A good library encourages a love of books and reading. A great library also encourages a love of community and self-expression. In the case of little ones, that translates to creating opportunities for families to come together to enjoy an activity that involves arts and crafts or music-making. As the kids get older, the programming possibilities increase, but for the younger set, crafts are usually a surefire hit. Many libraries do craft programs, either structured or take-home. This weekend at my library, I tried out the strategy of abbreviated storytime plus multiple crafts. I call it: Storycraft. Because I’m not creative at naming things. Since the multiple crafts were happening all at once, our sainted outreach coordinator offered to partner up with me, bless her.
Because it’s the holiday season, I wanted to go with books about friendship and giving (but not Christmas/Hannukah) and wintertime.
Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin
Old Man Fookwire is a grump who dislikes everything but birds. When a band of squirrels rob his bird feeders, he tries to outwit them, resulting in an intricate war of strategy. When his beloved birds fly south for the winter and leave him desolate just like they do every year, though, the squirrels find a way to turn Old Man Fookwire’s frown upside-down.
While the story is funny and has a great ending, it’s a little long. I chose it in the expectation that we would get a few school-age kids since the program was on a Saturday. We did, and they loved it. My coworker was a great sport and took it on even though it was the longest, toughest book. She’s an actual storyteller, so she knows just how to pace her reading, just how to pitch her voice, when to add sound effects, and all that jazz, so of course she did a wonderful job. I love listening to her!
Oh! What a Surprise! by Suzanne Bloom
Fox loves surprises, but Bear and Goose are not making surprises for her. How sad! She decides to make a surprise for them, though. She wraps herself! Of course, they did make her something. They just didn’t tell her because it was a surprise! This short, sweet, adorably illustrated story is entirely in dialogue, so you have to give the characters distinct voices. I like that it’s a story about giving but never mentions any holiday, so you could use it for a Christmas theme but it would really fit in any time.
Winter’s Tale by Robert Sabuda
I got to indulge my swimfan-love of Robert Sabuda with a reading of this stunning book. If you’ve never seen it, you should find a copy right away. The intricate pop-up scenes turn everyone in the audience into an awestruck kid, even the grown-ups. I let the kids open the mini-pages inside the book, which each hide a small, extra pop-up scene. Just an amazing book, period.
We read the books back-to-back and then moved on to crafting. We had three stations going at the same time.
For Those Darn Squirrels:
Pinecone Bird Feeders
We all know how to make these, I think. Two words of advice: Be careful if you’re going to use peanut butter, and check your bird seed mix for peanuts. Peanut allergies, and whatnot. Also, be sure you have a big stack of zip top baggies and that the bird feeders go directly into them so the mess is contained until the kids get home and hang their feeders.
For Oh! What a Surprise!
Initially, I planned to use the box die from our die cut machine. Unfortunately, it’s not really a box, it’s a bag! Also, folding it seemed a little complicated, and I didn’t think the kids were going to truly learn anything from a pre-cut pattern. At the last minute, I switched to paper cup gift boxes. I found the instructions on a French blog called Happiness. The post is in French, but the photos are easy to follow. I precut the slits and showed the kids how to fold them. While that’s not a much different process from the die cut bags, the kids did at least learn a craft they can easily replicate at home in the future.
For Winter’s Tale
Simple Pop-Up Cards
Check out these instructions on making pop-up layers from Robert Sabuda’s website. Fold the paper, make two slits, and fold the cut part to the inside. Then, glue paper shapes to the layer, and you have a pop-up.
I cut out several pop-up layers ahead of time and set those out for the kids, along with a wide assortment of die cut shapes: snowflakes, puppies, monkeys, butterflies, stars, barns, farm animals, fish, and on and on. They glued the die cut shapes to the pop up layers, then folded construction paper down the middle and glued the layers inside to make cards. Really easy, and again, something they can replicate at home. The kids LOVED the pop-up card table, oh my gosh. LOVED.
Everyone seemed to love this program, and several people asked when it’s happening again and if it’s a regular thing. I think I might make it a quarterly event. We had a different audience than I have for storytime. I knew one parent and child combo, and everyone else was new to me. Also, it’s a great way to litmus test several crafts at once for later storytimes.