Monday, September 24, 2012

A Fresh Look at Storytime

My storytime looked different this morning. Thanks to the 2012 ALSC Institute (and, in particular, sessions by Melissa Depper & Lori Romero on storytime training and evaluation and by Sarah Mackie on the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Ready to Read Corps), I'm thinking about storytime a little differently this morning. 

When I returned to work on Sunday, I spent some time checking out the Indiana Department of Education's Kindergarten Readiness Matrices. After hearing about how the Columbus Metropolitan Library took early literacy training to the streets in order to improve scores on Ohio's kindergarten readiness assessment, I wanted to see what skills we might reinforce in our storytimes. I'm not sure (yet!) what assessment our local schools use, but this gave me a great start to thinking critically about what activities we offer in our storytimes and what skills they are developing. 

As I prepared for this morning's storytime, I thought about transition between the elements and what activities and books might lead into our next activities. I remembered that fingerplays are important because they develop fine motor skills and puppets are important because they engage kids and encourage creative play. I included a nonfiction book to get at some of those Tier 2 words that kids are not hearing every day. I remembered that learning through play is vital, so I got some related toys ready to put out for the kids after storytime. 

As I did storytime, I noticed how some of the parents were involved and engaged and some spent the entire time on their cell phones. I'm sure this was the case before, but now I'm noticing and I'm going to change some things about my storytimes to try to engage parents more. 

I thought about places where I could insert early literacy messages. We include them in our take-home craft packets, but we could certainly do more. I thought about our Memory Box and whether switching to a Mystery Bag or being more purposeful about what items we're including in the Memory Box might benefit children more. 

All of that on my first program after the ALSC Institute and there's much more to come. I spent some time brainstorming about what training I need to offer my staff and we'll spend more time over the coming weeks thinking critically about what we're offering to our patrons and why. 

There will be another storytime post this week with the materials I used (we talked about cows this week!). As I wrote up that post, I kept coming across small elements I had changed because of the Institute or activities I included specifically because of Institute sessions and I knew I had to write this post first.