Below are some ideas for Backwards Day program, that would be especially good for libraries that attract younger children (ages 3-8) to their programs. Before the program, prepare the room by turning as many objects as possible upside down, backwards or inside out. Advertise that the kids should come wearing clothing backwards. Wear your own clothing or hair in some wacky way.
- “Good-bye. Come again soon!” – Walk in backwards!
- Shut Them, Open Them.
- Ask the children to identify everything in the room that is backwards, inside out, or upside down. That includes what they are wearing, too.
Flannel or Poem:
- “If Grannies Were Cats” by Leigh Rutledge from “If People Were Cats.”
- DOGZILLA by Dav Pilkey.
- THE STUPIDS DIE by Harry Allard.
- “Two Little Blackbirds” by Rob Reid from “Family Storytime.”
- “Fractured Nursery Rhymes” by Bruce Lansky.
- BIRTHDAY HAPPY, CONTRARY MARY by Anita Jeram.
- SILLY SALLY by Audrey Wood.
- Simon Says Opposites. Do the opposite of what “It” says when It says “Simon Says.”
- “Backwards Bill” by Shel Silverstein.
- Wacky Animal Craft.
Cut in half pictures of animals from magazines. Ask the children to create wacky animals by pasting different halves together on top of construction paper. Ask the kids to name their new animals, too, e.g., frogalope.
- Backwards Slow Mosey. Before the program starts, place 2 strips of masking tape on the floor for the starting line and finish line. Put the finish line close to the door. Tell the children that they are to line up with their backs to the finish line and when you give a signal, they will start walking backwards, toe to heel with each step, as slowly as possible. The winner of this mosey is the LAST person to reach the finish line. They do not have to travel in a straight line to the finish. They could walk to the window, then to pick up their craft, etc. Give the winner the leftover fixings for more wacky animal crafts.
- ‘Hi! So good to see you! How nice of you to come!” I also had the children enter the room backwards and wear their clothing upside down.
Other books to use:
- Foolish Frog.
- Bread and Honey (Flannelboard) from book by Frank Asch.
- Pig’s Picnic (Kasza).
- Cow that Went Oink.
- Tangle Town (Cyrus).
- Imogene’s Antlers (Small).
- Draw and Tell by Thompson, the story William and Warble has to be turned upside down at the end so you can see what hatched from the egg.
Backwards and Upside Down Storytime Books:
- Brouillard. Three Topsy-Turvy Tales.
- Carle. Mixed Up Chameleon.
- Denim. Make Way for Dumb Bunnies.
- Do Your Ears Hang Low?
- Hort. Seals on the Bus.
- Jeram. Contrary Mary.
- Johnson. Who’s Upside Down?
- Jonas. Round Trip.
- Kasza. Pigs’ Picnic.
- King. Henry and Amy.
- Lobel. Turnaround Wind.
- Most. The Cow That Went Oink.
- Munro. Inside Outside Book of Libraries.
- Raschka. Yo! Yes? (read backwards)
- Root . Turnover Tuesday.
- Sewell. The World Turned Upside Down.
- Simon. Topsy-Turvies.
- Small. Imogene’s Antlers.
- Stevens. Tops and Bottoms.
- Wood. Silly Sally (big book).
Fingerplays / Action Rhymes:
- “Backward Town” The folks who live in backward town Are inside out and upside down. They wear their hats inside their heads And go to sleep beneath their beds. They only eat the apple peeling And take their walks across the ceiling. (from The Llama Who Had No Pajama by Mary Ann Hoberman–p45).
- “Get Very Big, Get Very Small” Get very big, get very small, Spin in a circle but try not to fall. Do a dance across the floor. Close your eyes and count to four. Spread your feet, look upside down. Make a silly face and act like a clown. Hop like a bunny, flap like a bird, Quiet as a mouse now…Don’t say a word. Lean to the Front Lean to the front, lean to the back, Stand up, sit down, clap, clap, clap. Lean to the left, lean to the right, Stand up, sit down, say “Good night!” Lean toward the window, lean toward the door, Stand up, sit down, give a big “SNORE!”
- “Put Your Thumb in the Air” (tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It): Put your thumb in the air, in the air. Stick your stomach out to here, out to here Put your thumb in the air, in the air. Stick your stomach out to here, out to here.
- Change the room arrangement around.
- Have the kids walk into the storytime area backwards.
- Read a book backwards (if you can).
- Write the kids’ names on a nametag backwards and stick it to their backs.
- Coming into the story room and saying “Good-bye everyone!” “Hello!” when leaving.
- Telling a simple story (Goldilocks, Red Riding Hood) in reverse order (“Once upon a time, Goldilocks jumped out of the window, away from the three bears).
- Wear clothes backwards or inside out. Encourage parents, kids and staff to do so too.
- Start with your closing song/end with your opening song.
- Pick up a book and start reading it and then tell them that you’ve changed your mind and start a different book. (Make sure to tell everyone before you get started that if they have never been to storytime before, this in not the way we usually do things.)