What do your patrons see when they enter your programming room? Do you have a checklist of objects that are constant so that your littlest patrons immediately know it’s storytime? At my library, I’ve got a list of things that I set out before storytime as visual cues so that patrons know what to do — it’s amazing how quickly preschoolers learn to expect these cues and how they follow their instructions.
This is what my preschoolers see after entering the room: our storytime rug, our storytime cushion bins and my area all set up. Patrons who have attended storytime come running in, grab a cushion, and plop themselves down on the rug to face my chair. Patrons who are new to storytime follow the other kids and we’re set to go about two minutes after everyone arrives.
We bought our storytime cushions with grant funding and they’ve held up for a year and a half with only one cushion tearing. When kids sit down, we practice naming colors as I ask kids with green cushions to raise their hands, etc. I really like using cushions because it gives each child a defined space on the rug. Yes, we have occasional cushion mishaps (a lot of my kids balance them on their heads at one point or another), but it’s worth it for the interaction alone.
Starting late this fall, I brought out Applesauce, our storytime mascot. He’s a golden retriever puppet and he delights every child! One of my teen patrons named him after a contest this summer. Applesauce participates in storytime by trying his best to sit still, interacting with our flannelboards (he clears the board by “eating” the pieces), and occasionally singing our goodbye song. Afterwards, he’ll greet each child before our craft begins. I’m always searching for new ways to use him in storytime. Since Applesauce only attends storytimes, when the kids see him they know it’s a storytime program and not an art program or something different.
When the kids see the flannelboard set up, they know it’s just for storytime! This picture is of the inside shelf, where I keep all of my props, flannel pieces, and fingerplay rhymes (just in case). My kids like to try and peek inside to see what we’re doing before I get to it. When they see me reach inside, they know it’s an activity other than a book and they get ready to move around or sing with me.
By having these visual cues, my kids know how to get ready for storytime. Since my library has three different programming rooms, we sometimes have to move around. But as long as I have my rug, cushions, Applesauce, and flannelboard, I do not have behavior problems!
How do you set up for storytime? Do you use visual cues/set-up/routine to get little ones ready for stories?
- Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library