The Seventh Week

My story times!

As a crunchy eco-maniacal psuedo-hippie, I couldn’t resist doing a gardening theme.  I described the general plan in last week’s post, so this week I’ll focus mostly on how they went.  I did one preschool story time (2-3 books, song, dramatization, craft), two toddler story times (2 books, song, no dramatization or craft), and a family story time (basically set up like preschool story time).  Erica does four every week, so it was good experience to learn how that feels.  It definitely takes a lot of energy!

Preschool story time
Attendance: 90
Books: Flower Garden; Our Community Garden; Up, Down, Around

At my first story time, preschool, I found that I was going to be done ahead of time.  I wasn’t nervous and reading too quickly, so I wasn’t sure at first exactly why my story time went so much more quickly.  I had a third short book on hand just in case, so I went ahead and read that one also.  The craft was a huge hit – although everybody was so excited to plant their seeds that they skipped decorating their cups entirely.  Afterward, Erica told me that the timing issue was because she often goes through her song and dramatization a couple of times, but I had only done each one once through.  I remedied this in my later story times, and they stayed on track.

Toddler story time
Attendance: 95, 75
Books: Flower Garden; Up, Down, Around

The toddler story times both went well, but they were interesting in how different they were.  The first session was larger – about 95 people, while the second had only 75 – and also included a preschool.  It’s a little hard for me to gauge how successful a story or activity is in this situation, because at any given time there are lots of kids who are distracted.  That’s ok – they’re not expected to be on task the entire time – but it’s a bit difficult for me to tell the difference between normal distraction and actual disinterest.  Erica said they were rowdier than usual, but that she didn’t think it was problematic.

The second toddler story time felt much smaller, even though it wasn’t, perhaps because of the higher adult-child ratio.  I definitely felt more in control of the room, and that I could bring attention back with a question (do you think that her mom liked the gift?)  or a short interaction (let’s make butterfly hands!).  Also, I realized I hadn’t been thinking much at all about the big book.  I feel very natural handling them now – I don’t have to think about it any more.  Success!

Family story time
Attendance: 20
Books: Flower Garden; Scarlette Beane

Family story time was an entirely different creature.  It was on a weekend, unlike the other story times.  The weather was beautiful, so we knew attendance would be lower.  We had about 20 people, which I hear is standard for most story times at other branches but is unusually small at Northeast.  I really enjoyed doing this story time.  First of all, I got a chance to reprise many of the activities from the preschool story time.  Doing the song and dramatization twice through was fun and effective, and the craft was again popular.  (We didn’t bother to put out decorating supplies this time – we just skipped straight to the planting.)  I could also add a lot more direct interaction to the reading.  Instead of asking yes/no questions everybody can answer together, I could solicit some individual reactions.  “What’s your favorite flower?”   “What kind of vegetable are you pretending to be?”

In this story time, I had trouble with the transitions between elements.  In the busier story times, I was busy trying to call back everybody’s attention for the new activity.  In this one, they just sat silently and waited for the next thing.  Erica said it’s a good idea to establish a routine that signals “ok, this is over”, like applauding their listening skills.  This was a difference between large and small groups that I hadn’t anticipated, so in the future I’ll have to plan accordingly depending on the probable size of my audience.

Overall

Through each story time, Erica gave me feedback on small improvements, like places I could add an interaction or a better way to phrase something.  These were really helpful.  If I’m doing story times professionally, I will definitely want to practice them on a real person – another librarian or even just a friend – and get their ideas.

I had a great time this week!  I’m looking forward to observing some more story times as well – I think I’ll get more out of those experiences now that I’ve done a few myself.

Total: +18 = 115

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