Because planning a program doesn't just take 5 minutes

I don’t do any in-house storytimes over the summer, just outreach and stories in the parks, so this was my first time back with “my” group since May.  There were some familiar faces and some new ones, too.  For the past two years, we’ve done alphabet themed storytimes, and those were fun, but we were all ready for a break.  At least for fall, all of our storytimers are planning independently.  I’m doing themes related to self and community.  We started with Friends, and then I’ll be doing things like food, clothing, family, homes, community helpers, etc.  For a first week, this was really solid.  The stories were not the best, but we did get to try out our new beanbags and play a name game.

Want to know more?  Read on!



I haven’t put up a new post in a while because we’re doing letter storytimes again this year, so I’ve mostly just been updating those, but Glow-in-the-Dark storytime is worth its own post, I think.  We first saw this on a NYPL blog post a few years ago and we’ve been tossing it around ever since.

I borrowed a black light from a neighbor (the kind you might use with a fish tank) and connected it to the top of our white board.  It lit up the white board, but also bounced off the surface and gave us pretty good black light coverage of the room.  The maintenance staff member who helped me with this also got excited about it, so after the program we went out and bought a longer fixture and black light tubes so that we can do it properly next time.  (And, yes, there will definitely be a next time.)  This was a good winter program, because we could do it in early evening and still have it be dark outside.  We also used the blackout shades in our program room, covered over the window in the door, and covered over the emergency light that’s on in the room even when all the lights are out.  That was about it for room setup.

Overall, the program was just as awesome as I wanted it to be.

Want to know more?  Read on!

Fun with Science 2016

talk-dropping-colorsWe just finished our 4th annual Fun with Science event this morning, an ECRR2-based science drop-in for preschoolers and families.  Turnout was a little bit smaller than in our first two years, but the kids who came had a ton of fun!  You’ll have to go to our facebook page to see our wind tube in action, but you can find the rest of the info here.

Want to know more?  Read on!

Letter B Storytime – Take 2

bubble-print-leavesThere is so much material for letter B that I didn’t repeat one single thing from last year – not a story, song, or craft.  Crazy!  I guess we could have several weeks of letter B storytime.  I remember this not being true for all of the letters – you’re kind of scraping bottom for XY storytime – but having lots of choices is great for the beginning of the year, when you’re still feeling out your group.

I know there’s been a lot of discussion in the field in the last few years about process vs. product art.  One of the difficulties with process art is that lots of the obvious projects are super messy.  We’ve solved this in the past year or so by doing more community art, where we cover the tables in roll paper and let the kids work together.  Sometimes this creates a reusable product, and sometimes it doesn’t.  This week, the kids made individual bubble wrap prints, but I offered to keep them here and post them on a community bulletin board if the adults didn’t want to bring them home.  This is a win-win because we get to display kids’ art and freshen up our bulletin boards for fall; the kids get to do a fun, messy project and come back and see their art displayed; and the parents and caregivers don’t have to tote a bunch of wet paint home.

Want to know more?  Read on!

Storytime: Letter A

apple-treeWe decided to go with the alphabet-themed storytimes again this year.  We were all pleased with both the structure and variety it allowed last year.  My goal, so as not to get too complacent, is to try at least one new-to-me book each week.

I am also still working on developing more process-oriented crafts, play, and sensory experiences at the end of storytime.  This week’s craft was interesting, because the product actually turned out really nicely, but I chose it for the process.  I loved the crinkling of the tissue paper and all of the different textures you could make out of it by crumpling, folding, twisting, putting it on flat, etc.  Since it looked nice no matter what the kids did with the materials, the adults pretty much stayed out of the kids’ way and let them work, so it worked pretty well.

Want to know more?  Read on!

Elephant & Piggie Party

We did this hourlong drop-in event in conjunction with our Park District as part of the community ScreenBreak Week.  It was similar to last year’s Read Across America party, with stations set up around the room.  Each station was related to an Elephant & Piggie title.  We had about 70 participants, a mix of families and groups from the Park District’s after school program.


Station 1: I Really Like Slop.  This was pretty incredibly gross.  The kids either loved it or hated it.  I made the slop out of clear glue and liquid starch, with some liquid food coloring and plastic bugs thrown in for added grossness.  I’m more used to making Flubber, which has a more exact recipe and is a little less gooey.  This one needed periodic refreshing with the starch to keep it from getting too sticky.  It actually looked and behaved quite a bit like mucus, which may have been much of the attraction for the elementary school aged boys, many of whom were sporting their own runny noses.  Ick.



Station 2: We Are in a Book.  This one was really simple – just handouts printed out from the Elephant and Piggie Event Kit on Mo Willems’ website.  We had a few that were mostly coloring and a few that were more about writing / making up stories.

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Station 3: There is a Bird on Your Head!  Walk on a straight or rounded balance beam while balancing a nest hat.  This was a super cute activity, but we had a few logistical issues.  The Park District staff made the hats out of straw wreaths glued to a flat bottom with strings to tie them on.  The bottoms were really slippery, and it was hard to tie the hats tight enough to keep the hats on the kids’ heads.  We brought the plastic eggs, which had been in our closet for years.  Apparently really old plastic likes to shatter when dropped on the floor, so the egg drops were perhaps a little more realistic than we intended.  Some of the kids were horrified when their eggs broke, and others thought it was hilarious.


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Station 4: I Will Take a Nap!  We made blankets out of flannel rectangles, with scrap flannel, scissors, and glue for decoration.  My favorite creation was this Elephant and Piggie blanket, made by a 9-year-old boy.  I’d say this was the least crowded station, and some of the gluey blankets were left behind, but the kids who did it spent quite a long time with it and really seemed to enjoy it.



Station 5: I Am a Frog!  We put out paper plates, sticks, scrap paper, scissors, glue, tape, stickers, and markers so the kids could make animal masks.



Station 6: Watch Me Throw the Ball!  This was a standard bean bag toss game, and one of the Park District staff members decorated it for the Elephant and Piggie theme.



Station 7: Listen to My Trumpet!  We set up an instrument petting zoo.  It was mostly kids’ instruments from the library,  but one of the Park District staff members brought in a flute.  There was also a teen volunteer with an electric guitar who did an amazing job with the kids.  He played quietly in the background, and then when kids came up, he let them play on his guitar.  This got a little bit loud, especially when the room was full, but it was really fun.



Station 8: Waiting is Not Easy!  We put out black paper on the table along with gold, silver, yellow, and white paint and Q-tips and let the kids paint stars (or whatever they wanted) on the table.  I expected this to be the least exciting station, but the kids actually had a really good time here, and many of them returned to it several times over the course of the program.



Station 9: I Am Invited to a Party!  This could just have been the theme for the whole event.  The Park District painted this awesome signboard where the families could take their pictures.



Last, but not least, we brought over a member of our Circulation staff to check out Elephant and Piggie books and issue new cards.  He didn’t get a lot of business, but it was a nice service to offer, and we did register one new household.  There were also a few families who came over to the table just to read books without checking them out.

Lots o’ Letters

veg-printing-2I was sick for a week and missed all kinds of stuff, including Q&R Storytime.  When I got back, I had a ton of programs and some end-of-construction craziness, so these posts are not my most detailed, but here goes…

Letter P

Letter S

Letter T

Letter U

Letter V

I’ll do a separate post about my non-storytime programs.  In the meantime, enjoy some vegetable painting!

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