Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tips and Tricks for Hosting a Library Bake Sale

We recently held a bake sale at a local restaurant as part of a fundraising night. It went so well I thought I would share some tips with you all, in case you are interested in holding one to benefit your library. In these tight times every penny counts, and a bake sale is a great way to bring in a little extra cash.

Here are a few of my tips and tricks:
  • Get a little help from your Friends! Our Friends of the Library was a huge help in staffing our bake sale. They also baked quite a bit of the baked goods we sold. All I had to do was mention the bake sale at our Friends meeting and follow up with a reminder a few days before.
  • Try to get a wide variety of baked goods. I thought we had a pretty good selection, however we did end up with a few too many chocolate based treats. This was a bit of a bummer for the few people who showed up wanting something not chocolate. (Surprisingly, those people do exist!)
  • Make sure everybody (staff, Friends, etc) individually bags everything they bake. The majority of those who contributed to our bake sale thought to do this, but I did end up having to repackage a few items the day of.
  • Price the majority of items at the same price point. I started with all items a dollar, then separately priced a handful of select items slightly higher or lower. Doing it that way saved me the time of individually pricing every item.
  • Make sure to bring bags for people to take items home. We had some on hand, but definitely not enough.
  • Bring flyers and other promotional materials to advertise library events and services. I brought flyers to advertise our upcoming Summer Reading Program, and ended up giving quite a few away.
  • Drop prices towards the end of the bake sale. Towards the end of the bake sale we started basically giving people half off everything, just to make sure it all sold by the end of the night. As a result we ended up with a minimal amount of leftovers.
If you've also held a bake sale to benefit your library (or have any other creative fundraising ideas) I would love to hear from you!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Flannel Friday: Whose Tool is This?

In case you aren't familiar with it, Flannel Friday is a weekly series where librarian bloggers share descriptions of flannel boards and other storytime props.

My contribution for the week is a flannel board I created for an upcoming storytime on tools. It was inspired by the book "Who Uses This?" by Margaret Miller. This book shows various objects used in different occupations and asks kids to guess who uses each.

I put a hold on "Who Uses This" as a book to read during storytime, and decided there were two things about it I wasn't crazy for. First of all, the pictures are a bit dated. Secondly, some of the tools mentioned don't seem to be ones kids would be familiar with. For instance, one picture shows a juggling pin. Even I wasn't quite sure what that was at first.

Because I still liked the concept of the book I adapted it into a flannel board. All pieces are made out of felt and glued together with tacky glue where necessary.

 Here is the completed product: 

The paintbrush was made freehand:

The hammer was traced based on a template:

As was the the stethoscope. I did add some glitter for fun:

The mailbag was found among some old flannel pieces.

Finally I couldn't resist adding one of the tools of my trade. I'm really
 hoping the kids will be able to guess this one:

This week's Flannel Friday Roundup is hosted by Lisa at Libraryland. To participate in upcoming roundups, or get more information head over to the Flannel Friday Blog

Thursday, May 22, 2014

We Like to Move It, Move It: Favorite Playground Games to Play at the Library

I like to include active elements all my children's programming, but especially in my after school programs for school age kids. By the time the programs roll around kids have been sitting in school a good majority of their day, and like this kid, they are ready to move.

In honor of National Backyard Games Week, we spent this month's ATLAS (At The Library After School) playing playground games. Here are some of my favorite games I've used in this program and others. Many of these games come from other countries and can be found in the book Multicultural Games by Lorraine Barbarash. Others have come from Games Kids Play.
  • Loo K'bah Zee (from Burma): To play this game all players stand in a circle with their hands behind their backs. One person is "It" and walks around the circle with a ball. They leave the ball in one of the other player's hands and that player has to try to escape the circle. Neighboring players try to stop the escape. If they successfully escape they are the next "It".
  • El Gato Y El Raton (The Cat and the Mouse, from Puerto Rico): One player is the mouse, another is the cat. The remaining players hold hands in a circle around the mouse. The goal of the cat is to get into the circle and catch the mouse. The players in the circle must stop the cat from ducking under or breaking the circle.
  • Catch Your Tail (from Nigeria): Each player has a partner and a handkerchief. One player of each pair tucks the handkerchief in the back of their pants. The partners hold onto each other by the shoulders and try to steal the other's handkerchiefs. The winner is the last pair that still has a handkerchief.
  • Boa Constrictor (from Ghana and Togo): A version of tag where the tagged players join with "It" to make a giant snake. The last free player wins.
  • Ladder Jump (from Australia): Two teams compete against each other to see who can jump the farthest. The first player of each team jumps, then the second must jump from where they land. The third jumps from where the second landed and so on. The team that jumps the farthest collectively wins.
  • Catch or Don't Catch: Players stand in a circle and must instruct other players to catch or ball or not to catch it.
  • Prisoner's Base: Kids divide into two teams and must try to rescue a team member held "prisoner" by the other team. The rescuer must avoid getting captured by the opposing team.
  • Freeze Tag: Had to include this one because it is a huge crowd-pleaser any time I've ever used it in a program.
Do you use playground games with kids? I'd love to hear any other suggestions you may have.

For more information about school age programming, check out the monthly blog hop Thrive Thursday for a schedule and ways to participate.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Kidding Around: Spiderman Party

This month's theme for Kidding Around (my monthly program for Grades K-2) was Spiderman. I chose this theme in honor of the release of the new movie, and because superhero programs are always a big hit. I wanted to share this program in particular with you all because it fits the 2015 CSLP theme.

We started out with a brief discussion of Spiderman, his story and the villains he faces. In addition to getting the kids excited, this discussion served as a stalling tactic as late arrivals came.

As late arrivals continued to trickle in, we started our first game: creating a web out of yarn. This was definitely one that would have better to save till the end of the program, just because more of the kids could have participated. It would have also been really cool to involve some action figures or cutouts to trap in the web.

Our next game was bowling for bad guys.  I taped pictures of Spiderman villains to two liter bottles and the kids had to knock them down. This is a simple and fun game and I think the kids enjoyed it.

For our third activity we danced to the Freeze song on "Kids in Motion" by Greg and Steve. My rationale for doing this was that Mr. Freeze had transferred over from the Batman universe and was trying to attack Spiderman. Not sure the kids bought this logic, but they had fun anyhow.

Finally, we got to the best part of the whole program: SILLY STRING!!!

We used this wonderful product to play "Spiderman Tag". The game goes about how you would imagine: instead of tagging you "it" sprays you with silly string. If you get hit, you are out. The kids had a blast with this. It was definitely messy, but nothing our vacuum couldn't handle.

NOTE: A can of dollar store silly string doesn't last as long as you would expect, so if you are going to do this with a large group you will need quite a bit of it. One can per child would not be overkill.

As usual I closed out the program with our snack and craft. For our craft we had a Spiderman coloring page. Snack was cupcakes and cherry web strings (Twizzlers).

If you have any additional superhero program suggestions please let me know. Next summer will be here before we know it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Toddler and Preschool Storytime Structure and Planning

Looking back on previous blog posts I realized that while I've shared information on planning and structure for Baby Storytime I haven't done so for my Toddler and Preschool Storytimes. Storytime is one of my favorite parts of my job, and I am always excited to share my ideas.

A little background information:
  • Toddler Storytime is for two year olds (accompanied by a caregiver.)
  • Preschool Storytime is for three to five year olds (no caregiver required)
  • I always try to be flexible with the age range, especially with sibling pairs.
  • I do not require registration.
  • Both storytimes last about a half hour.
  • I use the same theme for both storytimes. 
  • All storytimes take place in my storytime room.

My storytime room

Here is my basic storytime structure:

We always start storytime with the same opening song. Following the song, I introduce our theme for the week. I also teach the children an ASL sign related to the week's theme. We then move on to our story.

The middle portion of the storytime involves active movement songs. I have many favorite storytime resources. The resources I am using the most currently are Jbrary and Storytime Katie. When I first started doing storytime, many of my themes and songs came from Step by Step Childcare.

After several movement songs we move on to our craft. My storytime crafts are typically pretty simple, and often involve torn paper, magazine picture collages, or stickers.

At this week's truck themed storytime we made stoplights:

Once the majority of children have finished their crafts I gather them back together for our closing song.

Some of the differences between Toddler Storytime and Preschool Storytime:
  • Toddler Storytime gets a shorter book.
  • Preschool Storytime gets the chance to play more complicated games, such as "Duck, Duck, Goose".
  • Preschool Storytime includes more songs and activities that focus directly on teaching colors, shapes and numbers.

This format has worked fairly well for me, although I am always looking for ways to improve it. I recently added a parachute, which has been a great addition for our movement period. I have also decided that this summer I will be swapping our craft time for time at science based centers. I will definitely update you all with how that goes!
For more information on my storytimes (including storytime plans and literacy tips) see my storytime blog.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Year of Library Bulletin Board Ideas

In addition to other display space, I have three bulletin boards in my library (2 are small, one is larger). I thought it would be helpful to share some of my bulletin board ideas and resources, because it can be hard to come up with new ones year after year. For more ideas check my Pinterest board. Another great resource is Brownielocks, which lists holidays and celebrations for each month.


New Years:  Here are some of my favorite New Year's related bulletin boards:

Snow and Cold:  Something we could technically keep up for quite awhile here in Michigan:


Valentine's Day:  You can do the love aspect or my favorite, the candy/treat aspect:


St Patrick's Day:  I've cut out shamrocks and and titled the bulletin board "Our Library Rocks".

Bunnies:  The most obvious choice of wording is "Hop Into the Library".

Flowers:  I've done "April Showers, Bring May Flowers" and "We have Blooming Good Books!"

Eggs:  You could have the kids write book titles on eggs as well:

National Frog Month (April):  Learned this from Brownielocks but haven't used it yet.

Poetry Month (April):   I've done a "Poet-Tree". I remember seeing a blog post that describe making a program out of creating a "Poet-Tree" recently but can't find it. Let me know if this sounds familiar.

Earth Day:   You could  say "Reduce, Reread, Recycle".

Pet Month (May):  It would be very cute to let kids bring in pictures of their pets to display.

I mainly do stuff related to our SRP theme, but have used these for the couple weeks between when Summer Reading ended and school started:



Trees:  "Leaf through a good book" is a fall favorite.

Halloween:  I've used Jack O' Lanterns and labeled the bulletin board "Carve Out Time to Read" or "Pump Up Your Brain". I've also done ghosts and titled it "We've Got Spook-tacular Books".

Popcorn Popping Month (October):  One idea that could definitely be used other times of year as well.

Thanksgiving:  Turkeys are always fun. I've also done a food related bulletin board with the phrase "Books are Brain Food".

I hope these ideas are useful. Let me know if you have any to add :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

5 Steps to Starting a New Library Collection

I've recently started a  new collection at my library: Graphic Novels. I've wanted to do this for a while, but haven't had the shelf space available. We recently got a new Information Desk and Tech Center with additional shelving, so I finally had the chance. Based on my experience here are the steps to take in starting a new collection.

Step 1: Gather existing items that would fit the collection: It is always better to start with what you already have. In this instance I gathered the few graphic novels we have had spread throughout our Juvenile Fiction collection.We didn't have many, but it was definitely a start.

Part of our existing collection of graphic novels.

Step 2: Get suggestions for new items to add: This is where Twitter comes in handy. I reached out to my Twitter friends and got some great suggestions from Lisa Mulvenna about what graphic novels are "must haves". There are also many booklists online that can come in handy. For graphic novels ideas I turned to the 2013 ALSC Graphic Novel Reading Lists.

Step 3: Make your new collection identifiable and searchable: Our existing graphic novels had a "graphic novel" sticker on the spine but were all labeled as JFIC. To make searching easier I changed their call numbers to JGN.

Our new spine labels and stickers.

Step 4: Bring attention to the new collection: A new collection is useless if nobody knows about it. I put our graphic novels with our new books for about 2 weeks in order to call attention to them. I think this worked pretty well. Many got checked out and I noticed many people browsing through them during that time period.

Step 5: Evaluate the collection's success:  Look at circulation statistics to make sure your new collection is getting checked out. Anecdotal evidence such browsing and in house use can also be good indicators of how your new collection is doing. I will definitely be looking to see how the graphic novels do at my library.

A portion of our new and improved graphic novel collection.

If you've added a new collection at your library how did you go about it? Any other advice you can give?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Cookie Sheet + Magnetic Letters = Easy Early Literacy Center

Just thought I would share this extremely easy early literacy center I put together this week. All it took was some magnetic letters (on sale at Lakeshore Learning a few weeks ago), a cookie sheet and quick creation of a few printable literacy activities.

The purpose of this center is for kids to use the magnetic letters on the cookie sheet to create words and sentences. They can do this on their own or use the activities I provide as a guide. Both provided activity guides were created in Microsoft Word.

One of my activity guides focuses on letter knowledge, the other on word sounds. The goal of the first activity guide is to match the letters to the ones on the page. On the second activity guide kids are asked to create a few simple rhyming words.

The cookie sheet, letters and guides will be kept in a kit bag and placed in an empty area of our Children's Tech Center. Kids will be able to use them there or at any other table in the Children's Department.

What I like most about this literacy center (apart from how easy it was to create) is that it is very versatile. Kids can experiment with words and letters regardless of age or ability level.

Have you come up with a creative and easy idea for an early literacy center? I would love to hear it!