Jun 25, 2013

School Age Explorers: Mud & Worms

One hour? Four Stations...

I knew had a hunch that my station idea wasn't going to work, but really wanted to try it to keep kids (and me) on track for time. Why did I know it wasn't going to work? Kids play, learn and explore at different paces. This system would require them to stick together for about ten minutes and rotate to a new station at the same time. The system actually wasn't that bad and it did help to get all the kids to same tables at the same time, eventually!

At the beginning of the program I read Diary of a Worm by Doreen Conin.I was able to muster a few laughs and giggles, so will be reading again at our next School Age Explorers program. It also allowed time for stragglers to trickle in before I started explaining the different stations.
Station One: Mud Playdough (Non cook playdough recipe with cocoa for color)
Station Two: Sensory Worms (aka cooked spaghetti - I am sorry Head Start)

Station Three: Worm Painting (with cooked spaghetti- sorry again Head Start)
Final Station: Dirt cups with pudding, crushed oreos and gummy worms.
Oh how I wish I had taken a final picture at the end. It took over an hour to clean up the room and I was covered in flour from the playdough, but it was SUPER fun! The kids had a blast! The vaccuum got up most of the cooked pasta. I have been trained (by Head Start) that it is evil to waste food in front of kids who are starving. I'm sure there is something else I could have used like yarn for the worm paintings (now that I think about it). Not sure how I could have got around the sensory tubs unless I used REAL worms, which would then be cruelty to animals. . . so I just bit it and used the cooked pasta.

The station cards did work, but I messed up the order of the stations on the cards and this was VERY TRAUMATIC for some of the kids. I wanted them to rotate from librarian led activity to self-guided activity and had mislabeled the stations to make that impossible to happen. So I didn't go in the order of the cards and that caused a lot of chaos! I will diligently plan where I put the Station posters next time to allow the flow to follow the cards! So I do plan on using my stations and station cards next time now that I am more prepared for how they will work!

Supplies (for 25 kids)
Art Projects: 2 boxes of cooked spaghetti, paint & paper
Playdough: flour, vegetable oil, cocoa, & salt
Dirt cups: 8 boxes of chocolate pudding mix, 1/2 gallon of milk, 2 small conainers of oreos and 2 bags of gummy worms.

Jun 20, 2013

Kick Off Carnival

Standing outside, the warm sun on my face, a soft breeze brushing my hair against my neck...
1. Bounce House ($175)

2. Face Painter VOLUNTEERS!

3. Snacks: Donated Hot Dogs ($10 for Napkins & Condiments)
 & Cotton Candy ($80)

4. Game One: Spell READ by dropping ping pong balls into these buckets ($8)
& small found in the back room prizes (free).
5. Game Two: Squirt the eye balls off the saw horse (found on Pinterest here & here)
($2 for squirt guns) & READ tattoos for shooting water guns ($5.25)
Each kid who came got 5 tickets, and each activity/snack "cost" 1 ticket. Last year for the magician we had 66 kids and 18 adults. This year for the carnival we had 55 kids and 16 adults. The kids number was a little low, but I bet if we do this every year the numbers will go up!

My favorite part was telling the kids that this was "FREE!" The grandma walking by telling her granddaughter that it was too expensive? I got to tell her, "it's free!" "But how much is the cotton candy?" ME: "FREE!!!!" They came to the carnival! One kid asked me, "so how much money did you make?"  Me: "It was FREE, how much money do YOU think I made?" followed up with my smirky little grin.

All of that fun for less than $300! It wasn't a ton of extra work, really. Clean up wasn't too bad either. Thank goodness for the dad who came to pick up his teen volunteer and helped us pick up that big pig of a bouncy house and put it into a truck!

Notes for next year?
1. Skip the hot dogs (worm dogs). They were a cute idea, but no one really wanted one, kids were more interested in the cotton candy!
2. Paint the board on the squirt gun game! My husband made that for me ten minutes before I left for work the day of the carnival (thanks hun)!
3. There were just enough events to keep kids here for a short time, but not too long!
4. Timing? Pre-registration (started 2 weeks before the carnival) confuses parents (and myself). Should we skip that next year?
5. I know that Kim is dreaming about sitting in a dunk tank next year!

Jun 10, 2013

Junior Gardeners

One of our library board members is a Master Gardener and she asked me in February if I wanted to do a program during Summer Reading with her. She applied for a grant, which we were awarded ($200)! We got together twice to plan out our major themes to use over the course of six weeks, then she narrowed it down further into more specific activities. I made the permission slips, promoted it at my SRP talks, and developed journals to incorporate writing into our program.

Thursday was our first day, and we planted our garden. We had 21 kids sign up (this is the only registration required program for our SRP). 14 of them showed up to help with the planting today! We met at the library, went over some basic rules then walked about six blocks to the Community Garden where we planted seeds and set plants. It was fun to see members of the community (who are not me) interact with kids.

It was a great program, the kids got dirty, an  older member of the community walked over to us and chatted with us about some of her gardening experiences. We walked back to the library and wrote journal entries and that was it for the day. It was a great program and I highly recommend it to anyone who can find a way to make it work.
My daycare field trip experience was SUPER helpful with this program. Making sure permission slips were filled out, we had a phone, a camera and most importantly the emergency contact information on hand with us. I also feel like I wasn't as nervous as I could have been walking 14 kids for six blocks and crossing roads. I can't wait until our next time. PS the cost of this program for the library? Free :)

Jun 6, 2013

Dig Into Exhaustion

Yeah, I said it, but I love it sooo much!!

This past month I have been frantically planning EVERYTHING! Reading logs, decorations, flyers, school visits, sponsors, programs, press releases and more.

I am so excited that we are offering four programs this year!

Each year we have run a kids' program. This year we are using the Dig Into Reading theme! I mixed things up by adding another week, but more importantly I moved up the program so it starts in June rather than mid-July. I'm hopeful that this will increase numbers and early results indicate that we have over 70 kids registered in the first TWO DAYS!!! Last year we had 151 total.
You know you live in Wisconsin when the two year olds know that this is a badger!
Recycled brown packing paper!
Raffle tickets go here please! 
I've been saving brown paper for months.
The loft is looking tropical (at least we can dream of warm sunny days under there!)
More brown paper for the vines.
Curling Ribbon makes everything prettier (and some more brown paper).

Last year we added the Rubber Ducky Club (thank you Marge Loch-Wouters!). We had about 20 participants, but 20 littles getting early literacy exposure is better than none, so we are running it again.
I added a Tween2Teen Program with no gimmicky theme (although one kid thought it was for sex education. . . yeah probably not going there this summer!) Kids read 8 hours, they get a free book & raffle tickets with chances to earn extra raffle tickets by volunteering, reading extra time and filling out a short book review to post in the library. I'm excited about the numbers this early into the registration!
We, and by we I mean Kim, sets up an adult raffle in which adults can fill out a ticket with the name of the book they read for prizes.

(Oh, yeah. . more brown paper vines)
Everything is set up and ready to go, our first program is this afternoon!