Guest Blogger

Bubbly Adventures in Storytime

How to Use a Bubble Machine to Stimulate Free Play & Movement

As a children’s librarian, my job of modeling play is just as significant as modeling reading and singing. So, as I was looking to revamp my toddler storytime last winter, I thought to myself, how do I make play a more prominent part of my storytimes? I’d done scarves and shakers, felt board activities, and the parachute, but I hadn’t done bubbles. I was always convinced that bubbles wouldn’t work in storytime: too messy, too hard to talk or sing while blowing – you know how the excuses pile up when you are intimidated by adding a new prop to your storytime routine! However, I decided to troubleshoot and looked at my other options. The answer? A bubble machine that would blow the bubbles itself with the press of a button!

Bubble MachineI have found that the bubble machine creates all sorts of happiness in my storytimes. It gives children a fun sensory experience and a chance to play together at the beginning of storytime – as opposed to just the end – along with breaking down the initial shyness among the group. I even wrote a new “hello” song, The Bubble Wiggle Jiggle, to use with the bubble machine at the start of my storytimes, which quickly became a hit. (You can find the lyrics on my blog.)

Bubbles in storytime (photo courtesy of guest blogger)
Bubbles in storytime (photo courtesy of guest blogger)

You may be thinking, how could you possibly get children wound up and running around at the beginning of storytime, and then settle them down to hear a story? The answer: transitions, transitions, transitions. The magic lies in carefully planned transitions. For example, I tell children we’re going to count to five and then put the bubble machine away, but it will come back out and play again at the end of storytime. After the count of five, I sing a little song you might know, “everybody have a seat on the floor…” and then we do a listening activity called “give me five”. By this time, mostly everyone has transitioned into listening mode and are ready to hear the very first story.

Later, at the end of storytime, the bubble machine provides an amazing open-ended play experience. I refer to these bubbles as our “goodbye” bubbles. This time, I just put on a music CD and walk around the room holding the bubble machine up high. Bubbles float everywhere. The toddlers waddle after me and the parents sit back and relax –many get their phones out for pictures! The bubble machine gets everyone up and moving, creating a great opportunity for a little bit of exercise and a release for all that toddler energy!


Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Today’s Guest Blogger is April Lee. April currently runs a blog, Get Curious, Get Creative @ Your Library, which is focused on children’s services in public libraries.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at

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