“Story stretches are storytelling candy… delicious fun in one quick bite.” – Naomi Baltuck

Part IV:  Story Stretches (Transitions)

Stories demand focus.  Storytime transitions, also called story stretches or brain breaks, occur in between stories.  They engage your listeners in different ways than reading aloud.  These treats offer children a respite from listening and allow them to “stretch their legs” after a book.  Story stretches for children often combine the three R’s (rhythm, rhyme & repetition) with participation and imaginative movement.  There are many different types of story stretches you can add to your repertoire:

  • Fingerplays.  Fingerplays are the most popular kind of story stretch for children.  They have the additional physical development benefit of offering children a chance to practice fine motor skills.
  • Sing-alongs.  Songs work well as story stretches when they include participation.  Examples include echo songs and call & response songs.  If you’re so inclined, search popular children’s music to find them.
  • Participation Stories.  Participation stories are story games you play with kids. They often include movement and vocal responses.  Examples include board stories, story songs, string stories, stories told in the oral tradition, chants and poems.

Benefits:  There are lots of benefits of using story stretches:

  • cognitive undersandingthey allow children to release pent-up energy
  • they’re little “brain breaks”
  • they build rapport
  • they lighten the mood
  • language development
  • cognitive development (they often teach children about a key concept)
  • physical development (fine and gross motor skill practice)
  • musical development

Story stretches can be used in many different ways:

  • preparing to listen
  • warming up / stretching
  • shaking it out (releasing energy)
  • sitting down
  • passing out instruments or props
  • putting away instruments or props

A great story stretch is your best friend.  You can always turn to it.  It will help you get kids and your program back on track.

Let’s prepare for a smooth LandingNEXT



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Philadelphia Chickens – an imaginary musical comedy revue (in the form of a picture book)

th-26Infectious showtunes performed by an all-star cast playing original Boynton characters in an imaginary musical revue.

Bibliographic Info:  Boynton, Sandra  Philadelphia Chickens Workman Publishing (2002) 64pp  $16.95  Formats:  Hardcover with CD, ISBN:  978-0761126362  Interest Level: preK-grade 3  Genre: Song, Comedy and Humor  Themes: Music, Animals, Dance

Summary:  Philadelphia Chickens is a songbook with CD that includes 17 1/2 illustrated story-poems by Sandra Boynton.  Composer Michael Ford, who also composed Boynton’s Rhinoceros Tap, transforms these story-poems into original songs performed by many well-known actors, including Patti LuPone, Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Laura Linney, Eric Stoltz and Scott Bakula.

StorytimeWow_FinalLogo-1Philadelphia Chickens was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on May 8th, 2015 and has been selected for the PictureBookWOW collection at

th-27Review:  Philadelphia Chickens is a wacky, hilarious and toe-tapping musical show in a picture book. The piece is more than a book, it’s an event.  Infectious showtunes are performed by an all-star cast who play original Boynton characters in an imaginary musical revue.  Standout numbers include “Cows”, “Pig Island”, “Snuggle Puppy” and “Be Like a Duck”.  The cast of childlike animal personalities appeal to kids of all ages.  As always, Boynton’s colorful hand-drawn illustrations are full of visually expressive humor and emotion.

Storytime:  th-28 Storytime is a great occassion and opportunity to share Philadelphia Chickens with groups of children.  They will love it.  Choose one story-poem/song to include in your weekly program throughout a Philadelphia Chickens-storytime sing-along series that lasts three months.  In these storytimes, package and introduce the sing-along series and project your chosen story poem’s illustrations and lyrics onto a big screen to create a hilarious, enjoyable, toe-tapping and highly engaging sing-along story group experience.

Awards:  Grammy nominee. #1 New York Times bestseller, Recording Industry Association of America Platinum album.

Read-alikesBlue Moo by Sandra Boynton, Frog Trouble by Sandra Boynton, Dog Train by Sandra Boynton, Rhinocerous Tap by Sandra Boynton,

Links:  author’s website, Amazon

Bio (from  Sandra Boynton is a popular American cartoonist, children’s author, songwriter, producer, and director. Since 1974, Boynton has written and illustrated over fifty children’s books and seven general audience books, including five New York Times Bestsellers. More than 60 million of her books have been sold–“mostly to friends and family,” she says. She has also written (with Michael Ford) and produced five albums of renegade children’s music. Three of her five albums have been certified Gold [over 500,000 copies sold] and “Philadelphia Chickens,” nominated for a Grammy, has been certified Platinum [over 1 million copies sold.] Boynton has also directed six music videos of her songs, including the award-winning “One Shoe Blues” starring B B King. She lives in rural New England, and her studio is in a barn with perhaps the only hippopotamus weathervane in America.

Reviews:  Common Sense Media, Goodreads

I chose to review this musical in a picture book because it’s full of Sandra Boynton’s unique brand of humor and comedic characters.  And moreover, storytime deserves more showstoppers.

3Make Reading More Fun

Written by Tom Schween

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