Monday, January 19, 2009

Storytime at the Library

Monday mornings at our local library is Tiny Tots Storytime. It's a half hour session for children 0-3years, although there are often older siblings around too. It consists of 4 or 5 books about a specific 'theme' (eg: beach, animals etc) a few songs and nursery rhymes, a small craft project and then a general play session for half an hour or so while everything gets packed up. Best of all - it's FREE!

Zeke absolutely LOVES it. He doesn't always sit and listen to the books, but really enjoys the singing, and the social aspect. This week our theme was animals, and we read 5 books about different animals, mostly jungle ones. The books are all very engaging, brightly coloured and contained a lot of animal noises so the librarian had to be very enthusiastic, roar like a lion, trumpet like an elephant, screech like a monkey etc, which the kids loved!

The craft project is very simple as a rule, we had a paper cutout monkey, which was coloured and then attached to paddle pop stick and a peice of string to make a puppet. Zeke is a little small for that - he ripped the monkey's foot off twice and tried to eat it, but he had a go at the colouring (he bangs the crayon on the paper) and now that it's finished enjoys watching the monkey bobbing around on its string.

The social play session afterwards is Zeke's favourite. They have bead frames to play with, which he loves, as we don't own one yet ourselves, and the other kids mill around, chat and crawl. It's a fun, if not noisy time, and Zeke really gets into it. Yesterday he saw another baby about 5 metres (a little over 16ft!) away and went shuffling over at light speed to say hello. He & his new friend (who was a little shy when confronted with my shrieking, in-your-face son!) had a bit of a baby-chat, and I got to have a talk to the other mums as well.

I get a few blank looks when I tell people I take a 7-month old to story time, so why do it?

Benefits for you:

  • As a SAHM it's important for your sanity to get out of the house occasionally and have fun.
  • It's a wonderful social opportunity for you, you can meet some other mums in your local area, and make friends.
  • It's a great chance after the session to return your books and pickup a couple of new ones for yourself
  • Sitting and listening to another person reading I have found to be much easier than trying to hold a squirming child and a book at the same time
  • If like me, your Library is within walking distance, (and has paid parking!) leave the car at home, get out the pram and have a stroll
  • The songs and books covered are a combination of old favourites and as some new ones, refreshing your memory and teaching you some new ones as well
  • The simple, cheap (and relatively mess-free) craft ideas are easily replicated at home on a rainy day
  • You don't have to spend a cent to have a nice morning out!

Benefits for your baby:

  • It encourages an early love of reading and books for children, which will give them many benefits as they begin school, and start to get out in the world on their own. This site has some information on the benefits and other ways to promote literacy in your child.
  • For older children it can help their reading and language development, and introduce new words and concepts to them
  • For pre-verbal children like Zeke, it's a great chance to 'study' the art of conversation, listening to the rise and fall of the librarian's voice as she reads, and listening to the other children coo, laugh and sing
  • Imagination is never far away. "Can you roar like a lion?" "What would YOU do if you had a pet monster?" etc... the kids are encouraged to be creative and think outside the square
  • It teaches a range of social skills, to be quiet when someone else is talking, taking and waiting turns, sitting down in a group, sharing etc. (Zeke is a little young to grasp this, but I still encourage him to sit down during the story like everyone else rather than standing up and holding onto me)
  • As well as teaching new social skills, it gives your bub a chance to practise them with the other children.
  • The art projects require hand-eye co-ordination, imagination and give them something to take home to show Daddy. (Or Mummy if Daddy takes them!)

Most libraries have some form of storytime for children, and it's free, easy and fun. Why not ask at yours and find out?

Some pictures from our most recent session:

Zeke playing with the bead frame shortly before going to say hi to the other babies


Exhausted in the pram after our walk home


His puppet monkey... note all the stickytape holding it together!


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