Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/10/13
When I first read about Miss Julie's Beginning Reader story time, I had two thoughts: "That is so cool!" and "I don't know if that would go over very well at my library." I was determined to try it, though, and today, after months of thinking it over, and several weeks of careful planning, we had our first session. There are a lot of kinks to work out and things to think about, but I had so much fun and the parents and kids seemed just as happy and excited as I felt.
I have a set of felt letters that I purchased from Discount School Supply, so I took the time to spell out each child's name on a flannel board so they could then find their name and put the letters in a bowl. What I didn't realize would happen is that everyone who signed up would show up, along with at least 10 more kids. So I was scrambling at the last minute to put more names up on the board so they could find their names. Next time, I think I'll put the letters out and have them find the letters for their name.
Once everyone's name was in the bowl, I picked out some letters and asked kids whose name contained that letter to stand up and do a particular motion. That went over like a lead balloon, but possibly only because I was so frazzled from the whole name / flannel board situation.
I almost forgot about the welcome message, so my reading of it was somewhat rushed, but it amazed me how much the kids got into it, and how they laughed when they heard the phrase "sad elephant."
Welcome to story time! Today we will read about a sad dog and a sad elephant. We will find ways to make them happy again.
I printed out the words to a poem by J. Patrick Lewis called "Home Poem (or A Sad Dog Song)". The speaker of the poem is a dog who names the homes of various animals - cloth for a moth, a hole for a mole, etc. - and then laments that the home of a flea is "me!" I left the last word of each line out of the text and replaced it with a picture. Then we tried to figure out what each picture was. After that, we matched the picture to a little square of paper that had both the picture and the corresponding word on it. The kids got really into this, and they loved going back and reading the poem again once we had finished figuring it out. Of everything we did in this story time, this was the best activity.
Today's book was My Friend is Sad. My hope was to give every child a copy of the book to read with me, but attendance was so high, we ran out. I have put holds on twice as many copies of next week's books, so we should do better then, but this read-along was a bit difficult. Kids who knew the book kept skipping ahead to find their favorite pages, and kids who couldn't yet read had trouble keeping up with the page turns. Part of this is just nerves on my part. I'll spend some more time practicing with next week's book so that we stick together and actually read the story instead of jumping all around. Otherwise, this was a pretty good idea - the kids liked having their own copy of the book, and it was much easier for them to see what was happening on each page.
I felt awkward reading and leaving, so we did my beloved Hat, Coats, Pants, and Shoes song. They laughed harder than any group I've shared this song with. They were the exact right age to enjoy it, and all of them said they had fun. We also sang my usual goodbye song just to make it feel finished.
I handed out a write and draw activity at the end, just as a bonus for them to take home. Not everyone took one, so I might revisit the idea and try to incorporate it into the story time some more. Click the image below to download a copy of the handout.
I suspect the structure of next week's session will be somewhat different, but after the overwhelming success of today, I feel like the sky's the limit. I'm very excited to see what future weeks will bring!