Screen-Free Family Hour was open to all ages and showed families easy, inexpensive, and technology-free ways to practice the Every Child Ready to Read principles of talk, read, write, and play. Tips for practicing the principles were posted at each station. 25 people attended this Saturday afternoon program.
Talk-Set of cards with kid-friendly “would you rather” questions meant to encourage conversation.
Read-Variety of children’s books with beanbags and chairs to sit together and read.
Write-Paper, pencils, crayons, envelopes, stamps, and a list of children’s authors’ addresses to practice writing and addressing an envelope.
Play-Board games, puppets and a puppet stage to encourage playing and talking. Hand clap rhymes and cat’s cradle instructions sparked a sentimental smile in millennial parents.
Spy School was open to grades 3 through 5. All 38 new recruits received a packet with the necessary supplies and had to go through several training exercises in order to graduate.
Ransom notes- Spies used scissors, magazines, and glue sticks to infiltrate the villainous practice of making ransom notes.
Observation test-Future spies memorized objects on a tray, then had to recall the objects after they were hidden from view.
Crack the code- Spies used a variety of ciphers to crack coded messages.
Laser obstacle course-Spies had to use balance and agility to make it through the course without touching the laser beams.
Paperwork- New recruits used a spy name generator to discover their spy names, created ID badges, chose disguises, and recorded fingerprints and shoe prints.
Children and their families were invited to celebrate this popular character with a storytime followed by crafts and activities. Over 150 people attended this program!
Puppet stage- Children used the character puppets to make up their own stories.
Make a watch- Children, with the help of an adult, made a watch like Daniel’s to take home and practice telling time.
Paper bag puppets- Children made a puppet of one or more of the characters to take home and make up their own stories.
Felt board fun- Children used the felt pieces to make up their own stories.
Imaginative play station- Daniel Tiger loves to pretend. Children could pretend to be librarians and make a library card, use the scanner, stamp a due date card, and more in our pretend library.
Children ages3 to 8 and their families learned popular nursery rhymes by playing games like London Bridge Balance Beam and Jack & Jill Crown Relay. Each station had an activity, instructions about how to do the activity, and the corresponding nursery rhyme. Families were encouraged to recite the rhyme at each station.
Jack Be Nimble Candlestick Hurdles
A-Tisket, A-Tasket Basketball
Mother Goose Waddle Race
London Bridge Balance Beam
Jack & Jill Crown Relay
Ring Around the Rosie Ring Toss
To Market, To Market Alphabet Relay
Children ages 3 through 6 and their families were invited to get squishy, gooey, and wet exploring their five senses.
Children rotated among stations, sorting, writing, making texture rubbings, experimenting with things that float in water, and creating with play dough.
Children in Kindergarten through 5th grade were invited to attend this program to transform themselves into superheroes with accessories and feats of strength for both body and mind.
Children created a superhero ID badge, decorated a mask, completed an obstacle course, disposed of kryptonite, bowled over villains, and took a picture in front of the city. After they completed the checklist of tasks, they exchanged it for a graduation certificate from Superhero Academy.
STEM storytime incorporates science, technology, engineering, and math concepts and is geared to children ages 2 to 6. In this storytime, we explored things that grow. The following shows the hands-on stations for children to learn more about the day’s theme.
Children could measure themselves to see how tall they were in inches, feet, and centimeters.
Children quizzed themselves by looking at the seeds and matching the picture of each plant with its seeds.
Children used a magnifying glass and their sense of touch to explore each plant and its parts.
Children used the felt plant parts to construct a flower according to the diagram.
Children examined the inside and outside of seeds and learned about the parts and functions of a seed.
Vocabulary words and their definitions were posted on the tables to aid in discussion of things that grow.
STEM storytime incorporates science, technology, engineering, and math concepts and is geared to children ages 2 to 6. In this storytime, we explored our five senses. The following shows the hands-on stations for children to learn more about the day’s theme.
Hearing: Plastic eggs were filled with different items. Children shook the eggs and paired the eggs that sounded the same.
Smell: Cotton balls were soaked with different substances (coffee, peppermint extract, lemon juice, etc.). Children smelled and tried to identify the scent.
Touch: Cardboard squares were covered with materials of various textures. Children felt each one and described how it felt (soft, rough, smooth, etc.)
Taste: Felt board pieces showed the different tastes and pictures of foods. We talked about the different tastes and categorized them on the board. Children could explore further after storytime.
Sight: Children used their sense of sight to find different objects in the library’s I Spy books.
Having science, technology, engineering, and math programs in the library is nothing new. When the library had grant funding for programs, we had instructors from outside organizations present programs such as The Mystery of Chemistry, Rube Goldberg Marble Machine, The Science of Toys, and Radical Robots. Now that we no longer have grant funding and have a tighter budget, I’m trying to keep STEM in the library with some in-house programming. One such program was Build Your Own City. I asked coworkers to bring in their recycling and set out everything on a long table. Each participant received a large flat piece of cardboard, their choice of recyclables, tape, and glue. I set out some books about buildings and cities for inspiration. We brainstormed things we liked in our city and things we think our city is missing. Each person designed her own city. At the end, each person shared her city with the group. Another program is LEGO Club. Using grant money, I purchased several boxes of LEGO bricks. Once a month, LEGO Club meets to build anything and everything. I set out books about buildings, bridges, and skyscrapers for inspiration. At the end of the hour, each participant can choose one creation to put in a display case in the library for everyone to see. It is interesting to see how many parents and children work together to create their masterpieces. To celebrate International Games Day, we hold a gaming program in the library. Last November, in addition to the traditional board games and Wii games, I created a live-action Angry Birds game. I saved boxes and tubes of different shapes and sizes. Participants worked in teams; one team set up the structure, and the other team tried to knock it down. The structure that lasted the longest won a point for the construction team. It was a lot of fun, but it was also more challenging than participants originally thought it would be. I chimed in every once in a while to ask questions like, “How do you think you could make your structure more sturdy?” and “Why does that tower fall over but that tower stays standing?” Teams became more strategic as time went on, noticing things like the number of boxes on the base level made a difference.
I started working in libraries by accident. It was never a career that had crossed my mind. I grew up in a small town that didn’t have a library, so I never spent much time at the library. I wanted to be an elementary teacher. After college, I moved to Aurora, Colorado. I worked as a paraprofessional for Denver Public Schools for a year, then began applying for teaching jobs. I sent out dozens of applications with very little response. Feeling defeated, I started looking for other jobs. I saw an opening at the public library and applied there as a backup. I finally landed an interview for a 3rd grade teaching position. The same day, I was called to interview for the library assistant position. I interviewed at the school one day, the library the next. A day later, I was offered the library job. (I was later informed that they chose someone with experience for the teaching job.)
As I learned the library assistant job, I realized that it had the fun parts of teaching (helping people, research, teaching classes) without the bad parts of teaching (politics, standardized tests, angry parents, disciplining a classroom of 35+ kids). I worked there for almost two years before I moved to a new city and a new job. As an assistant librarian in the young adult department of a suburban library, I discovered my passion for programming, outreach, and marketing, as well as working with teens.
I moved back to my home state of Nebraska after almost three years working in YA. I’m now a part-time library assistant for Lincoln City Libraries. Working at a branch library means doing a little bit of everything. However, working part-time means I miss out on doing special projects and programs.
From 2009 to 2010, I worked on my MLS online through Clarion University. I graduated last December. Now I’m looking for that elusive full-time professional position. I would love to work in youth services and do programming and outreach. But with tight budgets all around, library positions are few and far between. In a year and a half, changes will take place in my personal life that will allow me the flexibility to move. In the meantime, I will continue to work as a library assistant and participate in professional development activities to keep my skills sharp and my options open.