Thursday, July 10, 2014

Geromino! The TARDIS lands at the Library - A Whovians Club Adventure

When I started the Whovians Club, my first thought was that it would be really amazing to have a TARDIS big enough for the teens to get inside.  My second thought was that i am crazy.  How would I ever be able to pull that off?  I talked to the teens and asked if it was something they would want to try to create.  They definitely wanted one, but I think we lacked the skills necessary for such a large scale project.

Tabling the project, I turned my attention to smaller activities.  Each month we made props essential to Doctor Who.
Duct Tape Fezzes
Polymer Clay Sonic Screwdrivers
Duct Tape Dalek
Dalek Party Hats
 But...What we really needed was a TARDIS!

Enter my very talented family..  Constructed out of a wooden frame and cardboard, a TARDIS was created!  It is in 3/4 scale of the original.

The Details:
The door does open and you can go inside.
The windows are made from Dollar Store picture frames and hot glued to the cardboard.
The Police Box font is Gill Sans.
The color is Valspar's Satin Indigo Streamer. 
It breaks apart into two pieces to fold for storage.
It is not bigger on the inside.

To celebrate the arrival of the TARDIS, I thought it would be fun to take pictures with it.  I found cardboard picture frames and we decorated the outside with a TARDIS stamp.  I made the stamp out of fun foam. 
Simple, easy way to make your own stamps!

Building the TARDIS was A LOT of work!  I had to learn how to use tools!  There are a few things I would like to eventually add to it..  It would be awesome if it had a roof with a light.  And it would be fun to decorate the inside.  But I am very happy with the finished product.  It was definitely a labor of love.  I am a big Doctor Who fan and it was fun to bring something I see on television to life.  I loved hearing the squeal when I opened the door to our program room and they caught the first glimpse of it.  It made the whole process worth it!

Some pictures of the TARDIS...

 The teens (and their parents!) had a great time posing in the TARDIS.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Catapults in the Library!

In the summer I run a "Crafty Kids Club" for grades 3-5, which meets once a month.  Since this year's SRP has a science-y theme, I wanted to go along with that, and what could be more science-y than making our own catapults?!? And what do kids enjoy more than launching stuff across the room?!?

Craft Stick Catapult

You can download excellent and easy instructions from HERE.

All you need are craft sticks, rubber bands, and some bottle caps.  (Note: I found that the wider craft sticks worked better than the skinny ones.) Since you probably have these things lying around (and you can raid the recycling bin for caps), this is a really inexpensive and easy craft to pull off!

Now, since assembling the catapults isn't too time consuming, I thought we could also make some targets.  I found this simple bull's-eye from Google Images:

And since I know we've got a lot of Angry Birds fans in our community, I thought it would be fun to add those darn pigs to the targets. I found some coloring pages from Google Images:

Ta-da! Instant Pig Target!

Now all you need are some mini marshmallows and you'll be ready to start shooting!

This was so much fun and the kids LOVED it! The catapults were so easy to assemble, so we had a lot of time to play with them.  I got out regular sized and mini marshmallows, as well as various sizes of pom-poms, so they could experiment with what launches the best.  My teen helpers ( I couldn't survive without them!!) set up some foam building blocks as targets for the kids to shoot at, and even though it was virtually impossible to knock them down with marshmallows, the kids didn't care at all!  I was so delighted to see them experimenting and inventing new games to play.  Kids who didn't even know each other were laughing hysterically while trying to shoot marshmallows into their mouths, while others were re-building with the blocks to create the perfect targets to shoot at.  I was also able to sneak in an easy science lesson about potential and kinetic energy!!

This was such a success and everyone had a great time - and so easy too! Try it at your library!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bookworms Book Club - Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs!

This was our last Bookworms Book Club meeting for the school year, and what a great year it has been!

This month we read: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

This is a great example of a fractured fairy tale, putting a twist on the traditional Goldilocks and the Three Bears story.

In Willems' version, the dinosaurs make chocolate pudding instead of porridge, so naturally, we had chocolate pudding cups as our snack!

We had such a great time reading through this book together because there is so much see! Just check out these endpapers:
These made everyone laugh!

There are also plenty of good dinosaur jokes:
"Wipe Your Talons"

And of course, we hunted for, and found, the Pigeon! Can you find him hiding in this page?
(check the cookie jar!)

After we finished reading our book, we quickly skimmed through this traditional version of the tale by Byron Barton:

Next, it was time to compare and contrast! (yes, I used to be a Language Arts teacher) I like using visual aids, so we drew a big Venn diagram on our dry erase board:

We talked about what was the same in the two stories (i.e. Goldilocks, three of everything - animals, bowls, chairs, beds, etc.) and what was different (Dinos vs. bears, etc.) The children really did a great job with this, and thought about things such as the characters' intentions in both stories, as well as their actions.  There was definitely some critical thinking going on!

Next, we brainstormed other fairy tale stories to which we would like to add dinosaurs.  Here are some of the titles we came up with:
Beauty and the Dinosaur
Sleeping Dinosaur
Snow White and the Seven Dinosaurs
If you had more time, it would be great to have kids draw a cover page for one of these fractured fairy tales!

Next, it was time to get up and play! Since Goldilocks couldn't find a chair to sit in, I thought we should play Musical Chairs! This was so much fun!
We even used a dinosaur song: We Are the Dinosaurs by the Laurie Berkner Band

As the kids got "out," they were handed a goodie bag (leftover SRP prizes from previous years), so there were really no hurt feelings about losing.

Next was our craft, which we actually ran out of time for and didn't get to do! This was a little sad because I spent quite a bit of prep time tracing and cutting out pieces, but I suppose I'll just have to save them for another time.
Here is my Dinosaur Suncatcher (thank you, Pinterest!)

The outline of the dinosaur is cardstock, stuck to a sheet of clear contact paper.  You fill in the inside with pieces of tissue paper, and the close it up with another sheet of clear contact paper, and cut out your dinosaur! Voila! I think he's pretty cute!

I did have time to have the kids vote on their favorite books that we read this year and here are the results:
Easiest to Read: TIE between The Hallowiener by Dav Pilkey and Fancy Nancy Sees Stars by Jane O'Connor
Funniest: We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
Favorite: Green Eggs and Ham by good ol' Dr. Seuss!

This was such a great year for this little book club that could.  Looking back, I had very consistent attendance all year long, and such enthusiastic little readers! I can't wait to get started on planning next year's meetings! See you in September!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Teen Anime Cafe

Does your library have an Anime or Manga club?  We had a successful one for years, but with the changes in the movie licensing (meaning a lot of companies went out of business or sold off so there was no telling who held the licenses any more), and the prevalence of free Manga and Anime online, our numbers dropped off.  We couldn't get permission to show the Animes the kids wanted....and the kids were reading their Manga online.  We decided to merge the clubs, and change up what we would do at the sessions.

We have had great success with cosplay workshops.  The teens have made ears, tails, claws and even come dressed to the meetings.  Anime conventions are huge around here, so I attend them for programming ideas.

Another successful program has been our Anime Cafe.  I have done this program several times now and we are always 'sold out.'

One little tid-bit about  me.  I lived in Japan for four years.  Because of that, I have a comfort level with presenting on the topic of Japan and Japanese Culture, along with my friend Etsuko who is Japanese.  I met Etsuko in Japan and as fate would have it, she is now in Ohio in the same town as I am!

Each session goes like this:  We prepare a menu based on the season.  There are several dishes laid out buffet style, where the kids can sample the different foods.  They are asked to try everything and know that some things might not be their taste.  This isn't really dinner for them - it is more like a sampling event. boss snuck into Anime Cafe this time...

Then Etsuko and I show the teens how to make one specific dish.  This time we made gyoza, which is really based on a Chinese pan fried dumpling.  It is a ground meat, usually pork, mixed with vegetables and seasonings.
Gyoza is the one in the background.  In front is a comfort dish - like a stew.

We taught the kids how to fill and seal the dumplings, and then fried them in the pan.  It is fun for them to give it a try.

We have presented Anime Cafe three times so far.  Once we made hand rolled sushi just as I remember having at a friends house.  Another time we made Takoyaki - which is like a fritter but filled with a piece of octopus.  Takoyaki is everywhere at festival time, because its easy to carry around on skewers.  The foods we choose to demonstrate are those the teens will see in Animes.  It puts the name of the food with the live version and the taste, and they can really relate.
**On an allergy note, we work out our menu and have a list of ingredients on hand for registrations.  We do not force anyone to eat anything, but we encourage kids to look over the menu before they register. 

This library will be carrying on the tradition of Anime Cafe now that I have moved branches.  Other libraries have talked to my friend about presenting to teens and adults.  Any program with food is going to be a hit, but you would be amazed how many kids are quite fascinated by different cultures and want that hands on experience.  I encourage you to learn a little about a culture, or visit your local cultural group, and ask them to do a little presentation at the library.  I bet everyone would just love it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Library Out Loud - Come draw with me

One of the programs that my predecessor had done was called Read, Scribble, and Snack.  I can't claim any responsibility for this program other than the name change.  It is fairly popular with my after school crowd though.

Now I call it LOL: Library Out Loud (get it? after our blog name!)  The premise is easy.

1) Offer a snack, as this IS after school.
2) Offer drawing paper, pencils, pastels or any other medium.
3) Put in an audiobook of the kids choice (or read to the kids).
4) Hang out and draw.

This week, we worked on Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (Newberry Award winner this year!) I brought in a couple different books to vote on.  The kids could draw from the book or from their imaginations.  Most of them had their own ideas of what they wanted to do.

You can see here some of the kids drawing, and even see my own creation - yes that is the squirrel named Ulysses from the book...or a reasonable facsimile!

I get a good mix of kids out of the main library space and into the meeting room, where they can hang out and chat with me about whatever, draw whatever, and fuel up (most importantly to them).  Not all of the boys enjoy drawing, so I allow them to play a quiet game off to the side if they would rather do that.  They want to be included but they also don't really want to sit and draw, and that is OK.  This is one of the after school programs the kids ask for, so I am happy to continue it.  Once you have these art materials (or get donations), the upkeep is light.

Some kids really like audio books, so why not include them into your programming?  The materials are right there on the shelf, and you might get one kid hooked on a book.  Go for it!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bookworms Book Club - Fancy Nancy Sees Stars

My K-2 book club met this month to discuss Fancy Nancy Sees Stars by Jane O'Connor.
While the book is fairly simple and straightforward, I saw a lot of potential possibilities for activities to do with this group.  And stars are just so much fun!
First, we obviously had to eat star-shaped sugar cookies.  With frosting.  And sprinkles!  If Fancy Nancy eats them, we can too!  Of course, I forgot to take pictures, but they were pretty yummy.  I let the kids frost and sprinkle their own cookies, which they thoroughly enjoyed!
"Sprinkles make them sparkle." So true!
We read the book together once, and while the boys in the group were not thrilled about doing a Fancy Nancy book, they actually participated the most in the conversation! What I love about these books are the "fancy words," so we had some great discussion about vocabulary words. These words were all related to space and stars!
And there is a nice guide in the back of the book!
Next, we had fun with a game I made up: I split the kids into two teams, gave them each a felt board, and a bunch of felt stars.  Their task was to create a constellation out of stars.  The other team then had to guess what picture the constellation made.  This was so much fun, we did it three times!
This was my sample - can you guess? It's a house!
I also had a Fancy Nancy MadLib game, but we didn't end up having time for it.  You can find it, along with many other great teacher resources at Fancy Nancy World.

Our final activity was a simple, open-ended craft.  On black paper, the kids could create a constellation of their own with star stickers and white crayons.  They got really creative here and had a lot of fun with this!
This is my simple example - the big dipper!
This book club is so much fun to run, and fairly low-stress and low-prep.  These kids are so excited about books and reading, and I love being a part of that!
Next month is our last meeting of the school year - we're reading Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The importance of free play in the library

My deadline for summer reading club programs is next week.  For months I have been working the calendar to find a mix of paid presenters, movie showings, games, crafts, and wild-card activities for all age groups.  This is exhausting and I haven't reached June and July yet!

I had a major AH-HA moment yesterday, however.  I had a drop-in Lego program, where kids could just come in, have a snack, and play with Legos.  No structure. No rules (except no throwing or putting things up your nose). No guidelines.  No theme.

The Lego bin awaits!
So far, in my humble two months at this branch, this after-school program has been the biggest success story for this age group.  In the hour's time, I had more kids come in than many of my other programs combined.


Several parents stayed.  Kids asked when this was happening again.  Moms said they hoped I would do this all summer.  But wait!  I didn't do any prep work for this program!  I did no research or thinking about a theme!  This was on the calendar for only a couple of weeks and was kind-of a whim.

Sometimes the kids like structure.  I have had programs where I ask the kids what they would like to do and they stare back until I say "how about this?" and the program starts.  But not this time.  These kids came to play.  They came to meet up with their friends and just be together after school.  It was about being part of the community they lived and just being kids.  They formed their own groups, made their own stories (and freely shared them, YAY!), and had the best time. 

Lego programs are on my calendar this summer.....three of them.  I won't plan anything else but to have the Legos there and some Icee-Pops.  Maybe we will just have to do this every month after that.  Who knows?  This isn't about Legos, it is about allowing kids to just be kids, to be a part of the library doing something they love, and, after a long day at school, to not be directed in their activities.  It could be drawing or play dough, or sidewalk chalk, or dance - anything that allows kids a little free, unstructured play in their day.  I think it is time for me to think more about free play in the library.  I wonder what else we can do?

As a post script, I saw this excellent post on ALSC twitter feed.  It goes into great detail the concept of Play in the Public Library!  Check it out!