ECL Programming Ideas

Ideas from My Classmates and other Librarians I have known (which I simply must use when I start working as a storytime librarian)

From Kate Davis, my classmate and a library staff member at Valley Center Public Library in Valley Center, California

alphabet“A few minutes before storytime begins, even before kids come in, I sit on the floor with a tub of foam letters,” says Kate. “These letters are about six inches tall, primary colored with magnetic backs. As the kids filter in, I invite them to sit on the floor and play with the letters with me. It’s my chance to develop a rapport with the kids, allowing them to be imaginative with the letters, encouraging them to engage in storytime before anything official even happens.

“We talk about what the letters are, what sounds they make, what shapes they look like. When I say what the letter is, I have the kids repeat the sound of the letter and trace it with their finger. Sometimes, I mix it up a little though. For example, one day, a kiddo held up the letter W and asked me what it was. I said, “Oh, you found my antlers!” I held them to the top of my head and all the kids giggled and giggled and giggled. Now every week, we have to pretend that the W is really a set of antlers.

“Another of my favorite random letter activities is balancing these letters on our heads! It started out as a ‘look what I can do’ comment from a preschooler, but then we developed it into how many letters can we balance on our heads at a time. Hannah, a three year old, holds the record at 10 letters! Naturally, when they all come tumbling down, everyone laughs! The letters are also a great way to encourage the more reticent kids to participate. Even if one of them soundly refuses to come play, I’ll put a letter closer to them. Just because a child is hesitant doesn’t mean they don’t want to play! More often than not, that letter is in their hands within 30 seconds.

Getting down on the floor and spending 10 minutes playing with these sweet kids really goes a long way in encouraging them to participate at whatever level they are at. Some kids like to line up the letters to spell ‘words’, others search for the letter their name starts with, still others really prefer to use the letters as antlers. They are learning not only basic recognition and phonetic skills, but this letter play is also developing fine and gross motor skills, imaginative play and storytelling skills.”



t-rexFrom Patrick Remer, Library Branch Manager in Pleasant Hill, California and legendary storytime presenter:
I attended a storytime performance he did in Pleasant Hill where he used a loop pedal to record and then playback and add sounds. In this case, he had kids come up and add dinosaur sounds.

For example:
Child #1 comes up to the microphone and makes the deep rumbling of a brachiosaurus. The loop pedal plays it over and over again.

Child #2 makes the screeching noises of a teranadon into the microphone and the loop pedal now plays the deep rumbling brachiosaurus along with the screeching pteranodon. Both sounds are looped over and over again, one and then the other.

Child #3 makes the frightening roar of a tyrannosaurus rex into the microphone and it too is looped over and over with the rumbling brachiosaurus and the screeching pteranodon.

The result is the sound of a prehistoric jungle of roaming dinosaurs, as interpreted by preschoolers.

ABC image courtesy of the British Counsel, T.Rex courtesy of the