This week is our community’s ScreenBreak week, and I ended up doing 4 different preschool storytimes. The first was on Monday at my daughter’s nursery school, for a class of four 4- and 5-year old girls. I had about 20 minutes, and we didn’t do a craft.
The second was Tuesday afternoon at a local daycare that asked us to come (fairly last minute) to help them celebrate Read Across America / Dr. Seuss’s birthday. There was a lot of miscommunication, and I thought I was presenting to one class of 18 kids, but actually ended up with all of the preschool classes – 50 kids – in the gym. This was about 30 minutes, no craft.
The third storytime was on Tuesday evening at the Community Recreation Center in conjunction with the Park District. I didn’t how many people would show up; last year’s was cancelled for snow, so I didn’t even have a guess. That was 45 minutes, and the first 30 minutes overlapped with a cupcake decorating program in the same building. I didn’t really want to compete with cupcakes, so I was planning to do the crafts first and then start the stories about 15 minutes in, with the hope that kids would drift in as they finished their cupcakes. The kids who were there right at the beginning wanted to start with stories, so we did that. We did have two mini waves of kids join us as they finished their cupcakes, but none of them complained about missing some of the stories. We ended up with about 25 kids, ranging in age from 10 months through 3rd grade.
My fourth program was my regular Thursday library storytime, which is 30 minutes with a craft at the end. I did more or less the same program all three times, and it worked remarkably well, considering the differences in group size and age distribution. Hooray for musical books! I planned a lot of musical books intentionally, knowing that there were outreach programs – I find they usually work well with a group of kids who don’t know me, and with mixed age groups.
Opening Song: “I Am Here & You Are Here” by Peter & Ellen Allard (on Sing It! Say It! Stamp It! Sway It! Vol. 3)
Story: I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont. I use this book at storytime a lot, and it’s always popular. The parents and teachers pick up on the “nut/butt” rhyme and are sometimes a bit mortified, but the smallest kids never get it, so I have stopped worrying that it will be a problem. For the Park District storytime, I copied the outline of a child on cardstock and let them decorate it with roller paints and dot paints.
Song: “Hands A’Washing” For two of the groups, the kids stayed seated for this song, and they got really preoccupied with the idea that if they just stood up, they could reach that towel. So they spent more time talking about jumping for the towel than shaking dry. This didn’t happen in the groups where the kids were standing. I’ve used this song many times before and never had that come up, so it was interesting that it happened twice. I guess it’s meant to be a standing song!
Story: My Blue is Happy by Jessica Young. I love this book and I’ve been dying to read it in storytime. It’s a little bit quiet for storytime, so I put it in the middle, which is where I usually put the book that requires the most attention. At my library storytime, I had a few squirrelly toddlers and I ended up shortening the book by skipping a few colors, but the way the book is written, I don’t think they noticed. As I read, I let the kids talk about how the different colors made them feel before I read the page. After the first few pages of the first storytime, I made sure to ask before I showed them the page so that they weren’t influenced by the pictures. For the Park District, I made up sheets for the kids to fill out in the format “[Color] makes me feel [blank] because it makes me think of [blank]” where they could fill in their associations with different colors.
Book/Song/Dance: The Shape Song Swingalong by SteveSongs. I have done this one in storytime before, and it’s lots of fun. There’s a CD with the book that sings the whole thing (and you can learn the dance!) I like to teach the chorus and dance ahead of time. Then I just read the words and sing/dance the chorus with the kids. I had someone else hold the book for me so I could dance with the kids, and all three helpers had trouble with the page turns, which come at odd places, so it’s nice to go over it ahead of time if possible. At the Park District and at my library storytime, I had paper, glue, and shape cutouts to go with this one.
Story: I Know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman. More singing. This one is to the tune of “I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” I hadn’t done this one at a storytime yet, and it went really well, especially at the Park District, where the older kids sang along with me. The illustrations show a funny story of a pig at a fair that isn’t totally explained by the text, so I stopped periodically to talk about what was happening.
Ending Song: “See You Later” (at the Library) / “Wave High, Wave Low” (off-site)
Craft: I used the crafts described above. I also had two backups in mind. For Perfect Square by Michael Hall, we could cut, fold, crumple, and glue origami paper squares into something new. Or with 10 Black Dots by Donald Crews, I would have given kids 10 black dot stickers, paper, and crayons to create something
I learned this one from a Musikgarten presenter we brought in, and I’ve used it a lot. It’s loads of fun.
Hands a’washing, hands a’washing,
Wash ’em til they’re clean.
Get some soap, get some water,
Wash ’em til they’re clean.
Where’s the towel to pat them dry?
It’s on the rack. It’s much too high!
Now we’ll have to shake ’em,
Shake ’em, shake ’em, shake ’em.
Now we’ll have to shake ’em, shake ’em,
Shake ’em til they’re dry.
Repeat for other body parts.