Welcome Songs for Storytime Success

the text says hello songs for storytime, and there is a graphic of three children with their arms raised to wave hello

Developing a strong connection with your storytime audience starts with consistently starting each session in the same way. One effective method is to incorporate a welcome song that engages the children, and over time, they become familiar with it. While there are numerous hello songs to choose from, it’s not necessary to use the same one as your colleagues.

I chose Raffi’s “I’m in the Mood for Singing” as my go-to song. It’s catchy, short, has a good beat, and appeals to children. Additionally, the lyrics can be adapted for other programs, such as a music and movement session where you can change the words to “I’m in the Mood for Singing, hey how ’bout you?”

Here are my top five favorite welcome songs for storytime:

“I’m in the Mood for Reading”

I’m in the mood for reading
Hey, how ’bout you?
I’m in the mood for reading
Hey, how ’bout you?
I’m in the mood for reading
Reading along with you
Hey hey, what do you say?
I’m in the mood for that today.
Hey, hey, what do you say?
I’m in the mood for that.

“Bread and Butter”

Bread and butter, toast and jam
Let’s say hello as LOUD as we can
Bread and butter, toast and jam
Let’s say hello as soft as we can
Bread and butter, toast and jam
Let’s say hello as high as we can
Bread and butter, toast and jam
Let’s say hello as low as we can.

“We Clap and Sing Hello”

We clap and sing hello, we clap and sing hello,
Hi ho the derry-o we clap and sing hello.
We stomp and sing hello, we stomp and sing hello,
Hi ho the derry-o we stomp and sing hello.

“Hello Friends”

Hello friends,
hello friends,
hello friends,
and how are you today?
Let’s read a story,
let’s read a story,
let’s read a story,
and have some fun today!

You may notice that there are different words and actions in the video below. I say shoot for the stars and choose whichever words or actions work for you!

“The More We Get Together”

The more we get together, together, together,
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.
For your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends,
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.

There are 2 reasons I love the next video. 1: Ms. Rachel has great videos for toddlers focusing on language development. 2: Ms. Rachel incorporates ASL signs for more, together, happy, and friends. What a great way to make your storytime more inclusive!

I think these are great choices for welcome songs. I like that they are short and easy to memorize. There’s nothing worse than the feeling you get when you try to perform a new song in a storytime wand can’t remember the words.

The tunes themselves are also easy to learn. Most of them focus on 3 notes, which is typical for nursery rhymes.

Singing Hello to Each Child by Name

If you have a small group of children, you may be able to personalize the hello song by singing each child’s name. This creates a sense of inclusion and makes every child feel welcome. It also adds an element of repetition, which is beneficial for young children’s learning. Here’s an example:

Hello Moira, hello Moira, hello Moira, and how are you today?

Moira is my cat, and she happens to love hearing her name sung to her. A word of caution, though. Not all children share Moira’s affinity for having attention paid to her. Some children feel shy and put on the spot when you sing their name. It is important pay attention to the reaction of the children in your group to see if this is fun for them.

Why Are Welcome Songs for Storytime Important?

They set the tone.

Setting the desired atmosphere right from the start is crucial in storytime sessions. Sometimes, you may encounter distractions or children who are not fully prepared. In these instances, confidently taking control and politely requesting that everyone is ready can make a significant difference.

By calmly asserting the expectation that all participants should be attentive and engaged, you establish a sense of order and respect for the storytime environment. As the facilitator, you serve as a role model for the children, demonstrating how to navigate unexpected situations with grace and assertiveness.

This approach not only helps manage disruptions but also fosters a positive and structured atmosphere where children feel secure and can fully immerse themselves in the storytime experience. Remember, maintaining control and setting the tone from the beginning ensures that all participants can enjoy a smooth and enriching journey through the world of stories. It will also help your children to feel safe in their environment, and more ready to learn.

They establish routine.

Research in early childhood learning emphasizes the importance of routine for young children. According to Head Start, there are many benefits to establishing routines for your child. Having a consistent routine helps children feel safe in their environment and allows them to focus better.

Routines are especially valuable for neurodivergent children, and in order to create an inclusive storytime, it’s essential to provide a feeling of safety and predictability through routine. Neurodivergent children, such as those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), often thrive in structured environments where they know what to expect. Routines can offer a sense of security and reduce anxiety, allowing them to fully engage and participate in the storytime experience.

For neurodivergent children, deviations from familiar routines can be challenging and overwhelming. By establishing a consistent structure in your storytime sessions, you create a reliable framework that neurodivergent children can rely on and navigate comfortably. They can anticipate the sequence of activities, transitions, and expectations, which promotes a sense of control and reduces stress.

They promote repetition.

Repetition is a key aspect of learning for young children. Some children in your storytime may still be learning to talk, and hearing the same songs, words, and sounds repeatedly helps them develop phonemic awareness. It enables them to recognize and associate certain sounds with their meanings. The hello song presents an excellent opportunity for children to practice these sounds and words. Remember to invite children and parents to sing along with you.

Welcome Songs for storytime vs. Warm-up Songs

While hello songs and warm-up songs serve similar purposes, they fulfill slightly different functions. Hello songs establish the atmosphere, create routine, and provide repetition. On the other hand, warm-up songs help focus children’s attention and prepare them for the story ahead.

Here are some warm-up songs I regularly use:

  1. “Wake Up Hands”
    Wake up hands, wake up hands,
    Wake up hands and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.
    Wake up hands, wake up hands,
    Wake up and wiggle in the morning.
  2. “We Wake Up Our Hands with a Clap Clap Clap”
    We wake up our hands with a clap, clap, clap,
    clap, clap, clap,
    clap, clap, clap.
    We wake up our hands with a clap, clap, clap,
    and wiggle our waggles away.
  3. “Hands Are Clapping”
    Hands are clapping, clap, clap, clap,
    hands are clapping, clap, clap, clap,
    hands are clapping, clap, clap, clap.
    We clap our hands together.

Warming Up to Listen to a Story

The warm-up song plays a vital role in bringing all the children together and aligning their focus. Since we don’t know how their morning has been, the warm-up song provides an opportunity for them to reset and refocus. Engaging in a warm-up activity that requires attention and participation helps reset their equilibrium and prepares them for the story. It’s worth noting that warm-up songs also contribute to brain development and cognitive functions in children.

You might have noticed that most of the songs mentioned in this post involve hand clapping. That’s no mistake, and there’s a very good reason why. Hand-clapping songs are a great developmental tool for kids to practice all kinds of skills. Motor planning, crossing the mid-line, and sequencing are just a few. Visit Miss Jaime, O.T. to learn more about the benefits of clapping songs from an occupational therapist’s point of view.

Ready for Success

Incorporating a welcome song and a warm-up song sets the stage for a successful storytime session. Choose songs or chants that you enjoy because when you’re having fun, children will notice and want to join in. Remember, even if you don’t consider yourself a fantastic singer, no one will be judging you. Parents and caregivers are usually focused on their children, and children are very accepting, even if you go off-key.

Don’t underestimate the power of setting the right tone for your storytimes. You owe it to yourself and the children to create an enjoyable and engaging experience from the start.

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