Toddler Storytime: Sharks

Aw, yeah. It’s finally shark week! I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. Although our collection was a little short on shark-themed books, there are so many songs and extension activities to enhance this theme that coming up with content was never a problem. I might have traumatized a few children along the way, but I think that goes with the territory. Right?

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Books Read:

Swallow the Leader: A Counting Book by Danna Smith & Kevin Sherry
I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry
I’m a Shark by Bob Shea

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: Today, I challenged the kids to guess our theme of the week. I decorated our flannel board with seaweed and bubbles to create an underwater scene, and then described a big, blue creature that lives in the sea, with fearsome teeth and a fin that rises out of the water. Once the kids had figured it out, we practiced our ASL sign for Shark. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Before I go too far: much of the inspiration for today’s session comes — once again — from Sunflower Storytime. Check out her post celebrating shark week!

Book 1: I’m a Shark. A bright, comical book from Bob Shea about a fearsome shark who harbors a secret fear of his own: spiders. One of my concerns during this storytime was that the kids would be too scared of sharks to read about them — opening with a book about a goofy, blundering shark who has his own fears helped to quell our anxiety a bit.

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Flannel Board: “Sharks in the Bathtub”
A spin-off of the more traditional “Elephants in the Bathtub,” and one of my few flannel sets that is actually made of felt. This rhyme reinforces counting, and allows the kids to clap and tap a little bit. Once the last shark enters the bathtub I fling the whole set off the flannel board, which is always a crowd-pleaser.

One little shark in the bathtub,
Going for a swim.
Knock, knock. (Clap twice)
Splash, splash. (Pat knees twice)
Come on in!

Repeat verse 4 times, adding another shark to the tub each time. After the fifth shark, change “Come on in!” to “They all fell in!” and knock the flannel board down.

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Song: “Bubble, Bubble, Pop!”
A fun, repetitive action song set to the tune of “Ten Little Indians.” We swapped out fish for sharks, and sang through five verses.

Book 2: Swallow the Leader. A counting book that doesn’t look too much like a counting book. A series of fish and other undersea creatures play a game of follow the leader, with a shark in the rear, and then gulp up the person in front of them until all nine fish end up in the shark’s belly. After a well-timed burp, the fish escape and start the game all over. This is a creative way to practice counting up to, and back from, 10.

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While reading this book, I also used our number buttons. I made these about a year ago, inspired by a post from — I think — Storytime Katie (I can’t seem to find the post again). Basically, these are just different colored “buttons” that help us count to and from 10, and they’re versatile enough that they can be used with any book that involves counting. Like most of my stuff, they’re made from laminated cardstock and felted on the back.

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Activity: “Sherman the Shark”
Also inspired by Sunflower Storytime! I loved her idea of making a stand-up shark that the kids could “feed.” I used tacky glue to adhere an old white basket to the back of the shark. This allows the shark to stand on its own, and acts as a “net” to catch the fish. I cut out some creatures and had the kids “fish” for them by picking them out of a blue basket, then we recited the following rhyme: “I’m Sherman the Shark and I’m so hungry! Someone put a nice red crab in my tummy!” We repeated the actions for all of the critters — a green turtle, an orange seahorse, a pink squid, etc. This was a great way to reinforce our work on colors, and acted as a perfect follow-up to Swallow the Leader.

Book 3: I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean! This isn’t strictly shark-related, but does include one shark. A big, bright book perfect for panning to a wide audience at storytime. It also got us talking about other creatures we might find in the ocean, which led to:

Song: The Creatures in the Sea”
A great song from Adventures in Storytime, set to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.” We began with our shark verse, and then included four other undersea critters. I made flannel pieces for this song, too, in case the kids were unfamiliar with the animals featured. In conclusion, I might have gone overboard on the flannel this week.

The sharks in the sea go chomp, chomp, chomp,
Chomp, chomp, chomp,
Chomp, chomp, chomp!

The sharks in the sea go chomp, chomp, chomp,
All day long.

The fish in the sea go swim, swim, swim
The crabs in the sea go pinch, pinch, pinch
The dolphins in the sea go jump and splash
The clams in the sea go open and shut

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: I had a great group today, with 22 total and a few new faces. I was worried that sharks would be too scary for some, but I shouldn’t have been. All three books were well-received, as were the songs and activities (especially Sherman the Shark! Might have to use him again soon). All in all, another good week.

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