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, May 21, 2012

Heroes in a Half Shell: What the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Taught Me About Being a Librarian

I grew up in the 90's, which means that I was born in the 80's. Thus my peers and I were the target audience for the opus that is The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles empire. When I began my first stab at weeding the juvenile* fiction section at my library, I was thrilled to discover a set of TMNT picture books in pristine condition. Yet no one had ever checked them out. As the turtles would say, "BUMMER, DUDE."

Maybe the Turtles were past their prime? I decided there was no harm in trying to get them more attention. If in the next year, they were still on the non-circulating report, they were goners. But I suspected that even if actual kids were unfamiliar with the Turtles, there had to be some nostalgic parents out there excited to relieve their childhoods. 

The first thing I did was change the books' cataloging from J fiction to Easy**. Then I gave them their very own spotlight in the picture book section. And they have combined for more than 80 checkouts in the time since being re-cataloged. That's pretty solid for books that were shelf-sitters before.

Ranganathan was right. Let's go through his Five Laws of Library Science
  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his [or her] book.
  3. Every book its reader. 
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.

And maybe we can re-write them to be the Five Laws of Ninja Turtle Library Science: 
  1. Ninja turtle books are to be read. 
  2. Every reader might enjoy a ninja turtle book. 
  3. Ninja turtle books have readers. 
  4. Save the time of the reader by putting the ninja turtle books where someone might find them. 
  5. Ninja turtle books are growing organisms. They need to be cultivated: acquired when there is demand and (sniff) weeded when there is not. 
So what did the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles teach me about being a librarian? 
  • If your patrons can't find a book, you might as well not have it. Market them! 
  • Keep series books together even if they have separate authors. ESPECIALLY if they have seperate authors. 
  • Never underestimate Turtle Power's appeal to multiple generations. 
  • "Forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza." --Michelangelo 
*Libraries should not be calling kids juveniles anymore. It only encourages them to be delinquents. 

**I don't think we should be calling picture books Easy either. Kids learning to read struggle and labeling something as Easy is destructive to their efforts. I would prefer Picture Books or Beginning Readers as appropriate. And even that isn't perfect because I frequently pull books for adults learning to read as well. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

So You Want to Flannel Your Fridays?

I thought it would be helpful if I compiled some of the things that have worked well for me in contributing to Flannel Friday posts over the past year. If any of my fellow bloggers have a tip I neglected to mention, please leave it in the comments!

1) Schedule your posts. I like to have 4-5 posts all prepared and ready to go for Flannel Friday. I find it much easier to spend a few hours writing and photographing at once rather than finding time to do it each week I want to participate. I will often have posts scheduled for 2-3 months out, particularly as I am preparing my own storytimes each session at a time. This is also helpful at forcing me to look for which upcoming holidays I might want to prep a flannel story or storytime. 

2) Take good photographs and edit them. I use my iPhone to shoot my flannel stories. The key is to find somewhere in your library or house that has good lighting and to hold the camera as still as possible. To edit photos, I first upload them into my (free) Picasa web album. Then I have the option to Edit in Creative Kit (also free, look under the Actions heading in the menu). 

Creative Kit gives the option to crop, rotate, adjust exposure, sharpen or resize your images. Often I will just select the autofix button and maybe crop the image as well. You can also add text, if you'd like to use a watermark or just give the title of the story. 

3. Cite your sources like a good librarian. If you used patterns from a professional resource book, please include a link to the author's Web page or a online store that sells the book. If your post was inspired by  another Flannel Friday participant, definitely link to the idea. Don't be embarrassed that something wasn't your original idea. The whole point of Flannel Friday is to share our ideas and see other people's. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

4. Related to #3, be mindful of copyright implications. It's fine to say that you used clipart from Microsoft Office, but if you're sharing a printable pattern online it should be your own artwork or artwork you have permission to use and/or modify. I love for this.

5. Follow the procedures for submitting your Flannel Friday posts to the roundup. You can find out who is hosting this week by checking the This Week @ Flannel Friday page. You can even have that information delivered to you every week when it is updated by subscribing via email (check the right column near the bottom for the option to do this) or through RSS (center bottom). 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My #1 Job Hunting Tip for Public Librarians

It's graduation time for many library school students and while I am not sure how many of them read my blog, I thought I would pass on my #1 tip for getting a job in a public library. Are you ready? Here it is: Before you apply for a job at any public library, read the Board minutes. Go back at least a year and more if the library still has them online.

Some of the things you might learn from the Board minutes: 
  • What the library's financial situation is. Some libraries will have their entire budgets online and others you will have to read through the lines more. Look for key words like furlough days, health insurance costs, and other indicators that the library is struggling. You definitely don't want to start a new job only to get laid off! I like surprises, but only ones like cupcakes. Do your research. 
  • How the position came to be available. I always ask this in interviews, even when I think I already know the answer. You might get a different response than what the minutes reflect. But it can make an impact on your decision process if the previous librarian was fired/moved/promoted etc. I'm not sure how I would feel about taking a job where my predecessor was fired, unless it was for complete malfeasance, such as embezzling. 
  • What direction the library administration and Board are heading. Months before our patrons learn of a service we may be adding through our publicity, references to proposed changes can be found in the Board minutes. Especially with large expenses, often the Board will need to be educated on the service's background one month, see a demonstration another month, debate it in the third, and vote to adopt it in the fourth. Maybe you will learn that the library in question is totally polar to your own philosophy on public libraries or is a pretty good match to your interests or abilities. In the former case, you can decide not to bother filling out an application and sending your resume/cover letter. In the latter, those are things you can address in your packet to tailor it to the position. How much better is that than regurgitating the contents of your resume in your cover letter?
I would worry more about what the Board minutes say than what the actual job description says. Many times they are out of date or written by a department that does not actually know what librarians do for 40 hours per week. If you see something that strikes you as odd, you can always bring it up in an interview and find out what the story is.

On the other hand, I've decided not to apply for jobs because the Board minutes revealed that the health insurance plan covered only employees and not their spouses or children. That is a dealbreaker for me and I would imagine many others as well.

*I haven't been actively looking for a job since my own library school graduation (accepted my current job 4 months after getting my MLS after applying for 3 total jobs).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Little Red Bird (a Japanese Nursery Rhyme)

Have you seen the beautiful book Japanese Nursery Rhymes: Carp Streamers, Falling Rain and Other Traditional Favorites yet? It is definitely worth flipping through and listening to the accompanying CD. I snagged it out of the new books pile because I thought several rhymes would make wonderful flannel boards. 
The first one to catch my eye was page 15's The Little Red Bird (Akai tori kotori). The book translates the words as: 
Little bird, red bird
Why oh why so red? 
Because it ate a red fruit. 
Little bird, white bird
Why oh why so white? 
Because it ate a white fruit. 
Little bird, blue bird
Why oh why so blue? 
Because it ate a blue fruit. 

I did a little Google search, and you can download a karaoke version of this song from Amazon or iTunes if you'd just like the instrumental version. Also because this is a full-service blog, here is a video of an adorable little girl singing part of this song. What we do without YouTube? 

I picked this rhyme because you can easily add different colored birds and fruit. For my version, I just did the three colors mentioned in the song. As it is a simple song, I didn't want to invest tons of time in making pieces from felt. Instead I downloaded a bird from Open Clip Art and used Microsoft Publisher to recolor it to blue and Microsoft Paint to recolor it to white. You could use this technique to make birds in as many colors as you'd like. Once I printed the artwork, I used a black Sharpie to go over the lines on the white bird so it wouldn't have an orange outline. It was much faster to trace by hand rather than do it pixel by pixel in Paint. 

I also used Open Clip Art to find the cherry, blueberry, and onion. You will have to give me artistic license on onions being considered a fruit. If anyone thinks of a white fruit, let me know! Since Open Clirt Art content is free for all uses, I can share my file. Download the PDF here. I will say that clip art hardly does justice to Helen Acraman's artwork. 

The book is wonderful because it has three lines for each actual line of the rhyme. First you are given the Japanese script in black, then romanized Japanese in white, and then the English translation in black. On the CD, you are given the song in Japanese (track 11) and then in English (track 12). 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Introducing the Flannel Friday website!

Exciting new, everyone! As you probably know, I have been keeping the archive and schedule for Flannel Friday information for the past year. I will be stepping away from FF and this blog for the next few months while I am on maternity leave. To keep Flannel Friday going while I'm gone (and after I get back), a small group of old and new Flannel Friday-ers worked to create a new web home for Flannel Friday.  You may see this announcement on a lot of blogs today as all previous hosts of FF have been asked to post the same information in the hopes of reaching as many people associated with Flannel Friday as possible. Please bear with us as everyone adjusts to the "new" Flannel Friday. 

Here's the link!

The new site will be the home of the Round Up Schedule, the archives, FAQs about Flannel Friday, information about how to get involved with Flannel Friday, and links to help new members get started with social networking and blogging. There will also be a link to the week's Round Up, but the Round Up will continue to be hosted on individual blogs. We'll just point to each Round Up from the site. 

Refining the Round Up Procedure

The Flannel Friday community has grown continuously over the year, with new bloggers, new Round Up Hosts, and new members every week on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. We are building an amazing community and are grateful to each and every one of you for your participation and enthusiasm. As the group has grown, you've probably noticed that so have the Round Ups! We've seen an inevitable increase in missed links and general confusion as the Round Ups are compiled. We thought that the launch of the new site was a great opportunity to take a page from other round ups in the blogosphere and establish one single method for building the Round Up each week. 

This information will be in the FAQs on the new site, but here's our new strategy in a nutshell:
  • Every week the Round Up Host will publish a "placeholder" post for the Round Up on the host blog at 10pm EST on Thursday.
  • Each blogger who wants to participate in the Round Up will make a comment to the Round Up post with the link back to their Flannel Friday post by 10pm EST on Friday. 
  • This will be the only place to post links for the Round Up! This way the Host won't have to worry about checking Facebook or Twitter as well. 
  • If a blogger can't make the 10pm EST deadline on Friday, we'll ask that the post be held for the next week's Round Up. 
  • The Round Up Host will gather links from the Round Up post comments throughout the day, and publish the Round Up at the end of the day. 
We hope this will make the Round Ups easier to create and easier to contribute to! We'll look forward to your feedback over the next few weeks. Sharon / @ReadingChick at Rain Makes Applesauce has the Round Up this week, 5/11, so she's going to try out the new procedure with us and see how it goes!

If you have questions or comments, don't hesitate to share them via the new Flannel Friday email: flannelboardfriday [at]

Thanks for all you do to to make Flannel Friday more than a blog event--but a great community too. Here's to the next great year of Flannel Friday!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Squire McGuire

I recieved a Flannel Friday submission via email from Josh, a librarian at Berkeley Public Library in Berkeley CA,  so I am posting my first ever guest Flannel Friday post. I am happy to do this for anyone who has an idea to share but not a blog of their own (although I encourage you to start a blog if you are interested). You can also contact the host of an upcoming roundup to see if he or she would post your idea as a guest contribution. Here's what Josh has to say:
Here is a flannel board I recently made. The art and rhyme come from the book It's Raining said John Twaining: Danish Nursery Rhymes by N.M. Bodecker. Here are the words:

Squire McGuire
How much is your lyre?
A dollar McDoo
Since the strings are quite new.
If you want it more lavish,
Go to McTavish
If you want it just plain,
You must go to McLain.

The patterns are based directly on the illustrations and are a bit too detailed, but it is great for vocabulary, as words like "lyre" aren't used every day.

Thanks for sharing, Josh! I love the idea of using nursery rhymes from other cultures that American kids are unlikely to be familiar with.