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?
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