Saturday, January 29, 2011

This week at the library; or, Sand and alligators in January

So. Monday. For Make it and Take it we made sand art. I bought a set of little bottles from School Discount Supply and LOTS of colored sand. I was worried this might turn into something that should have been planned for Messy Art Club, but it worked really well. I poured a little sand into cups and the kids used the cups and small plastic funnels that came with the bottles to put the sand in. The funnels did have to be snipped at the end for anything to get through! Our new vacuum cleaner did a great job of sucking up the inevitable sprinkles that landed on the floor. The only drawback to this craft is it goes pretty fast - the bottles are tiny - and most of the kids don't care about fancy labels, they like to pour the sand in and shake it! So be sure to have lots of extra bottles if you do this.

Wii Gaming on Tuesdays is and isn't successful depending on how you look at it. Yes, there are kids in there playing - but with only 4 controllers, and many games only taking 2 people, it's a limited program. Lots of kids like to sit and watch, but we still have vast numbers of kids wandering around the library. How do you accommodate so many kids with one gaming system?

We're back up to our very healthy numbers for Lego Building Club - we hit the 50 mark again this week. We've been doing this since last fall and I'm ready to tweak it a little. First, I'm going to pull out all the people and ration them. The first 5 or so kids that come in grab all the people and then there's arguments and fusses. Plus, it means the kids aren't actually building anything - they're competing for "special" pieces and then basically arranging tableaus with the Lego people. I'm planning to laminate the collection of building instructions I have and see if that sparks more interest in actually building.

Our preschool storytime theme was alligators and crocodiles. We read Ravishankar's Catch that Crocodile, Gantos' Swampy Alligator, and Donnio's I'd Really Like to Eat a Child. I did have some songs, but forgot to bring them in. Anyways, there were only 3 kids. We made alligator jaws by stapling two sheets of green paper to tongue depressors and then cutting the edges with scissors and gluing on eyes. The eyes and scissors were the best parts...

That afternoon, I opened up the Storyroom again for the middle schoolers, something we're going to try to do every week. This week we put on a movie, Toy Story 3, but although that was their pick, only a couple of them came in. Groan. We are starting our new (or rather, rewritten) policies on Monday and are going to hand out bookmarks to all the kids alerting them to the stricter rules and consequences, so we'll see how that works.

I went to our system's YS summer pre-conference on Friday. Got lost, of course, but for once it wasn't my fault but a combination of bad directions from google maps and unclear directions when we called the hotel. Marge Loch-Wouters did a program on storytelling which was lots of fun, although not really practical for me (I'll explain why in a minute) and Leslie Peterson did a program on creative programming, which I really enjoyed and got some good ideas for my art programs. Although she's probably going to regret giving us her email....I still have lots of questions!

So, my thing about storytelling. First of all, I like storytelling. I'm pretty good at it. I've done it on and off in storytimes, with friends, and in classes quite a bit. However, whenever I've done storytelling workshops, I notice the "troubleshooting" bits are generally directed towards dealing with large groups, unruly children, losing your audience, etc. My problem is just the opposite - I consider 10 kids at storytime a crowd. 3-5 is an "average" group (This is a whole other major issue, which I'm planning to deal with. Later.) Anyways. I spend a lot of time in storytime trying to MAKE kids wiggle, participate, laugh, or do anything but sit solemnly on the carpet and stare at me. It is really, really, really hard to tell stories with an very small, very shy audience. Second issue, I've noticed a lot of storytelling (at least that I've looked at or experienced) is really aimed towards various elementary ages, especially 1st & 2nd grade. I simply have no venue for storytelling with this age group. I only do school visits a few times a year, and then I have an average of 15 minutes with an entire class group (i.e. ALL the fifth graders in the whole school) to talk up the summer reading program, summer programs, and new books and services. I get occasional school visits to the library, but that's for a tour, getting library cards, checking out books, and maybe a quick project or something.

So....exactly how do you use storytelling in your library? Especially with a very, very small, shy group of preschoolers? I meant to ask Marge but didn't get around to it, so I'll probably be bugging her about this too...


Marge Loch-Wouters said...

You are sooo right..I skipped blithely over the smallish storyime groups! I've dealt with that "only a couple of kids" scenario many times over the years and it changes the tenor completely in the storytime session - like some of the goofy mojo gets lost.

For small groups at library storytime, I just tell the stories straight and don't often use the visuals of big puppets I brought along.

Sometimes I use a bag with a prop hidden inside relating to the story and make a big deal out of feeling around the bag and oohing and ahhing before bringing it out and saying it reminds me of a story that I then tell. That has been super effective in drawing shy quiet participants out.

Sometimes I'll use fingerpuppets and let the kids handle them and play with them before or after the story to try and see if they want to "play" a bit with the story.

But I try to tell one story in each and every storytime so that along with reading books, they always have a chance to listen and use their imagination to picture a story. Once it becomes part of the formula, the kids can hardly wait for a story to be spun.

Hope that helps a little from the practical and philosophical side!

Jennifer said...

Thanks! I knew you probably had some good ideas, I just didn't get around to asking while we were there. I'm thinking of completely changing the structure and purpose of preschool storytime - and storytelling is one of the things I want to emphasize more in the new model (which is just in my head right now) I'll start testing these suggestions right away though and see which ones work best for my shy little group!