Summer Reading 2016 Wrap up!

Summer Reading 2016 Wrap up!

I have officially gone the longest time without blogging and for that I apologize! But, we had an amazingly crazy busy summer at the Library and I decided that my home time was time for self care (aka reality tv and popcorn for dinner) instead of more library things so I just took a bit of an unplanned hiatus.  Before I start blogging my storytimes and programs again I just wanted to give you a little wrap up of my summer reading program!  It was my third summer here and I finally finally felt like I got into my mojo and really did a great job.

I work in a small, rural town so over 400 is amazing for us, whereas those of you in bigger cities that may just be a fraction of your first day registrants. I am proud of our number ;)
I work in a small, rural town so over 400 is amazing for us, whereas those of you in bigger cities that may just be a fraction of your first day registrants. I am proud of our number ;)

This summer, in partnership with our local schools, we chose to track by time read rather than books or pages.  Ideally, I would love to ditch tracking but in CT we have a Govenor’s Reading Challenge that requires it so the kids and schools are already tracking so it’s better at the moment to just keep doing it and keep a good relationship with the schools.  Our prizes for reading are just free books and a super reader signs.We also have passports that kids get when they sign up.  These have fun challenges like visiting the library, attending a summer program, and checking out a nonfiction book.  Every time they get a stamp on their passport they get to add a sticker to our sticker wall!

School Visits

The BIG incentive this year was to get me to dye my hair blue.  During school visits I challenged the kids to read 1,000 hours.  Once they completed that I would dye my hair blue.  They were rockstars and finished in less than 3 weeks.


I did my programming a little bit different this summer which allowed for a lot more flexibility on my end. Going with the theme of “On Your Mark, Get Set…READ” all of my programs started with “On Your Mark, Get Set…” Here is an example of fliers for a couple of them:

experiment create
play-1 move

As you can maybe see in the flier, I just have a one or two word description of what each program will specifically be. This allowed me to have my daily (!!) programs while also not stressing myself out too much. For EXPERIMENT and one other program I did have help but otherwise it was just me.

Here are some program highlights (aka the only times I actually remembered to take pictures!). If you have any questions about specific programs please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.  Most of these programs are for grades K-5.


On Your Mark, Get Set… EXPERIMENT: Sink or Float.
At the beginning of the program I read the book Things that Float and Things that Don’t by David A. Adler
Station 1: Sink or Float
Table of different items and a tub of water!
Station 2: Make a Boat
Table of items that could potentially be made into boats: tin foil, styrofoam, cardboard, plastic, tape, etc. They then would test their boats float-ability by adding pennies and/or rocks!

Caldecott Program | Miss Meg's Storytime Caldecott Program | Miss Meg's Storytime

On Your Mark, Get Set…CREATE: Caldecott
This was one of my favorite programs of the summer! I started by reading some favorites by Jon Klassen and Lois Ehlert.  We then talked as a group about the art in each book.  After that they got to use the books as reference to create their own Caldecott inspired art!

Mini Golf in the stacks | Miss Meg's Storytime Mini Golf in the stacks | Miss Meg's Storytime

This one was a two part series…
On Your Mark, Get Set…CREATE: Design mini golf holes
I literally just had a bunch of random supplies (“trash”) and big posterboard.  Each group could design a mini golf hole on the posterboard using whatever they wanted.
On Your Mark, Get Set… MOVE: Mini golf in the library!
A week later we got to play mini golf in the children’s room using the holes they created! This was a TON of fun for both kids and parents and I will definitely be doing it again

Egg Drop  | Miss Meg's Storytime Egg Drop | Miss Meg's Storytime

On Your Mark, Get Set… EXPERIMENT: Egg Drop
Again, I just got a bunch of random supplies (“trash”, are you seeing a theme here…) and a couple dozen eggs and let them experiment!  Some kids love their little egg trap contraption the they ended up taking it home… with the egg still inside.

I went camping... with kids.......

Our summer series event this summer was Explorer’s Club.  We met weekly and the kids got to pick what we discussed.  At our first meeting I asked them what they knew about nature and the outdoors and then what they wanted to know or learn more about.  I used those lists to help me plan the next few weeks.  At the end of the month we went camping. Literally. Like, in tents.  Parents were 100% required to come and we camped at a local park (yay for great partnership with our parks & rec) that is secluded and BEAUTIFUL.  The above picture is our 6:30am hike.

Overall, it was a busy but very rewarding summer but I am glad to have a couple months break until we start planning for the summer of 2017….

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!

STEM for pre-school, or how I overcame my fear of the sciences and put on my big girl pants.

STEM for pre-school, or how I overcame my fear of the sciences and put on my big girl pants.

Last month I started a new program at my library to try and incorporate more STEM, and just in time for the CLSP summer reading program: FIZZ BOOM READ!

Now, full disclosure, Science and Math were my least favorite classes in high school and college. The idea of doing something with either of these two subjects is daunting, it’s scary, and quite frankly I just ignored STEM for as long as I could. I was and English major in college, for goodness sakes!  I still use my fingers to count!  A lever/pulley system is pretty much rocket science to me! My brother is the engineer in the family, not me (seriously, talk about sibling differences…he’s also good with his money)!  There are other things I’m good at, I can leave that hard stuff to other people.

But, now I’m the only person at my library for ages 0-18 and I can no longer hide from Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math.


Okay, so it’s not that bad.  At the NH children’s librarian conference in OCT (I went to only after being in my current job for 2 weeks) we had a panel about STEM and it really helped me to get over that first obstacle. One of the panelist’s had us think about what we ARE good at.  Something we already know and can teach.  And design a program based on that.


I can do stuff I already know.  Stuff that isn’t actually that hard.

I can start small.  It’s okay.
And it’s okay if I fail!  It’s okay if kids, or parents have to correct me.  That’s great!  It means they are paying attention AND I learn something new!

(just last week in storytime I made my clock wrong (I was short on time when making it!) and so it read 12:10, 12:20, 12:30, instead of 1:00, 2:00, 3:00. Talk about embarrass! But the parents corrected me.  And laughed. We laughed together. They weren’t laughing at me. That much.)

So, after that I started toying with the idea of hosting some pre-school STEM sessions.  So far I have had two sessions.  And maybe no one has showed up yet but someday they will! And I will be prepared!
And so was born: Pre-School Explorers!
One thing I wanted my STEM programs to have was parent & child interaction.  So, I set it up as different stations that parents and their pre-schooler can go through together.  BUT BEFORE THAT I explain to everyone what our theme is, read a short story that goes with the theme, and give an early literacy tip that is aimed towards pre-schoolers.  Sometimes we may do a short group activity.  Then the rest is parent time!  This way, I don’t even get very many opportunities to be wrong and embarrassed! It’s great!

The hardest part is setting up the materials and making everything for each individual station. I’ve been keeping it at 4-6 stations per theme, with materials enough for two groups per station. (This may have to be more for you though, I am in a small town).

SO, I wrote this post to show that even if Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math seem like these big scary things that are totally out of your comfort zone, it’s okay. The only way we can grow and get better is to tiptoe out of our comfort zones once in awhile.  You don’t have to do something big and extravagant at first (or ever if you don’t want).  You can just talk and teach about what you know and that’s is also okay!

ALSO YOU ARE NOT IN THIS ALONE. Seriously, try google searching “library stem programs”.  SO MANY OPTIONS. SO MANY LIBRARIANS.

STEM/STEAM Resources:

There are lists and resources available to librarians that it was almost a little overwhelming to look at them all! Instead of creating yet another list here are some of my favorite starting points:

The Show Me Librarian: All Things Steam
Simply STEM
This Prezi by Jan Thomas is pretty great
Thanks, IDAHO! (STEM Resources)

How are you incorporating STEM? What are your favorite resources? Tell me things!

**(edit only 10 minutes after publish: I know that STEAM is the new STEM buuuuuuut the A (arts) doesn’t scare me like the S, T, E, & M)**

Dig Into Reading: Garden Science Corner

Dig Into Reading: Garden Science Corner

At the Verona Public Library, where I am working LTE for the summer, they have a science corner in the children’s section.  This area revolves around a theme and then incorporates books, interactive activities, posters, and iPad apps about that theme.  The theme this summer is Gardening and it has been my little baby for the past couple of weeks.  Here is a picture of the corner:

Science Corner
It’s not huge but it has a lot of fun stuff and is constantly busy!

Alright let’s get into the nitty gritty of the science corner!  One area has the light table with laminates of butterflies and little clovers and a poster behind that of insects (because insects and butterflies are in gardens!).  The laminates and light table were from a previous science corner theme, which was of course butterflies.  The poster is from DK Eyewitness (I can’t find it on their website!) and the library already had that as well.

Between the light table and the bookcase is a BIG poster of a plant and it’s roots.  One of the other librarians actually found this as they were cleaning out the storytime closet.  It is AWESOME and is a great addition to the science corner.  I may have done a little jig when they found it.


Next to that is the bookcase.  Quite simply, this one is stocked with a bunch of books about gardening and gardens– of all different kinds!  There are even some there about how to start your own garden and food that you can eat out of your garden.  I just basically went to the 635 area of our nonfiction (dewey) and picked out a bunch of books from the juvenile and picture book nonfiction sections.  I have also been keeping an eye on it to keep it stocked as kids check books out.


The next section is the kids favorite area- the iPad!  I found a few different garden apps that also had a bit of science in them and added them to the iPad.  A few that I found are in my SRP 13 pinterest board.  I also printed off a few different coloring sheets about plants and gardens and set them out with some of the “crappy” crayons that we don’t use as much in storytime anymore (they crayons really are fine though!)


The poster in the background is also in my SRP 13 board.  As kids colored their pictures I had a note hung up inviting them to write their names and hand it to a librarian to hang it up.

And now for my favorite part about the science corner: MY SEEDS!


I got Lima Bean, Pea, and Squash seeds and planted them in ziploc baggies!  This was super simple and is turning out way better than I expected.  All you need to do is wet a paper towel, stick it in the baggie, and add a couple seeds!  I also labeled the bags with the dates they were “planted” and what type of seed it is and taped it to the window.  I have been planting them each Wednesday for the past three Wednesday’s so the kids can compare the roots and seeds as they grow!  Here are some up close pictures:

science corner2 science corner1
science corner

I love how each plant has it’s own distinctive way of budding, sprouting, and different looking leaves!


Now, I cannot talk about the fabulous Science Corner without talking about why it is possible!
The Verona Public Library, and the community in general, has an awesome relationship with a local business- Epic Systems.  Epic is AMAZING in giving to the library.  The Science Corner is fully funded by Epic through a grant to encourage science.  They also recently gave a grant to promote healthy eating and lifestyle programming for the library!  Here are articles about how awesome Epic is:

Epic Delivers More 100k Community Grants

Epic Delivers Another Round of Grants