Friday, December 13, 2013

Reforming the Storytime Mob

Storytime Mob!

 At the end of storytime, I stamp the kids hands/arms. I hold a flannelboard flat on my lap and have the kids place their hand on the flat surface so I don't have to touch them as much (germy!). It's...very popular. I often feel like the cat in the above GIF. I hate it because it's chaotic--the kids knock over my stuff and step on it, they push and shove, and there's no time to acknowledge any of them because I have six other hands in my face. And, worst of all, sometimes the littlest storytimers get knocked over in the mob. So, I decided to try and reform them. Today was my first attempt, and it went surprisingly well! Here's what I did:

1. I bought blue masking tape, and put a line down the middle of the room from where I sit (here's a picture of my normal storytime set up).

Magic Blue Line!
2. Mid-storytime, (NOT at stamp time) I explained to parents that I wanted to begin teaching the concept of lining up since it's so useful for when they start school, and also because I've had little kids get knocked over by the stamp mob. I also said that I knew that this would be a process and it would take a while for all the kids to understand the concept, and that that was ok, we would practice and learn it together.

3. Then I got up, and demonstrated walking to the end of the line and following the line all the way to the front. Kids immediately started following me, so we went around a few times, emphasizing, "You start at the end of the line, and follow it all the way to the front--keep your feet on the blue line! That's how you line up."

4. Then I sat back down, and had the kid right in front of me stop, "Now you're all in a line!" Then I brought out my puppet and let each kid touch/hug the puppet and go sit back down. Kids who ran up to the front were gently told that they needed go to the beginning of the blue line--and most of them did!

5. Finally, at the end of storytime, I cut out our closing song (I'll add it back again eventually) since it's a trigger for the mob to surge forward. Instead, I just said, "Ok, now I need everybody to go to the end of the blue line and follow it all the way to the front" and when the first kid arrived at the front I said, "Great job lining up! Now you get a stamp!" I actually got to see every kids' face and say hello to them!

The adults were super responsive to this activity; many were actively involved with helping their kids wait/follow through. I think the adults liked having a concrete expectation to help them regulate their child's behavior, rather than just sending their kids with the mob.

I think once I have the majority of the kids under a routine, I can make the line go wherever I want or change directions--edges of the room etc, as long as it's always clear where it starts.

I only had about 50 people total in storytime today, so it helped a lot that it was a smaller number of kids than normal. But still, I think this will stick and in a few weeks I'll be able to say goodbye to the storytime stamp mob forever!


  1. Well done. Great to read a new post Ms. Anna :-)

  2. I love this idea, thanks for sharing!

  3. You are such a genius! Thank you for sharing the great idea.

  4. I had this problem with being mobbed by 45 kids at the end of every storytime.... even worse, in the middle of the chaos the parents would PICK THEIR KIDS UP AND HOLD THEM OVER THE REST OF THE GROUP asking me to give their kids stamps. I decided I was over it after couple years of this and now just put out baskets of stickers.

    The stickers can be a pain to cut and cost more than stamps, but I was not nearly as patient as you are with behavior. I instruct the kids to take one sticker and start blowing bubbles and the kids disperse enough between both activities that it's way more pleasant.


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