Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Snap, Crackle, Pop Art!

Librarian-students all had a chance to create/report out a program they developed as a final project. Each considered the goals of the program, format (active, passive), how much time/money it might take and described how it was or would be done. Erin from MI shared this idea. 

For children 2-4 years old with a caregiver
Join us for an exploration of art with inspiration from picture books.
Dress for a mess! Meet in the Children’s Activity Room
October Wednesdays (10/1, 10/8, 10/15, 10/22, and 10/29) at 11am

Based on a recent survey of our very popular toddler storytime, we  decided to offer a trial art program for this age group. We chose Wednesdays at 11am (after our baby storytime) as this was an extremely popular choice among those polled. It’s also a time when there are no other programs offered. One staff member will be responsible for set up and executing the program. We’ve opted to not include registration despite a potentially large crowd and will chose projects that are more easily executed with large groups. As this is a trial program, we will only offer it for the month of October. Depending upon response, we will consider offering this program in rotation with our preschool dance parties once a month.

The budget requested is $50 or $10/week. We anticipate approximately 25-30 toddlers participating each week plus caregivers. Most materials we have on hand, but we will need to purchase a few items that will be able to be used in other programs (contact paper, aluminum foil, sandpaper, playdough making supplies, bubble wrap, balloons, new paint, thicker paper).

Resources for ideas:

As children enter the room, they will be instructed to write their names on our Wall of Names (used in Toddler storytime currently to encourage writing. It will be a familiar task and helpful in determining a count of those participating). We’ll then gather together and the staff member will talk about what materials we’ll be working with today. Staff will read a story that will act as inspiration and give general guidance to kids and caregivers on suggested ways to interact with the materials presented. Staff will introduce an “adult challenge of the week” encouraging caregivers to focus on the process of the art with their child not the product (see: librarymakers blog). The remainder of the time will be for children to explore various materials. Similar books (either in style or content) will be provided for those children who finish quickly and would like to read a story with their caregiver. These books will also be available for checkout.

Weekly project ideas:
  • Contact paper collages
  • Foil sculptures
  • “painting” with sandpaper and string
  • Playdough monsters
  • Bubblewrap/balloon painting (the one potentially messy project)

While there is some prep and clean-up for this program, we do not anticipate more than 30 minutes of additional staff time per session.

We do not currently offer crafts in toddler storytime opting for play time at the end instead which is an extremely valuable component of our storytimes: allowing children to learn to play together, having interaction with our storytime presenters and it’s valuable time for caregivers to visit with one another . I believe a toddler art class is entirely appropriate for our organization. It will help develop fine and gross motor skills, narrative skills, and vocabulary. It will also be a valuable experience for caregivers to focus on process instead of product. Given the low cost per child ratio and minimal staff time, I believe our community will find value in this program. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Star Wars Party

Since "May the Fourth Be With You" is right around the corner, a Star Wars -themed program seems like a great share today! Librarian-students all had a chance to create/report out a program they developed as a final project. Each considered the goals of the program, format (active, passive), how much time/money it might take and described how it was or would be done. Tara from WI shared this idea.

I will be holding a Star Wars Reads Day event the first Saturday in October from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. This time of day seems to be the best time to offer the event as it will give families time to get up and going on a Saturday. And of course I want to end it by noon so families can be off to get their lunch. We have a large portion of our collection devoted to Star Wars materials and we have a lot of young patrons who like to read Star Wars whether it be series in our younger books and school age or graphic novels and of course we offer the Origami Yoda series I will use as the books in the displays.   I will decorate the library windows with large double sided posters that give detailed information on the ships and droids from the original movies to go along with the book displays - all of these posters were donated to us.

The event itself will consist of a scavenger hunt, Star Wars trivia, craft activities, a game, photo options, Star Wars snacks, and Star Wars Reads Day giveaways. The Star Wars Reads Day website and newsletter allow participating organizations to get links to supporting companies to sign up for items to giveaway such as bookmarks, buttons, posters, and origami sheets for free, I will use these items as prizes for the event. I will cut sheets of paper and copies of simple and intermediate origami patterns for kids to try from one of our Star Wars origami design books. The Star Wars Reads Day site also offers an activity guide that includes coloring sheets, activity sheets, Star Wars trivia games, as well as recipes to try. I will pick a few of these items out and make copies to make available for kids to do at the library or take home with them.

For the scavenger hunt, "I Spy with My Jedi Eye", I will copy pictures of Star Wars characters and place a letter by each one and hide them around the library. As the children find the characters they will write down the letter next to the corresponding character to reveal a secret message from Yoda- “Read You Should”.

As part of the crafts children will be able to make Admiral Sackbar puppet from a paper sack and construction paper. Children will be able to "destroy the Death Star" by playing a bean bag toss game made from a large cardboard box. I will paint the box up to look like the trench run on the Death Star from the original movie with a hole in the box to represent the "weak spot" of the Death Star. I will make small bean bags from scraps of felt and leftover bean bag fill we have in our basement, these bean bags will represent the ships. A station will be set up for kids to create their own snack ship. Graham crackers, mini marshmallows and frosting will be used to create the tie fighter ships.

We have a six foot Darth Vader and a three foot Yoda that children will be able to have their picture take with and children will be encouraged to come dressed up if they would like. Children will also be able to bring in  their favorite Star Wars item if they would like to share.

The cost of materials will be very small for the program since we have all the materials that I would need already available. We typically get between twenty and thirty children for a program at our library so I will need to pick up a couple of boxes of graham crackers, a couple bags of marshmallows, and a tub of frosting, all of these I will be able to purchase at our local Dollar Tree store. It will take about three and a half hours to make copies of materials, signs, and instruction sheets, scavenger hunt sheets, and make the Death Star bean bag toss game. The setup for the program beforehand will take about another hour since I have to rearrange some furniture in our children's section of the library  for the day.

Children will be able to acquaint themselves with the different parts of the children’s section during the scavenger hunt since each character is placed near a different section such as new books, graphic novels, series picture books, etc. Children can take turns playing a game. They will be able to use engineering and building skills constructing a simple ship with their snack food. Children will be able to be artistic and construct paper crafts and a puppet that they can take home with them to extend their fun. There will be other activity sheets and coloring sheets available for them to take home or work on in the library as well. Children will be able to test their knowledge of Star Wars and encourage them to read more Star Wars books to find the answers if they don't know them. And of course children will have the opportunity to choose books from the Star Wars materials available to read and check out.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Monday, April 28, 2014

Library Treasure Hunt: Scat and Tracks

Librarian-students all had a chance to create/report out a program they developed as a final project. Each considered the goals of the program, format (active, passive), how much time/money it might take and described how it was or would be done. Suzanne from WI shared this idea.

This program is an active program designed to help new library users become familiar with the library, as well as learn how much fun the library can be!  The program will be a one time program held on site, for children grades kindergarten through third grade.  The actual program will last approximately 1 hour and will be held after school during the timeframe that the after school program is held.  This is from 4-5:30.  The program will be held in cooperation with the school staff running the after school program.  Holding it during the after school program guarantees an audience as well as built in helpers.  Program preparation time should be around 2-3 hours for set up, craft preparation, instructions for the groups to follow and finding books in the collection to use in our library treasure hunt and shopping for snacks. 

Program Detail: 
The kids will be divided up into 5 groups, each with a student or adult leader.  There are typically around 25 kids in this age group, so the groups will be ideally about 5 kids.  We are affiliated with a historical Museum, and they have a wildlife case with around 40 animals and birds in.  The program will start in the museum with a focus on the wildlife case.  Each group will be told to pick an animal from the case that they are familiar with or are interested in.   After they have their animal picked out, they will be told to find both a fiction and nonfiction book with this animal in.  The leaders of the groups will be familiar with how and where to find these materials.  The groups will be shown the online card catalog for assistance in finding their books.  After the groups have all found their books, they will be asked to “present” their books to the other groups, giving a bit of detail about what the book is about and why they chose the ones they did.  The group as a whole will pick which ones they would like to have read aloud.  This can be done by me or one of the group leaders.  How many books will be read will depend on the length of the books that they choose. 

A snack will be served of nuts, fruits, seeds and juice while talking about how and what animals in the woods eat. 

Craft Project:
Materials:  10 foot piece off of a roll of paper, markers, crayons, ink pads and animal foot stamps.  A nearby Natural History Museum has animal foot stamps that they loan out for projects.  The stamps are of a bear, beaver, rabbit, squirrel and raccoon.  These stamps are awesome and very realistic.  (kind of creepy in that they almost look and feel like a real animal foot!)  We have used them before and the kids love them! 

Prior to the program animal habitat and animals will be drawn on the 10 foot piece of paper to match the animals that we have tracks for.  During the craft project the kids will match the appropriate track up with the animals on the paper, which will be laid out on the floor for them to work on.  They will use the stamps to show their travels in the “woods” of the scene leading up to the animals in their habitat.  They will also draw food and additional habitat that they learned about in the books we read.  The finished mural will be hung on the wall at the library.  The kids will be given a copy of the wildlife identifier that is in the museum to assist in identifying the animals in the case, and those that don’t already have library cards will be sent home with a form to fill out to get one. 

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, April 25, 2014

Project in a Box: Blackout Poetry

Librarian-students all had a chance to create/report out a program they developed as a final project. Each considered the goals of the program, format (active, passive), how much time/money it might take and described how it was or would be done. Kelly from WI shared this idea.

In the Children’s Area, I have puzzles, crafts, blocks, and AWE computers for children to play with any time they visit the library but there is nothing equivalent in the teen area.  We have created a comfortable space for them.

I got the idea of a “program in a box” from ALA's Programming Librarian.  Teens check out a box with a crafty project  to make in the library. My take on the idea is having a “Project in a Box” that contains instructions and supplies in the teen area. Each month I change out the project.  This makes a simple, passive DIY solution to lack of programming for tweens and teens. The actual target age range is 11-16.

April is National Poetry Month. Teens are drawn to the poetry. Novels-in-verse, like Crank by Ellen Hopkins, are popular. Blackout poetry was a suggested as simple and inexpensive program that I learned about at a workshop and was mentioned on Programming Librarian blog. This would be the first project for “Project in a Box”. A display of poetry books and novels-in-verse along with a book list will also be set up in the teen area. If teens want, they can give their finished project to staff and we would display it in the teen area.

The cost and staffing is minimal. I am using pages from discarded library books and rejects from the Friends book sale. Pens, pencils, and markers are the only other supply needed which the Library has plenty. Prep time would be an hour. During quiet times, Library Assistants can tear apart the books. I would rather have loose pages in the project box than books the kids would have to tear apart themselves. This would cut down on mess and any confusion on which books can be used for blackout poetry.  I would also add an hour of staff time for creating a display and a book list of poetry books.

The Blackout poetry program is not completely passive. I am planning it as an activity for my Teen Advisory Board and as part of an outreach visit to the Youth Center. This would add 1.5 more hours of staff time but those hours were already in my schedule. A couple of months ago I started a Teen Advisory Board. They loved the idea of blackout poetry. For our April meeting, they will be creating their own blackout poetry that I will use as examples for the project box.

Since blackout poetry is very portable, I am also planning it as part of a 45 minute outreach visit to the Youth Center to promote National Poetry Month and the new monthly “Project in a Box” program. At the visit, I would book talk poetry books and novels-in-verse. I would get the teens started on doing blackout poetry. As I’ve done in the past, I would leave supplies at the Center. Then the teens can hang out and do the project at a leisurely pace. Teens that want their work displayed at Library could bring them to us or I could pick them up.

Blackout poetry is the kickoff of my “Project in a Box” passive DIY program. Future projects would be similar. Simple and inexpensive but lots of room for creativity. Ideas for future projects include origami, duct tape wallets, friendship bracelets, and popsicle stick bookmarks.

Image from South Kingstown Public Library, Rhode Island

Thursday, April 24, 2014

School Age Outreach

In discussions of preschool outreach, the class also had some great ideas to liven up school age outreach opportunities.

Energy and Laughs! - We get  evening calls to do Parent Nights, Family Outreach Center Nights, Headstart Nights, etc. Most successful:  space in a room to ourselves, if it is an Open House type event.  

If it is simply a "Featuring the Public Library" type of thing, the most successful times I ever have are the ones in which I pretty much show them the basics: We have a giant version of our children's library card, which I take, as well as a giant poster showing the upcoming (or last summer's!) version of SRP clip art.  I jump around, I ask them questions about the library ("Who knows how much a library card COSTS?"  "What color are the kids' cards?"  "What BORING color are the grown-ups cards?"), the same way I do with their children, and I get immediate interaction, laughter, and cooperation.  

Prize Wheel - For our school aged kids, we have a prize wheel (spin the wheel and win one of our many leftover SRP prizes from past years or a book or a movie poster or something) and it's a huge hit.

I Spy Poster - The most successful thing we did was paste a bunch of magazine pictures and cut-out stuff on poster board. Then we had slips of paper that named different objects on the board. Kids picked a slip and tried to spot the thing. Gave us time to give info to parents (clever and tricky, thanks to my smart staffers!!). Successful kids got a hand stamp. They could play twice if they missed the first time.

What fun activities do you incorporate into school outreach?

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Preschool Outreach Success Stories

The class shared success stories on their outreach to daycares. Among the ideas:

Strategy - We have gone to the various daycares and have done storytimes and also talked about the library. A couple of the daycares do bring some children to one of our three weekly stortyimes. In the summer, some of the daycares bring the children to the weekly performances. Last year, we started up a parent/teacher section which makes it easier for the daycare providers to find materials. We also ordered a few home schooling magazines which we keep in the same area.

Consistency - Every month I do about 28-30 outreach story times (this also includes the elementary schools too) each month.  In August, I contact all the daycares, preschools and teachers from the previous year. We schedule a monthly appointment (such as the first Wednesday of every month).  I type a confirmation letter with each months visit date and time and mail it to them.  I feel like this is the most successful way for me to reach the preschoolers!  I make up one story time for outreach each month, use it over and over again (yes, I could read these stories in my sleep) and I do an easy craft with most of them.  It just depends on the class or facility.  It is a great way get story time to kids that have working parents and busy families and may not get into the library regularly.

Emotional Payoff - The outreach that was most successful was that to preschools/daycares. These settings are perfect for a standard storytime, so it's an easy thing to squeeze into a busy schedule. Also, the kids are so excited and receptive that there is great emotional payoff for this sort of outreach. 

Give 'Em Nonfiction!I often use preschool outreach as an opportunity to showcase some great new nonfiction books - often ones with photographs.  I don't read them all the way through - just paraphrase the interesting bits and show some really cool pages. Because of budgets, many schools and daycares really stick to the tried and true picture books, and I always hope that teachers will be inspired by my selections to a). visit the library to check out titles for their kids and b). ask me for suggestions - especially for nonfiction. Occasionally, instead of a craft, I bring a simple hands-on activity for the kids. For example, squirts of two colors of paint gels in a (well-taped) ziplock bag for kids to mix. And q-tips so they could write or draw on the gel bags once they were done mixing.

Less is MoreOne thing to consider - outreach to the same location doesn't have to be weekly or monthly! See how it might fit into a busy schedule. Maybe it's only once a year or once in fall and once in spring.  Just making that effort to meet people halfway by going out here and there makes a difference. We visit our daycares and classrooms in selected grades only once a year (beyond SLP promo visits). It is a treat for the kids - and  us - and keeps time used reasonable and do-able!

On-the-Road StorytimeWe have 4 Headstart classrooms and 4 daycare centers.  I visit each one once a month by packing up my Storytime for the week and "taking it on the road."  I love going into their locations and see children that don't get to the library.  I also make a point to say hi to the kids that do visit the library.  The daycare personnel love for me to take over for a few minutes each month, but the hard part is seeing the conditions that aren't always the best.  I have scheduled Thursdays as my outreach day.

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Journey Towards Preschool Outreach

In our discussions about outreach successes and challenges, Erin shared the experiences and  thinking behind her library's initial efforts to do preschool outreach.

This winter we decided to try outreach to our area preschools for the first time as a "test." Here's what we did:

While we only have 2 staff members dedicated to storytimes in-house, we decided to pool our branch and anyone else who has done storytimes. This left us with 6 people who could do outreach. Each staff member was asked to find 4 times from January-May they would be able to go to a preschool for a storytime (this needed to not affect desk time/other programs/meeting etc.) and we created an online form with Survey Monkey. This form was sent to all preschools we could find contact information for (this was harder than expected!) and each class was allowed to sign up for 1 visit. Staff was responsible for contacting the preschool to confirm the visit. 

Each staff member is responsible for creating their own 30 minute storytime (we didn't want to make it uniform as each of us has our own strengths and favorite books) they repeat at each preschool. We send each preschool a survey after we visit for them to tell us what they liked and if it was successful. 

I don't think we were very clear with our goals and objectives. We ask on our survey if providers feel they know more about library resources for them after our visit. We should have included a handout with information on our provider card (because we have one! I know NOTHING about it! It's on the agenda for this week's dept. meeting) and we should have included our department flyer with upcoming events. Each child did receive a bookmark about our "Discovery Packs" (We have a number of backpacks available for checkout for anyone. Each has 3-5 books on a theme, a song sheet, and a craft/DVD/CD. Sort of a storytime to go for our patrons). 

I know we'll be continuing outreach to preschools this fall. We are considering offering storytime training to volunteers and we'd like to remove some of our paid staff from this program. We're very out of balance with visits to our area schools and while it's important for preschoolers to be exposed to the library, we're starting to feel it may be more important for older school aged children to identify library staff at outreach events. 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Barriers to Doing Outreach

In our discussions of doing outreach visits to daycares, the class shared some of the things that make it difficult for these visits to happen.

Work Assigned to Others - large libraries often have outreach librarians whose responsibility covers outreach from adults to children. Sometimes, daycares prefer to have a children's librarian visit but that isn't possible with the staffing responsibilities.

No Nearby DaycaresAt this point in time, we are not doing any type of outreach for daycare children and parents.  The closest day care center closed several years ago and the remaining day care center is just outside of the village.  We did advertise our new “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” program through the day care center last fall by dropping off individual letters to the parents of the children who attend.  

UncomfortableI personally don't like doing outreach. I get really uncomfortable when I don't have control over my environment (I'm a control freak and I know it! Medication helps, but you know...) so I'm in charge of all the in-house visits, and my supervisor does all outreach because she LOVES it. She likes to do storytimes for daycares who invite gives her a break from booktalks, which she loves, but it's always fun to do a great read-aloud.

ReciprocityWe used to go to all of the Headstart locations (and there's a bunch, plus the main building that has 7 classes in it), however, these children would never be brought to the library.  Twice a year we had programs with them, once on their site, and once here. About five years or so ago, we changed this and they now visit us for programs twice a year.  The teachers love it.  It wasn't that we didn't want to go to the sites, but we felt it was more beneficial for them to come here.

Haphazard Outreach - Each year we'd try something different, preschools in the August, preschools in May, Boys & Girls Club occasionally, brainstorming on who else to contact, should we partner with a school, should we visit back-to-school nights? Essentially, we had no plan and no consistency. This meant that outreach dropped further and further down the priority list. It was easy to argue that we have strong community support, offer lots of different programs at different times and on different days, and it's always hard to cover the desk with someone out of the library. 

Time -  We don't do any outreach, in my dreams I have thought about it often but in reality I just don't have the time.  We mainly just have home daycares in our town and I know that they can't come here because of the transportation issue.  I would love to be able to go to them but it's just not feasible. 

Territory My community is very small, and doesn't have any day cares or head start programs.  I've thought about going to the neighboring communities , but they have local libraries and I don't want to step on anyone's toes.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Making Storytimes Count

In our discussion about bringing on board parents who might be reluctant to accept preschool programs beyond storytimes, the class also discussed how to change up their storytimes to make them more powerful!

Pump It Up -The person who held story time before me read 4 books and that was story time. Since then I have tried to offer songs, fingerplays, crafts, etc. into story times and I've tried to offer resources sheets to parents about the importance of not only reading to your child to help develop literacy skills, but the importance of play, talking, writing, listening, and interacting with your child and that all skills are needed to develop a good and confident reader, but they are important for the overall development of their child. So I guess my hope is that by slowly trickling the information to parents they will come to realize the importance of "it's not just a story time". 

Hands-On - It always drives me crazy when I hear of someone reading three or four books and calling that a storytime! I try to do as many hands on activities as I can (in addition to the fingerplays and songs you mentioned): we have made mini pizzas with English muffins; squeezed oranges to make juice; made popcorn with a stir-crazy popper; made a graph on the floor with bottle caps from kitty litter jugs; gone on "treasure" hunts in the library looking for numbers, etc. I like to get the children thinking and the parents involved.

Name Changer - We just changed our storytime names to little Movers (ages 10-23 months) and Bouncing Babies (birth-9 mos). I like shaking up names. Next up - what to call the 2 year old storytime besides Toddler and then there is Family Storytime, a very true, but snooze-y name!

Surveys - We're on storytime break for the next 2 weeks so this seemed like a great time to check in with my caregivers: am I communicating early literacy tips effectively, do you find the handouts useful (there's been discussion about eliminating handouts in all storytimes-I've been resisting and I'm happy to say my survey backs me up!), AND are you interested in other programs for this age group: technology-based, science/sensory, art, longer playgroups and a spot for suggestions.  I also asked what times and days of the week work best for them. And we're going to start tracking when we're seeing groups of under 5s in the department with their caregivers. 

Listening Ears - We have changed our storytime sessions with a new preschool program format with a new program called Learning to Listen. This program is a 10 minute length program and is designed for children to learn how to sit quietly, pay attention, and engage in the program (see why its only 10 minutes)? Although it’s a shorter program, patrons understand that it was a program which is engaging and helped their children in a future classroom setting.

Get PhysicalOur storytimes are very active, but not all parents and caregivers know that and no matter how I describe storytime, they stay away - worrying that their wiggly kids won't sit still. So I think my strategy for pitching to parents, would be to emphasize the hands-on, active nature of whatever program I was piloting - and any new programs I plan will be hands-on and active.  I don't think I'll have a problem convincing parents to try things. A classmate replied: I like your idea of using the wigglies to promote a different type of program. I've been in a number of systems that started more dance/exercise related programs, and they've been hugely popular. I think the trick is not convincing people to bring their kids, but explaining how the movement and dance relate to the library!

New Faces - I think it would be possible to sub in a preschool program once a month instead of a storytime. I know that it would captivate some of the families that already attend as well as introducing a whole other group of parents and groups to join in the fun. I'm thinking our unschooling, homeschooling, and smaller preschool groups would love to participate in a non storytime activity at the library.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Monday, April 14, 2014

Changing Up Preschool Programming

The class discussed ways to help diehard "I-love-storytime" parents accept programs beyond storytime.

Parent as Teacher - To sell parents on a preschool format change, we can emphasize that the library wants to help parents because parents are a child's first teacher, that all types of programs help with reading and school readiness. A format change will offer more choices for their children, including ongoing reading incentives like 1000 bks, and more activities for preschoolers during the summer. I'd also like to see more parent/family involvement in activities.

Re-Branding - As I consider my parents, I don't think they would have an issue with this.  I think they'd be totally for it!  If I did think there was going to be an issue, I would consider still calling it a "storytime" but add something to differentiate it.  So it would be called Explore! Storytime or Hands-On Storytime or something, depending on what the emphasis was.

Try It, You'll Like It! - Whenever I begin something new, I simply tell caregivers to try it out because I know they will love it. And if they come to a program and don't love it...I'll try to get feedback and tweak it so it suits their needs. I have young kids of my own, so I do my best to cater to my little friends' sensibilities. :)

Awesomness Ahead - I would promote it with fun, colorful flyers.  I try to make sure that I pass them out at story time, when patrons are checking out, or when they are just playing in the children's area.  But I also really like to talk to the parents and I would just make sure they know about it and tell them how awesome it will be!

Variety is the Spice of LifeI do feel as though my community would be very receptive to additional preschool programming. AND it doesn't need to be an added program. I could offer 1 "traditional" storytime a week and a 2nd that has a rotating schedule: 1st week is movement, 2nd week is science, 3rd week is art, 4th week is play. There may be storytime elements, but the majority could be more interactive exploration.  If we as storytime presenters can communicate the value of such changes ("We all know 2-5 year olds are little explorers! They learn all the time in all sorts of environments. I'm confident these activities will continue to reinforce the early literacy skills we've been working on just as well as storytime does!") caregivers will follow. 

Ask Parents!I would definitely go to our patrons and ask what they might want for a new program.  We also have an active MOPS group in our community.  I would go and talk to the moms and see if they have any new programming ideas that they would like to see at their library.  I could see how their input would then help promote it to the community. The MOPS group has a very active Facebook account and the power of social media is easy to tap into.

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, April 11, 2014

Programming Outside the Storytime Box - Part 3

The class had more preschool programming tricks up their sleeves and generously shared them with each other - and you!

Second Saturdays - I started the 2nd Saturdays program several years ago to "make up" for not doing a craft during my Storytimes. It started out mainly as a themed craft project for families with preschool children, but now I incorporate all sorts of programs. Santa visits on the 2nd Saturday of December, I have a costumed  book character in May for Children's Book Week, the 2nd Saturday in February coincides with our town's Frosty Fest so we do Frosty Crafts, the 2nd Saturday in October coincides with our community's Fermentation Fest so I do a food related program. In March, I did a "Dance Party" type program that I called "Get Moving in March with Music."

Character Storytimes -  quarterly storytimes featuring Curious George, Clifford etc in partnership with our local PBS station affiliate. This isn't a full blown event, but more like a celebrity encounter for kids and families. For this I do share 1 or 2 books about the character, sing a song and have a brief Q & A with our guest and then have a chance for photos and high fives with our special guests. We also have other displays and coloring activities for families to explore.

Garden Party - A local community garden came to have a garden party featuring squash. Our guest spoke (briefly) about the history of the farm that the community garden is located on and the nutritional value of squash. We had a show and tell of the different varieties and the kids loved learning the different names and comparing the weight and shapes of squash. Afterwards each kid was able to pick out a squash to decorate with tempura paint. While they painted it provided time to share recipes and cooking tips with the parents. Families were encouraged to store their winter squashes and enjoy them as part of dinner in the future!

Body Fun - Brain Awareness week is the first week in March ( We have a college NeuroScience class partnered with us to develop an activity. It has varied from year to year, but it's great to have another group of teachers share with the kids. They develop different stations and give kids and families a chance to color, check reflexes, learn about names of sections of the brain and more. This year they had a college student who had shaved his head recently and they drew on his scalp the parts of the brain and talked about what things they are responsible, it was very memorable for the kids.

Holiday Snow Globes The K class was going to the senior center to perform their program so they added the library to their stops.  I read them a couple Christmas stories and then they made snowglobes.  I used clear plastic cups, CD's, cotton balls, little miniature ornaments and glitter.  We glued the ornaments to the CD covering the hole, pulled apart the cotton balls for snow and glued down and then sprinkled the glitter in the "snow".  Then the cup is glued to the surface of the CD.  When you shook it the glitter floated around.  The kids loved them and even some parents commented when I saw them that they were really cute.  You do need to have a few adults to help with the glue.

Music & Movement - It seems like anything we promote as involving dancing or exercise has a big turnout. 

Open Play/Craft Time -  Having toys or crafts out for patrons to drop in and play with has been a huge draw.

Sharing Family/Child Resources - We have a "Toddler Fair" every year where we invite any community organization that provides services to babies and toddlers to come and set up a booth. We get a lot of groups, from Infant/Toddler Services to the local moms' clubs who come to share resources. There is always a large turn out of families wanting to learn what the community has to offer. We set up play areas to keep the kids entertained while the adults pick up brochures and meet new contacts.

Stop by here to read more ideas from Part 1 and 2.

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Programming Outside the Storytime Box - Part 2

Doing programming for preschoolers beyond storytime can be fun, inventive and invigorate the interest of parents and families in the library. The class shared lots of program success ideas! Stop by here to read more ideas from Part 1.

Dr. Seuss -  fun for preschoolers and early elementary age kids, two librarians shared ideas!
  • Seuss Photo Booth - boas, hats, large glasses of different sizes and styles, wigs, large shirts with funny patterns that kids could put over their clothes, fake mustaches, picture frames, etc. I had a volunteer (thank goodness) who helped take photos and we collected email addresses to email the photos to parents (those without email addresses got a computer printed photo).
  • Daisy-Head Mayzie hats with large strips of paper, feathers, foamies, chenille stems, and streamers. 
  • Rhyming Egg Scavenger Hunt where the children found eggs with rhyming words on them (the children who were old enough to match up rhyming words were encouraged to and the younger ones just enjoyed finding the eggs). 
  • Two games set up for the children to play: Pin the Heart on the Grinch, and Reading Stars (musical chairs except with Sneetches stars on the floor and instead of music. I read from a Dr. Seuss book and when I quit reading they had to get a star). 
  • Snacks and Extras- Hop on Popcorn  - 3 different kinds of popcorn mixed together in small cups and Who Pudding - kids were able to add food coloring to vanilla pudding. I also had lots of Dr. Seuss trivia sheets, coloring sheets available for children to take with them. I offered a door prize for a family (a Seuss book and Thing 1 & Thing 2 puppets). Every child went home with a small goodie bag with Seuss pencil, bookmark, eraser, notepad, and stamper. I had a lot of new faces show up for this year's which is always nice to see. 
  • Obstacle Course - we turned one of our rooms that we share with the village, into a huge Seuss obstacle course, it was amazing.b
  • Interactive Reading -  A volunteer (that we adore) read a Seuss story. She went above and beyond, letting the kids pick the book, and then she even let them take turns reading, which not only got them involved, but they were distracted enough, that the time flew by. 
BubblesDuring story time breaks, we run simple programs at the usual story time days and times. I'm talking simple. The bubbles program just involves us going outside with the Library's octopus bubble machine (found at Target) and bubble stuff for the kids to use. The kids run around on the lawn, chasing and blowing bubbles. another popular one is parachute play in which we pretty much just make waves for 30 minutes. Anne Clark mentioned the popcorn game in her blog that was a big hit for my groups.

Mother-Daughter Tea Party - a story time every year in May.  It is for preschool as well as elementary aged, however, it tends to be more of the preschool age crowd.  We have done tons of different things...make rings, bracelets, the year of the Royal wedding we made fastinators.  We start with a few stations to do crafts, then I read several books, usually Fancy Nancy, and or Pinkalicious, but I always read "Tea for Ruby" by Sarah Ferguson the Duchess of York.  It is always tons of fun!

May BasketsI have attempted to do a May Basket workshop for preschool and the school age set. I have the local florist donate some pansy seedlings. We decorate chinese take out containers that have either ribbon handles or pipe cleaner handles. Usually there is a ribbon to thread through the May Basket. I tell a story that an older friend told me about delivering May baskets as a child. We talk about the traditions surrounding May Baskets. I have always loved this tradition and do it myself for my neighbors. Attendance has been spotty in the past, but after taking this class I think I may make it a drop-in program the week preceding May Day.

Teddy Bear Sleepover It was so much fun taking pictures of the teddy bears doing some fun things at the library. We did have a few children that did not want to leave their teddy bears  we just gave them one of our own but for the most part they thought that it was great to leave at the library overnight. I think it was a success because it was held at the library at night and the animals got to stay at the library when we were closed. It was also something we haven't done before so it was fresh and new and it was something the preschoolers were interested in. Of course they got to wear their pajamas and there were blankets on the floor, they could bring their pillows in if they wanted to. They also could bring little sleeping bags or blankets for their teddy bears and of course there was milk and cookies.

Stop by here to read more ideas from Part 1 and 3.

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Programming Outside the Storytime Box - Part 1

The class shared a number of program successes they had with activities for preschoolers beyond storytime (thank you Katie Salo for inspiration).

Superheroes  Each child decided what kind of a superhero he/she wanted to be and made a cape and mask.  I found a superhero fill-in activity sheet and each child (with the help of their parents) filled in the blanks.  I was the Lightning Librarian (in costume) and I read my sheet out loud so that they had an idea of what they needed to do.  We then played some super games.  I had a yard of blue felt.  I made some clouds and tall building out of tag board. The kids laid on the felt as if they were flying over the buildings.  We took photos of each child.  We ended the program with refreshments- small sub sandwiches (which the kids made), chips and a drink.  

Winnie the Pooh Party - Near A.A. Milne's birthday in January, we host this annual shindig for pre-schoolers.  They all love the (Disney version) of Pooh, (which is Miss-Renee-The-Purist's only objection!) so we play that up, with related crafts, Pooh or Tigger masks for everyone, gummi bear snacks, as well as Teddy Grahams, etc.  There is a Blustery Day "kite-flying" (kite shaped cut-outs on wooden dowels)  in the library, and a march all throughout the library, yes, where the grown-ups are too, because hey, we can, and lots of honey-related goodies, too. We do read one or two short Pooh books, and show a Pooh video (short). Lots of games, like tossing "honey" bags, three-legged Piglet race, and so on.

Dinosaur Evolution -  I did a small program on dinosaurs and fossils. My plan was for the preschoolers to make their own fossils using model magic and sea shells. My thought were that they would be excited about using these 2 materials. Wrong! They got pretty bored after 5 minutes. After I noticed this, I passed around a small, Ellison shape T Rex. Who would have thought that a paper dinosaur would have been the hit? The children proceeded to decorate the paper dinosaur with model magic. I guess what’s less is more? Be flexible and change up the program if the children aren’t interested!

Dig Into Discoveries  -  a series of three programs for preschoolers that were highly successful:
  • Dig Into Gardening: Short story (big book of Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert) and then we planted lettuce! There were baby pools filled with potting soil so the kids could fill their own flowerpots. Then I had seeds pre-sorted into Dixie cups for the kids to plant. They could also put stickers on their flowerpots. Many of the kids returned to the dirt to dig around after their pots were finished.
  • Dig Into Dinosaurs: Short story (big book of What If The Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most), and then digging for "dinosaur bones" in the sand. The dinosaur bones were doggie treat rawhide bones purchased at the dollar store. I also hid small plastic dinosaur toys and seashells in the sand. I had 3 plastic baby pools (same pools from above program) full of sand "borrowed" from our landscaping people. The kids had shovels, buckets, and paintbrushes (also from the dollar store) to brush off their "fossils."
  • Dig Into Nature: Short Story (Maisy's Nature Walk?), then an outdoor scavenger hunt! I bought gift bags with handles from the dollar store and pasted a simple scavenger hunt list (with pictures) on the outside. The families had a great time looking for all the different items. The families who got the most items "won" a package of sun-sensitive paper to have more fun outdoors looking for interesting objects.
Birthday Fun -  For our children's library's 2nd birthday, we threw us (and our Library Dragon, Booker) a birthday party! We read the story (melodrama style) of how Booker came to live at the library.  We had certain words that they reacted to, with the help of signs we held up.  We played Musical Dragon Footprints, and if they were left out they had to choose a silly thing to do from a jar (which were color-coded according to easy or hard and I directed each child about what color to choose) and then jump back into the fun.  After that, we went outside and sang Happy Birthday to Booker, who was hiding in his tree.  Our finally thing before handing out cake pops was a balloon drop.  It was a hit!  I think what made this event a hit (besides the balloon drop), was that we tried to gear it young, but worked in things to spice it up for older kids, AND we made it as much like a child's birthday party as possible.  I didn't want to just have a special "birthday storytime".  We wanted to have something that would be familiar and a definite celebration.

Stop by here to read more ideas from Part 2 and 3.

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Monday, April 7, 2014

Year of the Dragon Party

Melendra shares a great program for all ages:

I created a program celebrating Chinese New Year for the Year of the Dragon. 

I started out by sharing some basic information about Chinese New Year, such as things that are done to celebrate it and the Chinese Zodiac. I used a PowerPoint to show some images of Chinese dragons, and we watched a Youtube video of dragon dances. I brought all the library's books about Lunar New Year for display and check out as well.

After the "intro," we split up into stations. I had 5 craft stations:
  • Writing a good luck Kanji using a template; 
  • Folding lucky red envelopes; 
  • Making paper lanterns; 
  • Scratch board dragons; 
  • Decorate the dragon table. (The dragon was made of a large head that I'd made out of papermache and painted red attached to a long body made of red, gold, and purple plastic tablecloths taped together.)

Kids rotated through the craft centers and a sweeping out the bad luck game. I also made a large Chinese Zodiac spinner that had birth years associated with specific animals. I talked about how each year aligned with an animal, and let them spin the wheel just for fun.

I happen to own 2 giant carp windsocks from when I lived in Japan, so I used those to help decorate (carp signify fame and fortune).

We had fortune cookies and orange juice for snacks. To finish off the party, we had a dragon dance of our own where we paraded through the library with the decorated dragon. Kids held on to the table cloth as we marched around together. We ended up back in the original room and everyone got to pop a popper to scare away any evil spirits.

We had a huge turnout for the party, and many of the Chinese students who attend KSU brought their kids. It was fun to have this demographic mix more with our more traditional patrons. 

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, April 4, 2014

Meeting Parents Where They Are

In our discussion of balance in school age programming, we also talked about the value of what we do and how parents are vital advocates in how their kids view/use the library. This is what Erin wrote:

I'm working on a presentation I'll be giving to parents of first graders at one of our Title I schools in the area on the importance of reading with your children and the actual nuts and bolts of HOW to read with your children. My first approach was "you all know why this is critically important," but after having a meeting with the woman who will be translating the presentation into Spanish, I completely revamped the presentation. The focus is now on empowering parents to claim their role as the first and most important teachers of their children-a point I drive home every single week in my infant storytime. 

Forget about the transportation part for a minute. Forget about the 9000 things some kids are involved in. Parents are absolutely critical when it comes to how their children will value and view the public library. If they value the library, their children will value the library. 

On the flip side, we have a fair number of school-aged kids whose parents I've never met. We're located on the edge of our downtown in a residential area. There are kids who come just about every single day after school to use our computers and check out books. These are kids who won't sign up for a program if we offered it, but if we had something going on that they could do independently or with little staff intervention? They'd do it.

I also never want to think of the library competing with other activities. Should we be mindful of the myriad of afterschool activities many of our school aged kids are engaged in? Yes. Should we be mindful of the fact most K-2nd graders are still just trying to get through the school day and are exhausted by the end? Yes. But we also need to remember not every kid is involved in 10000 other activities. We should be conceiving of and executing programs that fit within our organization's or department's goals and objectives (I know, I know, I bring this up a lot, but it's because I really believe it helps focus planning and keeps us mindful of why we're doing what we're doing!) and scheduling them accordingly while also taking into account what programs KIDS want-not what adults think they should do, but programs that challenge and support the interests of kids. 

I love working with school-aged kids. They are just as much a patron as an adult (something some librarians who aren't fortunate enough to work with kids sometimes forget!). I have a unique opportunity as a non-teacher, non-parent adult in their lives to be a positive influence and meet them where they are. 

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Consider the Parents. Please!

In our discussions of school age programming, the class wrestled with ways to program during the school year in a way that didn't put added pressure on already busy families. One thread of the discussion dealt with the pressure parents feel and whether afterschool programs can work in every community. Michelle shared her own experience as a working parent:

As a full-time working parent of a kindergartener, I honestly have no desire to pick my child up from school and haul him to the library for an after-school program.

Before you have my head on a pole, hear me out. I drop my child off at school around 7:45 am. I then get my youngest child to Grandma's house by 8, next stop work. I'm working from 8:30-5, then make the drive again to get the kids. My kindergartener is in after school care until 5:45 pm. He's hungry (eats lunch at 11am!, crappy snack after school), he's tired of following directions, tired of using his inside voice, and just plain tired.

Even if I was gung-ho about bringing him to a wonderful program (I'm tired too!), he would not be up for it. I can't imagine adding extracurriculars into the mix...I think my head will explode.

However, we love coming to the library. He loves to play on the computers, to check out giant stacks of books, and to do DIY activities that are in the children's room for the taking. He loved coming to the "big kid" programs during the summer, since he was energetic and not schooled-out, so to speak. I think this is where the "balance" in stealth/DIY/passive programming becomes really important. K-6 is the sweet spot to branch out and allow activities for every walk of life.

I think school age programs are important, but we have to be realistic about the parent's role. Just because parents can't get their kids to a program, doesn't mean that they don't value the library. I freaking LOVE the library, as do my kids. I think the parents' attitude towards the library is key. If the library is just a place for parents to pick up tax forms, the library isn't going to mean squat to their kids.

Image: 'High-Octane Villain'  Found on