Back to Toddlers

It's back to Toddler Time for me. I'm in a new position at a new library and running a brand new story time. This story time is for toddlers aged 18 months to 3 years. Though I seem to be getting a lot of VERY young toddlers hovering around a year old. So I've had to do some adapting to my programs. It's been a fun learning experience so far. Not that I've done many! Between the weather up here in Maine (yay snow?) and getting super sick I've only held two actual programs. This is the first program I held, and it definitely needs some work as I go along with the kids I have. It's a learning adventure. :)

Since it has been so ridiculously cold I decided to do a COLD theme for Toddler Time. The themes are more for me then the kids and I don't stay strictly on them, but I find they help me organize my thoughts better. Since I love them, I'm using the same opening and closing songs (Clap and Sing Hello and We Wave Goodbye Like This). They're perfect for Toddlers.

In this Story Time I'm experimenting with literacy tips, something I've liked in the past, but never been brave enough to try. So as I'm reading the stories, singing songs, and doing activities I talk to the parents about what we're doing and why. So far they seem responsive about them.

Today since we were doing COLD I had a big paper C for the kids to play with. As the toddlers were eating playing with the letter* I talked about how difficult our letters can be. That with just one little tick the C becomes a G, how it looks like an O, or even a lowercase E. I also talked about Letter Knowledge and how understanding that each letter has its own shape and sound is an important skill children use when learning to read.

Our first story was Under My Hood I Have a Hat written by Karla Kuskin and illustrated by Fumi Kosaka. After we read the story we talked about who had a hat, who had mittens, sweaters, scarves, and all the other clothes listed in the story.

The next part of the program was supposed to be a counting fingerplay, but my group was waaaay too young for this so we skipped it. We were going to do 5 Little Snowmen from Preschool Education (though I change big red bow to a great big bow to have female snowmen too). Instead we took scarves and used them to identify parts of our body. We put our scarves on our heads, feet, hands, knees, nose, etc. The kids LOVED this. (No surprise, lol.)

I wanted to try incorporating some non-fiction stories into Toddler Time so we next read a few (3) pages out of Winter by Ron Hirschi and photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen. The photos in this one are fantastic. The text is simple and perfect for a slightly older story time program, but reading just a couple of pages worked wonderfully.

The toddlers were fascinated by the animals and I had three little ones stand RIGHT in front of me and the pictures.
We also did some counting with this book. There are a few pages with birds on them that lend themselves perfectly to counting (under 5 birds).

The next activity was the hands-down favorite for everyone. Scarf Dancing. We sang "Dance Like Snowflakes" to the tune of "Frere Jacques" with three verses (lyrics will be on the Songs page) while dancing with our scarves. Both the kids and the parents got really into the dancing, so I've decided to do some sort of mobile scarf activity at every (or as many as I can) Toddler Time.
After singing I brought out another literacy tip: "Grownups, when you and your children play with scarves, ribbons or magic wands, your children are developing their arm muscles and starting to learn about lines and shapes. These muscles and concepts will help them when they are learning to write."
Judging by the faces, this was an "ah-ha" moment for parents. I saw lots of surprise then dawning understanding and nods.

As a final story I read Snow Sounds an Onomatopoeic Story by David A. Johnson. As much as I love this story I probably should have skipped it. The kids were not interested, and it just wasn't a good fit. I think in the future I'll stick to two stories and do more activities. My last group of toddlers was on the older end, but this group is definitely on the younger side.

After I blew through Snow Sounds we had open play.

*The kids decided to explore my letter by eating it. Sadly the C didn't survive the story time. :)


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