Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Exploring the Arts - Toddler Storytime

Art storytime, exploring the arts with toddlers

This was our second week of summer reading, which had the overall CSLP theme of "Adventure Begins at Your Library". I usually pick loose weekly themes after I've booked performer/presenters based on their shows; this week I booked an interactive steel drum performance so used "Exploring the Arts" as the theme for the week. This was a very fun, busy, and noisy storytime!

My toddler storytimes incorporate a lot of repetition and movement, with generally only one book, followed by activities that are usually open-ended, exploratory, and play-based. We started with our "Hello" song, followed by this month's warm-up song:

Hello, Everybody
(from Jbrary)

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

(I do 4-5 verses with various body parts/actions)

Next we did two movement songs with props. This month, we are using shaker eggs and I chose two recorded songs, "I Can Shake My Shaker Egg" by Eric Litwin & Michael Levine and "I Know a Chicken" by Laurie Berkner:

Then I tried to get them settled down with several verses of our lead-in song:

If You're Ready for a Story

If you're ready for a story, stomp your feet!
If you're ready for a story, stomp your feet!
If you're ready for a story, if you're ready for a story,
If you're ready for a story stomp your feet.

(turn around, clap hands, take a seat, say "shh"...)

Since we already incorporate so much music into storytime, I chose a book reflecting a visual art form, Beautiful Hands by Bret Baumgarten and Kathryn Otoshi. 

This book has beautiful, creative illustrations that use handprints and fingerprints to create images of flowers, trees, butterflies, a dragon, and more. I immediately fell in love with the idea of using handprint art for one of our activities, but as I read the book in storytime I realized the text really didn't flow that well or tie in to the pictures well enough. 
Sometimes I do an additional song or rhyme after the book, but I had a large group and I was losing them, so I went straight to counting with bubbles, which is how I end every toddler storytime.
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!

(blow bubbles during second verse using a bubble gun)

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!

(repeat second verse as many times as needed)

Ten little, nine little, eight little bubbles,
Seven little, six little, five little bubbles,
Four little, three little, two little bubbles,
One little bubble goes POP!

Then we sang a "Goodbye" song, which I prefaced by telling then that we did have activities afterward, but we would go ahead and sing our goodbye song in case we didn't get to say goodbye to all of our friends later.


I set up four different "stations" with simple, age-appropriate activities to explore various types of art:
  1. Handprint Collage - Inspired by our book, but I used large stamp pads with washable ink instead of paint because it is easier, less messy, and dries much faster. Also provided markers for adding details.

  2. Dot Painting - While perhaps not as creative as others, young kids really love this and it gives them practice with their fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination, and they can play with color. While I do give them printed templates with the circles to fill, they always have the option of turning it over and doing their own thing on the back.
  3. Play-Dough Sculpture - Provided several different colors of play-doh, cookie cutters, rotary cutters, plastic knives, and rolling pins and just let them do their own thing! Parents love when we do this at the library, because so many don't do it at home (unfortunately). I emphasize that rolling, squishing, and cutting dough is such great exercise for little hands and fingers, building strength and motor skills.

  4. Musical Instruments - I could not come up with anything I liked for the sensory bin, so I decided to just put all the instruments in it. After all, they are definitely sensory! I felt a little bad about it, because I knew my assistant and some of the adults (and some kids) would have a hard time with the noise, but I felt I just had to this time and knew most of the kids would love them.

     [Btw, a set of musical instruments is a great passive-aggressive gift to give to a child whose parents have annoyed you, but also very developmentally appropriate! A couple of my nieces/nephews may have received such a gift in the past 🤣]
How It Went

I had a large group (for this library) of at least 22 children and 18 or so adults (it's so hard to get an accurate count because of people coming and going due to arriving late, needing to step out early with a fussy/wiggly child, or not staying for the activities afterward), and it was a very busy, noisy, but fun storytime.

The book I chose was great for inspiring an activity, but not so great for a group read-aloud, and I lost all but the oldest kids' attention, but of course quickly re-gained it when I brought out the bubbles! A few families opted not to stay for the activities, or not very long, due to being overwhelmed by the noise and number of people, and that's okay. Usually, after they have been coming regularly and get to know people, they get used to it, plus it's usually not as noisy as it was today 😉. For example, the child in the photo above gleefully banging the cymbals with a huge grin of pure joy on their face used to be very quiet and shy, and would leave right after storytime instead of staying for the activities. Now, they stay afterward and dive right in!

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