Thing’s Are Not Working: How I changed my toddler storytime

Thing’s Are Not Working: How I changed my toddler storytime

Last week I had the worst storytime in my very short career (I anticipate worse storytimes to happen in the future still, but hopefully not soon)

I may have cried afterwards.

I thought and thought about the past two months of storytime in my new position.

I may have cried some more.

And then I did some digging.  I re-evaluated everything I’ve been doing and I decided that things needed to change if I wanted to have successful storytime’s in the future.  And this all came around the time that Storytime Underground posted a “Pimp My Storytime” post and now I knew exactly what I was doing,  I was pimping toddler time.

Why My Storytime Wasn't Working


The Past

Technically I am supposed to have two storytime’s a week: one for toddler’s and one for pre-schooler’s.  But lately there has been a HUGE group for toddlers and no one showing up for pre-school storytime.   And there was a huge gap in how they were responding to the stories and rhymes.


When I opened storytime this week I let the parents know that if they have a three-year-old who has been coming to toddler time regularly and can sit for the length of a book then starting in December their three-year-old should join us at Pre-School Storytime.  This is about 2 or 3 of the kids.  I think by having them come to pre-school storytime than they will be with other kids who are at their level and are better role models for how they should be sitting and paying attention rather than the toddlers who tend to be all over the place.  They will get more out of the longer stories when they actually can see the book and aren’t distracted by the younger kids.  I am also going to be starting a Mother Goose and Me baby lapsit in January so that will hopefully also help!



We have our children’s area where all the books and toys are and a children’s room upstairs for programming.  The toddler time has always been in the children’s area on a big quilt and the pre-school storytime has been upstairs in the children’s room.  Now, you may not know this about toddlers but they love to explore their surroundings.  And having books and toys all over the place, as well as other people coming into the children’s area, just was not working.


Why can’t pre-school and toddler storytime both be upstairs in the children’s room?

Why not both

Oh wait, we can! and we will! And it was SO MUCH BETTER.


The Past

I used to start my storytime’s with the Hi, Hello song.  I love that song, and still do.  But it wasn’t working for us.  I don’t exactly know why.  I just don’t think the kids were getting anything from it.  After we sang the song we would go right into storytime.


I am still playing around with how to open storytime but what I did this week really seemed to be effective. After I talked about Pre-School versus Toddler storytime I sang Rickety Tickety and then sang Hands Go Up from this wiki.

Hands Go Up

Hands go up and hands go down,
I can turn around and round.
I can jump upon two shoes.
I can listen; so can you.
I can sit.
I’ll show you how.
Storytime is starting now.

The end of that rhyme has the kids sitting nice and paying attention to me so then I go into a book.


The Past

I would usually read 3-4 short books and I never, ever, not ever gave up a book even if nobody was paying attention. I just felt like a failure.
Why was I expecting two-year-olds to sit for four stories? Even if they are short. Developmentally, that is really hard for them. No wonder they were crazy at the end of the half hour!


Dear Meg: It’s okay to fail. That’s how you learn.  Stop beating yourself up and put the book down if it’s failing miserably.

Not only are you opening up a new opportunity to get the kids attention back on you with a different rhyme or song but you are showing the parents that it is okay to not finish that story.

Songs & Rhymes

Before this position I was in charge of toddler storytime’s for the summer at a different library. This library had an iPod and an extensive list of songs that were AWESOME for storytime. And they all got the toddler’s up and moving and active.
Now, I don’t have an iPod. I don’t have recorded songs for storytime. And I’ve realized that I relied on that iPod for all of my active and up and down songs. Consequently, we weren’t moving enough in toddler time. A couple weeks I did not have any rhymes that included motion. No wonder the kids weren’t paying attention to me! I wasn’t doing anything exciting with them!

Even though I may not have ever had voice lessons and no one has every really sought me out for my beautiful voice, I can sing, it’s okay. And there are tons of resources and librarians online that have action songs that don’t require an iPod. It’s okay.  It is also showing the parents that they don’t have to be rockstar singers in order to enjoy a song with their children.
The kids need to be up and moving. This is not a lapsit storytime anymore. This is a SHAKE YOUR SILLIES OUT kinda storytime. And instead of the Wiggles version we are going to have the MISS MEG version. Bring it.



Nothing. I did have a rhyme that I used when it was getting too loud which was “Turn up your ears and keep your voices to yourself” with hand motions. That was it.


For this one, I went to twitter. Within an hour of my HELP ME tweet I had tons of awesome responses.  Most of my fellow tweeters/children’s librarians did not use rules.  The awesome Liz also linked me to another great Storytime Underground post about this very issue (a question in which she asked!).  In that post Cate from Storytiming posted an awesome take home rules sheet that she gives to her parents.  I like that idea but I think I will have to put it on the back burner.

Marge Loch-Waters from Tiny Tips for Library Fun (my mentor and the one who told my current employer that I’m “not afraid to be fabulous”), told me that she uses a puppet to help her with the rules.


I need my own Jessica!  So now we have Harold the Pig!

Harold helped me talk about appropriate behavior for storytime:

1) Keep your hands to yourself and try not to disrupt your neighbor

2) If your child is being disruptive, feel free to go downstairs.  Today just may not be his or her day and that’s okay!

3) Have fun!


So far I have only have one storytime in this new format and it worked well! This whole situation has taught me that it is important to reevaluate what is going on to make sure that it is still working… and change is okay! I won’t melt and the parent’s won’t melt if I do things a bit differently!

Youth Writer’s Group: Journalism

Youth Writer’s Group: Journalism

When I came into this position I inherited a youth writer’s group, which is a group of 5th and 6th graders (all happen to be girls) who meet once a week to learn about writing and share their stories with others.  Now, I love writing (I mean, why else would I have a blog) but I am by no means a professional.  Sometimes I feel like these girls could write circles around me!  But, I still need to teach the.

A few weeks ago I had them each set their goals for the year of writer’s group.  Each girl said she wanted to learn about different writing styles as they all tend to write just realistic fiction stories.  The first writing style I decided to introduce to them was Expository writing, or journalism.  I wanted them to just learn the facts and write only those.  No fancy stories.  No imaginative plot lines.  Just the facts.  I was curious to see how much of their own writing style came through in their articles.

Since we only had an hour and a half I did not make them research a topic and write about it.  Instead, I got a few informative picture books about an event in history and had them write a news article as if they were first reporting on that event.  This is where my non-teacher skills come in.  I know picture books so that is what they used!  And they really seemed to like it.

I used Teachers Pay Teachers a lot for these next steps!

I used page three of this free download from Addie Williams to have them write their notes after the read the picture book.
I gave them page two of this free download from Heather Ohl to teach them about the different parts of a newspaper article.
Finally, I gave them this free download from Danielle La Sota so that they could write their article!

For only having an hour and a half and not having any teaching experience myself I would say this was very successful!  The girls enjoyed learning something new and they really got to challenge themselves in writing in a new way

Here is one of the articles from our group (click to enlarge):



Flannel Friday: Ladybugs

Flannel Friday: Ladybugs

I have two things for Flannel Friday this week and have included them both in this post!

Our theme last week was the Ladybug Award, New Hampshire’s picture book award that pre-k through 3rd graders get to vote on. To go with the ladybug award nominees I did songs and rhyme’s about ladybugs (how fitting!)

Little Ladybug

from Little Fingers that Play

Little Ladybug on the ground
Doesn’t make a sound.
Looking for her ten black dots
She lost them on the ground.

One black dot
Two black dots
Three black dots
And four.

Five black dots
Six black dots
She’s looking for some more.

Seven black dots
Eight black dots
Nine black dots
And ten.
The ladybug who lost her dots has found them all again!

Ladybug Rhyme |Miss Megs Storytime

As the numbers came up in the rhyme I added them to the ladybug!

The second was a take home!

I wanted to inform the parents about the NH ladybug award without bogging them down with more sheets of paper to get thrown away.  I figured that this little ladybug would at least make it home for the kids to play with, and maybe even a parent would get the chance to read the back! And the kids loved having something to bring home from storytime (we don’t do a craft with this age).

ladybug | Miss Meg's Storytime ladybug | miss meg's storytime

Flannel Friday this week is hosted by Bridget at What is Bridget Reading.

Ladybug (award) Storytime!

Ladybug (award) Storytime!

New Hampshire has their own award for picture books called the Ladybug Award. Pre-schoolers through third graders all across NH get to vote on which picture book wins the Ladybug Award!


ladybug awardNominees:

Little Dog Lost: the true story of a brave dog named Baltic by Monica Carnesi.

Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm

If All the Animals Came Inside by Eric Pinder and Marc Brown

Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Scott Magoon

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell and David Catrow

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal

Too Tall Houses by Giana Marino

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynold and Peter Brown

For our Ladybug award storytime I introduced the ladybug award to the parents and told them that I have voting sheets that they can fill out after storytime if they have a favorite!

For more information about the Ladybug awards go here!

Since I have already read Creepy Carrots a billion times to this group I decided to go with Extra Yarn, Too Tall Houses, and If All the Animals Came Inside.

Even though it isn’t technically ladybug themed our songs and rhymes were all about ladybugs:

Ladybugs Fly
(tune: 3 blind mice)
Fly, fly, fly.
Ladybugs fly.
Fly over here.
Fly over there.
They fly up high and they fly down low.
Around and around and around they go.
They fly fast, and they fly-fly slow.
Oh, ladybugs fly.

A Ladybug
source: Trails and Tales
A ladybug crawls up your arm
and sits right on your nose

A ladybug slides down your arm
and hops onto your toes

A ladybug creeps up your leg
and lands upon your knee

Then scurries to your folded hands
and snuggles down to sleep

Little Ladybug
source: Trails & Tales
(tune: Mary Had a Little Lamb)
I have a little ladybug,
ladybug, ladybug
I have a little ladybug,
It’s wings are black and red.

See the little ladybug,
Ladybug, ladybug.
See the little ladybug
Flying here and there.

Now it’s landing on the ground,
On the ground, on the ground.
Now it’s landing on the ground
And crawling everywhere.


Halloween Storytime

Halloween Storytime

Max Costume | Miss Meg's Storytime
Miss Meg is Max!

Last week was Halloween and we had a Spooktacular storytime!

We Enjoyed these Halloween Themed books:

Where the Wild Things Are
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
I started with this book because I expected that very few of the kids (or parents!) would know what I was dressed as.
wheres my mummy
Where’s my Mummy by Carolyn Crimi, Illus. by John Manders
Most of the kids really liked the illustrations in this book and one girl in my toddler crowd got a bit scared!
creepy carrots
Creepy Carrotsby Aaron Reynolds,
illus. by Pete Brown
Because I take every opportunity I can to read this book…
sparkling halloween
Happy Sparkling Halloween
by Elizabeth Spurr, illus. by Colleen Madden

We Enjoyed these songs and rhymes:
Monster, Monster
source: Storytime Katie
Monster, monster, turn around
Monster, monster, touch the ground
Monster, monster, reach up high
Monster, monster, touch the sky
Monster, monster, touch your nose
Monster, monster, grab your toes
Monster, monster, touch your knees
Monster, monster, sit down please

Two Little Bats
tune: two little blackbirds

Two little bats, sitting on a hill
One named Jack, and one named Jill
Fly away Jack, Fly awake Jill
Come back Jack, Come back Jill

Two little bats, sitting on a stick
One named Slow, and one named Quick
Fly away Slow, Fly away Quick
Come back Slow, Come back Quick

Two little bats, sitting on a cloud
One named Soft, and one named Loud
Fly away Soft, Fly away Loud
Come back Soft, Come back Loud

Two little bats, flying through the sky
One named Low, and one named High
Fly away Low, Fly away High
Come back Low, Come back High

The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider
source: traditional
The eentsey weentsey spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
Then the eensey weensey spider went up the spout again.