Friday, July 8, 2016

Who Lives In The Ocean?

I planned this theme for the Storytime-To-Go program to coincide with "Shark Week" and the release of Finding Dory; after all, could there be any better time to talk about ocean creatures that that??

Each storytime in the Storytime-To-Go program lasts about 20-25 minutes (depending on whether the group is on time!), starting with a brief introduction, letter-of-the-day ("Oo"), then our "story song" which helps us settle down and be ready to listen to our first story. For each theme I have a "kit": a small bin with a variety of books on the theme ranging in length and sophistication and various songs, rhymes, flannel stories and other props or activities. We typically read 2-3 books, depending on time and length, and did 1-3 songs/activities with each group.

The Books
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna is a modern classic that has become a favorite of librarians, teachers, and children, with its endearing pouty fish and repeating lines that invite audience participation. It is interesting to see whether you get awww's or ewww's at the end with all the kissing. Pair it with the stuffed animal Pout-Pout fish to kiss all the children at the end.

If you've read some of my other posts, you know I love The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark by Ken Geist and Julia Gorton. This fun retelling of The Three Little Pigs is perfect for storytime with all of it's repeating lines that kids love to say, and the gentle drama.

Hide And Seek In The Ocean by Kate Burns and Dawn Apperley and What's In The Deep Blue Sea? by Peter Seymour and David Carter are both fun little books with pull-tabs and lift-a-flaps, which invite the audience to guess what is behind them. These are perfect for the younger kids, but I was surprised to discover the older kids really enjoy them as well. Unfortunately they are both out of print, but are worth the risk buying a used copy.

I like dark humor, so Jon Klassen's books are right up my alley. In This Is Not My Hat a little fish swims by, bragging that he has just stolen the hat he is wearing, but is confident he will never get caught. But the pictures soon reveal that the large fish he stole it from is on to him. In the end, we see the big fish swimming back out of the kelp forest, wearing the hat. I like that the story does not spell out what happened and leaves it open to interpretation. 

Somewhere In The Ocean by Jennifer Ward, T. J. Marsh, and Kenneth J. Spengler is a counting book in the style of "Over In The Meadow" and can either be read or sung. I really like that the illustrations are more realistic and it shows animals that are not found in many of the other books, such as manatees and sea urchins, and it has a page of facts about all the animals portrayed at the end.

The World Around Me-Oceans by Julie Aigner-Clark and Nadeem Zaidi is a very versatile book that I highly recommend. It's a large board book that shows many different creatures in the ocean. Then when you reach the end, the entire book unfolds into one long mural that can surround a very small group. On the reverse side are photographs of all the animals with some interesting facts.

Lucy Cousin's Hooray For Fish has bright, bold illustrations that are very engaging for younger kids. This book illustrates contrasting/descriptive terms and has a couple of pages that are good for practicing counting. This one is great for the 2-3 year olds.

I Spy Under The Sea by Edward Gibbs has a die-cut hole on each page to give a small glimpse of each animal, along with a clue. Turn the page and the sea creature is revealed in all it's glory. The illustrations are very pretty, but this is definitely a book for the younger kids, 2- and younger 3- year olds, as the older kids found it way too easy and guessed each one immediately.

Beach Bugs by David Carter was the only book I used that was about the beach rather than creatures that live in the ocean. It was nice to use occasionally for a change-of-pace, with younger kids, or when we just had a few minutes left. These little pop-up books are cute and silly, and the kids always like them.

I also tried Bob Shea's I'm A Shark a couple of times, but even though it's short, I found the humor is a little too sophisticated for this age and the preschoolers just don't quite get the whole running gag about the shark clearly being afraid of spiders, or the squid inking himself.

The Activities 
I ended up not visiting as many groups during this rotation, due to the holiday and cancellations for various other reasons, so I did not use as many different activities as usual because I didn't have a chance to get bored with them, and the kids really seemed to like the two I started with:

"The Creatures In The Sea"
(to the tune of "Wheels On The Bus")

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.

[For the subsequent verses I let the kids suggest sea creatures and 
the sounds/actions to do with them, giving a little help or prompting 
if needed. Below are some of the ones we came up with.]

The fish in sea go swim, swim, swim....

The crabs in the sea go pinch, pinch, pinch....

The sea turtles in the sea go swim, swim, swim....

The dolphins in the sea go squeak, squeak, squeak....

The clams in the sea go open and shut....

The whales in the sea go splash, splash, splash....

The seahorses in the sea go up and down....

The lobsters in the sea go pinch, pinch, pinch....

The jellyfish in the sea go sting, sting, sting....

The octopus in the sea goes wiggle, wiggle, wiggle....


"Slippery Fish"

Slippery fish, slippery fish; swimming in the water.
Slippery fish, slippery fish; gulp, Gulp, GULP!
"Oh, no! He's been eaten by an octopus!"

Octopus, octopus; swimming in the water.
Octopus, octopus; gulp, Gulp, GULP!
"Oh, no! He's been eaten by a tuna fish!"

Tuna fish, tuna fish; swimming in the water.
Tuna fish, tuna fish; gulp, Gulp, GULP!
"Oh, no! He's been eaten by a great white shark!"

Great white shark, great white shark, swimming in the water.
Great white shark, great white shark; gulp, Gulp, GULP!
"Oh, no! He's been eaten by an orca whale!"

Orca whale, orca whale, swimming in the water.
Orca whale, orca whale; gulp, Gulp, GULP!
"BUURRP! Whoops, excuse me!"


I also tried the "Baby Shark" song that was such a big hit in my Shark Week 
storytime last year, but for whatever reason it just fell flat with these kids, 
so I dropped it after a couple of tries. I still think it's fun, though!

How It Went
It was a bit of an odd rotation this time, with lots of cancellations. Our Storytime Bus was in the shop the whole two weeks, so the only other option was go to the classrooms. I don't mind doing that, but there are a couple of facilities that really can't provide a suitable environment so I had to cancel with them, then there were two larger facilities that for whatever reason opted not to have me come without the bus. So that, on top of the holiday, really cut down the number of storytimes I did. But on the bright side, I had more time in the office to work on planning and check out some of the other programs going on in the library.

But all the storytimes I did went pretty well, other than a couple of groups being extra wiggly and talkative because they were SOOO excited about going to the pool later in the day they couldn't stand it! But that's just to be expected during the summer. Of course all the clown fish in the books had to be Nemo and any blue fish was Dory. All the books worked well, and I don't think there was really a stand-out favorite.

It was interesting to see how different kids interpreted the ending of This Is Not My Hat. They were all universally appalled by the fish stealing the hat, but surprisingly, several decided it wasn't so bad after they saw it fit him, but was way too small for its owner. The adults all thought the big fish ate the little thief, most of the kids just thought he took his hat back, and one sweet little optimistic girl said he probably asked nicely for his hat, and the other fish gave it back.


  1. Thank you for including The Pout-Pout Fish in your Ocean theme!

    If you'd like some Pout-Pout Fish bookmarks for your story time groups, just email me at and I'd be glad to send you some.

    Best Fishes and Happy Reading!
    Debbie Diesen (author of The Pout-Pout Fish)

    1. Thanks for stopping by to visit my little blog :) The kids all LOVE The Pout-Pout Fish!