Friday, July 14, 2017

School-Age: Sand Castles

When I was starting to plan programs for the Collaborative Summer Library Program theme of "Build a Better World", I had a thought about building sand castles for a program. It took some thought to make it come together, but we built sand castles at the library this week!

1. Reading
We read "Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery" by David Gordon. It was not my favorite when I first read the book, but it works for the topic and the kids enjoyed it as a read aloud. 

My only note for the book is that I did not read the word "stupid" aloud. One of my parents, after one of the programs this week, actually thanked me for not doing so. I do not know why the book included it. It may not be the worst word out there but I also do not want kids to start thinking it is a good word to express their thoughts/feelings about one another. 

2. Discussion
We discussed whether or not they had ever made sand castles before and how big they had built them.

Then we delved into the topic of actual castles. What did they look like? Why did they have walls and towers? We pointed out other cool features like apartments where lords and ladies lived, moats, armories and more.

I used some pictures in these two books to show the kids what castles look like:

3. Activity/Craft
So it wasn't as much a craft as it was an activity, but we built SAND CASTLES! I wanted to make kinetic sand and found a recipe that was somewhat close to it. I used the recipe from the Living Ithaca blog but the proportions didn't quite work out for me. The play sand we bought came in cubic feet not pounds so I had to play around with the ingredients until it had a consistency that worked for our program. 

We used the same ingredients:
  • Play Sand
  • Cornstarch
  • Water
  • Dishsoap

The proportions for my program:
  • 3 bags of .5 cubic feet Play Sand (50 lb. bags)
  • ~9 cups of Cornstarch
  • 6 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons of dishsoap

I think some hardware stores label .5 cubic feet of sand as 50 lbs., which matches the recipe from Living Ithaca. However, the recipe had initially called for 6 cups for ONE 50 lb. bag. It was way too liquidy and soupy when I added the 6 cups of water for one bag of sand. When I added the extra bags of sand it made the consistency better for playing with.

A member had donated a large plastic tub when they donated books a year ago. I saved it and it ended up being the perfect thing to mix several bags of sand in. 

We ladled the sand onto paper plates and handed it out to the kids. They also were able to use a Dixie cup to mold the sand and had jumbo craft sticks, spoons, and toothpicks to help build their castles.

We are fortunate enough to have a large outdoor space outside of the library. It was sunny both days we had the program this week so, to avoid a mess inside the library, we took the program outside!

Here are some of the castles the kids in the program made:

It was a little hot for this program to be outside, having it in July, but we made it work. I gave the parents that registered ahead of time for the program a heads up that we may be heading outside and to bring hats and sunscreen for the kids.

Otherwise, it was a fun program and I think all the kids really enjoyed making sand castles at the library!

Friday, July 7, 2017

School-Age: Constitution

Last week I took a break from presenting the school-age program. One of my Library Assistants, Ms. Shelby, graduated recently from library school and is in the process of applying for librarian positions. I wanted to let her have an opportunity to present a program and it gave me a break halfway through our Summer Reading Program. 

She did a program about maps and map-making. Ms. Shelby discussed the cardinal directions, she read "How to Find Gold" by Viviane Schwarz, and they played games using real compasses. Then they made fridge magnets out of map pieces, mod podge, flat glass stones, and magnets. 

THIS week we learned about Independence Day and the Constitution since it was 4th of July earlier this week!

1. Reading:
We started off with the book "I Need My Own Country" by Rick Walton. It was funny and the kids loved it. They already started talking about what rules they would have if they started their own countries. 

2. Discussion:
Since the kids were already running away with the discussion before I even asked them, we talked about what their country's would look like. What rules would they have? 

Some of the answers were pretty great. We had kids that wanted everyone to treat each other well -- no stealing, no fighting, being kind, etc. Then we had the kids that had rules like 'you only eat candy in my country' or 'girls are not allowed'. 

3. Reading:
Our discussion led right around into another book. With all the rules we had to keep track of, and no one all agreeing, the book "We, the People" by Peter Spier was a perfect tie-in to our topic. It introduces kids to the opening lines of the constitution and to a small piece of history surrounding the document. 

Spier discusses how our young nation was having difficulty coming together on a shared goal. The Constitution of the United States ended up being the document that helped this country continue successfully. Because, if you are a country and you have rules, everyone has to agree to those rules in order to function. 

4. Discussion:
I brought it back to our original discussion about what their country's would look like. Would everyone in their country agree to the same rules? These would be important things for them to think about.

One kid was cracking me up because he said in his country everyone could do whatever they wanted. I asked him who was in charge. He was, of course. Perhaps we need another program about dictatorships another day...

5. Craft:
Since they were going to create their own countries, they would need their own flags! I had my teens glue 6 jumbo craft sticks together to make a flag shape. Then the kids could make their own flags using markers, glue sticks, and paper. 

Here's an example one of the teens made:

We only had the program one day instead of twice this week because of the holiday. It was a ton of fun and I love when the kids get super into a topic because they get their own ideas and thoughts heard. And who wouldn't want to make their own country?!

Friday, June 23, 2017

School-Age: Circuits

This week, as part of the "Build a Better World" Collaborative Summer Library Program, we built circuits!

1. Reading
We read "Weasels" by Elys Dolan. It is a hilarious book about weasels plotting world domination. Their machine to take over the world stops working buuuuut it's because it became unplugged!

2. Discussion
We talked about what circuits were. I explained that they were a complete circle that made electrical things work. Then we talked about insulators and conductors. Conductors allow energy/electricity to go through the circuit and insulators keep electricity from traveling through (or outside of) the circuit.

3. Activity
We used Steve Spangler's energy sticks to create a large circuit. We made one big circuit together with the kids to show how the energy stick worked when we were all connected, holding hands, in a circle.

Then we tested a variety of insulators and conductors. I would hold up an object and ask the kids if it was an insulator or a conductor. Then we would test their guesses by having two members of the circle hold the item between them within our circle circuit. 

Insulators we tested: Popsicle stick, puff ball, paper, Q-tip
Conductors we tested: Aluminum foil, penny, paper clip, binder clip

One of the kids made a great observation that the conductors all were made of metal!

4. Craft
For our craft we made robots out of toilet paper rolls. We set out glue sticks, glue dots, beads, paper, googly eyes, and more for the kids to use to decorate/make their robots. 

The energy sticks were SUPER fun to use. And they were easy to use with a really large group. 

For the craft, since both of our programs this week were packed with kids, we used an assembly line for kids to get the materials to make their robots. We set up one long rectangular table with all the materials they could choose from in bowls along the table.

We gave them their toilet paper roll and a paper plate, and they could use the paper plate to put their craft materials on. Then they found a spot on the rug in our program area to make their robots. It worked perfectly with the huge crowds, especially with our large number of kindergartner's who sometimes are not always tall enough to work at our tables. 

All in all, a success!

Friday, June 16, 2017

School-Age: Marble Runs

Since our Summer Reading Theme (CSLP 2017) is "Build a Better World", what better to build with than Legos?! And, on top of that, why not build Marble runs? So that is what we did this week.

1. Reading
We read "Billions of Bricks" by Kurt Cyrus. Not only is it a fun counting book that is about building but it incorporates bricks, which are basically what Legos are. So we tied it nicely together with our activity of the day.

2. Discussion
We had a short discussion about chain reactions and how marble runs can be a chain reaction through a series of obstacles. I brought up Rube Goldberg and the Rube Goldberg machine. I showed the kids some pictures and then began talking about how they can create their own complex Rube Goldberg machine's at home. I gave (and showed) them some examples of using wood, dominoes, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, and tape. 

Then I showed some pictures of Lego marble runs using pool noodles, as well as Lego maze marble runs, to give an example of what they were building today. 

3. Activity
We have a weekly program that uses Legos so I borrowed some of the materials that my Library Assistant uses at that program for our Marble Run program this week. She had used pool noodles cut in half with pipe cleaners to help lightly secure the noodles to the Legos.

Here are some pictures of our kids in the midst of building:

Same group as the one above but they found a way to use the pipe cleaners to secure their structure:

One of my favorites was a group that made a fairly difficult maze. All of the kids in the group LOVED doing their maze, even the older one.

4. Take Home
The largest take-home is that kids have ideas on how to be creative and BUILD at home. It may not be with Legos if they do not have them at home but I also gave them ways to use toilet paper rolls (which everyone has at home) and other scraps they may find at home. With the creativity and imagination of a child, anything is possible. 

I also allowed the kids to take one marble and one piece of pool noodle home. That way they already had some of the supplies they might need to build their own marble run. And I made a hand-out that the kids could take home that had pictures of different types of chain reaction marble runs or mazes they could build at home.

The program went WONDERFULLY! The craziest and busiest time of the year, Summer Reading Program, is in full swing this week so we were packed. We have a registration system we use for sign-ups and we have, unfortunately, had to institute required registrations starting this week. In the past we have only requested registration but, with the numbers we're getting, there is no way my Library Assistant and I can manage many more kids coming to our programs. It is not a bad problem to have but we hate turning kids away. 

As for the program itself, it worked great to create bins of Legos to hand out ahead of the program. We made enough to have 6 groups total. That way, once we started the activity and separated kids into groups, we could call one kid up from each group to get their Legos and the Lego baseplate that they were using that day. It was highly successful and I would contemplate incorporating Legos into other programs in the future every so often to mix it up. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

School-Age: Detectives

This week we talked about detectives and solving mysteries! 

Earlier this spring I had an thought about how neat it would be if we played a life-size detective game. I envisioned a program that was like playing clue or one of those dinner murder mystery games. 

I could not find anything exactly like what I was envisioning online so I made up my own game, peppering it with simple terms like 'evidence' or 'alibi' to give the kids an overview of crime-solving terminology.

1. Reading
We read the book "Who Done It?" by Olivier Tallec. It was a bit of a seek-and-find book where the kids had to figure out which character was the one that 'did it', whether is was the character(s) that didn't get enough sleep or the character who is in love. I had printed blown up pictures of the answers to show them in detail, which was great for larger audiences. 

2. Activity
We played a 'Who Done It?' mystery. It was my life-size version of clue! The mystery we solved was 'Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?' 

Thus began the literary kids version of clue...

A. The Usual Suspects 
We started with a list of suspects. I wanted to use familiar characters from books they may have read. Our suspects were: Fancy Nancy, Curious George, Waldo, Pete the Cat, Clifford, Amelia Bedelia, Madeline, Cat in the Hat, and the Pigeon.

B. Evidence: Tire Tracks
We talked about what 'evidence' is and then used the first piece of evidence to eliminate some of the suspects. For the first program of the week I had laid out all the pieces of evidence on/near a table where the cookies (our library happens to have a prop jar of cookies!) are knocked over. 

For the program today I changed the set-up slightly and had two longer tables where I put the evidence in order for us to go through as a group. There were 3 times as many kids at our Friday morning program as there were on Tuesday so I need to have it more manageable. 

The first piece of evidence was the tire tracks. They compared them to the tire treads on three different types of cars: a truck, a convertible, and a van. Then I had a list of what each suspect drove.

Tire Track Evidence:

Tire Treads for Various Cars:

Suspect's Cars:

For this piece of evidence, the van matches the tire track found at the scene of the crime SO our suspects have been narrowed down to: Pigeon, Madeline, Clifford, Curious George, Amelia Bedelia, and Waldo.

C. Evidence: Alibi's
We defined what 'alibi' means. Some of the kids knew and gave some pretty great answers. Then I read aloud the alibi's of each suspect and then asked them if it was an alibi. Then we discussed why it was or was not an alibi for that suspect.

Obviously, I had a little librarian humor mixed in that went over some (but not ALL) of the kids heads. At least the parents (and my wonderful library assistant) fully appreciated the jokes! 

After the alibi activity, our suspects are now: Madeline, Clifford, Waldo, Pigeon, and Amelia Bedelia.

D. Evidence: Motive
We defined 'motive' and then we worked through the potential motives of each character to see they actually had a motive or whether we could eliminate them as a suspect.

After the motive activity, our suspects are still: Madeline, Clifford, Waldo, Pigeon, and Amelia Bedelia.

E. Evidence: Shoe Prints
Next, we went back to our table of evidence and picked up the shoe prints left at the scene of the crime. We had three different types of shoe/foot prints that we compared them to. This one was pretty easy but still fun (and funny) for the kids.

Shoe Print Evidence:

Shoe/Foot Prints for Various Suspects:

Suspects Shoe/Foot Prints:

So, at this point, our last remaining suspects are: Madeline, Amelia Bedelia, and Waldo. Dun, dun, dun!

F. Evidence: Handwriting Analysis
One of our last pieces of physical evidence was a handwritten note. I used fonts on the computer because I thought that would be the easiest so I found two fonts that looked similar to keep it tricky for the kids. 

Handwritten Note Evidence:

Handwriting Comparisons:

It was a little difficult, but the fonts that are most similar to the note found were Madeline's and Amelia Bedelia's. However, I told the kids that we would wait to eliminate anyone because we had one last major piece of evidence!

G. Evidence: Fingerprint Analysis
Before I got into the actual fingerprint I used at the scene of our crime I showed them a very simple fingerprint typing printable that I found from the Making Friends blog. They were able to look at their fingers and see whether their fingers were loops, whirls, or arches. 

Then I had the kids use the fingerprint left at the scene of the crime to match it to the remaining suspects.

Fingerprint Evidence:

Fingerprints of Suspects:

And, after all that, we officially solved the mystery.

Who done it? Amelia Bedelia! I guess I shouldn't be so surprised!

3. Take Home
Since the kids helped solve our mystery, they earned their detective badges. The badges even had a place for them to stamp their thumbprints too!

For the first program of the week we had the kids come up in groups for the physical pieces of evidence (tire tracks, foot prints, hand-writing, and fingerprints). That proved to be a little challenging since each group needed to be walked through the evidence and they all had to take turns. 

For the second program of the week we initially started by doing that but, with the increase in the amount of kids, we ended up looking at the last three pieces of physical evidence as a whole group because we were running out of time and that ended up working perfectly.

Overall the program was tons of fun this week! I think both the kids and the parents really enjoyed it which I love since I put so much time and effort into making this particular one shine. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

School-Age: Bridges

This week is our library's official start to the Summer Reading Program. Since the Collaborative Summer Library Program theme is 'Build a Better World', this week I focused on building - specifically, building BRIDGES!

1. Reading
We read the book "Iggy Peck, Architect" by Andrea Beaty. I LOVED the rhythm of this book. The words flowed and rhymed, and also had many fun humorous parts that adults would enjoy. 

For a few portions of the book, Iggy Peck created actual architectural phenomenons: The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Sphinx in Egypt, and the St. Louis Arch in Missouri. I printed out pictures of those places and compared them to the structures that Iggy Peck had created. 

2. Discussion
I had also printed pictures of different famous bridges throughout the world. I wanted the kids to get an idea that some bridges are functional and some are pieces of art. I also wanted to demonstrate that some bridges are famous because of how they were built or what they look like. Some of the ones we looked at were the Golden Gate Bridge, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Brooklyn Bridge, but I showed them about 10 bridges total.

3. Activity
I set almost half of the program time aside this week for our activity. I found a neat STEM building activity on the Frugal Fun 4 Boys blog. Using only a few materials and minimal direction, we had the kids build bridges.

We purchased/used:
*Jumbo Craft Sticks
*Binder Clips

My teens made 5 kits for the kids to use in groups while in the library. We had the kids break up into groups of 3 or 4 kids to work on building together.

Each kit had:
A. 6 clothespins
B. 12 binder clips
C. 30 craft sticks

The build projects we did, depending on time, were:
A. Build the longest bridge
B. Build the tallest bridge
C. Build the most [architecturally] artistic bridge 

4. Take-Home
If the kids wanted to, we made smaller take-home kits that the kids could use at home. The teen volunteers had bagged them up prior to the program so we could hand them out in the last few minutes of the program. 

This was a really fun program to do with the kids. The building aspect being somewhat open-ended was neat and slightly challenging. The older kids could definitely do it but it was difficult for the younger ones. However, having open-ended projects like this are great to challenge the way kids think. With the same materials, we had dozens of different ways of building demonstrated and it was awesome!

Friday, May 26, 2017

School-Age: Weight and Density

This week we talked about weight (how heavy something is) and density - and how we measure it! 

1. Reading
We read "What Can a Crane Pick Up?" by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. It was a fun tie-in to our discussion/book about weight and measurement because it discussed how many heavy items cranes are able to pick up.

2. Discussion
I asked the kids if they knew what 'weight' meant. Then I began a discussion using the book "Weigh It: Fun With Weight" by Rachel First. The book defines 'weight' as 'how heavy something is'. It also had great discussion points throughout the book. 

One of the pictures showed a little girl weighing apples at the store. I pointed out different types of scales and types of food they might see being weighed at the grocery store. 

I also used the book to point out that, just because something is large (or small), it does not mean that it is heavy (or light). The book used a large beach ball as an example of a large light item and a bowling ball as an example of a small heavy item. 

This led into our activity...

3. Activity
We compared a variety of items, weighing them on a scale my library assistant brought it, that we found around the library. I made up a worksheet that had the items in different columns and they had to circle the item they thought would win each round. 

[The duck was rather humorous as an item to try to fit on the scale - he is one of our large puppets we use for storytimes and he is rather bulky.]

For each round I asked the kids which item they thought was heavier. Then I put each item on the scale and they got to see the numbers fluctuate to show how heavy the items were in grams and ounces. 

4. Craft
The craft we made this week were paper weights. I hinted to the kids that these would make great (belated) Mother's Day presents OR upcoming Father's Day presents.

I pre-painted the rocks before each program and glue-dotted them to a paper plate. That way it was easy to cart it home on its paper plate. 

During the craft time we put out glue dots at the craft tables as well as bowls full of beads, jewels, and googly eyes. The kids could make pet rock monsters or just decorate the rocks as they would like. 

Here are some examples of ones the teens and I made:
One of the teens made a three-eyed rock monster prince:

Another teen made a happy rock:

And I went the punny, creative route:

It was a great program this week and went smoothly. I'm glad I listened to my gut and painted the rocks prior to each program. I had almost decided to have the kids do it but, at the last minute, I painted them before the programs. I think it went a lot smoother having me do the messy portion of the craft instead of the kids!