Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sick Days

They happen at least once a year and unfortunately you can't schedule them.  Mine tend to come the first week of summer reading or right in the middle of a story time session (you know, those times when you can't take off).  What do you do when you get sick?  How can you run a program with no voice?  Here are a couple of tricks and tips to minimize the damage.

1.  Have a back-up plan.  Do you have a story time plan written out in case you can't be in the building (the flu does hit all of us and never on convenient days)?  Here are two samples of what I have put together for my Music and Movement story time and my 2 Year Old Story Time.  My boss and my colleague both know where these are located and can pull them out.  They both know where all of my materials are located.  While neither of them want to do my story times, they can in a pinch.

2.  Have a secondary back-up plan.  I know that this sounds funny, but some days, you can't afford the extra staff to run a program if you are already out sick.  In this case, I have a staff member pull out a disc of my Lisa's Dance Party songs, put it in the cd player, and just push the play button at the beginning of story time.  While this isn't my favorite thing to do, I like it better than cancelling a program.  After all, parents put forth a lot of effort to make it to the library.  We want to give them the best experience possible on a given day.

3.   When you run 28 weeks of story time a year, chances are good that you will lose your voice at some time.  This happens to me at least 4 times a year.  When this happens to me, here's what helps me to put together a program:
  • First, explain to the parents what is going on.  Really, it is obvious (after all, if you have no voice, you really can't talk).  You will find that they are really supportive in these instances and will take some of the burden of the program off of you.  After all, they are happy that the program is still going on.  These are the instances where I really feel appreciated.  The parents will sing louder and participate more to keep the program going.
  • If you have no voice, you really can't read a story.  First, I raid our JKIT area which cd and book kits.  Are there any that will work for your group?  Second, I raid You TubeWith a laptop (or iPad) and a microphone set up, you can let someone else tell the story while you flip the pages.  We used this method this week with Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.  I let Eric Litwin tell the story while I turned the pages.  There are also a lot of really good apps out now that will actually tell the story (check out the Sandra Boynton ones for sure).  These are great to use in this type of situation.
  • This is also a good day to pull out a flannelboard or two.  Do you have any that have a lot of pieces (so everybody can take a turn)?  How about ones with matching pieces?  These are the ones to pull out-many of these will tell themselves with very little words.  The kids are still having a great experience and you don't have to talk.  Plus, with 30 or so kids each putting a piece up on the flannelboard, this will take up about 10 minutes of your program.
These are just a couple of ideas that help me to put on story times when I am sick.  What do you do?  The biggest thing that I have found to be helpful is to think outside of the box.  This isn't the type of program that I want to do every day.  After all, talking is an important early literacy skill.  How can you put on a program that is audience-driven?

Smiley Face with a Cold, Sneezing into Handkerchief by Antares42 - A yellow smiley face (emoticon) sneezing into a handkerchief

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