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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Programming Ideas, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 212
1. 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

The post Do Drop In? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. 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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3. 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.  

    

The post Music, Movement and Stories appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. 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!

The post Dreaming of Spring appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. 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

The post The Newbie’s Guide to Hosting a Día Program appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. 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.

The post Blogs to Love appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. 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!

The post Program in a Post: Marshmallow Building appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. 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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9. 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.

The post Speaking out about Holiday Programming at the Library appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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10. 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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11. 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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12. ‘Tis the Season (Again!) for Winter Reading Club

Last year, I posted about my library’s first Winter Reading Club. We had a lot of fun with it (and kept it SIMPLE!) and now we’re gearing up for Year 2, so I wanted to revisit that post and talk about how we’ve tweaked the club this year.

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

Our goals have shifted a little bit this year. Last year, we were all about getting families in the library and introducing them to library resources. We still want to do that this year, but the additional time we’ve spent working with students in our schools has really highlighted the need to help kids get their blocked cards cleared up. This year, we’ve tried to make it easier for kids to visit the library and read books to earn Fine Bucks to clear up their cards (more on that later!).

We’re again using the BINGO sheet format, inspired by Angie Manfredi, but this year we’re keeping it simple by having one BINGO sheet for all ages (Pre-K through 5th grade; our teen librarian runs a Winter Reading Club for grades 6-12). Instead of requiring folks to choose five boxes in a row, they may choose any five boxes to complete the program. Last year, we found that it was more complicated to suss out which game board (picture book or chapter book) kids needed and then it sometimes got complicated finding them, say, easy chapter book award winners. This year, everyone has the same boxes to choose from and anyone can read anything that fits in the boxes.

Last year, we offered a prize for a BINGO and a second prize for completing all the rest of the boxes. This year, we have one prize for checking off any five boxes on their sheet and then they may continue to read to earn more Fine Bucks. They can complete their sheet, read any number of books on their sheet, they can pick up a new sheet and read the same boxes again, whatever they want to do.

Last year, we really had success with offering Fine Bucks as a prize. Fine Bucks can be redeemed to pay off fines (or, this year, lost books) on Children’s or Young Adult cards. It costs us very little, if anything. We might lose out on a little revenue from the fines, but our Circulation Manager and Administration agreed that it was worth it to get kids using their cards again.

Children must read at least five books to be eligible for Fine Bucks and they earn one fine buck per book. They don’t expire, so even kids who don’t have a fine right NOW can save them for later or use them to keep a DVD a little longer at some point. We had Fine Bucks coming back throughout the year, so we know families are using them!

This year, we are also allowing children and teens to use fine bucks to pay for lost items. We didn’t do that last year because we wanted to encourage them to find and return those items! But we came to the realization that we may never see those items and we’d rather get the kids involved with the library again.

Children will also receive an activity pack when they have read five books. We’re repeating some of the activity packs that we offered over the summer. Again, the point is that we want to offer kids and families something interesting to do during these cold winter months.

And, of course, we’re putting up displays to help kids find books that fit the squares on our game board. This is a great way to highlight different areas of our collection!

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

We’ve also simplified it on the staff side. Because the only real statistic that we need is how many children actually participated and completed the program, we’re not registering patrons when they pick up their game board. We’re setting out the game boards and we’ll register them when they return a completed game board.

Do you offer a Winter Reading Club at your library? What do you do for yours? I would love to get some more ideas!

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

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13. Checklist for a Successful Skype with an Author

As an author, I love that moment when I hit the “answer video call” button on my computer, and the smiling, wide-eyed faces of readers in Alabama or California or Montana pop onto my screen. Skyping with readers is a remarkably rewarding experience. I am, after all, Skyping right at my desk, and that means the readers get a personal peek into my writing world. I can grab my latest draft and hold it up to the camera to point out a specific line, or let the audience see the messiness of my writer’s notebook, or grab my guitar and sing a song that I’ve just written.

Nothing beats a “live” visit, but Skyping with an author is a great alternative for two reasons: it’s cheaper and it provides an opportunity that is often intimate. Surprise guests, such as the author’s dog, or cat, or spouse can make a cameo appearances; authors can pick up their laptops and show a quick glimpse of their desk, the rocking chair, or the favorite place to write.

If you’ve never tried an author Skype, the first thing you have to do is find your author. Many authors offer fee-based workshops or presentations as well as shorter Q-and-A sessions for a lower cost (or even free). If you have an author in mind, check the author’s website. Otherwise, there are sites that collect the names and contact info of authors who Skype, such as the Skype-an-Author Network.

Regardless of how you find your author, there are some tips and tricks that can help make the entire experience run smoothly and enjoyably. From the author’s point of view, here’s what you can do to be a great Skype partner. (You can also download an easy-to-use version of the checklist here.)

BEFORE THE SKYPE

  • Try to list your information and questions in one email to reduce back-and-forth messages. Here are the typical details to clarify:
  • Put your library name and the word Skype in the subject line when contacting an author to set up a Skype session and in all subsequent emails so that the author can easily find the message(s) if s/he has forgotten your name and needs to search.
  • If the author has instructions on her/his website for scheduling a Skype visit, read and follow those instructions.
    1. Type of session: Q and A, workshop, or presentation
    2. Ages of participants
    3. Number of participants
    4. Length of session
    5. Date and time: Specify your time zone every time you communicate with the author
    6. Clarify if special materials are needed, such as notebooks and pencils
    7. Ask permission to photograph or make a video recording of the session, if desired
    8. Determine who makes the call; most author prefer the library to initiate the Skype when ready.
  • Include all your contact info in one easy-to-read list in every email you send:
    1. Your library name and full address
    2. Your name, title, library phone number, and cell number
    3. Your Skype name.Authors receive lots of professional requests as well the usual myriad of personal and junk-mail messages. Imagine getting an email with “one more question” as the subject line, which only consists of the message: “Do you mind if we increase the number of kids? More signed up than I thought! Just let me know!” If the author can’t recall who you are or what you’re talking about, s/he either needs to write you back asking for clarification or search through emails using your email address to try and retrieve the previous emails and figure out your identity. Either way, you’ve given the author an extra job to do.Add the author’s Skypename to your Skype contact list and send a request via Skype for the author to add your contact to his/hers.
  • Test your system–especially if you’ve never Skyped before–with someone. Call a librarian friend. Or your mom. If the author is Skyping for free or for a low rate, please don’t request a test call with the author.
  • Make sure your internet connection is good. The stronger and more reliable your connection, the better your session will look and sound.
  • If you will have a large group, an external microphone plugged into the computer can be helpful to pick up the speaking voices of the participants.
  • Read the author’s work. Participants will get much more out of a session if they are familiar with at least one book and know the author’s basic biography: how many books has the author published, what type of books does the author write, etc.
  • Prepare questions ahead of time for a Q-and-A. Asking each participant to write down a question on an index card often works well.

Questions that work best for Skype visits are specific questions related to one or more of the author’s books that do not require long, complex answers.

Examples of good questions: How long did it take you to write Invisible Lines? Why did you choose mushrooms as a recurring theme? How did you come up with the names of your main characters? If readers want to ask about the general writing process, please help them to be specific: Do you use outlines? Do you ever write with pen and paper? Do you ever ask anyone else to read your work before it is published?

Examples of difficult, hard-to-answer questions: How do you write books? Can you talk about the writing process? These are big topics that take a long time to answer.

  • Go over the questions ahead of time to make sure they are appropriate. Many authors appreciate receiving the questions via email at least one day in advance so that s/he can pull any related visuals.
  • Rehearse what you and the participants will do during the call. Where will they stand when asking questions?

Allowing individuals to step up to the computer’s camera and talk directly into the lens makes the experience much more fun for the author as well as the child or teen. Use this opportunity to practice public-speaking skills with participants. Focus on projecting the voice, slowing down, and speaking clearly.

  • Remind everyone that there is no way of knowing how many questions will be answered in the time allotted. Have a plan for the order in which the questions will be asked and how to deal with any disappointment if the group is too large to have all questions answered.
  • Don’t forget the Skype! If you come down with the flu that day, make sure to tell your stand-in what to do or else call the author and explain that you’ll need to cancel.

DURING THE SKYPE

  • Have the author’s cell phone number on hand. If there is a technical problem, call the author’s cell phone and stay on the line until you solve any glitches. If you have to end the Skype call and try again, you can still be connected via the cell.
  • Position the computer’s camera so that it captures the whole audience, if possible. If you have pint-sized participants who will be coming up to ask questions, make sure to have a step stool, if needed. It’s frustrating for the author if all s/he can see is the top of a little guy’s head.
  • Begin the session by doing a “sweep” of the room so that everyone can wave hello. If the group is large and the camera can’t pick up everyone in the room, the participants sitting on the sidelines can feel left out. To avoid this, at the very beginning of the Skype, let the author know that you’d like to begin with a sweep. Ask the participants to say hi and wave as you physically move the computer from one side to the other, slowly, giving participants a chance to see the whole group waving on the screen. Then, set the computer down where it will have the best overall view and go on with the session. At the end, you can always “sweep” goodbye.
  • Repeat questions from the participants if the author is having trouble hearing.
  • Watch the time. Setting a timer can work well. Stop when the time is up.

AFTER THE SKYPE

Many readers mistakenly believe that all authors are rich and that every book they write gets published. This is far from true. Most authors don’t make a living wage from book sales. Many authors pay the rent by teaching writing workshops and giving presentations.

  • Please consider showing your thanks for the Skype session by supporting the author’s promotional efforts. Here are some ideas:
    1. “Like” or “follow” the author’s facebook page, twitter handle, pinterest boards, or other social networking.
    2. Write and post a collaborate book review online.
    3. Have readers write and videotape a fun review or creative commercial for the book. Share this video online with parental permission, if needed.
    4. Write an article about the Skype experience and send it to your local newspaper or publish/post it on your library’s newsletter or website.
    5. Tell colleagues about the author. Word of mouth really helps.

Finally, if there is something the author could do to improve the experience, definitely send that feedback. Writing is, for the most part, an exercise in isolation; authors take great joy in connecting with readers and want the experience to be the best it can be.

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mary library portrait nj email

Photo credit: Ivan Amato

Our guest blogger today is Mary Amato, an author of fiction for children and teens. She also enjoys teaching workshops in creative writing and songwriting. Her latest series for ages 7-10 is Good Crooks. Her latest YA is Get Happy and features original songs. You can find out more about her at www.maryamato.com or www.thrumsociety.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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14. The New Year, the New You…with ALSC Online Courses!

ALSC Online Education

ALSC Online Education (image courtesy of ALSC)

New year, new ideas, new ways to shape your career track.

When January comes around, it will bring new opportunities, including ALSC online courses! Registration is now open for the winter 2015 ALSC online course season. Topics include children with disabilities, STEM programming, using puppets, and storytime. Classes start Monday, January 5, 2015.

Three of the courses being offered this semester are eligible for continuing education units (CEUs). The American Library Association (ALA) has been certified to provide CEUs by the IACET. ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options. For more information on ALSC online learning, please visit: http://www.ala.org/alsced

Children with Disabilities in the Library
6 weeks, January 5 — February 13, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 3 CEUs

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
4 weeks, January 5 — January 30, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs

Storytelling with Puppets
4 weeks, January 5 — January 30, 2015

Storytime Tools
4 weeks, January 5 — January 30, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 2 CEUs

Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC Online Learning site. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Sutherland or 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

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15. Setting Program Attendance Limits?: She Said/ She Said

Does your library limit attendance to children’s programs, requiring some sort of advance registration? Or are all programs planned with an eye toward accommodating any size group?

In a nod to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, children’s librarians Lori Faust and Kendra Jones debate the pros and cons:

LF: Well, Kendra, I will begin with a very obvious “pro” in favor of pre-registration to a set limit: if staff knows how many people to expect at a program, it is much easier to plan, prepare and purchase supplies without over-buying and wasting those limited budgets.

KJ: True, but limiting attendance can create more work for staff as they will have to take registration, follow up, pass out tickets, etc., plus there is the unpleasant task of informing interested patrons that a program is full.

If we allow walk-ins, we are more apt to have kids attend whose parents do not want to/cannot commit ahead of time and those who do not know the great things the library has to offer until they drop in one day. To then be unable to attend a program is not great customer service.

LF: That’s a good point, Kendra, and we always want to make sure we have some programs that are open to all. I’ve worked at libraries that run things both ways. One did not like us to limit attendance; we had fabulous turn-outs, but because we always had to expect 100+ kids (on a very small budget), we could only offer inexpensive programs that accommodated huge groups. And I found that kind of limiting creatively.

In response to your point that turning people away isn’t good customer service, I’d argue that for some libraries, with limited space perhaps, keeping the crowd to a manageable size can make the experience better for those in attendance. I’ve had complaints from patrons when programs have been very crowded, too!

KJ: I understand how that can be challenging, however, there are other options for programming for large crowds of people. Identical programs can be held back to back, for example. Only one program has to be planned and is then repeated. Not only does this offer patrons more choice in time but allows more patrons to partake in a library program.

LF: That would be a great option, IF…Well, there are several “ifs” depending on an individual library’s situation – can the youth services staff book the space for double the time? Is there enough staff to cover the department and run multiple programs? Is there enough money to cover twice the program? I want to mention, too, that requiring registration for programs doesn’t necessarily mean that patrons get turned away. Often, a program doesn’t “fill up,” but having a good idea of how many kids will attend helps the staff prepare for (and sometimes tweak) the program.

KJ: So true, Lori, that some libraries do not have the resources to do a double header. However, if a program is not getting filled up, perhaps registration is acting as a barrier to one of our most prized resources.

When I worked in a system where registration was required, even with reminder phone calls, patrons did not come for the program. And since they were under the impression that registration was required, there were no drop-in patrons to attend the program, meaning supplies went unused and the program was smaller than intended. Which may not bode well with statistics loving stakeholders who often provide funding for youth programs.

Now we have had our say, but we know there is so much more to this issue! It is your turn to make some arguments for, or against, program attendance limits. Add your thoughts in the comments.

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Our guest bloggers today are Lori Faust and Kendra Jones, who wrote this piece as members of the Managing Children’s Services Committee

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. The Science of Slimy Things

A few months ago, one of my frequent program-goers made a request: Would I please be able to offer a program that includes slugs, one of his favorite animals? I was inclined to agree to the challenge, even before said child had his mother email me a photo of him with his three pet slugs. How’s a librarian to say “no” to that?

I gave some thought to how I could meet the “slug” challenge while also closing out a season of many science-themed programs. I decided to return to a favorite concept with school-agers—slime—and explore it from two different perspectives: animal biology and physics. Thus “The Science of Slimy Things” was born.

A Slug Science information slide, slide and photo by Amy Koester

A Slug Science information slide, slide and photo by Amy Koester

The program was divided roughly into two parts, the first considerably less messy than the second. We opened with an exploration of slugs—pictures, how they move, their scientific names, how they differ from snails, and the purpose of their slime. Happily, the non-fiction stacks had plenty of resources to support this exploration.

Then we got hands-on with slug slime. No, not real slug slime, as I don’t have regular access to the potionmaster’s storecupboard. Instead, I had prepared some gelatinous, fibrous slime (recipe below) the morning of the program and brought it with me to the library. It sat in the staff fridge with a note saying “NOT Jello—Do NOT eat!” until program time. Once we had talked about slugs, I doled out scoops of the orange goo on paper plates for each of the attendees. I provided them with popsicle sticks and index cards to use to explore and manipulate the slime, but many of them opted just to use their hands. I’m sure none of us are surprised.

Slug slime, photo by Amy Koester

Slug slime, photo by Amy Koester

When everyone felt that, having tested its viscous properties, they had had a good play with the slug slime, we scooped it all back up into the plastic container. After a brief stop in the restroom to wash hands, we all trooped outside to the library’s patio for the really messy activity of the program.

Our second exploration of slime was oobleck, that substance owing its name to Dr. Seuss. I had some sample oobleck to accompany the intro to this type of slime. We discussed how oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid—that is, it has properties of both a solid and a liquid depending upon the force being exerted upon it. To demonstrate, I set a toy farm animal on top of a pool of water (it sank) and then on top of the pool of oobleck (it sank, albeit more slowly). With a minimal amount of pressure acting against the oobleck, it acts like a liquid. To demonstrate how it acts like a solid, I used a mallet as my tool. First, I slammed the mallet into the pool of water; it splashed magnificently. When I raised the mallet to slam it onto the pool of oobleck, many of the kids leaned backward in expectation of a colossal oobleck splatter. Instead, there was none; the sudden strong force of mallet against oobleck caused the oobleck to act like a solid. Cue the pronouncements of “How cool!”

After making sure the kids had retained the term “non-Newtonian fluid,” I split everyone into groups to make their own oobleck. It was a messy, experimental process, as kids had to fiddle with the balance of ingredients in their slime (recipe below). Once they all had slime, the patio was a mess of kids scooping up oobleck, rolling it into a ball in their hands, and then letting it drip through their fingers. (I am happy to report that it rained a LOT the day after the oobleck project, which had left the outdoor patio quite covered in dried slime.)

When kids had had enough of the messy oobleck, I handed out empty prescription containers so that kids could take a bit of slime home with them. Kids bottled it up, then went their merry way to wash hands.

My program-goer who requested the slug aspect of the program said he was very happy with how the program had turned out—he liked getting to play with slug slime, and the oobleck was a great surprise as well. Talk about enjoying the finer things in life.

The Recipe for Slug Slime:

  • 7 cups water
  • 10 tsp Metamucil powder

Pour the water into a stovetop-safe saucepan, then stir in the Metamucil until dissolved. When the mixture is dissolved, turn on the burner to medium-high heat. Heat the mixture for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until it reaches your desired consistency. The mixture will be gelatinous and gloopy. Let cool before handling.

The Recipe for Oobleck:

  • 1 to 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup water

Pour 1 cup of the cornstarch into a mixing bowl. Slowly add in the water, gently stirring with a spoon or with hands. Keep adding water until the oobleck starts to thicken; you’ll know it’s ready when you tap on it and it hardens. If the oobleck is too runny, add more cornstarch; if too thick, add more water.

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17. Camps: The New Trend in Summer Reading

geek girl logo

This summer at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, NY we piloted our first ever week long summer camp during Summer Reading. The Fayetteville Free Library Geek Girl Camp is a camp for girls in grades 3 through 5 introducing them to hands on STEM skills and to female role models. Months of work went into planning this camp fulfilling a need in our greater community.  According to the Girl Scout Research Institute,  “Research shows that girls start losing interest in math and science during middle school. Girls are typically more interested in careers where they can help others (e.g., teaching, child care, working with animals) and make the world a better place. Recent surveys have shown that girls and young women are much less interested than boys and young men in math and science.”[1]

We had 44 girls attend the FFL Geek Girl Camp from all over the greater Syracuse, NY area. We had over 10 girls on the waiting list and charged $25.00 for the camp to supplement the cost of food, t-shirts and supplies. We also offered four scholarship opportunities for those who might not be able to afford the cost of the camp. In addition to the 44 girls who came to the camp we had 9 speakers from across the country join us in person or via Skype. Speakers included students from Virginia Commonwealth University, Cornell University, Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Other speakers included women who worked for Facebook, the Air Force, a pharmaceutical research facility, and from national organizations, Girls in Tech and Girl Develop IT. Each day we heard from one or more speakers who talked about what they do at their jobs or in school and how important it is to have women working in these fields! They all made sure to relate to the girls in attendance and campers had great questions afterwards.

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Throughout the week we had a great array of activities. We rented a cement mixer and made an oobleck pool for kids to run across after learning about density and viscosity, shot off model rockets, chucked books, apples and water balloons with a trebuchet after learning about projectiles, force, gravity and more.  Girls learned about fractals, made mini catapults, 3D printed, used littlebits kits, Snap Circuits and computer programmed with Scratch and much more.

The camp was a huge success that the parents of those who attended were above and beyond appreciative and wanted to already sign up for next year. We learned from this particular camp that we created something valuable for our community and that we need to transition into this camp model for future Summer Reading programs. We were asked, “When are you having a camp for boys”? We will not only have camp for boys and girls but of different ages as well. Planning FFL Geek Girl Camp did take a lot of time; however the outcome of the camp was far beyond what we expected and worth the time spent planning for the impact it had on our community. Camps offer children an opportunity to learn more and make stronger relationships over a short period of time.  Like camp as a kid it was a place to learn new things and meet new friends and create memories that last a lifetime.

CaptureThe first day of FFL Geek Girl, the campers were a little shy but after just the second day the girls couldn’t stop talking and working together. We run bimonthly programs where kids come in every other week to work on projects but having children in the library everyday for a week gives you an opportunity to teach kids a skill and not have to worry about rushing or not being able to complete the task, plus you have an opportunity to do projects or lessons that take longer and are more complex. Camps also give us a great opportunity to get to know our patrons. Girls come in and out of the library now looking for their camp counselors to say hi! Cost is also a huge factor in running a camp at a library versus a different venue. We had materials donated to the camp and used many of the resources we already owned including our own staff to run and plan the program. Most science camps can range in price anywhere from $75-$600. We decided that $25 was not only affordable but fit into our budget for the camp as well to make it run successfully.

CaptureWe think that camps are the future of Summer Reading. It gives us and the community an opportunity to focus on important topics like STEAM and produce content that is beneficial and influential. At the end of the week our campers said they wanted to be inventors, work at Google, become web developers and physicists. If it wasn’t for the atmosphere we created at the library and the week long camp we would have never saw these results and impact on our community.

Please check out our website for more information about the FFL Geek Girl Camp, our Flickr page and hashtag #geekgirl14 on Twitter and Instagram.

[1]Modi, K. (2012). “Generation STEM: What girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” Girl Scout Research Institute. http://www.girlscouts.org/research/pdf/generation_stem_full_report.pdf

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Meredith Levine is the Director of Family Engagement at the Fayetteville Free Library. Meredith is a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Find out more at www.fflib.org or email Meredith at mlevine@fflib.org

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18. Program in a Post: Playdough!

With this post, $25 of pantry items and some junk, you can host a delightful Petite Picasso (preschool) program with playdough!

Supplies:

  • Pantry items (flour, salt, etc., see recipe) ($25)
  • Plastic bags or containers for storing the dough ($0-$5)
  • Various junk (cookie cutters, receipt rolls, rulers, craft sticks, etc.)

Use the playdough recipe in MaryAnn Kohl’s First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers & Twos to turn flour, water, food coloring and a few other items into pliable, shapeable, squeezable, colorful dough before your program.

Room setup: Tables (with the legs folded up, just put the tabletop directly on the floor) each with a variety of junk and one color of dough.

Format: Petite Picasso one hour long open house.

Preschoolers and their grown ups had a great time rolling out, cutting up and building with the brightly colored dough. There was a fair amount of prep work involved to make the stove top dough, but the consistency of the finished product was fantastic. Try this program for some squishy, squashy fun!

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19. Yoga as a Bridge for Serving a Cross Section of Your Library Population

Serving a diverse community can be difficult, especially when you are dealing with diversity across the physical, mental, and emotional spectrum. Often the social aspect of the library can be off putting for children, and parents of children with developmental disabilities. For children on the Autism spectrum, the child’s inability to regulate behavior can be problematic in a highly structured setting (such as a library program). Children with physical disabilities may feel that they are limited in how they can participate in library programs. But often the simplest programs can be the most effective and by offering a new or unique opportunity the library becomes a safe place to engage in something outside their preconceived limitations.

Do you have a pre-set program time for children with disabilities? Do you have a pre-set time for family programs? Consider a family program featuring beginner and child friendly yoga. No matter how you incorporate it, I encourage you to use yoga as a way to bring all your patrons together. If offers the opportunity for all children to interact in a safe social environment.

Children enjoy the same benefits of yoga as adults: increased body awareness, strength and flexibility, as well as stress relief and relaxation. Yoga encourages self-acceptance, compassion, kindness, and discipline. All of this while celebrating creative expression, individual differences, and their place in the community. All of these are extremely important in the life of a child dealing with developmental delays or physical restrictions. Anecdotal reports describe success in reducing obesity and discipline problems, decreasing anger and panic attacks, and enhancing concentration and academic performance. Health problems, such as headaches, stomachaches, constipation, back pain, and colds or sinus problems, are reportedly improved with a yoga practice. (1) A certified yoga instructor can lead and demonstrate proper technique and offer advice and tips. Activities in this program can include age-appropriate poses, breathing exercises, relaxation, and partner poses between parent and child. Even a child with physical limitations can participate in the regulated and guided breathing exercises that accompany yoga practice.

While the research on the effects of yoga in children is lengthy, a tertiary literature review only uncovered a few empirical studies on yoga and the disabled. But using the early literacy principle of “play” and its importance in early childhood development, if you use yoga as an inclusive game, the possibilities for reaching children expands.

A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Yoga examined the positive combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys. (2)

Since 2001, in a north London hospital, Jo Manuel has been providing yoga therapy sessions for children with a variety of special needs, from autism to cerebral palsy. Manuel and her 12 colleagues see around 500 children per week, and while some children do have physical restrictions the simple act of rhythmic breathing can bring a sense of calm and relaxation to both the children and their caregivers. (3)

Consider adding these titles  in order to make your program reflective of your collection.

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You are a Lion:and other fun yoga poses is a fun interactive title that invites children to pretend to be different animals as they do various child friendly poses.

(Image from Pipin Properties)

 

 

 

 

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My Daddy is a Pretzel: yoga for parents and kids is a great story time title. With it’s whimsical look at yoga practice, it offers great introductions for adults and children.

(Image from Barefoot Books)

 

 

 

 

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Sleepy Little Yoga is a wonderful title that introduces nine poses perfect for preparing your toddler for bedtime.

(Image from Macmillan)
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1. White, Laura Santangelo. “Yoga for children.” Pediatric Nursing Sept.-Oct. 2009: 277+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
2. Duraisami, V., K. Jaiganesh, and S. Parthasarathy. “Combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on the selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys.” International Journal of Yoga 4.2 (2011): 100. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
3. Cooper, Catherine. “A calming influence: a yoga centre helping children with special needs has been achieving some impressively positive results.” Nursing Standard 24.50 (2010): 24+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.

Lesley Mason is a children’s librarian at the District of Columbia Public Library. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at lesley.mason@dc.gov

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20. Día Planning Starts Now!

The National Program Registry opens for Día on November 1st, so make sure to mark your calendars! The registry serves two purposes. First, your library will be recognized as participating in the El día de los niños/El día de los libros events on April 30, 2015. Additionally, by joining the registry, your library’s program will be part of a national searchable database in which other librarians can peruse your program ideas, get inspired, and hopefully design their own programs around diversity in literature. As a bonus, the registry also increases your library’s publicity and gives you some bragging rights.

I regularly check ALA’s Día website for program ideas, book lists, book club kit ideas, and free downloads. It’s where you can register your 2015 program and become part of the growing Día community. The Día booklist this year will have a STEAM focus, providing enticing possibilities of integrating STEAM content into your programs, displays, or book clubs. The booklist will be out in December, and I’m already anticipating it. I have in mind several STEAM-related programs or displays, including a scientist display honoring minorities in the field; a program on using technology to discover your own unique background and heritage (genealogy); and a program using blown-up prints of various engineering feats for children to guess which counties or persons designed them. The possibilities are endless!

Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants

Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants (image courtesy ALSC)

Don’t forget that there are mini-grants available this year. You can check out more information on how to apply for one, and the approaching deadline, via the Día website or the Día Facebook Page. In previous years, libraries across the country have hosted everything from poetry readings, border dances, festivals and food tastings as Día events. We can’t wait to see what you all come up with for 2015! Start thinking about Día now. Remember to put your program in the database so we can all be amazed at what you’re doing for your diverse and dynamic communities!

Reminder! ALSC is now accepting mini-grant applications for libraries through the Día initiative. Mini-grants will be used to initiate a Building STEAM with Día program in libraries. Up to 20 mini-grants will be awarded at $1,500 each. Applications are due Friday, October 17 at 5pm Central.

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Emily Scherrer is the Library Administrator for Sierra Vista Public Library, Arizona and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. As a librarian living and working in a “border town,” she is a big advocate for diverse programming and collections.  You can contact her at mlescherrer@gmail.com

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21. Mind Your Manners: Teaching Life Skills in the Library

A few weeks ago, a special education teacher approached our Youth Department, asking if a librarian might be able to plan a visit for her life skills class of high school students. Her class made regular visits to our library once a month to read and check out books. They were already comfortable visiting the Youth Department, since the materials that they were most interested in were housed in our part of the library. As much as she and her class enjoyed these visits, she wanted to explore the possibility of making the visit richer with learning and interaction, involving a librarian to lead 30 minutes of stories activities. Her goals for the visit were relatively simple: read books which demonstrate using manners in social situations, incorporate sensory and movement activities into the visit, and provide opportunities for her students to practice using manners in real life situations. Her students had been practicing using their manners in the classroom, in the lunchroom, and had plans to make a few field trips outside the school to extend the learning. We, of course, just had to say yes!

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mudiN6ZZL.jpgA great tip for collaborating on a school visit is to ask questions and plan ahead. Ask if there is a particular reading level that works best for readalouds. As the teacher and I discussed the visit, I learned that picture books and easy non-fiction materials would work best for her class as readalouds. So, I selected several books to read—both fiction and non-fiction—that would be both informative and entertaining for the audience.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bY_zPzSWXIo/TiN3vAyilHI/AAAAAAAAAYA/nUK76JhyEAo/s1600/symbol4.jpgAnother helpful tip is to ask what type of accommodations would work best for her students. For example, would creating a visual schedule of the visit’s activities help alleviate anxiety for her students? I also learned that her students would benefit greatly from the use of visual supports, as a way for them to see what was coming next. So, I put together a large group schedule, using Boardmaker images to coincide with the various activities. Each 8 1/2″  x 11” piece of paper included a large graphic as well as simple, easy to decode text. For example, I put together one sign that included the text “Play a Game” and displayed an image of a large, multicolored parachute.

You may also want to ask the teacher if her students have any specific triggers that might be helpful for you to know about in advance. For example, does music cause discomfort or distress in some of her students? If so, you may want to reconsider using a music CD and decide just to sign a song aloud using your own voice. The teacher did happen to mention that one of her students has the tendency to run when that student gets frustrated or upset. This was useful information for me to know, as I wouldn’t be caught off-guard in case this happened during the visit.

Here is an outline of the program that we implemented with her students:

  • Review Visual Schedule: As a way to let the students know what we would be doing, I reviewed the visual schedule by going over each activity individually using clear and specific “First… Then…” language.
  • Hello Activity: I began the storytime by introducing myself as “Miss Renee.” I then invited each students and teachers to introduce themselves to the classroom by saying “Hi, my name is…” Then, the group replied “Hello, [student’s name]” as a way to practice good manners by greeting others.
  • Read a Book: How do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen
  • Read a Book: Suppose You Meet a Dinosaur: A First Book of Manners by Judy Sierra
  • Play a Game with a Ball: I pulled out four different sized sensory balls and invited the group to move into a circle. The object of this activity was to have each student to ask another student or teacher if they could pass them the ball using their most polite manners. For example, “Daniel, would you please roll me that purple, spiky ball?” We passed, rolled, bounced, and threw the balls twice around the circle, allowing each student the chance to participate a few times.
  • Read a Book: Manners in the Lunch Room (Way to Be: Manners! Series) by Amanda Tourville
  • Play a Game with a Parachute: I brought out the parachute, and asked if everyone would stand up. This time, we went around the circle and each student was encouraged to dictate to the group (using their manners) what they wanted to do with the parachute. For instance, Jean would say “Could we please wave the wave the parachute up and down really fast?” Each student was allowed a chance to have the group play with the parachute in their own way.
  • Read a Book: Manners in the Library (Way to Be: Manners! Series) by Carrie Finn
  • Sing a Song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (with ASL): We sung the first verse of this traditional song, but then incorporated ASL signs that aligned with our theme in the additional verses. For example “If you’re polite and you know it, just say “please.” (ASL sign for please) and “If you’re grateful and you know it, just say “thank you.” (ASL sign for thank you). Check out Jbrary’s great post about Using American Sign Language in Storytime for more ideas about how to utilize ASL in programs.
  • Library Activity: The teacher instructed the students to write note cards in advance with questions they wanted to ask librarians. The students took turns going to the desk and asking their questions, and the librarians took them to the shelves to help them find books that they liked based on their interests. After they practiced asking their questions and using their manners, librarians gave each student a small incentive (a sticker) for visiting to the library.

Overall, it was a fantastic success–so much so that the teacher asked if we could make this a regular part of their monthly visits.  And again, how could we say no?

Partnering with your local special education district is a great way to provide students with disabilities opportunities for learning outside the classroom. By giving students the chance to practice life skills in a library environment, librarians can help prepare them to be successful in their daily lives. It’s important that all library staff at all levels are aware and prepared to provide excellent, inclusive library service. Children’s, Tween, and Teen Librarians can work together to lead this type of programming. So, the next time that you are approached by a local special education teacher, think about getting your tween or teen librarians on board, too.

For more great ideas about lesson planning for tweens and young adults with special needs, check out this fantastic post written by Sarah Okner from the Vernon Area Public Library about her experience Visiting High School Special Education Classrooms.

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22. Thinking about STEAM as Pop-Up Programs

One of my goals for programming at my new library is to increase the frequency of pop-up programs in the youth area. We offer a great range of formal, specific-place/specific-time programs every quarter, but I’ve been thinking about whom these types of programs engage. I’m still learning the demographics of youth and families at my new job, but I do have the feeling that the Venn diagram circles of kids who come to the library and kids who come to programs are not wholly overlapping. Why not provide pop-up programs, then, that can take place in the open, without registration restrictions or time requirements, on days and at times when lots of kids are in the space? And why not structure these pop-ups around STEAM activities, which kids are hugely enjoying?

Here are five potential pop-up programs, one for each STEAM content area. These pop-ups would be facilitated and supervised by a staff member.

Science – Candy Chromatography, à la Steve Spangler

Stock up at post-holiday candy sales, grab some coffee filters and a cup of water, and you’re ready to see the true colors of kids’ favorite candies. Dunk a candy–preferably something that obviously has dye, like jelly beans, Skittles, and really dark candies–in the water for a few seconds, then set it on the coffee filter. Over the course of the next ten minutes, the dyes from the candy will separate and create something like colorful tree rings on the filter. Note: you can also do this with different types of ink pens to see the colors that actually make up black and blue ink.

Technology – MaKey MaKey!

Break out a fully-charged laptop and a MaKey MaKey kit so that kids can figure out how it works. Let them work collaboratively to figure out how to hook everything up (with plenty of options for conductive materials, like paper clips, dough, and even bananas), then play a game or two from the MaKey MaKey website with their homemade controller before letting another kid have a chance.

Engineering – The Perfect Paper Airplane

Offer all the supplies to make a wide range of paper airplanes: paper in different weights, paper clips, straws, tape, scissors, etc. Don’t forget to include books and/or print-out instructions for paper airplane designs to give kids a starting-off point. Mark out a flying course on the floor/ground (masking tape if inside, chalk if outside) so you can see how far planes fly. Encourage kids to modify their designs to produce longer flight distances.

Art – Friendship Bracelets

Set out different colors of embroidery floss, some masking tape and scissors, and a few books on bracelet designs and let kids spend some time making the designs of their choosing. This may seem like a pretty standard craft, not necessarily a STEAM arts activity; but in actuality, there’s a ton of math involved in figuring out how to weave and create patterns. Bonus of this activity: once kids have the basics of their design, they can socialize as they work, potentially building a camaraderie between kids who tend to be at the library at the same times but never really interact.

Math – Tangrams

Allow kids to engage in some visual problem-solving by setting out tangrams and designs for them to replicate using the shape pieces. You can offer plastic tangram pieces, or print out a tangram template so that kids can cut out and keep their pieces. For kids who get really into solving these puzzles, you can even have speed races to see how quickly kids can figure out different designs.

One of the great things about these types of pop-up programs is that they can translate to lots of different settings. Since they involve limited designated space and few materials, these activities can be “packed up,” so to speak, to accompany a library staffer on outreach, or to bookmobile stops frequented by families with children. When it comes down to it, STEAM pop-ups allow us to provide access to engaging activities and interesting ideas in a context that may be much more viable for many of the families who use our libraries, but never step through the program room door.

Do you offer pop-up programming at your library?

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23. Come Write In: a Family Creative Writing Program

November is nearly upon us. That means fall leaves, wooly sweaters, gluttonous behavior on the fourth Thursday of the month, and, of course, National Novel Writing Month.

Inaugurated in 1999 by the intrepid Chris Baty and a group of friends, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has become an international movement to inspire average joes like you and me to get off our duffs and write that novel we’ve always dreamed of penning. One month. One novel. It’s as simple as that.

According to NaNoWriMo, 310,000 adults participated in the writing frenzy in 2013, and 89,500 youth participated in NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. Personally, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the past two years, and the experience has been so deeply fulfilling I decided that I, as a children’s librarian, needed to get on this Young Writers thing.

What’s really grand about NaNoWriMo is that this non-profit organization provides you everything you need to make hosting a Young Writers program easy as pie. Just take a gander at these lesson plans and activities. If you’re a teacher, everything aligns to the Common Core. If you’re a public librarian, you can pick and choose a variety of activities to do with your young peeps.

I have some ridiculously talented people on board, too. I’m working with poet Hannah Jane Chambers, YA author Bethany Hagen, and YA writer Jennifer Mendez to make the magic happen.

At our library, Hannah Jane, Bethany, and I had an idea of creating a series of Come Write In events for the entire family which we hope we’ll be able to implement next year. Parents and kids could come to the library on Saturdays throughout the month of October to start planning their NaNoWriMo projects. On November 1, we could celebrate our hard work with a party / write-in where participants can get cracking on their novels. Jennifer Mendez will be hosting Intergenerational Come Write In events at her branch throughout the month of November replete with paper, pens, and plenty of outlets for the BYO-Laptop types.

What better way to get kids and teens engaged in literature than to have them write it themselves? And, hey, why not model that behavior? November is just a few days away. It’s not too late to sign up and write a novel of your very own.

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Our guest blogger today is Megan Bannen. Megan is an Assistant Branch Manager for Johnson County Library in Kansas (although the children’s librarian in her will never die).

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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24. Music and Movement at the Library

This past summer, the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) offered several new early literacy programs targeted at improving family health and nutrition. Perhaps the most popular of these were our “Music and Movement” programs for infants through preschoolers. We know that music and movement are important at every stage of a child’s development, and can be made applicable for children who are at different stages. We were especially interested in creating new ways to engage families with babies and toddlers, and this series provided a fun, dynamic way to do that. In fact, libraries are well positioned to provide access to music and movement opportunities for children. As children’s librarians we already sing, clap, and engage in dramatic play through action rhymes in our storytimes. And while there might be other businesses that offer these types of programs, we found that they are often expensive and cost prohibitive to some families. I don’t claim to be a music educator, but I do think that, as librarians, we can instill in children a love of music in much the same way that we encourage a love of reading.

So why is it important to offer a music and movement program? Research shows that “movement education is basic physical education that emphasizes fundamental motor skills and concepts such as body and spatial awareness, but that it is also a philosophy of physical education in that it is success-oriented, child-centered, and non-competitive”  (Pica, emphasis mine). We also know that childhood obesity rates in American are at an all time high. Music and movement programs not only aid a child’s physical development, they help children “feel good about their movement abilities, [thus] they are more likely to make physical activity part of their lives” (Pica). An active lifestyle is essential for a child’s overall physical fitness and health.

Benefits to Movement

  • There are many obvious physical benefits to movement, including cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
  • Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight (letsmove.gov).
  • Movement also has social and emotional benefits, as it helps children unleash creativity through physical expression like dance. Certain games and activities can also teach them cooperation and help them work together with peers and adults.
  • Finally, movement also helps children develop cognitively; “studies have proven that they especially acquire knowledge experientially–through play, experimentation, exploration, and discovery.  Though a developmentally appropriate movement program, instructors can help nurture the bodily/kinesthetic intelligence possessed in varying degrees, by all children” (Pica).

Benefits of Music

  • Music is vital to the development of language and listening skills. We know from Every Child Read to Read that singing is an important early literacy practice, and is a key way children learn about language.
  • Music’s melody and rhythmic patterns help develop memory, which is why it’s easier to remember song lyrics than prose text. This is why we learn our ABC’s in a song.
  • Music engages the brain, stimulating neural pathways that are associated with higher forms of intelligence such as empathy and mathematics. (National Association for Music Education)
  • Music and language arts both consist of symbols and ideas; when the two are used in combination, abstract concepts become more concrete and are therefore easier for children to grasp. (National Association for Music Education)

Program Plan

MusicMovementblurred2Hopefully, now you’re convinced and wondering how to implement a Music and Movement program of your own. Chances are you already have most of the ingredients! I used a combination of acapella singing and children’s CDs for the music. I then broke the 30-45 minute program down into different activities and skills, for example, exploring up and down/ stretching and jumping; clapping and rhythm; clapping/singing and tempo; etc. Many of the songs and rhymes I used to correspond to these activities are familiar and beloved: “Pop Goes the Weasel” for jumping, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” for clapping, “Row Your Boat” for rhythm. For each song we sang as a group, I also played a song from the CDs. Other favorites included stop and go, or statue games. Children dance and move until the music stops and then have to freeze in place! Playing “statue” develops listening skills and helps children distinguish between sound and silence. It also helps them practice self control, starting, and stopping. “Stop and Go” by Greg & Steve and “Bodies 1-2-3” by Peter & Ellen Allard are perfect songs for this activity, but you can really use any song and then manually stop the music unexpectedly!  

In the second half of the program, we explore an instrument. Shakers and bells are perfect for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, and rhythm sticks are fun for older groups. There are tons of great shaking songs, including “Shake Your Sillies Out” by Raffi, “Shake, Rattle & Rock” by Greg & Steve, “Shaky, Shaky” by the Wiggles. “Frere Jacques” is a classic if you’re using bells. If you can’t afford a large set of instruments, you can also make your own and explore the sounds of common household items. I sometimes intersperse this half MusicMovementBlurredof the program with movement activities like jumping jacks and toe touches. Finally, we end with the parachute activities. We bought a 12’ parachute for $25-30 and a smaller 6’ one for use with the babies and toddlers. Not only are the parachutes endlessly entertain to children of all ages, they have a myriad of uses and promote teamwork and coordination. If you have bean bags, small balls, or a beach ball to add, even better.

Our Music and Movement Program at the Fayetteville Free Library was wildly successful with 40-50 attendees at each session. It was the perfect way for us to reach families with young children of all ages and support family health and an active lifestyle at the same time. Do you offer a music and movement program at your library? Tell us about it in the comments!

Resources for Music and Movement Education

  1. Pica, R., & Pica, R. (2010). Experiences in movement & music: Birth to age 8. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
  2. Early Childhood Music and Movement Association
  3. LetsMove.gov
  4. National Association for Music Education

(Photos courtesy guest blogger)

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Stephanie Prato is a member of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. She is the Director of Play to Learn Services at the Fayetteville Free Library in NY. If you have any questions, email her at sprato@fflib.org.

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25. LEGO Mindstorms for Tweens (Or How I Had to Give Myself a Crash Course in Robotics)

Mindstorms Robot 2.5At my library, LEGOs are perpetually popular. We host a LEGO Contest at least once a year with a continual level of success. Also at my library, we are currently focusing on new technology initiatives to enhance our programming. Thus, my idea to combine the two and try a LEGO Mindstorms program was born.

As I had never used LEGO Mindstorms before, I did a ton of research well in advance. I put a call out on several listservs for help and ideas, and received a plethora of valuable insight. Then, I asked my IT department to order a Mindstorms EV3 kit to try out to see if it would be doable for us. I worked closely with one of our IT technicians to tentatively make a plan: he would familiarize himself with the robots, be there to troubleshoot, and help with more advanced questions; and I would learn the very basics and come up with the program outline.

We ended up DSC00589purchasing 6 LEGO Mindstorms EV3 core kits to use and downloaded the free software from the Mindstorms website. (Note: You can purchase a site license from the LEGO Education site to get the Teacher’s Edition of the software. It’s much more expensive, but it’s supposed to come with lesson plans and such already done for you.) One day, about a month before the program, I went up to the IT office to work on the outline when I received the news: the IT technician I had been working with was leaving the next week for another job! This meant I was on my own and needed to be good enough to not only use the robots, but also teach the tweens how to use them.

I borrowed one of the robots and set to work giving myself a crash course in LEGO Mindstorms. I found The LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Discovery Book by Laurens Valk to be extremely helpful. I decided to break the program up into three 1-hour sessions and a final 2 hour session that would meet weekly after school. I opened up the program to tweens in grades 4 to 7 and geared it towards those with no programming or robotics experience. You can find a detailed outline of each of the sessions here, but this is basically how I broke down my program:DSC00595

Day 1: I wanted to give the tweens a good foundation for programming/coding language which would help them with the LEGO Mindstorms software, so for the entire first day we worked with the Hour of Code website. The nice thing about it was that the programming blocks on code.org looked almost identical to the programming blocks from the Mindstorms software. We went though the first hour of code together, but since I anticipated that some tweens would work faster than others, I told them where to stop (which was before the next video) and gave them extra mazes to complete if they finished early.

Day 2: I introduced the tweens to the LEGO Mindstorms software, the parts of the robot, and the steering blocks. Then I gave them some challenges to try based on what we learned, which you can find in my outline. (Note: To save time for this program, we pre-built the robots for them. We chose the Track3r bot with the claw arm as pictured at the top of this post.)

Day 3: We went over the rest of the action blocks (display, brick status, and sound) and the flow blocks. Then I gave them some more challenges based on what they learned that day, which you can find in my outline. We didn’t bother learning any of the other more complicated blocks since this was a beginner class, but I encouraged them to play around with these blocks if they felt comfortable.DSC00599

Day 4: I began with a very brief overview and asked if they had any questions. Then I gave them some time to just play around and experiment with programming their robots. With about an hour left, I gave them one final challenge using the mission pad mat that comes with the Mindstorms kit.

Here are some videos of the neat things they programmed the robots to do:

What I Learned:

  • The tweens had the most fun when they had free reign to experiment and play.
  • The final challenge that I gave them seemed to be too difficult and they got frustrated and just didn’t try. Next time I would either make up an easier version of that challenge or just forget it altogether.
  • Because we only had 6 kits, we put the tweens in groups of 2 and 3. This seemed to be a good number per kit.
  • I didn’t end up needing the full 2 hours for the last session day, so the next time I might just host four 1-hour sessions.

Tips:

  • I realize that these robot kits are expensive and not every library has the funds to purchase multiple kits. One of the suggestions from the listserv was to work with your school’s robotics team to see if they would lend you kits and/or work with you to run the classes.
  • I was the only adult in the room with 16 tweens most of the time. For one of the sessions, I had the help of an older teen who had been on his school’s robotics team. It made all the difference when it came time for the tweens to complete their challenges. If you can have a second person in the room, especially if it’s someone who has advanced robotics experience, you’ll be much less overwhelmed.
  • For any challenge you give the tweens, have an answer key ready in case they get truly stumped so you can give them hints. I made up answers to my challenges, which you can find here and here. They helped me immensely, though please note that they aren’t the only possible answers and I am still not a robotics expert by any means.
  • I also tried this as a standalone 2 hour program. I geared it towards kids in grades 4 to 7 who had a basic understanding of programming or Mindstorms. I ended up getting a mix of beginners and non-beginners. The outline of this session was 30 minutes of software and robot overview followed by 90 minutes of challenges. Because I wasn’t sure about the experience level of this group, I gave them options for each challenge: an easy option and a more challenging one (make your robot move in a square or make your robot move in a triangle). This worked out really well!
  • If you don’t want to use the mission pad that comes with the kits, you can also download and create your own challenge maps here.

Other Helpful Links:

Beyond Legos: Coding for Kids (ALSC Blog)
Build Better Robots with LEGO Mindstorms Education EV3 (The Digital Shift)
Tinker Group
Getting Giggles
Robotics for the Rest of Us (YALSA Blog)

Have you hosted a LEGO Mindstorms program at your library? If so, any other tips/tricks?

Kim Castle-Alberts is a member of the School-Age Programs and Services Committee. She is also a Youth Services/Emerging Technologies Librarian at the Hudson Library & Historical Society in Ohio. You can find her on her blog, on Twitter, or at kim.alberts@hudson.lib.oh.us. 

All photos are courtesy of the Hudson Librar & Historical Society.

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