Executive Function

On November 5th, several of my coworkers and I met at an Indian restaurant to eat some food and discuss the two journal articles that were assigned for the very first Library Services for Children Journal Club! While I could probably write a whole essay on our discussion, I’d much rather share via bullet points.

  • We were all very appreciative of this club, because all of us find it difficult to fit this type of professional development into our already hectic schedules. Because the readings are selected for us, and since this is a club with a some what flexible due date (but a due date nonetheless), we were all able to read (at least some) of the articles. (I admit I didn’t finish the Harvard one.)
  • It’s easy to think about executive function for small children, but we all were a little shocked about the fact that reading these articles made us worried about our own executive function. We currently live in a time of constant stimulation and immediate gratification — how is this affecting us? And if this is affecting adults, how is it affecting the next generation?
  • It’s also easy to think of ways to develop executive function skills in storytime, but what about the kids who aren’t going to storytime? What about the older kids who spend a lot of time on Roblox? How can we help them?
  • There was talk about the need to get out into the community more and to form partnerships with various other organizations in the community to ensure that we are reaching those who need help the most. We cannot rely that everyone in the community will come into the library, and even if they do, we cannot expect them to all participate in activities that will benefit this type of learning.
  • One colleague shared another article that lists activities that can enhance executive function skills. The great thing about this article is that it shares the activities based on age, and it does go on up to teens! The trick is incorporating some of these activities into our services and being very intentional about it. For example, video games can be used to promote executive function for older kids, but not every video game does a good job of this.

Overall, it was a really great discussion, and we are definitely looking forward to the next one!

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Library Services for Children Journal Club

I am so excited to announce a brand new way to keep up with professional development/reading: the Library Services for Children Journal Club!!!

This club is the brainchild of Jbrary’s Lindsey and her colleague, Christie. Every other month, Lindsey and/or Christie will pick a journal article or two based on a certain topic. November’s topic is on executive function, and future topics will focus on one of six research themes that include areas such as STEAM and community engagement.

The purpose of this club is to both promote professional development among individuals and to also encourage library staff to engage in professional dialogue. Those who are interested in participating can host a meeting in their community or they can participate online via blogs and Twitter.

While I don’t know about the rest of you, I have not been great about keeping up with scholarly research in our field. This is due to a lack of time and not a lack of interest. With this club, I hope to get my butt into gear and create a habit of reading up on research. I have already sent this idea out to my staff members and will have a group of people to hold me accountable to actually doing the reading (and, really, Lindsey and Christie are doing the hard work of finding the readings, which I very much appreciate!).

I’ll also be blogging about the various articles (if I have time) and will try to join the Twitter debate, though we all know I’m not great at Twitter.

If you’re interested, visit the Library Services for Children Journal Club website and see how you can get involved!

Makerspace Update

Back in April of 2016, I started a kid-friendly makerspace in our computer lab. This is an unstaffed area that houses a variety of maker supplies for kids to utilize. Every month, there is a different makerspace challenge; however, kids (and teens and adults) are encourage to use the supplies available to create whatever they can imagine.

Since this makerspace has been running for well over a year now, I figured it’s time to do a makerspace update.

Makerspace Challenge is still going strong:

The makerspace challenges continue to be popular. My favorite challenge so far was a Build a Bird’s Nest challenge that I did in the spring. I had a couple of books on birds’ nests out at the makerspace, and I stocked a tray full of “nature” supplies. Ideally, I would have used actual sticks and leaves, but because materials go so quickly (and I don’t always have time to collect nature objects), I ended up using popsicle sticks for sticks, die-cut leaves for leaves, and craft feathers for feathers.

Less is more:

When I first started the makerspace, I made sure that it was as full of a wide variety of supplies as possible. However, since this area is unstaffed, I quickly learned that it’s best not to have too much stuff out. The more supplies you have, the bigger the messes will be:

Special or seasonal supplies are fun:

There are certain supplies that are always out. Tape, scissors, pipe cleaners, and popsicle sticks are the norm for the makerspace. But every now and then, I like to change things up by adding something new and fun. For a few days during the summer, I had sea shells in one of the drawers. One weekend, I brought out the big, sturdy cardboard tubes. Kids went nuts one day when I added some mylar sheets. It’s always fun to see what kids will build with these different supplies.

Dreaming BIG:

I’ve been spending some time thinking about how I want the makerspace to grow, and the dream is for it to someday be a staffed area where we can utilize other supplies, such as little bits and 3D printers. Due to staffing levels, I think that will remain a dream for a little while, but there are some exciting changes that will hopefully happen. For example, my department FINALLY got its own 3D printer (I have been trying to get one for our department for YEARS now). I already offer 3D printing classes, but now that I actually have a printer for the department, I’m hoping to utilize it by printing some maker supplies (maybe some gears?) for the makerspace, and maybe offering different types of 3D printing programs. SO EXCITING!!!

 

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Fakemon Creations

I am back with another awesome, school-age program that I wish I could take credit for, but the real masterminds behind this fabulousness are my coworkers, Dori and Heather. The basic gist of this program is that kids got to design and make their very own Pokemon (we used the term, Fakemon, to avoid copyright issues)! If you’re interested in learning more, keep reading:

Step 1: Designing Your Fakemon

The program started with some brainstorming. Kids weren’t just making pikachus and charmanders, they were creating something new! And that takes some thought. There were books on hand about various biomes and different types of animals for kids to draw inspiration. They were asked to think about what type of Fakemon their creation was, what it ate, where did it live, what special abilities did it have, etc. Dori created some really, really awesome worksheets for kids to write down their ideas and draw a sketch of their Fakemon. Once the sheets were filled out and kids had an idea of what they were creating, they moved on to the second part of the program…

Step 2: Crafting Your Fakemon

Dori had some Magic Air Dry Clay and googly eyes on hand for kids to use to create a miniature version of their Fakemon to take home. Prior to the program, Dori told me that she planned for each child to have two different color packets of clay, plus a little bit of white or black for details. Since we had a lot of clay, it’s possible that maybe they were able to use more than just two colors. Either way, the kids loved it! I mean, who doesn’t want their very own Fakemon to take home? Plus, every librarian knows that whenever you break out the clay, the kids will be very excited!

Step 3: Gotta Catch Them All Scavenger Hunt (optional)

As if all that weren’t enough, there was also a Pokemon scavenger hunt throughout the children’s department. Heather was the mastermind behind this one, and she created the Pokedex (handout) that kids used to find each Pokemon in the department. Pokemon were hidden according to their type. So, for example, fire Pokemon were hidden by a fire extinguisher or the fire fighter books. Once kids found the Pokemon they were looking for, they would write the number (found in the top left corner of the Pokemon picture) on their scavenger hunt sheet and move on to catch them all!

And there you have it, folks. This was an amazing program that our kiddos loved!

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

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.]