Blogger Abby Johnson

Using Scarves in Storytime

Scarves are one of my favorite props to use in storytime because: They’re colorful! They’re fun to wave around and something that most of our kids probably don’t have at home. We ordered a ton of them so they’re a good choice when we’ll have large storytime crowds. They’re lightweight and pack down very small, so they’re easy to take on the road to outreach visits. Lately, I’ve been collecting lots of ways to use scarves in my storytimes because I love them so much, and I’m here today to pass on what I have learned. How do you pass out scarves?  They’re hard to smoosh down into a basket, so how do you pass them out? One of my colleagues showed me this way: Lay out your scarves and then tie them into a bundle. Hold the bundle by the knot as you’re going around and each child can…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Bundle Up for Storytime

The weather outside may be frightful (or it may not, depending on where you live!), but it’s always a great time to cozy up for storytime. There are TONS of great ideas for winter storytime and here are some of my favorites: Books: Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2002). This is a great rhyming book about hibernation. Blizzard by John Rocco (Disney-Hyperion, 2014). I use this one for slightly older kids and they love the idea of school being closed for days (and the fold-out map through the snow). Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London (Puffin Books, 1992). The pattern and humor in this book lend themselves well to storytelling, so this makes a great felt story, too! A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke (Dutton Children’s Books, 1994). Silly Minerva Louise wanders out into the snow and gets everything…

Blogger Abby Johnson

On Feeling Overwhelmed

Photo by Bernard Goldbach, used under a Creative Commons license. It’s been quite a year in the Children’s Room, and this is normally something I’d post on my personal blog, BUT I think it’s something we all need to hear from time to time. Sometimes things are overwhelming. This year, my director suddenly resigned in March. We still do not have a replacement. Our budget was frozen from May to August (yup, right during the Summer Reading Club – fun!). In June, we moved the teen area downstairs and combined Children’s and Teen into the Youth Services Department, which I am supervising (more staff to supervise!). I bought a house with my fiance in August (and yes, I’m planning a wedding, too). In, I don’t know, September or something we shifted the pages from being supervised by Circulation staff to being supervised by Reference and Youth Services (more staff to supervise!)….

Blogger Abby Johnson

Visit the Science Playground

Last month during our students’ Fall Break, I offered a STEM program that was easy to prep, easy to staff, and cost us nothing! We held a drop-in Science Playground where I put out all kinds of science materials and allowed families to explore at their own pace. ** This is the caveat where I tell you that the reason that this program was absolutely free to us is that we have been collecting science tools and kits for several years for our summer Science Explorer table. Worry not, I have some ideas in case you do NOT have science tools at the ready!** I scheduled the program for an afternoon during Fall Break. It was drop-in and open to all ages, although the materials we had were mostly geared towards the early elementary crowd (and that’s the audience we ended up attracting). I set up tables in our meeting…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Ruminating on Leaf Rubbing

If you live in a place where you have deciduous trees, you are probably experiencing (or starting to experience) that brilliant foliage color change that happens this time of year. Which means that it is a GREAT time for making leaf rubbings with your kids at the library. (Also: even if you do not live in a place where the leaves change in the fall, as long as you have leaves you can do leaf rubbings!) This may seem like a very basic and boring activity. I thought so, too. But our kids go crazy for it every year (even though we do it with our Afterschool outreach storytimes every single year). And it is extremely cheap and easy to do. Which makes it a perfect craft, in my opinion. Here’s what you do: Step 1: Gather leaves. I do not have deciduous trees in my yard, so I take…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Check Out our Felt Stories

When our library created its strategic plan, many of the goals concerning the Children’s Room fell under the category of “Create Young Readers”, so we’re always looking for ways to engage our youngest patrons and the adults who work with them. I’ve posted before about our School Collection program where we circulate boxes of books to teachers for classroom use. This year, we have debuted another facet of our School Collection program: circulating felt stories. We had gotten requests for circulating felt stories from teachers over the years, and this year we decided to go for it. I have a particularly crafty staff person and I made this one of her goals this year to create felt stories to add to this collection. Each felt story/rhyme is housed in a simple ziplock bag. A piece of cardboard in the bag helps give them shape. On one side of the cardboard…

Blogger Abby Johnson

On Debriefing the Summer Reading Club

Maybe you are lucky like me and your Summer Reading Club is finished or winding down, or maybe you still have some weeks to go. Either way, let’s talk about debriefing after the Summer Reading Club is over. I always dedicate our early August/late July department meeting to discussing the Summer Reading Club. We talk about what worked and what didn’t. We make notes for what we should change or keep for next year. We go ahead and pencil in dates so that we’re all clear about our schedule. Here are some things we did this summer that we had discussed last summer: Our prize cart was decorated and we always pushed it out on one side of our desk (the side without shelving carts) because last year we had some confusion about which books were prize books. This worked really well for us this summer and having a special, decorated…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Summer Reading Club Check In

Here at my library, we are just about halfway through the summer (hooray!), so I thought it might be a good time to check in and see how Summer Reading is going for everyone. Our reading program is going like gangbusters with about 1500 kids (plus about 300 in the Daycare Summer Reading Club) registered and lots of finishers coming in (we typically end up with about 2000 kids signed up by the end of the summer). This year, we’re able to give out a FREE BOOK to every finisher, which feels awesome (we typically have about 1000 finishers). Another big hit has been the Fine Bucks we’re giving out to children and teens. Each SRC finisher gets 10 fine bucks, which can be used to pay fines on late or lost books on children’s or teen cards. I really love any way we can get kids’ cards clear and…