Storytime is for the Birds

By Awnali Mills

This week we had a bird storytime.  The books I used were Have You Heard the Nesting Bird by Rita Gray, I’m Not Scared by Jonathan Allen, and Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek.

Have You Heard the Nesting BirdI'm Not ScaredPuffin Peter

In my magic bag, I had a parrot.  I have been waiting to use this parrot, ever since I found him in an after Christmas sale.  He started life as a (ready?) Christmas ornament.  He has a neat little clip for feet, and I’m sure that he’ll enjoy perching on my shoulder for the next pirate storytime.  Now, however, we just talked about birds and he went quietly back into my bag.

When preparing for the storytime, read through Have You Heard the Nesting Bird. This book follows two children as they listen to various birds in their yard and watch a silent robin on its nest until its eggs hatch. The book verbalizes the calls of the various birds and contrasts them to the silent nesting bird.

As I was reading over the story, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could play these birdcalls for the kids?” I tried finding birdcall apps to work on my iPad in an unobtrusive way. No dice. I tried downloading individual bird calls, but that didn’t work well either. Frustrated, I reached out to my colleague Rachel Sharpe to see if she could conjure a technological brainstorm. She did!  We will discuss everything we did over on

Suffice it to say, we collaborated together to come up with an .mp3 file of the necessary birdcalls which I played while reading the book.  The children were delighted, and the sounds made it seem as though we were strolling through the woods listening to and watching the birds.  I would definitely do this again, even though it was pretty frustrating when I couldn’t find something to just “plug and play.”

Next, I did the flannelboard Ten Little Parrots.  This predates me, and is obviously photocopied from a book, but there is no reference information.

Ten Little ParrotsTen Little Parrots closeup

The rhyme goes:

Ten little parrots sitting in a line, One danced away and then there were nine.

Nine little parrots eating from a plate, One hopped away and then there were eight.

Eight little parrots looking up at heaven, One walked away and then there were seven.

Seven little parrots doing lots of tricks, One leaped away and then there were six.

Six little parrots learning how to dive, One swam away and then there were five.

Five little parrots playing in a downpour, One ran away and then there were four.

Four little parrots napping in a tree, One tiptoed away and then there were three.

Three little parrots wondering what to do, One jumped away and then there were two.

Two little parrots playing in the sun, One flew away and then there was one.

One lonely little parrot squawking loud and clear, “Hey everybody, come back here!”

I felt like we needed to get up and move, so we rolled the song cube and sang The Wheels on the Bus.  I like to get kids moving around the room for this, and since it was a small group we rolled our wheels and up and downed all over town.

Then we did the book I’m Not Scared.  I kept asking the kids, “Do you think Baby Owl is scared?”  The kids assured me that no, Baby Owl was not scared, but his stuffed animal Owly was definitely scared.  Too funny!

Next, we did the flannel Five Little Bluebirds.  This also predates me, and there is no attribution to this one, either.  Sometimes I really appreciate not having to make new flannels!

Five Little Bluebirds

The rhyme goes:

Five little bluebirds, hopping by my door; one went to build a nest, and then there were four.

Four little bluebirds singing lustily; one got out of tune, and then there were three.

Three little bluebirds and what should one do, but do in search of dinner, leaving only two.

Two little bluebirds singing for fun; one flew away and then there was one.

One little bluebird sitting in the sun; he took a nap, and then there was none.

Finally, we read the book Puffin Peter.  This charming little story is about a puffin who gets caught up in a storm and separated from his friend.  He and a whale look at many different birds, trying to find Peter’s friend Paul, but come up empty.  It’s amazing how many birds have similar characteristics to puffins!  This was a really winner.  When sad Peter is floating away on the whale’s back, I swear kids were starting to tear up.  But they started bouncing and pointing when Paul’s figure appears dimly on the page.  I just LOVE it when kids get totally engaged in a book.


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