Terrific Twos

Celebrating our Children's Library's Second Birthday! | Hafuboti

Last month our Children’s Library celebrated its second year of being opened. Our library is a rarity in that our City decided that it wanted to give us a second location that would house our children’s collection because we were running out of space. It’s an odd situation that definitely has its challenges, but as time goes by I think we’re figuring it out, and it’s inspired a lot of creativity in terms of how we use the space.

The Main Library gained so much space that it’s finally able to “breathe.” However, our children’s collection had to shrink, and our events/activity area became teeny-tiny. At some point in the very near future I’ll have to share some of the things we’ve done in order to maximize space without it looking too cluttered (as well as boost circulation).

This anniversary is especially poignant for me, because the Children’s Library’s first birthday party was the very first major event I planned as the (at the time unofficial) Creative Director. It also marked the point of when I began to supervise the Children’s Library. It seems very unreal that it’s been over a year – and it’s been an amazing, crazy, tough, wild, and wonderful time.

Anywho – to the celebration!

I focused on the decorations and props, while Jennifer focused on the planning the actual party – it was a fantastic collaboration. Brittany, who is a baking goddess, made us some awesome cake pops as well.

Between Brittany and I, we blew up around 300 balloons (mostly small ones for the balloon drop, but also about 2 dozen larger ones for decorations). Brittany hung the zig-zag streamers that we made/saved from last year, and I hung the balloons.Balloons, streams, and fun at our library's birthday party | Hafuboti

I also created this big sign that we hung up outside one of the office walls near the reading bench. It didn’t turn out quite like I’d hoped, but it still did the trick. It was a hoot to hear a few kids exclaim “Hey – I’m older than the library!”

Celebrating a special birthday at our library | Hafuboti

Last year I created the story of our Library Dragon, who was given the name Booker T. Dragon by a contest we held with the children. Jennifer took that story and adjusted it to be more like our Christmas Melodrama where there were cue words for the kids to shout things. I made the paddle-props for this (and then did the prompting as Jennifer read the story). Seriously, if you can’t find a picture book that will work for you or your event – then make one! It’s a great way to model to both kids and parents that making up stories can be fun.

Props for the melodramatic version of discovering our library's mascot | Hafuboti

We had the kids sign an awesome birthday card, created by our talented Mary. After the party we went outside and hung it in our Reading Tree which is where Booker lives.

Hanging a large birthday card for the community to see and enjoy | HafubotiA peek inside of the jumbo birthday card for our library dragon | Hafuboti

I was sure to post to social media the special Thank You note we happened to discover the next morning. Booker had seen the card! If you look closely, the lower-right hand side of the card is a little bit singed.

The special thank you note we found the next day - we put it up above our birthday book display for all to see | Hafuboti

Jennifer also printed out some “dragon footprints” to play a version of musical chairs where she played music and then stopped it. Any child who wasn’t on a foot when the music stopped had to go over to Jennifer and pick an age-appropriate (which were color-coded) task to do out of a jar. At first the kids were trying ever-so hard to land on a footprint until they realized one-by-one that it was more fun to draw a silly task (such as act like a chicken, or sing Happy Birthday as fast as possible).

Musical Dragon Footprints! A simple and friendlier take on Musical Chairs | Hafuboti

After the game, all of the kids grabbed their coats and went outside to sing happy birthday to both the library and Booker. They circled around the base of the tree and sang as loud as possible. I had brought my ukulele outside to lead the group, but was quickly reminded of my marching band days where we had to tune outside in cold weather because of how our instruments would go flat. Yeah, the uke was useless.

BUT, about a hundred yards away is our City Hall where if they missed the spectacle of our loud singing, then they’d see the card that was left hanging in the tree for a few more days. It never hurts to remind them that we do really creative things in the community.

After the kids came back inside, we had the best moment of all: the balloon drop. Remember how I mentioned that Brittany and I had blown up close to three hundred balloons? Well, the day before the event, Brittany figured out how to hang our small parachute from the ceiling so that it was rigged to flap open. Thank goodness she figured this out because I was sort of overwhelmed by the task (I’m not a fan of heights).

A super-fun balloon drop at the library! | Hafuboti

The balloon drop was a blast! The kids went nuts, and once some of them began to deliberately pop the balloons, we told them that the sound frightened Booker – and the popping immediately stopped. We had leftover SRP bags that we handed out for kids to stuff and take a bag of balloons home with them (hooray for the bonus cleanup help).

We then handed out the cake pops. I held the vanilla, and Brittany held the chocolate – only one per participant. I was impressed with how polite everyone was when there were cake pops at stake. And only one tween tried to get away with getting two, but his mom totally called him on it – heh.

We continued to hand out bags of balloons for two more days – which was a huge hit with the patrons who had been unable to attend.  We made one mom who had two sick kids at home very happy – it was a simple indoor activity for them over the weekend once they felt a bit better. The leftover delicious cake pops only lasted another half-day. They were also a very much appreciated surprise to many patrons.

That about covers our celebration. I hope that I might have inspired you to consider celebrating your library’s birthday as well – at least with the children of your community. You might already have an anniversary celebration, but making it a “birthday party” with the kids is something that they can really get behind. It’s such a fun way to remind people of your presence, and it’s fantastic PR (we made the front cover of one of our local papers – and the other ran a much longer inside story).

Overall I’m really excited to see what this next year brings – especially as I take the time to look back and reflect upon how much our programming has changed and grown, even as our space has shrunk. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Ukesplosion

I was very delighted to get the newest edition of the Nebraska Library Association‘s quarterly journal in my inbox this morning because an article I wrote would be in it. Ego boost!

I was even more surprised when I clicked through and saw that they had used my “rainbow uke” picture as their “front page” image – and then that my article was the first one. Ego ‘splosion!

Click here to go to the Digital Commons where the journal will be your first option under 2014. Then you have to click on the journal one more time to get to the pdf.

In all seriousness, it was a true honor to be included in this publication, and the thought of getting more ukuleles into libraries across Nebraska is an exciting one. And the article mainly focuses on the genesis of everything. Since I wrote that piece (almost two months ago), so much more has happened. We’re working with a local non-profit to get ukuleles into our library’s collection so that patrons may check them out. I’ve also been in touch with a great library out in Georgia that regularly holds ukulele lessons for children. Overall, I have a feeling that I’m only on the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ukuleles at our library. I can hardly wait to see where this takes us (and I’ll be sure to share).

HUGE tip ‘o the hat to Tess Goldwasser (the same one mentioned in the article) for giving me the name of this post. Yes, since contacting her to let her know about what’s been happening as a result of her article, we have become good social media friends. Yay!

New Year’s Book Resolutions

It's party time at the library - where I try and encourage some life-long reading habits using bright colors.

A relatively popular program that is entering its third year at our library is a “New Year’s at Noon” storytime.  It’s been dubbed New Year’s New Books and this year I’m in charge of putting it together.  I’ve never attended any of the past ones, so I’m just winging it in terms of what will be going on.  I have a handful of new books ranging from picture books to junior books set aside fresh from being processed.  I’ll discuss those new books and will have them set out and ready to be checked-out after the storytime.  I’ll read two New Year’s related stories, and then give the children cheap noisemakers to keep (in order to ring in the “noon year”).

It’s pretty basic and should hopefully be fun.  After all, kids love being given the approval to get wildly loud in the library.

After reading this post from Abby the Librarian, I’ve been looking for any way to encourage lifelong reading habits.  And the having a reading plan seemed like a natural fit with this program.

One of the two stories I’ll be reading is Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller.  After reading it, I want to hand out my resolution form that has prompts to get the kids to at least think about reading more this year.  And on the back side I made a space for the kids or parents to write down any of the books that I chat about for their future reference if they don’t get to check out all of the ones they are interested in that day.

Naturally, I want to share with you my New Year’s Book Resolution sheet.  As always, please feel free to use, modify, and have fun with this:

A set of fill-in-the-blank resolutions to encourage kids to make reading an important part of  the new year.The other side of the New Year's Book Resolutions sheet where kids can list books that they'd like to read this year.

This is the last storytime that I’ll be the creator/runner of at the library.  It’s been a challenging few months, but it’s been a blast.  I’ll happily step in and help out in any way I can if Jennifer ever wants or needs me to, but it really solidified for me the fact that I’m in the perfect position at my library.  I really look forward to coordinating/marketing events and seeing what exciting things my team can do in the next year.

Kittens ‘n Mittens

Three little kittens, three pairs of bright colored mittens, and a mamma cat looking all sassy and felted.

Our new children’s librarian started last week, and boy am I happy!  I truly do love doing storytimes (it’s the theatrical ham in me), but with all of my other duties, they make my workload almost unbearable.

For my next-to-last final storytime for our youngest group, I put together a Kittens ‘n Mittens themed storytime (basically, I was looking for an excuse to sing Soft Kitty with the children).  As the main story, we read Jerry Pinkney’s Three Little Kittens.  Right after the story I pulled out my handy-dandy flannel board, the kittens, mamma cat, mittens, and pie that I made based on Stories with Ms. Jenna‘s flannel kitties. She had obviously used thread and needle for the details (something that I don’t have the materials or skills for), so I improvised.  My greatest discovery was that I could cut a teensy-tiny piece of flannel and roll it into a ball for the kitten’s foot pads (I did a similar trick with the whiskers).Super-cute kitten close-up! D'awww!

I am very aware that our youngest children aren’t very strong visually, but we’re a small library and can only handle a handful of children at our events – so everyone gets a front row seat.  However, I’m still hoping to build a larger flannel board for future storytimes.

I also didn’t do a traditional story with the flannel board.  Since we had just read the story, I had fun seeing what the children could remember from the story, or I did an extremely shortened version depending on the groups’ interest levels.  The most popular part was when I let the kittens eat their pie and made silly nomming noises while holding the pie up to their mouths.

If you’d like any other information about what I did for this storytime, then don’t hesitate to ask!  Everyone had a purrfectly fun time.

Quirky Turkeys

Showing off my waddle-less turkeys as I practice singing the song. And now I have "Fiiive turkey rings" in my head a la "five golden rings" from The 12 Days of Christmas.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been sorting/organizing the craft closet in preparation of hiring a new Chidren’s Librarian.  It’s also been a fascinating adventure since I didn’t know that we had half the things that are in our closet.  I came across a sad/worn felt board, and then an entire box of commercial felt characters from books (where images are printed on the felt).  I decided it was time to invest in a new board, and that I’d have the new librarian go through the box to see if s/he wanted to keep or use any of it.  The few that I looked at seemed rather flat, boring, and sad.

Honestly, the only flannel programming I’ve seen in libraries was when I was a child – it was Stone Soup and it was really cool.  I really don’t remember much from the flannel board story, but I remember having the sense that I’d just seen a really neat thing, and it’s the single storytime from my childhood that I remember.  I’d also seen plenty of felt components to other librarians’ storytimes that they’d shared online, but I didn’t fully get the appeal.

It wasn’t until I stumbled across this post by Abby Johnson on the ALSC Blog that something clicked in me.  I think it was that this particular song/felt combo spoke to me on a deep level, and the potential for using felt in our storytimes opened up to me (angels sang, trumpets blared, etc.). Maybe it was seeing a flannel mitt (which I’d never seen before) that made me realize how dynamic this medium could be.  And cute.  Never underestimate the power of cute.  Here’s the song that converted me to a flannel-lover (and like Abby, I couldn’t find the origin of this adorable song – so if you know, then please let me know and I’ll share):

Five Nervous Turkeys
(to the tune of My Bonnie)

Five (4, 3, 2, 1) turkeys were getting quite nervous – 
Thanksgiving Day soon would be back!
So one turkey put on a duck suit
(swap a turkey flannel out with a duck flannel)
And now he says “gobble, quack, quack!”

IS THAT NOT THE CUTEST THING EVER?!

Anywho, I double-checked to see if we had a mitt (we didn’t) and so I went and dug through our small plastic bin of felt to see if I could either make one or come up with another idea.  And another idea I had!  Why not make rings (or super-simple finger puppets)?  My only concern is that I could mix them up when doing the song, and the two rings that really won’t work on different fingers are the pinkie and thumb ones.  I most likely will subtly number them on their back sides.

I grabbed some felt pieces that we had on hand and made my felt critters.  We didn’t have orange felt, but Mary suggested using an orange Sharpie to color some white felt (and it worked – huzzah)!  I drew a few outlines, but I mainly just “winged it” (bad pun intended).  I would use my first cutout as a template for the rest. Et voila!  Turkeys and duckies!  Okay, turkeys minus their waddles (seriously I just now noticed that I didn’t make waddles – but I don’t think that I’m going to make them out of fear of destroying the cute Sandra Boynton feel. But now I’m waddling back and forth between adding them or not. Yes, bad pun intended).

UPDATE: They’ve been waddle-fied!

And now for the duckies:

My completed felt duck finger puppets.

The back side of the felt finger puppets - their mystery revealed.

Very randomly, I now have “five turkey/duckie rings” a la “five golden rings” from The 12 Days of Christmas in my head.  Now it’s likely in yours.  You’re welcome.

Well, this is for later in this month, and I’ll be sure to update here if I have any noteworthy notes to share with y’all.  Until then, I leave you with a gif I made to illustrate what goes on in my head when I sing this song:

Turkey on Make A Gif