Sunday, September 19, 2021

Toddler Storytime - August


toddler storytime

After having done only one family storytime a week since the pandemic hit, virtually through May and in-person outdoors through the summer, I decided to go back to the pre-pandemic schedule of toddler storytime on Wednesday and family storytime on Friday. This is for two reasons: (1) I have been having a fair number of toddlers (and a few infants) attending fairly regularly, and felt they needed their own storytime that was more developmentally appropriate for them, and (2) once school starts in August the older kids can only come on Fridays because for whatever reason the public schools here are only in session Mon-Thur. 

I have done hundreds of preschool storytimes and dozens of family storytimes, and while I've subbed for toddler storytimes and had a few outreach visits to baby and toddler classes, this is the first time I've had my own regular toddler storytime. The toddler storytimes I've subbed for followed slightly different formats, but both involved shorter, simpler books, more movement, more songs/rhymes/fingerplays, and playtime with developmentally appropriate toys rather than a craft. I decided to start out with the format my previous co-worker used for her "Movers & Shakers" toddler storytime, which uses the same songs and rhymes each week for a month along with 1-2 short books. I like this format because I know how important repetition is for learning with young children, plus it really encourages participation and engagement, and as a bonus I don't have to spend time searching for new rhymes and songs every week.

I decided not to worry about themes. If I can find toddler-appropriate books that fit the theme of the family storytime that week, then fine, but if not, I'll just pull something else for the toddlers. Another thing I am taking from my former co-worker's storytime is ending with bubbles. Not only are bubbles great fun, but it's also a great developmental activity as it involves tracking, gross motor movement to chase and pop the bubbles, crossing the midline to reach for a bubble, and bilateral coordination in popping the bubbles with a clap. Plus we sing a counting song along with them. I am still giving them a simple take home craft, but I am really hoping to gradually move away from that and incorporate play time and more open-ended activities instead of crafts every week, as soon as I can get some sensory toys and manipulatives. Not only is this more developmentally appropriate, it saves time in prepping all the cookie-cutter crafts.

The songs/rhymes I selected for the first month were:
The books I read and the take-home craft for each week were:

  • Toddler storytime
    Week 1 -
    Spunky Little Monkey by Bill Martin, Jr. & Michael Sampson, I Spy Under the Sea by Edward Gibbs, cupcake liner fish craft.

    I wanted to incorporate movement as much as possible, so we moved our heads, hands, feet, and hips along with the spunky little monkey, and then we practiced counting with I Spy.

  • Chicken storytime, toddler storytime
    Week 2 - Charlie Chick Learns to Fly by Nick Denchfield & Ant Parker, Wee Little Chick by Lauren Thompson & John Butler, hatching chick craft.

    The Charlie Chick series of simple pop-up books are *perfect* for toddlers! I had never seen them before, and was excited to find them in our collection. The kids got to show their feet, flap their wings, and peep along with Charlie, then identified farm animals and showed me little, big, and tall with the Wee Little Chick, along with pecking for food. (The other books shown were used for Family Storytime later in the week). I also added Laurie Berkner's "I Know a Chicken" with egg shakers. So fun!

I should have had one more song or rhyme with lots of actions, and something else instead of Mary Had a Little Lamb, which they didn't really know and seemed a little boring without actions to go with it. However, "Roly-Poly" proved to be a big hit, especially with one of my regulars, and of course they loved counting and popping the bubbles.

I will continue to tweak the format of this storytime, though I know I want to keep a lot of repetition and movement, maybe incorporating a song cube if I can find time to make one. A few parents have asked about a "Music & Movement" program, which I don't have the availability to do as a weekly program due to staffing constraints, but I will probably incorporate as a special monthly program, probably in place of the regular toddler storytime that week. But first I have to get a new boom box that works that can both play CDs as well as connect to my phone and can run on batteries.

What kind of format do you use for your toddler storytimes? I'd love to hear about it! 

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