Early literacy is a big part of what we do in story times. We use it in every story, every song, every activity, etc. Having early literacy components in and around your story time room is also important, because the children will see them before and after story time. It will also give the parents ideas to take home. Below are some of the things that we do:
We use nametags for all of our programs. We make ours ahead of time and use them for an entire story time session (4-6 weeks). Since we register for all of our programs, we have that list of names. If you are a drop in story time, use peel-and-stick labels, such as Avery address labels.
Nametags are important because children's names are one of the first words that they know. With a nametag, they can see their name spelled out and will learn that letters have meaning. It is also important for you to have a nametag because your name will most likely look different than their name. This way they can see that different names have different sounds. It is fun to compare nametags. You can ask them what their nametag says.
Where do your kids sit? Our story time is in a large meeting room so a smaller carpet helps to give the children visual boundaries. We found this great carpet through Demco and asked our Friends of the Library to purchase it for us. I like it because with each letter, there is a picture, such as C and cat. This reinforces the letter sound. We have the matching carpet squares so kids can play a game, kind of like Memory, where they match the carpet square to the carpet. You can have the kids follow the alphabet (find the "a" square, then find the "b" square). You can also have them pick out the letters in their name.
What in your room is labeled? While you don't have to label everything, why not label the things that you use? All of our props are in labeled boxes. While the kids who attend our story times don't read yet, the labels show that words have meaning.
Can the kids see your books ahead of time? Do you have a sign that gives your theme? When we are ready to start I like to ask the kids what they think that the theme is, especially if I have a book with a really good picture on the front. Today I held up Ten Tiny Babies by Karen Katz. Can you guess the theme? It was babies. Once again, the pictures on the book give meaning to the words.