Sing & Swing Storytime: Take 2

Two music and movement storytimes down, two more to go! I was excited for this one. Several parents had been coming in and expessing how much their child enjoyed it. This one went a little smoother than the first, and attendance grew just slightly with 27 kids, ages 1-5.

Here’s the agenda:

Warm-up: Silly Dance Contest - Jim Gill

Egg Shakers
We Shake Our Eggs Together
Going to Kentucky
I Know a Chicken - Laurie Berkner

Book: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons - Eric Litwin and James Dean

Parachute
Let’s Get Out the Parachute
The Parachute Goes Up and Down (tune of Wheels on the Bus)
No More Monkeys - Asheba. For this we bounced scarves while the song played.

Bubbles
Hello, Bubbles
Ten Little Bubbles (pop, pop, pop)
Tiny Tim

Goodbye Rhyme: My Hands Say Goodbye

What worked: The book was a huge hit. Pete the Cat always is, so no surprise there, but I’ve been excited to see how children with a wide variety of ages, who are super wound up from dancing, can sit so quietly for the whole book. They are engaged! Also, singing during the transitions, as we put away our instruments, seems to keep everyone happy.

What needs improvement (still): My CD player isn’t loud enough! I though it would be louder than the Bluetooth,  but I need more volume to be heard over 25 excited kids. Also, I borrowed a bubble machine this week, which helped me sing during bubble time, but it wasn’t perfect. I turned it on, the kids ran and screamed and parked their little bodies right in front of the machine, resulting in three kids with soaked and soapy heads because the bubbles blew right in their face. Next session, I’m elevating baby! And I’m going to rig up a fan for a better bubble dispersal system. It’s trial and error and I’m going to nail it. Eventually.

Overall, a great high-energy program. Can’t wait to do it again!

Sing & Swing Storytime: Take 2

Two music and movement storytimes down, two more to go! I was excited for this one. Several parents had been coming in and expessing how much their child enjoyed it. This one went a little smoother than the first, and attendance grew just slightly with 27 kids, ages 1-5.

Here’s the agenda:

Warm-up: Silly Dance Contest - Jim Gill

Egg Shakers
We Shake Our Eggs Together
Going to Kentucky
I Know a Chicken - Laurie Berkner

Book: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons - Eric Litwin and James Dean

Parachute
Let’s Get Out the Parachute
The Parachute Goes Up and Down (tune of Wheels on the Bus)
No More Monkeys - Asheba. For this we bounced scarves while the song played.

Bubbles
Hello, Bubbles
Ten Little Bubbles (pop, pop, pop)
Tiny Tim

Goodbye Rhyme: My Hands Say Goodbye

What worked: The book was a huge hit. Pete the Cat always is, so no surprise there, but I’ve been excited to see how children with a wide variety of ages, who are super wound up from dancing, can sit so quietly for the whole book. They are engaged! Also, singing during the transitions, as we put away our instruments, seems to keep everyone happy.

What needs improvement (still): My CD player isn’t loud enough! I though it would be louder than the Bluetooth, but I need more volume to be heard over 25 excited kids. Also, I borrowed a bubble machine this week, which helped me sing during bubble time, but it wasn’t perfect. I turned it on, the kids ran and screamed and parked their little bodies right in front of the machine, resulting in three kids with soaked and soapy heads because the bubbles blew right in their face. Next session, I’m elevating baby! And I’m going to rig up a fan for a better bubble dispersal system. It’s trial and error and I’m going to nail it. Eventually. Overall, a great high-energy program. Can’t wait to do it again!

Sing and Swing Storytime

I’ve been wanting to host a music - based storytime for preschoolers at the library for a long time, and I finally had my first one. Fitting it into our busy schedule was difficult, but I decided to add it once a week for a month and see how it goes. Currently in our library system, all storytimes occur on a Tuesday or a Thursday, so I wanted to add another option on a different day in case there are families who can’t make it on the usual days. Wednesday morning seems like it will work great for us. Plus, our preschool storytime numbers have slightly declined over the past years as more of our 3-5 population are attending preschool. This program was planned for a broader age range, 1-5, which usually results in better attendance for us. Our numbers were good for the first week, with 25 kids attending.

The supplies - I recently attended Mother Goose on the Loose training, and I knew I wanted to incorporate some musical instruments. I used shaker eggs, rhythm sticks, a parachute, and bubbles.

Here was the agenda for the first week:

Welcome and warm-up time
Marching Medley - Ralph’s World
Silly Dance Contest - Jim Gill

Egg Shakers
We Shake Our Eggs Together
Going to Kentucky

Rhythm Sticks
We Tap Our Sticks Together
Tap, Tap, Tap Your Sticks (Jamaroo on YouTube)

Parachute
Let’s Get Out the Parachute - (Intellidance video from YouTube); The Parachute Goes Up and Down (to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus. The parachute shakes really fast, shakes really slow, goes round and round)

Bubbles
Hello, Bubbles Tiny Tim (I had a little turtle, his name was Tiny Tim…)

Book: Five Little Monkeys Sitting In a Tree by Eileen Christelow

Goodbye Rhyme: My Hands Say Goodbye With a Clap

What worked - The instruments! They loved the rhythm sticks in particular. They also adored the parachute. I bought a 12 foot parachute and it was the perfect size for 25 kids and their adults.

What did not - The recorded music was a bust. I tried something different and added a playlist to my phone. This was so much more convenient and I loved it, until I realized that my Bluetooth speaker wasn’t nearly loud enough to be heard over 25 kids, so I had to drop some planned activities. Back to my CDs next week. Also, I’m going to tweak bubble time a bit. I bought Gymboree bubbles, which were great, but I could not keep up with the kids. They popped as soon as I blew them. For next session, I’m either borrowing a bubble machine or enlisting parent volunteers.

True confession time! I was having so much fun and got so excited I forgot to read the book! What kind of librarian does that? It was supposed to go before parachute time, but I was too pumped, and skipped it. I saved it at the last moment and whipped out the book in five minutes. They were pretty tired by then and happily sat and listened.

Preschool Patterns

What’s a Saturday Librarian to do with herself on a day when the internet is down? Create a caterpillar pattern activity for preschoolers, of course! I laminated some Very Hungry Caterpillar scrapbook paper, cut it into circles, cut out a couple caterpillar heads, and stuffed it all in an envelope. On the outside, I put some early literacy tips on using the folder, and taped the whole thing up on the side of a shelf. I was pleased to see this little guy looking at me later in the afternoon. Nice use of the A-B-A-B pattern, kid!

Library Card Application Drive

I’m so excited about our upcoming library card application drive! This year, we’re reaching out to all public school students, K-5, in our library district and inviting them to get library cards, with the goal of 100% library card ownership for elementary students. That’s over 10,000 applications! We timed the drive with Library Card Sign-up Month in September.

Our first step was getting the school staff on board. We reached out to our superintendants, telling them about the program and gaining their support. Then we talked to the principals, got them on board, and asked for them to write a letter urging their students to get a card (or we’d write one they could sign if it was easier). Every single school opted to participate! For each student, we dropped off an application and the letter from the school’s principal. We’ll return each Friday to pick up completed applications and deliver new cards to the classroom. We’re keeping statistics on each school, tracking participation on our website, and the school in each corporation with the highest percentage of library card ownership will win an awesome prize (probably a performance from a local live animal show). The principals and teachers are pumped and getting into the competitive spirit.

So, what was our biggest hurdle? I knew that in order for this to work, ALL children must be eligible for a library card, regardless of past fines and fees. I took it to our Library Board, and I’m excited to say that the Board gave us permission to waive all overdue fines on the cards of the children that respond to the drive. Also, we created a new profile for students whose cards are blocked due to outstanding or damaged materials. The cards will look exactly the same, allow the kids to check out materials (a lower amount than the normal profile and not including DVDs), and access digital content (eBooks and databases). We get to welcome these kids back to the library for a fresh start! Our Board wasn’t ready to go for anything more drastic, but this is a wonderful alternative that will allow these kids to once again have access. Plus, the Board gave me their support to create a fine forgiveness program (such as a Read It Off program) to empower kids and help them manage their fines when they might not have the money to pay them. Hopefully, this will result in increased library access in our communities.

I can’t wait to visit the schools and get our first batch of cards!

CYPD 2014

The ILF’s Children’s and Young People Division (CYPD) conference is always an enlightening and fun get-together with fellow Indiana Children’s Librarians. This is my first year going as a Branch Manager, and it’s interesting to see how my interests have changed since the last time I attended a few years ago.

Linda Braun from Seattle Public Library kicked off the conference with a really thought provoking session on learning about our communities and adopting the changes they desire. One thing she said that really resonated with me is when she encouraged us to be the advocate for the change you want to see in your library. It’s easy to become stagnant, either because it’s always been done one way or because as a manager, you’re afraid of the reaction you’ll get from staff. The push-back. We’ve all experienced it. So how do we keep it from stopping us? Be bossy, she says! Stand up for what you think is right and ask staff to get on board or jump off the ship. That can be easier said than done, but it’s important for management to set the course and get staff to buy-in, embrace the idea, and take the lead. We were selected to lead because our supervisors trusted we were the right ones for the job. Sometimes, we just need to trust our intuition, be that advocate, and start turning the slow moving ship. If you don’t speak up for the change you want, you can’t expect it to magically happen. We make it happen. And this session gave us a lot to think about when it comes to being the change you want to see. I’m excited to see the change these children’s librarians can create in their communities.

At my library, I like to create a few little early literacy activities for families to work on when they visit. I wanted a simple activity matching uppercase and lowercase letters, and found a similar carrot game on pinterest. I created some carrots and pots with corresponding letters, laminated them, and glued them all on construction paper. At the top, I put instructions on how to use it, extension activities that encourage Every Child Ready to Read practices, and a larger pot to hold all of the carrots. Easy literacy activity! This stayed up for a little over a month, until the kids got way too excited and the pots bit it. Well worth the effort though to continue to spread the message of  the importance of early literacy in a fun and interactive way.

At my library, I like to create a few little early literacy activities for families to work on when they visit. I wanted a simple activity matching uppercase and lowercase letters, and found a similar carrot game on pinterest. I created some carrots and pots with corresponding letters, laminated them, and glued them all on construction paper. At the top, I put instructions on how to use it, extension activities that encourage Every Child Ready to Read practices, and a larger pot to hold all of the carrots. Easy literacy activity! This stayed up for a little over a month, until the kids got way too excited and the pots bit it. Well worth the effort though to continue to spread the message of the importance of early literacy in a fun and interactive way.

My library branch was invited to attend Back to School Night at all five of our local elementary schools. Much of the time, they give us a table in the lobby. While that’s great, if we’re not proactive, families will walk right on by. In order to grab their attention, I put together a large board to showcase popular characters that the library has material on. SO MANY KIDS STOPPED BY. I will never again underestimate the power of Elsa, Anna, and Legos. All the kids wanted to look at it, and it provided me a great opportunity to talk to the parents, explain to the kids that the library had all of these things, and sign up kids for library cards. An easy, quick, and really effective solution.

One school put me in the school media center. It was upstairs, so I assumed no one would come visit. But they created a passport system, and signing up for a library card with me was one of the required stops. I had the center to myself, brought my phone loaded with music and some Bluetooth speakers, and blasted the Frozen soundtrack. They came running for an impromptu sing along. I made simple coloring sheets for the kids to color while mom or dad filled out a card application. All in all, I got about 100 card applications, talked with kids about the library and their interests, and sang my heart out. Thanks again, Anna and Elsa!

We’re celebrating Shark Week! I threw together a quick sign (the ever popular “Reading is Jawsome”) featuring one of my favorite sharks, Bruce from FINDING NEMO. The backdrop is waves made out of blue construction paper with grey shark fins peaking out over the top. In my displays, I also like to include an activity, coloring sheet, or craft, so I put out a Shark Week coloring sheet and colored pencils.

Books have been circulating really well. I always pull out more books than I can display and keep them to the side so my staff can easily restock to keep the display looking fresh. Mostly, I just wanted to do this so I could display the awesome CARNIVORES by Aaron Reynolds. (Read it…it’s great!).

Slime a Librarian!

We celebrated the end of the Summer Reading Program with a special Slime a Librarian event. Our circulation numbers have been dropping over the last year and with changes in our Summer Reading program this year, I wanted to plan an event that would encourage patrons to check out books. I set a goal based on last year’s circulation numbers and created a large poster for the lobby to track our progress every week. At the end of the program, if we met our circulation goal, the Children’s Librarians would get slimed. We met our goal! The other branches in our system took more of a hit, but our circ numbers stayed steady. There could be a variety of reasons for that - awesome programs, increased promotion - but I think the slime incentive may have had an impact. For the event, we invited the kids who had recorded the most amount of time reading during SRP to come and do the sliming. We also drew some random names out of a hat to increase audience participation. We made three different slime recipes and let the kids choose which one they wanted to use. Most of them went for the grossest, smelliest option. At the end, we let the kids who were still there mix all three slime buckets together and dump it on all three of us. It was disgusting and slimy and well worth it to see how excited they were to drop some gunk on someone’s head. I’m excited about coming up with new incentives for SRP 2015!