Because planning a program doesn't just take 5 minutes

Baby Care (Imagination Storytime)

We often use summer to try out some different storytime models.  This summer we’re running a 6-week Imagination Storytime series.  Each program consists of a few books followed by dramatic play on a theme.  Unlike our regular Storytimes, this is a registered program for only 18 two- to five-year-olds with an adult.  The program is listed as 45 minutes (our usual storytimes are 30), but families head out whenever they feel done.

Our goal with this program is to bring back some of the dramatic play that we see missing in our community’s overscheduled preschoolers, and to show parents and caregivers that it can be inexpensive and easy to set up some pretty fun dramatic play areas.  Since the programs require a fair amount of planning, we have three librarians doing two themes each.  The themes are: Animal Hospital, Post Office, Camping, Baby Care, Gardening, and Construction.

Opening Song: “I Am Herbaby-goes-beepe & You Are Here” by Peter & Ellen Allard (on Sing It! Say It! Stamp It! Sway It! Vol. 3)

Book: The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell.  The repetitive noises were good for interaction.

Book: What Shall We Do with the Boo-Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell.  The kids loved crying “boo hoo hoo” along with the baby.  The adults got a kick out of the fact that both books ended with the baby awake and the caregivers fast asleep!boo-hoo-baby

Rhyme: “Cuckoo Clock.”  I use this all the time in Babytime.  I had the kids pretend their dolls were the babies.

Rhyme: “Popcorn.”  Same for this one.  So much fun!


Activity #1:  Cooking & feeding  (cardboard box stove/oven, cardboard box pantry, real food containers reinforced with tape, play dishes, 6-cup muffin tin, mixing bowls, measuring cups, wooden spoons, play food, large buttons).

IMG_2955     oven

This was definitely the highlight of the program.  I think we could have had just the kitchen and everyone would have been happy.  This took me about 90 minutes to construct out of 3 cardboard boxes.  (The oven is made out of two boxes on top of each other, because that’s the easiest way I could think of to make two really solid racks.)  The door took a lot of beating because some of the kids opened the door to use the oven and then left it open, and other kids stood on it while they were using the stove.  It held up as long as it needed to, but is definitely tired out now.  My favorite part is the turning knobs, which I made by attaching cardstock circles with a brad, and then hot gluing bottle tops over the brad so there was a knob to hold onto.  Hooray for Pinterest!  Another Pinterest idea was using old CDs as the burners.  Guess who has lots of old CDs?  Libraries!


Activity #2:  Bathing (large tub of soapy water, sponges, spray bottles of water, towels).


I provided some babies in case the ones the kids brought were not washable.  This worked well, since many did bring cloth dolls.  The soapy water and the spray bottles were a bit hit, as expected.


 Activity #3:  Making a diaper / changing station (felt square diapers, decorating materials, old wipes container filled with small cloths).    IMG_2959   IMG_2963

I think all of the kids decorated their own diapers to take home.  They were pretty big (I started with a full rectangle of felt), which worked well with some of the dolls but dwarfed the smaller ones.  The changing station itself was not terribly popular, though.  I’m sorry this took up two tables – one for making the diapers and one for changing the babies – because we could have used a table for the kitchen.  In fact, some kids did bring their kitchen stuff over to the diaper table once most of the kids were done with it.


Activity #4: Laundry (basket, cloths, clothes pins, clothes line).


Also not super popular, but the ones who did it had fun.


Activity #5: Take baby for a walk in the baby carrier (adult sized long-sleeved shirts, like, say, the kind you have a box of for using as paint shirts for messy activities).


They thought this was cute when I demonstrated it on my kiddo (above), but didn’t really use it much.  Still, it would be easy enough to replicate at home.


Activity #6: Bedtime (bedtime books, empty boxes, blankets).


This was also not anyone’s first choice.  I don’t even think all of the kids did it.  The ones who did were super cute, though!

“Cuckoo Clock”

Tick tock, tick tock.
I’m a little cuckoo clock.
Tick tock, tick tock.
Now the time is one o’clock.

Repeat, increasing the time (and the number of “Cuckoo!”s) on each round.



I’m a piece of popcorn.
Put me in the pot.
Shake me, shake me
And watch me … pop!


Other ideas:

Playtime/block center

Make/decorate a bib (

Cardboard box washer/dryer for the laundry station (


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