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, June 30, 2014

Minute to Win It Tween Program Round 2

Wow, I can't believe it has been six months since I did my first Minute to Win It tween program! We decided to offer a second program this summer, and tweaked the set-up a little bit to make it run more smoothly.The major change was that we divided the kids randomly into groups ahead of time and assigned each group a color coding. Kids were given a colored dot on their name tag. Before the program, I made a rotation of which color would get to play which game first. As long as each group had a turn going last and first, I wasn't too concerned about whether they had an even number of turns as the 3rd or 4th group. It wound up looking like this:

We started the program by watching a YouTube playlist I made featuring the rules to each of the games. This gave them just enough information to whet their appetites for their program and also meant latecomers didn't miss the first game, but we also had something to do. 

Floatacious: (standing at tables)
Place the plate to the right of the bowl, and place the cans to the left of the bowl. When clock starts, the player places the plate on the water's surface and begins stacking the can. Stack all 5 soda cans on top of the plate and remain standing for 3 seconds.
Supplies: A plastic plate, 5 empty pop cans with the tabs removed, a large bowl filled to the top with water. You will want lots of towels around for this one too. Instead of bowls, we used tin foil roasting pans from the dollar store.
This game had the most successful completions.

Don't Blow the Joker (standing at tables)
Player must blow off all the cards in a deck except for the joker (should be face up on the bottom). Players may not touch the cards or the bottle. Joker should remain on top of the bottle for 3 seconds. 
Supplies: 4 decks of cards, and 4 bottles with caps.
Only one person completed this challenge.

Breakfast Scramble (sitting or standing at tables)
Reassemble a cut up cereal box. First one to finish wins. 
Supplies: Cereal box fronts cut into 16 equal pieces. Stored in envelopes.
No one was able to finish their puzzle in 60 seconds. 

Pencil Back Flip: (standing, no tables)
Place a pencil on the backside of your hand, flip it in the air, and catch it with the same hand. Start with one pencil and add an extra one each time you successfully catch them. Max of 8 pencils per player.
Supplies: 8 unsharpened pencils per player (distributed via pencil cups on the floor)
The kids did pretty well on this one. They experimented with pencil placement on the back of their palms versus the backs of their fingers. They also tried having all the pencils face the same direction versus alternating directions. 

A Bit Dicey (sitting in chairs, no tables--I would use tables next time) 
Stack 5 dice onto a popsicle stick held in player's mouth, then balance them for 5 seconds. (5 for 5).
Supplies: 5 dice per player, enough popsicle sticks for everyone there
A few kids were able to get 5 dice to balance! They did drop them all over the place so next time I would do this over a table.

After all the groups had played all the games, I announced it was time for the grown-ups to have a turn. After watching all the kids play, the grandparents, parents, older siblings, and camp counselors in attendance were game to have a go. We also let the kids repeat games they wanted another attempt at. There were no clear favorites of the games. All of them were played again in the free-for-all round.

Other details:
The program was held on a Friday morning from 11-12, which is the perfect time frame for 5 games. Players were in grades 4-6. We had 24 people attend, including adults, which is just about perfect. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Maker Monday: Bristlebots!

My test bristle bot
I had my first ever Maker program on Monday and we made bristlebots! I know many of you have done this project before but for those of you who haven't, bristle bots (aka "brush bots") are mini-robots made out of toothbrush heads. They are fairly simple to make, but more importantly they are really fun! Quality edutainment.

We bought 2 Brush Bot Party Pack kits from for this program. At the time, I believe each kit was about $25 (not including shipping) but it appears the price has gone up since then. I had received a donation from a local company of $50 for children's programming supplies so I used that for this program.

I set most of the supplies out on a book cart
I would recommend purchasing the kits if (as in my case) this is your first time doing a maker program. Or if, again like me, you've not made any type of maker project before. It is very helpful to not have to track anything down other than tools. The tools you will need are side cutters and wire strippers. They are both readily available. I was able to borrow 3 cutters from my garage and the library's maintenance department loaned me a pair and some wire strippers. My husband graciously trimmed and stripped the wires before this program, but the kids were able to use the cutters to take the heads off the toothbrushes.

About half of the kids were able to follow my oral directions and the others needed help. Luckily, I was able to borrow a staff member from our other city branch and I also had an adult volunteer that day. They were a big help in going around the room and showing the kids how to use the cutters, which way to face the batteries, etc.

My Race Track!
It took about 20 minutes of our hour program until everyone was done building and ready to race. I had built a quick little race track out of an outdoor umbrella stand box from home and used checkered flag duct tape for the finish line. The kids were able to use that one as a testing stage. Then they had 40 minutes to build their own race track from some supplies we had on hand. We gave them duct tape, cardboard boxes, paper towel tubes, paper clips (in case they wanted to mod their bristle bots or they could use them as obstacles), binder clips (also for obstacles) and cardstock (which they could use for lane dividers or some kids drew designs for the insides of their tracks). We also had pencils on hand.

I also set out a display of maker and science experiment books for people to browse when they were done creating. I don't think this is a necessary step but it can help you tie the program back into library materials. You could also booktalk the Nick and Tesla books which feature a bristle bot in the second book--one that has light up eyes!

A few other details:

  • 20 kids registered, 15 attended. We also had 4 adults (one mom and some grandpas!)
  • We had 3 adults running the program. I think one adult per every 5 kids is a good ratio for this age group
  • This was a program for grades 4-6. 
  • 1 or 2 batteries appeared to be duds, so definitely register fewer kids than you have supplies for in case this happens to you too. 
Overall, this program definitely took me out of my comfort zone but I really enjoyed doing it. We got great feedback from the kids and their parents so I am calling it a success! 

I mentioned to a couple people that we were going to be doing this project and got some advice so I'd like to thank Angie and others for their tips. Angie suggested using Lego bricks as obstacles and paper towel tubes as tunnels on the racetracks.  You can also cut the paper towel tubes in half and use those as lane dividers. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Flannel Friday: Filmore Fish Take 2

Last year I posted a puppet activity called Filmore Fish that I had sort of adapted the included words. This year I wanted to do the same thing but the fish/beach/pond tub had different puppets, so I once again changed the words. 

Here's last year's version: 
Poor ole me swimming in the sea
Not one friend to swim with me
BURP (burp up a fish)
Hey, buddy! Wouldya swim with me? 

I used those words for the shark and the second fish.

For the third fish I used this: 

Poor old me swimming in the sea
Not one thing to eat for lunch. 
BURP (burp up the kelp/seaweed/plant piece) 
Hey, buddy! Wouldya be my lunch? 

And then I had the kelp say "NO!" and threw it behind me. 

The puppets didn't have a tag so my co-worker and I are guessing that they are from Mr. Anderson's Company, which is sadly out of business

Rounding out my storytime, I read I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry, Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale (shoutout for nonfiction at storytime!), and Big Fish, Little Fish by Kevin Heck. 

This week's roundup is being hosted by Hannah over at Lovin' the Library

Thursday, June 05, 2014

"Fizz Boom Read" Summer Reading Program Decorations

The children's department staff has done an amazing job decorating our room for summer reading! Like many libraries, we're using "Fizz Boom Read" as a theme. Since we are blessed with a large space, our head decorator and myself decided in the planning stages to divide it into roughly thirds. You'll see below in the pictures that one third is dinosaurs, another is robots and beakers, and a last is outer space, which also contains some more robots because why not.

The decorations are either from Oriental Trading (space accessories, inflatable dinosaurs) or homemade by my extremely talented co-workers (robots, beakers, trees) mostly from recycled or leftover craft/electronic/misc. supplies. The atoms were made from hula hoops with ball pit balls. I do apologize that these pictures are so dark. I have a hard time getting well-lit photos in our room, with or without a flash. If you're in the Great Lakes Bay area, stop by and have a look in person!

Over at our Writing Center this month, we've copied Bryce's idea (and used her form, yay for sharing!) and the kids are drawing robots and telling us about their creations. Hilarity has ensued. One robot's secret weapon is liking cats. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Toddler Storytime: Bedtime Theme

We just had our last storytime until mid-June! The theme was bedtime. I had to use some of my second-choice books for this one due to a last minute decision to change my theme.

Pajama Time or The Going to Bed Book by Boynton Favorites at home or the library
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late or The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Willems Ditto
Goodnight Owl by Hutchins this one's on the longer side but the kids indulged me
Who's Yawning? by Bedford Very simple lift the flap book
Cows in the Kitchen by Crebbins I covered a storytime at a different branch this week so I threw this one in there since it was different kids than were there at my mice storytime

Scarf Rhyme:  This is the Way We Wash Our Hands
We did this right after reading The Pigeon Needs a Bath.

This is the way we wash our hands,
wash our hands, wash our hands,
This is the way we wash our hands,
when we get all dirty.
...toes, back, tummy, ears, face, hair

5 In The Bed 
Like 10 In the Bed, but better. Because shorter.

Five in the bed and the little one said,
"Roll over, roll over!"
So they all rolled over and one fell out.
Repeat with 4, 3, 2, 1, then:

Zero in the bed and the little one said,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Toddler Storytime: Jungle Theme

Last week's theme at storytime was Jungle! This was one of my more successful storytimes lately, and I think everyone had a great time.

Seals on the Bus (Hort)
Head to Toe (Carle)
Yikes (Florczak)
We've All Got Bellybuttons (Martin) Basically the same kind of book as Carle's, but no one seemed to mind.

Chant Rhymes
I actually had this rhyme written down to do another week during the mice theme, and forgot to do it, so I figured I would change the animals to fit the jungle theme. It actually made it even sillier (original rhyme "I Have a Dog"  I learned from Artsy Toddler Storytimes and had a dog, cat, mouse, etc.) It's a call and response song (audience repeats after you), and we alternated clapping with keeping the beat on our laps. Well, I tried, but this is a lot for my brain to process so I goofed up a few times. Oh well!  I also thought you could do it with the motions I wrote below.

I Have a Giraffe
I have a giraffe.  Nod, like this a legit thing that you have a drummer giraffe at home.
He plays the drums.  Pretend to play the drums
He keeps me up.    Lift arms up. 
When bedtime comes. Fold your hands like you're pretending to sleep. 
With a rat-a-tat tat  Play the drums. 
Rat-a-tat-tat.  Play the drums. 

Then we did it again with elephant, tiger, zebra, whatever. You could change the instruments out, to better fit the animals too. Like an elephant that trumpets with a toot-a-toot, etc.

Scarf Rhymes
I've been experimenting with using the same scarf rhymes each week because it can be so hard to get good participation if the audience doesn't know what to expect. And truthfully I don't always have as much time to practice and learn theme-related rhymes as I would like. Here's two that I have been having a lot of success with though:

Shake the Mango Tree --I learned this from Sesame Street while home one day with my sick toddler. It's very catchy! We do it with a scarf in each hand, egg shakers work too. It's a call and response song, so have the audience repeat after you. Here's the words (each line is said twice before moving on to the next one):

Shake, shake the mango tree.  Shake your arms like a tree.
Mango yellow, mango green.  Hold one arm up and then the other. 
One for you, and one for me.  Point out and then in. 
Shake, shake the mango tree.  Shake your arms like a tree. 

Popcorn Kernels
(Tune: Frere Jacques)
Popcorn kernels, popcorn kernels. Wave the scarves in the air. 
In the pot, in the pot. Ball the scarves up in your fists. 
Shake them, shake them, shake them; shake them, shake them, shake them. Shake the scarves in your fists.
'Til they pop! 'Til they pop! Throw them in the air. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Toddler Storytime: Mice Theme

Here's a storytime I did a few weeks ago, on mice!

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear (Wood)
Mouse Mess (Riley)
Cows in the Kitchen (Crebbin) There isn't a mouse in this book, but I had switched my theme at the last minute and decided to go with this book because I just love it.

Puppet Activity
Mice in a birthday present box


Hickory Dickory Dock
Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one, and down he ran
Hickory dickory dock.
Additional verses
The clock struck two, the mouse said BOO!
The clock struck three, the mouse said WHEEEE!
The clock struck four, there is no more;
Hickory dickory dock.

Tall as a Tree-- whole body movement, they liked this one a lot!
Tall as a tree
Wide as a house
Thin as a pin
Small as a mouse

Where are the Baby Mice
Where are the baby mice? Squeak, squeak, squeak Make fist and put behind back
I cannot see them. Peek, peek, peek. Shrug shoulders and begin to bring fist out. 
Here they come out of their hole in the wall. Show fist. 
One, two, three, four, five and that's all! Uncurl fingers one at a time. 

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!