Guerrilla Storytime @ #alaac14: The Monday Recap

Monday’s Guerrilla Storytime in the Uncommons at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference included about 35 participants. It was surprisingly raucous for the last full day of conference!


Opening Songs: 

  • To the tune of “Mary had a Little Lamb”: “If you’re wearing red today, red today, red today / If you’re wearing red today stand up and shout hooray!” Repeat with other colors.
  • To the tune of “London Bridge”: “Hi, hello, and how are you, how are you, how are you? / Hi, hello, and how are you? / How are you today? / Do you know what day it is, day it is, day it is / Do you know what day it is? Today is Tuesday! / Gather ’round it’s storytime, storytime, storytime / Gather ’round it’s storytime, it’s storytime today / Have a seat on the floor, on the floor, on the floor / Have a seat on the floor, it’s time to listen now.”
  • After welcome, announcements and a weather check sing to the tune of Happy Birthday: “Good morning to you / Good morning to you / The sun is shining / Good morning to you”


Challenge: Storytime has turned into total chaos. What do you do?

  • “I have shakers for everybody! Let’s do a shaker song!”
  • Attempt to distract them with a prop or say “Let’s stand up!” and do a wiggle rhyme. “Jump like a frog / Fly like a bird / Walk like a dinosaur / Sit back down and be quiet as a mouse”
  • Depends on why it’s chaotic. Maybe get quiet during a crazy moment and stay quiet until they calm down. If it’s just a crazy day, just do lots of movement activities.
  • Use a more commanding voice do everyone can hear you and get them all involved
  • Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear rhyme
  • “Get in your boats!” and let’s row. Then sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
  • With babies, just stop storytime and go to playtime
  • “1, 2, 3, eyes on me!” Kids say back “1, 2, 3, eyes on you.” Train them to do this.
  • You say “Hola, Hola” they say “Coca Cola”
  • Put bubbles in your mouth. Or can you hold your breath for 5 seconds? Let’s try. How about 10 seconds?

Challenge: The audience has the wiggles. Share a rhyme or song to help get the wiggles out.

  • Fruit Salad / Watermelon song
  • Sometimes they have the wiggles because things are too familiar and they might be getting bored. So put a new twist on an old rhyme. Do “Open, Shut Them” hip-hop style, opening your arms out to the side and then tucking them under your armpits.
  • “A sailor went to sea, sea, sea / To see what he could sea, sea, sea / But all that he could see, see, see / Was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea / A sailor went to chop, chop, chop / To see what he could chop, chop, chop / But all that he could chop, chop, chop / Was the bottom of the deep blue chop, chop, chop” Continue with knee, knee, knee and wishy, washy.

Challenge: All the moms are talking in the back. What do you do?

  •  Lower your voice to a whisper
  • Don’t put them on the spot because you don’t know what’s going on-could be an emergency
  • “If you need to make a call, please feel free to step out and come back.”
  • Alison uses a talking Piggy app to give storytime expectations (turn off phones, etc.) and Piggy tells the audience “It’s so much more fun if we all participate.”

Challenge: What is your favorite way to add WRITING to storytime?

  • let them play in shaving cream after storytime
  • have them write their own nametags
  • make a homemade light table using a clear bin and battery operated lights (idea from Pinterest board created by Rebecca)
  • do an alphabet theme with alphabet worksheets that have the letter and images that match the letter

Challenge: Share your favorite parachute activity

  • Put bags or balls on the chute and do a Popcorn Rhyme
  • Turn on contemporary music like “Happy” by Pharell and throw balls on
  • Sing “Ring Around the Rosie” while parents rotate the parachute (they stand still and just move the parachute by slipping it through their hands)
  • Let the kids just run around under the chute and have free play
  • Use the chute with lullabies
  • Row boat, row boat go so fast / Row boat, row boat, go so slow / Row boat, row boat the waves are getting worse / Row boat, row boat, put it in reverse!”
  • Come Under My Umbrella
  • Beehive rhyme (didn’t quite catch this one-anyone know it?)-It might be this one (Thanks, Jbrary)!

Challenge: How do you incorporate Letter Knowledge?

  • Alphabet storytime with a letter of the day. Have flannel pieces that start with the letter of the day.
  • Have flannel pieces with vocabulary for the kids but also a vocabulary word for grown-ups in order to incorporate them into the parent message. Put pieces in a box and say “What’s in the green box?” before pulling out the vocabulary.
  • Imbed letter knowledge into play and everything you do.  Jump on opportunities to talk about letters. If you see something shaped like an A, say so.
  • Use sign language in storytime
  • Flannel board with the word WELCOME on it. Point out each individual letter of the word.

Challenge: A child is having an emotional reaction to a book. What do you do?

  • When a child’s dog was hit by a car and he shared that, Rachel said “I’m really sorry.” and then moved on.
  • A child was afraid of being turned into a goon during Little Bunny Foo Foo and started crying. The easiest thing was to just stop the book and move to another activity, saying “I’m sorry that upset you, but don’t worry, no one is going to turn into a goon. Why don’t we do something else?” The other kids can always check out the book and take it home.
  • Use fairy tales to relieve fears. Say, “What are the first words of a fairy tale? Once upon a time…” and then “How do fairy tales all end? With Happily Ever After! So, don’t worry, this will have a happy ending.”

Challenge: How do you incorporate Print Awareness?

  • Have a stuffed animal storytime and have kids write down the animal’s story-they will put marks on the page, which is print.
  • Point to the words on a page when you are reading a book. Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler is great for this.
  • Put words to rhymes and songs up on the wall behind you for parents to read, reinforcing the idea of print.
  • Use Mo Willems books. They have big words and are easy to point out.
  • Put up the words to songs in both English and Spanish

Challenge: How do you address the cultural needs of your community and make sure everyone feels welcome?

  • Listen to your parents. Print out that month’s songs so they can learn them at home if that is what would help them.
  • In Navajo culture and religion some things are taboo. Know your community and avoid things that may be taboo or offensive during storytime.
  • Pay attention to days people can’t attend and be as accommodating as possible
  • Talk to your school librarian about cultural issues in the community. They will know all about it.
  • Make community members part of the program planning process.
  • Diversify when you offer programs. Don’t have them on the same days at the same times. Include evening and weekend programs as well.
  • Ask your audience if there are things you can do differently. Invite them to make suggestions, bring up issues, and talk about things for them personally. Bring in books for parents and invite patrons to take tours of the library when storytime is on break.

Challenge: Choose a prop, any prop and show us how you would use it

  • Bells: “Ring your bells up high / Ring your bells down low / Ring them in the middle / Ring them fast / Ring them slow” Talk about the different sounds they make at different speeds.
  • Bean Bags: play Balance Beam by Laurie Berkner and put bean bags on your head
  • Bells or sticks: Stick Tune from Music Together
  • Bells: We’re Going to Kentucky Variation- “We’re Going Down to Portland (or your city) / We’re going to the zoo / To look at all the animal sand every thing they do / Shake it, baby, shake it / Shake it if you can / Shake it like a milkshake / And pour it in a can / Shake it to the bottom / Shake it to the top / Shake it round and round and round / Until I tell you STOP!”
  • Rhythm Sticks: Put on a kids and grown ups know and tap to the rhythm with sticks. The Beatles are great for this.
  • Shaky Eggs: I Know a Chicken by Laurie Berkner

Challenge: How to incorporate books and rhymes from other cultures?

  • Take advantage of bilingual patrons. Let them lead parts of storytime or ask them to translate words or sections of songs, words, and books.
  • Hello and How are You? from Wiggleworms in English, French, and Spanish
  • Use your bilingual staff! Let them teach a song to the group. This will make staff feel involved and more part of the whole library and will help make patrons more comfortable.
  • Teach a sign that relates the theme at the start of storytime. Ask “Does anyone know how to say sunshine in any other languages?”


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