It should be stated that I often use movement and various techniques to further engage children when sharing stories aloud. Children and parents quickly learn to repeat the actions I demonstrate and play along, otherwise known as modelling. One recent reminder of the influence of modelling in young children, and the extent to which one is being scrutinized was when, as sneezing during a read aloud, all of the children repeated this unrelated action!
This is not to say sneezing doesn't have its place in storytime. I encourage hygenic practices by inserting a sleeve covered pseudo sneeze while reading about the poor little baby with sneezes and chills in, "Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes" by Mem Fox. This sweet yet not overly sentimental book about the similarities of babies around the world is a rhythmic pleasure to read aloud with the most darling of illustrations.
I also add a sneezing extension to the song, "Five Little Monkeys Swinging from a Tree." Some might view this as slightly p.c., but my take is that it provides theatrical closure as well as another opportunity to practice one to one counting correspondence. I learned this trick from a children's librarian (and fellow vegetarian) while doing my library school practicum at the Grandview Heights Public Library in Columbus, Ohio. The song goes:
Five little monkeys swinging from a tree
Teasing Mr. Crocodile, "Can't catch me!"
Along comes Mr. Crocodile, as quiet as can be
And he SNAPS that Monkey right out of the tree!
Repeat with four, three, two, one
Here's an example of the song, complete with actions, courtesy of Mr. Mike.
After singing the last stanza, I note that there are no more monkeys left. The concept of zero is rather advanced for young ones, and something they might not fully grasp until age three or four. I make a zero with a hands, discussing how this means no more, all gone, nothing left etc.
But as it turns out, Mr. Crocodile is allergic to monkeys! Achoo! One monkey comes back. Achoo! Two monkeys... and so on, until all of the five little monkeys have reappeared for the next time we sing our song.