My blog hasn't been getting much attention this summer because, instead of exciting-looking, blog-worthy parties and crafts at work, I've been hosting weekly simple programs for lots of different age groups: Musical Kids, Stop In Stories, and--new for this summer and the subject of today's post--Stories in the Garden!
My library is on a busy main street without any outdoor space whatsoever so it's really a special treat to have any kind of program out of the building. When I found out that my coworker arranged for us to be able to borrow the garden from the church across the street, I was SO excited to be part of it! (To be fair, it was March and I was still wearing boots, so it's possible that that played a small roll.) I wanted to make sure we fit lots of different age groups into the outdoor fun, so I did one session for ages 6-16 months, and one for ages 17 months-5 years.
The big challenge with this program was that, since there were no outlets, I didn't have access to any recorded music--something I tend to rely heavily on in most of my programs for this age group. This meant that I had to come up with some new material: New songs, new parachute games, and--the most dramatic of all--a new hello and goodbye song! (Anyone who's ever stepped foot in one of my programs knows that I have been a loyal fan of Big Jeff's A New Way to Say Hello and Laurie Berkner's Blow a Kiss for what feels like forever).
The program, other than having totally weird-for-me hello and goodbye songs, went really well. On rainy days it was held inside and even then it was still fun, albeit slightly less well-attended.
Here's me, barefoot (a nice perk), and ready to sing Five Little Ducks:
Since, above all else, this was a storytime, I'm going to list all the books that were read over the course of this program.
B = Baby class (6 - 16 months)
T = Toddler class (17-months - 5-years)
Are You My Mommy? by Mary Murphy (B)
Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz (B, T)
Baby Faces by Margaret Miller (B)
Baby Parade by Rebecca O'Connell (B, T)
Baby Pets by Margaret Miller (B)
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton (B, T)
Breathe by Scott Magoon (B, T)
Cat the Cat, Who Is That? by Mo Willems (B, T) *
Elephant and Piggie: Elephants Cannot Dance by Mo Willems (T) *
First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger(B, T)
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle (T)
Hello Lamb by Jane Cabrera (B)
Hi Pizza Man! by Virgina Walter (T)
Jump by Scott M. Fischer (B, T)
Peek-a-Boo Zoo! by Jane Cabrera (B, T)
Pete the Cat: I Love My While Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin (T)
Pouch! by David Ezra Stein (B, T)
Say Hello Like This by Mary Murphy (B, T)
Toot Toot, Beep Beep by Emma Garcia (B, T)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (B, T)**
* Mo Willems' books are PERFECT for two-librarian storytimes! Andrea (of Disney Princess Tea and Mall Storytime) and I have totally mastered these! Reading Elephant and Piggie: Elephants Cannot Dance with Andrea feels like straight up acting, which is kind of fun, and Cat the Cat, Who Is That? has a sort of "call and response" feel, which flows a lot more naturally with two readers. Lately I try to work a Mo Willems book in every time I know there will be another librarian able to read with me.
** I've written briefly about our wonderful Very Hungry Caterpillar kit in the past before, but it's truly a wonderful storytime prop! The kids love holding up all the signs and "feeding" the different things to the caterpillar puppet throughout the story. They also like sticking their heads through the giant holes, as seen below.
Doing a storytime outside was SO much fun with both age groups, and coming up with a new hello and goodbye song turned out to be easy enough. Thanks to Jbrary (as usual), here is the song we used:
We Clap and Say Hello/Goodbye (to the tune of The Farmer In the Dell):
We clap and say hello
We clap and say hello
With our friends at storytime, we clap and say hello
We stomp and say hello
We stomp and say hello
With our friends at storytime, we stomp and say hello
(I altered the actions a bit on a whim if it felt right for the group.)
Here's a picture of my baby group (and three moms) melting in the sweltering sun one week:
What worked least: Relying on the weather is something I'm not used to doing for a program. There was really only one week (the last week) where the weather was REALLY good, not to hot, not too wet. And actually, one week, it was so insanely stormy out that, even though I held the program it inside, nobody came to the baby class.
What worked best: The parachute, always! And what's more fun that the parachute OUTSIDE?! Hint: Not much.