Friday, January 12, 2018

School-Age: Fractions

This topic certainly tested my knowledge of elementary mathematics. I was not sure how it was going to go considering that most elementary-aged students do not learn fractions until about 3rd grade. So it had the potential to be way too difficult for the younger kids and too simple for the older kids.

1. Reading
My topic was mostly driven by the fact that I LOVED "The Cookie Fiasco" by Dan Santat and wanted to find a way to use it at one of my school-age programs! 

In the book there are four characters but only three cookies! What will they do? 

By the end, the nervous Hippo has split the cookies in pieces and there are just enough enough pieces to go around! AKA, they have split the cookies into FRACTIONS!

2. Discussion
We talked about what a fraction is -- equal pieces of the whole. 

I have a few small tablet white-boards and I used them to demonstrate how the cookies were split into fractions. And then we found the fraction of cookie that each character got to eat.

2a. I asked them if they remember how many cookie pieces were left at the end of the book (12) and how many each character got to eat (3). I drew three circles (cookies) and asked how many equal parts each cookie needed to be divided into in order to get 12 pieces.

2b. The kids gave me several answers and I drew them to demonstrate how many pieces each answer would make. 

If we cut each cookie into 2 pieces (1/2), we would get 6 total pieces of cookie:

If we cut each cookie into 3 pieces (1/3), we would get 9 total pieces of cookie:

And, if we cut each cookie into 4 pieces (1/4), we would get 12 total pieces of cookie:

2c. Then we found the fraction of cookie each character would get. If each character gets 3 cookie pieces and the cookies are divided into 4 parts, the amount of cookie they get is 3/4 of a cookie.

3. Reading
Since we needed a bit more background information of fractions - numerators, denominators, the names of fractions, and more, we read some selected parts of the book "Fractions" by Joseph Midthun.
The book used easy-to-understand descriptions and pictures to teach the kids what fractions are. I paper-clipped some of the pages together so that I didn't overwhelm them with too much information.

4. Comparing Fractions Activity
Towards the end of the "Fractions" book it discussed comparing fractions. Using my white-board tablet, I wrote fractions and asked the kids to compare which one was larger.

Then, I drew a picture of each fraction, like I did with the white-board after reading "The Cookie Fiasco", to help them visualize the fraction and see why one fraction was larger than another. It was difficult to realize that larger denominators do not necessarily equal the bigger amount, which is why drawing the fractions helped considerably! 

4a. 1/8 vs 1/4 

 4b. 2/3 vs 1/6

5. Cookie Fiasco Activity
Using the book as inspiration, I created a worksheet for us to work on as a group to fill in. The first part has them fill in the fraction of cookie that matches the fraction. The second part is glasses of milk that they have to fill in. 

Notes: This program went so well! It is amazing how some kids just immediately grasp a concept. I loved hearing them tell me how much of each cookie fraction they needed to fill in! It was one of those topics I took a risk to do, because I was not sure how well it would be received, and I am so glad I did!

Friday, January 5, 2018

School-Age: Lego Man in Space

I thought I would kick off our Spring session with a bang so we did a program using LEGOs! My decision was partly because LEGOs are so popular and are sure to draw in a crowd but it was also to draw attention to our weekly teen-led LEGO program.

1. Reading 
We read the book "LEGO Man in Space" by Mara Shaughnessy. It is a true story about two Canadian teenagers that sent a LEGO Man into space using a weather balloon!

2. Discussion
We had a brief discussion about fact or fiction. Did they think it was really a true story? Did two teenagers ACTUALLY send a LEGO Man into space?

I showed them a few pictures I found from news articles of Mat and Asad. Here's an article from the Daily Mail of them after hiking to find LEGO Man after his descent back to Earth, including a video of an interview with the two teens. Here's an article from The Star, which includes pictures of LEGO Man's adventures after his fame.

3. Video
Most of my programs do not include videos/film BUT with a topic like LEGO Man in Space, how could we not watch his voyage into space? It was a viral video that the teens made using cameras that they had put in their Styrofoam spacecraft that captured the voyage of LEGO Man into space. It is also what catapulted them into fame after they posted it on Youtube!

4. Activity
And, of course, we used LEGOs for the kids to build their own space crafts. 

Here are a few photos of some of the kids creations:

This was a perfect topic to ease back into a program session and, with LEGOs, how can you go wrong?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

December: Planning Month

Even though December is one of our planning months, when we offer limited programs but do not have our regular weekly programs, we are still very busy!

1. We had a few special events, one of which being our annual Cookie House program. 

It is offered throughout our library system and each library has one or two time slots for the program. It is a wildly popular program for everyone - we had over 200 people at ours!

Last year we had a buffet-style line that the families could go through for certain items. Everything that we had in limited supply we put in individual baggies. It created a lot of prep work for staff so I made some slight changes for this year's event.

This year, we put a few of the limited supply items in baggies but the everything else we put in bowls on the tables for kids to serve themselves 'family style'. We put all of their individual supplies at each table place-setting. It alleviated a lot of prep work from staff before the program and simplified planning for me!

The only note I would make about doing 'family style' for materials is that it is important to make it clear to the parents and children alike that the bowls on the table are to share with everyone. We had an issue at one of the tables when a child monopolized one of the bowls. But, otherwise, it was great!

2. This is also one of the months that I do a majority of training for our teen volunteers. We had several orientations with new volunteers as well as interviews. 

The interviews are a new requirement but some of our programs require teens to lead them with varying levels of help from a staff member. The teens that are in charge of the programs need to have the skills and the commitment to do so. The interviews added a 'hoop' for them to jump through to test their commitment and were a great first interview experience for them.

3. We also spend our break month's cleaning and reorganizing. Sometimes, in the midst of a program session, after each week we just put stuff back where it fits or set it aside to deal with later. Well...this is later. So I have spent some of my time cleaning up from this past session.

I also have to organize our materials for the next session and prepare materials that we are going to use for crafts at our school-age programs. Needless to say, my hands are tired of all the cutting!

And, lastly, I am cleaning some of the items that our school-ager's handle on the regular. Since our amazing library assistant, Ms. Shelby, moved to a different library as she was hired as a librarian several month's back, I took over the teen-led Lego program she helped with. One our regular cleaning jobs is to clean the Lego's so I had Lego bathtime at my home this week before programs start back up next week.

So, it was definitely a non-programming month but it certainly was not a break! Now onward to another program session next week!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

School-Age: Thanksgiving

I was on vacation one of the last weeks of our programs this session, but Ms. Carol presented our program on Thanksgiving. I had found the craft last year and made a program around it because it was too cute not to!

1. Reading
She read "The Thank You Book" by Mo Willems. I love Mo Willems and have yet to find a kid that doesn't. This is also a (in my opinion) more fun option over reading a holiday Thanksgiving picture book.

2. Discussion
They talked about what being thankful means and what they are thankful for.

3. Craft
The craft I found was a Thankful Turkey Box on the I Heart Crafty Things blog. It uses an square tissue box, wrapped with brown paper, turning it into a turkey. You glue colored feathers on the back and a turkey body on the front. After you decorate, kids can use the box to write notes about what they're thankful for.

Here's Ms. Carol's example:

She added a Santa hat this week to make him more festive, so we could keep him out on display for a few more weeks.  

I was sad to miss this particular week since I was so excited about the craft but it was perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday this year. I suppose going on vacation every so often is just as important :)!

Friday, November 17, 2017

School-Age: Dung Beetles

Parents may not appreciate it but I have yet to meet a school-age kid that does not love (or at least find it funny) to talk about POOP. So this week we did just that and talked about the fabulous dung beetle!

1. Reading
For our book we read "Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle" by Cheryl Bardoe

It has age-appropriate facts about different varieties of dung beetles and is the perfect length for a read-aloud!

2. Activity
We had a small discussion to test their listening comprehension during the book. The kids asked so many questions during the read-aloud portion, though, that this was not an issue. The topic this week was a hit!

Our activity was a scat identification game. I shared a North American Mammal Scat identification sheet, if they were curious about identifying scat where they live. Then I shared a variety of different scat pictures to see if they could guess the animal. Some of the animals were also on the North American Mammal Scat sheet and some were not. The scat I showed were from a range of animals, from elephants and cows to foxes and owls. 

The kids LOVED this game even if it was a little gross.

3. Craft
I had the kids name another well-known insect that loves poop = the fly! Our craft was to make a fly out of Popsicle sticks, clothespins, and googly eyes. Ms. Carol found a similar craft on the Simply Crafty blog.  

Here are some of our examples: 

As I said - the topic was a hit. The parents were amused (and a little grossed out) but all the kids were engaged and loved it! I would definitely do something similar again with scat identification, even if I changed the topic slightly, because it was fun!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

School-Age Special Event: Messy Art Party

Some colleagues of mine had their own messy art parties in the last year or so, and they seemed to be a big hit. SO, of course, I decided to host my own messy art party!

Messy art can be a little intimidating at the library. I mean, we have books! We can't get messy...right? 

I am one of those libraries that does not have its own program rooms. This might be easier if I did, but we still take over the library (or at least parts of it) for programs on occasion. 

I had planned on doing a lot of the activities outside but we got hit with an early cold front so I definitely did not want to be outside today. The only exception was, since it was still sunny out, we had the chalk art outside for kids to drop in and do. For the other activities, we took over some of the study tables close to our storytime area for the program and set up a few folding tables as well to have several stations. I also saved some of our back-dated newspapers to use to cover the tables to make clean up easier.


1. Ice Cube Painting:
A peer of mine had huge success with ice cube painting. You take ice cube trays, put food coloring in them, fill them with water, and, when the water starting to solidify, put Popsicle sticks in them.

2. Anything but a paint brush:
We have a bunch of left-over tempura paint. To make the station fun and challenging, I had a few items I created to be used in place of a paint brush. 

Bubble Wrap:

Yarn-Wrapped Paper-Towel Rolls:

Pipe Cleaners:


3. Coffee Filter Art:
This is a super simple 'messy' art project. You color a coffee filter with markers and then drip water on it to create a tie-dye effect when the colors run. 

4. Bleeding Art Tissue Paper:
I have a ton of bleeding art tissue paper left over from the Name Art craft when we discussing "Thunder Boy, Jr.". I decided it would be a perfect craft to round-out our indoor activities. 

5. Sidewalk Chalk
We have a sidewalk outside of our library. I put out cones to signify where the kids could color with chalk. Then we let them go at it on the sidewalk. 

This was so much fun and the kids loved getting messy. Most of the part projects I kept to a minimal messy level, which helped. And all of the activities were easy for the preschool and early elementary kids but still fun and engaging for older elementary kids!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

School-Age: Clara the Rhino

On occasion we have to be observed during our programs to make sure everything is going swell. This week I observed my Library Assistant, Ms. Carol, present a program about Clara the Rhino that I had planned.

1. Reading
She read the book "Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone...While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent" by Emily Arnold McCully. Yes, it is an incredibly exhaustive title, but it is a lovely tale about Clara.

I knew nothing about Clara but Emily McCully's book and another book about Clara, "Clara: The True Story of Clara the Rhino" by Sarah Hewitt, both came out in 2016 and piqued my interest in this little-known animal that was famed in her time.

The book by Emily McCully is quite long. It can be shortened by paper-clipping pages, depending on the age of the audience and what your history is with your attendees (whether or not they have sat through long books before). Ms. Carol read the whole book, which took about 20 minutes, and our kids were fascinated the entire time!

2. Discussion/Activity
I had prepared some trivia facts about Clara, and rhino's in general, for Ms. Carol to ask the kids. It tested their listening skills, since some of the questions came directly from the book. For example, one of the questions was about what Clara's favorite food was - the answer is oranges! Other trivia questions were rhino facts such as how big rhinos can get. 

3. Craft
For the craft, we made rhinos of our own. I found a printable rhino on the Learn, Create, Love blog. We printed them out on grey paper, cut them prior to the program, and handed the rhino parts out in bag kits for the craft. The kids glued their rhino parts to a piece of card stock and were able to add flair with markers as they wished.

It was a fun program and a fascinating history to share. We only had one program this week, since we are closed for the Veteran's Day Holiday, but it was well attended and all the kids loved the topic!