Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Uh-Oh, Co-worker is sick... Emergency Story Time!

It happens to all of us at some point: we get sick on the day of one of our carefully planned programs. That's what happened to my co-worker this week--she ended up sick on the day of her Time for Twos story time program.

Sick days leave story time fill-ins two options: 1) use the sick coworker's program plan and do their best to offer a story time the group would recognize; or 2) leave the coworker's plan for her return and instead put together an emergency story time program. Both answers can be correct depending on individual programming style. Since I'm a particularly free-style story time leader, I tend to choose option 2.

Putting together emergency story times, when it comes down to it, is really about being comfortable with your programming repertoire. We have all read so many books and sung so many songs and led so many rhymes and created so many crafts. Emergency story times mean pulling program components from your collective experience to create a sure-to-please, or at least sure-not-to-stink, program. No need to have a cohesive theme--when the regular story time leader is sick and the kiddos are confronted with a new face at the story time helm, the option of a "regular" story time is kind of nonexistent. It's all about having fun early literacy experiences in this already out-of-the-ordinary story time setting.

Here's what I pulled together for my emergency story time for two-year-olds this week:

I grabbed some books that two-year-olds love, hands down. I always have success with Bill Martin, Jr. titles, so I grabbed one that was on the shelf: Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? I also love the Cat the Cat series from Mo Willems, which are perfect length, vocabulary, and content for young preschoolers, so I pulled Cat the Cat, Who Is That? from the stacks. I rounded out my book offerings with a title plucked from our "colors" concept bins: who hasn't had success with I Went Walking?

I rounded up some musical and fingerplay options that would be both familiar and exciting to the two-year-olds. That meant, first and foremost, that I grabbed my song cube out of my personal story time bin; a toss of the song cube determines which child-friendly song we sing as a group. Today's random selections were "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" and "Five Little Ducks." I also pulled a coworker's go-to Greg and Steve CDs out of her story time bin (don't worry, I put them back!). Animal stories meant doing at least one "Animal Actions" song. Interactive hits, all of these.

I grabbed some craft supplies. I am all about the process crafts, and I love explaining to caregivers that process crafts offer so many more creative, exploratory, and diverse motor skills benefits than ready-made product crafts. Process crafts are also simple to put together on the fly, as they only really necessitate basic supplies. I pulled from our craft cabinet some zipper-lock plastic bags, cardstock, and fingerpaint, and our activity was un-messy fingerpainting using primary colors. I got to share with caregivers that their children were strengthening finger muscles that will help with writing while also exploring how paint feels and how colors combine.

I stuck to my co-worker's opening and closing routines. My co-worker greets her twos by saying hello to each of them in a sing-song voice and waving. I did this same routine to help make the transition into story time, and I also explained that Miss Melanie was sick so Miss Amy would share some books and other fun things on this day. At the end of story time, I turned on our bubble machine; our regular Time for Twos programs always end with the bubble machine turned on for kids to enjoy. Ending with the bubble machine made the transition out of story time a smooth one, as kiddos are used to playing in the bubbles and then heading back into the library after they were done.

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How do you approach emergency fill-in story time situations?


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