The Hokey Pokey

This old classic is best if you have a little room to move. However, we don’t have enough space to form a circle at my cozy programs, and standing in an uncoordinated cluster works just fine for us.

The Hokey Pokey is the ultimate in adaptability. You can invent a variation for any theme or concept you might have in mind. All you need is a set of clothing, items, or creature with enough body parts (no snakes or worms!) and off you go. I’m linking to a couple alternatives at the bottom, but there’s no limit to this one, and it’s so familiar that your audience can generally follow where you’re going with it.

Do you have a favourite variation? Please share it in the comments.


The Hokey Pokey
             C

You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out
                                                  G7

You put your right foot in, and you shake it all about
G7

You do the hokey pokey, and you turn yourself around
                      C

That’s what it’s all about!

Verses
Left foot...
Right/left hand...
Head...
Whole self...



Other Variations Include
Animal Hokey Pokey
Campfire Pokey
Pirate Pokey
Winter Pokey

Old MacDonald

I usually sing Old MacDonald with puppets on my hands, feet and head to make the kids laugh, but once in a while I’ll pull out the ukulele instead. Classic storytime songs are fantastic tools for welcoming storytime newbies or drawing distracted little folks back to the circle. For variation, I might change the environment and animals, or connect it with a theme (ie Old MacDonald had a desert, forest, jungle, ocean).

For my fall storytime session, I’m again focusing on repetition-with-variation from week to week, so we’ll sing this song with puppets, felts, and using Steve Goetz’ fun new book Old MacDonald had a Truck.


Old MacDonald
C              F     C            G7      C

Old MacDonald had a farm, E - I - E - I - O
                        F     C           G7      C

And on that farm there was a cow, E - I - E - I - O
C

With a moo moo here, and a moo moo there
C

Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo
               F      C           G7      C

Old MacDonald had a farm, E - I - E - I - O



Old Macdonald Little Mouse

Felt Story Extension
I made a few extra barns for my Old MacDonald felt so I can uncover each animal like we’re playing Little Mouse. Next I’ll make a few non-farm animals to incorporate more surprise, variation, and vocabulary.

For patterns, I adapted this barn quiet book template, and this farm animal colouring sheet. Thanks to Kate at Felt Board Magic for hosting this week’s Flannel Friday.

Zoom Zoom Zoom (and variations)

I sing Zoom Zoom Zoom several times every week (and I’m sure some of you do too). It’s my second-to-last song at most storytimes, giving the kids one last big wiggle between the final book and the goodbye song, and signalling the approaching end of the program.

I’m including a couple extra verses and versions as well. I wrote the plane song myself, as I have a vehicle-obsessed three-year-old with a pilot for a grandfather. I can’t recall who I learned the pirate version or extra verses from, but they’ve been big hits at my storytimes. And I’ve noticed that Jbrary has a different pirate version, so I’ve linked that at the bottom. Do you know any other Zoom-inspired songs? I’d love to learn them!

I couldn’t find the chords posted online, so I played around and came up with these ones. When I play at storytime I may use G and D instead as that’s closer to the way I usually sing the song. The nice easy chords F and C7 will also work.


Zoom Zoom Zoom
C                        G7          C

Zoom, zoom, zoom, we're going to the moon
                         G7           C

Zoom, zoom, zoom, we're going to the moon
G7              C           G7              C

If you want to take a trip climb aboard my rocket ship
                         G7          C

Zoom, zoom, zoom, we're going to the moon
STOP

In 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Blast Off!

Verses
Fun, fun, fun, we're going to the sun...
Far, far, far, we're going to the stars...



We’re Going Out to Sea
C                  G7           C

We, we, we, we're going out to sea
                   G7           C

We, we, we, we're going out to sea
G7               C          G7              C

If you want to take a trip climb aboard my pirate ship
                   G7           C

We, we, we, we're going out to sea
STOP

In 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Splash!



High High High
C                        G7            C

High, high, high, we're soaring in the sky
                         G7             C

High, high, high, we're soaring in the sky
G7              C            G7             C

If you want to go somewhere, fly a plane up in the air
                         G7             C

High, high, high, we're soaring in the sky
STOP

In 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Take Off!



Other Variations Include
Pirate Zoom Zoom Zoom

Sleeping Bunnies

Sleeping Bunnies is one of my favourite action songs for toddlers and preschoolers, and here’s why: The kids love it so it focuses their attention better than anything (other than Zoom Zoom Zoom or The Elevator Song). It helps them practice self-regulation and instructional listening skills (now we sleep, now we hop, now we stop). The song is adaptable, and encourages discussion. My preschoolers yell out requests (Cat! Dinosaur! Robot!), and we decide what action they should perform when they wake up. There are several minor variations on the lyrics, and many of my storytime kids have sung it elsewhere, so we also talk about how there can be different ways to sing the same song.

My chords are largely indebted to Miss Mary Liberry who includes a very useful instructional video for the song and some beautifully simple finger picking in the middle, and to The Show Me Librarian for including Mary’s transcript. The version I sing is slightly different so I’ve adjusted it accordingly. I’ve also omitted the finger picking for simplicity’s sake (but I highly recommend you head over to Mary’s page and try it out). And for once, I’m including two different keys. C is definitely the simplest ukulele key, but I prefer to sing Sleeping Bunnies in G.

Not sure how the song sounds? Listen to Mary, Jbrary, or KCLS’ Tell Me a Story.


Sleeping Bunnies (C)
C              [G7]               F               C

See the little bunnies sleeping, till it's nearly noon
G7        C         G7           C

Shall we wake them with a merry tune

C

Oh, so still. Are they ill?
G7   C

Wake up... and

C

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
C                   G7        C

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
C

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop, and
C                     G7         C

Stop little bunnies, stop, stop, STOP!



Sleeping Bunnies (G)
G               [D]               C                G

See the little bunnies sleeping, till it's nearly noon
D         G         D            G

Shall we wake them with a merry tune

G

Oh, so still. Are they ill?
D    G

Wake up... and

G

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
G                    D         G

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
G

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop, and
G                     D           G

Stop little bunnies, stop, stop, STOP!

Shake My Sillies Out

Our summer of action songs continues with this wonderfully wiggly storytime favourite (and with credit to the songwriters, Raffi and B & B Simpson).

The original version uses the chords D, G, and A7 (which you can transpose to C/F/G7 or G/C/D7 if that’s easier for you to sing or play). Since I like to keep things super-simple for storytime, I’ve chosen this two-chord version I found via the Queen City Ukes Songbook.


Shake My Sillies Out
F

I gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out
C7             F

Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
F

Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
    C7                  F

And wiggle my waggles away

Verses
Clap...
Jump...
Yawn...

Do Your Ears Hang Low (and variations)

I love action songs. They get kids and caregivers up (and down and up and down) and moving. They refocus the restless, and help amazing little brains engage with the music and words. These are among the most popular, fun, and useful songs at any storytime I’ve participated in.

The Elevator Song has been my own favourite (and most requested!) storytime song for the past five or six years. I learned it from a talented then-student librarian named Sara, and I’m guessing she picked it up from MaryLee Sunseri’s album Baby-O.

I’m including the original tune (of course), as well as a few fun variations which all come to me via Jbrary. Click the titles to learn more from Dana & Lindsey.


Do Your Ears Hang Low
C

Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro?
                                    G7

Can you tie them in a knot? Can you tie them in a bow?
         C

Can you throw them over your shoulder like a continental soldier?
             G7    C

Do your ears hang low?



Elevator Song
C

Oh the city is great and the city is grand
                                      G7

There are lots of tall buildings on a little piece of land
        C

And we live way up on the 57th floor
                               G7          C

And this is what we do when we go out the door


C

Take the elevator up, take the elevator down
                               G7

Take the elevator up, take the elevator down
          C

Take the elevator up, take the elevator down
        G7      C

Then we turn around



Country Song
C

Oh the country is great and the country is grand
                                      G7

There are not a lot of buildings on a whole lot of land
        C

And we live way out by the forest and the trees
                                G7              C

We grow a lot of vegetables and maybe keep some bees

C
Put the seeds in the earth, take the vegetables out
                                     G7

Put the seeds in the earth, take the vegetables out
         C

Put the seeds in the earth, take the vegetables out
        G7        C

And we dance and shout



Ocean Song
C

Oh the ocean is great and the ocean is grand
                                  G7

There are lots of tall ships and very little land
        C

And we sleep down deep in a hammock near the floor
                               G7         C

And this is what we do when we go out the door


C

Ride the waves going up, ride the waves going down
                                   G7

Ride the waves going up, ride the waves going down
          C

Ride the waves going up, ride the waves going down
        G7     C

And we turn around



Put Your Hands Up High
C

Put your hands up high, put your hands down low
                                  G7

Put your hands in the middle and wiggle just so
          C

Put your elbows in front, put your elbows in back
                                 G7            C

Put your elbows to the side and quack, quack, quack!



Other Variations Include
Does Your Snout Hang Out

Buffalo Gals (and variations)

This tune sounds an awful lot like our last song, Rig a Jig Jig, since the basic chord sequence is identical. Popular versions of the songs even begin with the same introductory lines.

I love songs that get kids up and moving, so I posted this tune entirely for I Wake Up My Hands. My friend Francesca uses it to engage and settle her group at the beginning of a program, and she concludes each verse with the line, “then I wake up my hands no more.” I sing it a little differently, encouraging one last clap, stomp, or wiggle, while Jbrary offers a third option, ending their verses with “and I wiggle my waggles away.”

If your audience is cozy enough that you can welcome each participant by name, you might want to opening a storytime with Let’s All Clap which I picked up from Lindsey at Jbrary.

Alternate chords include G and D7, F and C7, or A and E7.


Buffalo Gals
C

Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight
G7                C

Come out tonight, come out tonight

Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight
G7                            C

And dance by the light of the moon



I Wake Up My Hands
C

I wake up my hands with a clap clap clap
G7               C

Clap clap clap, clap clap clap

I wake up my hands with a clap clap clap
G7                           C

Then I wake up my hands some more

Verses
Feet... stomp...
Head... nod...
Eyes... blink...
Tongue... bleah...
Hips... wiggle...



Let’s All Clap
C

Let's all clap 'cause Sophie is here
G7                C

Sophie is here, Sophie is here

Let's all clap 'cause Sophie is here
G7                C

Sophie is here today



Other Variations Include
Wiggle Box