Parachute Ideas for Tots and Big Kids

Stumped for ideas for using the parachute at storytime?

Think outside the picture books stacks!

Here are some great ideas for incorporating material from other areas of your collection.

Want to make your own clip art?

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started!

Some easy ways to spice up your site!

Be sure to suggest your favorites in the comments!

Ideas for incorporating factual materials into storytime

There is lots of great nonfiction for kids out there. If I missed your favorite, leave a comment!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Minute to Win It Round 3

Time for another Minute to Win It program!  We had one parent mention to us that one of our local districts is now getting out of school so late that it is hard to make it to the library in time for our 4:00 programs. We will be looking at pushing them back a little bit later to try and make things more convenient for our families.

But! Onto the fun part--the games! We have done two Minute to Win It programs in the past and they are such a joy to plan. I love seeing our normal supplies get twisted into games and I also enjoy the logistical aspects of putting this program on. Each one requires a slightly different set up.

The games I chose this time around were: Stack Attack, Floatacious, Back Flip, Don't Blow the Joker, and A Bit Dicey.  I put together a YouTube playlist so you can learn the rules:



Here's a list of the supplies you need for each game (per player in each round):

Back Flip: 6-8 pencils
Stack Attack: 28 plastic cups (video says 36, whichever works better for you)
Don't Blow the Joker: 1 soda pop bottle (you can use new ones or wash ones out of the recycling and fill with water) and a deck of cards
A Bit Dicey: Popsicle sticks and 6 die
Floatacious: 6 soda pop cans with the tabs removed, a bowl filled with water, and a plastic plate

I like to make signs for the stations because it makes it look more polished.




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Librarian Approved Horse Picture Books

A while back, I asked on the Flannel Friday Facebook page for recommendations for good (non-historical fiction preferred) horse picture books. I've been doing a huge weeding project and I noticed our horse books circ like crazy (some over 100 times!!) and get pretty worn. But I always seem to have a hard time finding things of high quality that are still in print (not all of these are still in print, but I'm including them because there are Ways Around That.)  The good people in the Flannel Friday community always come through though and here's a list of what we came up with...

Horse Picture Books for Preschoolers

Brett, Jan. Fritz and the Beautiful Horses.
Cantrell, Charlie. A Friend for Einstein: The Smallest Stallion.
Dockray, Tracy. The Lost and Found Pony.
Doyle, Malachy. Horse.
Goble, Paul. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses.
Haas, Jessie. Appaloosa Zebra: A Horse Lover's Alphabet.
Hart Addy, Sharon. When Wishes Were Horses.
Hoban, Russell. Rosie's Magic Horse.
Hubbell, Patricia. Horses: Trotting! Prancing! Racing!
Kumin, Maxine. Oh, Harry! 
Jeffers, Susan. My Chicoteauge Pony.
Lawson, Dorie. Tex.
Lewin, Ted. Stable.
Markle, Sandra. Race the Wild Wind.
Provensen, Alice. Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm.
--The Year at Maple Hill Farm
Rash, Andy. Are You a Horse?
Schindel, John. Busy Horsies.
Smee, Nicolai. Clip Clop.
-- Jingle Jingle.
--Splish Splash.
Wilson, Karma. Horseplay.
Yolen, Jane. Hush Little Horsie.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Turkey Finger Puppet Rhyme

I won't be doing a Thanksgiving storytime this year, but I spotted this rhyme in Easy-To-Make Puppets And How to Use Them by Fran Rottman (1978 edition) and I thought I would share:

The Turkey
"Gobble, gobble,"
Says the turkey.
"Soon 'twill be
Thanksgiving Day--
Will you eat me? 

How you treat me! I will run away." 

I found a quick turkey finger puppet to pair it with.

This week is Flannel Friday's Thanksgiving Extravaganza and Miss Mollie is hosting! Happy Thanksgiving flannel-making to everyone! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Five Superheroes

A few months ago, I weeded a book by Rachel Isadora called 123 Pop, a counting book featuring illustrations in the pop art style. The pages were beginning to fall out but I thought I could use them for a few flannel boards, especially with the 2015 summer reading program theme "Every Hero Has a Story." 

I found a rhyme on Jbrary called 5 Superheroes and I love it! It pairs perfectly with Isadora's superheroes. If you don't happen to have a used copy of this book to repurpose, I spotted some cute superheroes on Open Clip Art. So, here we go! 

The words are: 
5 superheroes ready to fly
Here comes the villain, Stop that guy!This superhero can save the day.Off (s)he flies - up, up, and away!
Count down from 4, 3, 2, 1



I still haven't decided whether I want to use the pieces as a magnet board or with felt glued on the back. And they have to be laminated still too! 

This week's Flannel Friday is hosted by Hannah at Lovin' the Library

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Storytime Rescue: Emergency Program Planning

I have been working on developing a contingency plan for if I have to cover a storytime at my or another branch in an emergency. I have pulled some books from my branch's professional storytime collection as well as my personal collection at home that can work well with a wide variety of ages and that I am comfortable reading to an unknown audience. I also do a lot of these books at my regular storytimes and preschool visits.

The books that I have set aside for this are:

  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  • Hi, Pizza Man by Virginia Walter
  • Cows in the Kitchen by June Crebbin
  • It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw

I also included some well known songs that encourage participation:

  • If You're Happy and You Know It
  • The More We Get Together
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
I did not include any recorded music because in a pinch I don't want to mess around with an unknown CD player (let alone try to find it at a different branch!)

I also do Little Mouse and my Bingo draw and tell. I have a portable whiteboard that tucks easily into a box or tote bag. If scarves are available, I'll do a few simple rhymes like Popcorn Kernels.

For baby storytimes, I rely strongly on material I learned from Mel's Desk and Jbrary. I have not regularly done a baby storytime since about 2011 so when I have to cover other people's baby storytimes, I find it easiest not to also attempt to learn anything new. I find storytime flows best when the material is really familiar to the presenter and, thus, I don't worry about introducing new and innovative stuff when I am just filling in.

So when I did a baby storytime a few months ago, it looked something like this (again, relying on Mel's genius and traditional songs):

Note: I adapted this image from Open Clip Art. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Announcing Michigan's KidLib Unconference 2015!

Save the date, friends! The MIKidLib Unconference will take place on Friday, April 24, 2015 in Kalamazoo. Any future/current/retired library type person interested in youth services is invited to join us whether you live in Michigan or are willing to come visit! Last year we had 95 attendees (in February!), and I know there are tons of wonderful libraries on Michigan's West Coast, so I expect to see a great turnout again.

Thank you to the Kalamazoo Public Library for graciously hosting this event. Registration will begin in January but you can mark your calendars be they print or digital now. Our official hashtag is #MIKidLib15 if you're on Twitter.

Also I'm super proud of how the website (my baby!) turned out-- thanks to an awesome Google Sites template-- so please OOH and AAAH.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tween Program: Maze Maker

I'm trying something new this school year with my tween programming. I decided to branch out from book discussions and try a different type of program each month. I'm calling this experiment Tween Tuesdays and it meets from 4-5 pm once a month. The first month we experimented with marbles and mazes in a low-tech basically free program I called Marble Maker. But Maze Maker is probably a more accurate name.

One of my co-workers at another branch brought a maze craft project to one of our children's staff meetings and I loved the idea (which I believe she discovered through Pinterest). So that was the main project of this program. I set out straws, invisible tape, and copy paper boxes and lids and the kids designed their own mazes. I also let them keep one (dollar store) marble. We already had all of this stuff on hand (seriously we have thousands of plastic straws).

Then, out of pure serendipity, I spotted an idea for a pom-pom maze activity in 101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever (seriously great book). The book suggested using sticky notes for the borders, but I didn't think they would stick well to our program room's carpet so I went with masking tape. The kids blew pom-poms through the maze using the same straws, which I obviously immediately had them throw out. This is the maze I put down to start and I intended for the kids to hack it. Instead they played it over and over and then decided to make some true racing lanes out of the tape.

I also printed out some intermediate mazes from KrazyDad.com for them to do while waiting for other kids to finish.

We tend to have lower attendance for our programs during the first few weeks of school and this program was no exception. I had 7 kids register and 5 attended. However, that number would have been typical or my book club and I think we all enjoyed this program more. Two of the kids even asked if we could do it again tomorrow! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Fish With the Deep Sea Smile

Happy Shark Week, everyone! I'm sharing an adaptation of "The Fish with the Deep Sea Smile"* I just made with Scratch. I have been learning Scratch for about a week now and this is the first project I have done completely on my own. The other projects have been from Teach Your Kids Computer Coding which may be the best book I have read ever. Seriously.  More on that another time.
Click here to watch!

Please consider this project a rough draft, but one I had a lot of fun working on. I'm very curious to see what you think! There's still a few things I want to tweak but I didn't want to miss the deadline for Sharon's Shark Week Roundup.

Two previously shared shark-themed ideas were Filmore Fish and Six Silly Sharks.

*Words source

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mascot Mania! Library Baseball Program

I love baseball! So I was very excited to have a program featuring the local minor league baseball team's mascot, Lou E. Loon. Luckily, my library had done this program before, about 2 years before I came here, so all I had to do was
pull things out of storage. Recycling program ideas is a great way to minimize planning time. You don't need to reinvent the wheel, I promise.

Program details:
Date and Time: Thursday, August 7 from 11-12
Age Range: All Ages/Family Program
Attendance: 86
Cost: Free, except for the craft materials

The biggest tweak was that the 2011 edition of this program was a Dance Party. We love our dance parties here but decided something more low-key was in order this summer. So we changed to a simple craft and meet and greet program. We also put out some inflatable games for the kids to play.

Our playlist--click to enlarge!
I couldn't resist putting together a baseball-themed playlist for background music though. I am ever so grateful to Zooglobble for this awesome list of baseball songs for kids. I was delighted to find many of the CDs were already in my branch's children's collection. My personal favorite is "Baseball" by Milkshake. You may notice I am more than OK with repeating songs! The music played over by the craft station.

The kids made a pennant for the craft out of construction paper and drinking straws. The mascot images were from a Loons coloring page and the baseball is a foam sticker from Oriental Trading.

We had two inflatable games, also from Oriental Trading, available for the kids to play. The first was a pitching game using baseball bean bags and the other a batting game. The batting game came with an inflatable tee but when we inflated it, the tee wasn't straight! I subbed in a large traffic cone that we already had. We actually put out a second traffic cone to stack them so we could raise and lower the height of the tee by adding or removing a cone. 


We also had a table where Lou E Loon could sit and sign autographs. The sign behind it was made for the last time we had this program. 

And here's Lou E in action, helping us out at the children's reference desk! 



Thursday, August 07, 2014

Parachute Playtime Round Two!

As I did last summer, I did a parachute playtime program again this year in August. I incorporated a bunch of familiar songs and added some new ones as well. This year I used a lot of songs suggested by Lisa and Nicole, thanks ladies! I went with more recorded music this year as I have been slowly familiarizing myself with a lot more children's music due to having a little one of my own who loves to dance. So I had some favorites to pull from my own experience in addition to songs that I have used in previous programs with kids at the library.

My playlist in iTunes looked like this:
I added 10 seconds of silence in between songs in the hopes of regaining the kids' attention and being able to quickly dole out instructions. I downloaded a free MP3 of silence to accomplish this. It sounds ridiculous but it works! I also have used that MP3 to make a silent ringtone for my iPhone before since my iPhone did not come with that option. The silence was not critical to the success of the program but it adds a nice buffer and you can always skip to the next track if you're done talking earlier.

I whipped up a quick page of notes in Excel also, in case the parents or caregivers really liked a song (or songs) and wanted to know the title, musician, and CD, etc. I also added a column so that I could note what props were needed for each song so I could have a handy "to-grab" list. This version is probably easier to read (or print this one):

I had 12 children register for this program but only 8 attended. They did a great job though! I loved looking around the parachute and seeing so many smiling faces and hearing so many laughs. Last year I sang most of the songs myself, but using the recorded music this year really helped me to better focus on the kids and enjoying the program. It also flowed better since I had the list of activities set and could follow my paper copy. I had tried to alternate high energy activities with slower ones to keep the kids from getting too wild and it worked. I would do this program almost exactly the same in the future. I printed off extra copies of my notes for the caregivers and they all took one copy. Everyone had at least one song they wanted to look for in the library or on iTunes! It wound up being a really fun way to showcase our music CD collection. 

Our program was a Thursday morning at 11:15. I'd love to try it as a family program on a Saturday or weekday evening though. Someday I hope to invest in one of the giant parachutes and be able to play games with the older kids. How much fun would a parachute program for tweens be?! 

A few notes on the songs: 
We did "Shake My Sillies Out" and "Moving in a Circle" without actually touching the parachute as our warm up songs. I skipped "One Two Three Whee" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider". The most popular songs were "Sleeping Bunnies" and "I Hear the Water" which are both calmer songs, if you're looking for something a little more mellow to try with your parachute.

For "Sleeping Bunnies," I used some stuffed bunnies and told the kids that they were sleeping on the parachute, then we yelled "WAKE UP BUNNIES" and started to bounce them in between "Wake up soon... Hop little bunnies!" They loved this and we did it more than the 3 times I had planned.