I’ve been thinking lately about baby (ages newborn to 24 months) storytimes and how they are different from storytimes for older children (ages 2 and up). All you have to do is Google “baby storytimes” and you will see ideas from many experienced and creative librarians (some I will link to below). After reading many of these posts, I have come up with a rough idea of what I think would work well for a baby storytime.
First, some things I learned:
1. It doesn’t have to be totally book-centered. Most of the posts and articles I read had a ton of songs, flannelboards, and fingerplays, with only one book (maybe two) somewhere in the middle. This was a little surprising to me at first. After all, it IS called “storytime”, right? But it makes sense when you think about it. Babies don’t have a very long attention span. Songs and rhymes are fun to listen to and easy to remember, so babies develop a positive association with reading and learning.
2. Repetition is key. While looking at actual suggested storytime plans, I was again surprised to see how little the program can vary from week to week. This shouldn’t be a surprise, however, because those of us with children have all experienced the torture of reading the same book over and over and OVER again. Babies like repetition. In Baby Read Aloud Basics, Blakemore and Ramirez emphasize the importance of reading aloud and of repetition. They quote Jim Trelease, read-aloud expert: “If the child has never heard the word, the child will never say the word; and if you have neither heard it nor said it, it’s pretty tough to read it and to write it.” (Baby Read Aloud Basics, 4). Simply put, babies need to hear words–lots of them, over and over, all the time. It’s the most important thing you can do for future literacy. Aside from that, repetition gives very young children a sense of routine, which can be comforting in new social situations like storytime.
So, with these things in mind, here are my ideas for baby storytime.
Introductions: I’m thinking it might be good to start out by learning everyone’s name. This could be helped along through use of a puppet.
1. Hello song: (click link to see YouTube video of the song being sung in what appears to be a storytime or circle time setting)
Hello, everybody! We’re so glad to see you. Hello, everybody! We’re so glad to see you. (Can be used like this, or fill in children’s names like so–Hello to Joseph! We’re so glad to see you. Hello to Emily! We’re so glad to see you!)
2. After the Hello song, an activity like Where is Little Cloud?, or maybe a fingerplay or rhyme that goes along with the theme of the selected book.
3. Book–something large, with bold, bright pictures, and simple text. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a great choice, as are nursery rhyme books. Here are some other suggestions.
4. Rhyme cube–Whew, I went the long way around here. I found this idea on the Babygarten website here and thought it would be a great activity for storytime. Basically, you take a cube shaped box, stuff it with paper or plastic bags to stabilize it. Wrap the box in brightly colored paper and glue icons representing different nursery rhymes/songs on each side. Then, put clear contact paper on it to protect it (I used packing tape because I had it on hand and because I have had some pretty negative experiences with clear contact paper sticking to itself!) The rhymes I chose were: Three Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed; Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; Little Miss Muffet; Pat-a-Cake; This Little Piggy; and Hey Diddle Diddle. You can either draw icons, make them out of cardstock, or print off free coloring pages and cut them out.
To use the cube, toss it (or have the babies take turns tossing). The group sings/recites whichever song/rhyme it lands on. This can be a game you play every week after the story or between stories.
5. Another book?/free playtime
6. Clean up–Clean Up Song (Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share).
7. Goodbye Song (to the tune of London Bridge)
Goodbye, goodbye we’ll see you soon. See you soon, see you soon. Goodbye, goodbye we’ll see you soon. On another day. (Again, you can just do it like this, or insert children’s names–Goodbye, Joseph we’ll see you soon…” etc.
For those of you who have done storytimes, or been to one with your children–how does this plan compare to what you have experienced? Do you have any suggestions? Things you liked or things you hated?