Loving that storytime

Years ago, when I was the manager of the Toy Shop, I had a vague dream of using puppets to work with groups of kids, and I used that excuse to purchase a vast supply of puppets for my personal collection.  But I didn’t really think that the dream would materialize, and mostly just collected the puppets.

The puppets now live up in my attic, in plastic storage boxes, and are rarely used because they’re so hard to get at (oh, for a few more closets in our house – one large closet and one small closet doesn’t quite meet the demands).  Even though the puppets aren’t being used, though, I am actually making that ancient dream of mine real, and loving it more and more each week.

I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I’ll have my puppets speak to the kids in the toddler storytime (I still have a sense that my family’s strength with puppet-usage is a bit odd and perhaps something to be ashamed of rather than flaunted), but I do use puppets on a regular basis.  Yesterday I had Zebra, the official finger taster puppet, share with the kids some information about his home.  Zebra whispers in my ear, then I speak his thoughts out loud.  Working this way, Zebra told the kids about his school year home on the top of the bookcase in my office, where he can look out the office window into the children’s room.  He also told the kids that he summers on Cape Cod (since Zebra will be put away for the summer, and it’s much more fun to say he’s on vacation than that he’s locked in the storage cabinet).  The kids AND their parents loved that, and they all seemed to love the rest of my storytime, too. 

The more storytimes I do, the more I’m able to incorporate some of the educational knowledge that I have and also let go of my inhibitions and ham things up.   Yesterday I used a so-so book, Robert Kalan’s Moving Day, and made it wicked awesome by turning it into a felt board story.  I had worried that the story would be too boring, but by acting things out and adding some humor (when I picked up the “heavy” shell, I pretended to have a hard time lifting it – when picking up the “rough” shell, I said “Ouch!!”) it became something wonderful.  I even got a round of applause in the second storytime of the day.  Wow.

Clearly, the best route to success in these storytimes is to use multiple mediums (felt board stories, puppets, stuffed animals, fingerplays, songs) and to forget that you’re a grownup and supposed to be dignified.  Once those inhibitions are gone, magical things happen.

3 thoughts on “Loving that storytime”

  1. Oh how fun! I found this blog while searching on “felt board stories” and was delighted to find someone who “gets it”! Kids need to see, touch, listen and DO. I love your approach! I offer felt figures for many stories on my site, they are very popular and I love working with them myself! Enjoy!

  2. I’m glad to know about your site – even though I love making my own felt figures (I have a weird talent for it), not everyone has that particular skill or wants to take the time…
    And you’re right, kids do need that totally interactive approach to stories, especially at a young age.

  3. The few times I’ve used puppets with kids, I did what you did — had them whisper in my ear, and then I told the kids what they said. Trying to come up with good voice characterizations seems hard — not impossible, just hard.

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