Sunday, February 4, 2024

10 Things I Learned from Doing the Toddler Story-time at the Library

1. It is a full-blown workout. This is not the sit quietly on the floor with your legs crossed kind of story-time. This is singing at the top of your lungs with hand motions, rolling, bouncing, hopping, rocking in a pretend boat and driving a pretend car. When it's over, we are all ready for naptime. 

2. It's a big bummer when the bubble machine breaks, but the toddlers get over the disappointment fast, happy to wave the brightly colored gauzy scarves I've passed out and/or shake the rattly egg-shaped shakers. 

3. Everyone likes being greeted by the sheep puppet. Even the shyest kids, the ones hiding behind their grown-up's legs. One glimpse of the sheep puppet and they're timidly toddling over to boop the puppet's nose. 

4. Boop by Bea Birdsong is a good book to read to two-year-olds. Boop, if you don't know it, is a story (and I use the word story generously here) about a dog and his nose and how it's everyone's job to give the nose a little boop-y tap. The story builds with other comically drawn dogs all wanting their noses to be booped and ends with the directive to boop your own nose. 

5. I was nervous before I did this story-time, thinking about other teaching and public speaking experiences I've had (a lot), but realizing that my experience with the toddler set is zero. Unless, you count my own kids, but that was so long ago, can I even remember it? 

6. I can.

7. When you're speaking to any audience, it's good to scan the crowd, pause here and there to look someone in the eye, smile. This works with toddlers too. It helps if you're sitting on the floor with them. It helps if you've got a sheep puppet on your hand. 

8. The songs will stick in your head for days. (For a fun example of this, try: "Driving in My Car." You've been warned.)

9. There is a lot of planning involved in story-time. Choosing a book that can hold a small child's attention, the music and rhymes and particular fingerplays. The set up. The take down. The sanitizing of toys, which all inevitably went straight into someone's mouth. But I like this kind of planning. And I don't mind the clean up. 

Gathering up scarves and eggs, I have a flashback of my young mother self, picking cheerios off the carpet and sanitizing the teething rings, the weird quiet in the house after the kids have been put to bed, knowing the noisy busy day will start again tomorrow, with the crying, the giggling, the whining, the kisses. How never-ending those days were and then, one day they ended and are gone forever-- 

10.  until you sign up to do the toddler story-time at the library. 

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