One of my favorite picture books of 2013 was Windblown by Édouard Manceau. Like the bloggers behind With Kiddos @ the Library, I was inspired to turn it into a flannel board for a program next month. I'll share more details after the program is over, so for now, please enjoy some photos of how the flannel board turned out. We didn't have the exactly matching felt colors so I substituted whatever was handy. I've had quite a bit of fun playing with the pieces to make the creatures from the story.
November's tween book club selection was Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I was VERY curious to see what the kids would make of this book. I personally really enjoyed it and now that we've discussed the first book I can finally finish reading the series! If you're not familiar with the series, it's my new (to me) go-to pick for realistic middle grade science fiction. It's good read-alike for fans of Lois Lowry's The Giver.
I used Multnomah County's book discussion questions and adapted them to fit our discussion. The kids had some great things to say and made some particularly keen observations about the setting of the novel (which they thought was Pennsylvania 50-100 years from now) but without huge technological innovations. One girl called it "the opposite of The Jetsons."
My book club doesn't meet in December so our next selection will be Storm Runners by Roland Smith in January. I showed the kids this video with Roland Smith (which does have some mild spoilers) to get them excited for our next meeting.
Chugga chugga choo choo! This week's theme at storytime was transportation! We talked about trains, cars, construction vehicles, boats, and all other things that go! Always a good theme for little ones. Here's what we did this time around:
In our opening every week, we sing "If You're Happy and You Know It," and this week in addition to clapping our hands, stomping our feet, wagging our tails, and flapping our wings, we also flew into space and drove our cars.
Freight Train by Crews A Classic
In The Driver's Seat by Haynes Thank you so much to my coworker, K, for suggesting this one! A BIG hit!
Who Is Driving? by Timmers One of my personal favorites
Tip, Tip, Dig, Dig Another perfect book for 2 and 3 year olds.
The Wheels on the Bus
The Grand Old Duke of York
Row, Row, Row Your Boat Let's Go Riding in an ElevatorI learned this one from Kendra! For this one, the kids are under the parachute and the parents/caregivers are holding on. We start with the chute just above their heads and gradually raise it and slap it down FAST at DOWN. You can also do it as a bounce at baby storytime. I do it with my own daughter while we're waiting at the doctor's.
Music: Dance, Freeze, Melt by Mister Eric (Track 6 on Rockin' Red) They really got into this one! You definitely have to practice the dance, freeze, melt actions so they know what's coming but they caught on really fast. Smarties!
After the parachute, the kids played together with Matchbox cars on the floor.
One of the things I like most about the children's department at my new job is our focus on doing programs that cover all areas of knowledge and not just literacy-based programs. We already do a science experiment extravaganza quarterly, but when we discovered the Bedtime Math program, I knew we had to try it. The goal of Bedtime Math is to provide "recreational math" opportunities for kids outside the school setting.
After getting the program supplies in the mail*, I was so excited to put this program on! It is a cinch! They send you all the supplies. All I had to do was print out some things and supply pencils.
Here's how I set up:
When the families came in, there was a table with their gift bags and name tags. Each child had a name tag and each family received a gift bag with all the goodies. I thought this might go more smoothly than passing things out one at a time as we got to them. It did not. So, next time we do this program, we will pass stuff out (as instructed to by the good people at Bedtime Math) so people will not be distracted or lost.
One of the activities is giant tangrams! Here's a sample I made. Note: tangrams are hard!
The kids also got to make (AND KEEP!) giant foam dominoes using stickers. This is a great activity. One thing I would do before releasing the kids to create their dominoes would be to play a sample game so they understand how it works. I believed more parents would know how to play this game as it was a staple of my childhood. Everybody caught on though.
The feedback from families was tremendous! One of the moms stopped me to say they had a great time and one of the dads wanted to know when we would do it again. I'm hoping we can do another session during January or February.
As far as numbers go, the kit contains enough supplies for 20 families. I actually think that would be wayyyy too many people for this to go smoothly. Maybe if you had more than one staff person. We had 10 families register for a total of 25 people who actually attended. It was nice to see so many dads at one program! And, since Ally was wondering, yes, kids (and a parent or two) came in their jammies! The kids were ages 3-9, but 6-9 would be better so they are able to do the math.
Public librarians can order a kit for free from the Bedtime Math organization. We used the PJ Party Kit #1 for this program (tangrams and dominoes).
Bedtime Math's partnering organizations include the American Library Association (maybe you've heard of them?), Boston Children's Museum, Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County, Girl Scouts, Liberty Science Center, Museum of Mathematics, Scholastic Publishing, and World of Wonder Children's Museum. There is an official Bedtime Math book available through the usual vendor suspects. I purchased two copies for my branch.
*Bedtime Math provided a free program kit to my library, as they will do for all U.S. public libraries per their website. I am not affiliated with them in any way.
Some more things I meant to add: We held this program at 6:30 pm on Monday night and it lasted about 45 minutes. My branch closes at 8 pm. One word of caution is that the included stickers made a huge mess so I did have to run the vacuum after the program which I wasn't intending to do. It only took aout 5 minutes so don't let that deter you. Make sure you have plenty of garbage cans on hand as well. The foam stickers I was sent had tiny little pieces that needed to be punched out by the kids as well as the typical sticker backing.
As far as room setup, you will want as much of an empty space in the middle as you can. I lined up about 20 chairs on the perimeter of the room, as well as the tables. Then the families could play with the tangrams and make their dominoes on the floor with as much space as we could provide. My branch has a program room for children's activities (storytime, etc.) as well as a bigger room with a capacity of about 180 for performers, community events, etc. We used the bigger room for this program (as we did for pumpkin decorating and the down on the farm party, among others).
If you're unfamiliar with how an unconference works, basically the session topics are decided by the attendees on that morning. We will take suggestions ahead of time, and then vote on what the breakout topics will be. Registration is free (please bring some cash for lunch) and open! We hope to get people from all over Michigan and other states and maybe even Canada. Why not? We're also hoping to some library school students from Wayne State and U of M.
Here's our website! If you have any questions, you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last night at my tween book club, we discussed The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, one of my very favorite Newbery winners. It was a great choice for a spooky October evening, close to Halloween. Here's what we did:
I always do a word search or crossword puzzle at the beginning of book club. It gives the kids something to do together while they eat their pizza. I try to alternate whether it's a word search or crossword each month.
Book Discussion I always look online for good book discussion questions before I plan anything else. For this book, I found Multnomah County Library's questions really helpful, as well as those from Gaiman's official site for young readers, Mouse Circus. We watched the book's official trailer to refresh everyone's memory. The kids had some great insights this month. We talked for a long time about Gaimain's tendency to hint about the book's setting (pounds as currency, etc.) and characters (just what is Silas anyway?). We had a really good chat about why there are so many orphans in children's literature also. If You Like This Book, Try... Booktalks
I like to booktalk some related titles after the discussion is over. I try to keep this a mix of fiction, nonfiction, chapter books, and anything they might enjoy glancing over. This time I book-talked a couple creepy reads that I thought the kids would like: Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices by David M. Schwartz They were impressed and disgusted. Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen Fun opportunity to introduce the new vocabulary word "epitaph". Your Skeleton is Showing : Rhymes of Blunder from Six Feet Under by Kurt Cyrus Epitaphs
I found a planning sheet to spark ideas for kids on how to write their own epitaph. I also printed out an article called How to Write a Funny Epitaph. Then I printed out a gravestone template for each kid so they could put the final version on there. These prompts were also helpful. The discussion was so good this month that we didn't have time to cover this, so I sent everything home with the kids.
I like to end by introducing the next month's book, so I did a short book talk for Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix, our title for November. Wish I had I showed this fan-made book trailer that I just found though! I think the kids will really like Among the Hidden. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series but I will wait until after our book discussion next month so I don't accidentally spoil anything from the later books.
It's officially fall storytime season here in Michigan! That means the caregivers are toting pumpkin spice lattes and we're going apple picking in storytime! This week we talked about fall and read Leaves by David Ezra Stein, Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley, and The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri. Following the last book, the kids (and their grownups--some of the apples are still up on the higher branches--aka bookshelves) are dismissed to find some of the 70-ish apples hidden around the back half of our children's programming room where the craft tables are. After the kids are done, they come back to the circle and we recite "Way Up High in the Apple Tree" using the apples they found:
Way Up High in the Apple Tree
Two red apples smiled at me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could,
Down came an apple...
Mmmmm mmmm good!
The apples were included in our storytime tub this week and suggested to go with that rhyme. Instead of passing them out myself, I thought it would be more fun to let the kids find them. We've done this with gemstones for a pirate theme and they always love to collect objects. It gives them a chance to stretch their legs and then I can set-up for the next activity.
I traced the artwork from the patterns in the book but clip art printouts or small puppet objects would work just as well (if not better). The puppet has been at my library longer than I have and I couldn't find a tag, so I am not sure where it came from.
For Flannel Friday, I'm posting an activity that we have left out in our children's room for the kids to play with on their visits. This flannel board is on a support column between one bank of public computers and our official "play area". This has been one of the most popular felt board activities since I started this job in April.
I asked one of my coworkers to take some jack o' lantern coloring pages from the Internet and trace the pieces to make a Jack O' Lantern Flannelboard Play Station. Here's one way it has been put together as well as the extra pieces. You could do this as a storytime activity too by asking the kids what body parts make a jack o'lantern.
One of the fun programs my new library has put on for a number of years is a pumpkin decorating program. I can take absolutely no credit for the idea or execution of this program. My co-workers even set the room up for me the day before the program (THANK YOU!).
This program is a great way to use any random leftover craft supplies that you have hiding in the crevices of your storage areas. Even if you can't think of a way to use something weird rest assured that the kids definitely will. Some of the odds and ends we put out (spread out over 4 supply tables in the back):
Plastic drinking straws
Plastic bottle caps
Pipe cleaners/Chenille stems
Rectangles of felt and foam
Plastic spider rings
Fake spider web
Left over die-cuts from other craft programs
Different colored paper and paper strips
Crepe paper strips
Tissue paper squares
The kids were given paper plates to assist in carrying their chosen supplies back to their seats. Their pumpkins set on paper plates for stability and easy transport. On the tables were supplies for them to share with their tablemates (scissors, glue sticks, glitter glue, glue dots, dot markers, etc.) The kids had an hour to decorate. At my first library system, we did pumpkin carving programs, and this decorating program is a lot less clean up! I just had to break everything down and run the vacuum quickly versus spending hours cleaning pumpkin guts off the carpet.
General setup notes:
Pumpkins were purchased in a large quantity (several hundred) for all of our branches from one farm in our county (I work for a county library system). One of our maintenance staffers picked up and delivered these pie-sized pumpkins to all 4 branches on the same day. Staffers at each branch were responsible for unloading and cleaning the pumpkins that day and storing them until the day of their branch's program.
My branch's program was this past Saturday. We are the biggest branch, so we held three programs with a registration cap of 30. The times offered were 11:30, 1:30, and 3:00. Very few people signed up for the last program so we may not do three times in 2014. If that's the way we go, I will put a longer break between the two programs since it was difficult to get the room set up again and fit lunch breaks in there.
You will want 2 people for this program, if you run it as a decorating contest like my branch* does. I did it with one of our esteemed volunteers. Basically I stayed in the room and she used a book cart to deliver the finished pumpkins to the judging area. She also helped me clean up at the end, thank goodness.
This program was a lot of fun! I am always amazed at what the kids can create when you give them the raw materials and get out of the way. Our Lego programs are another example of this.
*At my branch, this program is actually run as a contest, but our other 3 branches just do a decorating program. The contest portion gets really complicated so please forgive me for not blogging about how that all works in detail. :) I will say that we have 3 different grade levels and the winner of each level gets a $10 gift card. The public votes to pick a winner. Where the system gets complicated is in keeping track of the entrants while not making their names and contact information known to the voters.
Hi! My name is Anne Clark and I'm a Children's Librarian in Michigan. If you like my blog, please subscribe via email or RSS so you never miss a post. All opinions are my own and not my employer's. Thanks for reading!