Blogger Jonathan Dolce

Libraries Rock: Between Summer READing ‘n’ Hard Places

Summer READing is upon us!

So, you’ve got everything lined up for summer.  Performers – check!  Special storytimes – check!  Crafts – check!  Libraries rock!

But what about the unexpected?  It’s all happened to us – a performer cancels at the last minute, or a crucial staff member calls in sick.  Will you be ready?

Here’s some quick and easy hands-on activities that can be turned into full-blown, hour long programs!  All on the turn of a dime and just as affordable!  Rock – I mean – read on!

Libraries Rock – Literally!

Zen or Sharpie Stones

What could be easier?  Take some rocks, get some Sharpies and create simply patterns all over them!

These can be as simple or as complex as you want:


Mini Rock Garden

Easy mode: Get a shoe box lid, add some sand and rocks and create patterns with a plastic fork.

Image result for mini rock garden craft

Source: Pinterest

Tip: Put them in your libraries green spaces to make libraries rock everywhere!

Rock Art

Take Sharpie stones to the next level!  Rock art is everywhere: parks, libraries, back yards, pockets, backpacks and every conceivable place.  Here’s some samples:

Image result for rock art

Source: Pinterest

Tip: Use paint and a paintbrush or paint pens

Stepping Stones

Make them mosaic!  Try some impressions!  Either way you’ve got two paths before you: cement or no cement.

If you use cement, you’ll probably want to use Quickrete or any quick drying cement.  Remember that quick drying cements have a powder that is toxic if inhaled.  Check out this excellent article for the how-to with real, live concrete: DIY Stepping Stones

If this is just not possible for your set-up, there are TONS! of other options.

My fav?  Sand dough!  Durable, weather resistant and best of all, NON-TOXIC!  And it’s inexpensive!  Bear in mind, it takes some prep, so plan a few days ahead.

Step 1

Mix together a combination of one part white glue, two parts flour, two parts sand and two parts water in a bucket. Combine the mixture with a spoon until dough forms. Add more flour or water to make the dough consistent.

Step 2

Spray a square cake pan with cooking spray. Pour the sand dough into the cake pan, and then allow the sand dough to dry for three days.

Step 3

Hold the pan upside down, and then gently tap the bottom of the pan to remove the dried sand dough. Use a paintbrush to paint designs or patterns on the stepping stones with acrylic paint, if you wish.

Step 4

Weatherproof the stepping stone by applying a clear wood finish to the entire surface of the stepping stone with a paintbrush. Allow the wood finish to dry completely before placing the stepping stone in your garden. Repeat the process to make as many stepping stones as you need.


[Editor: forget the stepping stones – how did he make that Hobbit house in the background?!]

Making it meaningful

Last year, I did a breakout session at FLA, “Bringing Clay to the STEM arena“.  It introduced librarians to the concept of clay being used to explain STEM concepts to children.  Sound cool?  It is!  And, you know, clay hardens to stone, so it’s perfect for libraries rock!  Here’s the PPT and here’s some recipes!


Got questions?  Shoot me an email!  We can chat!

Best of luck out there this summer, comrades!


  1. Amy Losak

    How about haiku on rocks? A few years ago, I did a reading for kids at the Poets House in Manhattan, NY. I read some of my mom Sydell Rosenberg’s haiku for kids. Syd was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America 50 years ago. She also was a teacher. After the reading, the kids went outside and wrote their own short poems on keepsake rocks. It was a lot of fun. Because haiku are so short and tend to focus on aspects of the natural world, they fit nicely on rocks. Just an idea. (Syd’s haiku are now collected in H IS FOR HAIKU: A TREASURY OF HAIKU FROM A TO Z, published by Penny Candy Books.)

  2. Jonathan Dolce

    Love it! I will def use this and share it! Keep those ideas comin’!

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