Monday, April 12, 2010

National Library Week: What to do when there's one

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!!

What to Do When There's One
This post originally ran on August 3, 2008. I've edited it slightly. 

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! It may be frustrating to you that only one child showed up for your carefully planned program, but the kid doesn't know that!

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. I like to end with my tongue and sing it with my tongue sticking out because it's silly (and I am kind of silly sometimes).

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 or puppets that you might not use with a larger group. If you're doing a flannelboard story, 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.