Can I rap a baby rhyme?
March 31, 2009 7:31 AM   Subscribe

I work in a library. We have storytime and baby's rhymes for toddlers and infants. Unfortunately I hate singing. But I have a good attitude and I'm willing to get in there. Please, librarians and parents everywhere - what are your best rhymes/songs that require a minimum of singing!? Other ideas for interactive things to add to my storytimes would be good too!

Things like "This little piggy went to market", "2 little dicky birds sitting on the wall", or even the game "Simon Says" are good. I think I can pull off enthusiasm if it's more like talking/straight rhyming, than full on singing.

(Anonymous because I don't want colleagues knowing I'm scared about this!)
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
"Home Again, Home Again"

Actually, there's a whole page with Mother Goose rhymes and things. You can make up movements to go with the rhymes you like.
posted by cooker girl at 7:51 AM on March 31, 2009

You're in a library! Get a book of "finger plays." Those usually have more chanting than singing, and will give you suggestions for what to do with your hands.

Flannel boards are traditional and little kids love 'em. Do you have any of those there?
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:57 AM on March 31, 2009

If you're willing to do a little bit of singing (the kids won't judge, I promise), I'd try some of the following:

"I Hear Thunder" (set to the tune of Frere Jacques/Are You Sleeping)

I hear thunder, I hear thunder
Loud loud thunder, loud loud thunder
Pitter patter raindrops, pitter patter raindrops
Quiet rain, quiet rain

(Have everyone beat their hands loudly on the ground/a drum when you're singing about the thunder, then tap the ground/drum lightly with fingertips during the pitter patter raindrops and quiet rain parts).

"Where is Thumbkin" (same tune as above, start with both hands behind your back)

Where is Thumbkin, where is Thumbkin (bring one fist, thumb extended, around to the front)
Here I am, here I am (bring other fist/thumb around)
How are you today sir?
Very well I thank you!
Run away (move one fist behind you), run away (move other fist behind you)

Don't forget the songs most of us learned as kids, with the usual hand motions: Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, etc.

Oh, and Wheels on the Bus. My two-year-old lives and breathes Wheels on the Bus.
posted by justonegirl at 8:21 AM on March 31, 2009

FWIW, I prefer the storytimes that are more storytimes than singing and toys. The babytimes I've been to have been chaotic, moved at a pace too fast for half the 'class' and too slow for the other half, and I don't like public singing either. Some libraries try too hard and it hurts.

But if you want interaction, we do enjoy how one librarian brings stuff in: her own teddy on a day when she was reading a lot of teddy-themed books, a real cocoon, gingerbread men, etc. It makes the time a lot more meaningful than generic singsong.
posted by kmennie at 8:51 AM on March 31, 2009

At the end of storytime here, they blow bubbles and play a song on the tape recorder. Actually, almost all the singing is done along with songs on the stereo. I guess that's kind of weird, now that I think about it, but it works well and no one feels self-conscious, because of course Raffi sings better than you do, the bastard.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:45 AM on March 31, 2009

My daughter is really liking right now: Here is a beehive, Two little blackbirds (all three variations), and wheels on the bus. The first two can just be talked. And most of the storytimes I've been to sing along with a tape or CD.

My daughter's favorite thing at storytime is using a "shaker egg" along with one of the songs. And after the song, the librarian usually leads the kids in a short "shake them high, shake them low, shake them in a circle" and maybe a few more things I can't remember. So it doesn't have to be singing, you can give them beanbags or shaker eggs and have them move them in different ways, or touch body parts with them. (I seem to recollect that the beanbags always touch the elbow which takes a little while for toddlers to figure out how to do -- they always try to put the beanbag on the elbow of the arm they are holding it with.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:04 AM on March 31, 2009

I am a big fan (as are my sons) of "Barnyard Dance" by Sandra Boynton. It's fun to "sing" (and I don't sing.) And, you can get the mp3 of it from iTunes (of it being sung) if you want to hear how it's "supposed" to sound.)

And actually, let me recommend most Boynton books. They're fun to read aloud.
posted by pyjammy at 11:10 AM on March 31, 2009

Lyrical poetry such as Poe's "The Bells"? My mother used to read poems of this nature to me, even before I was old enough to understand them.

Poe might not be the best choice, but something of that nature would work well I think.
posted by strixus at 12:50 PM on March 31, 2009

A nice one for parents to do with their children.
Parent sitting behind their child/with child on knee

Calm seas (*stroke gently down child's back)
Wavy seas (*make wavy lines across child's back with hands*)
Choppy seas (*chop gently with side of hand on back*)
Windy seas! (*lean over and blow in child's hair/face*)

But, you know, most of the librarians around here just sing along with a tape deck, and that's fine, except I got totally spoiled by Sean The Awesome Librarian With the Banjo and now I have trouble putting up with the tapedeck ladies any more....
posted by slightlybewildered at 1:15 PM on March 31, 2009

You can Rex Harrison your way through any of the following and they all come with games or actions...

A Farmer Went Trotting (Pair with a 'horsie' ride)
Anna Elise (Kids should jump and turn when Anna does)
Brow Bender (Touch the different parts of their face)
Solomon Grundy (Call out the days of the week)
One, two, buckle my shoe (Call out the numbers)
Monday's Child (Join in on 'their' day)
Round and Round the Garden, Like A Teddy Bear (Tickling rhyme)
Pat-a-Cake (Clapping rhyme)
Long Legged Italy (Clapping rhyme)

There are also some standard rhymes and tongue twisters which don't require singing.

Dr Foster
Simple Simon
Diddle Diddle Dumpling
Peter Piper
Betty Botter
The Lion and the Unicorn
As I Was Going To St Ives
Little Miss Muffett
There Was An Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe
Humpty Dumpty
Wee Willie Winkie
For Want of a Nail
The House That Jack Built
Jack Spratt

The words to all these should be on Google, but Memail me if there's any you don't know/can't find.
posted by the latin mouse at 2:44 PM on March 31, 2009

My husband is a Storytime rockstar. He has little kiddie groupies who wave to him on the street. (I'm so proud of him). He does play the guitar and sing, but I doubt that any of his fans care whether he is hitting the right notes at all. Here are a few things I've observed about his performance that make him a hit.

-He never talks down to the kids, and he focuses on interacting with them and practically ignores the parents.

-The kids seem to love that he is anarchic - lots of silly animal noises (Old MacDonald always has a monkey who leaps up in his chair and throws his arms about, cartoon monkey style), reworded nursery rhymes (The Kodiak Bears on the bus go Growl, Growl, Growl ... the one child who questioned this was told that it was, of course, the number 10 bus to the zoo, and how did he think the animals got to work in the morning? Animals can't drive! )

The "Threw It Out The Window" Song is always a hit ...
Old king Cole was a merry old soul,
and a merry old soul was he
he called for his pipe
and he called for his bowl
and he threw it out the window!
the window, the second story window
with a heave and a ho, and away we go(/a mighty throw)
he threw it out the window!

- Old Faithful songs that the kids can suggest variations on, like the above which you can fit any rhyme to, Old MacDonald, etc, are always popular, and are so deeply imprinted that you will find them easier to sing. I've never heard any kids or parents complaining about lack of variety!

- The library he works at has a tub full of shakers, tambourines, assorted noisemakers, which come out for a blast at the end of the session - more kid involvement, and noise-making fun wins over tunefulness. Could you work on assembling a collection? Perhaps you could have a small craft project during a session where the kids can make their own simple shakers and then use them. Getting the kids to sing along and participate is more important than having them sit quietly and listen to you sweetly sing to them.

-Lift-the flap/turn the page books are good for getting that shy little girl up front involved (There Are Cats In This Book!), and there are tons of ways to get kids to yell out responses to the reading.

Having a good attitude and being willing to get in there put you well ahead of the crowd already, and speaking as the mother of an almost toddler, if you can amuse a child for half an hour you are Worth Your Weight In Gold, bless you.
posted by Catch at 3:07 PM on March 31, 2009

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