All on Display (part 1)

Here is a collection of displays we have done in the YA Department over the last couple of years. There was definitely a team effort involved as we put these up and found books that fit the theme of each display.



An audio book display. Eventually, we put great audio books on the table.


Here we highlighted new and young YA authors.


The idea was to do a large crossword puzzle–which is much harder than you think. But we also highlighted some of our favorite YA mysteries!


This was from a couple of years ago to celebrate PROM season. I asked staff to submit their prom photos for the display. We had a wide range of years to showcase. The balloons didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. I think next time I would use cardboard cutouts (with glitter!) and the streamers. The books all had to do with prom or school dances.


We were trying to push book bundles to get our non-fiction collection in the hands of teens (a very hard task). Some of them were popular, some were not. It was a trian and error display. The display on the window used old puzzle pieces.


To change things up midsummer one year, we did a camping, out door themed display. We used painted styrofoam pieces as the graham crackers and paper marshmallows.


This display was special because of the “dripping” blood handing from the acrylic stands. We used window clings to give the sense that the books were bleeding. And we snagged some caution tape from the maintenance department. (It actually served two purposes–in October we used it for a banned books display.)


This was by far one of the most successful displays we had done. We wrapped random YA books (in a variety of genres) and labelled with a personal ad of sorts (something that would entrigue teens and adults). They were barcoded on the label so no one could see what the actual book was until it was completely checked out. We even added some “pick up lines” to some of the books.

Snowball, Snowball

Last week, we celebrated winter during storytime. We sang songs, played Snowman I Spy with colors, read a few stories, built a paper snowman and made ice cream in a bag. It was so much fun! This was one of my favorite games/rhymes we did. All of the children had the opportunity to participate!


Snowball, Snowball
Snowball, Snowball
Big and round
Behind which mitten can you be found?
I had the children each take a guess. Luckily, they didn’t find it until the second to last mitten–otherwise this would have been a very short game!

To make the pieces, I used the Ellison mitten cut-out on felt and some fabric puffy paint.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Teens

December 5 is National Ninja Day. Did you know that? Well, if you didn’t, now you do. Last December I wanted to celebrate this day with the teens, so we held a program called Teenage Mutant Ninja Teens. I invited a martial arts instructor to come and teach teens basic self-defense/karate/martial arts for the first 30 to 40 minutes. He went over his expectations which were very strict but very appropriate–things like calling replying with “Yes, Sir” and always standing at attention. Afterward, I set up several games for the teens to play to practice the art of being a ninja:

    • Patience: Make the tallest card tower in a ten minute period
    • Composure: Cotton Ball Relay; move cotton balls from one end of the table to a cup at the other end using chopsticks
    • Endurance: Hula Hoop Challenge
    • Posture: Book Balance; balance books on your head and walk from one end of the room to the other and back
    • Agility: 15-yard box tag; we marked off a square in the room and the teens had to be the first to tag the other person without stepping out of the box
    • Acuteness: bow and arrows; unfortunately, this one never happened. We tried several instructions on making bow and arrows from popsicle sticks and q-tips but they never really worked, so we eliminated this one.
    • Snack: Fortune Cookiesninja3

The teens who came to this program were the teens that regularly visited the teen department but not necessarily our programs. I remember it was raining very badly on this night so the group of 20 teens I was expecting never came–but they had would have had to walk a few blocks in the cold, dark, downpour. I had a mixture of boys and girls come and they both enjoyed it equally. The week prior I set up a display at the teen desk with a sign and YAninja-themed fiction and non-fiction. If nothing else, the teens talked about it and picked up the books to read at the tables in the departments.

I wanted to repeat this program this summer, but unfortunately, I planned it during the week of July 4th–I’m not sure why I did that. The martial arts instructor is unable to make it due to lack of staff at his own business, and since we haven’t had any sign-ups for the program, I’ve decided to make it a passive program instead. So as I was perusing Pinterest last week, I found a fun ninja-themed craft, and it was then that I decided to offer a make-it-take-it craft to teens who come in lieu of a live-action program.


Box of supplies needed for ninjas: pipe cleaners, pony beads, wooden beads, straws, instructions, Sharpies, and scissors.

Parachute Play with Babies

Icon-ParachutePlay Baby Storytime was a little different this week. This summer, we have typically had two to three babies with their moms (and dads). Since it is the summer I’m trying different things with my programs. (Summer in my mind means relaxed and fun…although as I reminded my storytime parents, storytime is always relaxed and fun!) So this week we did a parachute storytime. No stories (although I did have one as a back-up in case this didn’t work). Just nursery rhymes and songs.

gr-25972To prepare, I consulted the internet and the book Parachute Play by Liz and Dick Wilmes. So as not to confuse the babies too much, we began with our usual opening song, “Where is Baby?” sung to the tune of Frere Jacques. This is the rest of the storytime (we did repeat each rhyme or song at least two or three times unless noted):

We do a song every week called “The Scarf is on My Head” with lightweight shear colorful scarves. They love this song, so I adapted it for the parachute. I had to change a couple of the actions, but we did this song several times.  

Action Rhyme: The ‘Chute is on My Head! (to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)
The ‘chute is on my head, the ‘chute is on my head!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute is on my head!
The ‘chute goes up and down, the ‘chute goes up and down!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute goes up and down!
The ‘chute goes fast and slow, the ‘chute goes fast and slow!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute goes fast and slow!
The ‘chute is on my head, the ‘chute is on my head!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute is on my head!

This next song worked really well because we managed to match the lyrics with the action of moving the parachute. 

Action Rhyme: Itsy-Bitsy Spider

This one is a real arm-workout. 

Action Rhyme: If You’re Happy and You Know It
If you’re happy and you know it, lift it high!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it fast!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it slow!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it low!

I didn’t actually read this book during the storytime only because I didn’t find it was necessary. It was one of the most appropriate stories I could find as far as action books. If you have done a storytime with a parachute before, please comment with appropriate books you have used. 

Story: Jump! by Scott M. Fischer

Action Rhyme: Row, Row, Row Your Boat
(sit on the floor, hold the parachute tight and row back and forth)

Action Rhyme: Hickory Dickory Dock

For the next song, I couldn’t find the plastic balls we have (the kind you would find in a ball bin at an arcade in the 80’s or 90’s), but we have soft, fabric blocks, so I placed about ten or twelve of them in the center of the parachute. We waved the parachute slowly as we chanted the rhyme, and then when we got to the end of the song, we lifted it high in the air to make the blocks bounce high in the air. The babies loved watching the blocks fly and land on the floor. We must have done this one at least six times. 

Action Rhyme: Popcorn!
Put the oil in the pot and make it real hot.
Put the popcorn in and begin to grin.
Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, POP!

If there were any blocks remaining on the parachute, I just left them there for the next song. 

Action Rhyme: Toast in the Toaster
I’m toast in the toaster
I’m getting very hot
Tick tock, Tick tock,
Up I pop!

This song is our closing song every week. 

Closing Song: Bounce You Here
I bounce you here, I bounce you there.
I bounce you, bounce you everywhere!
I hug you here, I hug you there.
I hug you, hug you everywhere!
I tickle you here, I tickle you there,
I tickle you, tickle you everywhere!

This was one of my favorite storytimes I have done, but I will say that it could have been a little longer. When I do it again, I will add in a few more rhymes. Repetition was the key literacy skill this week, and we definitely repeated the rhymes many, many, many times, but I would like to add more variety next time.

Library Tour with Elephant and Piggie

I just finished with a fun tour group this afternoon. We had such a good time. It was a small group from the inner city. Most of the children in the group were in elementary to early middle school. We started by doing a little exercise on the organization of the library. I barcoded them and we practiced using the online catalogue to figure out where each child would be located on our non-fiction shelf. I borrowed this idea and had the children choose their favorite subject. We created a spine label by finding the call number for each child’s favorite subject and using the first three letters of the child’s last name. While I worked with each child, the rest of them would go off and find where they were located on the shelf. They enjoyed trying to find “their” book.

Then we toured the rest of the library, stopping at the Genealogy Department where they learned how to use the microfilm Eleph_Pig_i_am_going_lgmachine and find articles in older newspapers. They wanted to stay longer in this department, but we had to keep moving. We rode the glass elevator to the main floor, and then finished the tour portion of the program with a scavenger hunt–a simple question and answer page.

To end the program, the children’s librarian and I read “I am Going!” by Mo Willems to the children. We wanted a story that would be appropriate for multiple age groups, and Mo Willems was the perfect choice! They loved this story! To tie it all together, they completed an Elephant and Piggie Mad Libs page and comic. The best parts came when the shy children who didn’t want to read their Mad Libs out loud finally did so because the adults were so enthusiastic about them.

What kind of tours do you like to do?

A New Kind of Babysitters’ Club

indexIt has been quite a while since I had the chance to post anything new! Sorry for the delay!

Last week, I held a Babysitter’s Workshop for teens. It has been something I have wanted to do since I started almost two years ago. The idea was to help give teens (especially those living in the inner city, the population I serve most often) a basic foundation on caring for children as a summer job. As I researched and researched, it became clear that this program was going to be very expensive if I wanted to make sure participants were certified. To be certified, not only did they had to go through a babysitters’ training class, but they also needed certified in CPR and First Aid. The class would have been 6 hours long. It was more than I was prepared to offer.

I decided that I would run it as a workshop where teens could learn the most basic first aid tips, activities to do with children of different age groups, and ways to start their business. I had 10 signups and 5 teens actually come! And they came ready to learn with notebooks in hand.

The program was an hour and half long. We had a speaker from the American Red Cross talk about Emergency Preparedness in terms of tornadoes, power outages, poisonings, and other situations. While he spoke, I gave tips on remaining calm and talking to parents. Afterward, I gave the girls a quiz from the book Don’t Sit on the Baby by Hally Bondy on deciding if babysitting is right for them. It wasn’t really a serious quiz–just something to break the ice and lighten the mood. Then I gave them two different objects (things like cars, clothes pins, books, puppets, sponges, bowls, a bandana, etc) and asked them to come up with creative ways to use them with different age groups. The last thing we did was learn to change a diaper. I had my storytime buddy, Winslow T. Bear, available for the girls to practice changing his diaper.

They each received a tote bag and folder with notebook paper and tip sheets for babysitting. They also put together a couple games to take with them for their first babysitting job–cotton balls with straws and a yarn matching game.

Overall, it was a successful program. I had plenty of books on hand and some even checked out which is a win in my book! The books were about babysitting in general but I also had some available that were about games to play with babies and toddlers.

I’m currently looking at ways to improve this program, and one of those ways is to offer certificates upon completion.

Clue: Life-Sized Library Edition


Sorry for the lack of picture…I had already started tearing up the tape when I remembered I wanted to take a picture.

It was spring break for most of the schools in the area last week, so we thought we should plan something to keep the teens busy during the week. My co-worker had been researching life-sized games and found the game of Clue had been very popular over the years at several different libraries, so we decided to create our own version.

We are in a downtown/urban area, so we decided against the idea of murder in our version. There were some really creative ideas like book character Clue, who stole the cake Clue, and this standard Clue or this standard Clue. In the end, we decided to go with “Who Stole the DVD?” Clue.

My co-worker in crime created the playing cards. She chose six locations in our library, six methods of robbery, and six suspects with names like CeeDee Theef and John Ruh. We used clip-art for the cards and made them 8.5 x 11. Another crafty co-worker helped create a larger die to roll around the room out of a cardboard box. And I created the game board out of masking tape with the help of another co-worker. It was a real team effort!

To create the game board, I used a very small version of the original board. Knowing the attention span of the potential teens who would be playing this, I made the rooms only two to four squares apart from one another. One thing I would change would be to make more access doors in the rooms. I only had a short time to put the board together, so I left off secret passages (and, let’s be honest, the rooms were so close, it was a little unnecessary). We played to the original directions and I let the girls who attended play in teams.

What was originally intended to be a teen program turned out to a be family program. All week long, we had large numbers of teens hanging out in the teen department, but of course, when I went to see if anyone was interested, I found only a handful of teens and I just couldn’t get them off the computers–a common issue. I was, however, able to get the attention of a family of girls who seemed interested in playing. They had a good time, but since only one of them was a teen and the others were a little younger, it was harder for the younger ones to understand the game since neither of them had played before.

Have you ever done a life-sized game?

Designer Duct Tape

photo 2Over the last couple years, I have learned just how different working in an urban library can be. Not having truly grown up in this area, it was hard to know exactly what these teens would enjoy doing. In fact, it’s still hard to know. Last summer, we started a weekly, and then a bi-weekly, crafting program. Currently, we call it Monday Crafternoons. Simple crafts that don’t involve a lot of prep work, time, or material. (We have a separate art club that meets once a month for more involved projects.)

I love these crafting programs. It gives us a chance to get to know the teens because we usually get about five to six teens to participate. And it’s usually in spurts throughout the hour. The most we will have at one time might be two or three teens. You never know what you will hear from the teens–it’s when you go from library staff/crafter to social worker.

So this week, we did designer duct tape pens. I found the idea here.

photo 4
The teens had a lot of fun. Some of them really went to work methodically placing certain colors of tape in certain places. It only required fun, designer duct tape, inexpensive pens and various colored feathers. The teens figured out how to tear the tape into different widths and roll it around the pens. They needed a little help with the feathers, but most of them were proud of what they created…in their words: My pen is exclusive. And then of course, we had to add the feathers. Even the two boys who came added feathers!photo 1

Pete the Cat

From the moment I heard Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons, I wanted to make my own flannel and read/sing it with the babies at my Baby Storytime. However, I just didn’t think it would work. I’m not sure how flying buttons would go over with children who are barely crawling or walking and love to put all things in the their months. So I put the idea on hold. Until last month.

I found Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes. I’m not sure why it took me so long to find this book/song. With a little help from the staff in our Kidmobile department, I was able to create somewhat of a pattern by enlarging a photo from the Groovy Buttons book. (The kidmobile ladies put together an awesome, awesome version of Pete using craft foam, which was the inspiration for my version.)

Pete the Cat

Pete the Cat

I figured it would be easier to create a stand up Pete that could be used for multiple stories instead of several Petes. I mounted him on foamboard to make his sturdy and used some wire I found to make his whiskers. His shirt is attached with Velcro, and the center can be easily removed for the Groovy Buttons story. And he is glued to a paint stick, so I can sit on the carpet with the babies and tell his story without an actual flannel board.

Push Pin Poetry

Inspired by Pinterest, we set out to create an interactive Poetry display. In March, we will kick off our annual poetry contest. This is display one of three. Two and three will be going up soon, so stay tuned!!

photo 1

Celebrate poetry with “Push Pin Poetry.” We didn’t have a big magnetic sheet to hang and this board was in need of an updated display.

photo 2

We searched online for “word lists,” specifically magnetic poetry word lists. And since we are in an urban setting we tried to add more “urban” vocabulary–words we hear the teens say on a daily basis like ratchet, trifflin’, shorty, ballin’, etc.

photo 3

I made my own envelopes out of leftover scrapbook paper and a tutorial I found on Pinterest.

photo 4

photo 5

My poem. 🙂