Saturday, March 29, 2014

Guerrilla Storytime

Yesterday at the Michigan Library Association's Spring Institute, Anne Clark, Megan Goedge, and I hosted Guerrilla Storytime.  Despite the early hour of the session, there was a lot of good sharing from Michigan librarians.  Here is what we learned:

Megan started off by showing us magic with her Dove Pan.  She uses hers with plastic eggs and mini stuffed chicks.  The secret is to put something into the pan, such as eggs or seeds, and have something else larger at the end of the story (in this case baby chicks).  Megan used the book Hatch, Egg, Hatch! by Shenn Roddie.  Kids love it and think it is real.

Our first question from the Guerrilla Storytime challenge bucket was "Show us your favorite scarf rhyme or use of a scarf in storytime."

Take your scarf, roll it into a ball,
Make it very small.
Count 1, 2, 3
Throw!

Put the oil in the pan and make it real hot.
Put the popcorn in the pan and begin to grin.
Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, POP!

There's a spider on the floor
(Can watch on YouTube-use a scarf instead of the puppet.) 

 
I pulled out the giant stretchy ring next as many people haven't seen one before.  My 2 and 3 year olds love it as they just won't hold hands when we since Ring Around the Rosie.  On the other hand, they love holding the ring.  This show and tell led to teaching the additional verses of Ring Around the Rosie.

The cows are in the meadow eating buttercups
Thunder, lightning, we all jump up.

or

Ring around you, ring around me
We all jump up when we count to three.


Anne pulled out the parachute for some active fun.  She discussed how she uses her parachute at the end of her programs.  She uses the parachute with The Wheels on the Bus, Row, Row, Row Your BoatJohnny Works with One Hammer, or Head and Shoulders.  Her end rhyme is to have half the kids sit under the parachute as they say:

 Let's go riding on an elevator
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Gradually bring the parachute up in the air on 1-5, then bring down quickly on 6.

People jumped in with their great parachute ideas.
  • You don't need an actual parachute.  A colored sheet I thworks just as well and you can change it depending on the seasons or theme (ex. blue can be water).
  • Show parents that they can do the same thing at home with a blanket or a pillowcase.  Kids love to bounce things up and down.
  •  I throw stuffed animals on the parachute, depending on the song.  For example, when singing Five Little Monkeys, I throw on my 5 monkey puppets.  With The Bear Goes Over the Mountain, I use a large teddy bear puppet.
  • When folding up the parachute, talk about how it looks like a pizza in sections (slices).  You can count how many are left after each fold.  This is also math!

Our next question out of the challenge bucket asked about our favorite homemade props.  I showed off my paper plate steering wheel that I use with Beep, Beep and my envelope airplane puppet that I use with The Airplane Song.  Here are some of the suggestions that came up:
  • One person uses a similar steering wheel along with Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman.
  • Another person uses the paper plate as a steering wheel and cuts out the middle.
  • There's a storytime mouse who has props to fit the theme of the week at another library.
  • You can use a teddy bear to illustrated getting dressed.  It's always fun to put the clothes on wrong first and have the kids correct you.  For example, put the socks on its ears.
  •  One library keeps a large selection of rolled socks.  They can be used to make snowmen or have an indoor snowball fight.
  • Megan cut a giant pair of underwear out of a sheet to go along with Froggy Gets Dressed.
  • You can make a colored bird hunt.  Make a number of birds in different colors, both big and small.  Then have the kids hunt for the birds, while discussing color and size as you find them.

Question 3 showed off our shaker knowledge.  What do you do with shakers?
  • Popular shaker songs include Alabama, Mississippi, Shake with You, Shaky Shaky and Shake Your Sillies Out.
  • You can clean up shakers by singing We're Putting the Shakers Away to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell.
  • Megan has kids sing their name to the beat of a shaker (each syllable is a beat).
  • With my 12-24 month kiddos, I sing songs like Twinkle Twinkle along with shakers.  While singing slows down language, singing with shakers tends to slow it down a little more.  This way kids can hear the sounds better that make up the words.
 Shake it on your knee, on your knee.
Shake it on your knee, on your knee.
Shake it on your knee.  Shake it on your knee.
Shake it on your knee, on your knee.
Move onto other body parts as you go.


Anne pulled out her movement dice next.  She usually fills the spaces with cards representing nursery rhymes or songs used in storytime.  She has also used them at her Down on the Farm party to roll spaces for a cake walk.  Here's what else we learned:
  • You can make your own movement dice with empty book tape or kleenix boxes.
  • If you have two dice, you can write numbers on one and actions on the other.  When you roll, you can have kids do actions like jump 3 times.
  • One library has a symbol on each side of their die that represents a song.  For example, a boat means Row, Row, Row Your Boat or a star means Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
  • Oriental Trading sells a set of inflatable fitness dice.

Next up from our challenge bucket was "What's your closing song?"
  • Super Silly Tango
  • Where is Thumbkin? using finger puppets (giraffe is tall man, pig is pinky, etc.)
Tickle the clouds
Tickle your toes
Turn around and tickle your nose
Reach down low
Reach up high
The stories are over
So wave goodbye.
 
Roll the ball to _______.
He rolls it back to me.
Roll the ball. Roll the ball.
Roll the ball to me.
 
Goodbye goodbye goodbye
Goodbye goodbye goodbye
Goodbye goodbye goodbye goodbye
Goodbye goodbye goodbye
To the tune of The Farmer in the Dell
 
We clap and sing goodbye.
We clap and sing goodbye.
With our friends at storytime,
We clap and sing goodbye.
To the tune of The Farmer in the Dell
 
Wave goodbye it's time to go.
Wave up high and wave down low.
Now wave fast.
Now wave slow.
Wave goodbye, I'll miss you so.
To the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle
 
Wave high
Wave low
Wave goodbye.
 
Do you know what time it is?
What time it is? What time it is?
Do you know what time it is?
Storytime is over.
To the tune of Do You Know the Muffin Man?
 
 
With a little bit of time left, we opened up for questions for the group.  Megan had been wanting to know how do you make people feel not guilty when you see them out and about and they haven't been to your programs the past couple of weeks?  Here are some of our group answers:
  • Show off that you aren't perfect either.
  • Relate to the hard work they have to do just to make it out of the house, much less to storytime.
  • Tell them to come back whenever they are ready.
  • Tell them that whatever time they make it to a program is the right time.
 
 
That's a wrap for this edition of Guerrilla Storytime.  If you are unfamiliar with some of these props or songs, we created a Pinterest page for the event.  Because I am not perfect and only can take notes so fast, I am sure that I missed something.  If you have it in your notes, please let me know in the comments below and I will add it in.  Thanks!
 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Give Me a Break

For those who are just tuning in, back in early March, a survey popped up on Mel's desk based on a Twitter discussion.  We were curious about what all of us were doing-how many story times, how many staff, how many programs, etc.  The first set of results appeared here and discussed non-story time programming.  Today's post will focus on story time breaks.

At my library, breaks are extremely important.  Not only do they allow you to reenergize before the next story time session, but this is when I fit in professional development, weeding, special projects, and those thousand tasks that I just don't have time for during a story time week.  We run our story times in 5-6 week sessions and have a 3 week break afterwards.  This isn't exact-sometimes around the holidays, the break ends up a bit longer.  In 2014, we will have story time for 30 weeks (6 5 week sessions) and will be on break for 22 weeks.  We've tried different methods of breaking up the sessions, but this is what works for us and our community.

Below shows the results of us asking, "Do you take breaks in between sessions, or weeks off from regular weekly story times?"

Do you have a story time break?

It surprised me that the "No" category is so high.  Let's talk about possible reasons that I have heard in the past.

Story time is my favorite part of my job!
I get that.  I love story time too.  I am really excited when it starts.  It allows me to meet all of the families at a young age.  I also love coming up with new ways to promote early literacy. On the other hand, isn't there anything else that you would like to try?  My breaks are when I can pull out dance parties, toddler crafts, and iPad programming.  These are the things that don't fit in the regular schedule, but I still love to do them.

If I stop doing story time, the families won't come back.
I get it.  This is a legitimate concern, especially for smaller libraries.   We have always been lucky and breaks have figured into our schedule, but we have fiddled with lengths.  One year we had month-long breaks (one month on and one month off).  I thought our parents were going to throw a fit.  By the time you remember to come to story time again, the session is over.  We went back to three week breaks because that is how long most of our books circulate.  Also, we are able to remind parents in the last week that they are able to register for the next session in another week.

For those libraries who just aren't ready to try a break yet, why don't you do a couple of weeks of traditional story time, then a week of early literacy stations, followed by a week of toddler crafts?  Keep it at the same time, but change it up a bit.  Story times are extremely important for early literacy and libraries, but so are crafts where kids can work on fine motor skills which will prepare them to write or early literacy stations that show parents how to replicate the effort at home.

Keep in mind, though, that these are just my thoughts and opinions.  You will have to do what is best for both you and your community.  You know what you can handle on a given week and what will or will not work.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Post PLA Wrap-Up

I have been back from PLA for less than a week and it is time to wrap-up my experiences and make my to-do list.

Let's start with information you may have missed.  I attended a lot of great sessions, took a field trip, and had a great discussion over breakfast with other library professionals.  These were all written up over on the ALSC blog.

My most memorable moments from PLA were:
  • Having lunch with John Green (my boss traded lunch seats with me and is currently the BEST PERSON EVER!)
  • Finding the Michigan State basketball team over at the Westin and taking lots of pictures with them (Go Spartans!!!).
  • Children's author breakfast where we got a surprise bag of REAL books (not ARCs) and could have Anne Ursu, Jason Chin, and Rainbow Rowell sign them right away.
  • Discussions with great librarians that I used to only know from the Twitterverse and blogosphere.
That's not to say that the presentations weren't great-they were.  I came away with a lot of notes and ideas for the future.  Plus, there's nothing like a children's librarian sing-a-long at 9:30 a.m. with the Wee Be Jammin' girls.  While conferences are extremely busy, they give you a chance to get re-energized about your job and come back refreshed.  For example, my Tuesday morning story times this week were AWESOME.  I was excited to do them and brought back some new ideas from PLA to try out.

What's next for me?  Here are some of my goals and projects generated from the conference:
  • Start a library Pinterest page for recommended apps.  While we already have them up on our web site, I like the visuals that come with Pinterest.  For a really great example of how this is done, check out Little eLit on Pinterest.
  • Work with the management team to set collection benchmarks.  We have a collection development in place, but this covers mostly theory and support for the mission statement.  I want to get down to the nitty gritty of discussing multiple copies, weeding, etc.
  • I NEED to buy a bubble machine for my dance parties and story times.
  • Check the correlation between standardized test scores and summer reading participation for our 47 schools.  (I did this yesterday and it is actually TRUE.)  Use this information to market summer reading to the schools.
  • This one is going to take some time and money, but I would like to make circulating curriculum kits for teachers.  This way they can check out a stack of books in a bag on a topic and be ready to go.
  • Support staff competencies for technology.  We have a lot of technology floating around my building and I would like to see everybody be comfortable using tools, such as an iPad, especially since we use them regularly in programming.
  • Create a social story about the library and story time using Powerpoint to put up on our web site.
What are some great things that you came away with?  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How Much is Too Much?

A couple of weeks out on the Twitterverse, Melissa (of Mel's Desk fame) tossed out a question asking how many story times we all did each week with how many staff.  In addition to answering her, I asked the additional question of what's your minimum number of programs that you do weekly?  We started a conversation, which turned into an online questionnaire, and now we have results.

As a newer manager, I have recently been asking a lot of questions. 
  • How much programming should we be doing?  
  • Does this include story times?  
  • Is there a minimum number of programs that staff should be doing? 
  • Is there a maximum?  
  • At what point does burnout occur and can we prevent it?
  • Should every staff member have to do programs?
If it were up to our public, I have a feeling that we would be doing programming 24 hours, 7 days a week, but that just isn't possible with our other librarian tasks.  My goal is to find a happy balance.

Number of non-story time programs in an average week

All I can say about this chart is "Wow".  As professional librarians, we recognize that story time isn't our entire programming repertoire.  This makes me really happy because it gives me data to take back to my staff.  I would love it if we could coordinate at least one non-story time program per week at my location.  I am a big believer that you need to get kids in while they are young, keep them as they grow (like with great programs and books), and eventually they will be both parents bringing their own kids and taxpayers supporting us.

Surveys are great tools, but you shouldn't interpret their results in a vacuum.  What I mean by this is that it is important to go out and ask other people in similar positions questions so you have more information to better interpret the results.  Luckily last week I attended the PLA 2014 Conference.  You may recognize me as that person who quizzed you about your programming methods.  What I found is that there is no standard answer.  You need to do what is best for your community.  I found that in a significant portion of public libraries that all YS staff program in some way.  This includes libraries who split up their librarians with fancy titles, such as School Services Librarian or Preschool Services Librarian.  On the other hand, many people brought up the Baltimore model where a select group of professionals run all of the story times and do it really well.

So what does this all mean?  You could say, "Half of the respondents do 1 or less non-story time programs a week."  With this thought you don't need to add more because you are just too busy or some other excuse.  Otherwise, you can say, "Half of the respondents do at least 2 non-story time programs a week!  I wish we could find a way to add at least 1 to our programming line-up."  With this attitude, first, I as a manager would LOVE you.  Then I would help you to make this work.  There are a lot of great ideas out there in blogland,  Pinterest, and the passive programming world.  Make it work for you and your community.  This is one of those areas that they don't teach in library school.

Look for more great survey results coming soon to both Libraryland and Mel's Desk.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Flannel Friday!

To celebrate Flannel Friday's 3rd birthday, we are collecting some of our favorite posts (both ours and others) from over the years.  I will admit that this is by no means a complete list. 


Stuff I Made

Inspired by Flannel Friday

My To-Be-Made Pile 
This is also not a complete list.  There are currently 346 items on my TBM pile!

This week's special birthday round-up is being hosted by Anne at So Tomorrow.  For more flannel fun, stop by our official blog for more information.  Check out our Pinterest page to see all of our neat projects.  Visit our Facebook group for some great conversations!

Going to PLA

I will be heading to Indianapolis this week for the PLA Conference.  If you see me, stop by and say hello.  Otherwise, I will be blogging live from PLA over on the ALSC blog.

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!

Baby Story Time Board Books

A big component of our under 2 story times in my library system is the sharing of a board book.  We pass them out to everyone in the group and do a group read along.  Personally, I love this component because the parents and children are sharing the book.  It shows the kids that reading is fun for everyone, which motivates them to want to read in the future.

Last fall, a couple of us were looking for new titles to use and had a big Twitter conversation.  I always love to see what others are using as every story time presenter seems to have their own style as to what will work for them.  I will be honest-some of our current collection doesn't work for me, but it works for others.  Since I am newer to this location, I have been adding new titles that fit my style as I can.  I am more of a singer so I like books that flow or rhyme.


At my location, all of our board book sets are stored in a closet right in the story time room.  This makes it convenient.  Plus, once you see the inside of the closet, you will realize that board books are about all it can hold.


As you can see, the shelves are not very deep, but they are perfect for board books.  All of our sets are cataloged with a special spine label and a blue professional reference sticker.  This helps us find the titles easily when they accidentally get interfiled with the regular board book collection.


So I can easily find stuff, all sets are together.  They are also in alphabetical order by author's last name.  There is a label on the inside of the door as to what should be on each shelf.  Our full collection can be seen here

If you would like to see how another location stores their copies, one of our branches also collects board book sets.  This is nice because we can trade as needed.  Their copies are also cataloged and labeled.  They have open shelves in the staff workroom for their copies.



What do you do with your story time board books and what titles do you have?  I am always looking for new ideas.
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