Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why I'm Thankful to be a Children's Librarian

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share a few reasons I'm thankful to be a children's librarian. We all have rough days, so I figured a little reminder of the positive is always in order.

Reason #5: Children's librarian Twitter and blogs are the best.

The community of children's librarians on Twitter is incredible. They are a great source of amazing ideas and overall awesome people. As the only children's librarian at my library my Twitter friends also provide me with an invaluable system of support. I may have never met the majority of them, but I am so glad to have them in my professional life.

Reason #4: Children's librarians are always willing to share ideas.

One of the most important things children's librarian Twitter has taught me is how willing the community of children's librarians is to share their ideas. Many of the best ideas and programs I've done at my library have started with ideas taken from other wonderful children's librarians.

Reason #3: I get to do fun things just about every day. 

When I started out at my job I never could have guessed how many fun things I would get to do on a daily basis. I get to do things such as make a bubble wrap walkway, make slime and play with bubbles. What more could you ask for in a job?

Reason #2: I am able to work with books all the time.

I grew up as a reader so it is wonderful to get to work surrounded by books. Even if I don't necessarily get to spend my work day reading, I still able to enjoy books in so many other ways everyday. And even better I can share this love of books with children everyday.

Reason #1: The kids!

The kids I work with bring me so much joy. I am am honored to be able to make whatever difference I can in their lives.

Do you have any more reasons you are thankful for our profession this year? I'd love to hear them!

Friday, November 20, 2015

ATLAS: Diary of a Wimpy Kid "Old School" Release Party

Wimpy Kid fans are still plenty at my library, so of course we had to celebrate the release of the newest book. The "Old School" theme was easy to work with and definitely lent itself to a variety of fun activities. I had 12 3rd-6th graders attend, and they all seemed to enjoy the experience.


Here is what we did: 

Group discussion:
We started out with a discussion of what "Old School" is all about. The major theme of the book is that Greg's mom wants the people in their community to "unplug" from electronic activities and interact. As you'd suspect he'd be, Greg is against this. Because he is Greg Heffley he winds up in trouble and ends up having to do it against his will on a class camping trip.

Next I did a brief reading from the book. This was a great opportunity to fit books into the program, and show all attendees that reading aloud can be enjoyable with older kids. I probably only read about the first 10 pages, but it definitely was enough to give a taste of what the book was about.

After that I showed the kids some "old school" technology. I printed pictures of an old devices and asked the kids to identify them. This wound up being a hilarious addition. The 8 track player and pager had them particularly stumped.

Games and activities:
Our first game tied into the camping aspect of the book, and was called "bug bite" tag. I had sheets of circular stickers that I called "bugs". Each "it" had to place a "bug" onto the other players to tag them out. This was a game I found awhile back, so I'm not sure of the source. A great version of tag, one I will definitely use again in the future.

Also to fit in with the outdoorsy theme I decided to have the kids build "shelters" out of boxes. In order to challenge them to work together on this activity I broke them into two teams. I have to say I was impressed with both teams. What they came up with turned out really well!

For our craft I decided to have them make their own "diaries" out of construction paper and computer paper. This is a common craft that I've read about many other libraries doing at their "Wimpy Kid" parties, but I had yet to do it here. I like that it encourages writing and creativity!

As we were creating our diaries we had snack. To fit with the camping theme, I provided s'mores granola bars and chips. For our drink we had lemonade, because Greg has a lemonade stand in the story. While eating, kids could also do a wordsearch I created. I also asked a few Wimpy Kid trivia questions as they ate and worked.

I think the kids enjoyed themselves at this program and learned a little too. Most importantly they got to engage with one of their favorite books. Hopefully this will help them see how fun books can be, and encourage them to keep reading in the future!

Next month's ATLAS will be a DIY gift making party so if you have any suggestions feel free to share them!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Baby/Toddler Sensory Time

I'm always on the look out for fun and different activities to do with babies and toddlers, so when I read about the great sensory activities that Brooke, Laura, Mallory and others have done with babies I knew I had to try some of them myself.

One major reason I knew I wanted to try a program like this is that I wanted the chance to impress upon parents that sensory activities provide great benefits to babies and toddlers. Sensory experiences are how babies and toddlers learn about the world. They also provide a great opportunity to introduce new vocabulary and early scientific concepts. The other big reason I wanted to do this program is that getting messy with babies sounded like my idea of a fun time.

As I started out planning this event, the biggest obstacle I ran into was scheduling. I've been doing my best to include more evening and weekend programming for the sake of working parents. This seems to be particularly tricky to do for babies and toddlers. Afternoon and evening programs seemed like they would be difficult to do with this age because of bedtime and naps, so I decided to do the program on a Saturday morning. This seemed to work well. We had 10 babies and toddlers in attendance, which is a pretty good number for our small library.


The majority of supplies used for this program were ones we already owned. I spent about $10 on hair gel, pudding and other miscellaneous stuff at the grocery store. My big ticket expense was the $14 I spent on bubble wrap at Staples.  


What we did:

I started out the program with a short storytime in our Storytime Room. We read "Five for a Little One" by Chris Raschka and did a few simple songs and games related to our senses. These songs and games included "Five Fat Sausages", "Peekaboo", "Popcorn" and the "Touch Game". Words and sources for all these songs are available on my Storytime Page. This ended up being a great way to start the program because it gave people extra time to arrive before the fun and mess began.

Our stations:


Finger painting:

At a messy program like this, fingerpainting seemed a given. My main addition to the sensory experience was some scrunched up paper I took for a recent book delivery we received. A major bonus of this station is it gives the families something tangible to take home with them.

Water table: 

This station was something I used at a previous science storytime I did. Water play is always a hit, and creates minimal mess so it was definitely a great sensory experience to include.

Pool of scarves:

The idea of filling a pool with a sensory element came from Brooke. Instead of using balls I used our storytime scarves and extra scrunchy paper from the finger painting station. We've always used this pool for bubbles at our end of summer party, so I was very happy to get more use out of it.

Stained glass windows:

To create a "stained glass window" all you need to do is attach tissue paper to contact paper. I originally got this idea from Laura. I had extra contact paper leftover from covering numbers on our Children's Room ramp, so I was all set for this station as well. It ended up being a great one to keep older siblings who were tagging along occupied.

 Baby "car wash":

This "car wash" was another one of Brooke's ideas I used. Definitely fun for the babies to crawl under or just chill out.

Play area:

I put out our parachute and the toys I use for playtime after our Baby Storytime. I also put our our rhythm sticks, shaky eggs and bells. I especially loved seeing the babies use the toys and instruments as they explored other areas of the program.

Sensory bags:

The idea of taping baggies of full of sensory materials down and letting babies write on them is one I've seen on several of my favorite blogs. For my baggies I used chocolate pudding, paint, and the cheapest hair gel I could find. I also added magnetic marbles to each bag for an extra sensory element.

Bubble wrap walkway:

Last but not least, the hit of this program, my bubble wrap walkway. This was something I read about from both Laura and Brooke, and I am so glad I tried it. The babies loved it! It was the most expensive part of this program but totally worth it.

Here it is in use!

All this was an easy and fun program to do with my babies and toddlers. I'd give it a "thumbs up" for sure!

If you have any questions about this program I'd love to hear them! You can comment here or reach me on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets).