Storytime Spotlight: Costumes & Camouflage (Animals in Disguise)

It’s that time of year again! Costumes and candy assault the eyes down almost every aisle. (Actually, my local stores already started putting out Christmas items…)

Anyways, I don’t like to read holiday books in storytime. Storytime Underground has a great post about Checking Holidays at the Door if you’re curious why. At the end of the post, they challenge readers to step outside ourselves and get creative.

So that’s exactly what I tried to do last year! I wanted to address the things my families were most likely encountering in their everyday lives (especially my immigrant families, who are very curious and sometimes confused by Halloween), but not center my storytime around it. I ended up trying a new storytime theme: Costumes and Camouflage, or Animals in Disguise.

I ran through this particular plan on Halloween night itself with a mixed-age family storytime group. We had more than 30 kiddos and caregivers in the room. Most of the kiddos in this group were between four and nine years old, although we had a few younger toddler siblings and one baby.


Welcome & Set Expectations

*Rhyme: Bread & Butter

Read: Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage

A few kiddos came in costume, so we set the stage for Where’s Walrus by talking about why people wear costumes. When people wear a costume because they don’t want to be recognized, that’s called wearing a disguise.

This wordless picture book was PERFECT for this group! Since the kiddos were older, they loved reading the pictures and helping tell the story.

Play: Hats & A Hiding Cat Flannel Game

What did walrus wear as his disguise to hide from the zookeeper? Different hats! Look at all these other animals hiding under hats. I wonder where my friend cat is?


Read: Neon Leon by Jane Clarke OR Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett

Of course, animals don’t usually wear clothes when they’re trying to hide. They use camouflage to blend in with their surroundings! I let the kiddos vote which book we should read next and they picked Neon Leon.

Rhyme: Red, Red is the Color I See… (scarves)

This crowd sure knew their colors! I passed out scarves and we did a rhyme:

Red, red is the color I see.

If you have a red scarf, shake it for me!

Stand up, take a bow.

Turn around, then sit back down!

Credit: adapted from KCLS

Sing: Shake Your Scarves by Johnette Downing

The preschoolers and elementary-aged kiddos were able to follow the directions really well, and the toddlers just enjoyed bouncing around to the music with their scarves.

*Sing: If You’re Ready for a Story…

Read: Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor

Remember how Walrus wore disguises to hide from the zookeeper? Well, this hungry little owl also wears disguises… to hunt!

Sing: Sleeping Owls (scarves)

I adapted the traditional Sleeping Bunnies tune and gave it a nocturnal animals twist! Instead of being sleeping bunnies, we were sleeping owls, rising with the moon. 🦉 Since I had older kiddos, I asked if they knew any other nocturnal animals, and they suggested quite a few creatures for us to act out. Besides pretending to be owls, we were bats, cats and stinky skunks:

See the Nocturnal Animals Sleeping

Tune: Sleeping Bunnies

See the little owls sleeping all throughout the day.

They will wake up when it’s night and then they’ll want to play.

The moon is high… in the sky…

Owls FLY!

Fly little owls, fly fly fly! (x4)

Alternate lyrics: use “open your eyes” instead of “fly.” For example:

See the little skunks sleeping all throughout the day.

They will wake up when it’s night and then they’ll want to play.

The moon is high… in the sky…


Spray little skunks, spray spray spray! (x4)

Learning Through Play

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

I love this storytime SO MUCH. I can’t wait to do it again this year! Here’s some more books I want to try out next time:

What are your favorite storytime themes this spooky season? How do you handle holidays? Would love to learn more below!

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