This paper proposes a nonparametric Bayesian method for exploratory data analysis and feature construction in continuous time series. Our method focuses on understanding shared features in a set of time series that exhibit significant individual variability. Our method builds on the framework of latent Diricihlet allocation (LDA) and its extension to hierarchical Dirichlet processes, which allows us to characterize each series as switching between latent ``topics'', where each topic is characterized as a distribution over ``words'' that specify the series dynamics. However, unlike standard applications of LDA, we discover the words as we learn the model. We apply this model to the task of tracking the physiological signals of premature infants; our model obtains clinically significant insights as well as useful features for supervised learning tasks.