Friday, December 14, 2018

Flannel Friday - The Gingerbread Man

The Gingerbread Man flannel set, Gingerbread Man felt set, Gingerbread Boy flannel set, Gingerbread Boy felt set

I have tried to find a version of the folktale The Gingerbread Man to use in storytime a few times, for a "Folktales & Nursery Rhymes" theme, a "Cookie" theme, and at holiday time, but have never found one I really liked. There are many variations and a number of cute versions, but they are always way too long and text-heavy for my kiddos. The closest I've found is Harriet Ziefert's, but the book is so small and illustrations a little dull.

So I decided to make it into a flannel story in order to tell an abbreviated version, and tell it the way I wanted to. This is actually my first true story set! All the ones I have made before were to go along with various songs and rhymes.

I am still fumbling around with different techniques, learning by trial and error, so mine aren't necessarily put together in the best or prettiest way (don't look at the backs :D), but in the end I was pretty happy with them, other than now wishing I'd made the animals slightly smaller.

I found clip art online to use as patterns and for the first time I had stiffened felt to work with, which made a world of difference, especially since my scissors at home were not the greatest. I have no time to make flannel sets at work now, so I've bought my own felt supply and make them at home. The bonus is that they now belong solely to me and I won't have to leave them behind if I change jobs (like I did my "Five Nervous Turkeys" that took FOREVER to make 😭).

I cut out the pieces and glued them together with Aileen's Tacky Glue, added details with colored sharpies, and some puffy paint. Note: Puffy paint takes a long time to dry! I've never used it before and I was not expecting that. I used googly-eyes, because the kids like them, I like them, and they just make everything more fun! The old man and woman took a fair amount of time, but the rest went fairly quickly. I made a couple of different sizes of the gingerbread man, too.

(I must confess I ate a fair number of Pepperidge Farm Gingermen while I was working on these 😉).

Run, run, as fast as you can! You can't catch him; he's the Gingerbread Man!

For more felt & flannel ideas and tips, check out the Flannel Friday Facebook group and Pinterest Boards! To share your flannel, submit via the Flannel Friday Tumblr. For complete information and all the details, visit the main Flannel Friday website.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Dinovember Reflection


All good things must come to an end, and Dinovember has now come to a close.

First, I have to say this was so much fun and I am so glad I finally had the chance to do it, and I hope I get to do it again, bigger and better! But I also learned some lessons along the way, and there are some things I would do differently.

My interpretation of Dinovember had 5 parts:
  1. "What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night" - I staged photos of our toy dinosaurs getting into mischief and had them posted on social media as well as in the department (averaged 3/week, photos further below).
  2. Dinosaur Recovery- I randomly hid a couple of the dinosaurs in the department each week after putting up a wanted poster, and the kids that found them and helped us "recapture" them won a small prize. I printed "Captured" across the mug shots of each dino as they were found.
  3. Passive Programming - bulletin board, dino books on display, coloring sheets, activity sheets, puzzle, and a weekly picture scavenger hunt (I did carnivores, herbivores, dinosaur jokes, and fossils found in our state).
  4. Family storytime
  5. STEAM program for elementary ages
Most of it went well, and I would do some form of them all again, but there were a couple of things that I would do differently or tweak just a little. Storytime was fine, people liked all the passive programming, and kids LOVED hunting for the escaped dinosaurs! They would check the wanted poster when they came in to see how many were still on the loose, study the photos for clues, and plot strategy. Others found them by pure luck. One girl said she'd been looking for almost an hour, gave up and went to get a book to check out, and when she pulled the book she wanted off the shelf, there was Stegs hiding behind it! 

I definitely over-planned for the STEAM program, and you can read more about the details of where I went wrong and what I would do differently in my previous post specifically about that programThe "What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night" is the part that was the most fun, but also where I learned some valuable lessons and would make the most changes.

(1) Start planning and staging pictures early! Don't wait until November, especially if you will not be able to post them to social media yourself, or if you want to hide the dinos for kids to recover, and especially if you are only part-time and only occasionally work before opening.

(2) Not everyone will be as into it as you. I thought other staff members would get into it and contribute ideas or stage photos, too, and though I did get a couple of suggestions, it ended up being mostly me, and I started running out of really good ideas. So another reason to start planning early! 

(3) It takes longer to stage the photos than you think it will!

(4) Be sure to carefully check the photos as you are taking them; the camera does not always see things the way you do. There were some pictures that did not turn out like I expected, but I had already cleaned everything up by the time I realized. If I had checked the pictures first, I could have easily made some quick adjustments and gotten better pictures.

(5) Keep it simple, and very obvious. I got too sophisticated in one of mine (glitter bombs). It was a very clever idea, but too dependent on people looking very closely and picking up on clues and getting the references to fully appreciate the joke, and few did. 

(6) People like to see the dinos being REALLY naughty! The fire alarm photo was by far the most popular photo of them all.

(7) With the exception of the fire alarm photo, engagement gradually decreased over the course of the month. I wonder if I should have started off with the more cutsey pictures and built up to the more outrageous to maintain interest? Post more frequently? Less frequently? Over a shorter period of time?

(8) Meet with your social media person in advance and make sure you're both on the same page and work out the scheduling and captioning together then. While our social media person was very much on board, there were some missteps with wording, scheduling, and missing posts that I think could have been reduced with more advanced planning and communication.
    Here is a collage of all the photos I staged (click to enlarge, or visit my Facebook page to see them individually). The dinosaurs escaped their storage bin, had their own storytime, wrote on dry erase tables & played board games, tried to pull the fire alarm, sent glitter bombs, got into the paint, had Thanksgiving dinner, terrorized the trains, played with visiting Flat Stanley, researched world domination, shared their favorite picture book for National Picture Book month, and finally the leader Rex turned himself in after all the others had been captured, and they all settled back in their storage bin for a nice long rest.

    Dinovember, dinosaur activities for kids

    As of this posting the "What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night" photos have garnered over 1,100 likes, reactions, comments, and shares across the library's social media (Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter). If you add other related posts, the grand total for all Dinovember social media is over 1,200 direct engagements! In addition, attendance at the two programs was 20% and 32% higher than usual, respectively. [For context, our system is in a larger metropolitan area with a diverse population of around 320,000.]

    I do have visions of doing it again and trying to get others on board and going system-wide the next time, with the dinosaurs sneaking aboard the courier's truck and traveling around causing mischief at all 6 locations, and each branch having a different dinosaur program. Some other activities/programs I'd like to do are:
    • Tea Rex Party
    • Dinosaur Stomp (combining storytime/dance party and a craft or STEAM activity)
    • Dinosaur Egg Hunt (did this at my son's 5th birthday party, and it was a blast)
    • Guest paleontologist to speak and share fossils (tween/teen or family program)
    • More passive programming to change out each week
    • More dino decorations in the building
    Have you done Dinovember? If so, what activities/programs did you do? Have any tips to share or experiences to share??