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!

May 1, 2014

Edible Homeschool Fun

Our final Homeschool club was today and I've been seeing all of the fun Edible Books for National Library Week and decided to try it out with just my Homeschool groups. I told them to create something edible based on one of their favorite books. I was so impressed with the creativity!!

This book was checked out, but I found a YouTube clip of Eric Carle reading the book, and the kids were super excited about listening to him read his own book.
Turkish Delight

The grocery store was out of blueberries!
(I had the same problem)
The 11 year old boy came up with this one by himself. He recited the prophecy from memory when he realized the books were all checked out! It was super impressive, and I love this series.
My attempt at a healthy edible book! Strawberries, (frozen) blueberries, and chocolatey mud!
I set up two tables for the creations to go on. When they were all set up, I presented mine first and read Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes to the kids. I had the kids warm up to help me sing Pete's song using Jim Gill's Toe, Leg, Knee song. After I read my book, the next kids read their book, too. And the next and the next. I wasn't planning on having them all read their books, but it worked out great. I had just asked them to tell me about their display and talk about the book a little bit. Some of the chapter book kids had to do that, but it worked out for them as well. By the end of the presentation the kids had drifted from the tables to the floor in front of the readers!

This has been one of the most exciting series of programs I've done. Watching some of the kids go from crying at the beginning of the year when s/he presented their all about me posters to reading a book in front of a group of 20 kids was so rewarding. I can't wait to see what next year will bring.

Side note on the Pete the Cat Shoes "cupcakes" for anyone looking for preschool ideas for a 1000 Books Program or other Early Literacy Event idea: 1 1/2 twinkies, and white frosting and about 5 minutes of my time. This would make a great parent/ child activity for preschool aged chidlren. Fine motor for spreading the frosting and talking about what to decorate the shoe with to rehash the story. . . I'm re-using this idea in the future.

Apr 29, 2014

LEGO Sink or Float

This program served dual purposes!!!  

Add a little dish soap to some water, challenge the kids to build something out of LEGO that will float, and wallah! It was one of THE BEST LEGO programs I've ever had. Kids were engaged, they were talking between themselves and working together to build better floating structures. I was able to throw in words like density, and surface tension. The kids loved it and it was amazing to watch. 

Prep time for this program about 5 minutes! I had to kick them out after an hour and a half. 

Next time I will bring some of my old beach towels so we won't have to use so many paper towels.

LEGOs were cleaned in the process of creating floating structures.

Apr 10, 2014

Frozen Display Minus the Snow

I wanted to do a display that centered around Frozen, because even though we are sick to death of snow in northern Wisconsin, the kids are in looooove with this film. This month I did a half romantical/ half sisterly love display and stuck a Frozen quote on it with a slight variation!
Last month's juvenile display was a tribute to non-fiction. I was going to put orange fingerprints all over everything, but I ran out of time. . .  

Mar 20, 2014

1000 Books is Blooming!

I just added the 150th Library to the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Map. It is so exciting to see all the passion about early literacy across the country. Congratulations to all on their programs!
I am not sure why some of the pegs are pink and some are blue, if anyone would care to enlighten me :)

Mar 12, 2014

If you Give the Children a Mad Lib

Homeschool Club last month rocked!

I ordered twenty copies of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff so each pair of kids could share a book. I went over the different parts of the books with the kids and it was great. There were several different editions of the book, so book jackets, end papers and covers were different on some allowing the children to use the new words for different parts of the book to explain the differences. After we talked about the different parts, we choral read the story together. It was so much fun to hear twenty little voices reading the book together (a nerdy librarian heaven). We talked about the illustrations and how they gave picture clues to what was happening with the words of the story.

I found a mad lib on the blog Play Dr Mom that took out the nouns and verbs and some adjectives to make it a fun Mad Lib. Each home school student got a sticker with "noun", "verb", or whatever words were missing. This was a great opportunity to go over the definitions of those types of words. After a student contributed, they handed me their sticker. This allowed for everyone to have their own unique word. The older kids were pretty patient waiting for the younger kids to come up with their words. After I had all of the words, I read aloud the result as I wrote it out on slips of paper.

Each child then got a slip of paper with a sentence from the story, a piece of scratch art paper and a little wooden stick to scratch their illustrations with. I reminded them about what we had talked about with illustrations. There were more children than strips of paper, so I had one of the older children make the title page and some of the others made up their own funny parts of the story and we added them in. It is super easy because you just put, "and then . . . " it doesn't have to make sense because the mad lib in general was silly.

The results were put in a binder. I had numbered the slips ahead of time and was able to put them back in order as I got each finished page from the children.

It was a fun packed hour and the book is in a binder on display in our children's area!

Jan 23, 2014

Valentine's Minute to Win It

I had originally set out to have a regular non-themed Minute to Win it, but when I was looking around Pinterest for some ideas to get started for my party, I found a Valentine’s Minute to Win It post by Sassy Sites and loved the idea. I used several of the games they had used: the Heart a Stack, a game they called Heart Pick Up but I renamed it Heart Transplant (because I love a good play on words for kids),  Cookie Face (which I have done in the past) and Candy Corn stick up. I found another cookie game called Unicorn Horn at the Teaching Reef . I looked online for stopwatches and found a real Minute To Win It timer on YouTube. This was awesome! The kids LOVED helping countdown to the start and the finish!
Heart a Stack
We started out with Heart a Stack. I gave each kid 15 conversation hearts and a plate. The kids had one minute to stack their hearts and at the end I counted how many were left standing. Many of them were finished stacking in less than a minute (but I kept the number at 15 hearts, I didn't want them to get sick later).
Heart Transplant
The kids did Heart Transplant 1 in which the kids had to transfer the hearts from the table to their plate using chopsticks (we used Valentine’s pencils that they got to keep). Then I passed out straws for Heart Transplant 2 and the kids had to use the straw to suck up the heart and move it to the plate. Both heart transplants were scored by the number of hearts they had transferred from the table to the plate in one minute.
Cupid's Arrow



 We re-used the straw for their FAVORITE game called Cupid’s Arrow that I had found somewhere on line (I have no idea where) and tweaked a bit so they could shoot their “arrows” through hanging heart shapes. There was one kid to hold the heart so it didn't turn, one who was the cupid and the next two in line were the judges counting the arrows that went through the heart. It worked out great because I had four kids counting! The number of arrows was added to the tally.
Unicorn Horn
Next the kids played Unicorn Horn with cookies. I had three people holding a plate of ten cookies. Then three kids had a minute to stack as many as they could on their forehead. This time I let them count their highest tower to add to their score. The highest unicorn horn was 9 cookies high! (we reused the cookies for each kid and I let them pick out 2 fresh cookies to eat, but they had to save one for the next game). The next game was Cookie Face this was a do or die game. They put a cookie on their forehead and had to get it into their mouth without using their hands. They got a new cookie to eat if theirs had dropped on the ground.
Candy Corn Stick Up
They also played Candy Corn Stick Up, which was sort of lame. They all had to line up 20 Valentine colored candy corns around their paper plates in a circle. We did one last challenge, the Love Chain. This one was who could make the longest paper chain in a minute.
Love Chain
A lot of the kids were getting picked up at this point (I had more activities planned) so I gave them all a couple of the left over cookies and tabulated up scores. The top three kids got a one dollar little box of Valentine's chocolates and they all had pencils to take home (not to mention the cookies and candy). There was a tie for third so I used one of the challenges we hadn’t gotten to as a tie breaker. The Broken Heart – it was just a puzzle I made (cutting out four pieces of paper on top of each other so they were all the same).
Broken Heart
I tried to reuse stuff in different challenges as much as possible to keep the flow moving and the cost down. I ended up spending $30 dollars on supplies at Walmart for this party (I probably didn't have to buy the pencils, the Q-tips or the straws, but I found pink Q-tips and red and purple straws and just HAD to get them!) Overall I had 22 kids and one adult that I shanghaied into helping out attend this program!

Jan 20, 2014

Parachute Play on a Winter's Day

We started by laying the parachute out on the floor. I had everyone stand around the parachute by a handle. We started with an opening idea I got from the blog So Tomorrow . I added some verses to extend the song and we ended up singing it twice.

Tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas:

Let's all do a little clapping, 

Let's all do a little clapping, 
Let's all do a little clapping, 
It's parachute time.

Let's all do a little's parachute time.
Let's all pick the parachute's parachute time.
Let's all do a little's parachute time.
Let's all go around the's parachute time.
Let's all reach up to the's parachute time.
Let's all reach down to the floor's parachute time.
Let's all do a little's parachute time.

I turned on Jim Gill's My Ups and Downs from Jim Gill Sings Do, Re Mi. We followed along with the song putting the parachute up and down.

We had a Cotton Ball Snowstorm, which was FABULOUS. One mom asked me if she was supposed to be having so much fun! Yes! Mom's can have fun, too. I dumped a bag of large cotton balls out on the parachute. We ended up playing the snowstorm for quite awhile, as the kids were asking for more, more.

Our next activity was a game I found on the Rhythm Express blog.

The Big Red Dragon Will Gobble Me Up 
(to the tune of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush)
The parachute will gobble me up, gobble me up, gobble me up <shake>
The parachute will gobble me up,
All the way up to my knees….
 <hold at knees>
The big red dragon….
All the way up to my tummy…. <hold at tummy>
The big red dragon…
All the way up to my shoulders…<hold at shoulders>
The big red dragon…
All the way up to my nose… <hold at nose>
The parachute will gobble me up, gobble me up, gobble me up
The parachute has <pause>
 Gobbled me up! <lift up chute and everyone underneath to hide>

I turned on Greg and Steve's The Freeze and they loved having the free will to interact with the parachute at their own pace.

The next song was from Preschool Education Games to the tune of If You're Happy and You Know It. I added some silly activities of my own.

When the parachute goes up, stomp your feet.
When the parachute goes up, stomp your feet.
When the parachute goes up and it floats up in the sky, 
When the parachute goes up, stomp your feet.
...bend your knees
...wiggle your bottom
...lift one leg
...shake the chute
...shout hooray

We took a few minutes and the adults held the parachute up while the children danced around underneath to some random music.

We had one last snowstorm, then it was time to say goodbye.

I close my storytimes with this is the way we say goodbye, so I tweaked it to include some parachute actions. 

This is the way we pass the chute, pass the chute, pass the chute. This is the way we pass the chute when it's time to go.

....shake the chute.
....reach up high. Add what you want!

This is the way we pass the chute, pass the chute, pass the chute. This is the way we pass the chute, then we lay it down.

Then we sang the storytime goodbye song:
This is the way we wave goodbye, wave goodbye, wave goodbye. This is the way we wave goodbye. Goodbye until next time!