Though some groups are calm and engaged for all of story time without the need to move around, most story time sessions require a chance for everyone to get their wiggles out. Songs and rhymes work equally well for this purpose, as long as they give everyone an opportunity to be on their feet, blowing off that excess energy.
With older children (preschool and up), and especially with class visits, I like to make the stretching activities somewhat open-ended so that the kids have an opportunity to get creative and suggest their own movements. Older kids sometimes start to think that singing is cheesy or boring, so it helps a lot to get them on board by asking for their input. I might even let them choose a song from a list of known favorites.
With toddlers, it's a good idea to repeat the same movement songs over and over again. At first, the kids will most likely just stand and watch you do the motions, but after several sessions of careful observation, they will start doing those motions with you - and on their own at home too! Toddlers also really like to hold onto props during dancing songs, and it can be fun to encourage them to put props on their heads, elbows, toes, tummies, etc.
With babies who don’t yet walk around, I tend to use rhymes and songs about bodies - such as Head and Shoulders or Tony Chestnut - not necessarily to get their wiggles out, but to help them become aware of their bodies, and to learn the names of their hands, toes, heads, etc. I tend to use a similar structure for all my story times, regardless of age, so I usually plug in these body-themed songs in the same place I'd include a movement song for older kids.
My favorite story time stretches include:
- Hat, Coat, Pants, and Shoes
- Shake My Sillies Out
- Hands Up High
- Here We Go Up, Up, Up
- I’m a Little Teapot
There is just one post remaining in my story time music blog series. Next week, I will conclude my reflections with a post about goodbye songs.