Getting Too Big for our 'Britches'
In response to Miss Courtney's question about the size of a Laptime...
(thanks for asking - it's been an issue we have had to deal with for years at the OPL)
First: What exactly is a Laptime?
'Laptimes', are short 15-20 minute story times for infants and babies that employ finger plays, songs, puppets, stories and sometimes a book or two.
At the Orem Library a small Laptime will be 30-40 participants
A large Laptime will be 75-85.
... all set for Laptime
...a small Laptime
Over the years we have learned, through trial and error, what works for us.
These are my notes:
As our audiences grew we had to decide if we were going to either limit the attendance or make it work for as many people as showed up. We chose no limits.
We tried doing 2 Laptimes, back to back. That worked for making smaller sessions, but it led to burn out for the staff and the storytellers.
Then we decided to make the space bigger. Several times over the years we have had to move shelf units to create a bigger area.
We also experimented with where the storyteller sits - do you have a WIDE front area (lots of front row space) or a DEEP area. Currently we have a wide orientation. I think it fits fewer participants, but the experience is better for more kids.
Behind all our maneuvering and adjustments, we've just been trying to follow our ideaology of providing the best programs in the best format. We want everyone to have a great time and we do not want to turn people away.
A few things that help to create a better Laptime experience:
My ideal expectation is to have every child on a parent's lap.
This is a somewhat unreal expectation in our area - where children outnumber adults. If I am the storyteller, I'll gently ask an older sibling to assist me with some of the tickle songs or you can also have these kids help by holding a puppet or standing up front to do the finger actions to a well-known fingerplay. This keeps the kids entertained and involved.
I also expect parents to take crying or disruptive babies out.
I like to do a little introduction before the start of Laptime. I like to introduce our storyeller and have everyone come in closer to the front, or, I like to let them know that it's fine to stay in the back if they have a particularly wiggle-filled little one that day. Parents sometimes feel that it's not polite to get up and leave in the middle of a program, it helps if you give them permission. We also try to have a Librarian standing by that assists with this (and the counting of attendees). Easier said than done I might add.
I like to think of our storytellers as being the enablers, the catalyst or just the leader that introduces the songs, books and fingerplays to the parents and that the REAL Laptime occurs on a daily basis, one on one between parent and child.
As far as I'm concerned; REAL Laptimes are done face to face, spur of the moment and at any given moment.
One of my fondest memories is of me laying on my back, still in bed, lifting my infant daughter up and down (and only half-way up) while singing 'The Grand Old Duke of York' and hearing her first giggle.
If you still have questions, or you would like to print out my whole Laptime 'spiel' (yes, it's a bit longer but it has a lot more information than this post) just follow this Books and Babies link