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Music and Movement – Bees, Elephants, and Bean Bags

My very first solo children’s program at the library!

Age Group: Preschool/Pre K (Toddlers and babies are also welcome and can benefit, though not all activities will be within their developmental range)

Length of Program: 30-45 minutes

Description: In this program young children will learn delightful songs, dances, musical language and activities to enhance developmental concepts such as keeping a steady beat, timing, coordination, listening, literacy, motor skills, language skills, and much more.

Recommended Materials:

  • Shakers (one for each child)
  • Bean Bag Activities & Coordination Skills by Georgianna Liccione StewaClassical Clubhouse: Dance Along
  • KIDZ BOP (I used Volume 24)


Welcome – 5 minutes

This was my first program, and the first time that most of the parents had seen me, so I took the time to introduce myself to the parents and the children, which helped with a couple of the shyer kids.

Warm up – 5 minutes

Action Rhyme: Tall as a Tree
Tall as a tree,
Wide as a house,
Thin as a pin,
Small as a mouse!
Credit: Ellyn Brancato (Though I’m not sure where she got it from)

We did this one about 6 times. Each time, a few more stragglers came in, so the kids who were already there enjoyed showing the newcomers how to do the rhyme. No one was quite ready to repeat it with me this time, but we’ll do it again next week, too. They really got into this one and the Move Like Different Animals rhyme below.

Song: Bumble Bee, Bumble Bee
(To the rhythm of “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear…”)
(Use your finger as a bumblebee to do each movement)

Bumblebee, Bumblebee
Buzzing all around. (Move your finger slowly in front of you)

Bumblebee, Bumblebee
Buzzing on the ground. (Move your finger slowly close to the ground)

Bumblebee, Bumblebee
Buzzing up so high. (Move your finger slowly by the top of your head)

Bumblebee, Bumblebee
Buzzing in the sky. (Move your finger quickly as high as you can reach)

Bumblebee, Bumblebee
Buzzing past your toes. (Move your finger quickly close to the ground)

Bumblebee, Bumblebee
Buzzing on your nose. (Move your finger to your nose)

Credit: AnnesLibraryLife with movements added by me

I had a bumblebee glove puppet that I used for this, which the kids liked watching. We only did this one twice, since it seemed to lose them a little bit.

Rhyme: Move like different animals

I can stretch like a kitten
I can hop like a frog
I can swim like a turtle
I can shake like a dog
I can sway like a snake
I can flap like a bat
I can reach like a monkey
I can move like that!

Credit: Mel’s Desk

Since this one was the transition from the stretches to the idea of moving like an animal, we spent a little extra time on this one. Unsolicited, some of the kids suggested other animals that might perform the same actions – Hop like a bunny was a popular suggestion, as was Flap like a bird. That association really helped with the discussion about what other animals might have similar dances in the Move to Music section.

Move to Music – 20 minutes

Explain the piece of music to the children – that it was inspired by the way animals move. Encourage the children to move like the animal would during the music. You should move along too!

Classical Clubhouse: Dance Along CD – Saint-Saens, The Elephant (Carnival of the Animals) – 1:20

Are there other animals that might move like this music sounds?

Classical Clubhouse: Dance Along CD – Rimsky-Korsakov, Flight of the Bumblebee (The Tale of Tsar Saltan) – 1:22

What animal is this? How does a bumblebee move?

How does the music sound different? Fast or slow? Low or high? Soft or loud?

Pass out the shakers and listen to the Flight of the Bumblebee again, pretending that the shakers are bees flying around.

This section went really well. The more energetic kids tended to prefer the Flight of the Bumblebee, while a few of the quieter kids preferred The Elephant. I don’t know whether that dichotomy would hold up outside my group, but it was an interesting observation. The parents seemed to like the inclusion of classical music here, so we might use other sections in future Music and Movement sessi0ns.

Bean Bag Activities – 15 minutes

Get out 1 beanbag and have everyone sit in a circle

Bean Bag Activities & Coordination Skills CD – Pass the Bean Bag (Slow and Fast) – 2:30

Have the children each take 1 beanbag

Practice balancing the beanbag on various body parts (nose, head, elbow, foot)

Put the beanbags away, use a goodbye song if necessary.

I’ll admit that this isn’t the order I did it in – it’s the order I wish I had done it in. I was having one of those nerves-get-the-best-of-you moments, and accidentally had each of the kids take a beanbag first – it was really hard to get them to put them back while I kept mine out. They were really creative about how to balance the beanbags though. They were pretty silly at this point, and we tried balancing it on our elbows, knees, feet, toes, ears… you name it, they wanted to try it.

Freeze Dance – 5-10 minutes

Pick a selection of songs from a favorite recent Kidz Bop CD. Explain that we dance when the music is playing, but freeze like an icicle when the music ends. Start the music and dance along with the kids, then pause it so they freeze. (No one gets out in this game.)

I wish I had a 3 CD changer (or an MP3 player to create a playlist) in order to make the transitions between CDs easier. I lost a lot of attention even in the few moments it took me to change the CD. While they were into this dance party, they weren’t really into the freeze part. We’ll keep trying.

A few more notes:

Since this was my first program (and my second day), a lot of the kids were unsure of me, and I think it was a little clear that I was unsure of myself. I was the only Youth Services staff member in today, so there wasn’t any backup, which was both a blessing and a curse. The kids learned to engage with me, and several of them stayed after and got books from me or asked me about the train set, which was nice after the initial shyness. The next one is in 2 weeks, so I’ll have a bit more time to prepare for it.

Overall, I think it went very well, despite my nervousness. Kids are very forgiving of flaws as long as you own up to being silly, and parents are understanding as long as you’re engaging with their children. I’ll look into creating a custom CD or bringing speakers I can plug into my phone for an MP3 playlist. Also – don’t wear long jeans for this program. I was a sweaty mess.

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