Saturday, December 6, 2014

Caroling in the Library 2014

This was the 8th year the Perry Branch Library in Gilbert, AZ has put on this big event.  This event was created by my colleague Allison Burke several years ago and I've shared in the joy and hard work of pulling this off ever since.  Every year we make improvements and small changes, but the program is solid at this point with lots of the same key players involved.  Allison got a well-deserved promotion with another District last year, so this year I had to use a LOT of elbow grease to get all the coordinating, planning, and organizing done.... but man, was it worth it!

Attendees: 1,300 (That's on the conservative end)


Snowman Cookie Decorating:
Cookies decorated: 470

Thanks for the home-made cookies, Perry High School Culinary students and your amazing, hard-working instructor, Angela Stutz!

The cookie decorating room:

 Culinary students hard at work prepping the cookies:


 You'll see this little guys a few more times in this post!
 We moved the line along very fast this year by inviting the kids to decorate in the main area of the library if they didn't want to wait for a decorating table in the meeting room.

For the kids who did wait, I put out sidewalk chalk (hand wipes available on the way in), a bubble machine, and had a very sprightly elf give the kids blue snowflake stamps on their hands (or cheeks).  So Elsa!

30 dozen cookies
15 gallons of hot chocolate
 Again, thank you Angela Stutz and culinary students!
 Elf Station:  
The children visited with our lovely Perry elves to write over 300 letters to Santa (will get email responses), take pictures, and get create-your-own-Olaf stickers (see here)

 Elf Kara, Elf Mae, Elf Becca, Elf Ashley

 Told you these kids would pop up again.  They are mine all mine!

Thank you to Mr. Joe Little and the PHS choir!  You did a great job, especially performing in front of such a large and energetic audience!

Anna and Elsa Storytime:

Drum rolllll.... They were a hit.  I love, love, love, loved these two royal ladies.   They were honestly incredible and captured the audience and knew how to work the crowd and make every child feel special during pictures. 

I could not more highly recommend working with Gina Archer was WONDERFUL to work with, never a lapse in communication, and extremely reasonable to book considering she had to arrange for Anna and Elsa's travel which included a boat, a train, and a reindeer.  Oh, and reindeer food.

The read a book about being sisters:
 This is what 1,300+ audience in our humble library looks like:
 They sang 3 songs....
 ...and invited all the kids to stand and do the arm movements.  Those kids belted out every song!

And they humored me by letting me build Olaf with them using the flannel pieces I made.  Olaf stands about 45" tall.  

Anna started by singing, "Do you want to build a snowman?" and I built Olaf as they narrated back and forth.  

Of course he had to try on a few noses before finding the right one.

I don't have a picture of this, but I gave Elsa a whole bowl of fake snow to create a "personal snow flurry" for Olaf and it made a mess but WAS SO WORTH IT!.  She threw snow all over Olaf and into the audience.  The kids were collecting it and making snow angels in it after the program was over! 

Pictures with Elsa and Anna

 The amazing staff who helped pull it all off.  I apologize to my co-workers who played a huge role in helping, but did not end up in the picture.

I already have more plans for next year!  I'll see you then!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pumpkins: All-Ages Storytime

This is the first time I did a pumpkin theme and it was so much fun!

Animal Song with Puppets: "Mr. Duck"

Mr. Mrs. Bear was not able to come to storytime today so his gal pal Mrs. Bear came to sing hello to us.  She is dressed as Elsa to remind you that Anna and Elsa are coming for Caroling in the Library on Dec 4th.  See our online calendar here.

Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills.  Duck and Goose look everywhere for a pumpkin and finally finds one at the pumpkin patch.

I read the large board book copy which was plenty big, especially with the large illustrations, even in our enormous storytime room.  It was super interactive because the kids got to answer, "No," each time Duck or Goose asked if the pumpkin was somewhere.
The Ugly Bumpy Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz.  This book is downright mean.  It's actually called "The Ugly Pumpkin" and the characters are pretty cruel to the "pumpkin".  I pretty much skip the whole middle of the book... but I love the end!

Prop Song: "Pumpkin Vine".    Basically the song leads us through using our imaginations to grow a pumpkin and I pull out the vine, big leaves, yellow flowers, red bug, and finally a pumpkin as they grow/appear in the song.
Listen here

Watch me in action (I have no idea why it's so insanely fast, but I actually like that it all plays out in like 5 seconds and then you can listen to the song at the link above):

Activity: Bibbity Boppity Boo
I used this rhyming game as a way to get the kids settled and holding autumn, sparkly, foam leaves for the Magic Cauldron activity (see next activity below).

Bibbity Boppity Boo a leaf is on my shoe
Bibbity Boppity Bed a leaf is on my head
Bibbity Boppity Bee a leaf is on my knee... etc...

Activity: Magic Autumn Cauldron
There is a squash (or pumpkin if you have the forethought to buy one in October) hidden in cauldren under a black plastic bag.

I tell the kids I am going to put item in my cauldron that make me think of fall.  I have a black trash bag because that's what we used to rake leaves into when I lived in NY and I add the apple, leaves, scarecrow, and jacket and then use my magic wand to say, "Hocus Pocus, "Bibbity Boppity Boo," and, "Abra Cadabra."  Sadly nothing magical happens.

Ahhhh!  We need magic leaves.  We practice holding up the color leaf we have and the kids bring their leaves up to put in the cauldron by color groups so they don't all run up at once.  It's not perfect, but it works.

Once all the leaves are in the cauldron, we say the magic words again and I magically pull something out of the cauldron I didn't put in.  Real magic there, folks.


Monday, November 10, 2014

All-Ages: Squirrels

Arizona is cooling off in the evenings and mornings so it's as good a time as any to talk about squirrels getting ready for winter.

Animal Song with Puppets:  "My Squirrel" Listen here
Letter of the Day: Ss
Mr. Mrs. Bear:  Mr. Bear was busy this week so his gal pal Mrs. Bear came to sing hello.  She is promoting our 8th Annual Caroling in the Library program.  This year Anna and Elsa will be joining us for the storytime portion of the event. Our calendar

Check out my blog post about this event a couple of years ago..

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri:  Squirrel is too busy getting ready for winter to play with the other animals.

That Pup by Lindsay Barrett George: After having fun digging up acorns, a little dog helps hide them again when he finds out a squirrel was saving them for winter.

Flannel: "Sammy Squirrel" by Liz and Dick Wilmes:

Sammy Squirrel is sad and cold (look at his pink little nose) now that all the leaves fell off his tree.
 Yay!  Sammy found a new warm tree right as it started snowing.
 Here are Sammy's first getting ready to hibernate / stay warm for the winter.

Music and pom poms: "Gray Squirrel" by the Learning Station.  There are many versions of this song, but I love this one because it encourages the whole family to participate!  Listen / watch here.

Activity: Acorn Hunt
The kids found acorns around the library and put them in Squirrel's burrow.  I think next year I will let each kid take one acorn on the way out and give it to squirrel.  The hunt went fine, but I think it would better with a smaller group (40+ kids attended both sessions).