Breaks between programs are nice sometimes, and I usually enjoy the month I take 'off' between Summer Reading and the start of our regular weekly story times. This year, however, the break was more like two months - I had my baby in July, then we transferred to a new automation system in September, and had to close for a couple days, so I waited until that was over to start up again. That was a long time! I was happy to see some of my 'old' little friends this week, and plenty of new shining faces. So happy, I forgot to take pictures!
This year I decided to follow the alphabet again, to give our story times a loose structure. And yes, we go by letters, not phonemes - I understand the logic of doing the latter, but this works best for us. I start off each session with our storytime box (I keep wanting to call it a magic box, but I know some parents might not like that, and I don't want to offend people right off the bat - we can do that later, when we read stories like Good Families Don't!). I explain to the children that the things in the box (plain old cardboard box covered in contac paper) will tell us what we will be reading about today.
First, I pull out a big paper letter. The children tell me what the letter is, we talk about what sound(s) it makes, and I ask if anyone has a name starting with it. Then I pull out 4-6 items starting with that letter, emphasize the sound, maybe tell an anecdote or two about it: "Apple! Apple has the 'a' sound. My family and I picked over a HUNDRED POUNDS of apples this weekend! Has anyone here gone to pick apples yet?" Modeling how to tell stories and letting them tell theirs is just as important as reading from books!
The last item is usually the subject of our stories. This week it was "alligators", and since I couldn't locate a toy one, and the zoo wouldn't let me borrow theirs, I included a nonfiction book with a good cover picture.
Here is where we usually include sign language - sometimes I do it before we look in the box. We learned the sign for "alligator", then the letter "a" and the sign for "apple". As the weeks go on, we will review the letters previously learned, and sometimes some of the word signs, especially if I can put them together with the new ones.
Now for the meat of the program, the stories. I usually have at least five picked out, but just read 3, depending on the mood/squirminess of the group. This week we read these three, in this order: