Starting a Story Time in the Park

Starting a Story Time in the Park

Today was our first story time in the park, and boy what a great weather we had for it!  Praise God for that!

Getting Set Up

We selected a shady spot and laid out a few blankets and sheets for kids to sit on.  I brought along a fold-up lawn chair to sit in while I read (partly so everyone could see the pictures, partly because I’m 34 weeks pregnant!)  Nearby, we put a fitted sheet on a picnic table to make a crafting space.  Anne, our outreach director, made up a sample craft and Michelle handed out freezee pops as the kids made their way to the story-area.  Bernie did all those little last minute things that I always forget about (paper plates for the paint? oops!)  Thanks ladies!!

Story Time in Shifts

We already had a few families gathered by 10:25, so we started right at 10:30 as advertised.  After the story, we invited them to the craft table to make a frog puppet (the story was “Let’s Go Froggy!).  I had reserved a few other Froggybooks at the library, but didn’t have time to pick them up.  A few kids asked for another story, so it would have been good to have more.

Around 10:40 a few more families ambled in the story area, so I just read the story again.  I read it a third time for another family around 10:50.  It worked out pretty well this way, since it kept the craft table from getting too crowded and didn’t make families who were a few minutes late feel left out.

Punch Cards

We handed out Punch Cards to the kids with 10 holes on them.  If they fill out the card, they get a free book.  We’re still debating on a book to hand out.  We’ve narrowed it down to I Can Pray or Pogo’s Prank-a-Paloosa (if you’ve got a great idea, let me know in the comments!)  Looking back, we should have put our church information on the punch card as well.

Who Are You Guys Anyway?

We wore name tags and had literature about our church available on the craft table, however one team member came up with another great idea.  For next week, we’ll print our church name and information on address labels and then stick them on the back of the craft.  That way, the parents have something if they’d like to follow up with us.  Some people thought we worked for the park, so we want to make sure to get our name out there.

Don’t Forget the Basics

I gathered up all the supplies for the frog puppet this morning — scissors, copies of the template, paper bags, green paint, etc.  We got all the way to the park and realized I forgot glue!  How are we supposed to attach the tongue, eyes, and arms?  Oops.  It’s a good idea to stock a small tote with all the art basics: glue, brushes, paper plates, crayons, scissors, etc.  Stick it in your trunk and you won’t be caught without these basics.  We also brought a few paint smocks with us (old men’s shirts), even though the paint was washable.  Hand wipes are a plus as well!

Draw a Little Attention

We had a sandwich board up with a poster, but it couldn’t really be seen from the main playground area.  For next week, we’ll be making a different sign with BIG BOLD letters and adding some balloons to the sign. I might even throw on some glitter.  That should do the trick.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Want to start your own storytime?  Here’s the Froggy lesson plan we used. We’d love to hear what kind of summer plans you have for the ministry!

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  1. Vanessa says:

    The Story Time sounds like a great idea. You mentioned giving out contact information for your church, but I was wondering – do the lessons you do during the story time have any kind of spiritual message, or is it more of just a time to build relationships with other families in the community? Just curious, sounds like something I would love to do someday! Thanks.

  2. Hey Vanessa,

    Thanks for stopping by! The books that we read are secular in nature. We don’t read any Bible stories and not even any “Christian” books. There was some controversy on this decision, but I feel strongly that every interaction with the community needs to be “closing the sale”. Building relationships is very important, especially when are out in the community and it is not “our turf”. I feel like when you are in a public park or something like that, you need to earn the right to share the gospel. When someone comes to your church, that’s different. Clearly, we’re going to talk about God here. We’re very open about being from a church and we talk about the kids programs at church and what the kids are learning if people ask, but we really want to be a nonthreatening presence in the park. We want to do a service to these people, not chase them away. I know when we first starting inviting people, they were very wary and specifically asked, “What books are you going to read”. When I would tell them something like, “The Grouchy Ladybug”, they were visibly relieved. It seems to be paying off. We have had families visit the church and we have built a lot of great relationships. I think we made the right choice.

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