Friday, May 31, 2013

Stuffed animal camp-in

As I prepare for the upcoming summer reading program, I see that there has not been a post about allowing stuffed animals to spend the night in the library.   Fifteen children brought animals to spend the night in the library.  Families were a little unprepared for me to read them a couple stories before they left.  Next time, we’ll have to make it clear on the brochures that there’s a quick story time, too.  I researched the idea online extensively to come up with possible activities for the animals. 
Behind the scenes:
Junior volunteers decorated the felt shapes for our campfire and pizzas.    The “meal” was set up in the board room where the children could not see it. 
Each animal had a name tag with spaces for the animal’s name, child’s name, and emergency contact.  Each child then had a corresponding claim ticket with child’s name and animal’s name.
Every picture that I used for the power point, or to give to families was carefully inspected for visible names and phone numbers.  If I could see that part of the tag, I copied and pasted a colored box over it before publishing the power point to facebook or giving pictures to the families.  I also noticed a name and phone number on the library’s bulletin board when the animals called for pizza and covered that.
Two high school pages were scheduled to help me for one hour after the library closed and we got almost fifty pictures of various stuffed animal stunts in that time.  I then loaded the pictures onto a flash drive with my prewritten power point and headed home.  By shortly after 8 p.m., I had the power point together, but noticed that one animal was not prominently featured on its own.  That’s when I decided to pose one more scene in the morning.  Breakfast had not occurred to me as a logical conclusion so the animals were set up in our teen space with play food and real coffee mugs.  I then apologized to every child for sending home caffeinated critters. 
Activities for the animals:
·         Sleeping quarters at Camp Read S’more were “cabins” constructed of sheets over tables and carpet squares on the floor.  We used t-shirts leftover from last year’s run/walk for pillows and the kids got to take them home in the morning.  A few animals also had the option of bunk beds on the shelves in the story time room.

·         Order pizza – photo using the phone, and also some eating felt pizza pieces around the board room table.  Thanks to our local Subway for a clean pizza box.
·         Craft time
·         Play computer games
·         Hide & Seek
·         Costume contest
·         Use the photo copier like a photo booth
·         Eat all the food in the library’s refrigerator
·         Eat the candy for bingo prizes
·         Brush teeth  - tooth brushes were made from paint stir sticks with miniature muffin cups glued to one end.

·         Wash faces – we used the wash cloths that came with our multiple copies of Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Bath for baby story time.
·         A campfire with scary stories – Knufflebunny by Mo Willems is very scary for toys
·         Book cart races
·         Breakfast with play food and stealing the librarians’ coffee

Activities for a future event:
Use the card catalog – before we turn off the computers
Musical chairs
Marching band
Rock and roll dance party
Enter the summer reading program
Watch a movie
Follow the leader
Stuck in book drop – show animal’s tail
Playing with library toys – checkers, blocks
Partner w/ fire dept for a field trip across the parking lot
Look at display cases – jail break for other animals trapped inside

The kids bought the whole concept with glee.  Everyone was filled with giggles as they watched the pictures scroll by and read about the adventurous night.  I sent each child home with a picture of their specific friend enjoying the night.  Around 8 p.m., a facebook post was sent through the library’s account which showed the animals lined up for their bed time drinks of water.  One boy was thrilled that his dog allowed Curious George to sit on his head in order to reach.  By eleven p.m., a mom had shared the link on her facebook page, and I made sure to tell her that the animals had just woken the camp counselors.
When the families arrived, they found their critters back together by family and reading books that were suited to the type of animal.  One boy had intended to bring a tractor, and changed his mind at the last minute, so Elmo was still reading Goodnight, Goodnight ConstructionSite by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Books for Babies

Sometimes all you need is a little push.  I have created my share of booklists over the years, but a "best of" for new parents seems to have eluded me.  Generally, this has always been an area that involves a hands on approach.  Let's walk to the shelves and see what's there.... However, the children's librarian is not always in the building.  No, really, we don't live at the library. I once had a child ask if the doors to the magic storytime closet lead to my bedroom.

I got my push yesterday as I settled in to a very nice breakfast with about twenty extended relatives.  While snuggling one cousin's five month old, I listened to another (23 weeks pregnant) announce that her sister is also expecting.   Baby showers abound and what else will a librarian give as gifts but books?  Actually, I think I will send this list to my cousins so that they can each use it when they start the registries.  Don't worry, I have plenty more titles to build an element of surprise into the party.

Sandra Boynton
  Rhyming is critical to brain development.  Babies get to hear the smaller sounds in words which will help them when they are learning to speak, and read. 
Sue Williams
Margaret Miller
  Babies love pictures of other babies.  Actually, photos of people in general bring out a different reaction in babies than illustrations.  It's good stuff; mix it up.
Margaret Wise Brown
  No list for babies is complete without a nod to Goodnight Moon!  I think I have seen this given at a gift at every baby shower I have ever attended.
John Schindle
   Rhyming, photos, and cute animals.  His "Busy" series of books flies off the library shelves.
Tana Hoban
   The first thing your baby can see is sharp contrasts.  Hoban has done many books in just black and white.  Some of them are also wordless, like White on Black.
Lucy Cousins
   One word per page can be fun, too.  Babies' attention span is super short; a lot of text is just not going to work at first.  You can always embellish the story if you want.
Rosemary Wells
Helen Oxenbury

The incomparable Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a list of even more titles.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Flannel Friday - Passive programming

Thanks to the Flannel Friday Round Up, our library's collection of felt board stories has been growing for a couple years. They are a wonderful addition to storytime, but it seemed a little boring to leave them in files the rest of the year.

We happened to have some foam core posters just waiting to be repurposed.  After measuring the space, I trimmed a piece to fit, and used instructions similar to those at Time for Play.  It is nicely mounted to the bookshelf with Command strips.  Now our library's felt pieces can be used by children on a regular basis.

Each set is likely to sit out for play from one to two weeks at a time.  For the first two months, the set was left out just like that.  Then it struck me that this could be even better.  I added a pocket for index cards.  Now, each set can have a card printed up with the rhyme that matches.  Each family that plays is welcome to take home the card as a reminder of their library visit.  Another bonus is that our staff can count the cards left when we swap sets to tally this as a passive program.

By the way, I just love our hand painted signs, don't you?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Painting Page

I am spending part of my lunch next to two newly cut flannel sets.  Soon we will have a momma bunny and her five babies, and three billy goats.  The best part is that I have a high school page on spring break right now who has been doing all of the magnificent puff painting for me. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Go green

Often when St. Patrick's Day rolls around, I leave the holiday specific books on the shelf, and focus on the color green.  Every librarian knows just how popular holiday themes are with patrons.  Additionally, thematic rigidity can be challenging when trying to find developmentally appropriate titles.  Whether hopping with frogs, swimming with turtles, or chomping with alligators, green can be a very versatile storytime theme. 

Featured books:
In the tall, tall grass by Denise Fleming
Go away big, green monster by Ed Emberley
Green Wilma by Ted Arnold

 While thinking about a craft, I came across this post for a Green Gobbler.  Just last week, a plain box was transformed into a mailbox.  It was still sitting around, so I helped it morph into a monster.  He is covered in green plastic tablecloth.  It had previously spent time as the background on a bulletin board.   The pieces are made from craft foam, and simply taped onto the face.  I wasn't sure how my regular desk tape would work, so I used small pieces of packing tape, which held everything nicely.  His appearance is modeled very much on Mr. Emberley's monster.

He only eats things that are green.  That could be the end of the story, but sometimes he tries to munch non-green things.  When that happens, the fun really starts.  Inside the green gobbler is a paint stirrer that has been colored red.  Something like a bumblebee gets spit out with a little, "pbbt" sound.  This project allowed me to raid several files in the flannelboard sets.  Each child was given one green item, and one non-green.

Moving on to Fleming's book, we did a guessing game about what green thing might be in the story.  It's something with no legs that slides around on its belly.  After the book ended, children were invited to pretend they were snakes.  Little did they know, this was an opportunity to bring kinesthetics into storytime.   Lately, yoga in storytime has been making a resurgence in discussions both in my online and real lives.  When asked the kids to become snakes, they all flattened out on the floor, and thought that was it.  To get them into "cobra", I posed the question, "What if these snakes see something tasty up above them?"  Those bodies started to arch on their own, and following the example of Miss K, they came quite close to proper yoga poses. 

Craft:  Shamrocks were pre-printed one to a page on cardstock.  Straight, vertical lines were pre-cut one inch apart.  Motor skills were worked as kids wove darker green construction paper strips over and under.  They were given the choice to cut or tear the excess off the strips when done. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Not so Flannel Friday: Kicking off

Many magnificent librarians and early childhood educators have inspired me to join the blogosphere in a new way.  Much of this is thanks to the Flannel Friday Pinterest boards.  I've tested the waters with guest posts at Rain Makes Applesauce and Loons and Quines.

This week, the Flannel Friday Round Up is featuring the upcoming summer library program, Dig into Reading.  Sherry Duskey Rinker's Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site combines a favorite of little boys in every generation, trucks, with one of the most important factors in pre-literacy, rhyme.

Die-cutting can be challenging with felt, but works great with craft foam.  While cutting shapes from the dies that rotate through the libraries in our system, I was only missing the crane in order to allow the storytime crowd a tactile connection to this book.  It was easy enough to trace the digger and extend its arm into a crane.  These pieces have velcro added to the back for use on the flannel board.