Mar 19, 2015

It's Not Easy

It's not easy being green, or a library director! I've been avoiding posting for several reasons. One I've been a slacker and haven't posted much at all lately, I have guilt over this. Why? I have no idea. Two I feel like a whiner for even complaining a little about my new job title. A year ago this month, I added Library Director to my job duties and kept the ones I already had. Needless to say, there was a long, long, long period of teaching an old dog new tricks and I'm still learning everyday. I also had to learn to balance my two duties. One of the things I have lost is time. Time to take pictures of all the fun stuff I do, time to stop and write up a reflection (which NEEDS to be done for the next time I run a similar program). So here it is, my explanation of why this blog sucks now.

I lost my partner in crime, my old boss/director. We used to have so much fun putting displays together. We were great at bouncing ideas off each other and a great creative team ( I MISS YOU KIM!!!!). I was thinking about her and missed doing fun displays, so I took some time to put this display together. I found the idea for this display on Pinterest. I started out making an ispy poster, adding little pictures around the main poster. When I put the poster up and all of the books, I was at a loss for what to put on the top... I found the grinch, then I made him a green cage out of building straws, and set him on the top. He was lonely, so I started to round up anything green we had in the storytime closet and made up a small ISpy poster for the sides of the display.

Sep 8, 2014

Mad Scientists Take Two (Balloons & Electricity)

This book totally became my go to for science projects at the library. 
All of the experiments I used in this program came from this book!
Balloons, Plastic Cups, Hex Nuts (of various sizes), 1 Fluorescent Light Bulb, Lemon Juice, Paper Towel, Nickels & Pennies, and bowls for the water. 

The Experiments:

1. Balloons and Air Pressure Challenge. Found on page 134. Each table has a bowl of water, a few balloons and a bunch of cups. I used one balloon per kid and about 15 cups per table (the successful tables needed more cups). I first asked the kids how many cups they thought we could get to stick to a balloon, and I showed them how I could stick one cup to the balloon. Process: After one child blows up the balloon to about grapefruit size, another child dips the top of 2 plastic cups in water and then uses the surface tension to hold the cups to the balloon. The first child blows more air into the balloon, the air pressure inside the cups changes so the cups stick to the balloon. Pause for more cups, and keep blowing and sticking cups on as long as you can. The challenge was to get over 10 cups on a balloon and one group of kids did it!

2. Balloon Banshee. Found on page 182. Each child has a balloon and a hex nut. I challenged the kids to make noise with their balloons using both of the items. Eventually one of the kids figured it out: put the hex nut inside the balloon and use two hands to get it spinning along the inside of the balloon. As the sides of the nut hit the inside of the balloon, they make a vibration. The faster you can get the nut going around inside the balloon, the more constant the sound is until it sounds like a very annoying banshee. I went around and blew up balloons for kids who couldn't and stuck a nut in and tied it off. Each child got to take one of these fun noise makers home with them!

3. Light a Lightbulb using a Balloon. Found on page 200. Can it be done? First we tried rubbing the balloon on a kids head. Rub and have the kids sing a fun song like the ABC's (it's corny, but they'll do it). Turn off the lights (have a helper do that), stick the balloon to the end of the bulb. We didn't get it to work, we tried it again and sang the ABC's backwards, still didn't work. I had some wool yarn, we tried that and I had the kids count by 5's to 100 as we rubbed. We were able to get a short spark out of the light bulb! The kids came up with different scenarios that we tried out to get the light bulb to light up with the balloon.

That was the transition for building a battery out of money (electricity)

Can we make electricity with money?

4 (& 5). Penny & Nickel Battery. Found on page 192 (I had to wait for the book to come back to the library to find out the correct number of coins for this post). Each table had a small cup of lemon juice, paper towel squares cut into 1" squares, a few sheets of paper towel to lessen saturation levels, and 6 of each clean pennies and nickels (cleaned the night before).

Waaaay back at the beginning we had put the money into different bowls of water: one with soap, one with salt, one with lemon juice and one with vinegar and made predictions about which would be the cleanest (it didn't work how it was supposed to, but that was okay it's more about making predictions and testing them out). The kids all looked at the money to determine the results. As they came up to look, one rep from each table took back 6 of each: pennies and nickels. Then they worked on creating their batteries.

When the paper towel is dipped in the lemon juice and placed between the pattern penny, nickel, penny, a slight charge will be created when you hold each end of the "wet-cell battery". Some of the tables got it to work, and some didn't. We predicted it was because of the amount of moisture on the paper towel squares, but ran out of time to test our hypothesis!

Jul 9, 2014

Picture Book Reorganization One Year Later

It has been a little over a year since we reorganized our chidren's picture books into their own scheme.

It has been a year of learning and a few changes. . .

Added general sub-categories
I had previously left a general book on a topic without a sub-category line. It was confusing for shelvers and library patrons. So now if a book has different types of animals, the spine label looks like this:

rather than:

Dropped Multi-Cultural Section
I felt this was an important area to set aside as a resource to share stories outside of our "rural white-bread" Wisconsin experience, emphasis an "I". I thought it might get ignored, but was hopeful people would seek them out. It turned out that our patrons did not check books out from this section as much as they did from some of the other categories. So now, they are on the shelf with the categories that they naturally fit in and will be stumbled upon: friends, family, behavior, stories, etc. This seems really obvious to me now, I'm not sure what I was thinking.

Longer call "numbers"
I had previously used FAVES for my FAVORITES to save space, but it seemed to be counter-intuitive to the whole "do it yourself without codes system" I left the old spine labels as is so we didn't have to buy and print thousands of new labels, but all of our new book spine labels now say: COMMUNITY, FAVORITES, & TRADITIONS instead of COMM, FAVES, and TRADS. All of the call numbers in the catalogs say the entire word, and that is where the patrons look to find where the books are located, problem fixed.

Kid friendly shelf labels
I made picture labels for the subcategories, I am more than happy to forward these on. I did a Google image search of each topic and found the cutest pics I could to put on display! They are just small pictures attached to poster board and covered with Contact Paper, they've been on the shelves almost 9 months and are holding up well.

Other library's adaptations
A few other libraries in our consortium have moved to this scheme over the past year! One of them sent an email out about dropping the P before the main categories.They felt that the colored spines did the trick for them in singling out the books, and I agree they do stick out, I was just worried about finding books on the OPAC.

I had initially planned on genrefying the juvenile chapter books by using colors somehow, which is another reason why I used the P to designate picture books. This project has still not happened as I have been unable to pull together my final vision of how it should look, but it is going to happen some day!

Bottom Line & Final Thoughts:

I would definitely do this again in a heartbeat! It is so much easier for kids to find the types of books they want, and it saves the library staff a ton of reference time.

I REALLY need to add some more princess books and a princess section.  This will just require a commitment. Do princess stories belong in with the Traditional Tales? the Favorites? or the Stories?  Only time will tell....

Jun 26, 2014

Mad Scientists Take One

I had the room organized in a U shape with four tables around a center table. This was an hour program and I had about 25 kids and 4 parents attend. We used the whole hour and I got all of my supplies at the Dollar Store, some I had on hand so I can't give an estimated cost. Maybe around $25-30 because of the milk purchase.

 Experiment One:
I used a few different resources for this one. There were a few YouTube videos and a few blogs that I read and looked at to nail down how I was going to run this in a large group. You can Google "plastic milk experiment" and find tons of different ways it can go.

  • Warm whole milk (I set ours out in the sun all day and it got pretty warm). Some sites recommended a microwave, but that would be hard for a large group, maybe a crock-pot if you are in a pinch.
  • Vinegar
  • Strainer
  • Plastic Cups
  • Tool for stirring
  • Cookie cutters (my co-worker thought to use candy molds, which I think would totally make this project rock in large groups, but after the event)
  • Red solo cups with wooden craft sticks in them.
  • Stack of small paper plates with paper towels on them
  • Three large bowls with strainers over the top.
  • Table of cookie cutters laid out.
I started off by giving each kid a red solo cup (insert song in your head here) and a wooden craft stick. 

My lovely assistant and I went around the tables giving each kid a cup of warm whole milk. Then my parent volunteers who attended with their kiddos followed behind us pouring 1 tablespoon of vinegar into their cups.I had them stir for a loooong time. Probably five minutes, some elected to stir longer. After most had been stirring for a while I had them come to the table one at a time and dump their mixture into a strainer over a bowl. When the whey had gone through the strainer, I plopped the "caesin" or curds on their paper towel covered plate.

They had to dry out their caesin with the paper towels, the more dry they got it the better it worked in the molds. After they got "most" of the whey out of their caesin, they patted it flat then used a cookie cutter to make a shape. Picking up the stuff that fell outside the cookie cutter and putting it inside the cookie cutter and patting it down made their shapes more sturdy. I highly recommend using Meagan's idea of a candy mold for the shapes (brilliant!). They left them on the paper plates for later and we moved on to the next experiment. 

Experiment Two:
This experiment can be found all over the internet, just Google "milk soap experiment".

  • What was left of the whole milk (about a gallon)
  • 1/2 Gallon of 2%
  • 1/2 Gallon of 1%
  • Tall container of buttermilk
  • 2 short containers of half and half
  • dish soap
  • Qtips
  • Plastic Shot Glasses from the Dollar Store
  • Plastic trays with sections from the Dollar Store
  • Food Coloring or liquid watercolors (if you haven't discovered these guys yet, they are the bomb!)

  • Put about 1/2 inch of soap in the bottom of the shot glasses and stuff a bunch of Qtips in them (those are technical terms). Each kid will need several Qtips, I think I used about 10-12 shot glasses and refilled later as needed. 
  • Label one tray with what type of cow product goes where. Each type of milk should have a spot. 

I gave each kid a tray, then I had parent volunteers (pulled from the hallway) pour their liquid into the designated tray spots. After the milk was poured, I had the kids put drops of food coloring 2-3 per section. They had a hard time not mixing the colors and were sadly disappointed later if they had. After they all have their liquids and coloring, I did one demonstration in the middle on a thick paper plate to show the kids how to "use" their Qtips. After that it was a free for all! 

That was our last project, so the kids could just leave their milk trays on the table and leave, because there was going to be no crying over spilled milk on my watch (ha ha).

May 12, 2014

An a-MOO-zing Storytime

What a fun time was had by all. The books and music worked wonderfully together at two different storytimes!

The Cow who Clucked by Denise Fleming followed by the Laurie Berkner Band's I Know a Chicken with egg shakers.

Moo! by David LaRochelle followed by "the Cows on the Farm" to the tune of Wheels on the Bus with flannel animals.

Dooby Dooby Moo By Doreen Cronin followed by Stuart Stott's song There's a Dog in School. The dog sings the alphabet too: ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff. Followed by a cow and horse. Since the animals were singing in Cronin's book, this is the perfect song to do with the kids afterwards.

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon has a cow in it! and it is on a bike!

Followed by cow shapes and colored bingo dot painters for all.

I did this storytime twice, and it went over well twice. My favorite moment was the two little boys at different storytimes who got the humor of Moo! and were literally laughing out loud!