Hispanic Heritage Month Music & Movement – with Melissa!

Today’s guest post is from Melissa who is sharing her Music & Movement program from Hispanic Heritage Month. Even though that month has passed we believe it is important to celebrate diversity all year round! Thanks, for sharing your program, Melissa!


To celebrate and engage our patrons with Hispanic Heritage Month 2015, we planned a week of special programs in the Los Alamos County Library System. We added two afternoon read-ins and used our weekly story times and music and movement (M&M) programs to showcase Hispanic authors and performers. Here’s the M&M program and some of my thoughts behind my choices.

We started with “Hola” from the album Salsa Tots by the group Salsa Babies featuring Ricky Franco. We all learned the word “hola” before I started the song, then I sang along as I guided the group through waving hello, clapping, stamping, drumming on tummies, waving hands, etc. This song is mostly in English and talks about saying hello, making friends and introducing ourselves.


Because this program was mostly new songs, I stopped in between each one and previewed the next activity. For “The Numbers Song” by A.J. Jenkins from KidsTV123, we slowly counted to ten and back down in English, then repeated that in Spanish. The song is perfectly written to echo each line. It’s simple and clear and most importantly, easy to sing while jumping, dancing, and directing a crowd!


We used scarves for our next song, “De Colores.” I used a slower version with children singing. Before starting the music, I talked a bit about the story of the song- the colors of nature, all the birds singing, how colors make us feel happy inside. Our actions included waving in front of our tummies, waving up high, spinning in circles with scarves flying, and rolling our hands to entwine the scarves. The chorus of “De Colores”—“Y por eso los grandes amores, De muchos colores me gustan a mi”—is excellent for reaching up high and “painting a rainbow across the sky!” For the second verse, I had everyone get down close to the floor with their rainbow scarves and pretend to scatter feed to all the roosters, hens and chicks.   


Get on Your Feet” by Gloria Estefan was my pick for parachute and ball time. “Get on Your Feet” has long been a staple of mine for instrument time because the lyrics exhort the crowd to “get up and make it happen”.  It was perfect for this program because Estefan is a major Latina artist and there are perfect tempo and lyric breaks for my typical parachute play process. Instead of focusing on kids doing the activities themselves, we’ve had great success using the parachute with little ones by engaging their adults to manipulate the parachute while the kids have the fun of being under it, playing with the balls and jumping up and down. We do slow and fast waves, pop the parachute high in the air and lower it all the way down while everyone gets “pequeño” underneath, then count “uno, dos, tres” for a high pop that reveals delighted, squealing children. I used the words “salto” and “baile” quite often and we all jumped and danced happily.


As we put away the parachute and balls, I began talking about our next song, “Saco una Manito.” I went through the whole song in English first, talking the actions rather than singing them. Saco una manito means I have a little hand, so I first showed the group one hand, then showed how the hand dances, then how it closes, then opens, then runs away behind your back. We repeated the actions with the other hand, then with both hands together. I chose a version sung by Adriana because she goes through the song three times, getting faster each time.


Besitos y Abrazos” is another song from the album Salsa Tots. I talked about the Spanish words for kiss and hug and showed them how we would do the kiss action (kiss one hand and throw kiss, change to the other hand and repeat) and how we would hug ourselves or someone we love for the hug action. For the English verses we rolled our hands and danced as salsa-like as we could manage. During my third presentation I had enough older kids engaged to the point where we could “salsa” in a circle while rolling our hands, then blow kisses and give hugs on the chorus.


We passed out bells for our next song, “Tingalayo.” I used a charmingly bouncy version from the album Canciones in Español by Sara Quintanar. Her Facebook page is Music with Sara.


Since this program included lots of new things, I wanted to be sure to include some old familiars. Everyone loves “Cabeza, Hombros, Rodillas, Pies” (head, shoulders, knees, and toes)! I chose a version by Jam with Jamie from Youtube because Jamie goes over the vocabulary, then sings the song three times, getting faster each time. I also went over the vocabulary before starting the music. The kids loved this and even the littlest can participate, with caregivers pointing to heads, knees and toes, etc.


Free instrument time came next. We made tons of noise and played and danced to “Conga” by Gloria Estefan. This was a familiar song for our patrons as I’ve been using it for years.


When it was time to say adios I used two favorite goodbye songs. “Adios Amigos” from the TV show Dos Y Dos and a song called “Adios Amigos,” from the Elementary Spanish Chatbook by Julie Jahde Posposhil. This song is set to the tune of “Skip to My Lou” and in my head I call it “hasta luego, CHACHACHA.”


I’ve always used music from all over the world in M&M to add excitement and inclusiveness to our library programs. These Hispanic Heritage themed M&M programs were a piece of a larger initiative to expand our programming offerings and create themed and specialty programs in more areas each year. Using music, which is readily accessible no matter the language, we’re able to be inclusive, engaging and educational.



Melissa Mackey, Los Alamos County Library System, Los Alamos NM, paraprofessional with 25 years of adult and child literacy and music programming experience, 12 with Los Alamos County.

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The Coolest Things I Saw on the Internet This Week


I am keeping it short and sweet this week. No cute roundup theme or connection to my current life choices. These are simply the things I bookmarked just for your enjoyment:


This article on using creativity in the math classroom has so many connections to what we strive for in Storytime. I am now going to call my counting flannels ‘Math Chats’.


I simply love this brilliant idea from the minds at Deschutes Public Library (along with the Cascades East Transit system). Singing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ on an ACTUAL BUS?!?! The possibilities for community collaboration are zooming in my brain. ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ on a boat? ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ at an observatory? ‘Pat-a-Cake’ while eating cake?


‘Best of’ lists and book award countdowns are upon us. There is also a lot of food everywhere you turn this time of year. Travis Jonker mashes it up for School Library Journal in Calde-Snacks.


I can’t get over these fantastic hanging balls.


In a car for a long period this week? Be sure to check out this list of 25 Outstanding Podcasts for Readers.


Finally, I am a bit of a stats girl and I went goo-goo ga-ga over The Statistical Dominance of Dr. Seuss. Green Eggs and Ham word chart for the win.


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Sunday Storytime Challenge #9!

Each week, we will post a Sunday Storytime Challenge. The goal is to encourage the SU community to try new things and share out those adventures. Challenges will vary widely and can include craftiness, elevator speeches, networking, professional development and beyond!


So here is challenge #9!




Don’t know where to start? Here is some inspirations to get your motor running:


First, watch these videos featuring 10 Adorable Children Reciting Poems.


Anne at So Tomorrow provides some tips for Thinking Outside the Picture Book Stacks using poetry.


Head to Sturdy for Common Things to see a Storytime poetry line-up and beautiful poet-tree display activity.


Now that you have your inspiration, get out there and spread that awesomeness! Then make sure to come back and share with us. There are so many ways you can share:


  • Simply comment to this post!
  • Email us at storytimeunderground@gmail.com
  • Tweet it out using #storytimechallenge
  • Do you have a kick-ass blog? Share your challenge story there and send us the link!


There is no concrete timeline for you to complete the weekly challenges and they will always remain open. We will compile challenge responses into a big roundup post once in a blue moon so if you want your awesomeness shared, get it to us in a timely manner.


We can’t wait to see what you can accomplish!

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Get the Beat! With Allison

Allison is our guest today with some great ideas for using music in storytime. Thanks, Allison! What can you add to her list? 


In my last Storytime Underground post I talked about why singing in your storytime program is so important. Today I’m going to delve into how to use songs, music, props, and puppets. Hopefully you’ll come away with some concrete examples that help spice up your storytime!

Music can, and should, be used differently for different age groups. Here’s an idea of how to use music with different ages and interesting props.


Baby songs and activities


Babies love rhymes that incorporate bouncing, lifting, and rocking. Have you tried “Go In and Out the Window” with your little ones? It is absolutely magical! Caregivers stand in a circle and hold their babies facing into the center. As you sing the song together, they “fly” the babies in and out, all while they are peeking at their little neighbors’ faces.


Toddler songs and activities


Toddlers are just learning how to hold things in their chubby fists and waddle to the music. Try marching in a circle to “We’re All Marching in the Same Parade” (Les Julian) or the fun band instrumentals in “Inst-ChickenFat” (Laura Johnson). Pass out some instruments before you start to march and you’ll have own marching band!   Model moving in one direction, then another, as well as marching fast or slow.


Preschool themes


Music with preschoolers can round out a theme in storytime. Insert a song or finger play in between each book you read in storytime. For a “Bears” theme, try singing and acting out “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and have the group stand up for “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around”. Music with the preschool set can also teach concepts, such as fast/slow and up/down.


School age silliness


The beat doesn’t have to stop with the school age crowd! Kids in elementary school love anything silly, particularly traditional camp songs like “Peanut Butter and Jelly” and song rounds (“Row, Row, Row Your Boat”), where you’ll get the whole crowd participating. Try an online search of camp songs and you’ll get a ton of tunes.


Books can be sung


There are loads of books that can be sung as well as read. Some of my favorites include I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More (Beaumont), If You’re Happy and You Know It (Carter), The Wheels on the Bus (Zelinsky), or I Love My Hat (Florian). There are lots of other great ideas at the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) Bell Awards page. Singing a book showcases it in a different way, and shows parents that there are all kinds of ways to share a book.


Scarves, eggs, puppets, and parachutes, oh my!


Using props with music is not just fun, it helps kids get the beat. Shaky eggs are fun to use with recorded music like “I Know a Chicken” (Laurie Berkner), “Goin’ to Kentucky” (Miss Carole), or “The Milkshake Song” (Wiggleworms). If baby is too young to hold the egg herself, roll the egg on her body so she’ll feel the smooth, round texture. A child needs to know concepts about shapes so that they can begin to identify the differences in letters.


Scarves are a colorful and inexpensive purchase for storytime. Reinforce different colors and learn about up and down as you play “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” (Mary Poppins) or “If I Could Have a Windmill” (Sharon, Lois, and Bram). Some librarians have told me that they would never use a parachute in their program. If you have the room, give it a try! If your group is small, kids can sit on the parachute while caregivers hold onto the handles, walk the parachute in a circle, while singing “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush”. You can pretend it’s raining and have the children go underneath while you sing “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring” or “Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun” (Raffi). For a real kick, shake the ‘chute and put some beach balls on top while Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” plays!


And don’t forget about all the fun you can have with puppets. If there’s a puppet that can be used with a song, I’ll try it. A monkey is perfect for “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” (Go Fish) or “Mommy’s Taking Us to the Zoo Tomorrow” (Raffi). You could inexpensively make frog finger puppets for “Three Green and Speckled Frogs” or ducks for “Three Little Ducks Went Out to Play”. Children love seeing what you’re singing about.


So, shake, dance, hop, sing, flutter your scarves and have a marvelous, musical storytime!


Allison has taught second grade, and travelled around the country with Clifford the Big Red Dog, but next to being a mom, she’s found her favorite job is as a Children’s Librarian. You can find her shaking her sillies out in story time or blowing something up in a school-age science program at Wallingford Public Library in Wallingford, CT.

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Stories of Impact: Storytime Makes a Difference!

Today, instead of an advocacy tool box post, I’d like to share with you a letter one of my library’s storytime providers received from a grandmother who regularly brings her granddaughter to storytime. It’s a wonderful reminder that YES our storytimes work and YES the grown-ups are understanding the parent messages we’re sharing – and that our patrons are some of our BEST advocates. If you ever get a letter like this, be sure to share it with your supervisors and other higher-ups! They need to know (if they don’t already) that storytime makes a difference!


What we do makes a difference, friends, and here’s the proof! I couldn’t have said it better myself.


Shared with permission.


Thank You Letter


(In case the pdf won’t open, here’s the full text:)


Dear [librarian],


I just want to thank you for the wonderful story time sessions you provide on Wednesday mornings for the two to three year olds. It’s not an easy session to plan and/or to implement, but I have to say it is, as far as I’m concerned, a wonderfully valuable time for the children, parents and grandparents who attend. I’ve learned a lot about how young children learn, and I think I’ve finally got the “Hokey Pokey,” “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and a few other songs under my belt. I’m a little tired of waking up in the middle of the night with these tunes/ear worms in my head, but [grandchild] and the other kids clearly enjoy them.


[Grandchild] is obviously not the best behaved participant, but that’s some of why I think the program you provide is so valuable. She is an only child and an only grandchild of five grandparents, who make quite a fuss about her. That’s both a plus and a minus, but the pluses of your program include the following benefits for her and the other kids:

  • Learning to listen
  • Learning to follow directions
  • Experiencing the joy of controlled physical movement
  • Learning to share
  • Learning to interact with peers and adults appropriately
  • Learning to behave appropriately/respectfully
  • Building pre-reading skills
  • Getting a positive introduction to a library
  • Having a positive experience with an adult in a teacher role
  • Being exposed to stories that aren’t part of the home library


I also appreciate the short parenting lessons you present, so that we adults can better understand how to support the children under our care. When you say that “Research shows” I think you get everyone’s attention. Last week, for instance, you talked about the value of being present with our children when they are playing with apps. Even more to the point, you told us that these children benefit most from spontaneous play. I’m sure I’m not the only grandmother who tells my grandchild’s parents the pithy lessons you impart during these valuable sessions. So when you tell me these things, you should realize that the adults in attendance during one of your lessons might well be sharing the lessons with one or more other adults that are concerned with the development of the children in attendance. Thank you for what you do so well. The proof of the value of these sessions is in the number of children and caregivers who return week after week.




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