Saturday, April 20, 2019

Repetition in 2s & 3s Storytimes

Toddlers thrive on repetition. So why not cater to this early childhood development principle in storytime? Recently, Lindsey Krabbenhoft of Jbrary posted a 2-part blog series about how important repetition in storytime can truly be. I won't get into the nitty-gritty of it, because I think Lindsey does an amazing job of explaining this piece of early childhood development, but mostly because I want to share with you what repetition I do in my storytimes!

1. The Same Hello and Goodbye Songs

  • In every 2s & 3s storytime, no matter what librarian is presenting, we always use the same hello and goodbye songs. 
  • The hello song is a song I wrote and use with a bubble machine. Toddlers love consistency and order as much, if not more, than they love repetition. The fact that they can always expect bubbles at the beginning of storytime is important. To think one could just omit bubbles for one week -- oh, my, we would have an uprising! 
  • For more information on using a bubble machine in storytime, and for the hello song lyrics, see my post here.
  • Our goodbye song is also the same no matter what, The More We Get Together, and it is a song a lot of people have heard before. Learning the words to these songs helps build participation and engagement from caregivers, too!

2. Rhyme Time
Rhyme time is a segment I place in the mid-point of my storytime. It's a short segment of wiggle-releases, stretchers, and rhymes. I always start rhyme time off by telling caregivers that repeating the same rhymes each week gives the children a chance to learn the words in the song, which is such an underrated takeaway from storytime!! Lately my Rhyme Time has consisted of the following:

Rhyme 1: Wiggle Your Fingers (stretcher)
Wiggle your fingers way up high
Wiggle them way down low, down to your toes!
Wiggle your fingers on your shoulders (where's your shoulders?!)
Wiggle them on your head
Wiggle them on your.......BELLY! belly belly belly! (caregivers and/or children always love this opportunity for some tickles)
...and then put them all to bed. (fold/lace fingers together in front of your chest)
(whisper: shhhhh....goodnight fingers)
(SHOUT: WAKE UP FINGERS! and wiggle them way up high, and then do it all over again)

Rhyme 2: Head Shoulders Knees and Toes
  • This is a popular rhyme, but I want to make a note about it. For toddlers, and even preschoolers, I think that the pace at which this rhyme is usually sung is way too fast for proper comprehension. 
  • We're trying to help our children develop language & literacy skills -- matching body parts to their correct vocabulary word -- we're not trying to disorient them by speeding through. Sure, going super fast may get some giggles, but at least for my 2s & 3s group, I think going slowly is much more important.
  • So, I start this one off by asking questions... "Friends, I have a question for you. Where's your head? (let them find/touch their head), Where's your shoulders... (and so on)" 
  • Only once I have made it through all the questions, and let children mentally prepare for finding these body parts, do I start with the song version. Even then, we go at a moderately slow pace, repeating it twice.

Rhyme 3: Roly Poly

  • A Jbrary classic. The kids love this! 
  • I once had a toddler come up to me in the library (not on a storytime day) and their caregiver explained they wanted to sing this song for me. The power of repetition!! 
  • Toddlers, as Maria Montessori once so famously wrote, have an ABSORBENT MIND. They're soaking up everything around them. So was I surprised when the toddler sang this song I taught her back to me? Not at all! Impressed and dying of toddler cuteness? Of course! 
  • We also sing this one really slowly so that toddlers can hear the words and truly understand them, matching the words with the actions in the song. 
  • Again, if you're going too fast, how can they truly comprehend? Even on the "fast" part of the song, we don't speed it up TOO much. It can still be fun and kind of fast. :)

  • Beginning and ending your storytimes with the same hello and goodbye songs can be a great place to get started adding repetition in your storytimes. 
  • Using props that make an appearance each week are also a great way to add repetition. It doesn't have to be just about repeating same songs! As I noted, it can be reoccurring bubbles, or even the same puppet each week. 
  • Adding a special segment to your storytime in which you repeat the same rhymes and stretchers can also be a great way to introduce repetition in your storytimes. It doesn't *always* have to be the same rhymes. For example, if you do storytimes in 5-week sessions, you can mix it up and change out some rhymes each 5-week block. 
  • Slow it down. Repeating the same songs is great, but if the toddlers don't even know what you're saying, then what is the purpose in the repetition? Slow and steady, my friends!

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