Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mall Storytime

Starting this past weekend, the Walt Whitman Mall began hosting its last-Saturday-of-the-month storytime in the mall's Center Court. Each week, this storytime is run by one of 8 Huntington-area libraries, rotating around from library to library, and guess what? I got to do the first one ever!

I was super excited and, of course, a little nervous. It's always a bit overwhelming when a storytime is open to all ages and you have no idea if you'll get 4 kids or 40 kids. Luckily, I wasn't in it alone. My coworker, Andrea, and I got to man this storytime event together.

What we lacked in ability to plan, we made up for in quantity of books. Since we just had no idea what to expect, we brought quite a stack along with us--20 books to be exact. Here is our pile:

We tried to pack books for every scenario: a group of moms and babies, a group of antsy pre-schoolers, a really large group of antsy pre-schoolers, a quiet and focused group of pre-schoolers, school-age kids, a group with a mix of older and younger kids...any scenario that was possible, we had the books for it!

What wound up really happening was that we had a core group of three really attentive, 4-year-old girls + a few other kids who came and went throughout the storytime (including Andrea's two sons and one of my Musical Kids regulars!).

We crammed a lot into 30 minutes. Here's what we did:

1. Jump! by Scott M. Fischer
3. Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean
5. Five Little Monkeys (with the monkey mitt)
7. If You're Happy and You Know It by David A. Carter
8. Can You Make a Scary Face by Jan Thomas
9. What Pet To Get by Emma Dodd

What worked least: All things considered, this storytime went pretty well. I asked Andrea her thoughts and she agreed that it really worked. Sure in an ideal world, we'd have been able to do a bit more prep work, but for not knowing the ages of the kids or how many of them we'd have in attendance, we pulled this off nicely...if I do say so myself.

What worked best: I think we both agree that The Very Hungry Caterpillar activity kit is like gold. This is one of my longstanding favorite storytime props and one of Andrea's also. The kids love holding all the different signs and "feeding" the different things to the caterpillar. As the caterpillar eats through each piece of fruit in the story, I use the puppet to "chomp" through the holes in the signs as the kids hold them out, half scaring/half tickling each kid. They all shriek with glee at this! It's a sure-fire win time after time and definitely was yesterday also.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine Workshop

More Valentine's Day fun for me! Like I said in my post from yesterday, I really enjoy Valentine's Day. It could be that I just really really like hearts, pink, flowers, and chocolate. Or possibly it's that I will just cling on to anything at all that breaks up the horrible monotony of winter. I'm not sure what it is exactly that does it for me. But yeah, I get kinda pumped about Valentine's Day. And this comes out tenfold at work because kids + valentines = the ultimate cutest thing.

So today, more celebrating! This morning I had the pre-k crowd for Valentine Workshop. It was a pretty simple program. I read the kids a story and then they made valentines. I wound up trying a new book out: Hug Machine by Scott Campbell. Everyone enjoyed it, but didn't laugh out loud as much as I was hoping. I'd still recommend it for any Valentine's Day/love/friendship themed storytime though. It was just all-around sweet.

Then it was time to get creating!

Here are a few of the (very many) crafty valentines that were made:

Because the pre-school age group brings in the parents too, there were a lot of enthusiastic adults who encouraged their kids to make Valentines for every member of the family. It was really cute. Everyone went home with a massive stack of the things. Plus, I even scored a valentine out of the deal myself!:

What worked best and least: So...this was such a no-frills program that there really isn't much to discuss. I'm aware that this makes two posts in a row with cruddy answers to these two questions, but seriously, there's just not a whole ton to say about this program. I'm sorry; so sue me!

Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day, folks. Enjoy a break from the winter monotony.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine's Day Party 2016

As a whole, I don't think of myself as a person who particularly enjoys things that are super lovey-dovey or overly-affection-showy, yet for some reason, I really enjoy Valentine's Day. Maybe it's because I like hearts, pink, flowers, and chocolate. A lot. Or maybe it's that I will just cling on to anything at all that breaks up the monotony of winter. I'm not sure. But whatever the reason, I get kinda pumped about Valentine's Day, and even more so at work. I think Valentine's Day with kids is the ultimate cutest thing.

So tonight I had my Valentine's Day Party for kids in grades K-2. It was awesome! Here's how it went:

I started with a quick story time, where I got to try out a new (to me) book. I read A Crankenstein Valentine by Samantha Berger, which everyone (including the grown ups) liked a lot. I even pointed out that the endpapers at the start of the book showed candy hearts with all negative phrases and the endpapers at the end of the book showed candy hearts with all positive phrases! Pointing out the endpapers always makes me feel super accomplished as a librarian, I have to say.

After the book we played three games.

First, we played "Love Bingo." I made these for a Valentine's Day program last year, so even if I never use them ever again, I've already gotten two-years worth of game play out of them and I like those statistics! They looked like this, for example:

I was clever and got candy hearts as Bingo markers this year. The kids marked off boxes on their boards as I held up corresponding full-sheet pictures at random. Between rounds, I told them to keep the pieces on their boards so they could just continue to fill them up until everyone eventually had Bingo. As the kids won, I gave out mini heart stress balls (these, from Oriental Trading) as prizes. If it even needs to be said, of course, every kid was a winner.

Next, we played "Candy Heart Relay." This took a lot of explaining but the kids totally loved it. I separated them into two teams and had each team get into a line. The goal of the game is to take one candy heart from your team's cup on your fork without using your hands (although this was not a strictly enforced rule), carefully walk it across the room (on the fork), and then drop it into your team's other cup. Then you pass the fork off to your next teammate. The team with the most hearts in their across-the-room cup wins! I gave them two minutes on the clock and off they went. Here they are mid-play:

Everyone was a great sport here. Nobody lost their patience; nobody called anyone "slow;" nobody got sad about losing; and nobody got mean about winning! This was a wonderful group and a fun game!

Last, we played "Blinded By Love" (which is a game I borrowed and modified a bit from Cul-De-Sac Cool's post, "12 Coolest Valentine's Day School Party Games"). Basically, each kid got "blinded" (using the mask shown below [I just held it on them.]), and one by one, they had to try their best to draw a heart on the oak tag. There are no winners or losers in this game. It's just fun for a good little giggle. Here's a picture of me holding the blindfold on our last competitor and a picture of the final results:


After the three games ended, we moved onto valentine-making and snacks. I put out a whole array of things for them to make valentines with: heart-shaped doilies, pink, red, white and purple hearts in two different sizes, conversation heart foam stickers, glittery heart foam stickers, love bug foam stickers, markers, crayons, popsicle sticks (why not?), glue sticks, and tape. Then I let them just go to town. I also served really delicious and soft (store brand!) Valentine's Day cookies + water bottles.

Here are a few of the adorable valentines that were made (plus some visual cookie enjoyment):

What worked least: Nothing! This program ruled! (In case this your first time visiting this blog, let me apologize for not being a little more modest and also point out that my last blog post includes more misses than hits. Also in my modesty defense, I want you to know that I realize that at least 80% of this program's success is due to the super-great group of kids I wound up with.)

What worked best: All of it! I know this answer is a total cop-out, but everything--even down to the flow of events--worked in this program. I wish they could all be this wonderful!