Program: Family Campfire

With summer reading ending and school starting, the librarians in my branch take a break on storytimes for the month of August. To fill something of a void, I did an extra (evening program) for the families who felt like they were missing out. Family Campfire! 

What We Did:

We heard some stories, sang some songs, and played some games! The games were the highlight, for sure. But we had to start with a little atmosphere! I made cut out some paper rings, made some paper tubes, and grabbed this weird IKEA lamp…



And it became… 



The components are deceptively simple (and it looks great even without a light source). I taped paper together to make it extra long and free-handed some flame shapes. I repeated this over and over with paper strips of various lengths and heights in red, orange, and yellow. I taped them together and put them together like nesting dolls. I used paper bags for my “logs” by cutting off the ends, crumpling them up, and rolling three together. I used a black marker to make a wood grain design (wobbly lines and some ovals). I plopped a lamp in the middle (with a really low watt lightbulb) aaaaand… done!51TKyeNhDCL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

I started with Scare a Bear, but Kathy-Jo Wargin and followed up with Going on a Bear Hunt. It was not a good song for my audience, so I kept it pretty short after starting  (grass, mud, forest, cave DONE). They got pretty restless after this so we sang some camp songs- all entirely new to this crowd, which was fun. We sang Baby Shark, Go Bananas, and She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain. I asked for help from the kids with She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain so she ended up riding a motorcycle, playing the drums, and fighting lots of ninjas when she comes. Fun! 

51z2dnRkbNL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_What’s a good campfire without a scary story? I had no idea what kind of crowd I’d have, so I went with my personal favorite “scary” story- Creepy Carrots. It was a hit despite one boy telling me beforehand that he’d never actually been scared by a scary story. Whether or not he was scared, I don’t know (I hope not), but he did love the book so… Success! 

The games were simple. We made marshmallow shooters and had marshmallow races (like an egg race, only less messy and more immediately edible. For my shooters, we mostly used pom pom balls. They made a huge mess so I didn’t have to worry about a marshmallow rolling under something and attracting pests. I gave everyone a marshmallow for the road and called it a night. 

And it went:

Great! I had a small crowd, but they had a great time with the new songs and playing games with their parents. I’ve already blogged about my really successful flannel board that I used for this program, How Coyote Places the Stars. I would say this one calls for a repeat!




Flannel Friday: Seeing Stars

This week my flannel board is part of a larger, special program: Family Campfire! We read some stories, played some games, and I shared this flannel board that kept the kiddos entranced from beginning to end.

Exciting, right?

All it takes is just a few felt stars- seven of one size and one smaller. I told the Wasco Native American legend How Coyote Places the Stars. I used a few different versions, but I largely based my rendition on this source.

How Coyote Places the Stars is fun because the “stars” he places eventually form the constellation we call the Big Dipper:



As I told the story, I placed the animal characters- the bears and wolves- in the appropriate place on the board (which is just the typical green and blue mini board covered with double sided sticky tape and black felt), eventually forming the constellation. The drive the connection home, I shared an image of the Big Dipper afterwards and encouraged them to look for it with their parents.



This story was a HUGE hit and I’m not sure it would have been successful without the felt as a guide. It meant that I didn’t have to use too many abstract directions in the story, which cleaned up the narrative, and the extra felt element was a little unexpected for my older kids.

Books I’m Enjoying: August

I’ve been reading a lot this summer, but haven’t blogged about any of it. Whoops! So far this summer I’ve LOVED:

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Better Nate Than Ever, Tim Federle: Upper elementary-middle school. Realistic fiction. Nate is convinced that he’s the Next Big Thing and the only way to prove it to his disbelievers- his parents, his track star brother, and basically everyone at his school- is to sneak into the auditions for ET: The Musical (with the help of his best friend).

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! Tim Federle: Upper elementary-middle school. Realistic fiction. Despite all the odds, Nate has secured a spot in the chorus and as ET’s understudy for ET: The Musical. Now navigating the ins and outs of theater life and living with his aunt in New York, Nate isn’t sure he’s ready for this… or the gifts he’s been getting from a secret admirer.

Rules, Cynthia Lord: Upper elementary-middle school. Realistic fiction. No toys in the fish tank. If someone says hi, you have to say hi back. Catherine is prepared for just about any situation that may arise with her autistic younger brother, but she’s not as prepared for the situations life deals her- including making new friends, befriending the mute boy at her brother’s occupational therapy sessions, and being a patient older sister.

Touch Blue, Cynthia Lord: Life on an island is rough, especially when its small population threatens the island’s only school. In an effort to keep the school open, several island families take on foster children. Tess is eager for Aaron to arrive, but when he finally does, he isn’t anything like she was hoping for. With a little luck, and a lot of trial and error, Tess begins to figure out how to make Aaron feel at home on the island.

See a trend? When I find a book I like, I usually end up reading everything that author’s written. It’s been Tim Federle and Cynthia Lord this month. And they were all wonderful! I can’t wait to get these into the hands of some of my readers.