Thursday, June 7, 2012

Oh Those Evening Storytimes...

This summer, I decided to offer a weekly evening storytime. I'll be honest and tell you that I have a love-hate relationship with evening programs. I want our working parents to be able to attend programs and for a lot of families that means offering something in the evenings or on weekends. We get many requests for these programs, but they are usually very poorly attended. I love seeing our families who do attend, but I miss the energy that the larger crowds at our daytime programs provide.

In an effort to attract a larger crowd, I'm offering "Milk & Cookies Storytime" and serving a snack of milk and cookies after the stories. The stories are a mixed bag of my favorites, interspersed with music, felt stories, rhymes, and other activities. I advertised it as a family storytime for ages 3-7. We're holding it on Mondays at 7:00 and it lasts about 30 minutes.

We had our first session this week and I only had six kids. They were six GREAT kids and they loved the books and we had a good time... but it was not the turnout I was hoping for. Part of the problem might be that I am not requiring registration. For some reason, our families tend to do better with registered programs, perhaps because we do a reminder call for them.

But this is what I did (and I'm just crossing my fingers that attendance picks up throughout the summer!):

Opening Song: "Jump Up, Turn Around" by Jim Gill - This opening song was the perfect amount of movement and has very clear instructions, which was important for my small crowd. Being in a smaller group puts more of a spotlight on each kid, so some of them were pretty shy with free dancing, but having a song that told them exactly what to do was a hit. I'll be using this as our opening song for the rest of the summer.

Book: Where's My Teddy? by Jez Alborough.

Book: Below by Nina Crews. This one was definitely a hit and we talked about imagination and pretend play. I love the photo illustrations and I think the kids were really amused that Jack's toy is named "Guy".

Music Break!: "The Freeze" by Greg & Steve. Some of the kids went crazy with dancing to this one and they all loved to freeze, but I think some of the quieter kids needed a little more direction or I should have passed out scarves to dance with or something. Next week, I'll choose something a little more structured.

Book: Kid Tea by Elizabeth Ficocelli. They LOVED THIS BOOK. We first talked about how you make tea and how the tea leaves change the water to a different color. They liked how the phrase "kid tea" sounds and kept repeating it and they found it hilarious when one of the kids is wearing a football helmet in the bathtub.

Felt Story: The Most Wonderful Egg in the World by Helme Heine. This is one of my favorites. It's been a long time since I actually did a felt story with a plot and I forgot how much I love it.

Book: Hunky Dory Ate It by Katie Evans. I thought it was fitting that we end with a story about eating since we were about to have our snack.

After the last story, I brought out the milk and cookies and we had our snack. I had done a milk and cookies storytime over winter break and I learned that it's best to serve all the food after stories are done. Kids are inevitably going to spill something and it's completely distracting if they spill while you're trying to read. Pour small glasses of milk. Tell everyone to start with two cookies (or whatever is reasonable, considering your crowd and your supply). Moms and dads are willing to help pass things out, pour milk, distribute items, etc., so if you need an extra set of hands, ask for it!

Each week I'll be choosing more of my favorite books to share with the kids, so it's sure to be a fun summer indeed!