Storytime Planning, so much more than just books!

27 Aug

storyOur fall session for storytime begins at the end of September, but with Labor Day weekend coming up and fall programming beginning soon after, I know I have to get in gear and started planning for my storytimes.  This fall I’ll be offering a toddler storytime for children ages 2 – 3.5 years old with their parents and caregivers as well as a parachute storytime opportunity for a wider range of children ages 2 – 5 with their parent or caregiver.

Sometimes I feel like parents think I just pull a few books off the shelf, grab some CDs and head into storytime, but they don’t realize that my planning is in depth – I think about childhood development, literature and illustrations, movement activities, fine motor skills, and so many other things.  Storytime planning really is so much more than just books.

1.) To start my planning, I first create a list of books that I want to look at to see if they would fit for my program – sometimes I focus on themes, others times I choose books because I know they’ll be a big hit but have nothing in common with each other.  This is how I normally begin, sometimes though I’ll head straight to the shelves and start browsing too.

2.) After I have a good list of books, I find them all and start going through them one-by-one.  Checking for length, language, diversity, level of excitement, etc.  Sometimes, I’ll know right away it’s not going to work, others I try and figure out ways to make it work – cutting out a few pages, creating a flannelboard or adding a puppet or musical instrument and sometimes you find the perfect book that will work just right! (Just like Goldilocks!)

3.) After I’ve read through my books, I start organizing them for each week I’ll use them, I usually read three books in each storytime and each session has six weeks, so I need at least 18 solid choices.  I try and pair longer stories with shorter ones, really interactive books with less interactive books and so on.

4.) Once I’ve figured out what books are scheduled for each week, I begin adding in the transitions, opening, closing, musical instruments, flannel board, extension activities.  I think the hardest part for me is figure out music, for whatever reason, I have the hardest time finding music to go with my storytime.  Songs need to be not too long, directions sometimes help, and even though I usually play music off an iPod, I still feel better if I know most of the words to sing along too.  During this stage I also think about what to tell the parents to encourage early literacy education and skills at home.

5.) Finally, it’s all about practice, reading books out loud, listening to the songs, practicing flannel boards rhymes.  I’ve done back-to-back storytimes and the second one (usually) runs more smoothly than the first, just because you can see how the books work with the kids and what you need to do to adjust it.

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