Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What-to-Do Wednesdays: Baby Storytime

I'm tempted this week to list, for What-to-Do Wednesday, things like: drive 25 minutes one-way to a decrepit little small-town mall, so the girls can climb on and off those retro coin-operated rides (without actually putting any money in them, of course) and walk into the pet store to gawk at the parakeets, just because you can't think of anything better to do. Or, suggest multiple creative activities only to have each one sulkily rejected by your preschooler. Or even, curse all your boring ideas and wish for real spring, with temperatures around 70 and no need for jackets.

Because that's about all we've been doing around here today.

However, it occurs to me to suggest an oldie but goodie, instead. I know, I know: storytime? Not exactly brilliantly original, right? Who doesn't read stories to their kids? Yeah, yeah. But allow me to elaborate.

In both places we've lived since Julia was born, there have been great free "Baby Storytimes" in town; first, at The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul (across the river from our house in Minneapolis), and now, at our town's public library. The Red Balloon's is my gold standard; it included not just stories (by a very talented children's singer and storyteller), but also puppets, singing, finger games, rhymes, musical instruments, and even acknowledgment of the first birthdays of any babies in attendance who happened to be celebrating such a milestone that particular week. As you might expect, this storytime was a huge hit, known far and wide amongst parents across the city, and always jam-packed. Our current local library's Baby Storytime is a far less extravagant offering, but it's still fun, social, and great enrichment for Genevieve now, and Julia before her.

Before Julia started nursery school, I used to bring both of them to the library's Baby Storytime, because older siblings are always welcome, and Julia loved "helping" the babies and following along. Thus, we started a little home version of Baby Storytime at some point (sometimes referred to by Julia as, sweetly, "Songs and Stories With Genevieve"). Mimicking the best of our Baby Storytime experiences, we include plenty of songs, nursery rhymes, musical-instrument-playing, and action games like "Ring Around the Rosie," interspersed amongst a selection of baby board books and longer stories.

On our best days, Baby Storytime can run a good 20 minutes. Who knows, maybe you can get a whole half hour out of it! You could even pick a theme for each time, picking books and songs that converge on one idea: seasons? flowers? farm animals?

Good luck, and may the force of the best children's librarians everywhere be with you.


Mnmom said...

How about play-do? I have a great homemade recipe that got me through many shut-in days. Then again, the younger one might eat it. It won't hurt her but would ruin the whole purpose of making the play-do.
This also sounds crazy but some days I was just driven to madness: I would pour popcorn kernels into bowls, pans, etc , gave them scoops, spoons, etc and let them have at it. It all comes up in the vac.

Shan said...

Yeah! We do play-doh too....though right now we've got a ton of store-bought and I haven't made any at home for awhile (the making itself is a good activity too, though of course an adult has to do the cooking part). Play-doh is pretty good at our house, although Genevieve gets really frustrated because she isn't skilled enough yet to do things like roll it into balls, flatten it, or use the cookie cutters successfully by herself. But I do enjoy getting it out for them--all those great colors!

Popcorn kernels is a great idea! We don't have any at home right now but maybe I'll get some. Madness, maybe....but anything that keeps them occupied for more than thirty seconds gets my approval. Thanks for the idea!