Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bookshelves as Early Literacy Centers

Back in May, I took a Michigan Library Association webinar on early literacy play spaces, presented by Anjie Gleisner of Kent District Library. I loved the message about how early literacy activities can be incorporated into any library surface. The first creation that resulted was our counting ramp. By taping numbers onto the ramp into our children's area, I turned it into a place kids could explore numbers and patterns. The counting ramp was a big hit with the kids, but recently the numbers had to be removed so the carpet could be cleaned.

The next surface I wanted to take advantage of was the sides of our bookshelves. We have five shelves in our Juvenile Easy area, all of which face out into the library and have a reasonable amount of space in front of them. I thought this would be the perfect place to mount some early literacy related activities.

My first thought was that I wanted to take advantage of a Lego board I got through the Lego "Read, Build, Play" program. I had our maintenance person mount it on the side of the book shelf, along with a plastic bin I got at my local dollar store.

By playing with the Legos, preschoolers are developing fine motor skills, which will be needed when they learn to write. They are also getting practice with patterns, counting and other math related skills. I wanted the parents to know all this information as well, so I added a sign on the top of the bookcase.

For one of our other bookcases I decided to add a flannel board. It was made out of an extra summer reading lawn sign that I covered in felt.

At this center, kids can practice storytelling, counting and color recognition skills. I plan on switching out the accompanying flannel pieces periodically and changing my literacy tips based on which pieces I have set out. Right now I have my "Five Little Cupcakes" pieces out.

I am hoping these centers will be fun for the kids, and at the same time increase the awareness of early literacy practices among parents. They were easy to make and cost next to nothing. Another benefit is the versatility of this idea. You could use bookcases to  create many other types of early literacy centers, such as one to play with magnetic letters.

Is anyone else using surfaces of your library in a creative way? I would love to hear about it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Flannel Friday Roundup for 7/10/15: Shark Week

This week we are keeping up the yearly Flannel Friday tradition of celebrating Shark Week!

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. This week we have some great ideas that I am very excited to share with you.

Shark themed ideas

The always wonderful Melissa of Mel's Desk provides us with an amazing new shark themed rhyme and props. Definitely saving this one for future storytimes!

At Bonnie's new blog The Buckeye Librarian, she writes about a shark puppet made to go along with the "Five Little Fish" rhyme. Welcome to Flannel Friday Bonnie!

I took a different take on "Five Little Fish" doing it as a flannel board.

Other storytime greatness

Kathryn from Fun with Friends at Storytime shares some great snake themed activities that teach colors and help develop fine motor skills.

Over at Libraryland, Lisa has made a prop board featuring one of my favorite book characters, Pete the Cat. Terrific idea for accommodating large storytime crowds!

Storytime Katie has us covered for not one but two future holidays with her heart matching and red, white and blue flannel activities.

At Piper Loves the Library Jane shares a visit to the North Regional Library in Raleigh for storytime and more.

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

Flannel Friday: Five Little Fishies Swimming in the Sea

My contribution to this week's shark themed Flannel Friday is flannel pieces to go along with one of my favorite storytime songs: "Five Little Fishies Swimming in the Sea". This is a twist on the classic "Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree" that I often use in storytime, but usually only with hand motions. I don't remember where exactly I learned it from.

Five Little Fishies

Five little fishies swimming in the sea,
Teasing Mr. Shark,
"You can't catch me, you can't catch me!"
Along came Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be,
And snapped that fish right out of the sea!
(repeat and countdown until no fish are left)

To create my fish I used this template to trace them on felt. I cut the fins free hand and glued them on with Tacky Glue. The shark was also traced using a template. I did have to enlarge the template  using our copier before tracing it. I added googly eyes to all and traced a mouth on the shark.

I am hosting our Shark Week themed roundup this week! Head on over to my roundup post tomorrow to see what great ideas have been shared 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, July 3, 2015

Every Hero Has a Story: Superhero Crafts

We officially started our weekly summer kids programs this past Tuesday. Because this is the week of the Fourth of July holiday, I started out with crafts. The good thing about doing crafts during a holiday week is it allows me the option to save materials for any kids who aren't able to attend.

For the summer I do two sessions of each weekly program for Grades K-2 and two sessions for Grades 3-6. I am somewhat flexible with these age ranges, especially in the case of siblings. Breaking it up this way allows me to adapt the programs more specifically to each age range and maintain a registration size of around 12 for each program.

Without further ado, here are the crafts we did:


K-2nd graders


Superhero Cuffs



Supplies needed:

Toilet paper tubes

Cost: Nothing

I cut slits into toilet paper tubes and let the kids paint their own cuffs. Word of warning they may stretch a bit as they are painted! I told the kids they could always squeeze them back into shape once they dry.

Superhero Capes

Supplies needed:
White fabric (about a half a yard per child)
Fabric markers

Cost: About $17 for the fabric, $15 for three new packs of fabric markers.

This was my big splurge for the program. I bought the cheapest white fabric I could find at JoAnn Fabrics and new fabric markers. The fabric was cut into cape sized pieces and U shaped hole was cut in the top for the neck. It was definitely worth it, especially when I saw a little boy come into the library the following day wearing the cape he had decorated. FYI: I've also seen capes made out of old t-shirts, which is something I might consider if I did this again.

Superhero Shields

Supplies needed:
Paper plates

Cost: Nothing

To complete their gear, the kids painted paper plate "shields". These were definitely a hit as well.

Desk wrap: 

Large roll of paper

Cost: Nothing

Our final craft for this age group was decorating a large piece of paper I will use to wrap my desk this summer. The great thing about this craft is that once it is displayed kids will most likely bring their families by the library to show it off.

3rd-6th graders

Superhero Puzzles

Supplies needed: 
Popsicle sticks (About 5 per puzzle)
Print outs of superheros or old comic pages
Crayons or Paint

Cost: Nothing

I got the idea for this craft at The basic idea is taping Popsicle sticks together and gluing an image on. The sticks are then cut apart to create a puzzle. I didn't have old comics available, so I used the hero images that have generously been made available at Hafuboti. The kids could color or paint these heroes, a process that kept most kids engaged for close to a half an hour.

Superhero Scratch Offs

Supplies needed: Scratch offs and scratching tools

Cost: $6

I didn't have a chance to get a picture of these, but we broke out the superhero scratch offs I ordered from the CSLP program. They are basically black superhero shapes you can scratch to reveal a variety of colors. The kids seemed to like these, even though some of them just proceeded to scratch off their entire super hero.

Create your own comics

Image from
Supplies needed:
Comic print outs

Cost: Nothing

I printed out sheets of comic strips for the kids to create their own comics. There are many places you can find these templates online, but I got mine from the blog Sweet Hot Mess. Due to how long they spent on the puzzles, many of these comics ended up being taken home.

I hope that everyone is having a great summer so far, and that these crafts come in handy. If you have any programming or craft ideas to share I'd love to hear them!