Thursday, May 28, 2015

American Girl Club: Summer Fun

For our last American Girl Club of the school year I decided to focus on summer. I figured this would be a fun way to close out the program until fall. Like the "Best Friends" theme, this theme also helps me to stretch a limited number of American Girl characters over the greatest time period possible. It also is a theme that allows a wide variety of options as far as activities, games and snacks.

Image courtesy of

  • One session of 12 kids were registered. 
  • Age group: 3rd-6th graders. 
  • Length: One hour
  • The only cost involved was for our snacks (less than $10)

What we did: 
  • As usual we started out with a discussion about the American Girls characters. This time we focused on how they spent their summers. I tried to get the kids to think a little about how these character's summer plans were similar and different from their own. 
  • For our first game we focused on Rebecca, our American Girl from 1914. In Rebecca's summer story, she went to Coney Island. I had to explain to the kids that this was a place with rides and games, and in fact not just a restaurant. I set up a simple carnival game for them to play. I stacked five cups on our meeting room table and had the kids try to knock them down with a ball. Once that was done we tried turning the cups over and throwing marbles into them.
  • Next we played a little game of volleyball with my beach ball (purchased from the dollar store). I figured this was a fun summery game that they would enjoy. It was definitely a hit, because the kids didn't want to stop playing.
  • Our final activity was a beach themed game of pictionary. I found a word list at The Game Gal and picked the words I thought would be easiest to draw. 
A little record of our Pictionary fun :)
  • We ended the program with a craft related to Julie, from 1974. She is very into environmental issues, so we made bird feeders. To create them I we started with paper plates with the center cut out and holes punched on either side. The plates were prepared beforehand, and I left it to the kids to string yarn between the holes. Next time I make this feeders, I will do this step for them too, because some found it a little difficult. The plates were then covered on top with shortening (an allergy friendly alternative to peanut butter!) and sprinkled with bird seed. They can then be hung from the yarn. 

How it went:
This was a great end to my regular school year programming. Definitely a good way to usher in the summer before the craziness of summer reading hits! 

What we learned:
The attendees learned a little about different historical periods, in particular how the summer activities done in various time periods were often very similar to what they do in the summer. Through our craft, they learned a little about environmental issues. The games in general gave them valuable practice with teamwork.

For information on my other American Girl related programs go to these posts:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Summer Reading Graphic: Every Hero Has a Story

We are going with the national Collaborative Summer Library Program theme this year: Every Hero Has a Story. I'm really looking forward to the summer and excited to share all my plans with you all.

To kick it off I wanted to share a graphic I made using an online photo editor, Pixlr. It can be downloaded here. Feel free to use it in whatever way you would like!

Credit for the heroes in the graphic goes to the wonderful Rebecca at Hafuboti. She was generous enough to share the graphics designed by her fiance. I've incorporated them into my flyers and other materials and I know of many other librarians that have done the same. You can find many of these graphics in both color and black and white here. Thank you so much Rebecca for being so willing to share!

Best of luck to all of you kicking off SRP in the next few weeks. We don't start the majority of our programming until July, because we are closed for a local festival towards the end of June. Can't wait to join in all the hero related fun!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Flannel Friday: Five Little Cupcakes

My contribution to this week's Flannel Friday is something I've had in the works for a few weeks. My library recently participated in Money Smart Week, during which I held a money themed storytime. I started cutting out these cupcakes in hopes of using them with a rhyme I've seen on many of my favorite storytime blogs: "Down Around the Corner".

In case you aren't familiar with it, the rhyme goes like this:

Down Around the Corner
Down around the corner in the __________ shop
Were 5 little ___________ with ____________ on top
Along came someone with a nickel to pay
And they bought a little __________ and they took it away.

It is a very versatile rhyme that I've seen used in many different ways. It was even the subject of  the very first Flannel Friday at Mel's Desk! I figured it would fit well in our Money Smart storytime, but  didn't get a chance to finish it in time. I was finally able to complete it this week, and wanted to make sure I shared it with you all.

To make the cupcakes I traced this template on felt and glued the pieces together with tacky glue. The sprinkles were cut free hand.

These cupcakes can be used many different ways. I'm definitely planning on using them the next time I do a food themed storytime. They would also fit perfectly into a color themed storytime if you focused on the colors of the frosting. Bridget at What is Bridget Reading has a post that includes some great alternate rhymes as well.

Flannel Friday is hosted by Mollie at What Happens in Storytime this week. Check out her roundup post tomorrow 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.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Kidding Around: Bubble Bash

For our May meeting of my K-2nd program, Kidding Around, I turned to a perennial kid favorite: bubbles. It is practically scientific fact that kids of all ages love bubbles. Bubbles are relatively mess-free and blowing them (or trying to) can hold the attention of even the youngest children.

Program Overview:
  • 9 kids attended
  • Age group: K-2nd graders. 
  • Total Cost: $10-$20  

Introduction: "Big Bad Bubble"

I've been trying to include more books in my school age programming in an effort to promote reading. To this end we started our bubble bash by reading one of my favorite bubble related books, "Big Bad Bubble" by Adam Rubin.

I love the premise of this book: the monsters in La La Land are afraid of bubbles. It is pretty funny, and definitely has a good message about facing fears. It made me so happy to hear a little girl repeating "This is so funny!" as I read.

Next, we moved on to the main portion of our program: playing with bubbles. This consisted of three different activities.

Bubble Activity #1: Making our own bubble solution

Supplies needed:

Bowl of water for each child
Plenty of dishsoap
Pipe cleaners

Cost: $3 for the pipe cleaners

I gave each child a bowl of water and asked how it was similar and different to bubble solution (hooray for scientific observation!). My favorite answer was "It would taste gross!".

Next I added soap to their bowls and had them stir it in. Once everyone had bubble solution we experimented with making bubble wands out of straws and pipe cleaners. We asked questions as we experimented, such as "What kind of wand would make a big bubble?" and "What would happen if we taped straws together and blew bubbles?"

Bubble Activity #2: Bubble Painting

Supplies needed:
Food coloring or paint

Cost: None

To paint with bubbles we added food coloring to our solution and placed paper on top of the resulting colored bubbles. I've seen this online various places and did it with the kids at last year's summer reading finale party. The kids seemed to enjoy it, even though some colors didn't come out on paper as clearly as others. For alternate methods of painting with bubbles, see Artful Kids.

Bubble Activity #3: Giant Bubbles

Supplies needed: 
Giant bubble wands
Other bubble blowing devices
Super strong homemade bubble solution:
                 1 gallon of water
                 1 cup Dawn Dishsoap
                 4 tablespoons of glycerin (near the cake decorating supplies at Michaels)

About $6 for the glycerin

I brought out the giant bubble wands I bought on sale last summer at Michaels. The ones I have are pretty similar to this one. If you don't want to buy one there are also many tutorials I found online for making your own version. I also had some play tennis rackets and larger bubble wands for the kids to use.

As expected, this was the highlight of the afternoon. At the end of the program I asked the kids which kind of bubble wand was their favorite and the giant one was the unanimous winner.

All in all this was a great way to end "Kidding Around" for the school year. Summer reading is coming fast, and I look forward to updating you on all our fun programs!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Counting Ramp: Our new early literacy center

My library has a ramp leading into our children's area. The children's area is a few steps down from the center of the library, so the main purpose of the ramp has always been providing accessibility. It is an area of my department I've always had to keep a close eye on because the kids love to run up and down it. Until recently I have never thought of using it to promote early literacy.

Last week I  took a Michigan Library Association webinar on early literacy play spaces, presented by Anjie Gleisner of Kent District Library. During the presentation it was stressed that early literacy activities can be done on almost any surface. I was inspired by the idea of numbers and letters being placed on floors and other surfaces of the library.

Our "Counting Ramp" was the result:

To create our counting ramp, I first created colored circles with numbers using Paint and Microsoft Word. I placed the circles on the ramp in a repeating pattern of primary colors. Then I  used contact paper and book tape to stick them to the carpet. Originally I was going to use just contact paper, but that didn't seem to stick well enough.

The final step was making a sign with information for parents:

The sign details some of the ways counting on the ramp supports development of early literacy. Counting and patterns help kids learn about sequences, which are important in ordering the events in a story. Jumping is also a great way for kids to develop their gross motor skills. Finally, the discussion points on the sign are meant to promote talking between children and parents (one of the Every Child Ready to Read practices!)

So far our counting ramp has seemed to be a hit. It was very easy to make, and the kids seem to enjoying using it. As a side benefit, it seems to discourage running down the ramp at least a little. I'm hoping it holds up for a while. Once the numbers start to peel off I will probably change things up and add something else to the ramp.

In the meantime I will be working on adding early literacy components to some of our bookcases. Stay tuned for updates on how that goes!