Saturday, February 10, 2024

Year of the Dragon - Toddler Storytime

Image by Freepik

I realized after I posted my general toddler storytime plan that I did not have any posts of actual storytimes I had done since I developed that plan. So, here is an example of one of my typical toddler storytimes from this week....

Since Lunar New Year was this week and it is the Year of the Dragon I decided on a "Dragon" theme for this week's storytimes, although the toddler storytime really doesn't have a strong theme as we use the same songs/rhymes for a month and the activities may or may not have a strong connection to the book.

We started with our "Hello" song: 

Hello, my friends, hello.
Hello, my friends, hello.
Hello my friends at storytime,
Hello, my friends, hello.

I introduced myself, then welcomed all of the children by name, and quickly went over expectations (this is toddler storytime, geared for ages 1-3, but all ages are welcome; toddlers are not expected to be able to sit and listen quietly, so it's okay if they are milling around but please keep them in this general area, not behind me, not racing around the room; feel free to step out if they get too restless and rejoin when they calm down or for the activities afterward).

Our warm-up song this month is "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes". We start out slowly, then faster, and faster (for the preschoolers I also add doing it backwards).

Next we did two scarf songs (I usually alternate scarves one month and egg shakers the next, because I found it didn't make for smooth transitions trying to do one song with each all the time). First I prompted them to save their scarves up high, down low, twirl in a circle, scrunch into a ball, etc., then did the songs:

Painting Rainbows

Painting rainbows, painting rainbows
Way up high, in the sky.
Pretty, pretty rainbows; pretty, pretty rainbows
Way up high, in the sky.

First comes red, then comes orange,
then yellow, then yellow,
Next comes green, then comes blue,
And purple, too; and purple, too.

(repeat first verse)


Popcorn kernels, popcorn kernels,
In the pot, In the pot.
Shake them, shake them, shake them.
Until they POP, until they POP!

Both of these are to the tune "Frere Jacques", but the tempo is slightly different. The first song is a little slower, softer, more melodic; the second is a bit faster, more energy and excitement. "Popcorn" is is a big favorite here, so we usually do it 3x.

Now that they've had plenty of movement to get their wiggles out, I lead into reading the book I've selected with a song that I've used for years, "If You're Ready for a Story". I like it because I can do as many verses as needed, and adapt it to the energy level. 

I briefly introduced the idea of Lunar New Year and it being the year of the dragon with a non-fiction book (didn't read it, just showed a couple of pictures), and then read Tom Fletcher's "There's a Dragon in Your Book!". I love this whole series, but especially this one. They are cute, not too much text, simple, adorable illustrations, and very interactive.

Generally I use the same songs/rhymes all month in toddler storytime, but every now and then I will add one that goes along with the theme of the book, and this was one such occasion. A simple rhyme patterned after "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear" that gave them a chance to pretend to be dragons.

Dragon, Dragon

Dragon, dragon turn around.
Dragon, dragon touch the ground.
Dragon, dragon fly up high.
Dragon, dragon touch the sky!

Dragon, dragon swing your tail.
Dragon, dragon shake your scales.
Dragon, dragon give a "Roar!"
Dragon, dragon sit on the floor.

We concluded with bubbles, while singing "Ten Little Bubbles", counting up and back down.

One little, two little, three little bubbles;
Four little, five little, six little bubbles;
Seven little, eight little, nine little bubbles;
Ten little bubbles go POP!

Pop, pop, pop go all the bubbles.
Pop, pop, pop go all the bubbles.
Pop, pop, pop go all the bubbles;
All the little bubbles go POP!

Ten little, nine little, eight little bubbles;
Seven little, six little, five little bubbles;
Four little, three little, two little bubbles;
One little bubble goes POP!

Then I announced that was the end of the storytime portion, and that we did have activities afterward, but we would go ahead and sing our "Good-Bye" song in case we didn't get to say good-bye to all of our friends later.

Storytime is over, wave good-bye.
Storytime is over, wave good-bye.
Storytime is done, and I know that we had fun.
Storytime is over, wave good-bye.

  • Q-tip Dot-Painting Dragon - I found a template online, and gave them red, green, and purple paint. This provides fine-motor practice and lets them play with colors.
  • Sensory Bin - The sensory bin was currently filled with sand, along with some shells and molds. To tie with the dragon theme, I buried some dragon treasure (gold foil coins and plastic jewels) in the sand.
  • Foam Blocks - the kids love these! I end up putting them out almost every week
  • Alphabet Dinosaurs - Dinos are kinda like dragons, right? They're both reptiles, and the closest thing I had to a dragon toy. Each one is made of two pieces that fit together, and one half has the uppercase letter, and the other half has the lowercase of the letter.

How It Went 

I had a big crowd; twenty-five kids and twenty-three adults! Usually my toddler storytime averages 12-16 kids, but maybe 3-4 times a year the planets align and I get a big crowd. A couple of the kids (and some adults!) seemed slightly overwhelmed, and it was a bit loud for one little boy who kept putting his hands over his ears. But it went pretty well, and I think everyone had a good time. Some of the kids were more engaged than others, but that's pretty typical with this age and a crowd that large.

Ideally, I'd rather keep it a little smaller, but this big of a turnout is pretty atypical and it's usually just about right. If it ever becomes more consistently that large, I will probably divide it somehow; either a second session or add a baby storytime. However, I really need more staff before I add an additional storytime. There are also several 3 year olds, and even a couple over 3, that I may need to very gently encourage to move on up to the preschool storytime.

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