I'm celebrating National Library Week this week by re-running some of my posts that have tips, tricks, and advice for new librarians. (And if more experienced librarians get something out of it, too, more the better!) Please feel free to share tips, advice, or favorite storytime/program activities in the comments. And Happy National Library Week!!
This post originally ran on September 29, 2009. It has been edited.
Allow me to introduce our Memory Box:
We use the Memory Box in our registered storytimes, which we do in sessions of six or more weeks. The first week there will only be one object in the box, but then we add a new object each week. Each week we find a small object that appears somewhere in one of our storytime books. It doesn't have to be the main item in the story - in fact it's better if it's not!
At the beginning of the storytime we ask kids to guess what's in the box and give them hints until someone guesses it. We ask them to be good listeners and good watchers and let us know when they see the object in one of our stories. Each week we ask the kids to remember objects from previous weeks and then we add one new thing. By the end of the six-week session, there are six objects in the box. You also might ask them if they remember which story the item was in.You'll be amazed at what good memories the kids (even young preschoolers) have!
Here are a few examples of Memory Box items we've used:
A small plastic pig to go with the book Bark, George!
An envelope to go with I Am Invited to a Party!
A pie (made out of felt) to go with All for Pie, Pie for All
A kite to go with AlphaOops!: The Day Z Went First
Really, any item that will fit in a shoebox will do. It doesn't have to be a huge picture in the book (but if it's so small you think the kids won't notice it, you can point it out when you get to that page and ask them if they see anything that was in the Memory Box).
We do this with our registered storytimes, but you could also do it with drop-in storytimes. What I've done in the past for drop-in storytimes is to pull three objects that are found in our stories. Have kids guess what the objects are, tell them to look for the objects in the stories, and ask them to remember the objects at the end of the storytime.
And making a memory box is not hard! Of course, you can decorate it however you like. I decoupaged ours (which sounds fancy and hard, but is actually really easy). Here's how: I took a shoebox and covered it with white paper. (You might not even have to do this step, I just wanted to make sure that none of logos showed through.)
Get colored tissue paper and rip it up into pieces. Larger pieces will be faster, but if you like the way smaller pieces look, go for it. Dilute glue with some water (I used normal Elmer's glue and it worked fine). Use a paintbrush to paint a layer of the glue mixture over the box and place tissue paper pieces on the box. You can use any kind of paintbrush, but I used a large foam brush, which worked really well because it allows you to quickly paint on a layer of the glue. Use a craft stick or other utensil to smooth out any wrinkles. (DO THIS! I didn't do it because I didn't think it would matter, but now I wish I had. I think it'll look much better if you smooth it out.)
Let the glue dry, then paint on another layer of glue mixture and add more tissue paper. Keep layering until you have the look you want.
OH and there's a rhyme! When we bring out the Memory Box, we do this fingerplay with the kids:
Here is my box [hold up left hand as if you're holding a glass]
Here is the lid [place flat right hand on top of left hand]
Let's look inside [tilt right hand up and look inside your 'box']
And see what we hid!