Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Nuts Were Cracked

Today was out first annual Toddler Nutcracker Ballet. Rita is a marvelous dance teacher who led the "ballet class" for my two and three year old group.

We had costumes and props and a LOT of enthusiasm.

The class began with Rita telling a short "toddler version" story of The Nutcracker. She had them do some warm ups and stretching, and then the music and dancing began. We handed out different props for the various movements.

Such a fun time for the children to move to music with a real ballerina.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sometimes Simpler is Just Better and Certainly Cheaper!

Early Out......two words that were part of the library tradition in my library when I started work in this city. People chattered about it like it was common knowledge (which it was if you lived here), but it was a foreign concept to me. Eventually, someone brought me up to speed by informing me that the sacred Early Out program ritual, was the third Wednesday of each month during the school year, when the children are released early from school so teachers could hold meetings. I have worked here for 11 years now, and I can tell you it can be challenging to plan these monthly events for several reasons:

1.  Kids have been in school all day and are ready to rumble.
2. Attendance can vary dramatically, so paying for a performer or spending time and money           preparing food and  materials may or may not be a good idea.
3. Ages of kids attending. Even though this is intended for early elementary kids, siblings and parents usually are along for the ride and join in, depending on the program.

I should explain that I have been working alone in the children's room at our library for most of my 11 years, and soon will be on my own again. This means that a craft activity for 75 kids can be tricky. It also means you may have popcorn from here to eternity if you decide to make those creepy Halloween hands filled with popcorn, as well as dealing with a fire alarm being set off from the smoking popcorn machine. It also means a chunk of program money might be spent on a performer and four people show up, OR  a cookies and cocoa program that brings in 120...and yes....I feared for my life that time!

All of the planning, preparing, comparing, and contrasting we do, and guess what I have learned?  Programming is a crap shoot. You just never know what you will end up with on any given day. Happily, it works really well to treat youth services work as a roller coaster ride....just sit back and enjoy the thrills. Which leads me to telling you about the fabulous, inexpensive,easy peasy, on my own,lots of fun, pre-holiday (which means everyone may or may not have left Dodge), early out program.

Cheap after school fun program that we named -----Just Chill.

Lego table
Turkey craft table
BeyBlades and arenas
Minute to Win It Games

The quiet girls headed to the turkey table to craft turkeys filled with rice and a recipe. This craft was leftover (pardon the holiday pun) from the week before.The boisterous boys (and girls) headed for the BeyBlade tops and had a thrillingly great time. We purchased the BeyBlades for last summer and never used them. I found them in the basement when I was searching for activities. In between, Lego creations were built, and then we all gathered for Minute to Win It games that I had left over from the teen event.

Great times can be as simple as just letting the kids enjoy some free play time with the things on hand. Turned out to be the perfect Early Out program and I will definitely be doing something similar in the future. It was really satisfying to have such a good turnout, lots of boys, and something for everyone.
P.S. Animals or food always brings in a crowd if I have money to spend.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Finally, it's fall! The children are back for storytimes and I couldn't be happier. Even though the break after summer reading is a welcome respite, of sorts, it is great to be back to stories and kids.

This is not my first rodeo. I have been doing storytimes and library programming for more years than many of you have been alive.The good news here.....the REALLY great news that it NEVER gets old for me. Every session brings an opportunity to tweak, to reinvent, to bump things up (or down), and to always, always, above all else, have fun with books and children. I was happy to discover I still get "butterflies" before storytime.

Becoming routinized can be an issue in all facets of life. We have an advantage here; kids are always fresh, changing, growing, and are a constant reminder of the spectacular fun and discovery in the everyday. So just when I was feeling bogged down, just when I felt like I was dragging myself through the day, it was time for fall programs to begin. I was relieved to feel excited again. The library was brought back to life with exuberant children and the opportunity to share books with them (in addition to familiarizing them with "walking feet").  I am happy to report, it snapped  me out of the end of summer doldrums, and reminded me to have fun again.

So enjoy the wonderful stories, old and new. Have fun with the puppets. Make some colorful new flannelboards. Learn some new fingerplays and songs but enjoy rediscovering the old faves.

Happy fall!

Friday, July 13, 2012


There always seems to be at least one kid who is at the library every day.......I mean EVERY day, all summer. At my former library we called them our Library Orphans. They usually live near the library, possibly do not have anyone at home during the day, need some interaction, are looking for a safe haven (that is cool), entertainment, and are always the first to volunteer any help they can give.

Mister J is 10 years old, loves non-fiction (a kid after my heart), and is a tireless volunteer. I have witnessed such joy from that kid this summer and as a result, have felt more joy myself. He is so excited about our upcoming carnival that he can hardly stand still when he talks about it. Yesterday, he was putting together 1000 + bracelets for the carnival and told me that his hands would normally have been too tired to do all that work, but he was enjoying it so much today, he did not want to stop. Then he said it........the words that melted my heart. " I know I am going to be a librarian when I grow up......... but I really want to work right here."

My job makes me so happy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Head in the Clouds

Summer sky, floating clouds, starry nights inspired our SLP decor this year. Marge, at, inspired me to share some photos of what summer looks like at our library. Marge has posted some great pictures of the space theme artwork families created at their library and shared some other links to beautiful ideas at libraries.

The teen area looks awesome with lights, starry sky windows, and letters the kids painted. We had a program where they each painted a square of Van Gogh's Starry Night. Out teen area is so small I had to step partway into the restroom to take the picture :  /

Cynthia, my program assistant, is a marvel with plastic tablecloths and can turn them into the most amazing things! We have clouds hanging above my desk that are made out of them and they looks so frothy and fun.

We draped some gossamer cloth and hung some stars, then set up a cardboard castle for kids to climb in and color. Done.

Thanks, Marge, for all the ideas to make this summer fun and stress free!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Pull of the Taffy The Roar of the Crowd

Our summer programs have begun! We have had a terrific response to our call for summer readers. Recently, I read some blog posts about school visits to promote summer reading and if it made a difference. It gave me pause and I reflected on the years of visits we have made every May. Does it make a difference?

This year the question was answered for me when I talked to the families that have come by to sign up for our program. We always tell a story when we do school visits, and it ends with a surprise (squirty shark, squirting camera, and this year, snakes in a can).

The stories and visits have been memorable for the children (also gives me a new appreciation of how much kids love storytelling and do not get enough). They do not forget the shock of being engaged in a story, and then having snakes pop out at them! So the question was answered for me. We do not have many opportunities to visit the schools, so in our case, it has made a difference.

The kids have come to the library full of excitement and enthusiasm. They remember the stories from year to year. They are excited to recognize us when they come in with their family.  Sometimes they ask if I remember seeing them at their school, and of course, I always do.
 How could I forget those faces?

Soooooooooooooooo...... about the taffy. There have also been blog posts about prizes for summer reading. Still thinking about that one. But.................we will never give up the taffy! Never! Several years ago we started hiding a picture every day during SRP. The instructions include: no need to move anything, look carefully high and low, when you find the picture tell a librarian,whisper where you found the picture and we will give you a piece of Laffy Taffy, please read the jokes to us because we are always looking for new material.  : - )

 This very inexpensive, easy peasy, simple game is a hit! Kids look forward to this more than anything else we do. Better than jugglers, better than magicians, better than prizes, better than animals. Taffy. That's it. The thrill of the hunt. We get the chance to chat with them about books, and share a laugh.

Having the library filled with children  again this summer has made my heart smile.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's a Zoo Here!

Summer arrived with a quack and a snort yesterday at our Kick Off program. We always start off with Fantasy Corral outside in our park. Every year, except one, we have been fortunate to have terrific lucky is that? Some teen volunteers took care of registration for the reading program and Cynthia and I mingled with kids, parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and talked to the animals.

I saw a little boy standing next to a large black duck in a pen. The boy was quacking at the duck and just  continued with a long string of quacks. All of a sudden the duck let out a loud,"QUACK!" and the little boy was so startled he fell over backwards!

The afternoon brought Crafternoon where we continued the fun day with another group of kids in the 8-12 year old group.

Cynthia and a volunteer hung our Starry Night (painting that we did with teens on Tuesday) in the Teen Room. Each teen had a portion of Van Gogh's Starry Night painting and recreated it on canvas. We are using it as part of the decoration for Own the Night

I slept really well last night.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Last night we had a Very Hungry Caterpillar party at our library. Love the book. Adore everything by Eric Carle. Enjoyed the party planning. Had a good time decorating. Delighted in sharing the fun with families. However..........rather than feeling like a caterpillar, I feel more like a snail...... inching slowly to the end of our programming session.

The end of this stretch from January to May can get to be sooooooooooooo long. Cynthia and I will be reinventing our programs and approach to scheduling programs for the fall session. Summer has a life all it's own.

The Caterpillar Cafe' had fruit and some cake that looked like you know who :  )

                                                  Even the tables looked like the caterpillar!

Kids crawled through the fruit and then a tunnel to become butterflies. We gave them a butterfly fan when they crawled out of the tunnel "cocoon".

There was face paint.....

a craft and some games..............

and the story, of course!

After  all the treats were devoured, the stories were told, and the games were played, it was time to go home.........whew! And to all a good night!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


We have been having a Family Program one evening each month . February 14th we had a Come Fancy party celebrating all things fancy. Since we have limited space for programs, we have been making tickets and taking pre-registrations. It helps with crowd control........there have been past events where I feared for my life and others, as well. We always have book displays that link to the event and encourage everyone to take home some books.

Last night.....the Cat in the Hat made a guest appearance. It was SO MUCH FUN!

 Cynthia read some Seuss stories while the cat got ready.
We put numbers on children's hands as they arrived so that there was some order to the meet, greet, and picture taking.........worked like a charm!

There was a pool with one fish, two fish, a red fish, and blue fish with magnets and a pole to use.

Then kids bagged up a red fish and a blue fish to take home.

 Parents and children played a Cat in the Hat matching game and made Truffula Trees.

Nobody missed out on dining in the Striped Hat Cafe'.

Everyone could look for 3 gold coins to turn in for a Thing 1 or 2 prize to take home.

Most kids chose our Squishy Fishy bags made with hair gel and leftover from SLP plastic fish.

They all went home tired, happy (okay, okay, there were some screamers!), with dreams of Trufulla Trees and Green Eggs and Ham.