Thursday, January 14, 2016

No, Little Piggy: On Piggyback Songs and Program Themes

 Note: This is an updated post. I wrote this a month ago, but after seeing some discussion on Story Time Underground's Facebook page, I realized I had a few things to add.  :D

There are few things more pathetic to me in children's librarianship than the earnest souls making up piggyback songs and using bad books because they've come up with a theme and feel everything needs to match.

News flash: No kid has ever said to me "Miss L, we're doing isosceles triangles today, so why are you doing a song about squares?"

Yes, this is an exaggeration--but my point is that you can do a story about shapes, then note that there were mice in the story and do a mouse rhyme.


I am not knocking themes. Quite the opposite. I LOVE THEMES!

I see a lot of people cheering on "no theme" story times, and I don't think that they get it.
Themes help me plan months work of programs.  I love keeping track of my themes, pulling them back out, changing up a few things and having a program ready to do. And looking for new material leads me to new songs, new games--sometimes all new themes!

My guess is that the "no theme" crowd have been doing earnest, perfectly matching programs that bore even them.  But the whole point of story times is to provide great educational experiences for kids. And that means using great books, great music, great finger plays and/or games. The best of the best.

And the sad fact is that most of the piggyback rhymes people make up to match their themes suck.

There ARE good piggyback songs. But generally, they're baby/toddler games to which you've added a tune. Good words can be turned into good songs. More about that in another post. 
Just use popular kids music that works well with your goals, even if it doesn't match. Grab at a vaguely relevant straw to lead into a game you've played before--and will play again.

They'll never sing that song about "service animals" again.
But they'll sing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" or "Head,Shoulders, Knees and Toes," or "The Wheels on the Bus," at your library, and then later they might sing it at preschool, at home with their parents.

Over and over again, loving it every time.

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