Parachute ideas for all kinds of programs!

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 27, 2016

STEM + Stories: Robotics

Ozobot in action
This summer I am doing a monthly program called Stories + STEM. Each meeting, we'll have a different topic and we will read a story or biography and then have different stations with activities related to the topic. This program is for ages 5-12 and I limited it to 40 kids at a time. June's topic was robotics.

I read two books: Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep! by Todd Tarpley and Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World by Mac Barnett. Then I divided the children into three groups and they visited three stations in a rotation.

Two of the stations were competition robots from the local high schools' robotics teams. The children were able to drive the robots, learn how they were built, and ask questions of the students on the teams. The coaches were also there supervising.

The last station was run by one of the robotics coaches who brought a set of 8 Ozobots to the program and showed the kids how to program them using paper and colored markers. I was not familiar with Ozobots before the program and they are so cool!

This was a simple program to put together and made an awesome community collaboration between us and our nearest public and Catholic high schools. The robotics coaches actually reached out to us to hold a program during Robotics At Your Library Week, a Michigan initiative to have robots visit every library in the state between June 19-June 25 this year. We had 78 people attend, including parents and grandparents. We are hoping to repeat this program (or one very similar) next year! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Finger Play: Five Lovely Starfish

I wanted to share with everyone a really simple but fun fingerplay I spotted in Artsy Toddler Storytimes, which is my favorite resource for planning my 2 and 3 year old storytimes. In that book, this rhyme i sused as a flannel board rhyme but I decided to adapt it as a fingerplay. I like it because it's simple enough I can actually memorize the words. I adapted it on the fly to use some fun vocabulary words that are synonyms for "big" so each verse was a little different.

Here are the words as given in the book:

Five Lovely Starfish
Five lovely starfish sitting on the beach,
Along came a wave and now there are four.
(count down to zero)

So what I did was insert a different word in front of wave like: big, giant, huge, enormous etc. I used my left hand to count and made my right arm a wave with a rolling motion that knocked my left fingers ("starfish") down. 

Monday, May 02, 2016

Minecraft Madness


The one program I knew I wanted to do over Spring Break was something Minecraft-related. We do have 10 public computers in my children's department but I knew that wouldn't be enough to meet demand so I decided to plan an "unplugged" program. I was fortunate to find tons of awesome ideas online and I actually think I have enough ideas that I didn't use this time around for another program. Maybe this summer?

Our program was a drop-in, all ages program held the Monday of Spring Break from 2-3:30pm. We had 95 people attend and I received some really kind compliments.  To decorate the room, I used black tablecloths. I also hung purple and black streamers and a Minecraft portal sign in front of our program room door.

We had two crafts, both from Kerry Ann Morgan's AWESOME blog post. What I loved about these crafts was their simplicity. We did the Minecraft creeper magnets and the Minecraft sticker crafting project. I overheard one of the boys say, "This is the simplest magnet I've ever made and (dramatic pause) THE BEST!"

The design your own realm craft required the sticker printouts, construction paper, scissors, and markers.

The creeper magnets required glass tiles from Dollar Tree, glue sticks, magnets, and the creeper face printouts.

We also had three games to play. I made 6 creepers out of dry floral squares from our local Dollar Tree store. I left them all in their plastic. Then I printed off a Creeper face image and duct taped it to the front of each square. Then I covered the remainder of the square with the same green duct tape (which we already had, score!). They turned out pretty cool and this seemed like the sturdiest way of doing it. This game was inspired by the Knock It Down Creeper game from this blog, but I made it a bowling game instead of a bow and arrow game.
I also made a Pin the Tail on the Pig Game. I made a Creeper helmet for the kids to wear instead of a blindfold (faster!).One of my coworkers made a Minecraft scavenger hunt so we had that out during the program as well.


Last but not least, I set up the library's portable green screen set up for a photo booth. I printed off these masks, laminated them, and attached them to drinking straws and let the kids take photos with their own devices. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Going to the Pet Store (take 2)

A few years back, I shared a rhyme called "Going to the Pet Store" and it remains a staple of my storytimes today, particularly my outreach and school visits. At my local Meijer, I found a set of puppets that I thought were the perfect size for bringing along with me when I go out into the community to do storytimes, especially because they come in an adorable carrying case.

Here's the rhyme again:

Going to the Pet Store
Going to the pet store,   (Slap your knees to the beat)
Gonna find a pet. 
I wonder what to get? 
Hmmmmm...  (Scratch your head) 
(Look in the house and pull out a puppet)

(I actually bought three sets of these puppets on clearance for $9.99 each. I've already blogged the pirate and ocean animals with a rhyme I whipped up for them, so please check those posts out too!)

This week's Flannel Friday is being hosted by Kate at Felt Board Magic

Friday, April 22, 2016

I Swam the Sea to See the Animals

This is my second post about the puppet sets I found on clearance ($9.99!) at Meijer. The previous post was on pirates. Today's is on ocean animals and you can find the set at Amazon, but I think much more than $10 is too much. Here's a little song I made up to go along with the killer whale, star fish, dolphin, and clown fish. I would sing it all the way through and then pull out a puppet! Easy peasy!

I Swam the Sea to See the Animals

I swam the sea to see the animals, see the animals, see the animals.
I swam  the sea to see the animals, and this is what I saw!

This week's Flannel Friday is being hosted by Lisa at Lisa's Libraryland and is a Summer Reading Roundup! This year our summer reading theme is sports and so swimming is totally related. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Summer Reading Program 2016 Ideas

I know lots of people doing sports/games-themed summer reading programs. Here are some program ideas from my blog archives if you are looking for some inspiration.

Please let me know if you try any of these programs and how they go! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Going on a Pirate Ship

I found this wonderful pirate set of mini-stuffies on clearance for $9.99 at my local Meijer store. I thought it would be great for storytime so I wrote a rhyme to go with it. I hope you like it! There is room for all of the animals hidden inside of the pirate ship, and pull one out at the end of each time through the rhyme. I'd probably save the shark for last because sharks upstage everything else. Also, all of these stuffed animals make noise but it would be entirely possible to do this rhyme without using the squeakers inside. I just thought that was worth noting so you're not surprised by a stray rattling sound or a woof.

Going On a Pirate Ship
Going on a pirate ship.
Gonna be a long trip!
Want to take some friends.
I wonder who to bring?
Hrmm... (or ARRGHH)

This week's Flannel Friday roundup is being hosted by our fearless founder, Melissa Depper at Mel's Desk. Thanks for hosting, MZD! 

Monday, April 11, 2016

BlockCam App at Maker Club

Another iPad app we tried at my last maker club was the very cool BlockCam ($0.99).  This app lets you take photos and automatically turns them into "Lego" masterpieces. Please note that this app is not affiliated with Lego Group. You can also simply add accessories like a mustache.

Before
Portrait with brick accessories


Full brick portrait

Friday, April 08, 2016

"Nesting Chickens" Rhyme

A long time ago, we ordered a set of nesting chickens from Lakeshore Learning (now discontinued). They were meant to go in our children's department's toy area. We just felt like they came apart too easily and weren't that fun of a toy. So they have been sitting my office for about a year decorating the top of my filing cabinet. Really, that was a noble life for a set of nesting chickens. It could have been worse. BUT I wanted to find some library-related use for them. So, lo and behold, this week I was planning a ducks and chickens storytime when I happened to walk by them again, like I do multiple times a day since this filing cabinet is between my desk and my office door.

And an idea struck me. What if I used the words from a previously posted rhyme about Nesting Cats and made it Nesting Chickens. And thus it was so. I give you "Nesting Chickens:"

"Nesting Chickens"
Chicken, Chicken
I hear a sound
Who is it? 
Cluck! (repeat 2 times)

Chicken, Chicken
I hear a sound
Who is it? 
Crack! An egg!

This week's Flannel Friday roundup is being hosted by my good friend Cate at Storytiming

Monday, April 04, 2016

Green Screen Fun at Maker Club!


Inspired by Karen at Teen Librarian Toolbox, I started using a green screen at our last maker club. The kids and I had SO much fun. I wanted to share a little bit about what we did. 
Our green screen set-up is available from Amazon and comes with black, white, and green backdrops. It's not professional quality but it works great for my purposes (green screen photography but we also use this setup to run photo booths at a number of our programs). 

Like Karen, I loved the app Green Screen Wizard Mobile ($4.99 plus in-app purchases if you want to use some pre-made backgrounds) for its quick use. I was able to show the kids how to import backgrounds once and they totally ran with it. We only had one iPad at this program but we are in the process of getting more set up so I plan to have 2-3 at the next Maker Club program. 

The kids really started getting into when I showed them how to drape the green screen to make my head appear to float in space, as you can see in this photo below: 




 I did like only having one iPad because my main rule for the green screen station (there were 4-5 other stations) was that only one kid could move the screen over themselves at once. I didn't want anyone to pull it down, although it is pretty sturdy. I think we will try using a bench and pulling the screen over that to simulate flying next time!