Monday, March 25, 2013

Flannel Boards

I love using flannel boards in my storytimes. For some reason, no matter how old the child- the simple act of placing items on a flannel board seems to keep their attention. 
The most common flannel boards seem to be those that fall into the category of what I like to call “Five Little Whatevers.”  These get old after a while, so I recently started making flannel boards based on books again.

While making pieces from scratch makes the stories appealing, it can be time consuming.  So I have turned to sticky felt and my color printer.  I pick out the colored pictures from clip art or actual pictures, print them, cut them out, laminate them, cut them out again, and then add the sticky felt to the back.  If you order sticky felt from a library company like Brodart, it can be expensive.  I recently ordered three square feet for $9.99 from Amazon.  If you want to go the cheaper route, you can always glue regular felt on to the back of your pieces. 

About two years ago I was surfing the web looking for some new storytime rhymes to spice up my same old routine and I came across this great resource called “Flannel Friday.”  Librarians across the country take turns hosting a weekly roundup of flannel board stories they have created.  You must have a blog to participate and sometimes they repeat each others' ideas with some tweaks.   One of my favorite things about Flannel Friday is that they do holiday specific and summer reading specific posts.  Since so many of us librarians like to plan way ahead of time, you can actually find flannel boards here way before summer comes!

An all time MAPL favorite is Little Mouse. We set up seven different colored houses and try to figure out which house the mouse is hiding. Kids love it, and so do the librarians!

Two of my most recent flannel boards are The Mouse and the Wind by Arnold Lobel and You Look Ridiculous Said the Rhinoceros to the Hippopotamus by Bernard Waber.  

In The Mouse and the Wind, I used a combination of pieces that were cut out and made strictly from felt, colored pictures with sticky felt, and the boat was cut from our Ellison machine.  

In You Look Ridiculous Said the Rhinoceros to the Hippopotamus, I used colored pictures and sticky felt. Since the premise is that each of the hippopotamus' animal friends think he looks ridiculous without their own unique feature (the leopard's spots, the lion's mane, the turtle's shell), it was easier to find a picture of each animal. 

 You can see the sticky felt on the back of the elephant.

At the end of the story the hippopotamus has a dream that he has all of the unique features of his animal friends and that's when he thinks he looks ridiculous! It was easier to cut out the features and piece them together than recreating them on my own.

And here's an entirely all felt flannel board of "Five Little Owls" where each owl has a different colored eyes.

Do you have a  favorite resource for flannel board stories? Please share as I'm always looking for new ideas!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lunch Bunch

Working with your local school system can often be challenging. So when you find something that works, stick with it! One of the programs that we’ve been doing for the last three and a half years is Lunch Bunch, held monthly at our local middle school.   Middle School students can bring their lunch to their media center on the scheduled day of Lunch Bunch to listen to a public librarian talk about new books available at the library, upcoming events, and do a simple craft or activity.

Teen programming has never really been an easy feat in my library. Teens tend to like the lock-ins, but also want volunteer hours.  So this is a great way to reach them.

My part-time librarian, Linda, and I usually alternate going to the middle school for this program and we usually get anywhere from 30-70 students who attend (over the course of four lunch periods, not per lunch!)

The May Lunch Bunch is usually dedicated to talking about volunteering for the summer and to promote our summer reading program.  Many of our teen volunteers are Lunch Bunch alumni.

I have also dedicated entire Lunch Bunch programs to promoting the Garden State Teen Book Awards by book talking the nominees and bringing ballots with me for students to take and to keep in the middle school library.

One thing I learned very quickly is that middle schoolers need very simple crafts. Using scissors and even doing origami are sometimes out of the question.   One craft that worked well were felt locker magnets where we pre-cut the felt using our Ellison machine and then they decorate with wiggle eyes and rhinestones. (Below is a picture of the Husky paw print felt magnet; the husky is the school mascot).

We have also made paper airplanes with the students, but lines were on the paper so they knew where to fold.

For more information on Lunch Bunch, feel free to shoot me an email or check out this article the local newspaper wrote a few years ago!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Craft on the Go!

Have you ever wondered what to do with those leftover pieces of a craft that you, your staff or volunteers spent so much time cutting out or preparing? Wonder no more! Craft on the Go is for you!

In preparation for our meeting room construction, we started putting together lunch bags that have a picture of the craft on the outside (so you can see exactly how to make the craft) and all of the craft materials inside. All the kiddos need at home is a glue stick to put the craft together.

We usually run the program for a week and leave them on a table for kids/parents to pick up to take home.

In a way, it's a passive form of programming because the child doesn't  actually have to be present at the library to participate and a librarian or library staff member does not need to be present either. The program was so popular the first time we ran Craft on the Go, that we ran out of bags halfway through the week and I had to make more!

We do ask that parents/kids take only one bag per child per day.

Some patrons do come in every day to get a craft. It works great now that the construction is going on because it still brings people into the library.

This is a great program for teen volunteers to put together, too. Filling the bags can be time consuming, but scheduling a volunteer for an afternoon is a huge help.

We get about 15-20 bags picked up a day, so that means we have over 100 bags in the hold to put out for the week we run the program. In December and January, we had leftover bags, which meant that we didn't have to make as many bags the next month.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vehicle Day

The meeting room at my library is currently under renovation.  We are currently four months behind and I thought that with all of this time that I wouldn't be doing programming, I would have some more time on my hands. This has not been the case. I've been a little too involved in collection development projects.  Needless to say, I've been neglecting this blog for a while. So I'm going to post some older events.

We'll start with Vehicle Day! In 2009, we hosted a Fire Truck at our library during Fire Prevention week in October.  We had fire engine/fire fighter storytimes on the hour, patrons could explore the fire truck, and I even made cute fire truck cookies. I've wanted the fire truck to come back for a long time....but it's not easy to get in touch with volunteer fire fighters.  Since we would have to come up with more creative programming without having a meeting room, I decided that we should have Vehicle Day at the library featuring all different kinds of vehicles. This would be an event that we could hold outdoors (weather permitting) and would appeal to all ages.

While this is one of the cheapest programs I have ever done, it was the most difficult to plan due to all of the communication with local groups that was involved. Also, since we are a joint library, serving two towns, I  wanted to make sure we had both towns represented at Vehicle Day.  When trying to get in contact with local groups that are run by volunteers such as the fire department and first aid squad, it was difficult to figure out exactly who to contact since the person in charge can change so frequently. In some cases, they had a Facebook page that I could send a message through the library’s account. However, please don’t let the communication difficulties deter you. It turns out that the police departments in both towns put the event on their calendars, and followed up with us last minute. Our Library Director, Kimberly Paone, assisted with contacting the Matawan Fire Department and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office when she attended town-wide days (Aberdeen Day, Matawan Day) that were held around the date of Vehicle Day.  In the end it all came together, and we were able to secure four different vehicles. The Matawan Police Department kindly closed off the street next to the library on an autumn day and two police cars (one from each town), a street sweeper from the Matawan Department of Public Works, a hummer from the Monmouth County Sherfiff’s Office, and a fire engine from the Matawan Fire Department were parked for kids of all ages and adults to explore. We offered vehicle storytimes on the hour and the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office set up a table for parents and adults to sign up for county issued ID cards for them and their children. They also took the photos for the IDs while they were here and later mailed them to our patrons. When thank you notes were sent to the groups that participated, our Friends of the Library were kind enough to include a donation to the Matawan Fire Department. 

Something you might notice in the picture below is a yellow hat. When we cleaned out our storage space for the meeting room renovation, we found about 75 yellow plastic construction hats that said "Readers at Work." They were clearly from a time before me, so we saved them and handed them out to anyone who wanted one at Vehicle Day. 

Patrons and staff have asked when this year's Vehicle Day will be- I think I want to get through Summer Reading first! But I must admit- even I had a great time at Vehicle Day!


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread Houses are not just made during the December holiday season! In fact, we normally host an all ages gingerbread house program in December, but since our meeting room has been under construction, our programming has been very limited. We are still able to have our after hours tween programs once a month since we can utilize other parts of the library. On Friday, January 25th tweens braved the snow and came in to design their own gingerbread houses. My sister usually helps me out by collecting milk carts at her school for us to use as a frame.   Our part-time librarian, Linda,  hot glued two of the milk boxes together ahead of time so that the bases would be ready at the start of the program. Also, since we were never able to celebrate Halloween at the library in October due to Hurricane Sandy, we had a bunch of leftover candy that the tweens were able to use to decorate their houses. They picked the candy out and then added frosting and graham crackers to side their house.

I'll leave you with some of their creations:-)