Saturday, November 14, 2015

Flannel Friday Roundup - 11.14.15

Happy Saturday, everyone!

It's a very cool (at least in my opinion) Flannel Friday today, as all of the submissions are from those whose names begin with "K"!

First up, Kathryn riffs on the perennial classic, The Itsy Bitsy Spider (or Eensy Weensy, depending on your preference) and created a cute Rainbow Spiderweb flannel/rhyme. I also love that she includes an extension activity for at home!

Then, Kate is already in the holiday spirit with elves and gingerbread men! She also includes several different rhymes to use with these two absolutely darling flannels.

Lastly, I (Kim) come in with my Dog's Colorful Day flannel.

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

Happy flanneling!

Flannel Friday: Dog's Colorful Day

I love the book, Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd. It's got everything: colors, counting, and a cute dog named Spot who gets very messy throughout his busy day. It's the perfect story to do as a flannel!

I found the template from Making Learning Fun. I used that as a pattern to cut my felt pieces. If you're on a tight schedule, you could also just cut out the pieces, laminate them, and attach velcro to the back of the pieces.

This is a fairly easy flannel story to make, and I've gotten a lot of use out of it.

I am actually the host this week, so you can find the complete roundup right here on my blog!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Flannel Friday Placeholder

Fall is officially in full swing! Pusheen aptly describes why I love this season so much:

From: Pusheen

Please comment below with a link to your flannels and your name by Friday at 10:00 p.m. and I'll post the roundup on Saturday.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Flannel Friday, check out their websiteFacebook group, or Pinterest page.

Happy flanneling!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Anime Club: Candy Sushi

For our October anime club meeting, I wanted to do something candy-related. So I thought why not make some candy sushi! It's easy and the teens loved it.

Here's what was on my shopping list:

  • Rice Krispies Treats (you can make your own using this tutorial or buy the pre-packaged ones)
  • Swedish Fish candy
  • Fruit by the Foot
  • Swiss Cake Rolls
  • Skittles
  • Twizzlers Pull 'n Peel
  • Twizzlers Rainbow Twists
To prep, I cut pre-packages Rice Krispies Treats in half and tore the Fruit by the Foot into strips. I made some examples ahead of time (see photo above) and set everything out buffet style. I included some more example photos that I had sitting at the tables for teens to get inspiration, but I told them that they could also create their own sushi design.

While this program was a little bit more expensive than others due to the cost of candy supplies, the prep/staff time was minimal. Overall, this activity was a hit and I would definitely do it again!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pizza and Pages: Ripper by Stefan Petrucha and Some Growing Pains

As with most established, long-running programs, I found that my middle school book club was experiencing some growing pains. Most of the regular attendees were beginning to age out (the original grade range for the group was 6 to 9) but they still love coming and were just a really great group in general. Plus, the titles I was choosing starting becoming too "baby-ish" as their reading tastes diverged and it was hard to find something they would all like. They wanted to grittier, meatier reads that I just didn't feel comfortable giving to 11 year-old sixth graders.

So I decide to alter my book group and bit and turn it into a Teen Book Club for grades 7 to 12. The teens were really on board with this change and are excited to delve into some older teen books.

So to kick off our first new book club meeting of the school year, I decided to choose a fun, historical thriller and Ripper seemed to fit the bill.

Type of Book: Historical/Mystery/Thriller

Plot Summary: From Goodreads: "Carver Young dreams of becoming a detective, despite growing up in an orphanage with only crime novels to encourage him. But when he is adopted by Detective Hawking of the world famous Pinkerton Agency, Carver is given not only the chance to find his biological father, he finds himself smack in the middle of a real life investigation: tracking down a vicious serial killer who has thrown New York City into utter panic. When the case begins to unfold, however, it’s worse than he could have ever imagined, and his loyalty to Mr. Hawking and the Pinkertons comes into question. As the body count rises and the investigation becomes dire, Carver must decide where his true loyalty lies."

Average Teen Rating: 7.3
The teens really enjoyed this one.

Discussion Questions
  1. What makes a criminal? Do you think it’s nature? Nurture/environment? What makes people do awful things?
  2. If someone breaks a subjectively unfair law, are they a criminal?
  3. How do you think the story would be different/similar if it had taken place today with a modern day serial killer? Does the year it takes place make the story better?
  4. On page 109, Hawking quotes William Blake who said, “A truth that’s told with bad intents beats all the lies you can invent.” What do you think Blake means by this? Do you agree?
    1. Some lies can be helpful, kind, or white lies. However, truths with bad intents are hypocritical; Blake believes that using truth for the purpose of evil outdoes the evil of a lie.
    2. An example of an evil truth is if you tell someone they will never win a gold medal, or that they have low grades, are obese, etc.

  1. What invention from the Pinkertons would you be the most interested in?
  2. If the New Pinkertons existed today, what kind of cool contraptions would you like to see exist?
  3. Did you guess that Jack the Ripper was Carver’s father? Would it have been better to not include the murder in the first chapter or no?
  4. What would you do if you found out one of your parents was a criminal?
  5. Did you guess that Hawking was the Ripper? Is he the original or a copycat? What clues gave it away?
  6. What do you think happened to Hawking? How did he escape?
  7. Do you think Carver’s mother is alive?
  8. Were you surprised to learn about which historical details from the book were real and made up? What surprised you the most? Least?
  9. Have you read any Sherlock Holmes, Nick Neverseen, etc. type books? How does this one compare?
  10. What do you think happens to Carver and Hawking after the story ends?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Baby Yoga: Walkers

In my last post, I talked about my Baby Yoga outline for pre-walkers (or ages 0 to 15 months). In this post, I am sharing my outline that I used with walkers (or ages 16 to 36 months). A lot of it is similar to the pre-walker outline, with just a few changes:

Session #2: Walkers

  • Welcome/Introduction: This is where I greeted participants and gave a quick overview of the storytime. I also briefly talked about the benefits of doing yoga with babies.
  • Namaste with Clapping
    • In yoga, we say "Namaste" as a greeting at the beginning and end of class.
    • Say each child's name twice with a clap for each syllable. Then bow (if able) and say "Namaste"
  • Focus/Breathing: I had adults sit criss-cross applesauce with their babies in their laps, back to chest. I asked them to take a moment to settle in, then breathe deeply in and out 3 times.
  • Stretches:
    • I Love You (3 times)
      • Hold index fingers out in front of baby’s hands. Invite them to grab fingers.
      • Say I (help baby’s hands to heart), Love (arms stretched out to sides), You (baby’s arms into self hug and wiggle side to side.)
    • So Big (3 times) – baby can do themselves if able facing you
      • Parents legs out, baby sit between legs
      • Take baby’s hands and stretch up in the air and say Soooo
      • Lean forward and reach baby’s hands to ground/toes and say Big
      • This helps energize their spine and aids in digestion
    • Hands and Feet - wiggle and "say hello"
  • Kneeling Pose (show baby how first)
    • Downward Dog
      • With baby standing. kneel/stand behind them and place your hands on the front of their hips
      • Encourage them to reach forward to the floor
      • If necessary, pull baby's hips up, making sure hands and feet are still touching the floor
      • Once baby is ready, let go
      • Bark if you like!
  • Standing and Balancing Poses
    • Sun Salutations (2-3 times)
      • Stand up straight, reach up high then bend over to touch your toes. Baby does this too!
      • Stand up and stretch to the sun, make a rainbow with arms in the air. Baby does this too!
    • Star Pose
      • Kneel or stand with baby standing in front of you with their arms outstretched if possible
      • Sing "Twinkle Twinkle" and lean side to side, getting baby to lift each foot in turn
    • Jumping Bean
      • Sit or kneel with baby standing facing you and support them under their arms. Or if they can do it themselves, model it for them.
      • Say Jumping (small jump), Jumping, Jumping, BEAN! (big jump)
  • Book
    • I read From Head to Toe by Bill Martin Jr. and we did the actions together. 
  • Massage
    • Lay your baby on their back, feet towards you with your legs outstretched into a "V". (Or they can sit up with their back to you if preferred.)
      • If you do this at home, you might want to try it with a little lotion or baby oil on your hands
    • Feet and Legs
      • Stroke each foot with your hands and each toe.
      • Hold ankle and gently lift, use other hand to slide down thigh towards baby's foot for each leg
      • Gently massage each calf using small, gentle circles
    • Tummy: Massage baby's tummy using an open hand in large circles
    • Hands
      • Take baby's hand in yours and use your other hand to slide from wrist to shoulder and back again. Switch.
      • Gently stroke each finger or backs of baby's hands if they don't want to uncurl their fingers
    • Now take baby's hands and open arms wide. Then cross into a self-hug!
  • Closing Affirmation
    • I am smart (point to head)
    • I am loved (point to heart)
    • I am wonderful (open arms wide)

Have you ever done baby yoga? What did you do differently?

Baby Yoga: Pre-Walkers

Last month, I tried my hand at Baby Yoga. I was a little nervous because I had done a Yoga Storytime for ages 4 to 7, but I had no experience with a yoga for babies. Luckily, I had some help from other librarians and was able to create a solid outline.

I held two 30 minute sessions - one for pre-walkers (or babies newborn to 15 months old) and one for walkers (or babies/toddlers from 16 months to 36 months). Here is my outline for the pre-walkers session:

Session #1: Pre-Walkers

  • Welcome/Introduction: This is where I greeted participants and gave a quick overview of the storytime. I also briefly talked about the benefits of doing yoga with babies.
  • Focus/Breathing: I had adults sit criss-cross applesauce with their babies in their laps, back to chest. I asked them to take a moment to settle in, then breathe deeply in and out 3 times.
  • Stretches:
    • I Love You (3 times)
      • Hold index fingers out in front of baby’s hands. Invite them to grab fingers.
      • Say I (help baby’s hands to heart), Love (arms stretched out to sides), You (baby’s arms into self hug and wiggle side to side.)
    • So Big (3 times) – baby can do themselves if able facing you
      • Parents legs out, baby sit between legs
      • Take baby’s hands and stretch up in the air and say Soooo
      • Lean forward and reach baby’s hands to ground/toes and say Big
      • This helps energize their spine and aids in digestion
    • Toes to Nose (3 times)
      • This one is good for hip flexibility
      • One hand across baby’s belly for support
      • Other hand holds baby’s leg near their ankle. Rest your thumb on their shin and fingers supporting back of leg.
      • Bring baby’s toes to his nose and tickle
      • Switch sides
  • Lying Down Exercise
    • Fish Pose
      • Baby on back next to you
      • One hand gently holding baby's feet/ankles
      • Slide other hand under baby's back, gently raise to arch
      • This is good to help get more oxygen to baby's organs and open up their breath, also stretches their neck and back
      • Sing ABCs while doing this pose
    • Rolio
      • Baby is still on their back, facing you
      • Bring baby's hands together, holding them with one hand and use your other hand to bring baby's feet up to be held in your hand one at a time.
      • Try to get your thumbs behind baby's heels and baby's wrists between your fingers
      • Gently rock side to side as fast or slow as baby likes and sing a rocking song like My Big Blue Boat
  • Standing Poses: These will help your baby get ready to walk!
    • Jumping Bean
      • Sit or kneel with baby standing facing you and support them by holding under baby's armpits
      • Say "Jump" (lift baby up) "ing" (baby's feet to floor), Jumping, Jumping, BEAN! (big lift)
      • Repeat twice, then pull in for a hug. (This one is a good workout for grownups too!)
    • Standing Knee to Chest: This one is good for balance!
      • Sit with your legs extended out into a "V"
      • Rest baby's back against your chest and place one arm around their chest for support
      • Use your other hand to hold baby's shins just below the knee
      • Bring baby's knee up toward their chest and hold for 1 to 5 seconds
      • Lower back down to floor
      • Switch legs
    • Star Pose
      • Kneel or stand with baby standing in front of you with their arms outstretched if possible
      • Sing "Twinkle Twinkle" and lean side to side, getting baby to lift each foot in turn
  • Massage
    • Lay your baby on their back, feet towards you with your legs outstretched into a "V". (Or they can sit up with their back to you if preferred.)
      • If you do this at home, you might want to try it with a little lotion or baby oil on your hands
    • Feet and Legs
      • Stroke each foot with your hands and each toe.
      • Hold ankle and gently lift, use other hand to slide down thigh towards baby's foot for each leg
      • Gently massage each calf using small, gentle circles
    • Tummy: Massage baby's tummy using an open hand in large circles
    • Hands
      • Take baby's hand in yours and use your other hand to slide from wrist to shoulder and back again. Switch.
      • Gently stroke each finger or backs of baby's hands if they don't want to uncurl their fingers
    • Now take baby's hands and open arms wide. Then cross into a self-hug!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Book Review: Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, Feiwel & Friends, September 2015. ARC provided by NetGalley.

Genre: Realistic/Magical Realism

Good for: Grades 3 to 6

Summary: Soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson is a pragmatist whose number one rule is that there's an explanation for everything. So when his old imaginary friend, a cat named Crenshaw suddenly reappears, he doesn't quite believe it. His first appearance had been 3 years earlier when Jackson and his family had been forced to live out of their van. Now with the threat of homelessness looming again, Crenshaw is there to help Jackson in his time of need.

Thoughts: This book really tugged at my heartstrings. It's a unique take on the issue of poverty. Jackson's father is dealing with losing a good job due to multiple sclerosis and both parents are working part-time jobs just to make ends meet. But it isn't enough and the family goes through cycles of hard times where it's sometimes a challenge just to get food on the table. Jackson is going through a rough patch emotionally where he's now old enough to understand what's happening, though his parents are still trying to shelter him and his younger sister from it. Crenshaw serves as a device for Jackson to hopefully be able to tell his parents the truth about how he really feels even though he puts on a brave face. There's definitely an underlying sadness throughout, but it's coupled with a hopefulness that it so important in children's literature.

The writing style is simple, but lovely. Jackson is a character that readers will want befriend and/or give a big, warm hug to. Using a giant, charismatic cat as a device for dealing with difficult emotions is smart and effective.

Give this to kids who loved books like Keeper, The Higher Power of Lucky, or The Underneath. This would be a great choice for a book club.

My Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 24, 2015

Guerrilla Storytime Recap - OLC Children's and Teen Conference

Last week, I presented a Guerrilla Storytime session at the OLC Children's and Teen Conference. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what guerrilla storytime is, head on over to the Storytime Underground blog and read all about it!

A packed room of participants shared their best storyime tips and tricks. Below are their responses:

What's your favorite way to add SINGING into storytime?

  • One participant isn't a big singer herself, so she likes to get the parents to chime in and help sing
  • A song box! This is a touch and feel type box where the librarian prints out pictures on paper that correspond to the names of the songs. She randomly chooses 3 to 4 kids per storytime to choose a song to sing and the love it!
  • Song cube 
  • Sing the children's names at the beginning of storytime. The kids LOVE hearing their names and it helps the librarian to learn them.
  • In baby time, one librarian goes around with a mirror and sings the children's names. This also helps learn more complicated names.
  • Pass around a drum and kids drum out the syllables in their name.

What's your favorite storytime app?

What's your favorite toddler book/rhyme/song?
  • The Snappy Little... books by Dugald Steer
  • Head and Shoulders Baby 1, 2, 3 song
  • Jumping and Counting song by Jim Gill
  • Anything by Jim Gill!
  • Good Morning, Mrs. Perky Bird (with a bird puppet)
  • Choo Choo
    • A good tip for this one if you have too many kids to be able to do each one's name is to sing it with the names of colors instead!
  • One librarian loves to use puppets in toddler storytime, so she builds her themes around the puppets available.
  • White Rabbit's Color Book by Alan Baker

Audience Question: How do you deal with kids getting so excited about puppet and having to take them away?
  • One librarian says that when the kids get out of control/too excited about her puppet, she tells them that the puppet is getting nervous and needs to hide for a little bit or that the kids need to be quieter
  • Another librarian tells the kids that they can give the puppet high fives at the end

How do you make transitions between activities manageable for kids, especially sensory storytime?
  • Do the same routine so they get used to it and how it flows. For example, they know it's now time for a story, now it's time for a flannel activity, etc.
  • Sing the song "If You Want to Hear a Story..." (tune: If You're Happy and You Know It)
  • Do a stretching or twirling rhyme with them to get any wiggles out.
  • One librarian uses a laminated flip book with a visual schedule for ages 0 to 3 so the kids know what storytime activity is coming next. This is a great idea for both sensory and non-sensory storytimes. You could also use a projector/smart board to display the schedule if you have the technology.
  • Another librarian hangs laminated pictures of each activity across a magnet board.

Sing your opening song.

How have you incorporated different languages into your storytimes?
  • Use sign language based on your weekly theme.
  • One librarian has taught animal sounds in different languages. Use the book Everywhere the Cow Says, "Moo!" .
  • Use sign language in baby storytime.
  • Ask caregivers to share a nursery rhyme in a different language.
  • Have a bilingual storytime
  • Sing a song in a different language and let the kids guess the name of the song/language being sung.

Audience Question: I do a preschool storytime and only have 15 to 20 minutes to get through everything. What are some quick, good activities I could add?
  • A quick song with movement activities
  • A magic bag- You can print off words to drop in as you say a short poem, have the kids say the magic words (I. Love. Books.) and pull a picture or small stuffed animal out.
  • Lose 1 of the books you read and add in a flannel or song
  • Make you 1 book participatory or interactive so the kids get the most out of it.

Audience Question: How do you feel about incorporating apps/technology into storytime?
  • Check out ALSC's white paper about media mentorship for some helpful information.
  • We need to roll with the changes and allow all of our patrons to be on an "even playing field".
  • We need to take into consideration what's right for our community and what their needs are.
  • Have a balance and figure out your philosophy on it.

For those of you who attended the session, if I missed something or something needs to be corrected, please comment below or send me an email!

3D Printing Presentation at OLC

This is my presentation on 3D printing that I presented at the OLC Children's and Teen Conference last week.

And here is a handout of helpful resources.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Pizza and Pages: Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Type of Book: Realistic

Plot Summary: When Doug Swietek moves to Marysville with his family, things aren't too great. He finds himself trying to deal with an abusive father and an injured older brother who's just returned from the Vietnam war. With the help of the deli owner's daughter, Lil and an artistic librarian named Mr. Powell, Doug tries to become at least okay...for now.

Average Teen Rating: 6.9
I adored this book and luckily, the teens liked it too. I was worried that it might be too much of a "quiet" book for them, but they praised the writing style and characters.

Discussion Questions: It wasn't difficult to find good discussion questions since this title seems perfect for book clubs. I found them from Houghton Mifflin, as well as here.

Pizza and Pages: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Type of Book: Fantasy/Humor

Plot Summary: From Goodreads: "In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic."

Average Teen Rating: 7.35
I wasn't sure how the teens would respond to this title since it's a lighter fantasy and they usually enjoy pretty dark, heavy stuff. But I think it ended up being a good choice for a summer read!

Discussion Questions: I found some great questions, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin.

Pizza and Pages: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Type of Book: Sci-Fi

Plot Summary: From Goodreads: "Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning - and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge."

Average Teen Rating: 8.6
The teens really liked this one! They loved the action and the world-building. They didn't so much like the romance between David and Megan and that led into a great discussion about using romance in YA books in general. This is a great pick for teen book clubs.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. David’s main purpose for killing Steelheart is to avenge his father. Prof says to him “You’ve got a passion to kill, but you need more passion to live.” Is Prof right? Is David’s motive (revenge) misguided or not?
  2. Why do you think Calamity appeared? What do you think it is?
  3. In the story, scholars theorize that Epics were a new stage of human development or evolutionary growth. Do you agree? Or do you have another theory?
  4. Epics had a distinct, even incredible, lack of morals or conscience. That bothered some people, on a philosophical level. Theorists, scholars. They wondered at the sheer inhumanity many Epics manifested. Did the Epics kill because Calamity chose—for whatever reason—only terrible people to gain powers? Or did they kill because such amazing power twisted a person, made them irresponsible?
  5. Megan mentions that things will be worse with Steelheart gone b/c he in a tyrannical way, provided food, electricity, etc. What do you think about that?
  6. After Steelheart dies, what do you think happens to Newcago?
  7. In the Reckoners, everyone has their own role:the leader/manager, the techie, the researcher, the odd jobber, etc. What would you do if you were a part of the group? What job do you think is the most important/essential?
  8. Do you think people harvesting and selling the Epics mitochondria/blood for research purposes without them knowing is ethical? Why or why not?
  9. What do you think of Megan as a character? Is her attitude towards David justified? Did you guess she was an Epic early on or were your surprised?
  10. Why do you think that Prof and Megan were so hesitant to give in to their powers? How do you think it changes them?
  11. Do you think Prof accidentally killed his students?
  12. How far in the future do you think the story takes place?
  13. What do you think of the different book covers? Which one is better/more effective?
  14. What do you think happens in the sequel? Will you read it?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fan Fiction & Flower Crowns: A Fandom Party for Teens!

If you work with teens, you've probably also heard them fervently talk about Sherlock, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, Doctor Who, etc...and maybe you've even occasionally heard the words "Superwholock", fanfic, or flower crowns. These things and more can be found on a social networking/blogging site called Tumblr. It's become a massively popular platform for teens and young adults to create and share content, including fan art and fan fiction. There's even an entire Tumblr community of librarians (lovingly dubbed "Tumblarians").

Thus, my coworker and I hosted a Fandom Party for teens at the library this summer. We chose 5 different fandoms (Sherlock, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Divergent, and The Walking Dead) and created self-directed activities based around each one.

1. Salt Bottle Necklaces (Supernatural) 

You Need:

Teens fill the bottle with salt, then close the top with a cork. They attach a jump ring/angel wing charm to the cork, then thread a piece of cotton cording through it. Knot off the cord and that's it! They now have a necklace capable of warding off evil spirits a la Sam and Dean.

2. Temporary Tattoos (Divergent)

You Need:
  • Tracing paper
  • Gel pens
  • Pencils
  • Containers of warm water
  • Sponges/paper towels/wash cloths
Teens cut a piece of tracing paper. Then they sketched out a design using the pencil and traced over it using the gel pens (making sure to press firmly and using a LOT of gel ink). They placed the design ink side down where they wanted their tattoo to be and used a sponge/paper towel/wash cloth dipped in warm water to transfer the ink to their skin. The teens pressed firmly for 30 seconds, then lifted a corner of the paper to see if the tattoo transferred correctly. If not, they continued to press on the tattoo, then checked again. This was a pretty popular activity and I'm sure Tris would have been proud of their designs!

3. Edible Sonic Screwdrivers (Doctor Who)

You Need:
  • Pretzel rods
  • Melting chocolate (we had chocolate and vanilla and melted each in a crockpot)
  • Sprinkles/candy decorations
  • Wax paper
  • Baggies in case the teens wanted to eat theirs later
The teens dipped a pretzel rod in chocolate, then used the sprinkles/candy to decorate. They then set the pretzels on a paper plate covered in wax paper to harden. 

4. Pin the Mustache on Watson/Tea (Sherlock)

My coworker found a photo of John Watson on Google and printed it out in Publisher. We made it large enough so that we could just glue it to a piece of poster board. We then cut out mustaches and provided a blindfold so that the teens could play this Sherlockian version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. 

We also provided tea with milk. I didn't have the budget for it this year, but I've seen these awesome Fandom Teas that I want to purchase next time.

5. Zombie Survival Challenge (The Walking Dead)

For this activity, I set a bunch of random items on a table along with an empty cardboard box. I explained to the teens that for this activity, they must:

  1. Choose 7 items from the table that they think would best help them survive a zombie apocalypse and place them into the cardboard box.
  2. Bring the box to me and I will score them based on what they chose. Each item is worth a secret number of points.
  3. At the end of the program, I will announce who had the most points and that person/team would win a box of brain gummy candy.
Most items were worth anywhere from 1 point (fashion magazine, mirror) to 5 points (plastic tarp/first aid kit). I had a package of Twinkies that were secretly worth 10 points. Only one team put that into their kit, which made them the obvious victors.

6. Trivia Musical Chairs (All 5 Fandoms)

Near the end of the program, we gathered the teens together to test their fandom knowledge with a fun trivia game. We did it similarly to the trivia game we played at our Doctor Who Party

More Helpful Stuff
Here are a some sites we used to help plan our program:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's a Soup-er Garden!

Every summer, I host a container garden program on our library's patio. This summer, since our theme for the reading program is superheroes, why not have a soup garden?

I ran the program similarly to the Butterfly Garden program last year where we had different activity stations:

1. Container Planting: I had enough plants/seeds on hand for each child to get to plant at least one. For the soup garden, we planted:

  • Tomatoes - Roma, Red Grape, and Yellow Pear
  • Peppers - Green and Yellow
  • Nantz Carrots (seeds)
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Burpless Cucumbers (seeds)
  • Blue Lake Green Beans
  • Onions - White and Yellow'
  • Spinach (seeds)
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Oregano

2. Rock Painting: Originally, I found this craft and desperately wanted to do it. But after reading the list of chemicals in ready-mix mortar and stepping stone mix (which are quite scary!) and after agonizing over other possible alternatives, I just decided to just let participants paint rocks that they could either take home or leave behind to decorate our library garden. I set a tarp down on the ground, filled some egg cartons with paint, and left the rest up to their imaginations!

3. Bagel Bird Feeders: All you need for this craft are some plain bagels, ribbon, birdseed, and Sunflower Seed Spread (which is safe for both birds and peanut butter allergies).

4. Plant Pals: Kids take a clear cup and decorate it with stickers or markers, add some potting soil, and sprinkle some grass seed on top. I found the stickers on Oriental Trading (nose and mouth stickers found here).

5. Snack/Story: As the families finished up with all of the activity stations, they could come over a get a snack. I provided grape tomatoes, baby carrots, celery sticks, and cucumber slices with ranch dip. (Note: the celery sticks were by far the least popular choice.) We also had cold glasses of water to drink. When the majority of them were having the snack, I read a story or two.

Here are some great choices when you need a vegetable-themed story:

In August, the plan is to have a harvest day where families can take home some vegetables after we enjoy some gazpacho. 

For more garden ideas, check out my gardening Pinterest board. Happy gardening!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Early Literacy Messages in Action: Find Your Style & Give Em' A Hand(out)!

The How:

Every children's librarian, whether new or seasoned, has heard about early literacy and how it's pretty much the foundation of what we do in storytimes. But while a lot of us might have the theory down pat, what about the practice?

I've been to trainings and read professional writings where the presenter will give a sentence-or-two-long literacy tip in between books/songs. The thought of doing it this way honestly made me a bit nervous. It didn't feel like my style. And frankly, I stressed out about it.

But the more I connected with other librarians on Twitter and at conferences and the like, I discovered that there were, in fact, other ways to do it. Thus, I learned how to plan my storytimes with a more "stealth" presentation for early literacy tips.

This is the method that I'm the most comfortable with. But please note that there's no one "right" way to do it. Just like everyone presents storytimes differently, the way we integrate early literacy can too.

Stealth literacy, for me, means that either before or after a book/song/rhyme I will quickly explain my reason for choosing it. Last year, Abby Johnson wrote a great blog post about the meaning behind our storytimes on the ALSC Blog . Being the experts that we are, there's a purpose for every single song, rhyme, activity that we do. So why not share our reasoning with the parents/caregivers? Then maybe they can choose books, songs, and activities to do at home with the same kind of purposefulness.

However, I don't put the pressure on myself to always share my reasoning at every session. I only do it when it feels natural. This helps me stay more confident and relaxed when presenting storytimes. But if it works for others to plan ahead of time, that's great as well!

Here are some examples of what I might say during storytime and which skill(s)/practice(s) they encompass:

"This book is great because it teaches your child the names of (colors, animals, etc.)." Vocabulary/Talking

"This book is one of my favorites and has big, bright illustrations that's perfect for sharing one on one with your child." Print Motivation/Print Awareness/Reading

"The song 'Apples and Bananas' is not only fun to sing, but it teaches your child all about different vowel sounds." Phonological Awareness/Singing

"When we do 'Open Shut Them' here in storytime, it helps your baby gain that skill of opening and closing their hands, which is an important fine motor skill." Writing (Holding a pencil/crayon/etc.)

"I love this interactive rhyme because you can add verses to it with your child if you like." Playing/Talking/Vocabulary/Singing

"Wordless books like this are wonderful because you can ask your child what's happening on each page and to help you tell the story." Narrative Skills/Reading

The Handouts:

I also love to give out handouts, with varying degrees of success. At some libraries where I've been employed, handouts have worked very well for me. At others...not so much. At my current job, my success even varies from session to session. At the very least, I like to have a brochure about early literacy available and depending on the crowd, I will make up a weekly handout.

Here is the early literacy brochure that we hand out to parents:

And here's an example of the handout I might make each week:

I try to include the rhymes/songs that we did that week so that parents can do them at home. I also take each of the early literacy skills/practices and think of an activity to pair with them.

The Help:

Here are some resources to help us hone our early literacy skills!

How do you incorporate early literacy into your library?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Display Space on the ALSC Blog

Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about our awesome display case/space for kids. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

LEGO Mindstorms: Robot Battles!

I previously blogged about my basic LEGO Mindstorms program and then my Obstacle Course Challenge.

For my last program in the series, I wanted to give the tweens some hands-on experience and focus more on building/designing a robot then programming. So what better way to do that then with some robot battles?

How I Did It:

With the help of my awesome IT department, we took our 6 Mindstorms robots and created a "driving base" robot. That way, each team of 2-3 tweens would have the same starting base and could add on from there. I found some good driving base instructions here.

At the start of program, I gave the tweens a very short crash course on the LEGO Mindstorms software for those that needed it (around 10-15 minutes). Then I let them get to work building a robot. They had about 90 minutes to design a robot that would win in a head to head battle with another. So I reminded them that speed didn't matter - durability and strength did.

I taped out an "arena" using masking tape and a hula hoop as my stencil. I told them the rules we simple:

  • I would draw 2 random group numbers out of a bag to face off
  • They would start at opposite ends of the circle
  • The first robot to be pushed out of the circle or fall over loses
  • The winners of the first set of matches would face off in the semi-finals until we had one robot standing

What Didn't Work:

I am going to level with all of you and admit my failures: I was not as prepared for this session as I should have been. I didn't think to look up possible designs ahead of time. I thought they could just search for a design they liked and we would figure it out together. However, for some groups this step took way too much time and cut into their building time. What I would do next time is have some ideas printed out and/or some websites handy for them to find a good, easy design if they didn't want to just make up their own.

The other failure of mine was that I didn't anticipate that they would all want to use the remote beacon to control their robots. I hadn't practiced programming the remote ahead of time, so when it didn't work I wasn't entire sure how to troubleshoot the problems and some groups had to forfeit because their robot design relied too much on remote control. The next time, I would make sure I had worked with the remote and was comfortable with it way ahead of time.

We also ran into the robots running out of battery power. Word to the wise: always have extra AA batteries with you to do a quick swap if needed.


...when all was said and done, the tweens had a fun experience designing a robot and definitely want to do it again!

Here are some videos of the matches!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

LEGO Mindstorms: Obstacle Course!

A few months ago, I shared my tween LEGO Mindstorms program on the ALSC Blog. Because it was so popular, I wanted to offer more classes based on different challenges/themes. I chose to try an obstacle course with them.

What I Did:

The first thing I had to figure out was what the obstacle course would look like. I found a lot of different links with ideas:

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy
LEGO Robotics Blog
Sidney Memorial Public Library

Then I took a mash-up of the kind of obstacles I likes and created my own course out of poster board and electrical tape. Here's the final result:

Please forgive the lighting, etc. I didn't realize I would be blogging about this until way after the program, so I had to take a photo of the course board in one of our study rooms. It's also a bit raggedy from the tweens stepping on it.

In order to complete the entire course, the tweens had to:

  1. Start at the bottom right corner and move forward
  2. Stop in the red box for 5 seconds before proceeding (they could use their color sensor with yellow or red, or just calculate the distance to move in order to complete this step)
  3. Go around the sharp corners using 90 degree turns
  4. Move around the curves in between the soda cans without knocking any over (this was one of the hardest parts for them to figure out)
  5. Turn the corner and then navigate to the blue line to pick up a small tire (not pictured)
  6. Back up and turn to keep moving forward to the finish line
I told them to just get as far as they could and that there wasn't a penalty for not completing the entire thing. This was more about experimenting and learning how to program the robot to move.

I also gave them the option of just trying to navigate around the challenge pad that came with the Mindstorms kit if they were robot novices and felt more comfortable trying that. I think the tweens really liked having options.

The basic layout of the program was this:

  • I spent the first 20 to 30 minutes giving a quick overview of the LEGO Mindstorms software and how to program a robot to do basic movements.
  • Because we only have 6 Mindstorms kits, the tweens had to work in groups of 2 or 3 to program the robot to navigate as much of the course as they could finish in the remaining 90 minutes.
    • I gave each tween the same robot pre-built to use. Letting the them build a robot on top of everything else we had to cover for this session would just eat into too much time.
  • I went around and answered questions and generally helped the tweens figure things out for the rest of the time and gave hints as needed.

I'm sad I forgot to take some videos of the robots movie through the course. A couple of teams came really close to completing the entire thing!

How It Went:

All in all, this was a really fun program. And because the course I created is kind of generic, I can modify it to include different challenges/obstacles the next time!

Have you ever done a similar program? What kinds of obstacles/challenges did you include?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Storytime - Bunnies


Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming - This is one of my perennial favorites for preschool storytime. It's a cumulative tale about 3 rabbits that keep sneaking into Mr. McGreeley's vegetable garden and stealing his crops. There's lots of opportunity for participation too!

The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo by Jonathan Allen - A little rabbit loves to say, "moo" but the other animals try to set him straight on what animals say what. A good story to practice animal noises. It has a funny little twist at the end too!

Flora's Surprise! by Debi Gliori - A rabbit named Flora decides to plant a brick in a flower pot in order to grow a house. Her other family members don't believe it'll work, but there's a nice surprise of a happy ending for Flora.

What Does Bunny See? by Linda Sue Park - This is a good rhyming book about colors for toddlers.

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by Il Sung Na - I use his books every chance I get, and this is a beautifully illustrated short book about changing seasons. It would be good for baby storytime too!


(Tune: B-I-N-G-O)

There is a rabbit that I know
And bunny is his name-o!
And bunny is his name-o!

Then, instead of clapping as we turn over the letters, we hop! The preschoolers loved this one so much, they asked to do it again.


Did You Ever See a Rabbit?
(Tune: Did You Ever See a Lassie)

Did you ever see a rabbit
A rabbit, a rabbit
Did you ever see a rabbit that hops so fast?
Hops this way and that way
And that way and this way
Did you ever see a rabbit that hops so fast?

Continue with:
...hops so slow
...hops on one foot
...hops backward


Little Rabbit

I saw a little rabbit go hop, hop, hop. (hold up two fingers and go hop, hop, hop)
I saw his long ears go flop, flop, flop. (place hands above head and flop at wrists)
I saw his little eyes go wink, wink, wink. (wink eyes)
I saw his little nose go twink, twink, twink. (wiggle nose)
I said, “Little Rabbit, won’t you stay?” (make beckoning motion)
But he just looked at me and hopped away. (make two fingers hop away)

Sleeping Bunnies

See the little bunnies sleeping 'till it's nearly noon
Come and let us gently wake them with a merry tune
Oh how still
Are they ill?
Wake up soon

Hop little bunnies, hop hop hop!
Hop little bunnies, hop hop hop!
Hop little bunnies, hop hop hop!
Hop little bunnies, hop hop hop!
Hop hop stop!

Now I had wanted to do this with either the ukulele or a parachute, but I'll fess up and say I chickened out to both at the last minute. However, if you are braver than me you can find a wonderful uke tutorial from Miss Mary Liberry and a write-up on how to use a parachute with this song from Anne at So Tomorrow.


Rabbit Masks

I just cut the middles out of paper plates, then pre-cut ears and whiskers. Then the kids could glue the ears/whiskers on no problem. However, there were slight problems. Next time, I would cut the ears out of cardstock so they were stiffer and stuck straight up better. Also, glue did NOT work on the craft sticks to attach them to the paper plate. Luckily, I had scotch tape handy, which worked much better.