Storytime 2.0 at the Wellesley Free Library: An Update, by Clara Hendricks
Since October 2013, when we launched our app-advisory and iPad storytime programs, I have led seven sessions of Storytime 2.0, an iPad-integrated storytime for children ages 3-6 with a parent; three programs to teach parents about using apps with children (Raising “App-y” Readers, for parents of pre-readers, and Raising “App-y” Learners, for parents of elementary school students); and collaborated on nine themed app-advisory lists (available on our apps page)!
Storytime 2.0 has continued to be a popular program. We have developed a core group of regulars, as well as new faces who join us each time. The majority of the participants tend to be 3 years old, but we do get some older and younger children as well.
From this first year of offering the program, I can offer the following advice and suggestions:
- Use the device for more than book apps! While we have enjoyed many book apps projected on the big screen (favorites have included: Barnyard Dance, Do you know which ones will grow?, Go Away, Big Green Monster, The Monster at the End of This Book, and Piccadilly’s Circus), iPads and other tablets are such versatile devices that it is great to use them for things that simply don’t translate to paper. My favorite thing to do is showcase non-book apps that create a participatory storytime environment. Each storytime session I use at least one app where the kids get to decide how to manipulate the game or activity. Based on my theme for that day, I have used: Mini-U: The Kitchen (the product sorter activity), Feed the Animals, Toca Kitchen and Toca Kitchen Monsters, and, perhaps the most versatile, Animal Sounds. I have used this app within rhymes, in games, or simply having the children go around and name what animal they want to hear. These games and activities are a high point of my programs. Yes, I use the iPad to enhance the program in other ways, projecting song lyrics, doing felt board rhymes, and reading one or two book apps per session, but I think that these activities are the most unique aspect of the storytime.
- Speaking of felt boards, I learned early on that the felt board apps (Felt Board and Mother Goose on the Loose) are much more fun and effective when you move the pieces within the app while doing the song or rhyme. You can capture still images and use them as a slideshow, but manipulating the pieces as you go is a much more interactive experience.
- After the storytime I handed out a list of the apps (and books) I used during that particular storytime. I also added to this list related apps that can be used at home. That way when I had a great app that related to the theme, but couldn’t figure out any way to use it in storytime, I still got to recommend it for home use to the parents and caregivers.
- Kids still love the hands-on stuff! During one of storytimes I handed out felt food pieces and read the book Lunch by Denise Fleming with a mouse puppet, letting each child come up and “feed” their food to the puppet. They thought it was hilarious! Several children mentioned to their parents that it was their favorite part of the program. So when planning, don’t forget that the storytime should be a nice blend of on-screen and non-screen.
We will continue on with our three-pronged approach (app advisory lists, parent-education, and storytimes) in the fall, as well as hopefully rolling out wall-mounted iPads in the children’s room.Clara Hendricks is a Children’s Librarian at the Wellesley Free Library in Wellesley, MA. ~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.