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".
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.)
I 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.