Monday, September 9, 2019

I'm Moving!

I've been getting inspired to start blogging again and I wanted a fresh start. So I've moved over to Wordpress with a new look and a new name: Even though I'll keep this blog up for reference, it won't be updated any more. Hope to see you all there!


Monday, August 19, 2019

Host a Supa Awesome Dog Man Party!

At my library (and I'm sure just about every other library out there) Dog Man is never on the shelves, so I decided to try my hand at hosting a Dog Man Party, with great results.

It was on a Saturday afternoon in the spring when the weather in Ohio isn't quite nice enough to be outside, but not awful enough to not want to venture out at all. It was geared for kids in grades K to 6, but I didn't turn anyone away. I ended up with over 100 attendees who came from all over the county!

Everything was self-directed, which freed me up to take photos, replenish supplies, and generally interact with the families.

Here's what I did:

Dog Man Comic Drawing
At this station I set out blank white paper, pencils, colored pencils, and blank comic templates and just let the kids draw. I copied Dav Pilkey's "How 2 Draws" from the back of the books and tried to have a copy of each Dog Man volume nearby. I also printed out his instructions on how to make a Flip-O-Rama, since those are in all of the books. This was one of the most popular stations. I had kids who spent the entire program drawing, which was awesome.

Pin the Head on Dog Man
I am lucky enough to have a maker space department in my library that was able to print out a big Dog Man body on vinyl (to make it reusable) and blow up some Dog Man heads to play the game with. 

Petey's Secret Lab
Since in the books Petey is always inventing things, and in one of them he makes a shrink ray, I busted out some leftover Shrinky Dink paper, Sharpies, and borrowed a couple of craft toaster ovens and let the kids make a Shrinky Dink. I ended up needing someone to man this station the entire time as it was really popular!

Lil' Petey's Robot Shop
Lil' Petey and 80 HD end up becoming good friends in the books, so I wanted the kids to be able to make their own 80 HD or other robot buddy. I literally put out random things that we already had in our craft cabinets and didn't give them any parameters on what to build. Here are some of the cool things they came up with:

One of my favorite things to do at programs is to set out random items and then observe what kids create with them. As always, they exceeded my expectations.

Flippy's Evil Fishing
I had purchased a simple plastic fishing set to use in programming. I took one of the fish (see the middle of the bin next to the egg-looking thing) and made it look like Flippy using Sharpie marker.

Take Down the Evil Weenies!
We had a plastic bowling set already, so I just used packing tape to attach photos of the evil weenies and kids could try to see if they could bowl them all down.

Save the Town!
I use this idea a lot in storytimes with younger kids and it was a hit here too. I just took some LEGO minifigures and other random plastic people/animals and froze them in ice cube trays and plastic containers of water. Then kids could use metal spoons to try to break them out of the ice in order to rescue them.

Superhero Creator
In the books, Dog Man and his friends come up with superhero names for themselves, so I wanted the kids to be able to do the same. I set out paper masks and string for them to decorate as well as a Superhero Name Generator and sticky nametags to show off their new persona.

That's it! I didn't spend any money on this program and would do it again in a heartbeat. Have you done a Dog Man program? What activities did you do?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Yoga Play - Jungle

For the month of February, co-worker and I lead a weekly yoga program for preschoolers. I've done yoga storytimes before for both babies and preschool, but working together with someone else brought to light a whole new way to run the program. Here's how we did it:

Welcome/Introduction: We introduced ourselves and briefly talked about the benefits of doing yoga with kids (breathing helps kids think better, yoga poses help build strength and flexibility, etc.).

Opening Song: I made up a song to the tune of "Goodnight, Ladies". We clap along and sing to each person in the room.

Namaste (insert child's name)
Namaste (insert child's name)
Namaste (insert child's name)
It's time to do yoga!

Then we pass out electric tea lights and place a plate in the middle of the circle. We talk about our inner light and what that means. Then everyone places their tea light on the plate and we tell them how our inner light shines brighter together.

Breathing: We show kids how to breathe correctly in yoga using a Hoberman sphere as an illustration. We first ask them to hold their breath and tell us how that feels. Then we have them take short, shallow breaths and ask how that feels. Finally, we practice breathing correctly.

Then I teach them a new, different kind of breath. This week's was Lion Breath. First we sit on our heels nice and tall like lions. Then we take a big breath in through our nose, then breath out through our mouths and roar! We can even stick out our tongues on the exhale like lions do.

Warm-Up: Next, we do a warm-up to get our bodies ready to move. We use the "Wake Up" routine from the DVD Once Upon a Mat.

Then we do a Sun Salutation sequence. We begin in Mountain Pose, then raise our arms (inhale), forward fold (exhale), half-way lift up (inhale), forward fold (exhale), roll up to standing with shoulders raised (inhale), and lower shoulders back to Mountain Pose (exhale). We repeat 2-3 times.

Introduce Theme: Now we introduce our theme for the week! For this jungle theme, we went on a safari. We used the poses from the Pink Oatmeal website. We began in jeep pose. Then we drove along until we spotted different animals, then posed like them. We found a lion, giraffe, snake, gorilla, and elephant.

Book: Today we read From Head to Toe by Bill Martin Jr. and did the actions.

Activity: We always do some sort of group game before we wind down for the today. First we sang "No More Monkeys" from the CD Animal Playground by Putumayo. We had a bunch of monkey puppets so each child got to dance with one.

Then we practiced tree pose and made a forest all together.

Relaxation: Then we tell the kids that at the end of each yoga practice, we relax and breath. We have the kids lay down on their mats and give them "breathing buddies" (a.k.a. Beanie Babies or other small stuffed animal. You could also use bean bags.) We ask the kids to close their eyes and give their breathing buddies a good ride. Then we put on some soft music, such as the Acoustic Yoga CD by Putumayo. After a couple of minutes (or less depending on the mood of the group), we ring a chime and invite the kids to wiggle their fingers, toes, stretch and sit up.

Closing Affirmation: We close our practice by saying -

I am smart (put hands at forehead)
I am loved (hands at heart center)
I am wonderful! (spread arms out at sides)

Each child gets a small bottle of water to drink while we talk about the play activities for the day.

Play: This week we had 3 stations - jungle dramatic play, follow the animal tracks, and an elephant noisemaker craft.

Jungle Dramatic Play

We had this random cardboard structure, so my co-worker and I made vines and leaves out of packing paper and construction paper. Then we put down fake grass and set out various jungle animal puppets for free play.

Follow the Animal Tracks

We printed out 3 different animal tracks on long paper. Then we taped them to the floor and placed stuffed animals for each track in a basket.

Elephant Noisemaker 

I did this craft for my Jungle Storytime a few years ago and I still had leftovers pieces. Kids just color the elephant and put the party blower through the nose. Then they can pretend to be an elephant!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Toddler Art Explorers - Bubble Wrap Painting

At my current library, we host several programs for babies, preschoolers, and school-aged, but admittedly there has been a lack of options for the toddler crowd. So I decided to try a program I've done at my previous job: Toddler Art Explorers.

The idea came about when I started getting really tired of doing crafts (or product-based art) in my programs. While I know they aren't all bad all the time, I found that I was doing a ton of prep work to have the kids make something that they'd probably throw away when they got home. Then I started reading about process art, which seemed more up my alley.

With process art, there are no instructions and no right or wrong way to do it. It's about kids experiencing the material any way they want to. It helps children develop fine motor skills, vocabulary, and social/emotional skills through self-expression, among others. You can find some information about the research and reasoning behind doing process art with kids here, here, and here.

Geared toward children ages 12 months to 3 years-old, the basic idea of the program is to set out different art materials, give families the basic premise of the art project, and then let the kids explore. I can't take credit for coming up with the original idea for this program. I took lots of inspiration from the Library Makers blog.

For this session, the focus was on bubble wrap painting. I always start with a hello song and a story related to the art project:

Hello Song: "We Clap and Sing Hello" (Tune: Farmer in the Dell)

We clap and sing hello (clap hands)
We clap and sing hello
With our friends at storytime
We clap and sing hello!

Continue with:

...We wave and sing hello
...We tap and sing hello
...We quietly sing hello

Book: Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier

Art Project: Bubble Wrap Painting

I set out pieces of bubble wrap, white card stock, washable paint, and paintbrushes. The basic premise of the activity was to have the parents tape the bubble wrap to the table so it wouldn't move around. Then the kids could paint the bubble wrap as much or as little as they wanted. When they were done, they could press a piece of card stock to the bubble wrap to make a print!


There's no right or wrong way to do the project. If the child just wants to play with the bubble wrap or paint straight on the paper, that's fine! It's all about exploring the materials any way they want to. **

** The interesting thing for me that I've noticed every time I've run this program is how difficult it is for the parents to just "let go" and allow their child to lead the project. As much as I hammer it into them, they still want to take over and direct. It's an ongoing battle.

From  because I forgot to take photos 
for this portion of the program! But here's the general idea.

Group Project:

I also like to incorporate a big group project. For this session, I laid down a giant tarp with big white paper on top. I had the parents make bubble wrap boots for their child's feet. Then they could either paint their bubble wrapped feet together or step in the paint on a paper plate. Then the kids could dance/move around on the paper. I put on some dance tunes and they were off!

How It Went:

I thought the bubble wrap boots would either be a huge hit or a huge disaster. Luckily, it was the former. They also liked making the individual prints and one child decided to just paint directly on the paper. Parents commented on what a neat idea it was that they hadn't thought of before. So overall, a win-win!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Check It Out!: Library Services for Children Journal Club

Even as someone who's been in the library world for a few years now, I'm constantly looking to improve myself through webinars/workshops/etc. And I find myself searching for those learning opportunities that go beyond the basics. So I was extremely excited to read about a new initiative from Lindsey Krabbenhoft (of Jbrary fame) and Christie Menzo called the Library Services for Children Journal Club!

So what is it, you ask? It's a resource to help children's library staff stay current on topics that are relevant to our work.

How does it work, you ask? Every other month, those who want to participate will have the chance to read and engage in discussions on a selected topic. This could include an in-person group meeting (if there's one local to you) and/or online discussion.

This is a great (and free!) way for children's services staff to develop themselves professionally and to think more critically about why they do what they do. And hopefully it will also encourage participants to foster dialogues with colleagues.

I'll definitely be sharing this initiative with my professional learning network and I invite others to do the same. I would love to eventually create a meetup for those in my area, so if any readers are from the Ohio area, let me know!

For more information, just click here. I hope to see lots of people talking about it online using the hashtag #lscjournalclub!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Strategies for the Burnt-Out Librarian: OLC Northeast Chapter Conference - 3.30.17

Here are the notes from the Strategies for the Burnt-Out Librarian presentation at the OLC Northeast Chapter Conference yesterday:

Link to the Power Point

Symptoms of Burnout:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • crying jags
  • anxiety attacks
  • loss of appetite
  • weight gain 
  • teeth grinding
  • insomnia
  • nightmares
  • increased drug, alcohol, tobacco use
  • forgetfulness
  • low productivity
  • inability to concentrate 
Audience suggestions:
  • awareness of how long you have left to work on your shift
  • low productivity - not feeling like completing tasks but not having the option not to do them

Causes of Burnout:

  • budget pressures
  • heavy workloads
  • an overload of clerical duties
  • the need to respond quickly
  • administration demands
  • difficult patrons
  • technology-related problems
  • little input into collection decisions
  • few opportunities for advancement
Audience suggestions:
  • being "on" at the service desk constantly or if you work in a small community, being "on" everywhere because you run into patrons outside of the library
  • renovations
  • having experience but being stripped of responsibilites
  • in regards to "administration demands" above - someone suggested to just wait 5 years and it'll change - or hold out and try to be the change
  • lots of gossip and venting to coworkers - creates a negative work environment

Strategies to Deal with Burnout:
  • recognize burnout
  • use your vacation time, breaks, etc.
  • exercise, stretch
  • eat well
  • know your limitations
  • learn to say “No”
  • don’t be a perfectionist
  • accept help from others
  • go home on time
  • straighten office everyday
  • don’t take work home with you
  • identify activities that relax you 
  • develop a support network
  • ask for new job duties
  • consider a job change
Audience suggestions:
  • don't think about work on vacation...or at home
  • establish boundaries as a supervisor that work for you (e.g. not calling when off work, etc.)
  • get out of the building at times when you can on breaks
  • put headphones in and listen to music (or not!) to discourage distractions from others while on breaks
  • do chair/desk exercises to stretch and refresh (use Google for ideas)
  • how to say no to management:
    • point out what you are already doing - offer compromise and other solutions
    • suggest other coworkers to take on projects/tasks instead
    • hide! (just kidding)
    • have an honest conversation with your boss about being burnt out and break that barrier
    • let your boss know what will suffer or not happen by taking on another task/project
      • make it about the library and not you personally
  • ask for help, even though a lot of us want control and think it'll reflect poorly on us
  • go home on time and alleviate patrons staying after closing 
    • turn off computers early
    • make frequent announcements about closing times
    • don't perform certain services that take awhile (new cards, passports, faxes, etc.) after a certain time
  • don't check work email from home
  • Google "satisfying videos" to find some relaxing things to zone out to
  • identifying relaxing activities
    • yoga
    • meditation
    • download the "Stop Breather Think" app
  • look at the items in your collection for help (the 150s books, relaxation audiobooks, etc.)
  • don't be afraid to ask for different job duties or swap some with others
  • regarding job change - it might not be the wrong profession for you, but it might be the wrong organization for you


Anything to add for alleviating burnout? Leave it in the comments!

YA Smackdown: OLC Northeast Chapter Conference - 3.30.17

Yesterday, I hosted my very first YA Smackdown session at the Ohio Library Council's Northeast Chapter Conference.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, YA Smackdown is an informal sharing session for teen librarians similar to Guerrilla Storytime. I put some challenges in a bucket and asked the audience for volunteers to choose one. They then read the challenge and answered it, then anyone else in the room could also contribute a response.

Although I was a little nervous at first about how talkative the group would be (I brought Hershey Kisses to bribe them with just in case), the conversation quickly got rolling and I ended up able to share all of the awesome responses here:

What horror movies are your teens currently into?

  • The Visit
  • Children of the Corn
  • The Ring
  • The Grudge
  • Mama

What would you do if a teen monopolizes your time just chatting at the desk? (I'm paraphrasing these):
  • I would let the teen know that I have a job to do and that they are part of the atmosphere here and they should go be part of it.
  • It depends on what's going on that day. If it's not busy, I let them hang out.
  • I'll ask them to help me with a task to keep them busy.
  • I'll show them the new books to pore over to occupy them.

Favorite way you’ve recycled program supplies.

  • Donate to Goodwill
  • Put them in the recycle bin!
  • Email other staff in the system to share
  • Throw everything on a table and have an open-ended crafting program
  • Host a Bad Art Night - Ask teens to make the worst looking art they can!
  • Use them as prizes
  • I used leftover glow sticks to make light saber bookmarks
  • I had all of these leftover Goldfish crackers and licorice I would try to put out and no one would eat. When I hosted a program, I named these same snacks something to go with the program theme and they tore through them! Naming the food something clever enticed them to eat it.

What is your favorite teen book that deals with issues of body image?
  • Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Butter by Erin Jade Lange
  • Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel
  • Paperweight by Meg Haston
  • Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
  • The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
  • Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

What would you do if a non-teen came to a program? Does it make a difference if they’re too young or too old?
  • I would tell them that this is a time just for the teens
  • If the parents want to stay, I try to encourage them to wait just outside of the room
  • I tell the adult that wants to participate that we can talk to the Adult Librarian to see if we can offer a separate program on the same topic for adults
  • I try to have the program in a separate blocked off area to discourage just anyone from coming in
  • I have multi-age programs where it won't become an issue, like a board game night for teens and adults
  • If it's someone younger, I explain about the program being developmentally inappropriate. If it's someone older, I explain that this is a space for teens to be able to be themselves with other teens.

What is your favorite readers’ advisory resource?
  • Goodreads
  • Novelist
  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble bestseller and other lists
  • Book Riot
  • Fantastic Fiction
  • We Need Diverse Books
  • Google

What board games are popular with your teens?
  • Pie Face - We had a tournament to go along with March Madness
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • Clue
  • Sporkle
  • Battleship
  • Pictionary
  • Apples to Apples
  • Just regular playing cards
  • Yahtzee
  • Uno

Audience Question: Does anyone have a mobile makerspace in your library? If so, what does it look like?
  • We store stuff in a cabinet and rotate the equipment out. We have basic things like Sphero and K'nex. People can sign up to use the equipment for 15 minutes at a time.

Audience Question: How do you engage teens after school with severe lack of space and a security guard that intimidates them from staying?
  • Unfortunately, this question was asked at the very end of the session so we didn't have time to get responses. If any readers have a solution, please share in the comments!

If there are any needed edits to responses, or if anyone has a good response to add, please comment below!