On a recent Saturday morning, I presented my first story time here at the library. It was jungle themed and I had an absolute blast. There were about 20 kids in attendance who ranged in age from 1-5 years old. The kids seemed to be engaged throughout the program and I kind of liked being the center of their attention. It was a great opportunity for me to learn about what works in a story time for this age group and also a chance to identify things I can work on and adjust based on the crowd on any particular day. One thing I think worked well with the first story, “Oh No” by Candace Fleming (love this book), was to make a sign that said “Oh No” and hold it up at the appropriate point in the story so they could help me “read” the story. Even though most of them couldn’t actually read, I think having them associate the words we were saying with the printed text was important–and they seemed to enjoy shouting “Oh No!”.
Something that this experience reinforced is that kids this age want to be up and moving around. Incorporating action into the program is a natural way to help foster early literacy skills and it’s fun when parents get in on the action too! This group responded really well to the song, “if you’re an elephant/monkey/crocodile and you know it”. They really got into performing the motion for each animal–especially the snapping jaws of the crocodile. I think it was helpful that the tune was familiar to them and also that we practiced the motions before we began to sing. We also did an action rhyme that asked them to stop and listen to different animal sounds. I played the sounds on a speaker and they really enjoyed guessing what animal they were hearing.
Something that realize I need to work on is to find strategies to help the kids refocus after an active portion of the story time. I also want to learn some additional techniques for the kids who get excited and have trouble sitting in one place. I love the enthusiasm, but I want to make sure the other kids aren’t distracted. I’m sure I will learn something new every time I do one of these programs. Overall, I had a lot of fun and I look forward to continuing to refine my skills and grow as I have more practice.