Frozen Sing Along & Celebration

Whether you personally have children or not, it is impossible to work as a youth librarian and not be aware of the Frozen phenomenon. I am a Disney fan, and I have been waiting for the release of Frozen II since I started this job three years ago. I’m not kidding–I had the date for this program reserved in our meeting room scheduler for well over two years before the program finally occurred.

My library had hosted Frozen movie watching parties in the past, but I wanted to try something a little different. At the time this program was planned, I was still reeling from the Paw Patrol Program of 2019, when we had 300 people lined up outside of the building and around the corner to enter our Friday morning Paw Patrol event. Our meeting rooms, with stations set up inside, can not accommodate that many people. With those numbers in the back of my mind, I was definitely nervous about what a Frozen program would bring on a Saturday afternoon a week before the release of Frozen II.

To prepare for crowds, I structured this event much differently than other fandom based programs that I regularly run. The afternoon ran as follows:

  • 1-5 pm: Frozen Activity Stations in Youth Dept.
  • 2-2:40 pm: Frozen Sing-Along & Celebration Option 1
  • 3:30-4:15 pm: Frozen Sing-Along & Celebration Option 2

Frozen Sing-Along & Celebration

The star event was my performance–and yes, this was as close as I have gotten to a “performance” in a program–retelling the Frozen story in about 30 minutes with jokes and songs scattered throughout. The same show was presented twice during the day, to audiences of about 120 people each.

Technology

I relied heavily on technology to make this program work (which, as expected, worked flawlessly for the first program and exploded in fire like Kristoff’s sled for the second).

Two laptops were connected to our meeting room’s overhead projector. One was set to my powerpoint (included below) and the other had the Frozen Sing Along DVD set up. Under bonus features, the Sing Along DVD lets you jump right to the start of each song and takes you back to the song selection menu when finished.

Our projector remote allowed me to toggle between the two laptops with the press of one button. Essentially, when it was time to move into a song, I would continue spieling as I approached the laptops, would select the song on the second laptop, and would then press the button to change inputs on the remote. By the time the projector caught up, the DVD had as well, and the song was beginning. When I was ready for a song to end, even if I wanted to cut it off early (like after the part where the parents die in “Do You Want to Build a Snowman”), I changed the input back to the other laptop. My powerpoint appeared on the screen again, while the song played on without sound on the other laptop, invisible to patrons, and returned to the menu screen by the time I was ready for the next song. This structure worked well throughout both performances until my HDMI cable decided that it didn’t want to play sound anymore.

I imagine that explanation isn’t entirely clear–please reach out or comment below if you want to talk through this more.

Presentation

The “show” involved me bumbling through a retelling of Frozen, sometimes getting things very wrong–such as forgetting that Kristoff exists or the entire ending to the story–and sometimes cracking jokes made for parents (such as the trolls making the excellent decision to terrify a 6-year-old Elsa by telling her that her powers are extremely dangerous, but not offering her any help with them when they obviously can do magic themselves).

I used the PowerPoint below to move through the storyline, breaking for most Frozen songs as they occur.

I’m not going to upload by script here, as I didn’t entirely stick to it, and I think it makes things more confusing, but if you would like to talk through what I did, please comment below.

Frozen Activity Stations

Meanwhile, before, during, and after my presentations, the youth department was covered with snowflakes and Elsas and included a collection of Frozen activity stations.

These were intentionally kept as low-key as possible, in an effort to not completely overwhelm our two youth librarians working in the department. Teen volunteers helped throughout the afternoon as well.

Frozen Scavenger Hunt

Visitors completed a scavenger hunt to track down a collection of Frozen characters. Scavenger hunt sheets and characters can be downloaded below. They received a sticker at the youth desk upon completion.

Elsa Crown Craft

Girls and boys decorated gorgeous Frozen crowns. I printed the crown outline on blue glitter cardstock from Amazon, and pre-cut the crowns. Adults and teen volunteers measured ribbon to tie to both sides of the crown to fit to their child’s head.

Sven Reindeer Antlers

Kids also had the option to make Sven Antlers, which were loved by many attendees (there were also some interesting crown/antler mashups).

Pin the Nose on Olaf

Finally, we had a Pin the Nose on Olaf activity that resulted in getting a Frozen bookmark. Due to some teen volunteer mishaps, this activity did not run according to plan, but we did end up with extra Frozen bookmarks to distribute for days afterward to many happy children.

Baby Play: Mirror Play

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Once a baby’s vision develops, they love to look at faces, including their own. Starting around nine months of age, babies will begin to recognize their own reflection in a mirror. A great way to test this is to put a sticker on a mirror. If the baby tries to wipe their own face after looking in the mirror and seeing the sticker, they recognize that they are seeing themselves and not looking at a picture.

Baby-safe mirrors provide fantastic ways for parents and little ones to interact, from adults copying little one’s facial expressions to working together to identify basic body parts. With large mirrors, babies can sit in front of them while a parent moves an object behind the baby, helping the baby practice visual tracking with their eyes.

We currently don’t have enough mirrors to use these as storytime manipulatives, but I do put out our small collection during baby play time. While mirrors are not as large as some of our other toys, babies are still fascinated by them, particularly once they catch a glimpse of their own reflection.

Recommended Purchases

Price: $36 for 6 mirrors

Consider your audience size when determining how many mirrors you want to purchase, especially if you are also using these as manipulatives in storytimes. There are many fantastic mirror rhymes for during storytimes.

Possible Extension Purchases:

Personally, I prefer mirrors that do not have to be affixed to a wall, as these can easily be packed up after baby play, eliminating a distraction during storytimes and programs for older children.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • What do you see in the mirror?
  • Can you find your eyes in the mirror?
  • What does the toy look like in the mirror?
  • What happens when the light bounces off the mirror?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Body
Cheeks
Chin
Ear
Eyelashes
Eyes

Face
Hair
Head
Lips
Look
Mirror

Nose
Nostril
Reflection
Shoulders
Teeth
Watch

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (12/2/19-12/8/19).

Annamarie’s Reading

Annamarie’s top titles include:

Note: Annamarie serves as chair of the ALSC Notable Children’s Recordings Committee. Due to her position, she listens to and evaluates many audiobooks for children and teens. Annamarie never includes any of the audiobooks she listens to in her “What Are You Reading?” posts.

Michala’s Reading

Michala’s top titles include:

Note: 2019 has not been kind to celebrity kitties. RIP Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub, I read Grumpy Cat’s ABC book remembering you both fondly. Hang in there Smudge!

Wonderworks: Animals in Winter

Occasionally, I get the opportunity to fill in for other regular storytimes at my library. I don’t often have the chance to work with preschoolers, but last week I presented our weekly Wonderworks storytime. This STEM storytime is designed for ages 3-6 with a collection of station-based activities afterwards allowing attendees to explore that week’s theme.

Whenever I get a chance to present Wonderworks, I typically connect the theme to animals. Last week, we talked about what animals do in winter, particularly hibernation, adaptation, and migration.

There are many great books on this topic, but I was right in predicting that my audience would be young (it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and we had a ton of first time families and mostly children that were either 2-3 or 7-8).

We used a big book to read Sleepy Bear by Lydia Dabcovich. While the book is quite simple for the intended age range of this program, we were able to talk about the illustrations and the behaviors of many of the animals on the pages. We had a lengthy conversation about how we know the seasons are changing, and what we saw in the pictures that reflected that.

The flannel rhyme “Five Little Penguins” was definitely the hit of the storytime. We didn’t get to the book Mother Bruce, which we were going to watch via the Weston Woods video, due to lack of time, which I expected.

My full storytime outline is below.

STEM Stations

After storytime, folks were welcome to participate in a variety of activities that allowed them to further explore that week’s theme. These included:

Animal Tracks in the Snow

I cut out accurately-sized outlines of a polar bear track, deer track, raccoon track, and bird track out of thin foam. Attendees used markers on white butcher paper to trace and color in animal tracks in the snow, with the option of practicing writing skills by writing the name of the animal beside the track they made.

Blubber Experiment

Whenever possible, I like to include a small “experiment” in Wonderworks station-based play, where kids can learn more about a topic, make a hypothesis, and then test their hypothesis to see if it was true.

This week, we learned about blubber. We talked about this briefly during storytime when we talked about how animals, like polar bears and penguins, adapt during winter.

A coworker brought me a small bag of ice just as station play was beginning, which I dumped into our pre-set bin of water. Three kids at a time stopped by my station. They put their hand in the water and determined that it was, in fact, cold. We talked about how many winter animals in the Arctic and Antarctic swim in much colder water than this every day.

They then could test out three possible blubber substitutes–cotton balls, powdered sugar, and shortening. Quart sized ziploc bags were lined with each substance, and another quart size bag was placed in the middle inside-out, with the bags duct taped shut. That way, the child’s hand was protected from both water and the blubber substitute.

This is where science failed me–according to the internet and my own tests of this experiment, shortening acts as the best insulator. For whatever reason that morning, all three substances provided the same amount of warmth. The idea of explaining blubber still worked overall, even if the specifics of the experiment didn’t quite work.

This was definitely a popular activity, though I did have to manage it the whole time, since water was involved and our audience skewed young.

Find the Goslings Scavenger Hunt

Ten goslings were hidden around our activity center, and little ones had to practice their counting skills to find them all.

Download geese to hide around your room or library here.

Polar Bear Craft

Art is far from my favorite subject, but I like to include something art related in station-based play. I would have preferred something a bit more open-ended, but since I knew I would have to stay with the experiment station, I included an activity that was a little more straightforward in this polar bear craft.

Preschoolers practiced their fine motor skills by cutting out their own polar bears, and many got creative in coloring their bears and camouflaging them to match their backgrounds.

Polar Bear Craft printable outlines can be downloaded below:

App Play: Endless Alphabet

My last station incorporated technology. The Endless Alphabet app is definitely expensive ($8.99), but it is a high-quality app that helps little ones expand their vocabulary and practice identifying letter and recognizing letter sounds. During the storytime, we used the app as a group to talk about the word “camouflage.” Attendees were free to explore the app and and vocabulary words they liked. All ipads were locked to only allow access to that app.

Baby Play: Scarf Play

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Scarves are a staple in many baby storytimes. They are an ideal item for parents and children to manipulate together. Scarves are particularly fantastic for games of peek-a-boo, teaching basic object permanence to our youngest learners. Babies can grip scarves, even from the youngest ages, and most enjoy placing them on various body parts or just shaking them vigorously.

Scarves are also fantastic free-play items. The easiest way to make scarves accessible to little ones is by hiding or placing them in a container that little ones have to pull scarves out of.

I regularly use two kinds of items to hold scarves during play–Oballs and empty tissue boxes. Both storage containers allow little ones to practice fine motor skills in an effort to pull the scarf out. Generally, tissue boxes are a much easier tool for pulling than oballs (and cheaper). However, oballs pose a better challenge for older babies and toddlers.

Both storage items, though particularly tissue boxes, also allow babies and toddlers to learn about case and effect. When they reach inside a box and pull, something interesting comes out!

Of course, once the scarves are out of the box (or ball), they can be used for all kinds of play. The little one below ended up with a cape of scarves this past summer.

Recommended Purchases

Price: $17 for 12 scarves

Consider your audience size when determining how many scarves you want to purchase, especially if you are also using these as manipulatives in storytimes.

For play, a rectangular tissue box can hold 5-10 scarves. An oball can nicely fit 3-4 scarves.

Pro Tip: Scarf prices at Lakeshore Learning don’t fluctuate much (though look out for coupons). Oball prices on Amazon change often. You should be able to buy each oball for $4-5 each. If they cost drastically more (I’ve seen them up to $20 each!), keep checking back daily until prices drop again.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • Can you pull the scarf out of the oball?
  • How does the scarf feel? How does the ball feel?
  • Can you put the scarf on your head?
  • What color is the scarf?
  • How fast can you wave your scarf?
  • Can you play peek-a-boo with your scarf?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Bounce
Cover
Float
Glide
Hide
In

Light
Look
Out
Peek-a-boo
Pinch
Pull

Rainbow
Stretch
Translucent
Transparent
Tug
Yank

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (11/25/19-12/1/19).

Annamarie’s Reading

Annamarie’s top titles include:

Note: Annamarie serves as chair of the ALSC Notable Children’s Recordings Committee. Due to her position, she listens to and evaluates many audiobooks for children and teens. Annamarie never includes any of the audiobooks she listens to in her “What Are You Reading?” posts.

Michala’s Reading

Michala’s top titles include:

Note: Hope people enjoyed their time off over the holiday and their quiet library existence on Black Friday!

Stuffed Animal Sleepover

While a Stuffed Animal Sleepover is certainly not a unique program idea–a quick Google or Pinterest search will quickly bring up ten or more articles featuring libraries who have run this type of event–it is still one of my favorites. In addition to being downright adorable, it helps young kids practice parting with precious items for a brief amount of time–an important skill.

Last week, we had 17 stuffed friends spend the evening at the library.

Drop Off Storytime

I structure my Stuffed Animal Sleepover with a drop off program and then an all day next day pickup. This evening program means less attendance than we would receive during the day, but it also means providing a program for our working parents.

Our program was designed for ages 2-6 and followed a standard storytime format, with the idea that each child’s stuffed animal acted as their “baby”–meaning the attending children bounced their stuffed animal and helped them participate in the rhymes and songs. The full storytime PowerPoint is available below:

We had some library owned stuffed animals on hand for any drop-in attendees who did not bring their own stuffed animal but wanted to participate.

Before starting the storytime, as families came in, they worked on information sheets for each stuffed animal. These sheets helped us give each stuffed animal the best experience and eased the fears of some of our younger attendees.

We ended our stortime by singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with Raffi and putting our stuffed animals to sleep underneath our parachute. We had a few kids who were hesitant to part with their stuffed friends, but they did eventually.

Photo Time

After the storytime is over, the real fun begins. I had two hours to take as many pictures as possible, design souvenir albums, and assemble the albums. Even with plenty of help, it was a whirlwind few hours!

I had a few planned photos, and everything else was just what worked best at the time. I knew I definitely wanted photos of:

  • Stuffed Animal Dinner Party
  • Stuffed Animal Glow Party
  • Youth Dept. Treehouse
  • Book Sorter

Some of my favorite photos are below:

After taking pictures, I inserted the pictures into our souvenir photo albums, printed them, and had teen volunteers help stuff the albums so they were ready for pickup the next day. A sample album is featured below (with one of our sample photos featured throughout):

All of our stuffed friends were picked up the next day, with lots of adventures to share with their owners.

Baby Play: Spider Web Baskets

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Babies love a challenge. Making their regular favorite items just the smallest amount harder to access can be just enough to serve as an interesting distraction and build strong finger muscles needed for writing when they are older.

This is a very simple project that just requires a little time ahead of a storytime to prepare. Find a stash of baskets that have holes along the sides–the ones pictured here are more standard, sturdier laundry baskets from Walmart, but there are many baskets of this style at Dollar Tree. Toss favorite toys, instruments used in storytime, or bright, colorful items onto the bottom, and tie a web of strings across the top. Fewer strings in simpler designs for smaller babies, and more complicated creations for older kids.

How to Make

Materials: laundry basket, yarn, baby-safe toys or household objects

Steps:

  • Place toys or objects in the bottom of the basket (this can be done after the next step instead).
  • Tie string across the basket in various patterns, at least 5-6 strings for a very simple challenge.

Cost: $0-10

  • Baskets (can be bought at Dollar Tree, though sturdier laundry baskets can be found at Walmart for less than $10)
  • Yarn

Time to Make: 10 minutes

Pro-Tip: Make sure to double knot the string to the basket so that it is less likely to come undone and be a potential hazard for little ones.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • What toys can you reach?
  • How can you get the dog out of the basket?
  • What toy did you find?
  • What color is the toy?
  • What can you do with the toy?
  • Are any toys stuck?
  • What do the strings feel like?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Backward
Conundrum
Finagle
Forward
Heave
Left

Maneuver
Manipulate
Problem
Pull
Reach
Right

Stretch
String
Stuck
Tug
Underneath
Yarn

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (11/18/19-11/24/19).

Annamarie’s Reading

Annamarie’s top titles include:

Note: Annamarie serves as chair of the ALSC Notable Children’s Recordings Committee. Due to her position, she listens to and evaluates many audiobooks for children and teens. Annamarie never includes any of the audiobooks she listens to in her “What Are You Reading?” posts.

Michala’s Reading

Michala’s top titles include:

  • Land of Lustrous 1-9 by Haruko Ichikawa translated by Aletha Nibley & Athena Nibley

Note: I fell down a rabbit hole and read all that has been published in this series so far. #10 comes out in February and finishes the series.

Kids Passive Program: I Spy

A few year’s ago, one of my personal work goals was to start a monthly kids passive program. At the time, our library offered a monthly Imagination Station, a pretend play space for approximately ages 2-6, and a monthly teen passive, for students in grades 6-12. Children in the middle often ended up trying to participate in the activities designed for younger or older kids.

My very first kids passive involved a passive game of I Spy, playing off of the format of the well-loved book series. Our fantastic marketing department printed a massive I Spy poster I designed in Microsoft Publisher. The print took up the bulk of our passive wall at 84″ long by 36″ tall.

Luckily for you, I like to share. The full poster is available to download as a PDF below:

Each week, I put up a different I Spy Riddle that families used to interact with the wall.

In addition to playing using pre-written riddles, kids had the opportunity to write their own I Spy riddles, which we added to the wall for further interaction.

While I have done many kids passive programs since (look forward to future posts!), this is still one of my favorites. The size of the I Spy print thrilled many young visitors, and even with the hours it took to design the Publisher file, that process was still much less time consuming than cutting out and taping up each item individually (plus, the file can easily be reprinted!).

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