Toddler Storytime: Ninjas

A new theme for me: ninjas! This theme was primarily inspired by the bloggers at Anne’s Library Life and Sunflower Storytime, who made it look like so much fun. And, spoiler: it was!


Books Read:

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz & Dan Santat
Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop by Todd Tuell & Tad Carpenter
Ninja Baby by David Zeltser & Diane Goode

Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”
Our new opening song. We use the ASL sign for “hello” in the first verse.

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: I asked what the kids knew about ninjas, and I shared what knew about them: that they are very good fighters, but only in self-defense, that they are very disciplined, often quiet, and always respectful, and that they’re known for being pretty sneaky.

Book 1: The Three Ninja Pigs. A bit long for this group, but I wanted to use a story they’d be familiar with. This is a ninja-centric reboot of the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, with fantastic illustrations. The author also has a book called Ninja Red Riding Hood.

Song: “You Can Hear the Wolves Howling”
A simple, repetitive song set to the tune of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.” We sang a verse each for the wolves and pigs featured in our first book, and then I asked the kids for their own suggestions.

You can hear the wolves howling at the zoo, awoo!
You can hear the wolves howling at the zoo, awoo!
You can hear the wolves howling, you can hear the wolves howling,
You can hear the wolves howling at the zoo, awoo!

Repeat with pigs oinking, frogs croaking, cows mooing,  etc. Can also replace “at the zoo” with “on the farm” or “in the woods.”

Flannel Activity: “Five Little Ninjas”
The reason I wanted to do this storytime in the first place: Anne’s adorable flannel ninjas! Mine didn’t turn out nearly as adorable as hers, but they worked. The rhyme was originally created by Erin at Falling Flannelboards.

5 little ninjas creeping through the door,
One said HIYAH, and then there were four.
4 little ninjas, climbing up a tree,
One said HIYAH, and then there were three.
3 little ninjas with nothing to do,
One said HIYAH, and then there were two.
2 little ninjas, having so much fun.
One said HIYAH, and then there was one.
1 little ninja, on the run.
He said HIYAH, and then there were none!


My ninjas.

Book 2: Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop. A simple big with bright illustrations and rhyming text. This has a bit more ninja action in it, which led to:

Action Rhyme: “Ninja, Ninja”
A spin on “Teddy bear, Teddy bear.” I found a few versions of this on the web which I tinkered with, and ended up with this:

Ninja, ninja, make no sound,
Ninja, ninja, crouch on the ground.

…jump up high!
…reach for the sky.

…hide your face, (hide behind fingers)
…run in place.

…hands up top, (place hands on head)
…karate chop!

Song: (Song Sticks)
So, I tried the Song Cube thing and it lasted about two weeks. The kids weren’t as interested in rolling the cube as I thought, and it was just way too cumbersome to make the cube (and change it, once I’d grown tired of the songs). But I still love the idea of having a song randomly chosen from a list of proven favorites, and giving the kids the power to choose it. On Pinterest, I found a much lower-maintenance version of the Cube that uses popsicle sticks, which I tried for the first time today. It took about two minutes to put these things together, and I can switch them out in the blink of an eye.


Book 3: Ninja Baby. A sweet, genuinely funny book about parents who unwittingly give birth to a ninja baby, and then have to deal with the consequences.


Song: “If You’re a Ninja and You Know It”
A slight twist on the classic song. There are possibilities for lots of different verses, but I went with what I hoped would be most popular.

If you’re a ninja and you know it, clap your hands!
If you’re a ninja and you know it, clap your hands!
If you’re a ninja and you know it,
And you truly want to show it,
If you’re a ninja and you know it, clap your hands!

Repeat with stomp your feet, take a bow, say “hiya!”

Closing Rhyme: “Wave Hi, Wave Low”
The version we use, with the ASL sign for goodbye:

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!

Wrapping Up: Another week, another snow storm. I only had four kids today, and they were largely non-verbal. It always feels a bit like pulling teeth when that happens. We scrapped one or two of the songs I had planned, added an extra song stick pick, and got ourselves through it. I think this would have been a hit with a larger crowd, especially with boys (I had 3 girls).

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