How We Went From Lapsit to Baby & Me

In the Fall of 2014 we made some changes to our baby storytime. Previously the program had been called Lapsit and it was held once a month. The program was for babies and toddlers from birth to 24 months. And no one was coming. I would generally only have 1-3 babies but I knew from talking to parents who came into the library that there was an audience for this type of program. Something had to change.

I took a good long look at how we were doing things. I ended up making only two changes. I changed the name of the program from Lapsit to Baby & Me. In our community no one knew what the word lapsit meant. It was library jargon. But Baby & Me makes it clear that it is a class for babies and caregivers and it sounds inviting and fun. The second change is that we went from monthly to weekly for 6-8 week sessions.

Now here we are, a year and a half later, and attendance at Baby & Me is through the roof! During the latest session we reached our room capacity almost every week. We are going to need a bigger room!

giphy

I think other libraries have noticed a similar trend. Our Preschool Storytime numbers seem to be dropping as more and more kids this age are in preschool or daycare. But there are a lot of caregivers looking for things to do outside the house with infants and one-year olds. I now know this from personal experience. Trust me, when you have a small baby you can go stir-crazy pretty quickly at home and there are limited things babies can do. Baby & Me is one of them, and of course parents love that its free too!

Stay tuned for an outline of how I plan Baby & Me and some examples of storytime plans. I have introduced lots of new props and activities with my Baby & Me crowd and I can’t wait to share them with you.

 

Favorite Books: Baby Storytime Edition

These are some books I’m loving right now for the under twos. I use them in my baby storytimes again and again.

Selecting books to read aloud for this age group is a challenge. A lot of our favorite toddler books are just a bit too long or too complex for infants and one-year-olds. I get a mix in my storytimes from the occasional newborns up to very active walkers, so I do target my books more towards the older babies to capture their attention.There are many board books that I also love, and while I use them occasionally and recommend my favorites to parents, I try to stick to the picture book format during storytime for easier viewing.

Plot is not the main thing when picking books for this group, in fact, with the possible exception of Baby Danced the Polka, none of these books have any plot at all. They are simple, repetitious books about every day events that babies can recognize from their lives.  Illustrations are simple and clean and in bright primary colors. I Like it When… is especially exemplary in this way.

Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont. A charming, romping, rhyming story of a little one who does not want to go to bed. I absolutely LOVE a book with a good rhythm, and this one is just begging to be read aloud.

The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell. A day in the life of a toddler, complete with fun sound effects on every page as the “baby goes yum, yum, yum” eating lunch or “the baby goes splash, splash, splash” while taking a bath. I love the level of interaction the sound effects bring and parents often join in.

Hello Day! by Anita Lobel. This one has the feel of a classic and is just perfect for an animal sound theme. I quite love the cheerful watercolor and marker illustrations. It is a quiet book compared to some I use, so it also adds balance that way.

I Like it When… by Mary Murphy. I like to read this one around Valentine’s Day because it is a very sweet tale of a little penguin and her parent and the things they like to do together. It’s sentimental but in a fresh and non-saccharine way. And I can’t say enough good about the illustrations

Toddlerobics by Zita Newcome. This one’s perfect for your very active one-year-olds. It is not a sit still and listen book, it is a get up and move book! The actions are lots of fun, and the pictures show a very cute group of toddlers having a blast moving around.

Please share your favorite books for baby storytime! I would love to hear what books you read to your under two lapsits.

February Lapsit

This month my storytime babies were on the older end. I had twos and almost twos, plus one big brother who I was happy to use as a helper! Looking back, I reused a lot of the same songs as my Teddy Bear lapsit in December, but they were all great songs so it never hurts to repeat!

Opening Song: “Hello Everybody” 

Hello everybody, and how are you?
How are you? How are you?
Hello everybody, and how are you?
How are you today? 

We repeat this song using each child’s name to welcome them to baby storytime. I love the way hearing their name grabs their attention and makes them feel welcome. It really helps me learn their names too!

Bubbles and Music: “Teddy Bear Hug” by Raffi 

I would like to get to where I don’t use recorded music at all, but I’m not there yet. For dancing and blowing bubbles, nothing is easier than popping in a tried and true CD.

Fingerplay: Open Them Shut Them

Read: Uh-Oh! by Rachel Isadora 

This book has lovely illustrations of an African American child making messes and trying to be independent throughout the day. I always thing this book is sweet and charming, but when I am reading it in front of parents, I start feeling a little awkward about the message it sends, especially for older toddlers. I can just imagine what is going through the parents’ minds – don’t give my child any ideas about making messes! But it so accurately depicts life with little ones at this age that I think I’ll keep using it.

Sing: Skinnamarink 

Sing (with ukulele!): Mary Had a Little Lamb

Okay, so this was my debut performance on the ukulele. I had been practicing for about 3 weeks, but a combination of many things meant I didn’t get as much practice time as I would have liked. Mary Had a Little Lamb went surprisingly well. I had the children hold up flannel board pieces of lambs I pulled together from various sets to get them involved in the song. They really enjoyed that.

Read: I Like it When… by Mary Murphy

This book is pitch perfect for its bold black, red, and primary color illustrations and depictions of daily interactions between a parent and child. It helps that they are penguins too. Kids love penguins!

Sing (with ukulele!): If You’re Happy and You Know It

This song was more of a fail. I couldn’t transition to the different chords quickly enough and it quickly fell apart. The parents kept singing along and I just laughed and said, “I think this one needs a little more practice!” And that was the moment I decided to take the ukulele home to get more practice time.

Dancing with Rainbows Ribbons

These toddlers sure loved dancing! And it sure helped that the parents got into it too! We danced to a couple songs and the kiddos still wanted more!

Goodbye Song

Clap, clap, clap your hands
Clap your hands together.
Clap, clap, clap your hands
Clap your hands together. 

La la la la la la la, la la la la la….

Wave, wave, wave goodbye.
Wave goodbye together.
Wave, wave, wave goodbye.
Wave goodbye together

La la la la la la la, la la la la la….

Teddy Bears Lapsit

I did this Teddy Bear Lapsit twice in December. The first time at Main I was able to pull in several families that were in the library looking at books. The second time was at one of our branches and we had a four month old. It has been a while since I had a tot that young at Lapsit, so we adjusted accordingly.

Opening Song: “Hello Everybody”

I love to see the responses the little ones have to hearing their name sung. They perk up and pay attention right away. It is adorable. 

Bubbles and Music – “Teddy Bear Song” by Raffi 

A grandma once commented we should do bubbles at the end because babies hate to put them away. But for now I’m keeping them at the beginning because it is a great way to welcome families into the room and get babies and caregivers to interact, especially those that may feel a little uncomfortable about being in a new situation.

Fingerplay: Open Them, Shut Them 

Read: Baby Bear, Baby Bear by Bill Martin

My library is across the street from the courthouse so we often get parents in the Children’s Room who are trying to keep their kiddos entertained while the other parent or relative is in court. I think this is great because we have a whole audience of people who would not normally come into the library and we get to show them how great it is and hopefully they come back! When a parent said to a child during this program, “Look at the book. She’s reading it to you. It’s like TV.” I knew my reading this book was likely one of this child’s first exposures to books and I was so glad she was there. 

Sing: Skinamirink

I love singing this song with kids of all ages. It always gets a smile. And a great early literacy tie-in with how singing helps children learn by playing with sounds and made-up words. 

Literacy Tip: Talk

Rhyme: Teddy Bear Teddy Bear (action rhyme)

We skipped this one when my audience was babes in arms. But I have to say I love Annie Kubler’s board books with rhymes and fingerplays for toddlers. 

Read: Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough

This is a little long for such a young audience, but so rewarding at the end. I skipped ahead a bit because attention was waning. 

Rhyme: Here We Go Up, Up, Up

Here we go up-up-up (lift baby up)

Here we go down-down-down (lower baby)

And here we go back-and-forth

and back-and-forth (rock baby)

And here we go around and

around and around (turn around)

Music and Movement: Dancing with Rainbow Ribbons 

My co-worker made these fantastic rainbow ribbons with colored ribbons and some large rings just the right size for a child’s hand. 

Closing Song:Wave Goodbye

Activity: Color Mixing Bags! 

I mixed primary colors in gallon-size ziploc bags and taped them up to our glass wall in the storytime room. They are young for a discussion of color mixing but not too young to have a grand old time playing with colors and the squishy texture of the paint in the bag. And huge plus, no mess afterwards. 

Crafts for babies?

This summer I read a fantastic article in School Library Journal titled, “Read, Play, Grow!” It really inspired me and so I made a change in how I offered my Lapsit program for babies 0-24 months.

For my summer Lapsit in July, after all the circle time activities, I pulled out this surprise:

crinkle paper

I told the little toddlers go at it! They had so much fun throwing the bright green and orange paper. Throwing it in the sky, dumping it on the floor, raining it down on their heads, they loved it. I encouraged parents to talk with their children about the texture and colors and narrate what they were doing together. It was such a joyous experience and there were smiles all around. It really helps if you are willing to allow the little ones to make a mess. I promise, the parents will love you for it!

Play is how children at this age learn.  They are checking out the world around them and learning by sensory exploration. Parents often struggle with making time for play, or not knowing how to play with children this young. It can feel awkward to get down on the floor and tumble blocks again and again with a toddler. But it really takes no skill, just a willingness to be a little silly and talk and explore with your child. Plus, it’s lots of fun!

I really wanted to emphasize to the caregivers that it doesn’t require expensive toys or equipment to learn through play, or to have fun. Many everyday household items can be turned into something to play with and explore. The fantastic green and orange crinkle paper above, for example, is simply packing paper from Mango, a langauge learning database my library subscribes to. Someone in another department opened that box and thought, “The children’s department could find something to do with that!” It only requires that kind of creative thinking to find imaginative ways to play at home as well.

In September, I contact paperwent a little more ambitious and tried a craft. Once again, these parents were impressed. Most had never thought of trying a craft with children this young, but all the children were able to participate in some way.

We just put out the contact paper, dumped out buckets of feathers, pom poms, ribbons, and other fun textured items, and let the little ones select whatever they want to stick to their sheets. They loved it! Sensory exploration is so much fun!

Lapsit, or joyous fun with babies

Lapsit is one of my favorite, favorite parts of this job. I get to be in a room full of smiling babies and caregivers and we always have so much fun singing, reading, dancing, and playing. We have Lapsit at my library once a month for 0-24 month olds. There can be a wide variation in ages and abilities, from true infant lapsiters all the way up to busy walkers. Lately we’ve had mostly walkers attending, which has made it a little easier, but I want to make sure parents know babies are welcome starting from birth.

I have been doing this program for a year now, and this fall I am finally feeling like I have it down. I have a pretty set schedule I use each month, and I repeat many of the same songs and rhymes. Almost everything I do in lapsit I learned from the talented Mary Frasier during my internship at the Monroe County Public Library. The links below are Mary herself singing the opening and closing songs I borrowed from her! I have also learned a ton from the amazing Melissa at Mel’s Desk. She knows so much about baby storytime! So here it is, my plan for a typical lapsit.

Opening Song: Hello Everybody

Bubbles and Music

Read a Book

Open Them, Shut Them (my own variation)

Song/Flannel Board

Fingerplay or Rhyme

Read a Second Book

Dancing (with scarves, bells, shakers, etc.)

Goodbye Song: Clap Your Hands

Craft or Play Time

I read two books, which sometimes I shorten, we always sing the same opening song, closing song, and do Open Them, Shut Them somewhere in the middle. We always blow bubbles to music at the beginning and dance to music at the end. In the middle I mix it up with different bouncing rhymes, songs, flannel boards, or nursery rhymes.

So there it is! Lapsit lasts about twenty minutes, after which parents usually stay around and chat. I have just started adding a more structured play or baby craft portion at the end which has been very successful. I’m getting better at squeezing those important literacy tips for the parents in as well. I’ll be sharing more specific plans for my lapsits in the next few weeks. How do you structure your lapsits? Any tricks or tips for us?