Begin storytime with a song
Instead of announcing storytime with, ‘It’s storytime’, start with a song. It will become your theme song that tells everyone that it’s time for a story. Choose something simple and easy to join in with. Familiar tunes with your own words are great. Once you have your song stick with it. Young children like the familiar.
Practice what you are going to say
Tell your story to yourself. Practice it. Practice using any puppets or props. Get a feel for how it sounds. Don’t aim for knowing it word for word – you want to know how the story goes and be so comfortable with it that the telling is fresh and spontaneous when you tell it to toddlers. Practice will help you to know how well you know the story and how long it will be. Learn your opening sentence, know how you are going to finish – let the rest of the story flow.
Know how you are going to begin
Facing an audience can be nerve wracking. To avoid going blank be really sure of your opening sentence. Learn it. Write it down and have a last minute look at it just before you begin. Some ideas – ‘There was once a…’ ‘A long time ago…’ Say hello to..(name of puppet/doll taken from a storybag)’ or ‘One day there was…’
It’s better to get straight on with story rather than spend time on an ice breaker style question. Toddlers need a short, to the point story. So, just jump right in with the narrative.
Make yourself heard
There’s no need to shout a story at people but they do need to be able to hear you tell the story. Be close enough to your audience so that they can hear you. If you can, use a PA system. A mic will enable everyone to hear you even if you are talking quietly. If you use a headset mic your hands are free for adding actions to the story or using props and puppets.
Make sure everyone can see you
It’s much easier to listen to the story when you can see the storyteller. Think about where the chairs are placed. If everyone is sitting on the floor kneel or sit on a low chair when you tell the story. You want to be a little higher than the audience so that you can be seen by everyone. If you are using props or puppets make sure they are visible to the whole group.