Sharon Chastain
Children’s Librarian

Early Childhood Education Associates Degree
Bachelor of Education
Master’s of Library Science

website:  Maple Valley Library


 How Singing Enhances My Work:

"I've been working with children of all ages for going on 29 years.  First as a day care teacher, then as a K-8 teacher and finally as a children's librarian for 20 goofy years.  The work I do with children and their parents gives me great joy.  Connecting a child to just the right book, helping with that impossible homework question, or just making a preschooler laugh and sing along with a funny song are all shining moments in each day.  I do love my work!  

My young library patrons and I participate in the calculated expression of joy called story time pretty much on a daily basis. My story times are designed to be very interactive.  I want to hear my audience laughing, repeating phrases and, best of all… SINGING! Not to mention dancing and wiggling. There will be at least 6 interactive songs sprinkled throughout each 30 minute session. There are standard songs we use every time to provide structure and familiarity to story time. I have an opening song, a “we’ve reached the middle” song and a closing song. All other songs are there to add to the theme, enhance a story or just because they make us laugh. Each and every song provides an outlet for wiggles and noise so the songs work as a release valve for energy as well as being entertaining and brain boosting."



 The One Thing I want You to Know

"Don’t be shy about singing. Kids seem to naturally gravitate to music so why not gravitate right along with them? Hum a tune, chant a rhyme, sing a song, bond with a child. It’s powerful."

1.  Sticky Bubblegum
About the Song
: This is our halfway song for a couple of reasons. Kids love it and don’t mind hearing it every week and it involves a lot of movement and silliness. Half way through story time the kids need to get up and really move around and laugh. Sticky Bubblegum lets them do exactly that. It can be as long or as short as you need it to be by adding or removing movements (if the kids will let you).

Personal Comment:   This is by far my most requested song (taught to me years ago by the lovely Nancy Stewart!). I can try and leave it out of a story time but I get corrected by the audience if I do. Grown men and women sing it to me when we meet out in the world and say they learned it in story time as children! Now that’s learning that sticks. When my nephew came along he taught me a whole new level of goofiness to add to this song. Instead of just sticking to ourselves with our gooey gum we stick to the wall or a chair or the door (he has an endless supply of ideas). We laugh so hard doing this game/song that we can spend a whole hour just singing our heads off. Good times!

2.  Old MacDonald Had a Farm
About the Song
:  This classic song is so familiar to everyone that it’s easy for kids and parents to jump right in. It also allows for surprises. I use a flannel board for this sometimes or puppets and stuffed animals that I pull out of a bag. The surprises come when I toss in some unexpected things like a lion instead of a cat or a crocodile (because Old MacDonald lives in Florida with the crocs). Let your creativity run wild and surprise your singing partners. They’ll love it. When we’re done we’ll often look at the pile of animals and decide which ones belong and which ones do not. It’s great sorting practice.

Personal Comment:  When we’re sorting out what doesn’t belong on the farm I’m often surprised by what the kids think should or shouldn’t be there. Oddly many kids are firmly opposed to dogs on the farm but feel good about the T-Rex that showed up in the song. I go with the flow and we end up with a pretty good discussion about how we sorted the animals and why. Plus they keep giggling as we sort. Silly people.

3.  A-Hunting We Will Go
About the Song
: I like to use pictures paired with words for this song and within moments the kids will tell you excitedly that “this is a rhyming song!” I like people who can get really excited about discovering a rhyme. Life is good. We go hunting for a parrot and give him a carrot. Or a bear and give him a chair and if we’re feeling brave we’ll even comb his hair.

Personal Comment:  We’ve had many a discussion about what we can give the parrot that rhymes. I have a very determined little boy currently on a mission to find a word other than carrot that rhymes with parrot. We’re still waiting.

4.  Five Enormous Dinosaurs

About the Song: Math, dinosaurs, roaring and stomping. This song has it all! Pair it with pictures of a child’s favorite dinosaurs and you’ve got some lovely visual appeal to go along with all the other perks. You will also find yourselves stomping and roaring off and on throughout the day because this song has a catchy, stompy tune.

Personal Comment:   I made a flannel board to go with this song because it is one of my favorites and I’m willing to spend some time to create the pieces (totally not necessary to enjoy it though). Kids love it when they see the dinosaurs waiting on my story time table because they know something loud and active is coming their way.

5.  I've Been Working On The Railroad

About the Song: I pair this song with the book “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” by either Nadine Bernard Westcott or Ann Owen. I love books that sing! There is a lot of repetition in this that the kids can jump in on if they don’t know the whole thing. Everyone’s favorite part seems to be the “Fee, fie, fiddle-i-o” refrain. It’s nonsensical, sounds fabulous, and keeps the toes tapping.

Personal Comment: The reason this song resonates with me so deeply is because my mom sang it with me when I was little. When I first started working with preschoolers she excitedly said, “Do you remember this song...” and promptly sang the whole thing to me! I did remember and gave her a hug then had her teach it to me all the way through just to refresh my memory.