Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain Drop-In Story Time, 8/2/13
This story time has been a source of frustration for the past few weeks, because the adults have been so rude and difficult. In the past, what has sometimes worked is to change the format and structure of the story time so they can't anticipate what comes next and therefore can't figure out when it might be okay for them to talk. (They seem to have the idea that it's okay to talk during books, but they will sing songs. If I'm playing the ukulele, they will be quiet, but if I have a puppet, they talk. It's weird.)
This morning, I ditched the usual themed story time, and instead did something a bit different to change things up and hopefully get us out of our rut. On the flannel board, I put up four items - a sun, a moon, a sky full of stars, and a raindrop - and as we read books and did activities for each one, I removed that flannel board piece. ("Sun, moon, stars, rain" is a line from "anyone lived in a pretty how town" by e.e. cummings, if you're thinking it sounds familiar.) I was a bit concerned that four books would be pushing it, but it wasn't at all, and this turned out to be one of the all-time best large-group story times I have ever done.
Book: The Sun is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch
I made sure to read this book with a very excited tone, and to stop and point out interesting tidbits in the pictures. I expected to have to scold them for talking, but to my great surprise, no one was saying a word! This book even got applause at the end!
Song with Sun Puppet: Mr. Sun
Song with Ukulele: You Are My Sunshine
I really like playing this song on the ukulele, and it tends to calm the whole room. Some of the kids even started to sing along!
Song: Moon Moon Moon
Book: The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson
I find it helps to narrate a little bit of what is happening in the pictures between lines of the poem. This was the book I was most nervous about, but keeping a conversational tone helped the kids get into it, I think.
Song with Ukulele: Aikendrum
There was one adorable little boy in the back of the room who spontaneously started to clap during this song, which made my entire morning!
Book: I Like Stars by Margaret Wise Brown
They started to lose it around this time, but I brought them back by asking the group to tell me what color the different stars were on each page. Unfortunately, a couple of little boys right in front took this as an invitation to yell every line of the book back at me, so we kind of rushed through this one and quickly went into the next song.
Song: Stars Shining Bright
Book: Rain by Robert Kalan
This was a good, simple book to end with. The rainbow caught everyone by surprise and caused spontaneous applause.
Song: I Like to see the Raindrops Fall
The kids always like this song, and most of the motions are easy enough for even a lot of the babies to do.
Some of the success of today's story time is owed to the fact that people are out of town and some of the problem nannies were not there, but I think there is also something important about keeping books as the central focus. It might seem foolish to read four books in a session when they often don't allow me to get through two, but I actually think showing them that story time is mainly about stories, and is not just a sing-along with an occasional book does command greater respect from the audience. We'll see if a similar approach works next week!
I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.