Ask a Storytime Ninja: Outdoor Storytime

A little later than usual (sorry ’bout that!) but here’s the first Ask a Ninja question answered by our September featured ninjas. Would you storytime in a boat, with a goat? Would you, could you, in a train?! Or near one…

 

The Question:

 

Hi, ninjas, I need suggestions for stories, songs, and activities for an all-ages drop-in storytime at our farmers’ market. Outside, so lots of distractions–including a busy train line. Thanks!

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The Answers:

 

From Anne:

Storytime at the farmer’s markets sounds like such a great opportunity to reach out to all sorts of library users. Any storytime held outside can be a challenge. I’ve hosted similar storytimes at community-wide events in a busy park right across from the train tracks.

 

Shorter interactive stories tend to maintain the attention of the audience but also allows families to participate in a full story or two while still being able to move on to the next activity. I recommend any of the Jan Thomas books but especially Can You Make a Scary Face? and Are You Ready to Have Some Fun. Mac Barnett’s Guess Again! has just the right balance of absurdity and fun. If you really want to get active, try Bounce or Stretch by Doreen Cronin or You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo.

 

It’s also helpful to sing or play songs that families are already familiar with like Heads, Shoulder’s, Knees and Toes or The Hokey Pokey. Carole Peterson has a very kid and crowd friendly version of The Hokey Pokey on Sticky Bubble Gum: and Other Tasty Tunes.

 

If attention is really an issue, try a more passive program or an activity based program. You could pre-package take-and-make science experiments or crafts with instructions and your library’s newsletter.

 

That way families could stop and take a minute to talk to you about the services your library has to offer.

 

 

From Ashley:

 

Storytime at the Farmer’s Market? Sounds great! For an all-ages group in a busy environment, I would rely on rhythm and music. A good beat or tune can engage all ages from babies up to elementary aged kids. Also books that are a little light on plot would be good so that people can feel free to come and go.

 

My favorite story in this vein is Tanka Tanka Skunk by Steve Webb. It’s great for stomping or clapping along with the rhythm. You could tie it into the market by showing fruits and vegetables and clapping out how many syllables they have. Wa-ter-mel-lon!

 

Another one I like for stomping to the beat is Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig. Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett appeals to many ages because of its rhythm and repetition, plus older kids love looking at the clues in the picture to guess what animal is coming next. Two of my favorites for audience participation are If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca Emberley and Jump! by Scott Fischer.

 

A great song to do at the market is Raffi’s “Going on a Picnic.” You ask audience members to say what they will bring, and could suggest they name their favorite market treat. If you can bring it, having a large white board or pad of paper nearby could be good for listing what kids say. As you sing the song, you keep adding to the picnic packing list, so it’s a great memory exercise.

 

One final suggestion: you might want to consider adding sign language, even just a few simple signs, to one or more of your songs. Parents love the idea of young children learning signs, older kids love the challenge and excitement of learning a new language, and it could help your storytime be more inclusive. Here’s a simple Hello/Goodbye song with signs from Jbrary.

Have fun!

 

 

From Tabin:

 

I’m jealous that you’re at the market while my view is of a tire shop, but I digress. When I get out I like to play popcorn with the parachute and bean bags. I Went Walking by Sue Williams is a good big book to march to. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin is a crowd pleaser. Honey, Honey Lion by Jan Brett gets the crowd moving, as does an interactive version of Mabela the Clever by Margaret Read McDonald. Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens is a good market story (though the name made me pause), and I always bring If You’re Happy and You Know It by David A Carter. Since you’re by a train you might consider bringing Freight Train by Donald Crews and play Little Red Caboose on the Wiggleworms Love You album. (I also love If I Was a Bird). However, if you’re there all day try Motown for Kids to save your sanity.

 

I especially promote databases during outreach. Parents typically know about kids’ programs, but they don’t know we have Zinio, and once they know, they’re more likely to go. If it’s slow you can post a sign that says, “Have you been around the world but don’t speak the language? The library has a database for that!”

 

For crafts, the kids can make farm scenes. I pasted clip art into tables, printed them on cardstock, cut them out and used school glue to glue on the popsicle sticks. I glued green paper “grass” onto blue cardstock, but in future projects I skipped that, along with rounding edges (Martha Stewart left the building around cow 19). Fold the paper over to cut slits with scissors. The kids decorate the scenes using scraps, die cut shapes, pens and crayons. The parents really like them because they keep the kids entertained on the car ride so they can save the napping for home.

 

farm scene2 farm scene

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