Monday, July 3, 2017

Build a Better World: Toys for the Humane Society

It's that time of year! The joys and chaos of summer reading are here once more. In honor of the "Build a Better World" theme many libraries are using I thought it would be a good time to share one of my favorite ways to help kids improve the world: making toys for the local Humane Society. It is not only a good tie in for the summer theme, but something great to do year round. This was one of our first summer programs this year, and it is definitely a program that I will do again.



How it worked:
I registered for 20 kids from Grades K-6. The program filled up pretty quickly and we wound up with a total of 24. I normally divide this age group into two, but thought combining would work better for the summer months. I explained several ideas for DIY pet toy crafts that I found through Pinterest and created instructional handouts on each. The kids were able to choose from these suggestions or make something completely of their own design.

Supplies needed: 
Toilet paper rolls
Scissors
Construction paper
Crayons/markers
Wooden dowels
Yarn
Feathers or pom poms
Pipe cleaners
Fleece strips
Fleece pieces of various sizes
 

What we made: 
  • Cat wands: We used yarn to tie pom poms and feathers to wooden dowels. This was an idea I've used previously and one I thought would be easy enough for even the youngest kids.
  • Toilet paper tube toys: I found two different versions of cat toys made out of toilet paper tubes. One involves using pieces to create a small ball, while the other involves cutting the edges into the shape of a sunshine.
  • Yarn pom poms: A fork, yarn and scissors are all that is needed to create your own pom pom. This could stand on it's own or be added to a cat wand.
  • Fleece dog pull toys: Our fleece toys were a big hit. We made braided rope toys, as well as a variety of others. Fleece can be expensive, but luckily ours was donated by one of my crafty coworkers, who was glad to get it out of her own stockpile.
  • Fleece tie blankets: A few of the older kids already knew how to make tie blankets and were happy to make small ones for the animals.

Tips and tricks:  
  • The handouts definitely seemed to help provide the kids with some needed direction.
  • The fleece toys were probably the biggest hit with the kids, as well as the ones I think the Humane Society will appreciate the most.
  • Kids may want to take supplies home and work on further crafts to donate. If you can allow some time between the program and when you drop off the toys this can work out great.
  • Call your local Humane Society before hand. Not only will they be able to verify that they accept donations, they may even have more suggestions for possible toys to make.

Hopefully these ideas come in handy as you help kids do a little good at your library or anywhere else. If you have any questions you can get in touch with me here or via Twitter (@MsKellyTweets). 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Flannel Friday: Little Chick, Little Chick

My contribution this week's Flannel Friday is a flannel set I made up to use at this week's "Chickens and Eggs" storytime. It is a modified version of the classic "Little Mouse, Little Mouse" activity using a chicken and barns.


To make the barns I used a barn template I found online to cut out the shapes, and drew in the details freehand with a black marker. I also used a template to cut out the basic shape of the chick, but ended up doing freehand cutting as well. The beak and feet were cut freehand and glued on with craft glue.

The idea, as in most "Little Mouse" style activities, is to hide the animal behind the object and have the kids guess which color object they are under. In this case it is the chick hiding behind colored barns.

Here is one rhyme you could use. I found it at Storytimes and More:

"Little Chick, Little Chick,
Come out and play!
What color barn are you in today?"

This set could also be adapted to use in other ways. For instance, you could use the barns to hide a different type of farm animal. Another fun way to adapt this for an older storytime group would be adding other flannel creatures to the mix and turning it into a type of memory game.

The Flannel Friday Roundup this week is hosted by Bridget at What is Bridget Reading. To add your ideas head over to the placeholder post and share a link in the comments. 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.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Harry Potter Party 2017

As almost anyone who has met me knows, I am a huge fan of all things Harry Potter. I am always looking for reasons to celebrate the series, and had a great time when I held a Harry Potter party in 2015. It was a relatively small program (limited to 12 kids) but all in all a big success. I had a wonderful time, and the kids seemed to as well.

Some time has passed since then, and with the recent resurgence of new books and movies related to the series I thought it would be great to revisit it again. We had also received a very generous donation of a set of Harry Potter movies on Blu Ray, and I wanted to chance to give them away to a lucky child.


I knew it would have to be a little bigger and better this time, so I decided to make it all ages, station based program. These always seem to work the best when I need to accommodate large groups. I scheduled it for a weekday when I knew the kids would be off of school for winter break.

Here is what we did: 

 

Tabletop Quidditch

 


No true celebration of Harry's world is complete without a game of Quidditch. I found this easy to replicate version here. The only necessary supplies are cups, hoops (formerly bought as bubble wands at the dollar store), aluminum foil (to make stands for the hoops) and ping pong paddles/balls (brought in by a coworker).

Charms class

 

 

We used grape juice and baking soda to practice a "color changing charm". As explained here, grape juice is an indicator of acidity. This means that a adding a base such as baking soda will turn the juice green. It also creates a nice bubbling effect which adds a fun element to the activity as well. The kids seemed to particularly like this station. It was the messiest activity we did but still relatively easy to clean up from.

 

Potter themed crafts 

 

 

I provide a crafts table at every large program I do for several reasons. It is mainly because it it provides a fun activity that is adaptable for many different age groups. It is also pretty easy to prepare and doesn't require too much supervision during the program.

 

 Dueling practice

 


This idea was based off the dueling club activity I found at Meaningful Mama. I liked the idea of paper shooters, but thought it would be much more fun to shoot paper at Voldemort (yes, I am brave enough to say his name).


 

I printed this picture as our target and we were good to go. The kids had fun shooting paper at him once they got the hang of making the shooters. If I were to do this station again I would provide a little more instruction on how to make the shooters in the beginning of the program.

 

Divination class 

 


Cootie catchers are a classic idea that seemed perfect for doing a little Divination. The only things needed to be as accurate as Professor Trelawney are paper, scissors, markers and instructions. One of my favorite things about this activity was seeing the nostalgia it brought to some of the parents.

 

Fantastic Beasts Hunt

 

I also provided a scavenger hunt for magical creatures in our children's area. I used pictures found online and taped them up around the children's area. The kids had to find all the beasts and cross them out on a provided handout. Their "magical surprise" was a badge created and printed on shipping labels.

So that's our latest celebration of Harry! Feel free to use any and all of these ideas as you wish. I definitely plan on doing another party like this in the future and will keep you updated when I do.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

American Girl Club: Meet Gabriela

Our latest American Girl Club was one of my favorite meetings of the year. We got to learn about the newest American Girl of the Year, Gabriela McBride. It is always fun to focus on a new character, and I continue to enjoy the way the Girls of the Year provide an opportunity to talk about contemporary topics.


When it came to Gabriela, the big ideas I wanted to discuss were community and voice. Gabriela helps raise money for her community's arts center. She also struggles with speaking out because she has a stutter. These two themes come together as she uses her love of poetry and dance to help save the center. As a group, we talked about these things in our brief discussion of the book, which was just enough to give an overview of Gabriela and her story.

What we did: 

  • Our first activity was MadLibs. It is a fun and easy way to play with words and story writing, so I thought it made perfect sense to use for this program. I found a free MadLibs app in the iTunes store (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mad-libs/id326885152?mt=8), because I wanted to incorporate our iPads and new projector. I was very happily surprised to learn that the app actually had Gabriela themed MadLibs to complete. We each took turn entering words and then read our communal story aloud. 
  • After MadLibs, we did a poetry game I found called Poetry Charades. I found it on Poetry4Kids. Charades are a fun way to get kids up and moving, and always seem to go over well with kids at my programs. I choose this version of the game in order to incorporate Gabriela's love of spoken word poetry. I especially liked that it provides the kids with a set of actions to guess from. Definitely makes the game a little easier!
  • Our final game was Girl of the Year Bingo (found here). My kids love Bingo, even if the prize is as simple as first crack at checking out one of our American Girl of the Year books. 
  • We ended by snacking on modern delicacies such as cookies, chips and fruit snacks. The craft was meant to be word collages with letter stickers but we did not have a chance to get to that this time. I'll be saving that idea to try again at future American Girl programs.
  • As a take home activity, I also provided a word search about Gabriela and a template to create an acrostic poem.

For information on my other American Girl Club programs (including other American Girls of the Year) see the links below:


Hopefully these ideas come in handy for any programs you may be doing about Gabriela this year. She still has two more books coming out, so I'm sure there is plenty more fun to come! If you have any questions you can get in touch with me here or via Twitter (@MsKellyTweets).

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Flannel Friday Roundup for 2/3/17

I am once again hosting Flannel Friday!


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. We are always looking for new participants!

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

We had some great ideas shared this week, so without further ado here they are:

Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime shared some winter themed sets guaranteed to help keep us feeling warm at storytime this winter.

Over at One for the Books Laura contributed a Frozen themed feltboard story starring everyone's favorite cartoon reindeer, Sven.

Speaking of popular characters, Jenni of From the Biblio Files posted about her Pokemon feltboard. I'd choose her recreations anyday!

I always find it fun to see the different ways people adapt books into flannelboards, so I was glad to see Keith from Felt-tastic Flannelboard Fun share his version of My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall.

Kate at Feltboard Magic shared a great pattern and counting rhyme about Three Little Jellyfish.

I wrote about the "Boo Boo Bear" I used at some of my most recent storytimes.

Thanks for stopping by and thank you to all who participated! Next week's Flannel Friday is hosted by Emily from Literary Hoots.
 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Flannel Friday: Boo Boo Bear

My contribution this Flannel Friday is a flannel set I made up for a recent "Icky Sicky" storytime. I was inspired by the wonderful Storytime Katie. She had the kids place felt "bandaids" on her storytime mascot during her storytime on the same theme, and I adapted the idea into a flannelboard.


To make this set, all I did was use a bear template found online to trace the shape of the bear onto brown flannel. The other pieces were all cut freehand.

When we used "Boo Boo Bear" in preschool storytime I passed out the bandaids to the kids and had them come up to place a bandaid on the bear as I called the colors. This helps them work on both turn taking and color recognition.

For my toddler storytime I turned the bandaids into a way to teach about body parts using this song I found at One Little Librarian:

Bandage Song (to the tune of Farmer in the Dell)
Put a bandage on my knee,
Put a bandage on my knee,
Oh please take care of me,
Put a bandage on my knee.

Put a bandage on my head,
Put a bandage on my head,
Please put me to bed,
Put a bandage on my head

Once again each child received a bandaid, but this time we put them on various body parts as we sang the song. This is a fun way of introducing the names for body parts, which is important vocabulary for this age group.

The Flannel Friday Roundup this week is hosted by me! To add your ideas head over to the placeholder post and share a link in the comments. 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, January 10, 2017

Kidding Around: Winter Crafts

Now that the holidays are over and we are in the thick of another winter I thought sharing some winter crafts we did at a recent meeting of Kidding Around would be appropriate. There is still plenty of time to use them in winter programming. It is also before the point when we are all just a little sick of winter, which definitely a big plus.


As usual for Kidding Around, I registered for 12 kids in Grades K-2. I tried to keep the crafts simple enough that the kids could do them with very little guidance. I also tried to use spend as little on materials as possible. All I ended up having to buy specifically for this program was cotton balls and Q-Tips (about $4).

Here is what we did: 

 

Snowglobes

 


Supplies needed:
Construction paper/Tagboard
Cotton Balls
Crayons
Glue

This is a craft I found on Pinterest. These snowglobes are an adaptation of the pom pom painted ones I found on Crafty Morning. The top portions of the snowglobes were cut out by tracing a paper plate on tagboard. The bottom pieces were cut out freehand. I allowed the kids to decorate however they wished using paint, crayons, cotton balls, etc.


Q-Tip Snowflakes

 


Supplies needed:
Construction paper
Q-Tips (I used about at least a 100 with my group)
White Paint
Glue

I first saw this craft at Instructables. The great thing about it is it requires absolutely no preparation. It also leaves a lot of room for creativity. All the kids came up with their own versions of snowflakes, which was very nice to see.


Tape Resist Snowflakes

 


Supplies needed:
Tape
Paint
Construction Paper

Painting and tape are always a winning combination with kids, so tape resist art is a favorite at my programs. As a bonus it teaches a little bit about art concepts (positive vs. negative space), and even a little physical science (the paint will not go through the tape). Little Bins for Little Hands gave me the idea to make snowflakes.


Winter Themed Bingo Dauber Art

 



Supplies needed:
Printouts (found at The Resourceful Mama)
Bingo Daubers

I always like to use my bingo daubers when I have smaller groups, so this was a great chance to bring them out. These printables definitely came in handy in keeping some of the kids busy while I was helping others with the more complex crafts.

All in all I thought this program went quite well. The kids seemed to have fun and I got a lot of positive feedback from parents. There are so many craft ideas out there and never enough time to sort through them, so I hope you find these few useful. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.