Babies and Toddlers
Music and Movement

Music is a great way to encourage our littlest patrons to learn about their bodies
and how they move! While storytimes certainly incorporate music, programs in this category
do not include a story, but rather rely solely on music, dancing, and moving bodies in intentional ways.

Abilities can vary widely in this age group, from tiny infants who sit on laps
to rambunctious toddlers who refuse to sit still! I put together plans for ages and abilities
that fall around the middle of the group I'm expecting.

With programs that involve our littlest learners, I bring a doll or stuffed animal
to act as my "baby," and I use it to demonstrate the suggested movements to caregivers.
Simply bouncing to the beat or clapping their little one's hands, though, works, too!

Choosing the Songs

As with storytimes, it can be beneficial to use some of the same songs for each session.
This enables the young children to start recognizing the songs, and further emphasizes
how the words have meaning. Having the same "hello" and "goodbye" songs, in particular,
can help clarify when the session is starting and ending.

To ease with transitions, I find it useful to choose songs that flow naturally into each other.
This can be through a theme, such as animals or colors, or by having them tell a kind of story,
such as "now we've said 'hello,' let's wake up our bodies" then get dressed, start our days, etc.
The website Jbrary is a useful site to find songs for both general sessions
and those that fit a theme. I've included some of my favorites below.

Adding Props

In addition to songs that include lap bounces, lifts, naming and moving different body parts,
hand movements, swings, etc., you can also incorporate the use of props for added fun.
Shakers, in particular, appeal to very young children, as they can hold and manipulate
them very easily. Scarves or bells (especially on a bracelet that can be worn or held)
can also be easy for young children to hold and play with, or for caregivers to demonstrate.

Choose songs that involve simple prop movements with distinct words linked to the movements,
for example "shake," "wave," "tap," and "up and down," "side to side," and "round and round."

You can also give the children time to explore and play with the props on their own,
giving them the opportunity to investigate cause and effect and make their own music!

General Tips

No matter how precise you are in the planning of your programs, the little ones
(and their caregivers) may not do exactly what you want them to. And that's okay!
Keep your program upbeat and lighthearted. Even just listening to the words and the rhythms
is beneficial for young children. Even if they are just watching you and not moving themselves,
or even if toddlers are running around the room, they are still absorbing the songs,
learning new words, and exploring their bodies. And they will associate programs at the library,
being around other people, and spending time with their caregivers with fun and joy.

I always start programs by informing caregivers that I don't expect little ones to
sit still. I have a plush that I will use to model movements, but I encourage them
to do whatever feels right for their family.

During the programs, I will do my best to make eye contact with each child, smiling as I do so,
to connect them with what's going on, but I don't expect them to be moving just so.
They are babies and toddlers after all!

Favorite Songs

Hello and Goodbye Songs

We Clap and Sing Hello (I use the "hello" version and use clap, wave, stomp, and jump for the movements.)
Well, Hello, Everybody (I use "touch your nose," "wiggle your fingers," and "rub your belly.")
Up, Down, Turn Around (I use the "goodbye" version.)

Body Movement Songs

I Wake Up My Hands
Baby, Put Your Pants On
Roly Poly
A Hippopotamus Got on a City Bus (one of my personal favorites, perfect for an animal theme.)
The Soup is Boiling Up (I have modified this one with 3 verses:
"The Soup is in the Pot," "Chopping Up Some Veggies," and "The Soup is Boiling Up.")
A Smooth Road
Bumping Up and Down (I have added verses to this one, changing "little red wagon" to "little black stroller," etc.)
We Bounce and Bounce and Bounce and Stop
Bouncing, Bouncing, Baby on My Knee
The Horses Are Walking
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
Ten Little Fingers

Egg Shaker or Jingle Bells Songs

We Wiggle and Wiggle and Stop (I use this tune with props:
"shake" and "tap" with eggs and "wave" and "twirl" with scarves.)
Everyone Can Shake, Shake, Shake
Can You Shake Along With Me?

Scarf Songs

We Wave Our Scarves Together
Little Bo Peep
Popcorn Kernels
One Bright Scarf
Wave Your Scarf Up and Down
Dance Like Snowflakes

Program Plans