A couple interesting things have happened in storytime lately.
One: I discovered that storytime is being advertised as for ages 0-5, not just for preschool. Game changer! Especially since I have parents bringing babies and toddlers to almost every storytime now.
To touch on this need, I decided I would get really clever about incorporating activities for the tiniest listeners. Mixed age groups are notoriously difficult. Seriously. Changing gears to engage different ages usually means that you lose the attention of all the other ages for the length of that activity and risk storytime fireworks when toddlers go bonkers. Considering this factor, I decided the best thing I could do would be to include songs for all ages, more fingerplays and traditional rhymes, and at least one baby and toddler-friendly book in each week’s line up.
I’ve started doing this and so far, I’ve seen even more excitement than before I began varying age-appropriateness. (Although, I can’t lie to you, parents of young babies are still a little left out right now. This is hard for me to address because what these parents really need is more education from me on how to interact with their baby during storytime. I can do a fingerplay that works for babies, but these parents just don’t recognize that it’s for them and/or understand how it works. Something for me to think about more…)
Here’s a good example of an activity that I’ve made work for various ages.
Go Away, Big Green Monster is already a book that I think works well for all of these ages. One week, I did this as a flannel story (minus the book), but before taking him apart, I paused and asked the kids how we could make him away without him noticing. We thought for a minute and I had a brilliant idea. We could put him to sleep with a lullaby! Then we all sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with our actions and found that he had fallen fast asleep. We quickly took him apart and all was well.
During craft time, I’ve also been bringing out activities for itty bitties. I’ve continued to play nursery rhymes on the iPad and given parents and caregivers shakers to play with, I’ve brought out a little sensory tub, and I’ve left out playdough and bubbles.
Two: My storytime on Saturday has suddenly become dominated by ESL families. Hooray! At first, I didn’t think much of it, but then I started to notice that there are some small differences in how storytimes go over with your everyday, American-born family and an immigrant family. First, and most noticeably, ESL families in my storytime often don’t know traditional nursery rhymes and songs. Second, socializing and interaction is a big deal during and after storytime.
I’ve responded to my observations by including more traditional rhymes and songs (which I think I will be projecting or putting in a handout in the future) and creating more opportunities for parents to talk to their kids during storytime. For instance, after reading Bear Feels Scared, I asked parents to take a moment to talk about what their children should do if they ever feel lost. I’ve also just become more laid back about hearing parents chat during songs or off by themselves while children do crafts.