I do this program about every other month in three or four weekly sessions, each 45-minutes long. The kids are ages 3-5 (aka, my absolute favorite age group ever) and I do a different theme with them each week. The time is broken down like this:
~20 minutes: Hello song, two books, two songs
~20 minutes: Open play + craft/coloring table (with music)
~5 minutes: One book, maybe one song, Goodbye song
Obviously, this isn't a perfect breakdown because, with kids in this age group, you never know what kind of cute and funny distractions might present themselves but this is the basic breakdown that I plan for.
This afternoon's class was the best Books n Play For Pre-K yet. The theme today was Colors (other themes of the past: Animals, Transportation, Shapes, Whatever season it just became, Funny Books, Water, Bugs, etc.).
Today, after our Hello Song (A New Way to Say Hello by Big Jeff), I started with Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd (coupled with corresponding "spots" [contact paper covered card stock] that I made to stick on our adorable Golden Retriever puppet from Folkmanis). Next I read Pete The Cat, I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin. About 50% of the kids had never had Pete The Cat read to them before and they totally got a kick out of it. As long as you're open to singing and looking silly, this book is always a hit. Hands down. Always. It's like a little librarian magic trick.
Next, I moved onto our songs. We did the shakers this week, which, for whatever reason, I tend to do the more often than any of the other instruments. The first song we played shakers to was Laurie Berkner's I Know a Chicken (a longstanding favorite with the kids in my storytimes) and then we tried a new song that I'd never done before: De Colores sung by Martin Enciso from the Songs for Wiggleworms album (side note: I sang De Colores in the the third grade chorus and still weirdly kind of know it). It wasn't the greatest shakers song, rhythmically, but it was short, good enough, and nice for filling in the colors theme. I like when at least one song can at least sort of correspond with the theme for the class. So, for that, it worked.
After that we broke up for 20ish minutes of crafts and play. I used to try to keep the toys in the theme of the class but, as I don't have an unlimited supply of toys at my fingertips, I abandoned that idea for this 3-week session and it's been quite liberating, I must say. On the craft table, I put (1) Dog from Dog's Colorful Day and do-a-dot markers:
(2) Pete the Cat, I Love My ____ Shoes coloring sheets, and (3) Blank rainbows on card stock and water colors. I always try to include a few different kinds of creative/good motor skill activities. Various crafts that may appear on the coloring table are paints, crayons, markers, stamps, colored pencils, easy collage, secretly educational activity sheets, do-a-dot markets, and learn-to-draw (I only did this once when I found a "Learn to Draw Pigeon" worksheet online. Nobody actually did it so maybe it was too hard, but I'll probably try it again anyway.)
The kids always migrate to the crafts more than to the toys. I used to have a small craft table and a big toy table but today I swapped the tables around and I definitely think it was a good move. I admire these kids' creative tenancies.
After the clean up song (Clean it Up by Laurie Berkner, NOT the Barney song. This is to maintain my sanity), we gathered in a circle again for one last book and our goodbye song. I read Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. This one's also always a hit because they get to name colors and I get to secretly teach them about the color wheel. Win, win. Usually I'd try to cram one more song in before the Goodbye song (Blow A Kiss by Laurie Berkner-- yes. I do love Laurie Berkner), but today we took the adorable group photo seen above instead.