Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Once Upon a Reader

My 'free' time for blogging became non-existent last February when I accepted an independent contractor position working as a project manager for a new "One Book" initiative in Minnesota.

When I took the position, there was a vague idea of what the program would look like, and how it would be formed, but other than that it was something completely new. It has been a wild ride!

I am so happy to finally be able to share the program, Once Upon a Reader: Minnesota Libraries Bring Young Children and Books Together. Each year, OUR will choose a book with a Minnesota connection and unite children all over the state with early-literacy based programming that revolves around that year's book.

My role in the project was about program development--what would the program look like and what would it offer? I advocated strongly for the book that was chosen by the steering committee for our first year--Moo! by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. Because David and Mike are both local to me, I knew that both of them would be great to work with, and Moo! had just won a Minnesota Book Award. I was excited to work with Moo! for a bunch of reasons: I loved it, I knew that it was popular and well-received, and it was less than six months old. I was really excited to create programming around a book that new! Part of the program includes getting a free copy of Moo! into the hands of every Head Start student in Minnesota. That's nearly 17,000 kids with a free book in their hands. How cool is that?!

My highlights from Once Upon a Reader:
  • Getting to call both David and Mike to tell them their book was chosen and invite them to be part of the project
  • All of the amazingly talented people I got to work with on the project
  • The original moo-sic that we commissioned for Moo!
  • The (moo-velous) Moo!-based puppet show that David and Mike wrote and developed
  • The custom Cow puppets we commissioned--she is one sassy bossy!
  • All of the cow puns
Watch the Moo-vie, listen to the Moo-sic (AWESOME FOR STORYTIME!), and watch the "Creation of Moo!" interviews here (really! Go do it).

One of the things that I was passionate about with the project was finding a way to provide high-quality programming that would be easy for ANY library in Minnesota to quickly implement. To make this happen, I created the concept of the Program Menu. Instead of a curriculum of ideas for libraries to adapt, they would have a 'menu' of fully realized programs that they could order from. The menu items range from a puppet show/author and illustrator visit (the "Traveling Trunk Show"), to the simple passive program, "Cow's Scavenger Hunt." Each program on the menu has detailed instructions, templates, signs, AND all the supplies that libraries need to do the program. Hopefully, with the range of options, any library in Minnesota--no matter their size or staffing reality--can easily take part in Once Upon a Reader. Whether or not this was a successful method remains to be seen, but I'm very proud of the programs I've created. You can find the Program Menu here.

And finally, even if you're not in MN, you can still take advantage of all the music, movies, and program ideas for your library. Lots of free downloads and activities on the page for parents and caregivers, here.

Thanks for looking, and for still reading after my long silence!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sneak Peek

Hi everyone *waves*

Sorry for the radio silence here on the blog. I've been very busy with a huge new project--which I'll be able to share more about soon!

For now, here's a sneak peek:

Do you recognize my literary companion?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Life Sized Chutes and Ladders

This fabulous idea came from Amy at Show Me Librarian. I followed Amy's program to a tee, but I learned some thing will be helpful if I do this program again, or for a larger crowd. First, go read Amy’s post so that what I’m about to write makes any sense.
Like Amy, I had about a dozen participants, but the most I had playing at any one time was about seven. I followed Amy’s tip, and had the kids wear nametags with numbers to make turn-taking easier.

Books for checkout, and the numbered name tags I had players wear

 The big thing I would do differently is that I would make a set of ten LARGE numbered placards for them to wear around their necks. I would skip the names, since I referred to them by their numbers anyway, and I would limit the amount of players in one game to no more than 10. As kids come in, I would have them take a number, 1-10. If more than ten kids arrived to play, the extras would line up ‘on deck’ and would replace the winners as they made it to the end. As each player in the first game makes it to the end, they would hand off their placard to the next kid in line. The winners could be done, or if they wanted to play again they would go to the end of the line. I would keep letting new kids replace winners until it got to the point that the very first winner would start over. At that point, I wouldn’t let any numbers re-enter until we finished the game completely (allowing everyone to make it to the end). Then I would start a new game entirely! 

The thin masking tape connects the spaces to show game direction; the thick masking tape shows ladders, and yarn shows the chutes.

Instead of a physical spinner, I found cool customizable spinner online called Wheel Decide, and used our community room's laptop/projector to make the spinner huge on the wall. I clicked the button to spin each turn, and announced the results, but it was also projected on the wall behind me, so the kids could see it. They really got into the drama of watching the spinner and hoping it was going to land on the color they wanted. It was super awesome fun, and I will definitely use Wheel Decide in the future any time I need to use a spinner. Below I show how to customize it, and here is the finished product that I made.

Easy as 1,2,3!

1. Go to advanced options
2. Choose the color scheme that you want
3. Write in the labels for each space on the spinner. To make sure the colors match the words, use the same word order that is listed in #2
4. Don't forget to name your wheel!

Supplies List:

  • Leftover SRP books for prizes (I spread them on a table)
  • Candy treats to hand out after the first game, for kids to enjoy while I modified the board
  • Masking tape to make the ladders (Need to somehow differentiate from the tape used to show game board direction—I used thick tape)
  • Masking tape to connect the spaces/show which direction the board moves in
  • Book tape or masking tape to secure the spaces to the floor
  • Yarn for chutes
  • Library books about games for kids to checkout
  • Placards numbered 1-10 for kids to wear around their necks
  • Construction paper—12-13 sheets each of red, yellow, green, blue (I collated them ahead of time which was a lifesaver when I was getting set up for the game!)
  • Spinner/Laptop, projector, wi-fi to use online spinner
  • Optional: cd player for background music.

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