Tuesday, February 23, 2016


I'm writing instruction for an upcoming program for Teen Tech Week.

I'm writing my directions with certain problem patrons in mind.

This may be arts and crafts, but I mean business 
I seem to always fall into this trap. I advertise for a certain age and end up having parents come and bring significantly younger children with their older siblings and insist they are allowed too. My coworkers have this issue as well, but they offer programs for older preschoolers and elementary age. I have people annoyed when I tell them, no you shouldn't expect your toddler to be allowed to do the same craft as his 12 year old sibling.

I've tried signs. I've stopped people at the door saying "Just to let you know, this project contains sharp metal objects/fire/needles/whatever; So we are only allowing older children to do it." I'm meet with looks like I am smug and crazy. Of course my little one can do it or, I'll do it for them (which is against the entire principle of making a craft program for kids)

But, I also cave and flip flop because I've recognize I work in an community where the practice of  the arts is not as important as sports/farming/hunting etc. Unlike my upbringing, the only time kids in our community might get to do a craft is at school or at the library. This applies across the board. To the low income family that doesn't have the money to keep markers in the house, to the well off stay at home moms, who might have a Pinterest board full of activities but no motivation to actually do them with their kids.

Kids are coming to the library to learn new things and work with craft supplies they have never seen or even imagined. So I feel bad about denying access to these materials due to a child's age. I usually have plenty of supplies so I decide to give in and share.
Some times this has worked and been successful. A well behaved younger sibling has been able to grasp the concepts, respect the materials and not be disruptive. Last fall, I invited a group of rowdy girls who were playing tag in the stacks to come into my program and make something instead (even though they were younger than the ideal age group) They had a blast and their caregiver thanked me profusely, admitted that there isn't much opportunity in their home life to do crafts like this.

However, lighting didn't strike twice. For my December program, I had a mother burst in with two little girls and ask "Is this where me make ornaments?"
I had a bad feeling about this, but then I thought "What kind of Scrooge are you to deny kids a chance to make ornaments for their family? Its Christmas!"

Yeah in hindsight I should have been a Scrooge. I should have pointed out that we offered 4 other holiday programs that month for their age group but this program was specifically for older children. They misbehaved. They were pushy and demanded things, including the mother who went over to a group of teens and asked them to share the colored pencils, even though they were sitting at the same table. When the teens, graciously said yes, the mom took the entire box away and hoarded them just for her two kids. They also got bored and threw their stuff animals which hit me and knocked over supplies. When I address this behavior and asked them to stop, they laughed and stuck out their tongues. Oh yes, how I wish I had been a Scrooge that day....

Last week, I became over anxious that these kids would show up again to a Anti Valentines' day party and I would have put my foot down. I had my speech rehearsed and my finger nails bitten down with worry. Yes I would deny children entry to a party!
Thankfully they didn't show up and a bunch of teens had a relaxing fun time without little kids killing the vibe.

But those kids are still out there....

So I prep, worry and wait for the next program, trying to plan every possible outcome. We are going to have a few activities for Teen Tech Week including an afternoon of perler bead crafts. Hence the need for signs warning all under 6 to stay away with from the mad library tech and her hot iron. Hopefully I get a chance to man the craft table the entire afternoon and participate more.

Participation seems to be my only defense mechanism sometimes

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Plan it Out!

 I'm going to let you all  have a sneak peek at my diary! (gasp)

Well it's more of a planner/ journal/sketchbook, a little black (or red) book to center my thoughts, plan out my events, brainstorm ideas and doddle.

The seed that planted this design was inspired by the work of Rachel Moani. Here is an example from her art journal that I feel in love with and decided I had to make my own!

Mine are not as pretty as hers

So for two years (going on three), I decided to make my own planner/art journal to keep track of my work projects, personal life and have a special space to doodle  or write anything that pops in my head. I used Moleskin Grid Notebooks.

The planner consist of three components

1- The calendar-  I spread out the month on two pages, in equal spaces, except for Sunday which is smaller just so it fits in the pages. I usually decorate it with a quote or a theme sketch that goes with that time of year. This year I've devoted a theme to each month. Usually my favorite TV shows, movies, musical or miscellaneous favorite things.

Then fill in the spaces with the permanent or regular things in your life.
-Vacation days (I color code the weekend I'm working)
-Reoccurring Programs or events (storytimes etc.)

Use pen or pencil what ever your choice. I have a bag full of colored pens, pencils, gel pens, markers because I'm a big kid a heart. I try to write in pen, but I always makes mistakes. It took 30 seconds into writing in the storytime themes for January 2016 before I made a mistake...in pen! Then I had to search for white-out in our library which apparently no one uses any more!

I also leave a few extra pages between the months to jot down ideas/journal thoughts that are important to that particular time. I leave even more extra pages in June and July for Summer Reading.

Sherlock Themed for March

2- The place for Lists/Goals- This is your planner, so do what you like. I usually do a doodle or an inspirational quote on the cover. I sketch out an infographic of how many books I read in the last year and make a space to list the books I'm going to read in the new year. I've listed my favorite foods, 100 favorite movies, a page of my likes and dislikes.

You can also jot out your goals. Whether it's a big list of New Years Resolutions or a month by month plan on what you want to achieve. The internet is full of ideas about this! Just google "journaling goals" to find many helpful articles on How to Reach Your Goals by Keeping a Journal
or  12 Reasons to Keep a Journal or any of the other 1,080,000 result.

Bullet Journaling, Smashbooks, Art Journaling, Scrapbooking find which one works best for you.

Stuck for ideas, turn to the internet and Pinterest. But don't worry if it's not perfect, because you are the one who is going to see it most. (But show it off if your proud of it)

Info-graph of the books I read in 2014 plus goals for 2015

3- Free Space Plan out everything else except this. Have the extra blank pages in your journal be for whatever you need them to be. A sketchbook for doodles, a place to makes plot notes about your novel, pages to write down recipes. Make a Pinterest board IRL or a vision board with a collage of all the things you like. Try zentangles. Print off coloring pages and paste them in so you have a place to color in times of stress.

Again this is your journal so make it however you like.

I'll level with you, guys. 2015 was not a good year for me, professionally (cough "mydirectorisadouchebag" cough )  I had some really rough and trying times in the work place that left me drained, depressed, angry and feeling helpless. If you read my entire journal, you would see several examples of this. I stopped writing  and drawing for a while. My 2015 journal is more than half blank and I didn't bother writing or decorating anything for the December entry.

However, in my times of trial...I did have a space. One space that was my own. It was my retreat from my troubles and yes it turned into a bit of a burn book towards my co-workers at sometimes (no regrets) But I will keep it and look back on it to find a glimmer of inspiration, a favorite quote from a book I read, a funny entry to make me smile and let me know that (hopefully) this world isn't as crappy as I make it out to be.

But seriously....2015. Good riddance.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Storytime at the Liberry: Forest Pals

It's still technically fall for two more days. I've seen a lot of ideas for hibernation story times,which is find for preschoolers but I think that concept goes right over a toddler's head.

Here is a animal themed storytime involving all sorts of animals you would find in a forest or your backyard. Feel free to swap out book to suite them to any time of the year

Welcome Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Welcome: Our ready to read skill is talking. Talk about what kind of animals you see outside. Not ones in a zoo but your own back yard. Which one is your favorite?

Book: Over in the Meadow - You can use what ever version you prefer or works with your crowd. I used Over in the Forest: Come and take a Peek by Marianne Berkes

Song: The Bear Went over the Mountain

Book: That Pup! by Lindsey Barrett George

Song: Grey Squirrel

Book: Who's in the Forest? by Phyllis Gershator- Just because some of them are out of diapers, doesn't mean they (and you the storyteller) can't enjoy a good board book!

Dancing Song: Shake Your Sillies Out

Book: The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri

Monday, November 30, 2015


I find the holiday season a stressful time. More so when I'm at work and my arm is twisted to make our department "Holly and Jolly" with little or no help from my co-workers.

My idea for a Harry Potter themed tree was nixed and was suggested that we do a Night Before Christmas Tree and that we make craft templates so all the staff could decorate one. (Translation: I will tasked to make them.)  I've been hauling butt to get ornaments, trees, and crafts ready for the first week of December.

However, admist this holiday hell there is something heavenly With the success of last years winter break programs, we are bringing back movies and crafts for patrons to do while the kids are off of school. Foolish, they let me pick the movies and went with our theme....Disneycember!*

Don't lie. You just hummed the theme music when you saw this image.

I keep threatening to have my own Disney marathon during December. (54 films /31 days) My husband thinks it's doubtful but I have faith and a two year old which is a good excuse to watch Disney movies

During winter break, we will be showing a classic Disney movie with popcorn. We will also have crafts and activities based on the movie being shown.

The Lion King- A super easy yet surprising sophisticated lion mask. Instructions at Disney Family

Aladdin- A Magic carpet craft. Kids decorate a simple blue sheets of construction paper with tissue paper and other decorations. Punch some holes on the side and add tassels. Viola, your own magic carpet!

Snow White- A craft of my own design. Cut out paper to make a hat and clothes. Glue it to a cardboard tube. Decorate with eyes, nose, belts, buckles, buttons, etc. Lastly glue on a beard made of cotton ball to have your own dwarf!

Robin Hood- Using a template (or a blank sheet of paper) kids can create their own Wanted poster.

Also, I've ordered in plenty of "How to Draw" your favorite Disney character books in. I have a station were the kids can draw and color just like animators. (I might bring up the light board!)

Bonus- What else is big, coming out and December and happens to belong to Disney.....

Star Wars! We are having a "release party" the day after "The Force Awakens" comes out. Similar set up. Crafts and activities all day, a movie in the afternoon. I couldn't convince my boss to let us have a marathon all day. I'm only allowed to watch 1 two hour movie on the clock.

If you really want to step up your game (or are just a Disney freak like me) you can also show a short cartoon before a film. Just like back in the day. Lots of the Disney short cartoons such as Three Little Pig, Prince and the Pauper and Mickey's Christmas Carol are available on DVD.

Pictures to come soon, after the programs. But for now here is the program ideas if you are still searching for stuff to keep your young patrons entertained over the school break.

Happy Disneycember to you all!!!

*Disclaimer: Disneycember was coined by Doug Walker, the Nostalgic Critic. If you want to watch his reviews of the all the traditional Disney animated features and have a warm fuzzy feeling that brings you back to your childhood, check it out here.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Storytime from the Liberry: Food Glorious Food

Nothing like a back to back storytimes about food...right before lunchtime...

I feel like this storytime has a curse on it. Not because its bad, but because it's busy. Rewind to 4 years ago when I first did this storytime and had a craft to go with it. Wouldn't you know it, 80 people showed up to the first one and the kids and parents would not share the supplies, even though they could see the place was a mad house. So I had sad kids with no materials to make their crafts and selfish parents (I won't call the toddlers selfish, that's their nature)

But, I decided to make a craft (a different one) and present this storytime again. I had about 35 prepped hoping that would cover both morning groups.

Of course I had 60 people show up to the first one! I got wiped out and had to print off more, cut them out and prep more supplies for the next group 20 minutes later, and clean up the mess the first group has made. And it was the day my co-worker was on vacation! She certainly would have helped me with the cutting and chaos if she were there, but alas I was flying solo.

Disclaimer: You might want to forgo a craft on this storytime if you don't want to end up jinxed like me.

Welcome Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Welcome:  Our Ready to Read Skill this week is Playing

Book: Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal- A story about a pea who dreads dinner every night...because he has to eat candy! Cheesiness and laughs all around.

Song: Way up High in an Apple Tree

Way up high in an apple tree
Two little apples did I see

So I shook that tree as hard as I could
Down came the apples
Ummmmm They were good.

Book: How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen- Another crowded pleaser.

Song: Popcorn Kernels- A scarf song that induced lots of giggles and smiles. Check out this epic playlist from the gals at jbrary.com of all types of songs to use in food-theme storytimes.

Book: Go Go Grapes by April Pulley Sayre- I told the kiddos to keep their scarves and pretend that they were cheerleaders. They could shout and wave their scarves when the book mentioned their favorite fruit. Obviously, they were really excited about this book.  If only they would get this excited about real fruits and veggies! There is a companion book Rah Rah Radishes just for vegetables.

Dancing Song: Shake Your Sillies Out- with scarves (because we can)

OK, time to put the scarves away. Give ourselves a big squeeze to make us calm and sit on our bottoms for one more story

Book: Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett- A book comprised of only 4 (5) words, so feel free to read it straight or make observations with your group.

Literacy Tip: Books like Go Go Grapes with it's many different types of fruit (lychee, durian, mangosteen etc.) are great for improving vocabulary, but simple books (Orange Pear Apple Bear) are also a good tool helping young reader gain confidence. With only 4 words to identity with pictures, young readers can quickly identify picture to words and might be able to help you read the story after only a few times through. Find a balance that works for your child.

Closing Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Craft: (If you Dare!!)  I actually had a very simple craft of  cupcakes printed out on colored paper. The kids decorated it with left over stickers as "sprinkles" Promoting fine motor skills? Yes! Healthy eating habits? Uh no...