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!

Friday, November 3, 2017

School-Age: Monsters

To get into the spirit of the holiday, we learned about monsters this week!

1. Reading
This week we read "Quit Calling Me a Monster" by Jory John. This was another of those books that I did not quite enjoy when I read it the first time BUT when I read it to the kids they loved it. Sooo, I have re-evaluated my opinion of it and bumped it up a star on Goodreads.

I loved that the monster in the book preferred to be called "Floyd Peterson". It was hilarious and reminded Ms. Carol and I about the book we read at our Halloween party last week - "Monster Museum". One of the poems in that book talked about how Frankenstein hated being called by the name of the doctor who created him and he wanted his own name. 

2. Discussion
We talked about different 'monsters' from pop culture and literature. I created a flash card game and tested their knowledge of different monsters. We had monsters ranging from the Cookie Monster to zombies and Big Foot. 

3. Activity
We played another form of BINGO again this week. It was vastly different than last week's BINGO so I didn't feel bad about a repeat activity so soon after the last BINGO game. 

I found a Monster BINGO on Grandma Ideas and used that during the program.

4. Craft
Everyone got to make their own monster's this week! Somewhat Simple had a printable build-a-monster kit. It was the perfect craft this week and the kids LOVED coming up with their very on 'Floyd Peterson's' to take home with them this week.

Monday, October 30, 2017

School-Age Special Event: Halloween

It has been forever since I have posted about a special event I have hosted. Between having Summer Reading performances and special guests, it has been awhile since I have had to plan one of my own special events.

This month we hosted a Halloween party for our school-age kids. My teens helped plan the activities and crafts, similarly to how they helped with our "Peep Fest" last spring. 

To go along with the Halloween-theme, we had the kids trick-or-treat at every station. We handed out paper bags to all the attendees that had a 'passport' stapled to it. The 'passport' listed all of the stations at the event. They received a stamp at every station they visited AND they got to choose a treat to put in their paper bags. 

It went so well having just two crafts at the Peep Fest that I told my teens to plan two crafts for this event as well.

1a. Masks
My teens found some templates of Halloween masks online. If you Google "printable Halloween masks" you will be sure to find plenty! I printed them off on card-stock and the teens cut them out. We used hole punchers to pre-punch the holes and had yarn at that station for parents to tie onto the mask once the kids were done coloring. 

This was a super simple craft for the kids to do and an easy station for the teens to supervise since all the kids had to do was color their masks! It was also a big hit since the kids could easily make their own costume if they did not wear one to the event.

*Masks (printed out on card-stock and pre-cut)

1b. Paper Pumpkins
My teens found a craft paper pumpkin that used strips of orange paper and brass fasteners. 

The teens pre-cut strips of orange paper. I also found a simple leaf image to use and printed those out for the teens to pre-cut prior to the program. Using a hole puncher, we put holes on both ends of the orange paper and the leaves. 

*8 strips of orange paper (hole-punched on both ends)
*1 green leaf (hole-punched once)
*2 brass fasteners

You lay the orange strips flat, putting a leaf on one end. Put the brass fasteners through the holes and open the enclosures. Spread out the strips of paper and, voilĂ , you have a pumpkin!

We had quite a few activities INCLUDING a station for spooky storytelling!

2a. Witch Hat Ring Toss
My teens had found a version of this ring toss on the Dollar Store Mom blog. It is super cute and easy to replicate. Since we were making it for a bunch of school-age kids, I wanted to to be as heavy-duty as I could make it. We made it with plastic traffic cones that we spray-painted black.

We also had a large display sign from an event that had passed we used as a base that we also spray-painted black. I used paper to make the decorations that adorn the hats.

The display sign was heavy-duty plastic but a piece of thick poster-board would also work. After the spray paint dried, I used a box cutter to poke holes where the traffic cones already had holes on each corner of the base. Then, I used a brass fastener to connect the witch hat firmly to the base. 

*3 Plastic traffic cones (spray painted black)
*12 brass fasteners
*Black spray paint

2b. Spooky Bean Bag Toss
Using the black wooden board we already have, I taped spooky headstones and ghosts to it and used it for our spooky bean bag toss.

We also purchased bean bags from Amazon, so we can reuse them at future events.

2c. Spooky Storytelling
My library assistant, Ms. Carol, and I took turns telling spooky stories as one of the stops on our library trick-or-treating event. We used a monster-themed poetry book so that kids could drop in to this station and not have missed any part of the story. The one we used, that was a huge hit, was "Monster Museum" by Marilyn Singer.

2d. Spooky Selfies
We hung up a black sheet near our library's entrance and taped a variety of Halloween-themed items to it to create a selfie station. My teens found printable props from Kristen Duke Photography

I printed the props out on card-stock and we attached the props to Popsicle sticks for the kids to hold up and take selfies with.

This was a SUPER fantastic program! The teens had fun seeing all their hard work pay off and all of the kids had a great time. It is so much fun seeing the kids having fun at a program that we put so much work into creating!

Friday, October 27, 2017

School-Age: Rhymes (with Mo Willems)

Who doesn't love Mo Willems? That's rhetorical. Everyone should love him! I found out about one of his new books at a Judy Freeman workshop in the spring and LOVED it! I could NOT wait to share it at one of our programs!

1. Reading
The Mo Willem's book that we read was "Nanette's Baguette". It is brilliantly wonderful (like most of his books)! And now I know 50 different words that rhyme with the word baguette!

2. Discussion
Rhyming can be a little tricky with a wide age group. The younger kids are just beginning to be introduced to the concept of rhyming words but our older kids are pros at rhyming already. I had the kids help me define what rhyming words are -- words that end with the same sound -- and give me some examples.

Then I used three different word endings to fill in the blanks to create the rhyme words.

We used words that end in "__ig", "__ake", and "__og". 

I showed pictures of items in that rhyming word family like a dog or a frog, and we filled in the blank as a group of the missing letters. 

3. Rhyming Bingo
For rhyming BINGO the kids played a BINGO game where they had to find the items on the BINGO card that rhyme with the word I called out. 

I had 11 different rhyme words that I used for the BINGO sheets. Below is a list of the rhyming words and what the corresponding rhyming words that were on the BINGO cards. Each BINGO card had a picture AND the rhyming word in each box:
1. HAT: cat, rat, bat
2. CAR: star, jar
3. RED: bed, head, bread
4. CLAM: jam, ham, lamb, ram
5. TAG: bag, flag, stag
6. BUG: mug, pug, rug, slug
7. FLEA: bee, knee, tree, sea, key, three
8. HOG: dog, frog, log
9. CAN: fan, pan, van, man
10. SHRUB: sub, cub
11. SHEET: feet, treat, meat

I made 8 different rhyming BINGO cards, with the idea that some kids can work together in groups as BINGO teams. The BINGO cards had 25 spaces on them. The free space was a picture of Nanette eating a baguette. Since we had 11 rhyme families featured, many rhyme families had multiple ones on each BINGO sheet.

Here are a few examples of our BINGO cards:

The first time playing the game, I asked the kids to find all the words that rhyme on their board with the word I called out. And we shared them together as a group. I wanted it to be challenging for the older kids but not impossible for the younger ones. We played several rounds and kept working on the different rhyming words each round, mixing up which ones I called out. 

4. Craft
We did a simple craft this week. I had small cut-outs of the character Nanette and clip-art baguette's. I had the kids use glue dots to attach their Nanette's and baguette's to a pair of Popsicle sticks.

The kids could use these to tell their own version of the "Nanette's Baguette" story. I also had the option, if the kids were done playing BINGO and there was plenty of time left at the end of the program, that we could act out the story with our Nanette's and do a reader's theatre-esque activity.

I wasn't sure how the reader's theatre activity would go, or if any of the kids would be interested in using their Nanette's on Popsicle sticks. But all the kids LOVED them. One of my more serious regulars, who rarely engages with me, went out of his way to come up to me at the end of the program and tell me his version of "Nanette's Baguette". That was huge! 

Overall the program was a hit and I was so excited to share one of my favorite Mo Willem's books!

Friday, October 20, 2017

School-Age: Giant Squid

This week's topic was inspired by Candace Fleming's new juvenile nonfiction book: "Giant Squid". 

1. Reading
The book, "Giant Squid" by Candace Fleming is a wonderful partnership between Fleming and Eric Rohmann. Rohmann captures the mystery and darkness surrounding the sea creature known as the Giant Squid and Fleming brings it to life with her poetic words.

2. Activity
To demonstrate how GIANT these squids really are, I wanted to give them a way to understand how big 40 feet really is! I cut a string of yarn to about 40 feet and then showed them how long a foot of yarn is using a ruler. 

Then I had my teen helpers pull the string out straight and lay it on the ground. 40 feet may sound big but, when kids can see it with their own eyes, they can truly have a better appreciation for the size of one of these beasts. 

3. Discussion
We played a True/False game about ocean facts and creatures. I found some facts from the "Giant Squid" book - which was a good way to see if they were listening throughout the book. Some of the other facts I found through National Geographic for Kids.

4. Craft
I found a giant squid craft that was originally created to accompany "I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean" by Kevin Sherry. I found the template and instructions on the I Heart Crafty Things blog. I made my own squiggly legs on a Publisher document so that I could have an easier time cutting them out prior to the program.

Here's my sample I made before the program this week:

And here are a few that my teens made as examples:

The book was a little dark as a read-aloud but the kids certainly got into it. Honestly, some of my favorite weeks are when we are doing something science-related. It was so much fun to see how much the kids know about the ocean and all the deep sea creatures that live in it!