Exercise Your Body…because it’s important for children too

This is a story-time that I did at the beginning of the year, because who says that New Years resolutions are only for grown-ups? Let’s face it, in today’s world of major obesity statistics we all need a little inspiration from time to time.

So, the first thing to explain is that I had some room for this. I was lucky. Most libraries do not and let’s face it, man power and resource wise, it’s hard to get things together at times. Nevertheless, I secured a room that was able to fit 50 people comfortably and so I could have a large group of children. I did not however, have 50 children in this story-time, because I’m not insane and I do not need that much stress in my life. My group was with about 30 children and some parents too. AND, if you are looking for a quiet, slow and peaceful story-time, this isn’t it.

See, the thing is that we spend a lot of time telling children to sit down and be quiet. Except when they are outside, when we tell them to not run on concrete, swing from random tree branches, go near water or pet strange animals. There’s a lot of control over what children do and honestly, there needs to be. But in a story-time like this, the idea is to allow some free play. It is not for the neurotic control freaks among us to dictate everything that is happening in this hour, it is for the children to learn and explore. It is loosely based on Maria Montessori’s idea that children when left to learn, WILL learn.

The outcome of this was a bit of madness, but children generally responded very well and were very good at playing fairly with some light direction from parents in the room.


Here’s the story-time:


Opening song

Here’s mine if you want it:

(To the tune of “Do your ears hang low?”)
Put your hands up high
Put your hands down low
Put your hands in the middle and wave them like so
Put your elbows at the front
Put your elbows at the back
Put your arms in the middle and quack, quack, quack




For this I chose “Hop, Hop, Jump” by Lauren Thompson.


I didn’t even have the children sit down. Instead I stood with the book and the children followed the actions. They were already loud and giggly anyway.



Lots of Exercise! (sing to “Farmer In the Dell”)

We’re jumping up and down
We’re jumping up and down
We’re getting lots of exercise
We’re jumping up and down
We twist from side to side… 
We bend and touch our toes… 
We stretch up to the sky…


Five Little Monkeys

Five Little Monkeys
Jumping on the Bed
One fell off
And bumped his head (OUCH!)
Mamma called the Doctor
And the Doctor said
“No more Monkeys jumping on the bed!”
(Count down to 1)


Grand Old Duke of York

Oh, the grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top
of the hill and he marched
Them down again.

And when they were up they were up.
And when they were down they were down.
And when they were only half way up,
They were neither up nor down.



We can jump, jump, jump.
We can hop, hop, hop.
We can clap, clap, clap.
We can stop, stop, stop.
We can nod our heads for yes.
We can shake our heads for no.
We can bend our knees a little bit.
And around we go! (turning around)



“Stretch” by Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin


Once again, I did not have the children sit for the book since they wanted to do the actions.



So, by this time the children were jumpy and it was getting a bit rowdy. So, I found that by singing these songs, I was able to direct them back to me at the front of the room and get everyone involved. Just in case you don’t know the songs, I’ll include the wording.


Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
knees and toes
Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
knees and toes
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes,
knees and toes


Hokey, Pokey

You put your right foot in
You put your right foot out
You put your right foot in
And you shake it all about

You do the hokey pokey
And you turn yourself around
That’s what it’s all about

(left foot, right arm, left arm, head, tail)


One, Two, Buckle my Shoe



If You’re Happy and You Know It

If you’re happy and you know it
Clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it
Clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it
Then you really ought to show it
If you’re happy and you know it
Clap you hands

(stomp feet, turn around, jump up and down, say yippee)



“Dancing Feet” by Lindsey Craig


The children hadn’t sat down once by this stage and were ready to play.


So, next we did parachute time. They love it every time and it elicits enough screams to give me a migraine for the rest of the week, but if I do not include the parachute I will either get a 4 going on 40 year- old demand to know why their story-time experience has been impeded by my apparent lack of concern for their parachute development skills; or worse, I’ll get puppy-dog eyes.

So, I do the parachute.


And then came the usual time for crafts. Only in this story-time I did not do one (and maybe you never do). Instead I set out exercise stations around the room for the children to use. I DID NOT pull these stations out until it was time for us to use them since doing so would have inevitably ended any chance I had of actually reading a book.

But, these stations were quick to set up and easy to put out, so I prepped a little in advance and it paid off.

Here is what I used (but of course, each to their own):


The tunnel



Balloon Tennis:

Check out a cool link here to see it working in action:










Bean Bag Toss:





Large Ball/s to play with:



Tape on the Floor for Balancing:

Here is a cool link for some activities like this:

Tons of Fun, Just Simple Lines of Colored Tape!



Hula Hoops:








Honestly, this is what I came up with by scouring the inner-depths of our storage room. Really the point was to include anything children could use to get moving, and so all of these are flexible depending on what you have.

(I am not creative in this area- I just like Pinterest).


SO, how did it go?

It was nuts. Yup, no holds barred. This was a loud, crazy story-time with lots of movement and little calm. BUT the kids had a GREAT time and I got lots of good feedback from the parents, which ranged from how nice it was to see free play incorporated into story-time, to how good nap time would be!

The point is though, that despite the craziness of it, the children had a chance to be loud for once and a chance to practice some really important social skills. Generally this worked very well and children were able to share and care about each other.


This is all yours if you’d like to (have the courage to) use it.


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