Leaf Piles @ The Library

Leaf Piles @ the Library | One of the most enjoyed passive programs at our Children's Library which was created as a solution to an annoying problem | Hafuboti@gmail.com

This fall our Children’s Library will be losing it’s large Ash tree that is home to our library dragon. We’re ready with an addendum to our dragon’s story (he’s grown so much that he has to use our entire row of Bradford Pear trees as a home), but we’re even more sad about losing its autumn leaves.

For the first several years that our Children’s Library was opened, we dreaded the approach of fall because it meant an endless battle with the yellow leaves that would blow into our building and just make a mess throughout the neighborhood. It felt futile to keep sweeping leaves back outside, and we didn’t want to bring out the vacuum several times per day.

And then a magical thing happened. It looked a bit like this:

Leaf Piles @ the Library | One of the most enjoyed passive programs at our Children's Library which was created as a solution to an annoying problem | Hafuboti@gmail.com

Ta-da!!!!!!!!

Let me explain: three years ago Ashlynn, one of our awesome team members, decided to take matters into her own hands and grabbed a rake. She made three decent-sized leaf piles on the side yard and told us that she’d keep raking them up in case kids wanted to play in them. This solved the problem of the rogue leaves getting everywhere, and was a HUGE hit with both kids and their parents/caregivers. After all, many of our patrons live in newer housing developments that don’t have mature trees, and although playing in leaf piles is great, it does double lawn work.

Sadly, last year there wasn’t really an autumn. We left work one evening and there were leaves just starting to turn yellow, and we arrived the next day to a bare tree and no leaves in sight. A big freezing storm had rolled through overnight and didn’t leave us enough leaves to even make an ant-sized pile.

But this year? It is AWESOME!!! We decided to do two larger piles, and within hours families were frolicking in our foliage. Heh.

Here’s a few photos for you to see how we do it (there’s a second smaller pile on the other side of the tree – it’s pictured above – you just can’t see it in any of the following pictures). And if you like what you see in the photos, then keep scrolling because I’ll share some resources and more information in case you want to try leaf piles at your library!

Leaf Piles @ the Library | One of the most enjoyed passive programs at our Children's Library which was created as a solution to an annoying problem | Hafuboti@gmail.com

Leaf Piles @ the Library | One of the most enjoyed passive programs at our Children's Library which was created as a solution to an annoying problem | Hafuboti@gmail.com

Leaf Piles @ the Library | One of the most enjoyed passive programs at our Children's Library which was created as a solution to an annoying problem | Hafuboti@gmail.com

Things to know and use:

  • I used this font and this font for the sign. On the leafy font, I used Photoshop to fill in the leaves with fall colors. But if you don’t have access to Photoshop, then you can print out the wording in brown and use colored pencils to fill in the leaves for a similar look.
  • Recently I’ve been more consciously trying to point out early literacy skills in the things that we do. With this sign we hit hard the importance of play. Then on the back we share two songs that can be sung while playing. Hooray for even more early literacy skills!
  • Here’s the front of the sign’s text (minus the legal disclaimer since you’d need to make it your own), and the back of the sign. Feel free to use both or either one, and modify to your heart’s content.
  • The sign itself was one from an older event. I tore up brown butcher paper up, lightly pasted it on the front and back, and then covered the whole thing (but not the bottom) in packing tape. Then I used looped scotch tape to arrange/place the various cut outs and used even more packing tape to secure it and lightly laminate it. It needs to hold up outside, but we do plan on bringing it inside if it gets rainy.
  • We’re going to try and slowly move the leaf pile locations around the yard. The previous time we kept them in the same place and they left a circle of brown grass all throughout the following summer. Oops.
  • We do our best in counting the number of people having fun with our leaves. After all, it’s a bit more active passive program since we do need to go out and rebuild the piles at least once-a-day.
  • At some point I need to start posting about core concepts/ideas that have really helped me as someone in the library world – especially from the management standpoint. I mention this because this is the perfect example of librarian problem-solving at its best. I mean, we face lots of issues and challenges being in such a small space, and I’ve learned to reframe these things as being the perfect chance for creative problem-solving. Which we should excel at. We’re library people.

And that’s about it! Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions either in the comments, or through email (hafuboti@gmail.com).

Forgetful February: 2017 & 2018

We forgot to get pictures of our library's decor for both February 2017 AND 2018. What remains is one picture and one passive program | Hafuboti.com

Funny story: apparently neither Natasia nor I remembered to take pictures of her great February decor in both 2017 and 2018! Okay, not so funny, but more…er, adorable?

So I’ll keep this short ‘n sweet.

What survives from 2017 is the prep for February’s window and the scavenger hunt. The theme was Toss Kindness Like Confetti.

The month prior we had this set out at our circulation desk:

How we had our patrons participate in the decorating of February's windows for our theme of "Toss Kindness Like Confetti" | Hafuboti.com

We ended up with less hearts than we’d hoped – the biggest reason being that kids wanted to write EVERY book, movie, and character that they liked on the front and back of a single heart. In the end we had to supplement the planned design with blank hearts. The design was a giant green heart made up of these smaller hearts.

Why green? you may ask. Well, it’s our city’s official color (Gretna green).

Then, for the scavenger hunt:

Confetti Hearts passive program scavenger hunt for February | Hafuboti.com

And here are the pieces:

A set of four confetti-filled hearts to use for the "Throw Kindness Like Confetti" scavenger hunt at our Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

Click on the sign and/or the hearts’ images to get logo-free jpegs for you to use.

And there you have it! The remnants of our previous two Februaries.

 

January 2017: ‘appy New Year!

'APPY NEW YEAR!!! Having some emoji fun while highlighting our ebook collection. It's a fun way to kick off a new year! | Hafuboti.com

I thought of possibly trying to just sort of publish this post and say nothing about how it’s a year old!!!!! But yeah. You can tell that I decided against that. Instead, I’m highlighting this fact, shrugging my shoulders, and reframing it so that I can embrace it and be all “YEAAAAH!!! FINALLY GETTIN’ IT DONE!!!”

My life and career have become very intense as of late, and blogging has obviously gone on the back burner. So what I’m hoping to do is share what we did last year in one post followed by another post sharing what we’ve done this year. Trying to keep up with the months should give me a goal to reach for while getting this here blog caught up on all of our shenanigans. Theoretically.

Here goes nothing!

I had the idea for the ‘appy New Year theme during Holly Storck-Post’s (of Let the Wild Rumpus Start Storytime Underground fame) presentation about early literacy apps at the 2016 Nevada Library Association conference. She talked about her library’s Appy Hour program and I was like “I KNOW JANUARY’S THEME!” I even drew stars and hearts around this idea in the small notebook that I had for notetaking.

And a few months later – voila! It was our theme!

Our fabulously talented Natasia had a fun time putting together the front window display featuring emojis. This was long before the Emoji Movie existed and we were taken aback at how popular this theme was. I lost count of how many kids would come in and say something like “I LOVE EMOJIS!!!”

Get 'Appy! Celebrating great apps for kids and families during January's 'Appy New Year theme at the Children's Library | Hafuboti.com

The biggest app that we highlighted was our library’s account with Overdrive to help both parents and kids know that we had a wonderful resource for them. In fact, we made finding 2D ereaders our scavenger hunt.

An 'Appy New Year passive scavenger hunt program encouraging kids to practice their writing skills | Hafuboti.comThis particular scavenger hunt was a bit more challenging in that we wanted to have kids work on their writing skills. We don’t always make our passive programs this challenging for our youngest patrons, but we try and push them now and then. Needless to say, we chose books with shorter titles.

I wish that we had kept copies of the ebook scavenger hunt files to share with you, but unfortunately they are nowhere to be found. But, while searching for them, I discovered that we did keep our simple but very popular coloring sheet. Click on the image below to get a letter-sized version without my logo on it:

An incredibly simple and popular emoji coloring sheet | Hafuboti.comFinally, Natasia made a bright sign for our reading bench display. We showcased our books about computer science, technology, and video games. This proved to be a tough display to keep stocked! <<<a great problem to have!

An 'appy New Year book display featuring books on computer science, technology, and video games! | Hafuboti.com

I you look closely, you can see one of our eBook scavenger hunt pieces in the middle of our clock. It’s a Curious George eBook with a circled number on its lower right hand side.

And that’s how we kicked off 2017. I can hardly wait to show you what we did for 2018 – and hopefully I’ll be showing off much sooner than later!

Libraries Are For Everyone Because…

Libraries Are For Everyone coloring sheet and writing prompt with a box for kids to write their "because..." answers | hafuboti.com and @MsLuker

I am beyond thrilled to have the wonderful Laura Luker (@MsLuker) guest writing for my blog! She created the above fabulous coloring sheet/writing prompt for her students, and shared it on Twitter so that anyone can use it. You can also click on the above image to get a copy of her jpeg. Hooray for open culture!!! I also picked out a few of her tweets that made me cry the most (with tears of joy) to share with you all.

And so, without further ado, I turn this blog over to Laura.

I created the sheet and the lesson that goes with it because since the last election, a topic that’s been on my mind often is the role of librarian as activist. It’s a role that people may not consider often – or may even disagree with, but one that I feel strongly about. Understandably, this must be done with care. As much as I am frustrated by our political landscape today, my double role as librarian and educator means that I’m not really allowed to voice political opinions. So for me it comes down to thinking really hard about what I CAN do to make a difference in the lives of my students and in the broader world.

In my mind, this takes many forms. I teach in a K-12 school, which means I work with patrons from the age of 5 all the way through high school. I also consider colleagues and school administrators to be my patrons. I am responsible for providing a very wide range of services from safeguarding patron privacy to providing information literacy skills – and in some ways this is easier with my older students. The library world is full of great resources for teaching how to find and evaluate information and how to teach and support literacy. I consider both of these topics to be issues of social justice. After all, a well-informed, critical, literate populace is democracy’s best defense.

Certainly, younger students can and should be taught about critical thinking and inquiry, but the elementary grades are also prime territory for lessons about inclusion and equity. Developmentally, kids at this age are very invested in the concept of fairness, which made my job pretty easy when I began talking to them about the role of libraries. I provided a framework of first thinking about what libraries do for them personally and then expanded that into asking them to take the perspective of a student new to a school and then outward to a family new to the United States. We made a class mind-map on the board and ultimately ended up with general categories of information, entertainment, and safety. (I will admit that the last category made my heart swell the most!) With gentle prompting, they came to the conclusion that these services are provided for free to everyone, regardless of income, color, ability, etc. With this fresh on their minds, they gleefully set to work writing inspirational messages of library love.

While I love that I was able to have my third graders focus on this topic for a day and come to the conclusions that they did, I also very much hope that this lesson lasts. In addition to the crucial focus on equity, I admit that I hope that my students take away a longer-lasting message of libraries as important places of information and social justice. In Massachusetts, as I’m sure is the case in many other states, library funding is constantly in jeopardy. Many schools don’t have libraries or qualified librarians, putting students at a disadvantage compared to students in schools that do have those services. Public library budgets are also either level-funded or cut, which means that all the great benefits my third graders were able to describe to me could be increasingly difficult to provide. My hope is that these future decision makers will carry this lesson into a future where libraries and the services they provide continue to be seen as relevant and important.

Laura Luker
library teacher
Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School
Hadley, MA

Family Fandom Festival

Have you made it through all of my holiday postings?

If your answer is “yes,” then you know what you should do?

Sparkly pink words of "Treat Yo Self" | hafuboti.com

I know that I will!

While working on all of my holiday posts, I kept debating whether or not to create foundation programs for pop-culture-based celebrations. The thought of writing at least a dozen more holiday posts made me want to cry. But then I had a flash of inspiration:

LET US CELEBRATE THEM, ONE AND ALL!!!

I shall call this program The Family Fandom Festival where all ages and all fandoms can come to the library and celebrate their holiday nerdery together.

Family Fandom Festival for libraries flyer featuring many pop-culture celebrations | hafuboti.com

Click on the above flyer template to get a larger version that you can download and use for your library’s celebration.

This event could be done in so many ways – especially depending on who in your community would enjoy cosplaying during the holiday season (and not just as Antasay Lauscay). Here’s a list of holidays that I selected, but you can definitely find and incorporate more – after all, the more the merrier!

Get some meat lovers pizzas, dust off your Vader helmet, and ring your bells!
*whispers* so much pop cultuuuuure…

DISPLAY & ACTIVITIES

Here are two scavenger hunt sheets that you can also use for a display. Click on the two image collages for a letter-sized version that you can download and print:

Imagery from pop culture holiday events for a scavenger hunt or display | hafuboti.com

Set of images from various pop culture holiday celebrations for a scavenger hunt or library display | hafuboti.com

SONGS

You have so many options here! Whether you have a sing-along portion of the event, or put together a playlist for background music – you’ll be sure to have fun with lots of these:





And in honor of my all-time favorite princess Carrie Fisher:
And there you have it: the final post of Library Holidaypalooza!

Hopefully you learned something (I know that I did) and have been inspired. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll rethink holiday programming at your library as a result. If not? At least I know that I tried.

If you happen to have started at the end of this series, then you should start here, or you can follow the holidays tag.

…OR IS IT?!

(It totally is. I am utterly sick and tired of coming up with holiday programs.)

Deal with it | hafuboti.com