Scarves are one of my favorite props to use in storytime because:
- They’re colorful!
- They’re fun to wave around and something that most of our kids probably don’t have at home.
- We ordered a ton of them so they’re a good choice when we’ll have large storytime crowds.
- They’re lightweight and pack down very small, so they’re easy to take on the road to outreach visits.
Lately, I’ve been collecting lots of ways to use scarves in my storytimes because I love them so much, and I’m here today to pass on what I have learned.
- How do you pass out scarves?
They’re hard to smoosh down into a basket, so how do you pass them out? One of my colleagues showed me this way:
Lay out your scarves and then tie them into a bundle. Hold the bundle by the knot as you’re going around and each child can select the color he or she wants and gently tug it out of the bundle. I like the give the kids a choice of color whenever possible, to let them know that I value their preferences. But if I have an unruly crowd, I can also take my bundle around and hand them out.
2. What do you do with scarves?
I always start with a few little “warm up” activities to add some motor skills practice and because if I take the time to pass out the scarves, I want to spend a little time on doing scarf activities and not just take them up again after one song. I do these with everyone, babies through preschoolers.
- We wave our scarves high and low.
- We wave our scarves fast and slow.
- We scrunch up our scarves and then throw them up into the air on the count of three.
Each of these activities helps kids practice listening and following directions, concepts like opposites and counting, and motor skills.
Then, we’ll sing a song or two with the scarves. I usually have at least one thematic song if I’m using them in preschool storytime and then I might throw in a general song just to extend our scarf play a little bit.
3. How do you put scarves away?
Since they’re so light, it can be difficult for kids to put scarves back into a basket or bag. With the babies, I go around the circle and collect each scarf and just hold them in my hand. With the preschoolers, I love to use scarves to practice colors and another activity that helps them learn to listen and follow direction.
I ask everyone to look at their scarf and notice what color they have (they will start shouting out what color they have, it’s okay). Then I tell them they’ll need to listen for their color and when I call their color, bring the scarf back up to me. And I sing this song:
(Tune: Do You Know the Muffin Man? [but this can also be sung to many different tunes])
If you have a red scarf, a red scarf, a red scarf,
If you have a red scarf, please bring it up to me.
Repeat with different colors until everything’s been brought up. If you have any stragglers that missed their colors, you can also add a last verse “If you have any more scarves, any more scarves, any more scarves…”
With this activity, we’re practicing color knowledge, listening/following directions, taking turns, and encouraging children to approach an adult who’s not a member of their family. These are all great school readiness skills!
4. Where can you find more scarf songs and rhymes to use in your storytime?
There are tons of great resources out there for scarf songs! Once you have started using scarves in your storytime, you may also find it pretty easy to adapt other songs & rhymes with movements for your scarves (anything with waving, flying, falling, up & down, fast & slow). Of course, you can also just wave scarves to any nursery rhyme, song, or recorded music!
Get started with these great resources:
- Jbrary – Scarf Songs and Rhymes for Storytime (this post also contains an extensive list of resources for more scarf songs & rhymes)
- Jbrary – Scarf Songs and Rhymes Playlist (even more!)
- Jean Warren – Scarf Songs
- Loons & Quines – Scarves in Storytime
- Melissa Depper – Scarves and Letters
5. Where can you get scarves?
Many stores that carry storytime or early childhood supplies will carry scarves. Our scarves (pictured above) came from Lakeshore Learning, but you can also find them at Constructive Playthings and there are many choices available from Amazon.com. If buying sets of scarves is not in your budget, you can also do any of these activities with small squares of fabric or something like washcloths (they would be thicker, but have much the same effect).
What are your favorite songs or rhymes to use with scarves? Do you have a special way you like to distribute or collect scarves in storytime?
— Abby Johnson, Youth Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN