"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

21 March 2017

Felt Board: My Little Pony


Besides Pokemon, My Little Pony is probably the most popular show among my young patrons. I created some felt characters so the older kids would have something to play with and talk about when they visit the library after school.


I started with the "Mane Six" - the six main characters of the show, as well as Spike the Dragon, who is Twilight Sparkle's assistant, and Gummy the Alligator, because he's my spouse's favorite. For each character, I cut out a base layer in their body color and then added a second layer for their hair, except for Rainbow Dash whose hair was painted on because it's, well, rainbow. I also added details to the ponies' hair, like Pinky Pie's curls:


14 March 2017

Pokemon Readers' Advisory, Part 2


About a month ago, I wrote a post about the Pokemon bookmarks I had started using in my library. These bookmarks were created as a way to keep kids coming in the library and to teach them about using our catalog to find the books they might like to read.

During the month of February, fifty bookmarks were completed and turned in to me. With each bookmark, I read the child's suggestions and then awarded them an envelope of Pokemon cards. We switched out the character on the bookmark every time we ran out of bookmarks. I never once mentioned these bookmarks at Pokemon Club or in front of any group of kids. They learned about them mostly via word of mouth, the signage on our circulation desk, or if they were here alone and bored and came to visit me in my office.

It is March 10 as I am writing this. I have 24 completed bookmarks on my desk from this month alone. We flew through the initial set of eight bookmarks I had made, so I created an additional eight bookmarks. I would definitely call this program a success, and I plan to keep it going as long as the kids show interest. I have, however, made a couple of tweaks to the program in order to make things run more smoothly:

1. Inform the Staff. I made sure my staff knew that the bookmarks existed, sure, but I didn't think to warn them about the number of kids who would be asking about them or who may need assistance locating books to put on their bookmarks. Many of my staff jumped right in and helped out where needed, even giving kids one-on-one lessons on how to use our library's catalog. I enjoyed watching this because it gave our kids a positive interaction with an adult and also empowered them to look up other books later on.

2. Adjust on Programming Days. Yesterday was our monthly LEGO Club. A few of the kids from LEGO club knew about the bookmarks and filled them out before coming to club. Then they walked in with Pokemon cards in their hands, and many of the others wanted to know where they got them. This led to kids leaving LEGO club to fill out a bookmark, which isn't really something I minded. However, we finished up one character's bookmark, which my staff then replaced with a new one. The rule for the bookmarks is that you can only complete each character once, so when some of the kids saw a new bookmark set out, they completed that one, too, and received a second set of cards for the day.

There were a couple of ways I could have handled this. I could change the rule to one bookmark per day. I could instruct the staff not to set out a second character on program afternoons. Because it had already happened by the time I noticed yesterday, I told the staff not to put out a third character, even if the second bookmark ran out, and came up with a solution for the next time: On days when I have programming after school, we will set out a large quantity (25 or more) of one character. This way, all children who want to participate can do so, but no one can complete the bookmark twice in a day. It would have been very easy yesterday to get ten children to complete all the bookmarks ad infinitim, and they would have happily cleaned me out of my stock of Pokemon cards.

This program has led to many great one-on-one conversations with my young patrons about Pokemon and books, two things I will happily chat about any day.


07 March 2017

Storytime: Families


Opening Rhyme: Open Them, Shut Them

Rhyme: Two Little Blackbirds

Book: One Family by George Shannon

Song: "If You're Happy and You Know It"

Book: The Family Book by Todd Parr

Rhyme/Game: Little Mouse

Song: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"

Book: A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O'Leary

Closing Rhyme

Craft: Draw a picture of your family.


28 February 2017

Teen Program: Anti-Valentine's Day Party

The teens at my library have a tradition of holding an Anti-Valentine's Day party every year. As this was my first February with them, I had to ask the teens and scour the previous librarian's files to see if I could find out what exactly they'd done in the past at these events. I have discovered that I generally plan about twice as many things as we have time to do, so for this program I intentionally simplified things, which ended up working out really well.


Snacks: Traditionally, the teens have eaten "stinky" snacks, things that would make one's breath smell bad. I brought in shrimp-flavored chips (available at many Asian markets) and Fritos along with onion dip to fill in that category. I like to serve something sweet, too, and the teens LOVE candy, so we had gummy worms (leftover from another program) and these poop emoji fudge things, which were almost as much fun to make as it was to watch the teens eat them. We also had oranges, as one of my teens has specifically requested that we have fruit or a similar healthy item available, which I think is a fantastic idea.


Activities: I had a ton of ideas for activities, but I settled on two: one game and one craft. For the game, we played "heartbreaker," which is where each teen inflates a red balloon and attaches it to their ankle with a length of yarn. The teens then run around the room attempting to pop everyone else's balloon while protecting their own. The teens really enjoyed this particular game, both because of the competition and because popping balloons is, apparently, hilarious. I liked this game because the rules are simple and there wasn't anything to purchase in advance; the library already had balloons and yarn available.


Our second activity was stuffed animal taxidermy. I bought a bunch of plush animals at the dollar store: bears, gorillas, bugs (I think they were "love bugs"), puppies, etc. The teens cut off the heads and hot glued them to some wooden plaques we already had. This then degenerated (as I expected) into making franken-toys. The teens took the leftover bits and used our sewing supplies to make new creatures out of the leftovers. The creepiest one by far was wearing what the teen called "the skin of its enemies;" i.e., the leftover unstuffed body of another stuffed animal.


The teens had a good time, the clean up wasn't too difficult, and overall I would consider this program to be a success. If I were to do it again, I would probably eliminate the onion dip (since no one ate it) and make sure there were extra plushies and sewing supplies out, since the teens enjoyed creating their franken-animals.

21 February 2017

Storytime: Monsters


After our love-themed storytime last week, I decided to go in a different direction this week. Our theme is monsters, which could be interpreted in a lot of different ways. For my storytime, I'll be reading three monster books where the monster is not scary at all; I don't want any of my storytime kids to have nightmares! I could also see this theme working well with an older group, perhaps during an evening storytime.

Opening Rhyme: Open them, shut them

Rhyme: Two Little Blackbirds

Book: The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

Song: "If You're Happy and You Know It"

Book: Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Rhyme/Flannel Game: Little Mouse

Song: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"

Book: Go Away, Big Green Monster by Rebecca Emberley

Closing Rhyme

The order in which we place our activities in storytime is just as important as the activities we do. In this case, I left the simplest book toward the end because the shapes listed can easily pave the way for the kids to make their craft: paper bag monster puppets.