Music and Movement – Revamped

I’ve gotten a crash course this week in running children’s programming, and so far it seems to be going ok. I’ve gotta hand it to all the children’s librarians I’ve worked with in the past though – this stuff can be exhausting! I just finished up a Music and Movement storytime, and while I didn’t run out of breath, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t close.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about why we do storytimes lately, and what we should expect from the littlest patrons. That background was something I missed in library school, since I didn’t focus on children and youth. It’s been helpful as I plan more programs though. Today’s Music and Movement was a lot more structured than the one I ran two weeks ago, and I’ve found a few rhymes that will help the kids stick with me as we learn about rhythm and movement. The previous librarian focused a lot on music appreciation. I may tie into that at some point, but while the kids and I are just getting settled in, we’re focusing on dance and how to coordinate their bodies. Things like the chicken dance are silly but fun, while doing the Bees Knees dance (where you put your hands on your knees, then cross them as your bring your knees together, uncrossing them as you bring your knees straight again) was beyond my group. Hey – it’s a really coordination heavy move, and they were confused even by what I was demonstrating to them.

I also gave the parents a handout with the rhymes on them, along with little bits of information about what we were doing. It let them sing along when their kids couldn’t, and also gave them a heads up about why rhythm is important, even to literacy. Using rhythm sticks to tap along to rhymes as well as songs allows kids to hear the rhythm of speech, breaking words into syllables and sentences into pieces. This is helpful when they learn to read, because it allows them to tackle one part of the sentence at a time.

No one registered for the program today, but I had 3 drop ins, which was just about the right amount for testing things out. I borrowed heavily from the internet. Thanks, children’s librarians of the web! Especially Jbrary. I’ve tried to cite sources when I pulled them directly from the web. Lots of things are just received knowledge, though, so if you see I missed someone, let me know!

Music and Movement 9/18/2014 – Intro to Rhythm Sticks

Entry Music: From Classical Clubhouse Dance AlongLes Patineurs by Waldteufel (7:48)

This song title translates to “The Skaters,” and you can imagine figure skaters sailing along or doing great leaps into the air depending on the movement in the song. While the kids won’t know this the first week, it can be a great way to get them thinking about how music can tell a story without words. Today the song started a little late, since I didn’t think anyone was coming, but the kids liked pretending they were ice skating for the first minute or two of the song.

Explain as parents and children come in that the music will go through a lot of changes. See if the children can move the way the music does (soft and slow, big and dramatic, etc.) If this doesn’t happen right away, that’s fine. The kids will hear this piece a lot over the next few weeks. After the waltz, there’s a big dramatic finish with violins and cellos. 

Welcome song: This is the Way We Wave Hello

Once we got everyone settled down from their ice skating adventure, I introduced myself. One of the children had seen me before, but the others were new, and only remembered the librarian who ran the program before me. They were a weensy bit skeptical of me at first, but it seemed to go away as the program went on.

Tune: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

This is the way we wave hello, wave hello, wave hello
This is the way we wave hello – hello, hello, hello!

This is the way we clap hello…
This is the way we whisper hello…
This is the way we tap hello…

Via Story Time Secrets.

Rhythm Sticks

Since this is our first time with rhythm sticks, I’ll pull 2 out to show everyone how to use them. I’ve avoided a lot of things that encourage partner play today, because our attendance is usually young toddler. Parents are encouraged to help young children tap, but not to take over. Children will naturally tap the sticks together – and then tap them on everything else. Watch them carefully, and if the sticks become too much, cut short this section.

Once the sticks are passed out, give everyone a moment to get used to them. For some kids, they’ll be unwieldy, so it may take a long minute to adjust. Once we’re all settled in. Try to get them to tap slowly together, then up high, down low, quickly…

The first song is set to the same tune as the hello song. Since this is all new to the kids, this will help them learn it the first few weeks.

This is the Way We Tap Our Sticks

To the tune of Mulberry Bush:

This is the way we tap our sticks, tap our sticks, tap our sticks
This is the way we tap our sticks so early in the morning!
This is the way we rub our sticks, rub our sticks, rub our sticks
This is the way we rub our sticks so early in the morning!
This is the way we tap our knees, tap our knees, tap our knees
This is the way we tap our knees so early in the morning!

Via Read Sing Play.

I lost my place in this song at one point, but the kids didn’t miss a beat. Thank goodness for familiar melodies!

Tap Your Sticks

Tap your sticks in the air with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks on the floor with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks in the air with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks on the floor with a 1-2-3

Tap your sticks to the left with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks to the right with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks to the left with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks to the right with a 1-2-3

(I got this rhyme from Hap Palmer’s Rhythms on Parade CD.  Check out this YouTube clip)

Via Anne’s Library Life.

I did this one as a chant, because the music wasn’t familiar with everyone and I didn’t have the CD. I may get it though, because the music video in the link provided by Anne makes me think it will be a worthy addition.

Rhythm Stick Bingo

There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name-o!
B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O
and Bingo was his name-o!

(we tapped our sticks for the B-I-N-G-O part)

Via Anne’s Library Life.

They loved this one! Everyone knew the Bingo song, and tapping slow during the sentence and quicker while we spelled Bingo seemed to be  favorite. We did this one twice.



Ok, I’ll admit, Jbrary saved my life here. They have a great page of scarf songs that I borrowed heavily from. And they come with videos!

We Wave Our Scarves Together

To the tune of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”

We wave our scarves together, we wave our scarves together
We wave our scarves together, because it’s fun to do.
Spoken: We wave them up high (in a high voice)
We wave them down low (in a low voice)
We wave them in the middle (in a normal voice)
Sing: Because it’s fun to do.

We throw our scarves together…

Another song we did twice because the kids were loving it. The voice modulation when we did things high and when we did things low was fun for everyone.

One Bright Scarf: To the tune of “Bouncing up and down” or “Michael Finnegan”

One bright scarf waiting for the wind to blow (bounce the scarf in front of you)
Wiggle it high and wiggle it low (wiggle it above your head, then near the floor)
Shake it fast and shake it slow (fast then slow)
(Hide the scarf behind your back, under your knee, etc.)
Where did it go?

So… I couldn’t get my head around this melody, so we did this as a rhyme again. The kids didn’t care, and the parents probably just think I’m tone deaf. I’m not, but something’s gotta give, apparently. We turned this into a hiding game, where the kids would hide their scarves, then immediately come to look for mine. I tucked it into my pocket once, and they pulled it out when they found it, to the delight of everyone.

Dancing with Scarves

Each child got a second scarf here, and we danced to Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” for a few minutes. We played with different ways to move so the scarf would float or fly or look like wings. The girls loved this. The boy, again, not so much. We may try something with the toddler trucks for him in a couple weeks to see if it encourages him to move.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Zoom Zoom Zoom, we’re going to the moon
Zoom Zoom Zoom, we’re going very soon
If you want to take a trip
Hop on board my rocket ship
Zoom Zoom Zoom, we’re going to the moon
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Blastoff!

We do this song in Baby and Toddler Storytimes, too, so this was a nice carryover. Jbrary has this song, but we always do it with scarves, letting our scarves be rockets for us, flying them across the sky and blasting them off after the countdown. With an older group that’s payting attention, we do a second blastoff with a 10 second countdown.

Coordination and Dancing

This was a free form bit. I put on a Kidz Bop CD at the recommendation of a previous librarian, but my kids weren’t really into free movement, so I made up some coordination challenges for them. We danced like chickens and shook our hands left and right and tapped our toes. They followed along wonderfully, but the song wasn’t anything they cared about. I might use something else next time.

Goodbye Song: If you’re happy and you know it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

If you’re happy and you know it, wave goodbye
If you’re happy and you know it, wave goodbye
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, wave goodbye!


I was pretty nervous after this, but the parents were very supportive. One of them, the one who had come during the previous librarian’s time here, had driven a fair distance to get here, but said it was completely worth it and she would come again next time. That made me feel so much better about it. We’ll work with rhythm sticks again next time, so the kids get a chance to get used to them. Overall, a good time was had by all.

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 Stewart
  • Classical 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.