I am new to doing storytime (about 5 months in) and struggle with the transitions between the books, songs, and fingerplays. There always seems to be some awkwardness when I am about to do the next activity. Any advice for making things flow better? I’ve tried watching some videos, but the transition times are usually what is cut out.
If I’m doing a theme, I’ll keep explaining how what I’m talking about links together: “We just sang a song about bread and butter, and those words begin with B. This is a song about a butterfly, which also begins with B!” That way, it’s always clear how everything is related. I feel like that helps the transition a bit.
Before my first book I sing, “If you want to hear a story, clap your hands” which is basically just “If you’re happy and you know it”. So, it’s: if you want to hear a story clap your hands, then tickle your tummies, and, last, go like this “shh, shh!”. Once they are quiet, the story begins. I sing the full song for the first book I read, but only the last “shhh” verse for each additional book I read. After each book I say, “We’re going to say goodbye to this book, and now we’ll say hello to (insert whatever puppet, flannel board, song)”.
When in doubt, say, “Good job, everyone! That was great!” and smile. You’re not as awkward as you think.
I’m not sure what age of storytime you’re doing, so I’ll share what I do for both my Baby Time and Preschool Storytime. With babies, it’s pretty easy for me to move pretty quickly in between my rhymes and stories, since I repeat most of it from week to week. Basically, I’ll finish the song with a “Good job!” or “Excellent!” since our babies love to clap for themselves. And simply say, “And on to our next book/song/rhyme…” and go right into it. It help keeps the baby’s attention when it’s pretty quick, too. With my preschoolers, I like to explain a little bit between songs & rhymes since each week is different in theme/subject (help them know what’s going on), and because I’m helping them get ready for school (build good listening skills). Before each book, I remind them to “Put on your listening ears and remember to stay on your bums so everyone can see” and then I say the title & author/illustrator. Afterwords I’ll ask them a question or two about the book, and go into our next activity with a simple “And now we’re all going to….” Basically, I encourage them to chat with me a little bit in between and I add some commentary that feels natural.
I think transitions are one of the most interesting parts of storytime! In my experience, thoughtful transitions can help children sustain their attention from one thing to the next and minimize opportunities to get distracted. What I try to do with my transitions is to link back to what we’ve just done and then make a connection and look forward to what we’re about to do. I think wrapping up one thing helps children with closure and giving them a hint about what’s next gives them a clue about how they are going to need to behave or respond. Sit still for another story? Stand up and move around? The more structure and guidance we give kids, the more successful they can be. So if I wanted to sing Head and Shoulders after reading Pete the Cat, after we finished with Pete, I might show them the cover again and say, “I love how Pete’s shoes change color! Where do we wear our shoes? That’s right, on our feet! And what’s on the end of our feet? We can wiggle them in the mud or the sand. Yes, our toes! Let’s sing a song that has toes in it. Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes! Let’s stand up….put our hands on our heads….. here we go!”