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The 2013 So Tomorrow Reader Survey

For the past few years, I've asked blog readers to give me some feedback on how I'm doing. I really take your comments to heart and so I'm hoping many of you will take the time to fill out a short survey about my blog. 

If you have a few minutes to answer the questions, here's the survey. I'll leave it up for a few months so, no hurry. And if you're prefer to comment here or send me an email, that's awesome too.


Instant Professional Development: Four Favorite Storytime Gems I Learned In 2013

2013 was a big year for me! I started my third children's librarian job, and my first new job in almost 5 years. My family and I moved so I could cut my commute to that new job from 90 minutes to under 30. It was a big leap of faith to take a new job and start over in a new part of the state, but I am so happy to say that I love my new job and couldn't be happier. Woohoo!

To close out the year, I'd like to share with you 4 new storytime activities I learned this year and give a shout-out to the people who taught me them. I haven't had the chance to try all of these with my storytime kids yet, but I'm looking forward to our new session starting in January! Thank you Mary, Kendra, Lindsey, Dana, and Anna for being a part of my professional learning network (and my virtual colleagues and friends). Ready? Here we go (in no particular order)...

1) "Sleeping Bunnies" which I discovered via Mary's awesome ukelele at storytime posts
Learning to play the ukele…

Fall Writing Center Activities

As I did for the summer, here's a quick rundown of what our monthly prompts for the fall were at the Writing Center in my department:

September is when the kids go back to school (here in Michigan, we have a state law that mandates the first day of public school be after Labor Day with a few exceptions) , so we asked them what their favorite part of the school day was. You probably guessed that lunch and recess ranked pretty high, but a lot of kids said math too!

In October, the kids told us what their favorite costume to dress up in was and in November, we asked what the kids were most thankful for: For some reason, I don't have photos of either of those months! Oops.

Since it's December already, the current question is "What is your favorite memory of 2013?". There have been some very sweet ones!


Instant Professional Development: Circulating Ideas Episode On Storytime

As you may know, I'm a nerd for professional development. Well, as it happens a bunch of youth librarians* were recently interviewed on the librarian podcast Circulating Ideas about storytimes. Some people have even called it a Storytime Brain Trust, and best of all, listening is free! So go listen to bothparts!

*okay, I'm one of the people interviewed. Thanks for the opportunity, Steve! We're still nemeses though.

Toddler Drive In Movie

Another program we had in December was a Toddler Drive-In Movie. This was inspired by an idea floating around on Pinterest, as well as Marge's blog post about hers. We needed another program to round out our offerings in December but it needed to be something easy to put together because we had one huge program (LIVE REINDEER) and a bunch of holidays and vacations among the staff. So I decided to put a Toddler Drive-In Movie together for ages 1-4. Here's what my daughter's car looked like:

It wound up being really easy and fun! At first registrations were slow, but then we hit a long cold snap weather-wise and everyone must have gotten tired of sitting around at home because then we wound up with a waiting list of a few kids. We were able to get everyone in since my building always has so so so many boxes in storage.

Speaking of boxes that's the hardest of supplies for this program to get together. So, if your library isn't swimming in boxes (mine is!), that will…

Live Reindeer Program

December is generally a slow time for public libraries, and my library is no exception. Our storytimes are on hiatus until January, a lot of the staff members (and patrons) are on vacation, and it is a good time to get projects done for the most part. While things are pretty slow, my library does have one huge program at each of our branches: live reindeer! And we go all out!

Each branch in my county system does this program. And even the smallest branch had hundreds of people turn out, so I definitely think it's worth the investment. It is truly a team effort to put this program together. Our maintenance department put out the big contractor lights and placed barriers by them. (They also did a particularly beautiful job hanging Christmas lights on our front lawn as you can see in this photo.)

Each branch is responsible for preparing crafts to go with the reindeer's visit. Inside my branch, we had two crafts and kids were able to make either or both. The first is your basic re…

Flannel Friday: Windblown

One of my favorite picture books of 2013 was Windblown by Ă‰douard 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. 



Tween Book Club: Among the Hidden

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 Smit…

Things that GO Storytime (2 and 3 year olds)

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.

Books: 
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.

Parachute Activities:
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 holdi…

Bedtime Math Pajama Party

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 instr…

Announcing "MI KidLib!" An Unconference for Children's Librarians

I'm very excited to announce that Lisa Mulvenna, Andrea Vernola, and I are planning a KidLib Unconference* here in Michigan! It will be Friday, February 21st at the Main Branch of Clinton-Macomb Public Library.

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: anne@sotomorrowblog.com.

*inspired by the good people at Darien Library.

Tween Book Club: The Graveyard Book

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:

Word Search
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?)…

Storytime Apple Picking

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 wo…

Prop Story: Halloween Hilda

Halloween Hilda
From Super Story Telling With Reproducible Patterns by Carol Elaine Catron and Barbara Catron Parks

This is basically a rhyming, Halloween themed version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It's similar to There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat, but much shorter, just perfect for my 2 and 3 year old storytime kids. I plan to tell it with our puppet" who swallows a few Halloween-y creatures like bats and monsters.

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.

Here's Lisa Mulvenna's version of Hilda.

Jack O' Lantern Flannelboard Play Station

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.

Pumpkin Decorating Program

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 strawsPlastic bottle capsTinselFoam stickersPipe cleaners/Chenille stemsRectangles of felt and foamPlastic spider ringsFake spider webLeft over die-cuts from other craft programsSilk leavesGoogly eyesFeathersDifferent colored paper and paper stripsSequinsButtonsPom-PomsCrepe paper stripsTissue paper squaresYarnShredded newspaper The kids were given paper plates to assist in carrying their chosen sup…

Halloween Storytime: 2013 Edition

Last week was Flannel Friday's Halloween Extravaganza Roundup, so at the same time I was working on my posts, I also was thinking about what other material I would want to include in my upcoming storytimes. My Halloween storytimes aren't until October 28th and 29th, so I'm sort of listing everything that could possibly wind up happening at the end of the month. Consider this my brainstorming list. If you see anything great that I'm missing, please let me know. As a reminder I do storytimes just for 2 and 3 year olds. I also wrote this post before the completed Extravaganza was posted, so bear in mind that I will most likely use one (or several) ideas from Flannel Friday too!


Books: 
Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas
The Spooky Box by Mark Gonyea
If You're a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca and Ed Emberly
In a Dark, Dark, Wood by David Carter (in our storytime reference collection)

Flannelboard: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat (our set is by The Teacher Expr…

Halloween Draw and Tell Story: "The Pumpkin Patch"

Today is Flannel Friday's Halloween Extravaganza Roundup over at Storytime ABC's. This week I am sharing an original draw and tell story I wrote called "The Pumpkin Patch." I just wrote it on Monday so I haven't had a chance to share it with my storytime friends yet. I would love your feedback, if anyone does this with a group. It's a really short and simple one, so if you've never tried this storytelling form, it's a good one to begin with.

The words and drawing instructions are available here.

In the next week or so I will be posting the rest of my storytime plan (at least so far!) for our Halloween storytimes. I'm sure there will be lots of great new Flannel Friday ideas too that I'll want to add.

Looking for more Halloween or monster storytime ideas? Here's some I've posted previously:
Jack-O-Happy by Liz and Dick Wilmes--felt board story
Mouse's Halloween House by Judy Sierra--felt board story
Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Em…

Down on the Farm Party for Woolbur

One of the events my library hosts every fall is a celebration party in honor of that year's Michigan Reads* book selection. This year's honoree is Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski, so we threw a Down on the Farm station-based party. This party was staffed by 3 people (1 at the cakewalk, 1 at the bean bag toss, and another helping with crafts) and attended by 41 people. Pretty much everything we did was inspired by this awesome birthday party, to give credit where credit's due. So enjoy some pretty pictures without much blathering on! Our stations were: petting zoo (with puppets), water table fishing pond with rubber ducks, cake walk with farm animals, and bean bag toss.

As far as the cake walk goes, it was "cake-less". Instead we called the game "Woolbur's Walk." We gave the winners a small toy instead of a cake. I printed out clip art pic
tures of 6 different farm animals and taped them to these spots we have in storage (given to us graciously by one o…

Guest Post at Green Bean Teen Queen

Just dropping in to say that I've written a guest post at Green Bean Teen Queen blog where I share my favorite middle grade books. Thank you Sarah for asking me to participate many, many, many months ago. Sorry that I am such a slacker and also that I talked about toilet reading. Yikes!!!

Ready, Set, Go To Kindergarten Storytime

One of the programs we do every year at my new library is "Ready, Set, Go! To Kindergarten," a storytime for kids who will be entering kindergarten in the fall. I only had about 30 minutes of actual librarian-directed time to work with and a lot of ground I wanted to cover to go over some of the kindergarten-readiness knowledge. This was an evening program we had on Monday for about 20 kids and their parents.
Books Read
Colors: Pete the Cat:  I Love My White Shoes
ABCS: Boom Chicka Boom Boom
School In General: Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come by Nancy Carlson

Song: Kindergarten Here We Come

Movement Song: The Bean Bag by Hap Palmer

Craft: School Words Book

We also sang "The Wheels on the Bus" with the parachute to close out the evening.

Note to self: Do not use the same date for this program (Monday, 8/26) next year! So many people had to cancel because it was a kindergarten open house at one of our school districts.

I actually ran a little short on time for this…

Summer Writing Center Activities

My new library has a small Writing Center complete with a pretend mailbox. Each month (ummm, roughly...) we change the suggested activity out. After June, I decided to experiment with using the Ellison machine to cut the papers for the kids' answers. I love the visual effect this has had in that small, dark nook!

In June, the kids told us what one thing that they "dig" was for our "Dig Into Reading" summer reading program.


In July, the kids told us what they would name a pet dinosaur if they had one:

In August, we asked the kids what their favorite ice cream cone flavor was. I'm proud to say that Superman ice cream remains a favorite. The kids are OK.


As you can see, we kept the background orange paper and balloon border up. It's really difficult to change the paper in particular given the small space that you have to work with in this spot. 

Program Idea: Parachute Playtime

This summer I offered a parachute playtime for kids 2-3 and 4-5. The idea for this program came from the genius that is my close personal friend Miss Lisa, so make sure you stop by her blog to see what activities she includes in her parachute programs. In addition to her program, I also got ideas from Parachute Play by Liz and Dick Wilmes

I like to do a lot of nursery rhymes with the parachute for a few reasons:
Parents/kids are more likely to participate in activities where the content is already familiarI already know them so I don't have to learn a whole bunch of material at once (just being honest here)Easy for the families to replicate this activities at home with whatever props they might have. If they (or you!) don't have a parachute, a bed sheet or blanket can be substituted easily. Even a beach towel would work for one parent and one child to play together.  This is my mean reason and I tried to hammer this in at all three programs I did the past two weeks! Parachute …

Moving Right Along: Transistions During Storytime

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how to improve my transistions between activities and books at storytime. I've been making a conscious effort to actually have some sort of transition and not just "Okay, now we're going to do __________." I don't write these down. They are things I kind of come up with on the fly but am sharing because it's always interesting (to me, anyway!) to see how other librarians handle this type of thing.

The pets storytime I did during the last week of July had some really great natural opportunites to move from one thing to another, so I thought I'd share how we did that. I'm still mastering this art, so if you have any suggestions or a favorite way to transition between activities, leave a comment!

Our last opening activity that we do every week is"Little Mouse, Little Mouse."So we talked about how mice are pets and then segued into picking out a pet for ourselves with "Goin' to The Pet Store&…

"Going to the Pet Store" Puppet Rhyme

Here's a fun activity also from last week's pet storytime tub, a rhyme called "Going to the Pet Store". These are puppets (all Folkmanis, as far as I know) that we had in our puppet closet. The hat box I used is where the snake puppet lives and the others I picked out to fit in there. I really liked the effect that using the smaller puppets (frog, dog, hamster?, mouse, turtle) first and then pulling out a giant snake had on the kids.


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 bag/box and pull out a puppet)

After the snake came out, he went around the room and gave snake kisses. I also let the kids who were brave enough wear him around their necks. Some of the parents/caregivers snapped photos which I have no doubt wound up on Facebook. Free PR for the library! 
P.S. Have you checked out the Storytime Underground website yet? Put together by my fr…