Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Discover Picture Book Art

Hey again! Yesterday afternoon I missed out on yet another program that I enthusiastically planned out and was looking forward to doing. Yet, despite that, I'm feeling pretty good! I think I can finally see a light at the end of the disability tunnel. I've still got a few weeks to go, but the light is finally, a little bit, shining.

Anyway, I wanted to share my plan and the details of yesterday's program, even though I wasn't actually there to see it through. It was called Discover Picture Book Art. The inspiration for it came from when I saw the great Lois Elhert speak at a conference last October.

She spoke with her editor, Allyn Johnston. The dynamic between them and the stories Ms. Elhert told us about her childhood were so interesting and inspiring. I also attended a Lois Elhert book discussion at this conference, where we had the chance to create Lois Elhert-inspired art using what was basically scraps and junk. Here are three of our creations (mine's the cat all the way on the right):

After this, I had it in my head that I would do a Lois Elhert program, where I read a few of her books, then let the kids craft with leftover old craft scraps.

I guess it was some time during my description of enthusiastically reusing garbage, when my colleague suggested taking it up a notch and including other illustrators too. Well, to that I say... Consider it done!

I decided to pick 4 illustrators who's art, to me, had a particular kind of distinguished style. First, of course, was Lois Elhert, but deciding on three more was hard! Eventually I chose Michael Hall, Mo Willems, and Jean Marzollo (I Spy) to complete the list.

Like I said, I'm out on disability, but my colleague executed this program so beautifully. She is incredibly artistic and a talented librarian; the kids were almost lucky to have her fill in for me. There is no way I would have pulled this off as well as she did.

I'll take credit for the plan though. I envisioned this:

4 stations set up around the room-- one for each artist: Lois Ehlert, Michael Hall, Mo Willems, and Jean Marzollo. I planned to put books from each illustrator on the tables and briefly go through the different art techniques they used with the kids. Then the kids would get a chance to create art in the style of each illustrator.

On the Lois Ehlert table: MISCELLANEOUS JUNK AND SCRAPS (with a side of enthusiasm)!

On the Michael Hall table: I'd envisioned this being somewhat similar but instead of just junk, there would be die-cut shapes.

On the Mo Willems table: These "How To Draw Pigeon" sheets from Classymommy.com and, of course, paper and pencils.

On the Jean Marzollo table: A bunch of little toys and miscellaneous things and some kind of trays or plates. Then have the kids create a "scene" by arranging the stuff and then choosing one random item to "spy".

Here is how my colleague set up the room. I love how she put everything around the perimeter of the room, like an awesome, creative buffet. Did I mention she's wonderful?

Lois Elhert Table
Michael Hall Table
Mo Willems Table
Jean Marzollo Table

Here are some of our creative young patrons making really impressive art (I shouldn't be surprised):

These photos were sent to me along with a text saying, "The program was a great success. Some kids were asking if we would have it again." 

So great to hear! But, of course, the big question is, can I think of 4 more illustrators? (Anyone have any ideas?)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

American Girl Tea Party

Hi from the world of still being out on disability. I am so upset about missing one of my most-anticipated programs at work this week... especially since I did so much work ahead of time to make it awesome. Thursday evening is our American Girl Tea Party and I can't be there!

I did an American Girl Tea Party once in the past when I worked (briefly) nearby at the Brentwood Public Library. It was this program's success that inspired me to do it again with the kids at Huntington. So, in honor of Thursday's American Girl Tea Party, I've decided to blog about my Brentwood-version of this program, as well as the changes I made when updating and adapting this program for Huntington.

First, let me say that Brentwood Library had one distinct advantage over Huntington: A collection of five historical American Girl dolls that the library received as a gift (Addy, Kit, Kaya, Josefina, and Kirsten) plus two Girl of the Year dolls on loan from one of our generous pages (Marisol and Jess). These were the perfect photobooth prop and the kids were so excited to sit with and admire these dolls.

I have a photobooth planned for Huntington also, but there will be no doll collection to accompany it.

Here is the Brentwood photobooth all set up:

Also pictured: the adorable tea set I used to serve iced tea to the kids. When it was snack time, I passed one tea set out per table and the kids really used them to drink from! It was fun!

We ordered different, ceramic teapots for the Huntington version of this program and accompanied them with pink, paper cups. I think either way, it's fun to pour a spot of tea from a teapot, yes?

Anyway, I told the kids to get up and use the photobooth whenever they wanted. This was kind of only half-true because I can't physically take their photo in the photobooth if I'm in the middle of helping another child with a craft or passing out snacks, but the kids were smart, cooperative, and understanding. It wasn't an issue. Plus, I think they enjoyed having an excuse to finesse over the dolls a bit while they waited for me.

Here are a few photobooth shots:

At both libraries, the first craft on the schedule was placemats. At Brentwood, I got lucky because I had 8" x 10" foam mats leftover from another craft, plus heart doilies leftover from Valentine's Day. So, immediately upon coming in the room, I had the kids start gluing doilies to the foam to create a placemat for their tea and snack later. This was a quick craft so they could move onto American Girl Bingo and then craft #2.

At Huntington, the placemats I have planned are totally different. I created legal-size coloring sheets from another (free to use) tea coloring sheet I found online here at B. Nute Productions. All I did was modify the image a little to fit the size I wanted. They look like this:

I also ordered these sheet protectors on Amazon. So on Thursday, when the kids come in the room, they can start coloring immediately, then slip their finished art into a sheet protector and viola! It's a placemat!

Next on the agenda: a super fun game of American Girl Bingo. Making this was a labor of love.

Bingo is always more successful than I expect it to be, so using this as many times as possible is a no-brainer, especially because it took several hours to make.

After Bingo, the kids moved onto craft #2:

They made beaded friendship bracelets and necklaces for both themselves and their dolls. I have a similar craft planned for the Huntington kids except I decided to 1-up it a little by incorporating these Best Friend Necklaces from Rhode Island Novelty (for the charms), this Pony Bead Bracelet Kit from Oriental Trading, and these Pony Bead Necklaces from Oriental Trading. My thinking is that they'll make best friend necklaces-- one for themselves and one for their doll, and the doll's will be made out of the bracelet. My lovely coworker was nice enough to make samples for me yesterday and send me a picture. Here is the result:

This is exactly what I was hoping they would look like! The Huntington kids will definitely enjoy this.

Last on the agenda: the snacks.  At Brentwood we had iced tea from the tea set and animal crackers. Here are some kids illustrating a little known fact: that everything taste better from a tea set.

Thursday's snacks will probably be similar. There will definitely be iced tea from a tea pot. This is what's important.

What worked best: I'd say having all the dolls out in the photobooth was best, but Bingo was a close second, and drinking tea from a tea set was a close third.

What worked least: With a group of this size, I desperately needed a second set of hands. It all probably would have moved more smoothly, with less waiting-time for the kids (and less headache me the librarian) if I'd pulled a page in the room to join me-- especially at snack-passing-out time.

Overall this was a great, albeit hectic program. It was packed to capacity and there were almost no supplies left behind. Kids were giddy and smiling the whole time and I even heard one say, "This is the best library program I've ever been to," which was pretty much all I needed to feel good about myself for a month or more.

I'm sure this Thursday's American Girl Tea Party at Huntington will be just as good. I worked hard to make sure it would be fun and I am so so sorry to miss it.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Make Your Own Board Game

As I continue my time out on disability, I find myself longing, not only to go to work, but to go basically anywhere that's not my house. So here's another program from the past to help me get my mind off being stir crazy: Make Your Own Board Game!

This is one of those programs where I put out a lot of cool stuff and let the kids just sit down and get creative. Programs like this are easy to actually run but the challenge is in purchasing the perfect supplies. I had a bunch of board game making stuff out when the kids came in: oak tag for the boards, blank dice, index cards (in case their game involved cards), game pawns, regular markers, and Sharpies to write on the dice.


I also had a print-out with tips for board game making on it to give the kids some guidelines. (This, of course, is saved on my computer at work.) One tip I remember is to make sure you have an equal number of "good cards" or "good spaces" as "bad" ones. That way the game isn't too easy or too hard. I think some of the kids actually enjoyed making almost all "bad spaces" because, at that age, I mean, who wouldn't? I would have done that too. It was all in good fun.

The program was an hour long and pretty unstructured. Everyone had a good time. Here are some finished products:

What worked best: The kids really liked the cool, actual board game stuff like the pawns and dice.

What worked least: I think it's hard to make a board game in an hour, although how much time could we really have provided? Also, I overbought index cards.

What else can I dig up from my archive? Stay tuned.