Saturday, May 22, 2021

Cryptography - Hybrid STEM Program

STEM programs for kids, cryptography for kids

For May's STEM program I decided to repeat a program I'd previously done in-person ("Spy School") with some tweaking to adapt it to a take-home kit plus video format, focusing only on the hidden and coded messages part and re-branding it as a Cryptography program.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Cinco de Mayo - Virtual Storytime

My storytime happened to fall on May 5th, plus May is Latino Book Month, and since half our population is of Mexican American heritage I decided to do a Cinco do Mayo theme. First I did a little research to be sure I understood what the holiday was for and how it is celebrated, and since frustratingly none of our several books about Cinco de Mayo appeared to be written by Mexican or Mexican American authors I had to come up with a slightly different way to interpret the theme as I only wanted to use books by Latino authors.

Frogs - Virtual Storytime

Today is National Frog Jumping Day! And it has a literary connection, being named in honor of all the frog-jumping contests spawned by Mark Twain's short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (originally published as "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog")I've always found frogs to be a fun storytime theme, so decided this was a good reason to do it again.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Early Literacy To Go - May


Since I decided to take a short break from storytimes the latter half of this month, May's early literacy kit didn't include as many different themes. My first storytime happened to fall on May 5, and the second on National Frog Jumping Day, so my themes were Cinco de Mayo, frogs, and Latino Books Month overall (though I could not find frog books with Latino authors, unfortunately).

This month's kit contained the following:

  • Newsletter with all the suggested activities on the front; songs/fingerplays/action rhymes and instructions for included craft/activities on the back, along with a reminder about the weekly virtual storytime on the branch Facebook page and YouTube channel.
  • Activities - easy, everyday activities categorized by the ECRR2 five practices
    • Talk - about the meaning of Cinco de Mayo and the different ways it's celebrated, talk about your own heritage, traditions, and celebrations.
    • Play - build with blocks or small boxes, engaging in conversation while doing so.
    • Write - playing with dough, planting seeds, scribbling, coloring, and drawing. 
    • Sing - songs with animal sounds, counting songs, along with recorded music, included songs
    • Read - together and independently
  • Book Suggestions:
    • Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (print & digital)
    • What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla
    • My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintano (print & digital, English & Spanish)
    • Lucia Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza 
    • Salsa: A Bilingual Cooking Poem by Jorge Arguleta (print & digital)
    • Cinco de Mayo by James Garcia 
    • How Do Tadpoles Become Frogs by Darice Bailer (Vox talking book)
    • The Frog Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta (digital)
    • One Is a Pinata by Roseanne Greenfield Thong & John Parra (digital)
  • Songs/Rhymes/Fingerplays:
    • "Five Green & Speckled Frogs" (counting down song)
    • "The Alligator & the Frog" (action rhyme with large body movement)
    • "Ten Little Frogs/Diez Ranitas" (counting song in English & Spanish)
  • Included Craft - Paper Bag Pi┼łata 
    • small brown paper bag
    • 2 small rolls of crepe paper
    • 2 packs fruit snacks
    • string
  • Included Craft - Bouncy Frog
    • frog cut out of green cardstock
    • lily pad cut out of green cardstock
    • 2 1/2" wide strips of cardstock
    • small dot stickers, assorted colors
    • googly eyes
    • small strip of red paper
  • Included Activity - Five Green & Speckled Frogs
    • 5 die-cut frogs
    • assorted color dot stickers to speckle them with
    • lyrics of song
  • Activity sheets
    • Frog coloring page
    • Life cycle of a frog
    • Scissor skills sheet
    • Find the two exactly alike frog coloring sheet
  • Die-cut Letter "F"

This will likely be my last monthly early literacy take-home kit, for a few reasons. First, they are extremely time-consuming to plan and execute. I put a lot of thought into them and try to be as intentional as possible in selecting the various crafts and activities. However, I have the very strong sense that caregivers are not using them as intended, and are just handing the kids the crafts to do and ignoring the rest. Second, this next month or two is going to be a hot mess because our entire summer program was just scrapped and being replaced with a completely different program that has a multitude of logistical challenges which still haven't been worked out yet, so I'm sure I will have to focus all my time and energy on that for the next month at least. And third, I am cautiously planning transitioning to in-person programs and outreach.

This coming week will be my last virtual storytime, followed by a 3-week break to prepare for the summer. Then, starting June 9th I am going to move to in-person, outdoor storytime. That won't be without challenges, though we have a nice green space, we are on a busy road so it's fairly noisy. But no one is interested in virtual programming anymore, and I feel like we are at a point with the pandemic that it's about as good as it's going to get for the foreseeable future. With the demands of the summer program, I just cannot possibly make time for the elaborate monthly Early Literacy kits, and with moving away from virtual storytimes and starting in-person programs, I feel that there is no longer the same level of need as I will be giving early literacy information and tips in-person, as well as providing a take-home craft or activity each week.

Then I'm really hoping once summer is over, we will continue to make the transition back to "normal" in-person programming and I can really begin doing community outreach, which is desperately needed here. I think the take-home kits definitely met a community need for the last 7 months for those who couldn't access the virtual storytime or kids who simply couldn't engage in that format, but with current staffing levels and transitioning to in-person programs once again, I don't think they are sustainable, at least not in their current form. I may consider a simply monthly newsletter instead.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

My First Grant-Funded Project


I'm excited to share a little grant project I've been working on that I'm rather proud of. It's nothing on a grand scale, not terribly innovative or particularly amazing, but I hope it will make a small difference for the kids in the community we serve.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Superheroes - Virtual Storytime

April 28th in National Superhero Day, and though I've never really been a fan of the whole superhero genre, I know a lot of people are so thought it would be good for a storytime theme. However, I did find it surprisingly challenging to find superhero books suitable for storytime that I liked. I was still trying to decide on books up until that morning, when luckily two holds came in just in time.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Dinosaurs - Virtual Storytime

velociraptor appreciation day
I continued the "Velociraptor Appreciation Day" (April 18th) theme into my storytime for the following week, since I had come across a new book I really wanted to use, and an older one I hadn't seen before that I really like. Plus, let's be honest, I love dinosaurs as much as the kids do.