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.

Pajama Story Time, 8/29/12

Pajama Story Time started catching on toward the end of the summer, so we're going to keep it going this Fall. We changed our time slot from 6:30 to 7 which has made it even easier for a lot of our families to come, and I think we can count on seeing a good group every week. This week was a bit trying, as we had a couple of three-year-olds who were very disruptive and parents who decided they didn't want to do anything about it, but I got them moving around and involved and that seemed to help enough to get us through to the end. In any case, here is the  run-down of activities, all of which matched a pets theme.

Opening Song (with ukulele): Hello, how are you?

Book: Teeny Weeny Bop by Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Diane Greenseid (2006)
This was probably the best received book of the story time. Adults and kids alike thought the silliness was funny, and they joined on the very refrains, all of which were modeled after the nursery rhyme that begins "To market, to market." I'll be using this with preschoolers again for sure. 

Rhyme with Puppets: Two Little Kittens 
I had a much older girl in the audience - she was maybe 6 or 7, versus the others who were 3 and under. I thought it would be nice to let her help me out by holding the puppets, but the other kids immediately started crying and screaming and demanding to hold the puppets. *sigh* The pair of misbehaving three-year-olds never really calmed down after that, and the older girl, too, began to fool around and disrupt story time.

Book:  Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag (1928)
Well, this was too long. Wayyyy too long. I could have pulled it off with our normally quiet pajama story time group, but this week it was just not a good idea. I'll save it for class visits where behavior is not an issue.

Song: Shake My Sillies Out 

Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up

Flannel Board Song: Mary Had a Little Lamb
I changed the colors of Mary's lamb and sang about fleece that was "red as a rose," "green as the grass," and "black as night." Everyone sang along, which was great because at my morning story times, adults normally don't!

Book: Mary Had a Little Lamp by Jack Lechner, illustrated by Bob Staake
I really wasn't sure how this would go over, but it was surprisingly good. The parents laughed, and the kids seemed to like the illustrations.

Song with Puppets: Goodnight by the Laurie Berkner Band (sung a cappella)
Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This
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