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!

Friday, April 18, 2014

"Going to the Sweet Shop" Prop Rhyme

One quick announcement before we get into the actual post--I'm thrilled to have been chosen as this year's recipient of the Frances H. Pletz Award for Excellence in Service to Youth. I'd like to thank the Michigan Library Association for this honor as well as my family, co-workers, and friends for their support. And now back to our regularly scheduled content, a Flannel Friday post!

The other day I was working the reference desk and, as always seems to be the case, I started thinking about junk food. So I wrote this little rhyme, inspired by "Going to the Pet Store," I haven't used it myself yet, but I plan to chant the rhyme and then pull one of the treats out of this little bag.

Going to the Sweet Shop
Goin' to the sweet shop.
Gonna find a treat.
I wonder what to eat?

It might be hard to see in the photo, but that's a doughnut, ice cream cone, cookie, muffin, and chocolate bar. Those are play food pieces from a set my dad gave my daughter for Christmas. We lost the scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream that it came with (I think it's under the couch), so I substituted a head of lettuce (held in place with glue dots!).

This week's Flannel Friday roundup is hosted by my friend (and fellow Pletz winner) Lisa!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Disco Balls and Using What You Have

When I was a kid, someone gave me a disco ball for Christmas. Weird gift, but I loved it! It sat in my room for years and was the star of many teenage girl impromptu dance sessions. Last weekend,I found it in my basement during a spring cleaning binge and thought it would be fun to bring to one of our library dance parties. When I took it to work, I noticed a huge problem: 

At first I thought I would just buy some mirrored tiles at a craft store, but I mentioned this idea to a co-worker and she happened to remember that we had these strips of silver-on-both-sides foil (not sure exactly what kind--it's thinner than aluminium foil but that might work too.) leftover from some long-forgotten project.  
At first I wasn't thinking and thought I could just trim the strips to the size of the gap and hot glue them. Well, duh. A disco ball is a sphere and it wouldn't have looked right at all. So I realized that I would have to measure and cut tiles out of the strips. METRIC ALERT: These tiles are exactly one centimeter square. Perfect! A quick Google and I was able to find 1 cm graph paper. I printed it out and trimmed it to the size of the strips. I used double stick tape to adhere the graph paper to the foil and just snipped along the lines. 

When I had a pile of silver square tiles, I used more double stick tape to adhere them to the disco ball. I could have used hot glue but the pieces were so small and stuck to my hand, so I decided to try tape first and glue as a last resort. Luckily the tape is holding up well! 

I had also considered using foam as a backing for the foil so that the difference in thickness would not be noticeable, but after I stuck the first row on I realized it wasn't really noticeable at all, even in the light. And this will be used in the dark. 

All in all, it took less than 15 minutes to cover that gap. It would have taken longer to run out to the craft store and pick up mirror tiles. It was also a free product, using items we had saved just in case and tape! I'm pretty proud of how it turned out and I had fun doing it. This could also be a craft project for tweens or teens, using Styrofoam spheres for the shape and foil for the tiles. 

Here's the finished product (the white bit in the middle is the back of my phone case): 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Dr. Seuss Celebration

In March every year, all of our branches have a Dr. Seuss Celebration. One of the things I really enjoy about working in a multi-branch system is the ability to share ideas and actual materials. For this program we were able to borrow two games from our Auburn branch:

A "Roll a Lorax Game". Instead of felt, these are laminated paper. We actually made more on the day of by color copying some of the print outs and covering them with contact paper. If this game looks familiar, Katie made one for a previous Flannel Friday, so you may have seen it on her blog.

A fishing game which I dubbed "One Fish, Two Fish, YOU Fish" using ice fishing poles and cardstock fish that had paper clips attached before being laminated, which some of the moms in attendance (preschool teachers) marveled at the simple genius of.  One suggestion I would make for this game is to keep the tubs of fish separate. The ice fishing poles were very magnetic and got stuck together easily. They also stuck to the book cart I wheeled them into the room with, the steel beams in the wall, a filing cabinet I walked by, etc. etc. etc. I did have some trouble with the reels on the fishing poles getting jammed as well, so if you do a similar game, play with them a little so you can learn how to fix that if you're not a fishing nut. 

Both of these games were in the program room. Just outside of the program room, in the children's department itself, we had one librarian reading Dr. Seuss books out loud. We also had two crafts, a Dr. Seuss puppet and a silly hat. 

Here's the hat (basically one thick strip for the band, thinner ones going up and across the band, and Ellison cut outs to decorate), sorry it is so blurry: 

And here's the puppet: 

For about a month before the program, kids created "Who" characters to decorate our giant bulletin board. We also added homemade truffula trees inspired by Mrs. Lodge's library. We already had the foam plumbing insulation and we were able to use some of the teen department's yellow duct tape. We did not attempt to make the floral blooms but purchased them pre-flowering at a dollar store. 

Some of our animal friends got into the Seuss theme too:

We had this program from 4:30-6 on a Tuesday evening and 107 people attended. It was a fun, low-key atmosphere event. I was surprised how many people were there when I checked the counter at the end, because it was such a relaxed hour and a half. A good time! 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Thrive Thursday Roundup for April 2014

Here I am with the roundup for Thrive Thursday's April 2014 Edition. There is some great stuff here, so if you do school-age programs, you'll definitely be inspired.

Jennifer from In Short, I Am Busy shares her annual Spring Break T-Shirt Party. I would have been ALL about this during my elementary school days.

Kids love dinosaurs, so Marge's Dinosaur Program will be right up their alley. It's got a little bit of a storytime flavor, but with STEAM elements too. Great mix! Marge also sent in a great list of games and activities to perk up school age programs. I'm going to try BANG! with my next tween book club!

Speaking of STEAM, Cate has an awesome unprogram called Armchair Astronomy, which sounds amazing. Even though we have a planetarium a few blocks from my library, I may have to try this. The best part is you can adapt this format to so many different topics.

Speaking of STEAM, Jennifer has a fun math program to celebrate Pi Day. Put this on your lists for next March!

Carol Simon Levin invites you to check out multiple programming ideas for National Poetry Month (that's right now--April!) and an Earth Day program incorporating poetry. A double whammy!

Thrive Thursday's fearless leader, Lisa, held a 4-week Mercy Watson book club! It is my opinion that Mercy is grossly undervalued.

Sara shared a passive program developed last summer with the Awesome Box concept. I love the Awesome Box idea but couldn't figure out how to translate it to no-tech. Now I don't have to because she did it for me/us!

The Show Me Librarian was Lost in Space but her program was out of this world! Such a great mix of activities for kids in this event.

Kelly cooked up a no-bake cooking class for tweens, as well as an American Girl party celebrating Josefina.

Kathleen Larsen held a Homeschool Club meeting that revolved around the If You Give a Mouse books by Laura Numeroff and featured mad libs and the children illustrated their own book. I love this idea! (Hat tip to Marge for suggesting we include this post!)

Miss Sue wrote about how her Lego program showed her how much families can appreciate unstructured play time and the staff does not have hours of prep work either!

**I received a submission that I could not get to open from; it said I was not an invited reader. If this is your blog, I'd be happy to edit it in! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tween Book Club: The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen

The March selection for my tween book club was The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen, one of my favorite adventure stories. These book club meetings are really starting to be fun to plan and I really enjoy spending time with all the kids in the group. They all loved this book!

Icebreaker: Word Search from Scholastic UK

Discussion Questions: I printed off questions from Scholastic's Mother-Daughter Book Club and this blog post. Honestly, this month I barely needed to glance at them since the kids loved this book and talked forever about it. They compared it to The Hunger Games and some other books they have read (or want to read). It was a wonderful, organic discussion.

Activity: At the last meeting, the girls requested that we play Don't Blow the Joker and Book Scramble again (both from or inspired by our Minute to Win It program), so we did. Next month I will try some other games, but they really want to master Don't Blow the Joker. I think they will be practicing at home.

The kids also enjoyed seeing the UK covers which I printed off Amazon's UK site and we compared them to the American book covers. One of the boys said the UK covers looked more "YA" and action-orientated, which I agree with. I think the American covers look more middle grade than the others. They also were interested in the subtle differences between the paperback and hardcover edition covers.

When I was looking for ideas, Rebecca sent me her plan for her Knights and Castles program. Some of the activities would be a great way to extend the Medieval theme of this book.

In April we will be reading No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman, one of my favorite middle grade authors. I couldn't find a book trailer for this story that I liked, unfortunately. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thrive Thursday Placeholder for April 2014

Do you all know about Thrive Thursday? It's the genius idea of Lisa Shaia to take the Flannel Friday model (of weekly story time ideas) and expand it into programs for school-age children. So every month we round up submitted ideas from bloggers for crafts and activities for elementary aged kids and this month I'll be your host!

As with Flannel Friday, please leave a link to your blog post, and I'll compile them in a new post. You've got until Thursday, April 3rd so rack your brains, scour your files, and share some awesome programs! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Official Flannel Friday Third Anniversary Roundup!

It's Pie Day! Let's eat cake instead to celebrate the 3rd birthday of Flannel Friday! To kick this party off, I asked our friends to share some favorite posts from our archives. To keep this post from getting ridiculously long, I won't copy and paste all the favorites, but will link to those who participated and then you can click and read.

Birthday Love Link Posts
Thanks to Mollie, Anne, Lisa, Linda, Jenna, Lisa, Katie, Kathryn, Jane, Tracey, Melissa, Katie, Amy, Andrea, Amy, and Bridget for indulging me and sharing your list of favorite storytime projects from the past. 

Traditional Flannel Friday Posts
We also had a couple people post non-birthday Flannel Friday ideas, so go check out Bridget's adorable mice finger puppets and please welcome Library Quine back to Flannel Friday for the first time since July! This time she's sharing Bunny Gets Dressed, a version of Froggy Gets Dressed for younger kids. Also check out Katie's Ten Umbrellas and Raindrops.

Next week's roundup will be hosted by Katie at Storytime Secrets!

All About Flannel Friday
Learn more about our Flannel Friday project by visiting our official webpage. You can also admire the prettiness at our Pinterest page, and join our Facebook group for storytime discussion 24/7/365.We just hit 1,000 members tonight! :)

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Flannel Friday's 3rd Anniversary Round-Up!

This week, Flannel Friday celebrates its third anniversary of rounding up great felt boards, props, movement activities, and other story time goodies! The team behind Flannel Friday wishes to thank all of our readers and participants for joining us for this wild ride.

For the third anniversary, we'd like to issue our readers a challenge to share your favorite Flannel Friday project(s), as many as you'd like.  These can be your own, if you have participated, but we'd love to see posts that have inspired you to try a new mode of storytelling, stretched your artistic skills to make, or otherwise enhanced your professional development. You can also post new activities and I will round those up as well. 

Now's a great time to check out the map of our community and see where our bloggers and readers live. If you'd like to be represented, there is a survey to fill out and then our team will add you.

Last year many of our group wrote posts about What Flannel Friday Means to them. They are a great read! Head over to Sharon's round-up and enjoy.

If you'd like to participate in this week's round-up, please leave a comment below with a link to your post and/or links to your favorite posts from the past. And please join me in raising a glass or coffee mug to Flannel Friday! Happy birthday! Here's to many, many more.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Tween Book Club: The 100-Year Old Secret

Last week, my tween book club met to discuss The 100-Year Old Secret by Tracy Barrett. This is a short, sweet, clean mystery featuring siblings who, after moving from the U.S. to London, discover that Sherlock Holmes is their ancestor. They decide to team up and solve some of his old cases. This is the first book in the series. We discussed the book using discussion questions I found on Ms. Barrett's official site. (That link downloads a Word document.) The kids liked this book and it wound up being the most successful book club I've done since starting here last April.

For an icebreaker, we played "Don't Blow the Joker" from our previous Minute to Win It program. Playing these Minute to Win It games is something I've been experimenting with and so far it seems to be working really well. The kids get really into it! Since I was only expecting a handful of tweens (only 4 came), I only used one bottle and one deck of cards, all stuff we had lying around the library. None of us were able to complete this challenge (yes, they made me try it too!). The girls wanted to try this game again next month and they also wanted to repeat the Book Scramble from last month. So I guess I have some homework to do sourcing a bottle with a flatter top, older cards that don't stick to each other as much, and cutting up book covers.

Our last activity was a creative writing exercise, inspired by a people-watching game the main characters in the book (Xena and Xander) play where they people watch and try to guess the occupations of strangers. Before our meeting, I printed off about a dozen images of people of all ages from the Internet and hung the photos around our program room. During the meeting, I gave each kid a sheet I whipped up to guide them in making observations about one of the people in the photos. I asked them to do this silently. At the bottom of the sheet was a space for them to write a paragraph about the people answering the question "What happens to this person immediately after the photo was taken?" The kids took this really seriously and made great observations. Most of them were willing to share what they wrote and I really enjoyed hearing what they had to say. One of the girls asked if she could take all the photographs home with her so she did. Feel free to use or adapt my sheet for your purposes.

One activity I wish I had down would be to show the kids how to use our microfilm readers as one of the places Xena and Xander go to research the missing painting in this book is the library. They do some microfilm research and I thought today's kids might get a kick out of seeing how microfilm works and doing some of their own research.

Next month's book club is The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen, one of my favorite books from the past few years. I like to end book club by showing a book trailer for the next book. I showed the official video from Scholastic's False Prince site. Thanks for making this available, Scholastic! 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Flannel Friday: The Noisy Counting Book

One of my favorite storytime books is The Noisy Counting Book by Susan Schade. It's only available as a board book currently, which makes it too small for the audience to see the illustrations at storytime. So I decided to adapt it as a flannel board.

The animals are Ellison cut outs onto felt, so it was a quick one to make.The bees are very delicate and I had a couple lose an antennae. I've since added some puffy paint details like eyes for the fish and frog and stripes on the bee. I may try this story using a frog puppet instead of the frog felt piece too.

I dropped the crickets from my version because I didn't have a die that looked like a cricket. The original story has 6 animals and my version has 5. On the other hand, I may go back and add more animals or mix in other animals someday to be silly. Maybe there are dinosaurs at the pond? Or tigers?

If you're unfamiliar with this story, Betsy Bird filmed a video of it for her blog, Fuse 8, a few years ago. As you can see, the words are simple but the kids have great fun making the animal noises. Especially the nice loud GADUNGS. It's pretty much the perfect toddler storytime selection. I like this book so much that I have even purchased a copy for our personal library at home.

This week's host for Flannel Friday is Jenna from Stories with Ms. Jenna.

In case you missed it, Rebecca Z Dunn interviewed me for In the Field, a blog series featuring interviews with working youth services librarians. Check it out!