Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's in My Cubby? Wednesdays

I just wrapped my Wednesday morning toddler storytime. And what lessons are we reminded of today? That if a child is not in the mood for storytime, then it doesn't matter how funny or age appropriate the book is...she/he does not care. And will make that very clear.

What's the other lesson we've been reminded of today? That this attitude is very catching among his/her fellow storytime attendees, and if you aren't prepared, can quickly turn into mutiny.

So, what do you do?

You paraphrase the remaining pages of the story, commenting on the pictures.

You have more than enough storytime books ready. You always need a few quick read alouds if you sense the crowd is not in the mood for longer books.

I like to keep distractions from the story to a minimum (meaning that I don't stop and point out illustrations, ask the children questions, etc). However, if I sense that the book isn't going over as well as I thought it would, I will draw the children's attention to something or ask them questions. This (you hope) will bring the children's attention back to you and the story. If not, then paraphrase. If the crowd is truly restless, close the book and move on.

You have more than enough fingerplays and action rhymes ready in case you really need to eliminate your usual number of books. The children are getting the benefit of working on their large or small motor skills, practicing their listening and following direction skills, using their imagination, and hearing rhyme.

Pull out your old reliables:

"If You're Happy and You Know It"

"Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed"

"The Wheels on the Bus"

"Eeensy Weensy Spider"

"Five Little Monkeys Swinging From a Tree"

Yes, you've done these a million times.

You may not feel happy.

You may think that the monkey's mother doesn't have the brains given to a flea.

You may hope the wheels on the bus go flat.

You may hope that spider gets squashed, and you may secretly be happy that the alligator gets those annoying little monkeys.

You may be sick of them, the parents may be sick of them, but children love doing action songs that they already know. You may have some children and parents who aren't familiar with the songs, especially if they were not born in the United States, and this can be an opportunity to introduce these classics to them.

As story readers and storytellers, we may feel the urge to always present new and fresh material. We're looking for new folktales to tell, new books to present, new fingerplays, new flannel board stories, new songs to teach the children, etc. Don't feel like you need to reinvent the wheel. Those songs have become classics and staples of storytimes for a reason. They're easy to learn and they're fun to do when you are two, three, and four years old. Most people find comfort in repetition and familiarity (within reason), and children are no exception. When your favorite song comes on the radio (or shows up in your Ipod rotation), don't you sing along? Do you enjoy rereading favorite books? Watching reruns of your favorite television show? Each storytime, whether it's a library storytime or a bedtime storytime, does not have to be All New, All the Time. A mix of new and old is fantastic, and puts less of a burden on the story reader or storyteller.

With that in mind, these are the books I used for today's Splish Splash, I Was Taking a Bath storytime. Only one book was new to me; I've used the rest successfully in the past. The majority of the children were interested and involved in the books, except for one.

Dodd, Emma. Dog's Colorful Day: A Messy Book About Colors and Counting. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 2000.

Basic synopsis: As Dog goes through his day, he is splashed with a variety of colorful dots.
Used for: Splish Splash, I Was Taking a Bath toddler storytime
Why I used it: My group loves dog stories, and they love showing that they know their colors. Dog gets a bath at the end. Illustrations cover the entire page.

Kudrna, C. Imbior. To Bathe a Boa. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1986.

Basic synopsis: Boy wants to give his boa a bath, but the boa won't hear of it.
Used for: Splish Splash, I Was Taking a Bath toddler storytime
Why I used it: Big illustrations of a very determined boa and his boy. Text runs 2-4 pages per page, but this can be used in a preschool storytime as well. The boa's antics are funny, especially at the end.

Miller, Margaret. Where's Jenna? New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.

Basic synopsis: Jenna's parents want her to take a bath, but Jenna keeps hiding.
Used for: Splish, Splash, I Was Taking a Bath toddler storytime
Why I used it: Children this age enjoy looking at photographs of other children. Story isn't terribly exciting, but they enjoy looking at the pictures while the story is read. This could also be used for reinforcing prepositions (over, under, inside, outside, etc).

Johnson, Jane. Little Bunny's Bathtime. Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales (imprint of ME Media, LLC), 2004.

Basic synopsis: Little Bunny hides while siblings are taking a bath, but ends up wanting a bath as well.
Used for: Splish, Splash, I Was Taking a Bath toddler storytime
Why I used it: This one has cute illustrations and a nice mama bunny. It's also about being reminded that mothers love their babies (bunnies). The text has more conversation than what I normally would chose. However, this would be a good parent-child read aloud. I paraphrased about half of the story. Today was the first time I've presented it in a storytime, and although the book has much charm, it wasn't a successful read aloud. Live and learn.

McDonnell, Flora. I Love Boats! Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 1995.

Basic synopsis: Narrator tells of his/her love of boats. At the end, we see that they are toy boats.
Used for: Intended for Splish, Splash, I Was Taking a Bath toddler storytime. Did not use (inserted an action rhyme instead)
Why I have used it in the past: Text is short and to the point, making it a good selection for a young toddler group. Illustrations cover the entire page (the only white space is the text area). Text is big, making it easy for the story reader. Boats and bath toys are popular with toddlers.

(I'm experimenting with my posting style, so bear with me. If I'm heading in the right direction, I'd appreciate some feedback! Be gentle-I'm still relatively new at blogging. My email address is

No comments: