Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Passive programming table: 3 recent stations

I've been meaning to do more passive programming for quite a while, but as a smaller library we haven't had quite enough space to do it. Most of it has been stuff set out on our Circulation Desk, or in small available areas of the Children's Department. For instance, we do a yearly backpack raffle, as well as a few other occasional raffles. I've also set out early literacy activities in our children's department, including  some on the sides of our bookshelves.

Despite what I've been able to do with the space available, I still coveted a dedicated area for alternating passive programs, such as the Boredom Buster station found at Hushlander or the felt board table found at Thrive After Three. Needless to say, I was thrilled when recent renovations on the adult side of our library have opened up a table that I've put by our circulation desk.

So far it has been a big hit. It not only provides an avenue to reach more children as they come into the library, it also keeps them busy as their parents check out library materials. In the past few months I've been able to use it for three different stations, and I have ideas for many more. The first station I choose to do was origami, which was inspired by Hushlander.

This station was definitely something that appeals to all ages. Not only does it promote creativity, but in younger kids folding helps develop fine motor skills. It was also a wonderful way to feature the origami books in our collection. As of the point this picture was taken quite a few of these books had been checked out already.

For our next passive program at this station I chose something both seasonal and huge on the popularity scale: Frozen. I actually first put together this station when I found out that our local rec center (which is across the parking lot from the library) was having a Frozen themed party on a Saturday afternoon.

I knew I couldn't do any traditional programming because I was in charge of the building that day, but setting up some printable activities would at least give the kids something connected to do at the library. I printed out some coloring pages and other printables from Mommypalooza. I also set out some reindeer cut outs I had leftover from Christmas and materials to cut out snowflakes. The kids loved it, and got some valuable cutting and writing practice without even realizing it. It was especially useful when many families arrived early to the rec center party.

The current program I have out was inspired by the mail centers at Libraryland and Reading with Red. The basic idea is that I set out materials for the kids to write mail to their favorite book characters. To mail the letters, they place them in the bins (leftover from our Frozen Party last fall).

I tried to make sure a wide range of age levels could communicate with their favorite characters. The youngest kids could draw pictures. I provided a template the slightly older kids could use, and lined paper for any pretty proficient letter writers. What I love about this center is that it not only encourages writing, it encourages a love of books.

Some of the letters we have received so far.
These three stations have seemed to be very popular with patrons and staff. Just the other day I had a parent thank me for setting it up. I've also had staff mention how helpful it is at keeping the kids occupied during checkout. I'm definitely looking forward to creating further activities for this new addition to our library!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Booktalking 2.0: Books for 2nd and 3rd graders

It has been a few months since I've last shared a post about my booktalks, so I figured it was about time. I am still enjoying visiting my local schools as much as ever. The recognition as kids come visit me in the library is also pretty much the best feeling in the world. It basically makes me want to jump for joy.

Here are the books I booktalked to 2nd and 3rd graders this year:


Books for 2nd graders: 

How to swallow a pig by Steve Jenkins: I continued to booktalk this nonfiction book that I previous used with the younger grades. They were also appropriately impressed and disgusted by the animal talents it details.

The Tale of Rescue by Micheal Rosen: A fictionalized version of a true story, this short chapter book is about a dog who rescues a family trapped in a snowstorm. Dogs are a perennial kid favorite, and an element of danger to talk up is always a plus. This one also filled a need for a shorter chapter book in my selections.

Frog and Friends Celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve by Eve Bunting: It was still the middle of the holiday season when I talked with this age group, so I continued to feature this seasonal beginning reader.

Books for 3rd graders:

Markus "Notch" Persson: Creator of Minecraft by Tamra Orr: The popularity of Minecraft in my community still hasn't waned, and the kids were thrilled to realize that there are books written about the creator's life. Including a biography also provides a little introduction to the genre before they are required to read them for a school report.

The Secret Cookie Club by Martha Freeman: Anyone looking for something similar to "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" for kids need look no further. After spending a summer at camp, four friends decide to stay close by sending each other cookies throughout the school year.  You get to see each girl's problems and perspective throughout the book and it definitely is a good representation of realistic fiction.

Maryellen series by Valerie Tripp (American Girl series): A new American Girl character seemed the perfect opportunity to bring in her book and promote my library's American Girl Club programs.

Books shared with both grades:

Knights of the Kitchen Table by Jon Scieszka: This favorite of mine was once again my read aloud pick for these visits. The first chapter is hilarious and has great kid appeal because it involves threats, name calling and the menacing Black Knight. It is always great to introduce new kids to a series that has been around a while, and this is a worthy choice for librarians and teachers looking to do so.

Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon: I always like to include books with strong female characters in my booktalks and this title definitely fit the bill. It is the first in the "Harriet Hamster Princess" series and details how Harriet grows up with a curse by an evil witch. The curse is meant to make her fall asleep forever at age 12, but backfires and renders her invincible in the meantime. She takes advantages of this as any Hamster Princess would do, by taking up cliff jumping and monster fighting.

Hopefully these titles will come in handy if you are booktalking or choosing books to read with kids. For more suggestions for this age group see last year's booktalks for second and third graders. I'll be updating you with my selections for fourth and fifth graders as soon as I complete a few last school visits. Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Kidding Around: Big Game Bash

In honor of the recent big football game I decided to make this month's Kidding Around a football themed party. Football is pretty popular in most communities, and despite my lack of sports aptitude I wanted to make sure I tapped into this interest. Even though the big game is over, I figured this program would be useful to share for any other libraries going with this year's sports themed CSLP. As I mentioned, I am not a particularly "sporty" person at all so my first thought when planning this program was "This should be interesting...".

To start planning my first step was to come up with some simple games that could be done with a soft football. I figured  activities that involved "playing football" were kind of a must at this kind of program. The kids who attend "Kidding Around" are still pretty young (in Kindergarten through 2nd grade) so I also wanted to keep it as easy and active as possible. After that I filled out the rest of the program with some classic kid's games that I gave a football themed twist.

I find beginning a program with an active game gets the kids engaged and breaks the ice with any new attendees, so we started out by dividing into pairs and throwing some soft mini footballs back and forth. The goal was to throw it back and forth as many times as possible without dropping it. This definitely proved a little more difficult for the kids than I initially anticipated, but still seemed to be something they all enjoyed doing. After that I provided a little easier challenge and we took turns throwing the footballs through a hula hoop I held a few feet in front of them.

Next we "practiced making field goals", a.k.a. played a football themed version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. I called it Pin the Football on the Goalpost, and here are my  templates for the goalpost and footballs in case you would like to use them.

Our final game was one of the highlights of the program: a football themed version of Bingo . I created this game with this awesome picture Bingo creator. This particular Bingo creator is one of my favorite resources for this age group because their reading levels vary too widely to play themed versions of Bingo that involve reading. Picture Bingo works great with struggling readers of any age, and would also be perfect to use with ESL students.

Craft and snack time closed out the program as usual. Our craft was a coloring page with a football helmet and jersey, because I really couldn't find any more involved football themed crafts I wanted to do with them. Because it is a Big Game party the snacks were the focus at this point anyways. I chose chocolate cupcakes (topped with printable football cutouts), chips, pretzels and popcorn.

All in all this was an inexpensive and fun program. The only costs involved were for snacks (about $5) and squishy footballs ($1 each at my local Dollar Store). I would definitely repeat this program again in the future.

If you have any questions about this program you can reach me in the comments or on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets). Next month's Kidding Around is a birthday party for Dr. Seuss, so Seuss related program ideas are also greatly appreciated!