Monday, September 3, 2012

Drop-In Story Time, 8/31/12

I have been looking at these drop-in story times from every angle for months now, trying to figure out how to fix them. I was frustrated because adults were telling me what a great job I was doing, but then consistently talking loudly through entire sessions, with obviously not an ounce of respect for what I was trying to do. I also felt like the kids were really getting the short end of the stick because of the adult behavior. Some sessions, we barely got through a book before I just resorted to singing because at least I could drown out the chit-chat with the ukulele and some loud animal sounds. I was not happy.

For Friday's session, I decided to really crack down on some of the bad habits that I think were partially to blame for the adult restlessness during story time. As I mentioned on Tuesday, we only offer one session of each story time now, rather than two, so that has dealt with the issue of people staying for multiple sessions, but on Friday, I also took the following steps:
  • I put away all the chairs our closet would hold. The ones I left out were hooked together and pushed all the way to the back of  the room. I guessed (rightly) that the adults wouldn't want to unhook the chairs in order to sit in them, and that they would either sit on the floor closer to the front, where I actually want them to sit, or they would sit in the back and leave room on the floor for people more interested in participating. As it turned out, the most notoriously noisy nannies used the chairs, and the others sat on the floor. Not even every chair was full.
  • I kept the meeting room locked until 10 minutes before story time. This prevented people from sitting in there bored and restless for 30 to 45 minutes prior to story time.  This also ensured that every person had the same chance of getting a chair or a seat near the front. A few nannies were not pleased with me when I said I was trying to make things more fair, but they were the biggest offenders so I didn't feel guilty standing my ground.
  • I made sure to use highly interactive books that would force the adults to participate. I'm going to run out of books like this eventually, at which point I'm not sure what I will do, but if I can teach them to behave better in the meantime, maybe it will be okay.

Opening Song: Hello, how are you?

Flannel Board: Let's Make a Noise 

Book: Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia (2008)

Song: Drive, Drive, Drive Your Car 
We drove safely, then slowly and quickly. 

Rhyme: Wiggle Fingers 

Book: What Shall We Do with the Boo-Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell, illustrated by Ingrid Godon

Letter of the Day: Letter B
I forgot completely to show the kids how to make the letter B in sign language. I just realized it now writing this. I'll have to try to remember from now on!  I did have a capital and lowercase B for the flannel board, and then we sang the following "B" songs.

 Songs (with ukulele): ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: Sing a Happy Song 
This song is fantastic. It's perfect for big groups, and will work just as well in our smaller Toddler sessions later this Fall!

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

Song: Monkeys on the Bed

Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This

At the end of story time, an unprecedented thing happened. A huge number of kids came up to me to talk about my puppets. I really think this is directly related to the fact that for the first time ever the grown-ups responsible for them were quiet enough that they could actually see and hear what happened at story time. If this story time is a sign of things to come, we're going to have a very happy Fall.


  1. I'm so happy your parent/nanny situation improved! I might have missed it, but what age group is this story time and how many kids do you normally get?

    1. It used to be advertised for babies and toddlers, but the nannies bring everyone in their care, so it's really birth to 5, with the majority of the kids falling in the 6 to 24 months range. This group had about 90 people; we often have as many as 150.

    2. Oh my! I can see why too many talking adults can be a BIG problem! Hope it all works out.

  2. Good for you for making those changes! I know what you mean about interactive books - I like to find ones that encourage participation, too, but sometimes that can be a challenge. Good luck and I hope you'll continue to have better-behaved adults.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Katie. I hope you've found the solution to your misbehaving adults!

  4. For your Alphabet songs, do you distribute the words or project them on the wall?

    1. Neither. Most of them are songs we have done several times before. If not, I teach them the words on the spot. I have given out handouts in the past, and I find that people don't use them. I have thought about projecting onto the wall, but I think the projector would just attract little fingers interested in unplugging it.

  5. For your Alphabet songs, do you distribute the words or project them on the wall?

  6. Katie,

    What about having those misbehaving adults assist with storytime? Maybe one of them could help with the singing? hand out musical instruments (such as egg shakers, or scarves), or if you ever decided you needed an extra voice they could do it?



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