Top 40 for Preschool Storytime

Back on May 26, 2018, librarian, Melissa Depper tweeted about an idea she'd been thinking about related to storytime planning. It's simple: compile a list of 40 favorite songs, rhymes, flannel boards, fingerplays, etc. Regardless of theme, concept, format-- just list things you LOVE. Then, look at the list and see what they have in common. How could you sort them? Again, look to see what is NOT the same. What is missing? Step four, tweak your 40 to address gaps and use the info you gathered while sorting to evaluate new ideas as they cross your desk, as well as let go of things that aren't serving your storytime goals.

So here's my initial pass at developing my Top 40 for the preschool (2-6 year-old crowd). I do storytimes for two age groups, 0-3 and 2-6. Stay tuned for my 0-3 list. I linked up to as many original sources as I could find. To compile the list, I skimmed through storytime plans from the last couple years and wrote down things I noticed that had an immediate response in me-- maybe I started reciting the rhyme in my head, or it brought a smile to my face. So some of these are things that I haven't used that frequently-- often they were things I learned that I loved but then didn't use enough to cement them in my repertoire (Alligator Fingers is a great example of that).

1. If You're Happy and You Know It
2. We are the Dinosaurs
3. These are My Glasses
4. Itsy Bitsy Spider (+)
5. Thanks a Lot flannel song
6. Aikendrum flannel song
7. Five Little Nails tube
8. Sea Shell, Sea Shell flannel song
9. Valentine Tree flannel
10. Old Macdonald Had a Farm (and Ella Fitzgerald recording)
11. Skinamarink
12. Drivin' in My Car
13. Scat the Cat folder story
14. Two Little Dragonflies fingerplay
15. Cleaning Up flannel (similar to Lisa's Where Does it Go)
16. Five Little Snowmen fingerplay
17. Five Little Penguins milk jug puppets (from Winter Whimsy)
18. Cool Bear Hunt
19. Penguins Attention
20. Five Little Ducks
21. Popcorn and Kernels flannel
22. Animals on the Bus flannel song
23. Belly breathing (Balloon, S.T.A.R.)
24. Alligator Fingers
25. Snowflakes Falling Down
26. Snowflake Dance (with props)
27. The Mitten Song
28. Make a Pizza flannel
29. Spider on the Floor
30. We are Thankful action rhyme
31. Rhythm in the Scarves
32. Walking Through the Arctic action rhyme
33. Rattlin' Bog
34. Show Me Five game
35. Green Says Go action rhyme
36. I Know a Chicken
37. Five Green and Speckled Frogs
38. Five Little Monkeys
39. I'm in the Mood
40. Row, Row, Row Your Boat (+)

So what do I notice? When in doubt, I'm going to sing a song. Most of the flannels I enjoy the most are ones where all the kids get a piece to contribute. I notice a mix between traditional items and "things educators know" like Dr. Jean's Cool Bear Hunt. I also notice several ideas for winter. Being in Minnesota, where we both love to talk about the weather and have a significant winter, this isn't too surprising, I guess.

What's missing? While I don't expect kids to sit still during any of storytime, I notice a lack of big body motion, which may not be serving all kids well. There also aren't songs, rhymes, or activities from cultures around the world. Consideration must be given to avoid tokenism and appropriation, of course. I want to do more with social/emotional learning, and while there are some elements represented in that area, I'd like to add more to the list.

What's on your Top 40? What do you notice when you look at my list? Happy storytime planning!



  1. I can't wait to finish this exercise! I saw Melissa's list in the works and never got around to finishing my own. Thanks for sharing your favorites and your thoughtful reflections, Amy! I learned many new things I'm excited to try out- how cool is Alligator Fingers?!

    Storytime in the Stacks


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