Thursday, May 24, 2012

TFT: Participation in Baby Storytimes

Question: How many children attend storytime? What is the ideal number for letting children come to the flannel board? --Miss Tara of Storytime with Miss Tara and Friends

Miss Tara posed these questions in relation to my baby storytimes. I'm sharing a few pictures of past storytimes, but I don't have any photos of BABY storytimes. It is just too hard to snap pictures as I'm leading. I use the curriculum Mother Goose on the Loose by Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen.

I first heard of MGOL at a presentation at ILF about six years ago when I was first learning to be a children's librarian. It was the first professional meeting I attended! Wow, what a way to begin. MGOL is more than storytime. It combines music, movement and art with traditional storytime elements like picture books, flannel boards and knee bounces.

Babies and toddlers under 2 along with caregivers (1 lap, 1 child) are the intended participants. However, I've had older siblings attend (with a lovey for their lap) who also enjoyed the program. As I don't require registration for MGOL, I have anywhere from five to 20 babies and toddlers (plus 5-20 adults).

Sorry for fuzzy picture, fluorescent lighting...
At the beginning of each MGOL meeting, I lay out the rules. "I don't expect your little ones to sit perfectly still or be perfectly quiet. They can roam around the room and babble. They are paying more attention than you think. The only rule I have is, if your little one comes to the flannel board and tries to pull things off or get materials out of my cubby or box, please pick them up and put them back on your lap."

Voila! The expectations are presented and the parents take care of behavior. Phew. Humpty Dumpty is the last rhyme I present before the closing song. I say, "Now it's your turn to come to the board. You get to pull Humpty off the board, then we'll clap for you. Everyone gets ONE turn." Again, parents are in charge of enforcing the one turn.

Even when I have 20 babies and toddlers, not EVERYONE is going to want a turn. Some children are shy, especially if it's their first visit to the library. Sometimes, it takes 5-6 visits to participate, which is fine. I never make a child take a turn. I know they will do it when they are ready.

If you have even bigger numbers for your youngest audience, I would use the candlestick participation activity. Each baby still gets one turn, but the line will move faster. You place a candlestick in the middle of the room and ask each child to jump over it. Say the rhyme:
Jack be nimble
Jack be quick
Jack jump over the candlestick.

This post is part of my Thanks for Your Thoughts series. If you have any questions, please leave me a comment. You may get featured on Thursday!


  1. I wish we lived closer to the library. Story time is a fantastic activity for all ages.

    1. I'm sad you can't get to the library. We are so lucky here in the States to have access to libraries. My county has a main building, two branch libraries and two bookmobiles. It's fantastic!

      I know you do lots of activities with the children in your home, though. Circle time activities are similar to storytimes and you can really individualize book choice, rhymes and songs when you know the children so well.


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