Monday, April 29, 2013

Milk & Cookies Story Morning, Take 2: In which we learn the word "encore"

I blogged earlier this month about a new story time program I began offering in March, a Saturday morning Milk & Cookies Story Morning. My main impetus for this new program format and time was better fitting into the schedules of families who can't necessarily make a weekday story time. So far, I'd say it looks like I'm going to be successful on that front: I was averaging about 6 attendees at my previous Evening Family Story Times; the debut M&C Story Time drew in 17 people; and April's M&C Story Time had 36 people attend. Those are big jumps, and our Saturday morning story times are seeing lots of new faces. I love programs that invite new library users.

A few other goals of my Milk & Cookies Story Morning, which of course will continue to develop as the months go on:
  1. Make it transmedia. I include app-based technology once in each program. This will be in the form of a book app, felt board story, or musical enhancement.
  2. Make it interactive. We roll our song cube to determine what traditional song we sing. We sing and dance to songs heavy on movement aspects. And we end with some parachute fun, which never fails to excite and engage.
  3. Include a folk or fairy tale. This goal is a newer one for me, but it's becoming more and more important. After months of visiting preschools and daycares for story time visits, I saw that many kids haven't heard the "traditional" folk and fairy tales; it seems grown-ups assume that, because they are traditional, the kids already know them. Not so, and so I'm including one at each program. Kids who have heard them before still delight in retellings.
  4. Play time is integral. There is space and time for free play after each of these programs.

The April Milk & Cookies Story Time was an encore program of sorts, the second time I offered the new program time and format. As encores go, I would consider it a rousing success. Here's what we did:

Opening Song: "Open, Shut Them"

Story: Scary Mary by Paula Bowles
     This story invites lots of open-ended questions about the pictures, what's happening in the story, and the topic of making friends. It also provides great opportunities for making animal noises and motions, a huge bonus for kids' morning energy.

Song: "I'm a Little Teapot"
     A roll of our song cube landed on "I'm a Little Teapot," so the kids and I stood up to sing and act out the song. We had a huge round of applause from the grownups afterward, and I took the opportunity to introduce the word "encore." We offered to sing another song for the grownups, who acted delighted, and we performed "I'm a Little Teapot" again.

Book App: Just Lost! by Gina and Mercer Mayer from Oceanhouse Media, Inc.
     This wonderful Little Critter story follows Little Critter as he gets separated from his mom and siblings at the mall. Oh, no! he thinks; My mom is lost! The story follows Little Critter as he resolves to be brave, tells a grown-up that his mom is lost, and spends a little bit of time amazed at the mall security office before being reunited with his family. As I shared the book app with the audience (it was mirrored on our HDTV), I asked questions about what the kids could see in the pictures, what they thought would happen next, what they would do if their mom or dad got lost. I'll admit I was initially unsure if this app would be too long for the kids' attention spans, but they were totally engaged in the story. They even wanted to share their own lost stories after we were done. Once again, I was blown away by the literacy potential of sharing an app with kids in an intentional and interactive way.

     We had a dinosaur marching parade of sorts for this song, with many of the children opting to join the main group in a marching dino circle. A few stayed on the sidelines with their caregivers, but they were definitely stomping their feet and doing the other actions with the music.

Story: The Three Little Pigs by Bernadette Watts
     This version of the Three Pigs story offers a great intro for new listeners, with great illustrations that can get kids talking about what's happening. The wolf doesn't get cooked in the end of this version, so if that's the tale you want to tell, there are other options.

Activity: Parachute Play
     I got the parachute out of the bag, and I threw on top of it three beach ball-style globes. The exercise of having fun with the parachute while trying to keep the globes on it was a great activity for concepts of teamwork.

Milk & Cookies Time!
     This time we had Nilla Wafers, 2% milk, and lemonade. One mother brought her own snacks for her kids due to food allergies, and I was so glad her children were able to participate in that portion of the program.

Free Play
     I got out three tables' worth of toys again, ranging from wooden garages and cars to counting cookies and building materials. This is the portion of the program that I am most excited about--it offers great opportunities for me to interact with each child, and I can also model behavior for interacting with children as they play. This is also the time in the program when grownups can have conversations, and many of them seek out conversations with me. They ask about great apps, what programs we have coming up, what else the library offers... really, the PR potential of this free time is amazing. And all while the kids are exploring the world through free play.


I know at least one other librarian, Angela in Nova Scotia, has adapted this program format for her own library customers and goals; see her version here. Anyone else including apps in programming? Offering weekend story time options? Focusing on building kids' knowledge of folk tales? I'd love to hear what you're doing.


  1. I did two months of folk/fairy tales and nursery rhymes this past winter. I think it's really important to learn all the above because they help so much with literacy. What I discovered is that many parents today weren't taught simple rhymes and songs, so it's my job to teach parent and child alike. I made these adorable printables for each family to take home (

    I have tried to convince my library director to let me do a weekend story time, as I have had numerous requests for a Saturday program, but to no avail. I normally don't work on weekends, so I guess she's thinking of "me" rather than my patrons. I would rather bring story time to the masses than fight crowds at the grocery store on a Saturday!

    1. The nursery rhyme printables are fantastic! I will definitely be sharing that resource with my staff, too.

      And while I've only offered two Saturday morning story times so far, I think I'll continue to have steady attendance, especially as we go through summer reading. When all is said and done, I spend about 2-2.5 hours of my Saturday on the program; I don't know if having the info about the actual staff time would help to persuade your director. I'd be inclined to make the argument that you should at least try out Saturday story times during the summer, when attendance tends to be high regardless. Hopefully you could supplement summer reading help with volunteers while you're in your program, if that's a concern.

    2. I'm really happy I found the printable online. I laminated, cut, punched a hole in the corner, and made a small ring-bound "book" with them. They were kid friendly and easy to use.

      I think the issue with Saturdays is staffing. Even though it would be just me making a schedule change, it seemed like the director didn't want to staff the desk while I did a weekend program. I think it's fuzzy math, since there would be no increase of hours for anyone. Weird.

  2. We offer a Family Storytime every Saturday at 10:30. The attendance is good--between 20 to 45, depending on the weather and time of year. It's usually a really fun time and it's great to see so many members of the family attend together, since the ones that we schedule during the week usually only have one parent (typically the mom) attending. It's great to see the other parent. Plus, we get several grandparents who tag along and are so excited to see their grandkids at storytime.

    We're not incorporating apps, but I've got it on my "to research" list because I think the kids and parents would definitely be into it. My son (he's 18 months) loves Tumblebooks and some of the free apps that I have on my iPad, so I'm sure it would we well received.

    1. What a great testament to why Saturday story times can be great--not only do they bring in children who can't make a weekday program, but they bring in lots of other family members, too! The more adults who model excitement about literacy for kids, the better.


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