Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Birthday, Very Hungry Caterpillar! - Family Storytime


caterpillar storytime, very hungry caterpillar 50th birthday


Fifty years ago a tiny caterpillar popped out of an egg and into the hearts of children everywhere. Generations later, it is still hugely popular, and has been translated into at least 40 languages. The upcoming anniversary of the publication of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar inspired this caterpillar-themed storytime with some very special guests.

I started with my usual welcome song, followed by a new one from Jbrary I've been using lately:
 "Hello, Everybody"

Hello, everybody, can you touch your nose,
Touch your nose, touch your nose?
Hello, everybody, can you touch your nose?
Touch - your - nose?

(wiggle ears, pat head, rub tummy, etc...)


caterpillar storytime, very hungry caterpillar pop-up bookI followed that with our "story song", then introduced the topic and asked them how old they thought The Very Hungry Caterpillar was. First they guessed a year, then three years, five years, and ten years. Then I told them it was FIFTY years old, and that I read it when I was their age, which blew their minds. Then I told them that while most of them had probably read it before, I bet they had never read this version, and pulled out my special pop-up version that was created for the 40th anniversary.

Though I had had to make some repairs, it still worked pretty well and they were very impressed, and I think paid attention more than they would have otherwise. It's always fun to see an old favorite in a different format or told in a different way. My only fault with this classic is the mistaken use of a cocoon, when it should be a chrysalis. Caterpillars that become butterflies form a chrysalis, a flexible shell under their skin that hardens after they molt one last time. Cocoons are like sleeping bags spun out of silk by caterpillars that will become moths; they serve the same function, but are very different, and I explained this to the audience.







I followed that with a fun little song that would let them move around and get some wiggles out, including wriggling like a caterpillar and flying like a butterfly.

Can You Move Like Me?

Can you wiggle like a worm?
Can you squiggle can you squirm?

Can you flutter, can you fly,
Like a gentle butterfly?

Can you crawl upon the ground,
Like a beetle that is round?
Can you move like me?

Can you flip? Can you flop?
Can you give a little hop?

Can you slither like a snake?
Can you give a little shake?

Can you dance like a bee
That is buzzing 'round a tree?
Can you move like me?

caterpillar storytime, Then we went from a very old caterpillar story to a brand new one, and instead of being very hungry, this one was The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach. If you've read my previous review, you know I love this book! It is so funny, reminds me a great deal of Mo Willem's impatient Pigeon, and the humor is very similar.

I also love that it properly shows a chrysalis, and uses the appropriate term, plus introduces two other great vocabulary words, metamorphosis and migration. 
I got to read it earlier this week to the 4-year old class at my outreach visit, and they loved it, too.

Our Special Guests! 

Then I introduced our special guests, and let them all get a chance to see them up close.

I've always wanted to do the activity where you buy live caterpillars and then get to observe them as they grow and develop, forming chrysalises, and finally emerging as butterflies, so I figured this was a great excuse, and I wouldn't have to pay for it, plus I'd get to share it with everyone else. So we now have twelve Painted Lady caterpillars (from Carolina Biological Supply) living in our department, and I encouraged everyone to stop by every couple of days or so to check on their development. The whole process only takes about 2-3 weeks!

caterpillar storytime, painted lady caterpillars

The caterpillars came in 2 cups, complete with nutrient media, which I set inside an aquarium with a mesh cover (taped down) to protect them from being picked up, shaken, or opened, and put them on a shelf near the desk with an info sheet where everyone can see them, and we can keep an eye on them. [They also came with a butterfly cage, feeding wick, and lots of info and resources.]

caterpillars in the library

[I'll post further updates, photos, and videos to the blog under STEAM programming, and to my Facebook page, so be sure to follow along!]

Optional Craft

The craft I chose was very simple, but yielded impressively cute results. It actually combined two crafts, a caterpillar made with pom-poms and a clothespin, and a butterfly made with coffee filters, washable markers, water, and a pipe cleaner. I gave them the option of making either or both, and supplied ziplock bags for those who had to leave so they could take the supplies, take a picture of the directions, and finish at home.


caterpillar craft, butterfly craft

The caterpillar is pretty straightforward (just glue pom-poms on the clothespin and add eyes), but for the butterfly, stack two coffee filters directly on top of each other. Color the top one with washable markers, then lightly mist with water (or drip from eye droppers) until the colors bleed through the second filter; let dry. Then accordion-pleat each filter, hold together and twist pipe cleaner around and bend the ends into antennae; one filter forms the forewings, and the second makes the hindwings. Lightly "fluff" the wings.


butterfly craft


Once both parts are dry, you can transform the caterpillar into a butterfly by clipping it onto the butterfly wings!

caterpillar craft, butterfly craft, caterpillar storytime

How It Went

This was a really fun storytime! I had a decent turnout, despite not getting an announcement on social media like I wanted*, and the kids all seemed enthusiastic, plus several were aged 4-6, which was a nice change.

We loved reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I got really great participation, with the kids all saying the repeating line "...but he was still hungry" and identifying the foods he ate. Though I of course like to use storytime to introduce kids and parents to new authors, illustrators, and stories, it is nice to occasionally read an old classic because it's familiar and you get such great interaction and participation, and even better if you can share it in a new way, such as with a pop-up version, flannel story, using puppets or props, singing it, etc. Kids always love pop-ups, so of course the pop-up version I had was a big hit.

Most of the kids enjoyed the "Can You Move Like Me?" song, but for whatever reason, about a third of the audience left after that. But the ones that stayed really loved the humor in The Very Impatient Caterpillar, and though most of the kids denied it, the parents confirmed that they had a lot in common with the impatient caterpillar sometimes.

They also loved seeing the caterpillars up close, and hearing that we were going to keep them at the library and watch them grown and develop, until they transformed into butterflies. I encourage them to stop by and check in on them frequently, as the process is surprisingly fast!

*I had a whole social media component planned to go with this, announcing the arrival of the caterpillars and inviting the public to their big debut at storytime, then posting updates with photos of their growth and development. I even envisioned possibly being lucky enough to catch them emerging from their chrysalis on live video. But, alas, it was not meant to be. Our person in charge of social media quit, and it's kind of a hot mess right now. So I'll just post them on my own social media instead.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Dinosaurs - Toddler Storytime


Once again I volunteered to sub for storytime at another branch, this time it was the toddler storytime. My family storytimes have a varying range of ages and often are more of a toddler storytime, and I do an outreach visit once a month that includes the toddler classes, but this was my first official toddler storytime.

Because the request came fairly late, I didn't have a lot of time to plan, so I fell back on a favorite theme that I thought was sure to be a hit - Dinosaurs! Who doesn't like dinosaurs? And of course anything that involves roaring is usually a sure thing! This was actually easier than planning either the baby time, which I was completely unfamiliar with, or my family storytime, since I could plan for a more specific age range (18-36 months), rather than baby thru school age, so didn't need to have as many back-ups or "Plan B"s.

I did it similar to my usual storytime, but only planned on doing 1-2 books, and added more songs and movement, and bubbles and music at the end instead of a craft. I started with singing "Hello, My Friends, Hello" as I passed out the sheets with all the songs on them, then introduced myself and gave my welcoming spiel, encouraging them to not worry about their child moving around as long as they didn't block the book or infringe on someone else's personal space, and to feel free to leave early if need be, or step out and come back.

Then we sang my new favorite beginning song I got from Jbrary. I like this song for the younger kids especially, because it has movement and encourages participation, and you can do as many or few verses as you like and incorporate different actions/body parts:



Hello, everbody, can you touch your nose?
Touch your nose, touch your nose?
Hello, everybody can you touch your nose?
Touch - your - nose?

(pat your head, rub tummy, clap hands, stomp feet, take a seat)



In the past, I've found that the younger kids tend to be warm up more and be more engaged when I start with familiar children's songs, particularly the ABC's, and that's how I begin my outreach toddler visits, so I figured I would do the same today, and amp it up a notch by showing how the ABCs can be song to other songs, which helps break up the letters in different ways, so "LMNOP" doesn't always get lost in the middle.

So we started with the traditional way, which is to the tune of "Twinkle Little Star", and I mentioned it could also be sung to London Bridges, Mary Had A Little Lamb, This Old Man; Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes; and Row, Row, Row your boat. I decided to do it to the tune of "This Old Man", and we sung the first verse of that first, to get the tune in our heads:

This old man, he played 1; he played knick-knack on my thumb.
With a knick-knack, paddy-whack, give a dog a bone!
This old man came rolling home.

Then we sang the ABCs to that tune.

After that, it was time for our story, which we led into with three verses of our story song, clap your hands, find a seat, and say "Shh".

Dinosaur storytime
I chose an oldie but a goodie that I knew they would love, Snappy Little Dinosaurs, which is a wonderful pop-up book that is perfect for preschool and under. The illustrations are very bright and bold, with a heavy black outline, and the pop-ups really get their attention and make it fun. The name of each dinosaur is given, along with a short rhyming text, and it ends with the ferocious daddy T. rex with his massive jaws open wide!

These "Snappy Little..." pop-up books are so great to have in your storytime collection, with this one and the "Colors" one being the best. Sadly, they are out of print, but sometimes you can get a good deal on a good-condition used one.

SInce we talked about the colors of the dinosaurs while reading the book, I used that to segue into doing two scarf songs with our birghtly colored scarves. As I handed them out, I asked the kids to identify the color if they were older, or just said the color as I gave it to them. I originally had just planned one scarf song, but since I know they like them so much, I added a second, similar one. Both I found at Jbrary (of course).

(to the tune of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow')

We wave our scarves together;
We wave our scarves together.
We wave our scarves together,
Because it's lots of fun.

(throw, twirl, etc)

(tune of London Bridges)

Wave your scarf up and down, 
Up and down, up and down.
Wave  your scarf up and down,
Wave your scarf.

(left & right, fast & slow, 'round & 'round, to say goodbye)

In the last verse they are getting a chance to say "goodbye" to their scarves in preparation for putting them back in the bag, and I'm happy to say everyone did a great job of giving them back with no tears or objections!

Then I told them we were going to pretend to be dinosaurs with the next song:

The Tyrannosaurus Goes...
(to the tune of "The Wheels On The Bus")

The tyrannosaurus goes roar, roar, roar;
Roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar.
The tyrannosaurus goes roar, roar, roar,
All day long!

(pterandodon's wings go flap, mosasaurus' tail goes splash, triceratops goes munch, brontosaurus feet go stomp, velociraptor runs fast, fast, fast, etc.)

Dinosaur storytimeI had planned a possible second book, I Love My Dinosaur by Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd, but we were already out of time, and I was losing them, so I skipped it and went straight to the bubbles. It is a super cute book, though. The text and illustrations are simple enough for toddlers, but it would probably be perfect for 3 year olds.

Instead, I put my "Wee SIng Dinosaurs" CD on and blew bubbles, and gave hand stamps (dinosaurs, of course) to those that wanted them, and blew a few more bubbles since there were still a fair number of families hanging around. 

I left the music on for a couple of minutes while I put everything else away, and still had a few cute stragglers who were determined to hunt down and pop every last bubble, and one who stayed until I just couldn't wait any longer and had to stop the music so I could leave. If I had been working my normal shift and my home branch, I would've just left it on as long as there were kids listening/dancing to it, but it was actually my day off, and I needed to get home to work on a final MLIS assignment due Friday.


How It Went

I think it went fairly well, as well as a toddler storytime with a substitute presenter could go. Most of the kids didn't seem to preturbed that their usual storytime person wasn't there, but the son of our program manager was not happy at all that I was there instead of his Miss Meggan, though he warmed up a little once we got going. One little girl was there that also comes to my branch frequently and recognized me, so she was happy to see me at least.

Though many of the kids seemed to like everything we did, I did notice that surprisingly I started loosing them during the "The Dinosaur Goes..." song, which I thought they would love, but maybe it had just gone on too long for them. I also noticed I lost some during the attempt to show the ABCs could be sung to different tunes. 

In retrospect, I should have skipped the ABC song, and done either the scarf songs or the dinosaur song in its place. I think I did not have enough movement at the beginning, and then too much at the end. I wish we'd gotten to the second book, but I did not really expect to, and I think it probably would have been slightly too long for this crowd anyway.

But the one little girl who stayed until the bitter end when I finally had to unplug the music and leave did come up and give me a hug, so I consider it a success! Plus, I got to wear my dinosaur dress.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Rainbow Science - STEAM Program


Rainbow Science, Diffraction

When I first picked this theme, I really didn't know exactly where I was going with it, but it ended up focusing on the light spectrum and diffraction with various activities to produce "rainbows".

I put together a brief PowerPoint to start with, showing how rainbows form, the order of the colors, the fact that they have no end, how double rainbows form (and that the colors are inverted in the outer one), some other optical effects similar to rainbows (glory, halo, moonbow, cloudbow, fogbow, rainbows at waterfalls), and photos of some of the activities we were going to do. 

After the introduction and PowerPoint, they divided up and rotated among 4 stations for about 15 minutes before we went outside to repeat some of the activities and try an additional one. I made sure all the activities would work indoors with flashlights (though not as well, and some flashlights work better than others) in case the sun did not cooperate, and they could compare artificial light and natural sunlight if it did.

Ages: 5-10 actual, 8-12 recommended

Number: 15 actual, dependent on supplies and staffing

Budget: Approximately $37 reusable, $15 consumable

Materials:

  • triangular prisms (I found the acrylic set worked as well as the glass)
    6" optical glass - $12 from Amazon, set of 4", 2", & 1" acrylic - $9 from Amazon
  • set of 12 crystal light pulls (optional) - $16 from Amazon
  • CDs and/or DVDs (I used discards)
    refraction glasses
  • drinking glass(es), clear with smooth sides
  • small bowl of water
  • small mirror
  • variety of flashlights
  • masking tape
  • spray bottles
  • refraction glasses - 20 for $15 from Amazon 
  • black paper

For all indoor activities, the lights were dimmed and tables covered with black paper to improve visibility.

Station 1 - Triangular Prisms

I set out all four triangular prisms and several different flashlights, and told them to also try
their parents' phone flashlights. One of the flashlights at each station was masked with tape so only a focused beam of light would be emitted.

I encouraged them to experiment with the different prisms and flashlights, and warned that they would have to be patient and rotate the prism and try different angles to get the thin, faint rainbow to appear. Below are the prisms, a rainbow made with a flashlight, and one with a beam of sunlight (click on any image to enlarge).

Rainbow Science, diffraction, light spectrum

Station 2 - Crystal Light Pulls

All 12 crystals were put out on a table with several flashlights. These were a little trickier to use, and did not work very well with flashlights, but when the light and angles are just right, will produce multiple tiny rainbows in different patterns. Sadly, someone apparently pocketed one of my crystals, so there are only 11 pictured below (click on image to enlarge).

Rainbow science, diffraction, visible light spectrum

Station 3 - CD & DVDs

Several discarded CDs and DVDs were set out on the table along with several flashlights.

Participants could either see the color spectrum looking directly at the disk, or project a rainbow by shining the light on it at an angle.

Rainbow Science, diffraction, visible spectrum

Station 4 - Water

1. Two glasses were filled about 3/4 of the way with water, and one was masked on one side to compare, and several flashlights were available. When the light is just right, a tiny rainbow is produced on the table, and if the glass is moved to the edge of the table, it can be projected on the floor for a larger one.

2. A small mirror was placed in a bowl at an angle. When light is shined through the water and reflected off the mirror, a rainbow will be projected on a vertical surface (click on image to enlarge).

Rainbow Science, diffraction, visible spectrum

Station 5 - Outdoors

1. After trying the activities inside for a few minutes with varied success, we went outside with the prisms and crystals to use with natural sunlight (I also took one of the glasses of water, but it got spilled before we could try it).

Rainbow Science, diffraction, visible spectrum

2. Then I gave them spray bottles to see if we could create rainbows with the mist in the sunlight, but we never got it to work, partly because it was getting overcast and the sunlight wasn't strong enough.

Big Finish!

After we'd done all the activities, I surprised them with the coolest thing, refraction glasses! When you are wearing these and look at a light, or towards (BUT NEVER DIRECTLY AT) the sun, you will see "rainbows" all over the place, and depending on the source of the light, the effects can really vary. I had strung up some white tree lights, in addition to all the various types of lighting in the library. Below are photos taken of the lights in the library with the glasses (click on image to enlarge).

Rainbow Science, diffraction, visible spectrum

These things are so fun, and well worth the 75 cents each, in my opinion. I played with them for at least an hour looking at different types of indoor and outdoor lighting after I bought them. Below are some outdoor photos in bright sunlight over the library and reflecting off cars, filtering through the trees at sunset, the moon, and neighbor's outdoor lights. Notice in the last photo you can see that some lights produce the full spectrum of colors, and other only emit specific wavelengths, leaving gaps appearing as black bands in the spectrum (click on any image to enlarge).

Rainbow science, diffraction, visible spectrum

*Note - In full disclosure, some of these photos were taken during the program, but some were taken while testing the activities before, or recreating them after, as I didn't get a chance to take many during.

How It Worked 

While all of the activities will work indoors with flashlights, they work much better with strong sunlight. I had thoroughly tested everything and made sure it all would work with flashlights and figured out the best ways. I had fun playing with them (and so did my cat, as you can see in the video below).


However, the kids were not as successful because they were too impatient, and not following directions or looking closely enough. They would try once, then give up and race to the next thing; they just were not willing to take time and experiment and problem-solve. They also kept crowding each other and shining their flashlights right where someone else was trying to make a rainbow, totally washing it out. Most had success with the CDs & DVDs, which are by far the easiest, and some had success with the prisms and other activities with help from me, but others were just....well, it was a bit like herding cats at times.

I was a bit frustrated that the adults were not helping more. Sometimes I get a really good group of adults that are involved, and other times they just want to sit in the back and play on their phones. I'm going to have to do better about making the expectations clear from the very beginning, and let them know they are expected to be participants, and assist and supervise their child, and manage their behavior.

There was one funny comment. At the beginning I gave them a little "pop quiz" as a way of introducing the topics we were going to talk about, and one question was "What is at the end of the rainbow?" [which is in reality a trick question, because as we were about to learn, there is no end of the rainbow], and I expected then to either say 'nothing' or 'a pot of gold'. One little boy was very specific, however, saying not just a pot of gold, but that the gold was worth about $30 😃🌈

What I'd Do Differently

I think I'm also just still expecting too much for the ages I'm getting, and have to pick easier, more foolproof activities. Stations just don't seem to work for this group, so if I were to do this again, I'd have more supplies and do it classroom-style, which I prefer anyway. I would give each participant, or each family, an acrylic prism (they're cheap enough to be able to by a few sets), one of the crystals, a CD or DVD, a glass of water, and a flashlight and lead them through each activity.

But I would definitely get the refraction glasses, and I highly recommend them for any light- or color-themed activity, or anytime you want a really fun giveaway for less than $1 each. Just be sure to warn them NOT to ever look directly at the sun!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Baby Jam Storytime


baby storytime, storytime for babies, babytime, mommy & me

One of our children's librarians at another branch has been on extended leave, and various staff have been taking turns filling in for her programs. I was asked if I was interested in filling in for her "Baby Jam" this week, and I jumped at the chance! "Baby Jam" is our system's babytime for more active babies from birth-18 months. Though all ages are welcome, it's mostly crawlers and walkers with an occasional younger baby or older sibling.

Of course, I was also a bit terrified as I have only done storytime for mostly preschool-ish ages. While I might have a few toddlers and babies, I've never done an all-out baby & caregiver storytime. But, I've observed one, talked to my boss who does ours (I don't work that shift, so I don't get to see it), got a couple of handouts from past babytimes the person I was subbing for had done, and looked at some of the information on Jbrary (of course).

I decided to follow the regular presenter's basic structure, since that is what the crowd was used to and I don't really have my own style for that age group yet, though if it was something I was going to be doing regularly, I probably would've changed some things (more about that later). Her basic structure was welcome, 2 welcome/lead-in type songs with motions, ball play, 2 bounces/tickles, read book, 2 more songs, rhymes, or fingerplays, bubbles, good-bye song, and this is what I did:

I started with announcing storytime was beginning, and passing out the handouts with all of the songs, rhymes, etc., that we would be doing while singing the short "Hello" song I use on my outreach visits:

Hello, My Friends

Hello, my friends; hello!
Hello, my friends; hello!
Hello, my friends; hello, my friends!
Hello, my friends, hello!

Then I introduced myself and explained that Miss Christy had been out, but would be back soon, and I might do things just a little differently because we all have our own styles and favorites songs and such. Then I introduced my "baby", the stuffed animal I had brought to model how to do the motions and interactions with their babies.

baby storytime

The regular presenter does a welcome song that calls every baby by name, but I did not think my voice was up to 25 verses, so I used a song from Jbrary instead:

Hello, Everybody

Hello, everybody! Can you touch your nose?
Touch your nose, touch your nose?
Hello, everybody, can you touch your nose?
Touch - your - nose!

(touch toes, pat head, rub tummy, etc.)

Babies love to show off their receptive language by pointing to body parts, and these songs and rhymes are not only fun, they reinforce vocabulary and body awareness. I explained as I modeled with my "baby" how parents could either model by touching their own nose, etc., touch their baby's nose, or help their baby touch their nose, depending on the age and what they were comfortable with.

I followed that with a lead-in song that the regular presenter uses that also has movements for the babies to do or parents to do with them:

Come Along and Sing With Me
(to the tune of "London Bridges")

Come along and sing with me, 
Sing with me, sing with me.
Come along and sing with me,
It's time for storytime!

(clap, wave, wiggle, bounce, play, etc.)

Then we got the big bin of balls out, with balls of various sizes, colors, and textures, for them to play with for a few minutes (with music), then I sang the "Clean Up" song while we all picked them up and put them away. 

Since they were now all hyped up, I followed this with a more active song that I also got from Jbrary that is supposed to get everyone up dancing, either picking up their child and holding them, or for the more mobile and independent one, holding their hands and dancing with them.


(To the tune of “Shortnin’ Bread”)

Mama’s little baby loves dancing, dancing;
Mama’s little baby loves turning ‘round.
Mama’s little baby loves dancing, dancing;
Mama’s little baby loves to boogie down.

Lean to the left, lean to the right;
Hug that baby nice and tight.
Lean to the left, lean to the right;
Hug that baby nice and tight.

Mama’s little baby loves dancing, dancing’
Mama’s little baby loves turning ‘round.
Mama’s little baby loves dancing, dancing;
Mama’s little baby loves to boogie down.

(Daddy, Auntie, Grandma….)

I mentioned that these bigger movements of holding them up high, down low, leaning to each side, and turning around helps develop their proprioception, or awareness of their body's position and movement in space. I personally love this movement song, but the caregivers did not really get into it like I expected.

To settle down in preparation for reading the story, we followed that with a gentle tickle used by the regular presenter, with modification:

Tickle You Here

Bounce you here, kiss you there,
Bounce you, kiss you, everywhere.

(tickle, kiss, hug)

Baby storytime

And now it was [finally] time to read our book. I choose Ten Tiny Tickles by Karen Katz, which probably would've been better for the younger "Cuddle Babies" class as it is a sweet, gentle story counting as we tickle baby, working on vocabulary as well. In retrospect, I would have been better off reading her Ten Tiny Babies, which has movements for older, more mobile babies to do, plus has more diversity. But all her books are great for babies and toddlers.

Following the story, we did a classic bounce, The Grand Old Duke of York:

The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up.
And when they were down, they were down.
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.

And then the "Five Little Ducks":

Five little ducks went out to play,
Over the hills and far away.
Mama Duck called them with a
"Quack, quack, quack,"
And four little ducks came running back.

(count down to no little ducks)

Then, Mama Duck called with a
"QUACK, QUACK, QUACK!!"
And five little ducks came running back!

We finished up by blowing bubbles with music playing in the background.


How It Went

I think it went fairly well. I was a little nervous, never having done that age group before nor having observed as many as I would like, but I didn't suck! Though I love being able to read longer books to older kids who are able to appreciate humor, I had fun with the babies, too, and found I was more comfortable slipping in development and literacy tips with this age.

Each individual part of the storytime was fine, though I did not quite get as much participation from the parents and expected interactions between caregiver and child. Most of the babies were walking, so the parents tended to let them just kind of mill around, though most of the babies did imitate many of the actions. I found that while I liked all the individual parts, I did not feel comfortable with the overall structure for a few reasons.

First, it just felt a little choppy as I quickly moved from one thing to the next, trying to get everything done in our 30 minutes time frame, and the transitions were awkward (that could just be me). I think I would have preferred to leave off a couple of the songs/rhymes, and do more verses or repetitions of the ones we did..

But the biggest thing that felt really off to me was having gross motor play in the beginning, between rounds of songs and before the story. I'm sure those that do it this way have a good reason and it works for them, but to me it just seemed like it got them wound up and left them hanging as there wasn't much time for it. Also, babies start to develop object permanence at 4 months, and it's pretty solid by a year old, so you are risking some serious meltdowns when you have to put the balls away again so soon, and I did have one. 

Personally, I would save playtime for the end, and let them have more time with them. And I would probably vary it, and have different toys or more structured play activities, depending on the ages.

If you regularly do Babytime, what is your structure? How many songs/rhymes/bounces do you do, and do yo include gross motor play in the middle or end?