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, January 27, 2014

Minute to Win It Tween Program

One of our other branches has been having a lot of fun with Minute to Win It programs, so we decided to try it over here at our main branch too. Rather than blather on about the rules of the games, I thought I'd share some videos off YouTube so you can see how they were played. All credit for this program goes to the children's staff at our other branch in the city and they were kind enough to let us use their supplies as well. Thanks!  

We registered 19 children for this program, grades 3-6. 17 kids showed up, which was a really good size. Two parents stuck around to watch, laugh, and video tape. Our program was scheduled after school, from 4-5 on Tuesday, January 21st. I took the opportunity when I was introducing the program to plug our book clubs (we have what is basically a school-age story time once a month my co-worker puts on and my tween book club, also monthly). We showed the kids each video before playing the game so they could learn some strategy and set the mood. 

Speaking of, here's a list of the supplies we needed:

Noodling Around: uncooked penne and linguine (our other branch recommended having the kids try and get 5 pieces of penne on their linguine instead of 6). We played 2 kids at each table there and recommended they space their noodles out a bit.

Breakfast Scramble: cereal boxes cut into 16-rectangles, the other branch loaned us 20 sets but we still only played 8 kids at a time (4 at each table).

Face the Cookie: enough cookies of the same type for all the players (we used an Oreo-type cookie but from the dollar store). (We had unopened packages left over from another program) This is the only game we needed chairs for. We had 4-6 kids play at a time and then each kid had a "catcher" whose job was to catch falling cookies. We gave them a plastic bowl for this purpose. They weren't really good at catching the falling cookies but it was hilarious to watch and they like to have a job so they don't get bored. This is the only game we used chairs for the players. The rest of the games they were standing. Each kid was only allowed 3 cookies for budget reasons, but they could keep attempting with the same 3 cookies as long as they didn't fall on the floor. Make sure you make a rule about not eating cookies that fall on the floor. They might not listen but at least you tried.

Don't Blow the Joker: Regular decks of playing cards and plastic pop (this is Michigan, it's not soda) bottles. We didn't use 2-liters but used a smaller size, emptied and filled with water. I actually dug these out of the staff room's recycling bin, because apparently I have no fear and/or shame. 4 bottles = 4 kids can play at a time, but if we had had more bottles available we could have played. They had fun rooting for each other though. 

My co-worker and I both have iPhones so we used the timer to count down from 1 minute and played a noise. We also had a bell for backup if the timer wasn't loud enough for the kids to hear, but the phones worked fine and the kids counted down the last 10 seconds with me. I did remember to say "The game begins in 3...2...1" before starting the timer, as they do on the show,

Here are the games we played: 

Noodling Around: Most of the kids got at least one noodle on and I believe only 1-2 managed all 5 noodles.

Breakfast Scramble (couldn't get this one to embed, so you'll have to click to play it) No one was able to complete this one, but a few kids got really close. Kids' cereals are easier (Lucky Charms) than adult cereals like Kashi. The back of the boxes is harder than the fronts.

Face the Cookie: 

Don't Blow the Joker (had to watch a couple videos one where the bottle in play was for a kid-friendly beverage): 

As far as problems go, there are two things we would do next time:

1) Check ahead of time about food allergies if doing Face the Cookie. One girl did have a small potential allergen issue, but her mom cleared one of the brands of cookies we had as OK, so she could still participate. Next time we will check ahead of time. We didn't pick the actual games we would be using until the week of the program so I didn't even think about this. Bad librarian! This was the kids' favorite game, by the way.

2) Have a better system for picking which kids go first at which games. I'm thinking next time I will put colored dots on the kids' name tags and we will split them into somewhat equal groups by random colors. So the red group will go first at one game, the green group will go first at another, etc. Kids always want to be the first to try a game!

The kids loved this program and it was a lot of fun for the staff to put on. They left begging to know when the next one is, so I'm thinking that will be around May. I think in addition to regular Minute to Win It programming, these types of games would be an awesome way to fill out a non-game program. They could be a book club ice breaker, or a time filler for another type of program. Would love to hear readers' ideas!

Sorry for new pictures this time! Set up was pretty straightforward for this one though--2 tables for each game, 2 kids at each table per round generally (except Breakfast Scramble which was 4 and we played a couple rounds of Face the Cookie with more kids, since they only used the table for holding the unused cookies). We were able to get through all 4 games in almost exactly one hour. Don't Blow the Joker sets up very fast but the other ones took longer in between rounds. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Upcoming Conference Presentations

I'm very excited to announce that I have three upcoming conferences or presentations for 2014. If you are in Michigan or the vicinity, I hope you will be able to join us at one of them! I would love to make some more library friends. If you know me, you know I geek professional development and I'm a big fan of conferences for the in-person interaction.

The first one is the Michigan KidLib Unconference in Clinton Township (Metro Detroit). I've already written about this awesome day that I'm planning with Lisa and Andrea, but I just wanted to remind you that it's going to be Friday, February 21st. Registration is completely FREE and anyone interested in youth services is welcome, especially library school students. We have over 70 registered attendees! There's still time to sign up, if you'd like to join us.

Next up, I will be co-presenting (with Lisa and Megan Goedge) a Guerrilla Storytime on Friday, March 28th at the Michigan Library Association's Spring Institute. This will be my third year straight at SI so I won't blame anyone who is sick of seeing my name in the speaker list.

And, last but not least, I will be giving my first-ever solo presentation at the Library of Michigan's Loleta Fyan Rural Libraries Conference on Wednesday, April 30 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island! My program is called "Aww 'Chute: Children's Programming Activities with Parachutes, Scarves, and Other Props" and just reading the name gives me a little bit of glee. If you're wondering who Loleta Fyan was, she was Michigan's first State Librarian and her Wikipedia article can fill you in on her accomplishments. As someone who grew up in a teeny-tiny small town (with no stop lights and there were only 27 kids in my senior class at a public high school), rural libraries are a critical resource and a passion of mine--even though I now work for a large public library system (and love it!). More details on the conference will be available soon so keep checking the Library of Michigan's site.

I'd like to thank my co-presenters, the Michigan Library Association, and the Library of Michigan for having me. And extra big thank yous go out to my wonderful workplace (both the library system and my awesome children's services staff) for supporting me by letting me go to these events and also to my husband and family. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Guest post at Storytime Underground

I'm over at Storytime Underground today as a "Guest Guerilla" chronicling how I built my professional learning network (PLN). Sara Bryce gave it the snappy title of "How to Steal Other People’s Lives without Really Trying: From Storytime Dads* to Flannel Friday: the Scandalous TL;DR of Anne Clark." Bryce don't play with bad titles!

Hope you enjoy! Having a PLN is so critical to my career satisification, but it is nerve-wracking to put yourself out there. But you've got to remember that turtles never make any progress until they stick their necks out either. And they've got a hard shell to fall back on.

*Just to be clear my husband was not a storytime dad. He was a storytime uncle, which made him fair game! Now he IS a storytime dad, so hands-off!