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!

Friday, November 29, 2013

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. 



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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 Smith (which does have some mild spoilers) to get them excited for our next meeting. 

Friday, November 08, 2013

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.

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 Elevator I learned this one from Kendra! For this one, the kids are under the parachute and the parents/caregivers are holding on. We start with the chute just above their heads and gradually raise it and slap it down FAST at DOWN. You can also do it as a bounce at baby storytime. I do it with my own daughter while we're waiting at the doctor's.

Dance, Freeze, Melt by Mister Eric (Track 6 on Rockin' RedThey really got into this one! You definitely have to practice the dance, freeze, melt actions so they know what's coming but they caught on really fast. Smarties!

After the parachute, the kids played together with Matchbox cars on the floor.

I adapted the image above from Open Clip Art.

Monday, November 04, 2013

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 instructed to by the good people at Bedtime Math) so people will not be distracted or lost.

One of the activities is giant tangrams! Here's a sample I made. Note: tangrams are hard! 

The kids also got to make (AND KEEP!) giant foam dominoes using stickers. This is a great activity. One thing I would do before releasing the kids to create their dominoes would be to play a sample game so they understand how it works. I believed more parents would know how to play this game as it was a staple of my childhood. Everybody caught on though.

The feedback from families was tremendous! One of the moms stopped me to say they had a great time and one of the dads wanted to know when we would do it again. I'm hoping we can do another session during January or February.

As far as numbers go, the kit contains enough supplies for 20 families. I actually think that would be wayyyy too many people for this to go smoothly. Maybe if you had more than one staff person. We had 10 families register for a total of 25 people who actually attended. It was nice to see so many dads at one program! And, since Ally was wondering, yes, kids (and a parent or two) came in their jammies! The kids were ages 3-9, but 6-9 would be better so they are able to do the math.

Public librarians can order a kit for free from the Bedtime Math organization. We used the PJ Party Kit #1 for this program (tangrams and dominoes).

Bedtime Math's partnering organizations include the American Library Association (maybe you've heard of them?), Boston Children's Museum, Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County, Girl Scouts, Liberty Science Center, Museum of Mathematics, Scholastic Publishing, and World of Wonder Children's Museum. There is an official Bedtime Math book available through the usual vendor suspects. I purchased two copies for my branch.

*Bedtime Math provided a free program kit to my library, as they will do for all U.S. public libraries per their website. I am not affiliated with them in any way.

Edited 11/5: 
Some more things I meant to add: We held this program at 6:30 pm on Monday night and it lasted about 45 minutes. My branch closes at 8 pm. One word of caution is that the included stickers made a huge mess so I did have to run the vacuum after the program which I wasn't intending to do. It only took aout 5 minutes so don't let that deter you. Make sure you have plenty of garbage cans on hand as well. The foam stickers I was sent had tiny little pieces that needed to be punched out by the kids as well as the typical sticker backing.

As far as room setup, you will want as much of an empty space in the middle as you can. I lined up about 20 chairs on the perimeter of the room, as well as the tables. Then the families could play with the tangrams and make their dominoes on the floor with as much space as we could provide. My branch has a program room for children's activities (storytime, etc.) as well as a bigger room with a capacity of about 180 for performers, community events, etc. We used the bigger room for this program (as we did for pumpkin decorating and the down on the farm party, among others). 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

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:

*inspired by the good people at Darien Library.