Dec 3, 2013

My App picks

For the past year or so, I've been a part of a big conversation over at Little eLit about children's apps and what our role as librarians is in regards to apps.  I've come to the conclusion that apps are a resource (just like books and music and everything else we have at libraries) and that there is a vast ocean of (mostly mediocre to downright awful) apps designed for kids in today's market and that we, as librarians, are in a prime position to help parents navigate those deep waters in search of the very best apps to offer our children.

I wish there were a better way for me to share them with patrons for free (like we can with books and music), but other than a few iPads at our Central Library that are loaded with our favorites, we don't have a way to do that at this point.  To make up for that, I like to share apps in my programs whenever it's appropriate to do so.  I've shared before about using apps in WonderWorks, but I've also used apps in my storytimes (e-books are essentially just REALLY BIG "Big Books" with occasional moving parts, after all).  After getting questions from several parents (and other staff members) about what apps I recommend, I started a list which is now posted on my library's website.  I will continue to update this list as new apps are developed and/or discovered.  If you have recommendations of great apps for kids (especially for the Android market!), I'd love to hear from you in the comment section below.  Also, would you appreciate longer app reviews on this blog when I discover new ones that are rave-worthy?  Chime in and let me know!

Nov 21, 2013

Craft Lab: Dr. Who party!
Celebrating 50 years of the Doctor with crafts galore!

This Saturday is the special 50th anniversary episode of Dr. Who and I have some pretty serious teen fans of Dr. Who in my neighborhood, so we gathered together for some Whovian crafts.  Here's what we made:

Nov 20, 2013

Guest Post: How to make a short table

Do you wish you had short tables for toddler programs like Toddler Art Class or WonderWorks, but it's just not in the budget right now or you're not yet ready to commit to such a large purchase?  Yesterday, I got an e-mail from Laura Polak, Youth Services Specialist at the Oak Bend Branch of the St. Louis County Library, sharing her suggestion for making your own (temporarily) short tables.  She writes:

"I took our circa 1986 library benches, put tables on top of them with the legs folded up, and duct taped the two together.  Wrapping the tape around two or three times is enough to hold it in place, and they come in at about 16 inches tall.

 I only have three of these benches, though, so I made one more table with delivery tubs.
 This one takes a bit more time to create, but it also makes a very sturdy table.  I made this one by putting a table upside down on the floor, stacking delivery tubs on top of it and duct taping the two together.  That's it!"
Brilliant idea, Laura! What a great engineering solution. Thanks so much for sharing your idea and allowing me to post it here on LibraryMakers.  Anyone else have a great idea to share?

Oct 31, 2013

Toddler Art Class: Balloon "Ghosts"

Party balloons make bouncy (sometimes startling) paintbrushes.

Art Project: Painting with balloons
black paper
white paint

  cover art Ghosts in the house! / Kohara, Kazuno

Oct 25, 2013

Toddler Art Class: Foil Leaf Rubbings

A pre-cursor to crayon leaf rubbings, this project needs only two ingredients--foil and leaves.

Art Project: Foil Leaf Rubbings
leaves (not too crunchy)

 cover art Red leaf, yellow leaf / Ehlert, Lois 

Oct 24, 2013

NeedleReads: Felt & Fleece Mittens
Making mittens from fleece and felt is quick and rewarding!

felted wool sweaters and/or fleece
old t-shirts (optional, for lining)

cover art Sweater surgery : how to make new things from old sweaters / Girard, Stefanie
(mitten patterns, p. 40 & 42)

cover art Felt : 30 fun projects for felt (and fabric) lovers / Carestio, Amanda
(mitten pattern, p. 94)

Oct 23, 2013

WonderWorks: Catapults!!
 Flinging things is so much fun!

Today's Topic: Catapults!
plastic spoons
wooden spoons
wooden blocks
scrap wood
pvc pipes (leftover from this class)
cove molding (leftover from this class)
tongs (leftover from this class)
drink bottle lids (optional)

  cover art Katy did it! / Siomades, Lorianne

Oct 22, 2013

WonderWorks: Geoboards

Rubberbands and pegs give shape practice and help build muscles.

Today's Topic: Geoboards (Math)
Geoboards -- ours were purchased, but you could also make your own (links at the end of this post)
Rubberbands (variety of sizes and colors is good) OR weaving loops
Printed templates from Planet of the Apels (template 1) (template 2)
iPad with Geoboard app (optional)


cover art When a line bends--a shape begins / Greene, Rhonda Gowler

Toddler Art Class: Playing with Clay

Simple materials can be the most compelling.

Art Project: Playing with [air dry] clay
clay (we used Crayola Air Dry variety)
cookie cutters
rolling pins
plastic baggies in case anyone wants to take their clay home

  cover art Dave the potter : artist, poet, slave / Hill, Laban Carrick

Oct 17, 2013

Wonderworks: Bridge Building

What's the strongest bridge you can build?

Today's Topic: Bridge construction
plastic drinking straws (or uncooked spaghetti)
cardboard tubes
cereal boxes
Duplo or LEGO blocks
toy cars
books (for weights to test the strength of bridges)

cover art Cross a bridge / Hunter, Ryan Ann  

Oct 7, 2013

Craft Lab: Playing with Paper Pulp
What can you do with paper pulp besides making more paper?

scrap paper in lots of different colors
old blenders (not to be used for food afterwards)
pitchers, buckets, containers for water
plastic bowls (we used some coated paper bowls, but I wouldn't recommend them...)
paper clips
wire mesh strainers
large spoons

Oct 4, 2013

Craft Lab: Gelatin Printmaking
A surprisingly effective print medium:  gelatin!

Today's project:  Printing with a slab of gelatin
gelatin slab (see instructions to make one here)
ink brayers
flat objects with interesting texture or shape

Oct 3, 2013

Toddler Art Class: Stamping Dots!
Polka dots or poke-a-dots?

Art Project: Stamping dots
stamp pads (washable ink recommended!)
unsharpened pencils with erasers
wet wipes (or a sink in your classroom)
marker caps (optional, but fun!)

  cover art Press here / Tullet, Herve

Music to make art by: 
 cover art Wiggleworms love you [sound recording] /

Oct 2, 2013

WonderWorks: Scissors & Hole Punches

There are many ways to make holes in paper and all of them are fascinating to children!

Today's Topic: Scissors & Hole Punches, technology for little ones
Scissors (safety, kid-sized)
Hole punches (as wide a variety as you can gather!)
Drinking straws
pipe cleaners (optional)
sandpaper (for a different texture to cut)

  cover art Cat and Mouse : the hole story / Fox, Christyan

Sep 26, 2013

WonderWorks: Mirrors + Reflection
What do you see in the mirror?

Today's Topic: Mirrors + Reflection
--mirrors (in a variety of shapes and sizes.  For safety reasons, choose plastic instead of glass where possible.)
--flexible craft mirror (optional, but fun!  I got by with just two and there was minimal arguing.)
--half images (create your own, or feel free to use mine)
--DIY Periscope kits (note:  I purchased only one set of 12 kits and put together 4 periscopes before class and used the rest of the small mirrors by themselves for kids to do experiments with.)
--flashlights (I had two on hand and e-mailed parents inviting them to bring one from home)
--bright colored paper or cardstock

 cover art Sorry! / Landa, Norbert

Aug 20, 2013

Summer Special: Jan Thomas Puppet Show (+ a Picnic!)
Teen volunteers put on a smashing good show!

Summer Special : Puppet Show + Picnic
Supplies needed:
--Teen volunteers (we had 3, plus an event photographer)
--books to convert into scripts
--props as needed

We had such a fun time tonight at the Puppet Show and Picnic that I just had to share a few pictures and details here.  Jan Thomas writes great books for puppet shows--simple, easy to act out, very few props and hilarious!  Sixty-eight people showed up with picnic suppers in hand to watch the show and enjoy making their own puppets afterwards (free printables available on Jan Thomas' own website here and here).  More details after the jump.

Aug 15, 2013

Craft Lab: Duct Tape
Duct tape:  it's not just for ducts any more!

Project:  assorted Duct Tape crafts
Duct tape (as wide a variety as you can afford)
cardboard (empty duct tape rolls from previous duct tape events were popular today!)

Aug 10, 2013

Craft Lab: Upgrade your Cup
Plain white ceramics get a boost of color from teens in the Craft Lab.

Featured Project:  Painting on mugs (and one bowl)
plain ceramic objects (I bought mine from the Dig-N-Save), clean and dry
rubbing alcohol & tissues or q-tips
Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Paint Pens
Sharpie permanent markers
Baking instruction sheets to send home

Pros & Cons of paints vs. markers:
--Pebeo paint pens come in less colors than Sharpies.
--You have to "pump" the paint pens to get the paint to flow into the tip of the pen and if you're coloring a large area, you may have to pump several times throughout your project to keep a constant color.
--Sharpies are a little less predictable in the oven and dishwasher.  If you love your Sharpie-decorated mug, you might want to hand-wash it only.
--Neither are considered "food-safe" so please only decorate portions of the dinnerware that will not come into contact with food or your mouth.

(see more photos of our projects after the jump)

Aug 5, 2013

NeedleReads: Ombre Dyeing
Dyeing fabric dark at the bottom and fading to lighter at the top is trickier than it looks.

Project:  Ombre Dyeing

dye (we used Rit liquid dye, two bottles per dye bath)
hot water
large containers to hold the dye (we used a trashcan, a storage tub and a plastic Halloween cauldron)
fabric items to dye
clothes line
sturdy rubber gloves
garbage bags (to carry wet items home in, individually wrapped)

Aug 2, 2013

WonderWorks: Pumps and Siphons
One more week working with tools that help us move water from one place to another.

Today's Topic:Pumps and Siphons
drinking straws (the kind that bend)
clean and empty handsoap dispensers
toy pumps

  cover art Fire truck / Oxlade, Chris
There might be better books out there about pumps and/or siphons, but this was the best I could find for today's class.  The kids LOVED reading about fire trucks and this one has quite a bit to say about the water pumps found on an engine.

Aug 1, 2013

Toddler Art Class: Paintsicles!

Melty, messy paint-on-a-stick, perfect for warm-weather days.

Art Project: Paint-sicles!
ice cube trays
wooden sticks
heavy paper

  cover art What can you do with a paleta? / Tafolla, Carmen

Jul 29, 2013

WonderWorks: Does it Sink or Float?
Engineering meets buoyancy and boat-making.

Today's Topic: Will it sink or float?
tubs of water
items that may sink or float (light bulbs, full can of soda, pencils, keys, paperclips, balloons, plastic eggs, whatever you have on hand.  It will either sink or float or do something interesting halfway between.)
wooden skewers
foam sheets cut into triangles for "sails"


cover art Arthur's dream boat / Dunbar, Polly <div style='clear:both;'>&nbsp;</div>

cover art Captain Small Pig / Waddell, Martin

Jul 26, 2013

WonderWorks: Measuring Liquids

Measuring liquids is wet, messy math!

Today's Topic:  Measuring Liquids 
Funnels (optional, but very helpful!)
As many of the following as you can gather:
-measuring cups (both liquid and dry work well, plastic recommended)
-measuring spoons
-baby bottles with measurements on the side
-children's medicine syringes, spoons or the cups that come on top of a bottle of children's tylenol
-rain gauges
-mixing bowls with measurements
-gallon jugs
-plastic or cardboard pint or quart containers
-plastic cups in various sizes and shapes (to do a more simple "which one holds more?" test)


cover art How do you measure liquids? / Adamson, Thomas K.
This is a great non-fiction book about the topic!  All of the fiction titles I found were way too long for read-alouds.  This one keeps it simple, includes a few experiments and has a hint of a storyline with high quality photographs of an African American family measuring liquids in several different settings (more vs. less, measuring medicine, etc.)

Jul 25, 2013

Toddler Art Class: Drip, Drop & Spin

Salad spinners and coffee filters make fun art outside the kitchen!

Art Projects:  Spin Art & Coffee Filter Color Blending 
salad spinners (I found mine at thrift stores and library staff donated a few)
small, uncoated paper plates (or cardstock cut into circles small enough to lay flat in the bottom of your salad spinner)
small squeeze bottles
eye droppers
liquid watercolors or food coloring
coffee filters

  cover art Monsters love colors / Austin, Mike
Music to make art by:  

cover art You are my sunshine [sound recording] / Mitchell, Elizabeth

Jul 18, 2013

Toddler Art Class: Painting on Foil

Shiny, happy paintings add an interesting texture element.

Art Project: Painting on Foil
aluminum foil
paint (we used regular tempera)
containers for paint
water to wash brushes between colors (optional)

  cover art Mouse paint / Walsh, Ellen Stoll

(not the best book-to-project match, but I did give the kids three colors of paint to mix and play with.)

Jul 16, 2013

WonderWorks: Drip, Drop
Eye droppers, turkey basters and bulb syringes all work on the same principle--a tricky one for kids to conquer!

Today's Topic: Drip, Drop
eye droppers
turkey basters
bulb syringes
bowls of water
plastic or styrofoam egg cartons, small paper cups, bowls, other small containers to drip into
towels (or do this one outdoors)

  cover art Rain! / Ashman, Linda

update 3/2017: Newer book that would work great as the elephant sucks all the water in the bathtub up through her trunk, then squirts it back out. --

cover art Get out of my bath! / Teckentrup, Britta

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