Toddler Storytime: Horses (and Show Jumping!)

I have been looking forward to this storytime for weeks! This theme was entirely inspired by Dana Sheridan of the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University, who runs a fantastic blog called Pop Goes the Page. If you haven’t checked it out yet, prepare to be amazed by her incredible book-related craft projects. This week, I followed her directions for creating a real-life show jumping competition to use following our horse-themed storytime. While it was labor intensive to create, the kids had an absolute blast.

PicMonkey Collage

Books Read:

Horses: Trotting! Prancing! Racing! by Patricia Hubbell
Noni the Pony by Alison Lester
Clip-Clop! by Nicola Smee

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: We talked about what horses look and sound like, and the difference between a horse and a pony. Then, we learned the ASL sign for Horse. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.

Book 1: Horses: Trotting! Prancing! Racing! A perfect introduction to our theme, and just the right amount of content and information for this wiggly group.

Action Song: “The Feet of a Horse Go Thump, Thump, Thump”
A great action song to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus,” which I adapted from One Little Librarian’s hippo-themed version. We stomped our feet, neighed with our noses and swished our tails.

The feet of a horse go thump, thump, thump,
Thump, thump, thump,
Thump, thump, thump.
The feet of a horse go thump, thump, thump,
All day long.

The snout of a horse goes neigh, neigh, neigh…
The tail of a horse goes swish, swish, swish…

Action Song: “Giddy Up”
A great activity from Anne’s Library Life. Since we were already up and moving, we hopped on our imaginary hoses and ran through this action song, sung to the tune of the William Tell overture. We repeated the activity several times, quickening the pace as we went.

“Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up-up-up!
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up-up-up!
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up-up-up!
WHOA, Horsie! ” (lean back and pause)

Book 2: Noni the Pony. A story about an adorable pony and her friends, Dave the Dog and Coco the Cat. Short and sweet.

Activity Horses in the Barn
An adaptation of our animal sorting game — I printed our horses in four different colors and distributed one to each child. Then, based on the color horse they were holding, they could come up and put it in the “barn:”

This was inspired by a similar activity posted at Storytime Katie, and repeated by One Little Librarian. I used her verse, again adapted from her hippo-themed storytime, before calling out each color:

Hold your horse up high,
Hold  your hose down low,
Hold your horse & turn around!
Hold your horse up high,
Hold  your hose down low,
Put your purple horse in the barn!
(Repeat with each color.)

Book 3: Clip-Clop! The classic story about a courteous horse providing rides to his free-loading friends.

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!


Extension Activity: Show Jumping!
Ever since I stumbled across Pop Goes the Page, I’ve been trying to step up my storytime game. I especially love this horse jumping activity, which you can view in detail here. I knew I had to give it a shot, which meant creating some sweet horse jumps and a small herd of storytime stallions. I made up four horses for the toddlers to share, and three jumps which we lined up in the hallway outside of our room. Then, the games began!

The horses (affectionately named Princess, Sparkle, Pumpkin and Spice):

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And the jumps, in all their glory:

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Every racer also won a horse ribbon, which I made out of cardstock:

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The kids had a lot of fun with this, and I think the jumps were just the right size for this age group. That being said, the jumps did not last very long, but the horses are still holding up nicely. I’ll have to keep them around for a future project.

Wrapping Up: I had a great size group this morning, with about 23-25 people total. A few new people are joining each week, and I think I’ve picked up a couple of new regulars. They really enjoyed the horse theme, and loved the “Giddy Up” activity in particular.

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