Blogger Katie Salo

Stretchy Band in Storytime

A blue patterned drawstring bag with a large multi-color fabric band -- "stretchy band" -- on a wooden desk.

Today’s installment of storytime props is the stretchy band in storytime. (Previous posts: Instruments in Storytime, Parachute in Storytime, Scarves in Storytime, and Egg Shakers in Storytime.)

I’d like to introduce you to my newest music and movement prop: the stretchy band!

A blue patterned drawstring bag with a large multi-color fabric band -- "stretchy band" -- on a wooden desk.
Stretchy band & drawstring bag. [Photo courtesy of the author.]
  1. What *is* a stretchy band? The easiest comparison is a really big hair scrunchie. It’s a fabric band with tubing on the inside that works like a rubber band. It’s a great tool for music and movement classes, as well as a sensory storytime.
  2. How do you take the stretchy band out? I have the kiddos and caregivers sit or stand in a circle and I pass out parts of the stretchy band from the center. This also works well for collecting the band. The great thing about the stretchy band is that it’s easier to clean up than a parachute. Comfortably, about thirty toddler/preschool children can use each of the bands at one time.
  3. How do you store the stretchy band? Both of my stretchy bands have come in a drawstring bag to store them in. Very easy to place on a shelf or in a drawer.
  4. Where did you get your stretchy band? Bear Paw Creek. Both of mine are the XL size and are latex-free. Being in a library environment, I wanted to be as inclusive as possible and that includes thinking of children who have allergies.
  5. Has your stretchy band held up over the years? Perfect! Hundreds of children have yanked on it all over and it’s in fantastic like-new condition.

Children sit on a purple rug, holding the multi-colored fabric rubber band (the stretchy band), with a pile of puppets in the middle of the circle.
Kiddos telling the book “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” by Jane Cabrera. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Great! We’ve got the basics covered and now it’s time to dive into how I use the stretchy band in storytime.

Telling a Story

I really enjoy using the stretchy band as a way to engage patrons while I’m telling a story or reading a book. Some of the books I’ve used in this way:

Row, Row, Row Your Boat by Jane Cabrera: The kids “rowed” the stretchy band while I tossed the animals we met in the story into the center of the stretchy band.
I Went Walking by Sue Williams: The kids held the stretchy band and walked in a circle. As they passed me, I held up a different puppet from this prop set.
Higher, Higher by Leslie Patricelli: Working as a team, the kids raised the stretchy band a little bit each page. This took some work to make sure that we didn’t go as high as we could immediately.
Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas: Everyone held the stretchy band as we went through the motions of the book. This helped my preschoolers stay in one area and not run into each other.

Rhymes & Songs

The stretchy band is another awesome opportunity to practice opposites: fast/slow, high/low, up/down, left/right, front/back, over/under, in/out. I will often do these with modified songs: “If you’re happy and you know it, shake it fast” followed by “If you’re happy and you know it, shake it slow”.

Some of my favorite rhymes and songs for opposites are: The Elevator Song, In and Out the Window, Roly Poly, Noble Duke of York.

And if you want to try a different version of “The Noble Duke of York” to de-centralize the conqueror/colonizer narrative, you can use this one I wrote:

The great big teddy bear,
Bear has thousand friends,
Bear marched them up to the top of hill
And marched them down again

And when you’re up, you’re up
And when you’re down, you’re down
And when you’re only halfway up,
You’re neither up nor down

I also love using the stretchy band with any music and songs that invite the kids to look at and identify colors. Some of my favorites for those are: These Are the Colors Over You, De Colores, and I Can Sing a Rainbow.

Children are gathered around a multi-colored fabric rubber band (stretchy band) and are pulling on it. Some children are in the middle of the circle.
Using a stretchy band at our music & movement storytime! [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Stetchy Band in Storytime & Recorded Music

Songs for Sitting Down
– Row, Row, Row Your Boat by Caspar Babypants (row the stretchy band)
– Wheels on the Bus by Mr. Jon & Friends (do the motions with the band)
– My Ups and Downs by Jim Gill (raise the band up and down)
– The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Caspar Babypants (raise the band up and down, go inside the band, come back out, raise the band up and down)
– The Shimmie Shake! by The Wiggles (shake the band)

Songs for Standing Up
– Wheels in the City by Laura Doherty (walk in a circle holding the band)
– Moving in a Circle by The Learning Groove (walk in a circle holding the band)
– In and Out (Take a Trip) by Laurie Berkner (go in and out of the band)
– Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes by Mr. Jon & Friends (hold the band and bring it your body parts)
– Take the Sun by Caspar Babypants (stretch up and down holding the band)

I hope this gives you some ideas for using the stretchy band and that you’ll consider adding it to your storytime repertoire. If you have any other ideas or tried and true practices, let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next time with either rhythm sticks or bean bags!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Coordinator
Glenview Public Library


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: III. Programming Skills.

One comment

  1. Lisa Shaia (Thrive After Three)

    I am always inspired by you–thanks for giving me another spark to keep going!

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