Touch the Music

This summer we were lucky enough to have Touch the Music come in and do a “marching band” class with us.  The instructor was fantastic! She said her goal when she created this class was to allow children and parents to interact with band instruments before they needed to pick an instrument to learn in school.  She stressed the importance of a parent getting to see how their children use various instruments to help guide their decision. She started the class with a great story about music and instruments to get the class started. After the story they all marched around in their imaginary marching band!


Then we spent time really learning about the different instruments: percussion, brass & woodwind.  Claudia was such a fantastic instructor and really took time with the kids and she taught them more about each section.

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Then came the crazy part of the class, getting to try out all the instruments! Even though it was loud and chaotic, the kids had a BLAST!

 

The parents, kids and staff loved the program so much we have booked her for a Nutcracker program she offers in December.

I highly recommend Claudia at Touch The Music! If you are in the New Jersey area you can find out more about her at: http://www.touchthemusic.us/default.html

 

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Tie Dye Party

When I was a teacher I would always tie dye shirts for all my students.  We would all wear them on Friday and it was so cute.  When I became a Children’s Librarian I knew I had to keep this going some how.  In the summer, we amp up our activities and I figured this would be the perfect activity for the kids.  It was so popular my 1st year here that I have made it a summer tradition.  Because of that, I’ve kind of perfected my Tie Dye class!

First: We tie the shirt inside.  I give 2 options..the bullseye tie dye patter or the line pattern.  Kids can follow these ideas or tie their shirt however they want!

When they are done we go outside and dye!  Michaels sells the perfect tie dye kits.  They come in ready to go squirt bottles.

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The tie dye can get expensive but Michaels ALWAYS has sales.  Sometimes it’s buy 1 get 1 half off. They also regularly have coupons for 40-50% off any item so I buy a few when the sales are good leading up to the class.

Once the kids are outside dying it can get VERY messy.  Gloves are your friends! 🙂  After they are done dying, we wrap the shirt in cling wrap or put it in a ziplock bag.  I tell the parents to let the dye sit for about 3 days then wash it alone in cold water.

I highly recommend doing this class at your library during the summer! The kids (and parents) LOVE it and they have a fun shirt to wear all summer long.

Book Buddies Program

During the summer we offer a book buddies program where a young reader is paired with a teen.  The goal is to have the same buddy during the summer so a friendship is formed.  Book buddies is a great way for early or struggling readers to practice their skills over the summer so they don’t regress before the next school year.

The biggest problem with this program, for me, has been scheduling.  It’s really hard to pair up a teen with children and get everything to work out smoothly.  Both kids and teens have so much going on during the summer months! Even so it’s  a great program and is so beneficial for these young readers!

Kids Yoga

The theme this summer revolves around sports and a healthy lifestyle.  Because of that we reached out to several local health studios to see if they might offer some exercise classes for kids.  Getting local businesses in the library is a win win for everyone.  The business gets free advertising and often times they were offer programming that is much more affordable because of it.

We were lucky enough to find a local mom who is a yoga instructor.  She came in and led a yoga class for kids.  It was such  a cute class.  The kids had fun, learned some new stretches and got to relax.  A few of the parents were trying it out along with them!  It was a great morning of family fun.

Later this summer we are having a gymnastics instructor come in for the kids and a crossfit instructor is coming in for the teens.

Reach out to the business in your community! It’s a great way to bring in new programming to the library and it is very cost effective.

 

The Magic of David Corsaro

Summer reading has kicked off with a bang!!! The busy season has officially started so buckle up.  Every summer I book a magic show for the kids.  It’s one of my favorite programs to have and the kids are absolutely fascinated by it.  I think I have booked a different magician every year.  A good magician is hard to come by! I’ve had performers that talk way too much and do very little tricks.  Some that dumb down the magic for the kids.  I’ve had one magician get political on me! No thank you!

This year I went to a community website and found that David Corsaro is a local magician who came highly recommended so we gave him out a try this year.

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FINALLY A GOOD MAGICIAN!!! I cannot tell you how excited I am to find him! He was engaging, funny, so good with the audience.  Start to finish he was fantastic! He had the crowd roaring the entire time!  We had over 100 people attend and 1 parent said, “that is the best show I’ve seen! He needs to go on America’s Got Talent.”

In addition to magic shows he does magic lessons for kids and adults and a murder mystery night.  I can’t wait to book more programs with him and see more of his talents!

If you are in the Tri-state area you can find out more about David at: http://www.davidcorsaro.com

Tail Wagging Tutors

I have long wanted to have therapy dogs come read with early readers at the library.  Therapy dogs provide a nonjudgmental listening ear for children to practice their reading skills.  The key, I’ve found, is finding the right dog.  We were lucky to have Rocco join us at the library.  His parents are both patrons at our library and he has been through all his certification to be a therapy dog. He is the sweetest guy and loves to sit with the children.

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Our program has been really popular.  Rocco comes in every Tuesday at 4pm and we have sign ups available every 10 min until 5pm.  The key is to making sure people keep their time commitment because he is so popular and his time is in high demand.  It’s fun watching the older kids read to him and the younger kid love showing him the pictures even though they are too young to read the words.

Tail wagging tutors is a great program to offer in the library! How have you used therapy dogs in the library?

Pirates and Princess Party

My assistant Lauren came up with the great idea to host a Pirates and Princess Party at the library.  About once a season we have a huge party for the kids on a Saturday and it’s always a huge hit. This was our spring party.  We knew we wanted Disney Princesses, face painting, games, crafts and food.  As we started looking into the entertainment portion of the party, the Disney Princesses and face painting, it was going to cost us around a $1,000 to outsource these items.  Lauren came up with the idea for us to have our staff run the entire events.  We rented costumes and assigned a Disney Princess to several employees and we also had a couple volunteers offer to do the face painting.  That significantly brought down the over all price of the party.

As people entered the library everyone received this Party Map so they would be sure to hit all the activities we had set up for them all around the library!

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Station 1: Games

We had a hook toss game, and walk the plank which was a balance beam the kids got to walk across in the “ocean” (blue table cloth) infested with sharks! We also set out bubbles for the kids to play with outside.

 

Station 2: Face Painting

This was the hit of the party!

Station3: Food

We had lots of fun snacks for the kids that were pirate and princess themed

Station 4: Prizes

The princess prizes were easy to find but we just got summer themed prizes for the boy’s side.  All items were bought at Five Below or the dollar store

Station 5: Princess Ball

We set up a “dance floor” for the kids to dance on.  The music playing in this area was all from Disney movies

Station 6: Crafts

For crafts the kids made princess hats using plain party hats and ribbon or a pirate hook using red solo cups and tin foil.  Both crafts were easy to run and turned out great!

 

Station 7: Photo Op

We had some art students from our High School paint this amazing mural for the party.  The guest could use some photo props we got and have their picture taken in front of the mural!

Here are our amazing employees all dressed up as Disney Princess and pirates.  My newborn got in on the fun as well!

Hopefully this post gave you some great ideas on how to run  a Pirates and Princess party at your library or school.  If you have any questions, just ask!!

STEM Night – Bouncy Balls

I hold STEM nights once a month at the library.  Usually they activities revolve around science or engineering.  At the moment we don’t have much technology that is geared towards kids at our library but plans for that are in the works so soon I will have more technology based events.  I love the engineering activities because they are open ended and really encourage critically thinking.   STEM nights are a great way to get boys in the library and some of the older elementary aged children as well.  That is sometimes a hard age group to get to attend events but it’s an important one to focus on to bridge the gap between preschool aged kids and teens.

This month we made home made bouncy balls.  This is a simple chemical reaction that creates a really fun product!

How to make a bouncy ball

Ingredients:

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  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 Tb Borax
  • 1 Tb Cornstartch
  • 2 Tb White glue
  • Food coloring

Instructions:

  1. In a cup mix the warm water and the borax
  2. In another cup mix the glue, cornstarch, and food coloring
  3. Pour the glue mixture into the water-borax cup
  4. The glue mixture will harden after 10 seconds, use a fork to take it out of the water
  5. Roll the mixture in your hands to make it into the ball.  You will have to need it some to get it to the right consistency.
  6. You’re done! HAVE FUN!

The kids had so much fun throwing their bouncy balls against a wall and playing with this experiment.  If working with younger kids I would have everything pre-measured and ready to go to ensure the class runs smoothly.  Older kids will be able to measure on their own.

Try this in your classroom or library! It’s a great activity!

Google Cardboard

Last week I came across a pioneer program called Google Expeditions.  Through the program, a representative from Google comes to a school and leads the class through a virtual reality “field trip” using Google Cardboard head sets.  I looked more into the Google Expeditions program and found that, sadly, it is not offered in this area.  Here is the site to see if the program could be offered in your area! https://www.google.com/edu/expeditions/

The Expeditions program got me thinking of how we could try to offer something similar on our own so I ordered a Google Cardboard head set to try it out and see how we could use this fun technology in the library.  The headset is found on Amazon and is very affordable.

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The kit comes as a flat piece of cardboard and is very easily assembled.  To use the headset you have to first download apps.  I quickly found some for free in the app store.

We currently have some high school seniors doing a service project at the library so I had them test out the headset.  Our Circulation Supervisor Kim had to get in on the fun as well.  The apps we used today were RollerCoaster and Cooltour.

While the boys commented the graphics were not that great, over all the Google Cardboard headset was a HUGE hit.  I personally loved the Cooltour app which lets you virtually explore 8 different locations in Europe.  It was my favorite  because it was a real life virtual experience where as the other apps where all graphics.  One major downside to Google Cardboard is it is a virtual reality experience and it does cause some motion sickness, especially if you are sensitive to that.

Now the next step will be to figure out exactly how to use this technology and plan an event around it.

Have you used Google Cardboard in your library? What fun things have you done with it?

Theatre at the Library

From time to time we hire performers to come to the library. This is a real gamble most of the time as you are spending a decent amount of money on shows you usually know little about. Bright Star has been reaching out to us for years and I finally took a chance and booked a show.

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We decided to have their version of Cinderella, Upcycled Cinderella come perform in place of the normal preschool story time slot. In the show the duo Dustmop & Binny are busy cleaning the library when they happen upon our audience and perform the traditional tale of Cinderella using nothing more than their cleaning supplies and a vivid imagination. The performance encouraged teamwork, friendship & creativity. It was quite possibly the best program I have ever booked out. The students were all engaged and loved the show from start to finish. Upcycled Cinderella was wildly popular and brought over 100 children into our Library.

The program was a huge success because we reached out to 2 of the preschools in our area.  Reaching out to preschools is a great way to stay connected with the community!

For more information on Bright Star Theatre Company, visit their website at: http://www.brightstartheatre.com