Flannel Friday Roundup

I am sharing my most recent flannel story board creations.     There are several places I go to for inspiration and I especially love the Flannel Friday group which has a fantastic Pinterest page.  I’m excited to participate for the first time with Flannel Friday!  I also can’t take all the credit for the designs, templates are a life-saver!

I can definitely tell my first pieces from my more recent items and I was a bit intimidated after seeing so many awesome craft projects.  I didn’t think I could create them as nicely as the examples… Yet, now I am hooked on making flannels! It takes some practice to cut the pieces just right and to use the Sharpie markers to add life to the object.  I love the interaction they bring to my storytimes, and they allow the children to become involved in the activity.  The flannels are especially good for those young ‘helpers’ in the class as it gives them a task.   I’ve also been using flannels because there are so many early literacy concepts to be introduced through such a simple technique.  In just these few projects included in this post, I was able to do colors, numbers and counting, sounds and actions, and concept recognition.


This toothy, yet adorable, shark made for a great pairing with 5 little fish. I also used a shark puppet in combination and it made for fun storytelling.



I found the crayon template and was immediately excited to do colors. I stuck to the basic rainbow colors. I created the crayola box from a generic online image and added my own colors and design. I also cut a slit to create an opening for the crayons to be taken out and then put back inside. It worked really well and the kids enjoyed being able to take out and put back the crayons.



My take on “5 Little” racecars. I used these for a “Cars, Planes, Trains” themed storytime as part of the Summer Reading “Have Book, Will Travel” theme for 2013. The kids enjoyed making race car sounds and driving the little cars on the board. 



Five Little Cats with Five Fancy Hats. There are many adaptations to use with this story including colors, numbers and clothing.

Flannel Rhyme: Cat in a Hat
Adapted from “Tell Me a Story” online.
(Make five tiny hats, and add them, one at a time)

One little cat in a sunny day
Put on his hat and went out to play.
Two little cats when it started getting dark
Put on their hats and went to the park.
Three little cats when the sky was blue
Put on their hats and went to the zoo.
Four little cats by the kitchen door
Put on their hats and went to the store.
Five little cats on a sunny day
Put on their hats and they all ran away. (take down all of the hats)


I created these zoo animals using various templates I found online. They worked great in conjunction with the 2014 Summer Reading theme, “Paws to Read.” I was able to not only do colors and numbers, but types of animals, animal habitats, and animal sounds. It really helped expand on the animal idea.


Summer’s End and Fall’s Fantastic Beginning!

The month of August was quite busy this summer, although I did enjoy the lazy and dog days of the warm sun.  The fall season is now upon us, and my September is already beginning to be an exciting time.  I must say that this time of year in Chicago and Northern Illinois is one of my favorites because there is such beauty to discover in wonderful simplicity like the changing seasons.  I have the best memories from childhood of fall in Chicagoland, like the smell of back-to-school supplies and sounds of big piles of crunching leaves.

August found me not only job searching, but also working hard at my internship.  The youth department there has many great ideas, but just hasn’t had the resources or staff to put them into action.  I was very excited to take on the challenge given to me of creating a blog for the Early Learning Center’s early literacy programming.  Their programming consists of 4 different groups of programs, targeted to children at select ages.  For instance, there is a Terrific Twos program designed just for two-year old children to have fun with music, singing, talking, playing and stories.  The blog is called Ready…Set…Read! and was just launched to the library public last week!  Each of the programmers provide me with an outline of their class including the rhymes, songs and books to be shared with the kids. I am then compiling all the information, often times adding even more rhymes and songs and also creating themed booklists for each post. The feedback received has been great so far and the word is getting out to patrons to use the blog as a resource.  I’ll be expanding it to include family storytimes, and possibly additional blogs for other age groups.  It’s a work I’m very proud to share that I hope parents will enjoy reading as much as I’ve enjoyed creating the blog!

I also was honored to be featured in this article posting by the Director of Youth Services at my internship.  When she told me she was a guest writer on the ALSC blog, and wanted to include me in her story, I didn’t know what to expect.  I was so happy to see that most importantly, my photo was good!  She also made me even happier and humbled with such a complimentary article, and I was eager to share with everyone I knew, including here on my site.  Enjoy!

More to come this September!

Recap: Community Outreach Events

I had the pleasure over the past month to take part in two community outreach events through my internship.  What a rewarding and wonderful experience to bring the joy of the library to kids who otherwise may not be able to either visit the library or have access to books and learning outside the classroom.

The groups of kids we visited were both in the local neighborhood, one was in a community clubhouse and the other a school.  All the kids were about 3rd through 5th grade, although I’m sure there were some younger ones too.  What was amazing is that these kids were as my colleague said, “hungry” for books!   They literally attacked the books when it was time to choose new ones to take home.

Both programs were essentially the same format and highly successful.  Attendance is volunteer, so these kids want to be there! The theme was tied in with the summer reading program and began about 4 weeks ago.  While there were new children in attendance, many had been attending each week and were familiar with the flow of the program. Each program began with an educational session in which we interacted with the children about knights, princesses, castles and medieval weapons (to go along with the Midsummer Knights Read theme). Many hands went up when questions were asked and they were excited to hear what the topic for today would be which was court jesters!

There were lots of smiles and wide eyes as a story was read and then the children worked hard on a craft.  There were also crossword puzzles and coloring sheets.  The kids loved all the activities.  For an hour long program, it was packed full of fun.

One of the two groups gets to choose books to take home and return ones they’ve read.  It’s done on an honor system and they were all very respectful of returning the books.  It seems to work similar to a bookmobile model where we bring the books to the kids because there is really no feasible way for them to get to the library.  The community these children live in is essentially an immigrant neighborhood, with lower income families, where there is no bus service and it’s a bit of a long walk, especially in the hot Chicago weather.  To be able to bring to them a “mobile” program each week and feed their strong desire for learning and books is what will keep them hopefully interested in learning throughout their childhood.  It also brings them a positive experience of reading and learning that they may not be getting at home or in school.

When I saw these children run for the books, attack the stacks we had, and search for something particular because they liked a series or a subject it was a event I never saw before!  I loved it!  What was disappointing to me and them was when we didn’t have enough of a subject or the next in a series for example because of the limited resources.  Yet, once I knew what they liked, I could find another book in the piles that would probably appeal, and except for one or two instances, they took it home.  I wanted to make sure these kids, who were so incredibly “hungry” for books to not find one they would like!

I can’t think of a more rewarding experience as a librarian then to see these young people RUN for books and learning opportunities!

Programming Recap: Fractured Fairy Tales

For what has been a few months now, I have been assisting in weekly programming events in the Youth Services department, especially in “Medieval Mania” as part of the summer reading program events.  The best part of this experience is that I was given the chance to plan, implement and run a program of my very own. I had 60 minutes to entertain children in 3rd through 5th grades and I was so excited (as much as I was nervous about being sure I had enough to fill the time).

What they don’t teach you in library school, however, is the fine art of children’s crafts!    The stories I chose to read, games to play and activities during the program came second nature to me.  Yet, OH how I deliberated, searched online and in the library’s enormous and stocked craft storage for what was going to be my inaugural craft of the summer!  How I laughed with my friends and family that I was nervous of these kids liking my craft because I not only wanted it to fit the theme of “Fractured Fairy Tales,” but also be a simple and fun activity and age appropriate.

My program was a huge hit!  The children loved the story titled, “The End” by David La Rochelle and understood both the humor and the sarcasm in the book.  The story is a simple and original fairy tale, told backwards beginning with the words, The End and ending with Happily Ever After.  It was inventive and the kids laughed when we read it aloud.  This was a great choice for a read aloud story because of the humor, as well as offered an alternative to the traditional fairy tale, which can sometimes be either too commercialized or too complex for storytime.

The game we played was a relay race, and the twist was that the race was backwards!  With about 40 children in attendance at the program, there were at least 7 teams; each team had to walk backward with a spoon holding a ball.  In retrospect, this was a bit tough for the kids to play and I would have had another game as a backup.  However, some of the kids really liked the game and even chose to play again!

The craft was a Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread house.  Using a die cut machine, I cut out craft foam houses and luckily used them all!  Then, the children had access to glitter glue, ribbon, beads, foam shapes, buttons and markers all in a large variety of colors.  I even had small self-stick magnets to put on the back if they wanted to make the house into a magnet for their refrigerator or desk.  This was a great craft because each child could be creative and use their imagination, while it also connected to the Fairy Tale theme.  Boys and girls alike loved inventing their own house and many surprised me with just how thoughtful they were in their placement of objects.  I also allowed about 5-10 minutes at the end of the allotted time to give children who didn’t finish the craft, time to finish which turned out to be a great strategy.

Turns out, 60 minutes quickly expires when a program is run well!  I would attribute it to not only observing my fellow librarians over the past weeks to see what works and what doesn’t, but also research and planning!   In addition, my many years in event planning really paid off in being able to control the crowd, keep things moving along and engage the children.

Knowing at least 3 weeks in advance was also a big help in determining what I could test out to be sure it would run smooth.  Questions I kept in consideration included asking myself:

  • if the activity would hold the child’s attention span
  • is the craft or game too easy or too difficult
  • will the story make sense to a child of this age
  • what is the flow of the program and is the scheduling fluid to accommodate on the spot changes

When I asked the kids as they were leaving if they had fun, the majority said YES…what I think is a fairly good gauge of a good time!

Check out my Gingerbread House example.

Program Outline:  Storytime, Game and Crafts by Jennifer A. Peterson

June 2011; Grade 3-5/Ages 8-10  Theme: Fractured Fairy Tales

Program Description

The program will begin with a general welcome and question to the kids if they know what a fairy tale is and what their favorite fairy tale is.  A fractured fairy tale will be briefly explained. Aproximately 10-15 minutes.

The story, The End by David LaRochelle will be read.  The question will be asked if they know the tale of “Hansel and Gretel.”  Aproximately 15 minutes.

Then a game will be played.  10-15 Quotes such as “I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff” will be given and the kids need to guess which famous fairy tale person said the statement.  Aproximately 10-15 minutes.

The craft will follow the question game.  It consists of a craft foam blank gingerbread house decorated as the kids wish, with buttons, glitter glue, markers, beads, ribbons.  Aproximately 15-20 minutes.

A relay race game will be played but backwards!  Teams will be divided and each child will race backwards with a spoon and a ball.  If kids don’t want to play the game, they can continue to work on their craft.  Aproximately 10-15 minutes.

Additional books and crafts will be used if time allows:

  •  Beware of the Bears by Allan Mac Donald.
  • The Truth About Hansel and Gretel by Karina Law.
  • The Three Silly Billies by Margie Palatini.
  • The Frog Prince Continued or the Stinky Cheese Man story both by Jon Sczieka.
  • Additional craft to make will be an origami frog.


Gingerbread House:   Using the die cut maker, various colored foam in the shape of a blank gingerbread house will be available.  Materials such as buttons, beads, ribbon, markers, glitter glue, and foam shapes will be available for the kids to use to decorate their house.  Small magnets are also available if the kids want to stick them to the back of the house to create a magnet.

Origami Frog:  Square sized, green and red paper, small google craft eyes, black markers.  There are two types of origami frogs the kids can choose to make, one is more simple than the other.

Materials Needed:

  • Craft foam, decorating materials, glue, scissors for craft; Approximately $1 in cost per craft
  • Large spoon and ball or round object for the game
  • Power point and laptop for the question game

Room Setup: 

  • Three tables on the stage for craft
  • 1 table on the floor for miscellaneous
  • Computer for power point game

Philosophy of Service

An important, almost gallant aspect in librarianship, is that of service, to the patrons and to the community it serves.  Below is an example of two outreach programs. These programs not only create access of information to those that may otherwise not have it, but also displays how the librarian embraces a philosophy of service to their community.  It is this philosophy that make such a program useful and helpful, to what is often an underserved patron group.

Program Outline:  Outreach Program to Teens

Theme: Teen Pregnancy, address the needs of pregnant teenagers, their parents, and those who are already teenage parents.

Statement of problem and need

The program is necessary even in the wealthiest communities because every year, an estimated 750,000 adolescents 15-19 years become pregnant according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Washington DC.  According to the Illinois Department of Public Health and Human Services, Teen Parent Services, 4,100 Illinois women younger than 19 draw public assistance every year.  Illinois is also ranked 18th out of all 50 states in teenage birth rates and above the national rate of 56.8 out of 1,000 births at a rank of 60. In addition to such statistics, sex in general, especially sex education, is often a taboo topic.  The library is needed to address teenage pregnancy because the library is a neutral informational facility where parents and teenagers can go together to get information or guidance without judgment and maintain privacy.

Statement of a solution or answer

If there is a program in the library addressing teenage pregnancy, it would promote public awareness, including teenagers, of the increasing situation and provide another educational opportunity other than school, on the consequences of unprotected sex.   The program would also provide education for future pregnant teenagers on their options and also for those young teenage mothers that need parenting advice.

Project Description

The target audience is teenage parents, pregnant teens, and their parents needing information and advice.  In the library, a pathfinder of books relevant to sex education, teenage pregnancy, adoption, abortion, parenting will be available for checkout.  The pathfinder will detail where the books can be found.  Each month, a different counselor or professional whose focus is teen pregnancy will be at each session to facilitate.  Materials will be available from the agencies presenting.  These agencies we partner with will also cooperate in assisting with promotion of the program to their teenagers.

Best Information Resources

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org/

Medline Plus from the US National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/

The Illinois Department of Human and Health Services http://www.hfs.illinois.gov/

The Rural Assistance Center’s Guide to Teen Preganancy http://www.raconline.org/info_guides/teenpregnancy/

The American Pregnancy Association http://www.americanpregnancy.org/links/#TeenPregnancy

Positive and negative issues and/or concerns

The biggest issue or concern we have is the controversial nature of the topic and the appropriation of funds to an underserved or challenged group of people.  The library staff would need to be educated on teenage pregnancy, statistics, and the local agencies.  In addition, the staff would need to be able to answer the challenging questions, and especially for those that don’t agree with the program being held.    In choosing materials, we would need to ensure they are as objective as possible and offer a variety to satisfy all options of the teenager in need.  The groups or agencies involved would need to be screened and approved by the head of teen services to again ensure objectivity and privacy of the participants.

Overview of budget

  • AV equipment already held by the library
  • 1 staff member present for the hour program, greeting before and closing after
  • $150 per speaker each month includes all their costs and handouts
  • $30 each month for pizza, pop and paper goods
  • No charge to attend, but registration will be required

Overview of timeline

The program will be promoted through in the library through the website, social networking tools, newsletter, and through flyers and signs in the teen department.  The program will also be promoted through signs and flyers at the speakers’ agencies and at hospitals and other health facilities such as free clinics and doctor’s offices.  We will also reach out to local high school nurses and health educators for librarians to speak to classrooms announcing the program and encouraging attendance.  A press release to announce the program to the larger public will also be distributed to local newspapers for inclusion in their community events or calendar.

Promotion through these outlets will be on an ongoing basis once the program is approved to move forward.

Evaluation will be done by providing quick surveys after each session to attendees.  A once-a-year survey will be done for those that attended several or all sessions.

One example of some demonstrable aspect of the program

The librarian will close the program with a book talk of a useful book offered in the library, which each of us will demonstrate.

Program Outline:  Outreach Program to Older Children

Theme: “Choose Your Own Display”; Bringing creativity outlets to kids.  The theme of the book display is chosen by the children and voted on through a form from the library.

Target Audience: Children ages 9-12, approximate grades 4th, 5th and 6th.  If used in a public library setting, these children will ideally have some interest in art whether it is through painting, drawing, photography, scrapbooking, etc.   If used in a classroom setting, the children would then be part of a specific class or as an after-school club activity.

Program Basics and Format:

The children will be given the opportunity to decorate and create a book display, and choose the books in the display.  The book display will be in the juvenile section of the library and overseen by the youth services department.

The program while ultimately ending in the public library, can also be executed at the local community center, park district facility or as an after school activity by involving the local school librarian.  If used in a school setting, more thematic approaches or specific types of artistic methods could also be used to correspond with the class curriculum of either art class or language arts/reading class or a combination of the two.

The logistical format of the program will be kept simple to allow for the arts and crafts to take center stage.  Voting sheets will be available at the youth services and circulation desks for children to circle their favorite theme from a variety of topics.  The form will also have write-in spots for favorite authors, series books or other topic not listed.  The theme with the most results after the deadline noted will then be the display theme that month!  The display will run for 1 month, with the voting and actual arts and crafts creation to be done in the previous month.  The first display will require a longer timeframe so as to setup the schedule with voting to take place for 1 month and the arts and crafts to commence the second month.

Rationale, Goals and Objectives:

The purpose of the program is to provide a venue for those children interested in art living or going to school in an area that does not support an art program.  It also offers a free venue for children who cannot afford art classes through the park district while still contributing their community.  The ultimate goal of the program is to provide young artists a place to grow in their artistic talents, exhibit their work, and have fun!  The program would serve different displays each month giving multiple children the opportunity to contribute regularly.

Materials used:

These will change each month, but a set budget should be in place to determine the amount and types of materials.  Basics would include crayons, markers, construction paper, poster board, glue and enhancements such as glitter and ribbon.  Materials would also be needed to create promotional flyers and posters in the library and/or school classroom.  Flickr would be used to provide initial ideas of displays until actual photos of the library’s own displays could be used.

Promotion Plan:

The program will be promoted in the library through the website, newsletter and its own “arts & crafts” display.  The program will also be promoted at the local community centers and park district art classes through flyers and posters. Further promotion can happen at local bookstores, arts & crafts or ‘pottery painting’ stores where children and adults may go together.   The public librarian and the local elementary school librarians and art teachers will also work together to tell students about the program and encourage participation, perhaps even adding it to one or two class’s curriculum.  The display will be photographed and promoted each month through the library website and newsletters to show children and parents how creative and fun the program is to encourage more participation.


Do the children participate?  Do more children participate each month?

Are there enough votes gathered each month to facilitate different displays?

Do the children comment on the new displays or ask how they can get involved?