Monday, May 6, 2013

Coming Distractions

Picture this: You're trying to lead storytime and there must be something in the water. Or is it a full moon? Or maybe it's just that time of year?

The kids are acting up. And none of the tried-and-true methods are working to focus them. It can make someone feel like this:

I know we've all been there.

At my library, the parents do not come in the room for preschool storytime. So it's me, myself, and I...and 20 preschoolers for 30 minutes. In that time, I have to get through 3 books, rhymes/songs/fingerplays, an opening, a closing, and a craft. All by myself. And some days I have their rapt attention. And other days I feel like I'm trying to herd 20 very small, energetic cats.

I've tried everything from magic listening dust to "Shake Your Sillies Out" to pointing out the kids that are behaving (in hopes that the misbehaving kids will shape up) to just simply stopping what I'm doing and waiting until they notice I'm not reading/singing/talking.

Some days it works, and some days it doesn't. When it doesn't work I immediately over-analyze the storytime. What could I have done differently? Should I have done anything differently?Was there anything I could have done? Part of me realizes that sometimes we all (even kids) have off days and that it's okay. I have them for a half hour once a week. For them, it's the blink of an eye. But still I wonder if I'm missing some magical method.

There was an excellent post in the ALSC Blog about having a "Wiggles Kit" for storytime. I use the Storytime Dust and "Shake Your Sillies Out" method. These usually work, but in the not-so-distant past, I've had things like this happen:

- A child decides he doesn't want to be in storytime and takes his shirt and shoes off
- Two children decide they are going to lay down on the floor and wrestle
- Two different children decide they would like to sit behind me on the radiator
- One child needs a tissue and when I go get him one, everyone else decides that they need a tissue
- One child decides to color with the glue stick (we use the Elmer's glue sticks that start purple and turn clear when dry) on the table
- One child comes in 25 minutes late and then proceeds to loudly proclaim that she was late the rest of the storytime

What would you do in these situations? Do you have tried-and-true methods for focusing the kids in storytime? Is there anything in your "wiggles kit" that you find to be particularly helpful?

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