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1. Coloring page days of rage + Caption Contest

coloringpages-sm

Original comic by Lisa Nowlain

OK, so clearly this is a rant. Sometimes rants aren’t productive, but sometimes they’re a funny and loud way to start a conversation (especially when they’re not being yelled into your face). As someone who is passionate about open-ended creativity and art, who has studied and practiced art in a variety of formats as well as been a children’s librarian, I do feel passionately about the subject.

Coloring pages are a great child-calmer, and we have some in the library. I’ve recently whipped up a couple that are a little more open-ended and they go like hotcakes, but I’ve also been experimenting with putting out blank sheets and they get filled up even faster!

All in all, there’s nothing wrong with having fond memories of doing coloring pages as a child, and they can be quite meditative. But if we’re going to be intentional with our storytimes – which is so important and I’m so grateful for the storytime warriors who are outlining this so clearly – I say we need to be equally intentional with our crafts and activities. Art has an incredible potential for plugging into early literacy practices and inspiring kids to be confident and self-actualizing, if we let it.

And if we let kids do it! Letting kids get messy, make mistakes, and learn that their work and process are valid are steps to building happy and healthy adults. A recent Opinion piece in the New York Times shows that over-structured classrooms don’t intervene in educational slides, and “Other research has found that early didactic instruction might actually worsen academic performance.” Instead, children need space to play and discover things on their own – and though the article doesn’t touch on them, I believe coloring pages are an example of overly-didactic art instruction. Another study, for instance, shows that creativity is decreasing in American schoolchildren, and points to the lack of freedom kids are given as the main reason. There is a lot of freedom in a blank page and an encouraging adult, and in the informal learning space a library can provide.

CAPTION CONTEST!

At the suggestion of the wonderful ALSC member and former president Mary Fellows, I’m hosting a caption contest (ala the New Yorker) for my next post! Give your best shot in the comments. Winner to be announced next post (sorry, no prizes, just glorious celebration of your wit).

Come up with a funny caption in the comments!

Come up with a funny caption in the comments!

More resources on process art and alternatives to coloring pages:

Lisa Nowlain is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow and Children’s Librarian at Darien Library in Darien, CT. She is also an artist-type (see more at www.lisanowlain.com).

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2. United Way-Partnerships that create Partnerships

Have you ever wondered-“Where can I get help with a big initiative in my library? Who would be a partner that can stretch beyond our walls and bring more partners to the table?” We have found this partner with our local United Way. With a new focus at the national level, the United Way has changed. With dedication to providing good education, financial stability, and healthy and strong communities, local United Ways are reaching out to their communities more than ever. Our local United Way responded to a county wide assessment that pinpointed three areas that we as a community needed to focus on-Early Literacy, Mental Health, and Low-Income families. The library was a natural partner with early literacy. We now have a partnership with United Way of Medina County that is funding our R.O.C.K.S. Program (Reading Opportunities Create Kindergarten Success). Medina County R.O.C.K.S. is an interactive workshop for parents and their kindergarten-age children. Parents listen to informational speakers while the children enjoy interactive learning and then parents and children complete a reading readiness activity together. Families receive materials to take home to practice, books, and much more!
Our United Way also partnered with us on our One Book, One Community initiative. They came to the table with the idea to collect enough copies of the book Wonder to give to every sixth grader in our county. They did it and collected over 2500 copies of the book. This is where the United Way has been most effective as a partner for us, reaching businesses and making those connections that otherwise we could not. The executive director at the time told me that asking businesses to donate books to kids was their easiest project. It was easy to convince individuals and businesses to support reading, especially a book that has the message of being kind. Choosing this book was our library response to the health assessment that indicated that 17% of the youth in our county in 2012 had seriously considered suicide.
I encourage you to seek out your local United Way and sit down and talk about how you can partner together. It has been a beautiful relationship for both the United Way of Medina County and the Medina County District Library and because of the United Way, we have found new partnerships. Check out their website at www.unitedway.org.


Holly Camino is manager of the Buckeye Branch at the Medina County District Library in Medina, OH. She is serving on the 2016 Arbuthnot Lecture Committee, the ALSC Liaison to National Organizations Committee, 2014-2016, and a Member of the ALA Committee on Membership Meetings 2015-2017. Holly is also a 2013 recipient of the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times and American Library Association, “I Love My Librarian Award”.

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3. RPL BookBike: Shifting Gears, It’s How We Roll

Keri & Heather on trail

In April Rochester Public Library (MN) launched the BookBike outreach program. RPL’s BookBike, a little library on wheels, will visit locations within a one-mile radius of the downtown library this spring, summer and fall. Pulled by library staff on bicycles, RPL’s BookBike offers library books, library cards, program information, assistance with digital materials, bike trail maps and fun incentives for kids.

The BookBike is in its infant stages, but we are already making a difference in our community. We are connecting with residents who would not have thought to enter the library doors, promoting biking as a transportation option, and creating positive relationships with kids and their grown ups. We are looking forward to a summer full of fun, biking and pedaling good books. (Get it?)BookBike

In order to staff the BookBike we have made some hard choices about in-house programming, ultimately deciding to put the bulk of our summer efforts into outreach. We have a full schedule for May and June, with the rest of the summer expected to fill up soon. We don’t operate on a regular schedule, but work around special events and activities and fill in other days with visits to local grocery stores, parks and other locations.

The BookBike project was funded in part with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, through a Community Collaboration grant from Southeast Libraries Cooperating (SELCO).

The post RPL BookBike: Shifting Gears, It’s How We Roll appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Putting it all together

Other than a few favorite story times that I repeat yearly, I always like to try something new. Similarly, I’m always interested in learning something new.  In February, I put it all together – mixing things that interest me with several of the library’s most wonderful assests –  technology, diversity, creative space, and kids.

I offer you the ingreadients for “Read, Reflect, Relay: a 4-week club”

Ingreadients

  • 1 part knowledge from ALSC’s online class, “Tech Savvy Booktalker”ALSC Online Education
  • 1 part inspiration from ALSC’s online class, “Series Programming for theElementary School Age”
  • 1 new friendship spawned by networking and a love of nonfiction books
  • a desire to participate in the #weneeddiversebooks campaign
  • computers
  • books
  • school-aged kids#WeNeedDiverseBooks
  • space and time to create

Each club participant read a Schneider Family Book Award winner of her choice.  If you’re unfamiliar with the Schneider Family Book Award, I’ve linked to its page. Winning books embody the “disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

I asked each of the participants to distill the message of her book into a sentence or two – something that would make a good commercial.  Then I gave them a choice of using Animoto, Stupeflix, or VoiceThread to create a book trailer or podcast.  All three platforms were kind enough to offer me an “educator account” for use at the library.  Other than strict guidelines on copyright law and a “no-spoilers” rule, each girl was free to interpret and relay the message of her book as she pleased.

Coincidentally, after I had planned the club, I was chatting online with Alyson BeecherWe were both Round 2 judges for the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction CYBILS Awards.  I had no idea that she is also the Chair of the Schneider Family Book Award Committee!  When I told her about my club, she immediately offered to Skype or Hangout with the club members.  We hastily worked out a schedule, and Alyson’s visit on the last day of the club was one of its highlights!

The girls ranged in age from 10 to teen.  I think you will be impressed with their creativity.

WordPress does not allow me to embed the actual videos and podcasts, but you can access them via the links below – or visit them on Alyson’s site where she was able to embed them.  Enjoy! :)

·        Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (2012 winner, Middle School)  https://animoto.com/play/kUdNM1sa4fWKfZOXId63AQ

·      After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick (2011 winner, Middle School)   https://voicethread.com/new/myvoice/#thread/6523783/33845486/35376059

·    Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (2010 winner, Teen)  https://animoto.com/play/qFPwi1vYP1ha2FF0vVUuFg

·      Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (2010 winner, Teen) (another one)    http://studio.stupeflix.com/v/9GKeiQfgsj9Q/?autoplay=1

·      A Dog Called Homeless by Sara Lean (2013 winner, Middle School)    http://studio.stupeflix.com/v/DQ4tJG8mnsYX/?autoplay=1

If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to see my video booktalk (or adapt) my video advertisement for the program, just leave a message in the comments.  I’ll be happy to respond.

 *All logos used with permission and linked back to their respective sites.

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5. Poetry Paige

Have fun this month by reading poems aloud, over and over!  Let’s yell out some words together to get ready for poetry month.  I’ll say the words first and then you repeat after me, ready? Me: POETRY! You: POETRY!  Me: 811! You: 811!

Let’s go up, up, up with “Oak Tree” by Georgia Heard from Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems Edited by Georgia Heard. Ready? Me: One!….

April is National Poetry Month! Whether you’re offering a poetry program at your library, visiting schools with interactive poems or creating a poetry display, April is the perfect month to share poems, read a poem at story time and introduce children’s poets including children’s poet laureate, Kenn Nesbitt to children of all ages.

This year, my interactive poetry school visits are focused on writing art inspired poems with 5th and 6th graders and writing a couplet, circle, animal and BIG poems with K-4th.   At the end of the month, the library will host a Poetry Fest at our local bookstore where students have an opportunity to share their art inspired poems.  I’m also looking forward to our Animal Poetry Party for families.  Puppets, poems and play!

Here are a few amazing poetry blogs (from three amazing children’s authors) with perfect “Poem-A-Day” projects that you can do in your library, classroom or share with children, parents, teachers and more!

photo by Laura Purdie Salas

photo by Laura Purdie Salas

Laura Purdie Salas: National Poetry Month and Poetry Tips for Teachers
A poem and new poetry tip each day!
Click on the “Educator’s” link for more great ideas. I love Laura’s “Things to Do if You Are a Bumblebee…” poem written with students on a school visit.  Write your own “Things to Do if…” poem.  Read, listen, write and connect with the poem!  (Read one of her new poems “Spaghetti”)

Irene Latham: Live Your Poem…ARTSPEAK

photo by Irene Latham

photo by Irene Latham

A Poem-A-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015 writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say.
My favorite art poem so far is from day #9.  Irene gave me permission to share her “Boat in Pond” poem.  Follow her blog, listen to her poems and write your own art inspired poem!

Amy Ludwig Vanderwater: The Poem Farm and National Poetry Month 2015-Sing That Poem!
Explore a game called “Sing That Poem” A new poem each day matched to a song. Guess which song and sing along!  Tuesday’s poem will be titled “Librarian’s Song.”
Also, from 2012, Dictionary Hike (I love this!)

Photo by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Photo by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Amy wrote a poem from each letter of the alphabet!

A few more favorite poetry blogs/websites:

Check out a few new children’s poetry books: 
Bigfoot is Missing! by J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt, Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Hypnotize a Tiger:  by Calef Brown, How to Draw a Dragon by Douglas Florian by Paul B. Janeczko and Jumping Off Library Shelves Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins (September 8, 2015)

Children’s Poetry Book Lists:

Past ALSC Poetry Blog posts

Enjoy Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s poem “Library Book.” 

I love hearing about poetry projects from other librarians.   Please share in the comments below.  Happy National Poetry Month!

Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.  

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6. Sensory Storytime Resources on the ALSC Pinterest Account

As ALSC blogger Renee Grassi reminded us earlier this month, April is National Autism Awareness Month. For libraries, months that observe, celebrate, or raise awareness for a group of people or an issue should serve as annual checks for our services: “It’s National Autism Awareness Month; I should make sure that our library services to children with special needs and their families are excellent all year long.”

screen grab provided by the author

screen grab provided by the author

If you find yourself currently evaluating your programs for children with special needs of any type–in particular for young children and their families–I’m pleased to share that members of the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers (LSSPCC) Committee have been amassing and curating resources on a Sensory Storytime board on ALSC’s Pinterest account. They’re creating an excellent resource for libraries just setting out to offer sensory storytimes as well as for those of you in a place to evaluate and tweak what you’ve already been offering.

Thus far, the board offers a few dozen pins that link to program plans and write-ups; research related to special needs library services; and book recommendations for use in Sensory Storytime. Check out this resource for yourself to learn about some of the awesomely intentional ways you and your library can offer programs inclusive to every young library customer.

If you have favorite sensory storytime resources, link to them in the comments so our curators can add them to the board!

*******************************************************

Amy Koester is the Youth & Family Program Coordinator with the Skokie Public Library and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee.

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7. How are libraries celebrating Día?

What are libraries planning for Diversity in Action (Día) around the United States this year? ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee decided to find out.

Día Musical Bilingual Storytime (photo courtesy of Sujei Lugo).

Día Musical Bilingual Storytime (photo courtesy of Sujei Lugo).

Sujei Lugo at the Boston Public Library will have a Musical Bilingual Story Time (Spanish/English), two art workshop sessions with children’s books illustrator (Caldecott and Pura Belpré winner) David Díaz, and an afternoon of Afro Latin music with a youth percussion group. Impressive for someone who started working there three months ago!

The King County Library System celebrates Día throughout its 48 branches with performances and programs, world language story times, and book displays. This year, the celebration culminates in two grand events at local libraries the weekends before and after April 30. “In addition to the musical performances and book giveaways, we’re hoping to connect with community partners to help us celebrate. Yes, this is a library sponsored event, but really, our goal is to build community by connecting children and families through books, stories and our common experiences,” states José Garcia, Library Services Manager who works closely with Jo Anderson-Cavinta, Diversity Services Coordinator.

The Boone County Public Library in Northern Kentucky is taking their Día celebration on the road. On Saturday, April 25, the library’s Community Center on Wheels is rolling out their Día on the Lawn Program to Green Lawn Mobile Home Park, which is home to many Hispanic families in Boone County, Kentucky. The Boone County Community Center on Wheels is a custom-built, two-room bus equipped with a classroom to support on-board instruction, computers for access to educational software and the Internet, and resource materials for children and adults.

Coloring at a Día program

Coloring at a Día program (photo courtesy of the ALSC Office).

During the Día on the Lawn Program, participants will be able to check out library books and enjoy a visit from Tales, the BCPL mascot. There will be an emphasis on STEAM activities this year with different stations featuring science and art activities. Face-painting, a piñata, outdoor games, and music will also be available. A free book will be given to each family while supplies last.

This is the second year the Día on the Lawn Program is being held at the Green Lawn Mobile Home Park. Candace Clark, Youth Services Associate/Outreach with the Boone County Public Library, spoke about the success of last year’s program: “We were so pleased with how warmly we were received last year. It’s a family reunion kind of feeling. There were about 80 people in attendance last year, and we are expecting anywhere from 100-150 people this year. The goal for the Día on the Lawn program is to take the Día program into a variety of neighborhoods, allowing residents to have a library experience.”

Whitney Jones, Library Media Specialist at Old Settlers Elementary School in Flower Mound, Texas, is celebrating her first year doing Día; they are “closing the school for the day.” Teachers will oversee every child at 3 stations where the K-5th graders will participate in an obstacle course, bounce in a giant house, and learn to dance the cha-cha. K-1st will have a musical storytime, 2nd-3rd will have a drawing interactive storytime, and 4th-5th will have a Jefferson Knapp author visit. In addition, the 3rd graders have invited their sister school’s 3rd graders to have lunch and share their favorite picture book. The PTA generously donated hardcover blank books so that every student can write their own stories. They can also dress as a favorite book character. The students will also pair up for buddy reading for 30 minutes during the day. Parents have also been invited to lunch and have been invited to dress up in costume, read as mystery readers, and share a dish from their culture which includes Korean, Indian, Middle Eastern, and a small Mexican community.

A family reads together at a Día program

A family reads together at a Día program (photo courtesy of the ALSC Office).

Anne Miller from Eugene Public Library and Kristen Curé from Springfield Public Library start planning for Día in October with various community partners for their joint celebration on a Saturday and Sunday for 3 hours. Each celebration attracts 500 people, and Springfield Public Library is a past recipient of the Mora Award for its celebration. This year, they will host author Carmen Bernier-Grand, a local mariachi band, and a local artist, and the children will paint clay pots. Activities tables include face painting, science projects, and crafts. Each child receives a book. This year the organizers will dress up as a book character or person in history, and they expect Chavo and Frida Kahlo to be represented. Each of the cities’ mayors open the event and make a city proclamation. Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros is a state proclamation in Oregon. They build up to the day by sending projects to schools and daycares—this year they sent milagros kits—and by infusing different languages and cultures in the April storytimes.

Also on April 30, Meg Medina, Ellen Oh, Kwame Alexander, Tim Tingle, and Gigi Amateau are all on the same panel at the Library of Congress’ Young Readers Center, where Karen Jaffe is the Executive Director. Librarian Deb Taylor will moderate. This panel is for middle grade and older youths and will focus on strengthening the family. Medina states, “People on the panel decided to interpret Día and talk through each distinct lens. Make more mainstream all the multicultural literature and cycle back on the universal.”

As you can see, the ways to celebrate Día are as varied as the communities we serve. Check Pat Mora’s webpage and the official Día page for resources.


This post was written by the following members of ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee: Debbie Bond, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County; Robin Howe, King County Library System; and Ana-Elba Pavon, Oakland Public Library.

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8. Neighbors Read

Mini-library in Rochester, MN.

Mini-library in Rochester, MN.

In 2013, Rochester Public Library, MN launched the Neighbors Read program in the Slatterly Park neighborhood with support from the United Way of Olmsted County. Through the Neighbors Read program the library connects with families of preschool children, bringing them to the library for early literacy activities and then planting a mini-library in their yards. With continued support from the United Way of Olmsted County, Neighbors Read is now in its third year and will continue into 2016. Each year, we make adjustments and improvements to the Neighbors Read program to better meet our goals and connect with the community.

The goals of Neighbors Read are to increase school readiness through early literacy information and programming and to increase access to books in economically diverse neighborhoods. Results have shown that preschoolers in the program have increased early literacy skills and families have increased engagement with the library. Families also reported an increased connection with their neighbors.

Rochesterites using the mini-libraries also have many positive things to say:

“We’re very glad to have a few of these mini-libraries in our neighborhood!”Postcard survey

“Whenever we visit our friends, my kids drop off and pick up a book. This is great!”

“This is awesome. I love having access to more books and it’s often such a brilliant variety. Thank you!”

In addition:

  • 76% of repeat mini-library users who responded to the postcard survey indicated that they read more in the previous month due to access to a mini-library.
  • 75% of mini-library users visit a mini-library once a week or more often.

Many other Rochester community members have purchased or built and installed their own mini-libraries. Through the generosity of the Friends of Rochester Public Library, RPL is able to provide a stock of free books to fill the boxes. Forty-two mini-library users are currently registered with the library and we have distributed over 6,600 books through their libraries. Registrants were surveyed in 2014 and the responses provide more evidence that the libraries not only provide books to community members, but build stronger neighborhoods.

“I’ve found many people love stopping to talk about the books when they see us outside. I’ve been told families will use visiting 3 to 5 libraries as a goal for their evening walks, thus encouraging them to get more exercise with the kids.”

“This is a conversation piece that helps us get to know the neighbors better.”

“Our neighborhood is economically diverse and the library provides books for kids who do not have books in their homes.”

Mini-library in Slatterly Park, Rochester, MN.

Mini-library in Slatterly Park,   Rochester, MN.

100% of the mini-library hosts who responded to the survey would choose to do it again based on their experience.

Neighbors Read is a powerful and time consuming program; some of the best programs can take the most work!  Every minute is worth it for the positive changes that it is bringing to our community.

Because of the success of Neighbors Read, a local leadership group has focused their efforts on a project to bring 40 more mini-libraries to Rochester. We are pleased to partner with them on this wonderful program. It is going to be a busy year once the ground thaws!

 

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9. Purposeful Play Programming

Ever envy those fabulous, expensive play spaces some libraries have? You can create a temporary, educational play environment within your existing library space that promotes adult interaction, is highly inclusive, and creates opportunities for outreach to the underserved.

Introducing, SMART STARTS!

Smart Starts (2) Smart Starts (5)

Three years ago, we founded Smart Starts, a hands-on, interactive environment where adults help children develop early reading, writing, math and science skills through fun play activities. This drop-in program is offered several times over the course of a few days during weeks we are not holding storytimes. Patrons can come anytime during the posted hours and stay as long as they wish.

The goal of Smart Starts is to provide a richer, more meaningful library experience where adults can play side-by-side with their children, enhancing learning experiences. Dad John Witte observed, “The chance to interact with other kids in a learning environment is valuable both for the kids and the parents.”

Each Smart Starts program has a theme, developed around an educational focus. Six to eight stations are created for each theme. PowerPoint slideshows display scrolling instructional slides featuring the various stations.

Smart Starts has allowed us to embrace the community’s educational initiatives as well as reach out to the underserved. We encourage community groups to schedule special sessions just for their members.

CREATE YOUR OWN LEARNING THROUGH PLAY PROGRAM

Wanted: Head Coach. Find a staff member who will lead others in choosing activities and gathering supplies. You could then recruit one person to find science experiments, another to work on crafts and a third to handle parent tips and extension activities, etc. Once planned, various individuals can run the program while it is open. Their role is to help visitors get started and model conversation and play behavior.

Themes

Brainstorm themes. These can be derived from educational initiatives in your community or staff interest and expertise. Many of our themes have been STEAM-related. For instance, we have created programs featuring air, measurement, plant growth, patterning and weather. After you have selected themes, search preschool curriculum books and websites for ideas for the activity stations. These might include . . .

Science Experiments

Smart Starts (9)Kids love to experiment with hands-on science. We have explored how polar bears stay warm in the arctic, compared the speed of objects traveling down ramps and practiced using all five senses. Imagine a child’s face when they smell cotton balls soaked in vanilla, mint, lemon or garlic!

Crafts

Offer crafts that can be used to explore the subject further. A kaleidoscope promotes discussions of light. A feeder allows children to observe backyard birds. A texture collage may prompt additional investigation of the five senses at grandma’s house. These crafts should be accessible to a wide range of developmental levels. The emphasis is process, not product. I always say, “If it looks too much like the sample, something is wrong!”

Mini Library

Gather a collection of your library’s books, puzzles, and other resources related to your theme ready for check-out. We set out a couple of beanbag chairs for those who want to curl up with a book. We also provide a sheet explaining the educational research and suggesting extension activities. These materials promote further learning and exploration of the topic at home.

Games

“Go Fish!” Games are a fun way to encourage learning and repeatedly practice skills. Create and laminate your own matching games and sequencing cards. Ask for donations of educational games and puzzles or scout for them at garage sales and re-sale stores. Kids also love to play with real objects made into a game. Sort small, medium and large kitchen items. Match socks or mittens. Make sets of 2, 5 and 10 blocks.

Other Activities

Here’s where you can get creative and courageous! Here are some ideas we have tried – with success!

  • Build walls with stones and play-dough
  • “Mess-free” fingerpaint using instant pudding in a sealed plastic bag
  • Bubblewrap hopscotch
  • Climb in various moving boxes
  • Guess the object based on its shadow
  • “Paint” a chalkboard with water
  • String cereal, beads, dry pasta and straw pieces on chenille wires and bending them into letter shapes
  • Create iSpy games with stickers, beads and sequins
  • Pretend to be a gardener with a shovel, rake, watering can, spray nozzle, silk flowers, etc.
  • Make up narrative stories with puppets or dollhouse figures

Tips for Success

Patrons are delighted that such an enriching program is not only available at the library, but free. Many intentionally add Smart Starts to their weekly schedule and arrange to meet friends. Mom Melissa Drechsel remarked, “I am homeschooling my kindergarten-aged daughters this year and Smart Starts has been the perfect complement to reinforce some of the things we are learning about at home. We have enjoyed the many activities at Smart Starts and I have recommended the program to many other mothers with little ones at home.”

Smart Starts (8) Smart Starts (7) Smart Starts (4) Smart Starts (3)

This program has also allowed us to interact with our patrons and attract previous non-users in a whole new way. Adults feel more comfortable to ask questions, and children enjoy playing with the library staff in this informal setting. The variety of activities and levels of engagement allows all children to participate, including those with special needs and beginning English language learners. We even host special sessions of Smart Starts for at-risk preschool classes, the local Newcomers chapter and young moms groups from area churches.

Once set-up, we offer the space at various times over the course of a few days. Themes may be repeated every year. This type of program is also be easily modified to a smaller scale or for outreach at local community events.

Author Diane Ackerman wrote, “Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” Through activity programs such as Smart Starts, we can provide a fun, educational environment at our libraries to help equip our local children for a life of learning.

(All photos courtesy Glen Ellyn Public Library)

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Photo by Stephanie Blackwell/GEPL

Photo by Stephanie Blackwell/GEPL

Our guest blogger today is Bari Ericson, Youth Programming Associate at the Glen Ellyn Public LibraryBari enjoys combining her experience as an art student, corporate paralegal, law firm librarian, preschool teacher and mom to serve local families at GEPL.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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10. Taking Things Apart* (*No reassembly required.)

We enjoy making things in the Children’s Room.  Catapults for rubber band balls and elaborate paper airplanes. Colorful chemical reactions. Louise Nevelson-inspired shadow boxes. Hand-sewn pillows stuffed with lavender.  Even sushi and super delicious doughnuts topped with cinnamon sugar.  But as delightful as we’ve found stirring, stitching, and sculpting–and designing projectiles of all shapes and sizes–we’ve recently discovered how much fun we can have unmaking.

For a recent pTaking Things Apart 1rogram we called “Taking Things Apart* (*No reassembly required.),” we collected old computer system units that we begged from a university IT department, where offices constantly update and swap out their CPUs.  With a few screwdrivers and pliers from around the library and a few others brought in from home, we set up the computers on card tables and gathered fourth to sixth graders in small groups around each unit.  And then we asked them to find out what’s inside.

This wasn’t an electronic scavenger hunt–we provided no specific objectives or procedure to follow.  We talked about safety, though, and reiterated our goal to disassemble the computers, not to break them.  (There’s a reason we didn’t give them hammers, after all.)  Because the power sources can occasionally hold a dangerous charge even after unplugging the computers, we showed the kids how those components are labeled and instructed them not to touch the batteries.  As they got further into the guts of the machines, we came around and removed the power sources ourselves.  And we’re proud to report zero electrocutions.

Once they pried open the computer casings, the kids required no additional prompting to explore the electronics.  They delicately unscrewed hard drives, unhooked data cables, and plucked segments froTaking Things Apart 2m the motherboard.  Many of the larger pieces have their own serial numbers, and when students wondered about the purpose of a part, we offered them a (functioning) computer to enter the number and read about the component’s use.  And they cooperated!  Passing around the tiniest screwdrivers and holding sections steady for each other, they rooted around in the guts and held out their micro-trophies for everyone else to admire.  “Can I keep this part?” one asked, over and over.   “What about this?  I want to take this piece home with me.”  (No one took anything.  Everything went to hazardous waste at the dump the following week.)

Near the end of the program, one girl who had spent half an hour dismantling a DVD drive plopped into her seat.  As I scooted over to check in with her, she set her tools down and yelled: “This is so much fun!”  So, we had no projects to take home.  And we spent the hour deconstructing and not creating.  But we definitely made a good time.

Robbin Ellis Friedman is a Children’s Librarian at the Chappaqua Library in Chappaqua, NY, and a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Feel free to write her at robbin@chappaqualibrary.org.

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11. April is Autism Awareness Month – Partner Up to Reach Families in Your Community

Why not make this April your chance to reach out to the families in your community who are affected by autism? Anything you do can make a positive impact: from offering a program like Sensory Storytime to something more passive like creating a display, booklist, or web post. The important thing is that families with children on the autism spectrum feel welcome and included in the life of the library.

One way to get families with children with all types of disabilities into your library is to offer an informational program for parents and caregivers. Did you know that in every state there is a dedicated Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) that offers information and workshops about disabilities, special education rights, and local resources for families? PTIs are funded by the US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.

Some states also have Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRC), which offer the same types of support as PTIs, but focus on reaching underserved populations (rural, low income, or limited English proficiency). You can use this interactive map to find the PTI or CPRC in your area.

Why reach out to a PTI? They can come to the library and do a workshop on Early Intervention, special education basic rights, the IEP process, or transition services (just to name a few). By offering a parent workshop like this, you can highlight the library as a place where families of children with all types of disabilities, including autism, can come together for learning and support. Once those parents and caregivers are inside the library, you can begin a larger conversation. “How can the library better support you? What types of materials or programs would be most useful for you and your child(ren)?”

While you’re at it, partner with your local Early Intervention office, Special Education department, Special Education Parent Advisory Council, and Arc. These established local organizations can help promote your event, and even be on hand to answer questions, hand out brochures, etc.

Have you offered parent workshops at your library? Did you work with your local PTI or another group? What topics are most useful for parents in your area? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below.

Ashley Waring is a Children’s Librarian at the Reading Public Library in Reading, MA and a member of the Liaison with National Organizations Committee.

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12. Stealth Programming During Spring Break

During the hustle-and-bustle of Summer Reading prep lurks the mini-test of your Busy Summer Room abilities: Spring Break. The schools aren’t in session, the weather is getting better, and kids are itching for something to do.

Spring Break is a great time to try out some passive/stealth programming, which can run with minimal staff involvement. You’ll ensure the kids will be engaged no matter when they show up!

Leaving a few self-directed activities around the room during Spring Break tells kids and their families: “Welcome! We’ve been expecting you.” And since many of these kids may be new or less-than-regular visitors, this is a really strong message to send. It shows that the public library is a thriving part of the local community, in tune with what’s important to local families.

Need some last-minute ideas to be a Spring Break sensation? Here are a few sanity-saving kid-centered activities you can use right away:

  1. LEGO Check-Out Club: get out your box of LEGOs (or have a colleague bring some from home), and have each child add a LEGO (or a couple) to a structure in the room. Programs like this help the public visually understand the magnitude of library usage, and an enormous tower that your kid patrons built themselves is a pretty cool way to advocate for your library. This year, rather than bagging up the LEGO, we ended up just handing the kids some blocks. Here are two other iterations by Jenny and the Librarians in Washington, DC (find some more librarian thoughts and reblogs at http://jennyandthelibrarians.tumblr.com/) and Rebecca in Gretna, NE (check out her programming at http://hafuboti.com/).
  2. Interactive displays and writing prompts: a question or a challenge, some paper, and you’re good to go. Angie at Fat Girl Reading has used a Boggle display and a crossword display that have promoted an ongoing initiative while doubling as a passive program. Jennifer at In Short, I am Busy adds a writing prompt to an art table to highlight language and literacy (as well as decorate the room!). I also really love Rebecca at Sturdy for Common Things’s “Draw a Yeti” writing prompt. In a pinch, you can never go wrong with a question and a table covered in paper!
    3. Room Hunt: There are lots of ways to do room hunts. What I love so much about them is that 1) they are super easy to make, 2) you can print them on stock paper or laminate them and use them forever, and 3) they plug directly into kid patrons’ curiosity and autonomy. They’re up for the challenge and they want to do it themselves. Anna at Future Librarian Superhero has a fun room hunt using Diary of a Wimpy Kid characters. Brooke at Reading with Red shares a gnome room hunt that she deftly differentiated for use with preschoolers AND elementary kids. If you have more tweens hanging around, you might want to try an Adventure Time Fist-Bump room hunt!

What’s your go-to Spring Break program? Let us know in the comments!

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Today’s guest blogger is Sara “Bryce” Kozla, Youth Services Librarian in Wisconsin and virtual member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Collaboration (SPLC). Bryce blogs about youth services programming and issues at http://brycedontplay.blogspot.com/. Email her at brycedontplay <at> gmail.com and follow her on Twitter at @plsanders.

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13. Program in a Post: Tape Games

With this post, a lot of tape, yarn and a few toys you can create a fun and dynamic program for kids of all ages.

Lazer Maze

Lazer Maze

Supplies:

  • Tape (painter’s tape is the best)
  • A few sheets of paper, crumpled
  • Yarn
  • 3 tennis balls
  • 2 large toy vehicles

Prep work: Print signs, gather supplies and collect books about games and rainy day activities for display. If you would like signs with activity instructions, comment here and I will send them to you.

Room setup: Set up four different activities with signs around the room.

  • Skee-Ball: Make a target with tape on the floor and assign different point values.
    Photo courtesy of the author.

    Skee Ball

    Make a line for kids to stand behind and put out tennis balls or crumpled paper balls. Kids will try to score as many points as they can with the three balls.

  • Dump Truck Race: Make two zig-zag race tracks on the floor. Put out some crumpled paper along each track. Put the dump trucks at the starting line. Kids will race the trucks along the track, picking up paper balls as they go.

    Photo courtest of the author.

    Dump Truck Races

  • Spider Web: Run tape between to chairs in a giant messy spider web. Make a tape line on the floor (for kids to stand behind) and put 7 crumpled balls of paper nearby. Kids will stand behind the line and throw the balls into the spider web, trying to get as many to stick as they can.

    Photo courtesy of the author.

    Spider Web

  • Lazer Maze: Make a line of chairs near a wall. Tape yarn from the chairs to the walls and back over and over until you have a “lazer maze”. Throw a few crumpled balls into the maze for kids to pick up. The object here is to get from one end of the maze to the other, picking up the paper balls and not getting hit by a lazer.

Format: Open house.

Tape games work for group visits, up to about 60 kids, depending on the size of your space. It is also a great family open house event. Little kids will need some grown up assistance with the games. Have a blast!

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14. Programming Over Breaks

This past week was our local schools Spring Break. We always see a spike in attendance and interest in programs during school breaks, so this year we decided to have something happening every day of the week. I focused on having things that were a balance of passive and come and go programs, regularly scheduled things as well as a couple that were more staff intensive. Our week looked like this:

Monday: Lego Movie Build-a-long (we watched The Lego Movie and built with Legos)

Tuesday-Storytimes (regularly scheduled programs), Super Smash Brothers Tournament for teens

Wednesday-Storytimes (regularly scheduled programs), Scavenger Hunt Afternoon (a come and go event that featured various scavenger hunts throughout the library)

Thursday-Crafternoon-(one for kids, one for teens, both come and go events where we put out various craft supplies and let the kids make whatever they want)

Friday-Fairy Tale Bash (a more staff intensive program with lots of stories and activities)

Saturday-Storytime (regularly scheduled program), Pi Day Party (another drop in event but it was a bit more staff intensive with prep and planning)

Throughout the week we had a steady attendance and the library itself was busy. But as the the week went out, the attendance for the programs also waned. It was a mix of people being busy, programs not happening at a time that worked for people, and competing against the first wave of warm and sunny weather.

While I think it’s important to provide programs for our patrons, I also spent the week wondering if we were doing too much. Throughout the week we received call after call about what we had going on, so I know the interest was there. But I also struggle with how much to offer. How much staff time do I spend to make sure patrons have something to do over a school break? And does it really matter?

I’ve been struggling recently with how much do we really need to provide as far as programming. We’ve started doing more passive activities in the department, we have a play and learn center in the department for the younger set, and  we’re putting out STEM related activities for the school age crowd. We have books, games, computers, magazines, and toys, yet I always seem to hear those patrons asking “but what else do you have?” How much do we really need to have? Do we need to program something every day during a school break? Do our summers need to be filled with programs happening all the time? Or can we step back, take a break, and say we have the library when they ask “but what else?”

I’d love to know-how much do you program around school breaks?

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15. Puppet Shows at Storytime

“Where’s Rockie? Is Rockie going to be here today? He’s so funny!” Preschoolers call out their excitement as soon as they see the puppet stage set up and ready for action. Rockie is the main character for our series of puppet shows about a raccoon and how he learns about his world. Each show is an original script, written by two librarians. It is usually based around a topic that is of some concern to young children—new baby, sharing, fears, exercising, learning to read, manners, moving, etc. Although the themes are somewhat serious, the antics of the puppets are always silly and broad, causing plenty of laughter as well as discussion.

The basic format is as follows:

  • RockieDig_smallAct One brings on Rockie and his friend(s).  One librarian is working the puppets, the other is outside the stage, interacting with the puppets and encouraging the children to participate in the conversation.  The “problem” is identified, there is some conversation, and the puppets exit.
  • The librarian reads a story related to the theme, followed by a movement rhyme.
  • Act Two brings back Rockie and pals.  There’s more conversation and lots of silliness, such as a chase scene, a puppet that appears and disappears, bubbles or a water pistol, and a movement song that everyone joins in on.  Then the puppets exit.
  • The librarian reads another story related to the theme, followed by a movement rhyme.
  • Act Three always offers either a resolution to the concern, or at least a conversation with Rockie (or whoever is experiencing the issue) and a promise to find a solution, based on the possibilities identified during the puppet show. For instance, in our show about getting a pet Rockie imagines having a porcupine, a monkey and a snake, each of which causes laugh-out-loud mayhem and chaos.  He finally decides to get a book at the library to help him choose.

Each of the puppets has a distinct personality. Rockie is melodramatic, Zelda the Zebra is logical, Tembo the Elephant can be a bit grumpy. One of my favorites lately has been Dig the Squirrel, who is always digging, never paying attention, and just when he finally gets around to talking with the librarian he suddenly stops, looks out, yells, “Dog!,” and disappears. Kids think it’s hilarious, especially when a dog really does appear at the end and calls out, “Squirrel!”

SheilaRockie_smallThe best part about Rockie Tales is that whatever we’re doing, the kids really listen and take the lessons to heart, while laughing and participating with the puppets. One mother said, “I could never get my son to follow best manners at the table, but after Rockie Tales, he was telling us how to behave!” Plus we’re demonstrating to care givers that the library has book resources to help with many of life’s challenges.

One script is here for you to review, but feel free to contact me if you need more examples or information. I hope you’ll try your own version of Rockie Tales; it is guaranteed to be a great way to teach as well as have fun.

(Pictures courtesy guest blogger)

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Our guest blogger today is Heather McNeil. Heather is the Youth Services Manager at Deschutes Public Library in Bend, OR.  She is the author of Read, Rhyme and Romp: Early Literacy Skills and Activities for Librarians, Teachers and Parents, as well as a professional storyteller and author of two collections of folklore.  You can contact her at heatherm@deschuteslibrary.org.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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16. Passive Programming in Practice

The Lava Pit from the Superhero Training Academy at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

The Lava Pit from the Superhero Training Academy at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

Earlier this year my colleagues and I decided to boldly step into the world of passive programming in order to serve our busy patrons. Passive programming encompasses a variety of types of programs that allow patrons to participate with minimal to no staff direction. Often they allow for varying amounts of patron involvement and/or time commitment. On the spectrum of passive programming you can have something as simple as a jigsaw left out on a table for communal puzzling or as complex as a forensic science program with clues, activity stations, and prizes for participants who figure out the culprit. We’ve found that passive programming not only increases participation, but also caregiver-child interaction and exploration.

Thinking of trying passive programming? Here are some of the pros:

Clue Sheet from Animal-ology at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Amy Seto Musser.

Clue Sheet from Animal-ology at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Amy Seto Musser.

  • Less staffing at the time of the program.
  • Flexible length (a day/week/month) allows you to serve a large number of patrons
  • Easy to save, reuse, modify
  • Can draw in people who don’t necessarily like to be in a group setting
  • Customizable to the individual – self paced, self guided

On the other hand, there are some cons to keep in mind:

  • Often requires more prep time
  • Younger kids who cannot read may need an adult to help them
  • Difficult for groups with lots of kids and few adults (One way to work around this is to put multiple activities in the same space)
  • Some people are hesitant to do the program because it’s not what they’re used to, but this can be overcome by a friendly and welcoming explanation.

As you plan your program, here are a few elements to consider:

Quidditch Practice at Harry Potter Day at the Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

Quidditch Practice at Harry Potter Day at the Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

  • Keep your coworkers in the loop so they can help patrons
  • Make the space welcoming (signage, music)
  • Think about your target age range
  • Provide modifications for age levels if possible/appropriate
  • It’s ok to step away and let patrons figure things out
  • Signage and instructions -Enough that patrons can complete and reset activities, but not so much that they feel overwhelmed by text Check in during the program to clean up, check supplies, etc.
  • Having a “prize” for completion gives you a chance to interact with participants and glean feedback

If you can think it, you can probably figure out a way to make it a passive program. Here are a few of our favorites:

Monster Habitat Card from the Monster Hunt at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

Monster Habitat Card from the Monster Hunt at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

  • Staff Recommendation Bookmarks
  • Question of the Week: Posted in the foyer each week, kids get a prize for guessing the answer at the info desk
  • Who Stole the Cookies?: Forensic Science
  • In Your Own Words Display: Our big glass display case is divided into sections, each one showing a scene from a well-known children’s story, such as The Three Little Pigs or The Tortoise and the Hare. Signage encourages caregivers and children to retell the story with one another
  • Superhero Training Day (Recycled as The Batman Academy)
  • Animal Obstacle Course
  • Monster Hunt
  • Harry Potter (Recycled in December and called Holidays at Hogwarts)
  • A Day in Wonderland
  • Animal-ology: Animal Science
  • Art Heist
  • Mission: Spy Secrets
  • Out of This World: Outer Space Science

For more information, check out the Prezi from a recent passive programming training my colleague Kahla Gubanich and I presented.

I hope this post has given you some new ideas and encouraged you to explore passive programming. What kind of passive programming do you do at your library? Anything you’ve been hoping to try?

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Amy Seto Musser Our guest blogger today is Amy Seto Musser. Amy has her MLS from Texas Woman’s University and is a children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library. She is always on the look out for creative ways to incorporate the arts into children’s services and programming to extend books beyond the page. Check out Amy’s blogs: http://picturebookaday.blogspot.com/http://chapterbookexplorer.blogspot.com/
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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17. Speaking out about Holiday Programming at the Library

A few weeks ago, I wrote a rant about holiday programming in the library for Storytime Underground. We’ve been posting rants about things that we are super passionate about since October 2013 when Cory wrote about privilege and imposter syndrome. It became obvious that there are big issues our audience is riled up about, just like we are, but that not everyone is willing or able speaking up. So, we felt we should share our opinions in the hopes that perhaps others would feel comfortable to do the same, or that their point of view might be reflected in our writings. Additionally, we hoped to get people thinking more deeply (and dare I say, intentionally!) about what they are doing and why. To not blindly follow those who speak the most or loudest, or the majority, because that is sometimes easier than blazing your own trail.

So, after a discussion began on the Storytime Underground Facebook page about holiday programs in the library which left me feeling quite impassioned, I decided to publicly speak up in the form of a rant on Storytime Underground. Because, if a thing is not asked to change, it never will. To say this rant rattled some cages might be an understatement.

gifSchool Library Journal saw the post and asked if I’d be interested in writing a similar opinion piece for them. Of course! This issue is important and I want it to spark discussion among as many people as possible, and it has. Not everyone has been very satisfied with my statements, which bothered many others much more than it did me. One of the first things my mother said to me after reading the comments was, “I don’t know how you do this” and, second, I recognize that many people are afraid of the unfamiliar, which can manifest in defensive anger. There’s nothing I can do about that but let it go. I was quite blunt in my assertions and that can rub people the wrong way, but if there is one thing I have learned from working in libraries (and from being a blonde woman, actually), it’s that you must be assertive if you are to be heard and taken seriously. Even then, sometimes people make untrue assumptions about you.

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kendra

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Kendra Jones. Kendra is a toddler and parachute wrangling Children’s Librarian in the Pacific Northwest and Joint Chief of Storytime Underground (storytimeunderground.org). She can be found on twitter @klmpeace, lurking on the Storytime Underground Facebook page, and sporadically on her own blog: Read, Sing, Play (klmpeace.wordpress.com).

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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18. Meet Art

Library Dance,January 10, 2015 (Photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery )

Library Dance,January 10, 2015 (Photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery)

January at the Deschutes Public Library features Know Art!  In the past, I’ve created and presented a Meet Art series for children on famous artists such as Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, and Georgia O’Keeffe.  As a community librarian, I do programs for all ages.   I was so excited to hear that the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York has a traveling exhibit titled Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs.   I decided to re-create the exhibit through two art library programs for adults.  We had so much fun!  I also created a new list of resources for a children’s Matisse program.

Meet Henri Matisse: Cut-Outs:

Using the art medium gouache, paper and scissors, you’ll discover ways to explore Matisse’s cut-outs and interact with art using books, dance and apps all while creating your own masterpiece. This is a creative hands-on program.

IMG_3634 copyPaint:

While everyone is arriving, have them settle in by playing with gouache (an opaque watercolor paint). Paint one color on a piece of white card stock paper, covering the whole piece of paper, and set aside to dry. Have paint available in bold Matisse-like colors. (blue, orange, yellow, green…)

Dance:

Dance like Matisse with Matisse Dance for Joy by Susan Goldman Rubin. Everyone up! Read the board book and encourage people to act out the dance moves together. Shake, wiggle, and bounce! “Rumble, tumble with a friend” is my favorite page! Optional: Display images from the board book on a big screen.

Read:

Imagine you are Matisse! Read aloud Matisse’s Garden, Henri’s Scissors or Snail Trail. One of my favorite children’s Matisse books is Oooh! Matisse by Mil Niepold. Have everyone guess the shapes and together say, “oooooh! Matisse.”

 Matisse Cut-out  (Photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery)

Matisse Cut-out (Photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery)

Cut-Outs:

Create a BIG group cut-out. Spread out a HUGE piece of butcher paper on the floor (for smaller groups use a big piece of poster paper). Everyone cuts one shape, using a full 8” by 11’ piece of colored paper. Then place or drop the shapes onto the butcher paper. By now, the gouache papers will have dried so artists can create cut-outs from that paper too. Matisse used pins to secure and compose his shapes – but you can glue all the shapes onto the butcher paper. Decide as a group the title of your masterpiece and add the date at the bottom right corner. For example: Library Dance, January 10, 2015.

Most of all dance, create and have fun!

Extra Materials:

I love sharing postcards from different museums. If you know someone who’s visiting a museum, have them mail you a postcard! I ordered 40 Matisse postcards online at the MoMA store so participants could take home a postcard.

Books:

Children’s Matisse book recommendations:
https://read.rifflebooks.com/list/155760

My new favorite Matisse book this year is Matisse’s Garden by Samantha Friedman ; illustrations by Cristina Amodeo ; with reproductions of artworks by Henri Matisse.

Art and other supplies:

Gouache in a variety of colors, card stock paper, scissors, colorful butcher paper, a few pieces of poster size paper (or use butcher paper), glue sticks, paint brushes, newspapers, paper towels, small paper plates and small paper cups for water. (Extra: postcards, projector, iPad/Tablet…)

Matisse Websites:

For the full Matisse program descriptions, please email me at paigeb@dpls.us.

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Our guest blogger today is Paige Bentley-Flannery. Paige is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

The post Meet Art appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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19. Program in a Post: Marshmallow Building

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author.

With this post and $34 you can host a sticky sweet and innovative building program.

Supplies (for about 60 participants):

  • Toothpicks (Box of 800) – 5
  • Mini-marshmallows (16 oz bags) – 8
  • Wet wipes

Prep work: Purchase supplies and pull books for display. Some good topics to display: constellations, buildings, houses, cars, and construction.

Room setup: Tables with or without chairs and a book display at the front of the room. Cut open the long side of the marshmallow bags and put them in the center of the tables and pour some toothpicks into a flat tray.

Format: One hour long open house.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author.

As families arrive welcome them to the program and let them know that they can build whatever they would like. Point out the book display in case they would like to find inspiration there. We had over 60 people attend and many stayed the entire time working on their projects. Some people wanted to take them home so have paper bags (large and small) and paper plates on hand. The prep is super easy for this fun and engaging program!

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20. Blogs to Love

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s a great day to show some love to my favorite blogs. Early in my career, blogs became my go-to resource for program planning and I follow quite a few in an RSS feed I can barely keep up with. (Am I the only one who still uses an RSS feed? I hear they are not widely used anymore, but I still find it quite useful!)

These are blogs, all authored by children’s/teen librarians, that I use time and again when planning programs, whether technology-based or otherwise. I hope you’ll find them useful in your own program planning!

Robot Test Kitchen—I don’t think this newish blog has been mentioned here before and I am super duper excited to tell you about it. Run by four librarians in Illinois (hi Heather, Jacquie, Michelle, and Sharon!), it covers all things tech as they relate to children’s and teen services in public and school libraries. They do product reviews (littleBits, Cubelets, LEGO WeDo, Sphero, Bee-Bots—they’ve all been covered), share program plans, and have a series called Ten Dollar Tuesdays, which features inexpensive programs that cost—you guessed it—under $10. My favorite feature is their True Confessions posts, in which they lay bare their doubts, fears, and frustrations. If you’ve ever experienced imposter syndrome or felt like you failed at a program (and haven’t we all?), these posts are so reassuring!

Library Makers is run by librarians at the Madison (WI) Public Library and features “non-traditional” programs they do for all ages. There’s WonderWorks, a series of STEM classes for preschoolers; Supper Club, an evening app-based storytime; Toddler Art Class; Craft Lab for teens; and even NeedleWorks, a sewing class for teens and adults. They provide everything you need to know to replicate the programs at your library, including materials lists and “hindsight tips.”

Jbrary—If you haven’t taken a look at all the fabulous resources offered by Jbrary, you must do so immediately! Dana and Lindsey, the two librarians who run Jbrary, write about a wide range of library programs and services, including storytimes, tween book clubs, reading lists, booktalking, and many other varied topics. And what’s really amazing is the wealth of additional resources they produce. Looking for new songs and rhymes to use in storytime? Look no further! Check out their YouTube station (which has over ONE MILLION views) or their Pinterest boards (which have almost 4,000 pins).

Thrive Thursday—Ok, so this isn’t a blog so much as a monthly round-up of blog posts about programming for school-age kids. But if you’re looking for program ideas for the elementary school set, you’ll definitely want to check this out! All their round-ups can be found on this Pinterest board.

Hopefully some of these are new-to-you resources that you’ll find invaluable. I also want to give a shout out to a few other favorites: Little eLit (new media in libraries), Mel’s Desk (baby storytimes) and Storytime Underground (all things storytime). If they’re unfamiliar to you, I encourage you to check them out as well!

Liz Fraser is Coordinator of Children’s Services at the Belmont (MA) Public Library and serves on the ALSC Children and Technology Committee. She writes about library programs for kids at Getting Giggles and can be found on Twitter as @lizfraserlib.

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21. The Newbie’s Guide to Hosting a Día Program

Learn more about  Día at dia.ala.org

Learn more about Día at dia.ala.org

Thinking of hosting a Día program at your library? While the ALA Building STEAM with Día grants deadline has passed, it’s never too late to set up your own program. Have questions about where to start, who to contact, and what kinds of things you should do? Well, look no further—we will answer your questions right here!

First thing you must do, is log onto http://dia.ala.org, read a bit about Día and what others have done in the past, then register your program. This registry creates a searchable database of Día programs of all sizes from across the county that highlight Diversity In Action. Not only is the database a resource for you to find ideas, and printables that may work for your community, but it’s also a great place for your library patrons to find programs they might be interested in attending.

Then you need to take a deep breath. For those who have not held a Día program before, it does not need to overwhelm you. This is Children’s Day/Book Day, a celebration of the importance of literacy for children of all backgrounds. So, do what you do best…invite the community to join you in celebrating literacy.

Who should you contact? Everyone! Start with the list on the dia.ala.org website under the Learn More – Partners and Supporters page. This list links you to great national organizations who have indicated interest in celebrating Día. From there, look to your communities. Other agencies who serve children are a natural fit, but restaurants, and ethnic grocery stores can also be great partners and add a completely different element.

What should you do? Host a Book Fest, each room of your library is a celebration of a book, culture, or language. If you have enough partners involved, have them each be responsible for a room. Then families can move through the library, experiencing and discovering a variety of new things. Hold a Books Alive Parade, encourage children to dress up as their favorite book character and march around the library. Hold a few sessions that offer tips and tricks to create a love a reading in every home. Start a book club, using books that are offered in both English and another language. Encourage the sharing of cultural and personal experiences. Offer a variety of extension activities that coordinate with a book, showing children that literacy is more than just reading a book, but also all the things you can do with what you’ve read and learned.

Best tip: invite organizations and agencies to join you, and let them create their own activities to share with your patrons.

Pictures courtesy of the Kendallville Public Library bethmunk2 bethmunk3 bethmunk4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Post written by Beth Munk, Kendallville Public Library, Kendallville, IN

Pictures courtesy of the Kendallville Public Library

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22. Dreaming of Spring

The weather outside is frightful.  In southern North Carolina, we have dealt this week with an ice storm and power outages. While this winter weather in no way compares to the months and months of freezing temperatures and blizzards in the Northeast and Midwest, it is safe to say that many of us all over the country are sick and tired of winter by this time of year. We long for warmer temperatures and blooming flowers.  We long for spring.  At work we are also anticipating the change in seasons as we prepare for all of the special programs we offer during the next few months. What special events or services are rolled out during the springtime at your libraries?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

Spring in many ways allows us the time to finish our last minute plans for our busy summer reading program. We promote our summer reading schedule to the schools in May and are fine-tuning our programming plans during these last few months.  Is spring your busiest time of year as you prep for summer reading or do you complete most of your program planning right before the programs begin in the summer? How will these next few months get you best prepared for summer reading?

Spring is also a special time of year for us as we participate in system-wide festivals.  We anticipate the spring season with a Storytelling Festival at all eight library branches at the end of February. At the conclusion of the Storytelling Festival, we turn our attention from storytelling to science. During two weeks in April, library staff present interactive science programs as part of the North Carolina Science Festival.  Spring is associated with science in our state. What special festivals, programs, or services are associated with spring within your library system?

School partnerships are also an important focus for public library staff during the spring.  The highly popular Battle of the Books Competition is gearing up with county contests. Library branch staff have connected with public school teams to practice questions with students to help them prepare for their upcoming competitions.  Other public library staff serve as judges or volunteer in various roles during these all-day events.  Are there any special collaborations you enjoy with your school systems during these spring months?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

In our library, spring is associated with summer reading planning, festivals, and special school partnerships.  The cold, dreary weather may still be upon us, but starting this discussion may help us leave the ice and cold behind as we imagine warmer days ahead. What services or programs will be the focus at your library when the season changes? Please share your plans for spring in the comments below!

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23. Music, Movement and Stories

A new highly interactive early literacy storytime featuring instrument exploration, songs, fingerplays, dance and books for ages 3 and up.

Chandra and Sheila playing the drums. photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Chandra and Sheila playing the drums.
photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Created by Community Librarians Sheila Grier and Chandra vanEijinsbergen, Music, Movement, and Stories (MnMS for short) is one of my favorite new children’s programs for ages 3-5 at Deschutes Public Library.  The music cd’s, books, and musical instruments circulate between all six branches.  The program includes two stories and lots of dancing, singing and playing musical instruments.

I joined Sheila and Chandra in our Early Learning Space at the Downtown Bend Library and we made some noise!   We talked about the most asked about questions and shared favorite books and ideas.

How did MnMS start?

“Music Movement and Stories started when I began to read about doing a music program at our library and wondered why most music programs at libraries do not include the great books we have about music, dancing or sing-along books.  We can feature these books along with our cd collection,” says Sheila.

Do you use a different theme each week?  (scarves flying around…)

Chandra vanEijinsbergen, Community Librarian photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Chandra vanEijinsbergen, Community Librarian
photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Chandra VanEijinsbergen says, “Some of the librarians do.  Like with regular story time, I like the idea of using themes in MnMS.   Some themes came together naturally, for example farms.  Easy to find both books and songs about farms and farm animals.   Food was more difficult- books were easy and songs to use with shakers or musical instruments, were sort of easy.”

When do you offer MnMS?

“We do MnMS on a different day than our regular story times, Baby Steps, Toddlin Tales and Preschool Parade,” says Sheila

 What is your story time structure?

  • Welcoming/Hello song
  • Listening song
  • Two movement songs
  • Story (book or felt board)
  • Two musical prop songs – ribbons, scarves, bean bags, hoops, etc.
  • Story (book or felt board)
  • Two musical instrument songs
  • Goodbye song

Ideas for handing out and getting materials back?

“Sing a song”, says Sheila.  For example, Kathy Reid-Naiman’s “I’m Passing Out the Sticks” & “Time to Put Away”.  “Talk about the instrument or prop as you are handing them out.  Put a container in the middle of the room, they will happily return items.”

Any great tips to share?

Sheila Grier, Community Librarian photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Sheila Grier, Community Librarian
photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Sheila’s tip:  Telling the parents that it’s ok to look silly and dance it’s a must, their child, grandchild will think they are wonderful and mimic what the adult is doing.  I love seeing the dads and grandpas dancing.

Chandra’s tip:  Remove chairs from the story time space.  This encourages caregivers to sit and participate with their childIf you have a smaller group, sitting in a circle is nice.

Paige’s tip:  Take over the whole story time room.  Wiggle, shake, shimmy, jump and march across the room backwards.

Thank you Sheila and Chandra!  Check out their recommended books and music below!

 Traditional Song Picture Books

  • Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand
  • Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long
  • Old MacDonald by Jessica Souihami
  • On Top of Spaghetti by Paul Johnson
  • Over in the Meadow by Jill McDonald
  • Pete the Cat Wheels on the Bus by James Dean
  • Ten in the Den by John Butler
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Sylvia Long

By Jane Cabrera

  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
  • Row Row Row Your Boat
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It
  • Ten in the Bed
  • Wheels on the Bus

by Iza Trapani

  • Baa Baa Black Sheep
  • The Bear Went over the Mountain
  • Here we Go Round the Mulberry Bush
  • How Much is that Doggy in the Window
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider  *
  • I’m a Little Tea Pot
  • Row Row Row Your Boat
  • Shoo Fly
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
MnMns Photo by Tina D.

MnMns
Photo by Tina D.

Scarves or Ribbons

  • Wiggle Song by Dragon Tales from Dragon Tales-
  • Freeze by Michael Plunkett from Shakin the Chute
  • Fast Slow by Laura Berkner from the Best of
  • Parachute (or ribbons)
  • Got the Wiggles by Michael Plunkett from Ribbons and Rhythms
  • Long Ribbons by Michael Plunkett from Ribbons and Rhythms
  • Shake Your Reader Ribbons by Pam Schiller  from Leaping Literacy
  • Ribbon Dance by Michael Plunkett from Rhyme and Rhyme movement

Bean Bags

  • Beanie Bag Dance by Greg and Steve  from Kids in Action
  • Bean Bag Boogie by Learning Station from Me and My Bean Bag
  • Bean Bag Rock by Georgiana Stewart from Action Songs for Preschoolers
  • The Bean Bag by Hap Palmer from Can a Jumbo Jet Sing the Alphabet

Dancing/Movement Stories

  • Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont
  • Croaky Pokey by Ethan Long
  • Dance with me by Charles Smith Jr.
  • Dancing Feet or Farmyard Beat by Linda Craig
  • Dancing in my Bones by Sylvia Andrews
  • Down by the Cool of the Pool by Tony Mitton
  • Hilda Must be Dancing by Karma Wilson

Listening and Free Dance Songs 

  • Wiggle Walk by Georgiana Stewart from Toddlerific
  • Jump Jump by Lolly Hollywood from Go! Go! Go!
  • March Around by Lolly Hollywood from Go! Go! Go!
  • Put Your Little Foot by Carole Peterson from Dancing Feet
  • My Energy by Laura Berkner from Under a Shady Tree
  • Jump Up by from Imagination Movers
  • The Wiggle Song by Carole Peterson from Sticky Bubblegum
  • Rock and Roll Freeze Dance by Hap Palmer from So Big
  • Clap Your Hands by Singalong Kidz from Singalong Kidz
  • Parachute (or ribbons)
  • Clap Your Hands by Kathy Reid Naiman from Preschool Songs 1
  • Walking Walking by Ann Marie Akin from Songs for Wiggleworms
  • Put Your Finger On by Parachute Express from Feel the Music
  • Stretch!  by Dragon Tales  from Dragon Tales
  • Clap Clap Clap Your Hands by Carole Peterson from Sticky Bubble Gum
  • Statues by Georgiana Stewart from Action Songs for Preschoolers
  • Hands are for Clapping by Jim Gill from Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and other contagious tunes
  • Twist Stop Hop by Ronno from Jump Start Action Songs
  • I Can Do It by Patty Shukla from I Can Do It
  • Say & Rhyme by Pam Schiller from Leaping Literacy
  • I Can Dance by Ronno from Jump Start Action Songs
  • Spaghetti Legs by Jim Gill  from Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and other contagious tunes
  • Warm Up Time by Georgiana Stewart from Action Songs for Preschools
  • The Freeze by Steve and Greg from We All Live Together
  • The Airplane Song by Laura Berkner from Whaddya Think of That
  • I have a little scarf by Eine Kleine NachtMusick from Moving with Mozart
  • Dancing Scarf Blues by Carole Peterson from Dancing Feet      

   Bells

  • Bell Horses by Kathy Reid Naiman from I Love to Hear the Sounds
  • Tideo By Kathy Reid Naiman from More Tickle Tunes
  • Oh children ring your bells by Kathy Reid Naiman from I love to hear the Sounds
  • Ring them on the Floor by Kathy Reid Naiman from I love to hear the Sounds     

Rhythm Sticks

  •  Nursery Rhyme Tap  by Pam Schiller from Leaping Literacy
  • Tap your Sticks By Hap Palmer from Rhymes on Parade
  • When the Saints Come Marching in by Georgiana Stewart from Rhythm Sticks Rock
  • Sticks on the Move by Georgiana Stewart from Rhythm Sticks Rock
  • Rhythm Stick March  by Michael Plunkett from Rhythm Stick Rap and Tap
  • Chim, Chimmy Chimpanze By Pam Schiller from  Leaping Literacy

 Shakers

  • Milkshake by Anne– Marie Akin from Songs for Wiggleworms
  • We’re going to the Market by Kathy Reid-Naiman from I Love to Hear the Sounds
  • Shaker Hop by Carole Peterson from Dancing feet        

For more great MnMS recommendations, please email Sheila Grier at sheilag@deschuteslibrary.org

Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.  

    

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24. Upcoming ALSC Online Learning

ALSC Online Education

ALSC Online Education (image courtesy of ALSC)

Online Courses

Explore new ideas and great library thinking with ALSC online courses! ALSC is offering four great options including three CEU-certified courses. All courses are offered asynchronously (self-directed) meaning you won’t need to logon at a specific time. Learn new youth library-specific skills at a pace that’s comfortable and convenient. Courses start Monday, April 6, 2015.

Webinars

Because life in a library moves fast, ALSC webinars are the perfect solution for someone who wants and needs educational information but doesn’t have a lot of time or resources.  These short (one to two hour) interactive sessions taking place in Adobe Connect give librarians and library support staff the opportunity to learn right at their desks.

March

Building STEAM with Día: The Whys and Hows to Getting Started
Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 12 pm Eastern/11 am Central

May

Celebrating with Poetry Snapshots
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 3 pm Eastern/2 pm Central

Archived Webinars

Missed a webinar you wanted to attend? Don’t worry! ALSC presents archived versions of webinars, which are offered at a discounted price. Archived webinars cost only $25. Please note that recorded versions are not available until all of the live sessions of that webinar have taken place.

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25. Do Drop In?

ALSC Stock #12

Photo from ALSC Stock Photos

Baby, it’s cold outside (at least it is in Indiana), but we’ve got summer on our minds.

If you, too, are thinking about your Summer Reading Club, make sure that you hop on over to Marge Loch-Waters’s blog Tiny Tips for Library Fun and check out her series on shaking up your Summer Library Program.

The question that’s been on my mind as we’ve started planning our summer programs is whether we need to have registration for programs. I’ve been back and forth and back and forth.

When I first started at this library six years ago, I found that asking folks to register in advance really helped our attendance. We were able to do reminder calls and I think that really helped bring people in.

For the past two summers, our program registration has been a disaster. I’m not sure what switch has flipped, but what we’ve found for the past two summers is that our programs filled up really quickly. We were turning folks away for days or weeks before our programs and then on the day of the program (even with reminder calls AND emails), less than half of the registered attendees would show up. This left us with small groups, leftover supplies, and sometimes dozens of people we had turned away, believing the program would be full.

So this year, I challenged my staff to come up with programs that could be done as drop-in programs. Not only will this be easier on my staff (no program registration!), I’m hoping it will improve attendance and our relationship with our patrons (no having to turn people away!).

What does that mean for our programming?

  • We’re moving more towards “unprogramming” and focusing on creative and experiential programs instead of crafts with lots of prepared pieces. Please read Amy Koester’s and Marge Loch-Waters’s series on Unprogramming for a complete guide.
  • Instead of crafts, we might play a game or do an activity or do an open-ended art project.
  • We’re going easy on theme this summer. We always do. I’d rather have excellent, fun programs that staff are REALLY EXCITED about than “meh” programs that fit a certain theme.
  • We’re actually going easy on programming this summer, too. We’ll have all our regular weekly programs and we’ll have several large performers, but we’ve been so very active in our outreach to schools this year that I don’t want to overdo it over the summer. (Guess what? It’s going to be fine!)

I’m hoping that this is going to make a big difference this summer, for both our patrons and our staff.

What are you revamping or rethinking about your summer programs?

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN
http://www.abbythelibrarian.com

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