I'm an aunt to a crazy monkey of a 4 year-old, and my lucky sister gets to stay home with him all summer. So, while talking on the phone the other day, she was telling me that would like to keep a routine for both of their sakes. My nephew thrives with structure and my sis is a preschool teacher, so it's an easy match.
Here are my tips for a great summer story time.
1. Pick a theme. Since my sis, Kim, is a teacher, I imagine she will do a week of units, we discussed Nursery Rhymes since children get so little of that anymore, so they'll cover a different nursery rhyme everyday. But if you are doing a story time with a craft, then pick a simpler theme, like Cows, Trains, or even easier-all books that rhyme. I find a theme gives my story time more focus and helps me come up with better crafts.
2. CRAFTS! Children need to create and they need to see their artwork on the fridge. Crafts don't have to be expensive, or look like anything, the pure act of creation is enough for a child. Especially those overachieving children. I had several story time kids that wanted their project to look exactly like my example, and that's not the point. Had I known that would have happened, I'd have messed up my examples more. So, keep a scrap box for spare ribbon, buttons, cardboard, those little plastic containers that blueberries come in, and just let your child glue, cut, and color to their little hearts content.
3. Books. This should be number one, I suppose, but I mean pick out books that are developmentally appropriate for your child. That's going to mean some trial and error. If you four year-old is not digging a long picture book like Library Lion, put it down and move on. If you two year-old wants nothing but Sandra Boyton board books, that's okay. If you give them a variety of books, they'll let you know what they want. Also, if you have a child with a short attention span, try the easy reader section. These books are meant to be read by a beginning reader, so they are very short and not over stimulating. For antsy kids, these are the perfect read alouds. My favorites are the Elephant and Piggie Series by Mo Willems and the Otto series by David Milgram.
4. Rhymes and songs. Be silly and get ready to dance. Songs help children learn rhyming patterns, a skill which seems to be getting lost in schools. And the rhymes do not have to be sophisticated, just make something up! Or, search the web. Everything Preschool has a lot of great rhymes and songs to get you started, and your library will also have children's music CDs to borrow too! (Yes libraries have more than books-just stay away from those DVDs, okay?)
Need more inspiration? Over the next couple days I'll be posting my old story times, complete with book selections, rhymes, songs, and a craft idea. If you want some advice before then, just email me! I'm available to give book recommendations or any story time help at firstname.lastname@example.org