Monday, September 22, 2014

American Girl Club: Meet Kaya

In case you've forgotten, at my library we have a monthly American Girl Club program for Grades 3-6. We pick a different girl each month, and spend time learning about her time period with discussion, games, crafts and snacks. The first girl we are learning about this school year is Kaya, a Nez Perce girl from 1764. As usual, our special guest was the library's Kaya doll.

I kept this program pretty simple because I knew attendance would be relatively low this month as people get into the routine of the new school year. The only money I spent was the $10 I spent on snacks.

We started out talking about Kaya and her stories. This was relatively brief because none of the attendees had read the books.

After that I wanted to make sure to get the kids moving, so we did a variety of animal themed races. These included racing as crabs, bears and frogs. I thought this was a good connection because respect for animals is an important part of Kaya's culture. I found the inspiration for these races here.

I saw on several sites that Nez Perce had a game where they would throw pinecones through a hoop. I adapted this and made a target on the ground for the kids to throw pinecones at. The pinecones were a donation from one of our clerks.

Our next game was found in American Girl's Kaya Event Kit (which is sadly no longer available on the American Girl website). It is called "Fur or Feathers". Each person pulls the name of an animal and the others must guess their animal using yes or no questions. I added a charades component to make things a little easier. Major bonus points to the girl who acted out "porcupine"!

We ended the program with a craft and snack. The craft I used was the Rosette craft in the Event Kit. For snacks we had sunflower seeds, gummy fruit snacks, goldfish and flavored water. The seeds and water were both things Kaya would have ate. The fruit snacks and goldfish were eaiser, more kid friendly versions of the same thing.

So glad to be back to doing this program! I look forward to updating you on American Girl Club throughout the year. Next month we will be learning about Caroline, an American Girl from 1812.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

5 Tips for Evaluating Storytime

In order to keep improving at anything you need to periodically ask yourself an important question:

In order to best serve patron's librarians must consider both the why and how of what we are doing in all programming. Storytime is no different. In order to get better at providing storytimes, you must evaluate whether things are working, or whether you need to make changes.

For the past four years I've been working as a librarian I have done this kind of evaluation informally. For instance, I'd observe behavior during storytime. Did the kids seem engaged? Were they smiling? I want the kids to enjoy storytime, so if they aren't I clearly need to make improvements.

I also would view attendance as a performance measure. Is it increasing? How big of a crowd of regular attendees is there? I want to make sure I reach as large a group as possible. I also want to know that people see the value enough to keep returning.

Based on these measures I have made changes and developed a storytime routine that seems to work well for me and my community. For instance, when baby storytime struggled I tweaked the time and format until it gained a following.

After seeing how Jbrary did a formal storytime evaluation I was inspired to go beyond these measures. A new school year and series of storytimes seemed like the perfect time to try surveying parents and getting some formal feedback.

Using questions from Jbrary's form, and other forms distributed through the ALSC listserv, I came up with two different evaluation forms. One form was passed out at storytime and asks specific questions about the program. The other was shorter, simpler and geared towards those that have children but do not attend storytime. This second survey was posted on our website and distributed through our Facebook page.

Here are a few things I've learned through this process:

1. An important first step to evaluating storytime is determining what your goals for storytime are. As the wonderful Mel Depper of Mel's Desk points out, your goals will determine the evaluation questions you ask. One of my major goals is to try to fit in more evening/weekend storytimes, so I made sure to include a question on both surveys that asks about convenient times for this.

2. When surveying families distribute surveys widely to reach those who are not able to attend storytimes. Otherwise you are getting a skewed sample. I definitely need to find more channels to distribute my survey because so far over half the respondents to my second survey have attended my storytimes.

3. When asking certain questions, make sure you provide relevant information. For instance, I should have included our hours in my questions about convenient storytime times. Some of the responses I've received back mention times outside our operating hours.

4. Allow plenty of time to receive responses back. Parents are busy and it will probably take a few reminders to get them to fill out a survey. You may not get many responses. This is where the informal evaluation can come in handy to fill in the blanks.

5. Many times evaluating will lead to further questions and more evaluating. For instance, responses to my storytime scheduling question have lead me to to wonder if I need to reschedule my morning storytime as well. I will bring this up to current families and base my decision on what I find out.

How do you evaluate storytime? I would love to hear any opinions or ideas you have on this topic!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Flannel Friday Roundup 9/12/14

I am hosting Flannel Friday this week. It is my first time doing this, so I am particularly excited about it.

Here are the great ideas shared this week:

Animal Fun
Over at Shelf Indulged we have Miss Cassie had a Little Lamb. Cassie's colored lambs encourage color recognition as well as imagination. I think Mary and her lamb would be jealous!

Carrie from The Lion is a Bookworm shared a variety of felt animals she made to use with Old MacDonald and other storytime rhymes. So glad to have Carrie as a new Flannel Friday participant!

Bridget from What is Bridget Reading adapted "Who is Tapping at my Window" by AJ Deming. The wide variety of animals she used means lots of opportunity to practice animal sounds!

My contribution this week was a flannel board to go along with Ashley Wolff's Baby Bear Sees Blue.

Inspired by Authors We Love
A pattern for a puppet version of Richard Scarry's Huckle was shared over at A Library Less Ordinary. Great way of introducing kids to a classic character!

Lois Ehlert fans will definitely want to check out the matching game that Jennifer from Storytime Extras made. Kids can use a variety of shapes to create characters from Ehlert's books. What a wonderful way to develop their shape knowledge and encourage interaction with these stories!

Cate from Storytiming shared her adaptation of Early Bird by Toni Yuly. This adaptation is simple, engaging and makes use of objects most of us already have around the library. Thanks for sharing Cate!

At Notes from the Story Room Linda has an autumn leaf cut and tell that would work very well in a fall themed storytime.

Lisa at Thrive After Three shared the fall version of her felt board table. I love how versatile this table can be! I am also very impressed that she includes so many types of leaves and fruit. Lisa's felt board table also inspired The Library Lady to make a felt board table of her own. I'm sure the kids will have a terrific time playing with the vehicles The Library Lady made to accompany it.

Thank you all for your wonderful contributions this week!

If you would like to learn more about Flannel Friday, or get other storytime ideas, you can visit the Flannel Friday website, Pinterest page, or Facebook group. You can also follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter.

Katie from Storytime Katie is hosting the next roundup, so stayed tuned for more fun next week!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Flannel Friday: Baby Bear Sees Blue

For this week's Flannel Friday I am sharing a flannel board I made to go along with one of my favorite picture books: Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff. This is an adorable story of a baby and mother bear who spend their day exploring the outdoors. They see and identify many colors in their environment, making this a great story for teaching color recognition.

I wanted to make a flannel board out of this story because I thought it would be a good way to emphasize the different colors mentioned. I used templates found online to trace each creature/object that Bear Bear sees out of flannel. I also thought it would fit in well at next week's bear themed storytime.

Here is what I came up with:

First Baby Bear sees the yellow sun. I used a simple circle shape in Microsoft Word to trace the center. The rays were drawn free hand and glued on with craft glue:

Next he sees a green oak leaf:

The blue jay comes after that. I did add a little black with marker, just to match the pictures in the book's illustrations. Unfortunately, it doesn't show up so well in this picture:

The trout is next. His spots were also drawn on with marker:

Then Baby Bear sees red strawberries. This was actually made using a flower petal template I had from a previous flannelboard. Add some seeds with marker and glue on a leaf and you have a strawberry:

My favorite piece comes next, the orange butterfly:

And finally, when the he sees gray clouds, Baby Bear heads home:

I am hosting Flannel Friday this week! Here is this week's roundup. To participate in upcoming roundups, or get more great storytime ideas head over to the Flannel Friday Blog or Pinterest page. You can also follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thrive Thursday Roundup for 9/4/14

I am the lucky host of September's Thrive Thursday blog hop!

The idea behind Thrive Thursday is to compile great ideas from children's librarians who work with school age kids. It was dreamed up by Lisa Shaia of Thrive After Three. For more information you can check out the Thrive Thursday website, Pinterest page and Facebook group.

I am so happy to share the awesome ideas of my colleagues who work with school age kids. There are so many terrific ideas here. Thank you all so much for sharing! A special shout out to Bryce for providing some of her favorites and introducing me to some great new blogs :)

Here are just a few of the great things going on in school age programming during the past month:

Lisa at Thrive After Three shared her Library Lend a Friend program. Kids get to pick a "flat friend" from a variety of popular characters and chronicle their adventures together. I love that it includes so many character options and would appeal to a wide range of ages. She also shared her Diary of a Wimpy Kid Scavenger Hunt (in time to use for the release of the new book). Definitely using both of these at my library in the future!

Here at Ms. Kelly at the Library I wrote about our yearly Backpack Raffle, and a Guessing Game I came up with in honor of Library Card Signup Month.

Bryce at Bryce Don't Play did a fun program based on Lauren Tarshis's book "I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916". This series is super popular and sharks are a perennial kid favorite, so I'm sure this one was a hit. Plus, anytime you get to throw pool noodles and balance ping pong balls on your head it's a good time! Bryce also shared the game cards they used for their newly prizeless SRP. Revamping SRP has been on many librarian's agendas, so this is definiely one to check out!

Over at the new blog Tweenbrarian, Amy wrote about her Tween Book to Movie Book Club. I was happy to see this one because I would love to start up a tween book club at my library someday. She has great ideas for activities related to the popular tween reads the "Lightning Thief" and "How to Train Your Dragon". Amy also wrote about a Mythbusters event she held at her library. Love the idea of testing the combination of pop rocks and Coke!

At the Neighborhood Librarian, Brytani pulled together and last minute Muppet Sing Along. Fun movie time plus a great opportunity to connect with patrons is a win win.

Tales from the Nerdy includes a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party. Major kudos for including instruction on ninja moves!

Stephanie at Storytime Steph shared her Bedtime Math, Sharpie Tie Dye, and Scratch Programming events. We can always use more STEAM programming, and these all sound like great options!

Carol at Program Palooza did a messy and funny series of science programs about "Gizmos, Gadgets and Goo". She includes a diaper polymer activity and so many great recipes and resources for making Oobleck! Carol also has many wonderful vehicle related ideas she used at her Wheel Away program.

Abby at Abby the Librarian has some sage advice about getting into schools to do booktalks. If you would like to do more collaboration with local schools, this post is a must read.

Thanks again so much for sharing!

And before we go, a round of applause for all these wonderful librarians working with school age kids.

The October Roundup will be hosted by Jean Little Library, so check there for updates.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Library Card Signup Month Guessing Game

Library Card Signup Month is here!

Getting a library card is important for so many reasons, and I want to promote it as much as possible at my library. When I saw this Pinterest post asking for guesses about the number of books in the library my first thought was: Why not have people guess how many library cards we give out in a year? At that moment a last minute passive program was born.

I decided to have a contest where kids could guess the number of library cards given out. Whoever guesses closest to the true figure gets to pick a free book from my extra Summer Reading Prize book stash. Depending on how close the guesses are and how many people participate I may even draw multiple winners.

All this took was setting out a jar, creating a sign and designing an entry slip. For the entry slip I modified the one we use for our yearly Backpack Raffle. You may also recognize the jar from that program.

This program didn't cost me anything but my time. I think it will get people talking about library cards, which is always a plus. I am also looking forward to seeing what guesses come in!

For more resources to promote library card signup head to the ALA site.