Thursday, March 24, 2011

Conferencing with Librarians

Today was the WV Library Association's spring mini-conference. My proposal to present a session on this year's summer reading theme was accepted so I've been busily working on stories and other things for the workshop.

Can you see the shakers and other rhythm instruments everyone is holding? (And the big Aiken Drum flannelboard story behind me along with bits of a flannelboard story from Korea?) The instruments went with a chant we were doing in an African story; the lady standing with me was a great story volunteer. I shared stories from China, Japan, Turkey, Africa and England along with songs from Chile, Africa, and China and a movement activity from Antarctica. Yes, Antarctica--I couldn't find a story for that cold continent so I rewrote a penguin fingerplay to include movement. In the photo we are doing the song from China--on the back of their animal pictures, I put the words to the song so it was easy to do.That little trick can be used at their storytimes for other stories and songs.

This year's theme One World, Many Stories is custom-made for storytellers. My presentation explored each continent through story, song, craft and even snack foods. I can well remember when I was a branch library manager and presented many children's programs. Finding time to research themes, find crafts and all the other activities to go with a program could be daunting--and I had the luxury of being part of a large library system with lots of resources. I know how it can be for smaller libraries with limited resources and staffing so I wanted to offer them program materials that could be used to create quality programs easily and inexpensively.

Along with program ideas, I brought many items for display--cloths and scarves from many lands that I've collected over the years (most from thrift stores), a paper umbrella from Japan, puppets, Chinese health balls, beads, matryoshka and kokeshi dolls, flags, etc. With an international theme like this one, the displays can be rich with color and texture. I could not bring all of the items I've collected because I think Larry would have gone on strike. Bless the man, he totes my stuff uncomplainingly in and out of so many places.

One of the ideas shared today: cut open a stuffed animal toy and remove some stuffing to make a good puppet. I needed an elephant, and this little fellow works quite well with a cut in his back and a handful or two of stuffing removed.

One craft idea I shared today was a zen garden. I discovered these while researching Japan and became intrigued with the concept of a waterless, plant-less garden. I thought about how much children would enjoy placing the stones and raking the sand, and came up with a miniature zen garden that is easy and inexpensive. All it takes is some sand, a paper plate, some smooth stones and a fork to use as a rake. Put the sand on the plate, place the stones and rake the sand into wave patterns. It's surprisingly hard to rake the waves evenly. The plate can be shaken slightly to erase the waves; then they can be re-done over and over again. Each librarian got a baggie of sand and stones, a plastic fork and a square black paper plate to make their own gardens. It's a little difficult to see the waves in my garden, but you get the idea. I found it so relaxing to do this; now I want to make a better one to keep on the coffee table.

I loved being with children's librarians again. Their energy, imagination and enthusiasm translates into the work they do with children every day. It's a lot of hard work, but each day brings new rewards. I was glad to be able to share some of my ideas with them, and I hope it makes at least a little bit of their work easier as they plan their summer programs.

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