Storytime: Languages!

If you know me, you know that I love languages—even though my pronunciation (of any words other than English ones) is terrible. I’d love to someday attempt a Spanish or bilingual storytime but, for now, I like to practice by infusing words in languages other than English into storytimes. At this hora de cuentos, we mostly covered Español—but we did learn to say “Hello!” in several otras idiomas!

For information about my approach to storytime, check out this post.

Opening : “Hello Friends” (with ASL)

After our song, we brainstormed ways to say hello in different languages. I asked participants if they say hello in a language that isn’t on the board, and we had two share theirs: Mandarin and ASL.

Song/Rhyme: “Heckety Peckety Bumblebee” (with puppet)

A colleague suggested using a bee puppet with this song to engage babies and other littles who aren’t quite as responsive (or verbal) as the older kids. It worked great! I took the bee to every child and we sang their name.

Song/Rhyme: “Let’s Go Riding on an Elevator” (with scarves)

Book: How Do You Say? / ¿Cómo Se Dice? by Angela Dominguez

how do you say
Image credit: Angela Dominguez (Henry Holt & Co, 2016)

Song/Rhyme: “Little Mousie Brown” (with puppet)

I’m trying something new with Mousie Brown: postcards from all over the U.S. and beyond! The first postcard I shared came from Petite Souris Marron in France (via my dear friend and mentor, Sylvia):


Dear Little Mousie Brown,

Here in Paris I wake each day to the sound of the Seine river that floats past the Eiffel Tower. Most days, I nibble on “les baguettes” and “fromage.” Sometimes, my whiskers tickle.

Ton amie,
Petite Souris Marron

Song/Rhyme: “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom” (English/Spanish)

I have really wanted to learn a version of this song in Spanish. Luckily, Holly over at Let the Wild Rumpus Start has done the good work of translating it. It’s just as great—and works like a charm! It was also a perfect fit for this storytime because it was a familiar enough song that the kids could really get into it. (Thank you, Holly!)

Book: Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora

Image credit: Rachel Isadora (G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR, 2010)

Goodbye: “Goodbye Friends” (with ASL)

How It Went: I had a very small, very young crowd. Before storytime even began, we started by playing with puppets. I thought they might prove to be a problem but the children gladly abandoned their new animal friends when storytime started.

I made a last minute switch from Take Me Out to the Yakyu—which I was so excited to read—to Say Hello! based on the audience. It really was a good choice, since I ended up skipping through most of Say Hello! anyways (even though it’s short) because the kids were pretty checked out. The grown-ups were the only ones to parrot back the words in other languages because the kids mostly cared about finding animals on the page.

The Mousie Brown postcard idea is cute—and my colleague did an excellent job of surprise delivering it with our Pack Rat puppet—but it just didn’t land the way I had hoped. The parents thought it was cool but the kids didn’t have a concept of what the postcard even was. Oh well! I’ll try again! Maybe the preschoolers will react differently.

I think, in the future, it might be a good idea to have a CD song ready because these kids really wanted to dance and I lack the instrumental know-how to do anything other than sing.

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