Monday, November 24, 2014

International Games Day

Thousands of libraries around the world celebrate International Games Day every November.  International Games Day is an annual celebration of games, play, libraries and learning. It is co-sponsored by the American Library Association in partnership with Nordic Game Day and the Australian Library and Information Association.

This year was the second year for our library to participate. Our theme this year was “Games are Magic” and we were able to hire a local magician to put on an hour long show for the kids.  We also had a variety of card and board games for all ages to play.  Our library main focus this year was on technology-based game play. 

We were lucky enough to receive a monetary donation to purchase a new Wii U and Playstation 3 game systems last year.  The teens/tweens have regular monthly gaming programs and we hyped the kids/teens up by announcing the unveiling of our new games and systems at IGD. Needless to say, the new video games/systems were a BIG hit with the kids (and kids at heart).  FYI- LEGO Avengers is AWESOME!!!  

The only issue was that we had to limit the kids to 10 minutes of playing time. Four kids can play the Wii U at once, however, there was a big crowd (263!).  Everyone got a chance to play but there was some grumbling and complaining about the limited playtime. 

In addition to the video / board games, I set up five raspberry pi’s with Scratch and Minecraft Pi.  Scratch programming is a computer programming language developed for kids by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to teach kids the basics of coding.  We have been having a monthly tween SCRATCHer club so there was a lot of interest from parents and kids.  

Minecraft Pi is a version of Minecraft developed for the Raspberry Pi that encourages users to open and change the game's code.  Kids can modify their world to be anything they want.  It’s Minecraft plus! We recently started circulating these Raspberry Pi kits and the already lengthy hold list doubled after showcasing the Pi’s at this program.  

The come-and-go / multiple station set-up for this Saturday program was popular with all attendants.  We had many people wandering in and out throughout the day.  Everyone loved the focus on technology based games. I will defiantly be repeating this IGD format again next year. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Literary Pumpkin Decorating awesomeness!

4 Halloween parties, 2  early release school programs, an after school kids club meeting…..this week has been CRAZY at our library.  

I just have to take some time out of my chaotic Halloween partying schedule to share one of my favorite seasonal programs, the Family Literary Pumpkin Decorating Contest!   The entries have been so creative!   I have no idea how I am going to pick a winner.  They are all my favorite! Enjoy....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tween Book Club Adventures: in the graveyard

The tween book club voted in September to read a "scary --- but not too scary" book in October. I decided on the wonderful and award winning Neil Gaiman title THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK opens with the tragic story of a small toddler whose parents were murdered in their bed by a man named Jack. This child (later named Nobody or “Bod”) escapes from the murderer by climbing out of his crib, crawling out of his house, and into the neighborhood graveyard. The kind-hearted ghosts who reside in the graveyard shelter him from the murderer and take him into their “home”.

The initial frightening opening scene of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is soon replaced by a wonderfully tender cast of ghostly characters.   Some of the book club participants enjoyed the frightening beginning of the book and some thought it was a bit too gruesome. Everyone agreed that everything else after the murder was pure awesomeness.

While we were  noshing on pizza, a graduate library school student came in and book talked a list of middle grade  "scary --- but not too scary" reads.  She compiled a sort-of-scary readers advisory bookmark and handed them out to the kids.  Afterwords, we got down to the groups favorite part of book club -- crafting!

 Harper Collins Tumblr

This month, we crated little graveyard terrariums.  I got this very cute idea from the Harper Collins book/craft Tumblr page.  This page has a few unbelievably clever and adorable book/craft pairings.

I ended the book club by passing out November’s book club pick.  The I SURVIVED series by Lauren Tarshis is "like, totally super cool" with the tweens right now.  We can't keep them on the shelf.  I highly suggest that you check out the Bryce Don't Play: Shark Week blog post for fun activities to go along with this title.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Professional Book Review: Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Klipper, Barbara. 2014. Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Chicago: ALA Editions. p. 168. ISBN 9780838912065. $45. softcover.


Barbara Kippler’s book, Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a comprehensive guide for library professionals who are interested in developing programs for children and teens. This book includes a general overview of autism and details unique challenges librarians face when developing programs for children and teens that are on the autism spectrum. It is a wonderful resource for library professional looking to serve this special need population in their library.

Kippler is a veteran special needs educator. Within the ALA, she has chaired the Library Services for Special Population Children and Their Caregivers committee. She has been working on the front lines with children who have autism since 1986. Her journey started with founding a school for autistic children after her two sons were diagnosed with the disorder. Since founding the school, Kippler has developed grant funded sensory story-times, special need library collections, trained librarians in working with autism, and presented at national conferences.

This well organized book has story-time and program ideas broken down by age’s ranging from preschool to teen. Excellent well-developed sample programs for preschool children through teens are scattered through the book. These programs outline shopping/equipment lists, recommended books, room set-up, adaptations, and extension activities. These pre-made program ideas are a valuable resource for busy children librarians who need ready-to-go activities.

The first few chapters give readers a general overview of the autism disorder. Kippler includes both a layman’s explanation and briefly describes the diagnostic criteria for autism before delving into how this affects libraries in chapter two. The second chapter is a well thought out guide to the pre-planning process for librarians interested in starting programs for autistic children. Preparation, training, outreach, funding, and planning are all discussed. Lists of question are provided to guide library professional in developing the goals and logistics of their programs.

This book discuss developing or adapting story-times for children with sensory disorders. There are many well-built story-time example programs in these chapters. Kippler briefly talks about inclusion programs that combine special needs and autistic children on page eight. However, she verbalizes a preference for separate special needs story-times and does not offer many tools for librarians wishing to make their current story-time more inclusive for these children.

Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder also outlines special autism specific programs for school age children and teens. These chapters included many great suggestions about integrating autistic children into regular programming Moreover, Kippler includes some very good separate program plans for children in this age group. These plans are littered with tips and tricks to make them run more smoothly and to be more all-embracing.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tween Tech: SCRATCHer club

SCRATCH  is a fun computer programming language developed for kids by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  SCRATCH teaches kids the basics of coding while letting them create original works of interactive art, games, animation, and stories. 

Two months ago, a volunteer came into the library asking to teach monthly SCRATCH programming classes to our tweens.  Theses classes have become so popular they are filled (with waiting lists!) until the end of November.  

I am lucky to have such an awesome volunteer but it is not necessary to have your own SCRATCH expert to run this library program.  The SCRATCH platform is simple enough that any tech savvy library professional could put together (or steal) their own curriculum.  For instance, SCRATCH-ed has a FREE curriculum for introductory classes (including the Power Points and handouts!).

Speaking of free…. the program is completely free to use.  If you have access to computers/internet that is all you need to start classes. 

**one word of caution**  

If students will be posting their projects to SCRATCH online make sure parents know that other kids will be viewing and commenting on them (the comments are monitored to ensure that all are positive).

I have gotten around this issue by asking parents to stay for the first five minutes and help their child register for SCRATCH online.  This enables parent to have access to their child’s account and gives me a chance to remind everyone about cyber safety.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Community Helpers - a Humane Society school-age program

Last week, our local school district had their first early release day.  Our youth service staff usually tries to have an after school program available for the droves of bored kiddos that descend upon the library looking for entertainment. Games and crafts are usually set out for the kids in order to keep the out of trouble and out of staff's hair.

This month, I decided shake up the regular crafternoon program with a community service twist.  Our local Humane Society's Human Heroes program is for children under fourteen who would like to be involved in helping out the Humane Society but are too young to interact with the animals.  They developed a booklet with easy projects for young kids. The booklet guides kids in making easy beds, toys, and treat for the animals at the shelter.

We had about 18 kids in attendance for this program. I asked a representative from our local Humane Society to drop by and talk with the kids. She spent twenty minutes discussing shelter animals, answering the kids questions, and briefly talking about their youth Humane Heroes program. The kids had lots of wonderful questions and stories!

Before crafting, we read the book Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall. This book is awesome! Reading this story started a whole new round of discussions about cat and dog antics.

Next, the children got started constructing cat toys for the cats and kittens at our locale animal shelter. The cat toys were made of a dowel rod, twine, felt, jingle bells and a jump ring.  Crafters cut two feathers out of the felt.  They attached the bell to the jump ring and then tied on the feathers with the twine. The other end of the twine was double knotted to the dowel rod for a handle.  This craft was very fun and most of the kids made more than one toy.

The Humane Society loved coming out to the library and offered to join us for another event.  This program was a hit with both parents and kids.  I will definitely be running this program again for our "Every Hero has a Story" themed 2015 summer reading program!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tween Tech: Gamestar Mechanic

STEAM programming has been promoted and endorsed by the ALA, ALSC, YALSA, National Science Foundation, and Collaborative Summer Reading Program as a way to encourage learning, critical thinking, and exploration. Increasing numbers of youth service librarians are embracing STEAM programs for kids of all ages. 

Technology is my favorite part of STEAM.  I taught basic digital literacy classes for adults in the past, however, computer classes for kids is a new experience for me.  Two weeks ago I started a five session weekly class on video game design.  This program has been so fun and easy.  The kids love it!!! It has been so wildly popular that I am repeating the program in February 2015.  As of this morning, the February 2015 class has filled up as well!!!

I personally knew next to nothing about video game design a few weeks ago. Thanks to a program called Gamestar Mechanic I am now an "expert".  ;)

If you have not heard of Gamestar Mechanic, I highly suggest you visit their website.  An educator/library account costs a measly $2 a student.  That $2 gives the students lifetime access to the Gamestar program.  In 2011, several Gamestar Mechanic game-makers won the Scholastic Arts & Writing Award for games produced in this program. 

Users play a series of missions (or games) and collect “Sprites”.  These sprites are the building blocks the kids use to build their own games.  The program also encourages collaboration and constructive feedback by allowing students can share and give advice on their peer’s games.

The Gamestar Mechanic program comes with a pre-made curriculum that teachers/librarians can download free of charge.  It is easy to use, teach, and administer.  More importantly, the kids have a blast developing system thinking, storytelling, and critical thinking skills through play. 

If video-games are a "thing" with the tweens that frequent your library (and I suspect they are) you can't go wrong with this program.