Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Crafty Kids: Caterpillar Magnet

For March's Crafty Kids program I recreated a craft that I saw for sale as a kit in a catalog many months ago. (Unfortunately I don't remember which one.)  The original craft called for gluing pom poms directly onto a clothes pin, adding googly eyes to the front on and then sticking magnet tape to the other side of the clothes pin.  I felt like the kit was a little too expensive and that all the supplies could be purchased for less then the cost of a kit for 12 kids.  Then I came across the blog Walk in the Sun, and really liked how they added the leaf so that there would be more surface area for the gluing of the caterpillars.  At the library we have Ellison machines that will cut massive quantities of simple shape easily as long as we have the stencil for it, so I had one of the pages cut the leaves with the Ellison machine ahead of time.

Caterpillar Magnet
1 clothes pin
Magnet tape
1 card stock leaf
6 small pom poms (I used 3/4 inch pom poms)
1 large pom pom (I used a 1 inch pom pom)
2 wiggle eyes

1.  Glue your 2 wiggle eyes to your large pom pom.  This is the front of your caterpillar

2.  Draw a leaf pattern onto your cardstock leaf while you wait for your wiggle eyes to dry

3.  Glue your pom poms onto your green leaf; leaving the face for last.  

4.  Get a piece of magnet tape and stick it to your clothespin while giving your caterpillar a little time to dry.

5.  Once your caterpillar is mostly dry glue your leaf onto your clothes pin.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1

Like most people my age elementary school was all about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I was very sure that I wanted to grow up to be April who was super tough and smart, so when I saw this in the library I was very excited to say the least. This volume covers a massive over arching story line that gives the entire origin story of Splinter and the Turtles from start to finish, introduces the guys to April and Casey and several familiar villains. It also includes in depth notes from on of the creators on the collaboration process, story line inspiration and development, art development and almost personal anecdotes. 

This is not the Ninja Turtles we grew up with. It is much grittier and darker both in it's black and white art style that showcases a seedier side of NYC and it's more serious and at times more grown up storyline. Bad guys die, characters are more violent, teenage turtles drink beer and use not very nice language and all the characters are a little bit more tempestuous. That being said it's very easy to see the roots of the television show we all grew up with (I'd also like to note that I wish the developers of the cartoon had chosen to keep April a scientist. I think that would have been very inspirational to many little girls.) 

I thought the writers did a great job tying everything into this huge origin story that went out of its way to explain everything from where the ooze came from, their battles with Shredder and the foot and to include a trip across the universe. The creators notes added a lot to the story from funny asides about inspiration, pointing out things about the artwork that I may not have noticed otherwise and showing how this comic grew. I thought these notes added a lot to the reading experience and the story itself sometimes; that being said I appreciate how easy they are to skip over if the reader isn't in the mood. The notes are situated between issues, include page numbers and when something from a particular panel or spread is especially high-lighted they include a small diagram. This is much less intrusive then putting notes on each page for those who aren't interested and doesn't force people to keep flipping back and forth. I'm really glad that there are at least 2 more volumes to look forward to and that I already have one of them at home. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crafty Kids: CD Fish Mobile

For February's Crafty Kids program I decided to make fish mobiles out of old cds.  I don't know where I originally saw the craft but I thought it was adorable and couldn't wait to do it.  We have tons of cds and dvds at the library that get so scratched that they can no longer be played, as they get taken out of circulation we save them in the back for arts and craft.  
I made 4 sets of cardboard fin and mouth templates from a cardboard box using the templates from a similar craft on DTLK Crafts for Kids site.

CD Fish Mobile

2 old cds or dvds
construction paper
fish fin templates
googly eyes
permanent markers
glue sticks
hot glue gun

1.  With a permanent marker draw on the shiny side of the cds to decorate your fish.  *see note*

2.  Select up to 5 colors of construction paper.  Use the fish fin and mouth  templates to trace and cut out a set of lips, a fishtail, two large fins and a small fin.  Cut a rectangle out of the construction paper as well using the white sheet provided as a template (should be a quarter of the size of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper).  You may also cut small round circles to mount your googly eyes on (Make sure you cut them out bigger than your googly eyes so they can be seen.  *see note*

3.  Fold the rectangle sheet of paper the same way you would fold a piece of paper if you were making a fan.  Make sure you fold it small enough that it will fit through the holes in your cd.

4.  Using your glue stick glue all the fins (except for one large fin) to the undecorated side of one of the cds.

5.  Using your glue stick glue your second large fin in the same place you glued your first large fin on the second cd.  

6.  Get a piece of yarn and knot together the two ends.

7.  Bring your cd fish up to the front.  The librarian will glue help you thread your yarn and glue the two cd’s together with a hot glue gun.  

8.  Glue your googly eyes and construction paper circles onto the cd fish.  One on each side more or less in the same place.  

9. Thread your folded up sheet of paper through the hole in one of the cds.

*Note*:  Steps 1 and steps 2 & 3 are interchangeable.  While some kids are tracing their fins you can have others begin decorate their cds.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book Review: Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

What an amazing and terrifying book.  Trent is a 16 year old boy obsessed with making movies be editing together clips from other films.  He downloads clips from online all the time.  Unfortunately this is a few years in the future and the internet is more heavily policed than ever and the major film companies have bought laws where people are heavily policed and punished for downloading.  Trent's downloading gets his families internet cut off for a year.  His father can no longer work, his mother can't get her benefits, and his sister can't do her homework.  He leaves home and makes a home for himself with other runaways in a squat in London.  Trent eventually makes an amazing life for himself, however not without many mistakes along the way. 

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book. In the beginning I had trouble getting into it.  Trent seemed kind of ridiculous to me and I was so disappointed in him running away.   I couldn't imagine him getting his act together.  However as the book went on though I grew to like Trent, 26 and Jem. I loved the dynamic of the Zero Day group and the amazing creativity and smarts the group displayed.   I thought the interpersonal dynamics between Trent and 26 were pretty accurate. I loved how much more self aware Trent was by the end of the book. 

Like all Doctorow's books this book was definitely terrifying. Our society could so easily slip into the trap that Trent's society fell into.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Story Time: Letter G

I got to do two story times in a row and was able to follow the Letter F up with the Letter G.  I had seen an adorable G is for Goose as part of a full alphabet book a mother made with her daughter.  It was so simple and adorable I couldn't resist.  Since I was a little intimidated by the idea of drawing my own goose parts I borrowed both the feet and the tail templates from this goose paper craft from DLTK Kids and just drew a simple triangle for the beak.  I decided to draw some flowers in the background so that our gooses could hang out in the garden.  Next time I do this craft I'm going to make the page horizontal so that there is more room for the garden.

After the previous weeks alphabet book fail I decided to go without an alphabet book this time.  I decided that I was only going to do 3 books and picked two funny goose stories and one nice/gorgeous garden book:

Silly Suzy Goose by Petr Horáček

My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Gordon in Charge by Jill Newton

I'm going to be honest and say that I'm not sure all the children got the joke at the end of Gordon in Charge however I think the parents got a big chuckle out of the ending.  When we were reading Silly Suzy Goose I had all the kids pretend to be different animals with Suzy and they all had a lot of fun with the different actions.  Without the alphabet book it felt like it was harder for the kids to see the connection between our stories and Letter G is for Goose craft.  In the future when I do the alphabet craft and can't find an alphabet story I like to go over the letters with I am going to try to remember to point out the letter G in the titles and talk about how different characters and items start with the letter G.  For our songs we did do the Alphabet song, Old McDonald Had a Farm and my favorite, the Hokey Pokey.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: Hole In My Life by Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos tells the story of his high school days, living in a cheap hotel, going to high school and working in Florida while his family moved to the Virgin Islands. Upon graduation he headed down to St. Croix to meet them and arrived in the midst of a Revolution. He ended up smuggling hash up to New York, where he was caught and served several years in federal prison. Throughout this time Gantos struggled to try to become a writer and it was only while he was in prison that he really learned what was important and why he was struggling so much as a writer.

This was a great read. Gantos' narration style is first person friendly. It feels like someone is telling you their story and it works well for the message he is trying to convey. The text is never preachy or didactic even though there are clearly lessons to be learned from the author's story. 

Gantos also doesn't pull any punches. His story is very violent and terrifying at times and he could have glossed those things over but he didn't. He's honest about his mistakes and how long it really took him to figure things out.

However I don't want anyone thinking this book is all gloom and doom. It does have it's funny moments, both funny ha ha and funny awkward. All in all it feels like a well rounded book that is short (which many of the teens I know love) with a lot of great discussion points.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tween/Teen Crafts: Upcycled T-Shirt Scarves

One of my favorite go to crafts for tween girls is the Recycled T-Shirt Scarf.  For my purposes I usually go 4th-6th grade on this, however at a recent parental request the next time I do this I will be including 3rd graders with a adult present.  I've also had success with special needs girls and a parent.  When I advertise the program I do request that each child bring an old adult XL t-shirt from home, however I usually also will go through my things just before and bring a couple of extra t-shirts from home because someone ALWAYS forgets.

I originally found this craft on Cut Out + Keep.  Cut Out + Keep is also one of my favorite crafting sites.  Membership is free and you can post all different kinds of crafty projects and check out crafty projects posted by others.

I like a long skinny scarf so that's the one I made, but there can actually be quite a bit of variation.  The instructions for the T-Shirt scarf can be found here.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Mo LoBeau lives in Tupelo Landing with Miss Lana and the Colonel. Eleven years ago Mo floated down the river during a storm and the Colonel found her after getting into a car accident and forgetting his memory. They both settle in town and Mo lives with the Colonel and Lana who run a diner in town. She loves her adopted family fiercely (even though she still looks for her upstream mother) and most everyone else in town as the town is so small that everyone is heavily involved in everyone else's business. When a police officer comes to town looking for a murdered Mo and her best friend Dale will do everything in their power to protect the ones they love. 

What a funny, quirky mystery. The characters are just so amazing. I ended up wishing I could visit Tupelo and meet all these funny, loving people. Miss Lana and the Colonel are both a little bit crazy but you can see how much they love Mo and her friends. Lavender, Dale and Miss Rose were also really intriguing and interesting. I did find myself wondering if someday 10 years from now Mo and Lavender really will end up together. All of the characters and their small town in everybody's business love/hate relationships had me cracking up.

There were some parts of the plot I was able to figure out such as why Miss Rose had Dale fixing things up, however a lot of the mystery I didn't see coming including who dunnit which I was really excited about. It's been awhile since I read a mystery that I didn't figure out right away. I also loved it when the Colonel found out who he was. That brought a huge smile to my face. 

While it doesn't need it, I do find myself hoping for some kind of sequel. I would love to go back to Tupelo Landing and see Mo and Detective Starr solve another mystery.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Story Time: F is for Fish

My coworker did the letter E so it was now my turn to do letter F.  I poked around my usual websites and couldn't find anything that I felt worked for me.  Then I found a new blog that featured alphabet crafts Miss Maren's Monkeys and they had this amazing F is for Fish craft that INCLUDED templates.  I don't know if I've mentioned this before but templates really make things so much easier.  I did make myself a page of fish eyes so that I would only have to cut out one circle for each eye rather then 2 and so that I would feel like I was wasting less paper.  I also ended up not cutting out the seaweed and bubbles mainly because I thought the kids might like to do their own.  I handed out crayons to the kids and they added their own seaweed, air bubbles and background fish.

While I was able to find many story books for my F is for Fish story time I was very surprised that I could not find a fish or undersea alphabet book for a young child.  I found many versions that were clearly for older readers with complicated scientific vocabulary that I knew wasn't going to work for my preschoolers; so I went with a different alphabet book.  I ended up going with:

Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins

Fidgety Fish by Ruth Galloway

The Animal ABC by Leslie A. Baker

Hooray for Fish is an extremely interactive book.  There were all different kinds of silly fish to identify and there was counting to be done so I had the kids help me identify the fish and help me count.  I also had the kids help me figure out the different animals for each page of The Animal ABC.  With two very active books I found that time passed more quickly then I expected it to.  We sang If You're Happy and You Know It and the Hokey Pokey and called it craft time.