Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

As the year draws to a close, it is a good time to set some goals for 2014.  Here are my plans for the upcoming year:

In the Library
  • Redo our Activity Room to focus more on early literacy and learning.
  • Create monthly early literacy calendars.
  • Put together circulating early literacy kits. 
  • Add STEAM programming to our program plans
  • Become a better manager (Ongoing process, I know, but it has only been 4 months and there is still much to learn.) 
  • Survive my first library millage with my sanity intact.

Yes, I do have more great blog posts planned, including:
  • How to use a stretchy band in story time
  • Scarf activities
  • Why booklists matter
  • What every children's librarian should know

Presentations and Conferences
This winter, I am starting off the year with a bang. I am pretty clear after March, but then we get into the time of summer reading.  If you see me at any of these, stop by to say "hi".

What are your plans for 2014?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snowman Candy Bags

I had made these for my staff, but thought that they would also be a good program for older kids.  Even the younger kids could handle it if all of the pieces were precut and you used glue dots.

Supplies Needed

  • white heavy paper (I used scrapbook paper, but cardstock would also work)
  • black paper for hat and eyes
  • orange scrap paper for nose
  • green glitter paper (although you could also use plain green paper or a holly sticker)
  • this pattern
  • white Lifesavers (I used peppermint)
  • candy bag
  • ribbon for hanging
Then you just cut and assemble with glue or double-sided tape!  It is two-sided so the candy bag is inserted between the two snowman faces.  I also wrapped the hatband so it met in the back (and covered it with a gift card).  This gives the hat a more finished look.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My First Bulletin Board

One of the things that I love in my new children's area is the display space.  There are a lot of opportunities to show off books, programs, or new ideas.  The one that I tackled this week is our giant bulletin board where we post program posters.  This is a floor-to-ceiling bulletin board right as you enter the department.

To start with, I covered the bulletin board with roll paper.  Unfortunately, I learned that while I am good at many things, using roll paper is not one of them.

Next I added my design.  I wanted something that was not winter-specific.  Otherwise, as soon as the snow melts here, the board would need to be changed.  I also wanted it to be interactive.

Finally, I hung up our program posters.  I learned that if your paper is bumpy or bubbled, nobody will notice if you put a poster over it.

For the interactive portion, I added a sign that matches our writing and activity centers.  I am hoping that parents will learn to look for these signs throughout the department, but I have to start small.

We, as librarians, know early literacy like the back of our hand.  It helps to give parents ideas of how they can play too.  You will soon find them naturally adding early literacy activities to their daily lives.

It has been two days since the bulletin board has gone up.  While our toy trains are still the most favorite part of the department, almost every child who walks by the bulletin board has to sing the ABC song.  It is fun to watch!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Santa at the Library

Something that is always popular in our library system is having Santa visit.  Despite being within easy driving distance to three malls (which all have Santa), parents love that they can bring their children to the library and avoid the mall crowds.  Here's how we run our program:

We register 100 children at my location.  While our auditorium will hold 200 people, we want to avoid the long lines that are typical of mall Santas.  We don't limit on age, but we tend to skew young (2-5 year olds).  Also, this is a program that they whole family will attend-you will have moms, dads, grandparents, and teenage brothers and sisters who will come along.  They also take up space so you have to have room for them.

The Actual Program
Our Santa does a 20 minute program where he sings Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with the kids.  He reads The Night Before Christmas (after all, we are a library).  There is also a guessing game where he reads a rhyme and the kids have to guess.  It is really interactive.

Then we split the kids in half.  One half gets in line to sit on Santa's lap.  The other half goes to the back of the room to work on crafts.  This year we had two crafts.

We made Christmas tree ornaments out of paint strips, yarn, and stickers.  All of the paint strips were precut and the ornaments were punched and strung.  This made it easy to put the trees out on the tables for the kids to work on.

We also wrote/decorated letters to Santa.  These I purchased from Oriental Trading.  The bonus part of this activity is that many of the kids gave their letters to Santa while he was here.  It also gave Santa something to talk about with the shier kids.

Santa spent time with all of the kids who wanted to visit with him.  We also purchased mini candy canes from the dollar store for him to pass out.

This is one of those great programs that will be around for a long time.  The families love it and it shows us off in a good light.  As an added bonus, all of those Santa pictures were showing up on attendee's social media accounts.  How can you beat that positive p.r.?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Roll a Gingerbread Man

With my new job this fall, I inherited an activity room.  I have been working on new ways to promote early literacy and learning.  Yesterday I put out a game that my nieces and I really liked to play last year-Roll a Gingerbread Man.

To make your own, start with a shape (in this case a gingerbread man) and add numbers to his body.  You are also welcome to steal mine. I made six different gingerbread men so kids will hopefully be playing with different gameboards.  I found a giant rubber dice by the register at Lakeshore Learning (not sold online) that we use to roll.  I also put out a sign with rules.

Since putting it out yesterday, there have been many children playing the game with their caregivers.  We have gotten compliments that it was fun to do something a little different.  I like this game because it is relatively simple to put together.  It is even something that a parent can recreate at home!  It also isn't limited to this holiday season.  You can use hearts, eggs, sunshines, or many other fun shapes.  If you would rather use letters, it would be easy to add letter stickers over the numbers on the sides of the die.

Fun Winter Contest for Staff

We have this great contest at our library for staff that we have been running for the past 3 years.  It all started out of a lunch discussion and somehow snowballed into this big deal.  Now we can't NOT do the contest.  It requires almost no prep work and our prizes are 1 $5 Tim Horton's gift card for each of our three locations.  What is it???  It is the "When will it snow 1 inch?" contest.

My library is in southeast Michigan, where it gets cold and snows pretty often.  What is funny, though, is that since we started this contest three years ago, it won't snow an inch until late January/early February.  You could blame it on global warming, but we think that this contest has something to do with it.

 We start collecting guesses in mid to late November (or whenever it starts to have freezing temperatures).  This year we made snowflake die cuts.  Everybody writes their name and their date on the shape and tapes it to the window (at our branches they are on cupboard doors).

Whenever it snows, our community relations person goes out to measure the snow with her ruler.  As our library system covers 2 townships, we specify one location where it has to snow 1 inch.  We measure the snow at the base of a statue in our front parking lot.

That's what we do for fun here in the winter.  What do you do?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Flannel Friday-SANTA

It's time for the Flannel Friday Holiday Extravaganza!  I found a great flannelboard this week (that I did not create-it was in one of the file drawers at the new location) that goes well with one of my favorite Christmas program songs.  I like to also sing this song when Santa visits the library as we tend to have a very young audience.

To the tune of B-I-N-G-O

I know a man who wears big black boots. SANTA. 
I know a man who wears big black boots. SANTA.  
SANTA. SANTA. SANTA. And Santa was his name-o.

I know a man who wears a bright red suit.  *ANTA. 
I know a man who wears a bright red suit.  *ANTA. 
*ANTA. *ANTA. *ANTA. And Santa was his name-o.

I know a man who wears a fancy belt. **NTA.
I know a man who wears a fancy belt. **NTA.
**NTA. **NTA.  **NTA. And Santa was his name-o.

I know a man with a long white beard. ***TA.
I know a man with a long white beard. ***TA.
***TA. ***TA. ***TA. And Santa was his name-o.

I know a man with a sack of toys. ****A.
I know a man with a sack of toys. ****A.
****A. ****A. ****A. And Santa was his name-o.

I know a man with a hearty laugh. *****.
I know a man with a hearty laugh. *****.
*****. *****. *****. And Santa was his name-o.

(Sing "ho" instead of clapping the missing letters.)

These are the individual parts.
This is Santa all put together.
Mollie at What Happens In Storytime... is hosting this week's Holiday Extravaganza.  Stop on by for some great ideas!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tablet Tales-Colors

One of my new favorite things to do in my programming schedule is to run an iPad story time.  We call ours Tablet Tales.  It is extremely popular (like the program will fill up in 30 minutes or less when we open registration).  In addition to doing it as a story time, which I love, I am modeling ways for caregivers and their children to use tablets.  We follow each program with an app explore time and it is so much fun watching the parents use my examples to play with their children.

If you are looking for information about how to set up a story time like this, check out my original blog post, which includes information about the equipment and registration.

Today's program was about Colors.  I start every program by showing everyone where the Home button is on their iPad, along with the volume button.  Every participant gets a handout which lists the apps used, along with recommended apps on the same topic.  As I start each app, I explain why I picked it-is it early literacy, do I like the interactivity, etc.  

We started off today with Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton.  With this app, it is important that you show the participants how to swipe across the screen to turn the page.  The kids pick it up right away, but sometimes the adults have problems.  While I have a small group and they might be able to hear the narrator, I read the story.  This way I can show off the fun things, such as all of the clothes flying out of the dresser.  This also gives me a chance to stop and ask kids silly questions based on the story, such as "Do you wear your shirt on your legs?"

The second app was Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley.  While this one doesn't have the interactive components of our first app, the kids were fascinated.  It was one that many of the kids came back and did again in our app explore time.

I like to use music in my programs and one way to do it well in an app story time is to use Felt Board.  It also shows parents that they don't have to use the app by itself-you can talk or sing along with it.  Today we sang "Mary Wore Her Red Dress."  I like this song because you can't have too many verses and you can include every child's name in the song.  They find that fascinating.

Next came our app explore time.  I had Eric Carle's My Very First App, Let's Color! by Lazoo, and Squiggles by Lazoo.  (Squiggles was not originally a part of this program, but since it was on the iPad, I added it at the last minute.)   I like to show off the apps at the beginning of this time, then I let the kids explore.  This allows me to walk around the room, answer questions, and show off neat features of the apps (such as you can shake your iPad with Felt Board and all of the pictures will go away).  The parents really appreciate this time because it gives them a chance to try out quality apps before buying them.

The other fun thing to come out of a program like this is that the app that I think is going to be a big hit, never is.  Today's big hits were Felt Board and Squiggles!  Plus, I know I have a hit on my hands when my niece, who was a participant in the program, goes home and immediately needs to have all of the apps from today downloaded to the family iPad.

So what's next in Tablet Tales programming?  I am running out of theme-based ideas, although I still like the idea of ABC's and Mother Goose as possible themes.  I think that the next goal is to develop a number of themeless programs that include a couple of good story apps along with playtime apps.  While I like the idea of themes, it doesn't seem to be a big deal for the kids or the parents.  They just want ideas.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Most Popular Books of 2013

I started putting together a "best books" display this morning based on all of the fun best book lists, when I got sidetracked by wanting to add in my library's most popular books.  Well, the display took a turn and ended up being just our most popular circing children's books of 2013.

To make it look nicer, I was able to pull multiple copies of many of the books and stack them.  When I stack my books, I like to turn the ones lying flat into a spiral to add interest (similar to what you would do with party napkins).  To add a guessing element to the display, listed the titles in order on the back of my display sign.  This way customers can guess if their favorite titles are on the list, then check to see if they were right.  It also helps staff pull more titles to add to the display.

If you are wondering what our most popular children's titles of 2013 have been, here is the list in order:
  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
  3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
  5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal
  7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
  8. The Lightning Thief
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  10. Green Eggs and Ham
  11. Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-ha-ha!
  12. The Sea of Monsters
  13.  Junie B., First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May.)
  14. The Cat in the Hat
  15. If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
  16. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  17. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  18. Junie B., First Grader: Boo-And I Mean It!
  19. Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People
  20. Junie B., First Grader: Dumb Bunny
  21. Hop on Pop
  22. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
  23. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  24. Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune
  25. Junie B., First Grader: Cheater Pants
I guess that the big thing that you can learn from our list is the my customers love children's book series!  What are your top books?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Best Books of 2013

It's that time of year again!  Best book lists are being released across the literary spectrum.  I will admit that I am a big fan of best book lists.  I think of them like a collection development report card.  Did I get my ordering right this year?  They also give me a second chance to pick up a title that I may have missed.  

As I go through the titles on the "best" lists, I put them into a spreadsheet.  I like to do this because it shows me which titles are getting the most press.  There is a big difference between the Amazon list and the School Library Journal list, as they speak to different audiences (sales vs. school libraries).  Neither is wrong.  A good collection needs popular books, such as those that will appear on the Amazon or Publisher's Weekly lists.  On the other hand, you need ones that are thought-provoking and cover nonfiction topics, such as those from School Library Journal.  My favorite lists include:
Other than collection development, what can you do with these lists?  Here are some of the things that I do:
  • hoard titles that are on multiple lists the week before ALA's Youth Media Awards.  I like to add shiny labels to them right away and create a special display.
  • create a "Best of 2013" display.  Customers love anything that says "best of".  Plus, if they are good titles, we want them to circ so they don't end up weeded.
  • have your tech person run the top 10 titles that your library has circulated over the past year.  This type of list is fun to put out on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  Then, you can compare your list to the experts.  It is never a surprise for me when Diary of a Wimpy Kid ends up in our top 10.
These are just a few of my ideas.  What do you do?


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Story Time Set-Up, Round 2

Back in July a bunch of us showed off how we do story time.  Since then my location has changed so I have been doing some trial-and-error methods in the new location.  While the planning portion of story time has remained the same, putting it into action has changed quite a bit.

First off, we have a dedicated story time room.  This is a great element as our children's room has a lot going on.  I tend to explain it as a great adventure for kids, but the story time room has none of the exciting components of the department.  By having a separate space without the distractions of the department, kids know that this is the room where they have to listen.  

At my last location, I was able to put out a table with kids' nametags on it.  A table here would not work as there is no space for it outside the door.  Here, I have tried standing at the door and passing them out as kids come in, but this gives me a traffic backup into the department.  I have also tried sitting at the front of the room and having kids come up to me to get them as they straggle in, but I miss the shy kids who don't want to talk to anybody.  I also miss the latecomers.  This is an area where I am still working out some kinks. 

This is our Story Time room.  It holds 25 kids and their entourage (parents, siblings, etc.) comfortably.  What it doesn't have is room for strollers.  Those all need to wait outside of the room.

There are benches around the outside of the room where a lot of the parents will sit.  I am still undecided on the benches.  My big issue is that we run 2 baby times, 3 2 year old story times, and 1 preschool story time.  By having benches, you are not encouraging the parent to sit with their child so they are missing out on the parent-child interaction.  Then again, when this room was built 10 years ago, story times for babies and 2 year olds were not as prevalent as they are today.

When I perform story time, I sit or kneel at the front of the room.  I want to be at the kids' level, but I want them all to be able to see what is going on.  I also use a lot of music.  What this room is missing is a plug at an adult level.  For me to plug in the iPod, the cord has to go to a side wall, which means that I need to block it with both the flannelboard and an extra chair.  As we all know, kids find equipment and cords fascinating so I need to remove access to it.

The flannelboard has become a source of big fascination for the kids.  When I came in, I was told by staff that they really don't use it other than to hold big books.  If you have seen all of my Flannel Friday posts, you will know that I love using the flannelboard and props to make story time fun.  What I am missing at the moment, though, is a carpet or mat to go at the base of the flannelboard to create a "no go" zone.  Check out Mel's Desk for why this is a good thing.

Books are still faced out on one of the window sills at the front of the room.  I am really missing a space that is taller than the kids' hands to put my stuff on, but I make do.

To make it work, I hide my props, stickers, etc. behind the books on the window sill.  This way I have half a chance to catch them if the kiddos make a break for my space.

As you can see above, it gets a little more glitchy when I prepare for baby story time.  Mine requires a lot of extras, from board book sets to balls to flannelboard parts.  The parents are good are helping to keep the stuff on the windowsills, but it still causes a distraction.  Most kids, when given the choice between balls or stories will choose balls.  Having the balls out in the open is distracting.  I am almost thinking of putting them behind the flannelboard and babygating the whole corner.

So that is my set-up at the new place.  If you missed out on the first time around, what do you do?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Flannel Friday-I Know an Old Lady

This week for our Flannel Friday Thanksgiving Extravaganza I am showing off I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson.  I love to use it for my story times because it is fun and cumulative.  Plus, by making it into puppet form, it adds some interactivity to the program.  Now the glitch is that I made this prop in my younger days and did not write down the source.  (Note to self-always right down the source!)  If you know where it came from, please let me know and I will add it to this post.

Above is my old lady.  The top of her head is taped to the back of the bag, while her body is taped to the front.  When you put items in the bag, it makes it look like she is eating them.

This is my food.  When I retell it for my younger kids, I like to have all of the food out on my magnetboard in order.  Not only does it mean that I pull it off in order to feed to the old lady, but it lets the kiddos see what is coming next.  They really do like to be in the "know".

When I tell this story to preschoolers, I don't have all of the pieces out ahead of time.  They like the surprise.  To make it easier on me, I first number the backs of all of the pieces.  This lets me pile them up in order quickly, rather than paging through the story to see the order.  I also write out the story and number the words so I know when to pull out the next piece.

While I couldn't find where I got this story from, I did find another old lady here.  You can either make food out of clip art or use some from Making Learning Fun.

This week's Flannel Friday Thanksgiving/Chanukah Extravaganza is being hosted by Tracey at 1234 More Storytimes.  Stop by for some great ideas!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Picture Book Month Display

This month's fun display is celebrating Picture Book Month.  For me, this is a GREAT department display.  Why?
  • Picture Book Month promotes materials for half of our age group.  Plus, they have promo materials right on their web site!
  • There are enough books to support a display so staff don't have to totally change the theme more often that every 2 weeks-1 month.
  • As we all purchase picture books in our department, we are all experts and should be able to refill the display as books are used.

How to make your own Picture Book Month display:
  • Pull out your favorite picture books, those that you feel should be represented, or those that have gotten lost in your department and are on the brink of being weeded.
  • Find some space.  Above is an awesome display space for my department.  It is at the end of a shelving unit and is on the main traffic path for the department.  Most everybody walks by this display.
  • Print off a sign or promo materials from the Picture Book Month web site.  Signage should look nice.  If you put it in a plexi stand, make sure the plexi is not cracked or broken.  If you don't have a plexi stand, try laminating the sign.
  • Arrange your books.  It really is a skill to make a display look good.  Size and color matter!  I start by putting my tallest books in the middle of each shelf and building around them.  Similar colors should be near each other.  For example, you can see on the Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes has a lot of yellow.  To tie in with Pete the Cat, the lettering in A Pocket for Corduroy is also yellow and there are yellow details on the George and Martha book.   
  • Enjoy watching people use your display.  Remember that it is not annoying to refill the display multiple times a day.  In a good display, the books will disappear.  

MI KidLib 2014

Anne Clark, Andrea Vernola, and I have been hard at work putting together Michigan's first unconference geared towards YS librarians based on the model set up by Darien Library's annual KidLib Camp.  Registration is now open!

For those who are unfamiliar with what an unconference is, read up about them here.  These are not presentation-based, but rather discussion-based.  Our goal is to facilitate discussions on a variety of topics.  Personally, I am hoping that more people want to learn about STEAM programming as that is my new big thing (hint, hint).

This is a free program (other than lunch) so we are hoping that cost isn't a factor.  If you can't attend this year, this program will be rotating if there is interest since we are all from different parts of the state.

MI KidLib is for any YS librarian (current or aspiring).  You don't have to live in Michigan if you want to attend.  Our location this year is about 90 minutes north of Toledo, 40 minutes from Sarnia, or 30 minutes from Windsor.

Are you interested???  Stop by our web site today to register or suggest topics for the 3 break-out sessions.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How I Became a Librarian

Bowing to Anna's peer pressure (Future Librarian Superhero), here is how Mrs. Lisa became a librarian.

I will be honest-this is never a career that I thought of when I was younger.  I went through the traditional ideas of nurse, doctor, lawyer, and teacher.  I was a regular user of my local public library.  You could regularly see me checking out 30 Sweet Valley High books as that was our teen section 25 years ago.  I was that kid who finished the summer reading program the first week.  I just never put 2 and 2 together and thought of the librarian as a job.

I went to college and have a double major in both psychology and music.  I picked my classes based on what I found interesting with no eye towards the future.  The big thing that was missing was that I never knew what I was going to do after college.  I didn't have a career in mind.  Looking back on it now, how do you realistically expect a 20-year-old to decide what they are going to do for the next fifty years?  Unfortunately, that day after graduation day comes sooner, rather than later and somebody will be expecting you to pay the bills.  My college job as a page at the local public library ended with graduation.

At this point, I still wasn't thinking "career".  I got a full-time job that summer working at our local Barnes and Noble.  While I ran one of the departments, I was the person who got volunteered to put on the costumes for all of our big events.  I don't know if it was my natural exuberance or my gullibility that got me that job.  I have been everything from Lyle Crocodile (worst costume ever to see out of) to Miss Lilly (best EVER accessories-you get her red cowboy boots).

I was still floating around in my not-a-career land when I met my husband and we were about to get engaged.  This was the point where I decided that I needed to do something career wise.  I needed to do something more before the family and kids came along.  I looked at all of my skills and what I liked about my current job and decided to become a librarian.  Until I hit the age of 22, I didn't even know that "librarian" was a job possibility.  If you know me, then you will know that I don't do anything by half measures.  Once I made my decision, I got my application into the local university for their MLIS program, started classes 2 weeks later, and found a job at a local library in their circulation department.  I was THAT person who took four classes a semester so I could finish my degree before I got married.  (My advisor did at least say something this time.)  I switched jobs 6 months later to do straight children's programming at another public library.  By the time I graduated 1 year later, I had the degree and the experience to move into my current library system.  Luckily they were hiring!

I started with my current library system 12 1/2 years ago.  It's not often that you go into an interview and ask for vacation days right away (as I was getting married 2 months later).  I will admit that I was one of the youngest librarians that I knew as I was only 24 at the time of graduation.  I think of my twenties like I think of my teenage years-you think you know everything, but in reality you don't.  I spent the last 12 1/2 years learning on the job before I became a department manager.  I am still learning as every day is an adventure.  (Today I learned where the fire extinguisher was.)  There is always something new to do, a different way of doing things, kids who grow up, etc. that keeps my job interesting.

So that is how I became a librarian.  What did I learn from my experience?  It is important to promote what we do.  If I didn't know that "librarian" was a real career option and I am one, what do you think that the public thinks?  One way I combat this is that with every tour or school visit, I start off with who I am and what I do that makes me a librarian.  We talk about how long I went to school and what I do every day.

How did you become a librarian?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trick-or-Treat at the Library

This morning was our Trick-or-Treat program at the library.  This program was one that I inherited in my new position.  I was given a basic outline of what was done last year, then sent on my merry way to plan a fun morning.  Below is what we did.

We preregistered 50 children, ages 2-5.  It is an extremely popular program that we could probably run all day long if we had enough staff time and supplies.  With 50 children registered, there were around 100 people actually in the program (parents, grandparents, and siblings).  This is one of those programs that you don't want to become too large as somehow you have to move the attendees through the building in an orderly fashion (and nobody wants to stand in a 50 person line).

Story Time Portion
We started off the program with stories, rhymes and flannelboards.  Here is what we did:
  • Just Say Boo! by Susan Hood (gigantic hit!)
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro
  • "The Perfect Pumpkin" Flannelboard from A Storytime Year by Susan Dailey
  • "Halloween Hilda" from Super Storytelling by Carol Catron
  • "Pumpkin, Pumpkin" rhyme
Trick-or-Treat Portion
After the stories, rhymes, and flannelboards, we split the group in half and passed out pumpkin bags.  Included in each bag was a coloring book that we made, 4-pack of crayons with our logo on them, and a Halloween sticker.  Since we have two floors in our building, one group started upstairs and the other group started downstairs.  We took the kids around to each of the 4 service desks, plus our administration area.  

This is what we purchased for the program:

The Wrap-Up
We got a lot of compliments for this program from attendees.  Not only do they get a holiday-themed story time, they also get things to take home.  As you can see from my list of "treats", I didn't want candy.  I wanted things that they could use at home or projects that they could do.  The parents loved not getting more candy.  Another fun thing was that since we went through all of the departments, I heard a lot of comments like "I didn't know this was over here."  This is a program where you can promote everybody in the library.

Staff-wise, it is really difficult to keep 25 kids and their entourages together when they are excited about trick-or-treating.  Next year, I will post one staff member on each floor (at the top and bottom of the stairs) to direct the traffic.  I think that this would help smooth out some of the lines for treats and everybody could work at their own pace.

Flannel Friday-Pumpkin, Pumpkin

This week's contribution is a prop that is perfect for any Halloween story times that you are planning.  I even used it for my Trick-or-Treat program and the prop became one of their treats to take home.  My coworker, Kara, sent me the rhyme and the original idea.

Pumpkin, pumpkin round and fat,

Turned into a jack-o-lantern just like that!

To make your own, I used 2 pumpkin die cuts for each one (one had a face drawn on), some double-sided tape, and a craft stick.  I made 75 of them in about 30 minutes.

I love to send props like this home with the kids for a couple of reasons.  First, it is an inexpensive story stretcher.  Props help them to remember what they did in your program so you don't get a blank look if you ask them.  (Trust me, they can forget anything 5 minutes after it happens.  It is the nature of this age group.)  Second, it promotes imaginative play.  While I am using a pumpkin rhyme with them, they can play trick-or-treat or some other idea that I have never thought of.  The best ideas come out of their brains.  Third, it shows parents that you don't have to be Martha Stewart to make fun craft toys for their kids.  These are not high quality props, but they will be fun.

This week's round-up is hosted by Katie at Storytime Katie.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween Pumpkins

In the past our library system has held a giant pumpkin decorating contest where each department submits 1 entry and the public votes.  This is great as we then have ready-made decorations for all of our Halloween programs.  Unfortunately, this year we are making Peep dioramas.  While this is still cool, it doesn't help me with my department decorating. Thanks to the power of Pinterest, I found three fun designs for my department.  Since I used foam pumpkins, I can pull them out again next year.

Can you identify all three?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

50 Apps in 50 Minutes

I just got back from presenting at the Michigan Library Association's Annual Conference with 3 great colleagues (Kara, Lisa, and Alicia) and wanted to share our presentation and some extras.  We presented the topic "50 Apps in 50 Minutes", which includes apps that every children's librarian should be familiar with.  These include apps to make our lives easier at work, apps for story times, apps for programs, and fun book apps.  It was a lot of fun to put together and we are pretty fortunate to be able to use a lot of these apps in our everyday lives.

The Presentation
  • If you missed the presentation or just want to see it again, check out my link on Slideshare
  • Our handout from the program, which includes the apps in numerical order, plus some fun extras (review sources, etc.) can be viewed here.
Other Stuff I Mentioned
We were asked for other ways that we share our app information with parents and I had mentioned our web site.  I did most of the curating of apps and the writing of descriptions and the web team posted it online.  Scroll down to the bottom of our children's page and you will see two big buttons for two different age categories called A+ Apps.

I also mentioned our Tablet Tales program, which is a totally iPad-based story time.  If you have never done one before and have the equipment, I have a post from June which runs through the program.  You can download an outline here for our Farm story time.  We have created an outline for Colors and Transportation, but I haven't gotten posts up on the blog as of yet.  I am currently working out some ideas for a Counting and a Nursery Rhyme theme.

There was also a question about our cases that we use on our programming iPads.  We use the iGuy case by Speck.  My guesstimate of $20 was not close.  It is actually closer to $40.  Here is a link to the site, although you can find them around the Internet.  

After the program, one of the attendees asked which I would prefer for a children's room-AWE stations or iPads.  There are great benefits of both systems.  In addition to early literacy programs, the AWE stations have the keyboards.  On the other hand iPads allow for adaptability.  First, I would look at which direction your schools are going.  Are they using computers or heading towards tablet technology?  Second, do you have somebody on staff who is an app expert or is willing to learn.  When you answer these two questions, you will know which direction you should go.

Something I Forgot to Mention
I forgot about this fact until after the program when I was talking with one of the attendees.  My friend, Kristen Remener (aka Common Core Expert), passed on that eventually testing in schools will be online.  Online reading is a skill, similar to reading fiction or nonfiction, and it is done at different levels.  When Michigan finally puts the Common Core standards into practice, online books and book apps will gain in importance as our kids will need to practice this skill.  The public library is in the perfect spot to be able to offer this.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Where is the Green Sheep, Take 2

This morning I put on my first Play to Learn program at the new library.  The actual program was the same as I did in August and blogged about here.  Today was more a lesson in logistics (and some showing off on my part).

I moved from putting the program on in a meeting room that seats 100 to having a dedicated children's activity room that seats 24.  (Isn't it pretty?)  I like having the dedicated children's program room, but we had to bump down the program limit to 20 kids.  We also had 4 strollers being pushed around the room with siblings inside so we couldn't ask parents to leave the strollers outside.  This meant that we had to have space enough for those strollers to move around the room.

I put out 2 flannelboards, which are usually stored in our story time room.  The glitch here is that the story time room is on the exact opposite side of the department from the activity room.

Above is another thing that I love.  We have a stuffed couch and chair, along with an end table, in the activity room.  This is the perfect setting for parents to share books with their children!

One end of the room holds three giant magnet walls.  My early literacy juices are running with these.

Plus, we have child-sized tables and benches.  While these are great for kids, the benches are sturdy enough for adults too.

While I liked my old building, I am loving the new one.  There is a lot of untapped potential here as I get settled in. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Flannel Friday Round-Up

Welcome to this week's Flannel Friday round-up!  There are a lot of great ideas included that you will want to add to your TBM pile.  Enjoy!

Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime brings us one of those hard story time topics to find ideas for-teeth!  There are multiple rhymes, a flannelboard, and a folder story.

Dana and Lindsey at Jbrary are having a pyjama party this week.  They have a song (with video) to go with their flannelboard.  (On a side note, if you are on Pinterest, you need to follow these gals.  They have a lot of great boards containing books to fit various themes, which is great when you are just starting to plan your programs.) 

You can never have too many monsters.  Mary at Miss Mary Liberry shows us how to make our own felt monsters.  I foresee a whole lot of monster making in our future.

For more monster fun, Kay at Storytime ABC's shows off her I'm a Little Monster.  In addition to being a fun monster song, Kay throws in some color recognition and enough dots for all of the kids to participate.

Are you looking for something a little bit creepy for Halloween?  Check out SLC Book Boy's version of Bone Soup.  His Finnigin has an expanding mouth to fit the story, which is really neat.  Plus, there is just something about those teeth...

You know when you see something really neat and wonder "Why didn't I ever think of that?"  That's the case with Tara's spiderweb.  I never thought that yarn sticks to flannel and would make a great spiderweb in a program.  You have to check it out at Storytime with Miss Tara and Friends. Plus, you will probably be hitting up the Halloween clearance sections like me to pick up some plastic spider rings after seeing her post.

Bridget at What is Bridget Reading? has been busy crocheting some really cute bears to add to her magnet board props.  Her work makes me want to learn to crochet.

Kristen at Let the Wild Rumpus Start shows off her Maisy the Weather Mouse.  This has so much potential!  In addition to using it for getting dressed or weather story times, you can dress Maisy in other things (hint-Halloween costumes).  Plus, with the big emphasis on STEM programming, this Maisy would be perfect for the preschool set.

Leah at Time for Storytime shows off her version of I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry.  Her giant-sized whale really does look like it has swallowed all of the ocean animals.

That's all folks!  Have a great week.


Mark your calendars now for these upcoming Flannel Friday dates:
Connect with Flannel Friday in the following ways:
  • On the official Flannel Friday Blog. Here you will find all of our info, including schedules, links to all of our blogs, and past round-ups.
  • On the Flannel Friday Pinterest page.  This is a great resource when you are looking to add a little something extra to your story times.  
  • On the Flannel Friday Facebook page.  While we talk flannel stuff here, we hit a whole range of story time topics.
  • On Twitter.  Use the #flannelfriday hashtag to follow us.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Flannel Friday-Brown Bat, Brown Bat

This week is Flannel Friday's Halloween Extravaganza and I knew that I wanted to participate.  Unfortunately, all of my felt and flannelboards are still in boxes from the big move.  As I am doing baby story times for the first time ever, I have been trying to beef up my younger flannelboards.  Who better to be inspired by than Mel's Desk?

Brown bat, brown bat, what do you see?
I see a red leaf looking at me.

Red leaf, red leaf, what do you see?
I see an orange pumpkin looking at me.

Orange pumpkin, orange pumpkin, what do you see?
I see a black cat looking at me.

Black cat, black cat, what do you see?
I see a yellow moon looking at me.

Yellow moon, yellow moon, what do you see?
I see a gray owl looking at me.

Gray owl, gray owl, what do you see?
I see a white ghost looking at me.

I like this rhyme for young children because it is based on Brown Bear, Brown Bear which many of them can recite by heart.  It also uses simple shapes (die cuts) and bright colors.
Kay at Storytime ABC's is hosting this week's Flannel Friday round-up.  If you are looking for new ideas, check it out!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Now Presenting Baby Story Time...

If you have been following along the past couple of weeks, you will have seen my big job change.  In addition to be really exciting for me professionally, it also means that I will now be doing a baby story time next week for the first time EVER.  It is a little intimidating as I have been doing 4 2 year old story times a week for at least the past 7 years, but I am looking at it as an awesome new frontier!  If you are like me and are starting from scratch, below are some resources to get you started.

I will admit that blogs are my go-to resource to get started.  These people have real experience in the field.  Plus, they tell you what works and what doesn't.

Looking for Baby Books?
I am one of those people who like it when people show me books that have worked.  These two blogs have great lists that are up-to-date.

Professional Books
These are my favorite at the moment, but there are plenty of other great reference works out there.

Mother Goose on the Loose by Betsy Diamant-Cohen
This is one of the original great programs for babies and young children.  It is chock full of rhymes and plans with ready-to-go programs.

Finger Folk by Marilyn Lohnes
While the plans in here are for older kids (ages 2+), the patterns for the felt board pieces are perfect for count up and down rhymes.  I like using them with a glove or a lapboard.

The Very Ready Reading Program by Sue McCleaf Nespeca
This first binder is for ages 0-24 months and they are planning on coming out with two more next spring.  Twenty different quality baby story time plans are included, plus handouts for the parents and notes for the presenter.  While it is expensive, it is worth at least checking out.

adorable babies,fotolia,glowing,healthy,innocent,newborns,portraits,poses,rosy cheeks
Now I am all set and ready to go!
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