Storytime Spotlight: Let’s Hop in a Box

Many thanks to my fabulous coworker and friend Tanya Prax for putting together such a fun storytime this week and letting me share it!  My only tweak was sneaking in a few extra flannels and swapping my usual weekly hat out for a box.  🙂

Here’s how it went with the toddlers…


Theme Introduction:

  • I wore a big box on my head for my hat.  First it was turned around the wrong way, so I couldn’t fit through the door (which made all the littles laugh).  Then when I finally made it through the door and asked them if they liked my hat, they told me it was NOT a hat, it was a box!  I said “That’s the wonderful thing about a box!  It can be a hat… or a boat…” and I took the box off my head and sat down in it and pretended to row… at which point my big butt broke the box.  Whoops.  🙂

Welcome/Opening Songs:

  • If You’re Happy & You Know It
  • Shake My Sillies Out

ABC Routine: Letter I

Fun Fact: Play

Playing helps children’s brains grow and develop in so many ways!  When we pretend and act out stories, we’re using problem-solving skills and it prepares us to write stories of our own someday.  That’s why I love our first book- it’s a super fun book to read first and then play together!

Transition: Dance Your Fingers

Book #1: Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

This book went over pretty well with the crowd.  They liked naming the different objects that the box became.

Scarf Song: Turn Around by Sue Schnitzer

They loved this song so much we had to do it two times in a row (and we could have gone for three, but I was pretty dizzy by then!)

Transition: Stretch to the Window

Flannel: Here is a Box

Here is a Box

Here is a Box

Here is a box where something is hid
I wonder whatever is under the lid?
Let’s listen for a shout
And see who comes out!

(make animal noises and have kids guess who is in the box before opening)

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Credit: Anne’s Library Life

Pattern: Clip art courtesy of My Cute Graphics

Book #2: Sitting in My Box by Dee Lillegard

I had a fair amount of older kiddos mixed with my toddlers in the crowd, so I pulled one of the preschool books and I’m so glad I did- it was a huge hit!  The repetition, rhyming and knocking make this an awesome read.  I think it would make a pretty fun flannel, too.

Book #3: Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli

Not as fun as the first two, but it was still a pretty solid read.

Craft: Shape Art

I love the open-end aspect of this craft.  The kiddos got so creative and made houses, rockets, cars, trains and so on with the different shapes we had available.  Here’s my snake.  🙂

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This was such a fun theme!  I just love how well it lends itself to encouraging imagination and creativity.  I was a little worried that it might be too abstract for my toddlers, but they seemed to catch on quickly and really enjoy it.

Happy Friday everyone!  Hope you have a great weekend ahead!

What I’ve Learned about Toddlers

Last week I had the pleasure of being observed during toddler story time by a new staff member.  We had a wonderful time together!  I couldn’t help but reflect on all the things I’ve learned this last year that have made my toddler story times run so much more smoothly… so rather than working on my real homework, I thought I’d share my experiences with you.

Seven Random Tips for Toddler Storytime (From a Still Learning Rookie):

  1. Make parents/caregivers your allies.  Lay out expectations for participation right from the get-go!  If kiddos are super wiggly, ask them to grab a grown-up and sit in a lap.  Have them hold onto shakers until it’s time to sing and dance with their littles.  It’s okay to say, “You are your child’s first and best teacher, so we ask that you participate with us and model for your children during story time today.”  Consider displaying posters with visual cues!
  2. Keep it short, simple and sweet.  This goes for books and activities in general!  Make time for plenty of movement and interaction.
  3. Seriously… the texts you select will make or break your toddler storytime.  Some of my favorite authors include Sandra Boynton, Nancy Tafuri, Denise Fleming, Emily Gravett, Steve Light, Marie Torres Cimarusti and Jan Thomas.  Look for books with lots of repetition and fun noises.  The CLEL Bell Awards for Sing and Play have always gone well with my toddler crowd.
  4. Shake, shimmy and groove!  Maybe it’s just my crowd, but my toddlers seem to prefer shakers to scarves, so we hop around to a lot of shaker songs… and songs that aren’t specifically for shakers.  Really, you can make anything a shaker song if you try.
  5. Make flannels fun and interactive.  I discovered early on that most toddlers won’t sit still while you sing about 10 elephants in the bathtub… nor should they have to!  Share flannels that everyone can engage with, such as this Mitten Matching game.
  6. Wear a hat.  I kid you not!  What started off as a silly one-time thing has now turned into a ritual with my kiddos.  I usually wear a theme-related hat to storytime, but any old hat will do.  At some point during our welcome song it falls off my head and I pretend I can’t find it.  Gets them giggling and having a good time right away.  🙂
  7. Lastly… BE PREPARED!  Maybe it’s a day where you’ll have to sing and dance more than read, and that’s okay too.  Being flexible is the biggest key to having a fun toddler storytime for all!

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What are your favorite tricks of the trade when it comes to toddlers?  Please share!