Sunday, 18 November 2012

Restoring Calm to Rhymetime

Restoring calm to an excited group of storytimers can be quite a challenge. In our library service we follow a recommended format for our Baby and Toddler Rhymetimes where a calming song or rhyme precedes a closing song.  After an active rhyme, involving the glittery Lycra(c) especially, the children can be too enthused to settle down readily, and so a calming song is the order of the day.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

My favourite for most ages is Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, as almost every child knows it, and for many it is their favourite from a very early age.  There are a variety of theories as to why this tune is so popular, and many are brought together in the concluding paragraphs of this newspaper article (I was thrilled to read that the leading authority, Dr Katie Ovary, is a senior lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art).

Anyway, my storytimers seem to love it, and we ring the changes sometimes by shouting a verse as loudly as we can (hamming it up with hands over ears), and then restoring calm by whispering a verse as quietly as we can.

Ali Bali, Ali Bali Bee

A Scottish song recommended in our training uses a similar tune, Ali Bali, Ali Bali Bee, and also features in my favourite Scot's Rhymes book, Katie's Coo. I haven't used the song that often and will make a point to use it more in the future.

Cross, Cross, Line, Line

In Baby Rhymetime sessions I like to use Cross Cross, Line Line (aka Criss Cross, Applesauce). In looking for a link to the words I realise that I've revised the words somewhat, so I've included my version in it's entirety.

Cross, cross, [finger draw a diagonal cross on baby's back]
Line, line [draw two parallel lines from shoulder to waist]
Fingers creeping up your spine [walk fingers up baby's back]
Over here [tap one shoulder]
Over there [tap the other shoulder]
Fingers mussing up your hair [ruffle up the hair on the top of baby's head]
Tight squeeze [cuddle]
Cool breeze [blow onto baby]
Now we've got the shi-i-v-ers! [cuddle and a gentle shake]

Some other rhymes I've used are:

  • Ten Little Fingers
  • Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around


Other Rhymes

Of course, sometimes we need to ring the changes and I searched the Flannel Friday storytime resources search from Mel's Desk for inspiration.

I found that Kay, of Storytime ABC's, has a lovely leaves rhyme that's great for autumn/fall storytimes called Leaves are Twirling, sung to the tune of Frère Jacques, in her Fall Leaves are Falling Flannel Friday post.

A wider Internet search found these ideas which I might try:

Do you have a favourite calming or transition rhyme? If so, please do share in the comments below.



  1. Great idea for a post, LQ! I'll be using some of these in my next storytime.

    My favorite quiet rhymes is "I Wiggle My Fingers" I wiggle my fingers/I wiggle my toes/I wiggle my shoulders/I wiggle my nose/And now the wiggles are out of me/And I'm just as still as I can be.

  2. Funny, I use this AS WELL prior to reading a book or two. However, my wording is a little different.
    I wiggle my fingers/I wiggle my toes/I wiggle my EARS/I wiggle my NOSE/ Now that the wiggles are all out of me/Let's listen up and have a story (in Baby sessions it's Let's snuggle up and have a story)!

  3. I have a few that we use. There is Open Shut Them:
    Open shut them
    Open shut them
    Give a little clap clap clap
    Open shut them
    Open shut them
    Put them in your lap

    Creep them creep them
    Creep them creep them
    Right up to your chin
    Open up your little mouth
    But do not let them in

    Then repeat the first verse again ending with hands in your lap and ready for whatever comes next. It is sung, though I cannot think of a similar tune. You could just say it as a rhyme though.

    I also use this one that I found on a listserv (not sure who gets credit for it)
    Make a book with your hands. Now...
    Open the book
    Close the book
    Give a clap
    Open the book
    Close the book
    Put it in your lap

    I like to vary that one after we have used it a few times. After the clap we may put the book on our head, nose, etc. some times we do one clap, then two, then three. Keeps them on their toes and listening.

  4. I use this for my toddler storytime to calm them down before a story:
    Hands up! Hands down. Give a little clap.
    Hands up! Hands down. Now put them in your lap.

    It's short, but amazingly effective at bringing their attention back to me and their energy down.

  5. Thanks for all the great calming songs. I appreciate your responses. The question arose in a recent area library meeting, and now I have lots of ideas to share. Thanks. 😄


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