Offline Professional Development: Top 40 List

Hi team! I added a note to the intro post giving you permission to take your time with these exercises. Don’t feel like you need to keep up with these daily posts! Dig in & go slow.

Today’s exercise: Top 40 List

Why? This is another project to help us to step out of the constant scramble of building daily/weekly/monthly storytime plans and give us a little perspective on our process and our practice, and make space for intentional change.

The Top 40 List is an optional task I gave myself and my team a couple of years ago. My instructions:

Think of your FAVORITE storytime songs, rhymes, fingerplays, action rhymes, flannelboards. Any activity that is NOT a book can go on this list.

By “favorite” I do not necessarily mean the things you do most often. (I sang a welcome song every Monday morning for 10 YEARS STRAIGHT and while I appreciated the continuity and my babies loved it, it did *not* make my own Top 40 list, ha. But I did include a flannelboard I only do once or twice a year!)

What activities do you simply love to do as a storytime leader? What things make you go, “Oooh, yay!” when you realize you can fit them in to a plan? There are lots of reasons why certain storytime content might rise to the top of your list. Maybe because they always seem to prompt participation? Or because everyone knows them and they focus your group dynamics and attention? Or because it makes you feel good to sing the tune or do the movements? Or because the grownups report that their kids love it and they do it at home?

Why 40? Because I am child of the 70s and Top 40 radio used to be a thing, my dears. Also because 40 is a lot! I wanted us to get past the our “greatest hits” and dig a little deeper into our B sides. On the flip side (OK no more antique music metaphors), I encourage you to see what happens if you ONLY list 40! Some of my team really couldn’t do this without splitting their list into babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. While that’s an interesting exercise too, I’m curious about what makes the cut when we force ourselves to an arbitrary limit.

That’s kind of it for right now. I’m going to invite you to refer to this list during future exercises, but if you’re like me, it will take a while to compile.

Bonus: Tell me if any of your regular weekly songs don’t make your list either!

Keep Going: After you make an overall Top 40, yes, you can go back and do separate lists for different storytime populations. 🙂 Or compare your list to your colleagues’ lists, either at your library or on Twitter or social media. What do you have in common? What’s different?

Apply your learning: I have suggestions for how to think about this list on the way. For now, if you want to do more, make notes on your list as to what categories the items fall into: age groups, motor activities, flannelboards, songs, things you need props with, theme connections and so forth.

Shout out: to Amy who did this for herself for babies/toddlers and preschoolers after I tweeted about it!

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