Ah, preschool storytime. It’s a completely different beast than either baby or toddler storytime. This is the storytime where the kiddos can talk back. And we want them to! First of all: we know from the research that encouraging kids to talk is so important for their developing brains. Also, as a bonus, preschoolers say the funniest things. I love preschool storytime. Since I’ve talked about my toddler and baby storytimes before, I also wanted to give a breakdown of what my preschool storytime looks like.
Our preschool storytime is 30 minutes long (not including the craft at the end) and is aimed at ages 3-5. Here’s the plan from last week’s preschool storytime, which was a dance themed storytime: Preschool 1_14_15_Dancing. As you can see, it’s a pretty unstructured list. In preschool storytime I always choose way more books then I plan on reading for two reasons. First: my coworker and I share storytime planning. We are a small library, light on staff, and we are each responsible for 3 storytimes a week. It’s just much more efficient if we switch off on planning on storytime. So I grab a lot of books so that she has options to choose from, and she does the same for me. Second: I just never know what I’m going to feel like reading on storytime day. I want to have some options, in case it’s a crazy day and the longer story I wanted to read won’t work out. Or in case my kids just want story after story and ask for longer stories to read. I want to be prepared.
Also, as you can see, preschool storytime is the only storytime where I use a theme. I think it works really well with preschoolers to have a theme. It gives you great things to talk about with the kiddos. You can talk about how stories tie into each other: what is similar about them? How are they different? It also helps me mix up my books. A theme makes me try new books and find new favorites for both me and the kids.
So, keeping in mind that my preschool storytime is much less structured than my baby or toddler times, here’s what mine looks like:
Opening spiel: This is the perfect place to let my kiddos use their words. I ask them what the “rules” of storytime are. We talk about sitting criss-cross-applesauce and listening during the books. We talk about the rule of the purple circle–my library has a multicolored carpet, and I let the kids sit wherever they want, except for on the purple circle. That’s where the storytime chair is, and gives me a little room to move around. It’s a pretty short spiel, but I’ve found having the kids tell me the rules makes for a lot of buy-in and a smooth storytime.
Talking about the theme: Another great chance to let the kiddos use their words! I always ask what they think the theme of the week is, based on the books on display on the storytime table. It’s always interesting to hear their guesses, and help guide them to the theme, especially if it’s not an obvious one.
Books and Rhymes: Again, this changes from week to week. I usually read 4-5 books per preschool storytime, and do one rhyme, song, or flannel in between every book. We usually dance to a prerecorded song with scarves. Quite often we do “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” together. We do fingerplays and sing songs. Laurie Berkner’s “The Airplane Song” and Jim Gill’s “Silly Dance Contest” are perennial favorites that I use quite a bit in preschool storytime. Sometimes the rhymes and songs we do are related to the theme, sometimes they aren’t. I’ll talk about this more in a post later this week, but I’ve become much less attached to my theme over the past 2.5 years of doing storytimes. It’s more important for a song or rhyme to be fun than for it to perfectly fit with the theme.
Closing song: Lately I’ve been using “Bread and Butter” but saying goodbye instead of hello.
Craft: Preschool storytime is the only storytime where we offer a craft. All the kids love the craft! For the dancing storytime plan I posted, we made dancing wands: gluing die cut shapes (this time the choices were a butterfly or a flower) onto craft sticks and decorating them. Honestly, any craft that involves gluing one thing to another thing is a hit.
So that’s my preschool storytime! On Friday I’ll share the things I wish I’d known when I started preschool storytime in another post.
And here are my favorite preschool storytime planning resources:
Storytime Katie is the best for storytime themes, rhymes, and book ideas. I’m on her site all the time when planning my storytimes.
The King County Library System has SO MANY songs and rhymes on their site. It’s a fabulous resource when you’re looking for something to round out a theme.
Jbrary is just full of songs, videos, and great ideas to up your storytime game. I absolutely love their site and think it’s essential for all storytime planning.
Perry Public Library has a lovely list of storytime themes, including rhymes and books.
SurLaLune Storytime has a great selection of books and rhymes. It’s an especially great resource if you’re looking for some longer books to try in storytime.
There are so many great resources out there for storytime. If you have some to share, please do so in the comments!