8 Songs and Rhymes for Dynamic Storytimes

With storytime songs and rhymes, you can cover themes, sequencing, and more. So shake up your read-alouds with song and dance!
children participating in and enjoying storytime songs and rhymes

Incorporating all of the early literacy skills into our read-alouds isn’t always easy. It’s a lot to cover in one storytime! Read, write, play, talk, sing. No worries, Novel Effect has you covered with help from our team’s librarian. Read-alouds with interactive songs or rhymes will take your read-aloud to the next level. With storytime songs and rhymes, you can cover themes, sequencing, and more. So shake up your read-alouds with song and dance! 

Dynamic Storytime Songs

To make music even easier to incorporate, here are our librarian’s 8 favorite songs and rhymes (plus book recommendations!) to amp up your already awesome read-alouds. Whether you’ve got two left feet or are tone-deaf, these songs and rhymes will be effortless, engaging, and educational.

1. Slippery Fish

Slippery Fish will quickly become an earworm, but I promise it’s not the worst song to have stuck in your head. Transform your hands into squiggly octopus tentacles and a giant whale’s mouth as you explore the ocean’s food chain. It’s so cute how the kids react as the sea creatures get munched at the end of every verse. Pair Slippery Fish with Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat.

2. Lion Hokey Pokey

Perhaps the biggest trick I learned was how to do the animal Hokey Pokey. It’s so versatile. You can make up your own song if there are no songs for your creature! During a read aloud of The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright, I came across this hack. While scrambling for a lion song, I scribbled some ideas for parts to “put in” – mane, tail, ROAR, for example – and invited my audience to share their own ideas. Since then, I’ve used this for dinosaurs, monsters, penguins, and a whole zoo of other things.

3. Elevator Song

Short, silly, and easy to repeat, The Elevator Song is a personal favorite. During read-alouds about living in an apartment building, I used it when we talked about living at home. This was fun to sing after reading Noisy Night by Mac Barnett. Try repeating it with each round getting progressively faster.

4. Animal Freeze Dance

The Animal Freeze Dance is by far the best of Kidboomers’ freeze dances. You’ll love it after reading a book with a bunch of different animals like Happy Hippo, Angry Duck by Sandra Boyton. From monkeys to penguins, you’ll have fun watching each other mimic a wide array of creatures. Be sure to take time at the beginning to explain the concept of a freeze dance. Prepare to go wild! 

5. Jumping and Counting

Whenever I led storytimes at my public library, parents and kids would ask for Jim Gill’s hilarious Jumping and Counting. It’s a real bop with a bouncy tune and heavy percussion that pairs nicely with any counting book. We count along with our hands every time the music stops. At the end, Mr. Gill invites the kids to “jump right back down into your seats,” a great cue for moving on to another read-aloud. Try it out with Let’s Learn Counting by Anna C Peterson.

6. We Are the Dinosaurs

Get your dinosaur stomp on with Laurie Berkner’s classic march. Dinosaur-y activities are explored in each verse, like sleeping in a nest or eating. It’s a great opportunity to playact! Choose a dinosaur for your little learners to mimic while you move around the room. My favorite book to pair with this is How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends by Jane Yolen.

7. Shake My Sillies Out

If you’re having a more distracted day, and need to drain your kiddos of some energy, Raffi is the answer. This song encourages its audience to move around the room to get rid of some wiggles. It’s great for discussing classroom behavior or manners. Use it to shake your sillies out with a book like No David! by David Shannon.

8. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom We're Going to the Moon

After you read The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, blast off with this energizing rocket ship song. As your group walks around like astronauts with fingers up and arms in flight deck, you’re sure to hear some giggles. Finish with a big jump and launch countdown. Once the song’s over, you’ll want to zoom zoom zoom all over again. 

Incorporating Storytime Songs

When I was new to read-alouds, I was very self-conscious of my voice or how smoothly I executed finger plays and dance moves. With time and experience, my confidence grew. And more importantly, I realized my stumbling through the moves of a new song wasn’t even on my kids’ radar — they were too busy having fun! 

Find more storytime and read-aloud tips

About the Author

Danielle Fritz stands in front of a bookcase smiling at the camera

Before becoming Novel Effect’s Librarian and Curator, Danielle Fritz was a public librarian. While working in the children’s section, she frequently facilitated storytime and other activities for budding readers.

Download the Novel Effect app to bring stories to life with music and sound that respond to your voice. 

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