Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Kindergarten Literacy Night

One of my big goals for our department is to develop a better relationship with our local schools.  Being a newer library system is hard as most of our schools are used to doing their own thing.  It takes extra effort to start new relationships and build them into a successful partnership.  Plus, we have 45 or so schools over multiple districts.  My philosophy is that any time a school contacts us for a program or a tour and we can do it, we do.  When I got a call from one of our local schools last Thursday asking us to host a Kindergarten Literacy Night to celebrate March is Reading Month for 60-100 kids and their entourages tonight, of course I agreed.  I did a little freak out on Twitter, then I got to work figuring out what I could do with the time and staff I had.  

As kids came into the room with their families, we had them gather right in the middle of the department.  This was really the only space to hold a group that size without moving a lot of furniture.  I started off with a rhyme.

Five little pigeons flying around my door.
One flew away, and then there were four.

Four little pigeons sitting in a tree.
One flew away and then there were three.

Three little pigeons didn't know what to do.
One flew away, and then there were two.

Two little pigeons sitting in the sun.
One flew away, and then there was one.

One little pigeon sitting all alone.
She flew away, and then there were none.

But later on that very same day...
Five little pigeons came back to play!

Okay, I will admit that rhyme used to be about birds, but pigeons fits it well.  The flannelboard parts are based on a post from Piper Loves the Library.  Kindergartners do great with countdown rhymes.  Many of them were trying to outdo each other shouting out how many were left.

Next up, we read our story.  Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems is one of my favorites.  It allows you, as the reader, to really get into the telling of it.  Plus, it works great with this age group.  The kids had so much fun yelling out "NO" on almost every page.

After the story, I asked the group who had been to a library before.  Then, I asked who had been to this library before.  I like to ask the kids what kinds of things we have at the library.  Then, I pull out my bin with 1-2 items from each collection and show them off.  I often hear a lot of "I didn't know they had that."

Next up was our activity portion of the night.  For this we moved to our Activity Room.  Unfortunately, this room was not built for 60-100 kids so next year I will bring tables out to the main part of the children's area and run the activities out there.  Since I had no time for craft assembly, I raided the Pigeon Presents site.  I set up 4 stations for the kids.

Station 1-Coloring page

Station 2-Drawing/Coloring page

Station 3-Drawing/Coloring page from a previous writing center

 Station 4-Should The Pigeon drive the bus?  Vote here.

One board was for yes and one was for no.

To make it a little extra fun, because many kids love to display their work, I had one of our staff members make a giant Pigeon for our bulletin board.  While she wasn't so thrilled that she had to do crafts, it turned out great!  We took submissions from station 3 and hung them on the bulletin board.  That way as kids come back over the month, they can see their work.

The 4 Kindergarten teachers, along with the school principal, all attended the program.  In fact, the teachers encouraged it by advertising and running a drawing for free books.  They brought enough prizes along so every kid left with something. 

As parents left the Activity Room, we had folders for them to pick up that included a library calendar, brochure for BookFlix, a winter reading gameboard, and a Kindergarten booklist.

So how did it go?
Despite the short notice, the night went over well.  It was unfortunately the only Wednesday during the month of March that we had staff who could run the program.  It is hard to have a highly attended night when you hit church holidays, such as Ash Wednesday.  We expected 60-100 kids (100 being the absolute max) and ended up with 60.  Each kid brought at least 1 parent and many brought both along with siblings.  I think if we were able to shift the night next year, it would be better attended.

Like I said before, I would bring up tables from our auditorium and run the activities right out in the children's room next year.  While I could set up and lock our Activity Room ahead of time, by having to shift kids and families, we lost some in the move.  Also, it was really squishy.

As an added bonus that I didn't even think of, it was one of our PAWS for Reading nights where we bring in a trained therapy dog for kids to read to.  Since we target Kindergarten-2nd graders for this program, we were able to advertise it while everybody was at the library.  Many of them stopped by to meet or read to the dog.

Would I do it all again?  You bet!  Now that I have had one successful Literacy Night under my belt, I am hoping that we can schedule more next year!

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