Toddler Storytime: Hello!

Summer is nearly over, which means we’re back on the school-year schedule. This will be my second year performing Toddler Tales at my library, and I’m anxious to see how many holdovers I’ll have from last year’s group, and how many new kiddos will be joining. I figured the best way for us to start off the new year, given such an uncertain start, was to say “hello!”

PicMonkey Collage

Books Read:

Say Hello Like This! by Mary Murphy
“Hi, Pizza Man!” by Virginia Walter & Ponder Goembel
Say Hello! by Linda Davick
Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora

*A note on this theme: I knew that I wanted to try something like this for a while, but I was afraid that the theme might be too limiting. I’m happy to report that — as usual — I was wrong. There are lots of different ways to spin the concept of saying “hello.” Some of these books explored animal greetings (like Say Hello Like This; Hi, Pizza Man!, or Hello, Day by Anita Lobel), others explore the ways in which humans greet each other (Say Hello! by Linda Davick), and still others teach how to say hello in other languages (Say Hello by Rachel Isadora). It was the perfect way to kick off a new year of storytimes.

Opening Song: I Wake Up My Hands
Our new opening song, inspired by JBrary!

I wake up my hands with a clap, clap, clap.
Clap, clap, clap. Clap, clap, clap!
I wake up my hands with a clap, clap, clap
And wiggle my waggles away.

Repeat with:
I wake up my feet with a stomp, stomp, stomp.
I wake up my head with a nod, nod, nod.
I wake up my hips with a shake, shake, shake.
I wake up my belly with a beep, beep, beep.

Discussion & Sign: I decided to continue teaching my group sign language this year, even though we are no longer using it in our opening and closing songs. The parents, for one, seemed to enjoy it last year, and I think it enhances the session by offering my pre-verbal kiddos a different way to communicate. Today, of course, we learned the ASL sign for Hello. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: Say Hello by Linda Davick. A simple introduction to our theme. This book explores different ways humans (and their pets) can say “hello” to one another — with a hug, or a kiss, or a whisper, or a treat. Bright, colorful illustrations complement the rhyming text.

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Action Song: “This is the Way We Say Hello”
Our traditional Opening song. Sung to “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush,” this simple song was a great way for us to practice saying hello in different ways (for example, with a clap or a stomp).

Action Rhyme: “Open, Shut Them”
The perennial favorite.

Book 2: I had two great books that featured animals saying hello. At the last minute, I decided to go with Hi, Pizza Man!, which both the kids and their families always enjoy. This book has a simple concept but it’s a lot of fun, and the unexpected illustrations make for a nice surprise as you move through the book. I’ve used this book a few times now, and it never disappoints.

Flannel Activity: Can We Find…?”
A twist on one of our favorite activities, inspired by Storytime Katie: a seek-and-find flannel board! On a handheld flannel board, I pasted six different colored doors and hid an orange cat beneath one of them. I hid other animals beneath the rest of the doors, Each round, I had one child to pick a color door to look beneath. Before we checked each door, we sang:

To the tune of “The Muffin Man:”
Can we find an orange cat? Orange cat, orange cat.
Can we find an orange cat? We want to say hello.

Then we’d lift each door to see! As we found each animal, we said hello to the animal in our language (“Hello, Pig!”) and then in its language (“Oink!”). This was a great way to incorporate the seek-and-find element into this week’s storytime, which the kids always enjoy. I’ve made about 5 or 6 different iterations of this game, now, so most of the animals were already done. (Our orange cat was actually “Tippy Toes” from this summer’s cat-themed storytime).

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Action Song: “Say Hello To Your Toes” (Storytime Secrets)
Sung to the tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down,” this simple song encouraged us to check in with different parts of our bodies. We began with toes and repeated the song for knees, tummies, hands and elbows.

Say hello to your toes, to your toes, to your toes!
Say hello to your toes. Hello, toes!

Book 3: Say Hello. A sweet story about a young Hispanic girl and her dog, who set off one morning to greet the various inhabitants of her neighborhood. This book teaches kids how to say hello in eight different languages. I skipped two greetings that would have been overly complicated for my age group, but overall, this was a lot of fun! It’s never too early to start teaching a new language.

Closing Song: “It’s Time to Say Goodbye”
A new closing song, sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” JBrary’s version (linked above) is a tiny bit different from mine.

Oh, it’s time to say goodbye to all our friends. (Clap, clap!)
Oh, it’s time to say goodbye to all our friends! (Clap, clap!)
Storytime is done today,
Come again another day.
Oh, it’s time to say goodbye to all our friends. (Clap, clap!)


Wrapping Up: This was a soft launch to the fall session — the kids are still on vacation  and many were ramping up for a new school year, so attendance was lower than usual. That said, this themed worked really well. My regulars were excited to learn a few new songs, but they were also happy to revisit some of their favorites (can anything beat the universal appeal of “Open, Shut Them?” Except maybe “Despacito?”). Overall, this was a fun theme that opened up a lot of fun actions and activities. A good start.

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