Steve Fowler and Nicole Guerra-Coon were partnered up for the ALSC Mentoring Program in 2018-2019. After meeting a couple of times, they decided to work together to create a website with fun ideas for librarians, teachers, and parents to promote the ABCs through literacy with an alphabet storytime.
STEVE: About ten years ago, a former coworker and I created a 35-40 minute story time called Alphabits, and I have been doing this story time for 26 weeks (one week for each letter) each year ever since – with seven different classes each week now. When I talked to Nicole about it, she expressed an interest trying Alphabits at her library.
NICOLE: I was starting a new position at a library I had previously worked at part-time, and I wanted to bring some new programs in. I was looking for something different than the story times and craft programs I had previously done. Our library has a huge population of families with young children, mainly toddlers and preschoolers, and they are always looking for educational opportunities. When Steve told me about Alphabits, it seemed like the exact program those families were looking for.
STEVE: I was excited to see the way Nicole and her library implemented Alphabits. For one thing, we have very different spaces. At my library, we use a large Community Room with lots of space for the kids to move around.
NICOLE: Though my library has a large community room, it is difficult to book it on a regular basis, as it is always in use. But we have a small children’s program room that maybe fits 20 people comfortably, and I used that for Alphabits. I still used many of Steve’s ideas, but I had to tailor it for the smaller space – so a little less movement or I had to change some activities to a smaller scale.
STEVE: Nicole did a great job putting her own spin on Alphabits. I learned a lot and used some of her ideas in my program. She definitely helped me get out of some of the ruts I had developed.
NICOLE: I loved the program and structure Steve had created: a letter a week, multiple words for each letter, and books or activities for each word. I have an art background, so I loved coming up with crafts for each letter and making supplies for games and activities. But Steve has more programming experience, so if I felt stuck, Steve always had an idea for something that had worked for him. Knowing I could go to him for advice definitely made taking on a huge, 26 week program seem less daunting!
STEVE: Parents really like Alphabits as it feels different than most of our other story times. A lot of the kids who go through the program, especially the younger ones of the 2-5 year old age range, consider it to be their weekly “school,” as it does have an educational foundation – sprinkled around a lot of fun!
NICOLE: Yes, for many of our families, this was the first school-like environment their kids were experiencing. Some of the families used it as a pre-pre-school! They were so happy to have an educational class, similar to what their kids would soon be experiencing on a more full time basis. The kids are learning letters, sitting still for stories, following instructions, and sharing space with other children. All skills they will need as they start school!
We both enjoy Alphabits and wanted to share what we have done with others so we created an Alphabits website. Listed on the page are some of our favorite books, activities, and crafts for each letter of the alphabet.
Our guest bloggers today are Nicole Guerra-Coon and Steve Fowler.
Please note that as a guest post, the views here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: Programming Skills