Now you have rounded up all of your children, how do you keep them quiet while waiting for the rest of the children to be seated or eventually focused on the story?  Here are some tips I have found useful.


  • Pass out books to the first children that arrive, to give them something to do with their hands, while they are waiting for the story time to begin.
  • Start singing favorite songs with the early arrivers.
  • Do favorite fingerplays with the children.


  • Don’t just start reading the story.  Talk with your children about the book.  Tell them what it is about.
  • Pick out an important object in the book and show them a picture or an actual object.  Example; the story is about a dog and his favorite toy.  Bring a dog toy to show the group ahead of time.  Discuss experiences children may have had with dog toys.
  • Bring in dolls or puppets to represent the main character in the book.
  • Go ahead and show them some of the pictures in the book ahead of time.  Children love to know ahead of time what the story is about.


  • The number one thing to keep children focused on the story is to let them be involved in the story telling.
  • If there are sounds in the story, let them make them at the appropriate times.  Example:  If there are chickens in the story, have your children make a “clucking” sound whenever, the chickens are mentioned.
  • If there is some action in the story, let the children make that action.  Example:  If someone is running in the story, show your children how to make their hands hit the floor, to make a running sound.


  • One of my favorite tricks to keep children from wiggling too much, is to start out the story time with the “I Wiggle” poem.  Recite the following rhyme with your children.  Have them act out the rhyme.

I wiggle, wiggle, wiggle my fingers.
I wiggle, wiggle, wiggle my toes.
I wiggle, wiggle, wiggle my shoulders,
I wiggle, wiggle, wiggle my nose.
Now no more wiggles are left in me,
So I will be as still as I can be.
                                Adapted Traditional

  •  Set out a box (to represent a bear’s cove) and a stuffed Teddy Bear.  Tell your children that the bear has come to hear the story today, but if there is too much noise, the bear gets scared and runs back in his cave.  You don’t have to say anything after that.  If one or two children get noisy, merely, place the bear back into his cave.
  • Another scenario that works great with preschoolers, is to tell them about the beautiful birds that have come today to hear your story.  Pretend to see a beautiful bird, fly over and land on each child’s shoulder.  This time, if a couple of children are wiggly or noisey, you mention how you are sorry, but their birds, just few off.  Perhaps if they settle down, their beautiful birds would come back.
  • If you have a helper, they could remove disruptive children from the group and involve them in a game.  No one should have to listen to a story if they do not want to, they should also not be punished for it.