I can plan a preschool storytime with my eyes closed, but when it comes to planning school-aged storytimes I am much less confident. Thankfully there are some really fantastic blogs out there with book and song recommendations for this age group. Do you read Storytime All-Stars? Well you should because she has tons of thematic school-age storytime outlines. There’s also the Harris County Public Library’s master list of storytime themes with a column for school-age storytimes. I love Jen in the Library’s school age posts because she shows how to take one theme and adapt it for multiple age groups. And a new-to-me blog that has a great variety of seasonal themes is Carol Simon Levin’s Program Palooza. Next, we’ve got the fabulous Abby the Librarian who has a series of posts on her afterschool storytimes. Lastly, for school age programming in general my favourite resources are Thrive After Three and Bryce Don’t Play. All of these wonderful bloggers inspired me to create a Pinterest board where I’ll be adding School Age Storytime Books and Songs that work for kids ages 5-12.
For this Grade 1 storytime I stuck with a loose theme of “funny stuff” or things that make you laugh. I wanted to promote the library as a fun and welcoming space and what better way than to read about farting dogs and talking crayons. I was inspired by a blog post (which I can’t find now!) where someone did booktalks during a school visit by offering the kids choices between books, kind of like in the style of Choose Your Own Adventure. Giving kids a choice in what they read is a great way to adapt your storytimes for older kids. So here’s what I did:
1. Welcome and Introduction
After introducing myself, I briefly went over these key messages.
- The library is for everyone!
- You can borrow lots of things from the library! (Ask kids for examples)
- The library is a place to have fun!
- You can learn new things at the library!
To emphasize this last point, we started by singing “The More We Get Together” using sign language.
2. Walter the Farting Dog VS. Brief Thief
I asked the kids if they’d rather read about a farting dog or an iguana who uses underwear as toilet paper. Not surprisingly, they chose the farting dog.
3. Fruit Salad
To adapt this song for school-age kids, we brainstormed different fruits and vegetables that had three and four syllables. They were really into it! I also asked them to create the hand movements, so they were essentially creating their own song.
4. The Three Ninja Pigs VS. The Day the Crayons Quit
Their teacher had just read Drew Daywalt’s gem of a book, so they voted on the ninja pigs. I seriously love this book! The rhymes are clever and funny and I especially appreciate the fact that one of the pigs is a girl.
5. Herman the Worm
One of my favourite songs to teach school age kids. If you’re worried about promoting cannibalism (umm, do you see that look on my face?), you can do a tamer version where Herman eats fruits and vegetables. The kids actually knew this version though and we had a blast adding in other family members!
6. Felt Story: Too Much Noise
Based on the book by Anne McGovern, I learned this story in my MLIS program and have been itching to try it out. I asked for a volunteer to make each animal sound as a way to get the kids involved with telling the story. I also passed out scarves and we waved them each time we said, “Outside the wind blew the leaves through the trees (whoosh whoosh). The leaves fell on the roof (swish swish).” It’s a funny little folktale that conveys the message that things aren’t always as bad as they seem.
7. Book Browsing Time
After we finished the felt story, I told them that I would love to help them find a book to take home so they could continue learning and having fun. These kids were already familiar with the library, plus my branch is pretty small, so we spent the second half of their visit searching for books and reading together. All in all it was a great visit!