My First Family Storytime – Feedback

Disaster.

The first word I thought when I completed my first solo family storytime. This word was immediately followed by thoughts of a million things I could have done differently. My first book was too long. My scaffolding was confusing. My songs were too long. My songs didn’t have enough movement. The kids grew bored. The kids couldn’t follow what I was doing. One toddler was running around behind me. One threw a tantrum in the back. Even my friend’s nephew, who’s grandmother brought him here specifically to watch my storytime, just sat in his grandma’s lap with a shocked, frightened look on his face.

I am a terrible librarian, I thought after I finished. Sweaty and red-faced, I just tried to hold it together as the kids and parents/caregivers said thank you and goodbye.

To set the scene, there were 53 participants at my storytime. The majority were toddlers, although (blessedly) a preschool group showed up. These older kids anchored my storytime, so I at least I had a few attentive faces. I carefully introduced the songs and the books. Many kids participated. Many didn’t. By the end, I was emotionally exhausted from remaining upbeat, cheerful, and animated for 20 minutes.

My only consolation came when Claire and I sat down for feedback. The first words out of her mouth: “Wow, that was a tough group.” She complemented my pacing and participatory efforts during the books and songs. [I used an example to introduce the concept of the first book, asked leading questions (“What would you say?” or “I don’t see a pigeon anywhere! Do you?”), asked for suggestions (such as “what else do penguins do?” during that song), etc.] Claire suggested that I should have shortened the first book when I noticed they started to fidget, and could have switched the middle song to help shake out their wiggles, or had them stand up. But her biggest feedback regarded my scaffolding. The man point of scaffolding is to set up the kids (and by extension, myself) to succeed. If the kids need to think too hard to answer a question (or find an image, or repeat after me, or do a movement), then they falter. Instead, my scaffolding should be done in a way where they easily know the answer already. To accomplish this I actually need to scaffold books and songs much more than I think–especially if I’m expecting a call and response.

This feedback is invaluable. I understand that my ability to scaffold will grow with experience, but for now I look forward to picking Claire’s brain for tips and tricks and watching other librarian’s storytimes to learn how I can grow this skill.

Granted, even if I had shortened a book, changed a song, or scaffolded everything more, the group dynamic may not have improved. Some storytimes are just hard.

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Family Storytime Program

Today I lead my first family storytime. I went over my song uncertainty with the children’s librarian, and she agreed that “Where is Thumpkin” is a bit too long for the toddlers we expect to participate. She also suggested that I theme my storytime, seeing as all my books feature animals doing silly things. I ended up changing my second song to be about animals as well.

Hello!

Good Morning Song: Good Morning Dear Earth*

Shake the sillies out – hello to grown-ups and rules

Rhyme/Song: Open Shut Them*

Book One: Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell

Rhyme/Song: Mmm-ahh Went the Little Green Frog (via Jbrary)

Mmm ahh went the little green frog one day.
Mmm ahh went the little green frog.
Mmm ahh went the little green frog one day.
And they all went mmm, mmm, ahh.
But…
We know frogs go (clap) shanananana.
(clap) shanananana. (clap) shanananana.
We know frogs go (clap) shanananana.
They don’t go mmm, mmm, ahh.

(additional verses: Bloop, bloop went the little blue fish/We know fish go (kiss) kissy, kissy kiss and Slow, slow went the little green turtle/We know turtles go (clap) Cawabunga Dude!)

Book Two: What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas

Rhyme/Song: Have You Ever Seen a Penguin

Have you ever seen a penguin, a penguin, a penguin

Have you ever seen a penguin swim this way and that?

Swim this way and that way and this way and that way.

Have you ever seen a penguin swim this way and that?

(other verses: slide…waddle…flap…)

Book Three: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

Goodbye Song: Dinos in Cars! and “This is the way we say goodbye…”*

Stamp Time! while singing the “I am waiting” song*

*See the words on Family Storytime Format

 

Family Storytime Planning Woes

I’m fairly certain I’m overthinking my plan for family storytime tomorrow. It’s my first solo family storytime, and I’m concerned the books I selected will create high energy. I’d like to bring the kids back down with more calming songs that they may already know. The difficulty is not only finding these songs, but deciding which two I want to use!

Songs I’m considering:

Mmm-Ahh Went the Little Green Frog One Day (via Jbrary)

Mmm ahh went the little green frog one day.
Mmm ahh went the little green frog.
Mmm ahh went the little green frog one day.
And they all went mmm, mmm, ahh.
But…
We know frogs go (clap) shanananana.
(clap) shanananana. (clap) shanananana.
We know frogs go (clap) shanananana.
They don’t go mmm, mmm, ahh.

Bloop, bloop went the little blue fish one day.
Bloop, bloop went the little blue fish.
Bloop, bloop went the little blue fish one day.
And they all went bloop, bloop, bloop.
But..
We know fish go (kiss) kissy, kissy kiss.
(kiss) kissy, kissy kiss. (kiss) kissy, kissy kiss.
We know fish go (kiss) kissy, kissy kiss.
They don’t go bloop, bloop, bloop.

Slow, slow went the little green turtle one day,
Slow, slow went the little green turtle.
Slow, slow went the little green turtle one day,
And they all went slow, slow, slow.
But…
We know turtles go (clap) Cawabunga Dude!
(clap) Cawabunga Dude! (clap) Cawabunga Dude!
We know turtles go (clap) Cawabunga Dude!
They don’t go slow, slow, slow.

What I like about it: It’s a pretty well-known song, but with a fun twist the kids may enjoy. Even if they don’t know that part, it’s pretty easy for them to catch on. The song also has a slower pace and the kids can sit on the floor during it, thus bringing the energy level down.

My issues with this song: The twist could raise the energy level back up again as the toddlers and preschoolers realize the silliness of the song. Dilemma.

Where is Thumbkin

Where is Thumbkin?
Where is Thumbkin?
Here I am!
Here I am!
How are you today, sir?
Very well, I thank you.
Run away.  
Run away.

Where is Pointer?
Where is Pointer?
Here I am!
Here I am!
How are you today, sir?
Very well, I thank you.
Run away.  
Run away. (Repeat with Middleman, Ringer, and Pinkie to round out the hand)

What I like about it: It’s very well known and has great finger movements. Definitely helps kids work on dexterity and associating their words with their hands.

My issues with the song: It’s quite long and the toddlers/preschoolers may get bored.

Decisions, decisions!

Co-leading family storytime

Again, our friendly children’s librarian leader was away on vacation, leaving us interns to cover her family storytime! Lately the storytimes have been more challenging than normal, due in part to the greater number of toddlers–as opposed to pre-schoolers–present. Ergo, our fierce leader helped us plan a storytime with books and songs well-known to the children, in the hopes we capture–and maintain–their attention.

It worked! The kids were brilliant and excited to recognize the songs and books. Here’s what we did:

Good Morning Song

Good morning dear earth.

Good morning dear sun.

Good morning to the clouds, and the flowers each one

Good morning to the bees (bzzzz!) and the birds on the trees (chirp chirp!)

Good morning to you–and good morning to me.

Book 1: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Song: Wheels on the bus.

Book 2: 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

Song: Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes

Book 3: Bark, George! by Jules Feiffer

Goodbye Songs:

The Dinos in Cars Song…

This is the way we say goodbye..

Then we gave the kids good-bye stamps by asking them to approach the front of the room with their hands atop their heads. While they waited we sang, I am waiting, I am waiting, for my stamp! For my stamp! Waiting, waiting, waiting (x2), for my stamp. For my stamp. Again, they were such a patient bunch!

Family Storytime Format at Northgate

Claire has a set structure she follows for her family storytimes. She uses the same introduction, good morning song, rhyme, and good-bye song. In between she includes additional songs and books that she changes each week.

Family Storytime Format

Quick Hello

Good Morning Song: Good Morning Dear Earth

(Before starting the song, Claire goes over each hand motions with the kids)

Good morning dear earth (round arms in front of you)

Good morning dear sun (round arms above your head)

Good morning to the clouds (close hands in a fist and spreading them open to make clouds)

And the flowers each one. (one arm horizontal to ground while other arm moves up perpendicular and opens hands to denote flowers)

Good morning to the bees (make bee noizes and zip fingers around like bees are flying)

And the birds in the trees. (make chirping noise and position fingers like bird’s beaks)

Good morning to you (point to kids)

And good morning to me. (point to self)

Shake the sillies out while telling grown-ups the rules of family storytime

Rhyme song: Open Shut Them (using hands)

Open shut them, open shut them,

Give a little clap – clap – clap!

Open shut them, open shut them,

Put them in your lap – lap – lap.

Creepy craw them, creepy craw them,

Right up to your chin – chin – chin

Open up your little mouth…

But do not let them in!

Book One

Rhyme or Song

Book Two

Rhyme or Song

Book Three

Good-bye Song: Dinos in Cars! (by Nancy Stewart)

(Ending with) This is the way we say good-bye, say good-bye, say good-bye

This is the way we say good-bye, we’ll see you next time. (x2)

Stamp time! The storytime ends with giving the participants a stamp on their hands. The kids are instructed to place their hand on their heads and slowly approach the librarian for their stamp, singing the “I am Waiting” song (sung to the tune of Father John).

I am waiting, I am waiting,

For my stamp. For my stamp.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting.