Reflection Post : Babytime with Surrey Libraries

FO artists Julie Lebel and Sarah Gallos recently completed a second year of collaboration with Surrey Libraries.

Together they worked through existing library practices to further support the Surrey Libraries Youth Services Staff in feeling more comfortable offering movement in their storytime for babies! This year, they dove deep into what FO views as the key elements of facilitating movement for caregivers and their babies during Babytime, also sometimes known as Laptime. Reflecting on this project recalls Foolish Operations’ exploration of BC’s Early Learning Framework and the First People Principles of Learning started last year.  

And so, as they worked with Surrey Libraries, the goal was to share FO’s movement facilitation skills and curriculum additions. Professional development opportunities were offered to the Surrey Libraries Youth Services Staff. This included email discussions with staff members throughout November, chosen as the Month of Movement for Babytimes at Surrey Libraries. The librarians shared their reflective practices with Sarah Gallos, artistic associate at FO. Weekly emails were sent to keep the dialogue going, and several themes emerged. 

To get deeper into what was worked on, here are a few key elements they discovered as they reflected on the librarians’ Babytimes together, and how they apply to any public Storytime or Babytime!

  • Dance can be simple movement games and community-building: Walking with your child or babe in arms to music, around the room to visit with the other participants, is an easy way to add movement. Everyone can dance a little and get out the wiggles. Simply talking about the rhythm you hear will tune people into that and help them find the groove, turning a walk into a dance.
  • Movement can be a SUPER Transitional tool:  In Foolish Operations, we use songs to transition because movement is the main focus.  For Babytime facilitators in libraries, this can be shifted around. Use movement as a transitional moment, especially when folks are used to babytime being more verbal.
  • Invite participants to move their own body rather than moving their baby’s body
    • Babies will eventually start to mirror the movements they are seeing. Caregivers moving their own bodies is a self-care practice. Placing babies on the ground, facing their caregiver, rather than the Babytime facilitator, will foster parent-child connection through eye contact and closeness and allow the caregiver to move more freely. Babies will also have more freedom to move their bodies and to express how they are feeling through movement. 
    • Games that invite caregivers to move baby’s limbs for them can be fun, especially when they involve tickles. But these games often involve holding the baby, which can be tiring, especially when much of the early caregiving positions already over-involve the arms, the neck, and the back. Our suggestion is to add more moments where caregivers and babies can move independently. For example, moving their spines in different directions, opening their arms for a good stretch, etc.
    • Suggest moments where the caregiver doesn’t have to hold their baby, perhaps the child is on a blanket in front of them, watching their caregiver move. And remember, there’s no right or wrong, only suggestions.
  • We can’t always see what might be limiting folks: Approach your facilitation with an accessibility lens. Try warmly inviting participants to move and change your language, considering how your group is arriving in the space on any given day so that all suggestions might work for them. Somedays that might mean just picturing the movement in their heads and that’s ok. They might do it at home later.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about love: Humans learn through attachment. In Babytime, attachment abounds – so much love! Invite caregivers to express their love for their babies in many different ways. It’s beautiful. When the caregiver and child can look at each other, feel each other’s movement, and hear each other’s sounds, that’s the attachment we want to promote in a caregiver/child relationship.  
  • Follow your instinct and provide what you notice people might need: For example, you might want to provide the words to songs and rhymes for the adults on the felt board; this is a lovely way to show care for the group. It’s an access thing, with the power to make people feel more settled.

    And that’s not all! As a group with Surrey Library Services Staff, we have curated a list of over twenty songs for babies to use during storytime.

Tick Tock

A Bouncing We Will Go

Roll Roll Sugar Babies

Zoom Zoom

Go In and Out the Window

Shoo fly

Feel like a morning star

I belong to somebody

Moon is round

This is me

Here is the Beehive

Hokey Pokey 

Rainbow Rumba

Mother and Father and Uncle John 

Smooth Road

Red Fox Red Fox

Bees in a hive

Rain is falling down

WALTZING WITH BEARS

MAMA’S LITTLE BABY LOVES DANCING

Falling Leaf | A Fall/Autumn Movement Song For Kids! | Music For Kiddos

BC’s Early Learning Framework and the First Peoples Principles of Learning

In this project and all our projects, we continue to draw connections and explore BC’s Early Learning Framework guide [ELF]. We appreciate the reference to how “children use multiple modes of expressive languages to communicate ideas, participate in relationships, and make meaning in their homes and communities.” (p. 80). Movement is one of these expressive languages and benefits from nurturing from a very young age. 

The ELF centres the “First Peoples Principles of Learning” articulated by Indigenous Elders, scholars, and knowledge keepers for the BC Ministry of Education. With these principles in mind, we have been shifting how we approach our work. We are particularly inspired by the following principles and hope they feel present in our curriculum development for Surrey Libraries:

  • “Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.
  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).” ELF p.14


Thanks again to Surrey Libraries and the City of Surrey for funding this wonderful project. We love the openness that Youth Services Staff have shown to include movement as a language and as a way to approach literacy.

Photo credit: Shelly Rackel, City of Surrey