Thursday, April 24, 2014

Revamping Our Parent-Teacher Collection

My new location has a parent-teacher collection, which is an important component of a children's room.  After all, parents and teachers are using your collection already.  Why not add some of their stuff in too?  Unfortunately, there were a number of problems that I came into with this collection.  Here are some of the ways that I solved them.

Problem #1-The collection itself
There were very few books added (under 10/year) and much of the collection was our weeded professional reference books.  I started with pulling the stats by Dewey number (we use Relative Use and circulation stats) and doing a massive weeding project.  Honestly, very few people want to check out our old books about planning a summer reading program. 

Then came the purchasing of new books.  Our children's budget at the moment is one large pot so there is no money specified for specific collections and nobody is in charge of making sure stuff is bought.  This makes it easy to forget when ordering.  Next fiscal year, we will be dividing up our budget based on what's being used and members of the department will be in charge of the entire collection development cycle for that collection.

To get us started for this year, I did purchase new items.  This is one of those collections where you have to look outside the normal journals to find quality items.  Here are some of my sources.
  • Lakeshore Learning-books are split by subject area in the store so it is easy to look for books for a specific Dewey range or subject area.
  • Barnes and Noble-I went through both the parenting and education sections and looked for multiple copies, glossy covers, and subjects where our stats showed more books were needed.
  • Other libraries with similar collections-We have a local library who has an awesome parent-teacher collection and used to put all of their new books up on their web site.  It was easy for me to go through their list and see what would fit our collection.  It also showed me different publishers to check.
  • Publisher's web sites-I am a big fan of Mailbox Books because their selections have ready-to-go projects and lesson plans that can be adapted for both teachers and parents.

Problem #2-Location & Signage
The collection was in the far back corner of the department and the signage was to the left of the shelves.  When standing in front of the books, it was difficult to tell what they were. When standing in front of the books, it was difficult to tell what they were.

Since there was empty space after the weeding project, I shifted the books to free up the top shelf.  I created a sign that highlighted new books and displayed them on this shelf.  Plus, the sign has "Parent-Teacher" right at the top so it makes it a bit more obvious what is in the collection.  The sign has both cover art and Dewey numbers so staff can pull more items to add to the display as items are checked out.

Based on observation and stats, the changes seem to be working.  Have you had to revamp a collection?  How did you do it?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Flannel Friday-Building Blocks

I needed a new activity for our Activity Room's flannelboard and found this great one on the Flannel Friday Pinterest site.  You may remember this one from Mel's Desk or Storytime Katie.  I made my shapes using different colors of felt and our die cut machine.  Some of our parents like to be told what to do so I made a sign (somehow the kids always know what to do!).

You can play with these shapes by building creations.

You can also match the colors.
 You can also match the shapes.

I am hosting this week's Flannel Friday round-up here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Flannel Friday Round-Up

It's that time again-Flannel Friday time!  There is a lot of great ideas this week and a newbie poster!

Do you need a last minute Easter rhyme?  Stop by Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime to see Filling My Easter Basket.  While she makes her basket with pellon, I thought it was a giant file folder at first (hint for someone who doesn't have pellon).  I also love to have flannelboards ready where we can match colors to the rhyme.

When plastic eggs go on clearance next week, you will want to pick some up to make egg maracas.  Lisa at Thrive After Three shows her set-up and instructions for making some.  As she mentions in her post, these would go great when paired with Press Here.

Are you planning a buggy or butterfly story time?  You will want to check out Lisa at Thrive After Three's version of Ten Little Caterpillars.  Not only has she created 10 different caterpillars, but you can lift the flap and see their butterfly.  It's pretty cool. 

You can never go wrong with a Boynton book in story time.  Bridget at What is Bridget Reading? shows off her version of 15 Animals. This flannelboard would fit right into a farm, Boynton, animal, or rhyming story time.

Everybody is going to want to go out and get a Ziploc bag for this one as it is awesome!  SLC Book Boy adapted What Did You Put in Your Pocket? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers.  The combined mess at the end will make all of your kids ask to do it again!

As the flowers are just beginning to pop up in the Midwest, we are pulling out all of our spring and flower story times.  Kristie at Library Village has made Rainbow Flowers.  While they pair well with Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, you can use them for a variety of color or flower activities.   

If you aren't familiar with Amy at The Show Me Librarian's STEAM activities for the kiddos, you definitely need to check them out.  She is now adding flannel to the process (and her story times)!  This week's entry is a felt pizza which can work well for fractions, shapes, pizza, or things that go in order like a process.

Yay! We have a newbie in the midst.  Amy at One Little Librarian has a great song where kids can feed the bunny prop.  It is great!  Stop by and welcome her.

Anne at So Tomorrow redid Going to the Pet Store and made it Going to the Sweet Shop.  She uses play food for the props and her ice cream cone will definitely make you smile!  

Finally, I have made my own version of building blocks inspired by some previous Flannel Friday posts.

That's it for this week. Lisa at Thrive After Three will have next week's round-up.

If you want to know more about Flannel Friday:

  • Check out the official Flannel Friday blog that includes schedules and other important information.
  • Search for images and links on our Pinterest page.
  • Discuss story time stuff (and other ys stuff) on the Flannel Friday Facebook page.
  • Follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Flannel Friday-Orange Triangle Fox

You know those days when you are perusing your newly cataloged books and find the perfect flannelboard book?  That's the case with this week's version of Orange Triangle Fox by Sarah Jones.  This is a 2013 board book that deals with some of my favorite concepts-shapes, colors, and animals.  My only problem was that it was a board book, which makes sharing it with a large crowd more difficult.

As you can see by my picture of all of the shapes, each animal is formed around a shape.  This would pair well with My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall.  Each animal is also a different color.  There are also only 3 words on a page-the color, the shape, and the animal (see below).

yellow star frog

 green semicircle turtle

All of the pieces are made out of felt with puffy painted detailsIf you don't have this title in your collection, it is definitely worth picking up.

This week's Flannel Friday round-up is hosted by Anna at Future Librarian Superhero.  For more information about Flannel Friday, check out the official blog.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Peep Science

Being Spring Break in Michigan, today was a great day to hold one of our Mad Scientist programs.  Normally, I raid my favorite STEM librarian's blogs, but I actually had an idea for this one-Peep Science!  

For our program, we registered 20 kids ages 7-12.  I like to set my programs up as stations.  While this means that there is prep work, I can enjoy the program and ask fun questions instead of leading it.  As each kid came into the room, they got the handout, a pencil, and their yellow bunny Peep.

Supply List
  • 2 2-liter bottles of Sprite
  • Lots of Peeps in various colors
  • 5 bags of mini marshmallows
  • 5 boxes of spaghetti (probably only need 3 or so)
  • Pencils
  • Crayons in Peep colors and for color mixing
  • 2 marshmallow mashers
  • Handout
  • Rulers
  • Disposable bowls
  • Ice cubes 

Station 1: Observation
I put out the rulers and yellow crayons.  The kids were asked the following:
  • What does your Peep look like?  Draw it in the box on the handout.
  • How big is your Peep?
  • What does it feel like?

Station 2: The Freezer
I froze a box of Peeps for 1 day before the program.  I put the frozen Peeps in a bowl at a couple of spots along the table along with an ice cube.  Kids were asked the following:
  • How do the Peeps at this station compare to your Peep?
  • Are they the same size?
  • What do they feel like?
Since most of us probably haven't frozen Peeps before, they really don't freeze.  They are cold and a little hard, but are still pretty spongy.  This is why I put the ice cubes out at the station too.  This gave us a starting point for talking about frozen things.

Station 3: The Masher
The original idea at this station was to put Peep bunny ears into the masher and watch them shrink.  I don't know why (but I suspect it is due to the sugar coating), but Peeps don't shrink in the masher.  Luckily we had mini marshmallows for another station and we used those instead.  If you put a mini marshmallow into the masher and pump it, it will get wrinkly and look similar to a raisin.  The kids were asked the following at this station:
  • What happens to the Peep in the masher?
  • Why do you think this happened?
  • Draw your Peep in the masher.
My favorite question to ask at this station was, "If the marshmallow shrinks when we take all of the air out of it, what do you think one of the main ingredients in marshmallows are?"  From my personal past experience of making marshmallows at home, air is one of the key ingredients in marshmallows.  You have to run the mixture on your mixer for 20 minutes to add enough air.

Station 4: Color Mixing Peeps
For this station I cut a bunch of blue, pink, and yellow Peeps in half.  There were a number of bowls filled with Sprite and kids were asked to add two different colored Peeps to the bowls. I asked two questions at this station:
  • What happens when you put two different colored peeps in a bowl of Sprite?
  • What color combinations did you find?
This was a lot of fun and the kids really got into it.  Some of the really thoughtful kids would add two of one color and one of another to make the color even stronger.

blue + yellow = green

Station 5: Building with My Peeps
This station started off as a time filler, but this station could have been the whole program.  I put out spaghetti noodles and mini marshmallows and asked kids to build the tallest structure possible.  My only rule was that it had to stay steady for 10 seconds.  Here are some of the creations:

What I found really neat was that many of the families were going to the store after the program to pick up more spaghetti and marshmallows to build their own structures at home.

This program was a giant hit.  Whether they were measuring, building, or mixing, there were a lot of great conversations going on between the kids and the adults who stayed in the room.  I don't know if they were just really bored from Spring Break or what, but I got a couple of "This was the best program ever!"

After the Post
Peep science became such a big hit in libraryland online that we are declaring April 9, 2015 National Peep Science Day.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Early Literacy Kits

One of the cool things about working for a newer library system is that there is always something to do.  Everything here has been built from the ground up.  Late last summer I went through a job change.  One of the questions that were a part of the application process was "What new collection would you bring to the library?"  My answer was early literacy kits.  They support our collection goals and our current programming (we have a big early literacy program here called Play to Learn).  My idea was that these kits would take what we do in our early literacy programming and send it home in bags for parents and children to do at home.

I know that this never happens, but as we were turning in last year's final grant report to a local organization, they asked if we were reapplying as they really wanted to fund us again.  Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, me and the person I was replacing spent the next 48 hours putting together a grant proposal for early literacy kits.  Two months later we were funded.  Whoo hoo!

I started putting together notes as to what to include and where to buy it.  Of course, very few of our items are sold through the same vendors.  Pinterest became a great place to bookmark ideas.  Our branches wanted some kits too, just not the 15 that we were planning on for our Main Library (space issues). 

Items started coming in and made a huge mess on my office floor-there were piles everywhere.  Things got put together in groups, were processed, and started filling our bags.  I worked with our Community Relations Specialist to create booklets for each bag (I came up with the content and she made them pretty.)

Today I finished our first two kits!  They are out on display and I created a binder so customers can see what is in each backpack.



Kit 1-Brown Bear, Brown Bear
This kit contains:

Kit 2-Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
This kit contains:

The rest of the early literacy kits should be appearing in my library (and here) over the next month.  13 more to go!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Candy Madness

Our library has a Fun Committee, funded by our Friends of the Library, that comes up with ideas to increase morale among staff.  Candy Madness is a program that we have wanted to run for staff the past couple of years, but couldn't quite figure out the logistics.  This year we made it happen!

Start with the fact that candy=increased staff happiness.  I don't know if you have this situation where you work, but whenever we put out food, 5 minutes later it looks like scavengers picked through it.  All that is left are the wrappers!  We were trying to find a way to disperse candy to staff in a new and unique way that also maximizes fun.

A couple of years ago, we found a bracket put out by ESPN during March Madness that only dealt with candy and treats.  It's like they were speaking to us!  All it was missing was a tasting component.

We made our own bracket and tried to use things that we might actually be able to find at a local store (no razor blade apples).  Our selections naturally made four categories-Classic 1, Classic 2, Holiday, and Movie Theater.

The Game
We hung up a sign with instructions and dates of each round (to coincide with March Madness, of course).

Staff were asked to vote for their favorite in each pairing using hash marks.  Winners moved onto the next round.

The Finals
This week we are celebrating our Final Four.  It looks something like this.

 Lots of candy-don't put it all out at once or it will instantly disappear!

A condensed bracket

Notes for Next Year 
We operated under a number of assumptions that we probably shouldn't have.
  • People know how to make hash marks (and cross them when you hit five).
  • People understand the concept of brackets and that you vote once per pairing, rather than once overall.
  • People will be happy with 64 possible choices of candy.  While I thought this was a lot, I have gotten a list of things that were left out.  Next year we may open up a category early for people to make their suggestions.
Despite these glitches, this has been a really fun program.  Staff has been tasting candy and discussing results.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

After the Conference-2014 Edition

It seems like March has been the month of conferences this year!  I attended both PLA and the Michigan Library Associations Spring Institute (SI).  If you are a children's librarian and live within driving distance of Michigan, it is definitely worth checking out.  SI is two days of concentrated presentations, author visits, networking, and more.

In a world of crazy scheduling, I did two presentations and 1 speech at SI on the same day this year.  Guerrilla Storytime took place in the morning on Friday.  At lunchtime, I got to present the Pletz Award (highest Michigan YS award) to one of my favorite Michigan librarians-Anne Clark.  You may recognize her as So Tomorrow.  While this is normally a fun award to present, it was made extra special this year as I actually knew the winner.  The list is endless as to why she deserved the award and I did talk for three typed pages with reasons.  I think one of the biggest, though, is that she doesn't realize that she is at the top of our profession, even with all that she does.

My afternoon session was spent presenting about how to use apps in story time.  There will be a post appearing on Little eLit in the next week or so with a link to the presentation and handouts.  While there are 68 slides, there is definitely some good stuff included, from good apps to use, promotion ideas, review sources, and research.  Plus, in one of my best presentation intros ever, I promised to have everyone out of the room in an hour as I had to get home to watch my Spartans in March Madness.

What else was great?  
  • STEM was a hot topic with two presentations that were totally different.  Even though we are doing a lot of the maker projects in our programs, by calling them Maker or STEM, we are using the trendy terms that parents look for.  It makes us look like we know what we are doing.
  • One library presented on their totally online family summer reading program that they run in conjunction with normal summer reading.  It is all blog-based.  What is neat about it is that there are many things that are tied into local community groups.  Since we know part of our job is to make connections, this concept really interested me.  While it is too late for us for this year, we are looking to start plugging away on it in September for next year's program.
  • David Lee King presented on Tech Trends in Libraries and the Emerging GenerationIf you haven't seen him speak before, he is definitely worth checking out.  In addition to really knowing what he is talking about, he also really knows this demographic and gave us really great ideas to take back to our libraries.  For example, teens like sharable computer screens.  Therefore, you should put your teen computers where you can fit multiple chairs around the screen.
  • Networking!  This was my chance to meet up with other librarians who I know online.

Thanks to all of the great information, I now have more ideas for my ever growing "to do" list.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shelf Challenge 2014

It's back!  To celebrate School Library Media Month, The Busy Librarian is hosting another Shelf Challenge.  The goal is to read through one manageable section during the month of April and report back on the good, the bad, and the ugly.  This is a great way to familiarize yourself with your collection, check out your collection development, and find new gems for programming.  Last year I concentrated on the picture book "F" section.  This year I will work on the picture book "B" section.

The "B" section starts off with one of my favorite authors for two year old programming-Byron Barton.  The text is simple and large, there are few words on the page, and all of the illustrations are brightly colored.

My Car

I will be back again soon to show off more B titles.  Meanwhile, follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #shelfchallenge or on Pinterest.
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