MAGIC CARPET HANDBOOK (5)
Good teaching is one fourth preparation & three-fourths pure theater. – Gail Godwin
Part I-c: Your Packing Checklist
Here are the five things to bring to every storytime:
- Your Desire to Inspire. Remember that you have a job to do. You’re on a mission to make reading more fun.
- Your Storyteller’s Toolkit. Your voice, eyes, facial expressions, gestures and body language comprise your storyteller’s toolkit. Think of ways to use them when you practice.
2. YOUR BAG
- 2 or 3 carefully selected picture books that are well-suited for reading aloud
- a great opening
- a couple effective transitional activities (songs, felt board stories, cds / audio player)
- a memorable closing
- any additional musical instruments or props
3. YOUR OUTLINE
4. THE MAGIC
The magic is in the stories. Just know your role. You are there to inspire wonder and take them on adventures with stories. During their preschool years, children’s imaginations are limitless. Kids reach the height of pretend play at this age. That’s why ages three, four and five are called “the wonder years”. Stories have the power to transport all of us, but they’re especially magical to preschoolers.
5. THE FUN
The most important part. Only choose elements that you are excited to share. If you like a book or story stretch and want to share it, you will be very engaging. Children know when you are bored. If you don’t like what you are doing or you don’t feel like being there, it is very easy to lose them. If you lose them, move on to another element. This will happen on any given day for reasons beyond your control. Never expect preschoolers to give you their undivided attention for a full 30 to 45 minutes. Not to say that this can’t happen. It often does when you come prepared. At times, you will have your audience eating out of the palm of your hand. At other times, your program will unravel. Children’s needs have to trump storytime at times.
Use Your Tools
Bring tools that will recapture children’s attention. Activities that blend rhythm and movement work well. So does humor. Think of ways to add humor and make kids smile. Preschoolers like silly sounds, catchy music, imaginative movement and puppets. Read the Magic Carpet Handbook’s section on Story Stretching for more tips on engaging kids.
PROPS. To Bring Or Not To Bring?
If you feel the inspiration to bring a prop, like a musical instrument, a puppet (as your co-pilot) or a costume piece (like a funny hat or sunglasses), do it! Go with your instincts. The children will enjoy it and you will provide them with a new experience. Props are also helpful when you need to regain your listener’s attention. Proceed With Caution…. Props Look Like Toys. When using props, don’t overdo it. Having too many props can quickly become a distraction for preschoolers. Trust me. I’m the prop man. I always edit down and still don’t use everything I bring.
Children will want to play with your props. If you do bring them, set and keep boundaries. If possible, keep your props out of site until you need them. Put them away when you’re finished with them. As a rule, don’t allow children to touch your materials (but there are exceptions). Children may touch props in certain circumstances, for example:
- Saying Goodbye. I will let kids say goodbye to a puppet with a high five or in some other way.
- Group Activities. If you are using props in a group activity, bring enough for everyone. Pass them out one at a time while children are sitting (or have a helper assist you). If you are considering whether or not to use props for a group activity, ask yourself this. Is it just as good or better to let children use their imaginations?
Fasten your seatbelts. It’s time for Takeoff.