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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Programming Ideas, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 237
1. Program-a-looza!

Last month’s ALA Annual conference saw the arrival of a mostly school-age sibling to Guerrilla Storytime and YA Smackdown.  On Sunday and Monday morning, Amy Forrester and Kahla Gubanich of the Denver Public Library and Multnomah County Library’s Danielle Jones gathered youth services librarians in the Networking Uncommons for a speedy discussion of easy, inexpensive programming for children from birth to age 12.

Program-a-looza circleAt Monday’s session, each participant offered an outline of a successful program, including crucial details such as accompanying snacks and the best ways to reuse old supplies.  (This is how I learned some Minecraft enthusiasts enjoy perler beads.  Thanks for the tip, Aaron!)  The Denver Public Library contingent plans lots of passive programs–including animal science activities and a spy training event–which may require a bit more set-up but can appeal to kids of all ages, last for hours, and be reused.  Danielle shared her preschool success with an Elephant and Piggie party featuring readers’ (or listeners’) theater complete with pig ears and elephant trunks.  Elementary-aged kids at my library have flocked to our annual Field Day: relay races, water balloon tosses and other outdoor games topped off with a watermelon snack.  Others mentioned older kids loving weeks-long shelfie competitions and Minecraft parties with origami, LEGOs, and the aforementioned perlers.

Look at all our great ideas for Emerging Reader Programs!

Look at all our great ideas for Emerging Reader Programs!

After a round of pre-proven ideas, we started a speed cycle of sticky-note brainstorming, scrawling suggestions and details to build on initial concepts.   In two-minute bursts, we raced through emergent reader programs, superhero suggestions, preschool computer classes, imaginative play programs, and more.  Check out convener Amy Forrester’s comprehensive list of the (legible) sticky notes for each theme on her blog.  And don’t worry if you missed last month’s program-a-looza; just come join the programming party at Midwinter 2016.

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

The post Program-a-looza! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Ideas with Crossover Possibilities

Creative Commons search - maker supplies

Creative Commons search – maker supplies

Sometimes, school life and library life overlap.  Sometimes they don’t. Often I read the posts of my public library friends and find myself nodding my head and then I read the posts of many school librarians and my experience doesn’t mesh with theirs.  There are two hot topics that are happening right now in both the arenas of education and libraries and we should definitely be expanding our thinking and reading outside of the library and the school publications proper.

Makerspaces.  Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 3-5 years, you’ve been reading about, learning about, or implementing some aspect of making whether you are in a school, a school library or a public library. I know that as children’s librarians we have been participating in maker culture for years, but the new focus really is more than a rebranding.  The blending of digital and analog, the open ended and problem solving nature of presenting students and patrons with possibilities instead of directions are both different from some of the making that we were doing early in my career as a youth services librarian.

Design Thinking. I recently participated in my own school’s Innovation Institute which brought together members of the faculty to use design thinking to solve a problem or create something new to share with our faculty and students.  The Gates Foundation and IDEO have created a Design Thinking Toolkit for Libraries.  While this way of thinking and problem solving is definitely taxing on the brain, it does tend to lead to innovation. We are always telling our students to take risks in their learning, and as librarians we should be willing to take some risks in ours as well.

The following are some links from the education world that easily lend themselves to library environments.

Edutopia – Design Thinking

Maker Ed – Projects and Learning Approaches

Teacher Librarian – The Philosophy of  Educational Makerspacea

Knowledge without Borders – Design Thinking for Kids

I’d love to hear back from librarians who have successfully used design thinking either with colleagues or kids. Also, feel free to drop your favorite maker link into the comments!

The post Ideas with Crossover Possibilities appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. A Creativity Boost

It’s 1:52 pm, and I start to hear the feet on the steps, charging up the stairs and ready for today’s program. I am frantically putting out the last bins of googly eyes and glue, and asking parents to wait downstairs with their little ones for just a few more minutes. At 1:55, I get a fresh group ready for the activity, and I am setting up the background music, and trying to put a few art books out on display. I ask for a few more minutes, but then relent. The children are excited to start the program, and who am I to stop them!

It’s just another Tuesday afternoon, and everyone is here for my “Crazy Mixed Up Crafts” program. It’s a summer invention that has taken off and become something that both the children and I look forward to! At 2pm, they come upstairs and can sit at one of the five tables. Each table has approximately the same supplies, a big bin of leftover crafts like animal shapes, car parts, or masks; glue, scissors, tape, construction paper, glitter glue, stickers, and anything else I can scrounge up. I give them a loose theme in relation to our superhero summer (superheroes, monsters, super transportations, habitats, sidekicks, etc), but let them know that they can make anything they want! It’s geared towards ages 4-8, and I put out foam blocks, waffle blocks, and the puppets for those that finish early, or don’t want to craft.

CMC

Some of the wonderful and funny crafts that the kids have made over the past few weeks. In the middle is a sample of how I lay the supplies out at each table! (Photo courtesy of guest blogger)

My inspiration came from looking at all the leftover crafts from the storytimes this year. We have such funny shapes cut out, and lots of glittery and mess supplies that we rarely use. I would find myself imagining new ways to use the materials, and I though that kids could find really interesting ways to use them, too! I was also inspired by a research paper from the Center for Childhood Creativity, entitled “Inspiring a Generation to Create: Critical Components of Creativity in Children”. It’s a long, but interesting read about the need for open ended spaces for creativity, and the importance of fostering moments for divergent thinking which helps children have flexibility in their thought patterns. (Hadani, H. (2015). Inspiring a Generation to Create: Critical Components of Creativity in Children. Retrieved July 7, 2015).

Some parents get anxious with no directions, but I implore them to relax and do whatever looks interesting or fun to them (that’s right, they can craft, too!). The kids hardly ever ask for directions, they look at the piles of paper and googly eyes, and can easily make monsters.

During the program, I stop over to the parents and talk about upcoming programs or just chat, and to the kids, I ask them all about their creations—are they good or evil? What are their powers? What do they eat? Etc. It’s a great time to build connections with kids and build their creativity and vocabulary as they explain the process to me.

While summer isn’t over yet, the success of this program, which averages around 30 attendees, is making me rethink my fall programming. Instead of having traditional storytimes, it seems that people want a free expression program in the library. It’s been a really big success as a drop in program, with families coming with their neighbors, and new friendships forming! I love to see their creations and their delight in having fun with the materials! It is a messy program, but it’s worth it!

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Today’s guest post was written by Amy Steinbauer. Amy is the Early Childhood Outreach Librarian at Beaumont Library District in Southern CA. She drives a bookmobile, loves mermaids, and being silly. You can follow her on Twitter @Merbrarian.

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 A Creativity Boost appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Passive Picture Book Programs

As a first year librarian, I was constantly looking for new passive programming ideas.  We had a passive “mystery box” program, that the children could participate in once a week. I was getting burnt out on trying to find 5 new items every Monday to fill the box, and the kids were getting frustrated that they had to wait a week to play again.  At other libraries, the mystery box works well when most children come just once a week, but our children come to the library every day after school and in the summer.  I felt like this type of passive programming was not as enriching as it could be.

Early this January, a new book came by my desk called, “28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World” by Charles R. Smith.   I flipped through this and immediately wanted to turn this into a daily passive program.  Each page of this book has an illustration of a famous black person, the date of the important event, a poem describing the person and event, and a paragraph at the bottom giving more detail.  I planned to put the book out on the reference desk, turning the page every day to reveal a new person and event during the month of February to celebrate Black History Month.  First, I created a handout to give children with general questions that could be applied to any page of the book; who, what, when?  The kids had to read the page, write the name of the famous person, what they did to change history, and when did it happen.  After they completed the questions, I would go over their answers and the page to make sure they fully understood the events and why they were so important.  They then would get a small reward of a piece of candy.  Other kids would come up, seeing a crowd around my desk, asking what was happening. I collected all answer sheets to tally the participation numbers.  The passive program was so popular that I would collect 80 answer sheets weekly.

After the end of Black History Month, I brought the old mystery box back out, and the kids actually requested for the book to come back! I had to think quick and just my luck; another new book came my way, “Maps” by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski.  This fit one of my goals for the children perfectly; to teach them about world culture and that we are all world citizens. Each page has a different country with illustrations of historical buildings, native plants and animals, cultural food, sports, etc.  I created over a dozen questions that could pertain to any country’s map. The children would choose a random answer sheet with 4 questions. The first two questions were always the same on all the papers; country and capital.  The last two questions were different, so one child could potentially read the same map page multiple days, but answer different questions each time. The other questions were to name specific animals, food, historical buildings, famous people, bodies of water, ethnic food, sports, natural formations, major cities, language, size, and population.  The children would turn their answers, I would initiate a discussion about the country (would they like to visit, what about the culture is interesting to them), then they would receive a small prize. This, again, was very successful and popular.

slide1With the Summer Reading Challenge coming up, I created a passive book program.  I have two book clubs, one is preschool to second grade and the other is third to sixth grade. Each club has their own short picture book; I chose Iron Man books because of our superhero theme. Children can come up to the desk to get their club’s book, read it, and then answer a few short questions.  I have multiple sheets with different questions pertaining to each group’s book and the children will be able to participate once a day, choosing different questions for each new day.

I am very pleased with how successful these passive book programs have gone and I am excited to discover new books that will produce fun and education programs in the future.

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

Courtesy photo of guest blogger

Courtesy photo of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Angela Bronson. Angela has a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio. This is her ninth year working for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, and is currently a Children’s Librarian at Kent Branch Library. In the past, she was a Preschool Art Teacher for Bowling Green State University. She illustrated her first picture book this year titled, “Alora in the Clouds.” 

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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5. Program-a-Looza at #alaac15

Yesterday at the Networking Uncommons we held the first Program-a-Looza. This open share session, brainchild of Danielle Jones, Kahla Gubanich, Mary Pearl, and yours truly, focused on cheap, easy children’s programming for public libraries. Inspired by grassroots sessions, such as Guerrilla Storytime and YA Smackdown, Program-a-Looza was created as a way for children’s library staff to take home tangible programming ideas, tips, and resources.

During yesterday’s session participants were encouraged to brainstorm and bring their personal strengths and experiences to the table. First, each person shared a favorite easily replicable program. Ideas ranged from a simple recycled materials egg drop to cookie forensics, Halloween at the library to community member enhanced storytimes. Next, we picked a programming topic and spent 2 minutes brainstorming ideas using pens and sticky notes. This quick activity sparked a list of over 20 activity ideas around topics like multi-generational programming and STEAM for elementary.

Sound interesting to you? Stop by Program-a-Looza today at 11:30am at the Networking Uncommons. We’re planning to try Program,-a-Looza at midwinter in Boston, so keep your eyes open for those times as well!

The post Program-a-Looza at #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. #guerrillastorytime at #alaac15

Literacy is not a luxury and that’s just what children’s librarians at the Guerrilla Storytime events are trying to profess when we gather to share ideas and learn from each other. The first Guerrilla Storytime of the 2015 Annual Conference happened this afternoon and I wanted to share a little taste of what it’s like:

(Video taken by Abby Johnson at the Guerrilla Storytime event)

Children’s librarians from all over the country gathered at the ALA Networking Uncommons to demonstrate storytime skill and activities, to share tips on managing storytimes, and to learn from each other at this grassroots event.

While Guerrilla Storytimes happen at the ALA Annual and Midwinter Conferences, lots of librarians are making them happen at their state library conferences, too. The folks at Storytime Underground have created a Guerrilla Storytime toolkit that can help you bring this awesome training opportunity to wherever YOU happen to be!

There will be additional Guerrilla Storytimes held on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and you can follow the hashtag #guerrillastorytime to follow along at home (and add your expertise!).

— Abby Johnson, Youth Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN

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7. On Display: Create a Space for Your Youngest Library Patrons

In my library’s children’s area, we have a small glass display case at our desk with two shelves that looks like this:

DSC00787[1]

Each month, we let kids in up to 5th grade sign up to come into the library and share their favorite collection with the community (like the Mixels in the photo above). They get to set everything up in the display case themselves, which for most of them, is a big deal. (They get to come behind the desk where the librarians work!) Then a staff member interviews the kids about their collections which is used to create a flyer of the responses. These flyers are then displayed in an acrylic holder next to the display case.

Here are the questions we ask:

1. Child’s name and age

2. When did you start this collection?

3. How did you become interested in collecting this item?

4. Why do you like collecting this item?

5. What is your favorite piece in the collection?

6. Anything else to add about your collection?

7. Any other hobbies/interests?

8. School/Grade

Here are a couple of examples of the flyers I’ve created (Note: Identifying information has been removed):

Chloe

Sam

It’s always neat to see all of the things that our small patrons collect. We’ve had all kinds of different collections, from Barbies to baseball bobble-heads to rocks (although we most frequently get collections of cars or anything LEGO).

We take sign-ups twice a year on December 1st and January 1st. Siblings can sign up together and share the case if they are willing to do that.

It’s great because not only do the kids who sign up for the display love it, but the other kids who come in to the library get excited to see what’s new in the case each month. Plus, it takes very little preparation and implementation from the staff. My main duties as coordinator of the display case are:

  • Calling families to set up appointments to either pick up or set up their collection
  • Interviewing the participants
  • Creating a flyer of the responses

You can use any kind of display area in your library to do something similar, whether it’s a big case like ours or even as simple as the top of a shelving unit.

Do any of you do something like this at your library? Feel free to share in the comments!

Kim Castle-Alberts is the Chair 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 Library & Historical Society.

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8. Engage tweens with technology through Stop Motion Videos

Stop motion is an animation technique “to make a physically manipulated object or persona appear to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence,” (from Wikipedia). So, like Wallace and Grommet but, in our case, DIY and low-budget. I planned a stop motion program as a way of engaging tweens with the new set of iPads the Wellesley Free Library received thanks to a grant from the Wellesley Media Foundation. Tweens are a difficult audience to capture with technology programs, and after an unsuccessful QR code scavenger hunt, this seemed to be a fun idea that would attract tweens and leave them with new skills in using technology.

As I have written before, I am not the most technologically savvy of the new generation of children’s librarians. So I am always looking for a program idea where I can learn along with the kids, rather than needing to have prior knowledge or expertise. This hit the nail on the head. And it was fun too!

Here’s how it worked:

-I used Stop Motion Studio, a basic free app for iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. If your library has any of these devices, you can pre-load the app beforehand. Otherwise, kids who have their own personal devices may use these. Don’t worry if you do not have a large number of devices to use, because this is an activity that lends itself to working in teams. Having one device for every four kids is not only completely reasonable logistically, it also builds teamwork and collaboration. Kids will enjoy creating a story together, and taking turns playing different roles in the process.

-Next is the fun part: gathering the materials. What you need are basically toys, toys, and more toys. Working in a library that values play as an important practice for building early literacy skills, I have access to plastic animals, plushy body organs, dolls and doll house furniture, puppets, vehicles, wooden food, blocks, LEGOs, playdough, and much more. I’m sure most of you have a similar treasure trove at your fingertips. I gathered this all together along with an assortment of craft supplies, paper, and markers.

-When the participants arrived, I gave them a brief tutorial of the app. Because we were using the basic free version, we did not have access to all of the extra features which can be purchased within the app, such as sound effects, movie themes, and the ability to import images. But for a beginner class lasting only an hour, simple was fine. Some of the kids had made stop-motion videos before using the Nintendo DS, but none had used the app. They picked it up in no time. The free version of the app does include a function to change the speed of the video, and the ability to have the previous photo appear as a translucent image in the background of the camera finder, in order to more precisely see the minute change in each frame. These features were very helpful in creating the videos.

-Next I explained the concept of story-boarding, and encouraged the participants to plan out their frames before executing the video. Then they collected supplies and began to take pictures. In the end, we shared our videos with each other. The three who chose to share their video through the library’s Youtube channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEE6nkJzxnsQCemP82YXmZfLVhYE8uEzy

Overall summary:  Tweens enjoyed this fun and simple program, learned new skills on devices with which they were already somewhat familiar, and left with a sense of pride about their creations which some chose to share with the public through Library social media channels. The program’s success is determined greatly by the variety and whimsy of the materials you provide for making the videos.

Skills developed and strengthened: working using a tablet, digital photography, animation, story-boarding, working as a team.

Cost: $0

What programs have you done to engage tweens in technology? What has worked in your community?

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9. Fandom Jr. Update

Back in April, I wrote about how we are shaking up our Summer Storytime schedule and adding in a new program called Fandom Jr. The idea is to offer a drop in program on Friday mornings based on popular preschool topics and themes. I promised an update!

I hosted my first Fandom Jr. last week and it was a huge success! For our first program, I wanted to focus on community heroes, so we chose the popular Nick Jr. show, Paw Patrol. The program combined a little bit of a playtime, a little bit of a storytime, and lots of fun.

I had lots of various activities and stations set up around the room including:

  • Pin the badge on the pup (made by one of my amazing staff using materials from the Nick Jr website)
  • Community Helper dolls (from our circulating toy collection-we have three sets of  community helper action figures and this was a good way to highlight this collection as well)
  • Reading station filled with books about community helpers
  • Match the worker to their tools game-I had pictures of four workers-dentist, farmer, mail carrier, and fire fighter-as well as the tools they use.
  • Paw Patrol Coloring Sheets-(from the Nick Jr. website)
  • Paw Patrol Character Matching Game (again using resources from Nick Jr)
  • Write a letter to a community helper. I made a simple letter template and put out crayons and pencils for the kids to write.

I also set up a display of books and DVDs about community helpers. I started the program with a reading of Officer Buckle and Gloria and read I’m Brave about halfway through the accomodate the new crowd that had come in later in the morning. Over the course of our 2-hour drop in program, we had around 70 kids show up and play.

Even though it was a drop in program, most of the crowd showed up at 11:00, when we started, so it will be interesting to see how this week’s program works and if the crowd is more split up throughout the morning. The kids and parents both had a great time and it was fun to see them engaging in our Library resources and connecting a popular show with another topic. Most of the book display checked out which I thought was great! I’m eager to see how the rest of the series goes throughout the Summer!

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10. Prime Explorations

At the Lewisville Public Library, we host a weekly afterschool STEAM program for students in grades K-2 that focuses on STEAM-related topics.

Building Things

Building Things

We started offering this program, called Prime Explorations, in the Fall of 2013. During the preceding summer I participated in the online ALSC course “STEM Programs Made Easy”. The class lived up to its name! I learned ways to incorporate STEM ideas into programming that we already offered, and received best practices of how to plan new STEM events for youth.

At our library, two people plan and implement Prime Explorations. While we do occasionally repeat especially successful books and activities, we have developed many topics in the past two years including counting coins, origami, castles & catapults, nonstandard units, life cycles, and parts of the scientific method.

Tangrams

Tangrams

When this program first began, it replaced a storytime for 1st-3rd graders. We already incorporated some STEM activities in the programming, but we weren’t marketing it as such. Just changing the name and promoting the inclusion of STEM activities positively affected community interest and attendance numbers. Prime Explorations accommodates up to 20 attendees, and we let parents sit in. They help us during the individual hands-on activities; they are great helpers! In 2014, we went from STEM to STEAM as we incorporate some arts and craft activities into the programs.

Rubbings of Animal Tracks

Rubbings of Animal Tracks

There’s a rough template that we follow for Prime Explorations. It runs 45-55 minutes. We always start with at least one book about the topic. It may be a picture storybook or it may be informational picture book, depending on the topic and what we have in our collection. Sometimes we will not read an entire book but rather share interesting facts related to that week’s topic. (For example, did you know that a cockroach can live for a week without its head? It’s a fact that I can’t forget.) We then work as a group together on a guided exploration, and then we break up into smaller groups or work individually on one or more activities.

We always try to have additional activities that we know we may not get to; sometimes we don’t know how long a certain part of a program will take. As you can imagine, students work a different rates. We’ve learned over time what K-2 students can and cannot do, and we have adjusted our expectations and activities.

Marshmallow Structure

Marshmallow Structure

At the end of the program we distribute take-home sheets so that the students can talk with their families about the week’s topic and engage in further exploration. The sheets offer book suggestions, discussion starters and related activities.

If you are interested, I’d be happy to share some of our STEM program outlines or take-home sheets. I love reading about other library’s successful programs, so feel free to share yours in the comments below!

(All pictures courtesy of guest blogger)

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Our guest blogger today is Claudia Wayland. Claudia is the Youth Services Supervisor at the Lewisville Public Library in Lewisville, TX. She is on the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee and was selected to participate in the upcoming 2015 Texas Library Association TALL Texans Leadership Institute.

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 Prime Explorations appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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11. Coding Concepts for Preschoolers

In my library, we’re a little obsessed with coding.  We’ve been working on a project to introduce computational thinking and free coding resources to kids called Coder Time. For over a year, we’ve been searching for ways to teach our audience some complex ideas by experimenting with apps, activities, and lesson plans to create library programs (you can learn more about it here). While these programs were always for our older kids and tweens, we’ve been amazed at our youngest participants’ enthusiasm to jump right in. As we work with this age group, we keep finding overlap between coder concepts and early literacy skills.  For example, play teaches symbolic thinking, a skill important for both reading and coding.  Narrative skills help children understand story structure, but also strengthen computational thinking.  I’ve recently started incorporating coding concepts into my preschool storytimes.  After some trial and error and a mobbed flannel board, here’s what I have in the works:

Coder Values: Collaboration, perseverance, imagination, it’s all about attitude!  My favorite book for this is Today I Will Fly! by Mo Willems.  Partner with your parachute and kids can work as a team to make Gerald, or your elephant puppet, soar.

Algorithms: An algorithm is the set of instructions you follow to complete a task.  Understanding this is the first step in writing a program.  I’m using Lois Ehlert’s Growing Vegetable Soup to introduce the seed planting activity found in Course One of Code Studio. I also adapted their “Happy Maps” activity for use with a magnetic whiteboard. In a very simple maze of boxes, we help Bingo find his bone.  Apps like Kodable and Lightbot Jr. are too advanced for my preschool audience, so this lets me control the level of difficulty, and give the kids a more tactile experience.

Conditionals: Conditionals are pieces of code that only run when certain conditions are met.  They are the If/Then parts of coding.  A good introduction is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.  In looking for other ways to teach this, I found Linda Liukas’s Hello Ruby’s paper dolls. This inspired me adapt our “Teddy Wears a Red Shirt” flannel board. Teddy’s wardrobe has grown to include pajamas, yellow boots and a bathing suit.  If it’s raining, Teddy wears his rain boots all day long.

coding concepts preschoolers

Photo taken by the author of this blog post.

Throughout this process, our approach has always been to give families a taste of the possibilities that are out there, and help them discover that coding can be fun and accessible regardless of your background. As a result, a lot of these are variations on program staples.  If you have ideas for other ways of integrating coding into programming for preschoolers, please share!


Brooke Sheets is Children’s Librarian at Los Angeles Public Library’s Children’s Literature Department and is writing this post for the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. 

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12. Coloring page days of rage + Caption Contest

coloringpages-sm

Original comic by Lisa Nowlain

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

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

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

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

CAPTION CONTEST!

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

Come up with a funny caption in the comments!

Come up with a funny caption in the comments!

More resources on process art and alternatives to coloring pages:

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

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13. United Way-Partnerships that create Partnerships

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


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

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

Keri & Heather on trail

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

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

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

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

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15. Programming Over Breaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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16. Program in a Post: Tape Games

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

Lazer Maze

Lazer Maze

Supplies:

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

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

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

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

    Skee Ball

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

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

    Photo courtest of the author.

    Dump Truck Races

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

    Photo courtesy of the author.

    Spider Web

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

Format: Open house.

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

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17. Stealth Programming During Spring Break

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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20. Purposeful Play Programming

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

Introducing, SMART STARTS!

Smart Starts (2) Smart Starts (5)

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

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

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

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

CREATE YOUR OWN LEARNING THROUGH PLAY PROGRAM

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

Themes

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

Science Experiments

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

Crafts

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

Mini Library

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

Games

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

Other Activities

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

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

Tips for Success

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

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

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

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

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

(All photos courtesy Glen Ellyn Public Library)

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Photo by Stephanie Blackwell/GEPL

Photo by Stephanie Blackwell/GEPL

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

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

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

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21. Neighbors Read

Mini-library in Rochester, MN.

Mini-library in Rochester, MN.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In addition:

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

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

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

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

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

Mini-library in Slatterly Park, Rochester, MN.

Mini-library in Slatterly Park,   Rochester, MN.

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

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

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

 

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22. How are libraries celebrating Día?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coloring at a Día program

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

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

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

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

A family reads together at a Día program

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

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

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

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


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

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23. Sensory Storytime Resources on the ALSC Pinterest Account

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

screen grab provided by the author

screen grab provided by the author

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

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

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

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

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24. Poetry Paige

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

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

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

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

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

photo by Laura Purdie Salas

photo by Laura Purdie Salas

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

Irene Latham: Live Your Poem…ARTSPEAK

photo by Irene Latham

photo by Irene Latham

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

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

Photo by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Photo by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Amy wrote a poem from each letter of the alphabet!

A few more favorite poetry blogs/websites:

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

Children’s Poetry Book Lists:

Past ALSC Poetry Blog posts

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

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

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

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25. Putting it all together

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

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

Ingreadients

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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