Lego Club Challenge–Lego Tape

This is one challenge I’ve been wanting to do for awhile!!  Lego tape is such a cool invention, and I wanted to incorporate it into Lego Club and see how it went.  So after we talked about the rules of the club, I told kids that they can build anything that they want.  But they somehow have to use a piece of tape in their piece.  I brought out regular tape and asked them if they thought this would work?  They said no so I brought out Lego Tape for the win!!

Tape Box

I was able to find this set of Lego tape at Wal Mart on their “As Seen on TV” shelf.  You get four rolls, each containing three feet of tape.  It was around $12, so a buck a foot is a pretty good deal I think.  I was able to cut it into 6″ strips for my kids; it was a smaller group this time around so I actually had enough and didn’t need to open the second container.

Lego Tree.JPG

The tape overall is of good quality and it does stick to mostly everything, and works great with Legos.  I just found that you have to be careful unpeeling the back, because the sticky part isn’t always attached to the actual tape the best, so it’s possible to rip that part off completely when you remove the plastic backing.  That happened to me (and only happened to me somehow) so I just stuck some double stick tape to it and it was fine.  It’s also reusable, so I had my kids save their plastic backing so I could reuse their tape once I broke everything down.  Their pieces have been in the display case for about three days now and the tape is still sticking!!  I only had to adjust one or two pieces, so I think it’s pretty quality stuff.

Upside Down.JPG

The kids loved the idea of the tape, but really had no idea how to use it or incorporate it into their piece.  A few kids actually gave their piece back at the end of the hour!!  It was a younger group than usual, so that might have been part of the problem.   Maybe I should have brainstormed with them a bit more than I usually do.  I don’t like to brainstorm with them too much since I don’t want to influence what they’re going to build.  I also might have walked around with my example a bit too late for kids to really get inspired.  So I think it was a good idea and worth repeating, but something was off this time around.  THAT’S OKAY!!  I’m learning along side the kids that way.

Here’s some of the pieces that turned out the best:

Space Walk.JPG

Tree Climbing

Tree Fort.JPG

Kids Programming–Greek Hero Training Camp and Story Time

This could also work as a Percy Jackson party.  We decided not to call it that so we could also focus on telling the stories too.  The idea behind the program was to replicate the success of our Dr. Seuss Birthday Party and have an event that was half stories and half activities.  And as usual we had a blast coming up with some funny promotional stuff.

Greek villians

We had a really great event so let me walk you through it!


Mr. Mark and I started out by telling/acting out two different Greek myths.  The first one was Hercules and his Twelve Labors.  It was surprising easy to act out, since we picked out the easiest ones to perform.  First thing I did was find a decent Hercules book, photocopied the pages we wanted to do, crossed out the parts that were too graphic or too long, and the just added whatever we needed to make the story flow better.  We then taped it to the book to make it look like we were simply reading the story.


So we settled on five labors we were going to tell.  We tried to make them as funny as possible, just like when we do our Dr. Seuss story time.

We started with the Hydra since it’s one of the most famous ones and it turned out to be the funniest.  I made it easily enough with pool noodles, fake vampire teeth, and monster eyes.  It was around Halloween so everything was real easy to find at the Dollar Store and it all cost under $10.


As Mr. Mark was telling this part of the story, I would hit him with one of the pool noodles.  Then he would cut it down, and I would hit him with two more.  We kept doing this until I was pelting him with six noodles, and he burned them with a cardboard torch that Jess made.  The kids loved this part of the story more than anything else so it was great!

Hydra Fight.JPG

The next myth we did was the Stymphalian Birds.  I just flew around him with a bunch of bird puppets as he was describing how vicious they were.    The third time I flew around with a puppet I picked the moose, and the kids thought that was hilarious.  He also explained that the birds would poop on people (no really, that’s in the myth.  Weird right??) so I ran around the top of the kids’ heads with my bird puppet and they kids loved that part too. Hercules got rid of the birds by making noise, so we had the kids yell really loud to get rid of them.


Next myth was the Erymanthian Boar.  Mr. Mark talked about how ferocious the boar was, but when I brought it out it was a little pig puppet.  I hit him with it for a laugh.  In the myth Hercules chases the boar up a mountain to get him cold, so we just ran around and I made the pig shiver.


Next myth was the Stables of King Augeas.  Mr. Mark explained what a stable was and how disgusting these ones were.  So he talked about diverting the river to clean out the stables and I sprayed him with some squirt guns.  Kids liked that part too.

Last myth we did was the Golden Apples of Hesperides.  We held out apples and Mr. Mark explained that they were guarded by the daughters of Atlas, and I pretended to be Atlas by hoisting a giant beach ball over my head.  We finished up and went into our next story.


The second story we did was Theseus and the Minotaur, and we did this one pretty fast.  I was Theseus and read a little bit of the background of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth.  Mr. Mark gave me the Golden Thread and the sword–we didn’t have a wig to make Mark into a woman so we used a mop head and the kids loved that.


The rest of it was me walking through the maze with the thread that I taped off earlier.  Mr. Mark finally came up behind me and we fought quickly.


That all took about 30 minutes, so now we were ready to move onto the Hero Training Camp.


The goal was to complete all of the tasks to pass the Hero Training Camp, and they could do them in any order.  It tested all the attributes that great heroes have.

The Test of Agility was trying to throw a spear pool noodle through a hoop.  Simple enough and kids loved it.


For the Test of Speed, kids strapped on some wings that Jess made to their shoes.  Then they ran a simple obstacle course as fast as they could.


For the Test of Teamwork, one kid would be blindfolded and have to walk through the maze that we made on the floor.  Their buddy would have to tell them which way to go to get out!


The last two test was the Test of Strength.  Mr. Mark brought out his Tug-of-War rope, and it turned into parents vs. kids.  That was really fun to watch!  So if kids did all four challenges, they got a medal that they got to design.  Not sure where we got these ones from, but I’m sure you can find or make something similar.



In addition we had a few crafts that kids could make.  We had a coloring station set up with markers, string, and a hole puncher so kids could color the Medusa mask I made (with an assist from Jess.)  Feel free to use this if you’d like, you can also download a copy here.  Circ staff was nice enough to cut them out ahead of time, which was a huge time saver.


Next to that was a maze I made, so feel free to use this too.  You can also download a copy here.

Minotaur Maze

Last thing was a Cyclops Origami that I found on YouTube.  I made my own instruction sheet here if that’s helpful.

Cyclops Instructions.jpg

Cyclops Kid

That’s it!!  Very little prep and a great program overall.

Lego Club Challenge–Ramps and Slides

This was a big hit at Lego Club!  After quickly going over rules, I told my kids about the Global Cardboard Challenge, where kids are encouraged to make anything they want out of cardboard.  My fiancee is doing the challenge at her library, so I thought I would try to incorporate into Lego Club.  So we would be partaking in the challenge in a way by adding cardboard ramps and slides to our creations today.  And at the end of the hour, we would test everyone’s ramps!!

Ramp 3

What my kiddos needed to do is they needed to make at least one car and one structure that a piece of cardboard could fit on.  This one definitely took some prep, since I had to pre-cut a bunch of different shapes and sizes.  I made a few really long ones if kids wanted to work as a team, and some really small ones for the kids that needed something easy.

Ramp 2

Once we started, I went around to each table and showed them the easy example I made, and they quickly got it after that.  Once kids got started, I walked around and offered to tape their slides to their creation to make them a bit more sturdy.

Ramp 4.JPG

Everyone seemed to finish in time, though parental help was needed for some kiddos.  After we cleaned up I told everyone that we would begin testing our slides.  BUT I made sure everyone knew not to be rough with everyone’s creations.  Accidents would happen, but someone worked really hard on this ramp and we weren’t going to go full Godzilla on them.

Ramp 5.JPG

They understood and we spent the next 10 minutes testing everyone’s ramps.  Only a few broke, but it wasn’t a big deal.  Taping things down definitely helped avoid catastrophes.

Ramp 1.JPG

I set up my example towards the end of the hour.  The top of my ramp was taped to a table and my structure was somewhere at the bottom to make a super ramp.  I purposely did it at the end, so that kids would use their imagination a bit more and not just copy what I did.

Ramp 6.JPG



Kids Programming–Captain Underpants Party

Last year, we fortunate enough to have Dav Pilkey come to our city to promote the first “Dog Man” book.  Normally we have our author events at the library, but this was so big that we had to host it at the high school auditorium.  It was pretty crazy and the biggest event I ever got to be a part of.  I got to hug a giant Captain Underpants!!


To celebrate, I hosted a really simple party a week before the event to try and get kids pumped up.  Some of these ideas were taken from other sites so I’ll try to give credit where it’s due.  Started out by handing out nametags and everyone got to change their name using Professor Poopypants’s Name Change-O-Chart.


Then we moved on to the actual party!!

Designer Underwear Competition

undies sheet.jpg

Kids loved doing this, and probably could have spent the whole time doing this.  After they were done with their designs, we hung them on a clothesline and judged which ones we thought were the best.  Feel free to use my template.  Thanks to One Little Librarian for this one.

Talking Toilet Toss

talking toilet

I’ve seen a few different designs floating around for Talking Toilets.  Mine is super simple and came out pretty well.  All it is just two large boxes painted white.  Then I got two Styrofoam ice chests from Wal Mart, painted them white to make them match the boxes a bit more, and then hot glued them to my boxes.

The idea was that kids would fling underwear into the mouths of the toilets.  I put them on one end of the room, removed the top of the mouths, and asked kids to see how many each kid could fling into the open mouth.  Only–kids are surprising BAD at flinging underwear!!  Even from a pretty short distance, I don’t think anyone was able to do it.  So what we ended up doing was balling them up, and throwing them into the open mouths.  That didn’t seem nearly as much fun though.  So we moved on to the next game.

Plunger Balance


This was really simple too.  I got a few plungers from the Dollar Store, and we took turns seeing how long we could balance a plunger on our hand.  Kids were a lot better at this one–just keep an eye on your plungers.  I had to separate at least one plunger sword fight.

Captain Underpants Bookmarks


Great idea from Crafts by Amanda.  I prepped a bunch of Popsicle sticks by painting both sides of them peach.  I had the kids draw on their own faces (I made them practice first) and then they drew their own underwear and mouths on card stock and cut those out. We glued everything on and then made capes out of felt.  Really simple.

Design Your Own Flip-O-Rama

Kids had difficulty with this one, but I think it’s kinda important to end on.  It’s what make these books so unique!  I designed this print out to be like a card, the outside would be the index finger part, and the inside would be the thumb part.  That might be confusing since it’s different than how the book does it, but this way is more accurate for how you would actually open a card.  If you printed it out right, it should look like this.

Flip-O-Rama example.jpg

Here’s the template, feel free to use it.  The dimensions are 8.5″ x 11″ so hopefully you won’t have to fool around with it too much to get everything to line up nice and pretty like mine.  You can download a copy here too.

Flip O Rama Page 1.jpg

Flip O Rama Page 2.jpg


My kids didn’t really know what to draw, so I had some old Captain Underpants books they could cut up if they wanted to.  As I’m sure you know, they get beat up pretty fast, so I saved them up for the past couple of months just for this event.  So we spent the rest of the time just working on our flipbooks.

Everyone had a blast, and there was hardly any prep!!

Lego Club Challenge–Secret Zoo

This one turned out pretty interesting.  After setup and rules, I introduced our theme as “Secret Zoo.”  It’s kind of a twist on a Lego Challenge I did a few months ago called “Scavenger Hunt.”  So the idea here was that kids were going to build a zoo exhibit.  They needed to have an animal (real or pretend), some sort of cage for them, and food for your animal to eat.


BUT the twist is that they don’t tell anyone what animal you’re making.  So at the end of the hour, each exhibit would get a pencil and a piece of paper.  Then during our sharing time, we would go around the room and GUESS what the animal is, based on what you built!


Kids did pretty good with this one, although some definitely needed parental help.  The biggest problem is that some kids used the animals that were already in the Lego buckets, like the horse.  That was okay for my group (my group was 35 kids this time!) but if you’re expecting a small group, you might want to remove these ahead of time.  Just so that kids use their imagination a bit more.


Kids that didn’t follow the theme still got to participate, and we still had fun guessing what their piece was suppose to be.


So here’s some of my favorite ones.

This one stumped a few people.  It looks like an owl, but it’s actually a monkey.  You can tell by the bananas on the tree.


A parent made this AWESOME flamingo!


This one stumped me but it’s obvious now.  Nice tiger!


And a very creative elephant.


But this one stumped everyone.  People guessed whale, turtle, walrus, and Loch Ness monster.  It was actually a mudfish.


Overall it went pretty well. It’s a nice twist on a standard Lego challenge you might have done already.


We Be Clubbin–How to Start and Manage a Lego Club

Lego Club–if you don’t have one, start one now.  Having a Lego Club is such an amazing way to get kids into the library again and again.  And after the initial investment, it’s basically a no cost program that’s more or less guaranteed to bring in kids every time.  I initially modeled my Lego Club mostly after The Show Me Librarian, but I’ve definitely perfected the program over the years.


First off, you need to buy Legos.  I’ve be told that there are some libraries that make kids bring their own Legos.  Um…what??    First off, that’s a huge barrier to access; families that can’t afford Legos obviously can’t attend, and that’s really unfair since they can get expensive.  On top of that, it’s a huge headache to deal with all the borrowing and trading that’s bound to happen.  So getting your own is expensive but necessary.

Anyway, I usually set up six round tables and put one medium sized tub down on each table.  Each tub works for about 4-5 kids.  I started out by buying three of them, just to test the waters.  I now have six, with a donated seventh tub as a backup, and that seems to work out just fine.


Next you need to buy the plates.  You’ll never have enough of the big plates so I’ve found success in buying a bunch of the small 5×5 plates.  They’re cheaper, easier to buy and store, and they can be transformed into a normal 10×10 plate if need be.  I’ve gone with the imitation plates and they’ve worked out fine in the past; it’s probably a good idea to check out reviews before purchasing though.


Lastly, you need minifigures.  Those somehow are always the most expensive part.  But buying them separately is necessary, since none of the tubs ever have guys in them.  This is probably the best way to get started.  It’s expensive, but you get a lot of minifigures out of it.


If that’s out of your price range right now, you can try something like the Lego Advent Calendar; it has six figures in it, plus a bunch of extra weird pieces that are hard to find.


Also buy at least one set of the Wheel and Axle kit.  Minifigures go fast, but wheels go even faster.  It’s hard to drive a car you made without someone at the wheel, but it’s even harder when there’s no wheels on it at all.



First thing I do is come up with a theme or challenge.  Why do you need a theme??  It helps keep the kids focused, and it keeps the club different every single time.  Remember most kids will have Legos at home, so to get them in the library you have to offer something they can’t get playing by themselves.  Don’t worry–I have a BUNCH of themes to pick from.  I always explain that they DON’T HAVE to do the theme, and can always build whatever they want–but nearly all kids like the theme provided.


I welcome everybody in and talk really quick about what we do here at Lego Club.  Before we talk about the theme, we always go over the rules of Lego Club, which I stole from Christie Gibrich from a PUBYAC  post when I started the club.

The four rules of Lego Club are:

  • Respect the space.–No running around, just sit and work on your piece.
  • Respect others.–That means everyone has to share and help each other out.  Teamwork makes the dream work.
  • Respect yourself.–Stay positive.  We don’t compete with or put down other club members; we build just for fun.
  • Respect the Legos.–We don’t throw the Legos.  We don’t eat the Legos.  We don’t shove the Legos up our nose.  We don’t shove the Legos up our friend’s nose.  And the Legos have to stay in the library at the end of the day.

To help kids out with this last rule, I offer to take pictures of them with their creations.  I then print them out and give them their pictures next time they’re there.  That takes some time, but it’s another reason to come to the next meeting.  I’ve had parents come in, just to pick up their pictures, so it’s a popular feature.

After we discuss rules, anyone that’s new to the club then gets to come up and sign the rules.


I think after three years, I need a new sign.

After that, we discuss the theme.  Sometimes we brainstorm together if I think the challenge might be too hard, but most of the time I just leave them to it.  I can always help out kids that are struggling later.

Time (0:05-0:25)

Here I just go around to the different tables and hang out with the kids and parents.  I ask them what they’re building and help them if they need anything.  If they’re looking for a particular piece I try to find it or give them an alternative piece.  I also might build my own piece as well.  What I build is usually REALLY bad, and it’s kind of a joke when we get to sharing at the end of the hour.

Time (0:25-0:30)

I get everyone’s attention and tell them we’re at the halfway point, so it’s time to start wrapping up their piece.  I remind them what the theme is one more time and send them back at it.

Time (0:30-0:45)

This is usually when I try to start taking pictures for my kids.  I always ask them if they want a picture of themselves holding their creation and then I take it really quick, and then explain to the parents where they can pick it up next time they are at Lego Club.  This hopefully makes kids want to come back.

Time (0:45-0:50)

Clean up.  Everyone has to stop what they are doing and starting cleaning up the extra pieces.  I explain that kids SHOULD NOT break apart what they built, but everything else needs to go back into the buckets.  Then I run around and help out, check the floor for extra Legos, and finish taking pictures.

Time (0:50-1:00) 

I quickly go over any announcements like programs coming up, then I remind people about the next Lego Club.  After that it’s time to share, race the cars we made, or any other crazy thing I came up with to make it more interesting.  During share time, we walk around to all the tables and the creators talk about their project.  Some kids will talk FOREVER about their creations, so I try to hurry them along as best as I can.  If we skip share time, it’s usually because we have something else planned like a race or a scavenger hunt.

Time (1:00+)

We line up and put everything in our display case.  GET A DISPLAY CASE if you can to show off your Legos.  First off, it’s FREE advertising–kids visiting the library are instantly drawn to it.  And second it prevents Legos from sneaking off–you can’t steal your Legos if they’re locked up behind glass.  Plus kids love knowing that other kids will be looking at their creations for the next few weeks.


You can always display on top of a bookcase, but what most likely will happen is you’ll slowly lose your Legos  So this is probably the best way to do it.  I also have a sign in there that shows all the club dates for the entire year; I’ve gotten a lot of people to stop by using this method.

So that’s it!  If you’re just starting out, expect a small crowd but it will grow pretty fast.  Take photos of the best creations and put them on your library’s Facebook page.  It’s guaranteed to get likes, and it’s a great way to promote the program.


Library Life Hack–Turn Flannelboard Patterns Into Coloring Sheets

UPDATE: As another librarian pointed out, flannelboards can be considered fair use, but making coloring sheets of a individual’s art would be considered a “derivative work” and probably infringing on copyright, depending on the situation.  So what I’ve actually done is gone out of my way to contact the authors of the two books I used for this post, Steven Savage and Sarah Aspinall, and asked them for permission to hand out coloring sheets for my library.  They both agreed…THAT DAY!!  It was insanely easy to contact them and I feel most illustrators will be okay with you using their work for educational purposes.  BUT it’s important to protect yourself and contact the illustrator first.  Don’t contact the publisher, you’ll get caught up in red tape and will most likely receive a no.  Find the illustrator and explain the situation.  They’ll most likely be happy to help you out!!

Anyway, back to the original article:

This is something I wish I would have started doing right away, but it’s a great way to save your flannelboard patterns that you’ve spent WAY too much time on, and make them practical to use over and over again.  I learned the basics of making flannelboards from Storytime Katie back in the day; she came in for a workshop I did and handed out print outs of duck clipart and some flannel to make a “Five Little Ducks” flannelboard.  Around this time I started making coloring sheets of book covers that kids liked like Pete the Cat.  It wasn’t until recently I discovered I could be saving A LOT of time by doing both at the SAME TIME!!

So I’m going to walk you through my process and maybe you can integrate it into yours.  When I want to do a flannelboard directly from a book, I have a few options I try.  We’re going to use “Supertruck” for this example.

book cover.jpg

When finding a pattern, I first I try to find the image online of what I’m looking for.  No need to invent the wheel if it’s already been done and it’s out there.  Wheels are really hard to make it turns out.

If it’s not that easy (and it never is) I try tracing the image off of the cover.  If it’s a nice big image like “Supertruck” it’s going to make a great pattern.

Last option is taking pictures.  Grab an iPad, and take a picture of what you want to flannelize.  Blow it up and print it out.  It might not look pretty, but it’s a great way to get a pattern that’s impossible to find otherwise.

So I go from there!!  I sketch it out or trace it in the center of my paper, finalize the details, then make a bunch of copies.  I cut out each little detail for my flannel.

Making Flannels.JPG

So that part is done.  Now time to turn this into a coloring sheet.  Take sharpie and trace over all those lines.  Erase any extra pencil markings.  You may be able to leave it just like this if it’s big enough and takes up most the paper, but you might want to add some background for your character to hang out in.  For my “Supertruck” coloring sheet, I was able to add some of the buildings from the cover; they don’t match perfectly but that’s okay, kids will be too busy coloring to notice the small differences.


Once your done with that part, sharpie all the lines and erase the extra pencil marks.  Scan it, save it, and print it.  I usually go into a photo editing program to fix any small mistakes and make the black lines pop a bit by playing with the contrast.

Coloring Sheets.JPG

Here’s another recent example with “Penguins Love Colors.”

Penguins Love Colors.JPG

First, I took a photo of a penguin from the book I really liked.  Printed it and cut it out to make a stencil (it looks like a weird Two-Face penguin because I was trying to make it symmetrical.)  Then I printed out some extra copies to make stencils of the the extra parts like the belly and the beak.  A quarter is great for eyes.


So now that I have my penguins made, I’m going to save my pattern by making it into a coloring sheet.  I started by making one big penguin in the middle unaltered and the exact same size; all I had to do was trace the stencil I just made.  I traced in two buddies to make it more interesting.


Then I added some details I didn’t include in my pattern, like the hats and a paintbrush.  Sorry the photo turned out so dark.


I sharpied all the lines, erased all the pencil marks, then scanned it and saved a digital copy.

Coloring Sheet.JPG

That’s it!!  With only a little extra effort, you now have a multipurpose copy of your pattern that kids will be using for years to come.  It will definitely make a great craft to accompany your storytime.  But more importantly, in the event something awful happens to your flannel, your pattern is right there, ready to go.