One of my duties since starting at my new library has been taking over Baby Time. I took over the program in June, two weeks after I'd started my job. I’ve gotten some good experience since then, but of course I’m always eager to learn more. I wanted to share with you guys how I do my program right now.
I’m in a large urban public library, so Baby Time is a big program for us. It’s so big that we break it up into two sessions—one at 10:30, one at 11. We hand out tickets for the 10:30 and cap the attendance at 70 people. Of course, our 11 o'clock is open attendance, meaning you don't need a ticket to come. I know, I know—70 sounds like a lot, but I think I usually manage it pretty well. My manager and I discussed adding a third storytime or capping the attendance for the first one at a smaller number, but neither seemed like a great solution.
I get a mix of babies and toddlers for this program. Some children sit on laps while others stand and do everything by themselves. Luckily, lots of bounce rhymes can be modified for a child who stand by his or her self, and I keep this in mind as I plan.
We hold this storytime in our largest meeting room. I sit in a desk chair because it allows me to swivel easily so I can see my entire audience. I set up a large circle of chairs so patrons understand that they should sit either in one of the chairs or on the floor inside the circle. I put two tables behind me during storytime so that they make one long table. I have the books displayed so everyone can see them and the boombox plugged in and ready to go. The flannel board I use isn’t on a stand or an easel but just sits right on top of the table. I stash puppets behind the flannel board—children are welcome to come and look at them afterwards, but having them come up and grab puppets during the middle of storytime would be distracting.
So this is what I’ll often do during storytime. I’m annotating my plan with resources so that you know where you can do when you want to do your own baby storytime.
“Good morning! How is everyone today? Welcome to Baby Time! Many of you know me but if you don’t my name is Liz and I am the Children’s Librarian here. We’ll be doing lots of fun things today including sharing some books, songs, rhymes, and activities. I’d like everybody, including parents and nannies, to do the songs and rhymes with me. You are your child’s first and best teacher so they will often follow what you do.”
Song—“When Jack and Jill Get Up In the Morning”
I use puppets for this one and sing it to the tune of "When Pigs Get Up In the Morning." At the end of the song, I ask the children to say good morning to each puppet. I bought these puppets in 2014 which is when the We Need Diverse Books campaign really took off. Babies deserve to have diversity incorporated into their literature library services as well, and this was an easy to do it.
Song—“Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill”
I do this once with puppets and then have everybody do it with their hands.
Rhyme—“Two Little Blackbirds”
Again, I do this once with two flannel blackbirds and once with my fingers. Before I took over this storytime I observed the person who was doing it before me, I heard her sing a tune to this one. I have no reference point for this tune, but if I could tell you what it was, I would.
Book—Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming
Babies love babbling and making animal sounds, so this one is always a hit! I love the rhythm that this story has to it.
Early Literacy Tip
If you want great literacy tips to share with your storytime crowd, I would check here, here, and here. Shout out to Lindsey who Tweeted all of these great links to me back in July.
Song—“Hands are Clapping”
My patrons love this song—especially when they all get to play peek-a-boo! Lots of babies are just learning to clap and this song helps with body awareness.
Nursery Ryme—“One, Two, Buckle My Shoe”
I do all of the actions as I go along and at the end, I pull out a chicken and make clucking sounds. Everyone always does the rhyme, laughs, and wants to pet the chicken once storytime is over.
Song—“Bumping Up In Down In My Little Red Wagon”
Sung to the tune of the paw paw patch song. In my version, we bump up and down, the wheels go round, we wave to our friends, and then we bump up and down one more time. You can also print pictures of different color wagons (red, yellow, blue, green) and sing about each color. Either one is bound to be a huge hit with babies.
Book—The Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz
This version of the wheels on the bus is full of fun actions you can do with your baby, like gently bouncing up and down. I also love that so many of Katz’s books feature diverse babies.
Song—“When Pigs Get Up In the Morning”
I play a recording of this by Laura Johnson and found on the CD Circle Time Songs and Games. I hold up a flannel for each animal in this song. Everybody loves this song and it’s a great way to practice animal noises.
Action Rhyme—“Here is the Beehive”
Using a template I found on Sunflower Storytime, I made a puppet to wear while I do this one, complete with beehives and bees that come out. All you need to make your own puppet is a plain glove and some Velcro dots.
Song—“Zoom, Zoom, Zoom”
Remember how I said some songs worked great for babies but could be modified for toddlers? This is one of them.
Book—Hush Little Baby by Brian Pinkney
Sometimes what I really need at this point in the program is a book that everyone knows and will help the children calm down a little bit. Not only does this book accomplish that, it also wins points for diversity. I love it. If you do a baby storytime and don’t use this book, you should fix that immediately.
Song—“Two Little Hands, Ten Little Fingers”
This is sung to the tune of “Ten Little Indians” and I sing it both in English and Spanish so that parents and caregivers who speak Spanish to their little ones have a Spanish song they can sing with them.
Parents and children would probably mutiny if I ever tried to cut this song from my storytime and frankly, I don’t want to. It teaches children body awareness. Also? They love it. I encourage caregivers to point to the body parts on the littlest babies as the song plays—and the babies do bounce up and down, grin, and love it. Meanwhile, a lot of my older children get up, do it themselves, and have a blast. I recently saw an older child singing it to a little baby who was sitting near them and pointing to the baby’s body parts throughout the song. It melted my librarian heart.
Song—“The More We Get Together”
Songs about togetherness are a great way to end storytime—they teach children that they are part of a community, and that a love of books and songs is something that they can share. Again, this is another one all of the caregivers know.
Please check out some books while you’re here today and remember to read, talk, and sing, every day with your little ones. Thank you guys so much for coming to Baby Time today and I hope I see you at another program soon. Yay!
And that’s how it goes! I’ll often do the exact same songs and rhymes for about a month and switch some things out. As a general rule, the first three songs and rhymes and that last three songs and rhymes tend to stay the same. I’m open to changing them, but at this point I figure if they’re working, why change them? At some point they may start to feel tired and if they do, I’ll reevaluate.
What do you do for your baby storytime? Am I missing any great books, songs, or rhymes? Let me know in the comments!