The ultimate question, right? To theme or not to theme? Well, I am hear to tell you that I don’t have the answer to this. I vowed that I wouldn’t be strict with themes because they are restrictive. And yet, I tend to pick a theme. When I can narrow my focus, it helps me. But to be honest, I almost always start out with something too narrow, realize this in my planning process, and then broaden my focus which helps with the flow of my storytime. I like to think that it is a happy medium between theme and no theme. If that makes any sense.
Ten minutes before storytime, I open the room and people can start coming in. I always have music playing (becuase walking into a silent room with only a few other people is awkward) and I start using my bubble wand. I model for the caregivers in the room by encouraging the kids to pop the bubbles, count them while they pop them, look at how colorful they are, etc. I will usually make an aside comment to the caregivers that playing with bubbles helps with early literacy skills because of hand-eye coordination, fine motor, counting, etc. Once it is time, we say bye-bye bubbles, I turn off the music and close the door.
I always start out with a welcome, I introduce myself, and give some general announcements. I have a program survey I put out to get feedback, the storytime listing for all of our branches, my branch calendar for youth events, SRP if that is going on, etc. Then we sing our welcome song. Currently, I love We Clap and Say Hello.
Then I play on the ukulele and we sing the ABCs. At some point when my to kids were storytime age, it dawned on me that I hadn’t spent enough time singing the ABCs with them! I mean, we read a ton, we sing a lot, and I just kind of naturally did all of the early literacy practices. But at some point I realized that one of them didn’t know the ABC song as well as I thought they should for their age and made more of a point to sing it regularly. If someone like me can forget to do that, it is highly possible that some of these parents may be in the same boat. It is a nice, regular thing we can do that everyone can join in on right away so I like to kick off storytime with the ABC song.
After we sing the ABCs, I tell them I brought one of those letters with me today. I sing the following to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb.
“What letter do we have today? Have today? Have today? What letter do we have today? It’s the letter ____________.”
For toddlers, I introduce the letter, showing them an upper and lower case letter. Then we talk about things that start with that letter. I either show flannel pieces or printed cards with things that begin with that letter. They help identify them. Finally, we all say the letter sound together.
I do things slightly different for preschoolers. I sing the following to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb:
“What letter do we have today? Have today? Have today? What letter do we have today? Can you help me guess?”
And then I show them the flannel pieces or cards and they help identify them. Eventually they start calling out what the letter is. I bring out an upper case and lower case of that letter and we all say the letter sound together.
The letter that I pick has something to do with the theme of the storytime or can very loosely be tied to it in some way. For instance, for a bedtime theme I used the letter Y for yawning. This helps me flow into our first book.
The Guts: books, songs, rhymes, flannels, activities
From this point I tend to have 3 books and 3 different related songs, rhymes, flannels, activities that will flow nicely.
I use this document to help me prepare each storytime. I keep it close by in case I need to veer off course. I still have a plan but it is more open ended so I can be flexible and responsive to my patrons.
Wrapping It Up
At this point, we sing our closing song which is currently We Clap and Say Goodbye. If it is preschool storytime, I bring out the craft supplies and they work on the floor in different areas. I roam around the room talking to the kids about what they are making. As they finish up their craft, people start leaving one by one and I give them a stamp on the way out… or 3 or 4… or none at all if they don’t feel like it. 😛
So there you have it. How I plan and the typical flow of my storytimes. I came up with way from watching others and reading posts like this one on other blogs about how others do it. So… how do you do it? Please tell me!