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Preschool Storytime Overview

I noticed that others have been posting overviews of their storytime programs, so I thought I would share ours as well. I do one weekly storytime for preschoolers Tuesday mornings at 11 during the school year at my main branch and also Friday mornings at our other branch. We do 6-week sessions in fall (October-Thanksgiving), winter (January and February), and spring (March-April). We also have a 6-week storytime session during our summer reading program.

During the summer, I do five storytimes each week at different locations: a city park on the river, 2 elementary school lawns, in the library, at our other branch. Down by the river is my favorite (don't worry, we're actually quite a lot further than this where we do our storytime):

We don't have a program room at either branch so both storytimes are in the children's section. In my main branch, that requires moving a lot of furniture. We also have steps to look out for (which lead up to a stage that houses our picture book collection). Generally, I put my felt board easel on the stage and either stand or sit to read to the kids, depending on how many kids there are or what I feel like that day.

We usually have about 30 people for storytimes during the school year. The summer varies a lot more--anywhere from one family to about 60 people at a storytime. I am partial to the summer ones because we are outside and we often have a good sized-crowd so we can get a little more rowdy.

All of our storytime programs are unregistered. The only time we register for a program is if a performer requests the crowd size be kept to a certain limit. This usually only happens with live animal programs. Since we don't have a seperate storytime room, it would be difficult to keep people away anyway. And it is my philosophy to tell people "YES!" as much as possible.

For opening activities, I usually start by saying "Good morning" and waiting for someone to say it back. Often this is less than enthusiastically met so sometimes I have everyone repeat it a few times. We should probably start providing coffee.

After everyone has been sufficiently loud at wishing me a good morning, I have the kids stand up and we do "Jump Up, Turn Around" by Jim Gill. We usually have a much smaller crowd at the other branch so I use "Open Them, Shut Them" instead. (That's also how I begin my toddler storytimes.)

This is my version of "Open Them, Shut Them":
Open them, shut them.
Open them, shut them.
Give a little clap, clap, clap.
Open them, shut them.
Open them, shut them.
Put them in your lap, lap, lap.

Creep them, crawl them.
Creep them, crawl them.
Right up to your chin, chin, chin.
Open up your little mouth,
But do not let them in!

After we've danced, we play Little Mouse, Little Mouse.

Then we do an action rhyme called "Let's Hear You Roar Like a Lion" by Diane Briggs. It goes like this:

Let's hear you roar like a lion!
Let's see you jump like a frog!
Let's see you snap your jaws like a crocodile!

Let's hear you howl like a dog!
Pretend you're an elephant with a big, looooong, truck.
Pretend you're a monkey. Let's see you jump, jump, jump!
And now you're a mouse. Just let me see
How very, very quiet you can be.

Then I read some books. If I notice the kids are particularly wound up, I'll have them do another dance like "Silly Dance Contest" by Jim Gill. I usually play music off my iPhone--in airplane mode so I don't get a phone call-- (connected to a portable speaker set) so I can sub different things in very easily.

After I'm done reading, we sometimes do a game or activity. The most popular one is our parachute. It is tricky in our space because we have a lower ceiling and the aforementioned steps. But the kids really love it.

Then, we either do a simple craft activity or a coloring sheet. I'm thinking we will most likely switch to take-home crafts because of space concerns. Our storytime has grown in attendance tremendously since I started and we are running out of room. For staffing purposes, we can't easily add another one.

I'd show you some pictures of my storytime area/youth department, but we are hopefully going to be repainting it soon, so I will save that for a future makeover post.


  1. What do you guys do with the parachute? I'm curious because we have one and now I want to use it!

  2. Ahh! I forgot to link to my parachute post:

    I'll edit it into the post here as well. But basically, we sing some songs and maybe throw some balls or puppets on it as well. The most popular thing is to have the grownups lift it up and let the kids run under. Then "the walls come down". Cheerful screams ensue and we let the kids out and do it again. And again.


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