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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Movers & Shakers - Toddler Storytime


One of my coworkers usually does this storytime, but I had the chance to fill in for her when she was attending a conference last week. Though I see toddlers in my monthly outreach visit, this was my first time doing a toddler storytime with this particular structure.

Our system has two different storytimes for toddlers (defined as ages 18-36 months), a "Little Listeners" which is more of a traditional storytime for kids who are able sit and listen for longer periods of time, and/or prefer a quieter, calmer storytime. "Movers & Shakers" is for the same age range, but is more lively and active (more what I think of as a typical toddler storytime). It has more songs and rhymes with lots of movement, only 1 or 2 books that are typically very short and very interactive, and ends with bubbles and playtime. I've subbed once for the "Little Listeners" at another branch, but this was my first "Movers & Shakers".


Since children this age need and like repetition, my colleague uses the same songs for several sessions, changing it up each month, and doesn't really try to make it fit any particular theme. She had already selected this month's songs, so all I had to do was select the books and present it. She also uses a chime to get everyone's attention when it is time for storytime to begin, and during the storytime if they need refocusing.

I began storytime by ringing the chime and leading everyone to the storytime area, then sang a quick "Hello" song and handed out programs with all of the songs. I then introduced myself, explained I was subbing for Ms. S, and that she would be back next week. I went over expectations (it's okay for kids to wander, but please don't allow them to get into my things, invade others' personal space, or block anyone else's view; feel free to step out and come back if you need to, etc).

Next was a song from Jbrary I've been using a lot lately in my own storytimes that has movement and identifying body parts and actions. You can do as many or few verses as your want, and mix up the parts and actions:




Hello, Everybody

Hello, everybody, can you touch your nose?
Touch your noes, touch your nose?
Hello, everybody, can you touch your nose?
Touch....Your....Nose?

(Touch your toes, wiggle your ears, blink your eyes, rub your tummy...)


Then it was time for our first book, Eric Carle's From Head to Toe. I think this is the perfect book for a toddler storytime! 

The text is very short and simple, it has large, simple, bright and colorful illustrations of animals that the children can identify and imitate sounds, and it invites the children to move like the animals, "I am an elephant, and I can stomp my foot. Can you do it?"

I do skip the page featuring the donkey kicking because storytime is usually a bit too cramped for that, and I don't want anyone to get hurt. (I noticed that when Mr. Rogers visited Eric Carle on his show, he skipped that page when reading it aloud, too.)

That was followed with this movement song, also from Jbrary. To lead into it, I first showed everyone how to roll their arms, and told them we would be going up and down, out and in, and fast and slow.


Roly Poly
(to the tune of "Are You Sleeping")

Roly poly, roly poly
Up, up, up! Up, up, up!
Roly roly poly; Roly roly poly
Down, down, down. Down, down, down

(In-out, fast-slow)

Then we did one of my favorites that kids of all ages seem to love:

Five Little Dinosaurs

One little dinosaur went out to play,
Out in a giant swamp one day.
She had such enormous fun,
She called for another dinosaur to come.
"OH, DINOSAUR!"
(slap hands on thighs to imitate dinosaur running)

Two little dinosaurs....
Three little dinosaurs...
Four little dinosaurs....

Five little dinosaurs went out to play,
Out in a giant swamp one day.
They had such enormous fun
That they played all day til the was done!

(spoken) And then their mamas called,
"OH, LITTLE DINOSAURS,
Time to come home!"
And all the little dinosaurs ran back home.
(slap thighs to make running sounds)


I led into our second book with a quick verse of "If Your Ready for a Story" that is just a bit different than how I typically do it:

If You're Ready For a Story
(to the tune of "If You're Happy & You Know It")

If you're ready for a story, find a seat.
If you're ready for a story, find a seat.
Check your hands and your feet; if you're ready find a seat.
If you're ready for a story, find a seat!


For the second book I choose another great one for incorporating movement that I've used before, Everybunny Dance by Ellie Sandall. This is such a fun book! I start with telling the audience that this is a stand up and move book, not a sit and listen book, and they they are all going to be little bunnies, too. I have them show me their bunny ears (holding two fingers up over their heads) and shake their little bunny tails to get started.

As we go through the book, they get to do a lot of different movements along with the bunnies: dance and twirl, clap hands, pretend to play instruments, sing, etc. Then the fox comes and we have to crouch down and hide, staying very still and quiet. The fox also dances and plays, but then becomes sad and cries because she is all alone. When the bunnies realize that the fox is just lonely, they all jump out and clap and call "Bravo!".

That was followed by the classic "Wheels On the Bus" song, another I really like because of the motions and being able to do as many or few verses as you need/want to.

Then we began to wind things down with bubbles, starting with a counting song. We did the first verse, then once I didn't need my counting fingers anymore I began blowing bubbles as we did the second verse, and for a few minutes afterward.

Ten Little Bubbles

One little, two little, three little bubbles.
Four little, five little, six little bubbles.
Seven little, eight little, nine little bubbles.
Ten little bubbles go POP!

Pop, pop, pop, go all the bubbles.
Pop, pop, pop, go all the bubbles.
Pop, pop, pop, go all the bubbles.
All the little bubbles go POP!

I closed with the "Storytime Is Over" song, and put on some music and brought out some sensory toys for them to play with: sensory tubes, nubby balls and other 3-D shapes, and "Search and Find" alphabet bags. These are kind of like bean bags, made with a soft, velvety fabric, with a clear vinyl "window" on the front. Each is labeled with a letter, and inside are various objects that begin with that letter, along with the plastic pellet "beans". Kids can squish them all around to find and name all of the object. I believe they came from Lakeshore, but don't seem to be available any more.

How It Went 

Though the conditions weren't ideal, I thought it went pretty well. This storytime is normally held in the meeting room, where there is more space, less noise, fewer distractions, and the little ones are contained in a closed room. However, because it was election day and the library is a polling center, the meeting room was required for voting, so we had to have storytime in the space originally intended for storytime that really isn't the greatest design.

It is enclosed on three sides, but the fourth side is open to rest of the department, with the play area directly behind it. It is too small and cramped for the larger group this storytime attracts, too easy for little ones to wander off, and too much noise and distraction from older kids playing right behind us. Additionally, the area is lined with built-in storage bins, topped with cushions for seating, which are great for storage and for parents and kids to sit on to read together, but not so great for storytime because everyone sits there instead of on the floor closer to the presenter. This means it's harder to engage them because they are so far away and can't see the pictures very well. We ask people to move close, but they seldom do, and I do try to get up and walk around so everyone gets a better look. We really need our own separate, designated children's program room!

Since it was election day and school was out, there were a number of older kids at the library playing, so there was quite a din behind us and much more distraction. There was so much background noise my coworker at the desk relatively nearby said she couldn't hear me or the storytime at all! But despite that, I think it went pretty well, though there was the embarrassing moment when I totally blanked on the tune of the "Five Little Dinosaurs" song, even though I've done it at least a couple of dozen times and it's one of my favorites! I ended up speaking the first verse instead of singing it because I just couldn't come up with the tune, but finally it came to me for the remaining verses.

My voice was hoarse afterward from trying to talk/sing over all the background noise, though. I think it's time to invest in some kind of personal PA system. If you use one that you like, tell me about it in the comments!


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