Blogger Katie Salo

Opening & Closing Storytime

One of the best things that I’ve ever done for my storytimes is to create an opening and closing routine for both me and my patrons.

I love that using these routines gives us all structure and a sense of stability. More importantly, it helps reinforce how beneficial repetition is for early literacy, by repeating the same songs and activities every week.

Here’s what I do for each storytime:

Our "Storytime Rules" sign.
Our “Storytime Rules” sign.

Opening Routine:

  • Welcome Song: “Clap and Sing Hello!” (Tune: Farmer in the Dell)
  • Introduction & Announcements
  • Storytime Rules
  • Opening Song: “If You’re Ready for a Story” (Tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It)

What I especially enjoy abut this opening routine is that I’ve built in time for parents to arrive and come in without immediately expecting their children to settle down. By always introducing myself and going over storytime rules, no one feels left out if it’s their first time attending. And I really like having a time to tell parents about programming opportunities and other library changes as a group.

Closing Routine:

  • Song Cube
  • Goodbye Song: “We Wave Goodbye Like This” (Tune: Farmer in the Dell)
  • Clean-Up & Greet Puppet

Towards the end of storytime, the beginning of our routine serves to tell the kids that we are getting ready to say goodbye. I also like that the closing routine has a lot of personalization — choosing a song using the cube, greeting Applesauce (our storytime mascot) and having each child responsible for putting their seat cushion away. Also, each child has a chance to interact with me one-on-one as they tell Applesauce hello, as well as interacting with their peers by taking turns.

It took me a long time to come up with all the components of our routine and I’m always willing to try new ideas. What do you do in your storytime for opening and closing routines? Let me know in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library


  1. Jennifer

    We start all our storytimes with some kind of dancing music – usually Jim Gill, although I sometimes choose other dances with actions. In Preschool Interactive, I then make announcements, tell parents what our early literacy theme for the day is, and then we sing “the more we get together”. On the second verse (the more we read together) I sing all the kids’ names. I close all my storytimes and quite a few of my outreach visits at the daycare with Elizabeth Mitchell’s Sunny Day – I have my own actions for it.

  2. Becky

    I always found closing routines a little awkward with crafts. Sing a “goodbye song” and then “OK, now everyone gather to do a craft.” Or would it be, “everyone do your craft” and then sometime when a few of the kids have finished, let’s do our song?

  3. Katy

    Jennifer, I love Elizabeth Mitchell, but I’m not familiar with Sunny Day. I am definitely going to go look for that right now!

    Katie, I love the idea of the song cube, and I like how you present your storytime rules. I had not been presenting rules at all, but last week, I had three parents’ cell phones go off during my preschool storytime, so now I think I need to.

  4. Jennifer

    Katy, here’s a link to the actions I use plus a lovely utube stop-motion video of Sunny Day.

    Becky, we do art at every storytime. We don’t call it a goodbye song, but a “closing” song. It gets everyone calmed down (my storytimes are sometimes raucous) and the kids know that after we sing it, storytime is over and they get to go to the tables and do a project.

  5. Amy

    Great article! Could you post the words to your songs, or are they already posted somewhere? tia.

  6. Kelly Doolittle

    I just got back to my desk from Toddler Storytime and read this! I like your routine, Katy! My routine has changed a bit over the years, too & the one I have now seems to work really well: I start with nametags while greeting people at the door – I got that idea from one of these blogs – I’ll have to figure out which one because it is a blessing for me – I’m terrible with names! But the kid’s get to pick a (reusable and different colored) nametag and their “grownups” help them write their names in crayon. (Letter recognition!) I then pull out my guitar and as soon as I start strumming a quiet, gentle tune, everyone quiets down (it’s almost miraculous the effect the guitar has!) That helps me get through intro & announcements. Instead of reading rules, which is also an excellent idea, I do always say something to the effect of “if your child gets antsy or is not happy during storytime, it’s always O.K. to take a little break, go out in the library if you like, and try again later” and this works pretty well. I also encourage the grownups to participate if they can. Then they are modeling active listening and good storytime behavior! (Of course, I don’t tell them that!)
    Our first song is Raffi’s “Shake Your Sillies Out” and I hear the kids do this at home in anticipation of Storytime! My next quiet down routine is a yoga-type stretch called “the sun.” This also works really well to get toddlers to focus and settle down for our first book.
    We always end with “The More We Get Together” with all the verses. If I have a craft or “project” (which we do a lot,) I explain it before we sing our song. Then after, I just say, O.K., anyone who wants to do the project, come on up and have a seat at one of the tables. It seems to work fine. We also have an open room policy at our library which is VERY helpful. We keep the room open for a half hour after storytime & bring out toys and puppets for the kids and the caregivers just socialize like crazy! That is also in my announcements at the beginning, so the grownups get the idea to keep their visiting for the end of the program.
    Thanx for opening up the comments for sharing storytime routines! I love hearing how other folks do theirs and I get so excited about my own! It’s lovely to share!

  7. Bridget R. Wilson

    Here’s the opening I use:
    Opening Song: The Wheels on the Bus
    Movement Song: “Can’t Sit Still” by Greg & Steve
    Share Theme & any other announcements
    Listening Song: If You Want to Hear a Story.

    I close with Rob Reid’s rhyme “Wave Goodbye.”

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