Join our Team!! Become a Joint Chief

Hello friends! We are looking for more Joint Chiefs to help us run things here at the Storytime Underground website, as well as over on the Facebook page.  If you think you might be interested, here’s some more information.

 

To be a Joint Chief:

 

-you must believe in our mission to support each other,  promote each other, and train each other.

 

-you must be passionate about early literacy

 

-you do NOT need to be a librarian or even currently working in a library!

 

-you need access to the web and the ability to dedicate a couple of hours a week, minimum

 

-you do NOT need to be a member of ALA, or any other organization

 

-you will have something awesome to put on your resume

 

-you will make new friends!

 

Sound like something you would like to be involved with? 

 

Email us at storytimeunderground at gmail dot com with answers to the following questions and your contact information. EMAIL NO LATER THAN JULY 7TH.

 

Why are you interested in becoming a Joint Chief?

 

Why do you think you would be a great addition to our team?

 

Contact information, including name, contact email, a little about your work in regards to early literacy.

 

 

 

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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Preschool Storytime Newbie

If you have anything to add to this week’s answers, please share in the comments.

ask-a-storytime-ninja-badge

The Question:

 

I am doing a Preschool Story Time for the first time at my library soon, (I’ve always done Toddler and Family story times.) I’m wondering how to gear it differently for preschoolers and what things I should make sure to touch on for them, ie early literacy statements, things to point out about the books, songs, etc. Any suggestions?

 

The Answers:

 

From Nancy:

 

I love preschool storytime! I prefer to have caregivers in the room to help with behavior, but I ask them to sit in a semi-circle (in chairs) behind the kiddos and me because storytime offers a great opportunity for preschoolers to get their social skills ready before kindergarten–taking turns, waiting to speak, etc. Unlike storytimes for younger kids and babies, I do not interject commentary on why I chose a book or how this action song reinforces one of the Five Practices of ECRR2. I let the storytime flow but I am always thinking of how I can engage the preschoolers to take turns, predict what happens next in the story or work together to finish a cumulative rhyme or activitiy. Each week, I create a flyer (just a half sheet of paper) with homework for the kids and their caregivers.  One side has a 2 or 3 sentence summary of what we did that week (theme, book titles, songs). Then I explain how we incorporated one of the Five Practices (ECRR2). At the bottom of the caregiver side, I offer suggestions for fun or unusual things to do at home to reinforce that week’s practice (reading, writing, singing, playing, or talking). On the back of the homework sheet, I add a line art image that ties to the theme for the preschoolers to color and I add the theme word in dotted lines on writing practice lines for them to trace the letters (I use this website: http://bit.ly/1pRRfXy but there are a number of free sites to choose from). I wasn’t prepared for all the kids returning their completed “homework” the next week–so I now make sure to have stickers or our “I visited the library” hand stamp ready and waiting.

 

Though it’s true for toddlers too, I especially like gross motor activities for preschoolers because being physical helps cement the information in their brains (learned that from an occupational therapist years ago). So things like introducing the letter of the week then having them stand to draw the letter giant-sized in the air (like they do in Super Why) is appropriate. I like to narrate that and tell them that “A” starts at the ceiling over my head then comes down to my left foot, then goes back over my head and comes down to my right foot, then “A” gets a belt right in the middle. You get the idea!  I like making “Alphabet Soup” too–I let the gang pick a magnetic letter (or you could use laminated letters) as they enter the room. Then I tell them I love alphabet soup with vegetables (I put play veggies in a cheap witch’s cauldron) and lots of letters. As we sing the alphabet song slowly, they identify their letters and drop them in the soup pot.  We stir and stir then let it simmer for 2 books. After book 2, I pull out felt letters that spell out the theme (we put them in order on the flannel board, sound them out then say the word).  Using black letters in the pot is great–they blend in and the kids think the pot is magic! I like this trick as they have to keep track of how many books we’ve read and they remind me it’s time to check the soup; they have to wait for a result; and we get some phonics fun in our program.

 

Basically, the examples are to let you know that you can create a simple yet sophisticated storytime that meets the needs of the preschoolers without being preachy or boring. Use your imagination to think of what a preschooler will need before kindergarten then package it as fun with lots of opportunities for movement and you’re good to go!

 

From Lindsey:

 

I also love preschool story time! My age range is 3-5 for this group and we have so much fun! I like to choose normally 3 books that allow these kiddos to think. I try to choose books that teach a certain lesson, like being generous, helpful, kind, ect. They like to think about that kind of thing and parents love it, too, as it gives them a great teaching opportunity to expand on at home. I also use this opportunity to use wordless books. Their imaginations are so active! They really love interactive books as well, so I try to choose those when I can!
As far as activities go, I do a lot of painting/art with this group. They have wonderful imaginations and I love to allow them to explore and do things they might not get to do at home. I don’t usually sing or do flannel boards because we do more craft type activities afterwards, but I’m sure there will be great suggestions for songs and things!

With preschoolers, I find them to be like mini adults. I love having conversations with them and interacting with them one on one. I like to provide extension activities for parents to do with their children at home after story time, as well. Whether it’s a book list of books related to what we talked about during story time, a list of activities they can do for a special prize, ect, they love it! You will LOVE preschool story time!

 

From Chrissie:

 

If you love interaction with children, you are going to LOVE preschool storyime! Depending on what the ages of the children are, they may be very chatty. Children of this age like to tell you everything that is going on in their lives! Ask questions and encourage discussion!  For example, if you are reading a story about pets you can ask the children if anyone has a pet at home. How do you take care of your pet? It helps introduce the story, but also helps children relate to the story by developing reading skills at the same time.

 

Personally, I do not provide any kind of early literacy tip or ECRR2 information. Parents are already on information overload and I don’t like storytime to feel too much like school for children or adults….if you decide to include adults in your preschool storyime. In the last few years I stopped doing storytime for 3-5 year-olds, because honestly, there is a big difference in learning abilities between a three year-old and a five year-old. I started pairing 2&3 year-olds and 4&5 year-olds together- it is just what worked for my library at the time. For the younger group, I would have parents come down to storytime for obvious reasons, but the older children I would have come down by themselves. It helped some children get used to the idea of being away from a parent for school readiness. Also, I didn’t feel as though I was being judged by the parents as much when it was just the children in the room. (And a good portion of the time, I spent quieting the parents from their side chatter.)  It’s all about what you are comfortable with!

 

Definitely include some of the aspects you are doing in your other storytimes. Older preschoolers still like music and movement, plus you can also play simple games with them. I am a big fan of Yo Gabba Gabba’s Freeze Game- music, movement and a game! A simple game of hot potato will easily please them, too. They will also like many of the rhymes you do for other groups.  One thing I have always liked doing is putting out the puppets and other props for the children to play with after storytime is over. It gives the children a chance to use their imagination to either re-tell a rhyme or story or create one of their own!

 

I found the best way for me to get ideas about an age group I have never worked with is to see another librarian in action. If you are able to, visit a library close to yours and see how that librarian does storytime. Sometimes a visual is all you need!

 

Just remember, if something doesn’t work out the first time you try it in storytime, you can always change things for the following week!

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Storytime Underground Community Survey

Please help us out by taking this quick, 10 question survey (about 5 minutes). We want to learn more about you all in our storytiming community as well as how you use Storytime Underground. Thanks in advance for your time!

 

 

Create your own user feedback survey

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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Opening Songs for Baby, Toddler and PreK Storytime

Here’s our newest Lightning Round question! These questions are posed to all of our ninjas instead of just our featured monthly ones and are meant to be quick and efficient responses to some interesting inquiries. Here’s our question for this week:

 

lighnting_round

 

The Question:

 

“”What are good songs or chants for hello and goodbye songs for the following age groups:
Lapsit – 2 months to 18 months
Toddler Time – 18 months to 3 years
Story Hour – 3 years to 5 years”

 

The Answers:

 

From Michelle M. (@mmlibrarian):

 

My song choices are for Lapsit and Toddler Time: Hello Everyone
 
Hello Everyone, and how are you? How are you? How are you? (wave baby’s hand)
Hello everyone and how are you? How are you today?
I am fine, I am fine and I hope that you are too (point to self and then point to child).

 

From Soraya S. (@vivalosbooks):

 
I mostly do all age, family storytimes but I think these would work for 3-5 for sure and probably toddler as well:
 
Hello Song in Sign Language
I learned this from Jbrary and love it! Here’s the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLcw3Y8sV0xpuV8woqMSnY2MpjuYfPERja&v=tKCGF2hvq3I
Hello Song
 
And then we do a wake up song with Jim Gill’s Can’t Wait to Celebrate

 

From Jaime C.:

 

For babytime I use three songs, all from Mother Goose on the Loose by Besty Cohent Diamond:
 
Hello Everybody:
Hello everybody yes indeed, yes indeed, yes indeed (wave baby’s hands)
Hello everybody yes indeed, yes indeed my darling (wave baby’s hands)
 
Clap Clap Clap Your Hands:
Clap, clap, clap your hands, clap your hands together (clap baby’s hands x2)
Stomp, stomp, stomp your feet, stomp your feet together (stomp baby’s feet x2)
Wave, wave, wave your arms, wave your arms together (wave baby’s hands x2)
Nod, nod, nod your head, nod your head together (I normally recommend kind of bobbing with baby x2)
Sway, sway, sway and sway together (sway with baby x2)
 
See My Fingers Dance and Play:
See my fingers dance and play, fingers dance for me today (wiggle baby’s fingers)
See my ten toes dance and play, ten toes dance for me today (wiggle baby’s toes)
 
For toddler time I use two songs and one fingerplay:
 
Shake Your Sillies Out by Jim Gill
These Are My Glasses by Laurie Berkner
I Wiggle My Fingers Fingerplay:
I wiggle my fingers,
I wiggle my toes,
I wiggle my shoulders,
I wiggle my nose.
Now no more wiggles
Are left in me,
So I can sit as still as can be.
 
Have any songs you use that weren’t listed? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Endangered Animals & Tigers Storytime

This is our first Lightning Round of the month! These questions are posed to all of our ninjas instead of just our featured monthly ones and are meant to be quick and efficient responses to some interesting inquiries. Here’s our question for this week:

 

lighnting_round

 

The Question:

 

“Do you have any book recommendations for an endangered animals storytime for 3 – 6 year olds? Especially ones featuring tigers?”

 

The Answers:

 

From Natasha F.C. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Natasha-Forrester-Librarian/201079469997932):

 

Two of my favorite tiger books are It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle and Augustus and His Smile by Catherine Rayner. It’s a Tiger would be great for talking about how people are scared of tigers which can make them more likely to not worry about them, and Augustus and His Smile revels in the natural world, including Augustus taking a swim.

 

It could also be fun to use a book like Actual Size and pick out animals that are endangered (some gorillas, some crocodiles, etc.).

 

From Michelle M. (@mmlibrarian):

 

I like It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle.

 

From Bridget W. (@bridgetrwilson, http://whatisbridgetreading.blogspot.com/):

 

Moon Bear by Barbara Guiberson
Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals by Steve Jenkins
The race to save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose
Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins
Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney
Little Mist by Angela McAllister (features red pandas, snow leopards, & moon bears)

 

Once a Mouse by Marcia Brown
It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle
Read to Tiger by S. J. Fore
Conejito by Margaret Read MacDonald

 

From Sue J.:

 

Eric Carle’s Panda Bear, Panda Bear, what do you see?

 

Thanks for all the great responses everyone! Do you have any of your own? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Energizing a Small Group

This week we have answers from both our May ninjas and our June ninjas! Sort of a happy mistake on my part (I blame it entirely on Summer Reading!!!). Enjoy the additional responses!

 

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The Question:

 

I have a preschool storytime for 3- to 5- year-olds that sometimes only has 4 participants. When the numbers are that low, I am really challenged to inject energy into the extension activities, which tend to fizzle out. I don’t want to just add another book to fill the time. Any suggestions?

 

Some more clarification for this question:

Extension activities: scarves, shakers, parachute; wiggles song/dance. They like having something in their hands, as opposed to following motions.

By “fizzle out”, it just seems that they feed off of each other’s “boredom”, if I can put it that way.

 

The Answers:

 

From Nancy:

 

Nothing takes the wind out of my enthusiastic sails than a small, quiet group.  Using manipulatives like scarves, shakers and bean bags is a great way to get the kids’ minds off being self-conscious…usually.  When a group is shy or quiet, I like to make the activities interactive, like playing Kimbo’s “Pass the Bean Bag” from their Bean Bag Activities CD.  To make the group feel more empowered, maybe having a pair of dice that they roll which determines which song and what manipulatives they use would work, too.

 

Playing simple games is an option when music fails (don’t forget, playing is one of ECRR2’s 5 Practices!). One preschool group I had loved playing “Red Rover, Red Rover” under the parachute, which can be done with as few as 4 kids. If you don’t know names, just calling out “Red Rover, Red Rover, let someone in a blue shirt come over!” (or another distinguishing feature) works; then that child ducks under the parachute and crosses to the other side.  “Hot Potato” with scarves is interactive and challenging because the scarves are a little harder to hold on to while passing them to another child.  I clap a rhythm that they pass to (they have to pass every clap), and the clapping gradually speeds up as they play. I make silly faces at them until someone drops the scarf; the person who drops it gets to make silly faces at the group until the next person drops the scarf and so on.

 

Adding another story might be a great idea–if you get the preschoolers involved.  Give them each a piece of a flannel story to add to the board at the right point of the story keeps their attention as they wait for their cue to help. Or even handing out props to tell the story is engaging.  I did Baa-choo (Sarah Weeks) with stick puppets–each child got a set of characters printed out then attached to craft sticks to help me tell the story; they could go home and retell using the props.

 

When all else fails, I remind myself that they are still getting something from storytime through the books and extension activities.  Not every child expresses enthusiasm overtly.  I bet they still go home and talk about what they did in storytime that day!

 

From Michelle:

 

I second everything Nancy suggested! It is so hard when you have a group that seems unresponsive. It is important to keep in mind that the kids are still getting a lot out of storytime. If you haven’t already think about adding the caregivers to the storytime. I think storytime is always better with caregivers. After all, the mission of storytime is to also help guide the caregivers on early literacy initiatives – that is hard to do if the caregivers are not in the room.

 

Additionally, never be afraid to do what is right for the group. If you have a quiet group that loves stories, give them more books! Extension activities are great, but if they are not connecting with the kids, don’t keep trying something that isn’t working. If you have a group of listeners, then I suggest trying some more complicated books. Spend time with the stories, talk about the book before and after you finish. See what they connect – you might be surprised at how much they are taking in. I’d also try some wordless picture books with a group like this. I’d ask them to narrate the story and make sure to ask a lot of questions. I’d also suggest some activities where you explore stories in different ways. Read the book, then do a book related activity. The kids can help you retell the story (check out Flannel Friday for ideas!).

 

Lastly, when groups are small I like to eliminate the “performance” aspect of storytime. If you are able, I’d suggest sitting on the floor with the kids. Make it a bit more cozy and comfortable. That might help the kids feel more open.

 

From Lindsey:

 

Already awesome suggestions from Nancy and Michelle!

 

Michelle mentioned sitting on the floor with the kids. I have always done this and I love how it allows me to meet them eye to eye. I feel like it really engages each child when you are on their level. I tried it once in a chair and felt like I was reading AT them, not TO them (or sometimes WITH them!)

 

I always try to choose interactive books that allow me to ask questions and get the kids really involved that way. Mix It Up or Press Here by Herve Tullet are really great for small groups like that. It’s hard to do with larger groups because everybody wants to be involved. But, with 4, it would be perfect!

 

If you are able to, I always like to take my kiddos outside if it’s nice. We blow bubbles, sometimes I break out the sno-cone machine or have snacks outside, if you are able to do that as well. I think part of my mission as a children’s librarian is exposing them to things that are new or that they don’t do everyday. We’ve played twister outside and hopscotch. Not typical things for a StoryTime, but playing and interacting with others is so important. This also allows for the parents and caregivers to talk and get to know each other. A lot of times, this parent interaction alongside with seeing their children having fun is what makes them come back every week. They start to form real relationships outside of the library and that’s a beautiful thing to see.

 

Another thing that I’ve recently started using are story stones. They are these little smooth stones with pictures painted on them in a little canvas bag. I have each child who wants to come up and pick one out of the bag and just show me. They then have to tell a story about that item without giving it away and have the other kids guess what it is. This is a great way for the children to interact with each other with little interference from me. Sometimes, they ask me for prompts, but usually, their imaginations are so wild, they come up with better stories than I could ever dream up. They have really enjoyed that so far.

 

Always remember that we have one of the most important jobs–instilling the love of reading to children. Be it 4 or 400, each child that picks up a book excitedly is a success!

 

From Chrissie:

 

Everyone has made excellent suggestions!

 

I think the most important thing to know about extension activities is that you have to be open to trying new things. Sometimes if I see an activity is not working, I’ll shorten it and move on to something else.

 

Instead of trying to come up with new activities each week, use what you already have so you’re not spending extra time on preparation and set up.  I like to go back to my cabinet full of stuff, when I’m stuck. With 2’s & 3’s, I typically do some sort of matching activity every once in a while with laminated pictures with magnets on the back. For example, I’ll put the picture of the red mitten on my magnetic board and the child with the red mitten will bring it up. This can be boring for older preschoolers so I’ve tried to go a little further and offer a sort of scavenger hunt for them. I’ll take my matching game and hide one set of mittens somewhere around the storytime room or children’s area.  I’ll give the small group a couple mittens and tell them to go find their mates. It gets them up and moving and they love looking for stuff!

 

I am also a big fan of the parachute. I use the parachute for rhymes and songs, but something I do with all ages is “make popcorn.”  The children who have been coming since they were babies look forward to it no matter how old they are.  It is an excellent way to have children follow directions and fun at the same time. I have a bag of mini beach balls that I use as our kernels. I have the children pour the oil into our pan (the parachute); then the oil starts to sizzle and get hot (make appropriate sizzling noises.) I start tossing on the kernels and they start to pop! We pop for about a minute then I have the children collect the balls and throw them back on the parachute and we start again. They know we are done when I ask them to put the balls back in the bag.

 

Retelling the story is a great way to expand on what you’re already doing. I know it was mentioned earlier, but with a group this small I can use our puppet collection or simply put a few stick puppets together and each child is a character in the story.

 

Still fizzling out? How about asking the children what they like about storytime? That might also give you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.

 

From Abby:

 

When I have smaller storytime attendance, I will usually sit on the floor with the kids, which may ease some of the intimidation factor and encourage them to participate more. I try to get the kids as involved as possible. When you have a small group, it may be possible for the kids to help you turn the pages or get close up and take a close look at the pictures, find objects in the pictures, etc. I tend to use smaller, quieter extension activities to reflect the mood of the group. Instead of doing a song with big actions and dances, I might stick to fingerplays or a song like “My Hands Say Hello”. Then if you’re noticing that they’re getting kind of fidgety, that might be time to stand up (or keep sitting) and shake some sillies out. If you’re doing a felt story, maybe they can help you put the felt objects on the board. You might try rolling a ball back and forth, letting each child have a turn to receive and roll or toss the ball back to you. A small storytime might be a good time to bring out a puppet that everyone can take turns hugging since you won’t have a crowd to overwhelm you.

 

From Natasha:

 

When I have smaller storytime attendance, I will usually sit on the floor with the kids, which may ease some of the intimidation factor and encourage them to participate more. I try to get the kids as involved as possible. When you have a small group, it may be possible for the kids to help you turn the pages or get close up and take a close look at the pictures, find objects in the pictures, etc. I tend to use smaller, quieter extension activities to reflect the mood of the group. Instead of doing a song with big actions and dances, I might stick to fingerplays or a song like “My Hands Say Hello”. Then if you’re noticing that they’re getting kind of fidgety, that might be time to stand up (or keep sitting) and shake some sillies out. If you’re doing a felt story, maybe they can help you put the felt objects on the board. You might try rolling a ball back and forth, letting each child have a turn to receive and roll or toss the ball back to you. A small storytime might be a good time to bring out a puppet that everyone can take turns hugging since you won’t have a crowd to overwhelm you.

 

From Lindsay:

 

This is such a good question.  The size of your storytime group can really make a difference in what format will work best.  Do you think it would work to put an activity in the middle of your storytime?  Sensory Storytimes are often formatted this way, with a set of books and songs followed by a hands-on activity.  Breaking it up this way can help keep the kids’ attention.  Or, can you extend other elements throughout your storytime?  For example, do a story that the children can participate in, like Natasha suggested.  You could do a flannel story one time, then a second time, having each child contribute a piece to retelling the story.  Parachute games and challenges might also be just the right fit for your smaller group (if you have a small parachute), and they’re great skill-building and teamwork activities, too.  So Tomorrow has some great suggestions here http://www.sotomorrowblog.com/2013/08/program-idea-parachute-playtime.html and Libraryland here http://lisaslibraryland.blogspot.com/2012/07/parachute-games.html that you could use throughout storytime, or as a fun closing routine.

 

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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Featured June Ninjas

Meet our Featured Ninjas for June! Thank you for your help answering questions this month. And, Happy Summer Reading to all!

ask-a-storytime-ninja-badge

 

Meet Lindsey:

 

Hi there! My name is Lindsey and I am a 3rd generation librarian at a small public library in Kansas. My grandmother was the children’s librarian here for 15 years and my mom was a circulation librarian for 10. I started my job in November 2013 and have loved every minute of it. I specialize in the 3-5 age range, but my typical programs consist of PlayDate (ages birth-2), StoryTime (ages 3-5) and I am starting an art class for ages 3-8 in the fall. My biggest goal right now is trying to help our library get a new building. This requires a lot of extra programs, and I have learned a lot in these past few years about what works in my community and what sometimes doesn’t. Happy to be a ninja!

 

Meet Nancy:

Nancy-Messmore

Nancy Messmore is a Children’s Services Librarian at Spike’s Place, the children’s department at Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library in Stow, Ohio. She has worked in school and public libraries since 2005. In her current position, Nancy has planned storytimes for children from birth through 2nd grade as well as created programs for preschoolers through tweens; she also maintains the department’s Pinterest page.  She shares responsibility for the teen volunteers and co-created a book discussion group for adults who read teen/young adult books. Connecting with caregivers and their babies and toddlers is Nancy’s forte but she also loves planning programs for tweens. Her storytime mascot is a golden gorilla puppet and nothing thrills her more than watching toddlers conduct their own storytimes with the mini version, which is available for play in the children’s room.

 

Meet Michelle:

headshot

I’m Michelle Kilty. I have been in the kid’s library world for almost eight years. Recently, I started as Children’s Services Coordinator with the Aurora Public Library in Illinois. Before that I spent my career focusing on creating innovative programs and storytimes for youth. I am part of the Robot Test Kitchen (www.robottestktichen.com), exploring STEAM programs for all ages of kids. You can find me on twitter, @makeylibrarian.

 

Meet Chrissie:

super reader

Chrissie McGovern is the Children’s Librarian at the South River Public Library in South River, New Jersey.  She has worked in public libraries for thirteen years providing programming for all ages but storytime is her favorite program! Chrissie believes in providing a positive library experience for each child that comes through the front door. She also likes to dress up in costume for programs- you may have seen pictures of her floating around of her dressed as the Super Librarian or standing between two toilets for a Captain Underpants program! If you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing in a program, the children won’t have fun either!  Recently elected to the Collaborative Summer Library Program’s (CSLP) Board of Directors, summer reading is her favorite time of year.  You can check out some of the programs she has done in the past on her blog: funbrarian.blogspot.com.

 

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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Baby Storytime Opener

Oh boy, I bet lots of you have ideas to share with this week’s asker. Please do, in the comments. And don’t forget, you can earn badges just for asking and answering questions. Enroll in Storytime University and check out all the badges you can earn.

ask-a-storytime-ninja-badge

 

The Question:

 

I need a new group action rhyme to use for the start of my baby storytime! Right now we march in a circle to “The Grand Ol’ Duke of York” (raising and lowering the babies, moving left and right, etc.) and I really enjoy this rhyme, but one caregiver has been very vocal about her dislike of the activity because she has a hard time getting the child in her care to hold still long enough for it. (The baby is around 16 months old and is one of my “very busy babies” who is constantly in motion.) I really enjoy having everyone move together to a rhyme or song at the start of the storytime, but I don’t want the caregiver to feel that I’m ignoring her comments about how difficult it is for her to participate. While the reality is that any rhyme I do in this method will probably have the same results for that particular baby, I would love another action rhyme for my arsenal that we could do together so that we could still get that sense of community and let the babies say hello to one another!

 

The Answers:

 

From Abby:

 

I do the Mother Goose on the Loose storytime for babies at my library and we start every week with a couple of simple rhymes:

 
Old Mother Goose
When she wanted to wander
Would FLY! through the air
On her very fine gander
(I encourage grownups to lift their baby or lift their arms up on the word “fly”.)

 

Goosey Goosey Gander
Where do you wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber
(I encourage grownups to lift their baby up and down or lift their arms up and down on “upstairs” and “downstairs”.)

 

I also make sure to let everyone know before we get started that kids this age are not going to sit still and it’s okay with me if they’re up and walking around. I set a couple of ground rules – if they are at the felt board when it’s not their turn or if they’re getting into my materials, I ask them to get up and take baby back to their seat. Even if you are already making an announcement to the entire group, it may be worth reassuring her one on one that it doesn’t bother you if her child is up and walking around and that her child is still absorbing information even if it doesn’t look like he/she is paying attention.

 

I wonder if an action song/rhyme that gets right into the action would work better for this little one? Maybe The Elevator Song *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfrn5_v_eCM) if you cut out the verse at the beginning and just do the elevator parts. 

 

Or this one, which we do at my baby storytime sometimes:
Come Along and March With Me
(To the tune of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”)
Come along and march with me
March with me, march with me
Come along and march with me
So early in the morning
(Repeat with hop, turn, clap, stomp, whatever you feel like doing!)

 

From Lindsay:

 

It sounds like you’ve established a good opening routine for the babies.  In addition to a rhyme, I like to start my baby storytimes with a song.  You could try “Alabama, Mississippi” by Jim Gill, a tradition I inherited at my first library.  We pat our knees then shake our hands as we sing along.  Or, you could give the babies shakers.  (I fade the song out after the third chorus.)  A song can sometimes work better than a rhyme because it allows for freer movement.  Some babies will follow along with the actions, and some babies will dance or walk around the room.  You could even introduce it as a transition song rather than your opening song.  “We do this song every week to let the babies know that storytime will be starting soon.”  Then, follow with your well-established “Grand Ol’ Duke of York.”  Then, also make it clear in your announcements that moving around is not only acceptable, but good! You could say, “We know that your baby might not sit still during storytime, and that’s totally fine with us because babies learn by moving, and we want them to move and to explore their world.”

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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Mother’s Day/Father’s Day Storytime?

Here’s our next Ask a Storytime Ninja Lightning Round for the month of May! These questions are posed to all of our ninjas instead of just our featured monthly ones and are meant to be quick and efficient responses to some interesting inquiries. Here’s our question for this week:

 

lighnting_round

 

The Question:

 

“Do you do Mother’s Day/Father’s Day storytime themes or is it better to avoid since so many kids may be from single-parent families, raised by grandparents, or have 2 moms/dads? My library serves an urban population so we see more single parents & grandparents raising kids than in suburban branches.”

 

The Answers:

 

From Tess P. (@tess1144, www.inclusiveearlyliteracy.wordpress.com):

 

Great question! My answer: it depends. For holidays like this Mother’s Day, I tend to not make a big deal out of it. If I feel like it, I might read, Mother, Mother I Want Another, Llama, Llama, Red Pajama or Hooray for Fish but that would be it I think and I don’t think I would ever advertise or announce it as a special Mother’s Day storytime. That being said, I read those stories at different times throughout the year too because I like them, not because they feature moms. Also, a whole lot of kids who come to my storytime are with their (wonderful) nannies, and I have several dads and grandparents and one aunt too so I honestly don’t see the need to give the moms any special recognition on this day more than any other day. They should all be commended for getting out the door and down to the library right? Of course we do have a display for people who want to take out the books about Mother’s Day (same goes for Valentines and all the other holidays, religious and secular).

 

From Abby J. (@abbylibrarian, http://www.abbythelibrarian.com):

 

We do not do Mother’s Day/Father’s Day themes, but it may be because we take a programming break in May, so we’d only be able to do Father’s Day and that’s kind of one-sided. Maybe instead of Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, those weeks might be good times to do “Family” or “Love” or similar storytime themes.

 

From Meg S. (@theemegnificent, missmegsstorytime.com):

 

I think you really have to gauge your community–if you see a lot of single parents or grandparents as main caregivers than maybe it is best to avoid it. I typically don’t do Mothers or Father’s Day stuff but was once asked to do a Mother’s Day theme at storytime. In that case (and because I knew most of my regulars) I decided to focus more on families than specifically moms or dads.

 

From Natalie K.:

 

We have programs for both holidays, but I make sure to talk about grandparents, aunts, and uncles in my storytimes. This way, no one feels too left out.

 

From Tabin C.:

 

I do both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and not simply because it’s two less themes I have to make up (yay!). It’s because I have no biological children, but I am a part-time parent. When something happens to a child’s parents, other people step up and step in. I’ve seen Shrek a gazillion times, have watched the most boring children’s sporting events ever, received calls asking, “Can I come over?” (translation: “Mom is making me do chores.”), figured out mission projects, state projects, and even famously enacted a whole house time out in which I screamed, “Everyone is going to their rooms, including me!!!”
 
In other words, I deserve acknowledgement. Matter of fact, I deserve more than that, which is why for Mother’s Day I asked for, and received, a 55 inch Samsung plasma TV. So, I figure a few nice stories like “Little Miss Spider” and “Froggy’s Day with Daddy” is not too much to ask out of the library. (Unless you want to send me a 3-D TV…)

 

Thanks for the responses everyone! Have any of your own? Comment below! We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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