Thursday, January 30, 2014

Flannel Friday-Matching Hearts

One of my big goals this year is to redo our Activity Room to add a larger early literacy focus and better signage.  We have a generous Friends of the Library group who gave me some money to start this project off.  The first thing that I bought was a flannelboard dedicated to this room.  After all, it is one of the kids' favorite parts of story time.  Plus, I have a lot of flannel ideas!

This week's project was inspired by My Storytime Life.  To make my own set of matching hearts, I cut felt on our die cut machine in different colors.  Then, I puffy painted different patterns on each pair or hearts.

I didn't stop there.  One of my goals is to give parents the "why" of why we do what we do.  Plus, this is something that they could easily recreate at home with paper, crayons, and scissors.  Our early literacy program at my library is called Play to Learn and is based on the five ECRR2 skills.  My next step was a sign.

As you can see, it gives an idea of what to do and why we do it.  Of course, kids could also just play with the hearts.

We also "bribe" kids with stickers to clean up when they are done.  To help with that process, I added a bin under the flannelboard called "Flannelboard Pieces".  While most of our kids won't be able to read that yet, their parents will.  You would be surprised at how well bribery works!

This week's Flannel Friday round-up is hosted by Lisa at Thrive After Three.  For more information about Flannel Friday, check out our official blog.  For great felt ideas, check out our Pinterest page.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Face Outs Make a Difference

If you have seen some of my display posts in the past, you will know that I am a big fan of seeing what works in the retail world and adopting it in my library.  Any time I can face out a book, display it on shelves, or some other option, it helps it to circ.  As we know in the library world, circulation is important or items get weeded.

This inspiration came from a local bookstore (you may recognize it).

As you can see, this display looks neat.  You can see all of the book covers, which makes you want to pick up a copy (or five) for purchase.

We recently "found" some shelf space and our new nonfiction moved to fill it.  Since moving it here and using the face out method, I am constantly filling holes.  These books are now flying off the shelves.  Plus, they are right at the beginning of the nonfiction section now (rather than the easy reader area which didn't make sense).

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's a Preschool Fair

For the past couple of years, my library hosts a Preschool Fair at the Main Library.  With the big change in jobs this past fall, this now became one of my tasks.  Now that I have been through it, a Preschool Fair is actually a neat idea, promotes school involvement, and is inexpensive to do.  Here's how I did it:

Start early!  I sent out a letter to every preschool in our two townships, everybody who participated last year, and schools who have expressed interest at the beginning of October.  The letter introduced what we were trying to accomplish (showcasing local preschools) and gave a deadline to respond by.  I also included my email address as many of the schools had not met me before and I am working on building a relationship with them.

My deadline for a Preschool Fair on January 25 was Thanksgiving weekend.  Yes, I know that seems like a lot of time, but I then needed to track down those who didn't respond.  Plus, we all know what school schedules are like over the holiday break-you can't reach anyone.  I always started with a phone call.  When that didn't get a response, I sent the preschool teacher and principal at each of the schools an email with a new "must respond by" date.

Your phone will also become really popular once notice of your event goes out.  Our winter newsletter hit homes in mid-December and all of a sudden I had 5 more schools who wanted to participate.

Two weeks before our fair, I started to get serious.  This is when I printed our booklet that includes each school, contact information, and blank space for parents to make notes.  These all needed to be folded and stapled.  I had our subs stuff YS folders with our February Events calendar, winter reading form, Bookflix brochure, story time schedule, 100 Books to Read Before Kindergarten booklist, and a Sesame Street growth chart that we had leftover from some giveaway.  Every time we finished assembling something, we put it in a box and labelled it so it would be easily transported and unpacked downstairs.

I decided that we needed something fun for kids to do at our table also, so I came up with a quick craft.  My idea of a craft tends to be a die cut on a popsicle stick so we ended up with teddy bear puppets.  The sticks all had a glue dot put on ahead of time so kids (or parents) just had to peel the wrapper and stick the stick to the die cut when they were finished coloring.

The Day of the Fair
I picked up bottled water on my way in for the school representatives and was at the library by 8:30.  We loaded our boxes up on carts and moved them downstairs to our auditorium.  Our library opens at 9 a.m. and there were schools already outside waiting to come in.  Schools had one hour to set up before the fair opened at 10.  Our fair ran from 10-noon.

We set up a library table in the hall.  As people came in, they picked up a free book for their child (leftover from a grant), a package of CMPL crayons, a booklet listing the schools, our folder filled with events and information.  They could also enter a drawing.

our table 
 book choices

Our craft table was right next to our first table out in the hall.  Many time, while parents filled out their drawing entry, kids would color their puppet.

Our prize drawing happened as a result of me cleaning out our supply closet.  We had a lot of spare tote bags, backpacks, puzzles, books, and placemats leftover from previous drawings and giveaways.

You may wonder about expenses.  I will be honest-the only expenses that I ever usually see are those that come directly out of my program budget.  The cost of this year's fair was $6 to buy 48 bottles of water for the participants.  That is it!  Places where you could add/delete expenses are:
  • Letters to the schools could be emailed.
  • You don't need prizes.  If you think you do, check out leftover summer reading prizes or things cluttering up your closets.
  • Crafts-simple is good.  Even something like a coloring sheet would have been welcome today.
  • You don't need to pass out free books or crayons.  The only reason we did is that we had them from another event.

How did it go today?  Start by remembering the my library is in Michigan, home to the second Polar Vortex.  At the beginning of the fair, we had a blizzard and it was -3.  We still had 71 adults and 42 kids who came out to check out our 20 local schools.  Not all of our schools were in our service area, but those that weren't, were in the next city.  Parents were really excited to check out the local schools and many came out with a glazed eye look (but plenty of information to go through at home).  Schools were really excited to participate, because not only were they showing off to prospective parents, but they got to check out the competition.  Plus, I know that I end up with good ideas, by checking out the displays.  For example, today's good idea is that if you don't have a library tableskirt for an event, use a parachute.  It looks great!

Now Onto Next Year
I will admit that I am an idea person so I already have notes on things to expand or delete for next year.  Plus, I did send out a survey to all of our participants asking about the date, timing, and other issues.

My big thing for next year (if our millage passes) is to make the library table look as professional as the tables in the actual fair.  I would like a tableskirt and/or these cool display things that I saw at one of the tables (personally, I would like both).

 This sign works like an upside down shade.

I would also like to add a bigger children's component to the day, if not to the actual fair.  We are looking to set up a 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program and I am thinking that it would be awesome to kick it off on the same day as the Preschool Fair.  Plus, then I have justification to have a costumed character walking around.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Flannel Friday-Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

This past fall my library was given a grant to develop circulating early literacy kits.  As I was going through catalogs, I realized that I could make most of the felt stuff better myself.  This is my first completed prop to go along with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  I am really excited about it and will give you my tips and tricks below.

The original idea came to me from Twodaloo. I really liked the design and "wow" factor.  My only is that I wanted young kids to be able to play with it and small wooden circles and coconuts make a choking hazard (great idea for home, but not for a public library).  I also wanted it to be low cost as people will lose the parts.  I wanted to be able to easily recreate parts so we don't have to withdraw the kits as parts disappear.

My mom and I followed the instructions on Twodaloo to create the trunk.  I used my mom because I do not sew (and she does).  I thought that sewed trunks would make them more durable.  Just a note-1 yard of fleece will create 6 trunks.  Also, we added 1 inch extra around our arm as neither of us have thin arms and I wanted adults to be able to use it too.

While my mom sewed trunks, I cut out leaves.  I wanted a pattern for these as I wanted them to look as close to the real thing as possible.  One of my favorite sources for patterns is Making Learning Fun.  I used the leaf and coconut patterns from here and blew them up on the copy machine to 121%.  I used three different shades of green to make my trees fun.

For assembly, I hot glued 2 big leaves and 3 small leaves to the top of each tree trunk.  I thought that the hot glue would give it a little more durability for the public than tacky glue (my normal glue of choice).  It helped to glue the leaves more to the side than the top of the trunk as felt isn't super thick.  I didn't want falling leaves as I told my story.

Next came the coconuts.  I cut out 156 coconuts as I made 6 puppets (26 letters x 6 puppets).  I puffy painted the letters of the alphabet onto these.  I had to do them in two batches as I ran out of room for them to dry.

Once they were dry, I added velco to the back of each coconut and added them to my tree.  It was at this point that I learned that velcro doesn't stick well to fleece.  Luckily, it still works well on the felt leaves.

Here is a picture of the puppet on my arm.  Taking puppet selfies one-handed is a little difficult!

While I really like the finished product, if I was making another set of these, I would make the trunk in brown felt.  This would also mean that I would add more than an inch around my arm pattern as felt doesn't "give" the same way as fleece.

This week's round-up is being hosted by Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime.  You can always find Flannel Friday at the official blog, on Pinterest, and on Facebook.     

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

100 Books to Read Before Kindergarten

Last year our staff of children's librarians put together a 100 Books to Read Before Kindergarten booklist.  Here is our story.

Why Make a Booklist?
There were a number of factors that contributed to us wanting to create this type of booklist.
  1. We have a large early childhood population.  Story time and young children's programming are huge for us.
  2. Our parents frequently asked for recommendations.
  3. We have three locations and 8 ys librarians.  We all had different opinions on recommendations and booklists.  By creating one booklist, we started being consistent across our library system.
The Process
If you decide to create your own 100 Books booklist, my first recommendation is to start early.  It took us 9 months to go from first draft to completed booklist.

We started off by culling other 100 Books booklists for recommendations.  We also added our own favorite "must have" titles.  List #1 had 191 titles when we were finished.  Then, we took a vote. (It felt like our own Newbery or Caldecott election!)

After the first vote we were down to 163 titles.  Our next step was to check our book suppler, Baker & Taylor, to see what the availability was for each title.  None of our locations had every title and our goal was that for our 100 Books, we would have them all at each location.  Out-of-print titles were removed from the list at this time.  For example, when we created our list, Ed Emberley's Go Away, Big Green Monster! was not available.  We substituted it for another popular Emberley title-Chicken Little.  We also wanted our copies to be hardcover, rather than paperback or pop-up, because we wanted them to last.  This pulled some more titles from the list.  Then we voted one last time.

Once we had our final list, we wanted to put it into our customers' hands.  First, we decided to label each of our 100 Books with a hot pink star.  This way they stand out on our shelves.  We labelled every format for one of our titles, including board books and book & cd kits.

Next, we gave our list to our community relations specialist to make it spiffy.  She had copies printed for us and made us a poster.

The Result
This has been an extremely popular initiative for our library system.  The parents love it!  It is easy to get immediate feedback by checking our returned books that need to be shelved.  There is often many pink starred books on the carts.

From a staffing perspective, it has also taken a task off of us.  While I will talk to anyone about books at any time, there are many savvy parents who grab the booklist and head to the shelves on their own.  This frees up my time to help the next person.  In this day and age where staffing is being cut, this is a good thing.

So what made the final list?  Check out our 100 Books to Read Before Kindergarten here

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hello Iowa!

This past Thursday I presented "App Up Your Story Times" at ISLOC 2014.  This was a really neat experience for me, because not only was I talking about one of my favorite subjects (apps!), but I could give the whole presentation from my office to librarians 3 states away.  This was awesome, because we all know (or can guess) what traveling through the Midwest is like in the beginning of January.  This type of conference gave me a reason to love technology more, even though there are still hiccups (yes, my mic did go out for 5 minutes in the middle of the presentation).

For those of you who attended the conference (or who are just interested in apps), here is more information:
  • The powerpoint presentation will be live, along with an audio recording, early next week on the ISLOC web site.  I am not going to post a copy here, because I am doing a very similar presentation to Michigan librarians in March and I would like them to come!
  • Check out the handout, either on the ISLOC web site or here.  This includes a lot of great information, such as the apps discussed, review sources, article citations, and more.
  • For those who are interested in an all app story time, check out two of my past programs here and here.
  • I had also mentioned the possibility of putting curated apps on your library's web site.  If you would like to see an example of ours, check out ours for ages 2-5 and ages 6-12.  Another library that really does this well is the Darien Library.

Thanks for attending and I hope to see you soon!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chocolate Handprint Reindeer, Round 2

I am a lucky auntie who gets to spend a lot of time with her 5 nieces and nephews who live in the area.  This year as we were setting up the Christmas tree, one of them asked to make chocolate pudding handprint ornaments again.  This worked for me as we always create a Christmas present for all of the family members from the kids.  This is the story of how we made them.  To see how to turn this project into a library program, check out last year's post.

Supplies Needed
  •  6-inch circles cut out of white cardstock (If you are dealing with kids over 5, you will want 7 or 8-inch circles).
  • 1 large box of chocolate pudding (follow the directions on the box to make it)
  • 1 disposable foil pan to pour the pudding into.  You will want it at least as wide as the largest hand.
  • red paper for reindeer noses
  • white paper to make reindeer eyes
  • 1-inch hole punch to make the noses and eyes (You can also freehand cut them out.)
  • access to a laminator

How to Make Your Ornaments 
1.  Dip a child's hand in the chocolate pudding.  Have them place their hand on the cardstock circle to make a handprint.  You will need to redip the hand after 2-3 prints.  Let the handprints dry for at least 24 hours.  While they are drying, I write each child's name and the year somewhere on the ornament.

2.   Punch noses and eyes out of paper.  I color in the eyeball with black marker, but have used blue or green crayons in the past.  Glue the eyes and noses onto the ornaments.
(*My four year old niece had a great time with this.  We also were able to talk about how different directions of the eyeballs show different feelings as she wanted to make them all crazy.)

As you can see, this reindeer is looking up.

3.  Laminate your ornaments to preserve them for the future.  I use our local ISD as they offer cheap and quality lamination.  Cut out your ornaments, punch a hole in top, and string them with ribbon.

We then have the kids sort the ornaments so each adult (or couple) gets a full set.  They wrap the ornaments and pass them out on Christmas.  While the wrapping doesn't look professional, there is a warm fuzzy feeling about getting a present wrapped by a 3 year old.

This is our final product on my Christmas tree.  I have five brand new handprint ornaments!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Flannel Friday Round-Up

Welcome to the first Flannel Friday round-up of 2014!  We are starting the year off with a bang so get ready to check out these great ideas (and pin them all).

Are you familiar with Grumpy Cat?  Sue at Library Village (aka Let the Wild Rumpus Start) created him in felt and made up a song.  This is a great addition to any story time about feelings!  Plus, with the new year, Library Village spiffied up their web site.  Definitely stop on by to check it out.

Storytime Katie shows us how to create letter puzzles!  Not only are they fantastic for story time, but they would work great in an activity or early literacy center.  A full set is on my to-do list!

If you are prepping your winter story times like I am, then you will definitely want to stop by Fun with Friends at Storytime.  Not only will you get to see Kathryn's felt version of The Jacket I Wear in the Snow based on Thrive After Three's, but you will get to see her cute winter hats that are a fun color-based activity.

Kathryn also shows off her flannelized version of The Three Pigs at Fun with Friends at Storytime.  I have learned that you can never have too many felt versions of the classics.  

You will want to check out Thrive After Three's shark puppet.  Not only does he send postcards while on vacation, but he is a great story time addition.  He works well with Shark in the Park and Lisa's "I Spy" board that she created.  It is great fun!

I love the idea of Katie's beginning reader story time at Story Time Secrets.  This week she posts a birthday-themed rhyming story that is perfect for this age group.  Check out her slideshow of Tommy Trout.

Seth at The Voices Inside My Headphones brings us a great chicken disaster craft (or any animal disaster).  The kids will have great fun with it, especially your Godzilla lovers.  Plus, Seth is doing a 52 Flannels project this year so let's cheer him on!

Anne at itsybitsymom shows off her version of Not a Box by Antoinette Portis using milk filters and crayons.  Plus there is an extension activity where kids can make their own creations.  It is great!

It  always makes me smile when people down South do winter story times.  If I could, I would package up some of our snow and cold and send it your way for "effect".  Kay at Storytime ABC's recreates her Five Little Snowflakes based on a template from Loons and Quines @ Librarytime.  You can never have too many "five little" rhymes for your collection.

Last, but not least, is Cate at Storytiming's Reno(vation) 911.  She shows us how she unexpectedly put her new whiteboard to use.  As I also have an insanely large whiteboard, I love this post!

That's it for this week.  Anna at Future Librarian Superhero will have next week's round-up.

If you want to know more about Flannel Friday:

Upcoming dates to know:
  • 1/24 will be our Valentine's round-up
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