This week, I led a storytime of children who were younger than those in my typical storytime. Usually, I read to 3-5 year olds, and the children I met this week were, for the most part, under the age of 3. In my preschool storytimes, I do a few activities and read books that are a little bit longer; but for this group, I found myself singing more, getting up and moving more, and reading less. There was one book that I didn’t even think we would finish because it was longer than the attention spans would allow that day. However, it is important (and sometimes hard for me) to remember that even when kids are moving around, they still hear what you say!
When you notice a group of children becoming less attentive while you're reading a book to them, consider pushing the pause button on the book and getting everyone up for an exciting rendition of Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (or other activity) before continuing on with the book. Not only will your listeners be more attentive for the second part of the book, but it is also a great way to model for parents how shifting gears can help children become more focused on an activity they’re doing.
Moving around helps to cast away the boredom that comes from sitting for extended periods of time. How many of you have sat in a lengthy meeting only to find your mind wandering or your pen doodling on your notepaper? When we have a moment to stretch, take a quick walk, or even just move from one part of the room to another, it helps reset our “attention switch” so that we are ready to sit again. This is the same for children! If you find you’re reading to a group of wiggly little ones, it’s ok to include more activities than books. Those children will remember storytime as a fun and engaging time and not one in which they are forced to sit when they just can’t seem to get their bodies to do so. And, after all, that’s what we want from storytime, right? We want to make it an experience that kids will want to return to again and again!
Check out the Storyblocks link for some great ideas of songs and activities for multiple age groups. :)