Tacky and the Winter Games in Storytime: Field Notes, by Sarah Kostin
For my first foray into digitally enhanced storytime, I chose to read the app, “Tacky and the Winter Games” by Oceanhouse Media, during our Olympic-themed Pajama Storytime. This required surmounting some technical issues with the iPad and our projector; it turned out I needed a Lightning to VGA adapter to connect with my 4th generation iPad. And because we do not have a projection screen, I improvised and projected onto our banana-yellow wall. You know, with the lights out, I really didn’t even notice a color difference. The hardest part of setting up was positioning our gigantic media cart, which the projector is bolted onto, and then positioning myself in a good spot so people could see both me and the wall.
Once I got going, I had so much fun reading this way. I felt like the kids and parents were more engaged, especially the parents who were able to read along with me. The book itself is very funny and creates a lot of openings for great audience participation. There was lots of laughter; I felt like a rock star. Because I was standing up, as opposed to being in my normal seated position, it felt more like a theater performance than a reading. This only enhanced the energy of the program.
The Tacky app makes very good use of comedic timing, revealing the funny bits not all at once, but with a page slide of the finger. When it came time to sing the Tacky Olympics Anthem, the whole crowd (those that can read) sang along with me because they had been following along, too. The app included a cute little soundtrack and sound effects that played through my Bluetooth speakers and worked really well to propel the story forward: the sound of the starting gun popping, the sound of Tacky’s fish skis flopping in the snow. Afterwards, I turned on the lights and sat on my regular storytime cushion in the front of the room. I asked the crowd of about 35 kids and 25 adults if they enjoyed it. Applause. I asked the parents specifically if they enjoyed it, and they said “they loved it!”
In planning the program, I felt that I should balance out the digital portion of our program with lots of movement and activity. Because it’s the middle of a long winter in the Rockies, I had been noticing the kids’ and parents’ need for a little more activity and a little less listening. After Tacky was over, we did a short movement song and then moved right into the Olympics portion of our program. I had five events set up along the length of our Children’s section: ring toss, ball toss, high jump, pom pom hockey, and the tunnel. I had two crafts prepared: a pipe cleaner snowboarder (or skier) and a gold or silver medal necklace made with Fruit Loops. I also supplied popcorn in Dixie cups that almost resembled tiny Olympic torches. Overall, I would give this program the “Big Winner” medal.Sarah Kostin is the Head Youth Services Librarian at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Not one to sit still for very long, she is always looking for new ways to spice up programs or invent new ones. She is super excited about being a member of Little eLit, swapping ideas and exploring all of the new ways that digital media can be incorporated into library programming.