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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Program Ideas, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. On the Road - 1000 Books B4 K and Programming Mightiness

Pixabay Image
I'm traveling to the beautiful southwestern part of WI along the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers to present a workshop on programming mightiness - and in particular 1000 Books Before Kindergarten how-to's. Below are the live links to the topics we plunged into!

While programming isn't all we do, it is certainly the most public and often the most pressured thing we do (from preparation to conflicting demands). Today we look at strategies to program smarter and more effectively; the importance of balance and how to fairly meet the many needs of our public - and our funders. Creating a zen balance between service to all ages, finding time to recharge and plan, learning to get off the hamster wheel of constant programming and program shares were just some of what we explored.

Here are the workshop resources that were shared with my colleagues:

Today's Workshop Pinterest board
Let 1000 Books Bloom Pinterest board
Basic Resources how-to post for 1000 Books
My general Pinterest boards  - (boards on different program types and samples)
Pixabay (free images)  
Struckmeyer, Amanda Moss.  DIY Programming and Book Displays: How to Stretch Your Programming without Stretching Your Budget and Staff. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.

A *Few * Favorite Programming Blogs:
Jbrary   (great resource list of blogs to explore!)
Mel’s Desk  (great resource list of blogs to explore!)
Kids Library Program Mojo (for a full list of fantastic program idea blogs AND great program idea posts- this is the class crowd-sourced blog from our spring CE course and has a ton of ideas from students!)

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2. On the Road - Develop Your Inner Superhero

Image: Pixabay
I'm back in my old stomping grounds on the eastern side of the state where I worked for 22 years presenting a workshop on programming superhero-dom (told you I've been thinking about that alot!).

This workshop is sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Association - it was a donation to their foundation auction and Winnefox Library System snapped it up. It's a great way of giving back to our association and also encouraging everyone to become state and national association members because, you know, together we are stronger!

While it has a superhero theme, the workshop isn't an SLP workshop.

As I mentioned in my last post, while programming isn't all we do, it is certainly the most public and often the most pressured thing we do (from preparation to conflicting demands). Today we looked at strategies to program smarter and more effectively; the importance of balance and how to fairly meet the many needs of our public - and our funders. Creating a zen balance between service to all ages, finding time to recharge and plan, learning to get off the hamster wheel of constant programming and program shares were just some of what we explored.

What you couldn't be there? Drat! Well, there's a 6 week online UW-Madison SLIS course I'm teaching around the concepts in the workshop starting January 26 (registration is now open).

Here are the workshop resources that were shared with my colleagues:

Develop Your Inner Superhero Workshop Pinterest board
My general Pinterest boards  - (boards on different program types and samples)
Pixabay (free images)  
Struckmeyer, Amanda Moss.  DIY Programming and Book Displays: How to Stretch Your Programming without Stretching Your Budget and Staff. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.

A *Few * Favorite Programming Blogs:
Jbrary   (great resource list of blogs to explore!)
Mel’s Desk  (great resource list of blogs to explore!)
Kids Library Program Mojo (for a full list of fantastic program idea blogs AND great program idea posts- this is the class crowd-sourced blog from our spring CE course and has a ton of ideas from students!)

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3. Elephant and Piggie Party!

I love programming with school age kids - both early elementary friends and older elementary. One of my all-time favorites is Elephant and Piggie from the delightful early elementary books written by Mo Willems. Why?

First, kids love this goofy pair. Second, I love this goofy pair. Third, lots of you out in the blogosphere have shared your wonderful programs. My Pinterest board is happily full of enough fantastic ideas to do this book-themed party many times with many different activities!

Finally, this program is is a perfect example of #unprogramming - lots of ideas stored away to use, capitalizing on strong kid interest, books to share with kids, children free to explore and interact with stations and extremely small preparation.

To begin we read three books:
We are in a Book
There is Bird on Your Head
I Broke My Trunk

I set up three stations of stuff for kids and parents to play with:
1) Elephant and Piggie paper bag puppets. Because we have a fantastic business manager, we just happened to have pink and blue bags to make this easier. We found the ideas and patterns here.
2. Bird on My Head Hat. Using a bowl, pom poms, crepe paper for nesting, yarn  and a pigeon cut-out, kids could make a nest for their heads. I mean really, who can resist this?!?! Thanks Abby!

3. Get Well Card for Elephant - markers, card sized sheets and stickers were all we needed.
Kids happily listened, explored and made for the entire program. My biggest job was taking a few photos to preserve the moment. When programs celebrate books, the kids feel like winners and this librarian feels like a superhero - connecting kids and a love of books!


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4. Chocolate Fountain of Creativity

As we come to the final posts on the School Age Programming survey Lisa Shaia and I developed, the spotlight turns to YOU. Our respondents generously shared the many ways that they find programming ideas.

The breakdown:

We are wired, baby!

The internet, web, google searches, listservs like pubyac and alsc were mentioned 92 times. Pinterest and library blogs were mentioned 57 and 59 times respectively. It is clear that respondents used the rich content available online to spark ideas and find new content.

But lest you think we are tied to our phones, tablets and PCs, I must disabuse you of this notion based on survey responses!

Another huge source of inspiration was talking, brainstorming, collaborating and chatting with colleagues. 62 respondents found this method of inspiration to be a great idea source. Another 34 found in-person conferences, workshops and meetings to be invaluable in their idea generation for programs. And 34 respondents found their ideas in print sources - journals and magazines, professional resource books and newsletters. SLP manuals were the go-to inspiration for an additional 11 respondents.

Plus a huge source of inspiration (28 mentions) is the media, popular culture and what books and series are hot with kids.

And finally, on a more personal level, many, many people said their inspiration came from talking to kids, teachers, parents and families. They celebrated their own imagination and ideas ("warped mind," "in dreams," "idea fairy," "the recycling bin") as well as dipping into their own experience or files to come up with great content. And many simply stated that ideas for programs are everywhere.

They are indeed.  To see additional survey results, please stop here, here, here, here and here.

Image: 'Chocolate fountain #nomz'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/12700556@N07/6876057805
Found on flickrcc.net

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5. On the Road in Jackson Mississippi

Today I am with colleagues in Jackson Mississippi. It's a whirlwind tour of unprogramming, stealth (or passive) programming and even a few pieces on partnerships.  I promised everyone clickable links to programs that had blog posts/websites, so here we go!

Unprogramming - 7 part series with Amy Koester starts here

Sample Programs
Stealth (passive) Programs
DIY programs



Big thanks to my hosts in Mississippi and all my colleagues there (*waves*). Huge shout-outs also go out to my marvelous YS team at La Crosse Public Library, my admin team buddies, my friends and colleagues in WI libraries, my got-yer-back blogging and twitter friends and colleagues and my unprogramming co-conspirator Amy Koester. Without all the inspiration, support and brainstorming, I wouldn't be the librarian I am and doing the things I do today. You guys rock my world!

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6. Let's Go to School Together Again!

Hey friends out in youth library land....I'm baaaaaack!

We had such a great time in spring exploring together the range of youth programming and smart and savvy ways to make it easier, that I am repeating the course beginning in January.

Join me for  Power Children's Programming - on a Budget, a six week on-line course for the UW Madison SLIS Continuing Education beginning the week of January 26. It is open to anyone, in-state or out-of-state, who is interested in this subject.

This course is perfect for any youth staffer interested in digging more deeply into programming for children, preschool through elementary ages. We'll explore: why we do what we do; how to do it better; negotiating the tricky currents of available staff, time, money and patron reactions.  You'll expand your community of programming peeps through robust dialogue, program shares and down-right feisty argument. 

Since it's an asynchronous course, you can dip into the content anytime each week. Lectures and readings are a mix of written text, webinars, slideshares, video and links to seminal posts about programming from bloggers including  Sara BryceAnne Clark, Amy Comers, Melissa Depper,  Abby Johnson, Amy Koester, Angie Manfredi, Brooke Newberry, Katie Salo, Beth Saxton and our friends at the ALSC, Little eLit and Thrive Thursday blogs.

We'll revive our class programming blog Kids Library Program Mojo that will fill with new content as the ideas and programs start popping up in the course and being shared. Coursework in this pass/fail course takes about 2-3 hours a week and the two brief assignments allow you to hone your thinking on programming (be an advocate!) and create/share a program. What could be more fun?

I hope you consider joining me for this most excellent learning adventure. I plan to learn as much as I teach!

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

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7. Unprogramming Part 5: Why It Works!

Amy Koester of Show Me Librarian and I are tag-teaming at our blogs this week to report out the Chicago ALA Conversation Starter -Unprogramming: Recipes for School Age Success - that we led on Monday July 2 (see below for links to the whole series).  Please join our continuing conversation in the comments or on Twitter by using the hashtag #unprogramming.

What is it about unprogramming that we are so high on?

One of the key pieces is that planning is greatly simplified - a matter of tagging ideas you read in blogs or hear from colleagues into a manila folder, Evernote, Pinterest or into whatever “possible ideas” bin you favor. Checking publisher and author sites, books in the collection and google results in possible activities.  This very low-level on-going "aha!" planning lets staff address their other work without being overwhelmed as a program is decided upon and the date of the event approaches.

Keeping the action within the program conversational and letting kids discover on their own contributes to the ease and simplified planning. By allowing kids more agency within the program, staff become free to guide rather than lead. One thing you quickly discover is how much kids enjoy the program when they have responsibility and freedom to direct their activities and make discoveries, talk about a book or author or the process they are going through.

Worried about helping staff transition between over-planned programs and unprogramming? To create staff buy-in, encourage spending less time on preparation by connecting the budgetary dots: too much time spent prepping a stand-alone program isn’t financially worth it for the institution. 

Consider partnering with an over-planner and modeling planning and doing a program together to show how preparation can be kept simple and the program rewarding.  Goal setting with staffers can also be helpful. Challenge staffers to spend no more than 2 hours of prep per school-age program.  Also encourage strategic thinking: if you spend money or time buying or creating a prop, where else can it be used.

The results are more mellow preparation, less emphasis on process and more on relaxed chatting and activities that relate directly to books.

Stop by Amy's blog today to discover our Pinterest page full of programs and a real life example of how unprogramming works! 

Unprogramming series
Part 5 - Why It Works!
Part 6 -
Part 7 -
Part 8 -

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8. Unprogramming Part 7: Sharing the Goods

Amy Koester of Show Me Librarian and I are tag-teaming at our blogs this week to report out the Chicago ALA Conversation Starter -Unprogramming: Recipes for School Age Success - that we led on Monday July 2 (see below for links to the whole series).  Please join our continuing conversation in the comments or on Twitter by using the hashtag #unprogramming. 

Amy and I were both so excited to have a chance to share the thoughts behind unprogramming at a national conference level. And we were uber pleased to have a SRO crowd of colleagues come to the program.

What's fun about unprogramming is that it really isn't new. Most of you are doing unprogramming already in big and little ways. We are simply pulling the threads together and encouraging everyone to try this more mellow approach and see real benefits. Just starting the conversation, so to speak.

The audience at our program joined the conversation and shared great ideas of how they have used the unprogramming concept in their programs.  Below are a few quick ideas people shared of programs they are doing:

Painting to Music - kids pull up music on YouTube and then paint while listening to it. Disfferent beats elicit different art responses. The art the kids create is then hung in the room.

Stamping - using Ed Emberley's books as inspiration, kids use stampers and stamp pads to create their own nique creations.

Bibliobop - combining books with music and dance

"Training Camps" - train kids to be a cowboy or pirate or logger or astronaut in these free-form programs that allow kids to pick up "skills" they need to become mighty.

Book Club - kids choose individual books to each read and then videotape interviews with each other booktalking their choice.

Guys Read Club - always done with a book component as well as a "smashing" component (water balloons off a roof; TV drop)

Plus Stuffed Animal Sleepovers, Teddy Bear Clinics, Messy Art Club!

Please share ideas for your unprograms in the comments or under the #unprogramming hashtag on twitter.

We storified the twitter feed for more audience reactions and ideas.  Amy will finish our series today with our slide deck.

Thanks for joining us so we could share the fun of this program from ALA in the blogosphere with all of you. And thanks to Amy for being the best presentation partner one could have!

Unprogramming series
Part 6 - A Collection of Programs & a Testimonial
Part 7 - Sharing the Goods
Part 8 -

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9. Storytime Underground is Live

Those fabulous youth services leaders Amy Koester, Cory Eckert and Kendra Jones have just "officialized"  Guerrila Storytime in it's own fabulous website, Storytime Underground

Not content to just invent Guerilla Storytime and premiere it at Chicago ALA, these ninjas have created a space to share storytime tips and tricks, best practices and materials and all-around support each other around a service that the vast majority of libraries offer - storytime!

Stop here and get excited about sharing YOUR mad storytime skillz in this new movement!

Let's hear it for "frontline literacy warriors!"

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10. Library Camp-out

This was our second year of doing an after-hours Friday evening camp-out at the library.  About a half hour after the library closes at 6pm, we re-open for kids and families who are ready to read and camp. Campers are invited to bring sheets or blankets and a flashlight.

Everyone enters the children's area where the lights are off (but since it's summer we have plenty of natural light). Teen volunteers have cleared the tops of shelves and pulled chairs out from tables to create maximum scaffolding to create cozy tents and reading nooks. As families come in we invite them to create a tent and read for 20 minutes or so. We have extra sheets and blankets for those who come without (note to self: next year have some extra flashlights in hand).

The tents kids and parents come up with are nothing short of delightful  - I mean talk about the "E" in STEM. Thoughtful engineering goes into each reading nook created with blankets and book anchors.

After about twenty minutes we gather everyone together for a program. Last year we did spooky stories. This year, with our Dig into Reading theme we had another idea!

While colleague Sara Bryce was at a NASA-sponsored workshop the previous year at UW-Madison, she had learned about a loan program from the UW Geology Museum. Need some interesting rocks or geodes? Why, you can check them out for six months!  We had a collection of geodes from near (IA) and far (Madagascar) that we had on "no-touch" display for a month. Now was the time to unlock the case and get up close and personal with these crytaline wonders.

When kids entered the program room, there were geodes everywhere. Sara did a fascinating presentation using styrofoam bowls and food coloring to show how geodes form and booktalked a book on dragons (geodes and dragon eggs).  Then kids and families got to touch and examine the geodes. We gathered them again, handed out Tootsie Pops (how more geode-like could a treat be?) and I shared a story next to our fake camp-fire.

Camp-outs are a great way to create an "exclusive" feeling program where families get the library to themselves. With minimal preparation and kid-led activities (unprogramming!!), everyone comes away feeling great. Well-worth it!

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11. The Dirt on Dirt #Unprogramming

My Wisconsin colleague Terry Ehle is our guest blogger today. She took unprogramming to heart and shares the dirt...on dirt. Terry has been a youth librarian for 15 years in Two Rivers, WI population 11,696. She says this about herself, “The thing I love most about my job is that it's never boring. If I lose interest in what I am doing I can change it. "What we've always done" does not apply at my library and I love it. I am really passionate about early literacy and want every child in my area to enter school ready to read. I enjoy talking about books with young adult readers and get a secret rush when asked, ‘Do you have any suggestions?.’ I love Zombie fiction and the color pink. Being a librarian is the most challenging job I have ever had and I wouldn't want to do anything else!”
After reading the posts about Unprogramming, I decided to share a successful unprogram at my library based on the book “Dirt” by Ellen Lawrence and 2 ideas I found online.  This book is a part of the FUNdemental Experiment s series by Bearport Publishing.  Easy, inexpensive ideas in this book. We had 75 kids attend and my maintenance man is still talking to me so it was a success!
5 Stations:
Egg Shell Geodes – Super simple even for a big group.  The hardest part is getting the egg shells and that wasn’t even that hard.  Crack the eggs near the top so you have more shell to pour into and rinse.  Mix together 1 tbsp. hot (but not boiling) water and 1 tbsp. Epsom salt.  If all the salt dissolves add a little more.  Add a drop of food coloring if you want, pour into egg shell and stick in fridge for a couple of days.  I put the eggs in Dixie cups for the kids to take home.  See picture to see how they turned out.  I also had some real geodes that the kids could explore.
Dirt Catchers – Create a frame using popsicle sticks, add a loop of yarn to hang, tape a piece of packing tape across frame so that one sticky side is facing out and hang in a corner to see how much diit is in the air.
Worm Discovery – Get 2 tubs of night crawlers from a bait shop and set out wet paper towels to put them on.  Let kids use magnifying glasses to observe what the worms do.  The book has some other things to try.  I had an adult supervise this one.
Dirt & Water – Using baby food jars and a few different types of dirt dug up from around town, have kids put dirt in jar and add water.  Cover, shake, observe.  It’s weird but different dirt does different things.
Dirt Discovery – I made copies of a piece of paper with 3 sections – living, non-living, once living and gave each child a cup of dirt.  They poured the dirt onto the paper and dug through it with a toothpick and tried to find things in each category.  One child even found a worm!
The only talking I did was to let everyone know what the stations were.  I had a volunteer at the egg geode and the worm stations.  The only supplies I bought were worms ($5.00) and Epsom salt ($3.00).  Everything else I had on hand.  If it seems complex it wasn’t, other than gathering egg shells from coworkers and eating lots of omelets myself, I pulled this together in 2 days.
More pictures on Flickr:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/lesterpubliclibrary/


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12. So Seuss-ified

We like to do a little Seuss fun around his birthday and the national efforts surrounding Read Across America Day. As Sara pointed out as we were planning our spring (ha!) programs, that day serendipitously fell on a Sunday this year - program - better yet, #unprogram!!

Over the years of my active storytelling (semi-retired from that freelancing now but it helped pay off my student loans!), I always got lots of bookings around this time at schools. I have a bagful of goodies to create Dr. Seuss fun so I am always up for all things Seuss especially when there is a larger national effort to spotlight his books.

I remember the days when his books flew off the shelves all the time. In our community, Seuss books are shelf sitters for the most part during the year. There is a flurry of action in February leading up to his birthday (we put limits on numbers of Seuss titles checked out by any one patron at any one time during this time). Then during the first few days of March everyone remembers the good doctor again and, with the spotlight on, a program of Seuss fun is always welcome and always well attended.

Here is my sure fire success recipe for the Dr. Seuss program for ages 3-8 where the focus is firmly on the books and their inherent goofiness. Hope you can use it too!

I Wish That I had Duck Feet by Theo. LeSieg
The funniest "I-didn't-know-that-was-a-Dr.-Seuss" book. I love to talk about how Dr. Seuss' real name was Theodore Geisel and that he loved to play with words and letters in his books and in  his name too. I point out that LeSieg is his last name spelled backwards. If we do a related activity with this book, I have them write their first or last name backward and come up with their own pen name!

I "tell" this book rather than read it although I use the book to show the very fun pictures. I have props I use to represent the deer horns, whale spout, tail, duck feet and elephant nose and often have kids come on up from the audience to hold on to them during the story. It is a screaming easy story to use and always kicks off the program with a bang.
I mine the book Sneetches: and Other Stories for two of my favorite stories. The first is one of the shortest and most unknown stories Dr. Seuss every wrote: Too Many Daves about the unfortunately unimaginative parent who named all her offspring Dave and now wishes she had given them more unique names. I have little cards I make with all the 23 names and give them out to kids in the audience - well, and grown-ups and babies too (Babies get "Stinky" and an adults get "Oliver Boliver Butt" and "Paris Garters" and no one's feeling are hurt). Everybody loves this.

The second one is the scariest, spookiest story Dr. Seuss ever wrote: What Was I Scared Of? about a particularly ominous pair of pale green pants - with nobody inside them! We dim the lights a bit and off we go.

Stretch: One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish Dr. Seuss-y
I make up red fish cards and blue fish cards and kids get one of each. To the tune of the hokey pokey, we put our one fish out, then two fish, then red, then blue fish. Great fun for the kids and a nice link to the book that we have on display.

Goodbyes: kids always get a star sticker on their belly.

That is our half hour in a nutshell. I usually pick up a Read Across America packet at the ALA conference and copy an activity sheet or two for kids take home and sometimes have a giant birthday card to sign. It's a great easy way to link into a national PR effort, create fun with almost no preparation effort and celebrate books - a perfect unprogram event!

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13. School Age Power!

So happy to see some action in the blogosphere with school age programming content.  Some recent news:

A brand new blog from Library Village with school age content called Librarian Out Loud. The very first post is a winner breaking down how to be fabulously successful with a rainbow band loom.

Thrive Thursday, a movement to share school age content started by Lisa Shaia, has officially grown  into a monthly blog hop hosted by different bloggers on the first Thursday of each month. Lisa hosted the first monthly version in February and Jennifer at Jean Little blog just posted the second hop last week. Be sure to watch for these gatherings of school ideas. Upcoming hosts and blog hosts include Annie at sotomorrow, Sara at Bryce Don't Play, Amy at Show Me Librarian and even me at Tiny Tips. Be sure to share your programs!

Drop by and check them out!

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14. It's a Wrap!

It's time for a report-out and a shout-out because we finished the six-week online UW-Madison CE class: Power Children's Programming - on a Budget! Although I organized the information and loaded it up on the platform, I can tell you that each and every student made this a deep, useful (and...krikey I don't have enough praise-worthy adjectives to express the phenom that happened) course.

From the start, the class of 24 librarians from libraries of all sizes in WI and across the country jumped in and shared, cared, supported and explored programming. There were "Aha!" moments, "Oh no!" moments and discoveries about programming made everywhere.

At the beginning of the course, I told the class I didn't have the answers, only the questions everyone should ask themselves when we begin to put our programs together. And I asked everyone, no matter their circumstance or experience, to share generously in the discussion boards their own journeys, program ideas and discoveries. And did they ever. It was nothing to see 200 substantive posts a week, chock full of deep thoughts and great program ideas.

A huge thank you to the library folks in class for making this the experience that helped me learn so much more about programming and your libraries than I ever dreamed I could. I am so wealthy after these six weeks that's it's hard for me not to be all

(Thanks to Sara Bryce, my blog is sporting it's first gif!)

We didn't use a textbook. Rather, the class went through blog posts related to our content written by many of our thoughtful colleagues. So a gigantic high five goes out to you, my blogosphere friends and colleagues. YOU made this course as well:  Abby at Abby the Librarian,  Amy at Catch the Possibilities , Amy at the Show Me Librarian,  Angie at Fat Girl, Reading, Anne at so tomorrow,  Beth at Beth ReadsBrooke at Reading with Red,  Carissa at Librarymakers, Cen at Little eLit, Julie at Hi Miss Julie, Leah at Keeping Up with Kids, Lisa at Thrive After ThreeMel at Mel's DeskSara at Bryce Don't Play, Tessa at Growing Wisconsin Readers and the many contributors to the ALSC blog who shared programs.      

The sharing of ideas sparked by the blog posts and the class made it a totally worthwhile trip. And now that the CE teaching bug has bit, what should I teach next?!?!                

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15. Idea Sparklers #10 - Fun Notes from the Field

Continuing my swing through Kansas, I found myself in the lovely area of Great Bend. I was able to steal away before and after the workshop to immerse myself in two nearby natural areas: Cheyenne Bottoms and the Quivira Wildlife Refuge. The migrating birds were just starting through and, along with the warm welcome from my Central Kansas Library System colleagues and host/consultant extraordinaire Marquita Boehnke and system staff, it made my workshop day special.

Book Relays - held before the library opens, the teams of kids are given lists of books and have to find them and then run back to the next person. A Scholastic Book Fair is also set up at the SLP Kick-off and volunteers make cookies.

SLP Incentives - a local (and generous) woodworker makes big cut-outs from the SLP theme. Each child gets one and decorates with stickers and can bring home at the end of the summer program.

Outside Fun
Outdoor Water Day - held on the front lawn, kids do a sponge relay; a water balloon toss and popsicles are served. As people drive by they are attracted to all the excitement and it is great PR.

Fill big buckets with water and paint and let kids paint outside

Cook hotdogs for kids and let them do sidewalk chalk art.

Popsicles in Gelatin - Get an ice chest and fill with unflaveored gelatin. Stick popsicles inside before it gels. Kids have to reach through to get to their popsicles.

4 H Ambassadors/Actor's Guild/Teen lifeguards - they volunteer to come in to plan games for the library and run them as well. A great way to partner with volunteers to extend fun.

Final Party - was so popular it had to be split into two different days. Found Little Caesers to be generous donor - they not only provided inexpensive pizza but staffed and served it!

SLP Sign-ups - libraries use google docs for sign-up since the doc can be open in multiple locations. Others use gmail form to pop into google docs. Google also has the plus of analytics, plug-ins and easy web-linking to enhance tracking.

Beat the Heat - after programs are over, a movie is run and kids invited to bring pillows. Popcorn is provided. It's a great way for kids to stay cool.

Read to a Dog - a great program for readers.

Book Parties - fun focusing on popular book characters subjects like Captain Underpants or SuperHero Party. Lots of stations and kids enjoy.

Find more in the Idea Sparklers series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8   0 Comments on Idea Sparklers #10 - Fun Notes from the Field as of 4/10/2012 12:19:00 PM
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16. Blogger Heaven - Wisconsin Style

When I started my blog almost five years ago, I wanted to talk specifically about children's services in libraries. However, I didn't just want to talk.  I wanted to listen to others too.  I thought about how the pubyac listserv served that purpose wonderfully. Still, I wanted to read longer pieces so my blog search was on.  It was a bit lonely there for awhile.  I could find lots of book reviewing blogs but it was a struggle to find blogs that talked about my passion - how we do our children's public library work good. 

As the year's have rolled on, I slowly built up more and more blogs on my RSS feed where lots of content addressed programs, planning, behaviors, thoughts and issues in youth public library services that I could learn from.

I want to list a few of my favorite local blogs about youth services here in case you don't know them and want to add them to your arsenal of great stops. They don't do much book reviewing but spend lots of space talking about issues in our youth library world. Here is where you can read about youth services - Wisconsin style!

Heart of a Child - I'll start with the newest first. Good friend and colleague (and writer, humorist, former children's librarian, storyteller, youth lit prof and raconteur) Rob Reid steps up and into blogging through the Children's Literature Network.  He hopes to blog 3-4 times a month.

Bryce Don't Play - in the interest of full disclosure, Sara is one of my YS team members. Brand new to public children's librarianship (but not to kids - she has been a 2nd grade teacher and received a Masters in Reading as well as her MLIS), she brings a fresh and quirky eye to everything from delving into chapter books as a selector to the thought processes behind fun programs she has developed that are wild successes. No punches are pulled.

Future Librarian Superhero - a chance meeting at a conference brought me into contact with Anna K, a thoughtful, funny and hard working youth librarian/assistant director in a small community in Northern WI. Active in Flannel Friday and in the twitterverse, her blog is mostly quiet but when she has something to say, you want to be reading it.

Come into Delight - my dear friend and colleague, Georgia Jones works in a small library up nort' in WI.  She is inventive, creative and shares her program ideas complete with pictures and tips. Many of my programs that have been born from and built on her creativity and that of her library co-worker, Cynthia.

Jen the Youth Services Librarian - again, in the interest of being honest, Jen is my protege in We Lead, a great initiative sponsored by our WI Library Association. She is a year or two into her job in a small suburban library outside of Milwaukee and is rocking it out.  Although the blog isn't uber active, each time she posts, there is something exciting being thought up, reported on or experienced. Always worth a visit.

Keeping Up with Kids - this blog is administered on the syste

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17. Star Wars Day- May the 4th Be With You

I've just put up a post at the Wisconsin Library Association's YSS blog with great links to Star Wars party ideas for the summer. Check it out!

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18. Pop Culture Book Hooks

I loved the recent post at the Nerdy Book Club blog about taking advantage of the hype and publicity surrounding the publishing of a book to ramp up excitement in the library. I would also include the debut of a movie or DVD in this strategy to get kids interested in books and characters. And of course just linking in to popular series and trends that kids are interested in is golden too!

Over the years we have found that this is a great way to get kids excited AND to take advantage of material and activities provided by the publisher or movie studio to enhance the fun. And often, since the media is also participating in publicizing the book/movie, it creates a higher awareness among the kids and parents about the material and a ready-made audience for anything you do.

In past few years, there has been a bonanza of movies out based on children's and teen books. It's great fun to use the movie PR to link back to the book. Most recently, we (and many others in school and public libraries)  had fun with the Hunger Games. Our teen librarian got some movie posters available at the theater that added fun and a look of authenticity to her party before the movie premiere. When we did Diary of a Wimpy Kid (both movies and books) parties, we found Abrams to be extremely helpful with PR and activity kit material.

Book debuts are fertile ground for fun too. Many libraries participated in Rick Riordan's roll-out in May of his Serpent's Shadow, last book in the Kane Chronicles series heavily hyped through social networking sites and by his publisher.  My colleagues at Hedberg Library in Janesville just did a Zombie Prom to coincide with Friday the 13th and the general interest in zombies. Libraries have focused fun teen parties on steampunk, Harry Potter, Twilight. Kids parties and workshops are also abundantly represented - Captain Underpants, Pete the Cat, Fancy Nancy, -Ology  (based on the Drake books), Mo Willems and more. Book trailers, which are becoming much more prevalent, add to the fun.

By keeping a weather eye on and hooking up to what is popular and trending with kids in the book and media world, we can create fun events for kids that celebrate books and bring in eager kids to our libraries.

Has it worked for you?

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19. Star Wars - Instant Fun

We held a Star Wars party last week that went swell. We used lots of ideas from here , invited kids to come in costume (they did) and we were able, with the great good help of Abdo Publishing, to have a real live storm trooper and Abdo Rep (who both traveled 6 hours round trip to be at our library) and a life-size Darth Vader cardboard stand-up.
I was away on vacation but my colleague posted this photo on our library Facebook page asking for captions.  I listed a few of them.  Let me just say, I love our patrons!
    *Mr Vadar is busy, may I take a message?
    *These aren't the books we're looking for...

    *Hello mom

    *Hello? This is TK-421.
We look forward to Saturday October 6 for our Star Wars Read Day!

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    20. Ooooh, Got It!

    Finding ideas is always a challenge. I love checking up on my blog roll of buddies; trolling through Pinterest; seeing what my peeps have to say on pubyac; keeping half an eye on my twitter feed - all for that "Aha!" moment. The other day, Amy over at The Show Me Librarian shared more great spots for ideas that I had never seen.  Thank you Amy!

    Any other tips for inspiration out there? What are we all missing?

    3 Comments on Ooooh, Got It!, last added: 9/5/2012
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    21. Get a Fresh Start - Unprogramming Webinar

    I'm doing a webinar along with three of my favorite BFF-brarians on Wednesday March 6, sponsored by our state library agency. My part is on unprogramming - freeing yourself to play with content, literacy and kids as leaders in programs. What's about the rest? Read on:

    Your youth services might be a well-oiled machine of systematic displays and story times, but how often do you look at WHY you do what you do? Sometimes you need to reinvent the wheel and break the mold. Hear from three youth services experts in the state on ways think of yourself as an educator (versus entertainer), literacy enthusiast (versus craft expert), and life changer (versus summer library soldier).

    Mark your March calendar for:
    3:00-4:00pm Wednesday, March 6, 2013
    Hosts: Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, DPI Library Consultant; Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System Youth Services and Outreach Coordinator; Sharon Grover, Hedberg Public Library (Janesville) Head of Youth Services; Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library Head of Youth Services

    No need to register—just click the link on the scheduled meeting day and time. Sign in with your first name or library/school name. Webinars will be recorded and archived for later viewing. 
    Here are some links referenced on the webinar to leave you an easy trail (I've scribbled links at webinars - all incorrectly so I want to give attendees a break):

    Barbara Scott's Children's Programming blog - not too active recently except for Lego programs, but go back and find detailed plans for book parties. She is the inspiration for the way our programs have become unprogrammed!
    Pubyac is the mother of all youth listservs. While stumpers can dominate, the programs shared are dynamite.

    teachingbooks.net is rich with content focusing on youth book creators: trailers, author interviews, discussion questions and more.

    Bryce Don't Play - yes, Sara works with me. Her blog is truly a trip into a young librarian's journey to awesome - from programs described to the ways of thinking why she does what she does. In this post she explains how to stay au courant with kids' passions and obsessions.

    Pinterest. It's how I program now; I can say nothing more.

    Hope you join us for an interactive good time!

    Image: 'Eggs-tra Special for You, Happy Easter!'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/66606673@N00/450373034 Found on flickrcc.net

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    22. How Sweet It Is!

    I love bloggers that sweetly share serious program how-to's on their blogs - from storytimes to school age successes. The best blogs also share tips on what to do differently and time-saving, staff-saving thoughts on future iterations of their programs.

    Mollie Kay over at What Happens in Storytime... helped me out by doing just that. She posts about her life-sized Candyland program with a wonderfully detailed post chock-full of helpful pictures. Although we tried this once, it wasn't quite what we'd hoped for. But after reading this post I am excited to go at it again using her tips and a great list of resources. Thanks Mollie!

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    23. Percolating Programs

    I grew up in those rare and wonderful old days of percolating coffee pots. Mom would put the makings in that pot, turn up the heat and I would watch as the coffee slowly started popping up inside the little glass bubble on top. It would perc furiously away until the kitchen was filled with a rich coffee smell and the coffee was done.

    I feel like that's how programs happen lots of times.  Put the makings in the pot - some ideas seen on blogs, Pinterest or ones just rolling around in your mind; some great books that support the program; some ideas of story extension ideas - let that perc around your brain for a few hours, days or weeks and soon you have a tasty program brew ready to serve up to the kids before you know it.

    My favorite brews are always made up of a mix of beans. For storytimes and preschool events, I look for posts and ideas from my many storytime/Flannel Friday colleagues - many of which can be found on this resource page from Mel's Desk.

    For school age fun I stop by the Show Me Librarian, Future Librarian Superhero, Bryce Don't Play, ALSC blogBeyond the Book Storytimesso tomorrow, Come into Delight, Keeping Up with Kids, Abby the Librarian, GreenBeanTeenQueen, library makers and, new to me, Fat Girl Reading

    With such a rich mix of ideas, my program brew is always in tasty shape. What blogs or boards do you follow to find your inspirational programming brew?

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    24. Rich Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: Start with a Book Blog Tour

    This week I'm joining the Start with a Book blog tour organized by Amy over at Show Me Librarian.

    It was an easy yes when Amy asked if I might be interested in participating. The Start with a Book site is so rich I almost feel like a millionaire when I am using it. So.much.at.my.fingertips.

    As busy librarians, we juggle so many balls in the air - desk work, programming, budgets, selection, displays, outreach, planning and more. So time is often precious no matter what size library we work at. With summer around the corner, the speed of the balls increases exponentially.

    When I discovered this resource, a project of Reading Rockets, my work got immeasurably easier.  While the site supports parents and caregivers, it a treasure trove for librarians as well. I'd like to sprinkle some gold and jewels on one of my favorite parts of the website: the 24 Learning Summer Themes.Once there we are greeted by lots of fresh-faced and diverse children ready to take us on incredibly rich adventures in math, science, social studies - all with strong literacy support.

    Pick a theme, click, and scream with happiness!  You find a  list of excellent book titles for multiple ages that can be used as a selection tool to strengthen your collection or to pull for a display inhouse if you already own them at the library.  You also discover a nifty downloadable pdf  "Reading Adventure Pack" that supplies activities, questions and information on effectively using both fiction and non-fiction books for kids. These packs could easily be put together and made available to your families to check out.

    Each theme also has a number of resources  featuring more activities, videos, apps and exemplary websites for kids and families to browse to learn more information. One of the perks of this portion of the theme is it lays out rich content that can be easily used to build programs for kids at the library.  Everything in the themes truly underscores literacy and adventure for kids.

    It's almost a steal to have this kind of resource at our fingertips as librarians. If you haven't been here before, be sure to dig into this treasure chest of ideas not only for summer but also year round!

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    25. Unprogramming - Can We Talk?

    The concepts of creating school-age programs that take a reasonable amount of preparation time, are engaging and lead to literacy, and allow kids the freedom to explore within the program have been buzzing around in my conversations with colleagues and tweeps over the past few months. We all are exploring how, in a period of tight budgets and staff time, we can make the fun happen without killing ourselves. How can we "unprogram" ourselves - and our programs?

    Program preparation for school age programs is important but where is the line drawn when the time spent preparing is two, three, five, or even ten times more than the actual program length itself?  Are we, as programmers, leading the charge in the program or empowering the kids in their exploration - are we guides or drill sargeants? Is there a way to organically link the books and materials that surround us every day into the programs and then back again to the collections so that kids understand the fundamental amazingness of the library and its resources?

    These questions have led to many conversations and ideas. One of the people I have looked to during this conversation is Amy Koester over at the Show Me Librarian. And now Amy and I would like you to join this conversation at ALA in a few weeks. We will be presenting a 45 minute  "Conversation Starter" on Monday July 1 at 1:30 pm at the Mc Cormick Center Rm S102D.

    During this time we want to explore with you ideas on making programming more rich while keeping preparation in perspective.  We'll also share resources that have helped us free ourselves and keep programming and preparation in perspective in our necks of the woods.

    We think it's high time we start talking about this...how about you?

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