MEME THIS POST! Please take a moment when reading the below post to think of a gif, meme, or video that would add to the content and share it in the comments below. I will be updating my post this weekend to make it look nicer, but I wanted to get this content posted now since it’s been a MONTH (!) since my last post. Please and thanks!
Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last post! I took a week off from posting because I took a week off from all work due to a nasty virus back in April and then honestly I just hit a slump. My number of followers was not picking up and while I have a list of over 100 topics to write about related to STEAM in Storytime, none of them was exciting me enough to take the time to flesh out. Luckily two great people stepped in to get me back on track. My ALSC Mentor was the catalyst for this blog and he originally said to get this blog off the ground I should post once a week. But when I mentioned my slump he advised me to rethink posting every week if it was too much for me. He reminded me essentially that advice is not the same thing as a rule and I can run my blog my way. And when I still wasn’t too sure about how to get back into things, enter Bryce from Bryce Don’t Play. She did a whole post on her blog about other new blogs, and now I have new traffic again yay! Hi new readers and welcome! BTW, if you haven’t read Bryce’s blog, DO IT. Her blog is what my blog wants to be when it grows up. Only, you know, with STEAM.
So when I was out sick from work (and life) for almost a week another librarian had to cover all of my programs, including three storytime sessions. Luckily the head of youth services was the person covering, so she is more than capable of cobbling together a good last minute storytime plan. However, I have been asked to create some emergency storytime kits in case the day comes when someone has to cover a storytime program who has no experience with storytimes. I know plenty of libraries that have these types of kits, filled with scripts and puppets, craft materials, etc. We even have some already created form a grant project that people can check out and take to elementary schools as volunteers. These kits have everything one could need to facilitate a good storytime…except an engaging personality/reading voice. I’m sorry, but we all know that one librarian or teacher with the monotone reading voice (usually the one who leads the staff meetings where everyone comes out with a little drool on their shirt).
There’s also the issue at my library that these kits are great for a small storytime of under 20 kids. But when you get 60-80 attendees per session like we do, you need something a bit more crowd pleasing. So I came up with some digital storytime kits that only require someone who knows how to click a mouse. My digital storytime kits live on a flashdrive instead of taking up space in our limited storage area and include all of the tools one needs to have a hands-off storytime in a pinch. Here is the formula I used in case you would like to replicate this idea yourself.
DEDICATED FLASH DRIVE
You should have a flashdrive solely for the purpose of your digital storytime kits. This way the content is portable and easily accessible for any sub. Just make sure everyone on staff knows where the flash drive lives.
SCRIPTS AND THEMES
On your flashdrive, you should have folders with different themes listed. That way the sub can choose the topic they are most comfortable with presenting. In each folder, you should have a step-by-step script of what the sub will need to do for the entire storytime. These scripts do not have to be very detailed. Here is the formula I use for most of my storytimes:
- Introduction and Rules – I have some digital puppets do this part for me through YouTube, so all the sub needs to do is click the link and push play.
- First book: the rules video ends asking the kids to take a seat, so they should be ready for your first story.
- Song/Fingerplay: Of course have the instructions for the specific song/fingerplay in the script, don’t just write “song/fingerplay.” I’ve tried this, thinking other librarians just know this stuff. Turns out not everyone wakes up in the morning humming The Wheels on the Bus like I do.
- Second book – title and content link/file with any and all books listed
- Song/Dance – really get those willies out
- Link to digital game (if time allows)
I try to sort my kits and storytimes by common knowledge themes simply because it helps me with structure, but you can always just have “Storytime Kit #1” and so on and jumble together anything you think will keep the kids engaged with a sub.
DIGITAL READ ALONG BOOKS (THROUGH OVERDRIVE)
I was so excited when I found out my library offers digital picture books with a read-along capability through Overdrive. These books are great for a digital storytime because the book does the reading for you, usually with a feature that highlights the words as they are read so the children can follow along with the reading. Whether your throat hurts or you’re just tired that day, this is a win-win because this type of read along feature really helps children develop their vocabulary.
If you can’t find a read-along book for all of your kits, don’t despair. Your sub may have to read the book aloud (gasp!) but the most important thing is that they have a script and materials to work with at hand. So scan some picture books and save the PDFs into your digital kits. As long as the kids can see the pictures on the big screen, they don’t care how a story is being read, right? …at least it helps.
There are several ways to save kid friendly songs and dances into a digital storytime kit. Add the URL for a kid-friendly YouTube video to your flash drive, rip some kid-friendly library CDs onto your flash drive and then let customers know the CD is available in your library, or show the customers how to access music through services like Hoopla. Easy-peasy.
These should honestly only be included in your kits if you think you will have some tech savvy subs who want to do a little extra. If you feel you have to include this because you can’t find another book or song to go with your theme, ditch the theme. But having links in the flash drive to little extras from places like PBS Kids, Go Noodle, and ABC Mouse are fun ways to end on a high note for a substitute and will keep these resources at your fingertips if you just didn’t have time to plan that week so you need to use a kit in a pinch.
Thanks for reading as always, and I look forward to seeing the suggested Memes for this post!