A Few of My Favorite Themes: Dinosaurs

It has been ages since I did a favorite theme post! This is mostly due to the fact that I don’t have much time for writing blog posts these days, and these favorite theme posts take HOURS. In an effort to cut back on the amount of time this post will take, I’m not going to create a PDF of the books, and I’m probably going to link to less activities. But I promise that everything I post will be great for a dino themed storytime!

Dino Books:

Lizard from the Park by Mark Pett

Best for: Preschool age groups or mixed ages if read at the beginning of storytime.

A little boy finds what he believes to be a lizard in the park. However, when the lizard continues to grow to a gigantic size, the boy realizes that it may not be a lizard. He also realizes that his pet needs a bigger home. This is a sweet book about what it means to care for a pet’s well being. Also, the storytime kiddos won’t be fooled; they’ll know it’s a dinosaur.


I Wanna be a Great Big Dinosaur! by Heath McKenzie

Best for: Preschool age groups or toddler groups with parents who aren’t shy.

A little boy pretends to be a dinosaur, then proceeds to tell the dinosaur about all the great things that humans get to do, such as eat a bunch of different foods and play sports. In the end, they decide to be both dino and human. This book has some opportunity for movement and roaring, which preschoolers will do gladly. I’ve found that toddlers only play along when there’s a big sibling or parent stomping and roaring with them. Either way, this book is a hit!


If I Had a Raptor by George O’Connor

Best for: Preschool age groups

Here’s another book in which a dino poses as a pet. In this one, the raptor clearly resembles a cat, which the kids may or may not pick up on. Nevertheless, kids will love hearing about all the shenanigans this dino gets into!


Dino Duckling by Alison Murray

Best for: All Ages

In this adorable story, a dinosaur is adopted into a family of ducks, who love him just as he is. He never feels different…until winter comes and he realizes that he can’t fly south with his family. But never fear! The ducks come back and they all find an alternate route south. This book is just short enough to work with toddlers, but the preschool crowd will love it too!


Stomp! Little Dinosaur by Jo Lodge

Best for: Babies and Toddlers

This is a super short and brightly illustrated book that features pull tabs for extra fun. If you have a toddler group, you can add in some movement by having them blink, stomp, and roar along with the book. This book will also work well with a mixed ages group that includes preschoolers; however, since it is so short, I typically don’t share it if the crowd is predominantly preschoolers.


Dinsosaur vs. the Library by Bob Shea

Best for: All Ages

Out of all of the Dinosaur vs. books, this one is my favorite, and it’s the only one I share in storytimes. Kids of all ages love roaring along with dinosaurs, and we also make the other animal sounds too. (My favorite is the sad owl: boo hoo hoo!) Every time I read this, I always have at least one coworker comment on how she/he can hear the roaring at the desk. That’s because the kids get really into this one!


How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Best for: Toddlers and Preschoolers

This is another dino series in which I pretty much only read the same book over and over (okay, sometimes, I read How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food). Told in rhyming verse with large dino pictures, this book works well as a calm down or last story. And kids sometimes like to say “no” when I asked about the various ways dinosaurs may or may not go to sleep.


Flannelboard Templates:

Click on the photos below to be taken to the PDF of the flannelboard templates. The first one is One Dinosaur Went Out to Play by Mel’s Desk, and the other is a baby dinosaur template that is a total rip-off of the baby duck flannelboard by Miss Mary Liberry.

 


Dino Activities and Rhymes:

  • SLC Book Boy has a great flannelboard that goes along with the book, Dini Dinosaur.
  • Speaking of flannelboard stories, Miss Jaime’s Library Journeys has a cute Dotty the Dinosaur story/rhyme!
  • The queen of all things flannel, Storytime Katie, has some great dino/dragon finger puppets to be used with a revised Two Little Blackbirds rhymes.
  • Miss Mary Liberry has a super fun song, The T-Rex Goes Grr, Grr, Grr.
  • Story Time Secrets shares a Five Enormous Dinosaurs rhyme (I love the word “enormous!” Vocabulary FTW!).
  • Looking to incorporate more math into your dino storytime? This clip and count stegosaurus activity (you’ll have to scroll down a bit) is great!
  • Every Star is Different has a lot of dino activities, but I especially love the dino shapes one!
  • Got a wiggly crowd? This dinosaur movement game is sure to get the wiggles out!
  • Last, but definitely not least, this dino matching puzzle activity is a great way for storytime kids to put their thinking skills to the test.

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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!

Three Makerspace Challenges (July, August, September 2016)

It’s time to celebrate, because I’m back with not just one, but 3 makerspace challenges! I’ve decided that posting about each challenge on a monthly basis is tough, so I’m going to try posting 3 challenges quarterly. We’ll see how this goes…

July: Paper Folding

July Makerspace Challenge Paper Folding

While July isn’t as busy as June, it’s still a month in which a LOT of kids are hanging out in the Children’s Department on a daily basis (except for the weekends…we’re dead on the weekends in the summer). Since I knew we’d be busy, I needed an activity that was cheap, simple, had a huge kid appeal, and was easy to stock. Paper folding met all of that criteria.

I bought some origami paper, placed some paper folding books out at the makerspace, and let the kids have at it! I will say that while there were plenty of kids who tried their hands at origami and paper airplanes and other forms of paper folding, there were also a lot of kids who preferred to just cut a bunch of shapes out of the paper. And that was fine with me.

August: Mystery Bags

August Makerspace Challenge Mystery Bags

I was very excited for this one! I love the idea of giving kids an open-ended challenge, and mystery bags are perfect for this kind of activity! I filled the bags with a random assortment of supplies and told the kids that they could only use what was in their mystery bag + scissors + tape to create whatever they can imagine.

This one was a HUGE hit with the kids! I would put three bags out in the morning, and usually by afternoon all three were gone. I even had one child in particular stop by the desk on her way out to tell me out much she liked the mystery bags. Will definitely be doing this one again.

September: Straw Sculptures

straw-sculptures

Straws are a staple in the makerspace, but the straws that we usually use are clear. For this project, I went out and bought colorful straws in a variety of sizes to make the challenge more fun. I also throw in some colorful pipecleaners as a way for children to construct their sculptures, though they also use tape when they don’t want to use pipe cleaners.

I’ve been gone on vacation for most of the month (and the month isn’t over yet), so I can’t say how popular this one is, but a group of girls did make some straw pyramids, which they then put on their heads to become unicorns, so I know at least some kids are having fun with it.

 

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 Challenge: Pipe Cleaner Creations

Pipe Cleaner Creations

June’s Makerspace Challenge was pipe cleaner creations, and it was a huge hit! As a matter of fact, the day that I changed the challenge to pipe cleaner creations, a coworker came up to me as I was filling a tub with pipe cleaners, and she said, “Did you stock up on pipe cleaners? Because I can see this one being popular.” And even as she said it, a tween left her computer to come over to the Makerspace and make something!

Since then, I saw a lot of flowers and bracelets and finger puppets, all made with pipe cleaners! I even had one tween make a very realistic pipe cleaner Sonic the Hedgehog!

Sonic the Hedgehog

June is almost over, so in a few days, I’ll be putting most of the pipe cleaners away in favor of a new medium. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see what else kids will make!