Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My First Story Time and Stop In Stories

My First Story Time and Stop In Stories are two peas in a pod, two of a kind, a perfect pair. In fact, they are more or less the same exact program with a few small differences:

1. Stop In Stories is a summer-only program. My First Story Time is all year long.
2. Stop In Stories has no registration. My First Story Time does (and is, specifically, for one and two-year-olds).
3. Stop In Stories is at our Main branch. My First Story Time is at our Station branch.

Other than that, the actual flow of these two programs is identical. And I have to say, I've really come to love this simple, no-frills storytime. It's a real "less is more" kind of program, covering lots of early literacy skills without a lot of mess, set-up, or supplies.

Basically each week consists of books (four or five), songs (three or four), at least one prop (scarves, shakers, drums, or the parachute), and a valiant effort to always include at least one puppet.

For a complete list of my favorite books for this age group, view my "Baby Time" list on the Recommended Storytime Books by Topic page. I try to (but don't always) update it every time I use a new book with the 1-2-year-old crowd.

Here's some scarf fun that we had at My First Story Time around May/June:

My top five favorite My First Story Time/Stop In Stories books are:

Cat's Colors by Jane Cabrera
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Freight Train by Donald Crews
Jump! by Scott M. Fischer
Baby Parade by Rebecca O'Connell

Again, for a complete list of my favorite books for this age group, view my "Baby Time" list on the Recommended Storytime Books by Topic page!

My top five favorite My First Story Time/Stop In Stories songs are (red = ipodblue = sing)*:

The Scarf is on My Head (scarves) **
Popcorn Kernals (scarves) **
Elevator Song by Mary Lee Sunseri (lap song)
I Know a Chicken by Laurie Berkner (shakers + chicken puppet)
Old MacDonald (with 5 or 6 animal puppets)

* This list does not include any parachute songs (despite my love of the parachute)! I have a list of my top five parachute songs at the end of this post!

** The handout for The Scarf is On My Head & Popcorn Kernels can be downloaded here. The Scarf is On My Head goes to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell and is possibly the reigning favorite scarf song. Popcorn Kernels goes to the tune of Frère Jacques and, for this one, we start out by waving our scarves over our heads, then crumpling them into balls in our hands (the pot), then we shake them up in their crumpled balls, and then toss them up in the air for them to "pop." It's fun. I've done a handful of different scarf songs with this age group but these two seem to stand out as the overall favorites.

What works least: I've learned over time that you can't come back from the parachute. It excites the kids so much that if you try to do something like read a book after it, you might as well just sit and silently read to yourself. It doesn't work. It's been a long time since I have even attempted anything post-parachute--I've learned my lesson--but unfortunately, sometimes this problem happens when books follow any song. Or even sometimes when they don't. Yet, you need songs to break up the books and hold the kids attention! It's a catch 22, I guess, but it's to be expected. I try really, really hard to pick easy and/or interactive books to immediately follow songs and that definitely helps ease them back into listening mode.

What works best: The parachute. Like I said, nothing can come back from it because it's really always such a success. In fact, here is a BONUS list of my top five favorite (and most-used) parachute songs, not only from My First Story Time and Stop In Stories, but also from Musical Kids (red = ipodblue = sing):

Thunder & Lightening *
These Are The Colors Over You **
Slow and Fast by Hap Palmer 
Let's Go Riding in an Elevator ***
Wheels on the Bus ****

Thunder & Lightening is a short parachute song to the tune of The More We Get Together. We start out by shaking the parachute low and fast for the first verse, then lift up high for the second. It goes like this: 

There's thunder and lightening and wind and rain,
There's thunder and lightening and wind and rain,
Come under my umbrella, umbrella, umbrella,
Come under my umbrella, it's starting to storm.

** These are the Colors Over You, thanks (as usual) to Jbrary, is a nice, calm, song, perfect for the smallest babies. Here's how it goes:

*** This is Let's Go Riding in an Elevator, again, thanks to Jbrary:

I sing this a lot slower for suspense. Then I have the kids go under the parachute as the floors move up higher and it works really, really well. They love it!

**** Wheels on the Bus is an on-top-of-the-'chute song. I have all the kids sit down flat in the middle of the parachute. There are usually 1 or 2 kids who are either afraid of this or who would just prefer to stand outside the parachute with the grown ups, but the majority of the group likes this part the best of all! We do three verses: 

1. The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round
2. The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish
3. The doors on the bus go open and shut

When the kids are all seated in the middle, the grown ups pull up from the parachute's handles and we all walk around in a circle, giving the kids a ride. We do this for the first verse (the wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round). Then, for the second verse, the adults "swish" the parachute around the kids as we sing. For the third verse, we lift the parachute up around the kids like a big barrier and then, on the word "shut" we snap the barrier down, basically creating a little peek-a-boo game. Last, we sing verse #1 again, walking in the opposite direction from the we did the first time. This works well for babies (6 months and older) as well as the 3-5's crowd!

There are a bunch of others that I use frequently (take a look through some of my Musical Kids posts for more ideas!), but these five are, for sure, my favorites!

Happy story time-ing!


  1. I learned a similar lesson after trying to read a picture book with an energetic group of preschoolers after several rousing renditions of The Elevator Song - there was just no pulling back after that sweaty, jumpy high! :)

    1. Hahaha nope, sometimes you just can't.