Kids Programming–Make a Giant Seurat painting!

So I got this idea while subbing for Miss Gloria’s craft program.  She’s been doing a really cool art program for kids, each meeting revolves around a famous artist, and the kiddos imitate that artist’s work in their style.  This time around was pointillism and Georges Seurat.  Gloria’s idea was that kids would make first a color wheel, to demonstrate how pointillism works.

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So the kids painted little dots with Q-tips on to paper plates.  The idea of course is that you don’t have to combine colors to get a different color–laying colors down on top of each other creates the same effect.  The kids got it, but they were complaining it was a bit too hard.  A paper plate is A LOT to fill when you’re making little dots, so something smaller might have been better.

The second part of Gloria’s project was to color in some coloring sheets of Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon,” or they could paint their own picture however they wanted using pointillism.  I loved that idea, but I just went on a trip to Chicago and saw the painting in person.

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What’s amazing is how HUGE it really is in real life, it’s taller than me!!  That makes those little dots all the more impressive.  So I wanted to expand on Gloria’s idea, and I drew a crude, but effective 15-sheet replica of it.  You can download it here.

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So once kids were done with their color wheel, they could pick a slice of the painting to work on, using the same techniques.  We only had a half-hour, so I put in extra paints like green and purple.  That kind of misses the point on what pointillism is about, so if you have time, I think you should have kids experiment with layering their dots.

If a kid gets one of the smaller edge pieces, they can still color in the part not technically in the picture.  If you look closely, you’ll see that Seurat did add dots along the edges to create a frame.

All the kids got really into it, even the younger ones.  Some turned out better than others, but you can definitely tell what it is.  I spent some time filling in some blank parts just to make it flow a little bit better.

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I put it together on of those folding cardboard presentation thingies you can get at the dollar store.  It fit perfectly though I did have to trim down the sides.

Remember that everything isn’t going to line up perfectly, but it won’t have to.  You’ll still be able to tell what it is, and it will still look fantastic!

 

Lego Challenge–Lego Mini Golf

Whenever possible, I try to make whatever we build in Lego Club interactive and social, since that’s what’s going keep kids coming back.  We’ve made slides we could all race cars down, we’ve done scavenger hunts, and we’ve done obstacle courses.  So this was a great idea I got from Destination Storytime that’s really interactive too.  (Destination Storytime appears to no longer exist.  If anyone knows where to find the original creators, let me know so I can link to them and give them credit.)

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After we went over rules, I explained that our theme was going to be mini golf!!  Each kiddo would design one mini golf challenge, and then at the end of the hour, we would go around and test everyone’s courses.  There were only two requirements:

  1. You had to have a hole or an end point.
  2. You could make it as easy or as hard as you wanted, but it had to be fair. (No impassible obstacles like walls blocking the hole.)

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Kids got into it right away, so we didn’t have to brainstorm at all.  Halfway through the hour I gave every kid a possible stick for a putter and a marble for a golf ball.  You don’t want 25 marbles rolling around!!  What we found out right away is that my marbles were a little bit bigger than a 2×2 Lego block, so everyone’s golf course alleys had to be at least 3 brick lengths wide to make them passable.  I went around to all my tables and made sure everyone understood, and kindly instructed the kids who didn’t really get it.

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I also went around and gave every kid a small flag, made out of a toothpick and painters tape.  I told my kids to tape their flag to the end of their course so that everyone knew where the hole was suppose to be, since some of them weren’t obvious where to start or where to finish.

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So we built for about 40 minutes, cleaned up for 5, and then instead of sharing we did tested everyone’s courses.  Before we did that, I explained that the “Godzilla Rule” was in effect.  We couldn’t purposely smash something that someone made and we had to be careful.  But I did make sure to point out that accidents may happen and that’s okay.  Everyone had a great time and was really careful with each other’s pieces.  Highly recommend this one for any Lego Club!!

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Unboxing Show–“Reading Outside the Box”

Hey friends!!

Unboxing shows are still pretty big on YouTube, so I wanted to plug mine really quick, and maybe talk a little bit about my process.  First off, an unboxing show is a great way to try and interact with your patrons a bit more and show a new face to the library.  So the premise of my show is that I booktalk brand new books that we just got at the library, but the twist is that I know NOTHING about the books.

I kinda improvise a little bit, trying to throw in some jokes and self-deprecating humor here and there to make it more funny.  I found that talking about three books maximum is more than enough (sometimes I will go into another box off screen to get a better selection,) when filming I often talk about each single book at least twice, so I can get the best take.  Picking out nonfiction or advice books seem to work the best, because I often purposefully bumble the instructions.

The main thing I would suggest if you’re making a similar show is EDITING.  Make sure to edit out all the dead air and fumbling around, people at this point are used to a higher quality video.  People will be forgiving, but something that looks rushed won’t get shared or liked.  iMovie is really good for editing and adding captions, but there’s a lot of software out there that would work just as well.

 

Library Life Hack–Make Your Halloween Pumpkins Last Forever!

Making book characters out of pumpkins is a great way to celebrate Halloween at the library.  Gloria wanted to bring this idea to the library, but I was hesitant.  You start too early, your pumpkins might turn gross before Halloween even gets here.  You start too late, you might not have enough time.  So while on a Joanns run, I found these:

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Carvable, plastic pumpkins.  They were about $10 each, so about the price of a normal pumpkin of this size.  And they are usually on super sale, so you can get them for pretty cheap if you time it right or hold out long enough.  Side note: How does Joanns make any money??  I usually go in there with like a 40% off coupon and walk away like a bandit!!

So anyway, I figured if we’re going to be putting so much effort into making these things, we should make them permanent so we can reuse them year after year.  Now you might be thinking, aren’t people going to remember them from last year and be disappointed??  Surprisingly no!!  We also get compliments on them, even the ones that we made years ago.  And we’ve been slowly adding to our collecting, making two new ones a year, so that makes them all seem new.  The only problem is storing them, but they don’t take up a lot of space in our basement and they hold up fine!!  They’re really good quality so they won’t get scuffed, and they can hold any kind of attachments you put on, like whiskers for Pete the Cat or fins for Dinosaur.

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Here are the ones we’ve made so far.  Mine are the first three pumpkins, Gloria’s are the next three.

Pete the Cat

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Lego Club Challenge–Rebuild Your Town

This one would be really easy to replicate if you’re looking for ideas!!  After sitting everyone down and talking about our rules, I told everyone that our theme was “Rebuilding our Town.”  I asked the kids for some of the buildings they recognized around town.  After that, I told that each out of our 6 tables would be assigned one of the buildings around town to rebuild and/or improve on.

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I picked the fire station, police station, city hall, the library (easily the best building), the mall, and the high school.  So they could work solo or work in groups to rebuild what they were assigned.  Or they could just build something completely different if they weren’t feeling it.

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I also explained that it was okay if you didn’t get something cool like the police station.  So if you got stuck with the library, you didn’t have to complain about it because:

1.) Ouch!
2.) You could rebuild it however you wanted.  So if you wanted the library to have a moat or a guard tower, that was okay!!

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To prep for this, I made up a sheet of about four or five pictures of each building or something cool inside of it.  There weren’t a lot of great pictures online of all the buildings I wanted, so I was able to go off-site and take some of my own pictures both inside and out each building.  If you ask nicely enough, most people will be surprisingly okay with this.

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One of the best things about this project, is the posting it on social media.  Like I posted a picture of our police station and linked it to our police department’s Facebook page, so that they (and ALL of their followers) could see the awesome building that we made and all the improvements they designed, like the mayor getting to ride a race car to work.  It’s just an amazing way to cross promote and try to expand your audience.

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That’s it!  Kids seemed to like this one and pretty easy to prep.

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Kids Programming–Giant Candy Land

We’ve done this twice now and I think we’ve perfected it by now.  This is one I helped out with, but Gloria and Jess did most of the heavy lifting on this one.  I helped out a bit here and there, but it was the equivalent of licking the spoon when you’re making a cake.  It’s helpful but not essential.

So Gloria saw the idea on Pinned Interests and wanted to bring it here.  To make the squares, Gloria got a bunch of plastic table clothes from the dollar store; the colors we used were purple, blue, green, yellow, and red, which aren’t all the colors that are in the actual game but it worked out fine.  She cut out squares that were 18″ x 18″  so she got six out of each table cloth.

When she was ready to set out the floor she laid them out in a zigzag, alternating the colors.  I then went around and taped each square to the floor to make it last a bit longer.  We tried to make as many of the stops as possible, since that’s what makes the game so special.  Each stop had a candy bucket, and kids could take ONE piece of candy from each stop they passed.  Make sure to emphasize one piece at the beginning.  We had kids with so much candy that you could hear all their plastic wrappers crinkle when they walked.

Candyland Route

While playing each group of 5-6 kids was given a dice with the five colors on it (purple, blue, green, yellow, and red) and a “Pick a Card” spot.  If they landed on one of the five colors they would advance to that color.  If they landed on “Pick a Card” they would pick from 20 oversized cards that I made.  5 of the cards had an icon that represented one of the different stops, like a lollipop for the Lollipop Woods.  If they got that, they had to go to that location and keep going.  5 more of the cards had two colored squares on them, so if you picked that you advanced to two spots of the same color.  The other 10 cards had single colors on them, meaning if you picked one you just advanced one spot.  I think we had ten dice total, five we made and five we were able to borrow and then modify.  We usually gave each group two dice to make it go faster.  Each group usually had at least one adult so I handed the dice to them so they could kinda monitor their group.

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So they would go along the track until they reached the end.  The first stop was the Peppermint Forest; Jess made a really simple design for the candy canes.  They were cardboard cutouts painted red with white tape for the stripe.  She wiped up about eight of them to make it an actual forest.  This candy bucket was filled with peppermints.  I dressed up as Mr. Mint because being Lord Licorice would be WAY too hard.

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Next stop was the Licorice Castle and the candy bucket had licorice in it that kids could eat.  I made that easily enough out of pool noodles and a box; I modeled it after our final Candy Castle to make it easier to store, but more on that later.

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After that, kids went to the Lollipop Woods, which we borrowed from another library.  To set this up we put wrapping paper rolls on some dowels to stand them up, and then topped them off with balloons.  The candy bucket here was filled with Dum-Dums.  Miss Gloria was awesome to dress up as Princess Lolly.

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Next two stops were the Nut House and the Cupcake Commons.  These ones were borrowed too and weren’t as impressive, but no one really noticed.  Since it’s so prop-intensive, we plan on slowly adding to our different stops over time.  For these stops, we just had regular candy due to nut allergies.  Sorry Grandma Nutt.

The last stop was the Candy Castle.The only instructions I gave Jess were that it had to be easily compacted to fit in our basement and it should be big enough for kids to hang out in.   Jess ran with it and it turned out amazing!!  The four walls are cardboard with masking tape to make it look like a waffle cone.  They all compacted so we can easily store it against a wall downstairs.  To make the four castle turrets she scored a regular piece cardboard, which means that she cut only the top surface of it and left the the back intact.  So she made a bunch of scoring lines and curled it around to make a the turret. To make the ice cream toppers, she used (I think) a plastic bag, stuffed it with tissue paper, and tied it around a dowel with a felt flag at the end.  Last she added sprinkles, everything is better with sprinkles.

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I’ll finish this up soon!!