Monday, August 17, 2015

Charm Bracelets for Tweens

I'm always getting ideas from the Klutz books and this time around we made charm bracelets.

I had the original book, but that didn't have enough materials for my group of 20 kids (ages 10 and up), so I ended up buying 7 yards of bracelet chain, lots of eye pins, jump rings, some hook closures, two jewelry pliers, lots of Sculpey clay, and glaze. My toaster oven, a huge disappointment for my cooking programs, redeemed itself during this program and turned out some lovely charms.

So I put the clay on the tables, made the book available if they needed ideas, and let them go to it.

Here's what I learned:

This program took much longer than I thought it would. I had pre-cut and hooked the bracelets, so those were ready to go (highly recommended) but the actual baking and putting on of jump rings and glazing took forever.

I decided to do the baking in batches and the first batch went in at the ten minute mark, but while I had anticipated making two batches, we ended up making four.

Next time, I'm definitely blocking off 2 hours to get the entire bracelet made.

On the plus side, the results were very cute and individual in the best sense. I think the charms might be too big to comfortably wear on a daily basis, but the kids were very proud of their results.

Gumball machine and moon on the glazing rack. 

Proudly wearing the dragon he designed himself. 

More good news: since I bought the materials more or less in bulk, I have enough stuff to do this again. I definitely will.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Flannel Friday Round-up!

Are you planning your fall storytimes? Well, strap yourself in because this week's round-up is going to make at least one of those storytimes a breeze. Ready? Ok, here we go.

First off, we have Danielle at Library Danielle who has ducks, frogs, and a lovely flannel to go along with Little White Duck. (Why do good books go out of print? This is the question we all ask ourselves when we see a super-cute flannel that we now want to make...)

Mel, over at Mel's Desk also has ponds on the brain with a flannel about a lily pond. The tune is familiar, and I do love reversible flannel pieces, I do, I do.

Kathryn, from Fun with Friends at Storytime, has some colorful ducks for a fun "what's missing?" game - always a good time with the kids - and bonus! a paper plate duck that's simple and adorable. Perfect storytime craft.

Speaking of games, Lindsey from Jbrary has a version of the Little Mouse game with ladybugs and fancy fringed rugs (could her next career be as a decorator...?) and an easy and helpful early literacy tip to boot.

And just like that: your fall "Pond" storytime is planned. Thank goodness for Flannel Friday!

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Learn more about Flannel Friday at our Facebook Page or on the blog.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Piñata Making

This summer I tried something new for me: three day camps. These sorts of things have never worked for me before because I could never count on the kids coming back day after day, but at this particular library, I've been seeing a good repeat rate so I thought I would give it a try. 

The benefit to the camp is that while I'm usually stuck with craft projects that can be finished in an hour, with a camp I could expand the possibilities to include more complex projects. 

Enter: the piñatas. 

Over three days, we papier-mache-d to our hearts' content and then decorated the results. 

Here's a quick breakdown: 
Monday: blow up the balloons and put on the first layer of papier mache. 
Tuesday: add cones and cups with tape then add another layer of papier mache. 
Wednesday: paint and decorate. 

For the record, the piñatas were awesome. 

Also for the record: it's sooooo much messier than you can possibly imagine. God help you if you have carpet. 

One more thing for the record: the kids LOVED it. 

Here are some of the photos I managed to take (when I wasn't in the kitchen mixing up flour and water):  
Adding party hats and cups to the piñatas.

Some kids had a very specific idea of what they were making (the one on the right will become a pig) while others just enjoyed adding points and cups to the basic round shape. 

More layers of papier mache. 

Painting! I also put out a box of fringed tissue paper for a more traditional look. 

Drying. I have a large number of foam squares and I put them all down on the carpet in a corner of the room.
The piñatas dried there every night. 

Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely. Will I make sure to do it right before we are scheduled to have our carpet cleaned. Even more emphatically: yes. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Summer Reading Collaborative Art

This year, I revamped my Summer Library Program from the bottom up. I did away with plastic prizes (woo hoo!!) and now give out a free book, a fines coupon, and the opportunity to put a bookplate in your favorite library book. 

I changed from a reading log with only blank lines in it to a reading log with a three-pronged approach to the summer: read, do stuff, and visit the library.

I'll talk about the other parts soon, but today I want to focus on the "do stuff" portion. Each reading log has a two page spread of boxes with activities to do over the summer (36 in total). Some of these are library related (check out an audiobook, attend a program, etc), some are summer fun (play outside, go for a walk, make playdough) and some are superhero activities (help mom or dad with something, clean up a mess you made, do a good deed). 

Here's a jpg. (I hope this format works...)

Every time a child completes the activity, they cross off that box. Cross of three boxes and get a window for our superhero skyline!

What's that, you say? 

I'm so glad you asked!!

As part of our summer reading decoration, I put these buildings in the large windows in the corner of our children's room. I also bought some superhero decals and positioned them around the buildings for maximum "superhero skyline" effect. 

Here they are when I first put them up:
The buildings on June 21st, right when the program began.
The windows on the left are the sample ones I put up to see if this idea would work. 
The kids started reading and crossing off activities right away. I was surprised at how much they liked it, always asking "do I get a window today?" when they brought their logs in. 

Here are the windows a few weeks in:
July 10th. Windows begin to populate the skyline. 
One of the cool things about the windows is that we encourage the kids to decorate the windows as they please. I have some that are still blank, some that have names in them, and some that have elaborate drawings of kids or dogs or superheroes... we let them do as they please and the results have been amazing. 

Here's the skyline today, three weeks from the end of the summer program. 

July 30th
I spent a lot of unnecessary time and energy fretting about whether this idea would work, but so far it's been fun for everyone. It also serves as a conversation starter when someone wants to know how they can get a window for the buildings. Automatic summer program sign up! 
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