Secrets of Storytime Success Shared

Katie over at Storytime Secrets has posted a wonderfully supportive post on lessons learned in storytime.  She shares ten lessons learned and they are spot on.

Storytimes should be fun and its easy to create fun for yourself and your families.  Drop by Katie's blog and enjoy!

Image: 'Mingâlaba' http://www.flickr.com/photos/63726798@N00/375294089


Celebrating My Favorite Days at the Library

I love working around the winter holidays.

It's a little oasis of calm for professional level work (you guys are all on vacation) so my email is almost empty, my phone messages are zeroed out and my teammates are taking some well-deserved time off.  I can't spend much time planning anything since colleagues everywhere are elsewhere celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Solstice and preparing hearth and home for all the food, guests and celebrations - or quiet contemplation - that the season brings.

Although we still have families coming in, our check-outs and reference dip as people clear the deck for the holidays. There will be an uptick of use between this week and the first of the year when school is out but even these visits seem to bring happier, less stressed interactions. There are delicious cookie and candy treats shared from staffers, patrons and staff families so I clandestinely sugar up as the days flow by.

And, although my work is truly caught up and I feel the calm of a deadline-less reprieve,  there is always a bit of time devoted to cleaning up and readying myself for the new year - deleting emails; weeding; organizing my desk or finishing a small piece of a project that has been laying there waiting for closure like this tired old year.

Somehow it seems fitting to the moment.

Image: 'Happy Winter Solstice!'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/15004954@N03/5280170521


Mixing It Up with Tykes

Last week we had a group of 2-5 year olds in for a field trip adventure. My colleague Sara and I divided the group in two - she showed one group around the room while I shared stories, songs and storytelling with the other half - and then we switched the kids. Because timing is always a bit imprecise on this kind of thing, I had to be prepared to wrap up at a moment's notice as the touring group came back to the storyroom.

I ended up playing with the concept of clapping - asking kids to clap in sign language, clap like a penguin (with elbows); like a frog (with knees); like a hippo (opening and closing our mouths); like an elephant and so on. Kids started suggesting animals and characters - rabbits, aliens, monsters - and we had a great time playing and mixing it up.

It brought to mind a link from a couple years ago that spoke to this. Abby the Librarian had a delightful post about a song she keeps in her storytime arsenal that is ready in a second and can be used often. These fun and funny activities help stretch the time in a pinch and are fun and inventive for the kids.

Mixing it up happens when the creative muse pays a visit and inspires us to play. A friend taught me to do "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" as "Noggin, Shruggers, Benders, Tootsies" and it gets giggles every time. Other times, I use the fingerplay "Way Up High in the Apple Tree" (two little eyes looking at me/well I shook that tree as hard as I could/ down fell the apples/mmmmm, were they good) and do it a few times. Each time I let the kids suggest a new food. We always end up climbing pizza trees, candy trees and other nummy fauna.

Having a storybag at my side also helps to create fun and suspense and stretch out time. I keep some books, props, puppets inside relating to the stories I plan to do. Then I make a big production with much fanfare and hoohaw of groping for and finding the prop and bringing it out in triumph. The results: big-eyed kids, quiet and interest zeroed in on the story. Priceless!

What do you use to keep little kids interested and stretch out timing?

Image: 'Baby Kong' http://www.flickr.com/photos/45777632@N06/6300899555


I'm a Proud Co-Mom!

 I am tickled pink to see the newly revised Great Early Elementary Reads booklist available on the Association for Library Service Website (ALSC) website. My wonderful national colleagues on the School Age Programs and Services Committee (chaired so beautifully by Iowa's own Tami Finley) worked happily and virtually in Google docs this fall to suggest and annotate over sixty great books for kids just beginning to read and those who are exploring early chapter books.  Each book, published between 2009 and 2011, has complete bibliographic info to make ordering copies a snap.

We were building on the pioneering work of our School Age Programs and Services committee predecessors, chaired by Shilo Pearson, who conceived of and created the first list almost three years ago.  Both lists contain great books from first time authors as well as popular writers who have made a mark on children's literature. There is a smattering of non-fiction and poetry as well as plenty of fiction featuring a rainbow of child protaganists.

ALSC  "recommends these titles for children who are just learning to read and beginning to read on their own. The books included were published between 2009 and 2011. However, many are part of a larger series that young readers also will enjoy. Librarians, educators, and others who work with families are encouraged to download and print the brochure and share it with parents, grandparents, and caregivers in their community."

Hats off to my co-moms on the committee who worked to create this great list to share with all of you: Tami L. Chumbley Finley, Sarah Abercrombie, Janis Cooker, Claire Moore, Sara Lissa Paulson, Erin Lynn Pierce, Elizabeth D. Rosania and Sarah Stippich and to the great staff at the ALSC office who supported our efforts to update this jewel!


Idea Sparklers #2 - Fun Ideas From the Field

Next up in the idea parade from my Summer Library/Programming workshops are the marvelous minds from the South Central Library System in Wisconsin. We got involved in some fun summer ideas and then went crazy on scavenger hunt brainstorming and wild success with poetry.

There is also a mysterious note I have about a Price is Right board incorporating bubble wrap in some way but my poor forgetful brain lost the thread. If you shared that idea and want to flesh it out again for all of us, please share in comments!

  • Wall of Dreams – to record books that kids have read.  A penny is donated for every book that is then given to a good cause like Heifer International’s animal adoption program.

  • Name a Star – if children reach a certain level of minutes/books read, adopt a star – funded through Friends of Library or other donation.

  • August Family Reading Card – to encourage reading beyond the end of the regular SLP, create a 5x5 scavenger hunt bingo card to keep kids reading and using the library.

  • Stuffed Animal Sleepover – popular and easy to do.

  • Fired Up Reading Program – mini-reading program during three weeks surrounding Fire Safety Week in October. Kids read at least three hours to complete a card. Kid who reads the most gets a ride on a firetruck. Alternative would be to put completed cards in a drawing to select winner.

  • Math Literacy Night – School district presenter talks to parents about making games for kids while kids are in another room participating in activities at a number of stations (storytelling; block building; story extensions play)

  • Acorn Scavenger Hunt – fifteen acorns are hidden in various spots in the Youth Area. Rhymes that need to be completed are the clues that lead kids to the different acorns. It helps kids learn the library. Kids who find all the acorns have their names put in a prize drawing.

  • Picture Clues – Take close-up pictures of objects and features around the library and let the kids see if they can discover where the photo was taken.

  • I Spy Scavenger Hunt – kids need to find objects listed. An inexpensive plastic mini-magnifying glass is the prize for all participants.

  • Poetry Breaks – during April, drop in to classrooms, announce “poetry Break” and read 1-3 short poems. It’s a five minutes or less visit and a fun surprise.

  • Poetry Mic Night – open mic for youth to read poems – their own or others. It has become so popular that it is moving from the library to a school to handle the huge crowds.

Find more in the Idea Sparklers here: 1  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10  11

Image: 'whirligig'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/63595585@N00/3407349475

Idea Sparklers #1 - Fun Ideas from the Field

I am just starting my presentations of 2012 Summer Reading /Innovative Programming Workshops around the state (and out of state too!). With thirteen library systems scheduled,  I expect to see lots of colleagues and hear amazing ideas.  As I go along, I will post "Idea Sparklers" and share a listing of the fun program/display ideas that librarians from libraries small and large shared together.

Although they aren't going to be fleshed out ideas, they will hopefully spark your creativity and get you thinking of new ways to engage kids at your library!

Our first stop is the Winnefox Library System in Wisconsin. Among the ideas shared:

  • If You Build It, They Will Come – set up a table and let kids create things out of “junk” (recycled materials). Sometimes a theme is provided or a bag of materials for each child who participates to spark their imagination.

  • If You Like Reading Wimpy Kid, Try These – put up a line drawing of the Wimpy Kid near a book cart or shelf and fill it up with “read-alikes”. Kids flock to the shelf and re-stocking the choices is constant

  • 40 Book Reading Challenge – after talking to the school staff, library staff learned that reading forty books helps kids maintain their skills over summer break. So kids who take the challenge get a sheet to record books read with rewards at school in the fall for those who both participate and reach their goal.

  • “No Girls Allowed” Boys Bash – we all know we can get a lot of girls at library Fancy Nancy and princess parties. This party features underwear flinging from Capt Underpants and other boy activities to give the guys a chance to shine.

  • Legos K-3- Put out the Lego sets; read a book to the kids at the beginning and have the kids build a lego based on the theme in the book. Wild success.

  • Stained Glass Windows – Using old transparencies, copy outline onto sheet. Outline in permanent marker (careful) and paint with fabric paint. Very popular with kids. With a donation of shiny paper, the kids also created shiny foil outlines to cut out.

  • Adult Reading Program – used a “Cootie Bug” theme. As adults reported back they would get a paper “Cootie Bug” piece to build their Cootie on paper. Very popular. Led to a brief discussion of other nostalgia toy themes to use with adults like rubber ducks or Lincoln logs.
Read more in the Idea Sparkler series here:  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10  11

Image: '♥ Love Explosion ♥' http://www.flickr.com/photos/77047514@N00/3115855390