While we all love books and reading to children, let’s face it — storytime is not just about the books! I use everything and anything at my disposal to grab my audience’s attention, and I’m willing to bet that you do too.
Here are some of my favorites:
Flannelboards are what really got me into storytime when I took over the preschool programming at my library. For my patrons, flannelboards are a very effective tool to practice vocabulary, and the interactivity allows the kids a chance to really participate and have a discussion in-between books. I often have kids ask me when we’re doing the “magic board” again. Even though I have a limited budget, felt only costs about a quarter per sheet and I really enjoy making my own flannels instead of purchasing them. Need more flannelboard ideas? A group of librarians (me included) post ideas and pictures on Fridays via Twitter — you can find us by searching #flannelfriday!
2. Finger Puppets
As a short person (I’m only 5’3″!), I feel like big puppets dwarf me. But finger puppets? I love finger puppets! I love hiding them in my pocket, or under the cushion on the rocking chair, or in the shelf that’s behind my flannelboard. The only downside to finger puppets is that they won’t work with a large storytime crowd. But for my library that averages around 14-16 kids for storytime, it’s a perfect alternative.
3. Prop Sticks
I got this idea from Mel at Mel’s Desk while I was searching for a sheep storytime activity. This set of prop sticks is just clip art attached to a popsicle stick; double-sided to go along with the rhyme. This was a great twist on an old favorite, and my kids were really into it. Since then I’ve made a set to go with a truck-themed “Where Is Thumbkin?” remix and my kids loved that set even more! I definitely plan to make some more prop stick sets when I get my next great idea.
4. Egg Shakers
Having just recently brought out the egg shakers for another storytime this past week, I was reminded on how simple things can be to make storytime and the library a fun place for kids! The minute the egg shakers were out and being used, instant smiles and peals of laughter filled my room. And also the sounds of the shakers, of course!
What are your favorite techniques for shaking up your storytimes? Let me know — I’d love to have some new ideas to try out!
– Katie Salo, Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library