Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mommy Librarian's Story Time Secret #2: Hold Back on the Hand Motions

First I was a children’s librarian. Then I became a mom. As I attend story times with my daughter, I have started to make a list of hints that might be helpful to story time performers and/or story time attendees. Today’s hint is for librarians who perform baby story times: Hold back on the hand motions!

I have always made sure to use songs and rhymes in all my story times that can be acted out with hand motions. I was worried that if there were no hand motions, everyone would just sit and look at me blankly. It turns out, though, that most hand motions are totally lost on babies. While older babies can mimic some simple movements, most of them can’t do any of the gestures suggested by story time songs and rhymes. Often we suggest that adults do the hand motions themselves to show their babies, but anybody with a little one in their lap has their hands full already. My child has tried to take a header more than once while I’ve dutifully made an itsy bitsy spider with my fingers.

Here are some basic movements that work well for both baby and caregiver:
  • Bouncing
  • Pointing to body parts
  • Tickling
  • Counting off fingers and toes
  • Clapping/rolling hands
  • Raising arms
  • Shaking shakers
Otherwise, it’s totally fine to just chant or sing without any prescribed choreography at all.


  1. Yes, definitely! I think some of my hand motions are lost on my 2 and 3 year olds during storytime as well. And my daughter loves "The Wheels on the Bus" but cries if I try to do it with hand motions! So it's just singing here. :)

  2. I could never get into the concept of fingerplays - when we do rhymes and songs, we always stand up and use our whole bodies to act them out (I work primarily with preschoolers) or we just clap while I sing. I'm getting ready to (possibly) do my first ever lapsit series this fall, so thank you for the freeing advice (-:)


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