Well, I’ve just finished my first round of StoryTech.
Actually, as of right now, I don’t have any other scheduled, but I’m sure we’ll do more in the future.
How was it?
It certainly had its highs a lows. There were aspects that I really enjoyed about it and others that were awkward or didn’t work as well as I’d like them to or things I’d change for next time.
For example, I don’t sing or dance, it just is not my thing; because of that, I don’t often incorporate songs into my storytimes and I feel both kinda guilty and a little embarrassed.
I have tried to incorporate them in ways other than me singing or dancing by using a laptop or iPad or playing songs on the boombox, but it just hasn’t gone over very well and the kids don’t seem terribly engaged.
With StoryTech, however, I feel like the kids are much more engaged because they have something they can both listen to as well as look at that isn’t my awkward face trying to figure out how to mouth the words so it looks like I’m singing along without actually making noise. hah. Youtube and the app store have so many things that work really well for storytime when they’re projected onto a big screen and one of those things is songs. We’ve done the itsy bitsy spider, old macdonald, the works!
One thing I noticed about my experience with this is that it doesn’t work for every kid. Many kids seemed more engaged and willing to participate, others seemed to become more unruly and hard to keep focused, while still others seemed to disconnect and not enjoy the experience as much.
Traditional storytime is the same, it won’t appeal to every child, but it’s very interesting to see just how differently they can all be affected.
Now even though this was a “tech” version of storytime, I didn’t want to read entirely from the iPad for multiple reasons:
1. I didn’t want to eliminate “real” books from storytime.
2. I wanted to keep the apps I used and listed for parents to go home and try as free apps which limits selection.
3. I feel slightly awkward sitting there while the story reads itself on screen and didn’t feel comfortable spending a while 30-45 minutes letting the tablet do my job for me.
With many of the book apps, I’m able to either control the advancement of the pages which gives me a chance to ask questions and interact, but not with all of them which means I just kinda press go and sit back while it runs itself while I try to look participatory or ….something.
One other interesting thing I’ve noticed about StoryTech versus Storytime is that for both events I often pick out 4-6 books to read and 2-4 extension activities like active rhymes or flannel boards; I know I’ll only have time for half that but I like to have a variety of styles and pacing and moods in case we have a very active crowd that can’t sit through a long and quiet book or vise versa, or one of the apps doesn’t work right (mr fox and mr rabbit book simply WOULD NOT display properly and was always sideways through the projector) and so on.
Well, with storytime I find that the kids almost never shout out things like “I WANNA READ THE PURPLE BOOK!” or “DO THE CHICKEN RHYME!” because a pile of books and papers is a lot less attention grabbing than a screen full of bright pictures of iPad apps.
My organization style for regular storytimes often involves me picking the order of the books and then putting them on the table next to my chair in that order with printouts of the rhymes and flannel boards shuffled in between the books in the order I want them. It’s certainly not set in stone, but it gives me a comfortable outline.
My style for StoryTech has been similar; pick out my apps and put them in order in a group and have that group loaded on the screen titled at the top with our theme so that the kids will look at our books and apps and not all the other random apps and menus on the iPad
….but it’s seeming like I might need to start having two groups, one for my plan a and then a second separate group that isn’t shown on the screen with my backup apps because I find that I spend lots of time fielding “CAN WE DO THE CHICKEN BOOK?!” questions and promising that I’ll read as many as I can but we might not get to (insert brightly colored attention grabbing app name here).
Like I mentioned earlier, the tech seems to really bring some kids alive which is great, but I find myself walking a very fine line of active participants and overly exuberant distractions.
I also noticed that while I was afraid that there might be some push-back from anti-tech or tech fatigued parents who might think that the tech aspect was a bit of a cop out or not what they wanted from a library (like I have mentioned before, there are still some very hostile pockets of tech opponents) I found that I got lots of good feedback from the adults present in the form of thank yous, or “we had lots of fun today” or “tell me more about ____” and more; if there have been any parents that didn’t like it, I sure haven’t heard it.
I think the app world is daunting, especially for finding kid appropriate apps, and I like to think that I’m helping them dip their toes in or hold their hands a little while they begin their exploration of it all. Obviously the apps I use are by no means the only good ones out there and there are often many great apps I find but don’t use because they wouldn’t translate well for a large group, but they’re a great introduction and I often put out a list other “suggested apps and activities for home” along with the outline and activities wee used.
So all in all, I’ve really enjoyed my StoryTech experience, it’s certainly very different from a typical “old fashioned” storytime and can often be more difficult to plan, but I like them and hope to continue them!
Without further ado, here are the outlines with all the information on the apps I used, stories we read, and videos we watched. I also have all the extension activities we did listed below as well, those will work great with any kind of storytime.
Have any of you had experience bringing tech into storytime or doing a tech based storytime?
What were your experiences?
…now to catch up on all my other regular storytime posts! 😉