Programming Puzzler: How do you adapt your programs for a wide age range?

We posed this puzzler to our readers:

You’re presenting a family storytime, and you’ve got 2-year-olds and 7-year-olds and no one in between! What do you do?

“I think this would provide an excellent opportunity for parachute play. It appeals to all ages, and if the 7 year olds got bored with it, they could be the ones who helped lift and lower it. This storytime would need a lot more action activities with fewer books mixed in.” – Chris K.

“I would read a picture book that was a bit longer to appeal to the 7 year olds, along with another book to keep the 2 year olds interested. I would also pick movement activities that the children could do together.” – Brandt E.

“I would probably start off with a bit of a longer book to keep the 7 year olds engaged right away but would also entertain the 2 year olds. I would have a movement activity and use bean bags that the 2 year olds could shake and the 7 years old could juggle. You could also partner the older children with the younger children in an activity where the older child can help the younger child.” – Craig P.

Kathy and Christine say:
  • This is a great place to use American Sign Language! Incorporating even a few signs into a book or story will engage older kids by giving them something new to learn and do, even if the story is simple enough for toddlers.
  • Having several choices of materials on hand and being flexible within the program are key. Be willing to change courses if what you’re doing isn’t working.
  • Ask the older kids to be your helpers and model activities for the younger kids. Giving them a special job will engage them, and the younger kids will love the extra attention the big kids can give them!
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