Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Kidding Around: Winter Crafts

Now that the holidays are over and we are in the thick of another winter I thought sharing some winter crafts we did at a recent meeting of Kidding Around would be appropriate. There is still plenty of time to use them in winter programming. It is also before the point when we are all just a little sick of winter, which definitely a big plus.

As usual for Kidding Around, I registered for 12 kids in Grades K-2. I tried to keep the crafts simple enough that the kids could do them with very little guidance. I also tried to use spend as little on materials as possible. All I ended up having to buy specifically for this program was cotton balls and Q-Tips (about $4).

Here is what we did: 




Supplies needed:
Construction paper/Tagboard
Cotton Balls

This is a craft I found on Pinterest. These snowglobes are an adaptation of the pom pom painted ones I found on Crafty Morning. The top portions of the snowglobes were cut out by tracing a paper plate on tagboard. The bottom pieces were cut out freehand. I allowed the kids to decorate however they wished using paint, crayons, cotton balls, etc.

Q-Tip Snowflakes


Supplies needed:
Construction paper
Q-Tips (I used about at least a 100 with my group)
White Paint

I first saw this craft at Instructables. The great thing about it is it requires absolutely no preparation. It also leaves a lot of room for creativity. All the kids came up with their own versions of snowflakes, which was very nice to see.

Tape Resist Snowflakes


Supplies needed:
Construction Paper

Painting and tape are always a winning combination with kids, so tape resist art is a favorite at my programs. As a bonus it teaches a little bit about art concepts (positive vs. negative space), and even a little physical science (the paint will not go through the tape). Little Bins for Little Hands gave me the idea to make snowflakes.

Winter Themed Bingo Dauber Art


Supplies needed:
Printouts (found at The Resourceful Mama)
Bingo Daubers

I always like to use my bingo daubers when I have smaller groups, so this was a great chance to bring them out. These printables definitely came in handy in keeping some of the kids busy while I was helping others with the more complex crafts.

All in all I thought this program went quite well. The kids seemed to have fun and I got a lot of positive feedback from parents. There are so many craft ideas out there and never enough time to sort through them, so I hope you find these few useful. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

ATLAS: Halloween Crafts

In the spirit of the season, we made Halloween themed crafts at this month's ATLAS (At The Library After School). Craft programs are some of my favorites to do, and definitely make a great go to theme for my monthly programs ATLAS (3rd-6th grade) and Kidding Around (K-2nd grade). I do them often and highly recommend them.

For this program I came up with a few suggestions by searching Pinterest and let the kids take the reins from there. These ideas are probably too late for use in library programs this year, but hopefully will come in handy in the future.

Popsicle stick art:

This is a Frankenstein version, but it could also be done as a pumpkin, ghost, etc. I've done popsicle stick crafts like these before, but was also inspired by the pumpkins found here. I love the simplicity of taping several sticks together and applying paint, pipe cleaners, etc. It is fun, easy and allows for a great deal of flexibility.

Coffee filter spider webs:

I was originally thinking that the kids would cut these in a manner similar to paper snowflakes, but this was definitely a fun approach too. Hooray for creativity!

Pipe cleaner pumpkins:

I've learned over the years that pipe cleaners are one of the most versatile and useful craft supplies in a children's librarian's arsenal. Orange and green ones make a pretty cute little pumpkin that will stick around even after Halloween is over.

Marshmallow ghosts/pumpkins

After seeing the ghosts stamped with marshmallows at Coffee Cups and Crayons I thought marshmallows would be a good addition to our program. Kids can dip them in paint to stamp out the shapes of ghosts, pumpkins, etc. They can also just cover them in paint as this young artist has done to create a pumpkin patch.

As always I'm happy to answer any questions about these crafts you may have. You can reach me here, on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets) or by email (marrak at libcoop dot net). Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

American Girl Club: Meet Cecile and Marie Grace

It's been a while since I've blogged (due to the fall programing lull and general lack of time) so I figured a good place to get back in the groove is to give another American Girl Club update. The most recent girls we covered for this program were Cecile and Marie Grace, from 1854 New Orleans. Their series is the only American girl series where two characters' stories are combined into a single six book collection.

In case you've forgotten, here is a quick overview of my format for this monthly program:
  • One session of 12 kids is registered. 
  • Age group: 3rd-6th graders. 
  • Length: One hour
  • The only cost involved is usually for snacks (about $10).

Here's what we did this month:
  • We started out with our usual discussion of the books. I highlighted some interesting facts, in particular I talked a little bit about the uniqueness and diversity of New Orleans during this time period. For instance, we talked about the idea of Cecile being a "free person of color" during that time period.
  • The girls completed a quiz to determine whether they are more like Cecile or Marie Grace. This quiz has since been taken off the American Girl site, so get in touch if you need more information. 
  • We played a game that I called "BABY". It is based off a game found here and is a combination of HORSE and volleyball. The basic concept is that when a team scores a point the other team gets a letter. The first team that spells "BABY" loses. I chose this game based on the connection to not wanting to get the baby in the traditional Mardi Gras king cake. It was fun and easy to set up, only requiring a beach ball, fitted sheet and two chairs.
  • I cut paper plates in half to decorate as Mardi Gras masks. The decorating was more time consuming than expected but the attendees definitely seemed to enjoy it.
  • To close out the program we had a snack of french bread, powdered donuts (standing in for traditional New Orleans beignets), and juice.
  • Other ideas I've used with this theme in the past are Mardi Gras musical chairs (musical chairs with Mardi Gras music), and a version of Hot Potato called "Pass the Baby". 
For information on my other American Girl Club programs see the links below:

Hopefully these ideas come in handy for any Mardi Gras, New Orleans or American Girl programs you might be doing with kids. If you have any questions you can get in touch with me here or via Twitter (@MsKellyTweets).

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

2016 Summer Reading Finale Party

It's that time of year again. Summer reading is finished at my library, and I am busy planning my fall programs. I also finally have time to look back a little on the summer, and share with you my finale party. Like last year and the year before, this party involved a variety of stations loosely related to the summer theme. It is invite only, and meant as a reward for kids that finished their reading logs. Without further ado, here's what we did this year.

Our stations this year:

Sports themed crafts:  Crafts at this station included painting cut outs of balls, decorating a baseball pennant, and making a medal using aluminum foil.

Fun with bubbles: Our bubble pool has become somewhat of a tradition at these parties. The bubble recipe I use is simple, easy and has definitely served me well. 3 gallons is usually enough to use in my small kiddie pool.

My recipe:
1 gallon of water
1 cup Dawn Dishsoap
4 tablespoons of glycerin (purchased at craft stores like Michael's or at the pharmacy)

Board games: With the theme of sports and games I thought it was only fitting that I bring out a few of the library's board games. One of my goals with this station was to provide a station that would engage the slightly older kids at the party.

Legos: As you've probably realized by now I will use any excuse necessary to bring out our collection of Legos. Hooray for what is quite possibly the most useful donation my library has ever received!

Cup tower knockdown: A tower of red plastic cups managed to keep several of the kids in attendance entertained for the majority of the program. The goal was to knock them down by throwing various implements, including balls, pieces of pool noodle and paper plate rings.
Photo from openclipart.org

Pin the football in the goalposts: Twists on "Pin The Tail On The Donkey" are a staple of my programs. What I like about this game is how versatile it is in terms of age level. Toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy it just as much as school age kids. For this version of the game I used clip art footballs and made goalposts on the wall out of masking tape.

Photo from pixabay.com

As always, if you have any questions about this party or any other program feel free to get in touch. You can reach me here, on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets), or by email (marrak at libcoop dot net). Can't wait for the fall to start so I have more fun ideas to share with you all!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!: Balloon Olympics

With the CSLP theme of sports, and the actual games themselves, it was pretty much a no brainer that I was going to tie the Olympics into my library programming. My tweens really love competition and "Minute to Win It" style games, and in the past we've done similar programs based on other themes. For instance, we did Chocolate Olympics awhile back. When I was searching Pinterest for summer ideas I noticed some fun games involving balloons and figured that would be another great theme to base a few competitive games on. Thus our first ever Balloon Olympics was born.

The Opening Ceremony (a.k.a. my basic overview of the program):
  • I limited this event to 12 kids and to Grades 3-6.
  • The only expense involved was for about 6 packs of balloons, all purchased at my local dollar store. These balloons could have probably accommodated an even bigger group than I had.
  • The program ran just short of 1 hour.

The Events:
  • Hula Hoop Toss: I got this idea from this site and thought it fit perfectly. The basic idea is that you label balloons with point values and tape them to the floor. The kids toss the hula hoops and earn points for each one that lands over a balloon. 
  • Balloon Volleyball: An old sheet, some chairs and a balloon are all the equipment you need for this one. Split the kids into teams and let them enjoy!
  • Balloon Baseball: We used a balloon as the ball and a piece of pool noodle as our bat as we played a simple and quick game of baseball.
  • Balloon Races: The kids had to race while they hit balloons to keep them in the air. 
  • Waddle Races: For this race, they had to race with balloons between their legs. Definitely one of the funnier moments of this program!
  • Sweep the Balloon: I found this race at Finding Sanity. We didn't get to this race, but the way it would have been done would have been having the kids use a broom to sweep a balloon across the room as fast as possible.
  • Balloon Popping Competition: To end the program we all raced to pop as many balloons as they could within a few minute time period. 

The Closing Ceremony (a.k.a. my tips and tricks):
  • Blow up the balloons beforehand to save as much time as possible.
  • Make sure to review the rules of games such as baseball and volleyball before playing the balloon versions. It will come in handy in resolving any situations that arise during play.
  • Prizes aren't necessary, but can be fun. All my kids got a simple certificate to take home in honor of their participation. 

If you have any questions about this program (or any others on this site) feel free to get in touch. Looking forward to the fall and updating you on all the fun stuff we'll have going on!

Monday, July 11, 2016

On Your Mark, Get Set, Craft!

One of the first programs I do every summer is crafts related to whatever the summer's theme is. It always seems to go well, and provides a fairly low key program for the week of the Fourth of July.  Doing this program relatively early in the summer also means there is time to share the crafts with you all as a source of last minute inspiration!

The "On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!" theme was relatively easy to plan for. The majority of ideas were found by searching Pinterest for "Sports Crafts". As for supplies, the only thing I had to purchase were the visors ($1 each at Michaels before coupon) and the medals (from the CSLP catalog).

As usual, I held two sessions of this program (one for kids in Grades K-2 and another for kids in Grades 3-6). Both were pretty well attended with 8-10 kids. Each had about 4 craft suggestions to choose from, but they could also use the materials to create any other crafts they desired.

K-2nd graders


Foam visors      

Foam visors
Random foam craft pieces and stickers

Cost: Less than $10

My splurge for this session was foam visors for the kids to decorate with some of my extra foam stickers. I had thought of making visors with paper plates and yarn (like the older group did), but figured with the younger ones it would be easier to have premade ones.

Golf ball Painting

Golf balls
Plastic bins

Cost: Nothing.

We put some of my old golf balls in a pin with paint and painted by rolling them around. Probably the messiest of all the crafts, but definitely the most fun! One warning, some of these did have to dry overnight before the kids could take them home.

3rd-6th graders

Mini Skateboards

Popsicle sticks
Markers or crayons
Glue or tape 

Cost: Nothing

This is an idea I saw a few different places, including PBS Parents. You make a small "skateboard" by decorating a popsicle stick and adding toothpick and bead "wheels". It was easy but did take some tape to make the beads stay on the toothpicks.

Q-Tip Painting Basketballs


Basketball printout

Cost: Nothing

I found this idea at the Dolen Diaries and I knew when I saw it that it would be perfect for a sports themed craft. I chose to do it with the older kids because I knew they would have the patience and precision to cover the basketballs with small dots of paint.

Both groups



Medals (from CSLP catalog) or homemade
Markers or crayons

Cost: $7.00

I ordered these medals as a craft for both groups to do. They weren't all that expensive and came in a pack of 24, which was perfect for my purpose. If you wanted to make your own that could probably work too.

Desk wrap

Butcher paper 

Last year I had the kids decorate paper to wrap my desk in, and figured I would carry on the tradition. It is a fun way to make the kids feel included in our summer decorating.

I hope these ideas are helpful, and that everyone is having a great summer. Feel free to get in touch with any questions via Twitter (@MsKellyTweets), email (marrak@libcoop.net) or in the comments.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Toddler/Preschool Dance Party 2016

We are slowly but surely getting started with summer reading at my library and during our current storytime break I thought another dance party for toddlers and preschoolers would make a great evening program. It is fun, easy to plan and the active nature of it fits the "On your mark, Get set, Read!" theme.

For those who have not tried doing this kind of program yet, I highly recommend it. If you need a playlist to get you started, here are the songs I used this time. For more ideas you can also see my previous dance party post or Pinterest board.

  • Body Talk on Kids in Motion by Greg and Steve: One of the few songs I reused from my previous dance party. It is just such a good warm up song. As a bonus it introduces many great vocabulary words for body parts.
  • Body Rock on Kids in Motion by Greg and Steve: This is another favorite song with a variety of directed motions. It is also a little faster tempo so it seems to get the kids excited.
  • I Really Love to Dance on Buzz, Buzz by Laurie Berkner: My other repeat song from my previous dance party. It is a fun song that fits into a dance party perfectly.
  • Let's Go Swimming on Top of the Tots by the Wiggles: I liked the idea of including a few summer related songs to get into the spirit of the season. 
  • Wipe Out by the Surfaris: Another summer themed addition. I had the kids pretend to surf then yelled "Wipe Out" throughout the song so they could pretend to fall down.
  • Rockin Robin on Songs for Wiggleworms: We pretended to be birds and flew around the room to this classic. 
  • Twist and Shout on Songs for Wiggleworms: This song was chosen as one of my designated shaker songs. I also included it because I wanted another song the parents would recognize.
  • I know a chicken on Whaddya Think of That? by Laurie Berkner: Another terrific shaker song. My kids are familiar with it from storytime, so that was another definite plus.
  • Wimoweh (the Lion Sleeps Tonight) on Whaddya Think of That by Laurie Berkner: As an ending song this worked wonderfully. We sat on the floor and pretended to sleep when the lion did. When it got to the chorus of "Wimoweh" we waved scarves around.

  • Once again I made a playlist on my iPhone and connected it to my CD player with an auxiliary cable. I would definitely recommend this as a method if your group is small enough. Mine was about 30 people and it worked well.

What I learned:
  • Getting parents to participate can be hard. I made several requests for grownups to get up and dance at the beginning of the program but still didn't get the participation I hoped.
  • Participation may look different for toddlers vs. preschoolers. This is totally normal developmentally. Both are benefiting from participating and having fun.
  • Digital music collections such as Freegal are a good resource to recommend to parents at a dance party. They often contain some great kids music. 

I hope these ideas have help if you are planning a dance party, or just provide some good song suggestions for the kids in your life. If you have any questions you can always comment here or email me at marrak at libcoop.net. Thanks for reading!