Canadian Libraries Spotlight: Conception Bay South Public Library, Newfoundland

In January we put a call out for Canadian Youth Services Library content, and we have been overjoyed at the response! This post is the second in our guest post series highlighting the amazing work being done in Canadian libraries to serve children and families. Join us as guest blogger this week Rebecca Stone, Library Technician II at the Conception Bay South Public Library, talks about Family Literacy Day her community!


Our Community:

Conception Bay South (CBS), Newfoundland is situated on the Northeast Avalon Peninsula, approximately 20 kilometers from St. John’s. It is one of the province’s newest Towns made up of some of Newfoundland’s oldest settlements. The Town of CBS is one of the fastest growing communities in the province with over 20,000 residents. Incorporated in 1973, Conception Bay South consists of nine communities (Topsail, Chamberlains, Manuels, Long Pond, Foxtrap, Kelligrews, Upper Gullies, Lawrence Pond and Seal Cove) all of which follow the coastline of Conception Bay.


This is our beautiful coastline community.

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Tween Book Club Extension Activities

This post is so long overdue! I’ve written once about the Tween Book Club I run at my library, but I really should take more time to share the books and activities we do each month. I’ve got a solid group of 12 kids who show up to every meeting, and we’ve been having a great time.  I think I’ll make this a blog series and write up posts on icebreaker activities, how to encourage discussion, and places you can find other resources.  For now, I thought for  I’d share some quick and easy meeting ideas.

The first 20-25 minutes of each meeting is the same. We do an icebreaker activity and then we discuss the book.  I will write more about each of these activities in my future posts, I promise!

For the second half of the book club, we do some sort of extension activity that is thematically related to the book. I try to vary the type of activity because the tweens all have their own personalities and preferences, and I also aim for fun and laid back options.  Here’s a list of the books we’ve read and the matching extension activities.

jinx sage blackwoodJinx by Sage Blackwood
We did two activities for this book.  First, because there is lots of magic in the story, I showed the kids three different card tricks and they had to work together to see if they could solve them.  Then two kids demonstrated card tricks of their own.  Secondly, we did a window decorating craft.  I loved the setting of this book, a magical forest called the Urwald.  Using large pieces of black construction paper, we cut out trees and creatures that reminded us of the book. Then we taped them to the library’s windows creating a shadow display. Here’s a Halloween example of what the final result looked like.

amulet Amulet: The Stonekeeper (Book One) by Kazu Kibuishi
As I was reading this book I kept thinking about the theme, “Things aren’t always what they seem.” So for our first activity I printed off a bunch of funny pictures (the ones I chose were all tween appropriate), and had the kids discuss what was really happening. Much laughter ensued and this led us back to talking about the book. Next, we played an Amulet themed version of “Would You Rather?” I had about 10 pre-written scenarios, and the kids each wrote down two of their own. Again, lots and lots of giggles.

word nerdWord Nerd by Susin Nielsen
This book takes place in Vancouver so I knew I wanted to do something about neighbourhoods and maps. I printed some maps of the Kitsilano and Granville Island areas and we marked off the places that Ambrose visits. And then of course we played a team round of Scrabble which the kids loved so much they asked me if we could play it every month!

rules Rules by Cynthia Lord
We talked a lot about autism and disabilities during the discussion part of our meeting today, so for the activity I brought out Pictionary. A character named Jason in the book communicates via picture cards, and I thought this game would be an interesting way for the kids to see what that would be like.

better nate than everBetter Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
I have a pretty outgoing group of kids so I knew I could get away with doing a bunch of theatre games.  The main character, a kid named Nate, tries out for the Broadway musical version of E.T. and he’s asked to show off a special skill. So we started from there! After that I pulled 4-5 games from different online resources I found and we all channeled our inner Nate.  This works even better if you can scrounge up some props for the kids to use.

Ttom gateshe Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
This book takes place in England, so the characters say lots of British sayings that my tweens were unfamiliar with. Thankfully, the author includes a glossary at the end with definitions of the words.  I created a quiz based on her list and the tweens tried to remember what each word or phrase meant. The tween with the most correct answers won a free book. Usually I try to stay away from “school-like” activities, but this was more of a contest and the kids loved the competition aspect.  Next, I found this fun drawing activity on the author’s Tom Gates blog: grab some bananas and some pens! I took pictures of their drawings and hung them up in our meeting room.

BoneBone: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith
If you hadn’t already noticed, my tweens are obsessed with graphic novels.  For our first activity, I printed out pictures of every single character in the book and hung them up around the room. Then I gave kids about 5 minutes to go around and write down one word that best describes each character next to their picture. We had a lot of fun with this activity and I had each tween present one of the characters when we were done.  Next we spent time trying to create our own graphic novel panels.  I knew some of the kids would struggle with a blank slate, so I brought out lots of magazines and discarded books. Anyone who didn’t want to draw their own could cut out pictures and assemble them instead.

zita the spacegirlSpace Adventure Graphic Novels
I tried something different this month and pulled three different graphic novels/manga that take place in space or on another planet. They are Zita the Spacegirl by Bet Hatke, Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman and Twin Spica by Kou Yaginuma.  I hadn’t done a craft activity in awhile so I collected a bunch of small cardboard boxes and we made these alien creatures and placed them on top of the science section in the juvenile non-fiction collection.  Any time our activity leads to decorating the library in some way, the kids get really into it!

So that’s what I’ve been up to in my Tween Book Club.  Do you run a Tween Book Club? I’d love to hear about the books you read and the activities you do at your meetings!

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Storytime Transitions

Overlooked and undervalued, transitions are the secret superhero of any great storytime. Or heck, anytime you’re trying to help kidlets move from one activity to the next! I for one had no idea how important transitions were until I started doing Toddler Storytimes on the regular and now I collect and admire them like gemstones. Think I’m crazy? You only need one koala or kid to give you this look before you wise up to the ways of the transition song, rhyme or activity.

Upset Koala

So let’s jump right in, first I’d like to share some of my favourite songs and rhymes which can be used when transitioning between parts of your storytime. Many of these have been picked up from other librarians, early childhood educators, and daycare workers. In case you’ve never noticed, anyone who deals with toddlers and preschoolers on a daily basis basically becomes a professional transitionalist. For an example of this check out Teaching Mama’s awesome list of ideas! Continue reading

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Canadian Libraries Spotlight: Bighorn Library, Alberta

Last month we put a call out for Canadian Youth Services Library content, and we have been overjoyed at the response! This post is the first in our guest post series highlighting the amazing work being done in Canadian libraries to serve children and families. Our guest blogger is Rose Reid, library manager of Bighorn Library in Bighorn, Alberta.  Take it away, Rose!


Bighorn Library serves the MD of Bighorn in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Alberta.  We are situated in the hamlet of Exshaw, population 417.  Our library has been a member of the Marigold Library System for 34 years.  I’ve been the librarian for the last 20. One of my favourite parts of the job is serving children; look us up on YouTube to see some of our favourite ideas!


Our closest neighbor, Exshaw School, is only a couple of blocks from our library and teaches grades kindergarten through eight.  About 90% of the student body are First Nations children and it was these young library members who inspired us to create Bonnybooks.

My assistant was volunteering at the school as a literacy coach and she told the 7-year-old she was working with to be sure and practise reading at home that weekend.  He looked at her like she was crazy and said, “I ain’t got no books at home.”  It turned out that there were no books in many of the homes on the Morley reserve and we started looking for a way to remedy that.  It began with the books we weeded from our library shelves.  We would rescue any that were still usable and when there were enough for every child in a class we would go to the school and give them to the students to take home.  I don’t think it is possible to describe how excited those children were to own books.  It was so much fun, the more we did it, the more we wanted to do it again.

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Little Mouse, Little Mouse Renditions

Do you work with toddlers?  If so, there’s a very high chance that you’ve done the Little Mouse, Little Mouse, Are You in the (Colour) House?  rhyme.  Because it’s toddler gold. But maybe you’re a little tired of Little Mouse or maybe you’d like to model to caregivers how to adapt and evolve rhymes.  Either way, I’m here for you.

I looked through all 5,000+ of Flannel Friday’s pins and found some excellent renditions of Little Mouse.  And I’m excited to try some of these versions with my storytime toddlers!

Before I begin, if you’ve never heard of Little Mouse (which was me a year ago) or have always wondered how to actually do it with kids, this video by KCLS is a must watch.

Lots of people have blogged about their Little Mouse flannel stories.  I saw this one the other day on Playing the Hits and thought it was super cute.  On heytherelibrary you’ll find an autumn edition.  Storytime Katie’s Maisy Mouse version has the most adorable houses you will ever see.  Piper Loves the Library expanded it into a story and spiced it up with a pirate and gingerbread house.  And Roving Fiddlehead KidLit used JavaScript to create an online interactive version – so flipping cool!

You can also try using this rhyme instead:

“Little mouse, little mouse, come out and play
What colour house are you in today?”

If you want to go beyond Little Mouse, try one of these adaptations!

bearI’m starting it off with my Flannel Friday submission.  I got the idea from With Kiddos @ the Library who shared a bear version that goes “Little bear, little bear, are you hiding under there?” I used the shapes from an already existing Flannel set (Red circle, red circle, what do you see?), so all I had to make was the little teddy bear.  I used the felt template found here because it looked easy enough to make.  Can’t wait to try this out next week!



fox boxFrom erinisinire, try “Little fox, little fox, are you in the (colour) box?” Gah, that fox is the cutest thing ever! Erin is the one inspired this post and I think toddlers would love her fox friend.  Go read her post because she also incorporates counting into the game and a wonderful early literacy tip for caregivers.


behind-yellow-doorFrom Thrive After Three, try “Dinosaur, dinosaur, are you behind the (colour) door?” I like how this one changes the preposition. Plus toddlers are all about dinosaurs! As a flannel novice, I am always looking for pieces that aren’t intimidating to make and these doors are right up my alley.


baby-kangarooFrom Falling Flannelboards, try “Baby kangaroo, baby kangaroo, where are you? Are you behind the _________?” Erin made this for an Australian Animals themed storytime, but I think it’s great to expose kids to more than the usual farmyard standbys.  And you can add in an early literacy tip about how learning shapes is the first step to learning letters.


frog logFrom Miss Kelly at the Library, try “Little frog, little frog, are you under the (colour) log?” Another nice change of prepositions and as Kelly points out it’s perfect for April, National Frog Month in the U.S.  Or pair with “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” for a Frog themed storytime.


wigglewormFrom itsybitsymom, try “Wiggleworm, wiggleworm hiding in a book. Wiggleworm, wiggleworm where should we look?” Perfect for sharing during a library themed storytime, and great way to introduce the term “bookworm.” Can you say print motivation?!



katie katmary catparty hats

The Little Cat, Little Cat rendition is probably the second most popular form of this game.  It goes, “Little cat, little cat, are you under the (colour/type) hat?” Starting from the left, Storytime Katie shows you how to transform Microsoft clip art into an eclectic array of hats. In the middle is Miss Mary Liberry with her hand drawn hats which she uses to talk about the people who may wear them. On the right is Piper Loves the Library with her party hat version that stars a Hello Kitty look-alike and would be perfect for a birthday storytime.



batOn Notes from the Story Room you can find a similar version to the cat one that uses a bat instead. The hats are perfect witch adornments, making this version great for Halloween. The rhyme goes, “Little bat, little bat, are you behind the (colour) hat?”





Over on Literary Hoots you can find two versions! The first is another book-inspired rendition featuring Gerald and Piggie! Emily says that Piggie hides behind a book and the kids help Gerald find Piggie by saying, “Piggie, Piggie, where do you hide? Are you behind the (colour) book? Let’s peek inside!” It’s just so….. meta! The second one is perfect for a sports or Superbowl storytime.  It goes, “Football, football, where do you hide?  Under the (colour) helmet?  Let’s peek inside!”



cliffordFrom LibrErin, try this dog version based on a popular children’s literature character. It goes “Clifford, Clifford where is your bone? Did someone put it in your (colour) home?” I like how there is something else under the other houses because it could lead to lots of good discussion with the kids.



duck-eggs2-300x282From Miss Meg’s Storytime comes the Knock Knock Baby Duck game. It goes “Knock, knock, knock, baby duck, baby duck. Are you behind the (colour) egg?”  I love how the eggs are cracked in two because you could really build the suspense. BONUS FLANNEL: She also has an adorable butterfly and caterpillar version.



little duck big trucksPiper Loves the Library just posted this duck version that has lots of cool construction vehicles. It goes, “Little duck, little duck, are you in the (colour) truck?” I bet there are lots of little ones who can tell you all the specific names of the trucks too.  Like me, she reused some flannel pieces from a different set making this one easy to pull together.



Toolboxes-300x202 On RovingFiddlehead KidLit you can find this construction themed version based on Bruno the Carpenter by Lars Klinting that goes, “Bruno needs his hammer lots and lots. Is it hiding in the (colour) toolbox?” I could imagine making different tools and using this one again and again.




Over on So Tomorrow, you can find not one, not two, but THREE versions of this game. Perfect for a bedtime or pyjama storytime, try the Little moon rendition which goes, “Little moon, little moon, are you behind the cloud of (colour)?”  During the winter months (now!), the Snowball, Snowball version is a perfect game to play: “Snowball, snowball, cold and round! Behind which mitten can you be found?” Lastly, try this Little Worm one that goes, “Little worm playing hide and seek, are you under the (name of fruit)? Let’s take a peek!” I love how all of these look easy enough to whip up in one afternoon.



whaleThis summer version comes from Fun with Friends at Storytime.  Staring the happiest little whale you’ve ever seen it goes, “Little whale, little whale, are you hiding in the (colour) pail?” Anyone who can make 3D felt pieces is one of my heroes.



toothThe Librarian is on the Loose shared this tooth fairy version. I love it because people actually hide teeth under pillows so it will make sense for those literal-minded toddlers.  Also, that tooth fairy is really cute! The rhyme goes, “Look and see! Look and see! Can you find the tooth for me?  Is it under the (colour) pillow?”



photo 4photo 3

My wonderful co-worker Miranda emailed these pictures after reading this blog post. She made this dragon version for a Lunar New Year themed storytime, and I’m in love with them. The rhyme goes, “Little dragon, little dragon, are you behind the (colour) wagon?” Thank you, Miranda!



luckyHere’s another holiday version that comes from Fun with Friends at Storytime.  The rhyme is an original and goes like this, “Do you feel lucky? Let’s be bold! Let’s see if we can find the leprechaun’s pot of gold.”  You could work in lots of good vocabulary with this depending on the items you make.



turkey I saw this version on a preschool learning blog called PreK + K Sharing. Do you read preschool blogs? I need to read more; they are a great source of ideas and inspiration. This one goes, “Turkey, Turkey come out and play.  What color house are you in today?” And you can sing it to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle! Don’t have a turkey? Swap in any two syllabic animal.




Our friend Emily made this FABULOUS hiding game similar to Little Mouse that is all about letter recognition. Behind each door is a different animal.  They say this rhyme, “We’re looking for an animal that starts with [“P”] and we won’t stop ’til we find it! Now, let’s give the [RED] door three sharp knocks and see who hides behind it! KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!” Then they practice saying the sound of the first letter of the animal. This is genius!



bugLastly, this bug version comes from Play Learn & Do, a preschool blog that is packed full of ideas we can use in storytime. Melissa, the writer, also has an etsy shop where she sells her Little Bug version that goes, “Little bug, little bug, are you under the (colour) rug?”

In case you need inspiration for your next Flannel Friday submission, here’s one I’ve never seen (but seriously, if you make this let me know and I will add it in!)

Little snake, little snake
Are you in the (colour) cake?

(All images have been used with the blogger’s permission)
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Just Add Rhythm Sticks!

We’ve heard about these things called rhythm sticks, we’ve read many a blog post but for way too long they remained a mystery to us. Lindsey finally put her foot down and bought some. We’ve done shakers, we braved scarves and darn it it was high time we mastered the sticks! The result? We had a blast filming a whole bunch of new songs! We had so much fun we declared November #RhythmSticksMonth and you can find them all here on this playlist.


To get us started we turned to the wonderful wide web of our colleagues for ideas and strategies. Storytime Steph has a fantastic post on Using Instruments in Storytime which features some great songs to get started and a link to make your own rhythm sticks. That link takes you to Amy’s Laptime and Storytime blog where she provides simple instructions on how to make your own rhythm sticks, an activity to get the kids practicing responsible rhythm, lots of songs and even books with rhythm. Whew, what a post! Next up is Anne’s Library Life, where she dedicates the activity section of her babytime to rhythm sticks and includes some great parent-talk and early literacy tips on how to use them and why they’re important. Kathy and Christine at Storytime Stuff share some brilliant ways to use rhythm sticks which go beyond the ordinary and would work for school age kids as well. Using them as wands, turning them into spiders, flutes or clock hands? Pure genius! Finally, Claudia at Never Shushed has put together a magical storytime all about snow (Winter Hokey Pokey!) as well as one on rhythm and sound which on top of some neat new songs has lots of ideas for using rhythm sticks.

So with all this great advice from our wise colleagues we jumped in. We hope you’re ready for the guided tour! Continue reading

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Adventures in Booktalking

Since starting my current position as a “middle years” focused children’s librarian, I’ve spent a good chunk of time developing relationships with the Teacher Librarians at my area schools. It’s been a wonderful part of my job – all of my TLs are super friendly and open to collaboration. We’ve been developing ways we can work together throughout the year that benefit both parties. On my end, my overarching goals are to ensure that all the kids in my area have three things:

  • a public library card
  • a visit to the public library
  • a knowledge of and (hopefully!) a relationship with the public librarian (that’s me!)

One of the ways I’ve made headway on the last goal is by doing booktalking programs at the schools. In addition to promoting our collection and cultivating a love for reading, booktalking programs let the kids get to know me. They see my face, they learn my name, and we get to talk about our favourite books together. It’s been amazing, and somewhat astonishing, at how effective this program has been. Kids have been coming in and asking for the books I talked about. Some of them personally ask to speak to “Len-say.” And my hope is that when I visit them again in June to promote the Summer Reading Club, I’ll be a familiar face.


Last fall I’d definitely been feeling what Erin puts into words so well – the pressure to put on ground breaking school-age programs that I see on so many wonderful blogs. But then I realized that booktalking – though it may be considered a very basic program – is exactly what my community needs; in addition to falling in line with my library’s strategic initiatives. So I’m going with it, and I’ve been super happy with that decision.

So, what exactly did I do? Well, the first thing I did was email Abby who gave me lots of booktalking advice and shared some examples of booktalks she’d done. She has been a great role model to me in this endeavor and I highly recommend checking out her blog further.

Here are the details! I’m providing you with pretty much EVERYTHING I used because I wish I would have had something like this last year when I started to plan.

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We’ll Link to That: Winter 2015

We are excited to finally share our column in YAACING Winter 2015! YAACING is published by the Young Adult and Children’s Services (YAACS) arm of the British Columbia Library Association and if you’d like to catch up on our past columns you can find them here:

Usually we’re all about bringing you all the link love one little article can contain, but this quarter we’re changing things up. We are constantly discovering new blogs dedicated to youth services. Some of these blogs are just starting up, and some of them are well established. In both cases, they’ve made it onto our radar over the past few months, and we want to share them with you. So get your RSS feeds ready!

  1. Hafuboti: Rebecca’s blog is an absolute must-read! Her monthly displays and passive programs are a sight to behold with recent additions such as Dinovember and Decemberley. This blog is bursting with creativity, from crafts to graphic design projects. Everything you see you’ll want to do in your own library.
  2. Playing the Hits: Don’t let the byline fool you – Maggie is no rookie! One thing we look for in blogs is a diversity of content and this one delivers. Read about unique storytime themes such as Pizza Dinosaurs, learn about apps she uses in her iTots storytime, or get the rundown on holding a Minecraft club. The Chicago area is lucky to have her!
  3. Geeked Librarian: Lots of STEM ideas on this blog by a newly minted children’s librarian. Learn how to make squishy circuits or find out how to make a library website with no budget!  We also love how she discusses how she tweaks and revamps the programs she’s inherited such as this music and movement storytime.
  4. Laura’s Library Adventure: We were drawn in by the adorable profile picture, we stayed for the top notch content. With over 10 years experience, Laura wows us with her full spectrum of programs such as her preschool labs, pumpkin palooza, and storytime goodies. We also love her ideas for the after school crowd: hands-on science and sweet snacks.
  5. Miss Colleen’s Corner: Colleen blogs about all different kinds of storytimes and her posts are very thoughtful and detailed. She explains why she chose the books and songs for each theme. We also love her StoryTech posts which explain how she incorporates technology into storytime. Additionally, she’s blogged about a sensory storytime she offered with the cutest visual cue cards ever.
  6. LibraryKirsten: While Kirsten’s blog is only a couple months old it is brimming with thoughtful content. Her blog focuses on both her experiences as a Children’s’ Librarian and her participation in the Colorado Association of Libraries Leadership Institute (CALLI). The result is lots of great reflection on topics like screen time, professional goal setting and awesome ideas when it come to books and programs.
  7. erinisire: We love following Erin on Twitter because she keeps it so real and her blog is no different. Her recent post about what she wants to do highlights her commitment to all things awesome and early literacy. Look no further than her TMNT Passive Program or her Ode to Babytime for original ideas and plain old hilarious writing.
  8. The Adventures of a Bookgirl: We love Bookgirl’s blog for its well organized content (c’mon we’re librarians too!) and lots of gorgeous pictures. Check out her Tween, Teen and YA programs and display ideas as well as her Sensory Storytime for some neat visual tools.
  9. The Frozen Librarian: It’s not just because she’s so close to the Canadian border she gets French radio that we’re excited about this new blog. We really like the range of formats she covers in her recommended reads, interviews like this one and did we mention her Taco storytime?! Oh yes, and oh you’re welcome.
  10. Teeny Weeny Library: First of all check out this list of themes, Andrea’s even got being sick. Love it! Ok, now back to it Andrea writes awesome book reviews and has contributed big time to Flannel Friday. And just to round this out she’s got a growing list of School Age Programming and Young Adult book reviews. All this makes for a blog worth following.
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