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Big Green Crocodile

Jane Newberry, illus. Carolina Rabei
Otter Barry Books
Age 0-3

This is a delightful book full of rhymes which are perfect for babies and toddlers. Each rhyme is beautifully illustrated. The writer has included useful ideas for engaging your child playfully with each of the rhymes so as well as our selection of these and additional suggestions do try out the other ideas in the book too. You will soon be adding new ideas of your own to have fun with the rhymes.

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Share the story

Read Aloud
This is a book to dip into you will develop your own favourite rhymes and as you and your child become familiar with them find yourselves saying them at different times and joining in the actions together.Have fun marching and roaring like a monster as you say the first verse of ‘Monster March!’

Bounce your child on your knee as you read ‘My Camel’ and ‘Hungry Horse.’
Let older children climb on your back for an exciting ‘Brontosaurus Ride.’
Wobble together as you say the ‘Wibble-Wobble Clown.’
Pick your child up and get ready for take off in ‘Moon Rocket.’
‘Fish Tales’ is lovely for bathtime and ‘Big Green Crocodile’, which ends with ‘I lay down beside him and slept until dawn’ is perfect for bedtime. 

As well as enjoying the rhymes spend time looking at the lovely illustrations together and talking about them.

Watch Jane Newberry perform the title poem

It was lovely to share some of the rhymes from ‘Big Green Crocodile’ by Jane Newberry. I looked at the book with Nancy aged 16 months. She prefers to be active so will not sit for long. I therefore found it easier to record some of the rhymes on my phone. This meant I could learn them off by heart and play them, singing along, while we were playing outside, or dancing along on my lap, or generally moving around.

Nancy loves being outside so the first rhyme we did was ‘Tap the tree’ We looked for a sturdy stick each and she loved holding a big stick. She thought it was hilarious when I started tapping the tree with my stick and sang the rhyme. Each time we went to the park or the woods I sang the rhyme to her and she soon learnt to tap the tree when I did so. This led to us looking for sticks to collect, and I was able to use this to develop her language skills by saying,’that ones a small stick, my stick is shorter/ thicker that yours, can you find a longer stick.’ Nancy loves posting things, so I gave her a box with various holes in and she spent a long time seeing which sticks would fit through which hole. We spent time feeling the bark of the trees, looking up at the branches and trying to climb them!

Another favourite rhyme is ‘Five Buzzy Bees’. I learnt the rhyme off by heart so I could do the actions at the same time as reciting it. A lot of the rhymes lend themselves to having Nancy on my lap. With this rhyme she sat on my lap, and I lifted her arms up and then down low, touched her head then her knees. When Nancy was more familiar with it, I said the rhyme as we danced around the room. We made headbands each and wore them as we danced, waving our arms and buzzing around. Nancy loves flap books or peek hole books, so I found some about bees which we looked at together. I talked about the pictures and Nancy enjoyed pointing and ‘naming’ things. In the garden and park, we looked at the flowers and saw and heard bees. I showed her how to keep her distance from the bees… to look and not touch. Nancy loved looking at the flowers and gently touching the petals. Again, it gave many opportunities for language development, naming the different colours and saying what the flowers felt like. We also noticed and watched other insects in the garden such as ants, flies and woodlice.

Nancy enjoyed ‘Tickle Beetle’ as she loves to be tickled, especially her toes. I used a small soft toy that looked like a cuddly insect, as I sang the rhyme. The toy ran around her tummy, jumped on her nose, ran down her leg and jumped up and down on her toes. Nancy held the toy and made it jump up and down on me as I sang the rhyme. We also used the toy to jump up and down on grandpa’s nose and tummy. We looked in the garden for insects amongst the grass and flowers. We collected bits of grass, leaves and petals in a small plastic container, and I put a ladybird in that we had found. We watched it together, and I let Nancy have it crawl on her hand. I showed her how to be gentle with it, and showed her how we must put it back in the garden after we have watched it for a while. We did some finger painting with red paint, making dots with our fingers. When it had dried we used black paint to add dots with a small brush. Nancy loves painting and mark making, but is too young to see we had made little ladybirds! She enjoyed the experience though. I sang other rhymes about insects such as ‘Ladybird, ladybird’ and ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ and Nancy enjoyed trying to join in the actions.

Another popular rhyme was ‘Hungry horse’. We sat together on the floor, and I sang the rhyme as Nancy and I played percussion instruments. Nancy loves playing music and has a variety of instruments including bongo drums. We played the rhythm faster and faster, then slower and slower. I followed Nancys lead as she led the speed of the beats. When she stopped playing, I stopped and when she started again, I started. Nancy was full of laughter as she controlled what I did. We played the beats on a xylophone, tambourine, chime bar and wood block. We also had two old coconut shell halves, used before for bird food, and clip clopped those together, dancing around the room as we did so.

Things to make and do

Out and About
Look out for bees when you say, ‘Buzzy Bee’ and beetles when you have shared ‘Tickle Beetle.’
Lie on the grass to look at the sky for some ‘Plane Spotting.’
Find a stick to ‘Tap the Tree.’

Indoors
Bake some cakes together in case ‘The Queen Comes to Tea.’
Play with a toy fish in the bath or a paddling pool when you say, ‘Fish Tales.’
Finger paint some ‘Spots and Stripes.’ or ladybirds for ‘Tickle Beetle.’
A cardboard box can make a great imaginary rocket for ‘Moon Rocket.’
Use percussion instruments or a wooden spoon and a saucepan to beat the rhythm of different rhymes such as ‘Hungry Horse.’

Find out More

Share more books by Jane Newberry
Sackful of Songs
A Sackful of Christmas

For more original rhymes see A Great Big Cuddle by Michael Rosen illustrated by Chris Riddell.