WEEK 5: Program Review

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    • #1343
      Kate McKelliget

      This post will review a children’s storytime program, based on the criteria found in chapter five of Larson’s <em style=”font-weight: inherit;”>Early Literacy Programs for Children and Families.

      I have not attended such a program since I was a child myself, some twenty years ago. To make the experience more worthwhile, I brought my five year old neighbour. The program was advertised on the library’s website. The advertisement stated that stories, craft and singing would be included.  The suggested age for the program was 2-5 years old.

      This program followed the basic pattern for children’s storytime that Larson suggests in her 2015 chapter: ‘a welcoming ritual, a mix of two or three stories and stretches or activities that engage the audience and allow them to move around …’

      This was all done within the theme of building/construction/tools. Larson states in her 2015 chapter states that ‘… a theme helps to create a cohesive program and provides structure.’ Larson, in the same chapter, also suggests that themes should not be gender-specific and be inclusive of both girls’ and boys’ interests. While one (although not myself) may argue that, traditionally, the theme of building could be perceived as being a topic more suited to boys, both genders participated eagerly in the storytime. The theme ran consistently throughout the program and was suitably applied for the audience.

      This storytime included the ritual beginnings which Larson suggests should be included in her 2015 chapter. Coloured mats were set out for the children, a welcoming song and interaction with a puppet started the program.  In Larson’s 2015 chapter, she states that these ritual should be done in order to, ‘make  the program special and help the children recognise that storytime is about to start.’ However, there was much activity happening before the start of the program, such as music playing, lights flashing and interaction with the puppet. As these elements were also included in the welcoming rituals, it made it difficult to recognise that storytime was formally starting. However, the children at this particular program had a lot of energy and the story-teller adapted well to this by working with this energy rather than breaking the flow to conform to the suggested structure. The songs that were used were very contemporary and lacked the traditional melodies or lyrics that Larson, in her 2015 chapter, suggests one uses. This made it a little difficult for first-time visitors like us to sing along, however the simple actions that accompanied the songs were easy to enjoyable to follow and allowed us to be included.

      Although Larson, in her 2015 chapter, suggests that 2-3 books be read during the storytime, only one book was read towards the end of the program. However, the story-teller created an engaging narrative (using the puppet and the theme) by which the activities scheduled between the opening rituals and the reading of this book were all undergone. The activities reflect some of those that are suggested in Larson’s 2015 chapter: the use of a flannel board and activities that allowed the children to move about. The book that was used was not a traditional book but rather a collection of A4 photographs with out words. Larson’s 2015 chapter states that story-time does not always require a traditional book if the story-teller is confident in reciting the story. This story-teller told the story well and also used the blank canvas as an opportunity to show how the activities tied into the story. This allowed the children to participate in the telling of the story, which Larson suggests one do in her 2015 chapter. The story-teller held the book well and ensured all of the children could see it, a skill which Larson emphasises in importance.

      The program ran for about 40 minutes which seemed to be just the right amount of time for my neighbour (he grew weary at the 35 minute mark) and also the suggested time by Larson in her 2015 chapter. Although shy, my neighbour was kept engaged during the storytime. Many of the children were boisterous but the story-teller was adept at ensuring the children were well behaved and called upon parents if the children’s behaviour became too boisterous. Larson mentions these skills to be  specific ones required for story-tellers of toddler aged children.

      This program must be praised. Not only was it thoroughly researched and adhered to the criteria of children’s story time as suggested in Larson’s2015 chapter, the story-teller was attuned extremely well to her audience and did an immensely good job of adapting to their energy.

      [No craft was included. Unfortunately the library’s website listed that storytime advertisement alongside the actual advertisement for this program. This program was called a ‘book club’ rather than storytime. I did not see the ‘book club’ advertisement. This caused a little confusion but nothing more.]


    • #1367
      Stacey Larner

      Great review, and glad you and your neighbour had fun!

    • #1369
      Katherine Lee

      Great review, I liked the way that you assessed the story time against a criteria. I  used to think that programs such as story time were just a way to entertain children. It wasn’t until I read a book Proust and the Squid about how humans developed the “reading brain” that I realised that these activities are integral to teaching children how to read and use language. If you are interested in literacy, I would highly recommend the book, it’s a really interesting read 🙂

      • #1412
        Kate McKelliget

        Hi Katherine! I also didn’t understand the true importance of storytime. The readings this week about children’s literacy really opened my eyes. I always knew, from my parents and teachers, that it was important to read to children from infancy but I never understood why. Wow! I’m really glad I was exposed to these readings. Thank you very much for the book suggestion. It looks like a great read! Do you have a particular interest in children’s literacy that lead you to this book?

    • #1574
      Tracey Allen

      Hey Kate,

      I enjoyed your post and found it quite interesting.  I actually started to assess my own lesson attempts.  I have been a Kindy Kidz (Sunday School) teacher for 3-5yr olds for the past 4yrs and a crèche (0-5yrs) co-ordinator for 7yrs before that.  Though we generally only had the one bible story, our lesson was longer on average 1hr and we didn’t have parents sitting in.  We did though also include singing, play/acting the story, craft, games, memory verse and activities (playdough, etc).

      This age group is such an important one to focus on, as my Nanny School teacher always said  “that in the first 5yrs of life you learn all the skills needed to become an adult.”

      • #1792
        Kate McKelliget

        Hi Tracey,

        What a great and rewarding position! It is clear that you and the others who ran Kindy Kidz have made a conscious effort to make this program as beneficial as possible, while, I imagine still being fun.

    • #1583
      Christopher Brander

      Great post Kate! I also liked that you had a particular criteria to measure the program against. It was interesting to hear about the format of a children’s story time session. I was also thinking about attending one and doing a program review but I didn’t really have a child to bring along with me. Children’s story time are one of the most popular types of library programs. It seems like a great way to get kids involved in reading and literacy.

      • #1790
        Kate McKelliget

        Hi Chris,

        Thanks for your comment! Yes, I agree that these programs are a great way to get children involved in reading and literacy.  When I asked my neighbour if he would like to come to the library with me, he asked if he was allowed to play the Xbox there. I am in no way opposed to going to the library to use the Xbox; I think that providing gaming consoles is one of many fantastic ways that public libraries have responded to their users’ needs. However, as soon as we got to the library, my neigbour was engaged in the storytime, actually forgot about the Xbox and was even excited to borrow some books and DVDs afterwards (especially since the monkey suggested we do so!). I think this is a subtle but big step in encouraging his literacy skills.

    • #1886
      Deborah Fuller

      Great review Kate. I loved how you assessed the program against the criteria, although I have to admit I’m now a bit apprehensive about running story time in my future as a librarian if I have to sing (not a talent I possess). It was great how your neighbour forgot about the Xbox during the reading, it just goes to prove the value of a good story. As this course progresses I’m beginning to appreciate the value of story time and I’m so glad that libraries have progressed from silent places to environments where children can play and learn.



    • #1957
      Nicole Steer

      A nice review, Kate! Very well-written. Larson is a good choice relating to this topic (though I clicked out to have a read and it ate my first attempt at a reply! :P).

      In the work I’ve done with public libraries in the past, kids’ activities almost always go over the best. Most of the activities are held during the school holidays, with a few more frequent ones in the time between when school finishes and parents get off work. It’s great for the kids, who always enjoy it, but also for the parents, who are often just relieved they’re not the one singing Baa Baa Black Sheep or reading Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus (protip: check this book out, it’s amazing and kids love it) or combing cornflour slime out of their hair for the fiftieth time that day! I’m of the firm opinion that this kind of group play/”learn by playing” is the best way for kids to learn in the early childhood years. As Larson mentions, having a certain structure and certain “rituals” can really help as well – most kids get a lot out of having a set routine, doubly so for any special-needs kids you might have. It can be as rigid as “We read a picture book at 4:30” or as flexible as “When we get out the floor mats it’s time to sit down and read a book”.

      One thing that I didn’t see mentioned was including older kids (10+) in children’s activities as “helpers” or co-presenters. I’ve found this is a great way to get more of the community involved, and having that little bit of responsibility is really good for kids around the middle school age.

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