flap that lifts to continue the story.


Song: “Baby Shark”
We met some sharks in Britta Teckentrup’s book, so I decided to introduce this adorably catchy song. We obviously went with the non-dismemberment version (it cracks me up that one exists!)

Book 3: A Mountain of Friends. A cute story about a penguin who wants to fly, and gets some help from his animal friends. There’s very little text in this one but some great, full-page artwork. We tried to identify each animal as we moved along.

Song: “The Penguin Pokey”
From 1,000 Fingerplays and Action Rhymes by Barbara A. Scott. The Hokey Pokey is one of those songs I always seem to forget about, but kids and families love it. Today we danced as penguins, throwing our flippers in, then our webbed feet, then our beaks, and finally our whole penguin selves.

You put your flipper in,
You take your flipper out,
You put your flipper in and you shake it all about.
You do the Penguin Pokey and you waddle all around,
That’s what it’s all about!

Wrapping Up: Dear Santa, I want a penguin. This was such an adorable theme, and the kids had a lot of fun. This was my smallest group thus far, with only 8 people sticking it out to the end. I’m hoping attendance is back up tomorrow. In our next session, we’re going to move on to reading concepts like colors, counting, shapes and opposites. We’ll see how the kids take to that.


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