Friday, September 22, 2017

School-Age: The Five Senses

I have done storytimes about the five senses, but I was interested in doing an exploratory lab-type program for school-ager's on the topic. We explored each of the five senses this week individually with different hands-on activities.

1. Reading
We read "Seven Blind Mice" by Ed Young. It is a folktale about seven blind mice that each set out to explore the "Something" that has arrived near their home. Each brings back their own view of what they find. 

One mouse feels a pillar, another feels a fan, and another a great cliff. The last mouse 'looks' at the whole picture with the moral that we have to look at every detail to see what the "Something" actually is - an Elephant!

2. Discussion
We had a brief discussion, defining what the five senses are - touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. I also asked which of the five senses the mice used in the book. As they were blind, they had to 'see' by touching the "Something" to discover it was an elephant.

3. Activity
I broke the five senses down into separate interactive elements. 

Note: The only sense we did NOT do was taste. We do not typically have food at our programs and, with potential food allergies, I decided to forgo having that sense explored at the program. I did have a side-note to parents that they could carry on the interactive activities at home to explore taste.

A. Sight
We did some perception puzzles where one image could have two or more different pictures in it. For example, the duck/rabbit or the illusion puzzles at Scientific Psychic. I showed the pictures and asked the kids to tell me what they saw.

B. Hearing
I used five different plastic jars and put a variety of objects in the jars. Then, I covered them with paper so they could not see into the jar. I passed them around so the kids could shake them and take turns guessing what was in the jars.

I used items we already had in our craft supplies: beans, rocks, Q-tips, beads, and jingle bells.

C. Touch
I filled balloons with a variety of objects and tied them closed. I passed the balloons around to have the kids feel what was inside of them and guess what it is. 

Inside the balloons were: cotton balls, beans, beads, bird seed, and small stones.

The covered jars and numbered balloons together:

Note: I did ask before I passed the balloons around to make sure there were no allergies to the latex in the balloons. 

D. Smell
The last sense that we explore was smell. I used a small Dixie cup to put the items we smelled. Then, I covered the top of the cups with wax paper and taped it to the cup. Using a tooth pick, I punched a couple holes in the top of the wax paper to allow the smells to come through. 

The smells we used were: cinnamon, coffee grounds, and cloves.

4. Craft
To tie it all together to the book, we made paper plate elephants. I had seen a similar craft at Crafty Morning. I found some clipart eyeballs to print out prior to the program. The only other prep we did for the craft was the cut out the edge of the paper plates for the ears and elephant trunk.

Here are some examples my teens made:

This was a super fun week and I had really been looking forward to all of the five senses activities to share with the kids! We had big crowds this week so it was a huge success.

Friday, September 15, 2017

School-Age: Printing Press

Our topic this week was the printing press (and the history of the written word)!

1. Reading
The book we read was "I Am a Story" by Dan Yaccarino. Judy Freeman shared the book at her workshop this Spring and I LOVED it. I didn't get into costume like she did while reading it but, even so, the book packs a powerful punch. 

There is only a sentence or two per page but, combined with the images, it is a perfect book to use to discuss the origins of the written word. 

2. Discussion
I created a simplified timeline of the printing press. I defined the printing press as the transfer of an image via ink using pressure. I went through a history of different forms of print, relating it to images we had seen in "I Am a Story". 

We talked about cuneiform, hieroglyphics, wood-block printing and movable type, Gutenberg's printing press, etching, wood engravings, lithography, and Braille. Then we talked about printing and computers in the modern age, such as inkjet printing and having personal computers at home and even in our pockets. 

I made the discussion go full circle when I made the connection that cuneiform was on clay tablets and NOW we have tablets we read from!

3. Craft
We made our own wood block stamps to model after the movable type. We purchased 1 inch wooden blocks from Amazon. They come in bags of 100 blocks so we had plenty for the kids to make several each.

We had foam with the peel-off sticky backs in our craft supplies that we pulled out to use at the program.

These are some we, and our teen helpers, made:

4. Activity
After they finished adding pieces of foam to their blocks, we put out stamp pads and let the kids practice using their wood blocks to stamp card stock.

I was very excited about the wood-block stamp craft and it went really well. The only downside is that the ink gets all over the kids hands after a couple stamps. Because of this, we had sani-hands to hand out to them after they were done with the program.

Friday, September 8, 2017

School-Age: Fractals

It's the first week back to doing library programs and we're starting with fractals!

1. Reading
We started the topic of fractals discussing shapes in general. We read the book "Shapes, Reshape" by Silvia Borando. I let the kids guess what they thought each pile of different rectangles and squares would turn into. 

2. Discussion
We defined fractals and I shared the book "Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature" by Sarah and Richard Campbell. It tied in perfectly with "Shapes, Reshape" because we made sense of different shapes in the picture book by having them turn into animals. And then, in Mysterious Patterns, we actually began pointing out shapes we see around us in nature. 

I shared a few pictures I had printed off as well as the pictures in the books to show shapes that they already know in nature -- circles, triangles, cones, cylinders, etc.

Then I shared pictures of fractals and talked more about what they are. The book has an excellent illustration of a tree branching out into smaller and smaller branches demonstrating that each part is a replica of the whole. The same was shown in an image of the individual pieces of a broccoli.

3. Craft
Bringing our shapes discussion full-circle, we made a craft out of shapes that was an exact replica of one of the animals in the book. I chose the hedgehog because I like hedgehogs. It was also easy for me to make the rectangles and squares in Microsoft Publisher. After I made a template, I printed them off on blue paper. We cut them out prior to the programs and put each hedgehog in its own plastic bag to hand out to the kids at the program.

Here's an example I made of the craft:

And some examples my teens made:

This was a great week back to programming. Everything went smoothly and we had a good turn-out. Hopefully all the participation we had for Summer Reading Program bodes well for our Fall program attendance (fingers crossed)!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Teen Program: Page Corner Bookmarks

Even though we don't typically offer weekly programs for teens at my smaller branch library, we had an end-of-session party for the teen volunteers last week.

I happened to have craft left-overs from another librarian that were shark corner bookmarks. 

It's a craft that I had not found an opportunity to use yet and one that I thought the teens would enjoy. ESPECIALLY since there are TONS of ideas online of ways they could make their own version.

Using the template that I had from the shark bookmarks, I made several card stock templates that the teens could use. They could trace the templates on whatever color paper they wanted and add their own flare. 

I also provided pictures of a variety of other ideas that were out there on the internet. There were ones of Pokemon, Ninja Turtles, monsters, Minions, book and movie characters, animals, and the list goes on. I wanted to make it clear to the teens that they could take the supplies and really use their imaginations to create whatever they wanted.

*Construction Paper
*Scrap-booking Paper
*Glue Sticks
*Snacks & Drinks

Using inspiration from here, here's a Harry Potter bookmark:

My husband is a fan of Ninja Turtles so I used inspiration from a Ninja Turtle corner bookmark image on Google to make this for him:

And one of my teens found inspiration in the Pokemon ideas and made a Jigglypuff:

Final Notes:
This was a fun program for the teens AND for me. I had fun decompressing after a very hectic Summer Reading Program making a few bookmarks of my own. I guess with any teen program it is helpful to find topics or activities that you, as the host, will also enjoy. 

Attendance: 8 teens

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

School-Age: Skyscrapers

Last week I took another break from planning and presenting my school-age program to let another of my Library Assistants, Ms. Carol, who is currently in Library School, have an opportunity to do so. 

Ms. Carol chose the topic of Composting last week. She read the book "EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm With a Little Help From a Hen" by Judy Sierra. It was PERFECT for the topic of composting since it actually was demonstrating composting first-hand. 

After the book Ms. Carol led a discussion about how to make compost and had a true/false activity of what items go in the compost bin. Then we made Seed Bombs as our craft. We used air dry clay, dirt from Ms. Carol's own compost bin, and seeds.

THIS week, for the LAST week of the Summer 2017 session, we learned about Skyscrapers.

1. Reading
We read "Into the Sky" by Ryan Ann Hunter. The book was a great introduction into the topic of skyscrapers because it discussed how they are made and how normal building materials cannot be used. It also discusses when the first skyscrapers were built and why. It is a little outdated but it was a good nonfiction read-aloud for the topic.

2. Discussion
I asked if any of the kids, or their parents, had even been inside of a skyscraper. Or, if any of them had been to a big city where they had a lot of famous skyscrapers. 

Then we talked about well-known skyscrapers and some of the tallest buildings in the world. We used the book "Spectacular Skyscrapers" by Meish Goldish. It had great information about, and pictures of, world-famous skyscrapers!

3. Activity
We used Legos and had a build challenge. We handed out 5 buckets of Legos and 5 Lego plates, and we separated the kids into 5 groups. We told them their challenge was the build the tallest structure in 5 minutes. I set the clock and let them go!

Some of the younger kids were just building small structures but one of the groups really took off. 

4. Craft
For our craft the kids made their own city skylines with skyscrapers. I found an architecture shape collage craft that Kinder Art had on their site and we made our own version of it.

The was a perfect end to a busy and hectic summer! The kids had a great time and I really enjoyed closing it on a high note!

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?!