Family Story Time – July 10, 2015

It’s so good to be back!! After a month+ long break, story times are back for a six-week summer session. It felt so good to be back in the programming room with all my little ones!

I’m trying to venture out of my comfort zone ever-so-slightly, so today I brought out some felts – something I never do! Here’s what we did and how it went:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Book 1: Bark, George! / Jules Feiffer

bark george

Songs:

  • I wake up my hands with a shake, shake, shake
  • When cows wake up in the morning
  • Open/shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat – The Wheels on the Bus / James Dean

wheels

Action songs:

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom, zoom, zoom / Far, far, far
  • Twinkle twinkle
  • If you’re happy and you know it
  • The elevator song

Soothing song:  Orca whale

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

What a fabulous story time! We had an excellent adult/child ratio (no preschools/day cares), and the adults were all really involved and active, which was great. There was a mix of regulars and new patrons, and a lot of families who had been counting down the days until story time started up again!

For my first foray into felts, I combined pieces from “Dear Zoo” and “I went walking” to make a custom “When cows wake up in the morning”. Combining the stories meant I got old standards like “cow” and “horse” as well as fun additions like “elephant”, “snake” and “monkey”! It was a lot of fun, and I cut it down a bit because of time, but I think I could’ve easily gone through all the animals in my bag. It would also be fun to use this customized kit for “Old MacDonald had a farm”, to make a very unique set of farm animals!

All in all a really great way to kick off summer story times!

Preschool Group Visit – March 26, 2015

Oh. My. Goodness.

All respect to preschool teachers – you guys are unsung heroes in our communities!

A local preschool group came to visit today, and this is pretty much how I felt afterwards:

By Umberto Salvagnin (originally posted to Flickr as Sleeping) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I love preschoolers – they are so enthusiastic and curious and energetic, and they can handle more complex stories and activities than my usual demographic of toddlers and babies. Preschoolers will ask questions, and let you know clearly and often volubly if they approve or disapprove of your story time selections.

But the very attributes that make preschoolers so much fun to work with can also make them a bit of a handful, especially in large numbers! Preschool or daycare visits can also be markedly different from in-house story times because of the change in child:adult ratio. In my regular story times, the attendance ratio is typically one child for every adult, while a group visit can have around 7 children for every adult. This can sometimes make wrangling the group feel a bit like herding cats. Adorable, talkative cats who give you big hugs at the end of the program, but still, cats.

"Street cats (1)" by Rodrigo Basaure from Santiago, Chile - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Street_cats_(1).jpg#/media/File:Street_cats_(1).jpg

Here’s what we ended up doing – it’s not really what I’d planned, but it’s what ended up working for this frisky group.

Book 1: Bark, George! / Jules Feiffer

bark george

Songs:

  • I wake up my hands
  • The itsy bitsy spider

Book 2: Pete the Cat I Love my White Shoes / Eric Litwin

pete

Action Songs:

  • Head and Shoulders
  • Tick tock tick tock
  • The elevator song

Book 3: The Wheels on the Bus / Jane Cabrera

wheels

Action Songs:

  • Zoom zoom
  • If you’re happy and you know it

If You’re Happy and You Know It is a great transition/instruction song. I used the tune to sing “If you’re happy and you know it wave goodbye”, “If you’re happy and you know it find your partner” and “If you’re happy and you know it line up now” – it was a perfect transition into the next portion of their visit, which was a book exchange.

Preschoolers really aren’t my typically demographic, but they’re a lot of fun! If anyone has any suggestions for great books or song to use with preschoolers, please please share!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a bit of a lie down after all that cat wrangling…. 🙂

Family Story Time – March 13, 2015

Another Friday, another set of story times! We had a smaller group at family story time today – it’s spring break, and a lot of branches take a story time break, but we decided to motor on through, even with a smaller group than normal. To be honest, though, this smaller size was just about perfect – we had about 65 people in our meeting room, and it was really nice – not too empty, not too crowded. Here’s what we did!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Ten in the Den / John Butler

ten

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly
  • Little turtle in a shell, sitting so still…

Book 2: The Wheels on the Bus / Jane Cabrera

wheels

Action Songs

  • Zoom zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle little star
  • If you’re happy and you know it
  • The elevator song
  • Orca whale

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

Remarkably similar to last week’s family story time, but I’m still struggling with my voice and my stamina, so I’m sticking to the old standards until I’ve got a bit more of my juice back!

Funny story – a mother came to tell me how her little girl was so upset at the part in “Ten in the Den’ when all the other animals have rolled out of the bed, and it’s just the little mouse alone in the den, missing his friends. So empathetic, and so sweet!

Family Story Time – December 12, 2014

Oh. My. Word…..We managed to cram 98 people into the meeting room for story time today, with a small crowd gathered outside watching. Normally I have someone outside monitoring the situation and cutting off entry at a manageable point, but because of a miscommunication with a new staff member, the post was left unmanned, and the crowds kept smooshing in! It’s hard to kick people out while reading a picture book, so it was a little stressful to say the least, and I hope people didn’t mind too much….Oh well! It’s the last story time of 2014 – I successfully completed my first full season! I also saw my attendance rise from an average of 60 to an average of 100+, not too shabby in three months, if I do say so myself, even if it has caused us a few logistical headaches…

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly! / Mo Willems

friends

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • When cows wake up in the morning
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat the Wheels on the Bus

pete

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Orca whale
  • Well hello everybody, can you touch your nose?
  • Here we go a driving
  • The elevator song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

One of the challenges this week was that the books were really, really short, which meant I had to scramble a bit to fill up the full half hour. With such big groups in such a small space (that’s the real challenge – I don’t mind big groups, but you need an appropriate space so that everyone can sit and move around comfortably) I have been struggling a bit with my books – I have been turning to really short, simple stories that I won’t lose my voice shouting across the crowd. It’s OK, but it’s certainly not ideal.

We’ve been doing our informal branch survey to find out when people would like to see an additional story time, and it looks like Thursday morning and Saturday morning are the favourites, though both have challenges. Thursday morning would involve specially opening the branch before regular opening hours, while Saturday would involve a different staff member, and probably wouldn’t solve our size problems (in particular the number of nannies and home child care providers who come to our weekday story times). I’m going to talk about it with the branch manager and see what we can figure out for the new year, so that our story times can be both inclusive and accessible for as many kids as possible!