Friday, February 8, 2019

valentine's day 2019

celebrating valentines day with kids is always fun and i usually look forward to my programs about hearts, love and the color red!

for our annual valentine craft party, i planned two fun crafts and a coloring sheet.

this pipe cleaner heart mobile idea is from and requires only a few SUPER easy to find supplies, like pipe cleaners and yarn.

kids also enjoyed our paper plate heart suncatcher craft! i found the idea HERE.

all you need is contact paper, red paper plates & tissue paper dot confetti.

we decorated this simple coloring sheet with both regular and scented dot art markers.

attendance was down compared to the craziness of last year, but the kids who did attend had a wonderful time! snacks and drinks were provided, of course.

for this year's toddler programs, i was thrilled to realize that i had tucked away some super cute heart hat craft kits purchased from oriental trading. 

parents & kids really loved this one and it was so easy to do! sadly, i see it was discontinued.

in our mystery box this year, we found my friend Maisy the mouse and she showed us a special heart called a VALENTINE!

we sang this cute song from Jbrary. they show sign language motions but we just skipped those.

I'm a little valentine red & white
with ribbons & lace
what a beautiful sight!
i can say i love you on valentines day
just put me in an envelope & give me away!

we read To Maisy With Love and sang our flannel board song "Red Heart, Red Heart, What Do You See." then i passed out felt hearts to everyone for our "Hold Your Heart Up High" rhyme. 

we also used our hearts for Laurie Berkner's song There's a Little Wheel a Turning in My Heart! then we mailed our hearts away in my festive mailbox (a fantastic new purchase from Target!) all the kids loved putting their felt hearts in the little slot.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

baby & me: good night moon!

since we are currently experiencing the coldest temps in like twenty years, i wasn't expecting many babies today. surprisingly, 5 families showed up for each session, so pretty good!

Mystery Box: in our polka dot box, we found the MOON!!

Prop Song: Zoom Zoom Zoom, We're Going to the Moon

Books We Read:
Goodnight Bear- Cabrera (we have a few similar books but this really kept their attention! the colorful baby animals are super cute! note: there is a Hello one also! Definitely one to add to my regular rotation!)
Peekaboo Bedtime- Isadora (always a winner!)

Flannel Board: Rockabye Baby

See my previous post HERE.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

toddler time: let it snow-man...

...or maybe not (:

i've holding back my winter themes waiting for some of our usual freezing cold january weather but i'm sick of waiting so this week our theme was SNOWMEN!

Mystery Box: We found a cute snowman in our box!

I’m a little snowman short and fat (Stand with arms in circle above stomach)
Here is my scarf(Point down front of shirt)
Here is my hat (Pat top of head)
When the sun comes out (Make sun with hands in circle above head)
I cannot play (Shake head “no”)
Slowly I just melt away (Bend slowly down to floor)

my snowman has a friend today!

Two chilly snowmen sitting on a wall.
One named BIG and one named Small.
Bye bye Big, bye bye Small!
Hello Big, Hello Small!

Playing in the snow, 1 was fast and the other was SLOWWWW...
Skating on the ice, 1 was mean, the other was nice...

Books We Read:
An Amazing Snowman- wasn't sure if kids were still into Olaf but mine definitely were!! hard to get everyone's attention after that but we did our best...

Flannel Board: Three Little Snowmen

i couldn't decide whether to use my clipart Olafs OR my felt snowmen. finally chose felt.

Cut my # of snowmen from 5 to 3- THANK GOODNESS! MY KIDS WERE CRAZY TODAY!!!

Craft: Paper Plate Spiral Snowman

i LOVE this craft!!! i usually do sensory bag snowmen but wanted to save that for babies & brew next week.  

i printed this adorable snowman face on white cardstock but i think regular paper would have worked fine also.

kids just colored the face and/or their paper plate then they (or their grownups) cut a simple spiral into the plate, its impossible to mess up really! great for kids who want to practice scissor skills.

we taped on pipe cleaner arms and white ribbon hangers. sooooo cute!! this is one to repeat every year for sure!

confession: some of my programs have been rough this month, especially my early toddler sessions. one child starts screaming, then they ALL SCREAM! same with running AND banging their little fists on my table (while i stand there wondering what is going on bc i  have NEVER EVER experienced this before in over 5 years of toddler programs.) its like everyone just ate cookies, donuts, candy & cupcakes on their way to the Library or something. 

today, i just waited a while (NO reaction!) then finally i explained to the grownups that if we couldn't calm everyone down, we would just have playtime today. i literally could not hear myself over the toddlers and it just wasn't going to work this way. i explained that it is perfectly ok if you aren't in the mood for stories today. just step out for a few minutes & come back when you are ready to listen, no worries.

reminded everyone about our guidelines: NO EATING for our friends with allergies, NO RUNNING so we all stay safe

miraculously, everyone quieted down enough to get thru most of the program tho i did have to stop a couple of times, including once at the end for grown up chatting. second session was better.

LOVED my snowman songs so much as well as my craft. two well attended sessions with about 18 kids each.

Friday, January 11, 2019

toddler time: polar bear, what DO you hear?

Mystery Box: Inside our mystery box, we found a POLAR BEAR!

Puppet Song: My Polar Bear 
(Tune: My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean)

My polar bear lives in the Arctic
He never gets cold in a storm
He swims in cold icy water
His furry white coat keeps him warm
Warm, warm
His furry white coat keeps him nice & warm
Warm, warm
His furry white coat keeps him warm!

Adapted slightly from

i let the kids pet the polar bear puppet if they wanted, love him!

Books We Read:
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear- Carle (love to sing this to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!)

Flannel Board: Where Is Polar Bear?

I hid FOUR animals from our story in colorful felt boxes. 

we sang:

Where is Polar Bear? Where is Polar Bear?
Here I am! Here i am!
Hiding in a RED box, hiding in a RED box.
Look and see, look and see!

that polar bear was pretty tricky today! we had to look in all four boxes to find him (;

Craft: Polar Bear hats

FREE printable here at Books & Giggles -- soooo adorable! 

i pre-cut them so the kids could color with crayon, glue on some cotton balls and tape into crowns. perfect for retelling the story at home!

Two nice sized groups today, not too big, like 15 kids each. maybe its just me but everyone seems a little bit wild lately! lots of chatting, running, banging on tables (!), etc. plus in my first session, my music player was not cooperating so it was really distracting as i tried to finish my program without the usual recorded music. might be an electrical issue or my bluetooth player on its way out ):

Thursday, January 10, 2019

toddler time: Spot the Dog

Mystery Box: Inside our mystery box, we found a DOG! His name is Spot! How many spots does he have?

Puppet Song: The Tail on the Dog

The tail on the dog goes wag wag wag
wag wag wag
wag wag wag
The tail on the dog goes wag wag wag
All day long!

repeat with EARS/flop, NOSE/sniff, MOUTH/woof

Books We Read:
Where's Spot- Hill
Spot's Peekaboo- Hill

Flannel Board: Spot Hide & Seek

i could not find my previous Spot flannel boards SO this time Spot just hid in my mouse houses.

My dog Spot is playing hide & seek!
Is he inside the RED house?
Let's take a peek!

Craft: Spot Stick Puppets

Two nice sized groups today. First session was chatty until i stopped the program. Everything was good, just not the most exciting program ever.  i am still trying to catch up from the holidays so hopefully next week will be better.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

goodbye 2018, hello 2019!

Noon Year's Eve Bash 2018

my last party of the year was a blowout! 2018 truly went out with a bang!

as usual, i was afraid everyone would forget & i would be all alone counting down to 12 noon but luckily, i was wrong!! we signed up 30 kids of all ages & another 15 were on a waiting list.

i definitely learned my lesson from my last NYE party which went well but left me with a terrible stress migraine by the end of the day. what i really remember is getting sick in the garbage can outside later that day. it was NOT a fun day for me so i was determined to make this party less stressful and i have to say it really was.

Setting Up 

for 2016: had the entire program downstairs in our program room. TOO CROWDED! also, i think i set everything up the morning of my program which was super stressful.

2018: started the program upstairs on the main floor so everyone could spread out! moved downstairs at 11:54 for the countdown. set up almost everything the day before NYE so the program room was decorated except for balloons; craft table, snacks, disco party light, etc. was ready to go!

2018 WINS!


for 2016: we made time capsules from scratch which were very cute but time consuming and too difficult for little ones.

2018: purchased NYE crowns from OTC to color which worked for all age levels. also printed templates for adorable candy watches with rainbow colored chocolate coins that older kids loved. Quick & EASY!

2018 WINS!!


for 2016: balloon drop was great but so much work to hang & blow up all the balloons. stressed out needlessly that the drop would malfunction. also had a little confetti gun & handed out maracas & tambourines for kids to shake at 12 noon.

2018: just one big confetti cannon was enough! as Sinatra sang NY, NY i tossed some balloons into the crowd for the kids to play with, which was just as fun as the balloon drop & much easier!  handed out maracas & tambourines for kids to shake at 12 noon.

2018 WINS!

Everything Else  

for 2016: i read a couple of books & forced everyone to sing If You're Happy & You Know It right before the countdown. Played music on my party light while kids finished up crafts & danced. Fun photo props.

2018: skipped the books this year!!! Played music on my disco party light while everyone talked, danced & enjoyed snacks like pretzels, juice, etc.  Used colorful scarves & balloons in my wind tunnel for a while but totally forgot to break out some bubbles. Fun photo props ( a GIANT gold & black "2019" and small but very cute "hello 2019") for pics upstairs & downstairs. Also set up a "wishing wall" for kids to make a wish for the new year. 

their wishes were so cute!

After 30 minutes, played a few rounds of NYE BINGO that i printed for FREE.

2018 WINS!

So it seems pretty clear that my streamlined, 2018 version of Noon Years Eve wins out over the 2016 party hands-down. one person even told me how relaxed i looked! 

i did have a fellow staff member to help with handing out crayons, bringing in cold drinks, collecting trash, etc. which really helped. Setting up in advance and choosing different crafts also made a huge difference. 

probably the biggest improvement for me was skipping the read aloud/sing along part, though i'm kind of embarrassed to admit it. with a group that big (30 kids plus 1 or 2 grownups per child) AND a wide range of ages in a small space, it is just too hard to keep everyone's attention. and i get frustrated which i hate. hopefully, the families checked out a few books to read at home later. 

the BINGO was really fun and a great addition! 

this year's confetti was slightly larger pieces, which was easier to clean up. however, it also made the floor a little slippery but no one seemed to mind.

i'm happy to say this party was practically stress-free for me! some of our attendees are already asking about next year's NYE party and i'm perfectly ok with that (-:

Hoping 2019 is a great year! 

for more info on my post, check out these links:

Candy watch craft: HERE and HERE

confetti cannon from OTC

cute NYE printable BINGO from One Creative Mommy

Friday, December 14, 2018

toddler time: holiday treats for 2018

today, we found a gingerbread house in our polka dot box and our adorable gingerbread friend hiding inside!

i purchased this felt set on many years ago and i still love it so it makes an appearance every December!

i also passed out paper gingerbread friends for the kids, then everyone returned to their homes to rest.

you know what goes great with gingerbread cookies? 


Flannel Board: Five Cups of Cocoa

i purchased this cute clipart on Etsy. I pulled out some puppet friends to help me with the flannel board this week!

Down around the corner at the chocolate shop
FIVE cups of cocoa, sweet & hot!
Along comes Pete the Cat with some money to pay.
He buys himself a cocoa cup & takes it away...

Countdown to ZERO cups of cocoa! Uh Oh! We better go make some more!

Jingle Bell Time:

i passed out bells to everyone and we sang our Jingle Bells & STOP! song. then everyone sang along to my Jingle Bells book to end the program.

Craft: Cocoa Ornaments & Gingerbread Friends

i purchased these adorable cocoa kits from OTC a few weeks ago. i was worried they would be too hard for toddlers but my families worked on them together & they came out so cute! everyone loved them. the cardstock gingerbread people i printed were great too!

earlier this fall, i started doing crafts during playtime (instead of after stories but before the toys came out) and it has been strangely liberating. i used to feel so rushed to hand out materials and give directions while everyone moved from our small carpet area to tables and chairs. it was always kind of chaotic for a minute or two. then i had to scramble again to get the toys as everyone finished crafting. now, the craft feels more like an option, not a requirement & i don't feel as much pressure for it to be perfect. if people want to do this cocoa craft, great! if they would rather just have playtime this week, that's perfectly ok too. this one minor change has made a HUGE difference. some of my families ask to take the craft to do at home later which is also fine with me!

i see that i am not the only librarian with hot chocolate as a theme this week! Here are some AMAZING ideas at So Tomorrow. i have to admit that i was wishing i had seen her adorable cocoa prop earlier because i would have LOVED to use it for my program. hopefully next time! 

an awesome day with two perfectly sized sessions!