Wisconsin’s Insanely Awesome Guerrilla Storytime: Notes from the Field
WLA Guerrilla Storytime
More than 100 people showed up in the exhibit hall for our Wisconsin Library Association’s first Guerrilla Storytime event!
We started out by explaining that Guerrilla Storytime is not a presentation to watch, but a time for us to all learn from each other, and that it only works if everybody shares. We reassured people that it’s not a test, and that if they got a prompt they didn’t know or didn’t like they could pick again. There are no wrong answers and the goal is sharing, not putting people on the spot. Anna started the group out with the Watermelon Song to get everybody loosened up and ready to be silly.
What’s an idea for using STEAM in your storytime?
- Have kids count the books as you read them.
- Stack each book read, one on top another, and count them. Kids often want to see how high the tower can go and will ask to hear additional books and count higher!
- Make simple game sheets with stickers and have kids count the stickers they put on
What opening do you use for storytime?
- “The More We Get Together – then scramble the words and mix them up. Kids love to correct you.
- Hold up your hand, and chant one storytime child’s name touching each finger with the finger of your other hand starting from pinkie. After pointer, slide finger down to thumb – “Sally, Sally, Sally, Sally, Whoops, Sally!”. Do this for all the children at storytime.
- Pat your legs and chant “Let’s get ready for storytime” and then point to different body parts and add “ Open your eyes wide;” Turn your ears up high;” “Settle your bottom;” etc and finish with patting legs, “Now we’re ready for storytime!”
- My baby storytime name song is: Looking Through My Window
“Looking through my window, who do I see? I see ________________ looking at me” .I sing this as I pass around a “window” that I made of craft foam and each baby takes a turn looking through and after ever verse we all wave to the child and use their name to say welcome. Some kids are totally startled by the attention, but many come to adore it – and occasionally I have to struggle to get the window back. I have learned that once the song is over, I really need to put the window away – immediately. I will offer to take it back out after babytime is over, but usually I don’t need to.
Tips on thinking of special needs kids
- Sometimes a child on the spectrum responds to gentle pressure, a weighted blanket around them can help them sit.
- Put post it notes on the edge of pages so a child can grasp that to make the page turn, or use clothespins on board books
Parents won’t participate. What do you do?
- Use circle mats. Everyone picks up mats and is invited to come up front. Helps set expectation that kids and adults sit together.
- “I don’t give them an option. They have to participate!”
- Jim Gill
- Learning Station – has you tube videos so you can get the motion
- Watermelon Song- Sing to the tune of Frere Jacques – repeat verses a little faster each time:
Watermelon, watermelon (trace shape of slice with hands)
Papaya, papaya (trace shape of fruit with hands)
Banananananana (rock arms like holding baby and go lower)
Fruit salad, fruit salad (swing hips back and forth, squeak voice up on ‘fruit’)
- Banana chant – Everyone stands and does actions
Form the orange, form form the orange (hold hands like gripping softball
Peel the orange, peel peel the orange (big peeling motion)
Squeeze (?) the orange, squeeze squeeze the orange (hugging motion)
Form potato, form form potato (make real big circle with hands)
Peel potato, peel peel potato (big peeling motion)
Mash potato, mash mash potato (stamp hands and feet)
Form banana, form form banana (hands over head)
Peel banana, peel peel banana (take arms down)
Go bananas, go go bananas (do a go-go crazy dance!)
Fingerplays/songs using five?
- “Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree” in sign language – do last verse all in sign – helps to quiets kids https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HUgl1WCjJ8
- Five Rainbow Teddies Sitting on a Wall.
What do you do when kids aren’t feeling it?
- Do lots of wiggle and shake your sillies out action songs/fingerplays
- Have a big nylon bag with a with a prop/object inside. Slowly feel around – play a little with the kids ( puzzled face, wondering face, surprised face, smiling face as you feel around) before bringing it out with a flourish and then tell poem or story or song associated with the object.
- My bag song is simply sung to the tune of “here we go ’round the mullberry bush” and uses the words: “what do I have in my bag today, my bag today, my bag today, what do I have in my bag today? Let’s take a look and see” I will often just start singing the song during ‘squirmy’ times and after I am done singing, I will take some time to either give hints about what is in the bag, or even let kids feel the outside to try and guess what is inside. Usually it is something to do with the theme or with the letter of the day. Occasionally it is just something unrelated but fun, and that is okay, too.
Favorite storytime books?
- Press Here – Herve Tullet
- I’m Dirty – Kate McMullen
- Tap the Magic Tree – Christie Matheson
- do a flannel of Fall is Not Easy – Marty Kelley
How do you use scarves?
- Sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and use scarf to do actions (Play peek-a-boo; throw your scarf, etc)
- Popcorn song, to the tune of, “Are you Sleeping”
Popcorn kernels, popcorn kernels (wave scarves overhead)
In the pot. In the pot (wave scarves in big circle in front of you, like stirring)
(Pause here and tell kids to “hide” their scarves crumpled up in their fists)
Shake them shake them shake them
Shake them shake them shake them (shake vigorously)
‘Til they POP. ‘Til they POP (Throw scarf up into the air and catch it)
- Dramatic play–use during a construction vehicle storytime. Hold scarf behind head and bend forward for dump truck; stand up straight and let scarf fall behind. Use full arm and scooping motion for front end loader. Stand up straight with arm outstretched and scarf hanging down for crane; pivot body to set scarf in a different location. And so on!
How do you close your storytimes?
- Hap Palmer’s Goodbye Song
- Sing “Na Na song (na na na na,na na na na, hey hey good-bye) – Mr. Al does a great version
About 15-20 ninjas got up and shared ideas, songs and chants during the lively hour. And two, Monica LaVold and Ann Hardginski, even stepped up to coordinate guerrilla storytime at the next conference. And isn’t that what it’s really all about?These recap notes were compiled by Marge Loch-Wouters, Anna Haase Krueger, Sara Bryce, and possibly some additional outstanding guerrillas (whose names I will add here once they are identified).