Special Events

Halloween Party

I forgot to take a single picture yesterday before or during our Halloween party! But I’ll try and piece together what we did …

To start off I had a very short story time. Our age group skewed to an older crowd so some of the little songs I did for the few little ones we had attend went over with a *thud* but they all seemed to enjoy both stories that I read.

Book: Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson; illustrated by Axel Scheffler


Song: Five Little Pumpkins
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate, (hold up five fingers)
First one said, “It’s getting late.” (tap wrist where watch would be)
Second one said, “There are witches in the air.” (point to the sky)
Third one said, “But we don’t care.” (shake finger back and forth)
Fourth one said, “Let’s run and run.” (mime running in place)
Fifth one said, “Let’s have some fun.”

Whooooooo went the wind, (flutter fingers in front of you)
And OUT went the lights. (clap)

And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight. (roll hand over hand)
Adapted from Storytime Katie

Song: Three Little Witches (to the tune of 10 Little Indians)
One little, two little, three little witches (count on fingers)
Flying over haystacks, soaring over ditches (point with right hand/point with left hand)
One little, two little, three little witches (count on fingers)
Happy Halloween! (tap knees)
Source: SurLaLune Storytime

Book: Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds; illustrated by Peter Brown

creepy pair of underwear.jpg

From the author of Creepy Carrots, another spooky tale starring Jasper Rabbit. His glowing underwear creeps him out and even after he thows them out, they keep coming back to haunt him. But are they really as scary as they seem? This book is relatively new so even some of our most dedicated little library patrons hadn’t read it. I wish I’d known about this book when I did my outreach Halloween story time. They would have loved it. Next year!

I had another song planned but I canned it given the reaction to the two prior songs and let them play our games and do our craft.

Our craft was a paper plate ghost. I got the idea here. Here’s my version:

Ghost craft.jpg

As you can see I skipped the arms but I think they still look awesome.

I had a table full of candy and treats (Halloween pencil toppers, temporary tattoos, skull and bat rings) for the kids to choose from. I liked to have some non-candy treats for any kids with allergies. The candy bowl got cleared out in about five minutes. We still had some leftover tattoos but the other treats disappeared.

We also reused the hook game from Talk Like a Pirate Day:

Ring toss game

And we had spider races. I got that idea here. I set up that game in case we got little ones but since our crowd skewed slightly older the spider races weren’t super popular. We ended up packing that game away after a few kids went and using the table as an additional craft space.

Our last game was mummy bowling. We bought this game at Target years ago and have gotten so much use out of it. (Our pins are white but that’s basically the same set we have.)

So there you have it! We had about 75 people and it was a great success!

And on a side note, here’s me and my little narwhal at his Halloween parade:

Ben and mom.jpg

Could you just die from the cuteness?!? We went trick-or-treating with him for the first time last night and had a blast.

Happy Halloween!!

Special Events

Talk Like a Pirate Day Party

God bless the people that make up these nonsense holidays. What a great theme for a party!

I started off with a short story time:

Book: Pirate Pete’s Talk Like a Pirate by Kim Kennedy; illustrated by Doug Kennedy


Pirate Pete interviews a crew of scalawags only to find out his parrot has the best pirate talk!

My coworker and I have determined that my pirate accent is more Irish than pirate. I figure I’m just channeling my inner Grace O’Malley!

Action Rhyme: The One-Eyed Pirate
The one-eyed pirate, (cover one eye)
He’s fierce and he’s tough. (clench fist and scowl)
He digs for buried treasure, (digging motion)
But it’s never enough. (shake head)
He lives on a ship (hold up hand flat, thumb out)
Way out on the sea. (rock hand in curvy motion, other hand under it)
His parrot is his only friend, (perch hand on shoulder)
Except, of course, for me. (point to self)
Source: Sunflower Storytime

Song: Baby Shark
Baby shark do do do do do do (shark mouth with two fingers)
Baby shark do do do do do do
Baby shark do do do do do do
Baby shark

Other verses:
Mama Shark (shark mouth with hands connected at the wrists)
Daddy Shark (shark mouth with whole arms)
Grandma Shark (shark mouth like mama shark but with fists)
Shark attack (snap arms overhead)
Swim away (swimming motion with arms)
Safe at last (jazz hands)
Source: Adapted from Kindergarten Nation

Discussion: Why Do Pirates Wear Eye Patches?

I asked the kids if anyone had a guess. The first kid that I called on knew the answer! I should have said if they knew the answer to keep their hands down because we were going to start with guesses but alas. Lesson learned. I think it’s still a fun fact!

(Answer: Pirates had to work (and I’m guessing fight/defend but I left that part out) quickly between decks and wearing a patch helped keep one eye adjusted to the dark at all times.)

Book: Pirates Love Underpants by Claire Freedman & Ben Cort


After story time, we had three activities for the kids: a treasure hunt, a ring toss, and a craft. I asked the kids to please only take one treasure at each stop on the hunt so we had enough for everyone and I think they all complied. We certainly had enough prizes to go around.

The treasure hunt consisted of four clues with treasures found at each one.

Clue No 1.jpg

This first clue led them to the checkout desk where I had a bowl of candy.

Clue No 2.jpg

This led them to the computers where I had out a bowl of stickers.

Clue No 3.jpg

I forgot to take a picture of the “plank” but I laid out a blue tablecloth from the dollar store and snaked a crooked line of duct tape over it for them to reach the next clue. I also taped down little bath toys (a turtle, a fish, and a whale) in the “water.”

Clue No 4.jpg

This last clue led them from the block area to our desk in the children’s area.

Found the treasure sign.jpg

The “booty” was a temporary tattoo. Every pirate has to have a tattoo, right? We had them take the tattoos home and put them on there since putting them on in the children’s area would be too messy. And you have to hold them on for 60 seconds! Definitely a better activity for home.

Our craft was a parrot:

Parrot craft.jpg

Cute, right? I got the idea here. I loved that it was on a craft stick so they could perch their parrot on their shoulders.

And finally our hook game:

Ring toss game.jpg

Amazing! We got so many compliments on the board. I got the idea here. We had two sets of rings and the kids came back again and again to take a turn. Also hot glue = cement because those hooks were tugged, nudged, agitated and bumped and they held firm! I got the poster board and the hooks at the dollar store. Good things this holiday is close to Halloween!

I think the kids had a great time and we even had some show up in costume! We heard a lot of parent compliments which is always lovely.

So thar ye have it!

Special Events

Ready, Set, Code — Session III

My last official event of summer! Phew! I had a really small turnout but that was fine with me. Easy peasy.


Since I had some younger ones who hadn’t attended a previous event, I read a book explaining what coding and programming are. Then we reviewed the definition of crowdsourcing:

crowdsourcing definition

These signs were created on postermywall.com.

Then we did our crowdsourcing activity. I showed them a jar full of gumdrops. We talked about how long it would take to count all the gumdrops ourselves. But if everyone took a handful and we added up the small amounts everyone got, it was really fast and easy. I got the basic idea for this activity here.

Our second lesson was persistence. We reviewed our definition:


And then we talked about how some things are hard for us to learn. (My example was learning to ride a bike.) I also told them to think about babies learning to walk and talk and how it’s hard for them but they’re persistent because it’s important to learn how to communicate and how to move. Every time we fail, we learn. If we fall off of our bike, we learn to work on our balance. If we’re filling a balloon and it pops, we learn to use less air.

Then we did our persistence activity:

build a foundation rules.jpg

I found this activity here.

I provided the kids with the gumdrops we’d counted, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, masking tape, and paper. I showed them the cup their foundation had to be taller than and they got to work. In the end only one kid was able to hold up the book I’d brought but they all took their supplies home and I told them to keep working on it with a book from home.

We were going to play with a programmable mouse after we finished our foundations but there weren’t many kids there and we’d started a little late waiting for stragglers to show up so I cut that part out. I think this is a huge vacation week for our area so that didn’t help with attendance.

I’m glad our summer programs are over and we’re starting to focus on the fall! I’m also glad the eclipse is over. We had about 500 people watching in the field behind the library!!!

Special Events

Ready, Set, Code — Session II

I didn’t take any pictures of our first coding session but I did this time so I thought I’d post them!

At this session we started by reviewing the definition of commands:

commands definition

Then we practiced our commands by playing The Name Game. We started by spelling out our first names on graph paper then writing down the commands to write each letter:


You can see the sheet on the left has the key of up, down, left and right. Then they had to pick a starting point for each letter and write the commands from there. This program was designed for ages 6-10 and I had a few 5-year-olds who had some trouble with this one. But the older kids I had who were going into fourth and fifth grades loved it. I had one younger kid named Max and we all had to band together to help him design an X. That was a tough one! I got this idea from the book How to Code: A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Coding: Book 1 by Max Wainewright. Fantastic book and series for this sort of program.

After The Name Game we talked about algorithms:

Algorithm definition.jpg

And programs:

program definition.jpg

(If you’re wondering, I got the template for the robot signs on postermywall.com.)

Then it was time for graph paper programming. This concept was difficult for the younger ones so beware. The older kids did great.


We started at the left. The yellow star in the top left corner was our starting point. The text at the bottom were our instructions. We followed our instructions to make a pattern. But we discussed how those instructions in long form were tedious and took up a lot of room.

The next image is the coded instructions. On that blank piece of paper we designed the code for that image together.

On the second to last paper is a code we did together on the blank graph paper which gave them an idea of how to play the game. Then I paired them up. One person wrote the code and gave it to the other person who followed the code and hopefully, made the correct image based on the instructions. I gave them six images to follow but, of course, they could make up their own images if they wished.


I got this idea here.

Finally, we ended with a craft. I explained what binary code is and the kids spelled out their names in code:


You can see the ASCII Alphabet in binary above my example craft. The 1’s in binary code are black and the 0’s are white. Of course, they could pick any color they wanted. I got the strips here and based the idea on the necklaces I found here. Logistically, a paper craft is easier for us.

So that was our second coding session. One more to go!

Special Events

How It Works: The Wizard of Oz

This was the last of my How It Works events for the spring and I think it was the most successful. The experiments worked great, we had a huge (for this program series) turnout, and the kids really seemed to enjoy themselves. I need to try and figure out how to work STEM programs around book/movie themes!

Of course, I forgot to take pictures but I have some of the signs I posted and the equipment we used for some of the experiments. First, we made a tornado in a bottle to get our story going. I bought a tornado tube on Amazon and attached two empty soda bottles. It didn’t work great (it required some squeezing and swirling of the bottles) but it worked well enough to show the tornado and why it worked. I made the accompanying sign:

Tornado bottle sign.jpg

The text and information for this sign came from one of my favorite STEM books: The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments: Awesome Things To Do With Your Parents, Babysitters, and Other Adults by Rachel Miller, Holly Homer & Jamie Harrington.

the 101 coolest simple science experiments

The tornado took us “over the rainbow” so next we made our exploding rainbow cups. I put two drops of food coloring and about two tablespoons of white vinegar into each cup. In separate cups I put about a tablespoon of baking soda. Then I picked six kids to help explode the rainbow. They poured their baking soda into the vinegar and WHOOSH! Colorful rainbow cup explosions. (I put the vinegar cups in disposable baking trays so we wouldn’t have a huge mess to clean up.) I made this sign to explain why it worked:

Exploding rainbow cups.jpg

I found the experiment here and used some of the wording on the site.

Once we were in Oz we started to meet our friends. The first friend Dorothy meets in Oz is the scarecrow who wants a brain. So we explored how our brains work. I had them draw corresponding pictures on two circles cut out of card stock. I made a fish on one circle and a fish bowl on the other as an example. (I also told them they could draw a bird in a cage or a person on one side and jail bars on the other.) I had some very creative kids. One drew a nest and a tree and one drew a jail cell and a zombie!

Once the drawings were done, we taped them onto a straw which we then spun between our palms and the two images made one! Totally cool.

Here’s mine:

Brain game sign.jpg

This experiment and sign wording was also found in The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments book.

Next in the story, Dorothy meets the Tinman who wants a heart. So we checked our pulses. We poked a toothpick into a mini marshmallow and placed them on the inside of our wrists and watched our heartbeats. This had varying success. I don’t think the kids were sitting still enough to see anything but they did enjoy eating the marshmallows …

I didn’t make a sign for this experiment since it was so simple but I found it in The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments book.

Finally, we met the Wicked Witch and made “melting” bath fizzies. I’d already mixed together the baking soda, cream of tartar, olive oil, and food coloring. I gave each kid a silicone cupcake mold to fill and take home. (I ran out of molds so we had to give some latecomers plastic cups!) They filled them about halfway and then patted them down nice and tight. I told them to take the fizzies home and let them dry for two days. Once they’re completely dry, they can add the fizzy to their bath (or drop it into a filled sink). I wanted them to have an experiment to complete at home because, of course, there’s no place like home. I told the kids to come back in and let me know if the fizzies worked!

Melting bath fizzies sign.jpg

This experiment and wording came from the Smithsonian Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects book. One of the parents was leafing through it at the end of the program so I checked it in for her so she could take it home and do some at-home experiments with her kids. I like to think the How It Works programs (the family attended three out of four) sparked an interest in science and experimenting!

maker lab

The kids had an awesome time. I had an awesome time. I even wore my red flats so I had on “ruby slippers.” A great way to wrap up our How It Works series!

Special Events

How It Works: Water, Water Everywhere

chalkboard sign.jpg

Our second to last How It Works of the season! We had to compete with a GORGEOUS day so attendance was light. But because of that I was able to spend time with each kid and make sure they understood the experiments. I think they had a great time!

First, I explained our density tower.

(As an aside, this took me three tries and almost didn’t happen. I finally got it to work about 10 minutes before the program was scheduled to start! The problem child was the [Dollar Tree] dish detergent. And I was using a tall glass vase in the beginning and I think the detergent had too far to drop and was disrupting the milk too much so the soap wasn’t forming a nice smooth surface. Also, I think there may have been too much water in the cheap dish soap to form properly on top of the milk. I switched to a name brand detergent [Ajax] and it worked perfectly. I also used a much shorter container and the soap didn’t have as far to drop and I think that helped as well.)

density tower.jpg

We sunk the bolt and floated the pink pong ball on top of the vegetable oil in the tower.

Here’s the sign I made explaining the molecules and density and why certain liquids sit on others:

density tower sign.jpg

I got this experiment and the illustration from the book Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects.

maker lab.jpg

Our first experiment together was floating paper clips. This experiment came from a book I bought at Kohl’s for $5 and it’s been invaluable. Totally worth the price!

the 101 coolest simple science experiments.jpg

We used small cups of water for this experiment. First we dropped in a paper clip and watched it sink. Then we dropped in a small piece of tissue and put another paper clip on top. Gently we prodded the edges of the tissue with a toothpick until it absorbed the water and fell away and the paper clip floated!

floating paperclip.jpg

Next, I demonstrated to the kids how an egg could float in water. I did this experiment myself because I knew giving the children raw eggs would be impossible without disaster. One cup was full of regular water and the other was full of heavily salted water. The egg dropped in the water and floated in the salt water! Really cool. I got this experiment from The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments.

egg float

Our last experiment was paper boats. We floated paper boats made out of card stock in trays of water and made them move across the tray with drops of dish soap. This one was touch and go. It worked the first time we did it but that one drop of soap really messed up the molecules in the tray of water so it only worked that one time and then we had to empty the soap water and refill the trays with fresh water. Also, the card stock boats took on water and curled very quickly. In the book they painted the boats and I see why. I’m sure they lasted longer than our flimsy paper ones. I got this experiment and graphic for the sign from the Maker Lab book.

paper boat sign.jpg

But the kids still had fun and I hope they learned a little something!

Special Events

How It Works: Fairy Tales & Fables

I forgot to take pictures from this event!!! But I wanted to post a summary anyway.

First we read the fable, The Goose and the Golden Eggs.

Book: Aesop’s Fables by Jerry Pinkney

aesops fables.jpg

Then we “laid an egg” into a glass bottle! The bottle I used had a larger neck than this one and some of the eggs I made just fell in so, sadly, it wasn’t this impressive. BUT when it did work the kids were very impressed. In fact I had to use all four hard-boiled eggs I brought and the kids would have had me keep going if I’d been able to.

Next we read a passage from The Little Mermaid after I told them the original story was very different than the Disney version. I explained how instead of living happily ever after with her prince, she throws herself into the ocean and dissolves into bubbles.

Book: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen; illustrated by Robyn Officer

the little mermaid.jpg

I made them unbreakable bubble solution to play with to go along with this story. More on that later.

Then I read them the summary of The Three Bill Goats Gruff that came with our problem-solving STEM kit from Lakeshore.

billy goats.jpg

I provided foam blocks and the Velcro blocks that came with the kit and told the kids to build a bridge high enough and safe enough for the goats to get over the troll. I had a great group of social kids and some of them ended up working together to make their bridge.

So … the “unbreakable” bubbles. I forgot the recipe for the unbreakable bubbles at work so I looked one up online. I found a couple that added glucose (instead of the rubber cement that was noted in my original recipe) and thought, what the heck, I’m sure they do the same thing, and added the 1 tablespoon the recipe listed. The solution had to sit for 12 hours which is why I made it ahead of time.

When I came in to work the next day I found the recipe in the forgotten book and it said to add HALF A TEASPOON of rubber cement. Quite different. Suffice it to say, the solution didn’t even make a bubble let alone a bubble that didn’t pop. *sigh* BUT I used the failure as a teachable moment for the kids that we don’t give up and if we make a mistake we press on and keep experimenting. I bought them some normal bubble solution at the dollar store and they had a blast blowing real bubbles. I also told them I’d remake the unbreakable solution for next month’s program (theme: water) so we’ll try it out again with the proper recipe in a couple weeks!