Thursday, July 17, 2014

Best of Baby Story Time: Puppets

After reviewing my baby story time plans, and attending a number of baby story times as a mom, I’ve pulled together my list of the best materials and activities I have found for this age group. Today, I'm sharing my list of the best way to use puppets in baby story time.

While puppets are by no means a requirement for a successful baby story time, they can be an opportunity to introduce a little variety and to capture the attention of little ones whose minds have begun to wander.

For one thing, puppets are a great way to introduce animal names and sounds.
  • Did You Ever See...? is a great song to use when you have a random hodgepodge of animal puppets. I have used this song to sing about just about any animal going this way and that. Caregivers and older siblings are usually great about calling out the names of the animals, and babies happily track the moving creatures with their eyes. 
  • All the Cows Say... (sung to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb") introduces the names of the animals and the sounds they make. It works best with one-syllable animals (cow, dog, duck, pig, cat). Words larger than that mess up the natural rhythm of the song. I also omit the word "little" from the original lyrics to help maintain the proper rhythm. I have used actual cloth puppets as well as homemade stick puppets to share this song.

Puppets also lend themselves well to songs and rhymes involving anything that flies.
  • I’m a Little Bumblebee (originally written by Mel of Mel's Desk) works well with insect puppets. I usually use a bee, a ladybug, and a butterfly. At the end of each verse, I invite the caregivers to lift their babies up into the air to "fly away" along with each bug. I used to regularly rotate this rhyme in and out of story time and often got requests for it when it didn't happen to be on my list for a particular session.
  • Flutter Flutter Butterfly (sung to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", originally found at Preschool Education) is a great song to use with a butterfly hand puppet, a homemade paper puppet, or even just two hands held together to form a butterfly. Babies are intrigued by the flapping of butterfly wings, and they will watch intently as the butterfly sails over their heads. It's best not to get too close to babies with the butterfly puppet, as they might get scared, but from a safe distance, it is usually well-received.
  • Two Little Blackbirds has been adapted many times over, and each adaptation works great with finger puppets and/or stick puppets. It's especially fun if you can provide each caregiver/baby pairing with a set of puppets either to borrow for story time, or to take home and make.

Finally, if you have no other puppet in your possession, I recommend a sunshine puppet.
  • You Are My Sunshine is always a hit at story time, but it becomes even more fun when there is a sunshine puppet to show the babies. 
  • Mr. Sun is another wonderful song to sing with a puppet. It has become sort of my signature song, and at my last library, it became a tradition that after story time, kids were allowed to come up and high-five Mr. Sun. Even babies liked to take their turn giving the puppet a tentative pat!

A full archive of my baby story times is available here. Next week, watch for the conclusion of this series: my list of the best bounces for baby story time. If you missed them, also take a look at my lists of best books and best action songs and rhymes.

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