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.]

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.

Makerspace Create: Tensile Bubbles

Tensile Bubbles Group

The end of Summer Reading always kicks my butt, which is why I’m typing this post up at the beginning of August instead of the beginning of July, which is when I actually offered the program.

So, yeah, at the beginning of last month, I offered my second Makerspace Create program.  Once again, I needed something that was appropriate for a variety of ages. I also needed something that would have high kid appeal, but would be fairly cheap and simple for me. Therefore, I decided to do a tensile bubbles program.

This program was such a big hit! And it was so simple and fun that I’m seriously considering offering it again next year!

Interested in doing a tensile bubble program? Here’s what you need:

Materials:

Instructions:

Prior to the program, cut the straws into relatively equal quarters and fill the containers with a mixture of bubble solution and water (I believe the bottle of the bubble solution recommends 1 part solution to 7 parts water).

I started the program by instructing the group of kids on how to make a pyramid-shaped bubble wand with pipe cleaners and straws. Afterwards, I gave them some time to create their own bubble wands in any shape they wanted. Once all that was done, we migrated outdoors and spent a good 20 minutes blowing bubbles.

I highly recommend blowing the bubbles outside as opposed to inside. The bubble solution was WONDERFUL, but very, very soapy.

Makerspace Create: Exploding Boomerangs

Exploding Boomerangs

Back in April, I started a kid’s Makerspace. It’s been going pretty well, and one of these day I’m going to have to post an update about it, but today is not that day. Today, I’m going to talk about a maker program that I did a few weeks ago that ties in with the Makerspace.

Makerspace Create is a monthly maker program for kids that I’ll be offering at my library. Starting in August, this maker program will be held in the actual kid’s Makerspace, but because we get SO MANY kids during the summer, I held the inaugural Makerspace Create in one of our larger meeting rooms. I also chose a project that was relatively simple, cheap, and could work well with a large group of kids of varying ages: exploding boomerangs.

I got the idea for this project from I Can Teach My Child. If you follow the link, you will find super simple instructions for how to assemble the boomerang.

As for the program itself, here is what I did:

Introduction:

I started the program by talking about boomerangs, what they look like and how they work. I would have liked to add a bit about the cultural and historical aspects of the boomerang, but this program took place during the first full week of Summer Reading, and I just didn’t have time to prepare and research, so I left that out.

I then talked about the boomerangs that we would be making. I explained that the explosion wasn’t a chemical explosion with a puff of smoke (and there were some groans at that). Next, I demonstrated how to put the boomerang together. This demonstration is tricky and almost impossible for a large crowd, particularly because I can only do the fourth part by placing the boomerang on a table. Still, the kids got the basic gist of it.

Boomerang Assemblage:

My program helper and I passed out little baggies that each contained 4 Popsicle sticks and instructions. I told the group to follow the instructions to make their boomerangs and to raise their hands if they were having trouble.

Some kids caught on quickly and were able to assemble their boomerangs all on their own in a matter of minutes. Others were able to follow the first three steps and understood how the fourth step worked but didn’t quite have the fine motor skills for it (it is tricky…even for me). And a few were just plain lost.

Because kids were at different skill levels, there were a few minutes of frustration as the ones who had their boomerangs assembled were impatient to try them out, but we had enough kids who still needed help that my program helper and I were too busy to organize lines for the exploding part. Therefore…

If you plan on doing this program and expect a large group of kids, you may want to either have extra helpers on hand, or have a simple craft (maybe coloring paper boomerangs?) that kids can work on if they assemble their boomerang quickly.

Time to Explode:

After everyone was ready, I had the kids form three lines, and they took turns throwing their boomerangs at the wall and watching them explode. Some of the explosions were spectacular, with sticks flying everywhere, and there were a couple of times where the boomerang wouldn’t break a part, and I would congratulate the builder for making a super strong boomerang and give him/her another turn.

Once the boomerang(s) exploded, the owners would rush forward to collect their sticks, and I had a rule that the next person in line couldn’t throw theirs until everyone was out of the way. Kids would then assemble their boomerangs again and run to the back of the line.

We spent about 15-20 minutes exploding the boomerangs before I called for one last throw in which several kids lined up and threw their boomerangs all together. The kids were delighted to hear that they could take their boomerangs home, but I did tell them to ask their grown-ups about where they’re allowed to throw them.

Overall Assessment:

There are definitely some things I would do differently if I offered this program again. I would definitely add a little bit about the culture and history of the boomerang at the beginning, and I would make sure to have a project for kids to work on while they waited for others to assemble their boomerangs. But other than that, this program was a big hit with most of the kids, who loved the process of building something and then destroying it only to build it again.

How Does Your Garden Grow: A Gardening Program for Preschoolers

How Does Your Garden Grow 2

On Monday, my wonderful coworker, Teresa, and I partnered together to offer a gardening program for preschoolers. The day was warm and sunny — prefect park weather — yet about 70 people showed up for this program. It was so much fun! And really simple! Here’s what we did:

GARDEN STORYTIME:

We decided to start off with a storytime. This was a great idea, because there are always a few late comers to every program. By starting with a storytime, by the time we got to the actual gardening part of the program, we had everybody and everyone started on the same page.

Also, as most of you probably know, I gave up themes ages ago. It takes a very special program for me to break out a storytime theme, and this was one of them.

Garden Storytime Books

Books:

My Garden by Kevin Henkes
What Does Bunny See? by Maggie Smith
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres
Alfie in the Garden by Debi Gliori

This was a great assortment of books. We were able to practice our colors with What Does Bunny See? We stood on tippy toes, crouched down low, and spun around with Up, Down and Around. And Alfie in the Garden had the kids acting like animals.

Flower Color Matching

Activities:

Flower Color Matching:

I did a very simple flower color matching activity with the kids. We had five colors total (blue, red, orange, yellow, green). Each child got one flower, then waited until I called their color to come up and place their flower in a hat. It’s an oldie, but goodie. And the kids really enjoyed it.

Five Green Peas in a Pea Pod Pressed Fingerplay:

Five green peas in a pea pod pressed (make fist)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (count on fingers)
They grew, and grew, and did not stop! (extend arms wide)
Until one day, that pea POPPED! (clap)

Four green peas in a pea pod pressed…

Credit: ???

TIME TO GARDEN:

After storytime was over, everyone headed over to our program room where we had all the supplies necessary to start a small garden that the kids were able to take home.

Garden Supplies

Teresa was in charge of getting the supplies for the program. I believe she got them from Lowe’s (but it could have been Home Depot…one of the two). We had flowers for them to plant, as well as biodegradable pots, potting soil, and a few seeds for those who wished to plant a seed. Here’s how we organized the gardening portion of the program:

  • We had every family grab some newspaper and spread it out on the floor.
  • We passed out small bowls and souffle cups.
  • People came up to get a flower and/or seed, and they filled their bowls with potting soil.
  • They then went back to their newspaper area and used the souffle cups to transfer the soil to their potted plant/seed.
  • We had measuring cups by the sink, so once the plant/seed was planted, children came up to the sink and used the measuring cups to water it.
  • Lastly, we had paper bags on hand for parents to put the plants in to save it from spilling over in their cars.

Overall, this was an AMAZING program!

Makerspace Challenge: Not a Stick

Not a Stick

This month’s makerspace challenge was inspired by one of my favorite picture books! I originally wanted to do Not a Box, but I didn’t have enough boxes to last for an entire monthly challenge. I did, however, have plenty of Popsicle sticks. So…

Because the makerspace is all about creativity, I left this challenge completely open. I basically pulled the book for inspiration, threw a bunch of Popsicle sticks, notched sticks, and old fashioned clothes pins into a tub, and let the kids have at it.

Not a Stick 2

I honestly can’t tell you if this challenge is going over well with the kids or not. May is a bear of a month for the Children’s Department. Between some vacation days and working on SRP stuff, I feel like I haven’t really had time to pay attention to the makerspace, aside from making sure that it stays stocked.

But I will say that A LOT of the Popsicle sticks have disappeared, so they’re obviously being used for something!