STEAM Three Ways: Silly Putty

Neon Slime

Cover Image via PaperPolaroid.

Library staff are often crunched for time, particularly in the youth services department (although I may be biased here). To that end, getting the supplies and planning for a single science activity that can be used in multiple age groups has a real, measurable time and budget savings. It’s important that these activities not only be adaptable in practice, but also in interest level. So to kick off this new occasional blog feature, I thought I should start with something everyone loves: silly putty.

I have a love of making silly putty. It’s fun, it’s easy, and you can change it up to suit the lesson you’re trying to convey. I tend to use the very simple glue/Borax mix. (I know, I know, it’s not actually silly putty. I’ll address the chemical difference in the “Teen Program” section.)

Basic recipe:

– 1 8 oz bottle of Elmer’s glue (brand is weirdly important here)

– 1/2 cup warm water, supersaturated with Borax (just mix in Borax until it starts to settle out of the solution)

– a plastic bag

NOTE: I don’t ever measure it out as they do here. I tend to put some glue and some supersaturated Borax solution into a Dixie cup and stir. If it’s too hard, add more glue, if it’s too soft and sticky, add more Borax solution.

Preschool Program:

I used this silly putty for part of my color mixing curriculum. This recipe creates a white silly putty, but with a few quick drops of food coloring into the glue before adding the Borax, the kids saw how adding a bit of yellow to the red completely changed the color of their silly putty. After mixing it up initially, children can take their finished silly putty and mix it together. Create a batch of blue and a batch of yellow? Try to play with them together until you get some green putty. I’ve used homemade playdough for the same exercise, but this BOUNCES!

School Age Program:

My school age programs run grades 2-4 and 5-7. There’s a huge range of science knowledge here, so I tend to keep my explanations pretty basic to allow for differences in school curriculum.

So let’s talk simple science. The FAQs on the Elmer’s Glue site and this excerpt from Steve Spangler Science both use the spaghetti model of polymers:

In simplest terms, a polymer is a long chain of molecules. You can use the example of cooking spaghetti to better understand why this polymer behaves in the way it does. When a pile of freshly cooked spaghetti comes out of the hot water and into the bowl, the strands flow like a liquid from the pan to the bowl. This is because the spaghetti strands are slippery and slide over one another. After awhile, the water drains off of the pasta and the strands start to stick together. The spaghetti takes on a rubbery texture. Wait a little while longer for all of the water to evaporate and the pile of spaghetti turns into a solid mass — drop it on the floor and watch it bounce.

Polyvinyl Acetate and Borax reaction
An illustration of the PVA (glue) and Borax reaction. © The University of Edinburgh

I haven’t ever actually used spaghetti to illustrate this point, but depending on the program, you may want to. The reason why Elmer’s glue is sticky are the polymer chains it contains, and this illustration really clearly demonstrates how these polymer chains behave when they are lubricated (the wet glue in the bottle) and when they are dry (the solid, bouncy lump of spaghetti).

It may take students a bit to understand this, depending on their grade level. Words like “molecule” and “element” might be beyond some of the younger students, so creating a glossary can be helpful.

For this age group, I often have them try to see if they can make a batch of “gak” – really stringy, liquidy putty, and a bouncy ball. Students can experiment with different ratios of glue to Borax solution, and might discover a few more tricks about how to make the solution more solid. For instance, the more you mix a batch of silly putty, the harder it will get. Want to know why, or have curious school age kids who do? Check out the teen program below.
Teen Program:

Silly putty is great for a low-key program or a planned science class. Low key allows them to just work out their over-scheduled lives with a toy they probably had as kids. It feeds into the maker mentality because they made the thing they used to have to buy, as well as reinforcing the engineering design process as they try to make the silly putty just the right consistency. If you want hard science though, here’s what makes our Elmer’s/Borax silly putty tick.

Louisiana State University has a great explanation (with graphics!) of what’s happening:

Elmer’s Glue is made up of polyvinyl acetate, which reacts with water to some extent to replace some of the acetate groups with OH (alcohol) groups. The B-OH groups on the borax molecules react with the acetate groups on the glue molecules (relatively long polymer chains) to eliminate acetic acid and form new bonds between the borax and two glue molecules. The linking of two glue molecules via one borax molecule is called polymer cross-linking and it makes a bigger polymer molecule, which is now less liquid-like and more solid.

ucla_clots_lesson01_activity1_image2
A model of polyvinyl acetate, the reactive ingredient in the Elmer’s glue.           Copyright © Azim Laiwalla, UCLA SEE-LA GK-12 Program, University of California, Los Angeles

…Many of these borax cross-links occur to “glom” together many polymer molecules turning them into a pliable solid “silly putty”. This really isn’t the silly putty you buy in the store, since it will dry out. Real silly putty is an organosiloxane polymer that doesn’t have any water in it so it doesn’t dry out.

Polyvinyl Acetate crosslinking  with Borax
Illustration and structural formula for the crosslinked Borax/Polyvinayl Acetate result. Copyright © CSACNAS Student Chapter at Texas State University

Get all that? If not, don’t worry – this explanation is about on par with my high school organic chemistry class (and required a lot of refresher before I understood it myself. Essentially, the strings of PVA “spaghetti” get held together by the Boron molecule, holding them in place. The more places that the Boron connects PVA chains, the sturdier the structure and the more solid the silly putty.

Try this activity to give teens (and school age groups, if they’re advanced enough) a clearer picture of how the Borax binds the PVA, also from LSU:

Have about 6 groups of 4 students hold hands and form glue chains. Have them walk around the room. These are your PVA chains.

Then send out 6 individual students to act as borax molecules to grab onto two glue chains – one with each hand. Tell the glue chains that once they are grabbed onto by the borax students that they shouldn’t try to break free. This should result in all the glue chains being linked together by the borax molecules (students). Now that all the students are linked together they represent the more solid “silly putty” that was formed in the experiment. This is a rather good physical analogy to the chemistry going on.

Quick note: while I’ve used the term Polyvinyl acetate, the reaction with water in glue creates polyvinyl alcohol. Dr. Richard Barrans from the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy at the Argonne National Laboratory put the difference between the two like this: “Poly(vinyl alcohol) is a polymer with the repeating unit (CH2-CHOH). Polyvinyl acetate is similar, except that it has an acetic acid ester in the place of the alcohol group: (CH2-CHOCOCH3). Polyvinyl alcohol is actually made from polyvinyl acetate, by cleaving the acetate ester.”  Down to brass tacks, both PVAs make our silly putty.

Interesting to note that the side effect of this reaction is the creation of acetic acid, which, when diluted, is better known as white vinegar. This can lead to further experimentation with acids/bases in your silly putty. For instance, what happens if you mix baking soda into it? Will it bubble and fizz like a baking soda/vinegar volcano?

Wrap up

Have other ideas for making this silly putty recipe appeal to various ages? Let me know. My library does class structures for a lot of the STEAM programs, so explanations and iterative experimentation are important. How do you do STEAM at your library? Any STEAM activities you wish you had better explanation for, or knew how to use with other age groups?

Graphic Design Basics for Librarians (Plus Free Assets!)

Graphic Design Elements

Image isn’t mine, but I’m having a hard time pinning down the original source. Help me out.

Paper pieces like flyers, handouts, brochures – these seem to be my bread and butter for building buzz about the library. I also don’t have the luxury of Photoshop. GIMP is great, but I’ll admit I have a more familiar relationship with Publisher. (Publisher can still make good design pieces, I think. Just takes some fenangling.)

Graphic design is such a big part of my duties that I wish I would  have had a better formal grounding in it. In lieu of that, here’s some great places to learn and get assets for your design.

Tutorials and Guidelines

Graphic Design for Teen Librarians (or Any Other Non-Designer)

A great primer from Teen Librarian Toolbox about basic design for library marketing pieces. It’s a great place to start, especially if you’re in teen services.

Canva Design School

Canva is a free-to-use (pay-to-publish) graphic design tool, which can be useful in a pinch. What’s cooler is the “design school” they offer – covering fonts, colors, etc, and it’s all free with a free account.

Infographics Lib Guide

This guide from UPenn was designed for a workshop on creating infographics, which is a great skill, especially in advocacy. Beyond that, the graphic design resources gathered here are clear, to the point, and free. Well worth exploration.

Practical Graphic Design for Libraries

Created by the people at Influx (think DC Public Library and Sari Feldman’s campaign site), this presentation slideshow has lots of examples. Remember that it was designed to be paired with an oral presentation, because sometimes explanations feel sparse. Still the images tell a great story and present amazing examples of various principles of graphic design in library settings. There’s a call to perform a signage audit in your own library. Try it!

About.com Graphic Design Basics

I’ll admit that I love me some about.com. It’s not always the best designed (ironic, yes?), but they usually pull together some great explanations and resources. There may be more here than you want to glance through in one sitting.

Free and Legal Images, Fonts and Other Assets

78 Free Sources of Images for Your Library

MakeItHappen.us just put this up this week, and it’s a great resource for finding legal image sources in the post-Microsoft clipart age.

CC Search

This is my favorite starting point for legal images, music, videos and more. Created by the people who brought us Creative Commons licenses, this tool is a one-stop-shop for finding CC images. Various online services have CC searches built in, and this tool is an access point to quite a few of them (Google Images, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Flickr being my favorites). Word to the wise: Be smart about using this – just because one poster says an image is CC doesn’t mean they are the owner of the image. Use this as a starting point, then do your due diligence.

dafont.com

I discovered this site a decade ago and haven’t looked back. The forums are great for helping you identify fonts, there are tons of free fonts available to use both personally and professionally, and it’s all free. If your current font selection just isn’t doing it for you, take a look through these.

Creative Market Free Goods

Creative Market is like Etsy for graphic design assets. In a really excellent service, a handful of top-quality assets are offered for free every week. Go there regularly to get new stuff. Be aware that a lot of the files are designed for Adobe Creative Cloud products. If you don’t have that suite, keep an eye out for non-vector images and fonts.

MediaLoot Freebies

In the same boat as Creative Market, this site boasts a slightly larger collection of free stuff. As with lots of graphic design sites, a noted preference toward Adobe.

Smashing Magazine Freebies

This magazine is a go-to for great graphic design information, and they offer lots of free stuff. I’ve gotten previous WordPress themes from here, as well as fonts and icons. Lots of good blog posts about design, including web design and graphic design, here.

GraphicBurger

I just discovered this one, but I’ll be checking it regularly. Lots of free icons, mock ups, backgrounds, UI kits and more.

Bonus

I Love Typography is a giant, beautiful love letter to typography as an art. Lots of history, insight into how fonts are designed and notes on why we choose to use them. You can get lost here.

I hope that these help get you started with graphic design, another one of those “other duties as assigned” that sneak up on us. Let me know if you have a favorite resource that I missed in the comments.

“Because I have a story too”: Diversity in Biographies

We Need Diverse Books because I have a story too.

Image submitted by Tye Jiles to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks tumblr

“Why are there more biographies about white people?”

I’d been helping a family find children’s biographies to use for a family project on Black History Month, and the 7-year-old girl  asked a great question. I quickly came up with the best answer I could: “Because for a long time people thought white people were more important to write about. We’re just now fixing that.” She nodded, taking it in.  Her father didn’t chime in, and I thought I might have given a satisfactory answer. “Will they write biographies about you?”

She didn’t take a second to think about that. “Yep!”

“What will they say about you?”

“I’ll make speeches! Great speeches!” Though she didn’t know about what. With that, she took her books on Sojourner Truth, Madam CJ Walker, and Lebron James to the checkout desk.

But her question stuck with me: why are there still so many more biographies about white people?

Campaigns like #weneeddiversebooks seek to open people up to the idea that our books should reflect our reality. Far too often, we let our limited book selection influence our reality. If even in our library’s biography section there are only white faces, rich faces, straight faces… what do we tell the kids who ask where the other faces are? That we were too lazy to order them? That there are so many more books written about white people that it’s not worth seeking out the rest of the world’s history?

Someday I hope someone does write about the speeches that girl makes, and I hope they don’t get relegated to the “also ran” section of history. The section where we send those bits of truth that make us uncomfortable, or that interfere with the dominant narrative. I hope that when her biography is written, it sits among the George Washingtons and the Clara Bartons and the Daniel Boones. And I want people to know that her story is every bit as important as theirs – it’s all part of our larger story together.

This came at a great time – after all, Jacqueline Woodson’s autobiography Brown Girl Dreaming just won a Newbery Honor Medal, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Robert F. Silbert Informational Book Award. The other Newbery books this year also represented severely underrepresented groups. So well done, us. But there’s a lot more to do. I have a lot that I need to learn about diversity, and a lot I need to communicate about it to my patrons.

We’ve been writing one version of history, showing off one story, for so long that it seems normal. The status quo has sunk in. I’d like that little girl to come back next time and see faces of every color, creed, and race on our shelves. Biographies, certainly, but picture books, chapter books, videos, and more. We need diverse books. We need diverse minds.

Audiobook Review: Museum of Thieves

Museum of Thieves Book Cover

I can’t be alone in searching IMDB to find out who starred in my favorite things. I recently did this for Dragon Age. One of the voice actor’s in that series – Claudia Black, who voices Morrigan – branched into recording children’s audiobooks. Her first voiced series is The Keepers by Lian Tanner. Conveniently, my library owned the first book, The Museum of Thieves, and I have a long enough commute to crank through it. I’m guilty of sitting in my car longer than necessary, just to squeeze in a few more minutes.

Museum of Thieves is a great middle grade pick in the line of The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman or The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone – magic and mystery abound at quite a fast pace. The cast of characters is vast but memorable, and made more memorable by the distinctive voices used by Claudia Black. We are introduced to the city of Jewel, and to Goldie, a 12-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to finally be Separated. Children in Jewel are vastly overprotected, literally always attached to an adult or their bed via a chain tied to their wrists.

Jewel is a city that has resolutely pushed every dangerous thing away. Dogs might bite. Standing water might carry the plague. Children alone might get carried off by pirates. Little by little, Jewel has conquered their little corner of the world. But wildness will not be tossed aside so easily. In the tiny Museum of Dunt live all the wild forces that Jewel refuses to believe still exist. Most of all, inside the Museum is magic.

As Goldie learns about the Museum and the uses of wildness, she also learns of a truly terrible plan to destroy Jewel. Only the Keepers of the Museum can save the city – but only if the terrified citizens of Jewel will let them.

A very compelling book to listen to, with characters that leap out of the speakers. Black draws out characters both lovable and despicable – keep an ear out for Guardian Hope and Sinew, whose tones are unmistakable.

If my library didn’t already own this, we would soon.

UPDATE: Random House has a site for The Keepers Trilogy with games, character bios, and even lessons from the Keepers! Well worth a look at this companion site.

Book Review: The Red Pencil

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

I had a resolution to read more diversely this year, and I’m really pleased I started out with The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney. It surprised me on a number of levels, but really hit home.

The book is told in poems, written in the voice of Amira, a 12-year-old girl who lives in Darfur with her parents. She explores growing up in a conservative village, the confusion of understanding war as a child, and the harsh realities of the genocide in Darfur. Together, these themes could make the book too heavy for its intended audience of children, but the first-person perspective of a child, along with the poetic form, help to distance the trauma just enough that I don’t feel uncomfortable recommending this to the right middle grader.

I’ll admit that I cried several times throughout the book. There is real trauma in Amira’s life – trauma that is both inflicted and dealt with in the plot of this short book. Characters are fleshed out in small aside poems, along with Amira’s own thoughts on the people in her life.

What I liked most about this book was that it didn’t expect readers to understand the situation before beginning – a short glossary of terms in the back includes some of the cultural terms Amira uses, but also words like “Janjaweed,” a concept that any adult might have trouble explaining. Readers walk with Amira through her dawning understanding of the change in her world, and so we are allowed to join her at the end of the book, as she takes the first steps toward something new.

The author, Andrewa Davis Pinkney, will be visiting Pittsburgh next month as part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Kids Series. Follow the link for more information.

Catching Up on Last Year

Varric's Chest Hair from Dragon Age 2

From last year’s New Year’s blog:

I have smaller, simpler goals too: I want to start cooking dinner again, get back into baking, remember how to crochet and cross stitch. I want to write stories like I haven’t since I finished undergrad, and maintain the great friendships I’ve made with a little more gusto. I want to read whole books again, rather than just skimming them for papers. I want to beat DragonAge on something other than easy level.

I have been slacking on these goals. Granted, these were the small ones on the list. I did manage to graduate and get a job, so I don’t feel too bad about these. But that means it’s time for a revisit.

I still would like to cook more of my own meals. This means I’ll have to relearn how to cook since I do it so rarely.

I’ve been reading books (check out my first New Year’s Resolution about reading more diverse books). Audiobooks totally count as far as I’m concerned.

As for Dragon Age: Origins, I re-downloaded it to my new computer, and it’s next up on my to-play list as soon as I finish this second playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition. There may be a pattern here.

As for crochet and cross-stitch, I’ve more officially given up on these. They’re awesome hobbies, and I may come back to them, but for now I just don’t have the kind of interest it takes to keep up with them.

Trying to think of things that I missed. Any resolutions you’d like to share?

Getting Some Jbrary Love

In web life, there’s those moments where you’re like – I’ve made it! When a former Twitter account crossed 1000 followers (now defunct), I squeed. When @neilhimself tweeted back at me, I jumped up and down. And now Jbrary has linked to me. The happiness spike is quite high, to say the least.

One of the things I love about the library world is how open we are about sharing resources and information. Jbrary has been an amazing help to me as I get set up as a youth services librarian. They took me from terrified before my first solo storytime, to slightly less terrified (a major accomplishment). If you’ve never checked them out before, try it now. It’s well worth looking through if you work with young kids as a teacher, librarian, or caregiver.

I’ll keep posting – I’ve got a lot to live up to now!

Winter Reading has Begun

Photo by JoséDay on Flickr

Cover image Wie leest wie voor? by JoséDay on Flickr.

Last summer, I sort of found myself in charge of a Summer Reading Program at the last minute. It didn’t go so well, as you might imagine. We had great summer learning events, but not a lot of participation in traditional, tracked summer reading.

Since then, I’ve started a new job at a new library, and we’re running a short, low-key winter reading program during the month of January. Originally, it was just a youth services thing, but the adult services department has gotten on board too, making for a great full-library event.

For youth services, we’ve divided up participation into a few categories: Pre-K, K-5, Middle Grade (vaguely grades 5-7), and Teen (vaguely grades 6-12). Obviously, there’s overlap because of the creation of the Middle Grade category. We’ve had success with the creation of a Middle Grade collection and program set, so why not extend it to the reading club? Kids in this age group can choose whether to participate in Kids or Middle Grade (for the 5th and 6th graders) and Teen or Middle Grade (for the 6th & 7th graders). It’s not really about forcing certain categories – it’s more about encouraging kids to read at the age group they enjoy.

Each child/teen gets a welcome bag at registration with a pencil and such – teens have different bags than the kids. Then they take a bingo sheet to fill out. Each space is a type of book to read, and they try to create a bingo of any kind on the card. When they bring it back, they get a ticket for a raffle at the end of the month. There are 4 baskets, each with a target age, although participants can choose any raffle to enter.

Example of a Kids Bingo Sheet:

Kids Week 1 Bingo Sheet: Row 1 Newberry book, New book, Reader's Choice, book in a series, paperback. Row 2: Author whose last name starts with M, Book on CD, Free space, Book published in 2014, Non-fiction book. Row 3 Book with a blue cover, graphic novel, book with more than 100 pages, book of poetry, reader's choice. Row 4, a book that became a movie, book based on a true story, cookbook, mystery book, Caldecott book.
Our week 1 K-5 Winter Reading Club Bingo Sheet.

It’s low key enough to work during a really busy programming season, and it also has pretty low barriers to participation.

This program is exciting to me for a variety of reasons. The biggest one is the tension between traditional summer reading proponents and advocates of other ways of directing and tracking summer learning. This kind of program – super easy to run and participate in – allows people for whom reading clubs are important parts of the library world to get that fix. And it also frees up staff time to develop other facets of summer learning at the library.

Remind me that I talked about all the “free time” this program leaves me toward the end of this month.

Learning, Teaching, and Teen Mentors

Now that we’re actually in range of decent New Year’s resolution-making, I’ve been thinking. I actually started my first set of resolutions (reading more diverse books) last night – but more on that later. I also was thinking about what I want to learn this year, and what I want to share with others.

I asked that question of my Teen Advisory Board at the meeting just before Christmas. We were sitting there, decorating cookies (well, some were just unabashedly shoveling sprinkles into their mouths), and I asked what they were good at that they could share with others. It took some prompting – most of my teens didn’t seem to think that their skills were anything to call home about. But one of them managed to come up with accounting – accounting! – and figured she might be able to help middle school kids with math, or high schoolers with creating a balanced budget. It was a great start, and pretty soon the rest of the group had their own skills to bring up – baking, video games,  painting… the list went on.

Then I asked another question – What do you want to learn that you’re not sure how to start? This was a hard one for them too. We talked through this one based on the other question. Some of the teens really wanted to learn to bake, or how to design video games. A few even acknowledged that it would be a good idea to learn how to budget, since they’re old enough to get their first jobs.

Once the ball was rolling, we started to hear some more – robots! applying for college! dancing! It turned into a great discussion about how we could shape our programming going forward by allowing the older teens to mentor and teach the middle graders.

We can’t start that til this summer, at least not officially, since the Winter/Spring schedule is already released. But it’s a good path to be on.

Reading Resolutions

So I’m a little early on this post, but there’s Christmas music blaring over the intercom and it puts me in the year-end mindset. There’s been a lot happening in the world, and in my life, this year. I’ve made some big changes (graduating, moving, starting a new job), but I’m trying to think about the ways I can make next year even bigger, even better.

So, I’ll be blunt: I’m going to shamelessly steal from all of you. Library folk internet-wide have been posting AMAZING programming ideas, library philosophy, and book suggestions. And I feel like a David that’s forgotten his slingshot in a matchup with Goliath. WHERE DO YOU ALL GET THESE AMAZING IDEAS?

For instance, I read about a really amazing Etsy workshop for teens today. That’s baller. Or how about this crazy cool library blog that should make all public library blogs jealous from my home state? Or the people who accomplished reading lists that make me think.

50 books by POC. 50 books about LGBTQ characters. 50 books in translation. Books with non-Western style illustrations. Books with narrators with less privilege than me. With different viewpoints than me. With different ideas than I could ever think of. That’s what you’re all reading, and it blows my mind.

I read an old Slate article (which is the owner of the beautiful header image) about reading a book a day all year. I’ve decided to layout some more modest goals for myself, since I know I have trouble getting outside of my reading bubble, which is a problem. So let’s mix it up. In 2015 I will:

– Read 25 teen/middle grade books by POC.

– Read 50 picture books written/illustrated by POC

– Read 25 books with LGBTQ protagonists

– Read 25 books in translation.

In complete honesty, this is more than I’ve read for pleasure since before I started grad school (gasp!). But I’m not stopping there.

– Listen to 25 books on CD (any length)

– Design an app (which means learning how to build an app)

– Update my blog more often (this probably means I’ll be linking it up to tumblr, because I love some tumblr and I’ve gotten away from it)

What do you think? Worthy aspirations? Suggestions or tweaks? What are your reading resolutions, if you’ve gotten that far?

 

Mud Painting, or How do I use this chocolate pudding before it goes bad?

http://sunflowerstorytime.com/2012/04/29/mud/

I do biweekly visits to a local after school program that has about 12 kids, grades K-6. While there, I read a couple stories and do an activity. In the past, we’ve done things like build rockets out of pipe insulator and duct tape and a rocket launcher out of PVC pipe as well as a version of the marshmallow challenge (complete with faux-earthquake). I try to stick to solid all-ages activities, while still teaching them some STEM concepts.

Today was a bit more arts and crafts, although I think the kids loved it. We had been cleaning out the kids supplies, and discovered some pudding cups that had a month left on them. A coworker mentioned mud painting, and the idea was born.

I read The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems. The kids had almost all heard of Mo Willems and his pigeon, so there was an understanding of how the book worked. It’s just interactive enough to get them to really settle into the story, and isn’t so simple that the older kids zone out.

I did a quick follow up with Harry the Dirty Dog, which the older kids politely sat through while the younger kids really got into it. They were really upset when Harry’s family didn’t recognize him. Overall, a decent storytime for a large age range.

But then I revealed the activity. So much happiness.

I laid out a big tablecloth on the floor for the kids and handed out sheets of white construction paper. Then each kid got a chocolate pudding cup.

I told them it was finger painting, and that they weren’t allowed to touch their clothes or each other, or in fact anything other than their paper. Surprisingly, they listened, and we only had one dollop on the carpet (it was a really old carpet, so I was told it was fine).

There was a thin line between using the pudding to paint and using it to eat. In the end, we handed out LOTS of paper towels and spoons so they could finish up.

I’ll be in for a special Halloween program there next week for Halloween, which will be pretty science-y, so it was a nice change up to do some art with them.

The picture isn’t mine (I never remember to take pictures), and was done with paintbrushes and actual mud by the wonderful ladies over at Sunflower Storytime.

Mud Painting
Mud Painting

Music and Movement – Revamped

I’ve gotten a crash course this week in running children’s programming, and so far it seems to be going ok. I’ve gotta hand it to all the children’s librarians I’ve worked with in the past though – this stuff can be exhausting! I just finished up a Music and Movement storytime, and while I didn’t run out of breath, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t close.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about why we do storytimes lately, and what we should expect from the littlest patrons. That background was something I missed in library school, since I didn’t focus on children and youth. It’s been helpful as I plan more programs though. Today’s Music and Movement was a lot more structured than the one I ran two weeks ago, and I’ve found a few rhymes that will help the kids stick with me as we learn about rhythm and movement. The previous librarian focused a lot on music appreciation. I may tie into that at some point, but while the kids and I are just getting settled in, we’re focusing on dance and how to coordinate their bodies. Things like the chicken dance are silly but fun, while doing the Bees Knees dance (where you put your hands on your knees, then cross them as your bring your knees together, uncrossing them as you bring your knees straight again) was beyond my group. Hey – it’s a really coordination heavy move, and they were confused even by what I was demonstrating to them.

I also gave the parents a handout with the rhymes on them, along with little bits of information about what we were doing. It let them sing along when their kids couldn’t, and also gave them a heads up about why rhythm is important, even to literacy. Using rhythm sticks to tap along to rhymes as well as songs allows kids to hear the rhythm of speech, breaking words into syllables and sentences into pieces. This is helpful when they learn to read, because it allows them to tackle one part of the sentence at a time.

No one registered for the program today, but I had 3 drop ins, which was just about the right amount for testing things out. I borrowed heavily from the internet. Thanks, children’s librarians of the web! Especially Jbrary. I’ve tried to cite sources when I pulled them directly from the web. Lots of things are just received knowledge, though, so if you see I missed someone, let me know!

Music and Movement 9/18/2014 – Intro to Rhythm Sticks

Entry Music: From Classical Clubhouse Dance AlongLes Patineurs by Waldteufel (7:48)

This song title translates to “The Skaters,” and you can imagine figure skaters sailing along or doing great leaps into the air depending on the movement in the song. While the kids won’t know this the first week, it can be a great way to get them thinking about how music can tell a story without words. Today the song started a little late, since I didn’t think anyone was coming, but the kids liked pretending they were ice skating for the first minute or two of the song.

Explain as parents and children come in that the music will go through a lot of changes. See if the children can move the way the music does (soft and slow, big and dramatic, etc.) If this doesn’t happen right away, that’s fine. The kids will hear this piece a lot over the next few weeks. After the waltz, there’s a big dramatic finish with violins and cellos. 

Welcome song: This is the Way We Wave Hello

Once we got everyone settled down from their ice skating adventure, I introduced myself. One of the children had seen me before, but the others were new, and only remembered the librarian who ran the program before me. They were a weensy bit skeptical of me at first, but it seemed to go away as the program went on.

Tune: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

This is the way we wave hello, wave hello, wave hello
This is the way we wave hello – hello, hello, hello!

This is the way we clap hello…
This is the way we whisper hello…
This is the way we tap hello…

Via Story Time Secrets.

Rhythm Sticks

Since this is our first time with rhythm sticks, I’ll pull 2 out to show everyone how to use them. I’ve avoided a lot of things that encourage partner play today, because our attendance is usually young toddler. Parents are encouraged to help young children tap, but not to take over. Children will naturally tap the sticks together – and then tap them on everything else. Watch them carefully, and if the sticks become too much, cut short this section.

Once the sticks are passed out, give everyone a moment to get used to them. For some kids, they’ll be unwieldy, so it may take a long minute to adjust. Once we’re all settled in. Try to get them to tap slowly together, then up high, down low, quickly…

The first song is set to the same tune as the hello song. Since this is all new to the kids, this will help them learn it the first few weeks.

This is the Way We Tap Our Sticks

To the tune of Mulberry Bush:

This is the way we tap our sticks, tap our sticks, tap our sticks
This is the way we tap our sticks so early in the morning!
This is the way we rub our sticks, rub our sticks, rub our sticks
This is the way we rub our sticks so early in the morning!
This is the way we tap our knees, tap our knees, tap our knees
This is the way we tap our knees so early in the morning!

Via Read Sing Play.

I lost my place in this song at one point, but the kids didn’t miss a beat. Thank goodness for familiar melodies!

Tap Your Sticks

Tap your sticks in the air with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks on the floor with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks in the air with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks on the floor with a 1-2-3

Tap your sticks to the left with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks to the right with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks to the left with a 1-2-3
Tap your sticks to the right with a 1-2-3

(I got this rhyme from Hap Palmer’s Rhythms on Parade CD.  Check out this YouTube clip)

Via Anne’s Library Life.

I did this one as a chant, because the music wasn’t familiar with everyone and I didn’t have the CD. I may get it though, because the music video in the link provided by Anne makes me think it will be a worthy addition.

Rhythm Stick Bingo

There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name-o!
B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O
and Bingo was his name-o!

(we tapped our sticks for the B-I-N-G-O part)

Via Anne’s Library Life.

They loved this one! Everyone knew the Bingo song, and tapping slow during the sentence and quicker while we spelled Bingo seemed to be  favorite. We did this one twice.

 

Scarves

Ok, I’ll admit, Jbrary saved my life here. They have a great page of scarf songs that I borrowed heavily from. And they come with videos!

We Wave Our Scarves Together

To the tune of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”

We wave our scarves together, we wave our scarves together
We wave our scarves together, because it’s fun to do.
Spoken: We wave them up high (in a high voice)
We wave them down low (in a low voice)
We wave them in the middle (in a normal voice)
Sing: Because it’s fun to do.

We throw our scarves together…

Another song we did twice because the kids were loving it. The voice modulation when we did things high and when we did things low was fun for everyone.

One Bright Scarf: To the tune of “Bouncing up and down” or “Michael Finnegan”

One bright scarf waiting for the wind to blow (bounce the scarf in front of you)
Wiggle it high and wiggle it low (wiggle it above your head, then near the floor)
Shake it fast and shake it slow (fast then slow)
(Hide the scarf behind your back, under your knee, etc.)
Where did it go?

So… I couldn’t get my head around this melody, so we did this as a rhyme again. The kids didn’t care, and the parents probably just think I’m tone deaf. I’m not, but something’s gotta give, apparently. We turned this into a hiding game, where the kids would hide their scarves, then immediately come to look for mine. I tucked it into my pocket once, and they pulled it out when they found it, to the delight of everyone.

Dancing with Scarves

Each child got a second scarf here, and we danced to Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” for a few minutes. We played with different ways to move so the scarf would float or fly or look like wings. The girls loved this. The boy, again, not so much. We may try something with the toddler trucks for him in a couple weeks to see if it encourages him to move.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Zoom Zoom Zoom, we’re going to the moon
Zoom Zoom Zoom, we’re going very soon
If you want to take a trip
Hop on board my rocket ship
Zoom Zoom Zoom, we’re going to the moon
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Blastoff!

We do this song in Baby and Toddler Storytimes, too, so this was a nice carryover. Jbrary has this song, but we always do it with scarves, letting our scarves be rockets for us, flying them across the sky and blasting them off after the countdown. With an older group that’s payting attention, we do a second blastoff with a 10 second countdown.

Coordination and Dancing

This was a free form bit. I put on a Kidz Bop CD at the recommendation of a previous librarian, but my kids weren’t really into free movement, so I made up some coordination challenges for them. We danced like chickens and shook our hands left and right and tapped our toes. They followed along wonderfully, but the song wasn’t anything they cared about. I might use something else next time.

Goodbye Song: If you’re happy and you know it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

If you’re happy and you know it, wave goodbye
If you’re happy and you know it, wave goodbye
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, wave goodbye!

 

I was pretty nervous after this, but the parents were very supportive. One of them, the one who had come during the previous librarian’s time here, had driven a fair distance to get here, but said it was completely worth it and she would come again next time. That made me feel so much better about it. We’ll work with rhythm sticks again next time, so the kids get a chance to get used to them. Overall, a good time was had by all.