School Aged Storytime Remix

January 9, 2015 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

So, the first storytime I did as a librarian was bedtime storytime.  Tough work planning for a wide age range that varied week to week.  When the chance to create a storytime for school aged kids, I was thrilled!  The same age group every time!  Well….

My first experience with the kindergarten through second grade set happened the previous Fall when no one–NO ONE–wanted to do storytimes for them.  So, all the children’s staff took turns doing one storytime each for the the session.  My theme was music and it went, well, meh.  Tough crowd.  The younger kids loved the structure, but the second graders were so not into a variation on “baby” storytime (as one kid politely told me). Sheesh, even though we made our own instruments, jammed as a band, marched, danced the “Funky Chicken,” and did rhythm challenges, this was somehow a baby storytime.  My coworkers had similar experiences.

Why would I be thrilled to take on this group solo the following Spring?  Knowing what worked, what was insulting to the older kids, and what time of day we offered the program gave me all the information I needed to take a dead program and bring it to life.  Maybe I have a Frankenstein complex.

Since storytime started about an hour after the end of the school day, I started every session with snacks.  Since the second graders had told me that they like crafts A LOT, usually the snack was also a craft. After the snack was made, they ate while I read.  And the books had to be totally funny, adventurous, or outrageous or I’d lost them (even with the food).  Then to throw them off guard, we’d follow the snack & story with some gross motor activity to burn off some of the snack energy.

The second book was always something interactive followed by a craft or activity.  Sometimes we did a third book (only if they were game and if I’d found one short but compelling).  Then to end, we did a craft or activity.  As they cleaned up after the last activity, they each got a bookmark I’d made telling their caregivers what we did, what we read, along with a list of similar books & activities to check out or do at home.

This is what the first one looked like.

large_snowmen-at-night_001This was January 2013. Snowy, snowy winter here in NE Ohio. So I chose a snow theme.  As the kindergarten through second graders came into the room, they were told to find a seat at the table where I had placed three small powdered sugar donuts with one piece of candy corn and a small pile of mini chocolate chips on a paper plate for each child.  They also had a bottle of water which I’d relabeled as “Melted Snowman.” (Got the idea for the snowman labels here.) After their snowman snacks were assembled, they sat on the floor with their plates and waters and I read Snowmen at Night (Buehner). I knew this book was a hit when I saw puffs of powdered sugar when the kids snickered.

While they threw out their paper plates & wiped faces, hands & pants, I put on “The Skaters” (from the CD The Vienna I Love Waltzes from My Heart by Andre Rieu).  Each child got 2 paper plates and proceeded to skate around the carpeted room.  I worried a bit that things might get out of hand, but I told them to skate in a circle like they were on a lake and they did.  Some talented kids skated backwards or did spins.  So. Much. Fun!

downloadNeedless to say, they weren’t anxious to sit down after the song was done…but that was what I’d hoped for.  The next book was Why Is the Snow White? (Janisch). I had stacks of scarves in the colors mentioned in the book and divided the crew into teams of colors.  We started by having everyone stand up and wave their colors.  Isn’t it beautiful?  Then they sat down as I read the book.  Every time a color was mentioned, that crew came forward and waved their scarves until Father Snow eliminated the color.  They left their scarves in a basket and sat back down.  In the end, I covered myself in a white sheet then threw it over them.  This was a bigger hit than I’d expected–they wanted to read it again.

Once I told them our next activity, they were eager to move on.  I made 2 giant snowmen using 3 circles of white paper and tacked them to the wall.  In teams, the kids rolled giant dice to see which part of their snowman they could add (hat, scarf, nose, button x3, eyes x2, arms x2, and mouth x4).  The game was inspired by this game.

I skipped the third book because I figured they had cabin fever and would appreciate more games. I was going to read Lois Ehlert’s Snowballs but, hey, they’ve probably heard that one before.  So I let them choose which of 2 stations they wanted to play: a snowman bowling game (empty water bottles with a few beans in the bottoms to weigh them down a little with white labels to make them look like snowmen, then they rolled softball-sized wiffle balls at them; or, a snowflake cutting station with templates to cut folded paper then glitter glue to make them sparkle. I offered iPad time, but no one wanted to play that day.

I wouldn’t change a thing about this storytime. Giving the kids choices and offering breaks from stories or songs made a world of difference.  The activities were appropriate for a wider range of kids; the books encouraged a little critical thinking but also provided entertainment; and providing a snack met the needs of this group.   I still love working with school aged kids but have moved up to the “tween” group, grades 3-5, doing an art program I call Express Yourself.

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Entry filed under: Storytime: School Aged. Tags: , , , , , .

WW2 backdrop for defining family Lullaby and Goodnight…Bedtime Storytime

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