Thursday, February 26, 2015

Toddler/Preschool Dance Party

After reading about all the fun that Lindsey, Angie, Lisa and others have had doing dance parties for toddlers and preschoolers, I made a new year's resolution to do one of my own. I made good on that resolution recently (yay!). Now I want to share my playlist, along with a little helpful information I learned.

Clip art from

My playlist: 
  • Body Talk on Kids in Motion by Greg and Steve: This is a great warm up song that gets kids moving various body parts.
  • I Really Love to Dance on Buzz, Buzz by Laurie Berkner: I wanted to start out with a few songs that include clear cut actions. Plus I thought this one really set the tone for the program.
  • The Monkey Dance on Yummy, Yummy by the Wiggles: Another fun song that the kids could easily follow along with. 
  • We Will Stomp by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael: I've used this one in storytime a few times and thought it was a good idea to throw in something familiar.
  • Jack in the Box from It's Toddler Time: Another familiar song from I've used in my storytimes.
  • Happy by Pharell: I figured some kid friendly popular music was in order. We used scarves and moved into more freestyle dancing.
  • Let it Go from Frozen: I had to include this based on sheer kid appeal. It also made a great follow up scarf song.
  • All Around My Room on Lullabies by Laurie Berkner: A slow song seemed like a good way to begin to close out the program.
  • Goodnight on Lullabies by Laurie Berkner: I figured it was appropriate to end this evening program with this bedtime themed song.

  • I created a playlist on my iPhone. I used an auxiliary cable to play the music through the CD player we use for storytime. This worked well for our space and group size. We had about 30 people at the program (15 kids, at least 15 adults) and most seemed to be able to hear the music well.

What I learned: 
  • A half hour is a pretty good length for this kind of program. It seemed to be about what the kids' attention spans (and my energy) could handle.
  • It is important to encourage parental participation. I wish I would have done a little more of this at this program. For instance, I wish that at the end I had told the kids to "grab their grownups" and dance with them. 
  • Including some kid friendly popular music is a must. My group went crazy over "Happy" and "Let it Go"!
  • Use this as an opportunity to promote your library's collection. I made sure to remind the parents that all the music played at the program is from CDs available for checkout.

Overall, this was an very fun and easy program to plan. Plus I was able to count it as my workout for the day!

For more dance party related posts and suggestions see my Dance Party Pinterest Board.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

1 Year Blogaversary!

One year ago today I posted my very first post on this blog!

Image from

The year has gone by so quickly! I've truly enjoyed writing about my job and learning from others. I love what I do and take great pleasure it sharing it with the world. I hope my ideas have been been beneficial to my fellow librarians.

Here are some statistics that I wanted to share:
Thank you to all that have read, commented and followed throughout the year!  I greatly appreciate your feedback and support.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

ATLAS: Harry Potter Party

I have wanted to do a Harry Potter Party at my library for a long time, mainly because I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Big surprise, right? I tried to plan one last fall, but the beginning of the school year meant not many kids could come, and my plans were foiled. I've been waiting for an excuse to use my ideas, and the recent Harry Potter Book Night worked perfectly. In this post I will take you through each part of the event, and share tips and tricks I learned.

Part 1: Sorting Ceremony

Supplies needed: 
Witch's hat
Printout of house emblems (available in the Harry Potter Book Night Event Kit)
Background music (optional)

First order of business for any new Hogwarts term is the sorting ceremony. Each of the 13 3rd-6th graders that attended got to sit in front of the group and pick a house emblem out of our sorting hat. The house they picked would be the one they would belong to for the rest of the program.There were an equal number of emblems from each house in the hat, so I knew I'd have the same number of kids in each house. The events that followed would be a competition to see which house could obtain the most house points. 

Part 2: Trivia

Supplies needed:

Trivia questions and answers
Method to record points

The event kit also has some great trivia questions. Of course, you could also make up your own. I used our dry erase board to record 10 house points for each correct answer.

Part 3: Potions Class 

Supplies needed:
Baking soda
Plastic bottles

We did the classic kids' science experiment of blowing up a balloon using baking soda and vinegar. The kids loved it! I had prepared the balloons ahead of time by filling them with a few spoonfuls of baking soda. I figured this would make things go a little more smoothly, and it seemed to work really well. Each child who successful made the "potion with inflative properties" earned 10 house points.

Part 4: Spell practice

Wands (optional)

This was just another one of my fancy ways to work in one of my kids' favorite games: Freeze Tag. They used the 'petrificus totalus" and "enervate" spells to freeze and unfreeze each other.

Part 5: Guess the Harry Potter character

Post It Notes

I wrote the name of Harry Potter characters on Post It notes and stuck one to each child's back. They needed to guess who they were by asking each other yes or no questions.

Part 6: Snack Time

A highlight of many of my programs is snack time. This time we had pumpkin juice (orange Hawaiian punch), butterbeer cupcakes and Bertie Bott's every flavor beans (Kroger brand jelly beans). We also made "pretzel core wands' aka chocolate covered pretzels.

Part 7: Printables

I sent home coloring sheets of each house crest, as well as a Harry Potter wordsearch that was part of the event kit.

Tips and Tricks: 
  • Have kids wear the house crests they pick out of the sorting hat. I had my kids tape them to their shirts. This made it a lot easier to correctly award house points.
  • Awarding 10 house points for all accomplishments seemed to work well. It was straightforward and easy to add at the end.
  • Small prizes definitely suffice for the winners. All the kids that attended got to pick from a bowl of candy, fruit snacks, and temporary tattoos. 
Hopefully these ideas are helpful to my fellow Potter fans. If you have any great Harry Potter related programming ideas, or just want to fangirl over Harry and his world with me, let me know!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Flannel Friday Roundup 2/13/15

It's time to share all the great ideas contributed for this week's Flannel Friday!

Anne from sotomorrow shared how she uses puppets with the song "I Had a Little Rooster". This would work perfectly in a farm or animal themed storytime. I especially love the way she props the puppets on bookends so she can feature more than one puppet at a time.

Over at Fun With Friends at Storytime Kathryn has some wonderful songs and rhymes related to teddy bears. Her teddy bear train flannelboard combines two perrenial kid favorites: bears and trains.

Maggie from Playing the Hits shared her Ready for Spring Flowers. I like the variety of textures and colors she incorporates. A terrific addition to upcoming spring storytimes!

Storytime Katie provided us with two great ideas this week. The first is her counting windows. These will definitely come in handy for any and all counting rhymes! Katie also posted about a version of "Where is Thumbkin" that features trucks. "Where is Truck" is bound to be a hit with vehicle loving toddlers and preschoolers.

At Storytime Sparks, Sandy explains how she uses Valentine themed window clings to tell a Five Little Bears rhyme. Using window clings is such a wonderful idea and I can't wait to try it myself!

Mollie has some very cute bathing penguins at What Happens in Storytime. Definitely keeping this one in mind for future polar animals storytimes.

Speaking of penguins, I contributed my "Four Little Penguins Riding on a Sled".

Well that's all for this week! Next week's roundup is hosted by Katie from Storytime Secrets. Check there for updates. For great ideas in the meantime you can always check out Flannel Friday on Pinterest and Facebook, or follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter.

Hope you all are having a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Flannel Friday: Four Little Penguins Riding on a Sled

For this week's Flannel Friday I am sharing a penguin flannel board I made to use at a recent winter themed preschool storytime. I was inspired by fellow Flannel Friday blogger Emily from Literary Hoots. Emily recently shared two different takes on "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" that involve penguins and polar bears. I hadn't ever used an alternate version of this particular rhyme in storytime, so I really liked the idea of adapting it to feature winter animals.

Here are my penguins on their sled: 

The penguins are cut out of felt using a pattern. Felt pieces were glued together using tacky glue and googly eyes were added. The sled was drawn free hand onto felt. In the future I may cut another piece of felt in a bright color to liven up the sled.

I adapted Emily's rhymes by changing it from five penguins to four penguins. Sometimes I like to change the numbers used in my counting rhymes to add a little variety. Also, while Emily has polar bears riding on a sled, I gave the penguins their turn. 

Here is the rhyme I as I used it:

Four Little Penguins Riding on a Sled
Four little penguins riding on a sled (zoom with your arms)
One fell off and bumped his head. (hold head)
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said: (pretend to talk on the phone)
No more penguins riding on a sled!

This week's Flannel Friday is hosted by me! Check out my roundup post to see what great ideas have been shared by Flannel Friday bloggers this week.

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.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Flannel Friday Placeholder for 2/13/15

I am the lucky host of this week's Flannel Friday!

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. To participate this week, all you need to do is comment on this post with a link to your Flannel Friday post by Friday, February 13th at 10 pm. A roundup post of all the ideas shared will be posted here on Saturday, February 14th.

If you don't have a blog, guest posting on someone else's blog is always an option. If you are interested in guest posting here, please email me at marrak at libcoop dot net. As a related reminder, Flannel Friday also has their Guest Postpalooza coming up on Friday, March 4th. Sign up here if you are interested in participating as host or guest poster!

For more information about Flannel Friday head over to the Flannel Friday Blog or Pinterest page. You can also follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Kidding Around: Life Sized Chutes and Ladders

For this month's Thrive Thursday blog hop, I am sharing a life sized Chutes and Ladders program I did yesterday at our monthly program Kidding Around. I was inspired to do this program by Amy at the Show Me Librarian and Anna at Future Librarian Superhero. I basically followed the same plan Amy and Anna did at their programs, with a few minor changes. It was surprisingly fun, easy and inexpensive. The only money I spent was for a bag of fun sized candy to pass out if kids made it through the game board twice.

Supplies used:
Colored paper
Masking tape
Candy, tattoos and leftover goodies
Books leftover from summer reading

Set up: 
Here is the gameboard I created. It is 7 pieces of paper long and 7 wide. I used yarn for chutes and masking tape for ladders.

One of the minor changes I made involved the spinner. Instead of a premade spinner or online version I made my own using a template I created. I printed it out on tagboard, then used a brass fastener to attach an arrow I cut free hand. Amazingly this homemade spinner held up until the very last spin by the very last player! My spinner used numbers rather than colors, which I liked because it helps reinforce math skills.

Another way my program was a little different from Amy's and Anna's programs is I did two rounds of prizes. The first was a book, which they could pick from my leftover summer reading stash. The second was their choice of candy, sticker or assorted goodie.

Tips and Tricks:
  • Having numbered name tags for each child definitely comes in handy.
  • 12 kids is probably the maximum number I would have participate. I had 8 and I think much more than that would be a little chaotic.
  • K-2 was a good age group for this program. The kids seemed to understand the game pretty easily and have a lot of fun.
  • Masking tape arrows that show the direction of game play are very helpful for some kids.
  • The second round of prizes I did was somewhat unnecessary. By the end of the second round, some kids had to leave and our time was running out. If I were to do this program again I would stick to one kind of prize.
For more great school age program ideas head on over to this month's Thrive Thursday roundup. It is hosted by Angie at Fat Girl Reading. You can also learn more about Thrive Thursday at the Thrive Thursday blog, or check out Thrive Thursday on Pinterest and Facebook!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Newbery Winners Collection

Few things are more exciting to a children's librarian than ALA's Youth Media Awards. There were so many deserving books honored this morning, and I can't wait to get my hands on all of them. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is jumping for joy over books today.

In honor of today's announcement I figured I would share a little about a new collection I've started at my library: A collection of the Newbery Award winners.

There are a few different reasons I created this collection:
  1. It makes it easier for kids to find an award winning title to check out. The kids in my area get a yearly assignment to read a book by an "award winning" author, and this collection makes the process of choosing one just a little big easier.
  2. Moving these titles from our juvenile fiction collection provides more shelf space in what I consider the most crowded shelves in our children's area.
  3. A separate collection will hopefully bring attention to some of the older and less known Newbery winners. These books seem to get lost among the more popular titles in our juvenile fiction collection.
The steps I took to create this collection were similar to those I took when I started our graphic novel collection.
  1. I weeded to make space for this new collection. This happened to be in our reference section, which was in dire need of some weeding. 
  2. I gathered existing Newbery winners from our collection and recataloged them. I choose JFIC NEWBERY as the call number for this collection. Each call number is then followed by the year the title won.
  3. We were missing a few titles so I purchased new copies. The added advantage of this is that many of them have newer, arguably more appealing, covers.
  4. I made a sign to identify the collection and draw a little more attention to it. 
If you have any questions about this collection, or would just like to share your joy over today's awards, I would love to hear from you in the comments. You can also reach me on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets).