Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pinkalicious Party!

I put this party on the schedule back in the summer when my brain was fried and I needed a Saturday program for families. I knew Pinkalicious was popular and I wanted to promote book characters in my family programs, so I figured, how bad could it be? Oh, my dear innocent self, how I envy your naivete.

Then last week I started reading the books to prep for the party.

And I regretted all of my decisions.

BUT. Regardless of personal feelings about literary, there's a lot to be done for a Pinkalicious party and the kids really love her! Books that I put on display during the program were checked out! There were kids reading them during the program! What more could I ask for?? (Except for, of course, an endless supply of parentheses and exclamation points...)

So here's what we did for our party:

1 - Flower crowns from Emeraldalicious: 

2 - Wands: made from wooden skewers (though straws would be equally effective), ribbon, and pre-cut cardstock hearts. I would have provided stars as well, but that shape was missing from our die cutting supplies so it was only pink hearts this time around. (Reminds me: I have to look for the star). 

3 - Mermaids from Aqualicious: made with clothespins, permanent markers, tacky glue, cardstock tails, and various decorations (yarn for hair, sequins, paper flowers for her hat, etc.).

4 - Pinkalicious hairbands: made with hair ties and cut up pieces of plastic tablecloth tied to the hairband. It didn't look like much on the table and I thought perhaps it was too simple, but the parents enjoyed them and they looked super-cute in the girls' hair. 

5- Fairy Wings: These were borrowed from my Fancy Nancy party and were a big hit once again.  

6 - Goldilicious unicorns: we made unicorn paper bag puppets that were super cute and of course I forgot to take a picture. Oops!

I served snacks: pink frosted cookies, lady fingers with pink frosting, and strawberries as well as green apple slices and small bunches of green grapes to balance us out. 

The kids really enjoyed it, the parents had a good time, and in general it was a worthwhile party. And the books checked out! Librarian heaven. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sewing School

I've had sewing workshops with the older kids in the past (ages 10 and up), but due to much wailing and gnashing of teeth from a very very interested younger crowd, I decided to do a sewing class for slightly younger kids this fall. And so Sewing School, a monthly sewing program, was born. 

For the first session, I wanted to get them familiar with the basics of sewing before we started our projects.  

Everyone had a piece of flannel with a needle in it to begin with. I taught them how to thread the needle and tie a knot at the end of the yarn. Then we practiced a simply running stitch on the flannel. 

Once they were comfortable with that, we moved on to the projects: pillows with buttons and lace. 

First, they picked their fabric, the lace they wanted, and the buttons (if they wanted buttons). They cut the fabric to size using sheets of cardboard that were approximately 9x12. 

Then they used the running stitch to attach the ribbon/lace to their pieces. 

Finally, they placed the pieces right-side-to-right-side and sewed them together. 

Then stuffing and closing and TA DA! Pillows! 

The younger kids (I had ages 8-12) did remarkably well with the project and I got ALL of the needles back! (Miracle of miracles). I set the program at 90 minutes, but we probably could have used the full two hours once you factor in the waiting time to untangle thread and troubleshoot crooked projects.

The kids were very proud of their pillows, though, and excited to be involved.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Flannel Friday 9/23 Round-up!

It's time for the round-up! Woo hoo!!

Here we go:

First off, Keith from Felt-tastic Flannelboard Funtine has an amazing step-by-step tutorial on how to make kawaii flannels - or any flannels for that matter! The purple alpaca is adorable. Check it out!

Wendy at Flannelboard Fun keeps the cuteness level at super-high with her Little Miss Muffet. The ottoman is adorable! (Sorry, the tuffet!)

Kate at Feltboard Magic is ringing in fall with Five Little Autumn Leaves in a Tall Tall Tree. Is fall cloudy or windy by you? Then use the adorable (and super simple to recreate) Five Little Clouds. And finally, if you are already looking forward to the holiday season, check out The Lights on the Tree which is fancy and super festive.

Finally, Amy at Catch the Possibilities is hosting a guest post with extension activities for Put Me in the Zoo. Great fine motor skill development and a fun spotted dog make for a perfect storytime art project.

And that's all we got, folks! Thanks to everyone for participating.

Go out and flannel! (or is it, stay in and flannel?) Regardless, enjoy the inspiration!

Happy Flanneling!

You can find out more about Flannel Friday on the blog or on the Facebook page. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Flannel Friday Round-up (8/19)

Welcome to the August 19th Round-up!

Mr. Keith, from Felt-tastic Flannelboard Funtime has an adorable version of the classic apple rhyme - plus a bonus adorable cat. (Everything's better with a cat, amirite, cat people?)

Kate, from Feltboard Magic, has lovely varied weather set to use with "What's the Weather?" I love the rain and snow drops on little strings. Not sure how the song goes? Jbrary will sing it for you!

Finally, Wendy from Flannelboard fun has two sets for us this week: a lovely multicultural construction set (including vehicles, bricks, and cones!) and some super-festive Christmas trees to start the holiday celebrations.

Thanks to everyone for participating! You can find out more about Flannel Friday on the Facebook page or by following the blog.

Happy flanneling!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Flannel Friday Roundup: May 27th

Alright, folks, it's time for the round-up!

First off, we have Wendy at Flannelboard fun with a flannel version of Bark, George. I love this story - I now have a new way to tell it!

Mr. Keith at Felt-tastic Flannelboard Funtime has a cupcake with attitude called Patty LeCake and not only is she adorable, but she teaches the letter of the week with a rhyme that is familiar to many people already. Hooray for Patty!

Jessica at Storytime in the Stacks has a great rhyme about five little babies and (for the clickbait version): you won't believe what happens at the end! I totally laughed!

Kate at Feltboard Magic has two interactive sets: five kites that teach numbers and color sorting and clouds that teach number sorting. I'm super jealous of her cute letters and numbers. (Maybe she'll share her secret with us....?)

Laura at Literacious has colorful butterflies ready for their color recognition rhyme. Bonus points for being nice and easy to make. 

And that's all for this week! Thanks to everyone for participating. Find out more about Flannel Friday on Facebook or at their blog. Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Flannel Friday: Tails Chasing Tails

For this flannel, I used Matthew Porter's simple and lovely board book: Tails Chasing Tails. 

I made each of the animals from the book and then cut them in half (which, even though necessary, was still a little heartbreaking, honestly). 

The book starts with the elephant chasing the tiger: 

When the kids have guessed who that tail belongs to, I add the head: 

Here are the other animals chasing/being chased: 

And it ends with the mouse chasing a gray tail... 

Which brings the whole thing full circle. You could also choose to make the elephant a whole animal and end with the mouse. 

I used this with both toddlers and preschoolers and they seemed to enjoy it equally; some of the tails are easy and some are challenging enough to make it an interesting concept for both these groups. 

Flannel Friday is being hosted by Emily at Literary Hoots so stop on over there to see other flannels shared this week. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Book Clubs: That's Gross!

For this month's book clubs (I run K-2 then 3rd-5th clubs back to back), I decided to do things that were gross. I pulled a whole bunch of books that we had based on the following search terms: gross, yuck, slime, disgusting, pee, farts, and poop. It was like a third grade boy's favorite Google search terms. 

I did find a whole bunch of books, though! Unfortunately, none of them were Grossology cause I guess that one gets checked out a lot. Well, that just means I don't have to promote it! 

I started by reading: Yikes! Your Body up Close by Mike Janulewicz. 

I didn't read the whole thing, just enough to gross everyone out (giant photos of lice, anyone?). I do wish the flaps had a better reveal of what you are looking at - they just show more magnified parts which you still have to decipher. The skin photo was cool, though. 

We then moved to the table to make dirt cake. I love making dirt cake with the kids. Take oreos, remove the inside stuff, and smash them. Make chocolate pudding. Put a gummy worm in the chocolate pudding and add the crushed oreos on top and I swear it looks like you're spooning up dirt. Delicious, easy, loads of kid appeal, and it involves smashing things. It never ever fails. 

Then we went to craft time: SLIME. 

We ended with slime because it was the messiest and because it invites extended play. The best recipe is from Steve Spangler Science and uses glue and borax. I've been making this particular concoction for years and it's super squishy and gross and fun to play with - definitely a winner.

Slime Ingredients

Slime as boogers. 
Though I didn't make it this time I've also made a fun-to-moosh-around slime out of cornstarch and water. You mix the two until you have a liquid-y type thing which hardens when you squeeze it: 

And when you let go it goes all liquid-y again. It's fascinating... 

 ...but rather difficult to clean up. 

I was going to teach my older kids the "Great Green Globs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts" song, but they were a little hyper and I didn't want to add fuel to the fire. It would have been so awesome, though...

I'd say this topic was very successful with both age groups. The Wee Book of Pee definitely elicited some giggles and several people were curious about how toilets work (thank god for David Macaulay!). I also had a pretty high check-out rate for the books that I had pulled, which pleased me.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Flannel Friday: Dr. Seuss

I used these flannels in March for Dr. Seuss's birthday, but am just getting around to posting it now. Which means you have lots of time to make it for next year! Or you could, you know, use it not on Dr. Seuss's birthday. (Whaaaa....?)

These are different kinds of flannels for me in that I usually use the flannel in place of the book, but in these cases, I read the book while using the flannel simultaneously (except for the balloon one).

First up: I wish that I had Duck Feet. 

The character in this story wishes for a variety of animal parts (duck feet, a long long tail, antlers, a long nose) before deciding that he's happy just being himself. Here's my blank character. 

And here he is in all his glory. 

It's a cute story, even though it's a little long. I often cut a page from the description of every animal part because I tend to be reading to preschoolers. They find this one very funny and can usually supply the last word of the story ("ME!"), which I always find endearing. 

I like to read A Great Day for Up, too, and though I don't have a flannel for it per se, I do have a balloon race as an extension activity. 

I made six balloons that start at the bottom of my flannelboard. 

I originally made a colored cube from a kleenex box, but when that one got crushed (PSA: make sure you stuff your kleenex box with newspaper before making it into a thing the kids will be handling) I miraculously received a donation of this amazing soft cube: 

I then give the children a chance to roll the cube and move the corresponding balloon up the flannelboard. Whichever balloon makes it to the top of the flannelboard first wins! 

Finally, I do the classic: Green Eggs and Ham

I made pieces for all the repeated words.  

I put the pieces up as they come up in the story and then I stop saying the words altogether and simply point to each piece as the children shout it out. They are usually familiar with this story, and I find that using the flannels makes it new again.

This week's Flannel Friday is being hosted by Ms. Kelly at the Library. Make sure you check it out for more flannel ideas!

Monday, February 29, 2016

National Library Week

National Library Week is coming up... soon...ish...? (It's in April) But in case you were thinking about it already (hey, I'm already thinking summer reading - and I'm sure a lot of you are, too), here's a quick snapshot of what my library did last year. 

Based on a blog entry from many years ago (I think it was The Swiss Army Librarian, but I can't seem to find the original post; at any rate, thanks, Brian!!), I created a new kind of display for National Library Week. 

In the past, we'd asked patrons to write why they love the library, but it seemed a little... self-congratulatory. A little too "you like me, you really like me!!" 

So last year, I went with a more practical approach. I put up a posterboard right by the entrance of the library with a simple question: Why did you come to the library today?

I added a little stand with post-its and left the display to grow on its own. 

By the end of the week, there were over 100 post-its on the board with a wonderful array of responses. Honestly, I was surprised at the variety. It also spoke to me about meeting our patrons' needs as they actually exist, not as I assume they are.

The majority of patrons came in for our materials (yay!). They were checking out books, DVDs, and CDs, and were sometimes looking for specific things (how to speak French for kids, for examples, or the Harry Potter series).

Other people wrote about the programs they were attending, both children and adults:
·        To make French Toast! YUM! (a Sweet Snacks program I was running that week)
·        We came for Baby Time with Miss Laura! We love it!
·        Tamaron Book group – Book selected. Nice ladies!!
·        Came to yoga!

Several people wanted to use the library as a workspace: making copies or using the Internet and the printers, and some were looking for quiet to work on their homework. One was here to work on her master’s thesis in peace! 

Some people even wrote specifically about our staff (far more organically, I feel, than if we had demanded they write about their love for us): 
·         To see my good friend Susan and have her pick out books for me! Thanks!
·          Return a book and see the awesome librarians! Thanks for all you do!
And, of course, as there always will be when something is crowd sourced, there were answers that made us laugh.
·         Because they made me but I didn’t mind.
·         My turtle needed more ointment
·         YOLO
·         Because I missed the train.

Most of all, though, it was inspiring to have people comment on the value of the library itself in their lives:
·         I know I can acquire knowledge here
·         It’s the center of our town
·         To have fun
·         Because I’m always happy when surrounded by books!
·         It’s a beautiful day and the library makes it even better!
·         For inspiration and insight
·         It is great and very friendly. Keep it up.
·         I came to the library because I love to read!
·         For my social life!
·         To be a good friend.

The answers surprised and delighted us and we look forward to putting out post-its again next year.

What do you have planned for National Library Week this year?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Book Clubs: Historical Fiction

Every month, I have run two book clubs: Reading Rangers for grades K-2 and Pagemasters for grades 3-5. We talk about what books they are reading, read a book, make a craft, and make a snack. The theme varies from month to month, but the kids are not required to read anything specific before the club. I don't even give them the theme beforehand - I ask them to guess it based on the books I've put out for them to look at.

I start each group by putting out 20-30 books on the rug for them to look at while they wait for the program to start.

This month in our book clubs we tackled Historical Fiction. I recently weeded my intermediate chapter books and my J Fiction and I noticed that if a book was historical fiction it was much more likely to be a candidate for weeding based on circulation alone. This bums me out, so I thought I would highlight the books we have left!

Talking 'bout books and the Theme

The Reading Rangers (grades K-2) and I talked about historical fiction and why The Magic Tree House doesn't really count as historical fiction even though they travel to the past.

Then we read Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt by Lisa Campbell Ernst.

This one was longer than I would usually attempt at this age, so I abbreviated a little as we went. I was worried they wouldn't really be in to it, but when someone in the book says "quilting is only for women" one little girl said "no it isn't!" And the whole group gasped when the quilt fell in the mud.

The Pagemasters (grades 3-5) and I read John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith which I find hilarious. They found it less so, though they were interested in identifying each historical figure before the book gave away who they were.

I still think this book is hilarious, but I'm starting to doubt its audience. The younger ones wouldn't know who these people are (even the older ones struggled with John Hancock) and the older ones didn't seem to enjoy the humor. But, since I think it's an awesome book, I'm going to chalk this up to my inability to read it properly. 

Both groups did the same craft and snack. We made candles from crayons and made our own butter. 


I pulled out my much maligned toaster oven (poor thing just doesn't work well for my cooking programs) while the kids peeled broken crayon bits and put them in aluminum muffin tins. 

I popped those in the oven until the wax melted, pulled them out and added a wick, and then waited for them to harden. Fortunately, crayon wax hardens quickly. 


 I got this idea from a coworker who uses it during a silly cow storytime. I used Talenti gelato containers that someone donated (the kids always want to know if I ate all that gelato by myself) and dice.

Pour some milk into the container. Add a pinch of salt. Add two dice (or marbles if you have them). SHAKE!!!

First you get sour cream: 

Then you get whipped cream: 

Then finally, once the water (buttermilk) separates out, you'll have butter. 

Spread it on bread.


It takes a lot of vigorous shaking, but the kids mostly enjoyed that part. I put on "Shake it off" and, if I were to do it again, I would probably make a CD of shaking songs for motivation. 

The younger set mostly made it to whipped cream (which is totally spreadable as whipped butter and it was enough to make them happy), but the older set took great pride in opening their jars for me and having me proclaim "BUTTER!!" 

As an extra bit of butter on the bread, one of the moms sent me a photo of their dinnertime that evening with candles for ambiance and butter for deliciousness. 

I always encourage the kids to take the books I've brought to continue reading on our theme at home. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tween Program: Cookie Wars

I love baking shows (and just discovered "The Great British Baking Show" which, if you love baking shows, you should have been watching yesterday!) and I'm in to Cupcake Wars on Netflix. Seems like a program ripe for the tweening (new word?), so that's what I did.

Presenting: Cookie Wars! Tween Style!

I had 22 tweens (ages 10 and up - most of them were 10-12) come out for the program. Before they got there, I put out all seven of my tables and covered them in tablecloths from the Dollar Store. DO THIS. It makes clean up a million times easier. (You already knew that, right? I learn things the hard way)

Six of the tables were for the competitors and allowed us to divide quickly and easily into teams. Basically: were you standing at the table with that person? Voila! Team members.

I had materials for four challenges, but we ended up going with three.

First one, taste. They got Nilla Wafers and a secret ingredient of fruit (strawberries, bananas, blueberries, and raspberries) as well as other ingredients (candy, pudding, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, jam). They made seven identical "desserts" and one person from every team helped me judge, scoring 1 for gross and 5 for awesome.

Next one: taste, part two. This time they had Little Bites and had to make something delicious with them. Again, one person from each team helped me judge.

We were running short on time (I had one more taste challenge involving small chocolate chip cookies, but I let that one slide) so I jumped to the last one: appearance. Everyone got a sugar cookie in a bowl and could decorate as they wished as long as it fit the theme: books.

While they made their creations, I tallied up the points so far. I then judged the appearance ones myself and added points to each team at the end.

The Three Bears. 
The kids had a great time with this one and they got to take home their sugar cookie scene so they were happy. The team with the most points got  full sized Hershey bars. Yum!

Things to consider: OMG, you guys, the things I had to taste. It was SO GROSS. Blueberries and smarties? Gummy bears and chocolate pudding and mint? I gave a lot of 1s and 2s. But, on the other hand, the kids thought the banana chocolate pudding combination was disgusting, so maybe I'm the one with the wrong tastebuds.

Verdict: very fun, very chaotic, and a great way to use up leftover candy from December's Gingerbread Houses. (Link is from 2014, candy I used was from the 2015 iteration of the program).

Monday, February 22, 2016

Princess Party!

Who lives in a castle like this? Princesses, of course! This cardboard feat of construction paper brick-laying was the centerpiece of my library's Princess Party. 

I had about 50 children and their parents attend this year and we had a great (if somewhat crowded) time. 

Here's what we did: 

This was the only cost of the program. Hooray for a program where I already had everything I needed!!! I bought strawberries, pretzels, grapes, small cookies, and frosted cupcakes. Bonus of doing this right around Valentine's Day: super easy to find pink and white cupcakes.

Princess Paper Dolls
I printed out a paper doll and dresses template which the kids could color and cut out. I also put out cardstock and envelope templates to make a convenient (and pretty!) holder for the doll and her accessories. I really like this station, but it was the last one people went to, so I might have to rethink putting it up when I do this again.

Pom Pom Boas
I did these for my Fancy Nancy Party last year, and I was just crazy enough to do it again. I started making the pom poms in advance this time, so there wasn't a major time crunch at the end, but I still ended up with a living room covered in yarn fuzz for, like, a week (or 3 million years if you ask my husband). So.... still not for the faint of heart. But still so cute! But so time consuming! But so fun! (I am large, I contain multitudes....)

Beaded Jewelry
Super simple (no instructions needed!), very pretty, and always a hit. Stock up on pony beads and pretty colors of pipe cleaners and off you go. 

Pin the Kiss on the Frog
I made a very large frog using clipart and had little lips with tape on them. and a pink blindfold. Stickers for anyone who participated. 

Tiaras and Scepters
I printed out a crown template on cardstock and the participants decorated it, cut it out, and stapled it all together so they could wear it. I cut hearts, stars, and snowflakes out of glitter foam which we attached to straws to make scepters. We added curling ribbon to make them extra fancy.

I always hesitate with the tiara and scepter station because so many little girls come already dressed up with dresses and tiaras and scepters and I think "why would they want to make another one?" and yet it is always the first station they flock to and the busiest throughout. I should stop questioning myself with this one.

Dragons and Swords
I did have some young knights at the party so I put out a green table just for them. (It was a nice break from all the pink). They could make two things: a dragon paper bag puppet and a sword. One of my co-workers also works at a print shop and they are always receiving printer toner with this weird cardboard packaging. Turns out you can add a little tinfoil and it works great for swords!

And, of course, a book display to encourage more princesses-y reading!

I wish I had had time (and floor space) to make some princess reading nooks using a hula hoop and a pretty shower curtain, but my time went elsewhere and I never got to it. Also, I think I need to drop the paper dolls next time. It's time to let that one go.....

Another bonus: I gave away part of the castle to families who wanted to continue playing at home! And then got an amazing picture of the girls having a tea party in the tower in their playroom! All loveliness all around, which is pretty much what you should expect from a princess.
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