Maker Morning: a little bit of everything

Maker Morning: a little bit of everything


Last summer I blogged a little bit about one of our series programs for school-age kids, Maker Morning. Feel free to check out my other Maker Morning posts on Coding and Engineering. Apparently last summer I was way more on the ball and actually had themes for each Maker Morning.  This summer, not so much so I have just compiled a few of our favorite projects. There are some that are more high tech and require some programming $$ while others you may be able to just use what you have available.

Below are some of the various different projects we did through a few different mornings:

  • We bought two Sphero’s this year and they are always a huge hit when I break them out.  You could create an obstacle course or a ‘runway’ with duct tape on the floor.  If you have an older crowd you could also try the coding apps available for Sphero
    Materials Needed: Sphero ($129) and and iPad or a device with Google Play to download the free apps.  Duct tape or some way to create an obstacle course.
  • Makey Makey.  Admittedly, I am still learning how to use this so it was interesting to learn while I was teaching. The kids had a lot of fun playing the games suggested for a Makey Makey
    Materials Needed: Makey Makey (49.95), some sort of conductor (play doh, banana, lemon, etc..), and a laptop or computer that has a USB hookup
    Makey Makey
  • The last two summers we have been a part of the Google Makercamp.  As part of that we receive a bunch of really great materials to use in our makerspace and in turn, at maker mornings.  A big hit, and a low tech alternative, was the Strawbees. Strawbees were a kickstarter advertised as “a prototyping toy for makers of all ages”.
    Materials Needed: Strawbees (varied praices, we have the inventor kit which is listed as $40), strawsMaker Morning3Maker Morning2
  • Lego challenges.  I had two different lego challenges.  One is the balloon car which is pretty widely talked about on the internet. Basically, the premise is you stack some cups up and then try to create a balloon-powered lego car to knock them down. The second I found somewhere on the internet but forgot to write down where!  For this one I taped blue pieces of paper on the ground in two different sizes (medium and hard difficulties) and they had to build a bridge to go over the paper.
    Materials Needed: Legos, paper
    Maker Morning4
  • Communal Yarn Loom.  We tried this last year but it didn’t have a lot of interest.  This year I had to put it out twice the kids liked it so much! All you need to do with this one is tape the yarn going across the table and weave in other yarn.  This was great because for a lot of the kids they hadn’t even learned how to weave yet.
    Materials Needed: Yarn! Ours was all donated.

    Maker Morning1


This is a really FUN program both for me and for the kids.  They get to learn from and play with new things that they may not be exposed to at home or at school.

Science Lab: Gravity & the 5 Senses

Science Lab: Gravity & the 5 Senses

Science Lab is a program I introduced last summer as part of Fizz Boom Read and decided to bring it back this summer because of it’s initial success. As a part of the the 2015 CSLP summer reading program, Every Hero Has A Story, I decided to combine the two: Superheroes and science! Science lab is advertised as an all ages program but we tend to get more school age kids in attendance (K-4th grade).

Our first week we focused on Batman & Wonder Woman and explored Gravity & the 5 senses!  The program is very low key and is more about then discovering and learning rather than me leading them through everything.  I intended for it to be self directed, with the help of parents in attendance when needed.  By the end I think the parents were having just as much fun as the kids!

I started by reading the book Gravity by Jason Chin, which is an incredibly well done and interesting book! The kids loved it.  Especially when I demonstrated gravity by dropping the books from many different levels of the room.

We then worked on gravity painting which turned out great! I set out tables with plastic tablecloths underneath them and then large cardboard pieces on teh tables and clipped on paper!  For painting we used watered down tempra paint and eye droppers.

Gravity Painting 1

Gravity Painting 2

The other part of Science Lab was testing out our senses! Wonder Woman has heightened senses so we were comparing our own senses to that of Wonder Woman!

Wonder Woman Senses

I started out by having three volunteers try the apple, potato, onion trick.  Supposedly, if you hold your nose and don’t breath while eating these they all taste the same.  According to my volunteers, though, you could definitely tell when you had an onion in your mouth.  Regardless, it was a fun activity!

After the activity there were a few different stations- one to test three different senses: touch, hear, and smell.

5 Senses- Touch

At this station I had 6 balloons filled with different substances and the kids had to guess what each one was filled with.  The hardest were corn syrup and petroleum jelly– but we did get some creative responses! The balloon idea came from Momtastic.  Also, I would totally recommend actually using a funnel because I didn’t and it was a messy experience.


You can see in the back of this picture that I had some black bins… These were filled with different things they had to shake to figure out what was inside.  The insides were filled with beads, bells, and rice.

I also had two smaller bins that had cotton balls with extracts on them.  Nobody could figure out the one with vanilla, which I thought was interesting!

All in all, this program went about as smoothly as I could have hoped.  Not only did the kids have a lot of fun and learn some interesting things but parents seemed really into it as well!

Guest Post: Everyone Can Code!

Guest Post: Everyone Can Code!

Casey is a library media specialist at Winnequah Elementary School in Monona, WI, teaching kids from 4k all the way through 5th grade.  She loves sharing her love for reading, coding, and technology every day with her students. Casey also enjoys long walk on the beach,eating cheese and finding the best bloody mary available.  Connect with Casey on Twitter @RedorRead

If you are interested in being a guest blogger on Miss Meg’s Storytime please email

As a school librarian, I don’t typically get a chance to provide the same types of programs you might see in a public library setting. This May, though, I had the chance when our school hosted Springfest. Basically, during Springfest, each teacher signed up to run an activity in their room for the last hour of the day, and students signed up for an activity that interested them.

This felt like the perfect opportunity to share one of new passions in life with the kids, coding! I would like to say that while I love coding, I am very much a beginning coder myself, and have limited experience. I am, however, a big believer in including coding in our schools and encouraging students (especially girls) of all ages to learn at least a little bit of code.  I had done a school-wide Hour of Code  in the library this past December, but hadn’t had a lot of opportunities to include coding beyond that. This time around, I decided to limit it to students in 3rd-5th grade. There were eight kids total who signed up, four boys and four girls (yay!), which made it a very low-key afternoon.

When the students arrived, I started by briefly introducing the three programs they had the option of using –, Scratch, and Bitsbox. All of the students had seen and used Scratch Jr. before, but Bitsbox was completely new to everyone. I really wanted the students to explore on their own, and I didn’t want them to see me as the expert in any way. Some of the kids had more experience than I did, which was great!

code Scratch Bitsbox

As the students were set free to choose where to begin, it was interesting to see who gravitated to which programs first. I should mention I don’t have a large number of computers in the library so students were using Chromebooks, PCs, and one student was using the brand new iMac. Because these were all web-based programs, it didn’t really matter that students were using different devices. In the end, three of the girls jumped on Bitsbox right away and the rest tested the waters with Scratch.

Screenshot 2015-06-15 at 6.04.12 PM

I was really excited to see what the students would create left to their own devices. It was a bit of a rough start for some as Scratch is not overly intuitive for beginners, in my opinion. We worked through it together, but it was important to me to remain very hands off. I would give verbal directions while the struggling students would “drive” their own computer. Once we got past the first couple of hiccups, it was pretty smooth sailing.

After about forty minutes, students started sharing what they had created on their own without any prompting from me. One boy who had never used Scratch before was very proud of his animated character, as he had spent the greater part of half an hour figuring out how to first make it walk and then make it look like it tripped. One of the girls had experimented with making her own app using Bitsbox, and she had coded a simple click/touch app. Most students had tried out at least two of the coding programs by the end.  It was amazing to see what each student got done in such a short amount of time, and made me wonder what they could be capable of if they had more time.

I even sat down and played around with some of the predesigned apps from Bitsbox, and created a fire-breathing dragon!


Screenshot 2015-06-15 at 7.59.47 PM

With about ten minutes left, I brought out the coding themed temporary tattoos I had gotten through Bitsbox and offered them up to anyone who wanted one. I did have to talk one student out of putting his tattoo on his face or neck, but otherwise they were a big hit!


All in all, I was very happy with how everything went!  I think having the different coding options worked really well, and while I had been a little nervous about how the loose the structure was, the students enjoyed the freedom. If you haven’t tried a coding program in your library yet, I highly encourage you to try something like this. It required very little prep work, and you truly only need to have a bare minimal understanding of coding beforehand. It was great to learn alongside my students for a change!



Mo Willems Party

Mo Willems Party

Yay– finally getting around to blogging about my Mo Willems Party I held at the beginning of May.  This came after Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus won our March Madness book tournament! Suffice to say, we are big Mo Willems fans at my library.

Mo Willems Party | Miss Meg's Storytime

Here is how I set up my area– The books I would be reading on my table and then a bunch of other Mo Willems books on the table behind me.  I really wanted to highlight some of his less popular books with the display.
The scraps of paper are from a drawing I did– ever kid got entered to win a plush pigeon toy.

The first book I read was obviously Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.  And of course, we were not going to let him:
Mo Willems Party | Miss Meg's Storytime

The other books I read were We are In a Book, Knuffle Bunny, and my favorite Elephant and Piggie book, Let’s Go For a Drive! I broke up the books with Shake your Sillies Out and Icky Sticky Bubble Gum… It was necessary to stand up and dance silly along with reading our favorite silly books!

Next was the time for activities!

We did the elephant and piggie puppets found on Three Little Birds. A children’s room staff member created our elephant and piggie (and they turned out amazing!). I also bought blue and pink paper bags, similar to Marge at Tiny Tips for Library Fun.

Elephant & Piggie Puppets | Miss Meg's Storytime

Last year we had a big library carnival and along with that I had made a Pigeon mini golf course– which came in handy for this party! It was a big hit. We made it with plywood and pool noodles for the bumpers.


Thankfully there are some amazing teacher guides available on the Pigeon website- check them out! I downloaded all of them and used some activity pages for each and had these set out on a table along with scissors, glue, and markers.

And now for my favorite (and proudest) part of the party:

Mo Willems Partry | Miss Meg's Storytime

This idea came from Abby the Librarian on the ALSC blog.  To make them I used large pieces of cardboard (one was posterboard and two were from window boxes) and traced the characters using our projector.  I already had the correct paint colors from the mini golf so that part was really easy.  As for the stands– I wish I had a perfect way to tell you how to make them yourself, but alas, I don’t.  I went to Home Depot with the picture from Abby the Librarian and asked them for recommendations on how to make ours.  They don’t do miter cuts at home depot so luckily my boss was able to do that for me.  I then drilled all the pieces together.  And hot glued as reinforcement since I am a Children’s Librarian after all :)

Overall, this party was a HUGE success.  We had great attendance and everyone seemed to have a great time (parents and kids alike)

So as not to reinvent the wheel- instead of making a list of all the awesome bloggers who have already discussed their Mo Willems parties I will just redirect you to Jbrary– who has already made a list!

Spy Academy: the last two weeks

Spy Academy: the last two weeks

You can read about the prep work for Spy Academy here and information about our first two weeks here.

As a reminder, Spy Academy is a four week program, running for an hour once a week.  I have it open for ages 6-11 and the biggest thing was that I needed the kids to be able to read.

You can download my powerpoints here– feel free to use the template and change it  however you need to! Powerpoint Week 3 Powerpoint Week 4

This has probably been one of my favorite programs to do and I know the kids enjoyed it a ton too (have already had some ask when they can sign up for next year–ay caramba!)


MATERIALS NEEDED: cut out popular characters, tape

Every good spy needs to make sure their interrogation skills are on point!  We played a well known game for this one (although I’m not sure if it has a name?) and it was a HUGE hit and a ton of fun.  I printed out a bunch of different characters (many book characters but also pop culture ones) and taped one to each kids back.  The kids then had to try and guess their character using only yes/no questions.  We played for about 15 minutes and then the remaining kids we all worked as a group to help them figure out their character.  All in all, a lot of fun, and it got the kids up and moving which is important!


MATERIALS NEEDED: Masking tape, scissors (we used painters tape bc we had a lot of it from a previous program)

Is it weird that I had a bunch of 6-11 year olds pose as dead bodies and tape outline each other? Maybe.  Did they have fun doing it? Definitely.

To make this one go as smoothly as possible I split them up into groups of 3 and within their group they took turns taping and lying down. I was very proud of their awesome teamwork as well :)

Body Outline | Spy Academy

Body Outline | Spy Academy


MATERIALS NEEDED: Tape, glue, scissors, construction paper

A good spy also knows how to blend in or be undercover… disguises were definitely needed!  I printed a bunch of glasses and mustaches printables from online but I think the kids has more fun creating their own (like in the picture below).

Make a Disguise |Spy Academy


MATERIALS NEEDED: Morse code translator, pony beads, string

This one was a little tricky and some of the younger kids just ended up making regular bracelets BUT the kids that understood it thought it was super awesome that they could make a secret message of their name. Basically they needed three colors: one for the dot, one for the dash, and one for a spacer between letters (this was often white or black). They each had a morse code cheat sheet in their TOP SECRET folders from the first week (and I had extras for the kids who were newcomers).  By assigning one color to a symbol they could spell out their name!

sorry for the awkward angle, I took this upside down!
sorry for the awkward angle, I took this upside down!


MATERIALS NEEDED: discarded magazines, paper, glue and scissors

Ransom Note |Spy Academy

Ransom Note | Spy Academy


This was a huge hit and the kids got VERY into it!  I videotaped a couple teens (who were more than willing to help me) in a “crime scene” where one “stole a book”.  We had witnesses and suspects.  The kids had to compare the teen in the crime scene with the suspects we interviewed.  They also went to the crime scene (in the teen zone) and interviewed the teen library assistant who gave them more clues such as a shoeprint that was found in the snow.  It didn’t take long for me to film or edit as it was all very low-tech.


If you do this, make sure you tell your kids at the end that it was all pretend because they all seemed to believe it and were very disappointed in the teen who ended up “stealing” until I told them it was pretend at the end.

I HIGHLY recommend this program to childrens and tween/teen librarians.  If you have any more logistical questions feel free to comment!!

Spy Academy: the first two weeks

Spy Academy: the first two weeks

Alright, so last week I told you guys about the Prep Work for Spy Academy…Today I will tell you what we did in the first two weeks!
Remember, Spy Academy is a four week program, running for an hour once a week.  I have it open for ages 6-11 and the biggest thing was that I needed the kids to be able to read.

I have made powerpoints for each week– They are available for download and are completely editable!  Use my templates but change it around however you need to :) Power Point Week 1  Powerpoint Week 2

At the beginning of week 1 I gave each child a top secret envelope (seen in previous post).  This contains all of the materials they will need for that week.  I had multiple pieces of paper in their folders so I printed on different colors.  We had one piece of paper that had our list of missions for the days and check boxes that they could mark off when MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!


MATERIALS NEEDED: Paper, laminate, magnetic nametag backers, nametag sheet from Spy Handbook


(I know I already shared this but there’s no harm in doing it again)

I had these slips of paper cut up and put into two different dishes.  Each kid picked one of each and combined them to create their code name. Some of my favorites were Stealthy Tuna, Tabasco Ivory, Cockroach Ruby, and Curious Retriever!  We then labeled EVERYTHING with their code name (folders, nametags, etc.)

I mentioned last week that I got nametags from the essential Spy Handbook from Birthday Blueprint.


MATERIALS NEEDED: Stamp pads, children who don’t mind getting messy, Fingerprinting sheet from aforementioned Spy Handbook

So there are like 8 thousand different ways to do fingerprinting on pinterest but I just decided to go with the laziest way and use some stamp pads we already had.  This resulted in very colorful fingerprinting and also a lot of colorful fingers because it didn’t exactly match up.  Would I use stamp pads again? Likely.  Do I recommend you use stamp pads?  Not really.

This was really cool because we were able to look at the differences in our own fingers and with the spies sitting around us.


MATERIALS NEEDED: Scissors, fasteners, awesome brain skillz

It is necessary for every great spy to know codes!  We brushed on Morse code but it was really complicated for a majority of the kids.  Nevertheless, they wrote their names and got to take home a morse code decoder sheet to practice at home.

We also made decoders! The one I printed out and we used wasn’t awesome but I found this one that looks promising. They used a pin and an eraser but fasteners will work just fine.

And that concludes week 1!

For week 2 I had their folders filled with our missions for the second week, as well as a cool little button I made for each of them. These buttons are made with a 1.5″ button maker. Here is an editable google drive file for you to print and make your own!

Spy Academy Buttons | Editable File Available


Our theme this week was all about getting up and moving as well as TEAMWORK! (because, as Stealthy Tuna reminded me, spies often work with partners)


MATERIALS NEEDED: Black balloons, a lot of lung power, and little trinkets/things to put in your “bomb” balloons

detonate bomb

I first pinned this idea from The Porters but it is everywhere when looking for spy academy ideas. So this next part might get confusing so bear with me:
I had 4 different teams.  Each teams mission was to find the 4 different “bombs”.  Which means that there were 24 bombs and the rest were just empty balloons.  They were to find the four different bombs by shaking and seeing if they sounded different.  Each bomb sounded different when shook, which is how they were to find only their bombs and not any other teams.  Inside of the bombs were: glitter, another blown up (red) balloon, a mini compass toy, and a piece of paper with a secret message.  All in all, this was actually pretty successful!  Some teams found duplicates of bombs but that is okay, they still had fun!

And their secret message?  It had their order number for our next activity:


MATERIALS NEEDED: Streamers, tape

Again, this one is everywhere when looking for ideas but I first pinned it from Chicken Babies but was also done by Fat Girl Reading in her spy program.

obstacle course
yes, i realize it isn’t the cleanest obstacle course but it was in our back hallway. normally regular humans aren’t allowed back there.

Their mission was to get across once on their own without tearing the streamers.  This proved to be a little bit too easy.  So, their second mission was to get through holding the hand of one of their teammates!  This was a lot more fun and difficult.


MATERIALS NEEDED: Lemons/lemon juice, paintbrushes, paper

While the teams weren’t doing the obstacle course they were in the other room writing secret codes with invsible ink. I just had lemon juice and paintbrushes set out and they went to town.  When they were done creating invisible ink messages they could make decoded messages from the week before or create their own code and message. I also had this message left behind which isn’t technically in code but it still very adorable.

I am spy acadumey


And that concludes the first two weeks of Spy Academy!  Check back next week after we have our final week!

Spy Academy: the prep work

Spy Academy: the prep work

This past fall when I was doing my winter calendar I reached out to my awesome (seriously, I can’t say this enough) PLN on the twitter-sphere. I can’t figure out where exactly I got the idea originally for a school-age spy program but I immediately loved it and scheduled it for January.

Spy Academy is a four week program, running for an hour once a week.  I have it open for ages 6-11, the biggest thing was that I needed the kids to be able to read. I got A LOT of my stuff from amazing homeschool and blogger parents (spy academy is a big hit for birthday parties and parents love to blog about it) and from pinterest, check out my spy academy board here.

I was originally going to wait and blog about this after the four weeks but we’ve done so much already that I think it’s best split into a couple posts.  This post is about the prep work…be on the look out for posts about week 1 & 2

Initial Set-up


First, for your marketing and the materials you make you’re going to need some awesome fonts! Also, if you download and use my powerpoint’s or anything that isn’t a PDF you will get the full effect if you have these fonts downloaded… Especially the top two. Here are the ones I found and love (I pretty much use exclusively when downloading fonts):


Spy Agency • Top Secret • Mad Midnight Marker • DilleniaUPC was already on my computer • Pauls Ransom Note • Top Secret Stamp


Luckily we have a copier that can copy onto manila envelopes (and I only sacrificed 3 envelopes in the process of figuring out how it worked!) so I copied this text onto the front of each envelope:

top seceret
(link to nametags later in the post!)


So in 2011 a little boy had an (I assume) awesome Spy Academy birthday party and his mom decided to share all of the stuff she used for that birthday party. Which is really quite awesome because I really took advantage of what she had to share! I downloaded the Blank Spy Handbook from Birthday Blueprint for the next few things! There are a TON of awesome ideas and resources on that post so check it out!


I laminated the nametags and then purchased some magnetic nametags so the kids feel official*

I also printed the first page of the spy handbook from Birthday Blueprint onto labels and the kids put those on the back of their envelopes…This had their real name and code name on it.  And while we’re on the topic of code names, here’s how we picked them:


I was inspired by the code names in this post by Frugal Family Times but needed more options so I made something similar!



Whoaaaaaa a cliff hanger! To find out what actually goes into the top secret envelopes and what we’ve done in our first two weeks of SPY ACADEMY check back soon…ish.


Every time someone tells me how awesome of an idea this is I get a little embarrassed because literally none of this was original (okay that’s not completely true I am creative sometimes) and couldn’t’ have been done without all you awesome people on the internet like:

» Andrea S. @andizor on twitter and the facebook pictures she shared with me from her library spy program

» Frugal Family Times

» Chicken Babies

» Bryce Don’t Play or @PLSanders on twitter

» The Show Me Librarian

» Birthday Blueprint

*while I know that amazon isn’t the best company in the world, if you buy those nametags using the link I provided I get like probably 4 cents so there’s that*