Saturday, January 3, 2009

Reflections on programming and going freestyle

Programming starts again next week! I've had about a month to think over and plan everything - and I have lots of new ideas for the spring.

Last fall my first "regular" programs (summer doesn't really count) were two preschool storytimes, family and evening storytime, gaming (board games) and Teen Advisory Group. (I consider myself immensely blessed to have a local parent-educator from the school district who does wildly popular toddler and baby storytimes).

I had a couple regulars at the gaming program, but it's hard to play board games with only two kids and we won't be continuing that program this spring. I didn't have any clear direction for TAG and nobody showed up so....Despite several people asking for evening or after work storytimes, I had very low to zero attendence for that also. The family storytime was small but growing and preschoolers averaged about 20 attendees! (That's lots for us - we are a small library).

So, this spring, I am adding and dropping programs and also restructing. I've kept TAG but made it a monthly meeting with a "project" for each meeting. I'm adding a DIY (i.e. craft) program a couple times a month for ages 8 and up and a monthly puppet program, as we have a very cool puppet theatre in our storyroom which I've never used.

Finally, I'm doing two afternoon family storytimes and two morning preschool storytimes. They'll be roughly the same thing, just different days. Last fall I had different "themes" for every storytime and crafts for the family storytime and different art projects for the preschoolers....I can't think of any more themes. Blah. Plus, it is feeling a little rigid. So, I am going to stick with my themes for the family storytime and a specific craft, but the preschoolers are going freestyle! New books, books I just like or pick up that day, books that went over well in the family storytime, songs and rhymes I've gathered throughout the year, and I'm going to stick more firmly to the "open art" i decided on for the preschoolers last fall - paper, crayons, markers, glue, and whatever I find in the cupboard!

I think our programs for younger kids will continue to be popular. I'm working on more advertising for the programs for older kids but I may have to change the format or time again. We'll see how it goes....


Saints and Spinners said...

I think you are wise to go free-style with the preschoolers. When I worked in the library, I tried to do themes for awhile, but I found that I was sacrificing quality in order to fill out a theme. Regarding those evening storytimes, it's frustrating to offer people what they say they want, only to have very few people show up. (However, when people ask for them again, at least you have data to back you up as to why you're not going a particular route.)

On the Kidlitosphere listserv, you asked about storytelling resources. I've kept a story and song blog for almost four years, and I am happy to be a resource for you. I tell stories for preschool aged children, and am always searching and testing new stories to work with those age-groups. I intersperce the stories with songs, which goes a long way to achieving the miracle of keeping a toddler's attention for 40 minutes.

Jennifer said...

Your blogs look very useful! I've seen several stories already that have given me ideas. Thanks!

Dianne de Las Casas said...

Dear Jennifer:

I heard through the grapevine that you are looking for "Tell Together" stories. I am an author and professional storyteller. I write children's books as well as storytelling resource books (Libraries Unlimited) On my website, I have a story collection. There you can find lots of tellable tales. On my site, I feature a "Story of the Month" (on the front page). I also have a monthly email newsletter full of creative ideas for the library, classroom and home. In Story Connection Express (11,000+ subscribers worldwide), I feature articles, book reviews, recipes, crafts, and a tellable tale every month. You can sign up through my website I hope these resources help you! Best wishes with your storytelling work!

Dianne de Las Casas
Author & Award Winning Storyteller

Jennifer said...

Thanks - a great website and blog, I'm looking forward to getting lots of ideas from you!