This week, we’re bringing you another new voice. Allison is all about music and movement and this week she’s reminding of why singing is so fundamental. Hit it!
Allison has taught second grade, and travelled around the country with Clifford the Big Red Dog, but next to being a mom, she’s found her favorite job is as a Children’s Librarian. You can find her shaking her sillies out in story time or blowing something up in a school-age science program at Wallingford Public Library in Wallingford, CT.
I like to say that I get paid to make a fool of myself. Pop into any one of my story times and you’ll likely find me singing, dancing, reading, or doing all of these things with a puppet on my head.
I consider singing, and music in general, to be one of the most important components of my story time program. Why is singing so essential to story time?
First the facts. Singing breaks down words into smaller parts, so that children can hear the parts of each word. Clapping, stomping, shaking an instrument also helps get the beat. Try singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – “Twin-kle twin-kle lit-tle star, how I won-der what you are”. Can you hear all the little parts of each word? Singing nursery rhymes also introduces children to words they may not hear regularly, such as the word “trousers” in Diddle Diddle Dumpling My Son John or “crown” in Jack and Jill.
As noted Early Literacy Specialist Saroj Ghotig says, “Songs are a great way to play with and emphasize the sounds that start words and rhymes in words.”
Beyond all those great facts, the truth is that singing is just plain fun! You can shake your sillies out, march while banging on a drum, or roll the wheels on the bus. All of these songs and actions reinforce music and movement and show children that words are fun. Start your story time with an opening song and end it with a closing song and the children will be comforted with the repetition of the program. Songs, finger plays, and movement in preschool story times get the wiggles out between books and are a great way to reinforce a theme.
Are you nervous about singing in front of people or think that your voice isn’t ready for Broadway? Never fear! I assure you that the children could care less about how you sound, and the parents are just happy that you’re singing. Concentrate on the delighted faces of those children as you sing, and encourage caregivers to sing along and model what you do.
Not ready to go accapella just yet? There’s a whole host of music ideas available online. Check out blogs such as Song Catchers Library for inspiration, and Jbrary.com for wonderful songs (complete with YouTube demos!). Music is very subjective – what may thrill you may make another librarian’s stomach turn. You have to pick what you love and make it your own.
Singing is indeed magical. Take this example that happened recently at our library. There was a long line at the self-checkout station and the children were fidgeting and crying in distress. When a librarian walked over to the children and started to sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider, suddenly all grumbling stopped and the children were mesmerized. Singing can do just that, so give it a try!