In July I started a new position as an early literacy librarian for a suburban library district. One of the major parts of my job is facilitating a program called “Stories and More: Literacy to Go.” It’s kind of a storytime/literacy workshop hybrid, for children aged 0 – 5 and their caregivers, and while I do a half hour storytime, I follow it with a half hour of activities targeted to build early literacy skills and do a LOT of modeling for caregivers. Additonally, at the end of the program, each child takes home a new book (often one we read in the storytime) and an activity to do at home to continue learning. I create a handout for the parents that explains the activity, how to share the book at home, and gives other examples of learning activities they can try at home. I also give titles of other similar books they may enjoy borrowing from the library.
Let me tell you: planning these programs is A LOT OF FUN. I do 9 sessions a month at branches throughout the system and many of them are fully attended (we do have registration in order to keep it from getting chaotic). I see close to 200 children each month! I am fortunate, also, that these programs are partially funded by our local Early Childhood Council, which affords me the funds to purchase books, and activities for all the children each month and to purchase materials for the activities.
I thought I’d start sharing my plans with y’all in hopes that you might find something useful! So here’s what we did in September:
FOCUS: MOVEMENT. FINE AND GROSS MOTOR.
We know that fine motor skills are inextricably linked to learning to write. Children need the finger strength in order to hold a pencil! We also know that gross motor practice can help with things like memory, balance, coordination, and connecting both halves of the brain by “crossing the midline.” So I thought we could do a little of both in this Stories and More.
Opening Song: Hello and How Are You?
Hello, hello, hello and how are you?
I’m fine, I’m fine, I hope that you are too!
Introductions and Early Literacy Reminder: Today we’re going to move our bodies, because movement and learning go together! Children learn with all their senses, and moving helps them recall what they’ve learned, hear the rhythm and rhyme in language, and much more!
Rhyme: Wake Up Toes
Wake Up Toes, wake up toes, wake up toes and wiggle, wiggle wiggle.
Wake up toes, wake up toes, wake up and wiggle in the morning!
We also wake up our hands, and then I ask the kids for suggestions of a couple more body parts to wake up. We’ve woken up our ears, nose, armpits, elbows, and most frequently, heads!
Song: Roly Poly (to the tune of Frere Jacques)
Roly poly, roly poly, (roll hands together)
Out out out! Out out out! (move hands out from each other)
Roly roly poly, roly roly poly (roll hands together)
In in in! In in in! (move hands towards each other)
Continue with up, down and fast, slow
Early Literacy Reminder: Doing the motions with the words up, down, out, in, fast and slow helps to reinforce the meaning of the words.
Book: I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison
Song: “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” – regular speed, then faster, then slower, then fastest!
Settling rhyme: One Little Fish
One little fish is swimming in the water (put palms together and zig zag like a fish swimming)
Swimming in the water,
Swimming in the water,
One little fish is swimming in the water,
Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, POP! (raise hands and clap together on POP!)
Book: Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas (we all get up and participate)
Movement song/Early Literacy Reminder: Sleeping Bunnies
This is a great song to help young people try self-regulation – which means controlling their actions – because they have to pretend to sleep until told it’s time to hop. It’s a tough skill to learn but important for when they start school!
Goodbye Rhyme: Our Hands Say Thank You
Our hand say thank you with a clap clap clap (clap hands)
Our feet say thank you with a tap, tap, tap (tap feet_
Clap clap clap
Tap tap tap
Turn around (turn around)
And take a bow! (take a bow)
Early Literacy Play Activities:
Gross motor: I got a set of these mats from Lakeshore. I put them on the floor and child and caregiver did the motions on each of the mats. If you’re unable to purchase the mats, put squares of different colored paper covered with clear tape. Write an action on each mat (print awareness!): Jump, squat, stand on one foot, run, crawl, etc.
Fine motor: Pompom sort. I taped colored construction paper to the bottoms of clear dip containers. I also taped paper around some old Crystal Lite containers a colleague had. I printed off and laminated some sorting mats like these. I offered a variety of tools to pick up the pompoms to go along with varying developmental levels: spoons, tweezers, “gator grabbers” (easier to open and close than the tweezers) and clothespins. The kids had a BLAST moving the pompoms around. Make sure you get BIGGER pompoms though, and remind parents to keep an eye on the littlest ones as these can be a choking hazard
Gross and fine motor for babies: Since my program reaches children 0 – 5 I didn’t want to leave the babies out! I taped bubble wrap to the wall for the little ones to lie on the floor and kick (gross motor!). I also put scarves in old kleenex boxes for the babies to grip and pull out (fine motor!). I had several parents comment that the would be recreating the kleenex box activity at home!
Books: Babies got a board book copy of Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes by Kubler. Toddlers took home the same title, but Mike Wohnoutka’s paperback version. The preschoolers got Thomas’s Is Everyone Ready for Fun? We purchased the board books from All About Books, and the other two through Scholastic’s Literacy Partners.
Activities: Babies and Toddlers got one of these sensory balls to use with movement. Preschoolers got the ingredients to make “animal action dice”: two wooden blocks and six farm animal stickers. I instructed parents to help their children put the stickers on one of the blocks and then write action words like “jump”, “skip”, etc. on the other. They were to roll the dice and do the action like the animal.
Here is the handout I included for parents which includes more information on each of these.
I hope some of this is useful! I will be posting additional months’ plans asap!