In talking about passive and DIY programming in class, Melendra Sanders from NCKLS in Kansas shared the perfect preschool stations.
For the stations, I would come up with activities that related to at least 5 of the 6 early literacy skills from Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR), although in Kansas it has been rebranded as 6 by 6 which is how we "label" all the activities. Each station has an introduction that explains what the 6 early literacy skills are and how they help children be ready to learn to read when they start school. There is also a description and the materials needed for each activity. The activity descriptions contain information about the individual early literacy skill the activity promotes and simple directions for how to do the activity.
Often stations are planned to coordinate with active programming. For example, Kansas has a Kansas Reads to Preschoolers (KRP) week, and the 6 by 6 station that overlaps with that week always focuses on the KRP book.
This promotes the use of station materials in active programs too. The year the KRP books was Lola Loves Stories, I created a felt board for the 6 by 6 station that had different hats Lola could wear related to specific books she may have read. The kids loved it at the station, and all the storytime librarians used it in one form or another for their storytimes that week.
Here is a sample station for the book Bear in the Air:
6X6: Tell Stories about Everything
Recounting what happened in a book helps your child learn to follow, understand, and tell a story. Knowing how stories work helps a child learn to read because it gives him a better understanding of what he is reading.
Retell the Tale: Using the map from the end of the book, help your child retell the story by finding the important scenes or characters on the tables.
6X6: Take Time to Rhyme
Rhymes, because they emphasize the individual sounds that make up words, are a great way to help children hear those smaller. Being able to isolate those small sounds helps children when they are learning to read.
Find the Rhyming Words: Find the rhyming words on the sea shell halves and match them to make whole sea shells.
6X6: Talk, Talk, Talk
The more you talk to your child about the everyday events of the day, the large his/her vocabulary will be. Children with large speaking vocabularies learn to read more easily because it is easier to sound out a word that they already know.
Make Lemonade: Use the lemonade recipe and props help your child make lemonade. Talk about how each ingredient would taste, look, and feel.
6X6: Noticing Print All Around
Helping your child notice the words in the book and how they go along with the illustrations allows her/him to better understand that the print is what you are reading.
Hanging the Laundry: Match the shirt illustrations and short words to hang them on the laundry line.
6X6: Look for Letters Everywhere
Noticing different shapes is a first step in recognizing the difference between letters. Sorting activities are great for this skill.
Sort the Shapes: Help your child place each shape through the correct hold in the bucket. While you’re at it, talk to them about the upper and lower case letters on each shape.
6X6: Look for Letters Everywhere
Learning the letters of the alphabet is more than just singing the ABC song. Children need to recognize that letters are different from each other, that even the same letter can look different as upper and lowercase.
Match the Letters: Help your child put the upper case letters in alphabetical order. Then help him match the lower case letter to the upper case letter.
The patrons love the activities; we have families play with them for hours at a time.
Parents and children are exposed to new books.
Staff get more storytime resources for current and future use.
The program both promotes the early literacy skills and exposes parents to the rationales behind some of the things librarians do that are educational without us having to constantly "talk up" our role in early literacy.
The stations are portable and storable for reuse in the future.
They do take planning and effort on a regular basis.
They have to be cleaned up regularly.
Sometimes pieces go missing or get damaged.
Depending on how much staff wants to repurpose items, they could be expensive.