Toddler Storytime: Cats

This week’s storytime was inspired by a book I’ve been hoping to use for a long time: Brendan Wenzel’s They All Saw a Cat. I’ve never done a cat-themed storytime, being more of a dog person myself, so it was due time for me to embrace the felines.

PicMonkey Collage

Books Read:

Cat’s Colors by Airlie Anderson
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
Where is Tippy Toes? and Cat Count by Betsy Lewin

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: The kids and I chatted about cats — how they move, what they sound like, etc. Then we learned the ASL sign for Cat. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: They All Saw a Cat. I’ve loved this book since the first time I saw it, and it worked even better than I could have imagined. Wenzel’s stunning illustrations capture how a single cat is viewed by a variety of different animals, and ends with how she sees herself. It’s a great lesson on perspective, but surprisingly the kids also thought it was really funny. Definitely a book I’ll revisit in the future.

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Song: “When Cats Get Up In the Morning (with Puppets)
I broke out the puppets to use with this simple, repetitive song. We ran through the verses for a cat, a dog, a pig, a cow, and a chicken.

Book 2: Where Is Tippy Toes? A hide-and-seek book with cut-out elements. We ultimately find Tippy Toes, the curious orange cat, under the covers of her child’s bed. Betsy Lewin has several other cat-themed books that are great for storytime, including Thumpy Feet and Cat Count.

Flannel Activity: Hide & Seek Game (Baby Bird, Baby Bird)
One of our favorite activities, courtesy of  Miss Mary Liberry. On a handheld flannel board, I pasted six different colored blankets and hid an orange cat, Tippy Toes, beneath one of them. I also hid a bird, a dog, and a mouse beneath three of the other blankets, and left three blankets empty. Each round, I had one child pick a color blanket to look beneath and we’d ask, as a group: “Where is Tippy Toes? I bet [child’s name] knows!” Jayson, our storytime assistant, found Tippy Toes on the first try this week, but we still had fun uncovering the other animals.

Action Song:  I Wake Up My Hands
One of my new favorite songs, courtesy of JBrary. This is a great transitional song to bridge different activities together, while also releasing pent-up energy.

Book 3: Cat’s Colors. A cat-themed take on Dog’s Colorful Day. A white cat moves throughout the world, and “picks up” colors on her coat. Before reading, I passed out scarves to our group (their new favorite thing, oh God) and as we encountered each color, I asked the kids to shake the matching scarf. While they did that, our storytime assistant helped me to add different color spots to our white flannel cat. In retrospect, I think I tried to do too many things with this book. The scarves worked fine with this one and so did the flannel, but both in conjunction made things a bit chaotic.

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Scarf Song: “Wave Your Scarf”
Now that they had scarves, we had to use them. This is the most versatile scarf song I know, sung to the tune of “London Bridge.” Or course it’s from JBrary. You had to ask?

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: Overall, the summer session has not quite lived up to my expectations (as you might have noticed from the lack of new posts). But this was a great theme, and the kids really enjoyed this week’s activities. All three of the books were well-received, and the songs and activities worked fine. I still consider myself a dog person, but you can score one for the cats.

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