I came on board as an LTE (along with another girl, a former classmate of mine) about three weeks prior to the Summer Reading Program kick-off date. Let me tell you, we needed all three of those weeks to prepare, plan, and transform the library for Fizz Boom Read (not to mention the plethora of school visits we tackled)! I wanted to share just a few of the things we did to gear up for SRP.
Our library has a “Science Corner” that serves as a book display and passive programming area and gets updated with a new theme every few weeks or so. One of our first tasks was to update the science corner with a new theme, as the last one had been up for quite awhile and was looking pretty sad. We scrounged around in the storage area and discovered that we had lots of dinosaur stuff, so we decided that dinosaurs would be our next exciting science corner theme. Along with the book display and stencils shown below (the wall is now littered with dino drawings!), we also have several dinosaur apps loaded onto the iPad in the science corner, and we set up a big stationery magnifying glass with laminated “fossils” to explore. We also found a handheld informational dinosaur quiz game that just needed a refresh of batteries, so we put that out as well. One of the coolest things we did was cut out life size dino feet from giant sheets of paper and taped them to the floor, leading the way to the science corner. I created a small poster to go along with the feet, that gave a few facts about the dinosaur each foot belonged to, as well as the dimensions of the feet. To my delight, I’ve seen a few kids following the suggestion on the poster and trying to figure out how many of their feet can fit inside the dino’s footprint. Pretty rewarding stuff!
I am lucky enough to work in a library that has a castle in the children’s area. That’s right, I said a castle! It fills the center of the children’s area and goes all the way up to the ceiling–large enough to play in, with four little reading nooks and a stuffed dragon. We decorated the castle with some simple gold cut-out stars and a swag of pretty, fluffy blue material over one of the entrances. To tie in the Fizz Boom Read aspect, we also made a little cloud out of mesh, complete with glittery paper raindrops and a lightning bolt attached with pipe cleaners. It is now proudly perched up in one of the high corners of the castle. I didn’t think the kids would even really notice the change in decoration, but boy was I wrong. My heart melted the first time a little girl walked into the castle, looked up at the string of stars with awe and said, “It’s BEAUTIFUL…..” Since then, I’ve heard several children remark about the changes in decoration. It’s good to know they notice the little details we put so much time and effort into!
This larger than life Science Dude, Dr. Wolfgang Bibliophile, is one of the projects I was most excited about making and am most proud of how it turned out. I found this idea on Pinterest and must give credit to the Flickr account it originated from. Wolfgang is hanging out just inside the entrance to the children’s department, and now the blackboard is covered in shapes designed by our summer reading participants. In front of Wolfgang is a long shelf that now holds the entrance boxes for grand prizes. I was a little worried that some of the children might be afraid of him, but kids and adults alike seem to love him (In fact, someone dug him so much they wrote their phone number on his pocket protector!).
To kick off the Summer Reading Program, we had our 8th annual Library Sleepover, which sounds just as fun and crazy as it was. About 90 elementary schoolers and their grownups came after closing time on Friday the 13th, wielding sleeping bags, stuffed animals, and air mattresses to sleep over at the library. But first, there were some fun and games!
We made scratch off tickets (equal parts silver acrylic paint and dish soap painted over a taped-off area) to determine which lucky family got to spend the night in the castle. Toppers Pizza came and kindly gave a dough tossing demonstration, letting the kids try their hand at it with their own dough balls, and provided pizza–all for free! Thank you, Toppers! The LEGO movie played to a packed crowd in the storytime room, we had a glitter tattoo station, and a DIY photo booth was set up in one of the study rooms. My coworker and I gave a Sploder workshop in the computer lab.
The workshop was well-attended, and the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves, but the best part of the night for me ended up happening due to a technical difficulty we experienced during the workshop. Shortly after the instructional portion of the workshop was over and we set the kids loose to create and test out their games, the computers all shut down and went into “deep freeze mode.” We were not able to get them back up and running, so we had about a half hour to kill. I suggested that we do an impromptu Bedtime Stories Storytime, and my boss thought it was a great idea. So we quickly scrounged up our favorite bedtime books, made an announcement on the intercom, and held a storytime just minutes later. It was a huge hit! I read Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen and my coworker read Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea and A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na. One of the little guys in the front row lent me his stuffed animal for the storytime. It was so sweet!
Preparing for the Summer Reading Program has been a blast, and I know the fun has only just begun!