Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sarah's Guide to Lapsit

This blog entry was updated on 5/21/2018 to include information about using bubbles in baby storytime!

This storytime is aimed at 0-24 months. At the beginning of each storytime I usually introduce some of our puppets. This gets children out of their shell a little. It also helps to calm any fears they may have about coming to storytime! I make sure every child gets the chance to pet the puppets if they'd like :) 

If I notice we have any new patrons at storytime, I formally introduce myself and also go around the room and do introductions. An introduction may be as simple as going around the room and having the parent/caregiver say the name and age of their child. If the group is small, I may also ask them to share a recent developmental milestone in their child's life. I also make any announcements that I have, like if the storytime session is coming to an end or I may mention any new programs for babies (like 1000 Books Before Kindergarten).

1. Opening Songrepeat the same song every week. Here are two options that I like to use.

Open Shut Them
Open, shut them,
Open, shut them
Give a little clap, clap, clap
Open, shut them, open, shut them
Lay them in your lap, lap, lap

Creepy crawly, creepy crawly,
Right up to your chin, chin, chin
Open up your little mouth
But do not let them in, in in

Welcome Welcome Sung to “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”
Welcome, welcome everyone,
Now you’re here let’s have some fun.
First we’ll clap our hands just so, (clap baby’s hands)
Then we’ll bend and touch our toes. (touch baby’s toes)
Welcome, welcome everyone,
Now you’re here let’s have some fun.

2. Book:  Try a unison read if it fits your theme.  If your library has a healthy budget, you can buy several copies of a specific book - enough so that each child and caregiver can read one together. For example, I would give everyone a copy of a board book of either Tubby by Leslie Patricelli, Pat the Bunny, or Moo, Baa, Laa by Sandra Boynton.  You read the copy and everyone follows along! This is a great opportunity for babies to get familiar with the different aspects of reading a book, like turning a page. 

3. Shaker Song - Sung to the tune of “London Bridge" Pass out shakers to the child and adult. If a parent feels their baby is too young to use a shaker, encourage the caregiver to take one to model the proper action. I actually sing this song every week! It really is awesome to see the young toddlers getting acclimated to it. After the kids have gone to enough storytime sessions, it almost becomes second nature to them! :) 

"Shake your shakers, shake, shake, shake,
Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
Shake your shakers, shake, shake, shake,
Shake your shakers!

Other Verses:
Shake your shakers high, high, high,
Shake your shakers  low, low, low,
Shake your shakers  fast, fast, fast,
Shake your shakers  slow, slow, slow"


Warning: Some shakers may be considered choking hazards because of the beads inside the shaker. It is important to regularly check shakers or other musical instruments to make sure they are not on the brink of breaking open. No level of safety precaution replaces the value of supervision, common sense, and caution on the part of librarians, parents and caregivers.  

4. Book: Any book of your choice

5. Song on CD: I usually choose a song by Wiggleworms or Kathy Reid-Naiman. I also love Raffi's version of "Little Red Wagon." Occasionally I will throw in a more upbeat shaker song like “I Know a Chicken” by Laurie Berkner if the kids in attendance are on the older side. However, you don’t want to play a song that is too upbeat and rowdy for the infants.


6. Book: Any book of your choice

7. Baby Bounce – review the other resources listed at the end of this post. Jbrary especially has great baby bounces. They are also on Youtube.

8. Another Song (And Perhaps Bubbles!) - The way you end your storytime depends on the energy levels of your group and your own comfort level. Sometimes the babies are just TOO squirmy and you may want to just end storytime a little earlier and go straight into playtime. In the past, I've also sometimes sung a Goodbye Bubbles song while turning on a bubble machine. I know some librarians make bubbles a regular routine for their program and blow bubbles while a bubbles song plays on CD in the background. It depends on your own comfort level and how you feel about it! I've had some bad luck with Bubble Machines (always needing batteries and just breaking really easily). My coworkers use a Gymboree bubble wand with a tray.

Benefits of Bubbles: Bubbles are an excellent addition to baby program! Bubbles excite a curiosity in babies that makes them eager to investigate their world with their senses. In addition:
- Watching bubbles for a period of time helps babies recognize patterns.
- Babies may try to reach for and touch the bubbles, helping to develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

- Watching bubbles help babies develop visual tracking skills. 

Watch Jbrary present the Goodbye Bubbles song in this helpful video!

9. Playtime! After storytime, I bring out a few toys and let children play for about 20 minutes (you can always go longer but sometimes I have to shorten it if I am on desk at the end of the hour or if there is another program right afterwards). Toys that are really popular with children are the Little Tikes pianos and animal pop up toys. Also the spikey bouncey sensory balls and rubber animals are extremely fun for babies and toddlers. The baby musical instruments and rainmakers are also popular. We recently also got a little Melissa & Doug Playful Puppy that kids enjoy “walking” by pulling the string. I also go around with my puppets and let kids interact with the puppets. (Can you tell how much I love puppets?)

There is no Magic Lapsit Storytime Routine
Also, please know that you don’t have to follow this exact sequence as long as you include at least 1 baby bounce, a song or two on CD, and a couple of books. Do what you feel comfortable with. There is no magic format for a successful Lapsit Storytime. Some librarians do more baby bounces, less books, or more songs. I do however, think it's important to always include early literacy tips as part of your storytime - even if you think the parents might already know the fact or tip you're going to share. It reinforces what they know and helps them feel that they are doing the right thing for their child. I sometimes share early literacy tips while we’re playing with the toys so it feels less instructional or I’ll share them at the end of my last book. 

Sample Early literacy tip:
Babies may just want to mouth the book! That’s okay. When you let your child explore books in the ways that interest her, the reading experience will be more meaningful.

Source: Zero to Three, How to Introduce Toddlers and Babies to Books


This is an incredibly helpful handout that talks about early literacy behaviors (book handling behavior, what type of books infants and toddlers like, and suggestions for ways to share books with babies and toddlers). 

Jbrary has a VERY comprehensive guide with a ton of helpful links to help you do baby storytime. I think you will find it very useful! 

This is a very useful guide to lapsit as well! What I love here are the tips on age appropriate toys for playtime following storytime as well as the suggestions for board book sets! 

Excellent information about leading storytime to infants. Could be used for early literacy tips. Just be sure to credit the website you are getting the tip from! 

A great list of some baby bounces from Pierce County Library!

Kathy Reid-Naiman has some great tickle tunes, shaker, and bell songs. Definitely recommend her resources and CDs!


  1. Terrific post! The only thing I'd add from my own story time is that we always sing happy birthday. If nobody in the crowd (including adults) has a birthday that day or that week, I tell them that it is a puppet's birthday and we sing to the puppet.