I enjoy babytime. And I can handle preschool storytime. But toddler storytime – toddler storytime is my absolute favourite! Maybe it’s because I hang out with a 2-year-old on a regular basis, but I love the controlled chaos that often characterizes this group.
I’ve just wrapped up my first session of a 12-week toddler storytime (ages 18 months-3 years), and I thought it would be helpful to share what worked with these ages. I’ll be doing a series of blog posts over the next month on the following topics:
- How I Plan (this post!)
- Favourite Read Alouds
- Favourite Read Alouds, Part 2
- Favourite Songs and Rhymes
- Favourite Songs and Rhymes, Part 2
- Songs To Get the Wiggles Out
- Songs to Get the Wiggles Out, Part 2
- How I Incorporate Puppets
- Favourite Felt Stories
- Favourite Felt Stories, Part 2
So let’s get to it!
How I Plan
My most successful toddler storytimes include the following ingredients:
Flexibility + Repetition + Movement + Caregiver Participation = A Good Time For All
Books are important too, but I’ve found that these other elements are more influential in determining how a storytime will pan out. In order to get caregivers to participate, I always give out a bookmark with the song lyrics printed. Especially if it’s a big group, having the parents and caregivers on board can make a world of difference.
I plan for a range of activities and end up using the ones that work well the kids on that day at that time. With that said, I plan for a 30-minute program (my library doesn’t do crafts as part of storytime) with the following components in mind:
- 1-2 books (depending on how active they are)
- 1 flannel story
- 1 song or rhyme with puppets
- 5-6 songs or rhymes
- 5-6 “get the wiggles out” activities (anything from lifting songs to egg shakers to dancing)
I will go into more detail about each of these components in my following blog posts. Suffice it to say, when I first started doing Toddler Storytimes, I would try to plan out the order of all these different components. While some of the planning was good (i.e. which book to read first), most of it fell apart during storytime because the kids needed something different. So halfway through my session, I created a planning sheet that allows me to organize my thoughts, but also allows for a great deal of flexibility. I’ve included it here in case anyone would like to print and use it too. It’s pretty simple in it’s design, but that’s why I like it!
So now I have a basic idea of the types of activities I’d like to share for each session, and I let the group of kids determine what I use and what I don’t. I may not always use a felt story and puppets, but the toddlers who come to my library absolutely love them so I make an effort to include them as often as possible.
After each storytime I’ll make little notes in each box regarding what worked and what didn’t. Then the planning sheet goes in my “Storytime Madness” binder, making it easy to flip through when I’ve forgotten which books I’ve read or what songs worked really well.
These past three months were my first time doing a complete a full run of toddler storytime with the same community, so I anticipate the way I plan to change in the future. But for now, this is what is working for me!
How do you plan your Toddler Storytime? Please share your successes in the comments!