M is for Melody Musical Storytime

Updated: Jun 27, 2018

A chime, our maraca craft, a "zither," and a "drum."

This storytime is best suited for big kids, as it introduces several concepts of musical theory. We had kids from 8-12 and they seemed to have the right background knowledge, but were still young enough where they were still pleasantly surprised. This storytime is a bit odd because you actually spend more time on the activities than reading, so this can work for a general youth-YA program on music.

I highly recommend having an assistant for this one, so one person can read the book while the other readies the videos and slides!

Book 1: M is for Melody by Kathy-jo Wargin

This is not a story, but an alphabet book that prevents one or two musical facts for each letter. Some of the concepts are difficult like meter and syncopation, so I didn't go too into detail on those. I read just the black text on the pictures, but students can read the white text if they are interested in learning more.

After reading each page, I showed them the corresponding slide which included either a picture, video/sound clip, or directions for an activity. Here are some examples:

A is for Anthem - Talk about the Star Spangled Banner and show them a clip of Beyonce singing it. Then, put up a flag and have them practice standing for the National Anthem.

C is for Conductor - Play a clip of Bugs Bunny "conducting" an orchestra.

F is for Folk Song - I played a video of Bob Dylan performing Blowing in the Wind. They were surprised he could play guitar and harmonica at the same time.

G is for Guitar - First, show them pictures of different types of guitars. I included a double neck guitar for mystery, then showed them a video of Jimmy Page playing one.

H is for Harmony - I was surprised by how good one of our boys was at this! Sing a note then have a child or two try to harmonize with you. If someone messes up, you are demonstrating clashing notes!

N is for Note: Go over the music staff (Every Good Boy Does Fine for lines, FACE for spaces), then show them a video that demonstrates how each note sounds different.

P is for Percussion: Repeat after me game - pass a drum (or in my case, a tin can) around the group and have each person play a beat on the drum. After each turn, have the rest of the circle mimic the beat by clapping against their thighs, the ground, or table.

Q is for Quartet: I played a video of a string quartet (one guy playing "Come on Eileen"), then I showed them a barbershop quartet. This helped us review our discussion of harmony earlier.

R is for Rhythm: I played "We Will Rock You" and we stomped and clapped to rhythm up until the end of the chorus (which they knew, so we sang)!

R is for Ragtime: This video of a pianist cover Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag is great because you can see hammers bouncing around!

T is for Tempo: Show them a metronome and how the tempo gets faster the more beats per minute there are. I used Google's online metronome. Have them clap or stomp along to the different tempos.Then, have the kids set it at different speeds and play...

Tempo I-Spy

Rules: Each person gets a turn to spy.

The spyer sets the tempo of the metronome.

The spyer must say what they spy to the tempo.

Every guess must also be said to the tempo. It's not right if it's not in tempo!

This game is so much fun because you are usually speaking either really slow (like Dory mimicking a whale) or super faster! The kids kept wanting to do more rounds (and a few kids who weren't playing wandered over to join us when they heard.)

V is for Voice: Do some vocal warm-ups with the group. We used this video.

Y is for Yodel: Play the Walmart Yodeling Kid video. This boy is adorable. Some of the kids had already seen it before and they showed me a video of a group dancing to a remix.

After Activity: Instrument Families Matching Game

Have the kids practice sorting several different musical instruments into one of the four orchestra families: brass, percussion, woodwind, and strings. We used the flashcards I made, which are available on my TPT store here (a free clipart set is included too)! You can have kids practice this independently, in small groups, or with the whole "class" by posting the different family names around the room. Give each child a card and have them walk to the corner of the room that represents the family they think they belong to. If you have time, have kids explain why they think their instrument belongs in that family. The saxophone and piano are tricky ones!

*Spanish Section: Counting 1-10

This may seem unrelated, but I am incorporating Spanish into a few of my storytimes to help train a future ESL teacher. To lead into this, we talked about how musicians often count while they play to keep track of the tempo.

I put up a slide with the English and Spanish for each number and we went through.

Book 2: Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss

This is a simple story we used to practice our numbers. Keep the slide up while you read, or take it down if you really want to challenge them. As you read each new number in English, have the group call out the Spanish equivalent.

After Activity: Spanish #'s Review Song & Games

I got this idea from my favorite kid's show of all time, Sesame Street. Tell the kids that if you put your hand on their heads, they must sing the next number.

Duck, Duck, Uno: Have one player walk around the circle and tap heads as normal, calling out "duck" for each. When they come to the goose, have them shout a Spanish number instead. The goose must shout out the number BEFORE that number, or else they are it!

Craft: Make your own Maracas!

We did not do this as I knew there wouldn't be time, but this is a cute craft for pretty much any Libraries Rock! theme you may do.


- Plastic Easter eggs

- Regular or double-sided clear tape

- Beads, rice, sprinkles, or other small filler

- Plastic spoons (most require 2 per maraca, but mine fit perfectly)

- Optional: Washi Tape

- Optional: Stickers, markers, other decorations


- Have each child choose two plastic eggs (you can mismatch the two sides to make them more maraca-like.

- Fill each egg with a small amount of filler. You can use different types of filler in each egg to make different sounds.

- Bring each child a plastic spoon or two, depending on how your fit with the egg.

- Using clear tape, tape a filled egg to each spoon. You want to make sure the curve of the egg lines up with the curve of the spoon. You may need to put the egg upside down.

- Wrap washi tape around the center of the egg and back of the spoon.

- Decorate and label with names if desired!