Sunday, August 3, 2008

What to do when there's one

So, you've planned an awesome storytime. You're ready and rarin' to go! But maybe some special event is going on. Or lots of people are on vacation. Or it's snowing. Or any number of things happen... and there's only one kid for storytime.

It can be frustrating, sure. But the important thing to remember is that this family made the effort to come to your program, and you might have to adapt some things, but the show must go on!

Just as with any program, you need to be prepared to adapt. And remember that even though it might be frustrating to have a low turnout for a program, the kid doesn't know that. The kid's experience is going to be what you make it.

Generally I start storytimes with Shake Your Sillies Out, but for a very small group I like to use My Hands Say Hello because it's a quieter song and I'm more apt to get participation.

It's to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell and it goes like this:

My hands say hello
My hands say hello
Every time I see my friends
My hands say hello

And then repeat using feet and other body parts. I usually do hands, then feet, then I ask for a suggestion of something else that could say hello.

Although it's not be what you planned, a storytime for one may have some advantages. Instead of having to focus an unruly mob of 30 kids, you can concentrate on getting to know one. It's a great opportunity to sit with child and caregiver and, say, demonstrate dialogic reading. You might be able to bring out some extra goodies, like toy drums or shakers that you might not use with a larger group. If you're doing a felt, let the kids help you put pieces up or take pieces off. You can even spread it out on the floor instead of doing it on a board.

Above all, you just need to be flexible. And remember that if you make this a pleasant experience, this family is likely to come back the next time.


Nan Hoekstra said...

Abby! I had ONE child for my preschool storytime this very week...This storytime had varied so much this summer - from 35 to 4 - I was prepared for whatever came along. But Alex and I had a wonderful sweet time. We did pop-ups and lift the flap books! His pleasure and our shared time just made my day. Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I love our connection!

Anonymous said...

I tend to dread doing storytime for very small groups, but your suggestions really bring out the positive! One of the other pluses of doing a program with a very small group is that, assuming the children are verbal, you can have some nice conversations relating what you're reading to their own lives. The other day, I read Duck on a Bike for a small group, and afterward we were able to spend several minutes discussing our own rides. That would never fly in a group of more than ten!

Karen said...

I think a storytime with one child/family is a wonderful opportunity for relationship building. It's a chance to get to know that parent/child.

As a parent, I treasured my relationship with our local children's librarian (who just moved away -- sob!). She was a wonderful person to know.

I loved Miss Susie and storytime so much I recommended her programs to many of my parent friends and sought her out for advice when I was dealing with some specific issues.

Jennie said...

One of my favorite things to do then there is only 1 or 2 kids for storytime is to sit on the floor next to them and have them read to the story next to me, instead of doing the story time hold-and-show with the book. It's much more intimate and gives my hands a break!!

Plus, I'll take requests for action rhymes! :) I once did Hickory Dickory Dock 3 times in a row during a "blizzard" (it's DC--we got 3 inches over 12 hours!) because it was my lone attendee's favorite.

catethelibrarian said...

While I am glad this is a rare event--we usually have a packed house--I had a great time when i had only one kid for storytime. Luckily he was one of my regulars, so he wasn't shy with me at all. We sang our hello song, and did our favorite storytime song & dance. But when it was time to read stories, we both got down on our bellies and read stories together. We had a blast.