Themeless Storytimes: The Method to My Madness

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So in my last post, I talked about how I needed some sort of structure to my storytimes since I’m no longer doing themes.  Today I’m going to talk about the method to my madness.  Now, I don’t follow this outline rigidly, but my themeless storytimes tend to have:

Opening Song:  I still use the same opening song.  It’s an opening song that we use for all of our storytimes, and I kept it to keep some consistency.  Plus everyone knows it by now.  (Our opening song is The More We Get Together, but that’s irrelevant.)

First Book:  Like so many other storytime providers, I tend to read the longest book first.  These first books are usually in rhyme, or have some great illustrations, or a great story.  But, most of all, they’re books that I absolutely 100% love!

First Activity:  When planning storytimes, I just grab random activities that I really like.  Usually these are flannelboards, but they can also be songs/puppets/STEM or any combination of those.  Occasionally the activity will tie in with one of the books I’m reading, and if that’s the case, I’ll make sure to to the activity before or after that book.  But most of the time it doesn’t matter when I do an activity, so I just grab whatever I’m in the mood for.

Song and/or Short Book:  I really like singing books, so I try to have at least one book that can be sung in storytime.  Pete the Cat is my favorite, but I’ll read/sing just about any book that has a good tune (bonus points if children sing along though).  If I can’t find a good song book that appeals to me, then I will choose a short book that’s funny or has lift the flaps or something of interest.

Rhyme Cube:  Another tradition that I brought over from my themed storytimes.  The only difference is that I usually don’t have to roll the cube more than once anymore.

Movement Book:  By this time in storytime, kids are getting antsy, so I always try to have a story that incorporates movement.  Jan Thomas’s Can You Make a Scary Face is my absolute favorite.  Other movement books that work well include From Head to Toe by Eric Carle, Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton, and Faster! Faster! by Leslie Patricelli.

Short Book:  Since the movement book is kind of like an activity, I go right into another book.  It’s usually a short one, and, like I mentioned before, it tends to be funny or have some sort of interactive element such as lift the flaps.

Second Activity:  Then I do another activity.  Again, not picky about what kind of activity.  I usually just pick whatever I’m in the mood for and whatever is most appropriate for the crowd.

Calm Down Book:  I like to end things with a book that’s very short and calming.  Keith Baker’s stuff is good, and I also used Helen Frost’s Step Gently Out before.  I’m sure kids probably think these calm books are kind of a let down after all of that movement and giggling, but I like to think that the parents appreciate it.

Closing Rhyme:  We officially end things with the closing rhyme.  Again this is consistent with how things have always been done.

Once storytime is officially over, I tell parents that they can check out any of the books that I’ve read or that are on display in the room (and I always feel very happy when the books get checked out).  I also turn on some fun music while people are browsing books.  If I used a puppet in storytime, I will wait with the puppet beside the storytime door so that children can say goodbye to the puppet.  Once everyone is out, I turn off the music, clean up, and storytime is over.

*I also want to note that while I didn’t list a specific spot for early literacy tips, I tend to sprinkle those in as I’m reading or doing activities.

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2 thoughts on “Themeless Storytimes: The Method to My Madness

  1. I have a story time framework too, which was passed on to me by one of my colleagues. When I first started doing story times I clung to my framework like a life raft, but as I’ve become more comfortable in front of groups I am more flexible with my program.

    • I’m pretty flexible with my framework too, although it tends to work really well for me. I think a storytime framework is something that can help, but isn’t something we need to live by. 🙂

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