- Animals, anyone? If it is allowed at your library, (I hope it is!) kids love animals! We have had sled dogs, baby goats, baby ducks, chicks, bunnies, you name it! Bringing in animals to tie into your story or program is so thrilling for the kids. This doesn't have to be an expensive animal expert--just ask around. Do any staff members have unusal pets or know someone who does? Does anyone know a farmer? We had a staff member whose good friend was a veterinarian. She came and talked to the kids about how to care for pets last summer. She brought two dogs with her and demonstrated how to teach basic commands. (Did I mention she did it for free???) We also had a Hedgehog Advocate come to talk about hedgehogs and let the kids pet the animals at the end. I've found that programs with animals are some of the most well-attended programs and the kids certainly aren't bored and watching the clock.
Food! Ah, one of my favorites! We have made mini pumpkin pies, banana snowmen, Thanksgiving mix, applesauce and pig bagels, to name a few. If it's not an individual project (like the pig bagels), I've found that making something that allows many helping hands is very popular. The Thanksgiving mix (picture pretzels, goldfish, raisins, m&ms, etc.) worked very well for this. We had many ingredients and had two large bowls, so there was plenty of opportunity for everyone to "help." Kids get the biggest charge out of just pouring something into a bowl!
Bring in someone new! Sometimes I wonder if the kids grow tired of Ms. Jen. This year I tried something new. In January, we were very fortunate to have our Friends group sponsor a magic show for the library. We used this as a "thank you" to all the members of our youth book clubs for participating in our programs. So instead of four book club meetings in January, all the clubs met on one day for the magic show/workshop. The kids loved it! (I loved it, too, because it eased my planning time for the month!)
- Animals are always a hit. Another idea for dogs is if your community has a dog club. There is one in our county and they brought their dogs and they got to "show off" their dogs and the tricks they could do. My neighbor has a corn snake for a pet and she brought it to story time and told all the kids about taking care of it and then she said, "I bet Mrs. Trix would like to hold the snake". What could I do but "suck it up" and take the snake. It was cool- wrapped around my arm and all the kids got to pet it. It was a great hit. Another library patron has a pet rabbit that came to visit us and we learned how she has her own bed ( a doll crib) and how she is litter trained etc. Just a simple little thing but the kids loved it
- I like to keep things fresh and I am always looking outside of the box for new ideas. So I do make sure that for each school visit we do get that I am trying something new or putting a new spin on an idea that the kids really liked the first time around.
I think to perk things up and try to get more school visits, I will start by visiting the classrooms more often and working with the teachers. So I would like to try to gear programs towards certain lesson units that are being studied and coming in as a guest to read a story or do a craft with the class or other fun activities just to be present. So many times kids super excited when they see me or any of the other staff at the library. Then they go home and talk to mom and dad about their day and then pretty soon within a week, we see a family we had not seen for awhile visiting the library.
Other ideas that worked well: Magic shows, animals presentations, Minecraft days, Splatter Art, and Bubbles were all hits in bringing in school age kids to the library.