Posted in professional development

Professional Development Reading: Exploring the Science of Sounds

My latest professional development read is Exploring the Science of Sounds: 100 Music Activities for Young Children, by Abigail Flesch Connors. Since I enjoy singing songs and teaching my storytime kids fingerplays, I wanted to see how else I could bring music into my programs. Two of my colleagues have done great programs with musical instruments and musical play, so I want to get in on the fun!

Exploring the Science of Sounds: 100 Musical Activities for Young Children, by Abigail Flesch Connors,
(October 2017, Gryphon House), $16.95, ISBN: 9780876597316

Although aimed at professionals that work with kids from preschool to age 7, many of these activities are easily adaptable to toddlers. We get an explanation of the science behind sounds – pitch, tempo, musical instruments and how they make the sounds they make – and activities that translate to teachable moments for kids (and caregivers!). Teach kids to make their own guitar/harp/stringed instruments using a tissue box and rubber bands! Use different surfaces to understand how sound travels with different thicknesses! Every single activity in here will enrich a storytime or form the groundwork for a STEAM/STEM music program that kids will love. I’m putting this one in my professional development budget; I can see myself referring to this book again and again.

Posted in programs

Halloween Slime Time!

I’ve been settling in here at my new library digs, and finally felt comfortable enough with the kids to try something I’ve previously dodged in the past: slime. I feel like I’ve gotten to know my QH Kids and their parents well enough to attempt a mess on this level, especially after the Quirk Party bubble lab  and Annabelle Fisher author visit went so well. I found this great edible candy corn slime (more like Play-Doh in consistency) recipe from Teach Beside Me – incidentally, I love this site; you should add her to your list of program resources if you don’t have the site bookmarked already – and went for it.

I’m pretty sure the kids were happy. (And I love Facebook’s “Add Stickers” function so very much.)

The program was packed – 20 kids and 4 parents! – so I recruited one of my tweens to handle melting duties with me, and we let all the little ones get a turn mixing the candy corn and coconut oil together. The kids had a blast, but word to the wise, this stuff gets as hard as a rock pretty darn quickly. I had a great time, we were all covered in powdered sugar and laughing, and they’re excited about the next slime lab, which will be something more pliable, and in greater volume: Definitely need to double the materials list to accommodate the kids.

Tomorrow, it’s walking s’mores (Golden Grahams, mini marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, put ’em in a cup), Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and a costume party with a tube of zombie army men as the grand prize. Stay tuned!

Posted in geek, geek culture, Middle Grade, programs, Tween Reads

I had a BookPop! party and it was great!

Quirk Books is a… well, quirky, fun book publisher that has a comic book writer and former YA librarian in their ranks, spreading the good word. It’s pretty awesome, because now, my library gets to do things like have a gallery dedicated to horror paperbacks of the ’70s and ’80s (Paperbacks From Hell), and have a mini pop culture con for my kiddos and tweens.

First up, my Paperbacks From Hell gallery, in my teen section. It’s garnering some looks, some chuckles, and some conversations: “What the hell is that?” “That is a giant gila monster. And watch your mouth.” (The display is in the teen area, but you know, little pitchers, big ears). The teens are pretty baffled, the grownups get a kick out of it, and it just makes me happy.

Next up, BookPop: Quirk’s traveling pop culture fest, happening in libraries and bookstores all over the place. I held mine late, because I thought it would be the perfect program to hold when the kids were out of school; last Thursday – since most of the families in my community don’t observe Rosh Hashanah – was the day. Quirk sent me a box o’swag, including ET: The Extra-Terrestrial tattoos (not in the picture: those babies were GONE); posters of the new kids’ books, X-Files: Children are Weird, and the YA novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism; and a spiffy tote bag to put everything in. I downloaded Quirk’s Geek Guides for putting on a great day of programming, and was ready.

First program of BookPop! Day was Superhero Storytime. I had a handful of kiddos and their parents attend, and we made masks and Geek Family Crests when we were done. The kids loved the masks – I downloaded some blank templates from First Palette, handed out scissors, markers, crayons, and lanyard to tie the masks, and the kids loved it. One little one even wore her mask through the next program…

Nick and Tesla’s Science Workshop. The Nick and Tesla books are tons of fun and loaded with STEM experiments, but I wanted something that even my littler ones could do. Enter, bubbles. I told the kids that Nick and Tesla are a brother-sister team that solve mysteries and get out of trouble by creating great science projects, and that we were going to learn about surface tension, and the difference between bubbling your milk and bubbling water with a little dish soap in it. I had a gallon-sized tub filled with water, gave out droppers, straws, and cups, and we bubbled away. Then, I had one of the kids add a cup of plain old liquid dish soap, and they all took turns stirring it. I spread some water on the table and demonstrate how to blow a table bubble, and that was all the kids needed. Look at these bubbles!

The entire table, at one point, was covered in bubbles. They loved it, I loved it, and they want more fun science programming, so win, all around. Next up was…

The Miss Peregrine Photo Workshop. Originally, I planned this for my teen patrons, but they weren’t interested – I had a group of tweens, though, who were all over it. We talked about the movie, I showed them the books, and brought out the equipment: photos I printed onto card stock from a Miss Peregrine-inspired Pinterest board (search on “vintage weird” and I guarantee you won’t be sorry), lots of paper towel, a spray bottle full of coffee, and two containers of coffee and tea. The kids loved aging their photos, and I was amazed by their creativity: one girl laid a paper towel over her photo to give it more texture as the coffee seeped through, and another tore the borders of her photo to make it look even older.

When I told them I wanted to create a photo gallery of their work, they all donated the photos to the library! So today, we have “Queensboro Hill’s Library for Outstanding Children” (forgive the glare, I laminated the photos so they wouldn’t deteriorate further):

I handed swag bags out for most of the day, and everything went except for one tote, two X-Files posters, and a handful of My Best Friend’s Exorcism posters, which will all be prizes for future programs. One kid couldn’t even wait to get home: he gave himself an ET tattoo sleeve, which was pretty fabulous.

I’d call our Queensboro Hill BookPop! a success.

Posted in Fantasy, Intermediate, Middle Grade, programs, Summer Reading, Tween Reads

Summer Reading programs: Harry Potter Week

I’m sorry I’ve been away for a while, Husband and I took our yearly date vacation to Boston Comic Con, and I decided to embrace the joy of being a little less available than usual. But I’m back, and I’m here to crow about what was possibly the most successful week of programming I’ve had as a children’s librarian: Harry Potter Week. I set all programming to take place during the last week of July, culminating in both a celebration of Harry’s July 31st birthday AND a chance to rile everyone up for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Cursed Child release that week. It was a success, leaving me in the debt yet again of amazing librarians and Pinterest pinners.

I started things off on Monday by getting everyone ready to attend Hogwarts, initially handing out tickets to the Hogwarts Express, Hogwarts student IDs, and a Hogwarts origami sorting hat so they could sort themselves into houses. I decorated my bulletin board to look like Platform 9 3/4, and made sure no one actually decided to make a run for the wall. I don’t want to fill out accident reports. I helped the kids fold their origami sorters, and we were off to the next part: button making!

platform  IMG_20160725_143753

I came across the button maker when I first arrived at my library, and it’s been a successful part of my maker programs. Finding House buttons on Pinterest made things so much easier; I printed a few sets out on my home printer (I don’t have a color printer at work), brought the pages in, and got to hole punching. Once the kids selected their houses – I didn’t make them stick with a house they didn’t want – I had them come make their own House buttons. They LOVED it.

house buttons

See the Hogwarts button in the middle? I made a bunch of those and handed them out to my coworkers, explaining to the kids that any of the librarians, computer people, or helpers were like the Hogwarts faculty, so if they needed help and I wasn’t around, they could just look for the Hogwarts button. My coworkers enjoyed being part of things, and the kids were excited to see a Hogwarts atmosphere taking shape around them. I welcomed the kids to their Houses as they made their buttons, and then moved onto the next part of the opening ceremonies: their Spell Books. I told them that every student at Hogwarts needs to start out with a basic book of spells, and handed out this great PDF including just about every spell in the Harry Potter universe. The pages are 4×6, and since I didn’t have the budget to buy small photo albums as suggested, I just let the kids cut them out and staple them together. We talked about some of the more popular spells, like Expelliarmus and Wingardiuim Leviosa (I totally did the Hermoine “Levi-oh-sah”), and I reminded them NOT to use Unforgiveable Curses on one another. It’s all fun and games until someone Avada Kedavras, you know. Day One at Hogwarts was a success.

On Day Two, we made Marauder’s Maps. I LOVE this one from Harry Potter Paraphernalia, which made things easier on my Corona Kids. There’s a lot of folding, but there’s a lot of wiggle room for someone who isn’t a master folder. I helped the kids with their maps, and everyone was insanely happy with the results. There’s another great map on Instructables, but I ultimately didn’t go with it, because the cutting and folding looked like it would have gotten confusing for most of my kids. The Harry Potter Paraphernalia map was a great introduction to folding for my group, and with some more practice and increasingly complex projects, I hope we can tackle the Instructables map next year.


After we made the maps, we talked about Patronuses. There are still a bunch of kids in the library who haven’t read the books or seen the movies, so introducing them to Hogwarts was exciting, and the Patronus really got them interested. I handed out black construction paper and put out a basket of sidewalk chalk and told them to create their own Patronuses. I figured the chalk on black paper would give the Patronuses an ethereal, otherworldly quality, and I was right! Plus, the kids loved working with the chalk and paper, and let their imaginations go wild. It was great! We had all sorts of Patronuses: a turtle, a giraffe, a unicorn; I even had a kid ask me if it was okay to make Medusa her Patronus. She wasn’t sure if a Gorgon was in Harry Potter’s world, and I told her that Fluffy, the three-headed dog at Hogwarts, is a Greek mythological figure named Cerberus, so if she wanted a Gorgon to be her Patronus, that she should go for it.

20160726_154826     20160726_154226     20160726_154204     20160726_153439

On Wednesday, I showed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and put out Harry Potter/Hogwarts coloring sheets – there are TONS on the Internet! The kids love a good movie day, and since I don’t know how many have cable, this was a first for quite a few. Movie day tends to be my own little oasis in the week, because I tend to between 2 and 4 programs a day during Summer Reading.

Thursday was our Wand Workshop, and despite there being many amazing wand workshops online, I have way too many kiddos to pull out the hot glue guns, so I stuck to chopsticks – I bought a pack of 100 for $1.99 from a local Asian grocery, some glitter glue, duct tape, and stickers. It was just fine; the kids love having something to do, and they love to create. I was able to crop down some of the wand pictures – I can’t publish pictures of the kiddos here on the InterWebs – but you can see some of the imagination that went into their wandmaking here, and that would make Mr. Ollivander proud.

20160728_140401          20160728_135857          20160728_135859

Friday was the big finale: Harry’s Birthday party and a Horcrux Hunt! The Horcrux Hunt is just like my other weekly treasure hunts: I put up pictures of the Horcruxes, plus a bonus picture (the Deathly Hallows), and gave the kids sheets to find them and write down the number on each picture. Prizes were bookmarks, Oriental Trading craft kits, and temporary tattoos. For Harry’s birthday, I set up a few coloring stations and we made paper bag and book page owls, inspired by this French Harry Potter party site. It’s super easy! We used brown lunch bags for the owl’s body; pages from books destined for the garbage made up the ruffle in front. I traced circular objects of different sizes for the eyes, using the bottom of a small mug for the brown eye feathers, my 1″ hole punch for the whites of the eyes, and a bottlecap for the black of the eyes. I asked the kids to put their owls on a bookshelf when they were done, so we could take a picture of our owl post. It looked amazing!

IMG_20160729_132001 20160729_132450

Of course, no Harry Potter party would be complete without a HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WIZARD? Wanted poster, which I quickly whipped up with a poster board I had.

20160729_131735I am nothing, if not dedicated to getting kids excited about books.

All in all, I had between 30-50 kids take part in each day’s program, and everyone seemed really excited and happy. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is on several school reading lists this year, so I hope that the kids took away a little of the magic from the books. I do know that when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child hit shelves that Monday morning (we’re not open on Sundays, so the books stayed in a lockbox in my manager’s office), they were grabbed up quickly and joyously!

Thanks again to the wonderful bloggers and librarians that shared their ideas and helped me create a great program. I’ve got a Harry Potter party Pinterest board where I keep the pins I used and will add to for future parties, and you can check out my Harry Potter Week Google Drive folder for any printables that I used, all in one spot.

Posted in geek, geek culture

Summertime programs: Captain America Turns 75

Summer Reading strikes fear into the hearts of librarians everywhere. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it is the time of year when everything ramps up. Keeping the kids interested AND reading is a 24/7 job, and I have the Pinterest boards to prove it. Being a children’s librarian in my community, where I regularly have up to 100 kids in my room every day, Summer Reading was going to be a challenge this year. I decided to go with weekly themes, to switch it up, give myself some more programming variety, and celebrate some pop culture birthdays in the process.

readingrainbowNot actually my library.

Since NYC schoolkids are stuck in their 90+ degree classrooms until the bitter end of June, I start my Summer Reading programming in July. This year, what better way to kick it off than with Captain America’s birthday party? Cap turns 75 this year, and Steve Rogers’ birthday falls on July 4th. Talking this up to kids for the last month, between my after-school regulars and all the class trips that packed into the library those last few weeks of school, I was psyched by the reception it received. I wasn’t disappointed!


I turned to the Internet for help in making Cap’s birthday a blast. Luckily, last year’s superhero themed Summer Reading program meant that I still had my superhero photo booth masks, so I printed out a fresh set, laminated them, and the kids went nuts. I even had parents and kids showing up in costume, which had to be the biggest boost. They were really excited! We colored pictures, made paper plate Cap shields, and made little Cap figures out of wine corks.

The next day, I had a viewing of Captain America: The First Avenger. The next day, we had a craft: This is My City! Every superhero needs a city to protect, right? I’ve got a bunch of empty tablet boxes in my meeting room that were dying to be turned into a city for superheroes to protect. I was blown away by the kids’ creativity! I put out materials and superhero stickers, and they went to work. We had 99 cent stores, chocolate factories, and brightly colored apartment buildings. We had a great time, got to talk about graphic novels and books, and I felt pretty darn great about the kids in my community that day.


Superhero training camp was up next, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to many pinners on Pinterest for this. We began training camp by getting our superhero names, using the Superhero Name Generator; then, it was over to the table, where kids created their masks and emblems. Taking inspiration from The Little Sewing Shop and this Superhero Academy pin, I was able to put together a task list that would work in the library. I put down a masking tape maze that took my trainees through the stacks, and led them to a table, where a bunch of beanie babies awaited, behind a “brick” wall (more tablet boxes), to be rescued. Once the trainees rescued the beanie babies, they had to lift the Rock of Power (taped together wads of newspaper), and then bench press a 500 pound barbell (two balloons taped to three toilet paper rolls). Upon finishing their tasks, they received a Superhero Training Certificate.

Friday was the big finish: a Captain America & Friends treasure hunt, which is something I’ve instituted as a weekly thing here at the library. I take about 8-10 different pictures along a theme, number them and hide them throughout the children’s room, and create a key that I hand out to the kids. They have to find the pictures, write down the numbers for each one, and color a little spot in where I’ve colored the picture, so I know they’ve done the search. I’ve got tons of little prizes for these weekly hunts; Oriental Trading is great for individually bagged little crafts that kids love. I’ve included a link to the Cap treasure hunt pictures on my Google Drive, and here’s the link to the key. It looks wonky when you open it via Google Drive, but it looks fine in Word, so if you use it, try to open it in Word and see if that helps at all.

I had about 30-50 kids take part in the Captain America week’s festivities, which I consider a pretty big success; I had a lot of repeat kids, and I had some new kids, and everyone was really enthusiastic and got into the spirit of the week.

The next week was Spy Week – I’ll share that soon, and this week, I’ve got Harry Potter’s Wizard Week (Harry’s birthday is July 31st). Stay tuned!

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Teen

Two! Two Programs! (Insert Count von Count laugh here)

I was still on a high from having kids show up to my comic book discussion group, so I decided to charge headlong into more programming this week. I had a teen coloring club scheduled, and I have to be honest – I was terrified. I had to venture into the Teen Center here at my library, which is like walking into the lion’s den, for me. It’s unfamiliar territory; these teens don’t see me at all, since the Children’s Room is on the other side of the library, and they’re a small, insular group. As teens are. I walked over with some mandala pictures and two boxes of colored pencils, nervously asked if anyone was interested in a coloring club, and was ready to scamper out of there when I heard someone say, “Miss! Over here!”

mandala-2-334-2-11 mandalas_primavera11

There was a group of three young teen girls sitting by the window, hands raised and waving at me. “Do you have pencils?” They asked.

“I sure do! Here, see? May not be Power Puff Girls (did I completely date myself with that reference? Better than Bugs Bunny, I guess, which was first on my lips), but check it out!” They cooed over the mandalas, so I felt like I made an awesome score; put down the sheaf of papers and pencils like an offering, introduced myself, told them where to find me, and backed away slowly.

Guys, teens liked my pop-up passive program!

I was so heady with glee that I went full steam ahead and started talking up a reading group idea I’d been working on earlier with my tweens. I’ve been dying to have a book discussion group for tweens, and the parents here have been asking for programs for their school-age kids. I announced that the first book would be The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, and a group of kids jumped to sign up. I’m so excited to be trying out new program ideas, and have kids that want these programs! We’ll be having snacks and making our own Origami Yodas at the end of December. I’ll report back.


I missed the chance to try this Kind Bombing idea in observance of World Kindness Day today, so maybe I’ll sneak it in next week.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Posted in Graphic Novels

I had a program! And people attended! Corona Comic Book Group Begins.

Now that I’ve had a month to settle into my daily routine here at my library, I’ve finally gotten some programming set. Today was my first Comic Book Club, an idea I’d been trying to get off the ground for over a year, but could never quite make happen at my previous library. Since the crowds here are pretty robust, and the kids are hungry for programming, I thought I’d give it a shot.

I kept it pretty laid back for our first meeting, since I’m still new here, myself. I had seven kids show up, all aging from 7-9 years old. They were excited to be talking about comic books, and the fact that I was wearing a Green Arrow t-shirt and comic book shoes, so that was a great conversation opener. We talked about what different TV shows and comics we like – Teen Titans and Steven Universe got huge props, which means I need to check out Steven Universe now. Plants vs. Zombies got some love, too.


We talked about what kind of comic book club we wanted to be. They were really enthusiastic about reading a graphic novel together and talking about it, and they wanted to learn more about comics that are on the shelves at the library. Babymouse, Owly, and Garfield are current favorites, and I’ve just ordered more books to put on the shelves, so maybe next week’s meeting will be an unveiling of the new stuff!

I used the comic book club as an excuse to talk about other programs the kids may want. Tabletop Gaming got some promising feedback, so that made my day. I’m thinking I may need to start a teen comic book club, too, because I had no idea how many younger kids would want in on this. They also want to watch movies, so I need to figure out the space situation (we’re tightly packed in this library) and make that happen.

My comic book store, Royal Collectibles in Forest Hills, generous donated some Halloween ComicFest copies of Grimmiss Island and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, so I was doubly thrilled. The kids in my library’s neighborhood don’t always have the disposable income for comics of their own, so this made their day.


I passed out some comic book templates that I found on Pinterest, and the kids went to work. I have to tell you, the creativity blew me away. Yeah, there was the one kid that made a new generation’s version of Spy vs. Spy, with one guy and another guy yelling “DIE!” and killing one another with explosions, but the other kids really sat and thought out their stories, even paging through the books I had on the table for ideas. We agreed that every week, I’ll give them more comic paper, and they can continue their stories (or write news ones), and create their own comic book.


It was a 45-minute program, with relatively no financial outlay thanks to the donation from Royal. It got the kids talking, I got to put names to some faces I see every day, and it helped me build a rapport with them. I’m already excited for next week!

Posted in Teen

Blackout Poetry in the Classroom

I’ve been working on Summer Reading programs to bring into my libraries, and the concept of Blackout Poetry in the Classroom grabbed my eye (thanks, Hushlander!). It reminded me of the book Rhyme Schemer, which I enjoyed, and think that my teens and tweens may get a kick out of using a Sharpie and an old newspaper or book page to create some art. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Does anyone have any Summer Reading programs for teens to talk about? I’d love to hear!