Flannel Friday: Color Farm

My department has a pretty impressive collection of flannelboards. Honestly, I don’t utilize it enough because I tend to stick with my tried and true boards. But, the other day, I was planning a shapes and colors storytime and decided to check the department’s flannelboard collection to see if there was something new-to-me that I could use. And that’s how I stumbled upon our Color Farm flannelboard.

I know Storytime Katie has done a Flannelboard Color Zoo board before, but I haven’t seen one for the farm version (I’m sure it’s out there, though). I also haven’t seen one quite like this!

These pieces look like they were digitally rendered (I don’t know if we got this template from somewhere or if a very talented staff person made them) and each animal is missing a shape. Not only is this a great way to retell the story, but it’s also a great guessing game! After reading the story, I place a card on the board and ask the kids to tell me which animal it is and which shape is missing. The best part is that whoever made this set also included the shapes written out. What a great way to promote print awareness!

Jessica at Storytime in the Stacks is hosting this week’s Flannel Friday round up! You can also find a whole bunch of flannelboard ideas at Flannel Friday’s Pinterest page, the Flannel Friday Blog, and Flannel Friday on Facebook.

P.S. This is my first Flannel Friday post in years. O.O

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Life Lately at the Library

As per usual, a couple of months have gone by since my last post. I generally don’t post much during the summer, and this year was no exception. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

1) I bought a house!

This has nothing to do with work/the library, but it’s a big thing in my life and one of the many reasons why I haven’t posted since…April? Spring? Somewhere around there. I spent the majority of my 20s jumping from place to place (and each place was an amazing adventure). I arrived in Fort Wayne when I was 27, and I gave myself 3 years to decide if I was going to stay here for awhile or not. Last year was year three, and I decided to stay in Fort Wayne for at least the foreseeable future. So I spent this past summer house hunting, and buying said house, and moving into said house. I keep vacillating between “Yay, I love my house!” and “Whoa, I have a house! Who thought I was grown up enough to own a house?”

2) Busy/Not Busy

The past two years have been exceedingly busy for me at work. In addition to my normal responsibilities, I was also serving on the Summer Reading/Learning committee and grant writing. Now it’s someone else’s turn on the committee and grant writing is done (for now). I’ve suddenly found myself with a slightly lighter workload. My stress level has dropped dramatically, and I’m using the extra free time to help lighten the load for my coworkers, whether that entails doing extra custom collections, taking someone’s desk shift so they have more off desk time to get stuff done, or even just checking in with my coworkers to see if there’s anything I can do to help. This down time is good for me. I’m a type A personality, and I tend to take a lot on, but I also need time to recuperate, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. And while I’m recuperating, I’m also pondering what my next big project will be AND and planning blog posts. When I was overwhelmed at work, the last thing I wanted to do in my personal time was write blog posts. Now that I’m chill, I’m okay with writing work-related blog posts in my free time. Keep your eyes peeled, folks; it’s very possible that I might update semi-regularly for a little while. 😉

3) Ch-ch-changes!

My library is in the midst of growing and changing. We are very much in flux, and I think many of the changes are heading in the right direction, though it’s still too early to really say. I don’t want to comment too much on any of this, but know that almost every aspect of my job is – in the words of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air – flipped turned upside down at the moment. I’m very excited (and a little apprehensive) to see how things turn out!

Flooretry

Today I bring you another post about the awesome things that my coworkers are doing.

My department is lucky to have a poet on staff. Erica is one of those human beings who can find the poetry in just about anything, and her love of poetry is infectious to the point where even people who don’t read poetry (*coughs* me *coughs*) develop an interest in it.

Many of Erica’s programs are centered around poetry, and during the month of April, Erica did several poetry-centric programs. One of my favorites was her Flooretry program.

Erica and a group of kids, teens, and adults gathered around the reading tower in our department and made themselves comfy on either the reading tower’s seats or on the floor. Then they read some poetry together and created some poetry together using a variety of colorful materials.

I think the fact that this program was held under the reading tower in the middle of the department and not in a room with tables and chairs is important. This was not a classroom setting where kids would be graded on their poems. This was a relaxed setting where kids could enjoy poetry and create.

Afterwards, Erica displayed their colorful poetry creations on or near the floor throughout the department. (She used painter’s tape to tape them to the floor.) It’s almost as if our department is now a museum featuring an exhibit on poetic art. I often see people, both young and old, stop in their tracks to read the poetry (flooretry). What a great way to introduce a little poetry into peoples’ lives!

If you want to host a flooretry program of your own, just bring your favorite (kid appropriate) poems, some colorful craft supplies, and gather in an open space where kids can stretch out and relax. Once the poem creations are done, grab some painter’s tape and display them on the floor (in areas where they won’t necessarily be walked on). Leave them there for people to enjoy.

[Photo credit goes to Erica. In addition to being a great poet and librarian, she’s also pretty wonderful at taking pictures.]

To Blog or Not To Blog

To Blog

You may have noticed that my blogging has slowed down. And, considering that I was never a frequent blogger in the first place, that’s sort of saying something.

I started this blog back in 2011, when I was still a brand new children’s librarian. Back then, blogging was easy. Storytime was a large part of my job (I was doing 3 different storytimes a week), and I had enough time to blog at work. Therefore, this blog was predominantly about storytime, and I was able to publish a few posts a month. Easy peasy.

When I moved to my current position 3 years ago, I didn’t know what to do with the blog. I didn’t have as many storytime plans to post (I basically do 1 storytime a month most months), and while I was doing lots of other fun things, those posts weren’t getting as many hits as my storytime posts. I also couldn’t blog at work anymore (unless it was on my break), so I found myself scrambling to write posts at home.

But a high-quality blog takes time and effort, and work/life balance when you work full time is both tricky and very important. Three years ago, I spent a lot of my outside of work time working on work-related stuff (blogging, making flannelboards, catching up on professional blog reading). I enjoyed (and still enjoy) doing all of those things but, as the months went on, I started to feel bogged down by how much of my life was centered around work and work-related stuff. So I started to cut back on how much work I do at home.

As I started cutting back on doing work-related stuff at home, I started filling my personal time with other activities. I exercise regularly. I meal plan. I volunteer. I’m studying Spanish. I started a book club with my three besties (which kind of ties in with work, except that we don’t read children’s books). And do you know what I’ve found? By having a better work/life balance, I am actually happier and more productive when I’m at work!

Several months ago, when it looked like I would be moving from salaried to hourly, I seriously considered giving up the blog all together. But the law didn’t go through, and it looks like I’ll remain salaried for the foreseeable future. And, honestly, I don’t think I could give up the blog. Maybe someday. But not right now. I love it too much, and I think it’s important that we keep ideas and information flowing in the profession.

I can’t promise that I’ll blog regularly. Personal time is too precious, and in addition to all of the things that I’ve mentioned before, I’m also house hunting this year. But I promise I’ll try not to leave you hanging. And maybe someday, as I continue to figure out this work/life balance thing, I’ll find a system that allows me to consistently blog at least once (maybe twice?) a month. Until then, I’ll just keep on keeping on.

Take and Make: Easy Knit Scarves

Easy Knit Scarves

I posted back in November about the monthly Take and Make projects that we offer at the library. This is a passive program in which we leave a Ziplock bag with instructions and supplies out for grown-ups to take home and make with their children. This is just another way for us to offer early learning experiences for grown-ups and children without having to add another official program to our already busy schedule.

The Take and Make projects have been very well received by library customers, though some projects are more popular than others. Our most popular Take and Make so far was December’s Easy Knit Scarves.

I prepped the loom by taping Popsicle sticks to a toilet paper tube. I did not provide the yarn, but I did provide instructions on how children should weave and loop the yarn around the Popsicle sticks to make a scarf.   50 of these projects flew off of the shelf within two weeks! We probably could have easily surpassed 100 with this project; however, we ran out of toilet paper tubes after the first 50. So once they were gone, we moved on to something else.

If you’d like to offer Take and Make at your library, just throw some supplies into a bag (this could be a good way to get rid of left over crafts from various programs!), add an instruction sheet, and place them in an area where parents will find them.

Program: I SPY Creations!

ispy-booklets

Months ago – or maybe even a year ago…probably a year ago – I made a resolution to blog more about some of the amazing things that my coworkers are doing. And I kind of failed at that resolution (okay, I massively failed). But when I saw the I SPY Creations program that my amazing coworker, Dori, presented, I knew that I had to blog about it. So I asked her to write up a quick summary about the program, and here’s what she had to say:

Kids came in and sat down on a rug in front of three tables worth of “stuff” (buttons, animal figurines, clothespins, dominos, blocks, toy cars, balls, and other eclectic items). I passed out I Spy books for them to flip through while we waited for the program to begin. Once everyone was there, I talked to them about I Spy books and how we were going to make our own book. We took a quick look at some of the layouts and the clues, then I let kids decide if they wanted to work in groups or by themselves. (Most kids broke into groups of two or three, but there were a few who chose to work alone.)

I then assigned each team to a color; I had ten different sheets of 24 x 36 construction paper spread out on several tabletops and a few spots on the floor. These served as the backgrounds to their I Spy scene (additionally, having ten different colors helped me pair their hint sheets to their scene photos.)

I then had them each grab a gray bucket and fill it with 10-15 items each (to start with), then they worked to arrange them as a team. Once everyone had a chance to grab a handful of items, I opened up the supply tables for them to take items as they needed—but for the first round, I limited them to 10-15 because I wanted everyone to have a chance to get “the good stuff”.

Once they were done arranging, I gave them a Clue Sheet with a spot for them to write their background color and up to ten hints for their scene. Then, I took a picture of each scene and collected the Hint Sheets.

At the end of the program, I got information from each child/family about how they wanted to receive their book once they were compiled (two days later). Some chose to have theirs left at the Ask Here Desk for them, and some gave me their address to have it mailed.

All in all, it was a pretty fun program with a really decent final product. If I could change one thing, though, I would spend a bit more time going through an I Spy book as I talked about the hints and the scene layout—particularly how to come up with clever hints (some hint sheets were nothing but “I spy something green and yellow,” but I did have some five- and six-year-olds, so that might be as good as they could give me even with a stronger focus on hints/clues).

Supply List:

*tons of “stuff” in various shapes/sizes/colors (i.e. anything you’d find in an I Spy book)

*various background options (poster boards, table clothes, etc.)

*a camera

*a hint sheet form

*I Spy books for examples

 

(Plus, a color printer and slide-binder report covers to print and make the books.)

Take and Make

take-and-make

At my library, we are always trying to find new and fun ways for grown-ups to have meaningful interactions with their children. In addition to storytime and a wide variety of programs, we also offer passive activities that grown-ups and children can explore together.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been creating Take and Make bags for families to bring home and work on together. Each month is a new activity. Last month we did nature orbs (credit for this idea can be found here). I provided clear, plastic ornaments and some string, and I instructed grown-ups to go on a nature walk with their children, collect various bits of nature, and to place the nature items in the ornament and hang it up at home. This particular project was such a huge hit, that I needed to buy extra ornaments just to keep up with demand!

Other Take and Make projects that we’ve done include crystal suncatchers and thaumatropes!

To make Take and Make bags, I simply place the project’s materials and a learning page into a clear, gallon sized bag. We keep these bags out by our book bundles display so that grown-ups can pick one up as they pick out some book bundles for their children.