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Showing posts from 2012

Pregnancy and Parenting Resources for Librarians

In my opinion, children's librarians are actually family services librarians. We have the opportunity to serve parents, grandparents, educators, etc., in addition to our community's youth. Many times parents feel more comfortable talking about researching parenting choices with the children's department's staff because they have a personal relationship with us. We're "their" librarians, after all! 
As a new mom myself, I want to encourage my fellow youth librarians to take a minute and refresh your knowledge of pregnancy and infant care.  I'm going to share some of my favorite resources for those stages. Please add your own in the comments! I'm sure I forgot some and I'd love to know more.  
Parenting Choices and Pediatrician Recommendations  Links in this section go to the appropriate page on Cloth or disposable diapers
Baby's sleep accommodations and safety How/when/if/method(s) of sleep training
Vaccine schedules (reg…

Programs That Failed

I confess to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have as many failures as successes as far as programming goes. Here, by reader request, is but a small sample:

Programs no one showed up for: 

Stuffed Animal Sleepover (would have been awesome)Programs that I failed to plan for SO! MANY! people to show up for: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book Party (never made it to the blog, but it was fun! Incredibly stressful when all those people walked in the door though.) Programs that originally got good numbers but drizzled out: Baby Storytime (which now that I have a baby of my own, I wish we still did!)  Paid Performers that didn't get nearly enough attendance to justify the speaker's fee, which isn't necessarily their fault, but still:  Basically any author visit we've booked, unfortunately. We don't have the money to get someone super famous and the turnouts for more minor writers are dismal.  Overall, most of my programs go off well. There will always be something that doesn't w…

Playing Santa!

I was inspired this morning (while digging through my ever-so-crowded storage room) to play Santa! We are having our gingerbread house programs today and I thought it would be fun to give the kids a free picture book. Many of the kids in our community are lower-income and don't have books of their own. These books were all donated to the library from parents whose kids have outgrown them, but they are still in great shape. Rather than put them in the book sale, I like to save them to give out when the mood strikes me. We also give them to the winners of our weekly trivia contest during the summer reading program.

You can tell that I could never be a teacher because I cannot write without lines!

Shelf Raiders: Program Ideas from the Nonfiction Section

I thought it would be interesting to see if we could all come up with a list of ideas for programs based on Dewey classes. I know poor DDC has fallen out of favor, and I'm hardly its biggest defender myself, but using its structure could lead to some great ideas for programs for all ages (not limiting this to kids). Let's give it a shot:

Creating web pages and blogs
School visits to promote library
Encyclopedia Scavenger Hunts
Crafts with discarded magazines
Museum Visits or at least see if you can passes to check out
Unexplained phenomenon

Invite philosophy professor to speak
Ghost hunting
Secrets of successful students
Local haunted houses

History of The Bible or other religious texts

Local candidates forum
Mock election
Fairy Tales Party
Saving money, the stock market, budgeting, etc.
Manners & etiquette (throw a fancy tea party and teach kids about good manners)
Costumes of different eras

The Creative Librarian

Two bloggers I admire, Sara and Marge, have been posting their thoughts about creativity and librarianship. I have a lot of thoughts on this subject as well. I think there is some confusion about creativity. A lot of people don't seem to think they are creative. Well, what does that mean? Creativity does not rely on artistic talent. All humans are creative. There are things you can do to make yourself more creative. It is not an innate personality quirk that some have and others are doomed to flail through life without.

When many of us think of the word "creativity," we think of being a gifted painter or other artist. Artistic talent is just one aspect of creativity. One that, while it seems to be a talent from birth, can be honed with practice. If you spend 10,000 hours drawing, you'll probably wind up being pretty good at it. But if you spent one hour and expect to produce a masterpiece, you'll never get good. Never compare a first draft with a finished produc…

Never Give Up; Never Surrender: Library Carnival 101

I've mentioned this here and there before, but the biggest program my library puts on is our annual summer reading Carnival. It is always on noon the Saturday after Labor Day in our parking lot.

I can't explain how Carnival works without first explaining how our summer reading program works. Kids going into 5th grade and below earn "library dollars" by filling out logs. 15 minutes of reading = 1 library dollar. They can fill out as many logs as they want (obviously there are only so many hours in a day.) At Carnival, the kids can use their library dollars as tickets to play games. As they play games, they earn prize tickets. (Game tickets can also be purchased for 4 for $1 by families who didn't participate in summer reading.)

The morning of Carnival, most of the staff arrives at 9. The parking lot is blocked off and the staff puts up tents and a fence along the road (we are located at the busiest intersection in town). It winds up looking a little bit like a ta…

My House Draw and Tell

I saw this finger-play in one of my favorite books for planning storytimes, Creative Resources for the Early Childhood Classroom, and I thought it would be fun to adapt into a draw and tell story. 

My House
I'm going to build a little house.
With windows big and bright,
With chimney tall and curling smoke
Drifting out of sight.  In winter when the snowflakes fall Or when I hear a storm,  I'll go sit in my little house
Where I'll be snug and warm. 
Source: Creative Resources for the Early Childhood Classroom by Judy Herr and Yvonne Libby Larson We have the 5th Edition at my library.
There are severalversionsofmovements you can use with this, if you prefer it as a fingerplay. 
Download my Draw and Tell PDF for step-by-step instructions.

Structuring Programs for Kids

Can we talk a little about program structure? I've read countless professional reference books about storytime and most of them recommend structuring your storytime so that the longest book is read first. That's a good plan if your idea of a good storytime is one where the kids sit quietly and you read. It's advice that has been less successful for me.

Remember my storytime philosophy?
I like interactive stories. But people of all ages, kids and adults, often need to be coaxed into participating. We don't do storytime registrations at my library, so I always have a different group at each program. Even if you require registration for your storytimes and the same people come each week, their moods will be different. Kids can be shy one minute and climbing all over you the next. 
I wanted to show you a little bit about how I decided to structure my shadow puppet program that I am doing over the winter school break this year. I'll be posting more about the stories fr…

Faces in the Crowd: Library Programs for Adults

I'd like to chat about programs for adults. Don't worry, I'm still a children's librarian! But I know it can be really hard to find great programs geared at an adult audience, so I thought I'd post some of our more successful programs for grown-ups. Most of these do not require much staff time beyond marketing efforts and picking up supplies. I didn't plan or present any of these, but if you have additional questions I will try and get answers for you.

Holiday Programs Wreath-Making Class One of our staff members taught patrons (class size limited to around 10) how to make Christmas wreaths. Cost was about $10 per person, and another $2ish if they wanted to make a bow, as well. I believe the most cost-effective way to obtain the greenery was to buy 3 full Christmas trees. But this is Michigan and Christmas trees are everywhere. I was shocked the first time I heard of anyone paying more than $20 for a tree! 
Cookie Exchange
Participants register ahead of time and …

Thinking Outside the Picture Book Stacks: Nonfiction at Storytime

Earlier we talked about using poetry in storytime. I promised to return with more titles to raid your non-picture book collection for when planning storytime. Here are just a few suggestions from each of the Dewey classes (and please add your own in the comments):

My Librarian is a Camel: I love this book for an audience with some school-age kids, as it talks about libraries all over the world. You could bring a globe with you and show the students how far some of the countries are from your own country.

Other Goose: Re-Nurseried and Re-Rhymed Children's Classics: Have the kids recite some traditional nursery rhymes, then teach them one of these re-imagined versions. My pick would be "Old King Coal" on page 48.

Two recent collections of international rhymes and tales I enjoyed were Sally Go Round the Stars: Favourite Rhymes from an Irish Childhood and The Elephant's Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India (told in comic strip format, so probably better adapted to a …

Mother, Mother, I Feel Sick Send for the Doctor Quick, Quick, Quick Shadow Puppet Show

I have been on a bit of a kick making shadow puppets lately. I am really enjoying this art form and it's a great one for libraries for the following reasons:
1) Super cheap puppets (essentially free) that you can make yourself
2) Can easily be presented by one person 3) Can do anything from illustrating a nursery rhyme to a full adaption of a picture book or a full-scale play.

One of the greatest picture books of all time is Mother, Mother, I Feel Sick Send for the Doctor Quick, Quick, Quick by Remy Charlip, who actually suggests trying it out as a shadow puppet show. I decided to take him up on that idea and MMIFSSFTDQQQ will be the main attraction at our Shadow Puppet Theater Program over the school break. (I'll post another time about the other, shorter stories we performed). I'm submitting this for Flannel Friday because it would be possible to do this story at storytime (even without a helper), so I think it counts.

First I want to say that I had SO. MUCH. FUN. makin…

Printable Snowperson Craft

I've already started planning our winter storytime sessions (kicking off the first full week of January here) and, for me, the hardest part is trying to come up with an art or craft activity that is simple enough for the littler ones and yields a decent result without having to buy materials. So I decided to make my own craft for some of the weeks. Here's my first effort: a simple snowman, which is still a little tricky for the little ones to cut for themselves.

I know there is a philosophy out there that it's better for kids to have open-ended art activities than to have "copy this" adult-directed crafts and I agree with that, but for a lot of reasons, I'm not sure my storytimes are the best time and place for that. I'd love to offer an open art studio program in the future sometime. Maybe during summer reading? It's tricky for me because the county arts council is mere steps away from my library and I don't want to step on their kids' progra…

Shadow Storytime

I thought much of the content that I'm currently working on for my winter shadow puppet show would adapt easily to a great preschool storytime theme. I love the idea of doing this in late January or early February for Groundhog Day.

Here's a selection of books and poems to run with:
Arthur's Nose shadow puppet show
"The Dog and His Bone" shadow puppet show (patterns from Judy Sierra's Fantastic Theater: Puppets and Plays for Young Performers--amazing book!)
The Game of Light by Herve Tullet
Gregory Groundhog Looks for his Shadow Mother Mother I Feel Sick Send for the Doctor Quick Quick Quick as a shadow puppet show or just read the book
"My Shadow" from Shout! Little Poems that Roar
"Shadow Wash" prop story

You can also hang a plain sheet up and let the kids practice making shadows in front of the audience. Photo opp!
A fun activity for slightly older kids would be to team them in pairs and have them take turns pretending to be each other's…

Trouble at the North Pole: A Christmas Draw and Tell Story

Here's another original Draw and Tell by yours truly! Today my fellow Flannel Friday-ers are all sharing holiday stories and I've decided to join them with "Trouble at the North Pole!" 
Trouble at the North Pole By Anne Clark
It was Christmas Eve and all of Santa’s toys were ready to be packed up in the sleigh. They were in big piles like this.

The elves put all the piles into one big bag like this.
It was too heavy for the elves to carry, so Mrs. Claus and Santa each grabbed a side of the bag like this.

The bag was so heavy, the two of them struggled to carry it!  To make things worse, the snow was falling so thick at the North Pole that they kept getting lost! The Clauses kept taking the wrong path, so their tracks in the snow looked like this.

Finally they found the sleigh! “Good luck, Santa!” said Mrs. Claus and she gave him a kiss! 

Santa threw the bag in the sleigh, buckled his seatbelt, and yelled “Merry Christmas!” as he and his team took off …

Thinking Outside the Picture Book Stacks: Poetry at Storytime

I'd like to thank the person who suggested today's topic on my reader survey! It reminded me that I've been meaning to incorporate more poetry into storytimes I'm planning for our next session. I'm going to do a series of posts on using material from outside your picture book collection in storytime. This is the first one!

I love using poetry with this audience for a few reasons:
Richer language is used in poems as compared with some other genresPreschoolers haven't learned to "hate" or be intimidated by poetry like many older kids (and adults) havePoetry can make a quick transition between longer stories to regain the kids' attention or change the atmosphere of the storytimeA lot of parents don't read poetry to/with their kidsI've made some Flannel Friday posts about poems (and some of these are upcoming as well) 
Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton Moose in Love by Diane Briggs Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich by Shel Silverstein upcoming Shad…

2012 So Tomorrow Reader Survey

It's time for my annual blog reader survey! Last year your feedback was so helpful to me that I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to say now. I'd love to hear what you have to say this year! While I try to do a survey about every year, I'm always open to constructive comments here on the blog or you can email me anytime.


A favorite game at my old elementary school was Tic-Tac-Toe. Like many libraries, mine has a chess/checkers/backgammon(!) table. I thought it would be fun to make a reusable Tic-Tac-Toe game for the kids to play.

You could also play a group game of Tic-Tac-Toe at Storytime! Play everyone versus you or kids versus grownups. Or whatever combination your little heart desires. These would also make a cute gift for a kid (or kid at heart) in your life. I can imagine an adorable little stuffed and sewn version. 
To make, cut 4 thick lines out of felt. Cut (at least) 9 rectangles. Mark both sides of them with Xs and Os. I used puffy paint because it's much, much faster, but you could lovingly cut them out of felt or you could print some off in whatever font you want and hot glue them on.  I also hot-glued a piece of scrap felt in the bottom right corner to use as storage for the pieces. 
Here's a printable version you can laminate. Don't forget to make extra pieces!

Quick Tip: Use poster tubes to keep items on the shelf neatly

If there's one thing that drives me crazy, it's a messy DVD shelf. I can forgive unruly fiction and nonfiction shelves because the books are all different shapes and sizes. BUT there is NO EXCUSE (and yes, I am yelling at you) for anything but the straightest line of DVDs. I am a laid-back person in general but militant about this.  So, how can busy librarians keep their DVD shelves nice and tidy? A little recycling of poster tubes is how. We are constantly getting promotional posters from publishers via our book distributor. Like any children's librarian, I am a hoarder of things that may be useful in the future. The big tubes I use individually behind the DVD cases and the smaller ones I tape together in a bundle. Anyone else out there do this? It saves us so much time! 

The Making of a Flannel Friday Post

I get tons of emails asking for help getting involved with Flannel Friday (YAY! Keep them coming!), but since I'm a visual learner, I thought I'd show you step-by-step what goes into one of my Flannel Friday posts. This is my process, but I'm sure the other bloggers involved have (probably better) other ways of doing theirs.  This is the behind-the-scenes version of today's Flannel Friday post "Nobody Likes Me."

Let's get started! First we need an idea. Ideas can come from anywhere, but I was reminded of this summer camp singalong classic from the 2013 summer reading manual when I received it months ago. Instantly I knew I had to flannelize it. I had a vision of a black silhouette face and fun colored worms. 
Step 1: Create a pattern. Some patterns I can draw (on paper or in Microsoft Paint). Human faces are beyond my drawing skills. So the first place I turned to was Open Clip Art. I searched "silhouette" and Score! Someone had posted a plain m…

"Nobody Likes Me" Flannel Song

Getting way ahead of myself again, today I'm sharing a song that will be just perfect for those of you using the collaborative summer reading program's theme of "Dig Into Reading." It's "Nobody Likes Me," also known as "Guess I'll Go Eat Worms." This is a summer camp classic perfect for acting out at silly storytimes.

Nobody Likes Me (Traditional)  Nobody likes me, Everybody hates me,
Guess I'll go eat worms,
Long, thin, slimy ones, Short, fat, juicy ones, Itsy, bitsy, fuzzy wuzzy worms.
Down goes the first one,  Down goes the second one, Oh how they wiggle and squirm.
Up comes the first one, Up comes the second one, Oh how they wiggle and squirm.
Download my pattern (adapted from Open Clip Art images).

In a pinch, you could cut strands of thick yarn to give the kids if you wanted to act the story out. Make a bunch and get the audience to play along. I'd do the felt board version once to teach it to people as it's not as commonl…

Perks of the Job

One of the perks of my job is that my LEGO mini-fig collection is coming along swimmingly. We don't circulate the little dudes (and yes, they are always dudes--no girls with the LEGO books, I observe) so I keep them in my desk. I left Han Solo in the carbonite plastic he came in. It just seemed appropriate. I'm not sure why Harry Potter is bald, maybe Voldemort was feeling petty. Or I just lost his toupee. No way of knowing, really.

Jane's Garden Draw and Tell Story

Here's another draw-and-tell story! This one, "Jane's Garden," I wrote for summer reading 2013. The theme will be "Dig Into Reading." I hope you like it! 
Jane loved to plant seeds in the spring. She would walk all around her garden gently placing them in the ground. When she was finished, she went back into her house. 
Three times, she watered the ground where she had planted in the seeds. 
Then all she could do was wait. But that didn’t stop her from walking back and forth, up and down the garden, to check on the seeds.
One day Jane’s patience paid off! She saw that a flower had begun to bloom where she had planted the seeds.
Do you know what kind of flower it was?
A rose! Good job!

A Succinct Argument for Ditching Dewey?

It's just a little excessive for a nearly-wordless book about drawing, don't you think?

How to Draw (A Giraffe) in Microsoft Paint

A reader requested a tutorial on drawing in Microsoft Paint. I'm going to confess that I am far, far from a talented artist. Like seriously far. I took drawing as an art elective in high school and it was so awful. I am still traumatized by trying to draw still portraits in perspective. And it was a bottle tableau, not anything with crazy lines. So I do not even bother trying to draw with paper or pencil because it is incredibly frustrating to me.

BUT it turns out that I may be semi-decent at illustration in the simplest of software programs: Microsoft Paint. I like Paint because every PC has it. And I am extremely overwhelmed by PhotoShop. So Paint it is! No worries, because it has all the function I need for clip-art type projects.

I start all my drawings by having something to copy. That's right! When it comes to artwork, I am a straight-up plagarist. I cannot draw anything from memory. So I'll pull up a Google Image* search on penguins (or whatever) and study the shap…