Library Programs

Virtual School Age Program: Dog Man BINGO

Dog Man BINGO! There is so much Dog Man love in the universe. This program was pulled from my Dog Man to the Rescue! in-person 2019 Dog Man event, with some minor tweaks to work as a virtual event.

This had a bit more interest than Book Character BINGO a few weeks ago, though I don’t think BINGO draws excitement the same way trivia does. We are experimenting with a weekly live after school trivia/BINGO style event in September, and I’ll be interested to see how that works out.

Find more program fun at past BINGO and Dog Man events:

And other virtual school age programs:

Content

We played three rounds of BINGO, two where we aimed for five in a row, and a final coverall game, allowing everyone to get a BINGO.

Watch the video here:

All of the BINGO cards have the same 24 characters on them (plus the free space). I include a number beside each character image to help kids and grown-ups quickly find characters or book covers they are unfamiliar with.

Download the BINGO cards here:

I also curated an at-home fun packet, featuring an activity page for each of our book characters. Download here.

And, of course, a Dog Man BINGO printable certificate:

Virtual School Age Program: Book Character BINGO

Book Character BINGO! This was my first virtual event with very low attendance. I had two families play during the event, with about five more play later in the day. I think our virtual programming’s popularity is directly connected to how popular the related franchise is. Pokemon = popular. Dog Man = popular. Generic Book Characters, even with some popular ones thrown in = not so much.

Setup

This program took place on a day I was required to work in our library, so my setup is a bit different. To have a mask off, I have to be in a closed room, and my only real option was the library board room. One wall is a giant window, another is glass facing admin, and the other two are covered in framed awards and maps. I set up in front of the mini dry erase board:

This isn’t the most convenient setup, but it allowed me to have all of my technology connected and have a cute background.

I was planning to livestream from my laptop, but after all the technical issues I had during Dog Man Trivia last week, I decided to use my phone for my cellphone’s internet. Our work wifi is spotty, especially in our filming space, and the publicly circulating hotspots don’t actually work in the library (bad network coverage).

This involved a lot of technology, including:

  • Phone on tripod with phone mount for livestreaming
  • Laptop for watching stream and responding to comments (off camera)
  • Speaker and iPod touch for background music (off camera)

Content

We played three rounds of BINGO, two where we aimed for five in a row, and a final coverall game.

Watch the video here:

All of the BINGO cards have the same 24 characters on them (plus the free space). I include a number beside each character image to help kids and grown-ups quickly find characters they are unfamiliar with. I also used this as an opportunity to book talk some of the characters on the BINGO cards.

Download the BINGO cards here:

Try this link for a lower-quality download (but a smaller file, easier to print).

A full list of the book characters featured (linked to my library’s catalog):

  1. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey (series)
  2. Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi (series)
  3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (series)
  4. The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey (series)
  5. Smile by Raina Telgemeier (series)
  6. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (series)
  7. An Elephant & Piggie Biggie! by Mo Willems (series)
  8. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  9. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean (series)
  10. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
  11. Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro (series)
  12. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (series)
  13. Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann (series)
  14. Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor (series)
  15. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr.
  16. Geronimo Stilton by Geronimo Stilton (series)
  17. The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey (series)
  18. Don’t Throw It to Mo! By David Adler (series)
  19. Mia Mayhem Is a Superhero by Kara West (series)
  20. Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (series)
  21. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill (series)
  22. Sadiq and the Fun Run by Siman Nuurali (series)
  23. Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee (series)
  24. Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton (series)

I also curated an at-home fun packet, featuring an activity page for each of our book characters. Download here:

And, of course, a Book Character BINGO printable certificate:

Virtual School Age Program: Dog Man Trivia

I enjoy the Dog Man books. I find them genuinely funny, with great character development and subtle nods to the classic books they are sometimes very loosely based on. Kids devour this series, and I find a loveliness in them rooting for a hero who hasn’t said a word over eight books.

Even though Dog Man won our last Book Tournament voting contest, and it is, without question, the most popular book series in our library, I underestimated its popularity going into virtual Dog Man Trivia. I expected a small crowd (Pokemon Trivia in June had around 55 attendees; surely Dog Man would be less). Nope. 101 people. 345+ comments. Even with technology issues during the livestream, people attended, participated, and were engaged with the questions and each other.

Content

My questions were shared via screensharing a PowerPoint on Facebook Live (details below under Logistics). Twenty questions, followed by going back through the twenty questions faster to review the answers.

Watch the video here:

View and Download the PowerPoint below. The fonts I used (that didn’t seem to copy over) were Century Gothic, ObelixPro, and Grobold:

More links:

Logistics

Like many of our school age programs, trivia was hosted on Facebook Live, though this could easily be translated to whatever platform your library is using for virtual events.

There are many great tools out there for trivia. Kahoot is a particularly popular tool that I’ve seen used frequently. That tool asks participants to play along on their phone or another device while watching the livestream, and the system times the questions and ranks participants. While I like that concept for an adult or maybe teen trivia, when there are no prizes involved, I don’t like that system for kids. Plus, it involves a second piece of technology, and for families playing along, it may be especially difficult to have each kid play individually.

My questions were added to a PowerPoint, shared to Facebook using their livestreaming screenshare technology. Some detailed tips for those interested in trying a program this way:

  • Make your slides “widescreen” so they fill up the viewers full computer, phone, or TV screen. Do this by going to Design – Slide Size in Microsoft PowerPoint.
  • I don’t like the clunkiness of viewers seeing me open my powerpoint after going live. To always just have the powerpoint as the center of your screen:
    • In PowerPoint, start the “Slide Show” mode, making your PowerPoint full screen.
    • Use the Windows key (not ESC) to exit the Slide Show presentation view. This key leaves it open in the background.
    • Start your Facebook Livestream. Instead of sharing your entire screen, just share one application — the Slide Show view of PowerPoint.
    • Return to the Slide Show view to change slides for your participants. Always use the Windows key to exit. If you use the ESC key, you won’t be able to restart the slideshow without creating a new livestream.
  • Using the steps above, you cannot easily see the comments during the presentation. I have my phone nearby with the livestream running, allowing me to see questions and comments as they come in. A coworker posts links and types responses to the comments, and I respond verbally as I can.

My program was supposed to last 30 minutes (I knew I was closer to 35 on practice). Between a solid 10+ minutes of technical issues in the middle, and participants asking me to slow down, the program went closer to 50 minutes, but participants stayed with me.

Dog Man passion is huge here, and I’m going to host a Dog Man BINGO in August to continue that online camaraderie around this fandom. What virtual programs have worked well for you? Let us know in the comments!

Virtual School Age Program: Pokemon Week

Last week was an extra layer of busy for me. Each summer for the last three years we have had a Pokemon event. Typically, our Pokemon Party lasts about two hours, has about 200 attendees, and includes trivia, BINGO, crafts, tech, snacks, card trading, and more. The 2020 Pokemon Party was on the calendar…and then COVID happened. Even though this event typically relies heavily on in-library activities and the shared love of a few hundred Pokemon fans in one space, I knew this was one of my must-make-virtual activities.

Pokemon Party turned into virtual Pokemon Week, mostly hosted through Facebook Live. This platform creates some limitations, but it has been our go-to location for most of our virtual programming (and we do still see a lot of familiar faces on there). I created off-Facebook versions of these programs to allow for non-social-media users to also join in on the fun.

Attendance was strong at these events, with 60 active participants in both Pokemon Trivia and Guess that Pokemon, and about 40 active participants at Pokemon BINGO.

In addition to all of the shared content below, I also had these three links available for each event:

Day One: Pokemon Trivia

Very similar to our in-person trivia (except no prizes and easier), our virtual Pokemon Trivia included 20 questions. This was created in PowerPoint and presented using Facebook Live’s screen share tool. Due to the setup, my computer screen was the PowerPoint file, so I had a coworker typing answers to comments, and I verbally responded to some comments after seeing them through the livestream on my phone. Audio and video quality are a big deal as we move farther down the path of virtual programming, and I will never doubt the value of my lovely Yeti microphone (I actually like my voice when I listen back to a recording. I didn’t think that was possible.).

Video of Facebook Live Event:

Same Event on YouTube: The same trivia content can be found in the YouTube video, though this was created for this platform so the extra content is a little different:

Certificate: At the end of the trivia event, we provided a link in the comments to a printable Trivia Master certificate:

Additional Links:

Day Two: Guess that Pokemon

During our in-person event, this is a passive station with images on the wall that attendee’s identify, self-score, and then pick-up a small prize (like a button or bookmark). I made this another trivia-style event.

Video of Facebook Event:

Same Event on YouTube:

Certificate:

Additional Links:

To Make Your Own Character Shadows: I used Microsoft PowerPoint, though this should work in any Microsoft tool (and most image editing software):

  • I found most of my Pokemon images here, though any image without a background can be edited this way.
  • In PowerPoint:
    • I pasted the image.
    • Right clicked on the image and selected “Format Picture.”
    • In the new options to the right, I selected the fourth image in the new toolbar, “Picture.”
    • Changed the “brightness” to zero. The image is now solid black.

Day Three: Pokemon BINGO

Pokemon BINGO was a different virtual adjustment–attendees were able to see me this time! There was an extra “step” here–attendees needed to download Pokemon BINGO cards ahead of time and either print them out or play virtually (like in a paint style program).

Video of Facevook Event:

Downloadable BINGO Cards: 100 unique downloadable Pokemon BINGO cards, plus instructions to play at home.

Certificate:

Additional Links:

Day Four: How to Draw Pokemon

We wrapped up our Pokemon week with our first virtual presenter for the summer, cartoonist Steve Harpster. He taught kids how to draw cartoon-style versions of a variety of Pokemon!

Summer Reading Promo

Like so many libraries, we are re-examining our Summer Reading Program through a virtual lens. At the end of 2019, we moved our reading program from software designed and managed in-house to the ReadSquared platform, kicking off using that service with our first Winter Reading Program in December. Personally, I can’t say I love ReadSquared, but it gets the job done.

We don’t have answers to many of the questions that I see being asked in Facebook Groups every day–how are you distributing prizes? Will any part of the program be available in person? What about people without Internet?

My library doesn’t have all of those answers, and I surely don’t, but I did get tasked with making a video to replace our annual school assemblies. A few years ago, we were able to start visiting 15+ elementary schools in our service area during May for assembly-style presentations where we got kids excited about summer reading. In Ohio, the kids didn’t go back to school after mid-March, so those assemblies obviously were not going to happen. However, we did want to send the schools something to supplement those visits.

Enter the summer reading video.

This took me a few full days worth of work to make, with the bulk of the work taking about 8 hours (filming, editing, screaming at my computer, etc.). Finished product is below:

…and the how-I-did-it follows.

Preparation

General Idea

I knew I wanted to create a video that mimicked the general style of YouTubers–short quick cuts, lots of humor. That seemed like a safe, approachable direction that should appeal to elementary students, and it also meant that I wouldn’t have to (1) memorize really long chunks of text or (2) read from a script (a pet peeve of mine–it is always obvious you are reading, and it always pulls me out of whatever I am watching).

During my storytime videos I just talk freely, but I wanted to make sure I got my words exactly right in this video because so much of our program is up in the air, and people remember what we say. I don’t want to talk about how the kids get to choose their own prize books (a normal staple of our program) when that may not happen this year. We just don’t know.

I was a bit lost for direction on this until a coworker sent me a lovely video made by a school librarian advertising their book fair. I think her humor and silly motions gave me a much better idea of what I was aiming for (and an answer to the dreaded “how do I start?”).

Storyboarding

Storyboard Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

Back in the days when I made videos more frequently, I got into the habit of storyboarding. I knew I was going to need some sort of direction for this video, as I was planning for a lot of short clips/scenes to keep the video moving.

I didn’t draw out a full storyboard, but I did write out a simple word document breaking the film into clips including my general ideas for props, background, and more:

Some of this changed before the final run through–I couldn’t find free green screen software quickly, so I dropped the space bit. The Spongebob rainbow imagination hands didn’t translate when filming either. However, this gave me a place to start.

PPT Text

I transferred big chunks of text to PPT slides, broken into the small bits that were going to take place in one cut. I was going to use this as a script behind the camera to read from, though, as mentioned before, I hate reading from a script, so I ended up just using this to help practice before saying whatever came out of my mouth on film.

Props & Supplies

Mostly, I didn’t need too many props…except for the bits where I attempt to be funny near the beginning middle. (Yes, that is supposed to be a tiger king joke. No, I don’t think it hits home.)

I worked with what I have on hand. For example, the book fair video started with that school librarian playing a trumpet and using a toy megaphone. I have neither. I made a paper megaphone and leaned into the awkward by writing MEGAPHONE on the side.

After the experience I had filming this, I would suggest less props. I think I started to lose my mind when I started swapping out all of the props on the storage unit behind me for each of the “funny” bits (tiger king, Harry Potter, Frozen). This took much more time than it was worth (maybe 10 seconds of camera time for 20-30 minutes of setup and destroying my house).

Filming

Background

I don’t really have a house that is setup for filming anything. The easiest room for me to film in is a spare bedroom, which was essentially a storage space before this. To avoid the mugshot effect (filming against a bare wall), I hiked upstairs the best piece of furniture I could stage–a 3×3 cube unit (that had once been holding craft supplies…that are now all over my house). For storytimes, keeping this unit on the floor works well–it isn’t very tall, but I was trying to focus on the rhymes and my stuffed bear “baby.”

For this video, I wanted my background to be more engaging. So, suddenly, the cube unit is precariously on top of a trunk, and I am rearranging the items on the unit to appeal a bit more to the 6-11 year old crowd instead of the 2-3 year old audience I normally have.

I also had to figure out placement. For storytimes, I am typically a bit further away from the camera–for baby storytime, I want my lap to be in the shot to show when I am touching my baby’s feet or bouncing; for toddler storytime I need to have enough space around me to hold up a flannel board or book. None of that mattered here–it was all about me being engaging, and, following the pattern of YouTubers everywhere, that meant making myself more of a central part of the frame. Figuring out how to position myself with roughly my shoulders and head filling the frame with a background that was engaging but not overpowering took more time than I would like to admit.

Equipment

The particular equipment I use included:

For my particular device, I think the audio in the smartphone is sufficient (no need for an external mike). I have a few issues with lighting on particularly gloomy days, but 90% of the time, natural lighting is the best option when filming. Just make sure your window isn’t directly behind you.

Being on Camera

I read about the struggles of being on camera for many librarians, and, unfortunately for any readers out there, I don’t have too much to add to that conversation. I think I’m actually a little more comfortable in front of the camera at this point than I often am in front of patrons.

My tips for getting comfortable:

  • Don’t watch yourself while filming. If you tend to overthink everything you do, turn your phone around and film with that much higher-quality camera on the back of your device. I started doing this for live storytimes because, on an Android device, you can’t flip a livestream so that the words in a book are facing the right way for the audience on your front-facing camera. And it is freeing. I stare at that little circle on my phone and release any tension–I can’t see comments, I can’t see my weird hand gestures, I can’t see anything–and it is all out of my control now. Embrace the chaos. It let me stop overthinking every motion.
  • Picture that one storytime kid. You know the one. The one that comes to all of your storytimes, and hopefully appears at some virtual ones too. I know that Miss Julia is always watching–and she is who I am presenting too. If no one else comes, I know Julia had a blast–and that is all I need.
  • Get silly. I am always, always, so self-aware in storytimes. I can move past some of it, especially with a bigger crowd, but when I have just a few adults and kids staring at me, it makes me very aware of my every motion and every time a story, song, or joke doesn’t connect. I am always looking for reactions–and here, I have to give that up because there are no reactions (at least that I can see while presenting). It is just me. So, mentally, I tell myself that every single thing hit home. There is nothing to tell me otherwise–so gosh darn it I am going to believe that the viewers LOVED every second of it. This lets me get sillier than usual. There isn’t a mom in the corner silently judging me (more likely spacing out completely out of exhaustion, but our brains tell us we are the center of the universe so…). It is just me dancing like no one is watching.

Editing

Oh, editing.

Your success and frustration with editing is largely going to depend on your computer. Do you have a high-powered computer? Preferably a Mac? The fastest, best internet humanly possible? You should be set.

Oh, you are like the rest of us mortals, and you don’t have all those things?

Join the club.

I have a decent-ish (Windows) computer now, but it was still a struggle at many points in the editing process. I don’t suggest you buy a new computer for this, so use what you have.

I used OpenShot video editior. This is free software that gets the job done. It is not very intuitive–not nearly as intuitive as, say, iMovie (available for free on a Mac)–but it has the bells and whistles if you know where to find them. I had to do a lot of Google searches to figure out how to do most tasks, but there are many really accessible tutorials out there. Just be ready for the time commitment and learning curve, especially the first time you use it.

Music

I didn’t worry too much about music being copyrighted, except for whether YouTube would demonetize a video vs. block it entirely. Most popular songs lead to demonetization, which as a public library not making any ad revenue anyway, this really isn’t a big deal. (Some songs do lead to a Youtube video being blocked in most countries, which is depressing after all of the effort you put in to make it.)

I was able to download both songs I used for free from Freegal using my library card. I also regularly pull Royalty Free Music from bensound.com for introductions and such.

So many of us are filming our own videos now…what are you doing? What questions do you have? Virtual programming isn’t going anywhere anytime soon–how are you making it work for you?

Kids Passive Program: Book Tournament

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.

Read about some of my other passive programs at the links below:

One of my favorite passives is our Book Tournament voting bracket. I select 16 titles that have appeal to ages 6-12 (generally our most popularly requested titles), and match them against one another.

Visitors of all ages can vote about once a week for their favorite titles. Over a month, our titles are whittled down to our final match-up, which has now twice resulted in Harry Potter vs. Dog Man (but a different outcome each time).

Voting sheets and a voting box are displayed at the youth desk and beside our large bracket poster.

For 2020, our first round match-ups included (winners in bold):

  • Dog Man vs. Magic Tree House
  • Land of Stories vs. Amulet
  • I Survived vs. Wimpy Kid
  • Big Nate vs. Smile
  • Harry Potter vs. Last Kids
  • Bad Guys vs. Captain Underpants (by one vote!)
  • Who Would Win vs. Percy Jackson
  • Wings of Fire vs. Baby Sitter’s Club

Our rounds continued until we were eventually whittled down to the same match-up as 2018: Dog Man vs. Harry Potter. In 2018, Harry Potter won by a landslide. In 2020, however, Dog Man took the trophy by a single-vote victory.

Many patrons came in each week to check on–and sometimes attempt to contest–who had won the previous week. I’m excited to bring this back again next year and to see if we have a different outcome. 

Innovation Academy: Coding 101

The Innovation Academy series began as monthly tech programs for kids ages 8-11. Since then, it has evolved into a series that lets school-age students explore different skills, art forms, technology, and more.

One of my favorite program themes is Coding 101. In just an hour, with kids with a wide range of coding skills, we covered the basics of block-based coding and how computers work

The PowerPoint I used during this program is below:

Inside of a Computer

We started by talking about how computers work. I have an old computer tower and some extra parts from our computer services department. We discussed what each piece did. The kids loved getting their hands on all of the small parts and looking at them up close.

Eventually, our conversation shifted from hardware to software, which led us to coding.

Group Coding Practice – Jelly Sandwich

After talking through some coding vocabulary, we discovered key coding concepts by completing a group activity. I was the “robot” and the kids told me, step by step, how to make a jelly sandwich.

Things quickly got quite ridiculous. The kids always seem to start this activity by telling me to “get some bread” or “open the bread” which leads to me promptly tearing open a bag of bread in a way that causes bread slices to fly everywhere.

Afterwards, we discussed how this activity connects to the coding practice they will be doing later. The kids catch on quickly to coding skills such as having to be very specific and learning that they will spend time making and correcting mistakes–and that is okay.

Activity 1: Drawing with Dash

I have been presenting fewer technology programs lately. I’m burnt out on them, and I think a lot of my growing disinterest is doing the same activities over and over again. My regular kids get bored, and so do I. We can only do so many obstacle courses. There are only so many challenges that the kids find fun that also work well for a mixture of kids with differing abilities. Every program, I have those few kids who have attended every one of my technology programs, mixed in with those kids who have never heard of the word “coding.”

This month, I pulled out an activity I have done before, but with a bit of a twist. We used Dash robot LEGO connectors and rubber bands to build a marker attachment for Dash. This takes a majority of the activity time, though there is always that one group that eventually realizes that two rubber bands will work just as well to hold a marker in a standing position as the most elaborate LEGO arm.

After attaching their marker, kids then pulled a variety of drawing challenges out of a jar. They used the Blockly coding app to try to create everything from letters to simple shapes to more elaborate and ridiculous creations (like a sloth or a banana–which end up with some interesting pictures).

Activity 2: Sphero Bocee Ball

This was a first-time activity for me and a smash hit with attendees. Kids worked in pairs to play an abbreviated version of bocee ball. The goal: get your SPRK+ robot as close as possible to the center of the target as possible.

All teams started in the same place. Once the game started, no one could stand in the playing field or physically touch any robots. Robots can hit other robots, (hopefully) pushing them away from the target. Robots can only be moved via code through the Sphero EDU app.

Each round was timed carefully to keep things moving.

Pairs had two minutes to practice their strategy and familiarize themselves with block-based coding via the Sphero EDU app. Giving the kids practice time was vital to let them realize exactly how far the robot could go in a short amount of time at a high speed.

The competing pairs played a round of rock, paper, scissors. The winning team decided whether they wanted to go first or second.

The team going first had one minute to finalize their code. After Team One’s turn, the second team then had another minute to work on their code.

We repeated this for three rounds.

Kids got very competitive trying to see who could get their robot closest to the center of the target (preferably knocking other robots out of the way in the process).

What about Bob? -Teen Programming

You may have noticed the retro uptrends lately. 80’s band tees and cartoons, scrunchies, vinyl records, fanny packs, and even the Walkman is releasing an updated version for it’s 40th anniversary. The past is alive and well in pop culture and teens are living for the nostalgia…..even if though they weren’t around for the orininals. One case in point is Bob Ross. He is everywhere. There are Bob Ross puzzles, Bob Ross tee shirts, Bob Ross board games, Bob Ross Halloween costumes, and of course Bob Ross library programs. 

I have successfully run Happy Little Painters, a Bob Ross inspired teen painting programin two unique ways with registration filling up in a matter of days. (I prefer to run programs that do not require registration, however when there are specific material needs I have to know how many kiddos I’ll have coming in.) 

My first Happy Little Painters program took place over the summer out on the front lawn. Each participant received a canvas panel, a paint palette, their choice of tempera paints to use (I always use tempera paints for teens because someone always winds up painting themselves, their friends, their clothes, or their friend’s clothes), a brush, and a cup of water and were let loose to sit on the disposable tablecloths I laid out in the various shady places of our lawn. 

There were no rules on what they should paint, but were encouraged to paint what was around them or use it as inspiration. We have many happy little things that can be seen from the front lawn: trees, flowers, clouds, CVS…. and a lot of happy things were created. At the end of the program each teen was able to take home their work and also got a pin for participating.

The second time I ran Happy Little Painters, we were indoors. I started the program watching the intro and 5 minutes of an episode of The Joy of Painting  to show how quickly speed painting actually goes. I then kept a still of the end picture frozen on the screen and allowed everyone  to create at their own pace trying out their own techniques in recreating the picture. 

Most followed the plan and created a scene reminiscent to the original, however there were a few teens that wanted to create original pieces of art. (While not following the idea of the program teens painting to the beat of their own drum were still actively participating and I am not one to dissuade art, expression, or participation simply because it wasn’t the “assignment”) At the end of the program each teen, once again, got to keep their art and also received a certificate for participation.

Since running these programs I have learned that the Bob Ross company is very litigious about the use of the name Bob Ross and the phrase “happy little trees”, so I foresee a title change going forward with additional programs of this vein for me. However, Bob Ross was not mentioned in any marketing for the program. I was vaguely dressed like a certain bearded, afro-ed, painter of yesteryear and spoke in a more peaceful, dulcet tone than my own voice, but I find painting brings out the more meditative side to me anyway… and really, who doesn’t rock a permed wig to work occasionally?

Science, Baby!

Before there was Play & Learn, there was the idea of Science, Baby. A presentation at an annual ALA Conference by Brooklyn Public Library about their Science Baby! program opened my eyes to how much more babies can do than what many baby storytime outlines imply. Babies are so much more than passive observers–their brains are developing faster than they ever will for the rest of their lives–combined. STEM concepts do not need to be limited to older children. In fact, babies are the perfect example of little scientists as they learn everything about the world:

Poster from Nerdy Baby

My own Science Baby! program finally became a reality during our winter storytime break in late December. Seventy babies and adults joined me for a morning of baby play with a STEM twist.

Activities were broken down into a few rough categories. They included:

Some of these stations just involved putting out an item, like mirrors for mirror play. Others involved some ahead of time creation, like the sensory bottles. Still more involved in-room setup, like attaching sticky contact paper to the wall and building the pool noodle counter by stringing pool noodle pieces to string tied between two chairs.

Each station included a front and back laminated handout explaining the value of the particular activity, what little ones are learning, conversation starters, and vocabulary to stretch conversations with little ones.

We had many older siblings join in the fun as well, particularly enjoying all of the building activities. The sticky contact paper, baby pool play, bubbles, pom pom drop, and sensory bottles were the most well-loved activities.

Most families stayed for about 45-50 minutes. I’m looking forward to bringing this back again someday!

Kids Passive Program: Scavenger Hunts

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.

There is nothing quite as appealing to kids of all ages as a scavenger hunt. These are particularly great passives, as the intended audience of school age children complete them, but younger siblings can too and therefore don’t feel left out.

We have made a ton of scavenger hunts at my library, and a few of my favorites are available to download below. Most scavenger hunts involve a sticker, 1″ button, or bookmark as the prize, typically made by department staff.

Dinovember Scavenger Hunt

I couldn’t help but use Land Before Time characters for the November 2019 Dinovember scavenger hunt.

Mother Bruce Scavenger Hunt

This was made for a Mother Bruce program, but I have used it a few times since. Little ones practice their counting skills by finding all 10 numbered geese.

Pokemon Scavenger Hunt

This scavenger hunt design is adapted from the amazing Ontarian Librarian blog. It makes an appearance in the week before my annual summer Pokemon Party.

Pooh Count the Bees Scavenger Hunt

The Winnie the Pooh Count the Bees scavenger hunt has a different concept behind it–instead of finding six specific pictures, participants count how many bees they could find around the room. I believe I hid around 30, and anyone who gave an answer over 28 received the prize. 

Superhero Scavenger Hunt

My very first Imagination Station was superhero themed, and I created a superhero logo hunt around the youth department.

Where’s Waldo Scavenger Hunt

Definitely a fan favorite at our library, patrons loved this real-life Where’s Waldo game.