Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas... Unfortunately

Today it is COLD. Far, far too cold for me to find any joy in how pretty the snow looks outside. (According to, it's currently 14 degrees, but it feels like 1 degree. THAT IS TERRIBLE. Man, one of these days, I'm going to have to move to California or Florida, or, you know, anywhere on the equator.)

In keeping with the season, however, we've been busy decorating our room with all sorts of snowy decor. Pictures are below, please take a look! (Also, the formatting on the captions went completely wonky, I have NO idea what happened, and I do not have even a little bit of motivation to fix it. Haha, I know, I am SUCH A GOOD BLOGGER.)

Miss Beth made a street lamp (reminiscent of Narnia, obviously) in front of our pole opposite the entrance. I love the way the branches turned out - they add just the right fanciful element!
We made several of these big snowflakes to lend the room some added flair. This one is my favorite, although the picture is a little hard to make out. Find a tutorial on how to make these here!
I would just like the record to state that I very kindly did NOT play candid camera, and instead allowed Miss Jan to sneak out of the picture as I snapped it. Pretty garland though!
And a nicely-decorated Christmas tree, of course!
We cut a sponge into a snowflake shape and used it to paint the windows, then added some paper chains for an added touch of winter white.
Miss Jan put together this adorable Pete the Cat bulletin board! Hip, Hip Hooray for the Holidays! (Idea originally from Mudpie Studio.)
Miss Jan ALSO put together this awesomely hilarious bulletin board. Everyone loves Buddy the Elf! (Idea originally from Close's Counselor Corner)
More painted snowflakes, plus some hanging ones and a lovely poinsettia!

I found some really gorgeous wrapping paper at a craft store, so we used it to make some of our snowflakes. After we had punched them out, we thought, why not use the outlines as well!
We wrapped a center pole with some pretty wrapping paper. We had initially envisioned doing the whole room in blue and white, but I really like the pop of color the red offers!
Miss Kim made some awesome stack-end snowflakes!

So pretty! (I think the glittery one is especially nice. See more closeups on Miss Kim's Blog: Destination Storytime!)

Santas, santas everywhere!
And a shot of the room (as best I could manage) to give you more of an idea of how it all fits together! It's quite pretty down here, I'm liking this seasons decorations, even if I AM already pretty sick of snow.
And this is what I've been working on for the past couple days! I really, really love how it turned out, and it wasn't that had to make either. I just punched out the letters, did my best to make everything as bright and contrasting as possible, and then hung the words + circles from the ceiling on fishing line, so everything looks like it's floating! (Seriously, taping paper decorations to fishing line is my new favorite decorating tool. So simple, but it looks really good when you're all finished! If I do say so myself.)

Here's a closeup! Oooooooooh, floating circles!

And a picture from the back, just so you can get more of an idea of how everything is precariously held together. (It hasn't fallen down yet! I'm counting this as a victory.)

   And that's all for now, folks! A quick, picture-heavy blog post to (hopefully) get me back in the swing of posting again. (I can't believe I haven't had a post up since JUNE, ugh, that is terrible.)

Friday, June 28, 2013

SRP 2013: Dig into Reading!

Hello, hello, everyone - long time no talk! As I assume is true for children's librarians everywhere, we have been intensely busy ever since the first week of June and the kick-off of this year's summer reading program. It's a good busy though! We're at 1400 signups and counting, and we've had excellent turnout for our Wacky Wednesday program, which I am once again running with the help of the lovely Miss Jan. We're now finishing up our second week of programming, which means I am already behind on updates, hah. Story of my life.

To start with though, I thought I'd do a post on some of our awesome decorations - I'm so thrilled with how everything turned out, and we had a LOT of fun with this year's theme!

Overall, we went with an Egyptian theme for our children's room. I'll say that the room as a whole probably isn't quite as decked out as previous years (for example, those years that we've hung colored paper from the ceiling to make patrons feel like they're walking into the ocean, or standing under a night sky), but we have a few really cool individual pieces that I'd like to share!

 Miss Beth took on the sphinx, which is currently guarding the entrance to our room. He's made of cardboard, and then he got spruced up with some gold paint and sand.

Here's my King Tut! I seriously think he's the best thing I've ever created, ever. He turned out almost exactly like I wanted him to (probably because I spent way too much time on him). I found a how-to guide in this video, and then put my own spin on it. I'll be putting up a second post detailing exactly how to make this guy, so keep an eye out for that if you're interested!

I also made a mostly life-size mummy! I used the tutorial found here at Miss Stitch a Wish. My brother was kind enough to volunteer as my guinea pig.

As you can tell, he was really happy and excited about it.

Miss Beth turned one of our columns into an Egyptian cat, complete with a beautiful jeweled collar...

...and Miss Jan crafted an obelisk for the opposite side of our entrance! (You can actually see the corner of the sphinx's headdress peeking out from behind the door.)

We also had our summer reading program participants put their name on a camel, and then we stuck said camels up all over the room. (And yes, we had to cut every camel out individually. It took forever, and they are EVERYWHERE.)

See? EVERYWHERE. They border the entire room. (Here's a fun game, feel free to go back and check the other pictures I posted and see how many times you can spot camels. Haha, just kidding, that's not that fun of a game.)

We also made a pyramid - sort of, I'm aware it looks more like a house, but our space was rather limited. Inside we have a table set up with some Egyptian stencils as well as some texture rubbing plates. The kids have really enjoyed it so far! (If you look in the background, please note that there are MORE CAMELS.)

Here is Miss Jan's bulletin board, which comes with awesome 3D pyramids and some truly adorable camels!

And that about wraps it up for the Egyptian portion of the decorations! We also have some really great stack ends made by Miss Kim, but my pictures of those turned out awfully blurry, so I'll try to retake some of them later. HOWEVER, that is not the end of this post, oh no, because we have a few really great non-Egyptian decorations, too!

We got an ant farm! I promise, there are totally ants in there, but they tend to hang out in the lower left corner, or else up at the top, where you can't see them very well. It only took them a couple days to dig those tunnels though, which was really cool to watch!

The ant farm is in a display case Miss Jan put together, which comes complete with books, an outline of a nest, and a few ants making off with a picnic lunch.

Miss Jan also made this awesome dinosaur bulletin board, which I think turned out GREAT.

Sigh, this is blurry as well (I don't know what was up with my camera), but here's a bulletin board I put together. This was actually my spring bulletin board (an oh-so-original "Spring into Reading!"), but I ran out of time to do the one I wanted for summer, so we just switched out the wording. There are also some worms that we have people pin on when they come in to story time, which helps fill in some of the blank space.

And I do believe that's all from me! I'll be posting my King Tut-orial (haha, I'm totally going to make that joke again, JUST SO YOU KNOW) soon, and I'll be following it up with some Wacky Wednesday posts. I'd love to hear what all of you have done to deck out your libraries, so please feel free to link me in the comments!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Flannel Friday: It's Just Emooootions, Taking Me Over

Hello, hello, fellow Flannel Friday-ers! A few weeks ago, I did a flannel board that involved an Angry Bird hiding under an egg. (Thanks, Miss Sarah!) When I revealed the Angry Bird, I asked my story timers to give me their maddest face, which resulted in total hilarity (if you are me). Two-and-three-year-olds with scrunched up grumpy faces are adorable.

Obviously, the next logical step was to do a feelings/emotions story time! We had a lot of fun reading Grumpy Bird and Happy Is..., not to mention our rousing rendition of If You're Happy and You Know It (followed by If You're Sad, Mad, Scared, Sleepy, etc.). For our flannel board, we did expressions - this one was so easy and SO fun, we had a great time with it!

I started out with simple circles with nothing more than eyes. One by one, I'd put up one of the expressionless faces, ask what color it was, and then describe a scenario to my kids. For example: What if your mom and dad gave you a big box and inside the box was a... puppy! How would that make you feel?

Once we'd decided that puppies would make us happy, we talked about how to turn our yellow face into a happy one. The answer, obviously, is with a great big SMILE. (To extend the flannel board a bit, I sometimes put the unhappy mouth on, or the angry eyebrows, so the kids had the chance to tell me how wrong I was.)

Obviously, our sad face required an upside-down mouth and tears.

The red face, of course, could only be ANGRY. And then we all made silly faces!

This was a fun one, too - we talked about how you might feel if you walked into a room and everyone shouted, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" I wasn't sure if my group would think of "surprise" on their own, so I made sure to model it by making a surprised expression myself. I asked if your eyebrows go up or down when you're surprised, then we talked about what shape your mouth makes. Then, I followed this up by rephrasing my example: What if you walked into a room and somebody yelled, "BOO!"

You might be SCARED, which is awfully similar to surprised, so we covered our eyes with our hands to show the difference. Finally, we went through all of the faces that were now up on our flannel board and reiterated how each face was feeling. Then, to finish, I said I felt too bad to leave our sad face feeling sad, so we turned his frown upside down, took away his tears and made him happy instead.

 This was a fun, simple flannel board and a really great way to keep my group engaged and interacting with me. We all had a lot of fun, and I think everyone left happy! :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Star Cookies: Script


Once upon a time, Mother Sky lived far above the earth, with her two children, Sun and Moon. One day, Sun and Moon’s Uncle, North Wind, invited the two children to his house for a picnic lunch. Mother Sky made sure they looked their very best and reminded them to be polite.

[I paused here to discuss some good ways to be polite. Share, say please and thank you, etc.]

 Mother Sky gave each of them a big hug, and off they went.

Uncle North Wind greeted them with a great big WHOOSH and invited them inside his house. The three enjoyed a tasty lunch of milky way milkshakes and galaxy sandwiches, and when they had finished, Uncle North Wind brought out a big tray of beautiful star cookies.

“Thank you, Uncle North Wind,” Moon said nicely. She picked out one cookie to eat.

“Wow!” Sun exclaimed, and even though he was already full from the sandwiches and milkshakes, he immediately set to gobbling them all up. The more he ate, the hotter he got, and the bigger he got, and when he was finished, he didn’t even say thank you. [Was that very polite of Sun? Nooooooo.]

Then he looked over at his sister, who still had a pile of cookies left. He reached out for one, but clever Moon quickly gathered them up. “I’m taking these home for Mother Sky,” she said, and carefully placed them into her basket.

Uncle North Wind thanked them for coming, then sent Sun and Moon on their way home. Mother Sky saw them coming from a distance. As they got closer, she realized just how hot and brightly Sun was burning.

“Why, Sun,” she said, “look how hot and flushed you are. Did you gobble up all of your uncle’s star cookies?”

“He made them for me,” Sun said rudely. “They were mine.”

His mother frowned at him. “You need to go back to him and apologize.”

“No I won’t,” Sun yelled, and he stomped his feet and crossed his arms and turned even redder, and before his Mother could send him to a well-deserved time out, he stormed off across the sky, where he decided to stay in the daytime, and never again come out at night.

Moon held up her basket. “I brought you some cookies,” she said.  Mother Sky smiled when she saw them.

“These are much too beautiful to eat,” she said. “Let’s put them on my robe, and you can stay with me each night to polish them and make sure they’re always shining their brightest.”

And that’s why we only see the sun during the day, and the moon at night.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Flannel Friday: Star Cookies

(Disclaimer: This is a post in which I talk a LOT. You have been warned.)

Awhile ago, I went to the theater to see Pixar's Brave. As usual, there was a charming little short before the film began. This time around, it was La Luna, the story of a young boy who embarks upon the family business of sweeping up the stars.

Picture from Flicks News

For some reason, as I watched, all I could think about was how much the stars looked like cookies. (Spoiler: They don't actually look that much like cookies.) I couldn't get it out of my head. Star cookies, I thought. Star cookies are most definitely a thing!

This bugged me for days. Finally, I realized that I had read a story as a child about star cookies! Bits and pieces started to come back to me, and after some serious investigative googling, I came across this post on Notes from the Story Room. I was validated! Star Cookies is William Wiesner's simplified take on a traditional Indian folktale. Although the aforementioned blog was unable to track down a picture book version of the tale, I KNOW one exists, since that's what I remember from my childhood. It might be a standalone picture book, or it might be part of a collection of stories - William Wiesner has a collection called Moon Stories, which is out of print, but I think that might have been the one I read.

Anyway, all of my rambling aside, as soon as I saw that Notes from the Story Room had made this story into a flannel board, I KNEW I wanted to give it the same treatment. Thus, Mother Sky was born:

Mother Sky is a large piece of blue felt, with a light blue oval of craft foam glued down to one corner. Her hair is strips of felt, again, glued into place. I had initially intended to make her hair black, but then I was worried she might look a bit too scary for my kids, so I went with shades of purple instead.

Aaaaand here is a closeup!

Along with her son, Sun:

Sun was VERY simple. I punched out a yellow craft foam circle and drew a face on with Sharpie. Easy-peasy!

Her daughter, Moon:

Moon was also pretty easy. I punched out a white craft foam circle, as I didn't have any grey, then mixed up some white and black paint and, using a sponge, daubed it on very lightly. The one downside to this method is that it was a massive pain to draw over the paint with markers. Worth it though, because I like the splotchy effect it gave Moon.

And Uncle North Wind. (Please use your imagination to picture an older gentlemen with long, flowing grey hair and a beard, each of which curls and twists into twirls of wind. That is totally what Uncle North Wind would have looked like, had I not run out of time to make him, hah. Yaaaaay, overly ambitious flannel boards!)

Now, Notes from the Story Room gives a pretty succinct version of this story, but I'm going to go ahead and make up a separate post with the version I cobbled together. I never did manage to find a copy to look at before I did this flannel board. (It's a long and harrowing tale of unhelpful responses, a semi-restricted room that purports to be public, and ridiculous hours that for some reason are NOT POSTED ON A WEBSITE. Ahem. But on that note, thank you to my brother, who made four separate trips to the library in an attempt to get a look at this book for me. We may have failed in our endeavor, but my flannel board totally triumphed, so TAKE THAT.)

Anyway, please take a moment to go read through my version of the story, here, since it will help explain the rest of this post a bit better.

Now, since I didn't have Uncle North Wind, when Moon and Sun arrive at his house for lunch, I simply prompted my kids with, "And Uncle North Wind greeted Sun and Moon with a great big WHOOSH." And then we all made that sound together, which they seemed to have a great time with. (Toddlers are the best, everybody.)

Here are Uncle North Wind's delicious star cookies! Again, SUPER simple to make. I printed out some yellow stars, cut them out, then smeared some gold glitter point on them, to give a nice, shiny effect. They attach easily to the flannel with a little square of velcro on the back.

I don't have a picture of this part, but please picture Sun and Moon on my flannel board (with Uncle North Wind there in spirit). We counted out six stars for Moon, and six stars for Sun. And dear readers, let me tell you - the minute I brought out these star cookies, my kids were ENCHANTED. The best description I can think of for it is zombie toddlers. I had two who were immediately up at the board, pulling at the star cookies, and when I looked out at my rug, another three were standing up, their arms already outstretched. Staaaaaaaar. Cooooookiiieeeeees. It was hilarious.

After rescuing my star cookies from my, as ever, hands-on toddlers, we talked about how Moon very politely thanked her Uncle and took a single cookie to munch on. Sun though, despite the fact that he was VERY FULL from lunch, gobbled ALL of his cookies up! And then he tried to take some of Moon's! Clever Moon slipped them into her bag instead, to take home to share with Mother Sky.

Sun before his cookie rampage.
Well, with all of that gobbling, Sun started to get hot.

Sun midway through his cookie rampage.
 And the hotter he got, the BIGGER he got...

OH NO, SUN, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE. (End of cookie rampage.)
...and the unhappier he got, because eating all of those cookies means you are in for a big tummy ache.

For comparison's sake; Sun before cookie rampage, and Sun after cookie rampage. Midway rampage!Sun actually exists on the back of my original Sun. I painted him with yellow and orange paint, while Big!Sun got some added red, along with a few shakes of glitter.

Well, after all of that, Uncle North Wind bid Sun and Moon goodbye. Mother Sky spotted them coming from quite a ways off, and she, of course, immediately noticed Sun's flushed state. She guessed that Sun gobbled up all of Uncle North Wind's cookies (because she's Mother Sky, and she knows what's up). She scolded him, then told him he needed to go apologize to Uncle North Wind, and Sun immediately threw a TERRIBLE TANTRUM. (Sun's having a bad day, guys.) He stomped his feet, crossed his arms, scowled a frightful scowl, and stormed off across the sky to the daytime, where he decided to stay from now on.

Moon, on the other hand, showed Mother Sky the cookies she brought back to share. Mother Sky exclaimed over how beautiful they were - much too pretty to eat! - so Moon helped her fix them to her robe, and Mother Sky asked Moon to stay with her each night, to polish the stars and make sure they are shining their brightest. And that's why we only see the Sun during the day, and the Moon and the Stars at night!

Our final scene, Moon and Mother Sky, and Mother Sky's brand-new, beautiful, starry robe.

I had such a fun time with this flannel board, both making it and sharing it. It is a little bit intensive in terms of removing pieces and putting them on, so do be aware that a run-through or two probably wouldn't go amiss. My second and third times doing this went much more smoothly than the first. Also, I tried to focus particularly on the theme of politeness. My 2-and-3-year-olds were possibly juuuust a little young for this story, but I figured they could relate to how important it is to share and to say please and thank you. Also, I didn't love the idea of Sun being scolded just because he ate a lot of cookies. (Granted, I don't remember if that's the focus of the original telling or not - I think it actually might have been that Sun didn't bring anything home to share with his Mother, but that just seemed too complicated to me.) Anyway, I was more comfortable with Sun's wrongdoing being that he was rude and greedy and impolite.

Overall, I say this was a hit! I was worried it would be a bit long for my kids, but most of them paid attention the whole way through. AND it fit in perfectly with my story time theme, which was The Sun, the Stars, and the Moon!

(If you have made it all the way to the bottom of this post, CONGRATULATIONS. You deserve a star cookie! Staaaaaaar. Cooooooookiiiieeeeeee.)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Flannel Friday: A Home for Birdie

This week's flannel board idea came from Storytiming! I was doing a bird theme, and when I went a-googling, I stumbled across her very adorable "A House for Birdie" flannel board, based off the book, A House for Birdie by Stuart J. Murphy. I loved the idea and knew immediately I wanted to recreate my own version.

It's a simple enough story. Our friend Birdie (pictured below) is looking for a new house. What he wants though, is a not-too-big, not-too-small, juuuuust-right house, all his own.

He doesn't want to have to go looking all by himself, so he invites some friends along to come help him out!

I need better names for these guys, but at the moment they are Pinky, Birdie, Big Blue, ...Orange Bird, and Gus. (He just looks like a Gus, right?)

Orange Bird, despite his terrible name, is probably my favorite.

Now, in their travels, this Bunch o'Birds come across some mighty interestingly shaped birdhouses.

Haha, from here, the story should be fairly explanatory. I started with the green house, then worked my way through the pink, orange and blue houses until we finally got to the purple one. Birdie tried each one out, but they were all too big (and the pink one, with its sparkles, was just too fancy). Had I thought this through a little bit better, I would have made a bird that was smaller than Birdie, to get that contrast of Birdie being too big for a house, instead of all the houses being too big for him. Alas, I was kind of attached to the idea of Gus and his huge feet.

Anyway, once Birdie has given each house a try, his friends try them out, too, until they're each matched up with their perfect house. The kids did really, really well with this, even though I didn't make the shape match ups TOO obvious (ie, a triangle bird into a triangle house, a square bird into a square house, etc.). I switched it up a few times, too, and after Birdie had decided he didn't fit, I asked them which bird they thought might like this particular birdhouse best. And I think they answered correctly every time!

In other news, I definitely could have planned a bit better with Big Blue. He's juuuuuust a little too big for his birdhouse, which, when the entire point of the flannel board is matching shapes, is a wee bit problematic. I smoothed it over by saying that Big Blue likes a cozy house, but if/when I use this again, I'll be tweaking his abode a little, haha. (Ugh, he was fine until I added FEET.)

You get a birdhouse!

And you get a birdhouse! And YOU get a birdhouse!


Haha, Oprah jokes aside, this was a fun flannel board to make, and with a little bit of tweaking, it worked really well for my story times. The birdhouses and the birds were made with craft foam, but the black "shape" on each birdhouse is a piece of felt, so that I could stick the birds on easily.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope everyone has a bird-i-ful day! (Har har har.)