Storytime Spotlight: Above & Below

Blogging today to share one of my favorite recent storytime plans! The inspiration for this storytime came from Fountas & Pinnell’s Verbal Path for the Formation of Letters. I used these motions often as a teacher (click on the image for more):

verbal path

When our focus rolled around to Letter Knowledge last month, I started thinking about all the vocabulary kids need to know to actually write the alphabet letters properly – curve, line, slant, side, across, up, under, down, etc. Especially when it comes to lined paper, they need to understand what above and below mean…  which leads us to Above & Below Storytime!


Welcome & Set Expectations

*Sing: Clap Everybody & Say Hello

Talk: Window Watching

We took a short field trip to the windows in the storytime room and I encouraged the families to talk together about what they saw! This was a great activity especially for getting the grown-ups engaged. After a few minutes of watching and talking, we came back as a whole group and shared. “What did you see in the sky? …I saw something big and white – it looked like spilt milk!”

Read: It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw

Asking the group what noise pigs, sheeps and owls make was a great way to engage the younger ones during this book!

Talk: Above/Below Sort (Flannel)


Many thanks to Melissa Depper for letting me borrow her wonderful worms and background! I added a hodgepodge of random pieces from my existing sets and asked the kiddos to help me sort what belonged above (e.g. airplanes) and below (e.g. worms).

I LOVE this sorting flannel. There’s so many thematic connections! And so many different literacy message tie-ins, what with the background knowledge you need to sort, the worms being different shapes and lines which ties into letter knowledge, and…

Lit Tip: Directional Vocabulary & Learning to Write Letters

Grown-ups, learning to write letters is a lot easier if you know directional words! Kids need to understand the meaning of directional vocabulary in order to shape letters correctly. When you use words like round, straight, above and below with your child and you gesture to show what you mean, you actually help them get ready to write letters in the alphabet.

Sing: One Earthworm Went Out to Play… (Flannel)

One earthworm went out to play

Underground on a sunny day.

It had such enormous fun,

It called for another worm to come!


Repeat with 2, 3, 4, etc.


Credit: adapted from “One Elephant Went Out to Play”

Gosh golly were they surprised during the last verse when a snake came underground to lay her eggs! 🙂


Sing: Snake in the Grass by Mr. Jon & Friends (shakers)

Sing: Can You Shake Along with Me (shakers)

We reinforced understanding of our new vocabulary words by singing a slightly modified version of “Can You Shake Along with Me?”

Tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down”

Can you shake along with me,

Along with me, along with me?

Can you shake along with me?

Shake your shaker… under your knee!

(repeat with other above/below movements)


Credit: slightly adapted from Jbrary

*Sing: If You’re Ready for a Story…

Read: Mama Dug a Little Den by Jennifer Ward & Steve Jenkins

The younger kids liked naming the animals on each page and seemed really drawn to the illustrations. The older kiddos seemed to appreciate the facts and made some great connections. On the tarantula page, one of them mentioned petting our famous local tarantula Rosie, and I got to sneak in an aside about going to the Butterfly Pavilion for free with your library card! I got to follow up with some families about our Exploration Pass during Learning Through Play. 👍

Rhyme: Rain is Falling Down

Uh-oh! The clouds on our flannel board turned dark and then it started to rain! Our worms came up for air (so they wouldn’t drown) while we took cover under the parachute.


Sing: Wiggle & Stop Song (parachute)

Before launching into any parachute activity, I like to preview the motions with the group and practice with this little song:

We wiggle and we wiggle, then we… stop!

We wiggle and we wiggle, then we… stop!

We wiggle and we wiggle, and we wiggle and we wiggle.

We wiggle and we wiggle, then we… stop!

We go up and down, then we stop!

We go up and down, then we stop!

We go up and down, we go up and down.

We go up and down, then we stop!


Credit: adapted from Jbrary

Sing: Come Under My Umbrella (parachute)

Sing: Rain, Rain, Go Away

Gosh darn that rain wouldn’t stop, even after we sang the parachute song twice! In the end we had to sing “Rain, Rain, Go Away” to make it stop so we could play. 🙂

Learning through Play

*Please visit this page to learn more about my regular storytime songs and routines.

My brain is bursting to try more opposite themed storytimes now! What are your personal favorite diametrically opposed pairings? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s