Programming Puzzler: How do you open your storytimes?

We posed this question to our readers:

Song, dance, or hello rhyme, how do you open your storytime?

“I always start my Story Times with what I call the “Name Game” We clap every child’s name out three times. Beginning with my name first, “Mrs. Brady, Mrs. Brady, Mrs. Brady” Syllable by Syllable that would be four claps each time. This is to introduce children to phonetics AND a great way for us to learn each other’s names. For older children I ask them if they can tell me how many syllables they have in their name. When there are only a few children I’ll include the adults too. The children love hearing their names clapped out loud.” -Irene B.

“I like to start off my story times with a song. My song of choice is “Shake Your Sillies Out” by the Wiggles. After the children enter the room and sit on the floor, I welcome them and ask if any of them are feeling silly, them I ask them to stand up because we have to shake those sillies out. We use a lot of energy shaking them out and after the song we sit down for a story or two before we move on to the next movement activity.” -Craig P.

Kathy and Christine say:

  • Make storytime a welcoming place, different from the rest of the library. Playing music as the children enter the storytime room is one way to create a welcoming atmosphere. Even if you are doing storytime out in the middle of the library, create a special “space” for storytime by ringing a bell, striking a chime, or giving some other special signal that storytime is starting.
  • A hello song is a wonderful way to open your storytime. Greeting each child by name to a simple tune allows you to make eye contact with each child in turn and provide them a special welcome to storytime. (See our book, Storytime Magic, for lots of suggestions for hello and goodbye songs!)
  • Don’t underestimate the power of bursting into song! If you have a noisy or restless group, starting out singing is a great way to get their attention fast. They’ll be wondering what you’re going to do next!
  • If flashy theatrics are not for you, then take it to the other extreme: Quietly and deliberately, as if you don’t even notice the kids are there, sit in a chair, pull out a book, and examine the front. Chances are that some of the kids will notice, wonder what you are doing, and hush the others. Once they have settled, softly begin to chant or sing, and invite them to join you.
  • Get a sidekick. Choose a favorite puppet or stuffed animal to help you greet the children.

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