I fancy myself a bit ofÂ an innovator.Â It’s probably not true, but it makes me feel good to think of myself as innovative.Â
My latest project is the addition of one more weekly storytime, so that the library now offers an Infant Storytime (ages 0Â – 2), a Toddler Storytime (ages 2 & 3), and a Preschool Storytime (ages 4 – 7).Â The Infant Storytime will continue in much the same vein as the storytime that I offered last year for ages 0 – 3, though I’ll take out some of the longer stories – that would be stories with more than ten words – and add in more bounce rhymes and tickle rhymes.Â The Preschool Storytime will give me an opportunity to read some longer books than I could use with the 3 – 5 year-old age grouping of last year, and I’ll also add in some occasional crafts and make use of the collection of puppets that I was able to purchase with the funds donated by one of the preschools in town.Â The Toddler Storytime poses a bit more of a challenge, as I try to sort through my repertoire looking for songs and stories that will specifically intrigue those attention-challenged 2 and 3 year olds.
My fear is that I’ll be frantically scrambling each week to come up with a lesson plan for each of these three storytimes, and that the storytimes will be less imaginative and, yes, less innovative, because I’ll be constantly trying to play catch-up in the planning process.Â So I’ve resolved to create my own lesson plan notebook that will have 20 unique storytime lesson plans for each of the three storytimes, with the intention that each lesson plan be used (repeated)Â twice a year.Â This will also solve the eternal worry that I’m repeating certain songs more than others, and that my storytimes are becoming boring and too predictable (note that some predictability is desirable, though.)
Two years ago, Maureen from CMRLS generously gave me all of her storytime lesson plans on disk, and I have pillaged and made good use of those plans.Â But it has become clear to me that storytime lesson plans are not too different from the instructional lesson plans that I used when I worked at Alcott School as a tutor: it’s best that I create and use my own, in order to achieve the greatest success.Â Maureen possesses the ability to adapt new words to classic nursery rhymes, and I simply don’t have that skill; every time I’ve tried to use one of her very clever adaptations, I’ve stumbled and forgotten the words and then the tune and made a general ass out of myself.Â It’s hard enough for me to carry a tune (some would argue impossible), let alone master new words, too.Â
In creating my own lesson plans, I’m drawing from a variety of sources, most notably Maureen’s plans, but also a selection of books on storytimes written by early childhood experts.Â Add to that my own expertise in phonology instruction and children’s literature, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to create plans that are workable for me personally (requiring a minimum of memorization each week) and also offer a great deal for both the parents/caregivers and the children who attend.Â Storytimes are partly about entertainment, partly about parents/caregivers learning new fingerplays and songs, partly about a group experience, partly about instilling a love of words and literature in young children, and partly about inclusion of rhymes, rhythm, and other valuable pre-reading skills that will help the child participants move into the reading phase of their lives.Â It’s a delicate mix.
Where’s the innovation, though, you ask?Â Truthfully, I’m not really being that innovative.Â I’m not taking on anything that other children’s librarians haven’t already done.Â But I am making a commitment, as a one-woman show, to offer the best, most developmentally appropriate storytimes that I can muster.Â Perhaps any innovation that I offer comes through in the combinationÂ of projects that I’m taking on – the storytimes, the Advanced Reader section, the specific teen volunteer opportunities, the book groups that I offer.Â Perhaps.