Monkey Business Family Storytime

Phew! What a summer! Like most libraries out there, we had Summer Reading Club madness at my library system.  We adopt an abbreviated storytime schedule during that time, giving us time to do outreach to the schools in June and giving us a breather in August before we get back into the swing of things in the fall.

We’re back into full-on storytimes season here and I’m happy to share my latest program with y’all.  Here we go!

   giant pop out safari   ape by jenkins   If You're Happy Cabrera


Weekly Opening Song (with signs) – Hello Friends
Hello friends,
Hello friends,
Hello friends,
It’s time to say hello!

This is a new opener for me!  It’s a simple one with signs for hello, friends, time and say, that was easy for even the littlest children to sign and sing along too.  Big thanks to Jbrary for this one!

Weekly Opening Song – Bread and Butter
[slap hands on knees to the beat]
Bread and butter, marmalade and jam,
Can you say hello as slowly as you can?
Hello [very slow]

We repeated this with slowly, quickly, high, low, and ended with loud and quiet.

Monkey Business Really Begins!

folkmanis chimpfolkmanis monkey

Introduction to Theme — Let’s talk about Monkeys!

We talked about different animals that we might see in the jungle, the rainforest or out on safari.  I told them that I was thinking of one in particular, and we’d see if they could guess which one was our theme today from all the ones in the pop-out book

Book 1 — Giant Pop-Out Safari Animals from Chronicle Books
Holy moly! All the books in this series are storytime gold.  Gold, I say!  And, boy, were those kids ever good at guessing which animal our theme was about — monkeys, of course!  We did a little show and tell about the various types of monkeys out there, starting with our fabulous Folkmanis monkey and chimp puppets (cuteness visible below), and continuing with a little tour of Steve Jenkins’ beautiful book, Ape.  We talked a bit about bonobos, orangutans, and more members of the ape family, and I snuck in an early literacy aside to the parents about increasing their kids’ vocabulary.

5 Little Monkeys

Counting Song with Finger Puppets– 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
5 little monkeys jumping on the bed
1 fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”

[Count down to 0 monkeys jumping on the bed, then awkwardly make joke about how the doctor got his way. Or don’t repeat my mistake and come up with a better ending than that].

These super cute finger puppets come from the treasure trove of storytime props owned by my library branch.  There is also a crocodile finger puppet (not pictured) that allows these little monkeys to play “Can’t Catch Me!” on other occassions.

Movement/Fingerplay — The Itsy Bitsy Monkey
The itsy bitsy monkey climbed up the coconut tree  [pretend to climb a tree]
Down came a coconut and hit him on his knee [make a fist and hit knee]
Out came a lion shaking his mighty mane [frame face with hands to look like a lion and shake head]
And the itsy bitsy monkey climbed up the coconut tree again.

(from The Storytime Spot)

Hap Palmer

Action Song with Recorded Music — Open Shut Them by Hap Palmer from Early Childhood Classics: Old Favorites with a New Twist
I set myself a number of challenges for using new material in my storytimes. Recorded music was one of them.  I found this song via Miss Michelle @ MPL and knew it was the one to start with.  Very fun (for me) and I think the kids enjoyed themselves too.

(from Miss Michelle @ MPL: Fun and Learning at the Library)

Transition — Andy Spandy Sugar and Candy
Andy spandy, sugar and candy, we all jump up
Andy spandy, sugar and candy, we all jump down
Andy spandy, sugar and candy, we all jump in
Andy spandy, sugar and candy, we all jump out
Andy spandy, sugar and candy, we all sit down.

(adapted from Read Play Sing’s Andy Pandy)

Monkey Face 1   Monkey Face

Flannel / Felt Story — Monkey Face
This story, based on the book by Frank Asch, is a fun one to tell, and reminds me a lot of Pig’s Picnic.  Monkey draws a picture of his mother and on his way home to show her, he runs into several friends, each of whom suggests he make increasingly ridiculous additions to his drawing.  Owl suggests adding bigger eyes, Rabbit suggests longer ears, Crocodile suggests pointier teeth, Elephant suggests a significantly larger nose, Lion suggests a more majestic hairdo, and Giraffe suggests a more elegant neck.

The photo above shows how Monkey’s picture began and how Monkey’s picture looked after a little help from his friends. Funny, right?  This felt comes from our system’s store of felt stories.  We have ten rotating prop boxes that move around to each of our ten branches every few months. You never really know what goodness will come in the interoffice mail.  I was so happy to find this one in our summer box…in all it’s retro-y goodness!

Action Song —  B-Bananas
Pick bananas, pick pick bananas
Pick bananas, pick pick bananas

Peel bananas, peel peel bananas
Peel bananas, peel peel bananas

Slice bananas, slice slice bananas
Slice bananas, slice slice bananas

Mash bananas, mash mash bananas
Mash bananas, mash mash bananas

Eat bananas, eat eat bananas
Eat bananas, eat eat bananas

Go bananas, go go bananas!
Go bananas, go go bananas!
Such a fun song to get the kids up and moving! We practiced the motions before we sang the song and talked about what “going bananas” meant, but I think only the adults in the room got the joke.  Oh well.  Still fun to jump around together.

Action Song —  Fruit Salad
Watermelon, watermelon [make a circle with your arms in front of your body]
Apple pear, apple pear [pound two fists, one fist is your apple, the other your pear]
Banananananana, banananananana [wiggle your pointer fingers — these are your bananas — as crazy as can be]
Fruit salad, fruit salad [rub your tummy ’cause fruit salad is yummy!](from: My Kindly Coworker who taught me this fab song way back when!)


Book 2 — If You’re Happy and You Know It by Jane Cabrera
This fun version of the classic children’s song features a variety of jungle animals, including monkeys.  It was a really fun way to round out the storytime and had everyone up on their feet acting silly.

Goodbye Song — Goodbye Friends
Goodbye, friends
Goodbye, friends
Goodbye, friends
It’s time to say goodbye.

We sang this a couple times with signs for goodbye, friends, time, and say.  Nice balance to “Hello Friends” that we started the program with.

(from Jbrary‘s fab video full of hello and goodbye songs)


I presented this storytime twice this week which gave me a chance to fine tune things.  I took out a version of “Monkey See, Monkey Do” that kind of flopped the first go around, along with a second counting rhyme that involved bananas and a monkey puppet.  I spend a lot of time deciding what order to present the books, rhymes, and songs, and was happy with this arrangement, which started and ended with well-known songs (i.e. 5 Little Monkeys and If You’re Happy and You Know It) . This was a great way to get everyone involved and and smiling at the start and end.  I was also pretty proud of conquering my fear of using recorded music in storytimes and really don’t know why it took me so long to embrace it.  I can’t wait to try out all kinds of songs now!


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