Early Childhood

The Storytime Song Bucket


A long time ago, like many new librarians, I planned my storytimes around a theme. I would carefully select books, songs, and a craft about monkeys, bath time, zoo animals or whatever other ideas I could find on my shelves or online. The songs changed every week, and I often found myself singing solos. Not fun for me, and definitely not fun for the little ones.

I still think themes are fun, and if you can find enough quality books in your collection go for it. In my current position I don’t have a repeating group for storytime, but when I did I solved the song problem with the Song Bucket.

I bought a good sized sand pail and decorated it with stickers and puffy paint. Then I used MS Word to create song cards. Each song card had a related piece of clip-art and the title on the front and the words and actions on the back. A quick trip through the laminating machine and they were ready to use. You can see some of my song cards in the picture above, modeled by my storytime assistant Betsy the cow.

When it was time for a song or fingerplay I would choose a child to come up and select a card from the bucket and we’d sing the song. Having the words on the back was a great help for me as I occasionally go on auto-pilot and then blank on the words to something like Old McDonald Had a Farm.

I kept around 12-15 cards in the bucket and I’d change a handful of them every six weeks or so. The songs came up frequently enough for the children to learn them and they loved being involved in the process. We know that repetition is good and helps little ones learn. Some children would even start searching for a particular card so we would sing their favorite song which meant that they’d connected the picture on the card to the words we use in the song.

There’s plenty of variations that might be fun. If a bucket isn’t your style a drawstring bag made out of fun fabric would work just as well. You could skip the cards and have small toys that represent each song, although getting the children to hand back the toys might be a challenge. I’m mechanically challenged but a “song spinner” might be a blast.

I’d love to hear from anyone whose done something similar in the comments.

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