Thursday, May 29, 2014

Organized Inspiration

As a director of a small library, one wears many hats. Luci shares her techniques and inspirations for putting her storytimes together that keeps fun, great content and new ideas together - while still running the library!

Perhaps because I'm a former school librarian,  I repeat many of my story hour themes.  Almost every session (September December and January-May), my weekly themes include the ABCs; colors; shapes; numbers and counting; specific animals,  both domestic and wild; and the seasons. While winter is my absolute least favorite season, I spent 4 weeks this past January on winter: snowflakes, snowmen, sledding, and mittens.  My favorite story hour theme is numbers and counting, and I try to have that as a three-week-in-a-row theme. (I don't like math but I do enjoy it when my monthly budget sheet from the village office balances with my financial report!). 

Now, while I do repeat themes, I change out the book titles; craft; and sometimes, the finger plays or songs. Because I'm the director of a small library,  I have many duties. When I catalog new books, I keep an eye out for books that will be great for story hour. I have a list in my computer called "Preschool Story Hour Ideas" and add the book, its call number, and the month and year we purchased it. The list is organized by possible story hour themes. When I am putting together a new session of story hour, I start with this list. My second resource is my 3 or 4" wide 3-ring binder that has copies of every finger play and song that I have used or want to use. (I also have 1 more ring binder that include samples of activities that I have done in the past; a file folder with copies of every story hour schedule that I have put together since 1992; and a binder with ideas for future story hours).  

By now, I have chosen the books I want to read and the accompanying finger plays and/or songs, but I need a craft; project; or activity.  In the past,  I Googled "preschool dinosaur craft" or whatever.  Now, I will look at the different blogs I have been introduced to in this class. I do have a personal Pinterest account and while I don't spend lots of time on Pinterest,  I do look at the boards that are featured in the weekly emails I receive from Pinterest.  Obviously,  I have to keep my budget and staff prep time in mind as I do my planning,  but having fun is a top priority for me.  If I'm having fun and enjoying myself in story hour, chances are good that the children will, too! 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sharing Our Assets

Sara from MN shared a source of her inspiration and resources to think about how another framework like Asset Based Community Development can inform our programming work.

So, my background has been rooted in community involvement in non-profits, I'm excited to bring that knowledge to my youth programming too.

Last weekend I attended a mini conference on community gardening. It touched on utilizing ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) practices in building healthy relationships. This way of working fits well in a library setting as a location that is connecting it's community to resources, content, and self discovery. I think one of the simplest practices that can drive home this way of working in creating an asset map. It's a simple way to make sure that the people, organization, and programs are being fed and are receiving meaning benefits through the sharing of gifts.

You can learn more about the process in the links below, but I think it's a super tool when thinking about partnerships and relationship building, we at the library must give of our gifts and in turn we get to share the wealth of others. When working on an asset map, the arrows go back and forth in a reciprocal nature.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Putting on a Summer Reading Workshop

Our guest blogger today is Melendra Sanders, consultant at the NCKLS in Kansas, who coordinated her system's SLP workshop. Kansas does a great job bringing in a presenter to do all seven regional workshops (last year I was lucky enough to be the presenter. It was fun!)
I work as the Youth Services Consultant in a regional library system that is very loosely affiliated. As part of my duties, I hosted my first system-wide summer reading workshop this spring. Although I’ve done thousands of storytimes and children’s programs, this was my first for-adults-only, do-it-on-my-own event, and I had more than 40 librarians coming. To say I was nervous is a bit of an understatement.

Of course, I had help. As one of the seven regional library systems in Kansas, I didn’t select my speaker on my own. All the youth consultants work together to select an annual summer reading speaker. This year we invited Kathy Barco. Kathy is upbeat, energetic, and funny. She was flexible and easy to work with both before and during the workshop. In short, she did a fabulous job. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Although I didn’t select my presenter alone, all the rest of the planning fell to me. Looking at responses from past SR workshops, I coordinated with Kathy for what sorts of materials to focus on. I also created breakfast and lunch menus, table decorations, gathered supplies, arranged for an afternoon presentation, made tons of copies, and stuffed them into folders.

Unfortunately, our location is under construction at the moment, so a few days prior to the event, I notified attendees via email that they would not be able to park in our parking lot. The lot is always too small, but with 1/3 out of commission for construction vehicles it is ridiculously too small. I provided some alternate parking ideas, and my supervisor agreed to have a “shuttle” picking up librarians from one and transporting them to the library.

The day before the workshop, I set up the room with all my tabletop decorations, summer reading themed books, other displays, and craft supplies. The system always gives away decorations and prizes from CSLP, so I set all these items out as well. Finally, the other staff and I organized all the libraries’ CSLP purchases: reading records, certificates, posters, bookmarks, etc. A few weeks prior to the workshop, the whole department had helped me bag and label these materials for each library.

Kathy arrived in the afternoon before the workshop day. While she set up her space, I set up the video cameras because we’d decided to create a video of the event for any librarians who were unable to attend the workshop. As the first system to mention creating a video, I was asked to provide it to the other six regional systems, so we had two manned video cameras to get different angles. I also had a coworker in charge of taking pictures throughout.

In the morning prior to the workshop, it was all about food. For this, I had a lot of help from my fellow office workers. This was not their first SR workshop, and they have the organization of the food down to a science. While I was running back and forth finishing up final details and rearranging displays (I’d received more promotional materials in the mail), they efficiently set up breakfast.

Miraculously, everything went smoothly. We had a small glitch with the parking and shuttle service, but that was pretty much the only difficulty of the day. I was impressed with the afternoon presentation which consisted of four of our regional librarians discussing Teen Volunteer programs. Coordinating this had been one of the more difficult tasks, as each of the librarians has different communication styles and preferences. It could have been complete chaos, but worked out to be extremely professional and organized.

Here’s what I learned:

1)      All logistical emails need to be sent out at least a week in advance and should be sent multiple times.
2)      If I want the librarians to interact with new people, I need to assign mingled tables.

3)      Making a movie out of a workshop is VERY time consuming.

4)      LightWorks video editing software is a great product, but has a steep learning curve.

5)      Although librarians like yogurt, one small yogurt per person is too many.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Winter Olympics Program

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. Amanda from IN shared this idea.

The "Library Winter Olympics 2014" is active program that was part of a once a month series called "Kid Connection".  The series is held at both branches once each month.  This program is geared for school aged children, and is held at 4:00 at in the afternoon on a Thursday at one branch. We used to hold this program in the evening at 6:30, but we slowly started losing families. 

In this community, families evenings are too busy with the activities they are involved in, such as scouts, sports, dance, etc.  We changed the time to after school, but before the evening events get started.  This has appeared to be helpful for families.  At the other branch we hold it at 6:00.  This seems to work well there.  It is a very isolated community with not much to do.  The library tends to be similar to a community center.

This program usually lasts about 45 minutes.  In addition to the books I was reading, I pulled books about winter sports for them to look at and check out if they wanted to.  This program probably took a total of 20 minutes to plan.  I read a magazine article that gave me the idea for the program, so some of the activity ideas and books ideas were "borrowed" from this.  I also had a couple of book ideas in my "arsenal".  I was the only staff member working this program and I might have spent $3 on paper plate $5 on a snack and drink  We had all the other supplies on hand. 

As families began to arrive there were three activity stations set up.  There was a "snowball toss" where they were to toss cotton balls into rings set up at different distances.  There was an Olympic Ring craft where the kids made their own "Olympic Rings" out of pipe cleaners of the according colors.  Finally there was "Ice" skating races.  We used paper plates as our ice skates and kids (and adults) raced each other around our "track" by scooting on the paper plates.  This was definitely their favorite activity.  There were parents racing their kids, siblings racing each other and kids who had never met each other racing each other.  Even kids who didn't seem interested in the program were drawn to this activity!  They really enjoyed the snow ball toss too. 

After about 20-25 minutes of activity stations, we moved to the carpet to read.  I also had (non-fiction) books about winter sports such as curling, ice skating, snow boarding, down hill skiing, etc. on display.  I read "Dream Big, Little Pig" by Kristi Yamaguchi, "Ten on the Sled" by Kim Norman, and "Mice on Ice" by Rebecca Emberley.  These books were definitely geared more for the younger school aged crowd (Kindergarten and first grade with some preschool siblings thrown in), which is what I tend to get at this program.  After we were done reading, we ate our snack and talked about the different type Olympic events that we had been watching on T.V. and which were our favorites and which ones we would like to try.  This program is was a very hands on program, the kids were able to move from station to station as they would like.  

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wizard of Oz Cast Party

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. Amanda from WI shared this idea.
Back story
The Wizard of Oz cast party stemmed from our marketing wiz here at our library. The school district was putting on a Wizard of Oz play with all three schools, High school, middle and elementary. Almost all of our staff, has a child (or dog) in the play, and it came out at a meeting that we should do a “Cast Party” to celebrate such a wonderful thing happening in our community. What started out small, actually turned out to be an amazing event, not only for us, but for the entire community. It’s amazing how the community came together to celebrate.
This idea came about sometime in December, but we didn’t start planning anything seriously until sometime in January. We wanted to have the cast come and maybe do a small skit, and have some things to eat, and just have an overall place for the community to gather and spend time with the cast and characters.
Staff, prep and scheduling
In all honesty, it was a lot of our marketing specialist, Kelly that handled this program. She had the idea and she ran with it. We all helped in our special areas, but she was the one who made the calls, sent the emails and got everyone together. We have a very strong team, and we all work off each other. What stands out with this program, is how successful it was, and even though I am sure we won’t do another Wizard of Oz Cast Party, the concept can be used again.
Prepping overall was again, a lot of phone calls and emails. Our programming budget is slim to none, so we knew we had to ask for donations from the community. What ended up happening was we had not 1 but 4 local restaurants donated food, pizzas, breadsticks and chicken wings. Our local grocery store even donated a cake. A few of the restaurants even came up with their own specials to celebrate the performance the last weekend in March.

The one thing that we did have to do was make a backdrop from the play to have the kids pictures taken in front of with the cast members. We did this for$0.00! We made the entire thing from paper we had in our closet, streamers, chalk and paint. 
Then for crafts we had mini autograph books that we printed mini pictures of scenes from The Wizard of Oz and had the kids glue them on and then were able to get all the cast members signatures. We were able to identify each character with a sticker name tag that we made with our sticker maker. We added stickers to the tables so they could decorate with those as well. We also had left over face paint from last years summer reading program kick-off party. We then had volunteers from the schools come in and do the face-painting. 
With the background that we made, we also had a station that kids and families could have their picture taken with cast members and for a donation of $1.00 they could have them printed and picked up the following week. This not only cost us nothing, but brought in a little extra money that we gave back to the schools.
All in all, there was not too much prep involved besides picking up food and making the back drop, the event pretty much ran itself.
Day of the event
On the day of the event, some of us changed our schedule a little bit so that none of us went over hours. Thursdays we are open until 7pm, so we made it for that day so we didn’t have to stay later than normal. At 5pm, I went to our local restaurants and picked up the food they had donated and set it up in the back room. While I was doing that, the cast got dressed, and the kids and families had time to get their faces painted, and make their autograph books. When the cast members were ready, we called everyone into the gallery, and the director did a small introduction, and the cast members did a sneak peek from the play. Everyone loved it. After that, everyone came into the back room where we had tables all set-up with the food, and everyone was able to eat, mingle and have their pictures taken.
After all was said and done, we had an amazing event, that had a spectacular turn out, and even more, got the entire community together. The event, having had so much time and resources donated, cost us barely anything, besides a few fillers, like extra plates and napkins. It was so engaging, seeing all the kids and their families get together. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Urban Wildlife Detectives

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. Susan from WA shared this idea.

  • Name of program:  Urban Wildlife Detectives
  • Program type:  Active
  • Program location: This will take place on-site, with a final trip to the Wildlife Center.
  • Target age group: School Age Program, with a family storytime night two times, once in the beginning and once at the end.  Probably geared for K-3rd
  • Length in minutes of program: 45 minutes per session.  Could be lengthened as an afterschool program, if that collaboration is a possibility with the local school district. 
  • One time event/series (if series how many weeks will it last):  Series over 6 weeks.
  • Scheduling strategy (why are you offering your program at the time you propose):  Follows early learning and school core competencies in science and literacy.  Can be offered once in Fall and once in Spring-ideally when children can see animals out and about, early fall is best. 
  • Staff time /budget needed to present it:  I would think this would cost about 10-20.00 a session.  The most expensive items being the owl pellets.  Most supplies are on hand and consist of typical craft materials. 
  • Collection connection:  Juvenile Non-Fiction, Fiction tie-ins, and some field guides and one film.  Also makes use of folk and mythology collection. 
  • Estimated program preparation time:  1 hour per week before the session.  About 16-20 hours in advance, depending on how much craft prep and display prep is done.  Assemble craft supplies, and organize the weekly display, which will become a sort of passive programming.  Assemble the registrants “nature journals by allowing 12 pages of plain white paper per registrant, and staple or hole punch.  They will work on writing and journaling as an ”at-home” component of the program.  
Week One:  What is Urban Wildlife?
Week Two: Owls, Bats and other nocturnal creatures.
Week Three: Coyotes 
Week Four: Raccoons
Week Five: A Chorus of Frogs (collect tallies from participating families)
Week Six:  Backyard Entomologist

This program targets literacy skills, science curriculum objectives and also allows participants to connect to their local ecosystem.  It offers both reading practice and artistic expression.  It begins and ends a scientific inquiry through the experiment component.   In the end, it even teaches families about how they can best interact with wildlife and what to do in animal encounters or emergencies.  This is a common occurrence in our rural community, but can also be applied in urban settings, given the overlap in human/animal existence.   This program can also be used heading towards Earth Day programming.   

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Noon Year's Day Party

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. Tina from WI was inspired by an idea shared by classmate Erin from MI and shared this idea.

This is an active program type that would be held in the meeting room right off of our library.  We also have a gym in the community center that it could be held in should I think that I will have too many kids to fit in the meeting room.  (I just called the village clerk to reserve the room for December 31 of this year, so I DO plan to do this program this yearJ) The target age group for this program would be ages 3 to 6/preschoolers.  The length of the program would be an hour, from 11 a.m. until Noon on December 31!  

If a success, and I think it would be a big success, I would plan to do it once a year…..every New Years Eve to celebrate the coming of the new year!  This program should take little time to prepare for, I just need to decide on books that would tie into counting down, or learning about the months in the year.  Then, I would have to construct some numbers to use for counting down to the new/noon year’s.  I would have to purchase some balloons and balloon drops or make a homemade balloon drop.  I also love Erins idea of “fireworks” using squares of bubblewrap for the kids to stomp on for the sound effects.  The preparation and cost would be minimal for this program.  The preparation for this program should be minimal, I would guess about four hours total!  Since I am “stealing” the idea, most of the planning is done unless I came up with some idea of my own that I would like to add or change. 

Program Description and plan: 
~To implement this program, I would have to advertise in the way of flyers to the schools, posters in the Community Center /Library, the surrounding banks and post office and by putting it on our Facebook page. 
~The flyers and posters would read something like this: 
        Join the us at the Library for a Noon Years Eve Party!
                                        Date/Time:  Wednesday, December 31 from 11 a.m. until Noon
                 A family friendly celebration counting down to the New Year without staying up late!
                 Enjoy stories, crafts, music and dancing, concluding with balloon drop at 12PM.
                                                 ~Light refreshments will be offered.

~The week before the program, I would send a press release to the newspapers and radio stations.  The week of the program, I would ask the local bank to advertise the program on their digital sign. 

Make Party Hats:  I would prepare a craft of a party hat or crown for the kids to do when they first arrive.  I would just search for an easy idea online to come up with something simple that the kids could make out of paper that we already have available.  I would get out all of our odds and end craft items as well as the crayons, glue, and scissors that we have here for decorating the hats/crowns. 

Read a story: I would select a book or books for the program.  I could select a book or books that have to do with the months and talk about how the months make up a year and talk about the reason that we were celebrating.  I could also select a book that has to do with clocks and telling time.  Or even a book about learning the numbers from 1-10 tying in with the countdown. 

Dancing:  I would get some music for the kids to dance to, I would probably have to enlist the help of my own kids to help me download some fun songs for the kids to dance to.

The Countdown:  I would make up make up colorful signs with the numbers 1-10 on them to use for the countdown and have the children help me put them in order 1-10 and then 10-1 (for the countdown).    I could also make a giant clock to talk about numbers and time if I wanted, but it would have to be a pretty basic conversation for the age group. 

Fireworks:   I would get bubble wrap, hopefully donated, from someone who has an excess or even from a mailing or office supply store.  Then I would cut the bubble wrap in squares for the kids to stomp on for “fireworks” noise when the clock strikes noon. 

Balloon Drop:  I would purchase a balloon drop, if not too pricy, or construct one myself out of materials we have at the library.  I would purchase balloons, which aren’t too pricey, blow them up and put them in the balloon drop to drop at the end of the countdown.  I would play more music for more dancing!
Treats:   We have a popcorn popper at the library so I would have some popcorn made and have some juice or punch, that I would probably just supply from home, to ring in the noon yearJ.  

This program would engage the children by having them count and see/learn the numbers 1-10.  The numbers will be colorful so we could talk about colors.  We will read a story or stories to engage their listening skills.  I think there will be a lot of fun and positive stimulation and I am really looking forward to hosting this program this year!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Animal Adventures

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. Monica from IL shared this idea.

An active program would be Animal Adventures. This program would be on-site and would run for half hour. This four week program, would meet once a week and would explore the world of animals through books and a related activity or craft. Children ages 3-6 could attend this program alone as long as the caregiver stays in the department. This program can be offered mid day (11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.) as it could entice preschoolers which have just been dismissed from preschool, or at 6:30 p.m. as it is after dinner and can be a pre bedtime activity.

Assuming that that there are supplies on hand like paper, scissors, glue sticks, markers, ribbon, feathers, paint and brushes, etc., there would be no extra expenditures on the budget other than that of estimated program preparation time, presentation time, and perhaps material replenishment as needed. This program has a strong literacy component as well as a connection to our book collection as the first part of the program would commence with a nonfiction animal book (whichever animal one may choose). Such titles like Owls by Gail Gibbons or Peacocks  by Kathleen Pohl are guaranteed to have great facts and pictures which will entertain younger children. The presenter can advertise these books by setting up a supplementary table of the designated animal being discussed that day and also showing children where they can find these books in our nonfiction collection.  Program preparation time would be 2 hours in order to gather the designated book to be presented, research for an age appropriate craft, gather necessaries supplies and props, and perhaps extra pictures or videos in order to enhance the program.  

Animal Adventures would explore the world of animals through books and a related activity or craft. The program plan would entail selecting a different animal in the animal kingdom per week. Planning time would include finding an age appropriate nonfiction book which had easy to understand text and engaging pictures in order to captivate the attention of the young patrons. During the program, sharing this book with the children should take no more than 10 minutes in order for them not to get restless. Great questions and remarks to make during the program can include questions about its habitat, food it consumes, body structure, and so on. It is important to engage the children during the book in order to further the child’s interest in animals and science.

Following the book, the presenter may want to show more pictures of the animal or a video in order for the patrons to see the animal in action. A prop, such as a puppet, may further make children understand the animal.

Once the literacy component of the program is over, the children are to assemble a related activity or craft. This hands-on component can be a craft which resembles the animal which was discussed that day. Again, crafting supplies should be basic in order to introduce children to crafting, following directions, and to stay within a designated budget. It should also be simple so children do not get discouraged by their inability and also for staff to have an easier time giving directions about assembly of the activity or craft. Below is an example of an animal which could be introduced in Animal Adventures. Books and related crafts are also suggested below. 
·         Animal: Octopus
·         Book: Octopuses (Under the Sea) by Carol K. Lindeen
·         Craft: Octopus Counting Craft
The craft can review physical features of the animal. It can also be cost effective while implementing STEAM and Common Core concepts. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dig into Nature

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. Michelle from IN shared this idea.

Program Type: Active

Program Location: On-site, outside in summertime, could be used for outreach in a park

Target Age: 2-6 with caregivers, could also be used for K-3 with or without caregivers

Length: 45 minutes

Scheduling: One Time Event, 10 AM; before lunch/naptime… and before the Indiana heat and humidity become unbearable

Staff Time: 30 minutes for prep, to glue scavenger hunt sheets to the outside of the bags

scavenger hunt list with words and pictures (such as this)
bags for scavenger hunt finds (I used gift bags with handles from the dollar store, but anything can be used)
bottled water for thirsty families
read-aloud book

Collection connection: non-fiction plant, animal, weather, hiking books, as well as picture books featuring habitats, plants, animals, and outdoor activities

How It Works:
My library has a huge courtyard as well as a lovely wildflower and grassy area. I figured I could take advantage of the nice outdoor space with an outdoor program for the preschoolers.

We gathered in the small, shady courtyard for a welcome song: “If You’re Happy And You Know It.”

I read Maisy’s Nature Walk by Lucy Cousins.

We sang “Dig The Earth” to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
                                Dig, dig, dig the earth (digging motion)
                                Plant your seeds in rows (plant seeds)
                                A gentle rain and bright sunshine (rain with fingers, stretch arms overhead for sun)
                                Will help your flowers grow (use hand and fingers as a growing flower)

I passed out the scavenger hunt bags and explained that the families could place items in the bag if they wanted to do so, or they could simply mark the items that they found on their nature walk around the library.

After 20 minutes or so, we reconvened in the courtyard to explore our findings. The hardest item was a squirrel! Only one child found one…and it was on the “Dig Into Reading” t-shirt I was wearing!

I handed out water and we talked about our items. I showed everyone the cart of nature books I had wheeled outside and we were finished.

The kids were really engaged because most of them had never been outside at the library before! I figure the majority of kids like wandering around outside and picking up objects, so I grasped that idea and took off with it. I’m thankful that I can do this kind of nature program on-site without much prep or hassle.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The March Madness-Novel Edition

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. Carla from WI shared this idea.

As a fan of college basketball, I wait excitedly for the NCAA tournament to begin every March.  Trying to predict the winners, upsets and Cinderella stories is a challenge and great fun.  So next year March “bracketology” is going to be reinvented as a showdown between books.

My vision for this program is as a drop-in, do-it-yourself type; the directions are fairly easy to describe and then a handout would be distributed.  Instructions would also be included for reference, for those patrons unfamiliar with the bracket procedure but also want to participate. 

This would be done as patrons came in and inquired about the brackets.  The books chosen would be from all areas of the library with most age groups and collections represented.  For younger patrons, parents or siblings could help with the bracket.  Since it is a drop-in, take home program, there would not be any time commitment in the library, other than relaying instructions by the staff.  The program itself would continue for about four weeks, and if successful would be held every March. 

Budget demands would be low.  Printer ink and paper are the only needs for running the program.  It would be necessary to have funds for prizes for the winners in each age group.  The prizes, of course, would follow the theme of the program, and be books.  Staff time would be more demanding, but only in the development of the brackets and devising the points awarded for wins/losses and the “team” matchups.  After the first year it would just be a matter of choosing books; the point structure would already be determined.

Since all ages would be included, many parts of the collection would be included as well.  There may be a face-off between The Hunger Games and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I would like to include adult books as well, so all patrons could participate, so it may not technically be a “Children’s Program” but kids would definitely be the ones targeted to join the game.

March Madness-Novel Edition would start the first or second week of March, to coincide with the selection process of the basketball teams invited to play.  Perhaps a book selection ceremony could also be incorporated into the program.  Thirty-two books would be selected with a wall sized bracket put up to track the matchups and winners.  Handouts with the brackets would be available a few days ahead; I don’t want to give patrons too much lead time to lose the papers or forget!  The first week there would be sixteen “games” and patrons would vote for each of them.  I would need sixteen boxes or jars for the votes to go into.  At the end of the week the votes are counted and winners from each pairing would move on in the bracket to the Sweet Sixteen, just like the NCAA.  The second week, the same thing, only now with eight “games” on which to vote.  The Elite Eight would face off the third week; the Final Four the fourth.   Shortly after those winners are determined, the final Championship game would be played.  Voting for this would be open for only a couple days, to try and keep excitement and anticipation high. 

I would break all the entries into age groups; preschool through 4th grade, 5th grade through 8th, high school, and adults.  Again, focus would be placed on encouraging  young patrons to participate,  and perhaps have two or three winners for the younger age groups.  The brackets are scored by a predetermined point scale, and highest point score wins.  Books would be the prizes-either new releases, classics or both and everyone would be encouraged to get reading for next year’s tournament. 

Our library lives in a sporty community, and I think patrons would enjoy this type of program.  I like it because it encourages kids to read books throughout the year so they’ll be ready to vote, and hopefully be invested emotionally in the outcome of the games.  But it also allows those who haven’t read many of the books to participate, because just like the real NCAA bracket, much of it is a guessing game!  I would like to see excitement for March Madness to evolve to where patrons even pick the original 32 books that are selected.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Secret Agent Book Club

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. Jennifer from NE shared this idea.

Type: Active book club program

Location: On-site at the Main Library in the programming room

Age range: Grades 4-5

Length and scheduling strategy: Every Monday at 5-5:45 and Thursday at 3:30-4:15 (This scheduling works for us because the Main Library is across the street from one of the elementary schools. Most kids from that school attend the Thursday session because they can simply run across the street after school.  Most kids from the other schools attend the Monday session, which is hopefully late enough for parents to get home and be able to bring their child.)

Presentation time and budget: Presentation time totals about 2 hours per week for both sessions.  This includes overflow time and commuting to and from the Main Library.  In total, book club cost about $8-$10.  The only materials we needed to purchase were baking soda, lemon juice, and Q-tips. 

Collection connection: Secret Agent Book Club includes discussing read-alikes and nonfiction books in our collection.

Preparation time: This program took a few hours to plan, including picking out a book and finding questions and activities. This does not include the time needed to read the book, although who really counts that as work, anyway? 

Program description: Secret Agent Book Club is a program we offered this semester and I felt the kids really enjoyed.  The description here is both a summary of what we did do and an improved I-should-have-done-this version. The kids registered for this program ahead of time without knowing what the book was.  We read Spy School by Stuart Gibbs.  I wrapped the books in brown paper and twine so they got to open them together.  The sessions went like this:

Week 1
Introductions, including what books the kids like to read, where they go to school, etc. (If needed.  I was new so all of these kids were new to me.)

Talk about what will happen each week in book club (They’ll be given a certain number of pages to read,  we have to be respectful to everyone, etc.)

Open the book and talk about the cover.  Read the summary on the back.  Ask questions like “What do you think it’ll be about?  Do you think it’ll be funny, serious, fantasy, real-life, etc?”

Read the beginning letter out loud and then let them start reading silently (They were chomping at the bit at this point.)

Stop them at the finish time and remind them of what they need to read to and hand-out homemade bookmarks with their assignment.

Weeks 2-6 (Most sessions were similar in structure)
Let them talk about any parts of the books they’re bursting to talk about.
Ask questions thought of beforehand.
Segue to the activity

Week 2 (Kids have read chapters 1-6): Yarn Obstacle Course
Use red (or whatever color) yarn and packaging tape to create a “laser” course between Book Sale bookcases in the programming room.  Start the course before the kids arrive.  Challenge the kids to make it through without touching the tape.  Count infractions.  Then challenge them to continue the course farther along the bookcases.

Week 3 (Kids have read chapters 7-11): Invisible Ink
Use lemon juice, Q-tips, paper, and a hair dryer.  Let them write messages to each other or as the characters with the lemon juice and Q-tips.  Show them how to reveal the messages using a hair dryer.

Week 4 (Kids have read chapters 12-16): Fingerprinting
Use ink or a pencil to have the kids fingerprint themselves or each other.  Examine the fingerprints and use books from the library to see what kind they are and any other interesting facts.  If there’s time, use one of Ed Emberley’s fingerprint drawing books to make pictures with fingerprints.

Week 5 (Kids have read chapters 17-19): Wanted Posters
Create a wanted poster and print one for each kid.  Have the kids use pencils and crayons to create a poster for the person who they think is the mole.  Talk with them about why they think it’s that person.

Week 6 (Kids have read chapters 20-25): Baking Soda & Vinegar Bomb
Use a tablespoon-ish of baking soda wrapped up in a paper towel and a baggie of vinegar to make a baking soda bomb.  Once they’ve done it once, challenge them to brainstorm ways to make the bomb better and try them out.

Engagement: There are a couple ways in which this program engaged the older school-age children.  They love the spy theme and the silliness of the book.  They loved the activities and being able to experiment with the projects.  The independent aspects of the sessions are important because the older kids like being able to make their own decisions and it’s a safe place to let them.

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Boredom Busters

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. Melendra from KS shared this idea.
  • Name of Program: Boredom Busters, courtesy of the “Bryce Don’t Play” blog.
  • Program Type: Do It Yourself passive program.
  • Program Location: On site in the children’s room of the library.
  • Target Age: Elementary aged children who are independent readers.
  • Length in Minutes of Program: On average, the activities at the DIY station will take between fifteen and twenty minutes to complete. Each theme will be up for one month. There will be two crafts and one game or activity for each theme.
  • Series Event: This program will be changed on a monthly basis. The first six months are planned.
  • Scheduling Strategy: The program is a Do It Yourself passive program that will be available at all times the library is open. This will allow children to participate in the program whenever they are in the library rather than needing to make a special trip to the library in order to participate in a program. The DIY station will be located near the children’s desk, so that library staff will always be available to assist or refill supplies.
  • Staff time and Budget: I estimate each theme will take approximately two hours to plan. Since many of the materials that will be used in the DIY station are standard children’s library supplies, like glue, glitter, construction paper and tissue paper, I estimate that materials will cost between five and ten dollars per monthly theme.
  • Collection connection: Books tied to each theme will be displayed with themed materials. Each month’s theme activity will have a connection to reading, writing, or library skills. Two examples: during the bug theme month, the activity will be creating spider web poetry; for the Fourth of July theme, the game will be easier if children use the flag reference book to help figure out the flag’s origin.
  • Estimated Preparation Time: Program planning should take no longer than three hours per theme. This includes time spent finding crafts and games, purchasing materials, making samples, and setting up the station.

Program Description:
This program is a do-it-yourself passive program that will be rotated on a monthly basis. Monthly themes will be tied into holiday, time of year, or library event. DIY projects will be set out on a table along with directions and supplies for completing the project. The DIY station will be located near the children’s desk. Directions for completing the crafts and enough supplies to complete a certain number of projects (between five and ten) will be left on the DIY station. These supplies will be replenished as necessary. This will, hopefully, keep people from walking away with supplies. There will be a note on the DIY station directing children to the children’s desk if they run out of supplies.

Each month there will be two crafts along with a game or activity tied to the theme. Below, I have included a list of monthly themes, crafts, and activities for the first six months. There will be a cart containing theme related books next to the table. Books will be available for checkout or reading within the library. When appropriate, such as for insects and spiders theme, there will be a sign with call number information for finding more books that are together in one area of the collection. Books will be a mix of fiction and nonfiction and will include some easy readers. I have included sample book lists with each month’s theme.

Ways the Program will Engage Children:
The themed DIY station will allow children to engage different creative strengths, since each station’s theme will include an activity related to reading or writing as well as an art project. The reading and writing activities will engage children’s verbal skills and creativity, while the art projects will engage visual and design skills. The writing and reading connections for the themes are important because they draw participants back into the resources the library offers. While the campfire stories writing prompts clearly tie into both reading and writing, even the simple act of suggesting a book to another reader ties the egg hunt to reading.

The DIY station will also provide opportunities for social engagement, if children desire such interaction. Since the station will be available all the time, children who are shy can visit the station when it is empty, while more outgoing children can bring a friend or even make a new friend. The DIY station will change on a regular basis, because of this, it will provide an ongoing program that children can participate is as best fits their needs. Ideally, it will motivate children to visit the library more because, as the “Programming Librarian” blog notes, when a library provides passive programs, patrons “experience something novel each time they return to the library, encouraging them to continue coming back” . DIY programs give children more agency in the programming process. Marge Loch-Wouters highlights, it is the children’s own energy, creativity, and action that drive their participation.

Detailed Plans for First Six Months of Boredom Buster Stations:
1.      1.  April = Eggs
a.      Glitter eggs
b.      Tissue paper eggs

c.       Activity/Game: Write a book suggestion on a slip of paper to place in egg and hide the egg. (Children can hide the egg they decorated, or extra eggs will be available at the children's desk.

1.      May = Insects
a.      Cup bugs (cups, pipe cleaners, markers, googly eyes, glue)
b.      Paper spider webs
c.       Activity/Game: Spider web poems (Make a large web with tape on a magnetic board. Supply magnetic “bug” words for poetry creation.)

1.      June = Travel
a.      Map ornaments
b.      Make your own map (Could be tied into fantasy or travel books)
c.       Activity/Game: Community passports (Passports include pages to partnering city businesses & other community activities. If children go there, they get a stamp or sticker on appropriate page. These would be given out at the children’s desk.)

1.      July = Fourth of July/America
a.      Flag Pinwheels
b.      Pencil Fireworks
c.       Activity/Game: Identify the Flag (Using images of state and regional flags, clues, and a book of USA flags on table for reference.)

1.      August = Camping
a.      No fire campfires
b.      Mini-me using sticks, stones, and other natural supplies
c.       Activity/Game: “Write your own campfire story” with story prompts.

1.      September = School
a.      Monster Book Marks
b.      School Spirit Mascots: coloring sheets for all the local elementary school mascots
c.       Activity/Game: Photos of the schools guessing game