The idea was to start a story hour for the ankle biters while their older siblings are in Home School PE. We always have a bunch of little ones toddling around in Tuesdays and Thursdays, and as a storyteller, that seemed like a wasted opportunity for telling. So we put up a sign.
We had the first session today. At 1 pm I had one mother, one little girl, and no room to tell in (the usual place was taken up by a meeting). After some running and searching we found an empty activity room with chairs, but we decided to wait in the lobby until the other preschoolers showed up. In the meantime the little girl and I sat on a couch and she confided in me that she really liked princesses and love stories, so I told her the tale of the Queen who longed for snow. She was shy at first - kids always are when you tell to them one on one - but she smiled through her hands, and we had a nice little chat about snow, and flowers, and sweets. By the time the story ended the other families arrived, and we all marched down to the performing arts room, two mothers and five kids, for some more story time. It was four little girls, all about the same age, and one baby boy, sitting on his mother's lap very quietly, following all my gestures with great big eyes.
I concluded that five plus two is an ideal number for preschool storytelling. For one, the parents being there and listening just as intently as the kids makes an enormous difference. I wish that happened more often with storytelling sessions. The girls were very eager to copy whatever I was doing with my hands, and repeat the repetitive parts after me, so we had a nice little time telling La Noche del Tatu and the Squeaky Door together. The first time is always a calibration process: I learn the level of my little audience, and they learn my accent. For this group, it went really well. I am looking forward to next week.