Toddler Storytime: Shadows

One of my favorite sites for storytime inspiration is Sunflower Storytimes. A couple of years go they performed a shadow themed storytime, and it’s been on my bucket list ever since! And because I’m an idiot and missed the obvious connection with Groundhog Day, we’re doing it in March.


Books Read:

Hooray Parade by Barbara Joosse
The Black Rabbit by Phillipa Leathers
Secrets of Winter: A Shine-a-Light Book by Carron Brown & Georgina Tee

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 & Sign: We talked about what shadows are, and spent some time trying to find our own. We wiggled and spun and jumped to see if our shadows followed along. The ASL sigh for shadow was a bit complicated, so I decided to scrap that part of the plan for today.

Book 1: Hooray Parade. I chose my books for this theme more than a week ago, and then yesterday I found a post discussing this colorful tongue-twister of a gem, and it happened to be available. This is a silly, nonsensical book about a woman putting on a shadow puppet show for her granddaughter, and forces the reader to guess what’s behind the curtain each time. Some objects are obvious, like an elephant’s trunk, while others are just plain silly (a rhinoceros flying from a balloon, or a tap-dancing ostrich). My regulars love guessing games more than anything else, so this was a perfect fit.


From Barbara Joosse’s Hooray Parade.

Flannel Activity: Match the Shadow
An activity inspired by Sunflower Storytime. I printed out five clipart objects (a tree, a dog, a butterfly, a plane and a sailboat), and then made matching black shadows for each. I held up the shadows first, and asked the kids what object they belonged to.


Fingerplay: “Open, Shut Them”
Our favorite fingerplay. I used to perform this once every week, now I try to use it every two or three weeks.

Book 2: The Black Rabbit. A cute story about a small white rabbit who is afraid of his shadow (the “black rabbit”), until it helps him scare off a wolf. This led is into a discussion about not being afraid of our shadows, which Grover (linked below) helped us to embrace fully.


From Philippa Leathers’s The Black Rabbit.

Video: “My Furry Little Shadow”
Basically the inspiration behind this entire theme. This is a catchy, genuinely funny and relatively short song exploring the concept of shadows. It is also the first time I’ve incorporated a video into storytime!

Book 3: Secrets of Winter: A Shine-a-Light Book. Okay, this series is cool. Each page features an animal “hiding” beneath a rock, or behind a tree, and the only way to see it is to shine a flashlight behind the object.

Activity: Shadow Puppets
Via Pinterest, I found some great ideas for shadow puppets at 30 Minute Crafts. I used my library’s die-cut machine to make 20 shapes out of construction paper, then glued them to popsicle sticks and let the kids play around in front of a projection screen!

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: Ugh. I had really high hopes for this storytime, but because it was vacation week I wound up with a rowdy, raucous crew that didn’t really follow storytime etiquette. The energy was incredible — I wound up adding an extra song and scrapping half of our shine-a-light book, which I’d really looked forward to sharing. After we finished, the kids hung around for a whopping forty-five extra minutes, playing, jumping, and running around. I felt dizzy by the time it was all over. Next year, I need to remember that vacation week is a different beast entirely and plan accordingly.

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