Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Interactive Playspace from the Burgeon Group!

Early last year, I came across a list of the top ten children's libraries in the country, and I noticed that several of them (4 or 5?) had pieces from the Burgeon Group.  So when I attended PLA last April and visited their booth in the exhibit hall, I fell in love with the pieces!  They are fun, colorful, educational, and museum quality artsy pieces with lots of ways to play with them.

A little over a year later, we've just had three pieces installed in my library, and the kids love them!

Here's our tractor:

And puppet kiosk:

And wall piece for the playhouse:

If I had been the youth services librarian when the building was designed, I would have had Burgeon Group do the whole department.  I'm thankful, though, that we got what we did.  The funding for the installation was provided by our Friends of the Library and the Robert and Shirley Berg Endowment.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lego Minifig Crayons and Legopalooza Event

Next Friday our youth department will host our second Legopalooza event.  We used to have Lego club once a month, but it was difficult to staff with such a small staff and still keep up with all of our storytimes and regular school groups (we have 13 that come once or twice a month), so we've gone to a  quarterly model for our Lego events.  Since we're doing fewer of them, we're making them a bigger deal, and so we like to send each child home with a little gift bag of Lego-themed items, and we've discovered that making minifig crayons is an inexpensive but adorable little gift.  And it gives us the chance to recycle our old, broken crayons.

I purchased three minifig mold trays from Amazon, but I'm sure they're available elsewhere, too:

I didn't realize, though, that you can't put them into the oven... they're not made for high heat.  So I purchased 4 Pyrex measuring cups from my local department store chain for less than $2 each.  I put some crayons into each

and put them into the oven for about 40 minutes at 250 degrees on an old pan that I use now just for catching wax that might drip from the containers.  This many crayons will fill my three minifig trays.

After the wax is melted, I pour them into the trays and put them into the refrigerator while my next batch of wax melts.

It takes the whole 40 minutes that a batch of wax is in the oven for the crayons in the refrigerator to cool enough to pop them out.  If you try to pop them out before they're completely cool, you'll likely break off a head or the feet.  (I learned this the hard way!)

The trays do not need to be oiled--the crayons pop right out if you pull the sides and push each out from the bottom.

Here's what they look like when they're finished:

I love the marbled look, so I mix lighter and darker shades without stirring.  This is 120 crayons, and I need at least twice as many (along with some left over from our last event) for each child to take home 3 crayons.  We'll also give each child a sheet of Lego stickers (images available here) just printed on sticker paper, and each child will make a minifigure mask at the event (images available here ).  I'll add a photo of the masks after our event on Friday.

At our first Legopalooza event, each child took home a gift bag with three minifig crayons, a minifig (we purchased some and also used the couple of dozen we'd collected from Lego books our library purchased that come with a minifig), and a small bag of Blox candy that you can actually build with.  For 75 children, we purchased 4 lbs. of the candy and just divided it as equally as we could among the 75 baggies.

Because word has spread about our events, we've increased our registration limit to 100 children for Legopalooza 2, and we're almost at our cap.

I have to thank the Lego company for the Duplo story kits and Duplos they sent us--we were in the top 200 libraries for their joint contest with ALSC, Read, Build, Play.  We've already done our Lego storytime once and we plan to repeat it periodically.  We have both a Lego table and a Duplo table in our youth department, so the Duplos we received are at our Duplo table for children to play with.  On Legopalooza day, we'll take all of our Legos and Duplos to the meeting room for the event.  Children will build while we play the Duplo Jams music available as a free download here.  We'll have a craft table set up for children to make their minifig mask, and then after 90 minutes of building, we'll send them home with their gift bags.  Everyone seemed to have a good time at the first event, so we're hopeful that this one will be a success as well!

Before our next quarterly event, I intend to purchase some Lego block ice trays to make block-shaped crayons, too.

If anyone has any good ideas for other inexpensive Lego-themed parting gifts, please leave me a note in the comments.  I'd love to hear what others are doing!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Flannel Friday: Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash

After taking a long break from FF during which I just copied flannels that I've admired by other Flannel Fridayers, my offering this week was made by my colleague Lou to tell the story Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash by Sarah Weeks with a clothesline. I love Lou's detailed pieces!  Many of them are even double-sided to make them sturdier to last through multiple uses by children.

And here's what part of it looks like on the line:

Of course, we passed out the flannel pieces and asked children to come and hang their items on the line when they were mentioned in the story.  It was a hit!  We found a few pics of flannelized or photocopy-and-laminate clothesline versions of the book on various blogs, so we don't know who to credit with the original idea. And although we chose not to use them, there are some Mrs. McNosh activities and printables available here.

When we someday do Mrs. McNosh again, we'll figure out a way to stabilize our line--we just tied it between two chairs, but as pieces were added, some twisted up and around so that they weren't all hanging straight down.  There are so many pieces that it might work better with a few smaller lines rather than one long one.

Since Halloween is over now and there's no rush, next week I'll post the flannel song I used for the two weeks leading up to Halloween.

Check out all of this week's Flannel Friday posts here.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mrs. McNosh

Because two of our weekly storytimes this week are after Halloween, we decided to do our Halloween storytime last week, so this week we did Mrs. McNosh stories by Sarah Weeks.  We read:

Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash

Oh My Gosh, Mrs. McNosh!

and Mrs. McNosh and the Great Big Squash

My colleague Lou created the most wonderful flannel set to use as a washline and clothespin story.  You can see that here.

Between stories we did an action rhyme called "Washing Clothes" by Susan Dailey that can be found here and "Early in the Morning" by Judy Nichols from v. 1, n. 6 of Children's Programming Monthly, the My Clothes issue.

Our craft was to bedazzle some of the wash from Mrs. McNosh's line with foam stickers, plastic jewels, buttons, sequins, and markers.  Here's a sample:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Window Silhouettes

We're into silhouettes in our windows at my library...and shadow puppet shows, too.  I just had to share these spooky designs done by my artistically talented colleague Dan.  It must be nice to be so talented!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


For an upcoming storytime on comparing/relative size, I'm using a plan similar to one I did at my other library last year.  We'll read:

Bigger Than Daddy by Harriet Ziefert
Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long

and Is It Larger? Is It Smaller? by Tana Hoban

I'm going to reuse the flannel story A House For Birdie based on the book by Stuart J. Murphy that I think was first posted on Storytiming.  It's absolutely perfect for discussing relative size. 

We'll also watch an episode of Peg + Cat, a new PBS Kids show that will premiere sometime next fall.  In this episode Peg matches pieces of cake to her picnic guests based on their size--the smallest piece goes to her smallest guest and the biggest piece to the biggest guest.  There are also lots of chickens in the episode.  :-)

Our craft will be a set of nesting dolls made from paper cups (small, larger, largest). I'll post a pic when the sample is ready.
Once again we'll have take-home activities from Virtual Pre-K for families to do for more comparing fun.