Library Field Day

Last month I had the idea to do a Library “Field Day”, you know – relay races, cotton candy, etc. Well I’ll be the first person to admit that this program wasn’t given my all. Despite the obviously hurdle of our downtown branch having no field, I started off ready to do all the paperwork to get a rock climbing wall donated and have everything from snow cones to the tradition egg toss. I was so pumped.

I quickly realized I had little time to accomplish this and even less time to plan or my Fall toddler music and movement programs, and modify the guitar lesson outline for the new November students. Readily acknowledging my time constraints, I needed a quick out.

I found a Kid’s Gym in town called My Gym. I called them up, mentioned what I’d like to see happen for Field Day, and they said they’d show up to do health and workout related games with the kids. Since I hadn’t met these coaches or seen them do programs, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this place. But I was hopeful and had my fingers crossed.

I called up one of the local Smoothie King franchises. And they said they could donate 90 free smoothies. I was excited about that for a week straight, knowing it’d help get people in the door. My excitement subsided when I called to remind them of the event and they bailed. Four days before the program and all I had was a kids gym I knew little about.

I used leftover gift card money from a donation Publix made for my Pizza Taste Off and bought 100 Capri Suns. I also called every smoothie place in town. The day before the event, Planet Smoothie gave me 50 coupons for a free smoothie to pass out to the kids.

The planning was as good as I could get it. My Gym showed up 30 minutes early to set up the multipurpose room downstairs. And with cold Capri Suns waiting for the program’s end, I witnessed nearly 70 people come into the multipurpose room and have a great time. I couldn’t recommend the My Gym coaches enough as someone to bring in to help with a program. Check out the pictures below and see for yourself.


The fist two photos I took, and the last two were taken by Jenny Kalota from local blog Jax Scene.

Jax Scene also made a few videos of the event. The one linked below is my favorite. As the kids move the parachute, the coach is underneath it with a shark puppet. If he grabs the child’s leg they have to yell for a parent, who are lifeguards in the game, to come and rescue them.

Check it out here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaxscene/3018132606/in/set-72157608797531778/


Turkey Display

We have these sets of giant wooden cubes in our department.  Every month or so they need to be reinvented into a display with some relation to a program coming up, or in this case, a holiday.  My co-worker Stephanie Miller did this turkey display, and before it was even done I was asking her if I can get photos of it for my blog.


This is definitely one of the better displays that has come from these cubes. It’s creative and obvious what it is, but also simple and allows for plenty of room for the books to be displayed.  Incorporating bookends into the displays helps to ensure it is always well stocked with Thanksgiving favorites.

Jacksonville Public Library employee and photographer hobbyist Carol Bailey was in our department the day after Stephanie finished the display.  She said she’d take the phot and email it to me, so the photo credit belongs to her.

 I love this time of year.   Storytimes about monsters rule, hands down. We can do things about fall and the weather all season long – but don’t waste those last two weeks of October on that!  Kids love monsters.
I’ll have some more monster programming things up soon. But for now, here are some goulish fingerplays and songs for your younger franken-kids.




Ten Little Monsters
One little, two little, three little, Monsters
Four little, five little, six little, Monsters
Seven little, eight little, nine little, Monsters
Ten Monsters can’t scare me.

Ten little, nine little, eight little, Monsters
Seven little, six little, five little, Monsters
Four little, three little, two little, Monsters
One Monster can’t scare me.

Monster, Monster
Monster, Monster, turn around
Monster, Monster, touch the ground
Monster, Monster, show your shoe
Monster, Monster, How old are you?
Monster, Monster, reach up high
Monster, Monster, blinks you eyes
Monster, Monster, slap your knees
Monster, Monster, sit down please.

If you ever see a Monster
(it’s easy, you just make faces with the kids)
If you ever see a Monster
A big ugly monster
If you ever see a Monster
Here’s what you do!
Make this face…
And this face…
And this face…
And this face…
If you ever see a monster
Make sure you shout BOO!!!

What Do Monsters Do?
What do monsters do?
They stretch and touch their toes.
What do monsters do?
They comb their purple hair.
What do monsters do?
They stick out their green tongues.
What do monsters do?
They brush their teeth with a broom.
What do monsters do?
They rub their yellow eyes.
What do monsters do?
They wiggle their orange ears.
Boy, am I glad that I’m not a monster!

A few months ago I was thinking about how I could play to my own personal strengths in developing a new ongoing program at the library.

I already use guitar in my toddler programs, and our department definitely needed something else for the older kids. So I decided to start offering guitar lessons.  The response to the program was huge.

Before I even offered the classes though, I sent out letters and called every music store in Jacksonville – asking for any sort of donation. A pack of strings, some picks, a guitar, etc. I received donations of 5 guitars as well as tons of picks, strings and straps.

I teach kids in sessions that are 5 classes long, every Wednesday from 6-7pm.  I teach to a maximum of 10 children per class, all of whom preregister.  I currently have enough students on the registration list to run things this way until May 2009.

Visit the JPL homepage for guitar lesson information here – http://jaxpubliclibrary.org/progs/main/guitar-lessons.html

Also, I was recently interviewed by someone in our PR department about the guitar lessons.  This is the interview in it’s entirety, I know she’ll be working it into an article format at some point.

1. If I’m not mistaken, did you recently add additional sessions past what was initially posted/offered? Did this have to do with the popularity?

The short answer is “yes, this had to do entirely with popularity.“ Although, before I even started the program, I knew it would be continually offered. Guitar lessons at music stores cost anywhere from $20-$50 an hour and beyond for individual lessons. From a financial standpoint alone, anyone can see why this program is so popular. In essence, that is the central role of any great library – to level socio-economic walls as much as possible. That role’s importance is multiplied ten-fold when you consider the government’s cuts in school funding for music education programs.

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Pizza Taste Off!

Every Saturday afternoon our branch has a “Saturday Surprise” program. The responsibility for the idea and execution rotates between all the children’s staff. A few Saturday’s back I had one called a “Pizza Taste Off!” The program idea is very simple, and how the program goes depends on your resources, time and how you advertise it. Basically you have kids each a bunch of pizza and vote on which one is best. It is a blind taste test. The kids voted on categories such as Most Cheesiest (ha! right?), Best Sauce, Best Crust, and Best Overall Slice. You can tie this into themes such as recipes, food, Italy, voting, or in this case – descriptive writing.

First, I booked our multipurpose room. Then, I called every pizza place within a ten minutes driving distance of my branch. I explained the program and asked them for a donation of two large cheese pizzas each for the day of the program. I got in touch with local grocery stores and got about 150 cans of soda donated, as well as 40 Capri Sun drinks. Then I made flyers with all the pertinent information – time, place, etc. Somewhere on there was also “EAT FREE PIZZA – donated by over 5 local pizzerias” and “wash it all down with FREE SODA.” I’d like to think that had something to do with attendance.
Rather serendipitously, the teen department had on ongoing pop art program and they let me borrow this giant slice for the day.

The room was set up with tables and chairs, and on each table was a plate for every child and 6 other plates in the middle.  These plates were numbered 1-6 and would have on them the corresponding pizza type.  Each place setting had plenty of napkins, a golf pencil, and a form with blanks to fill in on pieces 1-6.

That day I drove to 6 pizzerias, filling my car with 12 large pizzas and leaving my “Ah – I wish I ate my breakfast” stomach in severe pain as I drove all over downtown smelling only pizzas.  I got back to the branch to see a HUGE LINE of parents and hungry kids.  Luckily, everything was ready except that these pizzas had to cut into much smaller pieces.  Even with my coworkers helping me, that took a while. As did pouring the drinks – we used cups with ice, as handing out full cans of soda could be a waste and anger some parents.

After all 120 people got a drink and sat down, we talked about descriptive words for pizza.

Then I had them all try a piece off the pizza number 1 plate.  Afterwords, we all wrote down a description for it. This continued until all the pizzas plates were empty.  I handed out the voting form.  We went over our notes and voted on which was the best in each category.  I took as show of hands for each category and number of pizza. We announced winners and everyone had a great time.  I had certifcates made for the winning pizzerias, and mounted themm on posterboards. As the kids left they signed and wrote on the boards. The next day I gave the awards to the winning pizzerias.

You like us!

This post won’t help you with your storytime much, but it shows me that this site actually helps you.

I started the site in January, posted up a bunch of stuff.. then stopped for whatever reason.  Anyway I logged in recently and to my surprise – and handful of comments needed approving and the entirety of site statistics being well over 4,000 (over 1,000 of those being in the last month, when, frankly -thinking of this site was the last thing on my mind.) 

So despite my neglect towards the site, congradulations to you for using it. 

I’m back on board and have alot of new ideas coming your way! 


Q-tip Dot Art!

Here’s a painting art project that helps keep the mess to a minimum! 

All you need is q-tips, washable child-friendly paint, paint holders, construction paper,  smocks, and children ages 2-12. Kids can share the paint holders so you have less to set up / clean up.

This morning I did this art project in conjunction with a toddler program about frogs and things that are the same and different.   Kids “jumped” the q-tips across the pages, and we talked about noticing how some dots are the same sizes, and some are different sizes. Likewise, some dots are the same color, and some are different colors.

This is super easy to set up and costs very little.  It’s very easy to clean up.  And most importantly, it’s actually ART, not a craft program where kids just put premade things together.