Blogger Katie Salo

Documenting Storytime

If you’re anything like me, you need help remembering things from time to time. Life is far too complicated to try and make our brains keep everything organized and tidy, so we’ve got to turn to other methods.

Of course, while this can be applied to anything I’m talking in particular about storytime. There are a lot of reasons to document and track your storytimes — for your own personal use, for your yearly evaluation, to help train new staff members, to share with colleagues, and more. Here are my top five tips for documenting your storytimes:

A box full of storytime plans, write-ups, and materials. [Photo courtesy of the author.]
A box full of storytime plans, write-ups, and materials. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

  • Start with a good plan. Since starting my new job, I’ve been in LOVE with Jbrary’s Toddler Storytime Planning Sheet. I’ve talked so much about the planning sheets that members of my Early Lit team have also switched over!
  • Write up a small “How It Went” immediately after the program. On the back of my attendance sheet, you can find little notes like “I Know a Chicken = STORYTIME GOLD” and “[Child] absolutely lit up during Babies on the Bus today”. These small write-ups take very little time, but remind me of what materials I should use again.
  • Take pictures. I take pictures of every flannelboard I’ve made and I took pictures of the crafts that I did. The flannelboard photos are organized on my blog and the craft photos mean I don’t have to keep containers full of example crafts. I can easily look at my flannelboard photos and remind myself of the materials I have available.
  • Organize your materials. Don’t leave them all boxed up. (The exception to that is if you’re moving or changing jobs, which is when that picture was taken!) I’m proud to say that my flannelboards, puppets, and documents are now all at work where I can access them when I need to!
  • Set your information free! I always remind friends and colleagues: I started my blog to keep a virtual record of my storytimes for me. So that I wouldn’t have a ridiculous paper trail and so I could access my storytimes from any computer with an Internet connection. If you haven’t thought about blogging for a personal record, now may be the time!

How do you document your storytimes? Does your library have a document/program reporting process? Any great ideas that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library
http://storytimekatie.com

8 comments

  1. Abby Johnson

    I definitely use my blog to keep track of story programs (and share!), but we’ve converted to Evernote, thanks to Melissa Depper’s suggestion. While our library has a shared drive that everyone can access, it’s cumbersome and overfull of files from the last 10 years. We set up an Evernote account that everyone in the department has access to. I love that it’s searchable and uses tags, which makes it really easy to find resources when I’m planning a storytime. We used to have a ton of binders that never got used, but now everything’s in Evernote!

    1. Lisa

      I’m a big Evernote fan, too!

  2. Stephanie Rivera

    Great suggestions! I especially love the idea of recording how it went. I haven’t done that yet, but this post has given me the extra prompt that I needed.

  3. Paige Bentley-Flannery

    Great post!

    I started using Riffle Books after Amy Grave’s wonderful post. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2013/07/using-riffle-for-visual-book-lists/

    It’s a great visual platform for creating and saving story time books and perfect for sharing with other librarians.

  4. Kristel

    I use Evernote too! It’s incredibly helpful, thanks to its searchability.

  5. Carol Simon Levin

    I have found that a blog is a great way to keep track of what I do — partly so I can remember for next time and partly so I can share 20+ years experience doing storytimes, singalongs, and art & science programs with librarians, teachers and occasional parents within and beyond my system and state.
    All are labelled/indexed to easily locate by topic. I also note the date(s)/locations where I have done the program at the bottom of each post so it is easy to see when and where I can do it again for a new group of children as well as any other notes I might want for the future.
    Here’s an example: Wheel Away – Story & Craft! “Did you learn to ride a bike or tricycle this summer? Or take a trip or travel by car or bus or train to a distant destination? We’ll celebrate all forms of transport, then design our very own vehicle.” (Ages 4-9) http://carolsimonlevin.blogspot.com/2014/08/wheel-away-story-craft.html

  6. Carrie Roer

    This is the biggest reason why I blog. Even if no one else reads my blog, I have a record of what I used for each theme and how it went. I’ve started trying to put more into Evernote too, though that’s been slow going.

  7. Courtney

    I JUST started a storytime blog! Mostly I’m looking to have a record of what I’ve done as a kind of virtual portfolio, but I’ve been working for about three years at my library and I’m a little daunted by the idea of having to go back in time and write posts about things I’ve done in the past. I think it will be worth it, but I wish I started sooner, especially since I’ve got other blogs that I’ve been updating all along.

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