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Preschool Storytime How-To

There are as many ways to do storytime as there are storytime practitioners.  It is important to find your own style, and adapt your program to the needs of the children in your community.  The following template includes some elements that are fun, useful, and developmentally appropriate.  Please adapt for your own needs!

A note on themes:  Themes can be a lot of fun, but make sure that your first priority is finding books, songs, rhymes and activities that are high quality, engaging and memorable.  It’s better to have a tried-and-true fingerplay than finding an obscure one that isn’t as good but fits your theme.

Greet participants as they enter

  • Consider having everyone make a nametag as a writing activity (you will have to read creatively to be able to tell what they say)
  • Learn everyone’s names–especially the children
  • It is fun to play music as people are entering the room–it’s welcoming and friendly, and it’s a good cue that you are ready to start when the music stops

Quick reminder of expectations 

  • Come up with 2-3 simple things and stick to them each week (unless you discover you need to add more!)
  • Don’t forget to remind parents that you want them to participate WITH their children for maximum benefit (rather than sit in back and do their own thing)
  • Some people come up with a song or have a puppet help them to make this more engaging

Hello song

  • Stays the same each week–at least for the whole storytime session, and maybe even longer
  • Sources for greeting songs


  • Some thoughts on choosing a storytime book
  • Read this one yourself
  • It works well to have your first book be a little longer/more challenging

Some kind of participatory thing

  • Finger play
  • Interactive flannel board (counting, or related to the story)
  • Participatory song


  • You could consider doing this one as a unison read, giving each caregiver/child pair the same board book
  • Unison reads are especially good for younger children and children who might have a hard time staying focused in storytime

Large motor activity

  • Dancing to music
  • Using beanbags
  • Parachutes
  • Scarves
  • Balance beams
  • Playing with balls to play together

Some kind of storytelling

  • Flannel story
  • Puppets
  • Props

Fingerplay or participatory song

One More Book

Goodbye song or rhyme

  • Stays the same each week
  • Sources for goodbye rhymes and songs


  • Art projects are a great way to engage kids and parents.  Be sure to include some process-based art projects, particularly for younger children.  You can do this every week, or just sometimes
  • STEM activities, like measuring, charting, or experimenting are great things to add in to regular storytimes.
  • Literacy tip–throw in one short, friendly literacy tip sometime during each storytime.  This is most effective if you put it in context (talk about rhyming after reading a rhyming book or doing a rhyming fingerplay, for instance).  Sample tips.
  • Put out a display of books, including parenting books, and encourage families to look at and check them out.
  • Be sensitive to the needs of the kids in your storytime.  Try to make your storytimes as inclusive as possible. (For more information see the Storytime Resources page).
  • Don’t be afraid to adapt storytime if it is an especially unruly day–you can rescue storytime!