Monday, November 4, 2019

Toddler Outreach Visit

For the last several months I've been making monthly visits to an area daycare, seeing a toddler class, two 2-year old classes, a 3-year old class, and a 4-year old class. Because I am only allowed an hour and the teachers don't like to combine classes, I have had to rotate which ones I see, which is not ideal for building rapport. Today when I arrived, the daycare informed that that I will just see the toddlers and 2-year olds from now on, as they have arranged a music class for the older classes on that day.

While I would have preferred to keep the older classes as I could do more fun books with them, the silver lining is that there will be more continuity, I will be able to build a stronger relationships since I will see the same kids every time, and planning will be easier as I know who I am going to see each time and won't need to plan for the entire range of ages from 1 through 5.

Today I brought another Jane Cabrera book since her Baa Baa Black Sheep worked so well with the toddlers last time, as well as a couple of books that were a little on the "scary" side since it was just Halloween.

Toddler Class 

I started with the "Hello" song, followed by "Hello, Everybody" to greet everyone and get them warmed up. Normally I do a couple of other songs because they've always responded better to music than books, but today they were clamoring for books so I went right to the first book, Row, Row, Row Your Boat by Jane Cabrera. I chose this because they responded so well to another book by Cabrera last week that could be sung, and because it had all the different animals they could identify and make the sounds of (one little boy was particularly excited about the lion).

After I finished that. they kept saying "book, book, book", so even though I hadn't really planned on more than one book for them, I pulled out Jan Thomas' The Doghouse. This book is a good choice for a wide age range, because it is short and simple enough for the younger kids, the illustrations are bold and simple, and they can identify the animals and imitate their sounds. For older kids, I am very dramatic and really build up the suspense, but for the littles I tone it down and keep it lighter.

Then I finished with what is usually their favorite song, "The Wheels On The Bus", but today only a few of them were into it, and the others just kept getting up in my face saying "book, book" and "read, read". But I didn't have anymore books appropriate for them, plus we were out of time, so I with a goodbye song, "Storytime Is Over".

Younger Two-Year Old Class 

For both two-year old classes I started with the "Hello" and "Hello, Everybody" songs as well. I started with Row, Row, Row Your Boat with the younger class, and was impressed that the teacher sang along with me, and the kids said the "row, row, row your boat" part each time and did the rowing motions. The loved identifying the animals and making the sounds. They ask for another book right away, so I went right to The Doghouse, reading it just slightly more dramatically than for the toddlers.

Then, they again begged for another book, so instead of a song or rhyme, I went ahead an pulled out my last book I had intended for the older kids, I Want To Eat Your Books by Karin Lefranc and Tyler Parker about a book-eating zombie. Though I think some of it went over their heads, they seemed to get the basic gist and still enjoyed it. After than I was a little late for the next class, so we did a quick "Goodbye" song to close.

Older Two-Year Old Class 

After the greeting and warm-up songs, I first read The Doghouse, and while I didn't go all out on the drama and suspense, I did step it up a little since these kids were older, and they really loved it!

Then we moved on to I Want To Eat Your Books, which they were able to follow a little bit better than the previous class. This book has a nice rhythm for reading aloud, and is just the right touch of "scary" for this age. I also use this book as a great opportunity to discuss how to treat books and take care of them so everyone can enjoy them.

How It Went 

Today's visit was very surprising, but in a good way...everybody was begging for books! I was absolutely amazed at the 180 the toddlers have done since the first several visits when they only responded to music, and paid no attention to books at all. One little boy was genuinely upset that I couldn't stay and read more books.

Then in the younger two-year old class, it was the same thing. They have done fairly well about being engaged with books, but nothing like today. They just couldn't get enough! One little girl even ran after me saying "Noooooo!" because she didn't want me to leave. Though I hate to see them upset or disappointed, I have to admit at the same time I find it gratifying to know they like me being there to read to them that much.

While I'll miss seeing the older classes, it will be nice to see the same kids every time and not have to plan for such a broad age range.

And just for fun, as I was leaving I noticed they had an adorable display of book character pumpkins that I couldn't resist snapping a couple of photos of:

From top left: Woody, the Grinch, Rainbow Fish, Mouse Paint, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Mike Wazowski, and a cat (?).

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