Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

Toddler Exploration: Art!

When I used to work in a independent library in California, we had crafts or art projects after all our story times… since moving, I have learned that that is not the norm in big city systems! I suppose, I could do them after story time, but we are usually tight on staff and there is a need to cover the desk. It also always depends on how you get funds for art activities. We have a big order we place every fall, but can face delays and or we can only buy from a regimented list. So, I have typically saved crafts and art projects for pop up programs or some once a month family story times.

But– I think it is such a miss for our community! Art is not always explored at home because it can make a MESS and then it may only be available as a pay for class that is not accessible to all!

It can be how children develop fine motor skills– and get ready for Kindergarten! As well as develop social and emotional skills as they learn about expression!

During the past few months of Toddler Exploration we have done the following art projects:

Cardstock windsock with streamers

Wind sock– cardstock, streamers, tape, markers/crayons, pipe cleaners

I love this craft– I’ve done it probably 10-15 times in my library life! And I have learned that it is easier to just tape everything rather than attempt glue and waiting for drying times. Recently, I discovered that pipe cleaners are way easier to manipulate then ribbon or string for the holders! You can practice letter knowledge with working on writing names or shapes.

Fish weave- cardstock, markers/crayons, tape

This one I had high hopes for– I like weaving activities for fine motor, but I think the adults were frustrated and this one seemed more like a craft with a desired goal and I never want to stress about completing the project! I also don’t have a picture of it, and lost my sample. But, lesson learned!

Color snakes made with paper plates, scissors, and markers
Color Snakes

Color Snakes– paper plates, markers, and scissors

I loved this activity! It was inspired by this blog: and also because I had gone to a training on child development and the presenter mentioned that a lot of kids don’t get access/exposure to scissors and don’t have the kindergarten ready skills! So we practiced at the library! They loved these snakes– coloring is so fun and generally they love things they can color and twirl!


Cotton balls and streamers are used to make rainbows and clouds
Rainbows and clouds

Clouds and Rainbows– construction paper, cotton balls, streamers, glue

This was the idea of my colleague who filled in for me while I was at a conference– It’s a little more craft/project based than I like– but the kids were fine just having fun with it! From what I had heard it was a hit– and easy to set up the day of when there was a staffing mix up!

A homemade stapled book
Homemade book

DIY books – construction paper, printer paper, magazine cutouts, glue sticks, crayons

This is my art for this month– again this is an old favorite and easy to do! I like it because kids can own what goes into their books– and build their narrative skills as they learn about books. My sample is from another project– but you can do with this whatever you want!


Overall- art has been a really fun endeavor for Toddler Exploration! It’s nice giving opportunity and exposure to art- with no cost to participants and with the library taking the mess! I love being able to provide this service and facilitate the ability to let children play and explore as they create, instead of having a PERFECT craft!

(All photos courtesy of guest blogger)

This post addresses the ALSC Core Competency of Programming Skills.

Photo of guest blogger,
Photo courtesy of Amy Steinbauer

Amy Steinbauer is a Children’s Librarian for D.C. Public Library, where she does weekly baby and toddler story times and Toddler Exploration programs. She got her MLIS from University of Hawaii (it was an amazing choice despite the loans). She is currently on ALA Council. In her spare time, she is always thinking of new story time or early literacy ideas and rewatching Bob’s Burgers.

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

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