Toddler Storytime: Sick & Well

Flu season is in full force at the library this winter, so I decided to try a sickness and wellness themed storytime. Surprisingly, we had a lot of books to suit this theme. I had trouble narrowing it down to only 3!

PicMonkey Collage

Books Read:

How do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
The Big Sneeze by Ruth Brown
Hippospotamus by Jeanne Willis & Tony Ross

Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”
To the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” 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 discussed different sensations in our body that tell us we’re sick — feeling pain, having an upset stomach, coughing, sneezing or sniffling. We also talked about the things that make us feel better: visiting the doctor, taking medicine, getting plenty of rest, and lots of hugs and kisses. Together, we practiced the ASL sign for Sick. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? This is a very reliable series with great illustrations and a good rhyming structure. All of the books reinforce manners and etiquette in sneaky ways, and encourage participation by asking yes or no questions. Plus, dinosaurs!


Action Song: The Handwashing Song
A great, quick action song courtesy of JBrary, sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques.” This is a fun and effective way to encourage kids to wash up.

Fingerplay: “Open, Shut Them”
Now that our hands were clean, we launched into our favorite fingerplay. This is always a hit!

Book 2: The Big Sneeze. A simple story about a sneeze that goes awry, disrupting a whole barn full of animals.

Flannel Activity: Animal Sneezes
Courtesy of Storytime Katie. We started with a farmer on our flannel board, and practiced our sneezing sounds. Then we sneezed as a cow, a chicken, a pig and a duck. This was a lot of fun. There are always a few kids who stare at me when I perform flannels, but enough of them were able to participate to make it worthwhile. And they love holding the pieces when I’m through.

Farmer’s nose tingles,
Farmer’s nose twitches,
Farmer is going to sneeze!
Ah-choo, ah-choo, ah-choo!
Ah-choo, ah-choo, ah-choo!

Cow, moo-choo | Chicken, bawk-choo | Pig, oink-choo | Duck, quack-choo

Action Song: “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”
This is always a big hit. My storytime assistant (a five-year-old who likes to help me out, since he’s older than the other kids) wisely suggested that we stand and jump while performing this song. He deserves a promotion. I sneaked this in by explaining that sometimes feeling sick isn’t just about having a cold or flu, but about hurting yourself. And, unlike the monkeys, we should always listen to what our doctor tells us.

Book 3: Hippospotamus. A quirky, nonsensical rhyming book about a hippo with an unexplained spot on her bottom, and the various ways she tries to remove it. This is a bit long so I clipped a few pages together. Kids and parents alike laughed at the silly, made-up rhymes, and one person was able to guess the ending (the spot is a piece of bubblegum lost by a mischievous child). In the end, the child puts the gum back in his mouth, and nobody liked that. One parent physically grimaced. We decided that the child’s actions were unwise.

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: After last week’s vacation debacle, I was nervous about who would show up today. I needn’t have been! All the right people came, and I was squarely in my sweet spot with 25 total attendees. The parents that come each week are becoming so comfortable with one another, and so are their kids. We had great participation today, and everyone seemed to love the theme. All in all, a great week. I needed that.

On a side note, I mentioned today that we traditionally suspend our program during the summer, and two parents looked completely shell-shocked. I think I’ll speak to my boss about continuing through the summer months!


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