Thursday, March 2, 2017

I'm Back!

Hello again! It's been quite a while since I posted. I've been busy serving on the 2017 Newbery Committee, which was an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING experience. I could go on and on and on about what I experienced this past year, but Abby the Librarian already has it covered in an excellent post with all of the details.

However, I do have to say how incredibly happy and proud I am with the winners and honors that our committee chose this year (can you tell by my photo?):

2017 Newbery Medal: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

2017 Newbery Honors: Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan; The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz; Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

This reaction video also helped seal the deal for me:

But after a brief recuperation period of doing nothing but binge-watching television, I'm definitely ready to finally start blogging about books, my programs, and storytimes again.

As well as reading for the Newbery, I changed jobs! I am now an Early Literacy Librarian at a small library branch. I do still get to work with tweens and teens, but now my main focus is on kids from birth through 2nd grade. It's the first time that I've basically been a department of one, which brings about its own strengths and challenges. I'm also doing a LOT of outreach visits now, so I'll be blogging my outlines for those.

I've been in a bit of a reading bubble, so I'm kind of out of the loop with what's new and exciting reading-wise. Any middle grade, teen, or adult recommendations?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mineways 3D Printing

I don't know about you, but at my library, Minecraft is as popular as ever. I host a monthly Minecraft Club where we play on a server together. I also host one-time build-off competitions for both tweens and teens. So I was trying to come up with some new ways to integrate Minecraft into my programming, when I stumbled upon Mineways.

Mineways is a free program that lets you export your Minecraft creations into models for 3D printing. It's really easy to use! My IT department downloaded the software onto our computer lab PCs and we were good to go.

Here's a brief tutorial on how it works:

The day of the program, I start out by opening up Minecraft and going over what all the options mean in Mineways. The nice thing about Mineways is that a lot of the 3D print configuration setting are done for you. So you really don't have to mess around with it too much unless you want to. To create my outline, I used this page (scroll down to Export Options).

Then I let them take about 90 minutes to build something in Minecraft (on creative mode, single-player, though you could let them partner up to build something together) and upload it to Mineways. Then I save their prints to a flash drive with the file name as their first and last name so I don't get them confused. I let the teens know that it will take a few days for their prints to be ready to pick up.

How It Went:

The program itself went really smoothly. I was able to walk around and help the teens with exporting their designs. We created a shortcut to a free .stl preview site so teens could make sure their Minecraft creations would translate well as a 3D print. If not, they could then go back and fix their design.

Depending on the 3D printer you have (we have a MakerBot Replicator 2), you may have to warn your teens that it won't print smaller, more detailed things from Minecraft like fences or flowers, even if you choose to "Export lesser, detailed blocks" and it shows up okay on the .stl viewer. I had to call a couple of my teens back in to redo their designs because they wouldn't print correctly.

Have you done a Mineways program? Or have you used a different program, like Printcraft? If so, how did it go?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pizza and Pages: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Type of Book: Fantasy

Plot Summary: From Goodreads"It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen."

Average Teen Rating: 3.375
Being that this is one of my favorite YA books ever, I was absolutely shocked how much my teens disliked this story. They complained about the characters being boring (though they liked Puck slightly better than Sean) and the story being too slow-paced. 

Discussion Questions: Scholastic has a discussion guide with a plethora of questions as well as the University of Dubuque.

Pizza and Pages: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Type of Book: Fantasy

Plot Summary: From Goodreads"Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can't sell—the thick silver cuffs he's worn since birth. They're clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana'Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She's just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her...

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards."

Average Teen Rating: 5.78
The teens were so-so on this one. Some of the die-hard fantasy fans liked it, but my other readers thought that Han was a boring character and disliked his chapters, If you have a lot of fantasy fans in your book club, this is a good pick.

Discussion Questions: I had a hard time finding questions for this title, but the Choose to Read Ohio website has a nice toolkit.

Pizza and Pages: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Type of Book: Historical

Plot Summary: From Goodreads: "Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope."

Average Teen Rating: 8.45
All but one of my teens loved this one. (And the one that didn't only read the first 2 chapters.) They thought it was fast-paced and interesting. We had a lot of great discussion around this one. Highly recommended.

Discussion Questions: I used the Penguin Discussion Guide and the Lit Lovers site.

Anime Club: Fuse Bead Art

It's that time of year for me where I am gung-ho about spring cleaning, which at work means clearing out my craft supplies!

I had purchased a huge tub of fuse beads (or Perler beads to some) for another program last year. In the midst of wracking my brain for easy anime club activities, it came to me: 8-bit art!

All I did was set out bowls of the fuse beads and the set of bead boards we had already purchased.

Then I explained to the teens that they could either look up a pattern online, or make up their own design. Kandipatterns or Perler Bead Patterns or even just Google are all good places to look.

As a teen finished their design, I had them bring it up to me to iron for them. I set my iron on med-high and used the ironing paper included with the beads. You could also use parchment paper. I ironed the first side really well by moving in a circular motion over the beads.

Here are some of the finished designs:

This activity was super easy and the teens seemed to really get into making elaborate designs.

The only things I would do differently: 

I had originally only set out 5 large bowls of beads for the teens to share, but it would have been better for me to give each one their own smaller individual bowl to use. Also, I would purchase a container of black only beads. This was the most coveted color bead as a lot of them wanted to outline their creations in black.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Flannel Friday Roundup - 3.26.16

Happy Saturday, everyone!

First up is Wendy from Flannel Board Fun. She's a definite overachiever with five adorable flannels sets!: Town, Space, Flowers, Ocean, and Dinosaurs.

Emily at Literary Hoots shares her perfectly-timed flannel based on the book Chester's Colorful Eggs. She gives us other options on how to use the flannel too. It has the added bonus of helping children learn their colors!

Jane at Piper Loves the Library turns her lovely flannel from In My Nest into a lesson about nature. I love how she also details the rest of her program, which includes a neat nest art activity!

Spring is in the air for Kathryn over at Fun with Friends at Storytime! Her bee flannels have multiple uses and she's nice enough to include some song/fingerplay ideas to get us started with planning our storytimes.

Last but not least, Kate over at Felt Board Magic shares her fun take on "Five Monkeys and the Alligator" with Five Little Fish Swimming in the Sea. She includes the song lyrics and examples of the different fish she's made!

What a great variety in this week's roundup! I'm excited to try making some of these myself.

For more information about Flannel Friday, check out their official blogPinterest pageFacebook group, or follow #flannelfriday on Twitter.

Happy flanneling!