We’ve started doing Toddler Time programs at our library as part of our Early Literacy Initiative. We’ve never done programs specifically for this age group and the turn out has been crazy. Toddlers are 18-36 months and when you get 57 of them in a room, things get a little wild. At least I was mentally prepared as we started doing them earlier this month and I knew the numbers would be large.
I figured the best thing to do with a group that size was to keep them focused on me as much as I could using songs and rhymes and other active things.
Early Literacy Tip #1 — Singing, doing rhymes together, and making animal noises slows down your speech so children can hear the smaller parts of words. This is part of phonological awareness and it will help the child later when they are learning to sound out words.
Before the kids came into the room, I made sure I had my puppet ready!
This helped to get their attention on me as he waved to everyone who came in. I’ve decided I really like puppets with arms I can move! Once it felt like we had everyone in the room, I showed the kids that when Wavy claps there is no sound! Then I asked them to clap so I could hear them. Then we sang the “Clap Your Hands” song, which I think was originally on a Wee Sing album but I know it by heart now so I just sing it on my own.
The we did the classic “Open, Shut Them” to get everyone sitting down and facing forward.
After everyone was seated, I did my early literacy tip for the parents. Then to keep it all going, I asked the kids to bring out their SPIDERS. We did Itsy Bitsy Spider and his cousin, Great Big Spider (I just have the kids hold their arms out for this one).
Since they were doing so well seated, I did a really quick book, Peek-A-Moo by Marie Torres Cimarusti. This is one of my go-to books for younger crowds. I asked the kids if they knew their barnyard animals and also how to play peek-a-boo. This book had both the kids and the parents involved.
I could feel the wiggles starting to come back so then I did “Head to Toe” by Eric Carle but I think the concept of moving like an animal may have been too much for the younger end of this crowd and I could feel myself starting to lose them. I sorta rushed the last half the book to get through it so we could move on.
Since they were up and ready to go, I went to my old stand-by of “Jumping and Counting” by Jim Gill. Hardest part here is counting as slow as the kid on the CD! I do a big arms, Pete-Townsend-playing-guitar style counting to help slow down the counting with the actual kids in the room with me.
Best thing about this song? It ends with Gill saying “and you can jump right back down into your seats” so now that we are sitting again, we can try a book. I read “Waking Dragons” which is really short and colorful and the few kids up front were fine but with a room full of 57 kids, its too hard to do a real book so once that was over, it was time for another activity.
Thank goodness for Microsoft Word! The day before I had found a cute Dragon clipart and used it to create a “Five Little Dragons” flannel board.
I used the rhyme on Nancy Stewart’s website but I changed the ending and had Mother dragon roar “I’m going to eat your snack” because that is the sort of thing my mom would have said to make me come back haha.
Then we did “Going on a Dragon Hunt” which is just “Going on a bear hunt” but with more dragons. 🙂
And for their take-home craft, I printed out black and white versions of the Little Dragons and Mother Dragon and added the text of the rhyme for everyone to take home and make their own 5 Little Dragons story.
And now I need a nap!!!