Friday, March 18, 2016

Hosting a School Literacy Night

Last night we held our 2nd annual literacy night at the library with one of our schools.  These are always great fun and we have a couple of schools that we currently do them with.  As we were setting up, Julie, one of my awesome School Outreach Librarians, said that we should post this online somewhere as we have become pros at putting them together.  I love them from a manager's perspective as they are inexpensive and bring whole families into the library.  Here is this year's plan:

Setting Up a Lit Night
Start early, especially if they want one in March as a part of "March is Reading Month".  Our calendar does fill up quickly so we are definitely booking our literacy nights by late fall.  Plus, that way we can work our schedule and our programming around the literacy night.  We start by asking the principals.  If you don't have a relationship with your targeted principal and get no response, try either a teacher or their PTO.  For one of our schools, we host a kindergarten only literacy night.  They also have 4 kindergartens at that school so we easily pull in 100+ people on those nights.

Once a school is on board, they will promote the program for you.  Some schools will give extra credit for attending since it is a part of "March is Reading Month".  They will put it on their take-home calendars, their Facebook pages, and some will even create special flyers.

Your job is to book your space.  We prefer to host them in our children's room, but at our branches, we need to hold the program mostly in the meeting rooms due to space (such as in the case below).  We set our program up as stations so parents can come and go during the 2-hour block, depending on when they get home from work, eat dinner, etc.  There is some prep work in getting the stations ready.  While our stations are mostly focused on literacy, we do throw in some STEAM.

Our Stations
As people enter the room, we set up any drawings that we have going on.  Sometimes it is a "Guess How Many Legos" container, while other times they need to just write their name on a slip.  This year we gave away extra summer reading books in bookbags that we had leftover.

Our next station was a Pout-Pout Fish reader's theater.  Kids had to make their headbands, then act out the words.  We used sentence strips to make the headbands and glued fish die cuts to them.

We have been using The Day the Crayons Quit a lot in outreach this spring. Some of our outreach adventures have involved a craft so we had bulk ordered a bunch of chunky crayons.  You can make your own crayon guy to go with the story by adding googly eyes to the crayon.  Kids then wrote a letter or draw a picture as to why their crayon shouldn't quit.

Our fourth station was an engineering challenge.  We cut pool noodles into 1-inch pieces and kids built with the noodles and toothpicks.  This station also had some older kid appeal.

Have you ever played Race to 100?  This is a math game using dice that also has older kid appeal.


To get the families out in the library, we had a scavenger hunt for children's book characters.  We like to use characters because it gets kids talking about books.  As kids finished the hunt, they got a CMPL pencil.

Our last station was out in the children's area.  Kids made books based on Press Here by Tullet.  They folded 2 pieces of paper in half to make their book.  Then they chose a new verb out of our container for each page and added both words and dots.

While this wasn't part of our original plan, it definitely will be in the future!  The school asked if we had a place to hang artwork since parents would be attending with their children.  We have racks that we moved over to this location and they brought their artwork to display.  It was very eye-catching. 

This is what we did this time around for our literacy night.  It was an Amy and Julie production (my 2 School Outreach Librarians) and I just went along as an extra set of hands.  If you haven't done one before, it is totally worth it! 
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