Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

Elementary Programs that Rock!

Planning programs around a theme can feel either limiting or liberating. The theme can either force superfluous programs or hopefully create inspiring programs that can hold up beyond the theme’s lifespan. As the primary planner for elementary programming at my library, I was challenged and inspired by this year’s “Libraries Rock!” reading theme. Thankfully, this theme produced the planning of programs that can live outside the summer reading theme, such as “Instrument Exploration,” and “Rock Buffet.”

Instrument Exploration

The goal of Instrument Exploration was for children to be able to handle, hear, and see instruments, as well as be able to create their own to take home. I began the program by reading 88 Instruments by Chris Barton and then we discussed how trying out many different instruments can sometimes lead us to an instrument we might want to play. After our discussion, the children had an opportunity to choose which stations they would like to spend their time. Below are the stations as well as links to directions on how to make the instruments.

Our teen librarian and teen volunteer staffed the instrument station. I am lucky to have a staff of librarians that own instruments and are open to sharing them with our elementary students. Another place to look at borrowing instruments is a local orchestra group or school.

We had the following instruments:

  • accordion
  • clarinet
  • flute
  • a base guitar
  • two acoustic guitars
  • a keyboard
  • stylophone
  • bells

Overall, the program was a success! The cost was low as many of the supplies were either recycled cardboard or leftover supplies from other programs. The majority of the children explored all four stations and left feeling like rock stars.

Rock Buffet

For “Rock Buffet,” I was inspired by The Geology Kitchen a series from Explorer Multimedia that produces video series using food to explain science concepts. The videos are free and can be used for educational use. In the program, I used his video about how igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock form and we created similar creations with modifications since we don’t have as much time or the same resources. Below are the instructions with the modifications we used.

Once we had finished making our yummy concoctions and eating them, the kids discussed what they had learned.

Upcoming Programs

We have many more elementary programs lined up for the rest of the summer including a musical minute to win-it program, a dance fitness program, and a geologist coming to visit us with rock kits for each participant. Although all of these programs are great as they relate to the summer reading theme, I am sure they would rock anytime of the year.

(Photos courtesy of guest blogger)

Today’s guest blogger is Aileen (Allie) Barton. Allie is a children’s librarian at the Belle Isle Library in the Metropolitan Library System.

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


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: III. Programming Skills.

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