As a land-locked state we really weren't able to bring in many guest performers, speakers, or animals that really tied to the CLSP theme of "Oceans of Possibilities", so I just focused on ones that I knew would draw a crowd and people would enjoy. This week we had a petting zoo with farm animals, and while none of them were sea creatures, most of them were mammals, so I decided to make this week's theme "Marine Mammals".
This really ends up being more of a family storytime, but I still try to gear it more to the toddlers, with shorter/fewer books, more movement, and using shaker eggs and scarves. Plus it gives me an excuse to keep the after-storytime craft/activity very simple 😉.
We started with a hello song, then I introduced the topic and tried to explain a few key differences between fish and mammals, particularly marine mammals, then I showed several non-fiction books about several different marine mammals: whales, dolphins, seals, narwhals, and manatees (which I put on display for them to look over afterward). Then we sang our "The Creatures in the Sea Go..." warm up song, starting with marine mammals, followed by a lead-in song.
Our first book was The Whale In My Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan, which was perfect for the younger kids with its short and simple text and perfect amount of silliness. Then we did a shaker egg song, and their favorite "Popcorn" scarf song. That was followed by reading Together by Emma Dodd, a sweet little story about a baby otter and his mother spending the day together (this one didn't hold their attention as well). We closed with bubbles, and then moved to our after storytime activities. I gave them a choice of a simple baby seal craft or playing in the sensory table that had kinetic sand and little plastic marine mammals.
Early Explorers (ages 3-5)
This storytime tends to have mostly kids of the targeted age, as compared to the toddler one. For this one, I started with the same hello, warm-up, and lead-in songs. Then I read This is a Sea Cow by Cassandra Federman, which is great for older kids and is a perfect mix of silliness and factual information to keep them engaged. We followed that with a song about whales to the tune of "Clemmentine":