I thought this week I would walk you through one way I might plan a storytime. I say, "one way" because there are many ways to do it! Too many to even fathom!
No one way is best. What works for one person doesn't always work for someone else. That being said, please take my thoughts and suggestions and tweak them to your own style and purpose. Only use what is helpful to you! That is exactly what I do. :-) Each of my storytime plans might be laid out and ready to go but I am always tweaking it ~ many times at the very last minute ~ to make it the best it can be for each individual group.
In my opinion, the MOST important thing ~ without question ~ about planning ANY storytime is to OWN IT! Make it fit you and your style of doing things. Make it fit so well that if any issues come up ~ as they always do ~ you can just roll with the flow and make it to the end with a smile on your face.
This week I decided to do something about Springtime. March 20th is officially the first day of Spring so this is the perfect week to talk about all the signs of Spring.
Once I decided on the Springtime theme, I started searching for books about Spring. Since I have been doing this for such a looooong time, I already have an extensive list of wonderful books on this topic. But...
I always like to search for new books. I often visit several sites during my search for an appropriate book but I usually start and end with my county's library catalog. Then I expand out to the websites for Amazon, B&N, Scholastic, and many different publishers. Once I find a few titles that seem to fit, I return to the library catalog to see if I can find the books at my library or at other libraries within my area. I do a lot of requesting! Having the books sent to me can take from a few days to a week or so ~ that is one reason why I start my planning early! (Btw, that is a good tip! Start planning early!)
For this week, I have chosen a book from a series that is one of my storytime families' favorites. The series is written by Lauren Thompson and the book is:
Mouse's First Spring
After I choose the book that I will be featuring, I read through it again. Sometimes I read through it several times. As I read, I make mental notes of songs, fingerplays, creative movement activities, and flannel or magnetic board stories that I already have access to. (I choose these items a little later in my planning process.)
Let me try to quickly take you through my thoughts about ideas to go with Mouse's First Spring. (If I was doing this for the first time, I would jot down my thoughts, in a notebook or a word document on the computer, as they came to me.)
The book is about a little Mouse who is experiencing his first Spring with his Mother at his side.
The first thing I notice in the book is that it is a "windy spring day". So I might jot down "windy". Do I have any songs or fingerplays about the wind? What can I do to help the children remember that it is a windy day in our story? As I read on, I realize that the wind is a recurring "character" in our book. Hmmm... the wind always goes "whoosh!" when it blows. Perfect! Maybe we could make the "whoosh!" sound together each time it appears. And what about a sweeping motion to involve our large motor skills? Sounds good! We'll do that! We'll sweep our arms across our bodies and up into the air as we say "whoosh!" each time.
Is there anything else that is repetitive in the story? Yes, there is. Mouse sees many signs of Spring. He wonders, "What can it be?", each time he sees something new. Can I get the little ones at storytime to repeat that with me? Maybe we could hold our hands up and shrug as we say it.
Each time Mouse wonders. "What can it be?" then Momma always says "Look!" and names the thing they see that is a sign of Spring. Since we work on sign language at my storytimes maybe I'll throw in the ASL sign for "look" and the ASL sign for each thing that Mouse and Momma see. That is a good beginning! I might even think about adding in color signs when it is appropriate.
As I continue to read through the book, I would jot down each new thing that Mouse wonders about. There is a butterfly, a snail, a bird, a frog, a worm, and a flower. Oh! And a hug and kiss from Momma at the end! Each of these things could be added to my list so that I could think about any learning activities that might fit in with the story and help connect the child with the book.
Before we move on to other storytime items, I have a couple more thoughts about the presentation of the book. As each new creature is introduced, the wind comes along and whooshes it away. For instance, the snail "hid away" and the frog "hopped away". So maybe I could encourage the children to wave "good-bye" to each creature as they leave ~ just one more way to engage the children with the words and the illustrations in the book.
Now all of this could seem overwhelming if you haven't been doing storytimes very long or if you haven't shared this book before. I would suggest writing down your ideas and then picking and choosing which ones you are most comfortable with. Try one or two and then add more as you become more comfortable with sharing the book. Also, I have found that some ideas are appropriate for some groups and not for others. If I have my ideas all written down or tucked away in my mind, then they are there for me when the time is right to use them.
PLEASE do not think that you need to use every idea that you come across or that you come up with on your own when reading your book and planning your storytimes. Each storytime should be unique to you and your group. All the ideas that others offer or you think up yourself might be wonderful but if you tried to use them all or tried to use any outside your comfort level then you might have a less-than-successful storytime! Don't stress yourself with too much! I only do what I am comfortable with at that particular moment ~ even if I did more at yesterday's storytime. I don't let the success of one storytime dictate what I will do at a repeat storytime. Sometimes a group is just not ready for a particular song or activity.
My next step, for this particular book, is to take the list of signs for Spring and start fleshing out the rest of my storytime ~ starting with another book or two.
Is there another book that goes well with this one? Maybe another book about Spring such as
Splish, Splash, Spring
by Jan Carr
or an even simpler one like
by Samantha Berger
Or you can take your next book choice into a totally different direction by choosing a book based on one of the signs of Spring in the featured book, Mouse's First Spring.
For instance, you could choose a butterfly book, such as
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle
or a book about lots of different butterflies like
Waiting for Wings
by Lois Ehlert
or a frog book such as
Jump, Frog, Jump!
by Robert Kalan
or a bird book like
by Kevin Henke
Whew! Trying to share my planning process is more difficult and wordy than I imagined. :-/ It is even more difficult than just doing the planning itself! LOL!
Looks like I'll need to stop here and share my next steps for planning this storytime in a second and maybe even third post.
One thing I haven't even mentioned is all the DIFFERENT ways you can present a book besides holding it up and reading it ~ although often times that is the best way to share a book.
This particular book could be done as a puppet show or as a flannel or magnetic board story. I am hoping to share my version of it for Flannel Friday Round-up this week. (I'll link it here when it is posted on Friday.)
I hope this has been somewhat helpful for you! I also hope that you will come back to read the rest of my planning process.
Please feel free to share any of your own thoughts on what I have written so far. Do you have a different way of starting your planning? If so, please share. Do you have other book titles to share that you might choose for this theme? I'd love to hear about them.
Honestly, the possibilities for ANY storytime are endless!
And you really can't go wrong as long as you ~ OWN IT!
HAPPY READING TOGETHER!