Monthly Archives: July 2014

Post-it Minecraft display


minecraft display





Ever since I made our PacMan YA display last summer, I have been itching to do something with Post-it notes again.  Plus, I did a crazy successful Minecraft in Real Life program (pretty much exactly like the one done by Angie over at Fat Girl Reading, so I haven’t posted it here) and I’m planning to do a couple more in September, so I wanted a display involving Minecraft.  So….post-it Minecraft!

minecraft R minecraft E minecraft A minecraft D












Fizz Boom READ–Technorella Puppet Show and robot puppet craft


puppets and stageEvery summer we do a puppet show during the last week of June.  For some reason, puppet shows stress me out more than regular programs–it seems like I usually have to dig around to find a story that fits with the theme, then convert it to a puppet show.  This year, I was so relieved that the manual already included a puppet show–Technorella!  My husband and I made some tweaks to it to appeal to my specific audience, but I was very grateful that most of the work had already been done.  Plus, I had a “ball” (ha!) making the puppets with paper lunch bags and random bits from my office.  In fact, I had so much fun that I decided to have a robot puppet craft for the kids to do after the show.  It was a hit!

I got lots of positive feedback about the show, and I think that it’s probably my favorite puppet show we have done so far.  I had a fantastic teen volunteer (Thanks Isabella!) and a wonderful coworker (Thanks Michael!) to help me during puppet show week.  Isabella managed to handle multiple puppets like a pro and Michael was a genius at adding sound effects, which really enhanced the show.

As I mentioned above, the kids loved making their own robots.  All we did was cover paper lunchbags with aluminum foil sheets then using scrap paper to decorate them.  When space permitted, we left the stage set up so that the kids could put on their own puppet shows.

robot 1 robot 2 robot 3










robot 4 robot 5 robot stage

Fizz Boom READ Mad Scientist Laboratory


group fizzLast week was our summer reading finale!  We did a mad scientist laboratory and the kids loved it!  We had three stations: the first was a craft station for an Einstein hair headband and goggles.  Both templates are in this year’s summer reading manual.  The kids colored their hair and glued it onto construction paper strips that we then taped or stapled in place around their heads.  The goggles…were a labor of love for me.  I cut them out, laminated them, cut them out again, punched holes, and threaded a rubber band through each side so that they could wear them.  It was extremely time consuming but SO worth it because the kids looked amazing doing their experiments!







fizz graphThe next station was basically a vinegar/baking soda reaction.  What made it a little different is that I put a few drops of liquid watercolor at the bottom of the cup, then covered it up with baking soda.  Sort of like this, just adapted for a much larger crowd.  When the kids used their pipettes to squeeze vinegar on top, the color was revealed.  Then they graphed their results on our chart.








rowan goop goop group goop










The last experiment was making non-Newtonian fluid with cornstarch and water.  This was fairly messy, but the kids’ (and parents’!) reactions were priceless!  I know that personally I am fascinated by the stuff.


Hot off the presses! Summer Readers Write #9


summer readers write 2014 coverIntroducing edition #9 of Summer Readers Write!  Copies for author/illustrators are now available at the Leesburg Library.  If you want to have your copy sent to a different branch, call 759-2369.  We will be holding an Authors’ Reception for participants at the Leesburg Library on Saturday, July 26 at 11:00 a.m.  Authors will receive a copy of their book, share their stories with each other, and enjoy cake and lemonade.  Hope to see you there!

Spy Science for Tweens


Our summer reading program is officially over, but now that things are a little quieter I’m going to go back and detail some of the activities we did.  One of our tween events was spy science.  It was so fun!

case fileinside case file







Each participant received a case file.  The first thing we did was to get our spy names.  To do this, I put colors on slips of paper in one bag, and animals on slips of paper in another bag.  They took a piece of paper from each, and that was their code name.  Mine was Magenta Dragon.  Once we had our code names, we made ourselves ID badges.  I got the template here.  (Lots of awesome spy ideas there, by the way).  I used my laminating machine to laminate them while they were working on the other stuff in the case file.

Next, we uncovered a message written in invisible ink.  The message was going to reveal where we needed to search for the bad guys.  I used a mix of baking soda and water to write on thicker weight paper.  Then we applied grape juice with paint brushes to reveal that the bad guys were “in the library.”  Shocker, I know!

Finally, we put together a Caesar cipher and decoded the identities of the bad guys we were looking for in the library.  You can get the printable cipher I used here.  I chose the letter that they would set their cipher to (M) and then made a message for them to decode.  For the bad guys, I chose four villains from children’s literature: Captain Hook, Cruella de Vil, The Wicked Witch of the West, and the Grinch.

code sheet










hunt wicked witchOnce they decoded the names, they went into the library to place their “trackers” (star stickers) on the bad guys so that we could place them under surveillance.  This fantastic idea came from the always amazing Bryce Don’t Play.









disguise popsAfter such a dangerous mission, our spies needed to go undercover with a disguise pop.  I got the idea here but used that fake fur stuff instead of foam.  It.was.awesome.









For more spy ideas, check out Future Librarian Superhero’s post here.




Fizz, Boom, READ! Invention Convention


FIZZ_BOOM_READ_logo Primary Stacked




cup phonePaper/Plastic cup telephones: This craft required quite a bit of adult assistance, but it was so neat to see the kids and adults playing with the finished product.  Each child received 2 plastic or paper cups (with a small hole punched in the bottom of each), two paper clips, and a length of fishing line.  Thread the fishing line through the hole in the bottom of the cup, then tie a paper clip to it to prevent it slipping back through the hole in the cup.  Repeat on the other side.  When using the phone, be sure that the fishing line is pulled as taut as possible.







making 3d glasses 3d glasses3D glasses: I used this template for our glasses.  Instead of enclosing a clear (or translucent colored) layer in between two layers of cardstock, I decided to make the lenses by laminating the “glasses” part and having the kids cut out the sides and tape them to the glasses as the craft.  To make them 3D, I also provided a blue and a red Sharpie marker to color over the laminated material.  It works like a charm!  The link above has 3D space images, but I ended up using a 3D shark book that was donated awhile back.






making paper airplanes airplane contest winnerFinally, we made paper airplanes and had a contest!  At each branch, I gave 2 prizes: one for the farthest distance and the other for the coolest design.  Winners received a ticket from All American Fun Park for a free game of mini golf and two free game tokens!

For the paper airplanes, I provided colored printing paper and markers.  Once it seemed as though they were finishing up, I had them start lining up.  As each participant came to the front of the line, I asked their name and wrote it on a small post-it note.  I counted off “1, 2, 3–throw!” and they threw.  Then I went and put the post-it where the plane landed and gave the plane back to them.  At the end, the plane that had traveled the farthest distance won.  It was SO fun!

STEAM storytime–Light and Dark


Inspired by Storytime Secrets “Light and Electricity” storytime starter, I decided to do a light and dark theme for one of this summer’s STEAM storytimes.  As usual, I used some combination of the following books and activities for my Preschool StoryLab and Book Buddies programs.  Preschool StoryLabs began with the cooperative block building activity I mentioned here.


dark dark nightThe Dark, Dark Night, by M. Christina Butler and Jane Chapman (Available through PINES).  While a little on the long side, this book is ah-mazing for demystifying shadows.  We also talked about the word “lantern” and what you would use lanterns and flashlights for.









what makes a shadowWhat Makes a Shadow, by Clyde Rober Bulla and June Otani.  (J 535 BULL).  A great non-fiction companion to The Dark, Dark Night.  Explains the science of shadows in kid-friendly language and illustrations.









night lightNight Light, by Nicholas Blechman. (E COUNTING BLECH).  The kids enjoyed guessing what kind of vehicle each series of lights belonged to.  This book is great for vocabulary and talking about the different jobs of each vehicle.









house in the nightThe House in the Night, by Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes. (E BB SWAN).  This soothing story reminds me of Good Night Moon.  The illustrations are beautiful and really capture the light/dark dichotomy.









shadow puppetsActivity: I borrowed flashlights from library staff and the kids played with them.  I also put out our colored scarves to experiment with the flashlights and color.  I was thrilled when parents began taking their kids aside and showing them how to make shadow puppets!









light table 2 light tableActivity: I made my own light table with a clear storage tub, wax paper, and Christmas lights.  With Sharpies, I colored shapes onto thick, translucent scrap material that I had and cut them out.  I also used the front of a cheap acrylic picture frame as a tray and put colored sand into it for handwriting practice.  I have also seen light tables used in painting/fingerpainting, which looks so fun and we HAVE to try.







shadow craftCraft: Shadow painting.  I gave each child a piece of black construction paper and we used masking tape to put the first letter of their first name onto the paper.  Then, we used paintbrushes to apply yellow paint onto the paper.  I thought that the black letter was sort of like a shadow and the yellow paint looked like the light.  Last minute inspiration that the kids really enjoyed.