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Community Storytime

I’ve been asked to provide some advice for a husband/wife storytelling team in a church setting. JoMarie posted the following question, and I’ve brought the whole conversation into an official post because I think it might be useful for others to read.

JoMarie:

I’m planning to start a story time club in my neighborhood. If I have a group of 10 kids, would it be nice to have an ipad to tell the story? I understand that as a parent is is easier because it is a one-on-one situation, but with 10 kids (and no infocus aid) can an ipad take the place of a real book? Feedback appreciated :)

Me:

Hi! I’d love to hear more about your program! Are you working with an organization (library, non-profit etc)? iPads can certainly be used in a group setting to tell stories, but they do not usually take the place of physical books (unless you WANT that to be the point of the progam). I think of iPads as another storytelling tool, just like felt boards, puppets, shakers and music can all be storytelling tools. What age are the kids you will be working with, and will their caregivers be present for the program? Where will the proposed program take place?

JoMarie:

Thank you so much for your reply! :) I am planning to start the program at my church (I plan to make is in Spanish also, since the school in our parish has the Spanish immersion program I think it might be a good idea). This might take place at the school church’s library. I believe the age group can be 2-9 (if in the future we see that we have a big audience and can be divided in 2 groups, we’d divide it in two groups without a doubt). My husband and I are planning to present this program to our parish director to start it in January 2013, we plan for caregivers to be present in the program while it takes place (so they won’t think about it as a daycare in case some kids get bored, they can leave with no problem). I am planning to work also with some resources from Amazon (using amazon kindle) they have some pretty nice picture books, which I think kids will love. So, the program we are planning will follow something like this:

1- Introduction: we’ll ask the kids to guess about the story, if it is about an animal or character, I plan my husband to wear a mask/dress like and mimic the character.

2- Conversation: I’ll talk to our “character” and kids can ask him questions too.

3- Vocabulary: I’ll show the kids flashcards or realia of the main words of the story (we can do a matching game, puzzle or some fun activity for this one).

4- Story: We read the story

5- Song: I’ll try my best to find a song depending on the story for kids to sing.

6- Crafts: We do some crafty activity kids can take home

Please let me know what you think about this, I am working on this to present it to our director, we plan to make it Sundays 3pm.

Thanks!
JoMarie

Me:

I love how interactive your storytelling plan is! This will be very useful with your crowd because of the huge age differences. Normally I’d say that you should be really careful trying to tackle an age group as varied as 2-9, but since your group is so small, and the kids are already part of your church group and presumably know each other, it may work just fine.

You mentioned using both an iPad and Kindle (I assume it’s a Kindle Fire- do not use a black and white Kindle in a storytime). The iPad can work hand-held for a group this size, but you’d have to be very careful about that kind of apps or eBooks you choose. I use an AppleTV to mirror everything on my iPad to a screen. The Kindle Fire will NOT work hand held because of the size of the screen and the interface of the books. I do not have any experience with mirroring technology for Android based devices (like the Kindle Fire) but they do exist (take a look at this one). You could also access Kindle books through the Kindle app on your iPad if the content you want is not available through iTunes (and this is entirely possible; in a recent project I did on Digital Caldecotts, sometimes the books are inexplicably available in one format and not in another).

In any digital storytime, I recommend getting the image as big as you can. If you have a TV or projector, try to use it. If you need specific help figuring out what cables you need, please don’t hesitate to ask!

You could try using more than one story, unless you really feel you want to keep the program very short, and expand on specific themes within that story. Many storytellers design their programs around themes and choose related supporting storytelling tools (music included!)

I recommend reaching out to your local library, too, and telling them what you are trying to develop. They may not have app/eBook-specific skills to offer (send them straight to me if they don’t!) but they WILL have a lot of knowledge to share with you about developing a storytime, and they may have some outreach resources that you may be able to take advantage of.

AppleTV Learnings

I played around with my library’s AppleTV and I learned some things.

  1. The battery in the remote can die even if it just sits in the box most of the time.  This can be confusing when you try to get past the “Setting Date and Time” phase of the starting up process and you need to change the network you’re on and you can’t because the darn thing won’t respond.
  2. You have to pay the $60 to get a decent HDMI to VGA adaptor to work with projectors. You can’t hack together $3 HDMI/DVI cable to a DVI/VGA cable  (May be obvious to most people but I seem to have to learn things the hard way).
  3. Update software for  both AppleTV and iPad to get full functionality.
  4. The dudes at Fry’s can’t test your AppleTV remote for you without a big manager dude present.