STEAM programming in Acton-Agua Dulce and Moose Jaw

Maker programming is a large trend in public libraries throughout North America. By researching kit options and planning for added costs, public libraries can develop successful steam programming.

Moose Jaw Public Library has invested in a number of Maker programming initiatives which have been well received, including MakeDo, Squishy Circuits, and Little Bits. Prior to purchasing we sought reviews from a number of sources, including communications with other librarians, makezine.com, and reviews at PLA and at other conferences. We funded our Maker programs through a grant and through donations from our local Friends of the Library.

MakeDo encourages children to explore basic engineering principles. Each kit comes with a plastic safe saw, and several pins and hinges. Each library supplies cardboard boxes and the paper supplies required by the kits. Children can build anything they wish, or follow the kit instructions. While they cannot take their creations home, they can display their works of art and turn your library into a gallery!

With electrical circuit kits, it is important to consider the actual ongoing cost of the maker kits, including replacement parts.  Squishy Circuits and Little Bits are very popular, however both kits have hidden costs. Squishy Circuits offers a fun, tactile way to experience electricity. However, librarians will need to factor in the cost of extra dough, replacement wires and time for cleaning equipment. Little Bits are fun! Kids love assembling these magnetic circuits. Buy the largest pack in your budget, as you will want multiples for a larger group. Additional budgeting is a must, as some pieces at the time of our kit’s purchase were only sold separately.

The Acton-Agua Dulce Public Library has also invested in various maker kits, with special emphasis on Snap Circuits Jr. kits. Each kit comes with an instructional booklet with projects that a child could do alone or in pairs. The baseline Jr. kit comes with 100 available projects that start from a basic closed circuit where a light illuminates or a fan spins to more complicated series and parallel circuits. I used this set for a S.T.E.A.M. centered program for ages 8-14 and it was very well received. Some kids already had lessons on circuitry and knew how they worked so I allowed them to have complete freedom with the kits and focused more on those who were just learning how the circuits worked.

The Snap Circuits kits turned out to be excellent for passive programming as well as more structured, lesson-based programming. We now have a couple different types of kits at the library as part of our Homework Center, and the afterschool kids love setting them up and seeing what they can create. And don’t worry if a piece gets lost or broken because you can easily buy replacement parts through their website. The only additional cost to the kits is the use of AA batteries, two needed per kit.

Three  questions you may want to ask before buying your maker kit: Will it be something that kids will ask for again, over and over? Can you do a whole program around the kit? How easy is it to get replacement parts? The biggest takeaway with buying maker kits is that you have to try them for yourself to see what will work for you and your community.

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Courtesy photo from Tina Docetti

Courtesy photo from Tina Docetti

Our guest bloggers today are Amanda Cain and Tina Dolcetti.Tina currently works for the Moose Jaw Public Library as a Children’s Librarian. By night, Tina can be found in her community, mentoring an adult with a cognitive disability for the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living. Amanda is a Children’s Librarian who enjoys opening young minds with stories, rhymes and activities at the Acton-Agua Dulce Public Library.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do

Courtesy photo from Amanda Cain

Courtesy photo from Amanda Cain

not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

Posted in Guest Blogger, STEM/STEAM | Leave a comment

ALSC Award Confidentiality: Let us know what you think!

For decades many ALSC book and media award committees have observed time-honored confidentiality policies. The question has been brought to the ALSC Board: For research purposes, should there be a designated statute of limitations on these confidentiality policies?

That’s a big question to think about, and we want your input!  Please complete the following survey by Wednesday, May 18:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HVVWNRZ

Let us know what you think!

Posted in ALSC Board, Blogger Mary R. Voors | Tagged | Leave a comment

ALSC Member of the Month – Melissa Morwood

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten (plus one) questions with ALSC member, Melissa Morwood.

1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

“Courtesy photo from Melissa Morwood”

“Courtesy photo from Melissa Morwood”

I am a Senior Children’s Librarian for the Palo Alto City Library, and I have been here for 11 years. I present weekly storytimes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, host class visits, plan and present school-age and family programming for our customers, and help folks on both the kids and adult reference desks.

2. Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I initially joined ALSC to feel a sense of community with other children’s librarians across the country, since for many years I was the only youth services staff person at my branch. I have gained so much through my membership- the ALSC blog posts are always fantastic, and they help me to grow as a librarian, and to provide better service to our customers.

3.  Are you ready for Summer Reading?

I’m in charge of our library’s Summer Reading Program for the third year in a row, so I’ve been thinking about Summer Reading since January! We’ll be doing early Summer Reading registrations as part of a kindergarten library card campaign this year, so it’s only a few more weeks until we have to be ready for the program to go live. And I always look forward to our Kick-Off party, which features music, ice cream, and lots of happy families.

4.   Are you starting to make plans for retirement?

Yes! I’ve still got 19 more years until I can retire, but my husband and I are already making plans to move to California’s north coast where we went to college at Humboldt State University. We love the smaller towns, the laid back atmosphere, and the combination of redwoods, farmland, and desolate beaches. It’s a gorgeous area with friendly people.

5.    What’s the last book you recommended to a friend?

Phoebe and Her Unicorn, by Dana Simpson. I just read it last week, quickly followed by the sequel Unicorn on Wheels. The books are humorous yet sweet, and it cracks me up how endearing Marigold is to the reader, despite being such an egomaniac. Some of my other favorite graphic novels include Roller Girl, Baba Yaga’s Assistant, and This One Summer.

6.    What’s your favorite piece of technology?

My iphone. When I’m not at work, I enjoy not being tied to a desktop computer if I need to send a quick email or get directions. I also love having my phone’s camera capabilities ready at all times for when my 11 month old twin niece and nephew inevitably do something super cute.

7.   Do you have any family traditions?

Every year on Christmas Eve my husband, dog, and I curl up in our pjs and watch Love Actually. It’s been our annual tradition for close to 10 years now, and I always look forward to it.

8.   What is the last song you sang?

The More We Get Together. It’s my closing song each week at Baby Storytime, and we do the sign language along with it. I do two Baby Storytime sessions every Tuesday morning, and I had over 140 attendees between the two programs this morning!

9.   If you could bring back any extinct animal, which would it be?

Definitely dinosaurs (preferably herbivorous dinosaurs…) Regardless of how badly all of the Jurassic Park movies end, I still always turn to my husband and say “I’d TOTALLY visit Jurassic Park!”

10.  How do you incorporate STEM/STEAM activities in your work with children? 

I’m actually doing my very first STEM-based program tomorrow afternoon! We’re having an Engineers at Work program, where kids in grades 2-5 will be challenged to create marble runs out of household materials, and then we’ll have races to see how well each run works. I was inspired to try STEAM programming after watching ALSC webinars presented by Amy Koester, who makes STEAM programming look so fun and easy.

11.  What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not working?

Hanging out with my husband and talking about children’s literature. He’s a kindergarten teacher, and it’s so much fun to recommend books for him to read to his class- they love the Mercy Watson and Princess in Black series. It’s great to be able to geek out regarding the ALSC Book & Media Awards, and have him not only listen but actively participate in the conversation. He’s super supportive of my dream to serve on an ALSC award committee someday.

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Thanks, Melissa! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.

Posted in ALSC Member Profile, Blogger Mary R. Voors | Leave a comment

Dare to Dance: Introducing Dance Movements and Music into your Storytimes

Are you ready to energize your storytimes with dancing that goes beyond movement songs? Are you ready to dare to use your body to motivate caregivers while promoting children’s developmental needs for coordination, balance and gross motor skills?

Dancing Girls

Kids enjoy the Music in this Public Domain image from Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Our library expanded the role of our storytimes into a program that offers more than reading books, nursery rhymes and singing songs. We introduced Dance Time to teach children basic dance steps while listening to an age appropriate song.

There is so much librarians can do to enhance the library experience through dancing. Dancing provides opportunities for adults and children to learn to:

  • Follow the beats of the song with their feet and or hands
  • Balance their body parts
  • Coordinate their body movements

Additional benefits of dancing include:

  • Improve muscle tone
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase ability to feel comfortable about oneself

Although dancing is a natural channel of expression for many cultures, children from other cultures, including some that are predominant in the United Stated, are hardly exposed to it. In some cultures, babies are exposed to music and dancing from birth, with moms dancing around holding their babies in their arms regularly. Soon baby and mommy-and-baby dancing transforms into a semi dancing lesson with caregivers holding and moving their toddles’ hands and arms while following the beats of a song. As the child’s motor skills develop, the caregiver will now focus on simple steps using the child’s legs and feet. Dance will continue be part of the child’s life in elementary school where different dances are taught in music class.

Coming from a culture where this type of exposure to dance is widespread, in my work as a Youth Services Librarian, I noticed that lack of coordinated body movements following a rhythmic patterns in children attending our programs. Naturally, this observation changes depending on the cultural background of clients.

As a result of my observations, I supplemented our storytimes with a portion of the program called Dance Time. During Dance Time, children and caregivers are encouraged to dance to a tune following three basic dance steps that are reinforced at every storytime. When I introduced Dance Time for the first time, many children and parents were reluctant to follow me. However, after a couple months of Dance Time, these same clients appeared more relaxed and moved happily following the beat of the music.

Music is contagious and is an excellent tool to uplift spirits and transform a library program into a lifelong learning experience. Many librarians already use children’s songs during storytime. However, have you offered a “dance activity” or “movement song” to invigorate your programs? Let us know about it in the comments below.

If you feel ready to dare, try the following dance songs in your storytime:

  • Palo, palo Music Together. Palo, Palo. [Arranged and adapted by Gerry Dignan and K. Guilmartin]. Music Together: Bringing harmony Home [CD]. Princeton NJ: (2007)
  • El baile del perrito (Wilfrido Vargas)

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Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Kathia Ibacache. Kathia is a Youth Services Librarian at Simi Valley Public Library. She has worked as a music teacher and Early Music Performer and earned a MLIS from San José State University and a DMA from the University of Southern California. She loves to read realistic fiction and horror stories and has a special place in her heart for film music.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

Posted in Guest Blogger, Programming Ideas, Storytime | Tagged | 2 Comments

Wilder Times Ahead!

WilderBeverly Cleary                                           Ashley Bryan

Katherine Paterson                                  E.B. White

Donald Crews                                            Jean Fritz

Virginia Hamilton                                     Jerry Pinkney

What do all these talented people have in common?

They are just a few recipients of the Laura Ingalls Wilder award, presented  to “an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” First given in 1954 to Laura Ingalls Wilder, the award was originally presented every five years and has evolved; it is now given annually.

What author or illustrator do you think has made their mark on American children’s literature?  The 2017 Wilder Committee is seeking your suggestions of  authors and illustrators to be considered for next year’s award. Has your favorite author been recognized already? Check out the entire list of previous Wilder medal recipients. If not, let us know who you are thinking of and why!

So what exactly does “substantial and lasting contribution” mean? According to the criteria, these books “occupy an important place in literature for American children and that over the years children have read the books and that the books continue to be requested and read by children.”  If you are detail-oriented or historically minded, you might enjoy exploring the definitions and criteria behind the awards.  In reviewing these specifications, I can see the well-thought out process behind the awards, and it makes me appreciate the procedures that have been developed. Interestingly, the Wilder Award can be awarded posthumously, and regardless of a person’s place of residence.

Please submit your suggestions via the form at http://www.ala.org/alsc/wilder-medal-suggestion-form. Note: The page can only be accessed by ALSC members—so you must be logged into the ALA website to view the form.

Please share your ideas with us!

Happy reading,

Robin L.  Gibson, 2017 Wilder Award Committee member, Westerville Public Library, Westerville, Ohio

Posted in Awards & Scholarships, Children's Literature (all forms) | Tagged | Leave a comment

An April-full of ALSC Adventures

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”

― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Welcome! (Taken at Arapahoe Library District's Koelbel Library)

Welcome! (Taken at Arapahoe Library District’s Koelbel Library)

I kicked off last month at the Illinois Youth Services Institute, in Normal, presenting on Media Mentorship with one of the co-authors of our white paper on the topic and newly elected “New to ALSC” Board member, Amy Koester, encouraging everybody in the audience (and you, too!) to tweet “I am a #mediamentor”. Congratulations to my fellow Prairie state children’s librarians who imagined and delivered a wonderful inaugural event.

Then I headed up several thousand feet to Denver, for the Public Library Association conference, the theme of which was “Be Extraordinary.” The week was absolutely that, and more, and you can discover some of the experiences there by looking back at the live blogging that several ALSC members did, including pictures from the awesome ALSC Happy Hour and from my invigorating visit, along with our Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter, to the beautiful Koelbel Library of the Arapahoe Library District, in Centennial, Colorado.

nlw-gene-yang-twitter-cover

I had an especially transformative National Library Week this year by visiting 5 libraries in 5 states in 5 days! I began at the Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library in Alexandria, Virginia, built in 1937 and named after, as its website says, “a humanitarian, social crusader and political reformer.” Then on to a building built more than three-quarters of a century later, the beautifully modern Silver Spring Library, part of the Montgomery County Public Libraries in Maryland, followed by a visit to the Tippecanoe County Public Library’s Downtown Library in Lafayette, Indiana, where the “people chairs” make for very comfy reading. Next, a stop back home at Chicago Public Library’s Hall Branch, where Charlemae Hill Rollins served as children’s librarian many decades ago. Then it was westward to the Oxnard Public Library’s Main Library in California, where it was clear upon entering their “Area Para Los Niños” that the community was having a very happy week! All of these visits to ALSC members and our libraries, along with my many others this year (which you can discover on Twitter with #ALSCtour) have made me even more amazed at the work we do and the libraries in which, and from which, we do it. Not to mention even more excited about celebrating these spaces at my President’s Program at Annual (Monday, 6/27, 1:00, Convention Center #W110A), and you can check out a quick video about it, filmed in Ms. Rollins children’s room, here:

On the Friday of National Library Week, the singular Pat Mora presented a joyous Arbuthnot Lecture–¡Alegría en los libros!–at the gorgeous Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) and you can also enjoy it hereGracias to SBCC, the Santa Barbara Public Library System, and the University of California at Santa Barbara, which includes the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies. BTW, applications are now being accepted to host next year’s Arbuthnot Lecture starring Jacqueline Woodson, so please consider applying by May 15 here.

In Santa Barbara's fantastic new Central Library Children's Room with '16 Arbuthnot Chair Julie Corsaro & Children's Librarian Gwen. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

In Santa Barbara’s fantastic new Central Library Children’s Room with ’16 Arbuthnot Chair Julie Corsaro & Senior Youth Services Librarian Gwen Wagy. #BabiesNeedWordsEveryDay (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Then I was delighted to be reunited with Pat again several days later, this time in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 20th anniversary of El día de los niños/El día de los libros, the nationally recognized initiative founded by Pat that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. With support from ALA’s Washington Office we had a joyful morning of books (and cake!) at the U.S. Captiol along with Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), Sen. Jack Reed (RI).

Congressman Mark Takano of California reads "Book Fiesta!" while Pat Mora, me, and kids from CentroNia and Payne Elementary celebrate. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Congressman Mark Takano of California reads “Book Fiesta!” while Pat Mora, me, and kids from CentroNia and Payne Elementary School celebrate. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Thanks, everybody, for a delightful Día and an awesome April! I’m looking forward to May’s flowers and want to congratulate all of those who stood for election on this year’s ALSC ballot–both those who won and those whose names will I hope appear again soon!

Posted in Blogger Andrew Medlar, Dia | Leave a comment

Announcing the Blog’s #TopTenContest

ALSC Blog Top Ten Contest

ALSC members are invited to submit their entries in the Top Ten Contest. Winners receive their choice of two prize categories! (Image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC members love lists! The ALSC Blog is holding a contest to find out which members have the best lists. And they don’t just have to be book lists. Keep in mind your audience: ALSC Blog readers are world travelers, children’s literature enthusiasts, pillars of knowledge, youth librarians, and community engagement specialists. Send us your top 10 and we’ll hold a vote for the top ten list of top ten lists!

Winners will be able to choose from two categories of prizes including individual 2016 Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet tickets. Participants must be personal members of ALSC. Lists must be submitted by Friday, May 13, 2016 at 5pm Eastern/4pm Central. Help us spread the contest by tweeting about is using the hashtag #toptencontest. For more information and rules, please see the Top Ten Contest tab.

Posted in Blogger Dan Bostrom, Contests | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Moving? New library job? Some helpful hints

moving-truck-300pxWhether you’re a new librarian moving to take your first job, or an experienced librarian moving to greener pastures, here are some suggestions that might help.

I’m not saying I followed them all, but I should have! 🙂

Before you move:

  • Take care of business.  Give adequate notice, file paperwork, clean your desk, get your medical and dental checkups in before your insurance runs out, return all your library books. 🙂
  • If you can, give yourself some time open roadbetween jobs – especially if you’re moving out-of-state.  Acquiring a new, license, registration, cell service, cable, electricity, etc., can be daunting if you’re working full-time.

At your new location:

  • Be a team player. It’s easy to think of yourself as the “outsider,” but work is more fun when you work together.  Be interested, be helpful, be approachable.
  • Know what’s going on. It’s your  home now. Who’s your mayor, your congressman, your baseball team? Subscribe to the local news in print, feed, or online.library icon
  • Join your union – or at least hear them out.  They’re the folks working to earn better wages and benefits for you and they’re a good source of job-related information that you might not receive elsewhere.
  • Figure out who doesn’t mind answering questions, who doesn’t like to be pestered, who likes to joke around.  Work with that.
  • When you get that mountain of papers about insurance options – read it! And don’t miss the deadlines.
  • If you’re offered the chance to sign up for deferred compensation of some kind, do it right away before you ever have a chance to  miss the money.  Later, you’ll be glad you did.

forbidden signA few don’ts:

  • Don’t get discouraged. If your new library is like every other library – there’s too much to do and not enough people to do it.  Relax; do the best you can do.
  • If you’re in a position of authority, don’t make  drastic changes right away.  First, find out what works and what doesn’t, and why things are done the way they are.  Be respectful.
  • Don’t eat the boiled peanuts.  I hear they’re terrible! 😉

 

 

Images credit: Openclipart.org

Posted in Blogger Lisa Taylor, Bloggers, Slice of Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment