Toddler Storytime: Cars & Trucks

I’m back on the storytime circuit. After a slow December and a two-week break, we’re starting up again with a unit on transportation. Today’s session was all about cars and trucks!

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Books Read:

Calling All Cars by Sue Fliess
Who’s Driving? by Leo Timmers
Moo! by David LaRochelle

Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”

Well, it’s official. I have been using “We Wave and Sing Hello” for three years now and I am burned out. I decided to introduce a new opening song that has a different tune, but repeats many of the actions the kids enjoy. We’ll continue to use the ASL sign for “hello” in the first verse.

(I also scrapped plans to sing an introduction song at the last moment. This was our first session back from a break, and the room was full. I figured it would take too much time to introduce each child.)

This is the way we wave hello,
Wave hello, wave hello,
This is the way we wave hello
So early in the morning.

Repeat with clap our hands, stomp our feet, jump around.

Discussion: We talked a little bit about cars: who used a car to get the library, who did the driving, etc. Then we learned our ASL sign of the week: Car (which can also be used for drive). It’s very similar to the sign for truck, so we practiced both. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: Calling All Cars. A simple way to introduce our theme. The short, rhyming text and colorful illustrations make this a good option for all ages, although it is lacking a bit in plot. Didn’t matter, the kids loved it. They got a kick out of seeing a dog or a snake behind the wheel, and jumped up to help me find all of the animals featured.

Song: “Roly Poly”
Courtesy of JBrary, this is a catchy action-rhyme set to the tune of Frere Jacques. We discussed some of the opposites we found in our first book to tie this is. “Roly Poly” is a fun, simple song that I’m hoping to use more often during this session. (One of my older patrons had some ideas to make this song even more exciting, which we put to good use. He has since been promoted to Storytime Assistant).

Roly poly, roly poly
Up, up, up! Up, up, up!
Roly, roly poly, Roly roly poly,
Down, down, down. Down, down down.

Repeat with In and Out, Fast and Slow, High and Low.

Song: “Old MacDonald Had a Car”
Slightly more topical — a variation of the classic song. I found this in a search and can’t seem to pinpoint its origins, but it was a lot of fun.

Old MacDonald had a car, E-I-E-I-O!
And on this car there was a horm, E-I-E-I-O!
With a beep beep here, and a beep beep there,
Here a beep, there a beep, everywhere a beep beep,
Old MacDonald had a car, E-I-E-I-O!

Other verses:
On this car there were some tires/wheels (roll, roll)
On this car there were some wipers (swish, swish)
On this car there was a motor (vroom, vroom)

Book 2: Who’s Driving? I love Leo Timmers! His illustrations are so unique, and this book was much more interactive than the first. On each page, a vehicle and four possible drivers are presented. The kids have the tough job of figuring out which animal belongs in each car.

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Can you guess who’s driving the tractor?

Action Rhyme:  “Green Means Go!” (with scarves)
Have I told you guys about JBrary? Right, right. Well, here’s the 407th song I’ve copped from their site. It’s a simple action rhyme that utilizes scarves, and let us pretend that we were at a stoplight. I didn’t have enough of the right colored scarves to go around, so I kept a red, yellow and green scarf to demonstrate with, and ran through the rhyme a couple of times. Then I had the kids shake their own scarves while I was holding up green, slow down when I held up yellow, and freeze when I held up red. We ran through the rhyme about four times.

Book 3: Moo! A book that kept popping up in car-themed storytimes, although I couldn’t seem to figure out why. Now I know. Moo! is an adorable story featuring a mischievous cow who steals a car, takes it out on a joyride, crashes into a police cruiser and blames the whole thing on an innocent sheep. If that weren’t enough, the only word in the whole book is “Moo,” so the kids really have to get involved to tell this story (as does the reader!) A new storytime favorite, for sure, although it was a little too loud in the room for the kids to appreciate my superb cow impression.

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Cow tries to fight a ticket. The desperation is real.

Song: “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom”
We left our cars behind and jumped into a rocket ship. This song is so much fun! We ran through it once to practice, then did two verses together. After the first verse, a few parents realized that they could lift their children into the air during the “blastoff” part, and the kids loved that. Who wouldn’t?

Closing Rhyme: “Wave Hi, Wave Low”
This isn’t quite the version I’m using, but it does seem to be the original. I don’t have a regular closing song, and I felt that we were lacking something to help us transition from storytime to play time. So, I decided to give this a shot. Here’s the version I used today:

I think it’s time, we’ve got to go,
So wave your elbows, wave your toes!
Wave your knees, wave your lips,
Blow me a kiss with your fingertips!
Wave your ears, wave your hair,
Wave your hips and your derriere.
Wave your fingers way up high,
Wave a hand and say goodbye!

Of course, this got the kids wiggling in all sorts of ways, and the parents seemed to like it. Before we began, I taught the kids the ASL sign for goodbye to use for the final line (we use the ASL sign for hello in our opening song).

Activity: Kid Car Wash! This was everything I’d hoped for and more. Although the kids were even more excited about the fact that bubbles were involved.

Wrapping Up: I thought I might have a big group today, and I was right. I counted 32 people altogether, which is about as much as our room can comfortably hold. Almost all of my regulars from last session returned, plus six new toddlers and their parents. In short: it was awesome.

The car wash was a huge hit, and I’m so thankful to Claudia at Never Shushed for inspiring that project. The parents thought it was fantastic. I’ve also learned that kids are absolutely fascinated by bubbles, something I’d somehow forgotten. All three of the books were well-received, and two were checked out by the time I’d finished cleaning up. The songs worked beautifully, the parents got involved, and it was a great theme that everyone was excited about. Cars. Who knew?


*On a side note: today I gave my introductory spiel before beginning, which I think was helpful. In it, I introduce myself and welcome everyone to the group, explain a little bit about what we do, and then — and here’s the kicker — I encourage parents and caregivers to participate. The more they sing and dance, the more their children will. I don’t know if they listened today or if it was just an an enthusiastic group, but I never had to sing alone and it was everything I thought it could be. I need to remember to do this each week.

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