A Conference Adventure

Today I drove for an hour and a half (including a quick stop for gas) to my very first library conference. I was up at 6 and left at 7 and my emotions vacillated between excited, and nervous the whole trip. See, we don’t get registration confirmations and when I checked last night my name was not on the attendee list. So this morning my options were to drive to a conference I wasn’t sure I would be allowed to attend or not go to a conference my employer had paid for. I opted to head to the conference because I thought even if I were not on the list I might be able to get in if someone cancelled or I could just be on the list.

Luckily I shouldn’t have worried because I was, in fact, on the list. So I arrived and immediately noticed that most attendees had arrived in groups. I was the only person from my system so I was all alone and took a seat at an empty table. But I wasn’t alone for long before another attendee asked to join me. We made small talk.  She got coffee, I got hot chocolate and then a group of three sat at the table. I said I was interested in attending a makerspace talk but I wasn’t sure if I should go to that or a children’s non-fiction panel. One woman said, “Oh, the makerspace is us, you should come!” and I did. I now have a very good idea of how I want to structure my upcoming Maker Mondays and I am excited to start working on my maker kits.

After the makerspace program I attended a panel about running fandom programs in the library. Sadly, I don’t think a lot of their suggestions will work in my library so I will probably just continue doing things as I am. I do know I want to do a My Little Pony program in October for the movie release.

Then it was time for a lunch break. I was hoping for good food but packed a protein bar and some cheese sticks just in case. It was probably a good thing because the food was… interesting and I was tricked by dreaded american cheese (totally not cheddar)!

After lunch we had two more sessions. I went to one panel about using outdoor spaces. It was good but not really what I expected it to be. The final panel was about implementing board game collections into the library and I think that was actually the best panel of the day. I really want to introduce something to the collection to complement some baby/toddler learning backpacks we have started circulating. I have had several bigger kids ask if they can check out the backpacks or if there are any for them. There is nothing saying thy can’t take them, but they really aren’t age appropriate so I would like to have something that is. Be it board games, lego sets, or maker kits.

Spring Fling

How lucky am I that my program night happened to fall on the first day of spring? A spring-themed program seemed appropriate for this occasion. This program really only had two activities though I did talk about the science behind the seasons- including the equinoxes, solstices, and the words autumnal and vernal.

For our first  activity we made construction paper flowers. I had two different templates; one simple template for younger kids and a more complex template for the bigger kids. I would probably replace this activity for next time as too many kids were not able to trace and cut.

The second activity was to make seed bombs. If I had fewer participants I would have had them make the salt dough as part of the program, but it would have been too complex with as many participants as I had so I pre-made a 4 cup batch of salt dough. I had the kids mix organic seed starter dirt into the dough and then fold seeds inside. After a day or so they will dry out and the seed bombs can be left outside. Hopefully we will hear some sprout success stories.

Activity 1: Paper Flowers
Activity 2: Seed Bombs
Attendance: 25
Registrations: 47

Gem Trees

The way my schedule works I do not have the opportunity to do much adult programming, but I saw gem trees when I went to a rock and mineral show and thought they sounded like a perfect adult program so I begged to do the program as a birthday present to myself.

I am so glad I did because these trees turned out awesome! Actually the patrons were really skeptical at first but I think they were all on board by the end. I had printed instructions from a kit I bought, where you work the wire top down, I think a tutorial working up like this one might actually be easier.

I had scheduled this for an hour long program, but it really took closer to 2 hours for everyone to complete.

Attendance: 9 (out of 11 seats)

Mini-Makers – Sew Cute

For my Mini-Maker program I try to think of things that are fun, very hands-on, and do not require a lot of following directions step by step by step. During most programs I have anywhere from toddlers to 12 year olds show up and it can be very hard to keep everyone on the same page. For this program I put on the registration paperwork that the participants must be able to thread a needle.

I found a cute bunny tutorial on instructables and printed out a page of instructions and the pattern. Then I bought pink felt for the ears and bellies and brown and grey felt for the bodies. I pre-cut squares of fabric and wound some pink and brown/grey thread onto embroidery floss cards to essentially create little bunny kits the kids could just pick up.

First I had them trace and cut out the felt pieces. Then I did a quick tutorial showing a basic stitch before letting them pick up a needle. I had pulled out several options for faces including some fabric paint, beads, buttons, and googly eyes so I had a hot glue gun at the ready which came in handy because a lot of the kids didn’t have the time or patience to sew the ears and bellies on, and the hot glue gun was a lot faster. Surprisingly my younger kids seemed to have more fun with this where my tweens were sometimes very angry is their thread got tangled or they couldn’t get the stitch just right.

Overall it was an easy program with minimal cleanup. They even keep the felt scraps to stuff the bunny as they sew . Probably the most time consuming thing was triple checking no needles ended up on the floor. I would like to do this again, I think I might have the pieces pre-cut so they can focus more on sewing and decorating.

Attendance: 20

Pi Day 2016

I am finally sitting and writing the post for Pi Day 2016….on Pi Day 2017.


Mmmm pie. Of course I had multiple pies at our program, but I made people work for them! I made this program a little more educational with a powerpoint about Pi. I had a visualization of Pi as well as some information about the history of Pi Day and Pi-inspired art.

After the presentation I had everyone compose a poem in Pilish, a form that follows the structure of Pi. So you would have a 3-letter word, 1-letter word, 4-letter word, etc. This is a lot harder than it looks and ends up reading a bit like madlibs.

Then we made a Pi-day bracelet with different colors representing different numbers of Pi. This took a bit longer than expected and I had to help most attendees at some point.

When the bracelets were done I passed out plates and forks, but there was one last task before the patrons earned their sweet reward. We had to sing happy birthday to Albert Einstein. Yes, we really did, and it was adorable. Finally everyone got some pie and they could choose from chocolate , chocolate and peanut butter silk, or caramel apple.

Activity 1: Powerpoint Presentation
Activity 2: Pilish Poetry
Activity 3: Pi Day Bracelets
Activity 4: Sing Happy Birthday & Eat Pie
Attendance: 12





Rainbow Palooza

Today I had a rainbow-themed program and it turned out a lot better than I had anticipated. I am going to admit something here – I try very hard to do a lot of fun and cool programming, and I think I am generally successful but sometimes a program just doesn’t feel like it is coming together and that is hard for me. I’m the kid who liked getting 100% scores on tests so I want every program to be an amazing program, and it just isn’t possible. Today I was facing a perfect storm of not being confident in my program as well as an actual winter storm warning starting just an hour before my program. I set up the room and then didn’t prep much else because I thought I would have no attendance due to the weather. Well the snow didn’t start up until the evening and I actually had a dozen people show up and everything went fine.


I had planned a rainbow-themed program as St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, but then I really struggled to find what activities I wanted to do so I ended up with art and science (oh and food because who can say no to the opportunity to make rainbow cake?) Also in case you were wondering, you cannot make a rainbow with a prism on a cloudy day even if you try using the flashlight in your phone because the batteries in the emergency flashlight are low and the light isn’t bright enough.

For our first activity we colored coffee filters with markers and sprayed them with a water bottle. I let the kids do it because they love to use the squirt bottle and the paper dries really quickly so it doesn’t matter if they drench it. I discouraged them from using brown and black so it wouldn’t get too muddy looking.

For our second activity I brought back the skittle rainbows. About half of the kids claimed they had done this before but it still took the a bit of time to arrange their skittles. I passed out the cups of water to the adults and made everyone wait to pour at the same time. There were a lot of parents taking pictures and video of the experiment too.

For our third activity I purchased these rainbow bookmark sets from Melissa and Doug on amazon. I didn’t do any myself, but the ones the kids made looked very nice and it was worth it to me to have the pre-cut ribbons and a stylus tool for each kid. While the kids were working on their bookmarks I cut the surprise rainbow cake and served 7Up with rainbow ice cubes (one ice cube of red, yellow, green, and blue) to drink. The shelver, code name Luna, helped serve the treats and helped prep the final activity by mixing cups of baking soda and jello together.

Our last activity was the classic baking soda and vinegar with a twist. I instructed the kids to scoop the colored baking soda/jello mixtures onto their plates and passed out a cup of vinegar for each table and one pipette for each kid. They used the pipettes to introduce the vinegar to the baking soda with made bright rainbow colors and didn’t smell awful. As I walked around I talked with kids about the science behind the experiments and passed around a prism as well. The kids left with smiles, and the cake practically disappeared so I will consider it a success.
Attendance: 12
Activity 1: Coffee Filter Art
Activity 2: Skittles Rainbow
Activity 3: Rainbow Bookmarks
Activity 4: Baking Soda/Jello & Vinegar




Candyland Winter 2017

Candyland – The biggest, coolest board game to do “life size” is pretty popular at my library. Our system has a cardboard version that travels to all of the branches. Kids love it, but I hate it because it uses a newer version of the Candyland characters that are quite ugly. The first year we had it in the library I think in February. As I was still pretty new I was tasked with keeping a list of the next set of people to play and letting them in the door when the current round ended. This year I was “in charge” of Candyland and I didn’t want to use the version we had so I set out to make my own.

As I knew most kids didn’t know old characters from new characters I figured I could really use whatever I wanted as long as it seemed to fit the candyland theme. I started by making some awesome necklaces from gingerbread cutouts that were painted and sprayed with glitter finish in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink. The kids had something cool to wear and I could refer to them as “player red” instead of trying to remember names. I also made some changes to the game play for my ease when playing with 7 players, I would have liked to make dice or a big spinner, but I made a big deck of cards as it is a little easier to manipulate so that the really little kids don’t get lost in the back of the board. And actually I think next time I will have two decks of cards so I am not trying to shuffle and get the next batch of kids ready at the same time.

I removed the spaces with the dots that require drawing of another color, as with groups of 7 I don’t want kids sitting out for more than a turn or two. Instead, I created some “lose a turn” cards with a licorice border and said the kids were stuck in Lord Licorice’s trap until the next turn. If I drew where a kid would be stuck twice in a row I usually lied and said move to the next red square. I put special markers on tiles in front of some of the character areas, but not all of them as I thought it created too much backward movement last year. My goal with this version of candyland was to make it a little more interactive and intuitive for the players and the person running it.

Our board was made of the interlocking foam tiles you can purchase for infant rooms because I happened to have those at my house. I didn’t connect them though, as it is easier to fit multiple kids on the tiles and make curves in the board if you don’t connect them. I made “life size” cutouts of different characters and set them up in the room in this order.

1.  Red, green, and orange gummy bears in gummy bear glen.
2. Princess Lollipop (supposed to be in lollipop flower fields, but I didn’t finish in time)
3. The bridge! (A $4 piece of particle board I bought and rested over some boxes of copier paper.) I would love to upgrade to a fancier bridge if I can build one.
4. Lord Licorice
4.5 The rainbow crawl tunnel connecting two spaces which was a huge hit!
5. Mr. Mint in the peppermint forest (an artificial tree with laminated peppermint ornaments) At his station I placed 7 round peppermints that were almost 1 foot in diameter to match the size of the tiles and had the kids hop from one peppermint to the next.
6. King Candy
7. Candy castle holding a bowl of candy for the end of the game.

Well I may have been a little too ambitious with candyland and some surprise lack of off-desk time as I barely finished the castle in time, but it was done and looked passable and the kids had a blast. I ran players through Candyland non-stop for 1.5 hours and estimate that was about 75 players.