Category Archives: Crafts

Stories in the Shadows Indoor Campout Storytelling Series


stories-in-the-shadows-posterWe just finished an indoor campout storytelling series that I’m really excited about sharing with y’all.  I had been wanting to do a family fort night event ever since I started seeing posts like the one from Jbrary detailing what a fun and simple program it is.  It just never seemed to come together, but there it sat on my Pinterest board, ready for the perfect moment.  That moment came when we started talking about writing for the Georgia Council for the Arts Vibrant Communities Grant.  After much discussion, we decided to do a storytelling series after-hours with an indoor campout theme.  We had a few setbacks and changes with our storytellers, but I was so, so pleased with the end result.






stories-in-shadows-tablecloth-tents stories-in-shadows-smores-mix stories-in-shadows-campfire-craftBoth programs were an indoor campout; the only difference was the location and the storyteller.  We had both programs after hours and put up plastic tablecloths over the bookshelves for “tents.”  We made s’mores mix with Golden Grahams cereal, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips, and each family received a craft kit to make their own campfire (I made a PDF of the instructions that I’d be happy to share if anyone is interested).






stories-in-shadows-fiddlin-dan stories-in-shadows-readingThe first storyteller was Fiddlin’ Dan the Mountain Man.  He used his musical instruments to tell stories, and the kids even got to try out some of the instruments at the end of the show.








stories-in-shadows-lsb stories-in-shadows-puppetThe second storyteller was shadow puppeteer Hobey Ford.  I am so fascinated by the art of shadow puppetry.  In fact, this is what inspired the whole program concept, and why we called it “Stories in the Shadows.”








I really loved this program series.  My favorite part was seeing the families interact with the library after hours.  Something about seeing everyone snuggled up under our makeshift tents, with play campfires and flashlights glowing, reading to each other and being entertained by talented artists–that’s why I do what I do.  I’m so appreciative of the librarians who shared the campout/family fort night idea, and of the support from the Georgia Council for the Arts Vibrant Communities grant for making it possible.


Minecraft Dance Party!


photo(10) photo(8)Masks–we found these at Oriental Trading–a really great find!








photo(6) photo(7)Minecraft Bingo–I found this amazing free printable on Life with Squeaker.  I printed out these free bookmarks on cardstock and gave them out as prizes.








photo(9)Finally, we used our trusty bluetooth speaker/party lights to play Minecraft parody songs, plus we used the screen and projector to show Minecraft parody videos.  We did the songs from iTunes so that we didn’t hear the commercials on Youtube.

Ready, Set, Read!–All About You



Opening Song: Hands are clapping

Opening Game: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (3 times, faster each time)

photo(1) Book: My Nose, Your Nose, by Melanie Walsh (available through PINES)








photo(2)Book: I Love You, Nose! I Love You, Toes! by Linda Davick. (E HUMAN BODY DAVI)








Rhyme: Open them, shut them

Rhyme: Eye Winker, Tom Tinker

Song: Hokey Pokey

photo(5)Book: From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle (E CARLE).








photo(13)Closing Game: Animal Action cube








Closing rhyme: My Hands Say Thank You


photo(3) photo(4)Activity: body tracing–parents/caregivers traced their child on a large sheet of paper, then the kids colored them in.  This was a great activity!  It was fun to see the kids and their adults talking about what they needed to add to their drawings.

Puppet Show–Little Blue Riding Hood


photoAlmost every summer we take the week before the 4th of July and do a puppet show at all of our branches.  I love puppet shows, but sometimes they can be sort of stressful–managing multiple puppets and props, making the puppets I have fit the story, and sometimes even adapting the story to a puppet show script myself.  This year I was a lucky duck because we happened upon the script for “Little Blue Riding Hood” by Nancy Whetstone.   Y’all, it is SO GOOD.  Really funny stuff and so simple to stage.  We adapted it a bit so that we could use two guy puppets (we made them brothers named Ben and Jerry).  The kids enjoyed the show so much.  I highly recommend trying it out!




We also did the classic paper bag puppet craft.  When space permitted, we left the stage up so that the kids could try out their new puppets onstage.  It was a hit!  It always amazes me how creative kids can be with just simple materials and activities.  The kids had a great time creating their puppets, and I loved hearing the stories they told.

Ready, Set, Read!–1, 2, 3!


Bubble machine (sing Hello Bubbles and One Little Two Little Three Little Bubbles)

Opening song: Hands are Clapping (to the tune of Skip to My Lou) Hands are clapping, clap clap clap, hands are clapping, clap clap clap, hands are clapping, clap clap clap, clap your hands my darlings.  (feet are stomping, bodies are wiggling)–I think this one was in this year’s early literacy summer reading manual

Opening game: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (sing 3 times–first time slow, second time a little faster, third time “super sonic speed”)

photo(11)Book: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean (E CATS LITW)








photo(15)Flannelboard Activity: My groovy (red) buttons.  I printed these buttons onto different colored paper, laminated them, and put a bit of velcro on the back.  I handed these out to the kids and instructed them to come up with their button when I called that color.  Then I said “My buttons, my buttons, my groovy (red) buttons.”  The kids with red buttons came up and put them on the flannelboard.  Then we counted how many red buttons we had.  We did this for each color.  Then we went back and counted the total number of buttons.







photo(6)Song: Bubble Bubble Pop.  I made these cards and we sang the song demonstrated adorably (as always) by the Jbrary girls here.








photo(12)Book: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Jane Cabrera (E COUNTING CABR)








photo(10)Book: Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd (E COLORS DODD)









Parachute activity: 3 little monkeys jumping on the bed

Parachute activity: Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! We’re Going to the Moon!

For both of these we put my three monkey puppets on the parachute and sang/recited the rhymes.  Three Little Monkeys got a little out of hand (they all fell off and some bumped their heads prematurely) so we had to put some of them back on.  It wasn’t perfect, but boy, did we have fun!  This is something I definitely want to incorporate more in my future storytimes.



photo(14)Closing game: animal action cube–we toss this at the end of storytime and imitate an animal.  This has really been fun!








Bubble machine and playtime

Craft and activity: bingo markers and teddy bear counter sorting

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Craft Carnival de Rio


Whew!  I can’t believe we are already several weeks into summer reading!  Things are going really great–lots of trackers being turned in (great job, keep it up!!!!)  This week at Leesburg and Smithville we had a taste of Rio in honor of this year’s host of the Olympic games.

We decorated masks with feathers, stick on jewels, and fruit stickers, and we also decorated wooden maracas.

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I hooked up our Block Party speaker/light show and played some Brazilian music for the kids to dance to.







Finally, we offered Brigadeiros, a traditional Brazilian dessert made with sweetened condensed milk, butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla.  I followed this recipe and rolled the mixture into balls ahead of time.  Then we put sprinkles in a plate and the kids finished by rolling the ball into the sprinkles.  These were a huge hit!


Homeschool Hub–Where in the World? Africa


photo(1)My library hosts a weekly program for homeschooling families that covers a variety of topics such as art, science, history, history, and geography.  Last week we took a glimpse into Africa.








African Thumb Piano (Kalimba)–This idea came from Zylie & Friends.  I cut squares from foam board and the kids taped five bobby pins on one end, then painted the foam board.  At this station I had a laptop playing a Youtube playlist of kalimba music.

photo(2)Ndebele house–I saw this idea here.  I cut white construction paper in half longwise and cut circles from brown construction paper.  I printed out examples of Ndebele houses for the kids to look at while they decorated their houses.








photo(3) photo(4) photo








My favorite part was our stuffed animal safari.  We got these VTech Kidizoom cameras awhile back and enjoyed using them for photo(5)a stop action animation Lego program.  When I started planning this program, I hadn’t planned on using the cameras, but it just kind of came to me in a flash–we should totally do a photo safari!  This cameras are super simple to use and were a great investment.  I’m looking forward to finding more ways to incorporate them into our programming.

Tween/teen STEAM program–Glow Painting Party!


lsb 4Thanks to a generous grant from LSTA, my library is able to do some really cool STEAM programming (if I do say so myself!) this fall that I’m SO excited about!  Last night we had a glow in the dark painting party for tweens/teens ages 10-14.  The event was free of charge but we did require registration (we kept the number down to 10 just to make sure everything worked out okay).  Slots filled up so quickly that we are already planning another one for tweens and maybe even one for adults!  All we needed to pull this off was four blacklights, some neon paint, paintbrushes, and canvases.  The program took place at 6:00 p.m., so we did have to close the blinds and put cloth over the windows and door to make it as dark as possible inside the room.  In the future I might advise attendees to wear white or neon and maybe give away glow in the dark bracelets or necklaces.  It would also be fun to use neon food coloring to color icing and make glow cookies.

Now I’m trying to think of other things we can do with our cool new blacklights!  I’m sort of wanting to make bouncy balls and get some florescent duct tape…

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Homeschool Hub–Eric Carle Collage Art


vhcToday is the 46th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so Homeschool Hub celebrated by learning about Eric Carle’s art and creating our own collage art!  See the slideshow here






I had a TV set up and made a Youtube playlist of Eric Carle videos.

Eric Carle on the Illustration of Brown Bear Brown Bear

Eric Carle reads The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle creates a 45th anniversary collage

Children’s Book Author Eric Carle: My Generation AARP

I got the idea to use construction paper instead of tissue paper and decreasing drying time by blotting with paper towels from this blog.

play areaHere’s the play area I mentioned last week.  It works really well to have a separate area close by for younger siblings.

Homeschool Hub: Where in the World?–Ireland


Please forgive the long lapse in posting–I have been planning away for summer reading AND we recently rolled out a couple of new programs, one of which is Homeschool Hub.  Today was the second meeting of the weekly program aimed at homeschooling families.  We recognize that many homeschooling families have multiple children of various ages from babies up to tweens, so we are trying to offer a variety of activities to appeal to everyone.  So far I have set the program up in a children’s museum-inspired scheme–different stations for kids to interact with at their own pace.  This week I added a “passport”, which I think really helped to give families structure to their experience.  This fit in nicely with this week’s subject–Ireland.

passportThis is what the passport looked like–it is shown on two pages here, but for the program I printed them double sided and folded them into a booklet.  I wanted to find a way for families to have the information to take home with them, so the passport seemed to be the best solution.  One of the stations was to learn the significance of the colors in the Irish flag and color it in on the back of the passport.






Probably the most dressespopular station was the Irish step dancing station.  I had a TV hooked up to a laptop and showed a brief clip from Sesame Street (Murray goes to Irish Step Dancing School.)  I printed a template of a dress and a vest onto cardstock for the kids to decorate with markers and glitter.  I really think we have some budding fashion designers in our midst…






shamrock stationTo incorporate a little bit of STEM, I pulled out some shamrock-like plants from the library yard and put them onto trays, along with some magnifying glasses.  The kids really enjoyed looking at them through the magnifying glasses and comparing them to the pictures of actual Irish shamrock varieties (pictured in the clear sign holder).  They were also encouraged to attempt drawing a shamrock and making one with their fingerprints and the green stamp pad.  The passport had a box for the journaling part of this station.





snakeFinally, we had a snake craft in honor of the legend of St. Patrick driving all of the snakes out of Ireland.  I found this one on Google, but you could also use a paper plate and cut it into a spiral.








I forgot to take a picture of it, but this week I set up a play area with seating and toys for younger siblings and adults to hang out.

I am SO happy we are offering this program.  We had a HUGE turnout last week, and this week was pretty good, too.  It is a bit of a learning curve for me, since I don’t homeschool and I do not have a teaching background (a million times a day I wish I DID!)  As with all my other programs, I am always open to feedback and suggestions so that I can constantly improve and make it the best possible experience for our patrons.  So if you attended one of the programs or if you are a librarian who hosts such a program at your own library, please let me know your thoughts!

Homeschool Hub meets every Friday at 11:00 a.m. at the Oakland Library.  Next week we will be looking at the art of Eric Carle and making our own collages, so dress for mess!  Free and open to the public, sponsored by Lee County Library.  For more information call 759-2369.