- Kids honestly do not care if you flub up a word, trip over your own feet, or sing out of tune. What is important to them is the experience of sharing something with you. Just relax, let your inner child out and have a blast!
- You've run out of ideas - then turn to the net. The internet is your friend. There are literally hundreds of ideas floating around in cyber space, whether you want to find a few book suggestions, a craft project to make together, or possibly even a new place to visit around your town, check out the internet! And more importantly, if you aren't comfortable surfing the net, visit your local library and ask your librarian to help you find a few new tips!
- Hearing the same song being sung over and over during the hour drive to grandma's house may drive you absolutely crazy, but guess what? It is great for your child! Babies and toddlers love repetition because that is the way that they learn best. Hearing the same story or the same song or doing the same routine over and over, day after day gives them confidence (they know what is going to happen next) and satisfaction (having learned something concrete) and a sense of accomplishment (which will give them confidence to participate more in the future). How does this translate to storytime? Well, stick with a particular pattern (song, book, fingerplay, book, song, craft) or use the same songs week to week - they honestly do not have to match your "theme". You might also try starting your storytime with the same book or song each week - the familiarity will be a nice welcoming activity for the group.
- One of the most important things to remember when doing a storytime is that you should be flexible and prepared for anything! (The same goes for being a parent!). I usually plan storytimes around a theme and within that theme, I choose about 5 books at different levels: some are short, some are long. The stories I end up reading to the group are chosen on that day based on the kids. Sometimes the kids are more active with shorter attention spans, so we do more action songs together and ready shorter stories. Other times they are in a real quiet mood and will sit and listen to stories the entire time, not wanting to get up and dance. That is ok! Both senarios are ok! Relying on a good ole plan B isn't a bad thing!
- Totally out of ideas and you have 8 storytimes to plan? Look to the outside - call local businesses or organizations and see if they will give a short presentation to your storytime group. Some groups who love to do storytimes in our community are: Paws with a Cause, the police, the fire deparment, local PBS station, neighborhood zoo, Girl Scouts, local authors, and local government officials. Be warned - it is difficult to pin down most local government officials to one specific date and time! If you schedule one, make sure you have a plan B ready!
- If you are new to planning storytimes, or have run out of ideas for a family activity day, find a theme and plan around it. It really helps to focus your attention if you have a particular idea you are shooting for. Say you pick the theme of Mittens. Get online and check out your local library's collection for books about Mittens. Most online library catalogs have a "keyword" option. Choose that option and then try searching on "mittens winter clothing". Narrow your search by age if at all possible! Next, think of an activity - maybe pull out your bucket of winter outdoor clothing and find all the mittens, then make a matching game out of them. Or cut out a mitten from construction paper and decorate it. Then maybe tie this all together with going to the store and buying new mittens for the winter. You can also do some online searching and look for coloring sheets and other projects.Don't force it
- If a book or craft project is not working, skip it! It is ok! Maybe you can try them another day. Have back up books ready just for such a situation, but above all, don't worry if your favorite book was not a hit with the wee ones! Everyone has different tastes!
You may think of the following stores as simply places people go who are into crafts and hobbies such as scrapbooking, knitting or floral arranging, but nooo!!! They have may projects for children too, suitable for all ages! In addition, many also host low cost or free kids activities on the weekends. If you do not have one of these larger chains near you, check out local craft or hobby stores.
Online craft supplies:
Oriental Trading - this is a great site for really inexpensive craft supplies and craft kits. Oriental Trading also has many decorative items, costumes, party supplies, and they are fast at shipping! Check them out!
On a side note, when getting creative, and you don't feel like messing with glue or waiting for glue to dry, try using Glue Dots! They are easy to use for all ages and hold things instantly! They are available at all major craft stores and online at Oriental Trading.
There are MANY CDs out there containing great music for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Here is a list of just a few that I use regularly. Be sure to try out using shaker eggs, ribbons or scarfs and toilet paper rolls as "sticks" when moving to the beat. If you don't have any of those things, grab whatever you have in your house and shake, rattle and roll! The idea is to be creative and have fun!
Kids on the Move by Merry Music Maker
Tickles and Tunes by Kathy Reid-Naiman
Rhythms on Parade by Hap Palmer
Simplified Rhythm Stick Activities by Georgiana Stewart
Listen, Like, Learn by Betsy Diamant-Cohen
Moving with Mozart
Whaddaya Think of That by Laurie Berkner
90 Nifty Songs by Peter Moses
Diaper Gym by Kimbo
Ready Set Move by Greg and Steve
Action Songs for Preschoolers by Hap Palmer
Wiggle and Whirl by Sue Schnitzer
Do Re Mi on his Toe Leg Knee by Jim Gill
Big Red Car by The Wiggles