Storytimes have been and will always remain the main source of preschool programming at my library. But, I always try to provide additional programming to meet the needs of patrons and their families who do not attend storytimes, regardless of the reason why. Here are just a few of the ideas that have worked for us:
- Book/Character Parties: I’ve done “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Olivia,” and “Max and Ruby” at my library. Other staff members have done “Clifford” and “Dora & Diego.” These programs are a great way to incorporate books with activities like crafts, snacks, and games. I often borrow ideas from birthday parties online.
- Bubble Party: I did this program in the summer of 2010. I bought a bunch of bubbles at the dollar store and let the kids play with bubbles. We read “Bubble Trouble” by Margaret Mahy before I bought out the bubbles. I ended this program by painting with bubbles!
- Chalk Day: Preschoolers and their parents joined us for a June day on the sidewalk next to the library to play with chalk. I purchased the chalk in September, when it was on clearance, so I was able to get a lot of different sets with new techniques. (Who knew there was 3D chalk?) This was a great family program, and we had preschoolers through teenagers participate. It was also great publicity/advocacy for the library to see so many pictures of people reading and messages like, “I love my librarians.”
- Kids Art: This was a program where I paired a book or two with a larger art project. And I’m not talking quick art projects — these mostly involved smocks and paint and a big mess. Parents were thrilled with this program because their kids were able to really have fun with art, and they weren’t stuck with the clean-up. My only advice is to make sure to publicize that it’s a messy art program so that patrons will come dressed appropriately.
This spring/summer, I’m planning a Rainbow Day (filled with rainbow crafts, games, and books like “Wow! Said the Owl”), finally doing a Stuffed Animal Sleepover, and a giant Candyland day for preschoolers. I’ll also be starting Kids Art again, and we will likely keep doing Chalk Day until our chalk runs out!
What about you and your libraries? Do you do programming for preschoolers outside of storytime? What have been your success stories?
– Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library