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!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Youth Programming Ideas from Spring Institute 2013

On Friday, Sara, Anna, and I presented "The Time-Crunch Librarian: Low-Cost, High-Yield Programming to Save your Sanity" at the Michigan Library Association's Spring Institute Conference. During our presentation, we collected index cards with attendees' favorite current programs from their libraries. We also brought some random junk that we had out to see what kind of programs they might inspire. I promised to collect all of the suggestions into one post, which you are currently reading. I can't really elaborate on any of the ideas, as all I have to go on are what people wrote down, sorry! I added some notes in italics.

Favorite Current Craft or Programs  
  • Grab bag crafts (Use up old craft supplies/kits)
  • Butcher block paper murals
  • Toddler dance party
  • Lego Creation Day (drop-in, make something, put up on display within the library)
  • Rubber stamps (can use over and over)
  • Pet Parade Storytime (March around the library with dressed up pets, prizes, a story, and photo booth. Very low cost and fun. Just need to make sure people are supervising their animals. I'd also add that you might want to restrict very small/easily scared animals like gerbils from attending as I personally librarians who have had pets die at events like this.--Anne)
  • Cave Drawings for SRP (Recycle the crinkly brown packing paper from delivered boxes. Lay it out on the table, have kids make their own cave drawings. Display in the library.) 
  • LEGO Challenge (Scoop random pieces of Legos into lunch bags. Each builder or team of builders has to try and make something out of the pieces they have and the challenge is to use all of the pieces)
  • Scavenger Hunt (Packet of 10 clues that take participants around the entire library. Encouraged to work as a family/small group. Done during the 4th of July week as a passive/stealth program. 
  • Shel Silverstein poetry (illustrate "Bear in Fridge" out of poster books. Read poems and books and have kids write poems or illustrate them.) 
  • Find community folks with special talent to come in. We've had a lady with an accordion and great singing voice, an alligator rescue farm, a storyteller, the fire department. 
  • Luau at storytime. (Decorated area like under the sea. Had grass skirts and leis. Took pictures with big fake fish with the kids.) 
Ideas Inspired by Random Junk
The instructions for this activity said to pretend you had an unlimited supply of the given item. 
  • Foam picture frames: Ring Toss, Ocean scene (using ocean themed foam stickers), sun catchers,(frame holds paint within a sandwich bag), use for DIY photo booth at program, decorate with stickers, bean bag toss or target,
  • Wand: Walking Tag, cat toys, give as souvenirs,
  • Neon glowsticks: firefly craft, lava lamp, glow-in-the dark scavenger hunt, cut eyes out of paper towel tube and insert glow sticks for spooky decorations, blinking alien ships
  • Board game spinner: fortune telling game, storytelling, station assignment, make your own board game program, use for actions in storytime (like "hop __3___ times" or give each a number and help them learn to recognize them), use to take turns during Mad Libs/storytelling, life size Clue, 
  • Crepe paper strip with star print: mummy, star collage, macrame, scarf activity at toddler storytime, octopus craft, windsocks, headband
  • Tiara: Fancy Nancy/Princess Party or Tea Party
  • Foam Stickers: Put on craft sticks to make puppets, paper plate aquarium,
  • Plastic planter: Gardening craft, Make flowers out of tissue/crepe paper
  • Contact paper: Sensory items, sand art, tissue paper art
  • All Items: Mermaids & Mummies Party, Under the Sea Princess Party

Shelf Challenge 2013

Since I started a new job on April 1st, I thought joining the 2013 Shelf Challenge would be a great way to start learning my new collection. If you're not familiar with Shelf Challenge, it's run by Matthew Winner (a 2013 Mover and Shaker, woot!) to celebrate School Library Month. In Matthew's words, here's how it works:

Your mission, if you choose to accept it:

Select a section of your library collection to read throughout the month of April. 
    • Make it manageable and appealing. (I'm planning to read the all of the "H" books in our everybody section, which will include Henkes and maybe some other unexpected favorites.)
  • Try to read every book in that section over the course of the month. 
    • For everybody books, read them cover to cover. For fiction, read the dust jackets or back cover descriptions. For Nonfiction/Informational, choose a section of Dewey and go nuts.
  • Share selected gems (and cringes) through a favorite social media outlet, such as ShelfariGoodReads, or through your blog or Twitter feed (use #shelfchallenge to connect with others).
I had originally planned to do the letter X, but it turns out that we only had one book on the shelf in our everybody section under X and I didn't really fancy reading about the X-Men, so I switched to Z. You're probably thinking I'm really lazy now, but I didn't want to take on too much with my new job as I've got storytimes and summer reading planning and all of that good stuff to take care of as well.

Here are some of the more memorable books I read:

The first one was The Pumpkin Blanket, a story about a little girl who sacrifices her beloved baby quilt to warm some of the pumpkins in her family's garden. It is very reminiscent of The Giving Tree and other stories about sacrifice. These are not favorites of mine, but are worth knowing for those patrons who do enjoy that type of story.

One noteworthy story was Countdown to Grandma's House by Debra Mostow Zakarin, which portrays a girl's HUGE excitement about going to grandma's house. Rather than a stereotypical "Granny," the grandmother in this story is relatively young and enjoys activities like gardening, painting nails, and flashlight games under the covers.

Another in my to-read pile was Baby Shower by Jane Breskin Zalben. This was the third book on the shelf and the first one that I had read previously. As with the first time I read this book, I was left with the distinct impression that it would be quite confusing to young children. Older children (elementary age) who are planning to attend a baby shower will find no information useful but may enjoy the literal "baby shower" that occurs in the story. Speaking of Zalben, the first one of hers I would recommend was Hey, Mama Goose. At my old library, I had many regular patrons who were (aspiring or current) elementary school teachers and I could see passing this one on for fairy tale or nursery rhyme units.

Zalben turned up again in Saturday Night at the Beastro. As a full picture book, I think this one is pretty lacking (2.6 stars average on GoodReads), but there is one section that would make for a fun read-aloud around Halloween. I'd start with the section that begins "This evening's food is, of course,/cuisine prepared without remorse" which leads into a long list of disgusting food. Teachers may enjoy the opportunity to introduce some of the vocabulary words which will be unfamiliar to most children.

A fun discovery was A Zeal of Zebras, an abcedary of collective nouns.  Each spread also includes non-fiction information about the animals. One of my favorites was "an embarrrassment of pandas," which has striking black, white, and red artwork with just a hint of green bamboo. Also appropriate was an "ostentation of peacocks," which suggests you replace your guard dog with a peacock. Fun fact: the staffers of Woop Studio (this book's authors) got started doing graphic design for the Harry Potter movies.

I have been fascinated by books with moving parts since I was a kid, so I thoroughly enjoyed Knick-Knack Paddywhack! as done by Paul Zelinsky. I had the opportunity several years ago to see Zelinsky speak at Western Michigan University during one of the Youth Literature Seminars and it was a fantastic experience. I hope they still do those seminars although I'm now on the other side of the state. Another Zelinsky treat was his version of Rumpelstiltskin, a Caldecott Honor book. Gorgeous!

One that surprised me with its touching words was Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zewibel. You will recgonize David Catrow's distinctive artwork, but it is very subdued to go with the sad ending of this story. I have a particular fondness for one of the trees in the yard of my childhood home so this resonated with me.

Books to try at storytime:
I Swapped My Dog by Harriet Ziefert Could flannelize this one!
Sleepy Book by Charlotte Zolotow
A Little Story about a BIG Turnip retold by Tatiana Zunshine (I have a flannel for this folk tale already!)

Total Number of books read: 41 (We have about 10,000 titles in our everybody section at my new library.)
Books I Had Read Before: 4
Total Number of pages: I was told there would be no math, but 41*32=1312, so that's an estimate
Mistakes found: 2! 1 book had been fixed with the pages out of order and I noticed that Lights on Broadway had this line in the text: "starred in [title of show], The Full Monty, The Little Mermaid" on the H is for House spread.

At first I was disappointed that there weren't more gems in the collection, but maybe this is an exercise in reminding me of just how difficult a great picture book is to find (and to create, no doubt). 

Monday, April 01, 2013

The First Day of School

Today is the first day of School Library Month*. It's also my first day at my new job! I wanted to talk about School Library Month because I never would have become a librarian without the librarian at my school. I am from a small town in Michigan and from 4th-12th grade, I had the same librarian, Mrs. Gould. I remember my first day in 4th grade when I walked into the elementary school library. Mrs. Gould read us Lon Po Po and (here goes my street cred) it scared the daylights out of me. From then on, "library" was my favorite class.

In high school, Mrs. Gould picked me to be her aide in the junior/senior high library, where I learned how to use a typewriter for the first time to fix spine labels. I used an ILS program to check out materials to my friends and classmates. I shelved some books, possibly some even correctly. It was a great way to spend a few hours each week. Mrs. Gould retired shortly after my graduation.

In college, I remembered how much I had liked working in the library environment and decided to try and get a job at the local public library system.  After I graduated, they hired me part-time to work in circulation. I loved it and started library school. While studying for my MLS, my branch manager promoted me to work in youth services as a paraprofessional. Not long after that, I graduated and starting looking for a full-time job as a librarian. After a few months on the market, I officially became a youth services librarian on January 6, 2009.

Just over a year later, my mother sent me the link to an online obituary. Mrs. Gould had passed away. I wish I had called her before then to tell her that I became a librarian. I think she would have been thrilled. She had a true love of literature and it shone brightest when she would read us books. When I'm having a bad day, I try to emulate her. When I'm distracted by my love of technology and shiny things in general, I remember that it's really about the kids and the stories they need. Thank you for your example, Mrs. Gould.

As a parent, I'm so happy that there are still school librarians like Mrs. Gould sharing their love of literature with kids. While my daughter unfortunately cannot have Mrs. Gould as her school librarian, I hope she will have someone like Travis Jonker, John Schu, or Matthew Winner, just some of the many wonderful school librarians in America, working in her school library.

Today is my first day at my new job. I'm going to be working in the kids' department of a much bigger public library system than my most recent one. I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm hoping that my hair looks OK and that the other kids will be nice and let me sit at their table (assuming I can even FIND the lunch room again--seriously, this building is huge!). I'm taking deep breaths. And, I know that, the most important thing is to remember that what I do is for the kids. And everything is going to be just fine.

*Speaking of School Library Month, some of us bloggers are going to be celebrating by participating in Shelf Challenge 2013! We'll be trying to "deep read" through a segment of our collections (say, the H section of your picture books) to Better Know Them, as Stephen Colbert might say. You still have time to join us!