Basic Preschool Storytime Plan

I was forced to take a break from in-person storytimes when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. When I was able to once again resume in-person storytimes (briefly in 2021, then for good in 2022) I found that the books and routine that worked before were no longer working, and I had to make some changes. Attendance was much more sporadic and attention spans much shorter, and I not only had to cut back on how many books I read, but I also had to find shorter books. I also changed from crafts to more developmentally appropriate activities. You can still see my detailed write-up of my original Preschool Storytime plan, which has more explanations of how it evolved, as well as my Toddler Storytime Plan, which I only began doing regularly in 2022.

Post-Pandemic Preschool Storytime Plan:

This plan is of course not written in stone, and I always adjust on the fly to meet the needs and abilities of the group I get on any given day. I generally pick 4-5 books, and decide which ones I'll actually use in the moment, and usually just 2. I also don't always use every song or rhyme I have planned. I make a little program sheet (half page, front & back) that lists storytime expectations, songs and rhymes, and a literacy/development tip or suggested activity, sometimes announcements.
  1. Open room and announce it's time for storytime (I found if I let them in early, they would get too restless and start running around and getting into stuff, better to let them stay in the play area and let entering the room signal it's time to settle down.).
  2. Greet families as they enter and hand them program sheet.
  3. Shut door after everyone is in to prevent escapees.
  4. Greet and welcome the group, briefly go over expectations.
  5. Sing short "Hello" song, then introduce myself and say hello to all the kids by name (I generally average 5-10, rarely more than 12.  I would not try that with a large group.)
  6. Warm-Up Song - Something with a little movement, use the same one all month.
  7. If there's a theme, introduce it. Sometimes share a few photos & facts from a non-fiction book when possible.
  8. Lead-In Song - I use "If You're Ready for a Story"
  9. Read first book
  10. Song, action rhyme, or flannel rhyme. Repeat. If they really like it, may do a third time. If it's really short, may do a 2nd short one.
  11. Read second book
  12. Possibly another song/rhyme
  13. Good-bye song - first explain that there are optional activities after, but we're going to go ahead and sing our "Good-bye" song in case we don't get a chance to say good-bye to all of our friends later.
  14. Activities - usually  2 or 3, if larger group add more. I try to keep them developmentally appropriate, play-centered, and working on some developmental skill. Sometimes do a craft, but less and less often. Some examples:
    • Sensory bin, they LOVE this! I use a base such as water, sand, kinetic sand, shredded paper, rice, or water beads with manipulatives added (plastic animals, gold coins & jewels, figures, boats, ducks, measuring cups & spoons, fishing set, etc.)
    • Paper & crayons
    • Play dough
    • Dot painting - they loved these at first, but have gotten a little bored with it, so use infrequently
    • Play food
    • Counting & Sorting manipulatives
    • Building sets (foam blocks, star builders, bristle blocks, etc)
    • Toy cars & construction vehicles with activity mats
    • Flannel sets on large flannel board
    • Magnetic gears
    • Magnetic letters
    • Plastic animals
    • Puppets & Finger puppets
The storytime part lasts about 25-30 minutes, and I do sometimes deviate from the above plan by throwing in an extra short song or rhyme or on rare occasions getting in a third book (usually in my outreach visits), and at least once having to stop after 1 book! I occasionally use shaker eggs, scarves, or bubbles, but not that often (I really need to use them more, to be honest), and sometimes a puppet or other prop. Some of the songs that I use can be found on the "Repeating Songs" tab above (even some possibly cringe-worthy videos of me singing them), or in the thematic storytime write-ups listed in the right column. is a great source for songs and rhymes, with videos so you can hear the tunes and see the motions.

The activities portion lasts anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on how many kids show up, their ages, and the activities. Occasionally I'll have a couple of families linger, but at 30 minutes I'll go ahead and put away anything they aren't using and go on out to the children's department, leaving the door open so I can keep an eye on things to be sure the room doesn't get wrecked and things don't "walk away" (sad, but true). Most families hang around in the children's department playing, socializing, and picking out books for a little while after storytime.

*Note for Outreach Storytimes - When I do classroom visits to daycares and preschools, I do not do crafts or activities, just the basic storytime. When I first start with a new client, or at the beginning of the school year, I usually shorten it a bit the first time or two. I currently am only able make visits once per month due to lack of staff and all the demands on my time, but my preference would be to visit every other week.

For more detailed discussions on different elements of planning storytime programs, check out my other "Storytime Planning" posts.

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