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Traditional Songs to Sing and Act Out at the Library

Yesterday I shared some of my favorite songs to play when we're using recorded music at storytime. To add to the list, here are some great traditional and camp songs that are perfect for when you don't have a CD player handy. A lot of these are perfect for school or scouting visits. Most of them work wonderfully to start off slow while the kids learn the motions and then get faster and faster until the audience is a sweaty, giggling mess. If I missed your favorite, please leave a comment! I'm always on the lookout for more activities like these.

"Johnny Works with One Hammer," perfect for a construction themed storytime (pair it with "Five Little Nails"). Or anytime you want to get a little bit silly. The Wiggles popularized this song so the odds are good some of the kids will know it.

"Hi, My Name is Joe and I Work in a Button Factory" I actually learned this song at summer camp as a rising fourth grader and have very fond memories of singing it in the mess hall.  The guy in this video is crazy animated, so you've been warned. 

"Chester Have You Heard About Harry" is another song I learned at camp in elementary school. My public school sent all the fifth graders to a sleep-away camp in the fall for 2 nights as a field trip, and one of the activities was singing this song over and over and over and over again. There are lots of different lyrics. The version I learned is similar to this video except that I learned "I hear he knows how to wear a rose" but I think "touch his toes" is actually better. I've also heard "how to wear his clothes" but we don't need people picturing a naked guy while we're trying to talk about the library, so I think that's out.

"Sleeping Bunnies"  How did I miss this one growing up, in library school, and until now? Thanks to the Storytime Underground crowd for mentioning it on Twitter. It's awesome! The kids love anything where they pretend to be asleep and then "wake up" and go bananas! This version includes other animals and you can make up your own verses too. My friend Miss Mary has a video where she shows you how to play this song on the ukelele, if you are not incredibly untalented musically like myself.

"If You're Happy and You Know It" I start all my 2's and 3's storytimes with this one. I like to do silly verses, preferably with animal actions like "flap your wings," "shake your tail," etc. I also enjoy gross motor ones (jump up high, spin around) or even smaller ones like trying to get them to blink their eyes. I end with "SHOUT HOORAY" and we all bring our arms up at "HOORAY!" 


  1. I haven't thought of "Hi My name is Joe and I work in a button factory" in years! Oh man, good memories and one I can definitely bring to storytime.

    Thank you for sharing all these!


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"Sleeping Bunnies" on the Parachute!

Here's one of my favorite parachute activities! I actually mentioned it a few months ago when talking about my summer parachute playtime but it's become a storytime staple since. We've been doing this here at my 2 and 3 year old storytimes and it's a great activity that I thought deserved its own post. I learned the song "Sleeping Bunnies" from Mary and I had the idea to adapt it to a parachute activity.

We use the version from Kathy Reid-Naiman's Tickles and Tunes CD.

Here are the words:

Sleeping Bunnies
See the little bunnies sleeping til it's nearly noon. 
Come and let us gently wake them with a merry tune. 
Oh, how are still. 
Are they ill? 
Wake up soon. (Here I yell "WAKE UP BUNNIES!" and the kids shake the parachute.)

Hop, little bunnies, hop, hop hop! 
Hop, little bunnies, hop, hop hop! 
Hop, little bunnies, hop, hop hop! 

Then we say "good night" to the bunnies and repeat a few times.

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