I started with a new-to-me hello song, Hello Everybody. This was a little scary since I'm used to hearing my usual A New Way to Say Hello by Big Jeff at the start of a program. Starting with the same hello song mentally prepares me--helps my brain get into storytime mode and takes away any kind of awkwardness I might feel (especially with a new group and especially with a brand new program). So starting not only with a new-to-me hello song but one that immediately required singing, was a little nerve-wracking! But hopefully as the weeks go on and the parents also get comfortable with the song, it'll get easier for me too. I think it's really just a matter of retraining my brain a little. Anyway, here a is really great version of Hello Everybody:
Then I moved on to the meat of the program. First, I read the group Jump! by Scott Fischer, which everyone really liked. I made the book interactive by having the parents pick their babies up to have them "jump" whenever the characters in the booked jumped. This worked particularly well because I had an older sibling who enjoyed frantically jumping along too.
Then we did some lap songs: In and Out the Window and She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain. I gave out handouts for these. The PDF of this handout can be downloaded here! She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain is a lap bounce that includes things like lifting baby (for "yee-ha!"), tilting baby (for "woah there"), and rubbing baby's tummy (for "yum yum"). And In and Out the Window is a great one for getting in some good baby facial recognition time. I think I've linked to this before, but here's a video to illustrate how In and Out the Window goes:
I could tell the parents' arms were getting tired after Jump!, In and Out the Window, and She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain, so I decided to give them a rest and read a book. I read The Babies On the Bus by Karen Katz and we all sang along. This is an easy book that's basically just a modified version of Wheels on the Bus. Also, because the babies were starting to get antsy at this point, singing a song together as a group really worked to bring back a little order and control in the room.
Before our 15 minutes of open play, I wanted to do one last activity: Lynn Kleiner's B-I-N-G-O, because I've been using it with all of the age groups of Musical Kids lately and it's been successful every single time. This song is AMAZING. It's seriously good for every age of kids. I first saw it on Lynn Kleiner's DVD that came with this instrument kit but there's no video for it online! So I'm going to do my best to describe it here:
This is a version of Bingo that has a verse and a chorus. You can hear it here! For the verse part, the parents march around in a circle, carrying or dancing their babies in their arms. (With older groups, I just have the kids march themselves in a circle.) At the chorus, everyone stops marching and faces inward. For the letters B, I, N, and G we all take a step in, one letter at a time, so by the time we're at G, we're all really close together. Then, for O, everyone runs back and the circle gets big again. Like with In and Out the Window, this is a great chance for the babies to do some facial recognition (or, in the case of an older group, a chance for the kids to giggle at how silly we all are). If you can visualize how this works, I totally recommend it with all ages! The kids and babies all love it!
Then it was time for open play. I think open play is awesome, especially with the youngest age group because you get a mix of first-time-moms and not-first-time-moms and everyone can sit and talk and relax, without any pressure. Even though I have struggled with how I appear during open play for a long time (I discuss that here), I know that it's great for both the babies and the parents. I feel satisfied when I see the parents relaxing, laughing, and discussing their kids. Yesterday I even learned a baby fact: Babies parallel play until they are about 8-months-old, when they then begin to play together. See? Thanks, open play!
Overall, this program went well... really well considering the small group size. And I was impressed with myself for cramming so many activities into a half-hour. I've got two more sessions to go and have already chosen my books for next week: Wiggle by Doreen Cronin (where you can have the parents wiggle their babies whenever the book says "wiggle") and Baby Parade by Rebecca O'Connell (where parents and babies can wave to the cute [and multicultural] babies in the pictures). Maybe I'll even get a bigger crew next week. Stranger things have happened!
What worked least: I probably could have stood to not change the hello song. I usually think of the hello song as as time for me to mentally compose myself for the rest of the storytime. So instead of getting myself into gear with my usual A New Way to Say Hello by Big Jeff, I had to sing a new song right off the bat. And with a brand new group that I didn't know! I'm not sure what I was thinking.
What worked best: Jump! by Scott Fischer worked really well because it was interactive for the babies and also for the older sibling. Everyone gets to jump! I'd definitely recommend this one for holding teeny attention spans in baby storytimes.