Stories from India

This storytime can focus on India the country and culture, or it can be used for a more general theme of clothing, bedtime, folktales, or animals (monkeys, elephants, and tigers).

Welcome/Opening Activity:

Title: My Mother’s Sari
Author/Illustrator: Sandhya Rao; illustrated by Nina Sabnani
Publisher/Date: North South Books, 2006
Comments: This book is features a little girl awed by her mother’s sari and all its uses. This book can be a starting point for clothing or getting dressed storytime. For other tales, see this book that can be used to tell a story or make a flannelgraph (flannel story): Shower of Gold: Girls and Women in the Stories of India (Linnet Books, 1999) by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Maniam Selven. For a brief folktale or story, try page 19 in A Treasury of Asian Stories and Activities for Schools and Libraries (Alleyside Press, 1998) by Cathy Spagnoli, illustrated by Paramasivam and Michi Ukawa.

Title: Nine Animals and the Well
Author/Illustrator: James Rumford
Publisher/Date: Houghton Mifflin, 2003
Comments: This story is a folk tale about animals rushing to bring presents to the raja or king, and also explains the origin of written numbers. For another concept book, try Seven Blind Mice (Philomel Books, 1992) by Ed Young. This is an adaptation of the Indian fable, “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” Another book featuring an Indian fable is One Grain of Rice: a Mathematical Folktale (Scholastic Press, 1997) by Demi. Also try an easy nonfiction book, such as books about animals found in India (e.g., Elephants (Nature’s Children Series, Grolier, 2009) by Jen Green.

Title: Baya, Baya, Lulla-by-a
Author/Illustrator: Megan McDonald; illustrated by Vera Rosenberry
Publisher/Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2003
Comments: A mother sings her baby girl to sleep. At the same time, a bird weaves a nest. This story uses Hindi words, and would be a good starting point for bedtime stories.  Another book that might appeal to children is Excuse Me, Is this India? (Tara Books, 2004) by Anushka Ravishankar, illustrated by Anita Leutwiler. This book is out of print, so it may be more difficult to track down.

Storytelling/Oral History:

Fingerplay: 1-2-3-4-5
(can substitute catching a five for a monkey, elephant, or tiger)
1-2-3-4-5, I caught a five alive (clap 5 times and hug)
6-7-8-9-10 (clap 5 times)
I let it go again (let go)

Fingerplay: FIVE MONKEYS
Five little monkeys swinging on a tree
(fingers extended swing your hand back and forth)
Teasing Mr. Alligator, “can’t catch me, can’t catch me
(shaking your head, wag your finger like you’re saying “no, no”)
Along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be and
(say this in a whisper, making a SSSHHH motion, and weave hand and arm like a snake, or an alligator swimming in the water!)
(clap hands together like the mouth of an alligator)
Four little monkeys swinging on a tree…
Three little monkeys swinging on a tree…
Two little monkeys swinging on a tree…
One little monkey swinging on a tree…

Eeny, meeny, miney, mo (point to, or wiggle each finger)
Catch a tiger by the toe (catch a finger following the rhyme)
When he hollers let him go (roar, and let go of finger)
Eeny, meeny, miney, mo (point to, or wiggle each finger)

Fingerplay/Clapping song: MISS MARY MACK
(set a rhythm by clapping hands, then thighs/knees over and over)
Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack,
All dressed in black, black, black,
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons,
All down her back, back, back.
She asked her mother, mother, mother,
For fifteen cents, cents, cents,
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants,
Jump the fence, fence, fence.
They jumped so high, high, high,
They touched the sky, sky, sky,
And they didn’t come back, back, back,
‘Till the Fourth of July, Ly, Ly!
And they didn’t come down, down, down,
‘Till the Fourth of July.


Song: Hush, Little Baby
Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,
Mama’s going to buy you a mockingbird.
If that mockingbird won’t sing,
Mama’s going to buy you a diamond ring.
If that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s going to buy you a looking glass.
If that looking glass gets broke,
Mama’s going to buy you a billy goat.
If that billy goat won’t pull,
Mama’s going to buy you a cart and bull.
If that cart and bull turn over,
Mama’s going to buy you a dog named Rover.
If that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Mama’s going to buy you a horse and cart.
If that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.
So hush little baby, don’t you cry,
Daddy loves you and so do I.


For ideas, see this book: A Kid’s Guide to Asian American History: More than 70 Activities (A Kid’s Guide Series, Chicago Review Press, 2007) by Valerie Petrillo.

Games/Other Activities:
Activity/Stretch: MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO
(follow words with actions)
Monkey see and monkey do,(shade eyes, spread hands)
Monkey does the same as you. (point to children)
When you clap, clap, clap your hands
The monkey clap, clap, claps his hands

Monkey see and monkey do, (same as before)
Monkey does the same as you. (point)
When you stamp, stamp, stamp your feet,
The monkey stamp, stamps, stamps his feet,

Monkey see and monkey do, (same as before)
Monkey does the same as you. (point)
When you turn, turn, turn around
The monkey turn, turn, turns around,

Monkey see and monkey do,(same as before)
Monkey does the same as you. (point)
When you jump, jump, jump up high,
The monkey jump, jump, jumps up high.
Monkey see and monkey do. (shade eyes, spread hands)
Monkey does the same as you. (sit down)


Cut up bananas like a monkey or serve a small cupful of animal crackers

Peanuts like an elephant (check if children have nut allergies)

Water like a tiger and other animals (but put it in small cups for children)

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