Thursday, February 14, 2019

Kidding Around: Fairy Tale Science

In keeping with my New Year's resolution to get back to blogging, I figured I'd share one of my most recent school age programs with you all. It was a part of my year round series for Grades K-2, which I call "Kidding Around". We vary themes throughout the year but STEM always makes several appearances. Science programs are fun, relatively inexpensive programs that the kids always seem to enjoy. For our February meeting of "Kidding Around" our theme was one I've seen several places over the years: Fairy Tale Science. It was an hour log program that consisted of three stations for groups of kids to rotate through.


Build a house for the Three Little Pigs

Supplies needed: Straws, Popsicle Sticks, Tape, Legos (optional)

Description: At this station the kids were instructed to build the strongest house they could out of the provided materials. The majority of kids used different techniques to tape the Popsicle sticks together to form houses, which worked pretty well. Interestingly enough this group really didn't make much use of the Legos.

Build a boat for the 3 Billy Goats Gruff

Supplies needed: Aluminum Foil, Cups, Plates, 

Description: The idea behind this station was for the kids to explore concepts such as weight, density and buoyancy as they make a "boat" for the Billy Goats Gruff. At first they were mainly relying on the aluminum foil but with a little prompting they were able to use the cups and plates in some very interesting ways. I especially liked the boat made of three cups attached to the bottom of the plate to form a sort of floating platform.

Build a parachute for Jack

Supplies needed: Coffee filters, Tissue paper, Paper lunch bags, Lego Minifigures

Description: That Beanstalk is pretty high and Jack needs a safe way down. The kids were asked to provide it by building him a parachute. This allows them to learn about concepts such as lift, gravity and surface area. The coffee filters were the most popular material, but the paper bags worked pretty well too. Our Lego minifigures made a terrific stand in for Jack!

Overall the kids seemed to have a good time, and I think they learned a lot too. Feel free to use this idea with the kids at your school, home or library!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Flannel board: 5 little blueberries

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to get back to blogging, and I thought a good way to start would be by sharing this flannel board I made for an upcoming "Winter Blues" themed storytime. 


It was made to go with this rhyme from Canton Public Library: 

Blueberry Roll 
Five little blueberries sitting in a bowl.
One fell out and started to… ROLL!
It bounced off the table and rolled under my seat.
How many blueberries are left to eat? 

The blueberries were made by using a circle template printed from Microsoft Word. Leaves were cut out free hand. Initially they were glued on, but ended up needing reinforcement from small pieces of book tape. Yay for improvising! 

I hope this rhyme comes in handy for any upcoming color or fruit themed storytimes you may be planning. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

American Girl Club: Meet Nanea

After 7 years of running our library's American Girl Club, keeping the program new and interesting can be a bit of a challenge. This is one big reason I am always happy when American Girl introduces a new historical character. This fall they introduced Nanea Mitchell, an American Girl living in Hawaii during 1941. Recently our club focused on Nanea for the first time.

To come up with ideas for Nanea I used the event kit put out by American Girl. These kits are a great resource, but tend to be taken down after a period of time, so if you are interested in these printables I would download asap them. In general I found Nanea a pretty easy to plan for, because you can draw from both Hawaiian themed activities and patriotic ones that are related to WWII.

We started the program with discussion about the time period, Hawaii and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I focused on Nanea's desire to help with the war effort by having them take the "Dip your Paddle in Quiz" found in the activity booklet.

Next we played a game of Hukilau. It is pretty similar to London Bridges, but involves the well known Hawaiian tune, "Hukilau". Two kids link arms to form a "net" that the other kids walk through as "Hukilau" plays. When the line about the "ama-ama come swimming to me" comes, they drop their "net" and trap whoever is underneath. It definitely seemed to go over well.

After that we did a version of Simon Says called Kuma Hula Says. Kuma Hulas, like Nanea's grandmother, are experts in their art and the kids got to take turns playing the part. We used hula moves as our actions, but you could let the kids get creative by including others.

Our last activity was making leis. We used the printable flowers that the America Girl event kit provides and pieces of colored straw to make them. They kids strung both on yarn to make their leis. I got this idea from The Bird Feed NYC. As we made our leis we had a snack of pineapple salsa, Rice Krispie treats (invented in the 1940s) and cookies with M&Ms (also invented in the 1940s).

It was definitely nice to change things up, and I think the kids at the program had a great time. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about this program or any others I have posted.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Winter Movement Cube Pattern

The winter is here in full force, so I thought it would be appropriate to share one of my most recent creations: my winter themed movement cube pattern. After using our regular movement cube during storytime I provided this pattern as an extension. Kids had the chance to color it and use it to create their own movement cube at home.

In case you aren't familiar with movement cubes, they are a great storytime tool. The basic idea is to put a simple action on each side of a cube. Our movement cube is a purchased version, but homemade cubes can also be created by covering a small box (such as a tissue box) with paper. The cube is rolled during storytime and the kids must do the action that comes up. It allows kids practice in motor skills and following directions. It also just a really fun and interactive thing to do with toddlers and preschoolers.

I was inspired to create this pattern by some other movement cube patterns I found through Pinterest. I liked the winter themed movement cube patterns I saw, but wanted something with blank pictures for the kids to color.

To create this version I used pictures from Pixabay. Pixabay allows images to be downloaded and modified copyright free, so I used Microsoft Paint to remove the color from the pictures as necessary.

Here is my pattern as a pdf: Winter Movment Cube

Feel free to download and share as you'd like. Hope you enjoy the winter months and keep as warm as possible!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Library Services for Children Journal Club: Executive Function

Far too long ago I blogged about a great professional development opportunity: the Library Services for Children Journal Club. This project was started by Lindsay Krabbenhoft of Jbrary and provides a chance for children's staff in libraries to discuss research articles relating to our work. Before tackling January's articles I wanted to post my thoughts about the first two journal club articles on the topic of executive function.

What is executive function?
Executive function is said to be the brain's "air traffic control" system, and involves areas such as working memory, inhibitory control and mental flexibility.

My favorite insights from the article
  • Developing these skills continues throughout childhood and through into adolescence. This is definitely a far longer time period than I had previously considered.
  • Executive function skills are important when it comes to school readiness. They provide a foundation upon which other knowledge and skills are built.
  • Childhood experiences help shape these skills Stressful childhood experiences and adverse environments can impair the development of executive function skills on neurological level.
  • Targeted interventions have been shown to help protect and improve executive function skills.
  • Kids who display a lack of executive function are not "bad" kids.
  • Parents and those who work with children can benefit from learning all the ways they can encourage the development of these skills at early stages.

How can we support executive function at the library?
  • Providing opportunities for play for all ages. As the first article on the topic states social play is considered "an important practice ground for the development of executive function skills." I try to provide opportunities for games in my storytimes and school age programs, so I was glad to have the benefits of this practice reaffirmed.
  • Creating an environment where kids have the opportunity to practice executive function skills in a fun manner. We do this through routine children's program activities. For instance, in storytime we take turns, repeat songs, and follow simple directions.
  • Making parents aware of how we are doing these things in our programs, and suggesting ways they can continue the practices at home.

There is definitely a lot more to think about related to executive function. I've really enjoyed seeing others post on the topic, and appreciate the opportunity to think more deeply about it. I'm looking forward to reading and posting about the next Journal Club articles!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Introducing Library Services for Children Journal Club

I'm happy to bring your attention to a great new opportunity for professional development for children's librarians: The Library Services for Children Journal Club.

What it is
This project was started by Lindsey Krabbenhoft (of Jbrary fame) and a colleague named Christie Menzo. The goal is to encourage those working with kids in libraries to read and discuss relevant literature and think critically about how this research can inform what we do in the library.

How to participate
To participate all you need to do is read the suggested articles on the LSC Journal Club site and discuss them with colleagues. This can be done in formal or informal gatherings, through blog posts, or on social media. Lindsey and Christie will be hosting Vancouver area meet ups, and encourage the planning of gatherings anywhere and everywhere.

You can participate right away. November's articles are already there for your learning pleasure. The first topic of discussion is executive function. New articles will be posted every two months on a different topic that fit into one of the designated research themes. To keep up to date on future topics you can keep checking the topic schedule.

I know I'm definitely excited to participate! I will be posting my thoughts on the latest articles here asap and on Twitter with the hashtag #lscjournalclub. I hope to see many of my fellow children's librarians doing the same!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

150th Anniversary Celebration

The city my library is in celebrated it's 150th Anniversary this year. In honor of the occasion we were recently part of a city wide celebration that included our local history fair among other things. I thought I would share what we did in hopes that it would help inspire you to try some history themed activities in the library or anywhere else.

The two major components of our celebration were stations for kids and a historical speaker. I tried to keep the stations easy, inexpensive and somewhat historically relevant to the time the city was founded.

Station 1: Butter "churning"

I saw this idea several places and changed it around to fit my needs. The basic concept is to shake heavy whipping cream until it turns into butter. The best idea I had was to use the tiny plastic cups I found at Kroger as our butter churning containers. They are the ones that only hold a few ounces and come with lids. They really worked well and it only cost a few dollars for about 50 of them. 

Station 2: Historical crafts

Our historical crafts included coloring pages, paper dolls, and a variety of paper pinwheels I got for free from another local group.

Station 3: Weaving

This is an idea I got here. The one modification I made was using square plastic plates rather than the foam trays. I was having problems finding the right trays and the plates seemed to work just as well. I was somewhat surprised to see that this was the favorite station of the program. My one tip is that an odd number of strings on your "loom" allows you to tie up the extra strings at the beginning and end. 

Station 4: Hoop rolling
 We already own several hula hoops, so I figured why not bring them out and encourage the kids to "hoop race". It really didn't seem to catch on well, but probably would be a lot of fun with a bigger group.

Station 5: Make a hat

No party is fun if you are not wearing the correct ensemble right? So we made bonnets and hats that seemed to fit the time period. I found the bonnet pattern here, and the other hat was simply a template for a "cowboy" hat that didn't seem to obvious as such.

All in all this program brought in a small but dedicated group of kids who seemed to have a pretty good time. Most stayed for over 3 hours for both the program and the speaker. The stations were also pretty inexpensive, as the biggest cost was for snacks. I would definitely recommend this type of program for anybody looking for a way to celebrate this period in history.