By Children’s Librarian Shelley Harris
This week, I shared a video on using breathing to regulate your body when you’re feeling stressed or getting too excited on a fun day. A lot of the songs we sing and games we play in storytime help kids practice self-regulation: kids are following patterns in movement and song, and staying paced with the group even if they’re excited to be singing their favorites. That’s hard work!
Pairing rhymes and self-regulation is a natural fit. Rhymes offer built-in rhythm, which makes them easier to remember. Having a familiar calm down song or rhyme can help during moments of stress. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is a great example of a rhyming song with a calming rhythm.
Find rhymes, songs, breathing exercises, books, and more calming practices to try together below.
Watch these videos
In this video, Jenny and I share ways to use rhymes in self-regulation. You can use the pauses found naturally in poetry, or have comforting and regulating rhyming mantras that kids can use when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. What works for a child may not be what their caregiver needs, so it’s good to try a variety of tools.
Juanta and her daughter Yemi sing a really fun call and response song with great rhyme and rhythm! This is such a fun one to practice together.
Try these activities
- Shauna at PBS explains, “Self-regulation relates to the ability to pay attention to what is important, ignore distractions, follow through with rules and directions, make good choices when faced with challenges, and respond appropriately in social and academic situations. In a nutshell, self-regulation is the ability to stop, think and then act.” She offers seven wonderful rhythm and rhyme activities to practice self-regulation.
- Queensland, Australia’s education department has a wonderful guide with age-appropriate activities and rhythms for kids.
- Jenny and I love Mariam Gates’s yoga and breathing books.
- Kira Wiley is another wonderful author, with excellent breathing and mindfulness rhymes.
- Browse some poetry to share! Try some bedtime poetry (60 seconds or less!) written by some of the best in the field: Nikki Grimes, Jon Scieska, and more.
- This month and next, you also can call into Dial-A-Story at 708.816.2800 and listen to works from Emily Dickinson and Robert Louis Stevenson. Which do you find calming and which do you find exciting?
Shelley is a children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. She can often be found practicing storytime songs with her black lab, Bingo.