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Kid’s Programs

    Kid's Programs Take It and Run

    The Fourteenth Goldfish Book Club Event


    The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm


    I’ve long felt that truly great books for middle readers are deceptively simple. The Fourteenth Goldfish is no exception. What at first glance is a well-written, warm, and funny sci-fi story about a girl and her de-aged grandfather also has some serious thought provoking stuff on the wonders and dangers of both science and growing up.

    The general awesomeness and the science content of The Fourteenth Goldfish makes it a great candidate for the focus of a library program. You could add these activities to a more traditional book club meeting or do something all on its own.  My target age on this program would be 4th-6th grade.

    Of course it would be more fun to do this after everyone has read the book, but depending on your audience you could also do this program as an awesome introduction to the book with copies ready to be checked out at the end.

    Here are some activity ideas for your program. They could be done as a group but might also work well as stations.

    Observation:  Melvin teaches Ellie about the the importance of observation in science. Gather up some interesting objects and have the kids share observations about them. A mix of familiar and more unusual objects would be great. It would be even better if you were able to include a living fish, insect, or hamster to observe.

    Book Display:

    -Biographies of scientists, including those mentioned in the book.
    -Books of science experiments that can be done at home.
    -Read-a-likes about middle school, changing relationships, and fiction with science content.

    Technology: If you are lucky enough to have access to iPads introduce the kids to the VideoScience app. You can also watch the videos online if you have computers available instead of iPads. The Elements app is another great one to explore.

    Microscopes: It may be possible to borrow some microscopes and even slides from your local school’s science department.  Make your life easier and see if the high school science teacher can recommend a student in need of volunteer hours that can show the children how to use them.

    Questions: You can either use these for a verbal discussion or pick some to use as writing prompts.

    -Melvin teaches Ellie about the possible. What things would you want to make possible?  (You might need to prompt things like saving bees or polar bears, making sure everyone gets clean water etc.)

    -Would you want to stay young forever? Would you want to stay one age forever? Why or why not?

    -Melvin is passionate about science, Ellie’s parents about drama, and Brianna about volleyball. Have you found your passion? How do you learn more about it? (Great time for some reader’s advisory)

    -Ellie learns that not all scientific discoveries are ultimately good, and that Jonas Salk said “Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.”  How can we make sure we are good ancestors?

    Booktalks: Take a minute to promote some other great titles for fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish like Kate Messner’s Eye of the Storm or The Evolution of Calpurina Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. Non-report style science non-fiction like A Black Hole is Not a Hole or Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard would be nice tie-ins as well.

    Science Activity: This is a great time to include a maker activity that is science based.  There are endless options on Pinterest, but often they claim to be science actitivities without explaining the science behind them. I recommend Science Bob instead for a list of neat experiments with everyday items and an explanation with each one.

    Kid's Programs Programs Teen Programs

    Go Big or Go Home Part 2: More Giant Fun

    Go Big or Go Home is easily the most popular post I’ve ever done, and I’m happy to say that I was able to round up a couple more ideas for giant activities for special library events. I’ve even found one or two for the younger set.

    Giant Version of LCR from DIY Showoff. You could also use red plastic plates for discs and save yourself a lot of work.



    The Apex HS Art Department has a full PDF explanation of how to create an amazing post-it note mural



    If you have some easily cleaned space try some spirograph-like  Pendulum Painting from Martha Stewart:



    How about something big for the little ones?  Studio DIY has a giant matching game.   



    Or maybe a giant game of Tic Tac Toe Toss like this one from Multi-Testing Mommy?

    Giant Tic Tac Toss

    There are many different ways to make large dice for all your gaming needs. I’ve had good luck with inflatable dice in the past, but I really like these fabric dice from Craftbits especially for younger kids.





    Kid's Programs Programs

    The Land of Stories: Five Activity Ideas for Library Programs

    LOS1Chris Colfer's THE LAND OF STORIES

    Today the second book in the Land of Stories series, The Enchantress Returns, will be released.  I’m pretty biased when it comes to the author so instead of a review I bring you program ideas. This would be a great tween program as the audience for the book extends past it’s middle grade-ness.

    Versions of Fairy Tales

    Alex and Connor’s teacher talks about how the original versions of stories have been lost to modernization and Hollywood versions. Why not check your collection for various versions of the same story and have the kids compare and contrast? Do a little research and share the oldest version you can find as well. Sur La Lune Fairy Tales will get you started.

    Writing Activity:Fairy Tales from a Different Point of View

    “What the world fails to realize is that a villain is just a victim whose story hasn’t been told.”

    Challenge students to write a version of a fairy tale from the point of view of the villain. You could share The True Story of the Three Little Pigs to get them thinking. How would the witch in Hansel and Gretel explain her actions? What about the tailor in the Emperor’s New Clothes?

    Fairy Tale Improv

    For a more active game get silly with favorite stories. Pick a couple of well known stories and several ways to perform them like fast forward, slow motion, super sad, cowboy style etc. Make a spinner with each of the styles and have participants spin the wheel and volunteer to act out the story in that particular style.

    Make a Map 

    Provide large sheets of paper and let kids create a map of their own imaginary world just like Chris Colfer did as a child. Here is the author’s childhood map of The Land of Stories and the professionally illustrated version from the actual book.

    Chris's map

    TheLandofStories_MAP (1)

    Fairy Tale or Literary Wanted Posters

    In The Land of Stories Goldilocks is a wanted criminal. Have students create a wanted poster for her or another literary criminal. This could easily extend beyond fairy tales to other literary bad guys like Count Olaf or Bellatrix Lestrange.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, my pre-order copy should be here any time.

    Kid's Programs Programs

    In the Tall, Tall Grass: A Class Visit



    I’ve been wandering through my flash drive looking for successful programs to share with you all and this was one of my favorites. I’m especially proud of it because school age is the group I have the least confidence with after so many years doing teen.

    Remember when I talked about our Winter Reading Club featuring Ohio authors? I had the pleasure of hosting a group of second and third graders from a local charter school during that time and created this program based on Denise Fleming’s In the Tall, Tall Grass for them. 

    I set up the room so that chairs were in a horseshoe shape facing the front. At that small branch the meeting room wasn’t big enough to have the whole class at tables and chairs.

    After introducing myself and sharing a bit about the library I started by reading the big book version of In the Tall, Tall Grass.

    After reading the book I passed out a readers’ theater script adapted from the book. A child would read one line from the book, like “Crunch, munch, caterpillars munch” and then all together we would repeat “In the tall, tall grass.”  This continued with a single line and the group response for all the lines in the book.

    To finish our session we did a craft/writing activity based on the book. Each student picked an animal and constructed a sentence in the style of the book: Blank, Blank, Animal Blanks. The children wrote their sentence on the top of the paper and drew a picture of their animal below it. I then passed out strips of green construction paper that I had pre-cut. The students glued them over their picture so their animal was peeking out.