Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Apple Jumping Ramp: Falling into early literacy

Back before the chaos of summer reading, I wrote about how I added numbers to the ramp in our children's room to create a Counting Ramp. Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I've decided to update our ramp for the season.

Apples were the natural choice for fall:

The same basic principle applied: Print out my pieces and stick them on the ramp with contact paper and booktape. I used Paint to create my apples in red, yellow and green. Feel free to use these templates as you wish!

I also updated my sign with new early literacy information:

This ramp has many of the same benefits of our original ramp, in that it gives children and parents a fun way to practice learning colors and numbers. Kids are able to use their large motor skills to explore these concepts, which is very important for kinesthetic learners.

This version of our ramp also has a side benefit of promoting discussion with children about apples, and seasonal changes in general. Just today one of my toddlers was thrilled to see the apples, and her mom started talking with her about how last week they bought apples at the grocery store. It is this kind of discussion that introduces new vocabulary and promotes a child's literacy development!

As we enter the new school year I'll continue to utilize different surfaces to promote early literacy as much as possible. I look forward to updating you all about how it goes!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Flannel Friday: Five Little Apples

For this week's Flannel Friday I am sharing a new flannelboard I made for one of our new bookshelf early literacy centers. Because fall is coming soon I chose to go with a fall favorite: apples!

To make these apples I used a template I found online to trace the shape of the leaves and apples onto felt. Once I cut them out I used Tacky Glue to put the leaves onto the apples.

In a storytime setting, these apples could be used with any apple themed counting rhyme.

Here's a cute rhyme I found at Step by Step Childcare:
Farmer Brown had 5 little apples  hanging in his tree,
He plucked one apple and he at it hungrily,
Leaving 4 little apples hanging on his tree.
 (countdown to 1 green apple)

Farmer Brown had 1 little apple hanging on his tree,
He plucked that apple and he gave it all to me,
Leaving no little apples hanging on his tree! 

The Flannel Friday Roundup this week is hosted by Mollie from What Happens in Storytime. Head on over there 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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cooking with Ms. Kelly: Summer 2015 Edition

As a big fan of food myself, I have always really enjoyed doing cooking programs with my tweens. In the past we've done cooking with chocolate, and a variety of other fun and easy recipes. My "Cooking with Ms. Kelly" programs are always a big hit, which is why I try to do a least one each summer. In my mind, food is universal to any SRP theme!

Here is what we did this year (recipe titles link to my recipe handouts):

Bacon dip: 

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This recipe was inspired by one I learned at a Pampered Chef party quite awhile ago. They have seasonings named Bacon Bacon and Garlic Garlic that can be turned into dips by mixing with equal parts mayo and sour cream. I decided to follow the same basic principle but use bacon bits instead. A 1/4 cup of mayo and sour cream seemed be just perfect for a single serving.

Bologna Rollups:

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Wraps are always a fun and easy addition to any cooking with kids program. This time we used bologna, tortillas, cheese and mayo. The mayo was already being used in the bacon dip recipe so I figured why not use it for this one as well.

Oreo Cookie Balls:

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This recipe was modified from a recipe on one of my favorite sites for no bake recipes, the no bake recipe page of They have a recipe for Oreo Yummy Balls that involves dipping balls of cookie and cream cheese into almond bark. I basically broke the directions down to make individual sized servings and skipped the almond bark part.

Salsa Con Queso:

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I grew up around Mexican food at my grandparent's Mexican restaurant, so I had to do salsa and cheese dip at least once. Due to time constraints, I did it as a demo at the end of the program and let all the kids try it.

Feel free to use these recipes and handouts at library programs or any other opportunity you may have. I would love to hear about how they have been used! You can comment here, email me at marrak at libcoop dot net, or find me on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets).

Friday, August 14, 2015

2015 Summer Reading Finale Party

The wonderful chaos of our summer reading program is over, for this year at least. We've had a busy summer with more kids doing reading logs than we've had since I've been here. We had some great programs as well. Overall I would say this summer has been a success.

Now that the craziness has passed, I wanted to update you all on one of the highlights of my summer, our finale party. Hopefully these ideas come in handy for those of you who are in need of last minute summer inspiration!

I pretty much kept to the same basic idea as last year's party, by doing a variety of stations related to our Every Hero Has a Story theme. Once again it was invite only, a special treat for those that finished their reading logs.

Our stations this year: 

Dress like a hero: This station was pretty simple. I printed out some masks for the kids to color and some aluminum foil for them to make superhero outfits out of.  The aluminum foil was something I did before in our American Girl Club and it was great to see how into it some of the kids were. We had many capes made and many masks worn!

Build a superhero fortress: Legos are the gift that keep on giving. Our Lego collection (donated before I worked here) is free and fun so I try to bring it out whenever I can. This is a station that I can use every year and tweak to whatever theme we are using.

Shoot a bad guy: We threw balls at pictures of bad guys I had taped to two liter bottles. I chose Disney villains as our bad guys because they are recognizable and not all that scary.

Super bubbles: Our bubble pool was such a big hit last year that I brought it back again this year. Three gallons of my special bubble solution was all it took to set up this fun and easy station.

My recipe:
1 gallon of water
1 cup Dawn Dishsoap
4 tablespoons of glycerin (purchased at craft stores like Michael's or at the pharmacy) 

The kid's had a blast playing in the bubbles with hula hoops and bubble wands. I had more than one parent mention trying it at home as well, which is always a sign of a good time.

Super hoop gliders: I found directions to make a simple hoop glider by cutting two pieces of construction paper, one twice as long as the other, and taping them onto a straw. I included a target for the kids to throw the gliders at as an added challenge.

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Picture station: I made a superhero backdrop by taping some cloud bulletin board paper to the wall and adding black and yellow construction paper buildings. Ironically, I did not get a picture of this station.

This was a great end to the summer, and I think the kids and parents enjoyed all the activities I had a available. Looking forward to updating you guys on a few more of my other recent programs as well!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Thrive Thursday Roundup for 8/6/15

I am the lucky host of August'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. Currently assisting in this endeavor will be Meg, Jennifer, Brytani and myself. Every month a different blogger hosts the roundup and shares posts about programs and other school age library awesomeness.

So without further ado, here is what was shared this month:

In keeping with this summer's hero theme, Kendra shares her superhero training camp and obstacle course at Read Sing Play. I may just have to use a couple of these ideas at my end of summer reading party!

For more fun superhero party ideas check out Tales from The Nerdy.

Angie at Fat Girl Reading shared some passive programs she did at her library this summer. Totally planning on using her showdown idea at my library!

At The Show Me Librarian Amy wrote about some terrific pop up programming she did this summer with the help of her teen volunteers.

Also harnessing the power of volunteers, Carolyn from They Call Me Miss Carolyn did a Just Dance Party.

Ingrid at Magpie Librarian shared her catapult program. Her targets are a great addition, especially Voldemort and Justin "Beaver".

Over at Hey There Library Nikki's Jackson Pollack program sounds like wonderful and messy fun.

Our Neighborhood Librarian Brytani combined learning about Jane Goodall with fort making for an awesome jungle campout.

Marge at Tiny Tips for Library Fun gives an overview of how her library did summer reading this year.

Sarah, the Green Bean Teen Queen, did a comic con at her library that sounds like a blast. Love the way she included local groups!

Thank you all so much for sharing! For more information and school age program ideas you can check out the Thrive Thursday website, Pinterest page and Facebook group.