What I’ve Learned about Toddlers

Last week I had the pleasure of being observed during toddler story time by a new staff member.  We had a wonderful time together!  I couldn’t help but reflect on all the things I’ve learned this last year that have made my toddler story times run so much more smoothly… so rather than working on my real homework, I thought I’d share my experiences with you.

Seven Random Tips for Toddler Storytime (From a Still Learning Rookie):

  1. Make parents/caregivers your allies.  Lay out expectations for participation right from the get-go!  If kiddos are super wiggly, ask them to grab a grown-up and sit in a lap.  Have them hold onto shakers until it’s time to sing and dance with their littles.  It’s okay to say, “You are your child’s first and best teacher, so we ask that you participate with us and model for your children during story time today.”  Consider displaying posters with visual cues!
  2. Keep it short, simple and sweet.  This goes for books and activities in general!  Make time for plenty of movement and interaction.
  3. Seriously… the texts you select will make or break your toddler storytime.  Some of my favorite authors include Sandra Boynton, Nancy Tafuri, Denise Fleming, Emily Gravett, Steve Light, Marie Torres Cimarusti and Jan Thomas.  Look for books with lots of repetition and fun noises.  The CLEL Bell Awards for Sing and Play have always gone well with my toddler crowd.
  4. Shake, shimmy and groove!  Maybe it’s just my crowd, but my toddlers seem to prefer shakers to scarves, so we hop around to a lot of shaker songs… and songs that aren’t specifically for shakers.  Really, you can make anything a shaker song if you try.
  5. Make flannels fun and interactive.  I discovered early on that most toddlers won’t sit still while you sing about 10 elephants in the bathtub… nor should they have to!  Share flannels that everyone can engage with, such as this Mitten Matching game.
  6. Wear a hat.  I kid you not!  What started off as a silly one-time thing has now turned into a ritual with my kiddos.  I usually wear a theme-related hat to storytime, but any old hat will do.  At some point during our welcome song it falls off my head and I pretend I can’t find it.  Gets them giggling and having a good time right away.  🙂
  7. Lastly… BE PREPARED!  Maybe it’s a day where you’ll have to sing and dance more than read, and that’s okay too.  Being flexible is the biggest key to having a fun toddler storytime for all!


What are your favorite tricks of the trade when it comes to toddlers?  Please share!

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