Sunday, January 27, 2013

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/24/13

  Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/24/13

Welcome Message: 
This week's welcome message commented on our weather and the theme of our story time. 

Dear Friends, 

I am glad to see you on such a cold day. We will warm up with a story time about soup. 


Miss Katie 

The kids read right along with me, and the only words that stumped them were "friends" and "about." 

Activity: What's Cooking? 
Each child was handed a paper bowl containing an assortment of felt letters and a plastic spoon. The idea was for them to fish out a letter, then make the letter sound and name a food beginning with that sound. I expected to have about ten kids when I planned this activity, but with only four, it quickly got out of hand as they pulled out whatever letters they liked and essentially made up their own words, or refused to name any words at all. We did manage to make a list, but they were not into it, and I found myself questioning whether this is even an appropriate activity for story time - maybe it's more like something they'd do at school.

This story time has been running very long, which has annoyed the parents, so I stuck to just one story this week - the "Birthday Soup" story from Little Bear. The kids wouldn't open their books, then decided not to use them. I read the story, and asked them to look for clues in the illustrations that would tell them what each animal had brought for Little Bear's birthday. A couple of them did it, but again, it was too basic for them, and they were bored.

Activity: I Feel Silly So I Jump In My Soup
The final activity was based on the Laurie Berkner song, I Feel Crazy So I Jump In My Soup. I wrote each of the kids' names on a sentence strip, then let them tell me what they would do if they could jump in a big vat of soup. Their answers were very descriptive, and it occurs to me as I write this that they might have done better if they could have written them down themselves. They liked the silly premise, but what they really wanted to instead was write on the dry erase wall. And since I wasn't prepared for that, they sort of lost interest. I was going to read another story from Little Bear, but decided to just let them go color. I wasn't feeling great

This story time continues to puzzle and surprise me. This week's group was made up of two girls and two boys, all of whom already know how to read above grade level. They were clearly bored by the activities because they were too easy, and I didn't feel like I knew how to make them any more challenging or interesting. (I asked one of the girls as she was leaving what she might like to read in future story times, and she said Magic Tree House - I have no idea how to make that work.) In this story time, more than any other, I feel real pressure from the parents to teach their kids something. Though the parents didn't stay in the room, I still felt as though they were judging the story time, and then the kids started getting wild, I worried they would think I wasn't doing a good job. (I have already had one parent quiz me extensively on the purpose and content of this story time, and I keep waiting for that to happen again.) I think over the next few weeks I have to concentrate on a few things, namely:
  • coming up with ways to include kids who can read, even when the non-readers are present, and vice versa
  • making the story time less academic and more fun, while still focusing on learning and literacy 
  • figuring out how to keep the "read-along" component without boring the kids (the read-along part is the main draw for the parents, but so far, it doesn't really work for the kids, mostly because the stories we read are too long.)
It's a tall order, but I still think it will work once we figure out the bugs.


  1. This is such a great idea for a storytime! Do not feel nervous about parents -- they are lucky you are offering it! Since I'm teaching first grade reading right now I may have a few suggestions for you. What ages are you working with in this group? One thing my first graders enjoy is called "clozed" reading passages. We read along together, with me reading out loud, and every now and then I'll pause before a word, and they'll read it out loud together without me. It keeps them on their toes. We also do a LOT of "choral" reading -- the whole class reading together as a group.

    1. Rachel, I love your suggestions! They would have worked perfectly with the four kids who came to this story time. The problem is that, the other two sessions I've done so far were made up of mostly pre-K kids. (I advertised this as PreK to Grade 2, mostly because this is what I have seen other librarians doing in their similar programs.) Last week, there were ten kids, four of whom could read a level 2 easy reader with minimal help and 6 of whom didn't know all their letter sounds. So most of the room was totally lost, and the other kis were just bored (and therefore fooling around and pushing each other.) I'm having trouble finding activities that support both the very new readers and the more experienced ones.

    2. Oops, typo. Should be "other kids" not "other kis."


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